International food fails, gorgeous iris gardens & sake making on Sado Island

May-June 2022 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in May and June… Click on photo or link to read • WHY, JAPAN, WHY? International Food Fails of Japan In a country where only 24% of the population even have a passport, the closest most JapaneseContinue reading “International food fails, gorgeous iris gardens & sake making on Sado Island”

Hike through bowers of flowers, Tevye-san, and a recipe even kale-haters will love

March-April 2022 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in March and April… Click on photo or link to read • JAPANESE HOME COOKING Sweet Sesame Spinach As a veteran vegetable hater, I have a special spot in my grinchy heart for leafy greens, but thisContinue reading “Hike through bowers of flowers, Tevye-san, and a recipe even kale-haters will love”

Pre-battered suitcases, fabulous Japanese quilts & plum blossoms in the snow

January-February 2022 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in January & February… Click on photo or link to read • JAPANESE HOME COOKING Spicy Japanese Eggplant Every holiday season I like to sneak one new cookie onto the plate of old favorites, and I canContinue reading “Pre-battered suitcases, fabulous Japanese quilts & plum blossoms in the snow”

Japanese holiday cookies, a tunnel of golden gingko trees & so many foxes

November-December 2021 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in November & December… Click on photo or link to read • JAPANESE HOME COOKING Kinako Shortbread Cookies with Salted Brown Sugar Buttercream Every holiday season I like to sneak one new cookie onto the plate ofContinue reading “Japanese holiday cookies, a tunnel of golden gingko trees & so many foxes”

Sake tasting how-to, the angry cat ghost parade & a voyage to Sado Island

September-October 2021 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in September & October… Click on photo or link to read • JAPANESE HOME COOKING How to host a great sake tasting Sake isn’t just for Japanese food anymore—restaurants all over the world are discovering it’s theContinue reading “Sake tasting how-to, the angry cat ghost parade & a voyage to Sado Island”

Japan’s funniest Mundane Halloween costumes 2021!

This year, pandemic-emergency bar, restaurant and movie theater lock-downs and working from home all came together to create the ideal conditions for an excellent crop of new Mundane Halloween costumes! Here are my favorites, and links to much, much more… ••• These are from @dailyportalz Twitter feed—he took these photos at a Mundane Halloween costumeContinue reading “Japan’s funniest Mundane Halloween costumes 2021!”

How to read a haiku, goldfish galore & a garden of thatch-roofed farmhouses

July-August 2021 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in July & August… Click on photo or link to read • BEYOND TOKYO: Let’s meander through a park with twenty-three thatch-roofed farmhouses The Nihon Minka-en Folk House Garden is a jewel of a walk, featuring housesContinue reading “How to read a haiku, goldfish galore & a garden of thatch-roofed farmhouses”

Japanese wedding weirdness, how to live forever, and killer ginger-soy steak sauce

May-June 2021 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in May & June… Click on photo or link to read • BEYOND TOKYO: Come for the purple, stay for the lights The Ashikaga Flower Park not only boasts insanely huge wisteria, it bursts with equally wonderfulContinue reading “Japanese wedding weirdness, how to live forever, and killer ginger-soy steak sauce”

Treasure rice, cherry blossoms at a northern castle, and Japanese ceremonies we didn’t know we needed

March-April 2021 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in March & April… Click on photo or link to read • BEYOND TOKYO: Cherry blossoms to die for, long after the rest are history Hirosaki delivers cherry blossoms season like you always imagined it would be,Continue reading “Treasure rice, cherry blossoms at a northern castle, and Japanese ceremonies we didn’t know we needed”

40,000 dolls dressed in Imperial court robes, Japanese chicken soup, & strange barbers of the pleasure quarter

FEBRUARY 2021 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in February… Click on photo or link to read • BEYOND TOKYO: 40,000 dolls dressed in Imperial court robes? Yes, please! Every year, the town of Katsuura puts on a Girls’ Day Doll Festival to end allContinue reading “40,000 dolls dressed in Imperial court robes, Japanese chicken soup, & strange barbers of the pleasure quarter”

What do you need for cherry blossom season? Your own light-up Lego cherry tree!

