Tamozawa Imperial Villa: not exactly a holiday cottage

Tamozawa Imperial Villa was built in 1899 as a holiday residence for then-Crown Prince Yoshihito (1879-1926), who reigned as the Emperor Taisho from 30 July 1912 to his death on 25 December 1926. The Emperor Taisho spent much of his summers here throughout his reign and the villa continued to be used by the Imperial … Continue reading Tamozawa Imperial Villa: not exactly a holiday cottage

Water colors and Fall colors at Goshiki-numa

One of my earliest experiences of Japan's spectacular autumn leaves was during an employer-sponsored outing to Goshiki-numa in the Urabandai area of Fukushima Prefecture nearly 40 years ago. The area still holds a special place in my heart and, although my last visit, and hence my latest photos, was a few months ago, I'm writing … Continue reading Water colors and Fall colors at Goshiki-numa

Curious Homage to a Great Buddhist Scholar

On a hillside above Jionji, a 1,300 year-old Buddhist temple in the northeast of Saitama City, stands a red Chinese style gate and behind that, a thirteen-tiered stone pagoda-like tower. It is an anomaly in this semi-agrarian, semi-residential neighborhood. I stumbled across this spot after visiting Jionji with some friends. A write-up we had of … Continue reading Curious Homage to a Great Buddhist Scholar

Saying “yes” to Noh: Oyama’s Takigi Noh Fire Festival

Noh, often associated with the masks worn by actors playing certain roles, is widely regarded as Japan's oldest surviving performance art, with 650 years of history. (There are, of course, many older arts, such as Kagura ritual dancing, but those were developed for the entertainment of the gods, not for entertaining humans.) The stories portrayed … Continue reading Saying “yes” to Noh: Oyama’s Takigi Noh Fire Festival

The Happy Energy of Sake Brewing: Watanabe Sahei Shoten

Thanks to the pandemic, public consumption of alcohol is currently banned in large parts of Japan. What better time to tour a sake brewery? Watanabe Sahei Shoten is a fun and easy to access sake brewery in Tochigi's Nikko area. It was founded in 1842 by an ancestor of Watanabe Yasuhiro, the current proprietor, who … Continue reading The Happy Energy of Sake Brewing: Watanabe Sahei Shoten

Odawara Castle: guarding the southwest approach to old Edo

In 1590 Japan was in turmoil. There had been civil wars raging intermittently for over a century as various warlords vied to take control and unify the country. Finally it had come down to three men: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. After Nobunaga's death in 1582, Hideyoshi was best positioned to prevail and … Continue reading Odawara Castle: guarding the southwest approach to old Edo