Summer Lights of Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine

In keeping with the ancient custom, Yasukuni Shrine holds the yearly Mitama Festival around July 13-16 as part of the Obon festivities. Mitama refers to the spirit or soul of the dead. During this season, Japanese hang lanterns and place offerings at the altars as prayers for their ancestors’ spirits to be freed of their sufferings. Since 1947, the Mitama Festival has lightened up the Yasukuni Shrine grounds with more than 30,000 glittering lanterns or chochin.

Karakuri – Japan’s First Robots

Softbank’s intelligent robot, Pepper and Honda’s humanoid robot, ASIMO are just two examples of Japan’s robot revolution that are known the world over. At first glance, Japan’s passion for robots may seem like a recent revolution, but did you know that Japan has been producing robots for hundreds of years?

Two shamisen instruments on tatami mats

Shamisen: an Introduction

While koto is the national instrument, shamisen is undeniably a part of Japanese culture that also can’t be separated from the country's image.

5 Reasons Why You Should Stay in a Traditional Guest House (Ryokan) During Your Visit to Japan

A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese style inn that is found throughout Japan with its signature feature of tatami matted (mats made from rice straw) rooms and in house onsens (hot spring baths). Ryokans are priced at a slightly higher rate than a hotel and hostel. However, here are 5 reasons why a ryokan experience is a must-try during your visit to Japan.

How to Become Japanese

I’m just going to cut straight to the conclusion: you don’t. You can’t. At least, not yet. Now before you get discouraged or upset or say “this guy doesn't know what he’s talking about”, I ask that you stick with me until the end of this article and find out what I mean by “not yet”.

Inexpensive Maiko Encounters and Kimono Cosplay in Kyoto

Those who maintain venerable traditions are highly valued in Kyoto. Even though maiko and the older geiko are part of an exclusive high society, there are not enough new recruits anymore. In the renowned Gion area they dart out of taxis into teahouses at twilight, so there is little chance to stop them for a photo.

Satou Making in Your Home – Creating a Carving Knife From Samurai Sword Parts

Knives used to carve them are specialized tools called “satou” or “hidari-ba” which are more like tiny scrapers than knives. They look like dental picks for mythical creatures to be used by monstrous dentists. I acquired my first set of satou knives from master carver Kazuaki Nakamura but I needed a knife suited to my individual needs: One that was curved in the opposite direction to the knife included in the set.

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