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”

Lighting Up The Winter Night

Because I’m helplessly drawn to things that glow in the dark (gee, ya think?), I recently returned to two of my favorite lit-up-for-winter amusement parks, because I’d heard that they’d updated their gazillion-fairy-twinkle extravaganzas. (And you can check them out too, if you’re anywhere near Tokyo, until Valentines Day!) SAGAMIKO “ILLUMILLIONS” THEME PARK Fair warning:Continue reading “Lighting Up The Winter Night”

Where To See The Best Illuminations In Tokyo 2018

Free displays of holiday illuminations have become a huge attraction in Tokyo  – probably because they’re the most instabae invention since selfie sticks – and every year they get bigger and better. Here are this year’s offerings from my favorite places to see them… • • Most Entertaining • TOKYO MIDTOWN But let’s not mess aroundContinue reading “Where To See The Best Illuminations In Tokyo 2018”

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”

The Best Tokyo Illuminations 2017

It’s time again for the best free holiday light show ever! Here are this year’s Tokyo Illuminations offerings, some of them even better than before: • TOKYO MIDTOWN This year’s “Starlight Garden” extravaganza is super lavish, with different shows for each night of the week. There’s a four-minute blue and white spin around the galaxy,Continue reading “The Best Tokyo Illuminations 2017”

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”

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”

Fox Village Videos!

Here’s what it’s like to visit Fox Village in the snow, when the foxes are at their fattest & fluffiest! I have to confess, when it comes to which animals would get to sit in business class in my ark, it’s all about the tails. Foxes, of course, have the most magnificent fruffy tails in all of the animalContinue reading “Fox Village Videos!”

Fox Village: Even Better With Snow On Top!

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I finally made it to Zao Fox Village last spring, but it’s a good thing I didn’t actually shuffle off this mortal coil due to fox-induced bliss, because then I would have missed seeing all these fluffy vixen in the SNOW! This is just the first installment of fox-centric posts, because the second I walked throughContinue reading “Fox Village: Even Better With Snow On Top!”

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”

The Best Tokyo Winter Illuminations 2015

Are you ready once again to have holiday lights spoiled for-e-ver by the insanely great Tokyo Illuminations? This year, the old favorites do not disappoint, but there are a couple of new contenders amid the light-up extravaganzas going on right now in Tokyo! Feast your eyes on… • TOKYO DOME CITY The Tokyo Dome City amusement park puts onContinue reading “The Best Tokyo Winter Illuminations 2015”

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!”

The Mother Of All Illuminations Theme Parks

When I was a kid, every year in mid-December we’d all pile into the car and drive around to find the house with the most over-the-top Xmas decorations. No surprise, I am a total, total sucker for Xmas lights. But I never saw anything that even came close to the amazing, blazing Illuminations displays that Tokyo neighborhoods started puttingContinue reading “The Mother Of All Illuminations Theme Parks”

Today’s Special Guest: Winter

Conveniently scheduled for a national holiday so hundreds of thousands of commuters wouldn’t be inconvenienced by trains that occasionally had to pause while snow and/or ice and/or tree limbs could be cleared from the tracks, this year’s 24 hours of winter did not disappoint! Snow bucketed down from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. as theContinue reading “Today’s Special Guest: Winter”

Today’s Cute Little Season: Winter

One thing I have to say about the seasons in Japan is that they’re relentlessly picturesque. And convenient! When I woke up Wednesday morning, I looked out the window and was delighted to see it had been snowing since 3:00 a.m. – even my ho-hum neighborhood had a charming blanket of white. There was enoughContinue reading “Today’s Cute Little Season: Winter”

Steaming Hot Orange Soda

For your wintertime beverage enjoyment, behold the Hot Orange. At first I figured the distributor was just getting rid of last summer’s overstock, but the packaging definitely says this vending machine offering is not only meant to be drunk steaming hot, it’ll deliver a dose of vitamin C to fend off those pesky winter colds.Continue reading “Steaming Hot Orange Soda”

Coffee, Tea, or a Shot of Hot Red Beans?

It’s the season when warm drinks reappear in vending machines all over Japan, offering morning jolts of coffee, black tea, cocoa, green tea and…red bean soup? Yes, it’s time for shiruko, that wintertime favorite made from crushed sweet red beans, thinned so it can be slurped from a can in an alleyway on the wayContinue reading “Coffee, Tea, or a Shot of Hot Red Beans?”