Ohaka Mairi

We headed up to Tokyo today to see my mother-in-law since we'll be busy over the usual family-gathering days of Oshogatsu (the Japanese new year). We also did ohaka mairi (visiting someone's final resting place) for Hisashi's father and other ancestors. Ohaka mairi is taken pretty seriously in Japan, though customs depend on the area … Continue reading Ohaka Mairi

Nikko Elephants

There are a few elephant heads, as well as whole elephants, carved into the structures at Nikko's Tosho-gu. Apparently (and understandably), the builders/carvers had only stories on which to base their work, having never seen an elephant. For some reason, they seem to have been under the impression that elephants were pretty sinister creatures. I … Continue reading Nikko Elephants


Takoyaki is a favourite festival food in Japan. It's made of balls of batter mixed with chopped up octopus, and, in this case, teeny tiny octopi. Takoyaki made with wee octopi doesn't really float my boat, though normal takoyaki is pretty good—as long as the octopus pieces are suction cup-free.

Yokohama Foreigners’ Cemetery

When Japan opened its doors to the West in the second half of the 19th century, it kept pretty close tabs on foreign settlements. The Yamate area of Yokohama was one of the sanctioned areas, and it still has quite a few Western-style houses, as well as a beautiful Anglican Church, and a large cemetery. … Continue reading Yokohama Foreigners’ Cemetery