Zojoji’s Sanmon: A Rare Look at a Gateway of Antiquities

Zojiji Temple in Tokyo's Shiba neighborhood was once considered a guardian of the southwest entry to Edo (the old name for Tokyo). Visitors approaching the city via the Tokaido Road would have passed nearby and would, inevitably, have seen the massive awe-inspiring structures of the expansive temple complex, which was a seminary and center of … Continue reading Zojoji’s Sanmon: A Rare Look at a Gateway of Antiquities

Celebrating 150 years of railroads in Japan

On October 14, 1872, Japan's first passenger rail service opened, running between Yokohama (near modern-day Sakuragicho Station) and Tokyo (near modern-day Shimbashi Station). Such a milestone deserves celebration, especially one observing a service that has, in large degree, molded a nation. Certainly JR East agrees, so that Tokyo, at least, is widely decorated with posters … Continue reading Celebrating 150 years of railroads in Japan

Tokyo-wan Kannon: a surprising pantheon of peace

For many in Japan, Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of compassion and mercy, has also come to be associated with prayers for peace and the repose of the souls of war dead. Predictably, this association arose in the years after Japan's defeat in World War II, but the association remains these many decades after the war … Continue reading Tokyo-wan Kannon: a surprising pantheon of peace

Hitachino Nest: The Happiness of Beer on a Hot Summer Day

Craft beers have proliferated in Japan since the deregulation of beer production in the mid-1990s. One of the early leaders in micro-brewing is Kiuchi Brewery, an Ibaraki brewery that started making sake in 1823 and first produced beer in 1996. Kiuchi Brewery's beer is branded Hitachino Nest, with a cute little owl on the label. … Continue reading Hitachino Nest: The Happiness of Beer on a Hot Summer Day

A German Advisor and Japan’s Hot Spring Connection to Europe

During the late nineteenth century, when Japan was modernizing/Westernizing, many European and American were invited to Japan to advise the government and business. One such individual was Dr. Erwin von Baelz (1849-1913), a German physician who came to Japan in 1876 to teach medicine at the Imperial University (now known as the University of Tokyo). … Continue reading A German Advisor and Japan’s Hot Spring Connection to Europe

Fukiware Falls: unusual water bears the gift of negative ions

Waterfalls are well known to release negative ions that boost the spirits of mere mortals who visit them. Japan is blessed with many waterfalls and so lots of negative ion opportunities. One unusually shaped waterfall worth seeking out is Fukiware Falls in northern Gunma Prefecture (almost halfway between Minakami and Nikko). The falls is in … Continue reading Fukiware Falls: unusual water bears the gift of negative ions