The fabulous TeamLab Planets site gets a pink makeover for cherry blossom season! Between March 1 and April 31, instead of wading among the fish and flowers like this… …you can submerge your ankles in a sea of koi and petals like this! Like the usual immersive digital pond, the music and animation start withContinue reading “Cherry Blossom Planets”
Author Archives: Jonelle Patrick
Floating flowers are taking over Japan this spring
In Japan, too many flowers is just enough, especially when it comes to hanachōzu! The latest fashion for excess splendor started at shrines that fill their purifying mizu-chōzuya (“hand washing water place”) with a mix of spring blooms and colorful floating balls… …but it grew to include families and shops that also welcome spring byContinue reading “Floating flowers are taking over Japan this spring”
In the category of “things that should not have a ‘handcrafted’ version,” cola has got to be the headliner. This inexplicable cola concentrate was on sale at my local organic food boutique (file under “WUT?”), and the explanation on the back assures me that not only was it made from “spices procured from all overContinue reading “Craft…Cola?”
Luck meets art at the most delightful Girls Day exhibit ever
Cross your fingers and rub your rabbit’s foot, because we are about to venture into an exhibit where luck meets art and, well, THIS is what might result… “Lucky Subjects and Symbols in Japanese Art” is a delightful surprise of an exhibit, not least because it sounds like the driest of academic takes on theContinue reading “Luck meets art at the most delightful Girls Day exhibit ever”
Required gear for Japanese snowboard school
Yes, you get a butt pillow. And because it’s Japan, it’s a cute one! (As you can see, one future shredder has already put it to good use…) • If you could use a little more amusement in your life… •
How to grow a Japanese snow monster
Everyone who spends any time on the interwebz has seen the Snow Monsters of Zao—evergreen trees that become so enrobed in snow and ice that they stop looking like trees and start looking like something that goes bump in the night. The ads for the ski resort usually look like this: But on the sparklingContinue reading “How to grow a Japanese snow monster”
The fourteen best places in Tokyo to see plum blossoms in bloom!
The plum trees are going to be at peak bloom this weekend—here are my favorite places to see them! • YUSHIMA SHRINE This is one of the most beautiful shrines in Tokyo, and it not only has a ton of plum trees, it has a festival to celebrate them the whole month of February, withContinue reading “The fourteen best places in Tokyo to see plum blossoms in bloom!”
Camping J-style: Don’t forget the rice cooker!
If you’re in search of a rugged outdoor experience you can regale your co-workers with at the next company drink-a-thon (but not the kind that produces tales of campfire fails, culinary deprivation or drafty tents), Japan’s got you covered! But even if you’ve invested in the right equipment, failing to produce a campfire to cookContinue reading “Camping J-style: Don’t forget the rice cooker!”
When you think of red lace undies…
I bet you didn’t think of THESE. Because in Japan, they’re not just for the ladies anymore. #cantunsee • If you could use a little more amusement in your life… •
TeamLab x Galaxy: Catch & release rare sea creatures without getting your tootsies wet!
How do you sell a phone that will set your Japanese customers back over *cough, cough* ¥150,000 (about $1,100 USD)? Well, first, you hire TeamLab to build you a killer undersea digital environment… then you hand visitors your want-worthiest model… and set them loose to catch and release all kinds of rare sea creatures. LikeContinue reading “TeamLab x Galaxy: Catch & release rare sea creatures without getting your tootsies wet!”
What ingredient do you think THIS Japanese restaurant is famous for?
Nope, not tofu. If you guessed GLUTEN, you win the prize! Wait…what? Gluten? Yes, at Fumuroya, not only is the savory, marshmallow-like goodie known as fū prepared in surprising and satisfying ways, the 9-course lunch set I ate with friends was so good, I sneaked back by myself to try it again! If this isContinue reading “What ingredient do you think THIS Japanese restaurant is famous for?”
How Big Is Tokyo?
