DECEMBER: Festivals + Events

Click on Tell me more to read about the event, then use the search term below to find out the exact dates and times for the year you’ll be there. • Setagaya Boroichi Flea Market Tell me more! Search terms: Setagaya Boroichi • Illuminations Tell me more! • New Year’s Celebrations Tell me more! SearchContinue reading “DECEMBER: Festivals + Events”

OCTOBER: Festivals + Events

Click on Tell me more to read about the event, then use the search term below to find out the exact dates and times for the year you’ll be there. • Bakeneko Festival (Ghost Cat Parade) Tell me more! Search terms: Bakeneko Parade • Festival of 10,000 Lanterns (Oeshiki Ikegami) Tell me more! Search term:Continue reading “OCTOBER: Festivals + Events”

SEPTEMBER: Festivals + Events

Click on Tell me more to read about the event, then use the search term below to find out the exact dates and times for the year you’ll be there. • The Forest of Red Solstice Lilies (Higanbana) Tell me more! • Bush clover tunnel at Mukojima Hyakka-en Tell me more! Search terms: Mukojima Hyakka-enContinue reading “SEPTEMBER: Festivals + Events”

AUGUST: Festivals + Events

Click on Tell me more to read about the event, then use the search term below to find out the exact dates and times for the year you’ll be there. • Fireworks Festivals Search term: Tokyo fireworks August • Goldfish Festivals at Aquariums Tell me more! Search terms: Sumidagawa Aquarium; Shinagawa Aqua Park, Art AquariumContinue reading “AUGUST: Festivals + Events”

JULY: Festivals + Events

Click on Tell me more to read about the event, then use the search term below to find out the exact dates and times for the year you’ll be there. • Edogawa Kingyo Matsuri (goldfish festival) Tell me more! Search term: Edogawa goldfish festival, kingyo matsuri Edogawa • Mitama Matsuri at the Yasukuni Shrine FloatingContinue reading “JULY: Festivals + Events”

International food fails, iris gardens & sake brewing on Sado

Here are the features that came out in the May-Jun Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in May/June… • Click on photo or link to read Japanese home cooking: A delightful summer supper from this month’s cookbook giveaway Even if you don’t win a copy of The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen,Continue reading “International food fails, iris gardens & sake brewing on Sado”

Hike through bowers of flowers, Tevye-san, and a recipe even kale-haters will love

Here are the features that came out in the Mar-Apr Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in March/April… • Click on photo or link to read Japanese home cooking: Sweet Sesame Spinach As a veteran vegetable hater, I have a special spot in my grinchy heart for leafy greens,Continue reading “Hike through bowers of flowers, Tevye-san, and a recipe even kale-haters will love”

Pre-dinged suitcases, fabulous Japanese quilts & plum blossoms in the snow

Here are the features that came out in the January-February Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in January/February… • Click on photo or link to read Japanese home cooking: Spicy Japanese Eggplant One day in Tokyo, I was at a lunch made by the women in this crazy JapaneseContinue reading “Pre-dinged suitcases, fabulous Japanese quilts & plum blossoms in the snow”

Japanese holiday cookies, a tunnel of golden gingko trees & so many foxes

Here are the features that came out in the November-December 2021 Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in November/December… • Click on photo or link to read Japanese home cooking: Kinako Shortbread Cookies with Salted Brown Sugar Buttercream Every holiday season I like to sneak one new cookie ontoContinue reading “Japanese holiday cookies, a tunnel of golden gingko trees & so many foxes”

Sake tasting how-to, the angry cat ghost parade & a voyage to Sado Island

Here are the features that came out in the September-October 2021 Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in September/October… • Click on photo or link to read Japanese home cooking: How to host a great sake tasting Sake isn’t just for Japanese food anymore—restaurants all over the world areContinue reading “Sake tasting how-to, the angry cat ghost parade & a voyage to Sado Island”

How to read a haiku, goldfish galore & a garden of thatch-roofed farmhouses

Here are the features that came out in the July-August 2021 Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in July/August… • Seasonal Secret: The most delightful summer festival in all of Japan is all about…goldfish! There’s nothing more traditional than ogling insanely fancy (and expensive!) goldfish and, of course, catchingContinue reading “How to read a haiku, goldfish galore & a garden of thatch-roofed farmhouses”

Seven strange things about Japanese weddings, giant wisteria, and how to live forever

