Nakijin Castle – blossoms among the ruins

Semi-tropical Okinawa is famously the first place cherry blossoms are seen in Japan every year.  And they’re blooming now! One of the most popular cherry blossom viewing spots on Okinawa’s main island is Nakijin Castle Ruins.  The ruins are on the Motobu Peninsula in the northern part of the island. There has been a stone … Continue reading Nakijin Castle – blossoms among the ruins

Nori making: insights into a staple of Japanese cuisine

Nori, those paperlike sheets of dried seaweed, are popular in Japan as a tasty snack, as well as featuring in sushi and other famous Japanese dishes.  But the stuff doesn't grow on trees!  Or does it? Rows of dark rectangles in the water--telltale signs of seaweed farming are portrayed in Hiroshige woodblock prints of the … Continue reading Nori making: insights into a staple of Japanese cuisine

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine: conflicts, cartography, and other “stuff”

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine sits in the historic Fukagawa district of Tokyo, a neighborhood that developed and flourished during the Tokugawa shogunate (1602-1868) when Tokyo was known as Edo.  Indeed, the history of the shrine, founded in 1627, is inextricably tied to that of Edo. Edo began its life as a fishing village wedged between rivers … Continue reading Tomioka Hachiman Shrine: conflicts, cartography, and other “stuff”

Tokyo International Forum: a different kind of community center

If you are strolling in the Ginza/Yurakucho area of Tokyo or even riding a JR train heading south from Tokyo station, chances are that you will notice the striking shape of the Glass Building of the Tokyo International Forum.  Some seven stories tall, most of it a "sundrenched atrium", its super-structure resembles the ribs of … Continue reading Tokyo International Forum: a different kind of community center

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