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!”

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”

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”

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”

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”

More Haiku Musings On The Ironies Of Modern Life

Elderly uncle buying sake. Do I really have to Check his ID? • This odd store. I’ve never seen a customer here, Yet, it survives. • The forecast changes To match the weather. Sneaky. • Why was my prayer So much shorter? I’m embarrassed. • That gangster Would be more frightening Without the child seats.Continue reading “More Haiku Musings On The Ironies Of Modern Life”

The One Word Saint

As the old year draws to a close (and we say good riddance to all that was disappointing and discouraging), and a new year is about to begin (along with the ever-springing hope that it will be better than the last), I find myself thinking about this odd little booth that sits in a quietContinue reading “The One Word Saint”

The Shrine Maiden Vending Machine

Are ya feelin’ lucky? Because this vending machine dispenses fortunes, just like the ones you can buy at Japanese shrines! But that’s not all – it’s delivered by a little animatronic shrine maiden, who fetches if from the inner precincts and deposits it in the offering box for your future-divining pleasure. If you’d like toContinue reading “The Shrine Maiden Vending Machine”

This Year’s Burning October Question: What’s The Peeing Statue Wearing For Halloween?

I had to go check to make sure that the best-dressed nude statue in Tokyo made it through the typhoon safely. And he did! Not only that, he already knows what he’s going to be for Halloween. But…huh? As you can see, “witch” costumes in Japan are subject to the same considerable creative interpretation that hasContinue reading “This Year’s Burning October Question: What’s The Peeing Statue Wearing For Halloween?”

Typhoon Aftermath

Today when I woke up, it was hot and sunny. It didn’t seem possible that twelve hours ago, the biggest typhoon in sixty years was raging through Tokyo. So I went out to take a look at one of the places that had been evacuated – a neighborhood next to the Tama River. The topContinue reading “Typhoon Aftermath”

In Which We Report On Being Hammered By Typhoon Hagibis In Tokyo

FRIDAY Pre-typhoon festivities: At Meidi-ya (the swanky “Japanese” supermarket): Lines fifteen deep with bulging baskets as every Japanese person in my neighborhood panic-buys foods that still qualify as gourmet without cooking or refrigeration. Meanwhile, at National Azabu (the “foreign foods” supermarket): Business as usual (except with rather more wine bottles in the baskets ahead ofContinue reading “In Which We Report On Being Hammered By Typhoon Hagibis In Tokyo”

Rice Field Art

In what has to be the weirdest creative medium next to the Seed Art Pavilion at the Minnesosta State Fair, Japanese farmers have taken to making large-scale art by planting some of their fields in different strains of rice. The only problem is, in order to even see what the picture is of, you haveContinue reading “Rice Field Art”

Viva la Revolućion…Diva Style

I’ve got to hand it to the fearless players of Takurazuka – they might be the only women in the world who regularly get up on stage and play the parts of men with iconic beards and legendary moustaches. Their current musical production features everyone’s favorite Cuban revolotionary, who rocks the glam eye makeup aContinue reading “Viva la Revolućion…Diva Style”

How Superheros Find Their Perfect Match

I had to laugh when I saw these ads on the subway for the Partner Agent dating service. It features famous manga characters who ordinarily would never meet because they occupy totally different Japanese comic book series. She’s a villain named Doronjo, known for being smart, take-charge, and vain. He’s an renegade medical mercenary, whoContinue reading “How Superheros Find Their Perfect Match”

Subway Manners…For Ghosts

I’m afraid this subway manners poster isn’t going to do much to convince Things That Go Bump In The Night to stop harassing passengers – in fact, it’ll probably infuriate them to learn that they are merely as annoying as a wet umbrella or an overstuffed backpack, thus triggering a supernatural reign of terror. Don’tContinue reading “Subway Manners…For Ghosts”

The Scourge Of The Orange Jacket

Okay, I know you think I’m a whiner because I went off on this guy wearing an orange jacket, sitting right in the middle of a shot I wanted to take during cherry blossom season at Shinjuku Gyōen. I mean, one guy, minding his own business—so what if his head’s inside his phone instead ofContinue reading “The Scourge Of The Orange Jacket”

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!”

How To Survive New Year’s In Japan

Seriously. The fear is real. New Year’s is one of those times in Japan when it’s a real liability to be thousands of miles away from people who might loan you embarrassing essentials or feed you in a pinch, because everything – and I do mean everything – shuts down from December 31 to JanuaryContinue reading “How To Survive New Year’s In Japan”

Gateway To Chrysanthemum Bliss?

