All about the SHISA Lions of Okinawa-the Stone Guardians of Japan

Off the shores of Kyushu (the third largest island of Japan), there are a number of volcanic islands flowing south-west towards Taiwan. These are named the Ryukyu Islands, also known as the Nansei Islands, but many people simply call them Okinawa because two thirds of them form the Okinawa prefecture of Japan. In the center…

3 Historic Things to see in Aizuwakamatsu Fukushima

Aizuwakamatsu is a city in the centre of Fukushima prefecture, in Tohoku Northern Japan. Once known only as Wakamatsu (meaning young pine), the name of the area changed to Aizuwakamatsu in 1955. Aizuwakamatsu has a rich and long history, being the site of the ancient Mutsu province. This region was said to have been settled…

Hatsumode: The First Shrine Visit of the New Year

Japanese New Year holidays usually start from December 29 and go until January 3, but depending on the year and one’s job it can start as early ad December 27th and go until January 8th. During this time, people are busy cleaning their houses in the osoji ritual before New Year, making or buying osechi…

How to Visit a Japanese Shrine – A Guide to Shrine Basics

Shrines and temples are beautiful touristy locations, but being sacred places of worship they are much more than a simple photo spot. Tourists are often scared not to offend the locals, so it’s best to learn the basic rules. Let’s take a look at some of the common items you will see upon your visit…

O-souji: The Big Pre-New Year Cleaning Ritual in Japan

jp.fotolia.com/ While it is the time of the year for preparing Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties in many countries, in Japan things are a little different. There is some version of Christmas social gatherings, while for New Year enjoy a few quiet days together with their families. There are many preparations, decorations and ritual,…

Hatsuyume and What Does it Mean: Sweet Dreams the New Year

Thereare a lot of firsts that are important to Japanese people in the new year – the first visit to a shrine, the first sunrise, and even the first dream! Hatsuyume (初夢) literally means the first dream of the New Year. It is traditionally believed it foretells the kind of year and luck you will…

Do People Really Use Oil From Horses to Have Flawless Skin?

During my first years living in Japan, I did something that many expats around the world tend to do: bring multiple products from home which I assumed I could not live without. One of these products was my favorite moisturizer from the United States. Therefore, each time I would go back to the United States…

Top 6 Japanese Christmas Songs to Add to Your Christmas Music Playlist

Christmas is coming soon, so what are the songs in your Christmas playlist? Are they the same as last year and the years before? Aren’t you bored of listening to the same Christmas songs every year? Why not try listening to Japanese Christmas songs for a change? These Japanese classics have a different sound, and…