the snow umbrella

市人よ 此笠うらふ 雪の傘   Ichi-bito yo      Kono kasa urou       Uilo no kasa   Hey townspeople, I’ll sell you my woven hat, The snow umbrella. -Matsuo Basho   Art by Utagawa Kunisada Advertisements

The Asahi Flame

The Asahi Breweries headquarters and the golden Asahi flame designed by Philippe Starck. Photography by Japanaibunka

Tsukemono 漬物

Tsukemono (literally “pickled things”) are Japanese preserved vegetables (usually pickled in salt, brine, or a bed of rice bran).They are served with rice as an okazu (side dish), with drinks as an otsumami (snack), as an accompaniment to or garnish for meals, and as a course in the kaiseki portion of a Japanese tea ceremony…

アワビ Awabi

Abalones are shellfish belonging to the family haliotidae, the name of which is derived from the Greek words halios, meaning “sea,” and otos, meaning “ear.” There are about 100 known species worldwide. In Japan, where abalone is called awabi, the major species include kuro awabi, megai awabi, and madaka awabi in the south and Ezo…

Ryōan-ji Dry Garden 龍安寺

Dry, nearly barren except for a few splashes of star moss, this garden has captured the attention of millions. Whether they admire it or are simply puzzled, few can resist a five centuries old allure that rests neither on the pleasure of strolling, nor on the beauty of seasonal blooms. A Zen garden in its…

Butsudan

If you’ve ever been in a Japanese home – or seen a TV show, film or even anime set in a Japanese home – you’ve likely set eyes on a Buddhist altar, a butsudan. These miniature altars allow Japanese families to pray in the comfort of their own home, and are specifically geared toward the…

妖怪 Yōkai

Yōkai (ghost, phantom, strange apparition) are a class of supernatural monsters, spirits and demons in Japanese folklore. The word yōkai is made up of the kanji for “bewitching; attractive; calamity”; and “spectre; apparition; mystery; suspicious”. They can also be called ayakashi (あやかし), mononoke (物の怪), or mamono (魔物). Yōkai range diversely from the malevolent to the…

Momiji Matsuri Arashiyama

The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles and Kyoto’s elite would visit to enjoy its natural setting. A favourite pastime of the nobles was appreciating and enjoying the red maple leaves of the area which is called momiji (紅葉) in Japanese. The Arashiyama Momiji Festival celebrates this ancient…

生け花 Ikebana

Ikebana (生け花, “arranging flowers”) is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, also known as kadō (華道, the “way of flowers”). The tradition dates back to the 7th century when floral offerings were made at altars. Later they were placed in the tokonoma alcove of a home. Ikebana reached its first zenith in the 16th century…

Warai Festival, Niu-Jinja Shrine, Wakayama

Niu Shrine in the Hidaka district of Wakayama hosts every year the Warai, or laughing, festival. The festival itself is considered a Prefectural Cultural Heritage asset and can be traced back several centuries. The festival is based on the legend of Niutsuhime-No-Kimoto goddess. According to it, the goddess overslept and arrived late to a gathering…

長崎くんちNagasaki Kunchi

Kunchi (くんち), also  or Nagasaki Okunchi (長崎おくんち), is the most famous festival in Nagasaki, Japan. It began as a celebration of autumn harvests in the late 16th century and became a shrine festival when Suwa Shrine was founded in 1642. Another purpose was to check for hidden Christians after the ban on Christianity. This is…

二本松市 Nihonmatsu Chochin Festival

The Nihon-matsu Chochin (Lantern) Festival in Nihon-matsu, Fukushima is the most important festival held at Nihon-matsu Shrine and is said to have started approximately 360 years ago. It is held every year from October 4th to the 6th. Seven Taiko drum floats are released from seven towns, loaded with approximately 300 lighted paper lanterns each,…