Jun 12, 2019life
Obon: Japan’s Summer Festival of the Dead

Obon (お盆) is a Japanese Buddhist festival, held in the summer, during which people honor their ancestors and departed loved ones. It is believed that during Obon, the spirits of the dead revisit their families.

Jun 11, 2019culture
Kawagoe and “Little Edo”

While Edo Wonderland theme park in Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture is a replica of an Edo-era town, the city of Kawagoe in Saitama has the real thing! In Kawagoe, which can be reached from Tokyo via the Tobu Tōjō Line from Ikebukuro or via the Seibu-Shinjuku Line from Shinjuku, there is an old commercial district nicknamed “Ko-Edo” (Little Edo)

Jun 10, 2019culture
Beyond the Big D: More great sakes from Yamaguchi Prefecture

When people think of sake regions, Yamaguchi is usually not the first to spring to mind. It doesn’t have the overwhelming history of the Nada region, the popular style of Niigata prefecture, or the incredible number of awards of Fukushima to help it stand out.

Jun 9, 2019culture
Kinugawa hot springs & Nikko

Kinugawa hot springs are a great stop-over (or accommodation base) in Tochigi Prefecture on the way to Nikko where world heritage sites, fantastic culture and historical tours or reenactments await.

Jun 8, 2019culture
Beginner’s Guide to Sake: #1 – The Basics

The first steps!

Japan is a country with a very long history which you can experience in many ways: visiting ancient temples, admiring silk panels painted when Europe was still under Roman rule, or (and this is my favorite one), drinking sake

Jun 7, 2019culture
A beginner’s guide to sushi

Despite its fame, Japan’s signature cuisine is still the subject of various misunderstandings in western countries. In my country, where not many have visited Japan, the first thing people think of when they hear the word “sushi” tends to be “raw fish”.

Jun 5, 2019culture
Japan’s Ninja: separating the myth from the reality

One of Japan’s most popular entertainment industry exports, the ninja, are a subject of great fascination around the world, as well as in their homeland. Western entertainment media have borrowed many of the mythical aspects of the ninja and then re-exported the adapted versions back to Japan in the form of T.V shows, movies and animation.

Jun 4, 2019culture
Kenka Matsuri, and a Look at Japan's Festivals

When I take visitors from abroad to a festival in Japan, or just tell them about it (which is often, since they're the entire country's major and constant attraction from about May till September), I'm always careful to call it a festival and not a holiday.