Kanda Matsuri: a major spectacle not to be missed

Every two years, in odd-numbered years, Tokyo sees one of the three largest festivals in Japan, the Kanda Matsuri of Kanda Myojin Shrine.  This year, the biggest, most spectacular part of the festival is this week-end:  May 11 and 12.  Saturday, May 11 is the main procession, when Kanda Myojin's o-mikoshi, portable shrines, are paraded … Continue reading Kanda Matsuri: a major spectacle not to be missed

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”

Jiyugaoka’s Kumano Shrine festival – celebrating the harvest

Jiyugaoka has a reputation for being a trendy area to shop, dine and relax with friends.  Its narrow brick or stone-paved laneways lined with shops and eateries are inviting to pedestrians.  One could spend hours meandering here. This week-end (September 1-2, 2018), however, suburban Jiyugaoka returns to its agrarian roots as its local shrine celebrates … Continue reading Jiyugaoka’s Kumano Shrine festival – celebrating the harvest

Lanterns and dancing: the Anamori Inari Lantern Festival

The moon is full, the night is balmy, and you just wanna kick up your heels and dance!  Maybe that sentiment explains the origins of the Anamori Inari Lantern Festival taking place this weekend at Anamori Inari Shrine near Haneda Airport. There is still time to join the Saturday night portion of the festival, or … Continue reading Lanterns and dancing: the Anamori Inari Lantern Festival

Hagi’s Camellia Festival – a celebration of the Rose of Winter

It's called the "Rose of Winter", and with good reason.  Tsubaki, Japanese camellia, blooms most prolifically from January to early April.   One great place to enjoy these blooms is the Hagi Camellia Festival (February 17, 2018-March 21, 2018). Hagi is an old castle town on the Japan Sea coast of Yamaguchi Prefecture.  It is particularly … Continue reading Hagi’s Camellia Festival – a celebration of the Rose of Winter

Good fortune is child’s play at the Asakusa Hagoita Ichi

In traditional Japan there are many rituals observed relating to seeing out the old year and successfully bringing in the new one.  Sometimes these rituals, most of which occur in December, also involve acquiring “lucky charms” of various sorts. Asakusa, a venerable Tokyo neighbourhood known for its efforts to preserve traditions, is a particularly good … Continue reading Good fortune is child’s play at the Asakusa Hagoita Ichi

An inside look at the O-eshiki commemoration of Saint Nichiren

I find the Ikegami area of Tokyo historically fascinating and generally interesting as a microcosm of residential Tokyo.  I’ve written elsewhere about the neighborhood and about the o-eshiki ceremony that commemorates the life and death of the Buddhist saint, Nichiren (1222-1282) every year on the night of October 12. But this year, I was privileged … Continue reading An inside look at the O-eshiki commemoration of Saint Nichiren