Excalibur, Kanesoh Knife Shop, Tokyo

Some women fall prey to Manolos, while others lose their heads (and 401K’s) to Chanel or Louis Vuitton. I’m just not that kind of girl. For me, it’s kitchen stuff – wasabi graters made of sharkskin, spoons and ladles, stoneware, katsuobushi shavers. Above all, carbon steel, given a final bump and grind, while you watch, […]

Miyajima, Beyond the Gate

The vast majority of visitors to Miyajima remain on the island for only a few short hours, a day trip from Hiroshima. Not venturing past the torii gate, paying their respects at Itsukushima, they return to the ferry terminal, stopping along the way to shop on lively Omotesando street with its restaurants, food stalls, and […]

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima

I overheard a tourist snipe, as she passed a group of fellow tourists waiting in a queue on the platform directly facing the famous orange torii, “how many pictures can you take of a wooden gate?” Every picture reveals a different torii as the tide rises or falls, or the light changes from morning to […]

Backstreets and Alleys, Kyoto

A very narrow alley, barely wide enough for two pedestrians side-by-side, running from Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori, one block west of the Kayo River, Pontocho Alley is one of Kyoto’s most atmospheric dining streets. It offers a wide variety of dining options, from inexpensive yakitori to exclusive establishments requiring the right connections and a very fat […]

Incoming Message from the Big Giant Head, Daibutsu at Todaii-ji, Nara

Todaiji, “Great Eastern Temple”, is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples. Construction started in 728 AD and was completed in 752 AD. It served as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan until it grew so powerful that the capital had to be relocated from Nara to Nagaoka in […]

Kinkaku-ji, Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Capped by snow in winter, set against the lush green of summer, or enveloped in autumn foliage – nothing is as symbolic of Kyoto as Kinkaku-ji. Perhaps even more so, its golden reflection shimmering across the rippled surface of the pond before it. This temple has been destroyed by fire numerous times, in the conflagrations […]

Ryōan-ji, Peaceful Dragon Temple, Kyoto

Ryōan-ji, a Zen temple located northwest of Kyoto, eponymous with its more famous rock garden, is truly one of the most serene places on earth. The temple garden is considered to be the finest example of a kare-sansui, or zen rock garden, in Japan. It’s my favorite garden in the world. The garden is best […]