Nakanobu Furusato Matsuri: neighborhood festival put on hold

As a general matter, Autumn is festival season in Japan. Alas, the pandemic has forced cancellation of festivals across the nation, some for the first time in centuries, others for the first time in decades. Since 1989, the Tokyo neighborhood of Nakanobu has hosted a "Furusato Matsuri" (hometown festival) on Nakanobu Skip Road, a 330 … Continue reading Nakanobu Furusato Matsuri: neighborhood festival put on hold

Kinema in Kamata: a piece of Japan’s cinematic history

One hundred years ago, two brothers, Shirai Matsujiro and Otani Takejiro decided to make movies. The brothers had already been in the entertainment business for 25 years, having started in 1895 with a Kyoto kabuki theater and growing their business from there to a chain of theaters with various kinds of live entertainment in several … Continue reading Kinema in Kamata: a piece of Japan’s cinematic history

Katsu Kaishu: living history by thinking future

In mid-March 1868, Katsu Kaishu (1823-1899), Army Minister for Tokugawa Yoshinobu, last of the Tokugawa shoguns, was returning to his home in Edo (present day Tokyo) after successfully negotiating for the peaceful surrender of Edo Castle to troops representing the new government of the Emperor Meiji (1852-1912). The negotiations had taken place at Shoto-en, on … Continue reading Katsu Kaishu: living history by thinking future

Exploring Tokyo’s Architecture Through the ages: A walk in Bunkyo and Toshima

In keeping with current trends to micro-tourism, this article describes an urban walk in Tokyo featuring a number of lesser-known historical buildings.  (Archived article originally published by Japan Today) At the end of your walk, on the way back to Edogawabashi Station, look for Kanpai Brewing on the opposite side of the river, just across … Continue reading Exploring Tokyo’s Architecture Through the ages: A walk in Bunkyo and Toshima

Hidden History in the Edo Outskirts: the Rolling Hills of Magome

In keeping with the current trend of "micro-tourism" (keeping tourism close to home), here's another walk through a less well-known suburban Tokyo neighborhood.  This walk is less than 4 km. in length and includes a small local museum, so expect it to take about half a day. Use the map at the bottom of the … Continue reading Hidden History in the Edo Outskirts: the Rolling Hills of Magome

Naritasan Shinshoji: an ancient center of worship

While travellers often complain loudly about the inconvenient location of Narita Airport, Buddhist faithful who make a pilgrimage to nearby Naritasan Shinshoji, are rarely heard to do the same. The expansive and historical temple complex is one of the oldest and largest in this part of Japan. It is, of course, primarily a religious destination, … Continue reading Naritasan Shinshoji: an ancient center of worship

Castles, Cats and Sumo in Setagaya

Tokyo's Setagaya Ward is best known as Tokyo's bedroom, the most populous ward of the metropolis, principally a residential area. It also has a number of sights to enjoy and even history to experience. Here's an uncrowded suburban walk of around four kilometers, mostly through greenery, culminating in some of those sights and history.  There's … Continue reading Castles, Cats and Sumo in Setagaya

Gotanda and Meguro: a walk exploring changing times

Although it is often said that Japanese people are change averse, if one looks closely, signs of change, both past and present, are everywhere.  Sometimes the changes are extreme and other times the changes are incremental. This 5-6 km. walk through hills above Gotanda and Meguro stations into the Meguro River valley explores various changes … Continue reading Gotanda and Meguro: a walk exploring changing times