Tenugui, Furoshiki & Kimono Sleeves

Aug 31st, 2009 | By | Category: Lifestyle

Kimono sleeves, or tamoto, meaning “by the side of”, were the pockets in traditional Japan that allowed wearers to stash all manner of small items while keeping their hands free.  The unique construction of a kimono from strips of fabric allowed the sleeves to be used in such a manner.  The fabric strip that makes […]

Island of Dragonflies

Aug 11th, 2009 | By | Category: Lifestyle

“What a splendid land is this Yamato, our precious island of dragonflies” Dragonflies are a beloved symbol of summer in Japan and the words above are credited to  Emperor Jomei who ruled the Yamato (a province in ancient Japan) imperial court from 629 -641 and are included in the Manyoshu, the “Collection of Ten Thousand […]

Observing the Little Things About Japan

Aug 5th, 2009 | By | Category: Lifestyle

Bring a keen sense of observation with you when you visit Japan and you will leave with more than the usual photo album and stories of shrine visits, great food, and trains.  The scenes of daily life in Japan are often fanciful, sometimes quite mundane and on other occasions very thought provoking and serene. No […]

Cute Cars, Cherry Blossoms & Temples

Jul 24th, 2009 | By | Category: Lifestyle

Indicative of the contradictions in the ancient yet thoroughly modern culture of Japan: a kawaii (cute) pink car sits beneath a cherry tree on the grounds of a temple in Nippori. Everything kawaii is valued by a certain segment of the Japanese population – usually young Japanese schools girls and female office workers.  But this […]

Construction Frogs

Jul 21st, 2009 | By | Category: Lifestyle, Photo Gallery

Guarding a construction site is serious business but the frogs holding up the barrier below make the view from the street fun for kids of all ages!  This shot was taken by today’s guest photographer, Hugh Ashton, who has teamed up with nine other photographers from Japan to bring you The View From Japan. In […]

Tsukiji Market – The Tuna Auction

Jul 14th, 2009 | By | Category: Shopping, Travel

A visit to the Tsukiji Wholesale Fish Market in Tokyo is much lauded in the tourist guidebooks to the city but after five years on living in Japan I still hadn’t been. That all changed when an enthusiastic friend arrived and wanted to make the trip.  I had read about controversy surrounding visits to the […]

Giving Thanks Japanese Style

Jul 1st, 2009 | By | Category: Lifestyle

Giving thanks in Japan is an art form and one that can be hard to understand from a western perspective.  There are a number of times each year when the Japanese show their thanks by giving gifts.  They visit temples and shrines year round to say prayers and give thanks for their blessings and those […]

Take your Kids to a Festival in Japan

Jun 24th, 2009 | By | Category: Festivals, Lifestyle

Japan is in the middle of its spring matsuri – festival – season, and the summer fireworks (hanabi) are soon to come. All over the country people flock to the shrines to pay homage and watch the spectacle as the portable shrines – mikoshi – are paraded through the streets by colorfully dressed and shouting […]

Nothing Lost in Translation in this Japanese Ad

Jun 19th, 2009 | By | Category: Lifestyle

Got bad breath?  Get Gummi Mints! Save your love life, don’t gross out your date with your gaseous expulsions – she just might pass out from the egregious odors emanating from your mouth!  The inset cartoon on this ad speaks volumes and I can’t even read Japanese well enough to translate it for myself or […]

Precarious Parking Options in Japan

Jun 17th, 2009 | By | Category: Lifestyle

Parking is a rather precarious pastime in any country, but in Japan it seems to take on mythic proportions. There are as many types of parking lots as there are types of cars, and each one varies with location, price and method of holding the car. The Slide-Out Parking One of the best car parks […]