This week I was updating The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had, and I thought you might enjoy seeing how big it is compared to your city! (Scroll down to see Tokyo’s main subway line superimposed on maps of major cities all over the world.) Anyone who wants to be somewhere on time in Tokyo takesContinue reading “How Big Is Tokyo?”
Santa Blasphemy returns
Don’t let the name of this Santa costume fool you—there’s nothing sacrosanct about Santa when it comes to dressing up like the jolly old elf in Japan! Even the most stalwart child might hesitate before climbing into the lap of a Holy Basic Santa who looks like he might demand a confession before hearing aboutContinue reading “Santa Blasphemy returns”
Let’s walk out to Miyajima’s famous floating gate!
Before now, you’d have to be able to walk on water to see Miyajima’s famous “floating torii gate” up close and personal, but thanks to a brief window of lingering construction access, the only superpower we mere mortals need is the ability to stand in line! For the past three years, this World Heritage siteContinue reading “Let’s walk out to Miyajima’s famous floating gate!”
The Giant Bag o’ Rice Vending Machine
Find yourself in dire need of ten kilos of rice late at night, when the stores are all closed? Fret not, Japan’s got you covered. •
Epic Japanese Cake Show: Part 1
No Japanese apartment comes equipped with an oven. That shocked me, until I stopped to think about it, and realized not a single traditional Japanese dish requires baking. Which doesn’t keep them from being some of the most skilled bakers in the world. Like the fiber artists of the Tokyo International Quilt Festival, the pastryContinue reading “Epic Japanese Cake Show: Part 1”
Yes, all these origami cranes were folded from ONE sheet of paper!
I don’t know about you, but I have to lie down and rest after wrestling one square of origami paper into a crane, let alone folding hundreds, none bigger than a quarter and all connected because they’re made from a single sheet of paper! The insane art of renzuru has been practiced in Japan sinceContinue reading “Yes, all these origami cranes were folded from ONE sheet of paper!”
This Does Not Make Me Want To Eat That Cheesecake
From the Tokyo bakery that has been indicted for misusing the Universal Garnish on previous occasions comes this inexplicable frippery. I had to press my nose right up against the glass to figure out that this cheesecake is decorated with… …shriveled grapes and pine needles? •
Art Aquarium Lives!
If Japan had a shrine dedicated to goldfish, the new Art Aquarium Museum would be it. It’s fitting that as you enter the new, permanent home of my favorite summer event, you really feel like you’re stepping into another dimension, a world where goldfish are elevated to art… Countless varieties of fancy fish are displayedContinue reading “Art Aquarium Lives!”
Guess that flavor, J-style
Most Japanese people hate the taste of root beer (WHY?) so if it’s a hella hot day in Tokyo and you’re craving a root beer float, a soda topped with soft serve (and blasphemously adulterated with ice cubes) is about as close as you’re going to get. But how close is it? Well… The blueContinue reading “Guess that flavor, J-style”
Japan’s borders are finally opening! When are YOU going?
After two and a half looong years, the Japanese government finally announced that from October 11, 2022, you don’t have to be on a tour or book your tickets through a Japanese travel agent or get a visa, as long as you can prove you are vaccinated and boosted!* If you’ve been itching to goContinue reading “Japan’s borders are finally opening! When are YOU going?”
J-swag giveaway, the insanity of a Japanese bus tour & nutty noodles
Hi, it’s me, Jonelle.Now that I’m back in post-pandemic Japan, please sign up for the (free) Japanagram e-magazine if you’d like to get each month’s Japanese Home Cooking recipe, Beyond Tokyo travel destination, Why, Japan, Why dive into cultural oddities, Seasonal Secret, and Japan Swag Giveaway. Click on the button below to become one ofContinue reading “J-swag giveaway, the insanity of a Japanese bus tour & nutty noodles”
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!”
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!”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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?”
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”
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”
Japanese Capsule Toys Explain the Five Stages of Quarantine Hair Grief
DENIAL ANGER BARGAINING DEPRESSION ACCEPTANCE •
Gachapon animals ask their mirrors the most burning quarantine questions
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”