Remember when I ordered all those fab Lego village kits? Well, the Buildiverse folks sent me one that I missed (or I would have already bought it instantly): this light-up pinkness of pinknesses! If you can’t be in Japan right now to see the real cherry trees put on their signature splendor, this is totallyContinue reading “What do you need for cherry blossom season? Your own light-up Lego cherry tree!”

The grand pooh-bah of Japanese flea markets, glowing icicles & Japan’s obsession with pets

JANUARY 2021 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Still catching up here, how about you? Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in January… • SEASONAL SECRET The grand pooh-bah of Japanese flea markets This treasure trove of a flea market only happens twice a year, but what a goldmine it is!Continue reading “The grand pooh-bah of Japanese flea markets, glowing icicles & Japan’s obsession with pets”

Girls’ Day dolls with a side of quirky

Every March 3rd, families with daughters display a set of Girls’ Day dolls that represent the Imperial court at its Heian Era finest… …but these days, you don’t have to be a nobleman or a shrine maiden to ascend the vermilion steps! I saw all these sets in the town of Katsuura, which is famousContinue reading “Girls’ Day dolls with a side of quirky”

In Japan, You’re Never Too Young To…

…learn to charge your devices • …eat instant ramen • …get addicted to those coin-gobbling, impossible-to-win claw machines • …learn to drive a train • …drink tea • …start your own maid cafe • …organize your action figures’ weapons neatly on a 1/2 scale gun rack • …summon the forces of darkness •

Live eel sushi rolls

Just in time for Setsubun—the Japanese holiday on which demons are exorcized with dry beans and smelly sardines—the Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium built this hilarious (and twisted!) ehōmaki sushi roll hideout for its garden eels. You’ll get the joke immediately if you know that ehōmaki rolls are only sold on Setsubun (which happens to fall onContinue reading “Live eel sushi rolls”

The Japanese art of gift giving, millions of twinkling fairy lights, and hilarious Xmas weirdness

DECEMBER 2020 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. I hope that the new year is bringing you all kinds of good changes and extra heapings of hope for you and yours! Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in December, and a preview of what they’re reading right now… SEASONAL SECRET TheContinue reading “The Japanese art of gift giving, millions of twinkling fairy lights, and hilarious Xmas weirdness”

Speed Tribes come of age, Yanki style

Every year in the city of Kitakyushu, Coming-of-Age Day is celebrated in over-the top style by 20-year-olds kitted out in outlandish versions of Japanese formalwear. The second Monday in January (the holiday on which all Japanese twenty-year-olds become legal adults) is well known by kimono-spotters all over Japan as the best day all year toContinue reading “Speed Tribes come of age, Yanki style”

The best winter gift of 2020? A Japanese stomach warmer!

Don’t laugh! The humble haramaki is making a comeback, because nothing—and I mean nothing—keeps you warmer while sitting at your desk fielding endless zoom calls than this legwarmer for your midriff. Major tip o’ the blog beanie to my journalist friend Helen Foster from Down Unda, who reminded me that it’s haramaki season again! HerContinue reading “The best winter gift of 2020? A Japanese stomach warmer!”

Tokyo’s best-dressed nude statue: It’s that Santa time of year

Tokyo’s best-dressed nude statue changes into the jolly old elf for the month of December, but sometimes his costumers get a bit…creative. When they started in the year 2000, the first few years were pretty tame… Then someone gave him a pet reindeer Which ushered in a period of hog-wild experimentation… that provoked some sortContinue reading “Tokyo’s best-dressed nude statue: It’s that Santa time of year”

Japanese Lego Town Kits

If you don’t have someone on your list who would kill for one of these, you need new friends. These Lego kits for building your very own Japanese town populated by Japanese minifigs from all walks of life are hilariously accurate, and they keep delivering the delight, right down to the tiniest details. For example…Continue reading “Japanese Lego Town Kits”

A killer Japanese garden lit up at night, delicious chicken & ginger yakitori meatballs, and how to get lucky, J-style