Okay, what do you think THIS floral designer got in trouble for drawing in the margins of his schoolbooks…? If I’d come in through this portal, I might never have made it to the annual Shinjuku National Garden chrysanthemum displays, because I’d have died laughing, so it’s a good thing I entered from the otherContinue reading “Gateway To Chrysanthemum Bliss?”

Remote Control Hell At The Traditional Inn

On Tuesday I arrived at a fabulous onsen in Tateshima, expecting to simmer in their hot spring, gaze at splendid autumn leaves in luxurious quietude, and stuff myself with regional specialties, but when I got to my room I found…this. I mean, what the heckin’ heck? Five remotes to control a tatami-floored room at aContinue reading “Remote Control Hell At The Traditional Inn”

Things I Never Envisioned Myself Owning

Yes, it’s exactly what it looks like. A fuzzy green polka-dot toilet seat cover. Because Japan delivers a whole new level of hurt to the concept of freezing your butt off: the fact that I actually went out and bought this is a testament to the truth that no toilet seat is as cold asContinue reading “Things I Never Envisioned Myself Owning”

More Hilarious Haiku About The Small Mysteries Of Modern Life

I know you’ve just been WAITING for more amusing observations and subtly ironic drawings about modern life from Yamada Zenjido (the artist who goes by y_haiku), so for those of you who (like me) are not exactly goddess-like at reading handwritten Japanese, here are a few choice ones in translation! May it perk up yourContinue reading “More Hilarious Haiku About The Small Mysteries Of Modern Life”

Are Ya Feelin’ Lucky?

Ah, New Year’s, when everyone in Japan visits their local kami-sama for the first time and gets a glimpse of their fortune for the coming year! But if you’re geographically challenged, and visiting your closest shrine would involve a butt-numbing plane flight, here are some dai-kichi (best luck ever) fortunes you can toss into aContinue reading “Are Ya Feelin’ Lucky?”

Instabae

That’s what you call this in Japan. It’s an experience that looks way better shared on social media than in real life. But I gotta say, Japan is genius at it. But even though they did a pretty decent job of selling orange as the new amber, this team gets a certain number of #instabaeContinue reading “Instabae”

Poppins-san

In the land where nannies are nearly as scarce as chimney sweeps, this all-Japanese celebration of bygone British privilege is about to hit the stage. It’s too bad they don’t adapt these things for the local audience the same way they “improve” pizza, because I would pay good money to hear someone sing such hitsContinue reading “Poppins-san”

Modern Day Tweets From The Pillow Book

If Sei Shonagōn were alive and well and living in Tokyo… • @seishonagon A latecomer pushes in front of you at a festival and holds up his huge iPad to take pictures #hatefulthings @seishonagon Someone wearing a bright orange jacket is standing around texting on his phone, smack in the middle of a famous cherryContinue reading “Modern Day Tweets From The Pillow Book”

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!”

Giant Gundam Is BACK!

The Giant Gundam is finally back! And it does not disappoint! I was super sad when I heard that the old giant robot outside the DiverCity shopping mall in Odaiba was going away last March, but am happy to report that Gundam 2.0 is bigger, badder and even more entertaining than Gundam 1.0! Here’s aContinue reading “Giant Gundam Is BACK!”

The Secret Innards Of The Catbus And Other Shocking Revelations

It’s not often that I walk through an art show where each piece is more surprising and delightful than the last, but Jason Freeny’s “Plastic Surgeon” exhibit at the Megumi Ogita Gallery really pushed my amusement meter into the red zone! I’m resisting the temptation to be Lady Spoiler of Spoilerfell by posting all theContinue reading “The Secret Innards Of The Catbus And Other Shocking Revelations”

Hilarious Haiku About The Small Embarrassments Of Modern Life

Last week I discovered Yamada Zenjido, an artist who pens haiku-like truisms paired with pitch-perfect drawings, and they are SO FUNNY…if you can read handwritten Japanese, that is. Fortunately, I have a friend who helped me with the more opaque characters (and because no good deed goes unpunished, will be pestered to do so maybeContinue reading “Hilarious Haiku About The Small Embarrassments Of Modern Life”

Why Are Tattoos Still Taboo In Japan? (Spoiler: It’s not because they think you’re a gangster)

