Blog Archives

Lost in Translation – Wasei Eigo

The mass importation of foreign words into the Japanese language can make communicating in Japan that little bit easier. English words are used for many foods and drinks, household wares, and a host of other items and concepts. However, some


Despite the ubiquity of temples and shrines all over the country, the Japanese people tend to hold rather casual spiritual beliefs. However, there is one spiritual event that virtually everyone takes part in at the start of the year, and

Michi no Eki: Japan’s Roadside Stations

Japan’s toll-based kōsokudōro (高速道路, expressways) stretch the length and breadth of the country, offering faster and more direct routes between cities than ippandōro (一般道路, regular roads). To make cross-country road journeys more manageable, the expressways have regular service areas with

The Dance of Fools – Awa Odori

If you visit one of the many festivals held across Japan this summer, chances are you will hear the distinctive Awa Yoshikono, played on shamisen, taiko drums and flute, and heralded by the striking of a kane bell. This is

Tanabata Matsuri

Perhaps the most evocative of Japan’s annual matsuri (祭り, festivals) , tanabata (七夕) marks the beginning of the summer festival season. Closely linked with the stars, tanabata is celebrated by the writing of wishes on strips of paper, which are


Celebration Hinamatsuri is celebrated each year on the 3rd of March, and is traditionally a day dedicated to girls, in the way “Kodomo no hi” (5th of May) was originally dedicated to boys. The celebration is marked in homes with

Sakura Spectacles

Introduction Cherry blossoms are one of Japan’s most famous attractions of spring and can be seen all over the country – from the northern tip to the southern islands, in the mountains and by the water, among the busy skyscrapers

“Made in Japan: 400 Years of Nambu Tekki Ironware”

Japanese handmade crafts have always received international acclaim for their fine quality and simple beauty. Japan’s long tradition of crafting everything from swords, cutting knives, and ceramics to fabrics and woodwork has had a tremendous influence on the world in


Sumo – an iconic sport that epitomizes Japan’s image internationally just as much as sushi; what other sport is as linked to just a single country, but known so widely throughout the world? And “known” may be just the right

Japanese Summer Customs

Summer in Japan is a season full of festivals and events, and is when many people get a chance to have a weeklong break for overseas traveling or family trips. It is also the time of year, along with the

If you’re asked to a Japanese wedding

June in Japan is a month with a lot of weddings. Though the image of a sunny wedding may be at odds with a season of perpetual rain and clouds due to the ‘plum rains’, as you might expect many

Hunting Fireflies

The end of May and throughout June is firefly season in Japan. Beginning with the genjibotaru (ゲンジボタル, laciola), you can spot many different varieties of fireflies near clear streams. Firefly viewing is a time-honored tradition and one of the features

Preparing for the New Year

Christmas decorations come down quickly in Japan to make way for the most important Japanese holiday – New Year’s. Preparations for the end of the year are many and require time. Offices and homes are cleaned, accounts are settled, and

Satokagura: Folk Stage Performance Comes Alive at Saitama Kaikan

If represents Buddhism and high art, and the secular theatre, , and specifically , is the theatre of Shinto and of the countryside. Because of this, it seems fitting that tonight’s performance, while although not held at a shrine, is

Drunk on Cherries

(original photo by Reginald Pentinio; CC BY 2.0)

While you may have heard Japanese friends or acquaintances tell you about Japan’s “unique” four seasons, and while this may come as a surprise to some foreign visitors from countries that count the exact same number, the undeniable beauty of

Back to School Japanese Style

April in Japan not only means cherry blossom viewing and streets flooded with university job hunters, but it also marks the beginning of another school year for Japan’s youngest. Now, most expat families choose to send their kids to international

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