| Jul 16, 2009


Dear Alice, Is it weird to love a wall? I recently visited the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and was totally blown away by a high rock embankment on the far side of the moat. That rugged face! Those elegant lines! I am completely enchanted ...

A freedom that fostered richness

Jul 3, 2009

A freedom that fostered richness

Two exhibitions now showing at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography offer a fascinating contrast in photojournalism. “Press Photographers’ Story,” in the second-floor gallery through July 5, brings together the works of five well-known Japanese news photographers who were active from the 1930s to ...

| Jun 18, 2009


Dear Alice, Based on my forays into Japanese restaurants in North America, I was under the impression that Japanese cuisine didn’t feature any spicy flavorsat all. Then, on my first trip to Japan, I wandered into a restaurant that specializes in soba noodles. When ...

Wild orchids

| May 21, 2009

Wild orchids

Dear Alice, Can you please find out what the heck I saw on Mount Takao on the outskirts of Tokyo? Last spring, about this time of year, I was on a trail with a lot of other hikers lugging cameras and tripods. All of ...

'No-wash rice' (<em>musenmai</em>)

| Apr 16, 2009

'No-wash rice' (musenmai)

Dear Alice,I recently returned to Japan after 12 years back in my home country. I knew a lot of things would be different after such a long time away, but I never expected the rice to have changed! My former home-stay mom was always ...

Lost & Found

Apr 3, 2009

Lost & Found

The discovery in a German archive of documents and photographs related to the Prussian mission to Japan in 1860-61 has shed new light on the early history of photography in Japan. In particular, newly uncovered letters and records help explain the mystery of why ...

Feral parakeets

| Mar 19, 2009

Feral parakeets

Dear Alice, Please settle an argument. I play tennis on the public courts in Arisugawa Park in central Tokyo. On several occasions I have seen bright-green noisy birds flying free around the tall outdoor lights there. I’m convinced these gregarious dandies are wild parrots. ...

<em>Tome ishi</em>

| Feb 19, 2009

Tome ishi

Dear Alice, Recently I toured a beautiful traditional garden in Kyoto with a Japanese friend. At a fork in the path, I was about to turn to the right when my friend stopped me and said we were not supposed to go that way. ...


| Jan 22, 2009


Dear Alice,My husband attended a business dinner late last year at a very fancy traditional Japanese restaurant. At the end of the evening, as he was heading out the door, the kimono-clad proprietress presented him with a gift of a single piece of fruit. ...

Manhole covers

| Dec 16, 2008

Manhole covers

Dear Alice, Can you please tell me what the heck is the deal with all the pretty manhole covers in Japan? They can be so lovely that I’ve started taking pictures of them when I travel around the country. When I shared these sewer ...