Every February, Ushi-Tenjin Kitano Jinja (shrine) holds a koubai (red plum blossom) festival to celebrate the blooming ume (Japanese plum) trees that grow around the shrine. Last weekend, a friend and I hopped a train to Bunkyo to check out the festival, and the early blooms.Read more
The New Year holidays are a particularly important time in Japan. We observe a three-day New Year celebration, which officially starts on January 1.
Preparation for the holidays often starts well in advance; we give the house a thorough, deep cleaning, to ensure everything starts the new year fresh and clean. For me, that starts about a week before December 31. When I finish cleaning, I hang the New Year decorations.Read more
Christmas is a popular holiday in Japan, even though less than 1% of the population identifies as Christian. People here love holidays, lights, giving (and receiving) gifts, and special food, so Christmas is pretty much a lock on every level. Lots of the major buildings have Christmas trees (many of which are enormous, natural trees rather than artificial ones), but “at-home” trees–to the extent they exist–are usually very small (think table-top size) and artificial. While down in Meguro having my hair cut and having lunch with my friend Kaitlyn last month, I saw some living Christmas trees for sale atRead more