Interviews about Japan and its Culture

17/09/2019 Food & Drinks  Souvenirs  Traditions & History

Thés du Japon: Let a Sommelier Help You Choose Your Japanese Tea

I first met Florent Wengue 12 years ago through a mutual friend. He had moved to Tokyo from France a few years before, and was working as a French teacher. Recently, I had heard that he had become a Japanese Tea Instructor, similar to a sommelier but for tea, and sold Japanese tea from his own store in Yanaka. I decided to drop by and catch up, and also learn more about the world of Japanese tea.

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10/06/2019 Traditions & History

The Joys and Challenges of Japanese Traditional Painting: an Interview with Allan West

You may have seen his elegant kimono-clad figure on television, in newspapers, or in your Tokyo guidebook. After almost 40 years of career in Japan, American-born Allan West has become a familiar figure in the world of Nihonga, the Japanese traditional painting.

I had the great pleasure to meet him in his beautiful studio in Yanaka, Tokyo. Even though he was exhausted – he was just coming back from Paris where he was preparing an exhibition- Allan patiently and enthusiastically answered all of my questions. What’s the difference between Nihonga and other kinds of painting? Why did he choose this peculiar path and come to Japan? Is it hard to be a foreigner in the world of Japanese traditional painting? Read on to discover a side of Japanese culture that, sadly, is dying.

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30/05/2019 Activities  Visit: Parks & Nature

Discover Japan’s National Parks: Interview with a Picchio Eco Tour Guide

Seeing Japan’s beautiful nature should be a top priority for every visitor. The best way to do this is to drop by one of Japan’s 30 national parks. This experience can be enhanced further by joining a local guided tour. In this article, I’ll introduce Picchio, a company providing nature tours in Japanese and in English inside Japan’s second largest national park, that can be done as a daytrip or an overnight stay from Tokyo.

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13/02/2019 Activities  Traditions & History

Interview with a Rickshaw Driver: from Guiding People to Changing People’s Lives

For a long time, I ignored that the rickshaw was actually a Japanese invention! This old profession still subsists today in a newer form in Japan: the rickshaw drivers double as guides who often speak several languages. Let me introduce you to Mr. Taira, a rickshaw driver you can meet in Asakusa, Tokyo.

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26/07/2019 Buddhism & Shinto  Traditions & History

‘Becoming Like the Sky’: an Encounter with a Street Monk in Ginza

In Tokyo, Buddhist priests chanting sutras in the streets, with their traditional robes and straw hats, have become an exotic sight not only to foreign tourists, but to Tokyoites too. Mr. Mochizuki has been practicing ‘takuhatsu’ (religious mendicancy and sutra chanting) in the streets of Ginza for nine years.
I had the opportunity to interview him (in Japanese) and ask him about his path in life and the reasons that have led him to chant sutras in the middle of one of Tokyo’s busiest districts. Here is the English version of our talk.

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18/07/2018 Traditions & History

Meet Chie, the Wandering Singer and Mangaka of Arakicho, Shinjuku

Chie is a ‘Nagashi’ artist: she wanders the streets of Arakicho and plays her traditional instrument in the local bars to entertain the customers. She’s also a mangaka ans draws people’s portraits while singing. After meeting her by chance at the Ringo no Hana restaurant in Arakicho, I asked to meet her again and hear her story. I have a lot of admiration for Chie and I was deeply moved by her story. I’ve been looking forward to share this with you all. I hope you will enjoy this interview in which, among other things, Chie explains us what it means for her to do this job and  she tells her […]

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30/08/2018 Traditions & History

The Secrets of the Tatami and Making them for 6 Generations

Meet Mr. Tsunekawa, a tatami craftsman in a small, 160 years old workshop in Tokyo.

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02/07/2019 Visit: Parks & Nature

Hiking and Trekking in the Japan Alps: an Interview with Wes Lang

If you still haven’t decided what to do this summer in Japan, how about a trek in the Japan Alps? With the rainy season ending soon, and hot and humid weather scheduled to take its place, the higher and cooler elevations of the Northern, Central and Southern Alps are the ideal place to spend an outdoor vacation. A new guidebook to the Japan Alps, with up-to-date information, written by two knowledgeable Japan-based hikers, Tom Fay and Wes Lang, will make planning your trek, as well as the trek itself, a whole lot easier.

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22/12/2015 Life and Manners in Japan

Realities of Japan: Working in a Rural City of Japan as a Foreigner


“How can I apply for a job and get an employment VISA in Japan?” “How proficient do I need to be in Japanese?” “How is living in Japan?” These are a few questions you may want to ask if you are aiming to move to Japan. The answers will probably depend on situation, timing and people. Therefore, we are trying to figure out the “Reality of Japan” by featuring various people who have experience living in Japan.

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05/04/2019 Festivals & Events  Travel Tips

Japan in 2020: What to Expect from the Olympics and More

Ever since I started producing content related to Japan’s booming tourism industry, I have consistently encountered one question: What will Tokyo be like during the 2020 Olympic Games? So, I set out to find some answers from those who would know best.
Fortunately my network led me to Mike Williamson, the general manager of Hilton Tokyo, who was kind enough to sit down with me and share his perspective on life in Japan and how Tokyo will accommodate the 2020 Olympic Games. Whether you are planning to attend the Olympics or are simply considering a visit to Japan in the near future, the following interview will give you insights on what to expect when traveling to this ever-fascinating island nation.

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