Taketa (Oita)

Taketa city was once a thriving samurai town supporting nearby Oka Castle. When the fortunes of the castle faded at the end of the Edo era, so went the town. But the current residents of Taketa take great pride in their history and have maintained and restored dozens of historic buildings, repurposing them for modern…

Nagoya Castle

Nagoya city gets a bad rap as just a fly by (or glide by on the Shinkansen) between Tokyo and Kyoto or Osaka, but the truth is Nagoya is quite an interesting city if you take time to explore it. For the most part, tourists are most familiar with Nagoya Castle, an expansive castle of…

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…

Hayashi Fumiko Memorial Hall

Hayashi Fumiko was a famous author who lived in Tokyo in the mid-20th century. Her and her husband Ryokubin, a painter, built this beautiful house in the Ochiai area in northwest Shinjuku surrounded by a small but lovely traditional Japanese garden. Their house was actually two buildings due to building restrictions around the war time,…

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…

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…

Ikebukuro

Long time the punchline¬†of jokes of Tokyoites as the destination for Saitama hicks, poor Ikebukuro has suffered many¬†injustices over the years. But its underdog reputation has kept it flying under the radar and given it a chance to develop subcultures that are unique to Tokyo. Ikebukuro boasts the largest Chinese immigrant population in Tokyo, making…

Wagashi Kurogi

Tucked in a corner of prestigious Tokyo University, the Daiwa Ubiquitous Research Building is difficult to miss due to its unique architecture of wooden slabs, but more importantly, the building is home to a unique restaurant, Wagashi Kurogi. Wagashi is the word for Japanese sweets, often associated with tea ceremony, but Wagashi Kurogi goes beyond…

Kyu Asakura House

Uppity Daikanyama is known more to be the home of the modern rich and famous, but 100 years ago, it was also home to Asakura Torajiro, a politician and businessman of Tokyo. The large two-story house sits in the middle of a beautiful Japanese garden, all of which is hidden behind a very modern shopping…

Nakagin Capsule Tower

The Nakagin Capsule Tower is probably what many people envision when they think of modern Tokyo: a sort of space-age but utilitarian building stacked high into the sky. In truth, this building is the one and only of its kind in Tokyo or anywhere else, and unless you consider 1972 the peak of modern Japan,…