Places

Japan’s Three Climates: A Virtual Journey Through the Wilds of Japan

This is a story about you. Three years ago, you began to feel restless. Not “ time to take up a new hobby” restless, but more like “time to travel the world and have exciting, new experiences” restless. So you came … [Read more...]

The In-between Island: Tsushima and the Sō Pt 2

If you haven't read Part 1 in this series, make sure to go back and read it, before starting this one. Part 2 will make more sense and you won't be missing out on all the cool drama, intrigue, cultural faux pas, and … [Read more...]

The Island Inbetween: Tsushima and the Sō Family

You may have never heard of the island of Tsushima, but for hundreds of years it was the door between Japan and Korea. Tsushima’s location was ideal for international trade, situated roughly fifty kilometers from the … [Read more...]

Tracing the History of Japan’s Mythical Lion Dogs

If you’ve ever been to a shrine in Japan, odds are you’ve seen a pair of dog-like lions flanking the entrance. If you’ve been to Okinawa you’ve seen them just about everywhere. In fact you can see some variation on these … [Read more...]

The Delicious Road: a Japanese Dessert Journey

When it comes to cross-cultural experiences, some things are more universal than others. For instance, outsiders might find it difficult to understand the Japanese phenomena of deliberately crooked teeth, refrigerated … [Read more...]

A Bridge Across Time

Nagasaki’s Megane-bashi (Spectacles Bridge) got its name from the way the reflection of its double arches in the river combine with the bridge itself to look like a pair of glasses. In addition to its historical … [Read more...]

Let’s All Get NAKED! Onsen and Body Image

There’s nothing better than slipping into a hot bath. You feel your muscles relax. The cares of the day float away on a cloud of steam. A butt-naked Oba-chan (old woman) is staring at you… wait! What?! Does that seem … [Read more...]

Five Ways To Experience Japan Without Leaving Home

I’m sure for a lot of us, visiting or living in Japan is high on our list of things to do. But when you can’t make the trip overseas, there are lots of ways to experience Japan without getting on a plane. In fact, some of … [Read more...]

Lords of Kumamoto: Kato Kiyomasa and the Hosokawa

Last fall I visited Kumamoto Castle. Though mostly a reconstruction, it’s impressive nonetheless. There is currently a regular live show on the castle grounds, in which actors dressed as famous samurai stage mock fights … [Read more...]

Namahage – Akita’s New Year’s Ogres

泣く子はいねがぁ / “Are there any crybabies here?” may not be something you want to hear shouted through your door on New Year's Eve, but the people of Akita Prefecture, specifically Oga Peninsula, feel differently. The Namahage / … [Read more...]

Meet the Ogasawara Islands!

Ah, Tokyo, that shining island paradise. Turquoise waters. Palm trees and coconuts. Grass skirts and piña coladas. What’s that you say? These images don’t leap to mind when I say “Tokyo”? Well, to be fair, grass … [Read more...]

How To Avoid (Or Even Find) A Stigmatized Property In Japan

I previously wrote about a creepy unsolved murder case where I revealed that my former house may have been the house in which above mentioned creepy unsolved murder occurred. Of course, I don’t want it to be the actual … [Read more...]

Did Nara’s Giant Buddha Statue Just Prevent A 7.8 Earthquake?

Nara is a landlocked prefecture in the Kansai/Kinki region of Japan on Honshu Island. It’s well known for the Nara Shika (deer) Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site Todaiji Temple (Eastern Great temple), the Nara Daibutsu … [Read more...]

Is That An Expressway In Your Building, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me? [Osaka Architecture]

Japan is world-renowned for its amazing architecture, and it's not hard to see why. I've written about some of Japan's most jaw-dropping skyscrapers along with some of the more quaint, but still novel, houses. It's … [Read more...]

It’s The 63rd Annual Sapporo Snow Festival This Week! Who’re You Rooting For?

Japan is known to for their bizarre and over-the-top festivals. A few that come to mind are the 裸祭り (はだかまつり, Naked Festival), the かなまら祭り (かなまらまつり, Penis Festival), and the 御柱 (おんばしら, festival with the extreme log … [Read more...]

Why Go To Mt. Fuji When You Can Go To Fuji-Q Highland, Koichi’s Favorite Amusement Park?

Image source Most people know about Tokyo's Disneyland and a decent amount know of Osaka's Universal Studios Japan (also known as USJ, which is eerily similar to Universal Studios in Orlando btw) but not many know about … [Read more...]