Zojoji’s Sanmon: A Rare Look at a Gateway of Antiquities

Zojiji Temple in Tokyo's Shiba neighborhood was once considered a guardian of the southwest entry to Edo (the old name for Tokyo). Visitors approaching the city via the Tokaido Road would have passed nearby and would, inevitably, have seen the massive awe-inspiring structures of the expansive temple complex, which was a seminary and center of … Continue reading Zojoji’s Sanmon: A Rare Look at a Gateway of Antiquities

Celebrating 150 years of railroads in Japan

On October 14, 1872, Japan's first passenger rail service opened, running between Yokohama (near modern-day Sakuragicho Station) and Tokyo (near modern-day Shimbashi Station). Such a milestone deserves celebration, especially one observing a service that has, in large degree, molded a nation. Certainly JR East agrees, so that Tokyo, at least, is widely decorated with posters … Continue reading Celebrating 150 years of railroads in Japan

Otsu Matsuri: the post-Covid return of a traditional matsuri

I don't usually write about an event just after it has occurred. It seems unfair to tell readers about something they've just missed. But I will break my own rule this once. Nearly all matsuri, traditional Japanese festivals usually associated with shrines, have been cancelled since the Corona virus pandemic began in 2020 so it … Continue reading Otsu Matsuri: the post-Covid return of a traditional matsuri

Tokyo-wan Kannon: a surprising pantheon of peace

For many in Japan, Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of compassion and mercy, has also come to be associated with prayers for peace and the repose of the souls of war dead. Predictably, this association arose in the years after Japan's defeat in World War II, but the association remains these many decades after the war … Continue reading Tokyo-wan Kannon: a surprising pantheon of peace

Kawasaki Reading Room: A Japanese Culture Center for Nebraska

Sitting on the top floor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, the Kawasaki Reading Room is a culture and resource center dedicated to all things Japanese. A cultural connection between Japan and the American Great Plains feels unlikely, but in fact, the Kawasaki Reading Room is a busy little space that is … Continue reading Kawasaki Reading Room: A Japanese Culture Center for Nebraska

Seattle Japanese Garden: a place where samurai could stroll

Step through the wooden gate of Seattle's Japanese Garden and you may think you have been instantly transported to Japan. This garden, opened in 1960 but conceptualized five decades earlier, is well-established with trees and shrubs that thrive in both the climate of Japan and Seattle's climate. It symbolizes the close relationship between two nations … Continue reading Seattle Japanese Garden: a place where samurai could stroll