Design Festa: Your one-stop shop for predatory purses, zombie nesting dolls & more

Twice a year, Design Festa takes over the Big Site convention center in Odiaba, and artists selling everything from zombie matroyshika to predatory purses gather to outdo each other. Get one in every color! Or if that isn’t creepy enough for you, perhaps a crying baby head? Or you can take blowing your nose toContinue reading “Design Festa: Your one-stop shop for predatory purses, zombie nesting dolls & more”

Get the best cherry blossom pix in Tokyo: Where, when & how

Whether you’re an Instagrammer with a mega-following or just want to capture some of the pink magic to show your besties back home, snapping some envy-inducing photos is on every cherry blossom to-do list. But getting those perfect shots isn’t easy, especially if it’s your first time in Tokyo, so here’s how & where toContinue reading “Get the best cherry blossom pix in Tokyo: Where, when & how”

Weird Chocolate

When Japan embraces Western holidays, things can go a bit…sideways. And the biggest example of Getting It Wrong is nearly upon us: Valentine’s Day. Why? Because only MEN get chocolate!* That’s right. For Japanese women, Valentine’s Day might as well be called Big Fat Obligation Day, because not only are they on the hook for giftingContinue reading “Weird Chocolate”

Let’s watch an epic pagoda parade…at night

Oeshiki ikegami at Ikegami Hongan-ji temple What better way to spend a fine fall evening than watching scores of five-tier pagodas parade down the street, all lit up and festooned with garlands of paper flowers? For over seven hundred years, the festival of 10,000 lanterns known as oeshiki ikegami has been happening every October atContinue reading “Let’s watch an epic pagoda parade…at night”

Floating lanterns on a warm moonlit night

Toro Nagashi at Shinobazu Pond in Asakusa Candle-lit lanterns floating across a pond on a warm moonlit night? Yes, please! This toro nagashi ceremony is held at the temple that sits on an island in Tokyo’s Shinobazu Pond. It signals the end of annual O-bon festivities—the three days in summer when the spirits of ancestorsContinue reading “Floating lanterns on a warm moonlit night”

A sea of purple, delighting the populace for hundreds of years

Famous iris gardens near Tokyo  In the West, it’s rare to see more than a couple of delicate butterfly-like Japanese iris artfully ringing a pond at the local botanical garden, but in Japan, they grow whole fields stuffed with every variety and color combination imaginable, to create a sea of graceful nodding purple, as farContinue reading “A sea of purple, delighting the populace for hundreds of years”

If you thought quilts were a Western art, think again!

The Tokyo International Quilt Festival You know how Japan embraces stuff from all over the world, and then turns it uniquely Japanese? Every year at the end of January, Tokyo hosts one of the most magnificent displays of quilting in the world—the Tokyo International Quilt Festival.* Japanese artists come from a long tradition of meticulousContinue reading “If you thought quilts were a Western art, think again!”

Let’s stroll down avenues lined with towering gold gingko trees

Tokyo’s ichō namiki At the end of every November, Japan celebrates the brief glory of gingko trees in all their autumn splendor in ways that never fail to bring a smile to my face. Come with me, and let me share some of my favorite spots with you! But my very favorite way to seeContinue reading “Let’s stroll down avenues lined with towering gold gingko trees”

A parade of people dressed up as angry ghost cats? Yes, please!

Bakeneko Parade in Kagurazaka, Tokyo Japan is host to the most delightful festivals ever, and even the supernaturally scary bakeneko have their day! This isn’t an official holiday—you won’t find Bakeneko parades elsewhere in the country—but this festival gives ordinary people a chance to cut loose and indulge their love of dressing up for somethingContinue reading “A parade of people dressed up as angry ghost cats? Yes, please!”

Goldfish, goldfish, everywhere

Edogawa Goldfish Festival The most delightful summer festival in all of Japan You might remember from a previous Japanagram that one traditional way of beating the Japanese summer heat is to gaze at goldfish swimming in their cool, watery world. Goldfish are so synonymous with summer in Japan that you’ll see them gracing everything fromContinue reading “Goldfish, goldfish, everywhere”