Little remains of Japan's famous cherry blossoms except a few pale pink petals caught by the wind and swirling in the gutter. But as I watch these petals dance, in the corner of my eye I catch sight of a burst of color--a vivid shade of magenta smiling at me from the hedge that divides … Continue reading Amazing Azaleas
Japan has many traditional performing arts, each with its own origin and style. Noh, which dates back to the 14th century, combines music, dance and drama, as well as the distinctive feature of performers who are often masked. The plays are often historic legends and the language used is often so old that even native … Continue reading Which part of “Noh” don’t you understand?
In the opening scene of the 1968 movie, "Admiral Yamamoto", starring the great Mifune Toshiro, Yamamoto is being ferried across a river in his hometown and is challenged by the boatman to make the crossing standing on his head, thereby demonstrating his superior balance and seamanship. Perhaps because I know there was a time in … Continue reading A traditional river crossing…and meandering old neighborhoods
Not long ago I was visiting my friend Maki’s house. While using her toilet, I glanced down and realized with horror that I was wearing my house slippers. Quel faux pas! Most people are aware that Japan has a tradition of removing street shoes upon entering a home, or any other establishment with tatami mats … Continue reading Footfaults: [Mis]adventures in footwear
This article explores the importance of Japan's many flowers. It further considers why the Sakura has become such an icon and why it has replaced other blossoms such as the plum.
By special guest blogger: Oliver Trapnell Nuclear issues are voiced strongly in Japan, and have had a direct impact on thousands of lives not only in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima but also from cases such as the Daigo Fukuryū Maru (No. 5 Lucky Dragon fishing boat whose story inspired the Godzilla movies). Despite the sensitivity … Continue reading The Stories of Survivors
By special guest blogger: Oliver Trapnell Shinjuku is home to a grand number of cafes, bars and clubs that cater to the variety of lifestyles that exist in Tokyo. No matter where you come from, you will find something that suits your tastes in this bustling Tokyo ward. On this occasion, I've gone hunting for … Continue reading Jazz in Shinjuku: hitting the right note
By special guest blogger: Oliver Trapnell Harajuku is a popular Tokyo neighbourhood. So much so that many might conclude that it is a guaranteed tourist trap, luring us into the packed, pop-idol lifestyle that permeates the area. More than often than not, a visitor here can end up being swept along Takeshita Street by the … Continue reading Looking for the sweet edges of Harajuku
Tottori is known for many things including being the least populous prefecture in Japan and being the home of some of Japan's most famous manga cartoonists. In spite of its small population, Tottori is host to two airports, one international and the other purely domestic. Both airports feature in their names and decor some of … Continue reading The Airports of Tottori: Tourist Destinations in their Own Right
It's called the "Rose of Winter", and with good reason. Tsubaki, Japanese camellia, blooms most prolifically from January to early April. One great place to enjoy these blooms is the Hagi Camellia Festival (February 17, 2018-March 21, 2018). Hagi is an old castle town on the Japan Sea coast of Yamaguchi Prefecture. It is particularly … Continue reading Hagi’s Camellia Festival – a celebration of the Rose of Winter
"Modern" Japan dates from the Meiji Restoration of 1868. During the reign of the Emperor Meiji (1868-1912), Japan modernized and Westernized. This transformation included not only Japan's political, economic, and education systems, but also various aspects of fine arts. With respect to the latter, many feared that Japan's cultural identity might be lost in the … Continue reading Nihonga: Distinctly Japanese Modern Art
I'm not very fond of cold weather, which is perhaps one reason I particularly love the soothing steam of a good hot bowl of soup when I come in from the cold. I daresay I'm not alone in these sentiments. The Tohoku region of Japan, famously cold and snowy in winter, has many hearty winter … Continue reading Hachinohe Bouillabaisse Festa – absolutely a reason to go north in winter