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Tokyo-Asakusa-Senso-ji-Nitenmon-yukizuri-Reffert Of the many special events that are taking place in Asakusa, one is going on these days on the grounds of Senso-ji: the year-end market Toshi no Ichi (歳の市), where traditionally New Year’s decorations were sold. It coincides and with the Hagoita Ichi (羽子板市), where decorated wooden rackets (battledores) are on sale.

Decorated hagoita and other traditional crafts.

Decorated hagoita and other traditional crafts.

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December in Tokyo

Akihabara in December

Akihabara in December

It’s funny, but this is basically the first time we are spending December in Tokyo, as we usually spent December traveling in Europe. Much like November, December is infinitely better here than in Europe. It is true that it gets dark early also here, but hey, I can go around without a jacket a midday (at least in a sunny and wind-protected spot)!
Shinobazu Pond at Ueno Park in December

Shinobazu Pond at Ueno Park in December

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Tinted Japanese maple leaves in from of a backdrop of autumn colors. The season is fast coming to a close and I promise to those getting terribly bored of tinted leaves that this is my last post on them (for this year). But I just couldn’t resist sharing some more impressions from our stay in Kyoto last week!
A carpet of colorful fallen Japanese maple leaves. Continue Reading »

Kyoto-Tofukuji-autumn-leaves-Reffert While Kyoto lacks the consistent good weather and mild temperatures of late autumn in Tokyo, autumn in the setting of Japan’s old capital is infused with the special Kyoto magic. If you can look past or avoid the crowds it attracts, autumn in Kyoto is a wonderful experience. Tofukuji-Red-Pavilion-Maple-Leaves-Reffert Continue Reading »

Momiji It’s again this time of year when much of Europe labors under grey fog, rains and first snows while around Tokyo, the skies are a brilliant blue day after day and crowds take to the gardens for a picnic under the fiery blaze of the autumn leaves. Just like I never tire of looking at the cherry blossoms, I return year after year to admire the autumn palette of the filigree of maple leaves against the autumn skies. Autumn in the Imperial Palace East Gardens Continue Reading »

Taira no Kiyomori in Chrysanthemum dress

Taira no Kiyomori in Chrysanthemum dress

Late autumn has arrived, and with it, the time for Chysanthemum Festivals which are held in many shrines and temples all over Japan. I have already remarked on the cabbage-sized blooms that Japanese thoroughness in painstaking breeding and selection have produced. But at Yushima Tenjin, they have given the display of chrysanthemum flowers yet another spin: historical figures, in this case Taira no Kiyomori (prominent character in the Tale of Heike) and his wife are displayed clad entirely in live and growing chrysanthemums. Another of those things that can be found in Japan only…

Things Japanese XXVI

Japanese vegetable cutters Anyone from the Western world is familiar with cookie cutters – they make us think of Christmas season and the baked delights that come with it. Also in Japan, these metal implements can be found in every household store, even though the traditional Japanese shapes like sakura and plum blossom don’t really fit our Christmas imagery. But upon closer inspection, it turns out that most of the cutters available are actually tiny. It would be difficult to cut the cookie dough neatly with them, let alone not turn the tiny cookie into a carbonized brick in the oven. So what’s up with that? The answer can be found in almost any fancy bento lunch: these cutters are not meant for cookies at all! Continue Reading »

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