A Visit to Nakamise Shopping Street (Part 1)

A Visit to Nakamise Shopping Street (Part 1)

Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, is also one of my favorites. The massive Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate, is one of Asakusa’s best-known landmarks: and visitors often take photos with the gate’s massive chochin, which weighs almost 1,500 pounds. But a visit to Senso-ji is not complete without a stroll down Nakamise Shopping Street – the vibrant line of shops and stalls that lines the approach to the temple. Traditionally, vendors’ stalls or shops line the approach to Japanese shrines and temples. The goods on display can vary, but they usually include a variety of tasty local specialties, like these small cakes

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Temple and Toilet Slippers in Japan

Temple and Toilet Slippers in Japan

Most Japanese people don’t wear shoes inside. Apartments and houses typically have a small, lowered area just inside the door for removing shoes and a cabinet by the door where shoes are stored. This keeps the indoor spaces clean and undefiled – and it has been the custom in Japan for many hundreds (if not thousands) of years.

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Hello, Tokyo!

Hello, Tokyo!

By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane to Tokyo! My son and I are heading over together–him for a job interview and me for a research trip–while my husband stays home and holds down the fort. (I’m lucky to have a guy like that!) I’ve got my trusty roller bag: and my laptop, and in addition to research for the next Hiro Hattori novel (and some preliminary work for the secret project I hope to announce very soon) I’m hoping to visit several–if not all–of the Christmas Markets going on in Japan between now and my return to

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The Main Shrine at Hakone Jinja

The Main Shrine at Hakone Jinja

Last week, I started a virtual tour of Hakone Jinja (Shrine), one of my favorite Shintō shrines in Japan – and today, we continue that tour with a look at the shrine’s main courtyard and worship hall. In some ways, the layout of Shintō shrines varies more than Buddhist temple architecture, in part because of the way Shintō attempts to integrate the shrine with the natural landscape. Hakone Jinja is no exception. The main courtyard, where the worship hall stands, sits uphill from the entrance. Because of the distance, and the fact that several paths lead up to the worship hall

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Marking the Way on the Tokaido

This waterfall runs down a mountain and crosses the original path of the old Tokaido near Hakone. During the Edo period (1603-1868) the Tokaidō was one of five major travel roads, and one of the two most important linking the former capital city of Kyoto with the then-new capital, Edo (now called Tokyo). The Tokaidō, or “East Sea Road” roughly paralleled the southeastern coast of Honshū (Japan’s largest island). Its 53 stations, or post towns, were (and remain, to an extent) famous subjects of Japanese art and literature. I hiked a section of the old Tokaidō near Hakone last autumn, and visited again in

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On the Road…to Bouchercon!

This morning, I’m flying to Los Angeles to pick up my mother, and tomorrow she and I fly to Toronto, Canada for Bouchercon (the World Mystery Convention). On Friday at 2pm, I’m speaking on a panel about mysteries set in foreign times and places. After that, I’m looking forward to spending a lovely long weekend with my brothers and sisters in crime-fiction – writers and readers! This will be my mother’s first Bouchercon – and I’m excited to share it with her. She loves a good party, and the world mystery convention is tremendous fun. My regular Japan posts are on hiatus

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