Thanks for being by my side as The Last Tea Bowl Thief went out into the wide world to seek its fortune. Your friendship and support mean more to me than you can know. Please help me celebrate at last by pulling up a comfy chair, picking your favorite sake cup, and letting me pour you aContinue reading “A killer Japanese garden lit up at night, delicious chicken & ginger yakitori meatballs, and how to get lucky, J-style”

Uber Dandy Kimono: Wildly modern, breathtakingly bold, insanely stunning

I’ve been a fan of the divine Tia Oguri since long before she began designing kimono with traditional African fabrics, because her kimono styling has always been out-of-this-world fresh and exciting. Her latest venture, though, is pure WOW. Take a look at her Uber Dandy Kimono designs, and I think you’ll agree that they showContinue reading “Uber Dandy Kimono: Wildly modern, breathtakingly bold, insanely stunning”

A convent with a secret, sesame-miso hotpot, and why it’s harder to get a Japanese boyfriend than a Japanese girlfriend

Hi friend, it’s me again. Last month there was a special edition of Japanagram because I found so many things I wanted to share with you while I was getting ready to launch The Last Tea Bowl Thief. The book is finally out now, YAY! And I was very surprised and excited to see itContinue reading “A convent with a secret, sesame-miso hotpot, and why it’s harder to get a Japanese boyfriend than a Japanese girlfriend”

A secret castle garden, a killer Japanese cocktail recipe, & why the more friends you have, the lonelier you might be

Hi everyone, it’s me, Jonelle. Whether you’re venturing out or sticking close to home, I hope this month’s features deliver a little break from whatever’s on your to-do list, or (in the case of the original Last Tea Bowl Thief cocktail), at least make checking it off a bit more fun! OCTOBER 2020 Japanagram e-magazine features WHY,Continue reading “A secret castle garden, a killer Japanese cocktail recipe, & why the more friends you have, the lonelier you might be”

Perfect 2020 Halloween costumes from Japan

If you’re desperate to get out after months of quarantining and can’t resist that invite to a good old-fashioned Halloween party, the ace variety store Don Kihote suggests some costumes that will enforce that social distancing with a vengeance! •

When Nothing But Unnecessarily Large Tanuki Testicles Will Do

You’ve probably seen these adorable tanuki figures outside of your favorite Japanese bar or restaurant, but did you happen to notice how, er, well endowed they are? Yeah. Can’t unsee. Now that you know to look, it’s amazing you never noticed before, right? But nobody celebrated these giant gonads more inventively than Edo period artists.Continue reading “When Nothing But Unnecessarily Large Tanuki Testicles Will Do”

The World of The Last Tea Bowl Thief

The new book is a two-timeline tale, with one thread taking place in the samurai era, and the other unspooling in modern-day Tokyo, where two women from opposite sides of the globe discover that both their futures depend on possessing a cultural treasure that’s been missing since before they were born, but neither can getContinue reading “The World of The Last Tea Bowl Thief”

Subway manners meet covid—with a side of prejudice—in these new posters

Subway manners posters have admonished commuters not to whack fellow commuters onto the tracks with their rockabilly hair, avoid grabbing the station employees by their neckties, and stop dying from overwork, but this is the first time they’ve taken on rudeness in time of pandemic. Dashing onto a car just as the doors close andContinue reading “Subway manners meet covid—with a side of prejudice—in these new posters”

Entertainingly altered missionary signs elevate cats to their rightful place

Twitter user Derek Wessman is a genius to have spotted (and appropriately translated) these brilliantly vandalized Japanese missionary signs that change the word “god” into the word “cat” by removing a few small strokes. “The kingdom of Cat is close at hand” And they just get better! • “Both earth and man are Cat’s” •Continue reading “Entertainingly altered missionary signs elevate cats to their rightful place”

A town full of tricksters, strange Japanese beauty goals, and humble fall flowers that become spectacular in numbers

