Shokokuji: The Mysteries of Zama’s Star Valley

Kannon, sometimes referred to as the Buddhist goddess of mercy, was introduced to Japan in the late sixth century, and many temples dedicated to Kannon can trace their origins back to the seventh or eighth centuries. Shokokuji, in Kanagawa's Zama city, is one such temple. It dates its origins to the Tenpyo Era (729-749) and … Continue reading Shokokuji: The Mysteries of Zama’s Star Valley

Celebrating the architectural wonders of Kuma Kengo

All eyes will be on the Japan National Stadium later today for the Olympics opening ceremony. The 68,000 capacity stadium, built especially for these Olympics, was opened in December 2019. It is the creation of favorite son architect Kuma Kengo. Kuma, who also teaches architecture, is especially known for the way in which his designs … Continue reading Celebrating the architectural wonders of Kuma Kengo

Stepping back in time: the Meiji Village Museum of Miyagi

The Meiji Period (1868-1912) is perhaps my favorite period of Japanese history. It is the time when Japan, which had stagnated from being closed to the outside world since early in the 17th century, leapt forward, grafting new governmental structures to its traditional emperor system and adopting various new technologies to allow it to fend … Continue reading Stepping back in time: the Meiji Village Museum of Miyagi

Cherries in Japan: more than a springtime blossom

Every spring Japan celebrates the pale pink petal of the cherry blossom. And justifiably. But there is much more to cherries than just the delicate springtime blossom. In early summer, Yamagata Prefecture is popping with the fruit itself, little red balls of sweet juiciness. Further north, in Akita Prefecture, the bark of the mountain cherry, … Continue reading Cherries in Japan: more than a springtime blossom

Looking for Seven Lucky Gods at One of the Fuji Five Lakes

There are five lakes skirting the northern base of Mt. Fuji, Japan's iconic highest mountain. These lakes are the result of rivers dammed by lava flowing from the Fuji volcano in eruptions of centuries past. Today they are all popular recreation areas. Lake Kawaguchi (a/k/a Kawaguchi-ko) is the northernmost of these lakes, and the second … Continue reading Looking for Seven Lucky Gods at One of the Fuji Five Lakes