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?”

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

Sep-Oct 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 the feature • First, an all-new Japanagram feature! Instead of a book giveaway this month, I’m delving into my personal treasure trove of Japanese collectables forContinue reading “International food fails, gorgeous iris gardens & sake making on Sado Island”

Bonsai Village, floating lanterns, and extreme lunchboxing explained

Jul-Aug 2022 Japanagram e-magazine features Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers are enjoying in July and August… Click on photo or link to read the feature Why, Japan, Why?: Extreme lunchboxing: The what, how & why of Japanese bentō No country has made more of an art of packing aContinue reading “Bonsai Village, floating lanterns, and extreme lunchboxing explained”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

These lovely Tokyo sites light up at night

One of the most entertaining things you can do in Tokyo is wander around the city after the sun goes down, if you know where to look. The wizards of stagecraft have worked their magic all over town, and all kinds of interesting stuff lights up after dark, in dramatic and technologically inventive ways. AndContinue reading “These lovely Tokyo sites light up at night”

Five Japanese flower seasons that will make you happy you missed the cherry blossoms

If you have to postpone your Japan trip and miss the cherry blossoms this spring, don’t despair! There are other flower seasons you can catch after the current contagion dies down that deliver just as much flowers-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see amazement, without the crowds. If eye-popping flowers are what you’re longing to see, here are my five favorites,Continue reading “Five Japanese flower seasons that will make you happy you missed the cherry blossoms”

Feast Your Eyes On This: A Shop Full Of Taisho, Meiji & Showa Era Kimonos

Today I was beelining toward a garden, through a neighborhood I never visit, when I was stopped cold by the kimono lovers’ equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave. Before I knew it, I was inside, powerless to resist. Which is a good thing, because otherwise I never would have discovered that this emporium of jazz-age kimonos, obis,Continue reading “Feast Your Eyes On This: A Shop Full Of Taisho, Meiji & Showa Era Kimonos”

Spring Arrives Early: Flowers by Naked 2020

Just when you’re beginning to long for spring but it’s still shivery and damp and gray outside…Flowers By Naked arrives! The projection-mapping environment group Naked is staging its annual flower-themed extravaganza again for the whole month of February, so hop on over there and get a dose of spring fever. Open: Every day from January 30Continue reading “Spring Arrives Early: Flowers by Naked 2020”

If You Miss The 2020 Tokyo International Quilt Festival You Will Have REGRETS

I won’t be in town for the Tokyo International Quilt Festival next week <sob!> but if you are, go. The hundreds of quilts on display will be world-class quality, and you will alternately sigh with admiration at the stitchery, boggle at the colors, laugh at the humor, and shake you head in wonderment at theContinue reading “If You Miss The 2020 Tokyo International Quilt Festival You Will Have REGRETS”

Kimono Princess For A Day!

Ever since I discovered that one of the most inspiring kimono stylists I know offers private tour and photo sessions, I’ve been dying to swan around Tokyo in a gorgeous ensemble, styled down to the last deco bracelet by modern kimono maven Anji Salz. (If you don’t already follow @salztokyo on Instagram, check these photosContinue reading “Kimono Princess For A Day!”

At The Mori Museum: 3D-Printed Sushi & Other Glimpses Of The Future

The Mori Museum’s current exhibit, Future and the Arts: AI, Robotics, Cities, Life – How Humanity Will Live Tomorrow pushes all my favorite buttons: food, fashion & WTF! It’s a satisfyingly huge show, with installations ranging from utopian plans that harness cutting-edge tech, to darker commentary on how we’ll use technology to evolve in a worldContinue reading “At The Mori Museum: 3D-Printed Sushi & Other Glimpses Of The Future”

Where To See The Best Holiday Illuminations In Tokyo 2019!

The frenzy of building bigger, newer, better illuminations with which to charm shoppers during the holiday season has died back a bit in Tokyo, but there are still plenty of amazing free displays, if you know where to look! Here are my must-sees for 2019: • New for 2019! HIBIYA MIDTOWN This is the firstContinue reading “Where To See The Best Holiday Illuminations In Tokyo 2019!”

Where To See The Best Autumn Leaves In Tokyo…Lit Up At Night!

