Spotlight: Poroto Kotan (Hokkaido)

Hokkaido is Japan's final frontier, a vast (VAST) island of mountains, lakes and stretches of emptiness that seem otherworldly in a country so densely populated as this one. It is also the home island of much of Japan's only remaining indigenous culture, the Ainu. Pushed to the far northern reaches by the race that became known... Continue Reading →

Celebrate: Shichi-go-san (Updated)

If you're in Japan anytime in the month of November, my advice to you is to hightail it to a shrine. November 15th is Shichi-go-san (literally 7-5-3), a celebration of children aged 3, 5 and 7 and you haven't lived until you've seen adorable toddlers kitted out in full kiddie kimonos. But since Shichi-go-san isn't a... Continue Reading →

Celebrate: Sports Day

I have to admit, in the pantheon of official Japanese holidays, this has always been one of my least favorites. Why? No reason other than that for three straight years, I was subjected to the incessant loudspeakers of the elementary school behind my Okinawa home as they practiced for their Sports Day undokai (more on that... Continue Reading →

Crash Course: Samurai

Thanks to all of you for your patience. It took three weeks (!!!) but I'm finally hooked back up to the internet! Hopefully posting will resume a regular schedule from here on out. 🙂 I’ve just moved to Kumamoto (in central Kyushu) and man, is there a pretty impressive castle in this town. To me, castles are... Continue Reading →

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