The narrow roads of Senju

| Jan 9, 2011

The narrow roads of Senju

In the frantic yearend season known as shiwasu (lit. “teachers running”), when even dignified people grow harried, a friend invited me to play hooky from the madness and take a ramble together around her Tokyo neighborhood. Since the gift of time together is a ...

'Candy man' conjures up art to eat

| Dec 19, 2010

'Candy man' conjures up art to eat

Children and adults swarm the sanzun (small street cart) of Takahiro Mizuki as he creates traditional ame zaiku (candy sculptures). Plucking out a chunk of scalding mizuame (boiled starch sugar) from a specially heated box at his stand, he bobbles it from hand to ...

| Nov 28, 2010

Eats, shoots and leaves in Hakusan

It’s hunting season in Tokyo. I kit up and trek out to the Hakusan area of Bunkyo Ward, hoping to shoot (with camera) the wild shades of autumn. Of all the bright leaves I plan to bag, origami papers are last on my mind. ...

Crafts meet art in Nihonbashi

| Oct 31, 2010

Crafts meet art in Nihonbashi

Perhaps all writers love paper — it’s in our fiber, so to speak — and when it comes to paper, Japanese washi rules. So, off I head to Ozu Washi store in central Tokyo’s Chuo Ward to take a class in how to make ...

Moving pictures of Shibamata

| Sep 26, 2010

Moving pictures of Shibamata

I change trains three times before boarding one of Tokyo’s shortest lines, the 2.5-km Keisei Kanamachi. I’m bound for Shibamata, which isn’t precisely a backstreet, but it’s tucked so far from most major thoroughfares in the back-beyond of Katsushika Ward that I imagine it ...

Brilliant facets of Nishi-Ojima

| Jul 25, 2010

Brilliant facets of Nishi-Ojima

Setting off to explore Nishi-Ojima (West Large Island) and Kita Suna (North Sand) in Tokyo’s downtown Koto Ward, I know better than to expect a seaside resort. Sure enough, where I emerge from the Toei Shinjuku subway at Nishi-Ojima Station, I spy neither ship ...

Miso happy in Nakamurabashi

| May 30, 2010

Miso happy in Nakamurabashi

I hear somewhere near Nakamura in Nerima Ward, miso is still made in the age-old traditional way. I figure I’ll just wander around the tidy little neighborhood and find it. Exiting north from the Seibu Ikebukuro Line’s Nakamurabashi Station, I sally forth in what ...

Horsing around in Shinjuku

| Apr 25, 2010

Horsing around in Shinjuku

At the tail end of this year’s cherry-blossom season I set off for one of Tokyo’s prime viewing spots, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. My idea is to walk the quiet backstreets circling the garden, then canter through the park itself, which features several late-blooming ...

Thatched spring in Setagaya

| Mar 28, 2010

Thatched spring in Setagaya

To slough off winter sluggishness and get into step with spring, I set a course from Seijo Gakuen-mae on the Odakyu Line to Jidayubori Minkaen — a compound of late-Edo Period (1860s) thatched farmhouses in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward — and ending at Futako Tamagawa ...