Cherries in Japan: more than a springtime blossom

Every spring Japan celebrates the pale pink petal of the cherry blossom. And justifiably. But there is much more to cherries than just the delicate springtime blossom. In early summer, Yamagata Prefecture is popping with the fruit itself, little red balls of sweet juiciness. Further north, in Akita Prefecture, the bark of the mountain cherry, … Continue reading Cherries in Japan: more than a springtime blossom

Finding fine porcelain off the beaten track

Without the mineral kaolin, fine porcelain could not exist. It is said that Korean potters first found kaolin in Japan near the village of Arita in Saga Prefecture in 1616, launching Japan's porcelain industry. These days, 80% of Japan’s kaolin actually comes from the Amakusa Islands of Kumamoto Prefecture, another area known for its pottery … Continue reading Finding fine porcelain off the beaten track

A new gallery celebrates Karatsu tea ware

The city of Karatsu in Saga Prefecture has been a center of ceramic production since the end of the 16th century.  While all manner of dishes are produced, the Karatsu style of pottery is particularly well known for its tea ware--dishes used for traditional Japanese tea ceremony.  On March 10, 2020, a new museum featuring … Continue reading A new gallery celebrates Karatsu tea ware

Origami Kaikan: a chance to explore the folds and layers of paper

It is often observed that Japan borrows ideas and technologies from various sources, adapting them to suit Japanese needs and sensibilities, essentially making them Japanese.  Paper, one of Japan's earliest borrowings from China, is no exception. Japanese paper is nothing short of amazing.  Traditional hand-made washi paper is lovely and soft; fun to make and … Continue reading Origami Kaikan: a chance to explore the folds and layers of paper