Kyoto Hanafuda

As the cherry blossoms begin blooming, let’s look at a unique hanafuda set featuring the heritage of Kyoto. Visually this is one of the more stunning sets in my collection, but it’s best to compare it to a standard deck to see the artistic license taken. Most hanafuda follow these traditional motifs. The red borders […]

Nakamura General Store (Old Sapporo Buildings #3)

Every day on my morning walk I pass the Nakamura General Store (中村商店), or shouten as they say in the common parlance. It primarily sells Japanese sake and other alcohol. Somehow they are hanging in there, even with a massive Sapporo Drug Store right on its doorstep across the street. Less and less of these […]

Japan’s Postal Network and Postcards

Japan’s postal system really does a crack up job. Some of that comes down to geography, some of it comes down to history. Japan closed it self off for several hundred years prior to the 20th century. It had a lot of “me” time to focus on its overland highway system, getting messages from one […]

General Store (Old Sapporo Buildings #2)

Another morning walk encounter. This stalwart purple block unit hasn’t been open for at least a decade (we believe). The ground floor remains permanently shuttered.  Yet the electricity still pipes through to the two vending machines. Don’t know if they generate enough income to even pay the utility bill.

Fishmonger / Dry Cleaner (Old Sapporo Buildings #1)

Starting a series documenting some of the old buildings I come across in my walks around Sapporo. Today’s comes from my morning route up Asahiyama along Asahiyama-Dori. In the day time the right/yellow half is a fish shop. What is more interesting is the blue dry cleaner sign on the left side, which hasn’t been […]

COVID-19 and the Image of “Safe” Japan

For as long as I have lived here, Japan has always evoked this image as a “safe” country. “Safe” in the immediate physical harm sense, I could go on ad nauseam about the “unsafe” nature of the overall business/workplace culture to the human psyche. But in terms of my physical safety, I probably haven’t lived […]

Christmas, Thanksgiving, it’s happening…

It’s that time of the year. ‘Twas the night before American Thanksgiving as I write this, not a salaryman was stirring, not even Takashi-san who just put in a 15 hour day for zero overtime pay. Especially not that guy. But Thanksgiving 2019 comes at a particularly well deserved time in old Nippon, as the […]

The Joys of Japanese Style Bait Fishing

I have done Western style fly fishing since I was a teenager. Not well. I can barely tie my own flies, and my casting technique has been flawed. But I stuck with that method and managed to land some decent fish through the years. Then I discovered the Japanese method of tenkara, and immediately threw […]

Low Productivity, Japan’s Dirty Little Secret

“The streets are so clean!” “Such excellent service.” “Public Transportation is quiet, clean and efficient.” “Gift wrapping is included with any purchase?!” “Japanese students clean their own classrooms!” “The streets are safe.” These are the common refrains you hear everywhere about Japan, and I left out quite a few for brevity sake. All these statements […]