Noodling on Shikoku: lessons in traditional noodle making

Japanese people love their noodles.  Across the country, you can't visit any size community that doesn't have a ramen shop.  But ramen is a Chinese import.  There are lots of indigenous Japanese noodles, too.  On a recent trip to Shikoku, I not only encountered plenty of these noodles, I got to have lessons in how … Continue reading Noodling on Shikoku: lessons in traditional noodle making

Boys will be boys – the Japanese fascination with Manneken Pis

What is it about Manneken Pis--the statue/fountain of a little boy peeing--that makes it so popular in Japan? While the original is in Brussels, Belgium, Japan hosts no fewer than seven replica statues and innumerable effigies. For many Tokyo commuters, they can catch sight of the little guy daily at the south end of JR … Continue reading Boys will be boys – the Japanese fascination with Manneken Pis

Underground Mysteries: a Tokyo scavenger hunt

Who doesn't love mysteries, puzzles and a good scavenger hunt?  Ever year, Tokyo Metro, the larger of Tokyo's two subway systems, hosts "The Underground Mysteries", a scavenger hunt featuring their subway stations and the neighborhoods surrounding them.  This year, the game is now on, and continues through January 31, 2019.  You've got to try it! … Continue reading Underground Mysteries: a Tokyo scavenger hunt

A big museum for a long history – the National Museum of Japanese History

Japan is fortunate to have several national museums spread across the country.  The National Museum of Japanese History in Sakura City, Chiba (just over an hour outside of Tokyo), is enormous, with amazing exhibits featuring every age of Japanese history.  It would probably take a full day, maybe even longer, to fully explore everything the … Continue reading A big museum for a long history – the National Museum of Japanese History

Ota-ku in art: scenes portrayed by writers and artists

There are so many wonderful museums across Tokyo and across Japan.  Sometimes one finds the greatest treasures in the smallest of them. The current special exhibit at the Ota Folk Museum, "Ota-ku in art: scenes portrayed by writers and artists",  is one such treasure. The exhibit, on the second floor of the museum, features woodblock … Continue reading Ota-ku in art: scenes portrayed by writers and artists

Sake to broaden the French palate

2018 marks 160 years of diplomatic relations between France and Japan.  Mutual cultural fascination extends back at least as far.  Japanese influences on French art are well known. French influences on Japanese food and culinary tastes are also noteworthy. Now, as sake rice wine, the quintessential Japanese alcoholic beverage, has become more deep and diverse, … Continue reading Sake to broaden the French palate

Art Deco’s Exoticism On Display

One could argue that Art Deco, which takes its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925, is a European--particularly French--style.  But one of the distinctive features of Art Deco is the way in which it drew on influences from around the world, particularly Africa and the … Continue reading Art Deco’s Exoticism On Display

Tokyo Parks and Gardens Free on “Citizen’s Day”

October 1 is celebrated as "Citizen's Day" in the Tokyo Metropolitan District.  This year (2018), in honor of the day, there will be various special events dotted around the city, but more importantly for tourists and those who can spare the time, a number of Tokyo parks, gardens, and museums ordinarily closed on Mondays will … Continue reading Tokyo Parks and Gardens Free on “Citizen’s Day”