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Japan

New Years Decorations

Happy New Year! Akemashite Omedetou in Japanese! Christmas displays at department stores, grocery stores and train and subway stations are changed to New Year displays over night. The changes are made quickly but thorough. To the righ, you can see a display where various colored chrysanthemums and plum branches are put into bamboo stems, and...
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Tora Tora Tora

Tora Tora Tora (Tiger Tiger Tiger)

“Tora Tora Tora” (Tiger Tiger Tiger) is a Japanese party/drinking game played by Maiko with their clients. The game is another version of “Jyan ken pon” (the Japanese name for Rock, Paper, Scissors). The game is played between two players who start on opposite sides of a wall, or as in this case, a rice...
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Garden Elements – Part 2

Paths Paths are generally constructed of beaten earth that can be left plain or covered with sand or fine gravel, on top of which stepping stones can be placed. Irregular, flat stepping stones were used in the tea roji to guide the visitor to the tea house. Later stepping stones were introduced into other gardens....
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Okunoin Cemetery at Koya-san (Part 1)

Many people visit Koya-san during the course of the year, primarily to stay overnight at one of the 55 temples offering temple lodging. And of course to tour the many historical and beautiful temples at Koya-san, including Okunoin Temple. The cemetery directly in front of Okunoin Temple is also another large draw at Koya-san. Because the...
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Sake – The Basic Ingredients (Rice and Water)

In this installment of our discussions on Sake, we will discuss the basic ingredients of Sake, the different kinds of ingredients and how they affect the final result. These main ingredients include: Rice Water Yeast Koji This installment will concentrate on rice and water, the most important ingredients by volume only. Yeast and koji will be...
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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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