Here are the features that came out in the May-June 2021 Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in May/June… • Seven things you didn’t know about Japanese weddings From fake priests to Barbie princess gowns, Japanese weddings are a whole different ballgame…read more • Come for the purple, stayContinue reading “Seven strange things about Japanese weddings, giant wisteria, and how to live forever”

Treasure rice, cherry blossoms at a northern castle, and Japanese ceremonies we didn’t know we needed

Here are the features that came out in the March-April 2021 Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in March and April… • Japanese ceremonies we didn’t know we needed Everybody knows about Japan’s famous tea ceremony, and of course they also mark weddings, funerals and graduations with appropriate pomp,Continue reading “Treasure rice, cherry blossoms at a northern castle, and Japanese ceremonies we didn’t know we needed”

40,000 dolls in Imperial court robes, the strange barbers of Yoshiwara, and Japanese chicken soup for the soul

Here are the features that came out in the February 2021 Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in February… • The fabulous flower season that happens when nothing in its right mind would be blooming February in Japan is not fun. Cold and gray, its only festival involves demons,Continue reading “40,000 dolls in Imperial court robes, the strange barbers of Yoshiwara, and Japanese chicken soup for the soul”

The grand pooh-bah of Japanese flea markets, glowing icicles & Japan’s obsession with pets

Here are the features that came out in the January 2021 Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in January… • The grand pooh-bah of Japanese flea markets This treasure trove of a flea market only happens twice a year, but what a goldmine it is! Where else might youContinue reading “The grand pooh-bah of Japanese flea markets, glowing icicles & Japan’s obsession with pets”

A killer Japanese garden lit up at night, delicious chicken & ginger yakitori meatballs, and how to get lucky, J-style

Here are the features that came out in the December 2020 Japanagram Hello, friend! It’s me, Jonelle. I hope that the new year is bringing you all kinds of good changes and extra heapings of hope for you and yours! Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers enjoyed in December, and a preview of what they’re readingContinue reading “A killer Japanese garden lit up at night, delicious chicken & ginger yakitori meatballs, and how to get lucky, J-style”

A killer Japanese garden lit up at night, delicious chicken & ginger yakitori meatballs, and how to get lucky, J-style

Here are the features that came out in the November 2020 Japanagram Thanks for being by my side as The Last Tea Bowl Thief went out into the wide world to seek its fortune. Your friendship and support mean more to me than you can know. Please help me celebrate at last by pulling up a comfyContinue reading “A killer Japanese garden lit up at night, delicious chicken & ginger yakitori meatballs, and how to get lucky, J-style”

A convent with a secret, sesame-miso hotpot, and why it’s harder to get a Japanese boyfriend than a Japanese girlfriend

Here are the features in the special edition of Japanagram that came out when The Last Tea Bowl Thief was published on October 20th In October there was a special edition of Japanagram because I found so many things I wanted to share with you while I was getting ready to launch The Last TeaContinue reading “A convent with a secret, sesame-miso hotpot, and why it’s harder to get a Japanese boyfriend than a Japanese girlfriend”

A secret castle garden, a killer Japanese cocktail recipe, & why the more friends you have, the lonelier you might be

Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers were reading in October… Hi, it’s me, Jonelle. Whether you’re venturing out or sticking close to home, I hope this month’s features deliver a little break from whatever’s on your to-do list, or (in the case of the original Last Tea Bowl Thief cocktail), at least make checking it offContinue reading “A secret castle garden, a killer Japanese cocktail recipe, & why the more friends you have, the lonelier you might be”

A town full of tricksters, strange Japanese beauty goals, and humble fall flowers that become spectacular in numbers

Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers got in September… As we slide into fall, how are you doing? I hope you’re not in the path of any of the disasters that have been coming at us from all directions. You may be feeling that NOTHING could surprise you at this point, but maybe you’llContinue reading “A town full of tricksters, strange Japanese beauty goals, and humble fall flowers that become spectacular in numbers”

Surrounded by a waterfall, what to serve for Japanese dessert, and two fantastic Japan-centric reads

Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers were reading in August… Are you still hanging in there, as we continue our wild ride through the Wonka tunnel and (hopefully soon!) pop out the other side? In a quest to make it all a little more bearable, the August Japanagram dished up a Japanese place youContinue reading “Surrounded by a waterfall, what to serve for Japanese dessert, and two fantastic Japan-centric reads”

Summery miso grilling sauce, a garden grown from 3,000-year-old lotus seeds, and what souvenirs NOT to buy in July and August

