Kawaii Fashion

Anyone who is casually aware of Japanese culture knows that “cute” or kawaii is one of its main asthetics. Kawaii finds its way into almost every part of Japanese life, from city mascots to toilet bowl cleaners. Kawaii fashion is a style popular with younger girls, stemming from their childhood when mothers practically compete to…

Mochi-tsuki

Mochi-tsuki   Eating mochi (pounded rice) on New Year’s Day is a tradition in Japan but in order to have mochi to eat for the new year, someone has to make it. Today, it’s easy enough to buy mochi from any supermarket or convenience store or make it in a machine. But traditionally, mochi would…

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…

Mandarake

Any respectable otaku knows about Mandarake, the largest reseller of used manga and anime related products in the Tokyo area. Nakano Broadway, just outside of Nakano station, is home to no less than a dozen Mandarake shops, each catering to a different type of collector. From models to manga, to collectable Disney, you’d have a…

Golden Gai

Literally crammed into a tiny area of Shinjuku, Golden Gai sits in limbo between the days after WW2 and modern Tokyo. A hub for prostitution after WW2, now Golden Gai is a cluster of 200 tiny bars and restaurants lining six alleys, some too narrow for two people to pass side-by-side. While many of these…

Mikoshi

The centerpiece of many Japanese festivals is the mikoshi, a traveling shrine which is meant to be carried from a main shrine into the surrounding neighborhood. Though there are religious aspects of the mikoshi, many simply view it as a cultural icon around which community is built and fostered. Carrying the mikoshi is considered an…

Matsuri Goldfish

Goldfish are one of the symbols of Japanese summer and one of the reasons this is probably so is because of the ubiquitous goldfish booths at local matsuri (festivals). The participant is given a cup and a small “scoop” made rice paper and is allowed to scoop as many goldfish from the trough as they…

Pikachu Outbreak

Started in 2014 as a one time Nintendo promotion, the Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama has become an annual event that continues to grow in size and popularity. Held over a week-long period in early August, Pikachu Outbreak boasts a reported 1,000 costumed critters performing in various events around Minato Mirai, Yokohama Station and other tourist…

Fortune Telling

Fortune telling is big business in Japan and one only needs to visit a Shinto shrine to find out how many people desire a purported peek at their futures. Omikuji are little paper fortunes that can be purchased for a token fee. The fortunes are general, but can be anything from lucky to a major curse….