One painfully, BEASTLY hot day, I was scuttling along from shade puddle to shade puddle on my way back to Kanamachi Station, and I happened to glance through the gate of a … Continue Reading St. Bondage
SUMMERTIME! In the land where fireworks are more like giant flaming bunches of posies than boisterous, wham-bam, shock & awe, that’s what hanabi really means in Japanese: fire flowers. A summertime treat accompanied … Continue Reading Big Bouquets Of Fire Flowers
Whether you’re all about the beer drinking or just want to win a few photo contests, first you gotta find the big pink things. Here’s a list of my all-time … Continue Reading The Best Cherry Blossom Spots In Tokyo – With Maps!
Is your favorite lipstick color black? Do net quizzes always sort you into Slytherin? Would you rather eat deep fried cod testicles than be seen in a pink kimono? Then this set … Continue Reading Finally, Girls’ Day For Goths!
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 … Continue Reading Setagaya Boroichi: The Grand Pooh-bah Of All Flea Markets
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 … Continue Reading Midnight Fox Parade
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! … Continue Reading Princess Kimono, Animal Style
On my way to check out the rooster shrine, I chanced upon these sight-challenged Jizos and a celebrity Kannon, chilling in a parking lot. • Read a novel set in Tokyo…
When winter finally lets go of Tokyo and the days start to get long and warm, it’s time to take the local deities out and show them a good time! But … Continue Reading Partying With The Gods
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. … Continue Reading The Fox Shrine To End All Fox Shrines
In Japan, the frenzy of weird Santas and blue poinsettias are whisked away the day after Christmas, and replaced with something far better…new year’s decorations! I never saw them before I lived … Continue Reading I Love Japanese New Year’s Decorations!
There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned fire ceremony to get your year off to a blazing start! Flaming prayer sticks, drums being pounded by ultra-buff young priests, the chance to get your … Continue Reading Get Your Wallet Blessed By Fire & Drums
Never thought I’d be using the words “squeee!” and “fishcake” in the same sentence, but…! • Read a novel set in Tokyo
It was a rainy autumn morning in the mountains of Gunma, but I didn’t care because I’d just spent a half hour soaking in punishingly hot mineral water at a Japanese inn … Continue Reading Hot Springs Latte Art
Every once in a while, Japan so wildly exceeds expectations, it’s hard to put it into words, so I’ll just show you pictures of last night’s Oeshiki Ikegami festival instead. Special thanks … Continue Reading Festival Of 10,000 Lanterns
Asakusa is always entertaining by day, but it’s totally stunning at night. From theatrically lit temples to glittering reflections on the Sumida River, this neighborhood never disappoints. If you’d like to … Continue Reading Diva In The Spotlight: Asakusa At Night
Remember those big white snowball-y bushes that bloomed next to Grandma’s porch all summer long? Believe it or not, those everyday flowers were where they started hybridizing to get these fancypants. Some temples in … Continue Reading Gorgeous Japanese Hydrangeas = Summertime!
Of all the rakugo performances I’ve seen, Fishing For Women is my fave. It’s got great characters, including a guy who’s more of a nightmare than the worst Tinder story you’ve ever heard! THE CHARACTERS In … Continue Reading Fishing For Women
Japan isn’t short on shrines that cure warts, protect your electronics from the forces of eviltude, and jumpstart your career as a manga artist, but this is the first one I’ve heard of that … Continue Reading The Dog Blessing Shrine
Warts. Just hearing their name makes you want to get rid of them faster than pronto. And what easier way, than to visit the Wart-Be-Gone Jizo at Nishiarai Daishi temple? Just toss … Continue Reading The Wart Shrine
Do you think the artist who carved these beasties had ever actually seen one? I guess it doesn’t matter, as long as the guy who paid the bill hadn’t either. These elephants … Continue Reading Furry Elephants. With Claws.
In case you need proof that “the harder a garden is to get to, the more spectacular it is,” look no further than Ashikaga Flower Park. Two solid hours from Tokyo … Continue Reading Yes, This Is One Wisteria Plant!
On a fine spring day, how can you not be cheered by spotting koi nobori swimming through the sky? It’s Children’s Day again, here in Japan, and fathers & sons everywhere are celebrating … Continue Reading Fish Flag Day!
