Posts in Category: blog

    2015/11/15
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moss basin
In a Japanese garden, green moss is one of the most important components. It is a symbol of smallness of a human being in contrast to the great nature and the flow of time, as it takes long period of time for moss to cover the entire rocks or ground. Therefore grown moss tells us the shortness of a human life and is a good sign to correct the arrogance of human beings.

As you may know, values of Japanese are strongly related with Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto, the oldest Japanese religion, worships the great nature and does not intend to control the nature. Buddhism, which also deeply influences on our way of thinking, tells Read More

    2015/11/14
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sinjuku gyoen garden

Now you understand three principles to enjoy Japanese garden in our previous post. The second principle, symbolization (mitate) is an important key to understand and enjoy a dry landscape garden or karesansui teien (枯山水庭園). As mentioned, a dry landscape garden is highly abstract. All natural objects such as mountains, water falls, flow of brook, and trees are represented by rocks, stones and moss. Some dry landscape gardens were designed to create the environment of zen training for zen monks. It is said that visitors are supposed to communicate with the garden silently and find your way of understanding the intention of the designer. This type of garden is designed to enjoy from inside the Read More

    2015/11/13
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magome

The most distinctive difference between Japanese garden and western-style garden is that Japanese ones are made as natural as possible whereas western ones in general arrange trees and rocks geometrically. Japanese garden designers follow three basic principles which are miniaturization (shukukei), symbolization (mitate) and “borrowed views”(shakkei). And those three principles are key to enjoy Japanese garden.

The first principle, miniaturization is to create natural views of mountain and brooks in reduced scale. The intention is to recreate idealized scene in a city to enjoy. This is usually applied to pond garden. The symbolization is to find dynamic landscape in small objects. Well observed symbolization is to see an island, a cape, or an inlet in an artificially-made hill or in rocks set Read More

    2015/11/12
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You may recall a stone garden when you hear a word “Japanese garden”. Yes, it is one type of Japanese garden out of three types. Let’s see what types of traditional gardens you can enjoy in Japan.

1) chisen teien (pond garden)
It is a type of Japanese garden with a pond in the center and most often observed in many regions of Japan. Usually it is large and you are supposed to enjoy the garden by walking around the pond. Its origin dates back to gardens of nobility in 7th century and established during Edo period (1603-1867). The ones made during this period have several view spots which imitated famous landscapes in all over Japan. Often there are small tea houses or arbors in the garden to rest.

The famous gardens Read More

    2015/11/11
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tattoo

Tourists who are inked should be aware that, in general, Japan has a negative attitude about tattoos that make accessing certain facilities more challenging. Although tattoos are quite commonplace in most western countries, and are becoming popular with younger demographics here, many older Japanese view them as explicitly crime-related. Fans of Japanese cinema and video games will easily recognize the ornate, full-body tattoos worn by the Yakuza. Additionally, similar to the public shaming described in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the Tokugawa Shogunate used to punish convicted criminals with forehead tattoos detailing their various offenses.

Although the public shaming of criminals in this way has been long since abandoned, tattoos are still very popular among members of Japan’s underworld. Japanese often view Read More

    2015/11/4
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Those who live in other metropolitan areas around the globe may be surprised to learn that Japanese subways and commuter trains do not run 24 hours a day. While the time of the last train varies depending on the line, it’s usually between about 12:00 and 12:30AM. The earliest trains the following day will run intermittently starting from about 5:30AM.

As Tokyo is a city with no lack of nightlife, many may wonder why it does not have public transportation to match. If you ask a Japanese person, most will tell you that it’s a cleverly disguised trick to force salarymen to leave the office for the night. Working hours can be grueling, and suspending service for early morning hours functions the same as last call in a bar. Hardworking businesspeople Read More

    2015/11/3
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ginza line

Japanese culture is well known for its rules and formality. Whether it’s table manners, business introductions, or after-hours drinking parties, there are unspoken rules for every situation. Riding on the train is no different! Let’s take a look at how the locals are supposed “not” to do.

No talking on the phone
The cardinal rule of Japanese train etiquette is to avoid talking on the phone while onboard. Many new to Japan may be shocked at just how quiet the public transportation is. The fact that the vast majority of passengers respect the phone rule is the major reason. Feel free to speak with your traveling companions, but don’t take or make calls while on board.

Don’t carry backpacks on your back
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    2015/11/2
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Osaka, Dotonbori

Osaka, Dotonbori

While it may not be apparent to short-time visitors, Tokyo and Osaka are very different cities with very different cultures. Tokyoites are known for being reserved, serious, polite, and tend to keep to themselves. Osakans are the opposite – gregarious folks sometimes bordering on raucous. Osaka is the home of many famous Japanese comedians, and the people there are known for their sense of humor. Locals in Osaka are far more likely to start a conversation with you than people in Tokyo.

Beyond this, another curious difference exists between the two cities. In Tokyo and most other Japanese cities, people stand on the left of the escalator and pass on the right. In Osaka and the surrounding region, Read More

    2015/11/1
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hina dolls

two sets of hina dolls and a kimono

So far, we have seen some visual and historical differences between Shinto and Buddhism. Now let me explain how naturally both Shinto and Buddhism affect on our daily lives and seasonal ceremonies.

At the night of New Year’s Eve, December 31, we usually go to temple to appreciate the lucks of previous year and worship for coming good year. Next morning, on January 1, we go to shrine wishing for a good new year. You may feel this is something very unprincipled. But this is the way Japanese have been. Other religious ceremonies both from Shinto and Buddhism can be observed every season. March 3 is girls’ day, which families with girls Read More

    2015/10/31
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sensoji
The basic actions you have to take in either shrine or temple are similar. First of all, keep in your mind that it is a holly place that you have to show resect. Then as follows.

Step1. Enter the site walking under the gate. Inside the site is regarded as holy.

Step2. Wash your hands and mouth at a place for ritual cleansing. Hold the ladle with your right hand and pour water on your left hand. Do the same with your left hand to clean your right hand. Then hold the ladle with right hand again to wash your mouth.

Only in Temples; After washing hands, you would find an incense burner. Wave your hands over the smoke to clean yourself with Read More