It’s not news that you can get kicked out of hot springs, public swimming pools, and water parks in Japan if you’ve got visible ink, even if it’s a teeny, tiny, adorable Hello Kitty. But why? The usual explanation is that nobody wants their nice business infested with yakuza gangsters, which is the main JapaneseContinue reading “Why Are Tattoos Still Taboo In Japan? (Spoiler: It’s not because they think you’re a gangster)”

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 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”

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”

In Which An 8th Century Monk Trolls Us All

Inside this telephone booth of yore lies the Miroku Stone. For hundreds of years (since the time of the venerable Kobo Daishi*) it has been known that if a virtuous person reaches through the little window and picks up the stone, it will feel light. But if you’ve been a bad boy, it will be unbearablyContinue reading “In Which An 8th Century Monk Trolls Us All”

Wading Through A Sea Of Stars & Flowers

It was the last day of the DMM Planets attraction out in Odaiba today, but if you missed your chance to roll up your pants & wade around in a cloud-like sea of flowers and goldfish with a kerbillion and a half other people, here’s what it was like: My favorite part of the thing, though, was the CrystalContinue reading “Wading Through A Sea Of Stars & Flowers”

Hydrangeas: Gateway To A Life Of Crime

I have a confession to make. Although my job is to write about ingenious ways people commit murder and mayhem, when it comes to obsessing about how I’d commit the perfect crime, it always ends up with hydrangeas. Yes, hydrangeas. To be more specific, hydrangea smuggling. Because before I went to Japan, I never dreamed that the humble fluffballs flanking granny’sContinue reading “Hydrangeas: Gateway To A Life Of Crime”

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”

The Best Dressed Nude Statue In All Of Tokyo

Sometimes you’re trudging home and dreading getting on a crowded train, then you find THIS! How great is it that they have a peeing boy statue smack in the middle of the train platform at the otherwise grim Hamamatsucho Station? As if that weren’t cheering enough, for over fifteen years this bronze nude taking a perpetual whizz has been dressedContinue reading “The Best Dressed Nude Statue In All Of Tokyo”

Subway Manners…For Aliens

Because seriously, unless you were raised by Mechagodzilla, how could you not know that headbutting a station employee, grabbing him by his necktie and drunk-pitching your beer in his face are not exactly recommended by Miss Manners? (And if you were raised by aliens, expect a lump of coal in your next Xmas stocking if a wimpy poster convinces you to abandonContinue reading “Subway Manners…For Aliens”

Setagaya Boroichi: The Grand Pooh-bah Of All Flea Markets

I’d heard about the Boroichi Flea Market for ages, but never made it to one until today. Yikes, it filled every street and alleyway for BLOCKS! In classic flea market style, there was loads of crap studded liberally with actual finds, but I think I can pretty much guarantee that somewhere within this maze you can satisfy your burning desire for…Continue reading “Setagaya Boroichi: The Grand Pooh-bah Of All Flea Markets”

How About A Nice Cup Of Civet Poop Coffee?

The kopi luwat civet poops coffee. Or, to be more precise, it climbs to the top of coffee trees, eats the ripest beans, digests the fruity bits around the seed and, er, leaves the rest for industrious pooper-scoopers to turn into the world’s weirdest brew. Of course, once I spied a weird old-fashioned coffee bar near Shinjuku station withContinue reading “How About A Nice Cup Of Civet Poop Coffee?”

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”

Level Up, Halloweenies!

Because in Japan, dressing up is no joke! Real cosplayers scoff at Halloween as Amateur Night, but for most people, the Big H is a chance to flaunt their secret zombie in public, and even ordinary citizens put serious effort into Doing It Right. •

My Worst Foreigner Moment

Okay, in the interest of not being That Hellishly Smug Foreigner, it’s only fair that I confess my most cringeworthy moment in Japan. Not that there haven’t been plenty of other times I’ve been secretly branded a henna gaijin by phalanxes of nice Japanese people averting their eyes and backing away slowly, but this one is a classic because it involves, yes, Mt.Continue reading “My Worst Foreigner Moment”

Subway Safety For Rockabillies

Tokyo Metro’s subway safety posters always crack me up, because they all seem to be earnestly designed by Captain Obvious, but this one actually made me laugh with it, not at it. I mean DUH you’d have to be an idiot to know you shouldn’t prance along the scary side of the yellow line while drunk or shove unsuspecting fellow commuters into theContinue reading “Subway Safety For Rockabillies”