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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Artist Turns The Best Pet Tweets Into Hilarious Tiny Sculptures

If I had to nominate one artist for Most Sanity-Saving In The Time of Coronavirus, it would absolutely be @meetissai, whose miniature sculptures inspired by pet tweets never fail to make me laugh out loud. Step away from your keyboard if you’re drinking tea, because I now present, for your spench-worthy enjoyment, these. If youContinue reading “Artist Turns The Best Pet Tweets Into Hilarious Tiny Sculptures”

Cutest Curry Rice Molds On The Planet

I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to Japanese curry rice molds, but these two cuties redefine ADORABLE. The only problem is that it comes in both cat and panda, and it’s too hard to decide (would it be greedy to get both? SHUT UP) •

I Saw Another New Wild Animal In Tokyo!

There I was, drinking in the serene green at the Kiyosumi Garden… …when I nearly stepped on this. It’s (weirdly) classified as “invasive” (because China) and “threatened.” Which shouldn’t surprised me, after hearing what Japanese visitors talk about at the aquarium. In these here parts, this unlikely snack is better known as suppon. •

3-D Goldfish Art: Wait, Those Are PAINTINGS?

Riusuke Fukahori paints 3-D goldfish so real you can’t believe they’re not wriggling. And I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but the exhibit of his work going on RIGHT NOW at the Sano Art Museum in Mishima is so astounding, that in real life, the fish look more real than in the photos. HisContinue reading “3-D Goldfish Art: Wait, Those Are PAINTINGS?”

The Cat Shaming Vending Machine

How did you guess that the moment I caught a glimpse of this vending machine filled with cat shaming gachagacha, all my laundry coins would be history? There was only one problem… I got the first four before running out of coins, but how could I not come back to try for the mystery cat?Continue reading “The Cat Shaming Vending Machine”

Japanese Gift Boxes of Overwhelming Cuteness

Gifting in Japan requires that the wrapping be nearly as precious as what’s inside, but I can never remember how to tie a traditional silk furoshiki without the book that reminds me how to fold and tuck the corners so it doesn’t turn out looking like I’m offering someone a wad of laundry. But evenContinue reading “Japanese Gift Boxes of Overwhelming Cuteness”

Move Over, Monkeys! See-no Evil, Hear-no-Evil, Speak-no-Evil Cats Are Here

Sticking to the straight and narrow has never been cuter, thanks to these adorable kittycat gacha-gacha toys, and the vending machine that dispenses them on the Yanaka Ginza shopping street. But most of all… This series may be sold out by the time you’re next in Tokyo, but there will be plenty more to takeContinue reading “Move Over, Monkeys! See-no Evil, Hear-no-Evil, Speak-no-Evil Cats Are Here”

Dogs In Kimonos: Shiba Edition!

The only thing in all of Japan that might be cuter than huskies in kimonos is a parade of shiba inus in kimono. Shibas are well-known for making like the Petrified Forest and refusing to budge until even the tiniest hint of humiliating costumery is removed, but the noble beasts I caught making their first shrineContinue reading “Dogs In Kimonos: Shiba Edition!”

Top Ten Crazy Holiday Gifts From Japan 2018

These days, everyone wants “experiences,” not “stuff,” so how about digging into your Santa sack for presents that deliver #youllneverguesswhatwedids that could only come from (where else?)…Japan! This year, give the gift of… 1 …making your own Panda Face sushi and finding out who’s the fastest panda-grabber in the land Level up by slipping in aContinue reading “Top Ten Crazy Holiday Gifts From Japan 2018”

Department Of Seasonal Pet Humiliation: This Year’s Santa Cat Costume

Sporting all the premium quality you’d expect from a ¥400 vending machine, this Santa Claws capelet just might be the perfect gift for someone who dreams of #catsofinstagram glory (and is willing to risk the kind of revenge that will certainly be extracted after uploading Growler’s humiliation for all the world to see). •

Cat Feet Chair Socks!

I know that you’ll be super envious to hear that my kitchen chairs are now prancing around on little cat feet! Gone are the days when the awful screeching sound of chair on floor could drive guests away faster than a pot of soup generously endowed with all four kinds of cow stomach. These “Tiger Feet”Continue reading “Cat Feet Chair Socks!”

The Shiba Inu Vending Machine

Finally! A series of shiba inu gachagacha toys made by an artist who understands that these devilish dogs are not just unbearably adorable, they come packed with a level of eccentric that makes eel-flavored ice cream look like vanilla. This series may be sold out by the time you’re next in Tokyo, but there willContinue reading “The Shiba Inu Vending Machine”

The Fox Wedding Vending Machine

Move over Angry Ghost Cats and Drunken Pets! The Fox Wedding vending machine takes tiny collectible toy obsession to a whole new level. Take my coin purse, foxen! Take all of it! And by the way, if you don’t already have a name for that thing where it rains while the sun is shining, fromContinue reading “The Fox Wedding Vending Machine”

Mobbed By Lemurs At The Exotic Animal Petting Zoo!

