Takezaiku

Takezaiku, or bamboo weaving, is an ancient form of Japanese art that involves taking a strong but inflexible material (bamboo) and making it not only moldable, but beautiful at the same time. It involves slicing the sinuous bamboo into strips, soaking them in water, and weaving them, generally into baskets and other utensils. Japanese tea…

Ashikaga Flower Park Winter Illumination

In all seasons except Winter, Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture is a wonderland of gorgeous seasonal flowers including one of the largest wisteria that blooms for a few weeks in the Spring. But in Winter, the park must transform itself into a carnival of lights, over 3.5 million in 2016, to become one of…

Goshu-in (Japanese Shrine Stamp)

Everyone who visits Japan will inevitably visit some famous temple or shrine, snap a few pictures and be done with it. But your visit can be made more memorable if you collect Goshu-in, unique stamps that each shrine or temple makes for visitors. You’ll need a special book which opens accordion style, which you will…

Tokyo Design Week

Today (Oct 26, 2016) is the Opening Day for the annual Tokyo Design Week, held in Meiji Jingu Gaien (not to be confused with Meiji Jingu shrine, which is in Yoyogi Park). Hundreds of designers from university students to celebrated professionals display their work, host discussions and party like only design folks can. Pecha Kucha…

Tomica

Tomica, the die-cast metal toy cars made by Japan’s Tomy Co., lead a parallel life to their American counterpart, Mattel Co.’s Hot Wheels. Hot Wheels exploded into the toy market in the late 1960’s and Tomica followed in Japan in 1970. Small and relatively inexpensive, Tomica are collected and traded by boys of all ages…

Lunco

There are new kimono shops and there are used kimono shops, and then there is Lunco, off the beaten path in Mejiro, a stop seldom used by tourists along the Tokyo JR Yamanote Line. The kimono at Lunco are most definitely used, but they have been curated by the owner like an art dealer selects…

Ginza Itoya

How does a stationery store stay in business for over 100 years even 25 years after email nearly killed the handwritten letter? Ask the folks in charge of Itoya, the venerable stationery shop that recently opened a new flagship store in Ginza called G. Itoya. Innovation is the key, and the eight floors of G….

Asakusa – Bengara

You can’t walk around Japan without seeing the beautiful noren hanging in the doorways of shops and restaurants, but what if you wanted a unique one to take home as a souvenir? The ability to custom order a noren combined with a friendly owner who can communicate fairly well in English makes Bengara the place…

Asakusa – Getaya

Though the business card says “Since 1912”, talk to the owner and he says Getaya has been in the business of traditional Japanese footwear for 116 years. If you want high quality, Japanese-handcrafted geta (wooden shoes) or zori (vinyl and more formal), Getaya has a huge selection. You can even choose the wooden base you…

Zori

Called flip-flops, slippahs and other names around the world, the zori have been a fixture of footwear in Japan for centuries. Originally made of straw and perhaps rope or fabric,¬†you can now find zori made of modern materials like rubber or vinyl as well as more expensive materials like silk brocade, which are generally paired…