All Doors are Open, as the Old Town of Makabe gets DOLLED UP for its annual HINA DOLL FESTIVAL (真壁の雛祭り) – Feb. 4th – March 3rd

By Avi Landau During most of the year, if you pass through the center of the quaint, though rusting and run-down old town of Makabe, you are unlikely to see a single soul walking about. That is why it is surprising to go there in February, its coldest month , and find the streets filled with… Read More All Doors are Open, as the Old Town of Makabe gets DOLLED UP for its annual HINA DOLL FESTIVAL (真壁の雛祭り) – Feb. 4th – March 3rd

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The To-zaki Washi no Miya Shrine (東崎鷲の宮神社) in Tsuchiura – Why is there an anchor there?

By Avi Landau Tsuchiura City holds a February-long Hina Doll event (in imitation of the one in Makabe, Sakuragawa City), and when planning my visit there last year, I checked and found out that there was a festival at the Washi no Miya Shrine, the oldest in Tsuchiura (dating back to the 12th or perhaps… Read More The To-zaki Washi no Miya Shrine (東崎鷲の宮神社) in Tsuchiura – Why is there an anchor there?

Getting Ready for Ibaraki and Tochigi Prefectures` Unique HATSU UMA (初午) Celebrations- this year on February 5th (2023)

By Avi Landau   If you look at a Japanese calendar, you will notice that every day of the month has been designated as belonging to a different animal of the Japanese zodiac. Sunday February 5, 2023 on the Gregorian calendar, is the first Day of the Horse of the second month of the year,… Read More Getting Ready for Ibaraki and Tochigi Prefectures` Unique HATSU UMA (初午) Celebrations- this year on February 5th (2023)

When the Smoke Clears Away (on Saturday February 4, 2023) at the HIRASAWA KANGA (平沢官衙遺跡) What SPECIAL WORD Shall Be Revealed ? (weather permitting)

    By Avi Landau The local farmers tell me that in the morning hours there is LITTLE WIND during Tsukuba`s winter season- which is usually the windiest time of year here. I guess that that is the why the SHIBA YAKI (芝焼き) grass burning ceremony held in front of the HIRASAWA KANGA  ISEKI- a… Read More When the Smoke Clears Away (on Saturday February 4, 2023) at the HIRASAWA KANGA (平沢官衙遺跡) What SPECIAL WORD Shall Be Revealed ? (weather permitting)

Demon Masks, Soy Beans, Thick Sushi Rolls, Soba Noodles and… Sardine-Heads Posted on Doorways- Celebrating SETSUBUN ( the Eve of the First Day of Spring) in Japan

By Avi Landau Most of the world cultures that I can think of have (or had) their own special ways of keeping evil spirits at bay, or even better, far away. Japan is probably the industrialized country with its traditional demon-fighting repertoire most intact. One of the most important and popular of the occasions on… Read More Demon Masks, Soy Beans, Thick Sushi Rolls, Soba Noodles and… Sardine-Heads Posted on Doorways- Celebrating SETSUBUN ( the Eve of the First Day of Spring) in Japan

In Tsukuba`s Old Neighborhoods SETSUBUN can be just as lively as O-Shogatsu ( New Year`s) – or even MORE SO!

By Avi Landau Setsubun is Japan`s traditional celebration of the first day of spring as it is recognized according to the traditional Japanese calendar (which was imported from China). According to that system, the year is divided into 4 perfectly equal seasons ( of 90 days each) with the equinox days and solstices used as markers for determining the seasonal change days- which… Read More In Tsukuba`s Old Neighborhoods SETSUBUN can be just as lively as O-Shogatsu ( New Year`s) – or even MORE SO!

Convenience Stores And Supermarkets Promote Osaka Custom And Point Setsubun Celebrations (February 3rd) in NEW DIRECTION every year!

By Avi Landau Convenience stores and supermarkets have had a huge impact on Japan and they play a major role in the shaping of  contemporary Japanese culture and lifestyles. And though in many ways it could be said that these stores are helping to bring about the END of TRADITIONAL JAPAN, it could also be… Read More Convenience Stores And Supermarkets Promote Osaka Custom And Point Setsubun Celebrations (February 3rd) in NEW DIRECTION every year!

Eating Uguisu Mochi (鶯餅) in Anticipation of Japan`s Most Famous Sound of Spring- the cry of the bush warbler (uguisu)

By Avi Landau   While the early plum blossoms are beginning to burst open, providing us with the encouraging SIGHTS and SMELLS of spring, we have yet to hear the CALL, which in Japan has traditionally signaled the fact that spring has arrived in earnest — the cry of the male UGUISU (鶯), or bush warbler. The… Read More Eating Uguisu Mochi (鶯餅) in Anticipation of Japan`s Most Famous Sound of Spring- the cry of the bush warbler (uguisu)

Little Discoveries Made While Cycling Between Three Traditional Events Held in Tsukuba on the Same day – January 28, 2023

By Avi Landau It is always frustrating for me when multiple events that I am interested in are scheduled for the same day and I have to decide which one to go to, and which to give up. And because of an unusual calendrical alignment, this year, three of my favorite traditional events were going… Read More Little Discoveries Made While Cycling Between Three Traditional Events Held in Tsukuba on the Same day – January 28, 2023

Making Miso at Home- the Revival of a Once Ubiquitous Late Winter Rite

  By Avi Landau Miso, a fermented bean-paste made by letting sit for a few months a mixture of boiled and mashed soy beans, a fermenting agent called KOJI, and plenty of salt, is an essential element of Japanese cuisine –  helping to give it its distinctive flavor. Being rich in vitamin B 12 and proteins, particularly… Read More Making Miso at Home- the Revival of a Once Ubiquitous Late Winter Rite