So, I’m trudging back to the bus stop after catching Sankei-en having the Japanese garden equivalent of a bad hair day,* when I spot this odd little shrine tucked between two houses. The altar … Continue Reading The Scrub Brush Shrine
I’m not sure who first thought that walking across burning coals would be an awesome superpower to have, but sometime in the distant past, that’s exactly what a bunch of … Continue Reading Firewalking 101
If you live, breathe, and want to work in anime, the Kanda Myōjin shrine is the place to pray that your dreams come true. But you’d better bring your markers … Continue Reading The Anime Shrine
In a corner of Gotokuji Temple, I discovered a Kannon figure totally surrounded by maneki neko lucky cats! Their raised paws are believed to beckon money and good luck into the … Continue Reading The Lucky Cat Temple
Give granny a heart attack with a Coming-Of-Age kimono that shows as much leg as your old schoolgirl uniform, bares a shoulder and some black-lace-edged cleavage, or cinches everything together … Continue Reading Alt Kimono
It’s that time of year when too much is just enough. And biggest of all, my thanks to all you wonderful readers and commenters (and especially those of you who … Continue Reading At New Year’s In Japan, Bigger Is Better
Lines stretch around the block at every KFC in Tokyo on Christmas Eve, as household minions are dispatched to pick up the traditional holiday fare, but this year they have a … Continue Reading Traditional KFC Christmas Dinner, Now With Seaweed!
The god of rice’s building at the Ise Shrine sits next to a vacant lot. Or, actually, a construction site. Because every twenty years, a replica of the rice god’s … Continue Reading At The Ise Shrine, Everything New Is Old
It’s not every day I nip out to the local shrine for a little photo taking and run into gaggle of women dressed as eight foot tall birds. Japan can … Continue Reading Giant Faux White Herons
The first time I explored a Japanese department store, I was excited to see that they had an entire department devoted to clothes in my favorite color: black! Then a … Continue Reading All Black, All The Time
There’s one problem with shopping at the chiyogami store in Yanaka – in a matter of minutes, my shopping basket was stacked with ten times the number of sheets I … Continue Reading Wrapping Paper That’s Too Nice For Any Present
If you want to find the gf/bf of your dreams, this is the place to do it! The gods of the Imado Shrine in Asakusa are apparently better at forking … Continue Reading St. Nyancat Of Matchmaking
Glam is not usually a word that comes to mind when describing the traditional summer kimonos known as yukata, but Vice Fairy, my favorite host brand, outdoes themselves again this … Continue Reading Perfect Summer Kimonos For Guys With Purple Hair
Here lie the funniest Japanese stories ever told. Or so they say, because when it was decided in 1941 that tales of wayward sons in the red light district, mistress … Continue Reading Tomb Of The Untold Stories
Now you no longer have to do the heavy lifting when it comes to heaving that sacred garbage into the shrine’s designated bin! Here at the Narita Fudo-san Shrine, this … Continue Reading Auto-Incinerate, For All Your Sacred Garbage Needs
It’s L o’clock, and that means it’s time to check out an old art that’s alive and well in Tokyo: watchmaking! Actually, although I’d like you to believe I discover … Continue Reading Hey Look, It’s L o’ Clock!
I love these. Every year on May 5, families fly koi nobori outside their houses as a sort of prayer that their sons will become like the carp that climbed … Continue Reading Swimming In The Sky
In case you don’t live in Japan or were raised by wolves in rural Aomori, the story of the 47 rōnin goes like this: After being insulted in the castle of the … Continue Reading Three Things They Never Tell You About The 47 Rōnin
Wow, people were totally troll-size back in the days before homogenized vitamin D milk! Check out the tiny gate in this old wall! No, wait. Then why is there an … Continue Reading What’s With The Tiny Door?
Behind the long, boring building mostly known for blocking views of the pagoda at Senso-ji is the secret garden of Denpo-in. Within those walls is a serene retreat used by … Continue Reading The Ultimate Secret Garden
Which one of these traditional Japanese tenugui hand towels is not like the others? Hint: it’s the one with the poem that reads: “One of these is small, but he … Continue Reading Cherry Blossoms for Geeks
Put the power of Anpanman and Melonpanna to work for you with this set of Girls’ Day dolls from the animated parallel universe where bread is king! Or emperor and … Continue Reading What Girls’ Day Could Be Complete Without Emperor Anpanman?
In Japan, February 8th is the day that old and broken needles are laid to rest. Anyone whose work involves sewing stuff together gathers at Awashima Shrine in Asakusa for … Continue Reading Funeral For A Pin
As I walked through the grounds of Zōjōji Temple after watching some obligatory bean-throwing at Setsubun, I couldn’t help but notice that several of the figures of o-Jizo-sama had been … Continue Reading What The Well-Dressed God Is Wearing This Season
While everyone was congratulating themselves on demon possession being at an all time low…damn! The pesky oni sneaked out and rebranded themselves! But that doesn’t mean we have to just … Continue Reading Out, Troll, Out! Setsubun For The Modern Age
Don’t even think of tossing your Daruma figures, dolls or stuffed animals in the Divine Trash Bin! The very existence of this sign on the collection point outside the Meiji … Continue Reading Garbage Police Of The Gods
Yeah, yeah, I know – leaves glowing in autumnal splendor, fall evening clear and crisp, moon shining bright, pond like a mirror, and the photos are sure to wow the … Continue Reading It’s Really All About The Sticky Rice Balls