As we slide into fall, how are you doing? I hope you’re not in the path of any of the disasters that have been coming at us from all directions. You may be feeling that NOTHING could surprise you at this point, but maybe you’ll crack a smile as we visit a town full ofContinue reading “A town full of tricksters, strange Japanese beauty goals, and humble fall flowers that become spectacular in numbers”

Amazing scenes emerge as you use this notepad

The Japanese design firm Triad just released one of the most Japanese products ever: the Hogwarts Castle notepad. Wait, that’s not Japanese! But…it is. Obviously, people who just need to jot down their grocery lists aren’t going to shell out nearly two hundred bucks. This is about buying an experience, paying for the delight ofContinue reading “Amazing scenes emerge as you use this notepad”

How lucky is YOUR name?

When your parents agonized over the perfect name for you, I hope they avoided all the usual pitfalls—initials that accidentally spell swear words, traumatizing nicknames, monikers that belong to disgraced celebrities or lame people they knew growing up—but if they aren’t Japanese, I bet they didn’t think about the numbers. Wait, what? Numbers? What numbers?Continue reading “How lucky is YOUR name?”

Hilarious haiku ask those burning questions about modern life

The talented artist known as y_haiku on Twitter and Instagram does it again! Why is it that… Movie hackersalways commit their crimesin dark rooms? • Why is it that… I don’t need that discarded manualuntil it’s timeto find the right charger? • Why is it that… I can never make it looklike I remembered toContinue reading “Hilarious haiku ask those burning questions about modern life”

Surrounded by a waterfall, what to serve for Japanese dessert, and how to get the all-new, not-for-sale Yumi & Kenji short for free

Are you still hanging in there, as we continue our wild ride through the Wonka tunnel and (hopefully soon!) pop out the other side? In a quest to make it all a little more bearable, the August Japanagram dished up a chance to win a signed paperback copy of the all-new, not-for-sale Only In TokyoContinue reading “Surrounded by a waterfall, what to serve for Japanese dessert, and how to get the all-new, not-for-sale Yumi & Kenji short for free”

When you wish upon a…monk?

I don’t know about you, but this year has given me a lot more respect for luck than I used to have. In Japan, people are a lot more comfortable with acknowledging that stuff we can’t control—aka Fate—plays a huge part in determining the course of our lives. But, of course, they still try toContinue reading “When you wish upon a…monk?”

Summery miso grilling sauce, a garden grown from 3,000-year-old lotus seeds, and what souvenirs NOT to buy this month

Hello, my friend. It’s me again, Jonelle. I hope it’s cheerier where you are, but it seems like nearly all my favorite things to look forward to during the carefree days of summer aren’t really happening this year. So, this month, let’s enjoy a different kind of summer delight: stuff we’re NOT missing! From divineContinue reading “Summery miso grilling sauce, a garden grown from 3,000-year-old lotus seeds, and what souvenirs NOT to buy this month”

Six Surprising Reasons Japanese People Wear Masks, Even When There’s No Pandemic

If you’ve been puzzling over why Japan is such a “mask-wearing society,” it’s not because they’re all super-OCD about germs. Here are six excellent Japanese reasons to wear a mask that have nothing to do with the dread COVID: 1 – You overslept Because if this is your typical morning routine… …you can cut yourContinue reading “Six Surprising Reasons Japanese People Wear Masks, Even When There’s No Pandemic”

Live Your Best Miniature Life for a Year in Tokyo’s Small Worlds Theme Park

If you’ve ever wished you could shrink yourself and live in one of the amazing model worlds Japan is so famous for…now you can! Small Worlds—a vast, animatronic, model-trains-on-steriods theme park that not only reimagines Tokyo, but the Sailor Moon and Evangelion versions of it—offers a one-year “residence permit” that allows a tiny 3D-scanned modelContinue reading “Live Your Best Miniature Life for a Year in Tokyo’s Small Worlds Theme Park”

Keeping cool in hilarious Japanese ways, a journey back to a simpler time, and the best soy-lemon salad dressing EVER

