Kanji of the Year 2018 -災

Every year on December 12th, the chief priest of Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto reveals a kanji that was chosen to be the most representative of that year in Japan. The kanji is selected by popular vote, and is finalized by the Japan Kanji Aptitude Foundation. This year's kanji is the rather depressing 災, meaning "disaster."... Continue Reading →


Shakuhachi (尺八)

I had the very exciting opportunity to go see grand master James Nyoraku Schlefer play at my university this week o(*≧□≦)o so I figured this would be a good time to share some info about what a shakuhachi is and a bit of the instrument's history. Plus it's just pretty rad to listen to. (I'm... Continue Reading →

New Year’s Traditions in Japan

Japan's native religion of Shinto is super-focused on the ideas of cleanliness and purity. So, New Year's, the holiday representing a fresh start and renewal, is a pretty big deal. Japan has TONS of New Year's traditions, and they can range from centuries old to within the last 10. Osechi Ryori お節料理 The big holiday... Continue Reading →

絵馬 – Wishing Plaques

A common sight in Japanese shrines is walls of 絵馬 (えま) , or wooden wishing plaques. Remember that shrines (神社) = Shinto and temples (寺) = Buddhism, so the tradition of 絵馬 is Shinto. However, because the two religions have blended so much, you can now find these plaques at temples as well. Obviously, there... Continue Reading →

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