Saying “yes” to Noh: Oyama’s Takigi Noh Fire Festival

Noh, often associated with the masks worn by actors playing certain roles, is widely regarded as Japan's oldest surviving performance art, with 650 years of history. (There are, of course, many older arts, such as Kagura ritual dancing, but those were developed for the entertainment of the gods, not for entertaining humans.) The stories portrayed … Continue reading Saying “yes” to Noh: Oyama’s Takigi Noh Fire Festival

Meguro’s Gyoninzaka – a different slant on Tokyo history

Heading west from Meguro Station it's all downhill, a descent into the Meguro River valley. Particularly dramatic is the descent on a narrow laneway accessed from the main exit of Meguro Station (on the southern side of Meguro-dori). This steep slope is known as Gyonin-zaka. A gyonin is a Buddhist ascetic, and apparently Daienji, a … Continue reading Meguro’s Gyoninzaka – a different slant on Tokyo history

Japan’s Cutting Edge Cutlery

Anyone who's ever wandered into a kitchen knows how important a good knife is to food preparation. Arguably, Japanese kitchen knives, developed from Japan's long sword-making tradition, are the best in the world. Nenohi knives are among the most popular with professional chefs in Japan, even though the company is relatively young by Japanese standards, … Continue reading Japan’s Cutting Edge Cutlery

Yachiyo-za Theater: jewel in the crown of Yamaga

The late nineteenth/early twentieth century in Japan was a time when kabuki as an art form was liberalized, becoming more popular than ever. As a result, many communities built their own theaters. By the end of the Meiji Period (1868-1912) there were between four and five thousand such theaters across Japan. Only a few have … Continue reading Yachiyo-za Theater: jewel in the crown of Yamaga