Review: Real Samurai

When I picked up last month's Review selection (K is for Kabuki), I also grabbed another book called Real Samurai. This nonfiction book is written by Stephen Turnbull, a noted military historian. I haven't reviewed many samurai books so I thought I'd take it home and give it a go. Confession time - I find... Continue Reading →

Spotlight: Samurai Museum (Tokyo)

There's a new museum in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, just a block from the well-known Robot Restaurant. The Tokyo Samurai Museum only opened in late 2015, but already, it has┬ámanaged to attract a small crowd of international visitors. The Samurai Museum is the creation of a private collector who wanted to share his passion for samurai... Continue Reading →

Festival Focus: Karatsu Kunchi

Most people rave about Japan's summer festivals (and admittedly, there are some spectacular ones) but being rather partial to the cooler weather, I am a fan of the nation's autumn festivals. Both Kumamoto and Okinawa had some exciting ones (massive tug of war, anyone?) but my favorite will always be the Karatsu Kunchi in Karatsu,... Continue Reading →

Top 5 Samurai Neighborhoods

Want to get a feel for Japan's feudal past? Wander any one of the samurai quarters scattered about the country to get a taste of how the warrior class lived. While much of Japan's medieval architecture is gone, several cities and towns still manage to preserve their historic neighborhoods. Below are some of my top... Continue Reading →

Friday Photo: July 2015

It has been a month of adventure coupled with a month of sitting around twiddling our thumbs in various hotel rooms on either end of our cross-country move. But don't worry - I won't make this month's photo anything hotel-related. ­čÖé I was so SO very excited to see the garden at the Adachi Museum... Continue Reading →

Celebrate: Children’s Day

We're coming to the meat of Golden Week right now, with Greenery Day (Midori-no-Hi) drawing to a close today. Tomorrow, May 5th, marks Children's Day, one of the more visually exciting holidays of this period. For many years, Children's Day exclusively honored the male offspring of a family. After all, girls already have their own... Continue Reading →

Manhole Monday: Hagi

For the first time in my over six years in Japan, I finally made it up to the San-in Coast. Don't laugh - it's harder than it sounds. Cities like Hagi and Matsue, up on the northern side of Honshu, are notoriously difficult for most people living in Japan to reach. From here in Kyushu,... Continue Reading →

Crash Course: Mon (or Kamon)

Chances are you've come across a┬ámon (or┬ákamon) during your time in Japan, even if you weren't aware of it at the time. Mon are symbols used to identify different families of clans in Japan, similar to the coat of arms of European aristocracy. From the chrysanthemum crest of the royal family to the Tokugawa's hollyhock,... Continue Reading →

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