ARTS&CULTURE June 29, 2017

Six Japanese Martial Arts You Should Know

Although the popular imagination tends to focus on judo, karate and perhaps sumo as Japan’s key martial arts, the country is home to a staggering variety of these ritualized combat skills. Developed for the battlefield over the centuries by samurai and ninja, these days, Japanese martial arts – known by the umbrella term bujutsu, or […]

ARTS&CULTURE June 28, 2017

9 Museums You Must Visit Outside Tokyo

Japan is home to a large array of museums catering to nearly every possible taste, from enormous Tokyo collections of art and ancient artifacts to specialty museums all over the country honoring everything from bonsai to beer, natural disasters to instant ramen, kites to socks…there’s even a museum dedicated to artwork created out of sand. […]

ARTS&CULTURE June 27, 2017

9 Museums You Must See in Tokyo

Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world, but it is more than that: It is a city so important to culture, commerce and history, that its name comes up as one of the crucial four international cities: London, Paris, New York, Tokyo. So it should come as no surprise that Tokyo boasts some […]

ARTS&CULTURE June 16, 2017

Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan

pe of modern Japan more than the “opening” of the country by American naval commander Matthew Perry in 1853-4. Of those three epochal events, Perry’s mission was the first, and led in large part to the subsequent two. Commodore Perry’s mission, though military in nature, was driven by Western commercial expansion in the Far East, […]

ARTS&CULTURE May 30, 2017

5 Internationally-known Contemporary Japanese Artists

Unsurprisingly, for a country with as deep and ancient arts as Japan, the country’s fine art scene is one of the world’s most important. Art is as basic a form of expression to the Japanese as any activity, and artists are honored for their contributions to the country’s cultural life. Contemporary Japanese artists are on […]

ARTS&CULTURE May 18, 2017

8 Japanese Films You Must See Before You Visit Japan

The Japanese film industry has a long and illustrious history, with dozens of films that have had impacts outside of Japan on international filmmaking, and many hundreds more that have touched the Japanese. Classic directors such as Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Masaki Kobayashi, and Kenji Mizoguchi made films that have not just been popular outside […]

ARTS&CULTURE May 15, 2017

Zen Buddhism v. Pure Land Buddhism

Buddhism has, in 2500 years, taken many different forms. Spread over most of the Asian continent, it changed from a philosophy to a religion as it traveled from India, where it was born in roughly the fifth century, BCE. As it entered Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Burma, Thailand and other nations over many centuries, it […]

ARTS&CULTURE April 26, 2017

Carps, Cranes and other Symbolic (but Real) Animals

Like most traditional cultures around the world, the Japanese see animals not merely as fellow creatures, but as symbols of a variety of qualities they would like to express or benefit from. No, we’re not talking about Hello Kitty and Godzilla, though their popularity could be a new wrinkle in this old theme; nor are […]

FOOD&DRINK April 18, 2017

The 8 Most Important Condiments and Ingredients in Japanese cuisine

Nearly everyone who lives in a modern city is familiar with Japanese food, which along with Italian, Chinese and American cuisines is a commonplace part of an international diet. Everyone knows that rice, noodles and tofu, along with chicken, fish and beef and a great variety of vegetables, are familiar Japanese staples. But what often […]

ARTS&CULTURE April 12, 2017

Origami and Kirigami

The traditional Japanese arts are, generally speaking, all about making things with natural materials and as little “processing” as possible. The idea is that human creations should appear to be as natural as possible. Thus, the ideal ikebana flower arrangement should appear not to be arranged at all, but rather, to have just fallen into […]