For a few weeks every summer in Japan the streets of neighbourhoods around the country come alive with the sights, sounds and smells of traditional festivals (matsuri 祭) usually sponsored by a local shrine or temple. Notable matsuri often feature processions including elaborate floats (dashi 山車), which are pulled through the town, accompanied by performers and musicians. Read more
Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of thing unconventional.
While sitting beneath the cherry blossoms at a typical Hanami (“flower viewing”) party in Japan it’s easy to forget that behind the alcohol-fueled revelry you’re actually taking place in a very particular form of appreciation centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.
Aesthetic ideals are central to Japan’s cultural identity and the Japanese language has all sorts of fancy words for describing our feelings towards how we perceive the world but underlying them all is the notion of wabi-sabi (侘寂). Read more
Back in 2013, shortly after I had moved to Japan, the language school I was attending at the time took us on a class outing to Yumenoshima Park (夢の島) for a sports day (as if we were 10 years old…). Literally meaning “Dream Island”, Yumenoshima Park was built on land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay using waste landfill. Read more
Every couple of months my team at work take a day or two out from our normal schedules to work remotely on an individual project of our choosing. Our favourite place to go is a co-working space along the coast near Kamakura. It has beautiful views over Sagami Bay (相模湾) and on our last visit we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. Read more
As a child I spent many happy summer holidays at my grandparents house in Southend-On-Sea, a seaside resort town on the north side of the Thames estuary. I remember being told stories of how my great grandfather had been a baker and that, although under different ownership, the family bakery still existed in the area. Read more
Around 1.5 hours by train from Osaka, Mount Kōya (高野山) is located in an 800m high valley amid the eight peaks of the mountain and is home to the Kōyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. The original monastery has grown into the town of Kōya, featuring a university dedicated to religious studies and 120 temples, many of which offer lodging to pilgrims. Read more
Tsūtenkaku Tower (通天閣) is the centrepiece of Shinsekai (新世界) district, an old neighbourhood south of Osaka’s downtown “Minami” area. The district was created in 1912 with New York as a model for its southern half and Paris for its northern half (the original tower being patterned after the Eiffel Tower). Read more