Who can say they never clutched the fence at their local zoo’s lemur exhibit and didn’t long to sneak over the top just for a few minutes (or, okay, in my case, A FEW HOURS) to cavort with those frisky, big-eyed, long-tailed cuties? Admit it – you’ve always secretly wanted to, haven’t you? Well, nowContinue reading “Mobbed By Lemurs At The Exotic Animal Petting Zoo!”

The Lost Cat Shrine

Don’t you just hate it when your kittehs get a touch of the walkabout? Well now you can do something about it. A quick prayer at the Tachikawa Suitengu Shrine will have them back on your doorstep quicker than a twist of the can opener! And just for fun, here are the eleven strangest shrinesContinue reading “The Lost Cat Shrine”

The Hypnotic Tail-Wagging Cat Clock

Walking down the street in Ome, I discovered something that totally flipped my three-hour trip to see a garden filled with no blooming azaleas into the win column: the tail-wagging cat clock! BEHOLD ITS MESMERIZING POWER: Can’t. Stop. Watching. (Except to scurry around online like a crazed, tail-wagging weasel to figure out who makes these and where to buyContinue reading “The Hypnotic Tail-Wagging Cat Clock”

Why I’d Totally Follow This Guy’s Instagram If He Hadn’t Died In 1889

Kawanabe Kyosai. He’d have had the best instagram ever. Of course, these are just a small appetizer – the show is HUGE, and so full of great stuff, it took me over an hour to see it all. If you’re in Tokyo before “This is Kyosai: The Israel Goldman Collection” ends on April 16, 2017, GO. It’sContinue reading “Why I’d Totally Follow This Guy’s Instagram If He Hadn’t Died In 1889”

The Drunken Pet Vending Machine

So, today I came home and found THIS. I don’t know what kind of shenanigans YOUR gacha-gacha toys get up to when they’re alone in the house, but… This series may be sold out by the time you’re next in Tokyo, but there will be plenty more to take its place! If you’d like to discover the latest,Continue reading “The Drunken Pet Vending Machine”

The Werewolf Shrine

High on top of a snowy mountain in Chichibu – so far from any train station that you’ll be eligible for a senior citizen discount by the time you get off the bus – is the Mitsumine Jinja. At first it looks like a typical Shinto shrine with fox messengers at the gate… …but a closerContinue reading “The Werewolf Shrine”

Fox Village Videos!

Here’s what it’s like to visit Fox Village in the snow, when the foxes are at their fattest & fluffiest! I have to confess, when it comes to which animals would get to sit in business class in my ark, it’s all about the tails. Foxes, of course, have the most magnificent fruffy tails in all of the animalContinue reading “Fox Village Videos!”

At The Crazy Cat Parade

I have to admit, I was powerless to resist going to a thing where hundreds of people dressed more or less as cats pranced down the street, some of them raucously performing musical numbers in which “nyan nyan nyan” replaced all the lyrics. The Bake Neko Parade gives everyone and their granny an excuse to dress up every October near KagurazakaContinue reading “At The Crazy Cat Parade”

A Prickly Day At The Hedgehog Cafe

Turn down the volume on your squee-meter, unless you want to lose a little more of your hearing! Check out the little prickle monsters you can snuggle up with at Tokyo’s new Hedgehog Cafe… The reason it’s called the Harry Hedgehog Café is that these little animals are known as hari-nezumi in Japanese, which means (brace yourself for the most perfect name EVER)Continue reading “A Prickly Day At The Hedgehog Cafe”

Which One Is The REAL Goldfish?

Not easy, is it? The lovely specimen in the wooden saké box is a painting of a goldfish. Actually, it’s about a gazillion paintings of a goldfish. Artist Riusuke Fukahori builds these 3-D wonders by pouring a thin layer of clear resin, painting a slice of goldfish, pouring another layer of resin, painting the next layer, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse,Continue reading “Which One Is The REAL Goldfish?”

The Catzilla Vending Machine

Overcome with a burning need for yet more weird plastic toys (hey, don’t pretend this doesn’t happen to you!) I was poking around in my favorite Akihabara gachagacha emporium when I discovered THIS: If you’d like to visit the Akihabara area the next time you’re in Tokyo, visit my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had. And although thisContinue reading “The Catzilla Vending Machine”

The Gods Of Cuteness Anoint The Most Inexplicable Animal Yet

If there was a vote on which animal is least likely to be described as “fluffy, “winsome” and “cuddly,” I think tapirs would pretty much win the internet. So why are tapirs suddenly everywhere? Honestly, I’ve been trying to ignore this. How can tapirs be a THING? Of course, Japan has tasted the depths of cuteness desperation before, but this has to be a new low. •  

Temple Cats, With Attitude

In Japan, neko and temples go together like fish guts and beer, and every graveyard attracts a cadre of cats to guard the departed. At first I tried not to think about what they might be eating to make them so fat and happy (DO NOT GO THERE) until I was lurking around taking pictures late one afternoon, and witnessed the duelling cat ladies. SufficeContinue reading “Temple Cats, With Attitude”

Fox Village: Even Better With Snow On Top!

