A while back, I talked about a famous poetess from 11th century Japan named Lady Izumi, one of several famous ladies of the court at that time, but for some reason the one I find most fascinating.1 Lady Izumi was a prolific poet, and I have been reading samples of her poetry compiled in TheContinue reading “Inattention”

New Pilgrimage Books

Hello readers, A while back, I talked about something in Japanese culture called a goshuinchō (ご朱印帳), or pilgrimage book. This is a tradition that started in the late-medieval Edo period, when life in Japan finally stabilized and people could afford to travel the countryside on Buddhist pilgrimages, or just sight-seeing. People would get a “seal”Continue reading “New Pilgrimage Books”

The Shōshinge Hymn

While in Japan, my wife, kids and I attended the 49-day memorial service (details here) for my mother in law. This service was held at a neighborhood Jodo Shinshu-sect temple which my mother in law frequently volunteered, and our kids have grown up together for generations. 😌 This was the first Jodo Shinshu Buddhist serviceContinue reading “The Shōshinge Hymn”

Happy Year of the Rabbit

Hello Readers and Happy New Year! In Japanese, people greet each other for the first time using the stock phrase akemashite omedetō gozaimasu (明けましておめでとうございます) which means something like “congrats on the opening of a new year”. Note that Japanese New Year is based on Chinese New Year, but since early industrialization period, the Meiji Period,Continue reading “Happy Year of the Rabbit”

Awesome Historical Totebag

Speaking of the famous “nun warlord” Hojo no Masako, I wanted to share something really great that I picked up in Japan in Kamakura (still uploading pics from that trip, blog post coming later): This totebag features the famous speech by Hojo no Masako shortly before the Jokyu War of 1221, when the retainers ofContinue reading “Awesome Historical Totebag”

The Man Who Held It All Together: Hojo no Yoshitoki

I’ve talked about several aspects (and people) of a fascinating by tumultuous period of Japanese history from the late 12th to the early 13th centuries. The climatic battle between the Genji (Minamoto) and Heike (Taira) clans led to the establishment of Japan’s first military government (a Shogunate) away from the aristocratic Imperial court. This newContinue reading “The Man Who Held It All Together: Hojo no Yoshitoki”

Getting Around Japan: Suica Cards

Visiting Japan means using trains, and if you are visiting Japan or living there, it really really helps to get a train pass. If you are traveling across many prefectures or the countryside, then it makes sense to get a JR train pass, however, if you are staying within the inner-city Tokyo area, then youContinue reading “Getting Around Japan: Suica Cards”

Omiyage At A Glance

It’s been years since we’ve traveled to Japan (despite previously going every summer) thanks to the Pandemic, but we’re heading out soon, and so my wife has been super busy preparing omiyagé (お土産) for all the friends and relatives at home. Tofugu has an excellent article on omiyage, especially from the standpoint of a foreigner,Continue reading “Omiyage At A Glance”

The Ultimate Japanese Winter Food: Oden

Usually when people think of Japanese food, they think of sushi, or ramen, but these are luxury foods that aren’t normally eaten at home. There is one food though that’s very popular in Japan, eaten on special occasions at home, and truly a wonderful food for winter: Oden (おでん).1 Oden is hard to explain, butContinue reading “The Ultimate Japanese Winter Food: Oden”