Hello, friend. It’s me, Jonelle. So, I’ve been wondering—are you experiencing micro-nostalgia too? At least once a day I find myself longing for the good old days…you know, like, four months ago. I don’t know about you, but the world has changed with such dizzying speed, some days I just want to walk away fromContinue reading “Keeping cool in hilarious Japanese ways, a journey back to a simpler time, and the best soy-lemon salad dressing EVER”

An Only-In-Japan Problem If There Ever Was One

We’re coming into high matsuri season, when the local Shinto gods are paraded through the neighborhood to remind them of all the people and businesses they’re supposed to be keeping a lucky eye on, but these sake-filled summertime festivals that feature scantily-clad men rocking that shrine through the streets… come with their own peculiar anxiety…Continue reading “An Only-In-Japan Problem If There Ever Was One”

Japanese Emoticons: So Many Feels Beyond Emoji

You know how they keep adding emoji, but there never seems to be one that matches exactly how you’re feeling? Do you ever find yourself wishing that, for example, there was one to represent the happy you feel when the shoes you ordered online turn out to be cute AND comfortable, and a different oneContinue reading “Japanese Emoticons: So Many Feels Beyond Emoji”

Modern Kimonos To Die For: These Designers Are Giving An Old Artform New Edge

Hello, fellow kimono lovers of all shapes, sizes, colors, & geographic persuasions! Kimono princessing is all about mixing East and West, colors and patterns, styles and eras, and it warmly embraces vintage, second-hand delights as well as new. But there are a growing number of talented designers who have boosted the ancient artform onto modernContinue reading “Modern Kimonos To Die For: These Designers Are Giving An Old Artform New Edge”

Samurai graffiti, mountaintop enlightenment, & the famous Yakitori Chicken Mini-Burger recipe

Hi, friend. It’s me, Jonelle. If you need a little break to recharge your batteries before heading back out into the fray, here are links to the features Japanagram subscribers read about in May. Instead of searching out killer Instagram shots or rare souvenirs, let’s stop, exhale, and be refreshed by a very different kindContinue reading “Samurai graffiti, mountaintop enlightenment, & the famous Yakitori Chicken Mini-Burger recipe”

Tweets from the Pillow Book: Pandemic Version

If Sei Shonagon (author of that famous tenth-century snark-bible The Pillow Book) had been alive today and quarantined with the rest of us, I’m pretty sure she’d have tweeted these: @seishonagon The flowers in full bloom at a closed park #thingsthataredistantthoughnear • @seishonagon You finally make it to the front of the line for the supermarket, but realizeContinue reading “Tweets from the Pillow Book: Pandemic Version”

J-style Social Distancing Measurements for the Rest of Us

Yesterday I posted about Japan’s highly amusing subway posters that tell people to stand one tuna away from fellow pandemic commuters… But in the rest of the world, giant tuna are not exactly an everyday sight. I heard that Florida was suggesting a more familiar local measurement: Lol. But how big is an alligator, really?Continue reading “J-style Social Distancing Measurements for the Rest of Us”

How To Measure Social Distance, J-Style

Those of us who’ve been under quarantine for a month have stood in enough lines by now that we’ve probably got a pretty good eye for the “six foot” (two meter) guideline, but in crowded Japan, not so much. So they’ve plastered the subways with posters giving hilariously helpful hints for judging how close notContinue reading “How To Measure Social Distance, J-Style”

Kanji Drill Toilet Paper: For All Your Japanese Study Needs

Take care of two pressing needs at once with the ideal Japanese product for these troubled times: Professor Poop kanji-studying toilet paper! Schools are closed, but that doesn’t mean kids have an excuse to slack off – anyone who stops relentlessly memorizing those complicated kanji characters every week won’t be able to read the dailyContinue reading “Kanji Drill Toilet Paper: For All Your Japanese Study Needs”

Kawaii Masks

Hey, just because we all have to wear masks now doesn’t mean we have to look like grim extras from ER. In Japan, face masks have been a fashion go-to forever, because everyone still wanted to look kawaii while not spreading around their sneezy, cough-y plague-droplets in public. But it wasn’t long before the mastersContinue reading “Kawaii Masks”