The linden city turns over a new leaf

Jul 6, 2003

The linden city turns over a new leaf

LEIPZIG, Germany — German cities, even the larger ones, are associated with — among other things German — linden trees. In addition to the memory of Frankfurt’s linden-lined streets, I remember a joyous summer evening in the city a few years ago when I ...

Getting a taste for tofu at its silken best

Jun 22, 2003

Getting a taste for tofu at its silken best

If natto is a challenge to the average taste bud, tofu is a breeze — so bland, some might say, that if humans lived on tofu alone they would long ago have dispensed with taste buds altogether. Inclined, myself, to the view that neat ...

Soaked in the city

May 25, 2003

Soaked in the city

Though you may not have seen Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning animated film “Spirited Away,” which is set in an opulent bathhouse for the gods, even the most fleeting acquaintance with Japan will have made it clear that soaking in a hot tub is an almost ...

Masters of potions past

Apr 6, 2003

Masters of potions past

Your interest may have been aroused by a friend’s story of how, after trying kanpo (Chinese herbal medicine), their pollen allergy has not been so problematic this season. Or, on the other hand, you may have been intrigued by magazine articles with eye-catching headlines ...

Kissaten culture still on the boil

Mar 9, 2003

Kissaten culture still on the boil

At 3 p.m. precisely, a staffer in meikyoku kissa Lion in Shibuya quietly announces the start of today’s “concert.” Silence descends as she places a record on the player. A gray-haired customer puffs on a cigarette at his corner table. A Beethoven piano sonata ...

Feb 9, 2003

Hole in one: Hole in pocket

All golfers dream that — be it only once in their lifetime — they might, miraculously, achieve a hole in one. Outside the lofty realm of pros and single-digit handicaps, of course, a dream is exactly what that ambition remains for the vast majority ...

Jan 26, 2003

Shot eagle gains a domain

Late last year, in the mountains of Chiba Prefecture, hikers came across an owashi (Steller’s sea eagle) — a designated special natural treasure — that was unable to fly. The striken raptor was immediately sent to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, into the charge of ...

Japan's own meals on wheels

Jan 5, 2003

Japan's own meals on wheels

In the early morning of Dec. 1, the first “Hayate” shinkansen left Hachinohe Station in Aomori Prefecture. Its departure for Tokyo in a blaze of publicity signaled that Japan’s fastest express trains had a new northernmost limit — some 96.6 km further on the ...

On the night side of life

Dec 8, 2002

On the night side of life

The last trains have long gone and the stations are shuttered. Outside, it’s chilly and the streets are all but deserted. In a building in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward, though, it’s bright, hot and noisy. About 20 people pump iron, sweat on exercise bikes, and ...