Ioyama In The Clouds

As the bus winds its way up the mountain towards Ebino Kogen, I am starting to question my decision to come here at all. From one moment to the next, we are entering dense fog and all around us the world of the Kirishima National Park dissolves into vague grey shapes. I had probably not […]

Where Every Bamboo Stalk Is Different

Katano near Osaka is one of those very typical small towns that surround the major cities in Japan – big enough to retain their status as an independent city, but too close to a major megalopolis to ever attract any of the spotlight. We are here on a regular basis since we have family in […]

Hoshigaoka’s Secret

We found this place several years ago, unlikely enough only a few miles away from where my parents-in-law live near Osaka, and we’ve been back this year since it had left such a great impression on our first visit. The Hoshigaoka Sewing School must have been closed many years ago but it was then reopened […]

The Poison Ape

Last year I had picked up the first US translation of one of Arimasa Osawa’s books – Shinjuku Shark, and just recently I’ve found a new translation in his series around a cop in Tokyo in our local Japanese bookstore. The title is The Poison Ape, and where Shinjuku Shark was an in-depth study of […]


Last weekend we had a chance to see the Japanese movie “Departures” as a preview of its official release in the US during the San Francisco International Film Festival. Departures won this year’s Academy Award for best foreign film, and it must have been a close call as best film all around. Where to begin? […]


Japanese restaurants traditionally display artificial menu items in their shop windows, and every visitor to Japan has been dazzled by the amazing quality and realism of the plastic models for every conceivable food item that can be found in restaurant windows. Sooner or later it dawns on the visitor that there must be a massive […]

Walking in Japan

Today I’ve stumbled over a great blog if you are interested in Japan: Walking in Japan by Kurt Bell is all about his hikes in the Japanese Alps and the interesting things he finds along the way. Kurt clearly enjoys his walks through the mountains and that shows in the photos and videos that he […]

Edo Panorama

Several blogs have been linking to this remarkable image over the last few days and I see no reason to hold back. 🙂 If you click through to the large panorama at Wikipedia, you’ll see one of the earliest existing photos of Edo, which was rename a few years later to Tokyo. This panorama is […]


I wanted to talk about this movie for a little while, but we were traveling and I have now a backlog of blogging material to work through… Paprika is the new movie by Satoshi Kon, the director of Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers, two of my favorite Japanese animation movies. This new movie is very […]

Amazing Japan

Over the last few years Japan has developed into a cultural powerhouse with Muji Stores in faraway places like Germany, Anime movies being shown in local art cinemas and occasionally even in the Multiplexes and there are now Mangas in corner bookstores everywhere. We are bombarded by new Japanese gadgets that look unrealistically futuristic and […]