The Kimono Police

“The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know” Albert Einstein Last week I had coffee with a very lovely friend of mine. We used to work together and share many interests including mushrooms and moss. She is Japanese, and I am always amazed that after every conversation we have, I…

Osaka Obachan

Every country has its own subcultures and quirks. Some more than others. Japan has many, and I think it is one of the things that make the culture of Japan so very intriguing. One subculture I find particularly interesting is the “Osaka Obachan”. I believe it is rare to find such a trend in older…

Cultural Dysphoria

My very first time in Japan my kids quickly pointed out to me that the reason I liked the country so much and felt at home was because the Japanese people were all like me. Small, polite and very tidy and organised. It has taken me some time to understand that the real reason I…

Uniquely Japanese- Ukiyo 浮世

In the last couple of weeks I have written a couple of blogs about ukiyo. One about ukiyo-e, woodblock prints of the Edo Period and one about Ukiyo, an excellent experience of story-telling and adventure in Melbourne. (Follow the links to read the blogs). During my research for these two stories I read quite a…

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…

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…

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…

Yurei, Bakemono, Yokai and other Japanese Horror Stories

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. I have recently been watching The Terror: Infamy by AMC on Amazon Prime….

Onna-bugeisha…female Samurai

“Samurai” usually brings forth a vision of a guy in traditional Japanese feudal armour with several swords and a scary disposition. While many samurai were certainly great warriors and warlords, the term actually refers to a class of people in Japan, which, of course, includes women. The bushi class in feudal Japan were the highest…

The Only Gaijin in the Village (Or, How the Onsen Changed my Life)

On my recent trip to Japan, my fourth, I finally tried an onsen. We stayed in a traditional, and very beautiful ryokan on Lake Chuzenji, just out of Nikko. We spent three nights eating, sleeping and bathing in the traditional way. All the traditional ways of living in Japan are surrounded with layers of etiquette…

Uniquely Japanese- Kintsugi 金継ぎ or Kintsukuroi 金繕い

One of my favourite uniquely Japanese words is Kintsugi. The first kanji (syllable) means gold, and the direct translation is “gold splicing”… when a piece of pottery gets broken, the Japanese fix it, not trying to make the repair invisible, but by making the repair gold, and very noticeable. The reasoning is that they believe…

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 gift men, 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 in Japan, it is…