While many believe the tradition of making the ghost-like doll can be traced back to a bald-headed monk, history suggests it actually began with a small girl.
The man who kneads rice at incredible speeds of three hits per second lets us into his world and tells us why he lives for making mochi.
These stunning images show how craftsmen keep their UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage alive during the coldest months of the year.
Samurai warrior designs get a warm-weather overhaul with colourful patterns and unique sheer fabrics.
Contribute to the cause and keep a centuries-old tradition alive on the streets by wearing 450 years of history on your feet.
This exam season, a statue of an important historical figure at Kyoto University has gotten a Kirby makeover as part of a now yearly tradition.
Forget Pac-Man fever, it’s time for Pac-Man fashion!
Now you can boost your chance of passing an exam by calling for a Kit Kat cab in Japan.
Lovers of art, history and animals are celebrating the release of an exclusive set of ukiyoe woodblock prints from 1857 that are now free to download and share online.
One of the great pleasures of visiting Japan is the chance to sleep in a futon, traditional Japanese bedding that’s freshly laid out on the floor every evening. When you’ve got a nice thick mattress pad, a fluffy, quilted duvet cover and a compact buckwheat pillow, a night sleeping on tatami straw floors is a night few foreigners forget.
Now you can share the traditional Japanese bedtime experience with your feline friends, with a gorgeous new range of futons created especially for the discerning four-legged customer. From the gorgeous Japanese prints to the matching pillow and the ergonomic, tail-friendly design, this is the best chance yet for obliging humans to finally reclaim their beds!
Japan has a fascinating art history. From early cord designs on clay vessels in the Jomon period (c. 11000–c. 300 BC) through to picture scrolls, ukiyo-e woodblock prints, and the distinctive style of animation that exists today, people in Japan have always found unique ways to capture the world around them for the rest of the world to see.
One little-known art technique from the 1800s is now making a comeback, and while its roots are firmly planted in Japan’s traditional history, it’s a method of printing that people all around the world can enjoy. All you need is paper, some paint and a nice-looking fish.
We all know marriage and live-in-partnerships have a lot going for them. From constant companionship to support when you’re stressed with work or family problems, the idea of cohabiting with that special someone is powerful enough to sweep even the most jaded singleton off their feet.
In Japan, where pre-marriage cohabitation is still considered somewhat taboo, married life is a serious commitment with traditional roles that involve self-sacrifice and obligation, not only to one’s partner but to their extended family. So what do the single men of Japan think about marriage versus the bachelor life? A recent survey reveals the moments men are glad they’ve never put a ring on it and the interesting reasons why.
With Japan consistently appearing in the lowest ranks for gender equality in industrialised nations, the adoption of Prime Minister Abe’s recent bill to promote the role of women in the workplace has been a welcome development in what remains a traditionally patriarchal society.
What the headlines fail to mention, however, are the archaic laws entrenched in the country’s Civil Code that continue to hold women back, including same surname requirements upon marriage, and differences in the minimum marriageable age and re-marriage prohibition period for both sexes.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has again called for a revision of Japan’s current laws, slamming the country for being one of the few industrialised nations where it remains illegal for married couples to have different surnames.
Kennin-ji is one of Japan’s most historic landmarks. Founded in 1202, it’s the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto and its founding monk, Eisai, is credited with introducing the philosophy of zen to Japan. To celebrate the temple’s 800th anniversary in 2002, a pair of dragons were painted inside the Dharma Hall, with instructions from the Abbott that they be “rampaging across the ceiling”.
The beauty and power of these dragons has inspired an experienced collector to commission a timepiece featuring the very same artwork, calling on the expertise of four of the very best master craftsmen in the business to come together in what’s being called the “Kennin-ji Master’s Project”. Helmed by acclaimed English watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin, experts are saying this is one of the most exquisite and ornate watches ever made in the history of the craft.
The traditional art of Japanese paper making has a history that dates back well over 1,000 years. Kurotani in Kyoto is one of the oldest paper-making villages where the tradition continues in earnest, with artisans continuing the ancient practice of paper skimming, classed as an intangible cultural asset by Kyoto Prefecture.
Like all Japanese arts, the process of creating washi has a precise and meditative quality about it. From collecting and preparing the raw materials to filtering and pressing the paper, the movements of these craftspeople and the life they lead is truly a sight to behold.
Japanese filmmaker Takashi Kuroyanagi has captured these moments in a beautiful five-minute film that takes us through the process from beginning to end and the result is breathtaking in its meditative beauty. If you’re looking for a way to take five minutes to relax in a busy day, this video is the calming tonic you need.
Like in many countries, people in Japan sometimes turn to anonymous Internet forums for advice. A lot of their problems are the usualt sort of things one might imagine. What’s the best way to lose weight? Should I change jobs, or stay with the position I’ve got now?
And then, there was this young lady’s plight:
“I was told the worst thing by my grandmother and great-aunt. I come from a very old-fashioned family that has a long-standing tradition. They told me that on the night of my marriage, my relatives will open the door a crack and watch me and my husband’s first night as a married couple.” From Fretting Freshman
Here they come again. Worming their way into the black matter of my brain. I told myself…they cannot touch me. They’re long dead…
That’s right folks! It’s Obon time again. This is when the spirits of our deceased ancestors are said to visit the realm of the living. And so Japanese people have several traditions to make that visit a comfortable one for their loved ones.
One such custom is the shoryo uma which traditionally are little horses made from cucumber or eggplant and designed to symbolically transport the dead across these planes of existence.
In recent years these horses have evolved into a variety of things from tanks to Gundam vehicles., but now it seems shoryo uma makers have been inspired by the hit movie Mad Max: Fury Road and created vehicles in its image to transport loved ones across that great apocalyptic divide.
If you’re tired of receiving vacant smiles and flippant customer service at your local grocery store, you may want to make a trip to Japan, where the customer always comes first and every transaction is concluded with a graceful bow.
This remarkable attention to customer service even extends to the handling of cash transactions in shops around the country. Akin to an art form, a simple payment to a store clerk in Japan will inevitably set off a series of steps and precise movements to satisfy the needs of both parties and respectively complete the exchange. Come with us as we take you through the steps of a simple transaction in Japan. The attention to detail and the clever reasons for it will surprise you.
As if you need more reasons to love Japan, 100 Tokyo, an online “curated cultural guide,” recently supported a beautiful video that highlights the perfect blend of traditional culture and modern technology of Tokyo, which makes it one of the most unique and charming big cities out there.
Hina Matsuri, aka Girls’ Day or Doll’s Day, is a festival celebrated every March 3 in Japan. Families with girl children get together to eat special food, and elaborately dressed dolls are displayed on a special tiered platform known as a hina-dan.
But it’s not only kids and collectors who love dolls – cats can’t get enough of them, either! Even though the cats have only just had their own special day (Cats’ Day, or Nyan Nyan Nyan day, was on February 22), those fancy felines were muscling in on some of the Girls’ Day action by inserting themselves into the hina-dan displays.