Lost in construction

| Apr 26, 2009

Lost in construction

If you ever have a hankering for nikka-zubon and jika-tabi, the outre puffy pants and split-toed booties rocked by Japanese carpenters, construction dudes and painters, supply store Mannenya in 3-chome (district 3) of Nishi Shinjuku has got you covered. The building is hard to ...

Catch a falling star

| Mar 29, 2009

Catch a falling star

Overhung by funky plastic streetlights, enlivened by piped music, and flanked with small stores, Shinohashi Shirokane Shotengai is exactly the kind of shopping street that once served as the commercial hub of many postwar Tokyo neighborhoods. The nostalgic character of this shotengai (shopping arcade) ...

Cruising the Sumida for sights

| Feb 22, 2009

Cruising the Sumida for sights

However hidden behind built-up banks it may be, the Sumida River is not exactly a “back street.” But as it’s said that one of the best places from which to view cherry blossoms in Tokyo is from a water bus plying the river, I ...

| Jan 25, 2009

A west side love story

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Tokyo’s lovers dust off chocolate-tempering pots, scope out sweet shops and reserve bouquets of roses. Of course, savvy romantics know a midwinter stroll along a back street, with requisite snuggling for warmth, works nearly as well to stoke affection as ...

A west side love story

| Jan 25, 2009

A west side love story

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Tokyo’s lovers dust off chocolate-tempering pots, scope out sweet shops and reserve bouquets of roses. Of course, savvy romantics know a midwinter stroll along a back street, with requisite snuggling for warmth, works nearly as well to stoke affection as ...

Let's pray to the Great Black One

| Dec 19, 2008

Let's pray to the Great Black One

In Tokyo, it’s prudent to pray to the Great Black One if you want to improve your financial outlook for the coming year. Putting in a good word for U.S. President-elect Barack Obama wouldn’t hurt as well, once you arrive at the Slope of ...

'Tis a gift to be simple

| Nov 21, 2008

'Tis a gift to be simple

The best holiday presents wrap themselves — in your arms, that is. The rest of your gift-list responsibilities, whether for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Japanese oseibo (yearend gifts), can be taken care of near Asakusabashi Station. I’m usually way behind schedule getting presents together, ...

In the realm of fall's senses

| Oct 17, 2008

In the realm of fall's senses

With autumn nipping at the air, deciduous trees are primed to put on a color display known in Japanese as koyo. Though usually written with Japanese characters for “crimson” and “leaves,” koyo can also be written with the characters for “yellow” and “leaves” when ...

Daimyos and deluge around the Kanda River

| Sep 19, 2008

Daimyos and deluge around the Kanda River

Most major stretches of greenery in Tokyo are tax-trimmed remainders of massive estates once owned by Edo Period (1603-1867) feudal lords, or daimyo. So, in the wake of this summer’s torrential rain and dodging some early autumn typhoons, I set out to find a ...

Good cool hunting in Edogawa

| Aug 15, 2008

Good cool hunting in Edogawa

In Tokyo, when the going gets hot, the cool go to Hawaii, or flee to mountain resorts. Others plunk down their yen for a dip in a hotel or amusement-park pool. The rest of us steam in the stupefying humidity and hope our flip-flops ...