Amabie, the cute way Japan is fighting COVID

Yokai are "monsters" of Japanese Folklore. Though previously considered scary, many are now regarded as cute and friendly, and often benevolent. They take many forms and are seen as a way of processing difficult feelings and unpleasant situations. Superstition is not uncommon in Japan and many believe there is a thin veil between this world … Continue reading Amabie, the cute way Japan is fighting COVID

Japanese Names

Name Conventions When I started reading a lot of Japanese history, I initially found the names a little confusing. Although having some understanding, there are a number of practices that I still find really intriguing. I wanted to write about myōseki, the passing down of a family name to someone who is not necessarily related. … Continue reading Japanese Names

Geisha, Oiran and Tayu

Misunderstood Women of Japan. The mere mention of Japan will probably conjure many pervasive Japanese images in your mind. Undoubtably geisha will probably be among those images. However, for most foreign people the concept of geisha is difficult to understand, and many people are misinformed as to their cultural significance. The role they played, and … Continue reading Geisha, Oiran and Tayu

Yurei, Bakemono, Yokai and other Japanese Horror Stories

Japanese ukiyo-e of lantern ghost by Katsushika Hokusai

I am not a huge fan of horror movies, although I was an avid reader of horror when I was younger. The last horror story I read was Ring by Koji Suzuki (1998). It was terrifying, in a very subtle, psychological way. However, I do love Japanese ghost and monster stories. I have recently been … Continue reading Yurei, Bakemono, Yokai and other Japanese Horror Stories

Ryuichi Sakamoto: CODA

Movie poster for Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda documentary

I am not sure how old I was the first time I watched Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, but I remember being entranced by the music of Ryuichi Sakamoto. Quite young, I think. I was traumatised by the scene where David Bowie is buried in sand up to his neck. Dad loves David Bowie, music, and … Continue reading Ryuichi Sakamoto: CODA

Valentine’s Day… Japanese Style

Photo credit here Valentine's Day in Japan is celebrated differently than anywhere else in the world. It is a day that women give gifts to men. It is usually chocolate. There are several different types of chocolate given, for a multitude of reasons. There is, of course, etiquette involved, and as with all gift giving … Continue reading Valentine’s Day… Japanese Style

Me, Japan and Suicide

Suicide is a hard subject to talk about. Especially when your Western culture has very little idea on how to talk about it, or anything else related to death. The English stiff upper lip has lead to many subjects being deemed as taboo. However, when you find yourself in a situation where you have to … Continue reading Me, Japan and Suicide

Well, well, well…. Japanese wells, actually

Hokusai's woodblock print of Sarayashiki. The House of Broken Plates.

What is the significance of the humble well in Japanese imagery? I had not even realised that there was a significance until I was reading Peter Carey's Wrong About Japan. The book follows Peter Carey and his son on their trip to Japan. At the end of the book, the father and son watch a … Continue reading Well, well, well…. Japanese wells, actually


A reasonably new, but increasingly popular phenomenon in Japan is animal cafes. Initially it was cat cafes (neko-kissa). The kids and I visited a cat cafe in Asakusa in Tokyo. Monta Cat Cafe is situated in the Satellite Fuji Building, on the 8th floor, not far from Asakusa station. (Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Hanakawado 1-5-2) The experience … Continue reading Neko-Kissa