History & Culture

Purity & Prayer at Japanese Shrines

Feb 4th, 2009 | By | Category: History & Culture

Praying at a Shinto Shrine in Japan in not that different from saying a prayer anywhere else in the world.  If you come with and open heart and pure intentions and speak your mind to whatever higher power that you believe in with respect and reverence. Each religion has its own customs and prayer etiquette […]

Seven Gods of Good Fortune

Jan 22nd, 2009 | By | Category: History & Culture

In Japan you will often hear about the Seven Gods of Good Fortune or Seven Lucky Gods which are commonly know in Japan as Shichi Fukujin (literally “seven happiness beings”). You may even see walking tours dedicated to the Seven Lucky Gods in the the city you are visiting – almost every city in Japan […]

No Napkins in Japan? Enter the Oshibori

Jan 21st, 2009 | By | Category: History & Culture

It’s cold in Japan right now and anything that offers relief from the cool temperatures is most welcome.  Enter the oshibori, a heated damp hand towel, that many better restaurants present to their customers just after they are seated. In the winter a steamy oshibori warms up frozen fingers so that diners can adroitly use […]

Kimono – The Ultimate Layered Look

Jan 17th, 2009 | By | Category: History & Culture

The ultimate layered look never goes out of style in Japan.  The Kimono is the most well know piece of wafaku (traditional Japanese clothing) outside of Japan and a beautiful women dressed in an elaborate kimono is an iconic image of Japan. Young and old, men and women wear Kimonos on a number of different […]

The History of Japanese Transportation

Jan 4th, 2009 | By | Category: History & Culture, Museums, Osaka, Tokyo and Vicinity

The evolution of the Japanese transportation system got off to a slow start due to the isolation that preceded the Meiji Period in Japan. The main means of transportation in order of use in Japan are the trains or railways, followed closely by the use of bicycles and lastly by automobiles. The image to the […]

Do You Hatsuhinode?

Dec 31st, 2008 | By | Category: History & Culture

Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the year and is one of many firsts that the Japanese take note of during the celebration of the new year. This tradition has been practiced since ancient times – originally performed at the beginning of spring based on the lunar calendar, hatsuhinode is now practiced faithfully on January […]

The Art of The Japanese Garden

Dec 17th, 2008 | By | Category: History & Culture, Parks, Gardens & Nature, Tokyo and Vicinity

To visit a garden in Japan is to take a step away from reality.  Many of these gardens are a calm oasis in the center of very vibrant and bustling communities and they offer visitors an opportunity to relax and forget, if just for a moment or two, the hectic pace just beyond the garden […]

The Beauty of Washi

Nov 27th, 2008 | By | Category: History & Culture

Washi or hand made Japanese paper is one of the many beautiful items that hold a special place in Japanese culture. The history of paper making in Japan can be traced back over 1,300 years and was an adaptation of Korean methods of paper making.  Traditionally, many of the paper makers in Japan were farmers […]

How much do you know about Japan?

Nov 21st, 2008 | By | Category: History & Culture

Take this quiz to test your knowledge of Japan’s geography, sports and pop culture: 1.  Which prefecture is home to a town with the same names as U.S. president elect Barack Obama? 2.  Name the largest lake in Japan and the prefecture where it is located. 3.  What is the national bird of Japan? Is […]

Chiune Sugihara – Lest We Forget

Nov 12th, 2008 | By | Category: History & Culture

It seems appropriate that as many countries celebrate their war veterans on November 11th that we look at other heroes that while not in uniform stood for the same values and lent their support and bravery to the fight against tyranny around the world.  One of those heroes is Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese national, who […]