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

One impact of war, the desire for peace

August in Japan is always a time when television programming is replete with movies and documentaries about World War II.  It was on August 15, 1945 (JST), that the Japanese officially surrendered to the Allies, thus ending the Pacific War.  That fact, combined with the fact that August is traditionally a time when Japanese people … Continue reading One impact of war, the desire for peace

Nittele Big Clock: a Ghibli-inspired clock like no other

Who doesn't love a performing clock, with various figurines that dance or move at appointed times throughout the day?  In Tokyo there are a number of such clocks, including the Marionette Clock at Ebisu Garden Place and the Mullion Musical Clock outside the Hankyu Men's Store in Yurakucho.  But perhaps the busiest and most intricate … Continue reading Nittele Big Clock: a Ghibli-inspired clock like no other

Never get tired of recycling at Nishi-Rokugo Park

These days we hear a lot about recycling to reduce waste and ease pressure on the environment.  Nishi-Rokugo Park, also known as Tire Park, is a great example of turning waste items into something both useful and fun. In this suburban playground/park, more than 3,000 tires are repurposed into whimsical shapes and playground equipment to … Continue reading Never get tired of recycling at Nishi-Rokugo Park

The not-so-Lucky Dragon – “fallout” from nuclear testing

On January 22, 1954, a 25 meter long wooden fishing boat named Dai-go Fukuryu-maru (in English "F/V Lucky Dragon #5") set sail from Yaizu, a fishing port in Shizuoka, Japan, with a crew of 23.  The boat was scheduled to be at sea for approximately two months, making a clockwise sweep around an area of … Continue reading The not-so-Lucky Dragon – “fallout” from nuclear testing

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