Here are the features that Japanagram subscribers have been reading this month! Hello, my friend. It’s me again, Jonelle. I hope it’s cheerier where you are, but it seems like nearly all my favorite things to look forward to during the carefree days of summer aren’t really happening this year. So, this month, let’s enjoyContinue reading “Summery miso grilling sauce, a garden grown from 3,000-year-old lotus seeds, and what souvenirs NOT to buy in July and August”

Keeping cool in hilarious Japanese ways, an island that takes us back in time, and the best soy-lemon salad dressing EVER

Hi friend. It’s me, Jonelle So, I’ve been wondering—are you experiencing micro-nostalgia too? At least once a day I find myself longing for the good old days…you know, like, four months ago. I don’t know about you, but the world has changed with such dizzying speed, some days I just want to walk away fromContinue reading “Keeping cool in hilarious Japanese ways, an island that takes us back in time, and the best soy-lemon salad dressing EVER”

Samurai graffiti, mountaintop enlightenment, & Yakitori Chicken Mini-Burgers

Hi friend. It’s me, Jonelle This month, instead of searching out killer Instagram shots or rare souvenirs, we’re thinking about the bigger picture, and how our lives fit into it. Let’s stop, exhale, and be refreshed by a very different kind of travel: a pilgrimage. • Links to May 2020 Japanagram newsletter features: Let’s go toContinue reading “Samurai graffiti, mountaintop enlightenment, & Yakitori Chicken Mini-Burgers”

The best places to see fluttering fish flags in Tokyo

🎏 Unexpectedly stumbling across a whole bunch of koi nobori fluttering in the wind is one of Japan’s great delights, but if you’d rather not be saying “Hey, wait, why didn’t I know about those?” here’s where to see the best ones in Tokyo! Children’s Day is on May 5th, but the month before isContinue reading “The best places to see fluttering fish flags in Tokyo”

When’s the best time to come to Japan?

⛩I know. A trip to the grocery store is about as much of a vacation as anyone is getting right now. But while we’re waiting for it to be safe and fun to travel again, wouldn’t you like to think about when’s the best time to take that trip to Japan you were looking forwardContinue reading “When’s the best time to come to Japan?”

Nine spectacular cherry blossom gardens, a firewalking field trip & a book giveaway!

It’s already that time again! The March Japanagram is out, and if you’re not a subscriber yet, here’s what you’re missing: I’m sorry that these aren’t clickable like last month – I really want to entice you to join me in my secret underground lair, so if any of these look interesting, please sign up! You’llContinue reading “Nine spectacular cherry blossom gardens, a firewalking field trip & a book giveaway!”

What NOT to do in Tokyo: The top ten overrated experiences (and what to do instead)

I like to keep things positive around here, but I just scanned the umpteenth itinerary forwarded to me by a coming-to-Japan friend, and I can’t believe that trip planners keep sending people to do this stuff! If yours tries to sell you a plan with these destinations on it,* send them back to the drawingContinue reading “What NOT to do in Tokyo: The top ten overrated experiences (and what to do instead)”

Canals festooned with miles of gorgeous kimono fabric

Some-No-Komichi is a celebration held every February in Nakai, the Tokyo neighborhood that’s famous for kimono dyeing. Examples of the makers’ finest wares are strung along miles of the canal that meanders through the area, and shops are in open house mode for your strolling (and shopping!) pleasure. Dates: February 21-23 (2020) Hours: Fabric isContinue reading “Canals festooned with miles of gorgeous kimono fabric”

Woo hoo, more Japan travel goodness for you!

Japanagram is my new monthlyE-MAGAZINE, featuring new and different stuff than you’ll see here on The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had or my blog, Only In Japan. Here’s what’s in it, every month… • A Beyond Tokyo destination that most people don’t know about, and how to get there For example, this February’s is:Continue reading “Woo hoo, more Japan travel goodness for you!”