The hot new trend of holiday illuminations in Tokyo has spread to the gardens and parks, with more and more lighting up their naturally spectacular autumn leaves and opening for special evening viewing! Here are my current favorites: • SHOWA KINEN PARK near Tachikawa Station There are two areas lit up at night: 1: TheContinue reading “Where To See The Best Autumn Leaves In Tokyo…Lit Up At Night!”

Killer Chrysanthemums 2019

It’s that time of year again, when the chrysanthemum wranglers of Tokyo liberate their flower-of-choice from ragtag funeral bouquets and show the world they can hold their own with far more glamorous blooms! Here’s what’s new for 2019: • YUSHIMA TENJIN SHRINE The rest of the displays at the Yushima Shrine are here: Where ToContinue reading “Killer Chrysanthemums 2019”

The Most Beautiful Autumn Leaves In Japan

Last fall on this exact day, I was ogling some of the most gorgeous autumn leaves in Japan, and I’ve been WAITING for the season to roll around again, so I can show you! All these places are within shouting distance of Tokyo, but while the leaves are still maddeningly green in the city, they’reContinue reading “The Most Beautiful Autumn Leaves In Japan”

Smart Illumination Yokohama 2019: WOW

This year, there were fewer artworks at the Yokohama Smart Illuminations, but the ones on exhibit were SO worth seeing! Or – more accurately – worth DOING. Because this year the participation element was front and center, and quite a few of them required serious athletic juice from the audience to power them. Here’s aContinue reading “Smart Illumination Yokohama 2019: WOW”

Insanely Detailed Sculptures Made From Japanese Snack Packages

From the nation of insane Japanese modelmakers, this. The artist known as “Karabako Shokunin Harukiru” (That’s “Empty Box Craftsman Harukiru” to you), snips and folds and glues the unlikely medium of Japanese snack food boxes into unbelievably intricate sculptures, and right now there’s a killer exhibit of his work at the Ikebukuro PARCO museum. AndContinue reading “Insanely Detailed Sculptures Made From Japanese Snack Packages”

Tokyo Cake Show: So Gorgeous, So Japanese

How can you tell a professional baking conference is in Tokyo? Because among the fantasy wedding cakes, there’s a Shinto shrine wedding, complete with marzipan bride and groom. And then there was the “marzipan cake” category. But the Japanese themes didn’t stop with the cakes – check out these king-sized decorations made of chocolate. AndContinue reading “Tokyo Cake Show: So Gorgeous, So Japanese”

Dahlia Bonanza At The Toshogu Shrine

Every fall, this exquisitely curated exhibition happens at the Toshogu Shrine in Ueno Park, at the same place that hosts the eye-popping peony specimens in May. If you haven’t got your dahlia fix quite yet, check out these beauties from when I went to the same exhibit two years ago: In The Japanese Dahlia GardenContinue reading “Dahlia Bonanza At The Toshogu Shrine”

Jazz Age Paintings Of Beautiful Women And The Real Kimonos They Were Wearing

If you love kimono – and especially if you love Taisho and Showa-age kimono – don’t miss this exhibition! Right now, the Yayoi-Yumeji Museum – where over 3,000 of artist/illustrator Takehisa Yumeji’s works are archived – is displaying the actual kimonos and accessories worn in his paintings, side by side. I’m a huge fan of TaishoContinue reading “Jazz Age Paintings Of Beautiful Women And The Real Kimonos They Were Wearing”

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?”

When The Gods Decide To Plant A Lotus Garden, They Don’t Mess Around

It was construction as usual in the town of Gyoda, until an excavation for a new building hit a layer of lotus plants that had been dead for thousands of years. They didn’t think much of it, until the rain came, and the ancient lotus seeds began to sprout. When the plants bloomed, the flowersContinue reading “When The Gods Decide To Plant A Lotus Garden, They Don’t Mess Around”

If Only Japanese Rock Gardens Were Filled With Cooling Mist & Illuminations…

Oh. Wait. At Tokyo Midtown this summer, they are! On the lawn that hosts those amazing winter illuminations, they’ve constructed a wide wooden veranda enclosing a “rock garden,” complete with clouds of mist and a fireworks-themed lightshow. And the best part is, you can sit and dangle your feet for as long as you like,Continue reading “If Only Japanese Rock Gardens Were Filled With Cooling Mist & Illuminations…”

