Iwate’s Ichinoseki: a way station worth checking out

Travelers bound for Hiraizumi, with its World Heritage sites dating back a thousand years, usually change from the Shinkansen to the local train at Ichinoseki and are often so intent on their final destination that they miss the delights Ichinoseki has to offer. But spare a few hours to explore; you won't be disappointed. Ichinoseki's … Continue reading Iwate’s Ichinoseki: a way station worth checking out

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

Miles to Go and Promises Unkept: Women’s Rights in Postwar Japan

This article is a bit unusual for this blog--a perspective on women's rights in post-war Japan with particular emphasis on what rights did, and did not, make it into Japan's postwar constitution. Definitely part of the Japan jigsaw puzzle! It's in the September issue of the No. 1 Shimbun in honor of the record number … Continue reading Miles to Go and Promises Unkept: Women’s Rights in Postwar Japan

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

Kumano Magaibutsu: immoveable in more ways than one

In last week's blog post, I introduced a temple founded to house a statue of Fudo Myo-o, the great immoveable deity, carved by no less than the great Kobo Daishi (774-835). But Kobo Daishi is not alone in his admiration of Fudo Myo-o, whose image is found and worshiped across Japan. Even the earliest Buddhist … Continue reading Kumano Magaibutsu: immoveable in more ways than one

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