おみくじ Omikuji: A Japanese Fortune Telling Slip

A Japanese language teacher gifted me an おみくじ, Omikuji, from the Dazaifu Tenman-gū, a famous shinto shrine in Fukuoka, Kyushu. She sat down to explain it to me, letting me know that Omikuji is best translated as a 'Fortune Slip'. As the Dazaifu Tenman-gū is a large and famous shrine, they had English Omikuji available. She happens …

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節分 Setsubun: A Japanese Coming of Spring Festival

A normally robust P.E. teacher quietly issues a ‘sumimasen’ at my shoulder. She stands behind my chair with a small paper bag in two hands outstretched, in the polite style of giving something. Rough calligraphy style kanji swoops over the front as is the norm with small, locally crafted gifts. She offers me the bag …

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A Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Daisetsuzan National Park’s The Grand Traverse – Part 1

Daisetsuzan, the largest national park in Japan, is located in the centre of its northernmost island, Hokkaido.  Measuring a gargantuan 2,267km² the expansive area hosts every biome imaginable; sprawling forests, marshland, snow drifts, shifting volcanic rock, bamboo forests, the list goes on... The landscape, wild and stunning in its sheer size, gives a hiker plenty …

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Taiikusai: Inside a Japanese Sports Day

May is a little early for Japanese Sports Days but in compartmentalised Tokyo these rentable sports grounds are booked solid through the summer months. The entire student body, and teachers, are assembled on the pitch. The students lined up according to colour coded houses, and the teachers are sitting under the just erected canopy, the …

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