| Aug 27, 2011

Do you know the origins of sea salt?

The Japanese summer is officially over. But the heat lingers. Japan is a hot and humid country, which comes as a surprise to newcomers who can’t really imagine humidity at 70 or 80 percent with no rain. Many foreigners come to terms with their ...

World's best shoppers at my beach shop

| Aug 20, 2011

World's best shoppers at my beach shop

Having run a beach shop for eight years now, I’ve been able to observe the shopping practices of the Japanese firsthand. My summer shop on the island, mainly stocked with accessories and beach clothing, is targeted toward women on vacation. As I was telling ...

| Aug 13, 2011

Returning the seaweed to the sea

Imagine yourself out on the Seto Inland Sea in a boat. You’re by yourself, floating along happily. You open a beer and kick back for a while letting the boat drift in tranquility. You can see the shore, but it’s a bit far to ...

| Aug 6, 2011

Uncovering your hidden ninja

If you’re wondering where all the ninja are these days, I can tell you. They’re hiding within the bodies of people you’d never suspect, such as your next door neighbor. Our island has a very high concentration of modern ninja, whom I will define ...

| Jul 30, 2011

The creeping crud on my hands

Recently, I have had this creeping crud on my hands. I get it every year. It looks like poison ivy — except that it isn’t. How cruel to have only the effects of something and not the actual something. At least if I had ...

Will supply meet mosquitoes' demand?

| Jul 23, 2011

Will supply meet mosquitoes' demand?

“Are there always this many mosquitoes?” says a tourist, slapping his bare legs with his hands as he comes down the stone staircase from the Shinto shrine behind my house. This ancient staircase that goes up the mountain and into the forest is a ...

| Jul 16, 2011

What a waste! A human waste

Meet Ususama Myo-ou. He purifies the unclean. He hangs out in bathrooms. He’s the guardian deity of the toilet. I’m thinking of inviting him to do a residency. Here’s why. As you may know, in the countryside in Japan many houses still have pit-style ...

On rock worship and the Shinto gods

| Jul 9, 2011

On rock worship and the Shinto gods

On my morning jogs on Shiraishi Island, I pass many things: some scary (spiders and snakes), some interesting (what’s been washed up on the beach overnight) and some spiritual. The other day I had to take a detour to avoid a Shinto priest and ...

| Jul 2, 2011

Long and short of pet grooming

“Wow, what’s that?” I asked Mrs. Amano. In her arms she was holding a furry thing with whiskers. I couldn’t quite recognize the animal as it had tufts of hair sticking out all over it — like a hexagram with a cat face in ...

| Jun 25, 2011

Kannon: the goddess of mercy and pets

Today I’d like to introduce you to someone so important, she may change your life. She has been a highly revered VIP for years, and is a household name in Japan, China and India. Although she is relatively unknown to the Western world, her ...