By special guest blogger: Oliver Trapnell Despite being a bit of a taboo subject in some countries, LGBTQ groups have become increasingly visible all over the world. Japan is no exception. In Japan, as more people come to understand and accept diversity in society, there has been a gradual growth in both support for and … Continue reading The Pride of Tokyo
We couldn't have picked a better day the visit the Ghibli Museum. It was raining lightly when we arrived, so the colors of the vine-covered building were especially intense; truly another world. By the time we finished, feeling sunny from the wonderful experience we'd just had, the sun had come out. We didn't deliberately choose … Continue reading Ghibli Museum: The Whimsical World of Miyazaki
I was recently talking to a friend about Japanese baseball teams and, as Americans, we were both puzzled by Hiroshima's mascot of carp. It seemed to us a bit...well, floppy. Neither of us could fathom why a baseball team would choose a slippery, silvery, floppy fish as its symbol. Then we put on our cultural … Continue reading Koinobori: symbols of strength, courage, and perseverance
Kamakura, less than an hour by train from Tokyo, is a popular day tripper destination because of its abundance of things to see and do. A city built in finger valleys radiating from a small bay, one of its many fascinating features is the hiking trails that connect the different valleys. Recently a few friends … Continue reading Hiking the Hills of Kamakura: a spring day’s walk from Kita-Kamakura to Hase
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