Travel Back in Time to Shibamata

Tora-san welcomes us to Shibamata

I want to tell you about an area of Tokyo I discovered on my last trip to Japan.

It may not be of interest to you on a first visit to this massive city. But if you’re a repeat visitor, you’ll want to check it out.

“Futuristic” Tokyo Lodged in the Past

Tokyo Bay at night

I want to share a few Tokyo discoveries with you as I catch up on the year’s travels by posting long overdue blogs.

It’s a city I know well. I lived there from 2000 to 2002, and I go back nearly every year for a visit.

Summer Festivals in the Barbarian North

Hidaka Hibuse festival in Mizusawa

Local festivals are big in Japan. It’s one of the great things about Japanese summer.

There’s the food, of course. My favourite festival foods include yakisoba (fried noodles), yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers), okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes), and of course gallons of draft beer.

Not a Hazardous Sport

Not a Hazardous Sport by Nigel Barley

Not a Hazardous Sport brings to a close Nigel Barley’s series of anthropological journeys that began with The Innocent Anthropologist and continued in A Plague of Caterpillars.

Beneath the Sea by Train to Hakodate

The famous night view from Mount Hakodate…

I had a chance to visit Hokkaido this summer, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands.

Tachikawa: Where My Writing Life Began

Tachikawa has grown and changed...

Tachikawa has grown and changed…

I’ve been running this website since March 2009, and this is my 300th blog. I guess that’s an anniversary of sorts, and it got me thinking about my early years as a writer.

Gunkanjima: The Bond Villain Island in Skyfall

The James Bond island in Skyfall is real...

The James Bond island in Skyfall is real…

That mysterious ruined island in Skyfall is real.

If you saw the 2012 James Bond film, you were likely as mesmerized as I was by the scene. Bond and Séverine are prisoners on a yacht, and as they sail towards the villain’s lair to meet their doom, a mysterious island emerges from sea mist.


After hours on Nagasaki's small bar streets...

After hours on Nagasaki’s small bar streets…

We arrived in Nagasaki just as the late afternoon light began to slide down the mountain sides, reflecting off the long narrow harbour and casting the first shadows into the crevices of the steep hillsides clustered with dwellings.

Hanami Nights in Shades of Pink

These beautiful flowers which bloom so briefly reflect the fragile impermanence of all our lives...

These beautiful flowers which bloom so briefly reflect the fragile impermanence of all our lives…

The city of Hakata — on the island of Kyushu — has been completely overrun by mainland Chinese.

We’d stopped there for a night on our way between Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And we’d just walked over to the new Canal City shopping complex in search of something to eat.

Landing in Hot Water with Naked Strangers

A visit to an onsen (“hot spring”) is an essential part of any trip Japan...

A visit to an onsen (“hot spring”) is an essential part of any trip Japan…

A ride was waiting for us at the station when we returned to the mainland from Miyajima.