Backstage drama on Ginza's Konparu-dori

| May 28, 2016

Backstage drama on Ginza's Konparu-dori

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A temperate breeze swings through the surrounding willow trees as I pass jewel-encrusted ball gowns in the display windows of Ginza Takaraya, near Shinbashi Station in Tokyo. I’m scouting out Konparu-dori, a street named for the eponymous noh troupe that was gifted land here ...

Grave company at Zoshigaya Cemetery

| Oct 24, 2015

Grave company at Zoshigaya Cemetery

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When persimmon leaves and the tips of maples take on color, and chilly air rattles windows, composer Yoshinao Nakada’s haunting song “Chiisai Aki Mitsuketa” (“A Bit of Autumn Found”) floats through my mind. Having just learned that the song’s lyricist, talented poet Hachiro Sato ...

Circumnavigating joys in Kaminoge

| Sep 26, 2015

Circumnavigating joys in Kaminoge

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Decades ago, I strolled around the quiet neighborhood of Kaminoge in Setagaya Ward with professor Shuichi Kato, the scholar who convinced me to come study in Tokyo. I vividly recollect, on my first day in Japan, encountering the fragrance of tiny orange kinmokusei (fragrant ...

The custodians of culture in Koishikawa

| Jun 27, 2015

The custodians of culture in Koishikawa

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Exiting the Nanboku subway’s Korakuen Station near Tokyo Dome, I gaze up at clouds resembling bunches of purple hydrangeas. Directly overhead, a roller coaster car swooshes by, its passengers shrieking, which is a good sign, because, despite its aquatic name, the Thunder Dolphin coaster ...

Flora, fauna and fellows on the river

| May 30, 2015

Flora, fauna and fellows on the river

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With summer’s heat punching in early this year, I’m already angling for riverside relief. I trundle down to Ota Ward’s Rokugodote, the southernmost train station in Tokyo’s 23 wards, and a stone’s throw from the Tamagawa (Tama River). The 138-km-long Tamagawa, which in this ...

Finding your sea legs on Tokyo Bay

| Mar 28, 2015

Finding your sea legs on Tokyo Bay

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It’s wretched weather for putting out to sea: gusty winds, cloud banks brooding with rain and water spouts, temperatures a micro-notch above freezing and the waters of Tokyo Bay like wet elephant hide. Nonetheless, at the generous invitation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau ...

Finding thrills on plum blossom hill

| Feb 21, 2015

Finding thrills on plum blossom hill

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February is a tricky month for venturing out in Tokyo. Daylight hours lengthen and the light softens slightly, but the weather itself seems controlled by a sadist at the thermostat. Blissfully warm one moment and freezing the next, it’s 50 shades of uncertainty. Nonetheless, ...