Graves and gods of Otsuka

| Nov 26, 2016

Graves and gods of Otsuka

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It’s a bright fall morning when I return to Gokokuji Temple, an Important Cultural Property in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward. Exiting Gokokuji Station, it only takes me a few minutes to find the two monks who promised to help me when I visited here earlier: ...

Vintage ventures in Tabata Ginza

| Aug 27, 2016

Vintage ventures in Tabata Ginza

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The midday sky swirls with typhoon clouds as I set off to explore a little shopping area known as Tabata Ginza in Tokyo’s Kita Ward. I’m thrilled to be in the charismatic company of a third-generation rakugoka (traditional storyteller) who lives nearby. I met ...

Inky points of interest in Tabata

| Jul 30, 2016

Inky points of interest in Tabata

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Under glowering clouds, I decide to explore the area around Tabata Station in Tokyo. Though recently renovated, the station is one of Tokyo’s oldest depots, dating from 1896. The station offers nifty spots for watching shinkansen trains bullet by, but I take the north ...

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 ...