Tokyo has a few interesting older homes that are open to the public and many, many art museums. My favorite place that ticks both boxes is the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, colloquially known as Prince Asaka's palace, and I've written about it before. As a museum, Prince Asaka's palace sometimes closes while new exhibits … Continue reading Decoration and Art Deco
My love of kimono is really a love of the amazing fabrics used to create the garments. Traditionally silk (though inexpensive polyester versions are also available these days), the patterns on the cloth are sometimes woven in, sometimes stamped or hand painted on, sometimes embroidered, and sometimes dyed. Some very complex designs are a combination … Continue reading A Dyeing Art: Kyoto-style Shibori
In spite of the excessive and unseasonable rain these days, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy autumn leaves, especially in the clear skies immediately after a storm. A mountain with a cable car to whisk you much of the way up, enjoying the leaves beneath you as you climb, and nice trails once … Continue reading Marunuma Kogen: Altitude and Autumn Leaves
Iwate Prefecture in Japan's Tohoku (northeast) region is a beautiful and diverse area with much to recommend it to the intrepid tourist. Not long ago we were travelling the countryside between Hiraizumi in the interior and Ofunato, one of Iwate's coastal cities hard-hit by the 2011 earthquake/tsunami disaster, and decided to make a stop at … Continue reading Iwate Off the Beaten Track
I find the Ikegami area of Tokyo historically fascinating and generally interesting as a microcosm of residential Tokyo. I’ve written elsewhere about the neighborhood and about the o-eshiki ceremony that commemorates the life and death of the Buddhist saint, Nichiren (1222-1282) every year on the night of October 12. But this year, I was privileged … Continue reading An inside look at the O-eshiki commemoration of Saint Nichiren
While sericulture was first developed in China about 4,500 years ago, Japan has also been producing silk since around the third century. Silk's heyday in Japan was during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), when it became one of Japan's first industrially mass-produced export products. The center of Japan's silk industry has long been Gunma Prefecture, which … Continue reading The Tomizawa Family Farmhouse – late 18th century “cottage industry”
Not long ago I received a postcard from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police notifying me that, as my birthday was approaching, it was time to renew my driver's license. According to the postcard, I could renew my license during the period from one month before my birthday to one month after. Foreigners in Japan as visitors … Continue reading Time to renew my driver’s license!
This article describes a Tokyo walk from Takebashi to Hongo, exploring many aspects of Japan's educational traditions--including several of its universities founded in the 19th century--as well as some other historical treasures along the way. (Archived article - Originally published by Japan Today.)
In modern day Tokyo, Shinagawa is a neighborhood considered quite central in the city. But during the Edo Period, Shinagawa was outside the Edo city limits. It was a "post-town" on the Tokaido Road that connected Edo (modern Tokyo) to Kyoto. There were 53 such post-towns on the Tokaido--places where travellers on the road could … Continue reading Shinagawa celebrates its Edo Period roots
Pirates! These days the word evokes various images from Captain Hook and Long John Silver to Johnny Depp and Captain Phillips. Asia, too, has its pirates, both ancient and modern. Since September 19 is "International Talk Like A Pirate Day", this seems a good time to talk about pirates in Japan. Oh yes! Japan has … Continue reading Avast! There be pirates in these waters!