On Halloween night, October 31st, 2021, residents of Kagoshima City were treated to a “fox wedding” procession.
There are many legends about “fox weddings,” known in Japanese as 狐の嫁入り kitsune no yomeiri. It either refers to atmospheric ghost lights similar to will-o’-wisps which appear as if paper lanterns are floating through the dark, or to other strange wedding processions as described in ghost stories. According to Japanese folklore, foxes have the ability to change their appearance and sometimes appear as humans. Therefore, it’s perfect for Halloween night.
The mask artist Genkūdō 幻空堂 (@genkudou) has been organizing a kitsune no yomeiri procession and inviting people to participate for the past five years.
The austere procession of the fox-masked and kimono-clad women through downtown Kagoshima was so authentic that observers surely felt as if the members had been transported in time to the present. The unusual sight attracted many people.
You can see from the photos that people on the street stopped to look at them. There were also rave reviews from Twitter users, such as:
Even if there were real foxes disguised as humans in the parade, no one would have noticed. Everyone was fascinated by this mysterious procession that appeared on Halloween night.
If you’re a lunar-curious soul and have always been fascinated by the moon and the idea of being in outer space, this ‘astronaut experience’ taking place at Tottori Sand Dunes at night could be the perfect opportunity for you to step into the boots of your inner space-walker.
The event fuses together the strange and seemingly out-of-place landscape of Tottori Sand Dunes with lunar experiences through VR and AR goggles.
A rather unexpected sight, the Tottori Sand Dunes are Japan’s largest deposit of sand, reaching 50 meters in height and stretching 16 kilometres along the shore of the sea of Japan. Though most people come to visit this natural attraction during daylight hours, for those who venture here after dark, the already other-worldly landscape seems to take on the appearance of what looks like the scenery one would expect on the moon.
Taking advantage of this natural environment characteristic, creative space simulation company amulapo have created an unique event where participants can become a lunar explorer and take on moon missions at Tottori Sand Dunes through the immersive power of Virtual and Augmented Reality.
Using the latest AR goggles, participants will experience the perspective of an astronaut, from the first successful landing of Apollo 11 in 1969 to the futuristic concept world of a moon city, which – in accordance with the simulation’s theoretical story – will be built on the moon sometime in the near future.
The leading story of the simulation will follow a team of astronauts (made up by the event participants) as they set out …continue reading
Hiking is one of the most popular weekend pastimes for people who live in Japan. This is no wonder, as 70% of the country consists of mountainous areas, which means that Japan is dotted with amazing hiking opportunities. One of the best hiking areas in Japan is a remote highland valley in the Hida Mountain Range called Kamikochi (上高地). People from all over the world travel to Japan to go hiking in Kamikochi, located in Nagano Prefecture – known for its great winter season. Besides the beautiful mountain range, flora and fauna you can also expect to encounter some wildlife such as monkeys and various birds. Bears are rarely encountered, […] …continue reading
In the previous post Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking – Part 1, I explained the traditional fundamental seasonings of Japanese cooking – sugar, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, and miso (SaShiSuSeSo). Here in Part 2, I listed the remaining essential pantry items that will make your Japanese dishes more authentic.
I also included nice-to-have items that I sometimes use in my recipes. In the section Wrapping Up at the very end of this post, I listed all the pantry items that I included in both part 1 and Part 2 of Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking. Each item has a hyperlink so that you can jump to the article of the item easily.
Today’s post is quite long but I hope the contents are useful to everyone.
Rice is the staple crop of Japan. It is a short grain rice that’s stickier than most, with a subtly sweet taste. That stickiness makes it ideal for scooping up with chopsticks, for bento (Japanese lunch boxes), and for shaping into Onigiri (Japanese Rice Ball).
There are many types of rice available in Japan, and the majority of Japanese people eat two types of rice.
Uruchimai (粳米) – this is the normal Japanese short grain rice that people eat every day or use to make vinegared rice for sushi. Japanese people simply call it ‘okome’ (お米), which means rice.
Mochigome (餅米) – sticky rice or glutenous rice that is used to make Rice with Azuki Beans (Osekihan), mixed rice (takikomi gohan) and rice cake (omochi). Mochigome grain is whiter than that of uruchimai (see the middle and right photos below comparing the difference).
Japanese cinema is often lauded as bringing to life some of the most fantastical and bizarre, but also relatable and thought-provoking works. Coming into prominence around the world in the mid-1900s, many Japanese movie directors have made a name for themselves with seemingly controversial and/or extraordinary techniques that deviate vastly from the recognised western storytelling.
The wide range of Japanese movies means that there is always the perfect choice for all situations: whether you’re in for an effortless viewing on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or keen for an over-the-top action/horror thriller that will leave you feeling all kinds of squeamish.
10 Popular Japanese Movie Directors You Should Know
We’ve listed below 10 Japanese movie directors who have shaped Japan’s cinema experience, with some prime examples of their work for you to watch.
Let’s discover each of them in more details below.
1. Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki is synonymous with Japanese cinema. Thanks to his stunning visuals and captivatingly unique storytelling, anime has become one of the most recognised and respectable artforms in the cinematic world.
Hayao has directed many animations in his lifetime but his crown jewel would be ‘Spirited Away’, a 2001 film about a young girl involved in a fantasy dream which broke the previous box-record held by ‘Titanic’ and even won an Oscar.
His studio, from which the likes of Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle also come from, is known for its unique strong and meditative protagonists and passive, often misunderstood villains.
2. Takeshi Kitano
Also known as one half of the nationally recognised ‘Two Beat Duo’, Takeshi Kitano is a renowned …continue reading
Optimal Water for Japanese Green Tea
Immerse the leaves in hot water to brew tea. The heated water extracts the compounds of the tea leaf. The aroma and flavor that give green tea its unique essence.
