Yummy Unagi

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Unagi is a Japanese word for freshwater eel. It is used as an ingredient in delicious and nutritious Japanese food such as unadon (sliced eel served on top of rice) in donburi (Japanese rice topping) meals.  The fancier version of unagi, jūbako, is served in a lacquered box. Another popular unagi dish usually served in the Nagoya area is […]

The Mongol Invasion of Japan

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The Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 were significant events in Japanese history and are prime examples of the concept of divine intervention. These events are also believed to be the earliest reference for the word kamikaze or “divine winds” that ended any further attempts by the Mongols to invade Japan. The Mongol Empire […]

Get Lost in Hōkoku-ji Temple and its Majestic Bamboo Grove

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Hōkoku-ji Temple, also known as “Take-dera” (Bamboo Temple) is located in the Kenchō-ji school of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism in Kamakura, Japan. The temple is famous for its bamboo garden with about 2000 moso bamboo plants growing way up high to the sky, truly an awe-inspiring sight to behold for visitors. Hōkoku-ji Temple was founded […]

Senbazuru: Thousand Origami Cranes

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The crane is symbolic in Japan — it is considered to be a mystical or holy creature like dragons and tortoises. The crane is said to live for a thousand years, which is why people make a thousand origami cranes, one for each year of its life. Senbazuru (千羽鶴), or the thousand origami cranes, are commonly seen at temples in […]

April Showers Bring Exciting Festivals in Japan

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With the highly anticipated spring flowers in full bloom, April is always exciting  in Japan. Here are just some of the festivities in April to cap off the first quarter of the year. Kamakura Festival, Kanagawa (Second Sunday to Third Sunday of April) 12th century Japan saw Kamakura rivaling Kyoto as it developed into the […]

The Historic Hirosaki Castle

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Japanese castles were an important part of Japan’s history.  They exemplify the careful planning of Japanese architecture and strategic planning. Japanese castles served as military defenses and were strategically placed in trading routes, rivers, and roads. They were also the center of governance in Japanese states. When the central government’s authority began to weaken sometime in the 15th […]

Emperor Jimmu: The First Emperor of Japan

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The sun goddess Amaterasu is said to have brought order to Japan after its creation through a cosmic union of male and female great spirits, or kami. According to Shinto belief, the universe constantly strives towards order, not chaos, and the establishment of the imperial system can then be directly related to the concept of order. In Shinto belief, Jimmu was a direct descendant […]

Japan’s Breathtaking Sakura Season

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Cherry blossoms (sakura) are deeply ingrained in the history and culture of Japan, and they have come to identify the country. They are full of symbolism, such as their state of impermanence (blooms only last up to a week or two) which resonates with the samurai culture and the Japanese aesthetics of wabi-sabi (view centered on […]

In Japan, Spring is in the Air

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The month of March heralds the arrival of spring in Japan. There is no better place to admire and experience the beauty of the season than with all the lush foliage Japan has to offer, as well as the many events that welcome spring. Spring season events for 2015 Midtown Blossom, Tokyo (March 20 – April 15) Japan’s […]

Harajuku Haven

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Harajuku (原宿), the Kawaii capital of Japan, is the center of Japanese fashion and youth culture where you can get unique shopping finds and have a great dining experience. Harajuku, in Tokyo, is the best place to see extreme Japanese pop culture come alive, as well as to appreciate some of the country’s historic sights, all […]