Month: Last updated Jun 24, 2017

Chocolate Natto

Mito’s meibutsu (famous local product) is natto, a goo made from rotten soy beans. It is, as they say, an acquired taste. I once ate it every day for three weeks, testing out my theory that a person can get used to any food. I gave up  because I just couldn’t get it down without gagging. This souvenir stand is trying to make it more palatable by adding chocolate to it. By the way, I’m moving tomorrow, so there probably won’t be any posts until next weekend. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new...

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Sekigahara War World

Photos courtesy of FunkyBuddha Experience Sekigahara was probably the most important battle in the history of Japan. It was fought in Gifu Prefecture in a tiny village called Sekigahara, which is viewed today as the dividing point between eastern and western Japan. It was the Gettysburg of Japanese history. On one side, were Ieyasu Tokugawa, a powerful feudal lord from the east and his allies, and on the other were the forces of Mitsunari Ishida, the most powerful man in western Japan. After the death of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the de facto shogun of Japan in 1598, Tokugawa conspired against Toyotomi’s young son, Hideyori, who was supported by Ishida. He created an alliance of feudal lords from the eastern prefectures, and moved against Ishida and the western army in 1600. After much manouvering, the two forces came together at Sekigahara, a village on the Nakasendo Highway, which joined Tokyo and Kyoto. The battle was a terrible bloodbath in which the soldiers of a divided country slaughtered one another to decide the fate of the nation. More than 170,000 men fought at Sekigahara, and some 60,000 men were killed on the losing side. The Tokugawa alliance won the battle after several of the western generals turned traitor and fought on the their side. After the battle, the Tokugawa Shogunate took over Japan, ruling the country for the next 250 plus years....

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Money Washing Temple in Kamakura

The famous Zeniarai Benten Shrine in Kamakura. See the green trough-looking thing at the back of the cave? People believe that if you wash your money in the trough, it will double in value. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new...

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Courtesan Procession in Shinagawa

Embarrassing confession: until a few years ago, I thought a “courtesan” was a female courtier. Just on the off-chance that you’re confused like I was, a courtesan is a prostitute. The oiran were, like geisha, more than just prostitutes, though, and were renowned for their music, dancing, poetry, and calligraphy. They were farther toward the coital end of the sex-worker spectrum than geisha, and were the aristocracy of the pleasure quarters. There’s an interesting Wikipedia article about them at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oiran Oiran were fashion trend-setters. The high-ranking ones wore these huge shoes and had a style of walking where they dragged their feet out sideways in a semi-circle. You can see it in this video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNncpdEFOB0&feature=related. The shoes weigh 2.5 kgs. The procession is held in Shinagawa and takes place every year on the first Saturday in June, and is part of a larger mikoshi festival. The procession starts at 6:30, not from the Shinagawa Bridge (as the Japan Times Festival Listings said, causing me to wait in the wrong place) but up the road farther toward Shinagawa Station. If you come to the bridge, keep going, cross the big road and turn left. I believe it’s here. <http://www.google.co.jp/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=ja&geocode=&q=%E5%93%81%E5%B7%9D&sll=36.949892,136.40625&sspn=48.185068,71.806641&ie=UTF8&ll=35.618169,139.743416&spn=0.000366,0.000548&t=h&z=21&layer=c&cbll=35.618177,139.743523&panoid=O7bd7U4gXmwqG_AgjYBrRQ&cbp=12,4.65,,0,12.93> Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens...

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Love Hotel Car Wash

The love hotel business is a very competitive one, and they’re always trying to come up with new ways to attract customers. This love hotel in Osaka offers free carwashes to its patrons.Instead of the car moving through the car wash, the car wash moves back and forth over the car. There’s more information about   love hotels in my new book, Love Hotels: An Inside Look at Japan’s Sexual Playgrounds. I spent years visiting love hotels around Japan, interviewing love hotel designers, owners and staff, and wading through Japanese books on sex and love hotels to bring you this book. It’s 182 pages of information about their history, the people who design and operate them, their place in Japanese society, crime, and much, much more. There’s also a love hotel guide with information on how to get to the best hotels in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Yokohama, Sapporo, and Fukuoka. For more information about love hotels, please visit my newly updated love hotel page at: http://www.quirkyjapan.or.tv/lovehotels.html To order or find out more about the book, please visit: http://www.quirkyjapan.or.tv/lovehotelbookintro.htm. There’s also a smaller guidebook, with just the hotel information for 500 yen: http://www.quirkyjapan.or.tv/lovehotelguide.html. There are more love hotel-related posts here. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest...

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