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 ...

Bulking up in Bush Warbler Valley

| Feb 28, 2010

Bulking up in Bush Warbler Valley

I’d like to improve my grip on sumo wrestling, so when a friend invites me to watch the big boys tussle through a morning practice, I jump at the chance. I get off at Uguisudani (Bush Warbler Valley) Station on the Yamanote Line, where ...

Rags and riches by the Myoshoji

| Jan 31, 2010

Rags and riches by the Myoshoji

Few writers have been able to evoke the bare beams of poverty or the lambent lives of those who endure it with more dignity than Fumiko Hayashi (1903-1951). It therefore seems fitting that I pick the iciest day of winter to walk northwest of ...

Fun and funky Fukagawa

| Dec 27, 2009

Fun and funky Fukagawa

After so many yearend parties and as the weather grows wintry in Tokyo, it might seem like madness to go for a walk, but a stroll east of the Sumida River, in Fukagawa, is an ideal way to clear the head. The area offers ...