Uniquely Japanese- Omoiyari 思いやり

You may have heard the story about the Japanese fans at the World Cup match who remained after the game to clean the stadium. It made the news around the world. This kind of behaviour is not rare in Japan. A tiny country, with LOTS of mountains and a huge population that has little crime…

Zen in Space…

I have not been able to find a lot of information about this in English, and my Japanese is not good enough to decipher technical writing, however I thought this was very interesting, and I have tried to fill in the blanks with some research. Daigo-Ji Temple in Fushimi, in Kyoto, is a very, very…

Yokoso – Welcome to Japan in Melbourne?

Yokoso, ようこそ, means “welcome” in Japanese. The Sunday before last, the 17th January, we enjoyed being welcomed to “Japan in Melbourne”. The City of Yarra, through a grant scheme, had enabled a group of Japanese restaurants, musicians, dancers and market stall holders, (and Dylan, from Chotto Motto’s mum) to create an excellent opportunity for Melbournians…

Ukiyo-e, a picture of Japanese art history

When I started travelling to Japan, I knew precious little about Japanese art. Despite studying art and art history through school and at university, my exposure to Asian art in general was very limited. My knowledge of ukiyo-e, woodblock printing, was limited to famous images such as Hokusai’s The Great Wave (actually called Under the…

The Enduring Exploits of Super Sake Boy and Nihonshu Girl

It has been nearly a year since COVID put a big, fat STOP sign on nearly all international travel. Being obsessed Japanophiles, Super Sake Boy and I have tried to take the travel ban graciously, while feeding our need for Japanese food, sake, culture and connection with the language. We were last in Japan in…

Uniquely Japanese- Yoshoku 洋食

Yoshoku is Japanese western style cooking. In my experience, every dish that the Japanese adopt and alter ends up being more delicious than the dish they started with. Yoshoku translates literally as “Western style cuisine”, as opposed to Washoku 和食 which translates to Japanese style cuisine. During the Meiji period (1868-1912) after more than 200…

Uniquely Japanese- Komorebi 木漏れ日

I started this blog a long time ago. I have been waiting for the perfect photo for it. Finally, the other morning, I got my photo. When you read the meaning of the word, you will understand why this has taken some time to achieve. “The interplay between light and leaves when sunlight shines through…

Aliens, Hot Wheels and Blues loving Koji- Mioya Shuzo

The eighth session of Sake Mistress Simone’s Taste with the Toji on-line sake events found us in Ishikawa at Mioya Shuzo, with Kuramoto (president) Miho Fujita, and Toji, Toshi Yokomichi. I am reasonably sure when Miho-san was explaining the story of how she became president I was the only participant in the session that completely…

Guesthouse Soi- My Home Away From Home

My first time travelling in Japan was just over five years ago. We travelled for a month and I tried to see as much as I could. We stayed in Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kamakura and had booked to stay in Hakuba. We also stayed in Kyoto. For only four short days. We had loved Tokyo,…

Uniquely Japanese- Kodawari こだわり

Google translate translates kodawari as meaning commitment, but this simple translation certainly lacks understanding of the nuance of the word. Kodawari is an uncompromising and relentless pursuit of perfection. In craftsmanship, in skill, in creativity, in the everyday. This is an attribute you can witness in every aspect of life in Japan. One that can…

Travel and the Coronavirus

As a young person, probably in my late teens, I became somewhat obsessed with epidemiology and read voraciously about viruses, the CDC and Ebola, in particular. The Hot Zone, Virus X and The Coming Plague still sit on the shelf in our study. I feel like I have been waiting for the Coronavirus, without knowing…