Kawasaki Kanamara Festival

As spring comes and flowers bloom thoughts turn to love.
Attracting tourists from around the world , the Kawasaki Kanamara festival celebrates the organs of generation. Combining modern twists with a traditional aesthetic, it’s a uniquely Japanese celebration that is not to be missed.


There is no stronger celebration of the Japanese joystick than Kawasaki’s Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Iron Phallus). Despite smirks and giggles from Westerners, this is no Fantasy Fest: it’s an ancient tradition that serves as a celebration of (and prayer for) fertility, long marriages and healthy births, and a way to promote awareness about sexually transmitted diseases, most importantly HIV.

金山神社(Kanayama Shrine)
2-13-16 Daishi Ekimae
Kawasaki Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa


Cherry blossom, Shibuya and Yoyogi


Cherry blossom viewing in Shibuya and Yoyogi :
Time is of the essence if you want to see them while you are in Tokyo.


Ornamental nishikigoi (“brocaded” carp) swim serenely around a large tank. Their names highlight their distinctive colors. Red-and-white Kohaku evokes the Hinomaru (Japanese flag). Taisho Sanshoku and Showa Sanshoku feature black, red, and white spots. Yamabuki Kogane shimmers like gold.

Developed in Japan, nishikigoi are a unique type of domesticated koi bred for decorative enjoyment and raised with aquafarming. This culture — which pays meticulous attention to colors and patterns — originated in an old Yamakoshi village in Niigata Prefecture during the 19th century. Nishikigoi were first exhibited at the Tokyo Expo in 1914, sparking popular interest and creation of many varieties that Japanese people know and love.

Recently, sophisticated transportation enables nishikigoi export to overseas countries. Nishikigoi have become status symbols of affluence even among enthusiasts outside Japan, and are gradually spreading around the globe.


Tonkatsu Maisen, Omotesando



Tonkatsu is a breaded and deep fried pork cutlet, usually served with a thick, tangy sauce (“Tonkatsu sauce”), shredded cabbage, and miso soup. Inspired by European cuisine, it first appeared in the late 1800′s in a Western-food restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo.

These days, Maisen in Tokyo is pretty universally acknowledged as one of the best tonkatsu houses in the city. Their signature dish is the kurobuta tonkatsu (literally “black pork,” also known as Berkshire pork in the US). Kurobuta is known for its high fat content and intense, juicy flavor.

The restaurant is uniquely situated inside a former World War II public bathhouse. In fact, the main dining room (pictured above) was once the changing room, complete with some of the original architectural details in the high ceilings.

4-8-5, jingumae, shibuya-ku, Tokyo


Nekoya, Yotsuya

Shamisen store “Nekoya” (in Yotsuya). Shamisen is made by the cat skin.

3-6-4, yotsuya, shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

the Hachiko

A Dog's LifeAny visit to Tokyo must include a visit to the Hachiko exit of Shibuya station. With the busiest intersection in the world, the statue of the eponymous Hachiko has become a byword for faithfulness .


In the Muromachi period and the following Warrior Society (15c-16c), the shape of the family emblem became more abstract and refined than before. At the same time, these family emblems came to be used by the warrior class as heraldic markings. They played a significant role in the warrior society of that time. You may have seen scenes in some movies of battle flags with family emblems waving over the battle field, or of a group of soldiers sitting on benches surrounded by encampment curtains with a family emblem.

By the Edo period (17c-19c), at the height of the feudal era, the use of these emblems was established throughout Japan. What heraldry eventually became in Japan was a system of family emblems–the use of a distinctive mark as a symbol of one’s family name. During the Edo period, the haori, a half-length coat, was popularized as a formal garment. The standardization of these garments led to the final formalization of the design of family emblems since they were now displayed on official garments used in formal settings.

The family emblem played a significant role as a symbol of lineage. The design of most family emblems was emphasized by enclosing them in a circle. Among the lower classes, it became popular to wear emblems showing a family mark similar to those used by upper-class families. Lower-class families devised many kinds of emblems resembling those used by the upper classes. They even developed a new style of their own. These emblems seem to have served as a sort of business card.