History & Culture

Ukiyo-e – Woodblock Prints

Sep 2nd, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: History & Culture, Museums

When one thinks of items representative of Japan the list inevitably includes kimono, sushi and bullet trains but one shouldn’t overlook the beauty of Japanese woodblock prints or ukiyo-e.  The word ukiyo refers to the world of common people and e means picture. This art form originated in the late sixteenth century in the ancient [...]



Where to see Noh in Japan

Aug 17th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Events, History & Culture

It’s art in the park, Japanese style…one of Japan’s oldest traditional performing arts will be enacted in the shadows of historic Osaka Castle in the Kansai region of Japan this month but you can also witness it outdoors on Sado Island and in Tokyo or Okinawa in a more traditional setting at various times throughout [...]



Bon Odori Taikai in Shinagawa

Jul 29th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Events, History & Culture

“Bon Odori is a Japanese Buddhist Folk Dance performed outdoors and danced in concentric circle around a raised platform called a Yagura“* Late July and early August is Obon season in Japan, a time when Buddhists honor their ancestors with Obon Festivals and Bon Odori (Bon dances) that stems from the tale on a monk [...]



Japanese Folk Art: Etegami

Jun 26th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: History & Culture

Etegami is a Japanese folk art consisting of simple hand-painted drawings accompanied by a few apt words, and they are almost always done on postcards for quick and easy mailing. The basic concept has been around for a long time; the tradition of handmade New Years cards testifies to this. But the present day surge [...]



Ryokan: Traditional Japanese Accommodations

Jun 3rd, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: History & Culture

When you visit Japan you may choose to stay at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) rather than a traditional hotel.  Ryokan offer visitors an opportunity to learn more about Japanese culture in an environment that is second only to that of staying with a friend who lives in a home that was designed in the [...]



Budo – Japanese Martial Arts

May 29th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: History & Culture

Many of us are familiar with the martial arts of Karate, Judo and Kendo but did you know that there are a others officially recognized as Budo (Japanese martial ways) as well? “Budo, the Japanese martial ways, have their origins in the age-old martial spirit of Japan. Through centuries of historical and social change, these [...]



Babe Ruth’s First Home Run in Japan – 1934

May 26th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: History & Culture, Museums

In 1934 Babe Ruth visited Japan as part of a goodwill team that played against an All-Japan team made up primarily of Tokyo Six University League Team players.  The American team was managed by Connie Mack and the roster of players included baseball legends Lefty Grove, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, and Jimmie Foxx.  The American [...]



Kokeshi Dolls

May 13th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: History & Culture

While not the kind of dolls that little girls usually play with, kokeshi dolls are instantly recognizable as Japanese.  Beautifully painted with traditional Japanese motifs or simply varnished these wooden dolls originated in the Tohoku region of northern Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868). It is believed that these dolls were originally created by woodwork [...]



The Way of Incense in Japan

Mar 26th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: History & Culture

Practitioners of koh-do, the centuries-old Japanese art of enjoying and exploring the fragrances of burned incense, follow traditions established as early the 15th century.  It’s an elegant art that promotes feelings of peace and tranquility and along with the tea ceremony and ikebana (flower arranging) is one of the tenets of traditional Japanese culture. Incense, [...]



Celebrating Shunbun No Hi in Japan

Mar 18th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: History & Culture

Shunbun no hi is the holiday celebrating the spring equinox in Japan is part of a seven day period known as Haru no Higan (Spring Higan).  On Shunbun no hi (March 20th in 2009), the hours of light equal those of the of darkness and it is a time to mark the changing of the [...]