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Japan

Sengaku-ji Temple and the 47 Ronin

Just one stop from Shinagawa on the Toei Asakusa subway line (Sengakuji Station), Sengaku-ji is one of Tokyo’s most famous temples. Although it isn’t big or particularly impressive, it is charged with history. This is where the 47 Ronin (Ronin are masterless samurai) are buried. The tale of the 47 Ronin is one of Japan’s most...
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Sake – Part 1 – The Brewing Process

This is part one of a series of discussions on Sake. Hopefully these discussions will help you better understand, and ultimately, appreciate Sake more. Many people who have tried Sake outside of Japan often say they did not like it. It is important to remember that the quality of the rice and the purity and...
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The Yoshida Brothers – Traditional Meets Modern

In most cultures, the traditional ways often collide with the modern. For those of you who have been to Japan, you know that in Japan the traditional is often blended and fused together with the modern. The Yoshida Brothers’ music is another example of this. Ryoichiro Yoshida and Kenichi Yoshida were born in the Hokkaido onsen...
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Japanese Gardens 101 – Part 2: Japanese Garden Types

Japanese Gardens 101 – Part 2: Japanese Garden Types We continue our garden discussion with a brief description of some of the common Japanese garden types. It should be noted that few gardens will be just one these types. Most gardens could be classified into two or more of these types. Pond Gardens The idea...
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Akira Kurosawa

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love movies. Of course, it is only natural that I love Japanese movies. When thinking about Japanese movies, the name of Akira Kurosawa will always be mentioned. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Kurosawa directed 30 films. He is widely regarded as one...
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Byodoin

Byodo-in Temple

Byodo-in, initially created as a villa for Fujiwara-no-Michinaga, was converted to a temple by Fujiwara Yorimichi in 1052. The Phoenix Hall was constructed the following year (1053) to enshrine a statue of the Amida Buddha. A National Treasure, it is the only building at the temple dating back to the time of the temple’s establishment....
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Japanese Gardens 101 – Part 1: The History of Japanese Gardens

There is no doubt the Japanese have an extraordinary sense of aesthetics. This is evident from their traditional, colorful, silken kimonos to their trend-setting modern clothing designs, the stylized theatrical arts of Kabuki, Noh and Bunraku and their elegant but simple Ikebana floral arrangements. But perhaps this sense of aesthetics is no more evident than in...
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Musashi Miyamoto in Kyoto

  Musashi Miyamoto (1584-1645) was Japan’s most famous and most skilled swordsman. It is thought he participated in at least 60 duels and was never defeated. In his book,  “The Book of Five Rings”, he set down his thoughts on swordplay, on winning and on spirituality. Along with The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The...
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Kurama

Kurama is a rural town in the northern mountains of Kyoto City, less than one hour from the city center. Kurama is best known for its temple Kurama-dera and its hot spring, one of the most easily accessible hot springs from Kyoto. Outdoor and indoor baths can be enjoyed at Kurama Onsen, located at the...
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Taishogoto

Serendipity can be a wonderful thing. In August, I was taking a tour group around the Jinya in Takayama. As we were touring the facility, we kept hearing the sound of stringed instruments coming from somewhere in the Jinya. Finally, we happened upon the group in the video playing an instrument called a “Taishogoto” (大正琴)....
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