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…

Ebisu Bon Odori

As July comes to a close, the bon odori season is just starting in Japan. Bon odori are festivals where entire communities come together to socialize and dance in honor of the dead. In Tokyo, the neighborhood of Ebisu seems to have made the perfect transition of bon odori from the rural village to the…

Keio Rail-Land

Keio is not the most well-known of the Tokyo train lines, but those who live in the outskirts of Western Tokyo are thankful for the Keio line providing service into the busy Shinjuku hub. 45 minutes outside of Shinjuku, however, you can find the Keio Rail-Land, a small but impressive museum of the Keio rail…

Miraikan

Miraikan, also known the┬áNational Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (probably why people call it “Miraikan”), is located on the man-made island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay. Suspended above the entry hall is the Geo-Cosmos, a one-of-a-kind globe covered with OLED panels that displays real time weather patterns and other important geographic data. Miraikan is…

Harmonica Alley

Narrow alleys lined with tiny shops, restaurants and even fortune tellers are common in big cities like Tokyo. These alleys are known by their Japanese name: yokocho. Some of these, like Omoide Yokocho┬áin Shinjuku focus on one specific type of shop while others are more eclectic. Harmonica Alley, outside the north exit of Kichijoji station…

Festival Masks

Attend any summer festival in Japan and within the stalls selling delicious yakisoba (fried noodles), kakigori (flavored shaved ice) and yakitori (various meats on skewers), you’ll find a booth selling children’s masks. These masks are available in various characters from Disney to popular Japanese cartoons to traditional (Hyottoko, the funny-faced mythical spirit). Like a Disneyland…

Toshimaen

If you are in search of the fastest, most modern roller coasters in the world…you may want to skip Japan. With few exceptions, amusement park rides in Japan are about equivalent to state fair rides in America. This means Japanese amusement parks have to be a little more creative with their marketing. For example, Toshimaen,…

Toyota Mega Web

Toyota dominates the automobile industry in Japan, and there is no place to experience that dominance first hand than the Mega Web. Located in Odaiba (Tokyo), Mega Web is both a huge showroom displaying nearly every production model Toyota has to offer and a tests track, where many models are available for consumers to test…