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

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”

Tokyo International Forum: a different kind of community center

If you are strolling in the Ginza/Yurakucho area of Tokyo or even riding a JR train heading south from Tokyo station, chances are that you will notice the striking shape of the Glass Building of the Tokyo International Forum.  Some seven stories tall, most of it a "sundrenched atrium", its super-structure resembles the ribs of … Continue reading Tokyo International Forum: a different kind of community center

Boys will be boys – the Japanese fascination with Manneken Pis

What is it about Manneken Pis--the statue/fountain of a little boy peeing--that makes it so popular in Japan? While the original is in Brussels, Belgium, Japan hosts no fewer than seven replica statues and innumerable effigies. For many Tokyo commuters, they can catch sight of the little guy daily at the south end of JR … Continue reading Boys will be boys – the Japanese fascination with Manneken Pis

Underground Mysteries: a Tokyo scavenger hunt

Who doesn't love mysteries, puzzles and a good scavenger hunt?  Ever year, Tokyo Metro, the larger of Tokyo's two subway systems, hosts "The Underground Mysteries", a scavenger hunt featuring their subway stations and the neighborhoods surrounding them.  This year, the game is now on, and continues through January 31, 2019.  You've got to try it! … Continue reading Underground Mysteries: a Tokyo scavenger hunt

A big museum for a long history – the National Museum of Japanese History

Japan is fortunate to have several national museums spread across the country.  The National Museum of Japanese History in Sakura City, Chiba (just over an hour outside of Tokyo), is enormous, with amazing exhibits featuring every age of Japanese history.  It would probably take a full day, maybe even longer, to fully explore everything the … Continue reading A big museum for a long history – the National Museum of Japanese History