Endless Fields Of Blue

Every once in a while you discover a place where the photos that made you run to the nearest station and jump on godzilla-knows-how-many-trains to get there did not lie. Not even a little bit. Those pictures of hills swathed in an unbroken carpet of blue flowers at Hitachi Seaside Park? REAL. Where I come from, these little pieces ofContinue reading “Endless Fields Of Blue”

Plum Blossom Countdown

All of February (and a little of March) is the best time to see fluffy pink and white and red beauties bursting like popcorn all over Tokyo. Here are the best places to see them, in order of when they bloom: Note: These photos were all taken from 2014-2016, so depending on how warm or coldContinue reading “Plum Blossom Countdown”

Finally, Girls’ Day For Goths!

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 of Girls’ Day dolls is for you! Goto Dolls has done a major update on the whole thank you very much we’re just sitting here with ourContinue reading “Finally, Girls’ Day For Goths!”

Vast Carpets Of Lawn Cherries!

Outside of Japan, nobody has heard of shibazakura, but they should! Check out the rolling hills covered with pink flowers that bloom in the middle of May! (They’re actually a variety of phlox, so I’m guessing the “sakura” part of the name is a feeble-ish attempt to ride the coattails of Japan’s more famous flower season, but they DO deliverContinue reading “Vast Carpets Of Lawn Cherries!”

The Best Places To See Late-Blooming Cherry Trees In Tokyo

Many a cherry blossom party has been thwarted by wacky weather or unavoidable business trips, but even if the gods throw a wrench into your best-laid plans, don’t despair! Late-blooming yaezakura come into their full glory after the regular sakura fade to black. The late-bloomers don’t deliver the big pink cloud thing in quite the same way, but I secretly think they’re much more beautifulContinue reading “The Best Places To See Late-Blooming Cherry Trees In Tokyo”

The Best SECRET Cherry Blossom Spots In Tokyo!

Cherry blossoms and crowds go together like long bathroom lines and hanami parties, but at these secret Tokyo spots, you can enjoy the pinkness without getting trampled, even at peak season! Here are my favorite places: • ARK HILLS New for 2019! Best time to go: It’s pretty uncrowded all the time but it’s best when theContinue reading “The Best SECRET Cherry Blossom Spots In Tokyo!”

Where To See The Best Plum Blossoms In Tokyo

I am a total, total sucker for plum blossoms. The flowers are much more beautiful than cherry blossoms up close, and you gotta admire that the damn things even bloom in the snow. I mean, they famously bloom in the snow (thousands of haiku can’t be wrong.) Here are my favorite places in Tokyo to see them,Continue reading “Where To See The Best Plum Blossoms In Tokyo”

Peonies As Big As Dinner Plates!

Not to be outdone by the cherry blossoms, azaleas and wisteria, the peonies of Tokyo come into their glory in May and June! First the big boys, like these at the Hama-Rikyu Garden, then the lovely fragrant ones at Nishiarai Daishi Temple. If you’d like to visit the Hama-Rikyu Teien garden or Nishiarai Daishi temple orContinue reading “Peonies As Big As Dinner Plates!”

Flower Dream Expo

You know how everybody thinks Japanese people sit around in their kimonos all day, arranging flowers into works of art? Well, they don’t. But when they do…it’s amazing. If you’re in Tokyo in April and you’d like to go to Flower Dream, check their website for more info. •

Alt Cherry

So, during cherry blossom season, people naturally flock to places with maximum pink fluffiness. But if you don’t have any real blooming cherry trees of epic proportions, how do you avoid being the location equivalent of Forever Alone? Behold the ingenuity of even the stodgiest of institutions… •

So, What DO Cherry Blossoms Taste Like?

Around cherry blossom season in Japan, the shelves suddenly fill with “sakura”-flavored food. But what does cherry blossom-flavored food actually taste like? I investigate. *Edited, thanks to Little Alex, whose comment below quite rightly pointed out that I had been utterly fooled into buying these unseasonal PLUM FLOWER sprinkled chips. Thinking that because they were stillContinue reading “So, What DO Cherry Blossoms Taste Like?”

Cherry Blossoms Lit Up At Night: My Favorite Spots!

Oh no, don’t think you can put your feet up and flip some channels after the sun goes down during cherry blossom season – thanks to the current craze for “illuminations,” the ogling opportunities will seriously cut into your TV time. Here are my favorite nighttime viewing spots. Get thee to the nearest grove and give your camera aContinue reading “Cherry Blossoms Lit Up At Night: My Favorite Spots!”

The Godzilla Of Cherry Trees

Don’t let this big daddy sneak up on you in the dark! In Japan they don’t mess around when it comes to cherry trees. I saw this explosion of goodness last night at Rikugi-en garden in Tokyo, where they light up the all-powerful sakura until 9:00 every night during The Season. But this one isn’t the only monsterContinue reading “The Godzilla Of Cherry Trees”

Cherry Blossom Party Costumes I Would Regret

The cherry trees are readying their onslaught, and it’s almost time for the annual beer-fuelled frolicking to commence. What better way to say, “I am a wild and crazy guy” than to don one of these festive pinker-than-thou costumes? •

Firewalking 101

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 more-rugged-then-thou Japanese warrior priests learned to do. Firewalking is still done once a year at the foot of Mt. Takao by practitioners of shugendo, aContinue reading “Firewalking 101”

So How Come Azaleas Are Chopped Liver?

Cherry blossoms are definitely the favorite child. Back in March, as The Season approached, the newspapers all breathlessly reported the movement of the pink tide from south to north, weather forecasts were read as anxiously as tea leaves in order to plan trips to cherry infested locations at the exact moment of full bloom, andContinue reading “So How Come Azaleas Are Chopped Liver?”

Just When You Think It’s Safe To Ditch The Muffler…

Yep, if the plum trees are blooming, that means a giant dump of snow is just around the corner. This particular dashing of spring hopes comes with such clocklike regularity in Japan that haiku masters use “plum blossom” when they’re actually talking about surviving life’s more bitter lessons. •