Class dismissed: the ghost schools of Yokoze and Hanno, Saitama

I’ve never been a Japanese school-child, nor have I ever attended school in the early 20th century, yet I feel nostalgic for old-fashioned Japanese schoolhouses. This may have started while watching movies like The Rickshaw Man 無法松の一生 (1958) or Carmen Comes Home カルメン故郷に帰る (1951). Scenes from: The Rickshaw Man and Carmen Comes Home My love was cemented when I…

Winning the Hakone Ekiden: greatest comebacks, 1986-2016

In the last two years I’ve gotten hooked by the Hakone Ekiden relay race due to its mixture of tradition, athletic excellence, and aesthetic beauty. I saw the 2015 race in person and watched most of the 2016 edition on TV. As much as I enjoyed it, I was mildly disappointed by the lack of…

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“You in Tokyo” – THE NEW YORKER, 1946

The November 23, 1946 issue of The New Yorker ran an article by Helen Mears in their “Our far-flung correspondents” section. Titled “You in Tokyo“, the piece was named after a pamphlet given to new American arrivals that explained things like protocols, customs and recreational activities. Excerpt from You in Tokyo pamphlet, published by SCAP GHQ for civilian employees of…

A fishing village, then a Sky Tree mystery

Part I: the fishing village The existence of Tsukudajima 佃島 is no secret (map). The Japan Times has written about it (“Casting around in Tsukudajima“), bloggers write about it (佃島~島の名残り “Tsukudajima ~ island remnants”), and it’s easy to access from central Tokyo (it’s a 6-minute ride from Shiodome Station via the Oedo-line). Tsukudajima, until modern times, was a small…