From Culture

Looking at the world through others eyes

Master of Nets

Master of Nets Garden Map

On an overcast day in July this year I made a return day trip to Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, known for its canals, bridges and classical gardens. Read more

Demystifying Wabi-sabi

Photo by Phil Shirley

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

Sankeien Garden

Sankeien Garden

Sankei-en (三溪園) is a traditional Japanese garden in Yokohama (1 hour from Tokyo) which was built by a silk trader called Sankei Hara in 1906. It contains many historically significant buildings bought by Hara himself from locations all over Japan, among them Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kamakura. Read more

Toritsu-daigaku Sakura

Toritsudaigaku Sakura

A little less than a year ago I moved to the sleepy neighbourhood of Toritsu-daigaku (都立大学) in south-west Tokyo (15 mins from Shibuya). An old ryokudo (緑道) “green road” lined with cherry blossom trees runs through the centre of the area and at the end of April, almost overnight, it sprang into full bloom. Read more

Meiji Shrine Wedding

Meiji Jingu Shinto Wedding

One of my favourite places to take first-time visitors in Tokyo is Meiji Jingu Shrine (明治神宮). Situated in a lush 175 acre forest on the doorstop of fashionable Harajuku it’s far less crowded than Senso-ji in Asakusa and provides the perfect escape from the city. Read more

BCTION: Reviving Tokyo’s Dead Space

BCTION

Last weekend I was lucky enough to catch the final day of the most exciting exhibition I’ve seen in a long while. Titled BCTION, over 70 young artists came together to fill nine floors of an old office building in Kojimachi (麹町), scheduled for demolition, with a dizzying array of art installations. Read more

Shimokitazawa Awa Odori Festival

Shimokitazawa Awa Odori Festival

One of the main things I’ve come to love about living in Tokyo is the plethora of traditional festivals which take place in the streets of local neighbourhood throughout the year. The summer months are particularly active and back in August during the Obon festival (お盆) I attended the wonderful Awa Odori (阿波踊り) dance festival held in Shimokitazawa (下北沢). Read more