During harvesting and processing Japanese green tea leaves are dried. Unlike black tea Japanese green tea is not fermented during processing.
Does your area have hard water or soft water? The water from your tap could be hard water or soft. Here is a website that has a hard or soft water map of the USA.
Soft water is best. Hard water contains a higher concentration of minerals. Minerals can interfere with essential components of green tea and negatively effect the taste.
Use distilled, purified or bottled water if you live in an area with hard water. Or use a water softener filtration system.
Temperature is important in brewing Japanese green tea
Here is a guide to the optimal temperature to use for each tea type at our shop. These are suggestions, not rules.
This guide also illustrates traditional cooling methods if you do not use an electronic kettle.
Please check out our Brewing & Preparation page also.
Enjoy a delicious cup of Japanese green tea today!
Japanese food has many specialised ingredients unique to the cuisine. Some ingredients are repeatedly used in my recipes. I thought it might be of help to you if I posted my Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking, explaining each item in detail with the brands I use and some photos.
If you have these in your cupboard, you’re well placed to cook delicious Japanese dishes. I tried to include all the items in the photo above plus some more in one post, but the post became too long. So today, I will post Part 1 of Pantry Essentials for Japanese Home Cooking. Part 2 will be posted next week.
The most fundamental Seasonings – SaShiSuSeSo
Apart from dashi stock, the most basic seasonings used in Japanese cooking are expressed as ‘SaShiSuSeSo’ (さしすせそ), which represents Satō (さとう, sugar), Shio (しお, salt), Su (す, vinegar), Syōyu/Seiu (しょうゆ/せいう, soy sauce), miso (みそ, miso). In old days, shyōyu was phonetically written as ‘せいう’ for the sound ‘shōyu‘.
The sequence of these letters also represents the order in which you add them when cooking dishes. Sugar does not penetrate into the ingredients as fast as others, so you add sugar first. Soy sauce and miso are the last ingredients so that you won’t lose the flavour of these ingredients.
You might wonder why sake and mirin are not included in this list. They are classified as the seasonings that add a depth to the flavour. You will find more information about sake and mirin next week in Part 2 of my Pantry Essentials
Just like in other countries, there are many varieties of sugar used in Japan. But I listed only a few that …continue reading
Today, there’s no more debate about the value of the use of facial masks to protect yourself (and others) against the COVID-19 virus. Even before the current pandemic, a lot of Japanese people use to wear a mask, specially in public transport, when they feel sick.
As you probably know, the state of emergency in Japan has recently been lifted and people are starting to go out more and more as the number of new cases hit record low levels.
One of the remaining challenge people face went they go out for dinner is to keep wearing a mask when they eat or drink. Some just put off the mask when they are seated. Others keep the mask all night long and put it on and off when they eat or drink.
To make the life of people easier, the famous luxury hotel chain Hoshinoya came up with a new concept: the lantern dinners!
As you can see, they equipped their dinning rooms with lantern-type partitions to isolate each individual. With this set up, people can see the face of each others as they don’t need to wear a mask anymore.
To make it even easier to see the face of the people at your table, they added a small light on top of the lantern. It’s also a great way to better see your food.
Hoshinoya said that they used lantern-shaped partition because they are already an important part of Japanese culture. People will feel familiar with the design of these new equipments as they will remind them Japanese traditions.
These lanterns were actually produced by Kojima Shoten in …continue reading
Former AKB48 member Minami Takahashi appeared on the NTV variety show “Odoru! Sanma Hoden!!” on October 12, and she had some things to say about her husband who is 15 years older than her.
Minami married her husband, a man who works for an IT company, on May 1, 2019, the first day of the Reiwa era.
“I think to myself that I’ve never seen him brush his teeth since we started dating”, Minami said. Her husband would say he was brushing his teeth, when in reality he was just standing in front of the sink with the water running, so that it appeared he was brushing his teeth.
When she asked him if he brushed his teeth when he returned to the living room, he lied and said that he had. This caused the show’s studio to burst out in laughter.
Minami has said “toothpaste” and “go to the dentist” repeatedly to her husband, to no avail. He now has several cavities.
About three months ago, he would groan with pain about not being able to sleep due to the advanced state of his tooth decay. Minami confessed, “I kiss him because we’re married, but I really don’t like it anymore!!”
Minami never had a cavity before, but recently discovered that she has one, which really upset her.
Japanese photographer Usadanu (@usalica) is known for capturing breathtaking photography around the Kyoto area, particularly in shots that display its natural beauty throughout its very distinct seasons.
That means Usadanu and his camera are pretty busy in the fall, when koyo, brilliantly colored foliage, paint the already gorgeous city vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange. While many across Japan travel to Kyoto’s major attractions such as Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Arashiyama, and Bishamon-do Temple to witness the colorful leaves, it’s sometimes in the more nondescript areas that one can find some truly beautiful fall scenery.
Usadanu showed just that, once again turning heads with a recent set of stunning photos he took of a fall leaf covered river in Kyoto.
The photos almost look like an oil painting with powerful layers of paint to create vividness and depth of color, and really show that some of Kyoto’s most beautiful scenery can be found away from the major tourist areas.
Of course, Kyoto changes its expression through out the seasons. Usadanu captures not only autumn, but also cherry blossoms in spring, snowy landscapes in winter, and other scenes of Kyoto that even the locals don’t know about, with a photo book and calendar that show off many wonderful shots.
Be sure to follow Usadanu on Twitter for even more splendid photography of Kyoto!