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…

Asakusa – Matcha Azuki Kakigori

Although you can technically get this traditional summer dessert all over Japan, it seems fitting to eat it in Asakusa, a neighborhood of Tokyo steeped in tradition. A mountain of razor thin sliced ice drizzled with milk and covered with matcha (green tea) powder, finally topped with a scoop of sweet azuki red beans. On…

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…

Kabutomushi

Though one may not regard the kabutomushi, or rhinoceros¬†beetle, as cute and cuddly, they remain a favorite pet for Japanese children. These huge insects which can grow to 8cm are actually quite docile. Pitted against ¬†one another, however, they turn into powerful fighters, though many children no longer participate in beetle battles (much like you…

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…

Kakigori

When July and August roll around, the people of Japan swoon in the hot and humid weather. Perhaps that feeling led to the invention of kakigori, finely shaved ice flavored with a variety of sweet goodness. Kakigori is widely available on the cheap with a variety of artificial, bright colored flavored syrups like strawberry, lemon,…

Tanabata

Tanabata is the celebration of the myth of the two lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi, two stars separated by the Milky Way. Once each year on the 7th of July or August, they are allowed to meet. While their story represents the basis of Tanabata, the day is celebrated in many different ways. Most common is…

Ajisai

Ajisai, or what is known in the West as Hydrangea, are a traditional symbol of Summer in Japan. Many species of ajisai are native to Japan and they come in many shapes and colors, from pure white to vibrant pinks and purples. Though hydrangea are known to blossom from early Spring to late Autumn in…

Limited Edition Pocky

This past week, Glico released two special flavors of their popular Pocky snack. For those who are not familiar with Pocky, the chocolate covered biscuit sticks sold worldwide, you might be from Europe where they are branded “Mikado”. Just in time for the Rio Summer Olympics, Brazilian Orange flavored Pocky are readily available in supermarkets…