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I finally made it to Zao Fox Village last spring, but it’s a good thing I didn’t actually shuffle off this mortal coil due to fox-induced bliss, because then I would have missed seeing all these fluffy vixen in the SNOW! This is just the first installment of fox-centric posts, because the second I walked throughContinue reading “Fox Village: Even Better With Snow On Top!”

The Angry Fox Ghost Vending Machine

I thought I’d reached the highest level of gacha-gacha nirvana when I discovered the Angry Cat Ghost vending machine last year, but yesterday walking through what I’d previously thought of as the ninth-circle-of-hell Shinagawa station, I spied these: YOKAI FOXES! As you can see, they come in six, count ’em SIX, fabulous colors, three with lucky messenger-of-the-gods markings. And yeah, as youContinue reading “The Angry Fox Ghost Vending Machine”

Midnight Fox Parade

Middle school boys in foxface and golden skirt-pants carrying gigantic fox heads through the streets of Tokyo? Can you think of a better way to ring in the new year? Every December 31st at midnight, the good citizens of Oji gather at the local inari shrine to show the furry-tailed messengers of the gods a good time.Continue reading “Midnight Fox Parade”

The Deli For Dogs

I was cutting through my favorite crazy pet store in Odaiba, when I spotted what I thought was a deli counter where pet owners who had become famished while stocking up on camouflage dog strollers and duck muzzles could grab a bite, but when I looked closer, all the artfully styled food models above the refrigerator case were intended for dogs! I know. I shouldn’t beContinue reading “The Deli For Dogs”

I Saw A New Wild Animal In Tokyo!

Walking home late one night, a flicker of unexpected movement caught my eye. When I looked up, there was something scampering along the phone lines above my head! A cat? A rat? No it was BIG. At first, I thought it might be a tanuki, but it was the wrong shape. It had a long body and an even longer tail,Continue reading “I Saw A New Wild Animal In Tokyo!”

Help, There’s A Hamster In My Drink!

Lately in Japan there’s been an explosion of vending machines selling little characters that perch on the side of your glass, so you never have to drink alone. But none of them has been nearly as cute as HAMSTERS. •

Princess Kimono, Animal Style

Obscure seasonal references to geese and crows? So tenth century! Leaf viewing and strolling beneath the cherry blossoms? Been there, called it a cab. Let’s strap on our princess kimonos and hit the animal cafés instead! Thanks to Kimono Hime magazine (#10 & #12) for the gorgeous new style kimono photos. • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick forContinue reading “Princess Kimono, Animal Style”

The Angry Cat Ghost Vending Machine

Walking through Shinjuku station today, I discovered I had a burning need for angry cat ghosts. Fortunately, there was a bank of gacha-gacha vending machines smack in the middle of the concourse, ready to cater to all my feline spiritual needs. This series may be sold out by the time you’re next in Tokyo, butContinue reading “The Angry Cat Ghost Vending Machine”

Let’s Go To Bunny Island!

If your squee-meter isn’t totally burnt out after Fox Village, it certainly will be, after we check out BUNNY ISLAND! Okunoshima isn’t easy to get to, but that’s why there’s an entire chunk of land off the coast of Japan where adorable bunnies run free, without fear of being eaten (or, obviously, having their natural urges curbed in any way). Okay, admitContinue reading “Let’s Go To Bunny Island!”

How To Make The Most Beautiful Lollipops In The World

OK, I admit, I did not make this lollipop. I went to the workshop taught by the artist who made it, but the thing I ended up making did not remotely, remotely, REMOTELY resemble this lollipop. First of all – to be fair – we weren’t supposed to be making goldfish (which is, like, the Mt. Everest of lollipop making).Continue reading “How To Make The Most Beautiful Lollipops In The World”

How To Go To Zao Fox Village: Squeeee Capital Of The World

Jaded denizen of the interwebz that I am, there’s not much that makes me leap out of my chair and scream “WANT!” but when I first saw a picture taken at Zao Fox Village, I had to drop everything and figure out a way to get there. It’s far from Tokyo – five hours by car –Continue reading “How To Go To Zao Fox Village: Squeeee Capital Of The World”

The Fox Shrine To End All Fox Shrines

I knew I was going to love the Sasuke Inari Shrine from the moment I saw the long tunnel of red lacquer torii gates leading into the deep, dark woods. But nothing prepared me for the mossy, foxy, wonders that lay beyond!   If you’d like to visit the Sasuke Inari Shrine the next timeContinue reading “The Fox Shrine To End All Fox Shrines”