Category Archives: What the Heck is That?

Sashimi sides: field-guide to raw fish garnishes

In my Nov. 29 column in The Japan Times, I wrote about what a reader described as the “the stringy piles of daikon radish” that come with sashimi.  As I explained, the daikon is called “tsuma,” written with this character: … Continue reading

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Japanese police: don’t they have something better to do?

You’ve seen them in front of police stations. And outside neighborhood police boxes. Maybe you’ve seen them in busy train stations up on a box looking fierce. Don’t you wonder why Japanese police always seem to be standing around? That … Continue reading

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Is the banner better? You vote!

Those of you with eagle eyes may have already noticed I’ve got a new photo at the top of my blog. (If you hadn’t before, you have now.) Let’s call this #1. To refresh your memory, this is the original … Continue reading

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How to sink your teeth into geniune Kobe beef

In my Dec. 17 column in The Japan Times, I wrote about Kobe beef 神戸ビーフ, focusing on the myths associated with this top-of-the-market Japanese meat. With this blog post, I’d like to help readers who wish to try it for … Continue reading

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Look, then look again: fender mirrors

In my November 19 column in The Japan Times, I wrote about the rather special rear-view mirrors you see on the front of Japanese taxi cabs. I promised to post some photos of vehicles equipped with fender mirrors, including a … Continue reading

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Getting rid of stuff in Japan

In my Sept. 17 column in the Japan Times, I explained why it’s both illegal and unkind to help yourself to something that’s been put out for 粗大ゴミ sodai gomi (over-size trash) collection. Bummer, right? I mean, Japanese throw out the … Continue reading

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Mosquitoes bugging you? 蚊取り線香

In my July 16 column in The Japan Times, I wrote about mosquito coils, which were actually invented in Japan, and promised to show you some of the holders used when burning them. I couldn’t resist the photo above, not … Continue reading

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How the heck is nori made?

Let’s talk about nori, which I once heard described as “that black stuff wrapped around sushi.” You’ve eaten it. You probably know it’s seaweed. But do you have any idea where it comes from? Whether it’s wild or grown? Or … Continue reading

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The making of a Japanese candle 和蝋燭

In my Jan. 15 column in The Japan Times, I wrote about the differences between Japanese and Western candles. As I explained, Japanese candles are not made from beeswax or paraffin, but from a handcrafted vegetable wax called mokurō 木蝋 (literally, … Continue reading

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Womb with a view: Ernesto Neto in Omotesando

Omotesando is not my favorite place in Tokyo — too much emphasis on shopping and international luxury brands. And I certainly never had reason to enter the Louis Vuitton store there until today, when I was lured in by word … Continue reading

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