Setagaya Boroichi, the most legendary flea market in Tokyo

The Setagaya Boroichi is the grand old lady of Tokyo flea markets. It’s so ancient and so revered, in fact, it holds Intangible Cultural Treasure status! On December 15-16 and again on January 15-16, it fills every street and alleyway for BLOCKS In classic style, there is loads of crap studded liberally with actual finds. This fleaContinue reading “Setagaya Boroichi, the most legendary flea market in Tokyo”

How to do the right thing at shrines and temples in Japan

Shrines and temples aren’t just for snapping nice pix – there’s serious specialized goodness to be gotten from throwing a coin to the proper powers-that-be! Here’s how to take advantage of the local supernatural beings’ odd specialties, and do it right: First: Wash your hands It’s polite to ritually purify yourself at the spring nearContinue reading “How to do the right thing at shrines and temples in Japan”

Shrine or temple? The Quickie Guide

You’re craning your neck to see some gorgeous gold-leafed carving, and suddenly you’re overcome with traveler joy. “Isn’t this the most gorgeous…?” Uh oh. Shrine or temple? Because you know that temples are Buddhist and shrines are Shinto (and you don’t want to be that tourist) but which is which? Shrines and temples can both beContinue reading “Shrine or temple? The Quickie Guide”

Tokyo’s best-kept shopping secrets: The Shimojima gift, paper & packaging emporium

I used to drag everyone who came to visit me to Ito-ya, the legendary 9-floor stationery shop in Ginza. But when they renovated and got rid of 90% of their merchandise, turning it into an over-designed boutique selling expensive stuff nobody needs, I had to fill the aching hole in my heart with a newContinue reading “Tokyo’s best-kept shopping secrets: The Shimojima gift, paper & packaging emporium”

Take a Japanese cooking class in Tokyo

One of the best things anyone can bring back from Tokyo is a love of Japanese food. I don’t know about you, but the thing that surprised me most about my first trip to Japan was that I said yes to every tempting morsel (and 10-course meal) that came my way, but when I gotContinue reading “Take a Japanese cooking class in Tokyo”

Hacking Leaf Season: Beat the crowds & duck those peak prices

Thinking about taking an autumn trip to Japan? Dreaming of strolling through divine gardens bursting with red maples, and serene temples robed in fall leaves? I’m with you: it’s totally my favorite time to be here – not beastly hot nor shiveringly cold, with plenty of upworthy photo ops everywhere  – but you may be dismayedContinue reading “Hacking Leaf Season: Beat the crowds & duck those peak prices”

Be sure to pack these because you can’t get them in Japan

Japan is stuffed with (mostly) more and better goods than anywhere in the world, but there are a couple of things you should definitely bring with you, if you think you’ll need them: Deodorant/antiperspirant They do sell something they call “deodorant” but it’s basically perfume. Antiperspirants aren’t sanctioned by the Japanese version of the FDA,Continue reading “Be sure to pack these because you can’t get them in Japan”

How to find public restrooms in Tokyo

Finding bathrooms in Tokyo is a lot easier than finding them in America, that’s for sure! Here are three surefire places to find them, wherever the urge makes itself known. Train Stations Scan the overhead signs for the bathroom icons (in internationally recognizable pink/red and blue) and follow them to the nice, clean, modern facilities.Continue reading “How to find public restrooms in Tokyo”

Curated Walking Tour: Yanaka, the best traditional neighborhood in Tokyo

Yanaka is one of the quirkiest, undiscovered, Old Tokyo neighborhoods in town. Here, new generations of artisans from families that have plied their trades for centuries are finding fun and inventive ways to make everything old new again. Sometimes, with cats. Let’s walk around! Here’s our route: And here’s the link to the Google mapContinue reading “Curated Walking Tour: Yanaka, the best traditional neighborhood in Tokyo”

Should I hire a guide in Japan?

People always ask me if they should get a guide in Japan or not, and it’s the one question that I can’t really answer for you! Here’s a quiz to help you figure out whether a Japanese-speaking guide will make your time in Japan a lot more enjoyable, or not. Do you like to seeContinue reading “Should I hire a guide in Japan?”

How to do all the fun Tokyo stuff if you can’t speak Japanese

An interview with Mac of Maction Planet bespoke tours I know. The whole reason you’re on The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had is to figure out how to have fun in Tokyo without someone showing you around. And don’t get me wrong, you absolutely can! (If you haven’t explored the site yet, have a lookContinue reading “How to do all the fun Tokyo stuff if you can’t speak Japanese”

Should I see a Kabuki performance?

I know. You think you’re not interested in this fusty old super-Japanese form of entertainment. But you’d be wrong. Here’s why. #1 The actors who play the women’s roles do it so well, you forget they’re men Seriously. If you aren’t looking for evidence that they’re not actually female, nothing in their walk, body language,Continue reading “Should I see a Kabuki performance?”