Around New Year's time, you will see special decorations outside shops and in temples all over Japan. For foreigners, these public decorations are very interesting. Since we often don't have access to Japanese family life, the decorations put up by shops and temples are the best (and often only) way for us to learn about... Continue Reading →
A thousand paper cranes
When visiting a temple in Japan, you will often see large strings of colored paper shapes, hung up in various places. Closer inspection reveals that these paper shapes are actually cranes. One thousand of them to be exact. The origami cranes are often arranged by color, fitted one close on top of the other and... Continue Reading →
Autumn in Japan
The Japanese love to celebrate the seasons. As autumn approaches, the Japanese longingly look forward not only to a relief of the summer heat, but also to the beauty of the autumn leaves. The most popular kind of autumn leaves are (Japanese) maple leaves, that turn bright red in autumn. They are called 'momiji', although... Continue Reading →
It’s sumo time!
Today, July 8th, is the start of the Sumo Grand Tournament in Nagoya. There are six tournaments throughout the year, three of which take place in Tokyo. But come July, everyone in the sumo world travels to Nagoya for the July basho. The wrestlers arrive in Nagoya about two weeks prior to the start of... Continue Reading →
It’s a real-life geisha! Right?
When walking around in Kyoto, foreign tourists will often be very excited when they spot 'a real-life Japanese geisha'! Indeed when walking around the area near Kiyomizu-dera temple, one often sees groups of young girls dressed in bright kimonos. What most tourists probably don't know is that these girls are not geisha, but dressed-up tourists... Continue Reading →
Let’s go Japan!
It's over a year ago since the big earthquake and the ensuing tsunami took place in Japan. But even now I regularly keep seeing 'Ganbarou Nippon' flags en logo's everywhere. 'Ganbarou Nippon' (がんばろう日本) means 'Do your best, Japan' or 'Let's go, Japan'. Following the March 11th quake and tsunami, the 'ganbarou nippon' campaign was launched.... Continue Reading →