Nihonga: Distinctly Japanese Modern Art

"Modern" Japan dates from the Meiji Restoration of 1868.  During the reign of the Emperor Meiji (1868-1912), Japan modernized and Westernized.  This transformation included not only Japan's political, economic, and education systems, but also various aspects of fine arts.  With respect to the latter, many feared that Japan's cultural identity might be lost in the … Continue reading Nihonga: Distinctly Japanese Modern Art

The colors of Ko-Imari: it’s all about the glaze

Stepping into the latest exhibition at Shibuya's Toguri Museum of Art, I felt as if I was in heaven. The exhibition, entitled "Beautiful Glazes in Ko-Imari Ware", features the glazes used on Ko-Imari ware, some of Japan's earliest refined porcelains, dating back to the 17th century. The pieces on display are exquisite. It was refugee … Continue reading The colors of Ko-Imari: it’s all about the glaze

Hashigo-nori (ladder-top acrobatics) at Ikegami Honmonji

Old Edo was a firetrap. One and two-story structures, made mostly of wood, straw and paper, standing cheek-by-jowl with the neighbors, with everyone cooking and heating with open fires or charcoal braziers. Any little fire quickly got out of control and equally quickly spread to neighboring structures. Major fires were so common in the Edo … Continue reading Hashigo-nori (ladder-top acrobatics) at Ikegami Honmonji

The seven lucky gods of Minato: A different perspective on a well-known Tokyo district

This article takes readers on a walk to visit Japan's seven lucky gods at shrines and temples in the Minato neighborhood of Tokyo.  Such walks are a popular new year's activity, said to bring luck and fortune to participants. This walk can only be done for that purpose between New Year's Day and Coming of … Continue reading The seven lucky gods of Minato: A different perspective on a well-known Tokyo district

Good fortune is child’s play at the Asakusa Hagoita Ichi

In traditional Japan there are many rituals observed relating to seeing out the old year and successfully bringing in the new one.  Sometimes these rituals, most of which occur in December, also involve acquiring “lucky charms” of various sorts. Asakusa, a venerable Tokyo neighbourhood known for its efforts to preserve traditions, is a particularly good … Continue reading Good fortune is child’s play at the Asakusa Hagoita Ichi

Enjoy Autumn Leaves at Rikugien

This article describes two special features of north central Tokyo:  Rikugien Garden and Toyo Bunko Oriental Library.  Autumn leaves and nighttime illumination make late November an especially good time to visit Rikugien and a special Marco Polo exhibition at nearby Toyo Bunko is also a great experience.  (Archived article – Originally published by Japan Today.)

An inside look at the O-eshiki commemoration of Saint Nichiren

I find the Ikegami area of Tokyo historically fascinating and generally interesting as a microcosm of residential Tokyo.  I’ve written elsewhere about the neighborhood and about the o-eshiki ceremony that commemorates the life and death of the Buddhist saint, Nichiren (1222-1282) every year on the night of October 12. But this year, I was privileged … Continue reading An inside look at the O-eshiki commemoration of Saint Nichiren