Growing up in the American Midwest, my only exposure to wisteria was a mention in the pages of a Nancy Drew mystery. It sounded like an intriguing, if not beguiling, flower. Fast forward to my life in Japan, where wisteria is native, and this dangling bundle of aromatic blooms is now a feature of my … Continue reading What’s with wisteria?
This article describes thirteen festivals or other special events taking place in Tokyo during Golden Week 2017. (Archived article - Originally published by Japan Today)
The Japanese artist known to the world as Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849) was born Nakajima Tokitaro in what is now Tokyo's Sumida ward. In a career that spanned seven decades, he moved more than 90 times and used at least 30 different names. His best known genre was the ukiyo-e print, but in fact he explored--and … Continue reading Influential art: exploring the world of Hokusai Katsushika
Salt is an essential nutritional element for humans. It is also a widely used preservative and, in some cultures--like Japan--, it's regarded as a purification element for religious purposes. Over millenia we've learned many ways to extract this mineral from the world around us. In the Japanese archipelago, where one is never more than 90 … Continue reading Getting salt from the sea the old-fashioned way
Otemachi, the district that sits between Tokyo Station and the Otemon gate of the Imperial Palace has long been one of Tokyo's main business centers. Over the last 20 years it has seen incredible architectural changes bringing a new vibrancy to the area as old buildings are pulled down to make way for new office … Continue reading A lesson in the importance of not disturbing spirits
Japan is host to a variety of annual festivals, often seasonally driven, and often associated with Shinto shrines. These festivals usually involve music, dancing, fair food and portable shrines that are paraded through the local neighborhood. One of the more unusual of these annual festivals takes place on the first Sunday of April (in 2017: … Continue reading Kanamara Matsuri: A unique celebration of the pink of spring