Sankeien – a classic garden and classic architecture

For centuries, Japanese gardens have been places to stroll, enjoying greenery and seasonal changes set off by a central pond.  We often think of such gardens as dating to the age of sophisticated samurai, who wrote poetry under a full moon or performed tea ceremony in little huts.  Yet many fine classic gardens were actually … Continue reading Sankeien – a classic garden and classic architecture

Historical Fujisawa – the often overlooked Tokaido Post Town

Fujisawa, about an hour by train from central Tokyo, has a long history as a traveller's way station, including during the 250 years that the Tokaido was the major coastal road for travellers between Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo).  Even before the Tokugawa shogunate, Fujisawa was popular with travelers bound for Enoshima and Oyama, popular … Continue reading Historical Fujisawa – the often overlooked Tokaido Post Town

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

Commemorating Japan’s Post-war Constitution

Every year between April 29 and May 5 Japan celebrates "Golden Week", four public holidays over a period of seven days. This year, 2019, thanks to the abdication of Emperor Emeritus Akihito and the ascension to the throne of Emperor Naruhito, the government declared additional holidays, giving people in Japan a 10-day "Platinum Week": April … Continue reading Commemorating Japan’s Post-war Constitution

Jizo by the thousands at Jomyo-in

Jomyo-in sits between Ueno's National Museum and Yanaka Cemetery, yet it feels off the beaten track and perhaps even somewhat forgotten.  A 17th century Tendai sect Buddhist temple that began its life as accommodation for monks associated with nearby Kanei-ji temple, Jomyo-in's principle claim to fame these days is the thousands of stone jizo statues … Continue reading Jizo by the thousands at Jomyo-in

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