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”

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?”

Yomiuriland Illuminations

By the time I took four trains and a bus to the gates of the aging amusement park Yomiuri Land, I had already decided that no illuminations could possibly be worth the schlep. Good thing I was SO WRONG! Hats off to whoever produced this kerbillion-light extravaganza – it totally exceeded expectations. Best ¥1000 entertainment I’ve seen in ages. I’m sure my impression wasContinue reading “Yomiuriland Illuminations”

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”

I Love Japanese New Year’s Decorations!

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 in Tokyo, but it was totally love at first sight. New year’s decorations are sold in November & December at small shops in Asakusabashi, andContinue reading “I Love Japanese New Year’s Decorations!”

Garbage Police Of The Gods

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 Shrine suggests there’s a major issue with people chronically flinging the Wrong Sort Of Stuff into the sacred  New Year’s bonfires: grubby Pikachus, dolls that haveContinue reading “Garbage Police Of The Gods”

Celebrating New Year’s, Japanese Style

When I made my hatsumōde (first shrine visit of the year) to the Nezu Shrine this morning, it did not disappoint. New Year’s is observed with all kinds of traditions in Japan, but none were more entertaining than this troupe of beautiful women taiko drummers. They make it look easy, but taiko drumming is a workout thatContinue reading “Celebrating New Year’s, Japanese Style”