Where To See The Most Divine Lotus Blossoms In Tokyo

Most flower seasons in Japan are like hitting the jackpot, but lotus season is more of a treasure hunt. Instead of fields of I-can’t-believe-my-eyes color, you have to hunt for the sublime pinkness amid a sea of green. But when you find it… Lotus flowers open at first light, are at their best from aboutContinue reading “Where To See The Most Divine Lotus Blossoms In Tokyo”

Things I Did Not Know You Could Do With A Lotus Leaf

This morning I was at the Sankei-en garden in Yokohama at the ungodly hour of 7:00 a.m. to see their field of lotus in bloom, but it was the bonus attractions that really made my day! Sankei-en has special early weekend opening hours during The Season, because (who knew?) lotus flowers only bloom in theContinue reading “Things I Did Not Know You Could Do With A Lotus Leaf”

The Enchanted Hydrangea Forest

The spring rainy season isn’t the most delightful time to be in Japan…unless you’re hiking through a shady forest, surrounded by heaps and heaps of blue hydrangeas! Minamisawa Ajisai Mountain’s groomed trails wind up the side of a mountain, through a silent and stately cedar forest that’s robed in countless poufs of cooling blue andContinue reading “The Enchanted Hydrangea Forest”

Under The Umbrella Sky

If there’s a better way to celebrate Japan’s summer rainy season, show me! This is the latest environmental art exhibit at Metsa Village, the same place where Digitized Lakeside and Forest happened last winter. And best of all…it’s free! This path is the entrance to the paying areas of Moomin Village and other attractions, butContinue reading “Under The Umbrella Sky”

Azalea Pilgrimage 2019

I know you’re exhausted after elbowing your way through the crazy crowds instagramming the cherry blossoms, which is why you should take a deep breath and go see the azaleas. Like cherry blossoms, the all-flowers-all-the-time spectacle will knock your socks off, but unlike the famous fluffy things, you can enjoy them in blissful near-solitude. HereContinue reading “Azalea Pilgrimage 2019”

The Best Places To See Pink Rivers of Cherry Blossom Petals

The leaves are greening, hangovers cured, blue tarps furled, the madness over. Right? Wrong! Because as soon as the petals begin to fall, it’s hana-ikada season: “rafts of flowers” that float atop cherry tree-lined bodies of water, turning them into pink rivers! It’s a little trickier to catch the magic of the fallen petals thanContinue reading “The Best Places To See Pink Rivers of Cherry Blossom Petals”

Plum Blossoms Lit Up At Night

The Yushima Shrine is famous for its plum blossoms, and until the end of February, you can see them lit up at night! Even if you’re a cherry blossom loyalist (in which case I sentence you to visiting all my favorite plum tree gardens and upgrading your flower preferences JUST SAYIN’) it’s a grand opportunity toContinue reading “Plum Blossoms Lit Up At Night”

Flowers By Naked 2019

This year’s Flowers by Naked (at the same Coredo venue that hosts Art Aquarium during the summer) was better than last year but not as engaging as the first year I saw it. The art of projection mapped animation has taken such huge strides in three years that it kind of amazes me how wowed I wasContinue reading “Flowers By Naked 2019”

Shirakawago In The Snow

For years, I’ve wanted to see the old-fashioned farmhouse hamlet of Shirakawa-go all lit up at night in the snow, and this week I got half my wish. It turns out that ever since it was named a Unesco World Heritage Site, viewing the farmhouses lit up at night has become such a crazy tourist madhouseContinue reading “Shirakawago In The Snow”

Tokyo International Quilt Festival 2019 PART TWO: Just Beautiful

It was so hard to choose only a few quilts to feature from the embarrassment of riches at this year’s Tokyo International Quilt Festival, but here are some of the overall stunners, and a couple that had details to die for. • You can see why this piece won the 2018 Machine Quilting Award… •Continue reading “Tokyo International Quilt Festival 2019 PART TWO: Just Beautiful”