Hey Hey Everybody, I'm happy to see you here! Thank you for all your support. eri-

Bonsai (盆栽) are potted miniature trees which are carefully styled to achieve an aesthetic effect through training with wiring and cutting. The concept was first imported into Japan from China more than a thousand years ago. Since then, a distinctive style of this “living art” form has been developed in Japan.

Enjoy a collection I find most beautiful.

This Japanese five needle white pine can bring to mind a violent ocean current, formed above the pot by the intensely whirling shari. Estimated Age: 500 years

A Japanese Maple, part of a private collection of trees maintained by the staff of Mansei-en (Omiya Bonsai Village) is in Saitama, located just about an hour from Tokyo and fun to visit. It's made up of six gardens, with the earliest founded in 1848.

A Japanese Juniper named “Garyu (Reclining Dragon)” cared for by the Kato family. Estimated Age: 700 years

Simple, yet moving. Rotating on display at a coffee shop in Ginza, Tokyo.

I love the miniature world with moss.

Incredibly powerful.

Detail of the bark plates on this dramatic black pine (kuromatsu).

This trident maple was a gift from the Royal Household of Japan from Prince Takamatsu, now cared for by the National Bonsai Foundation in Washington, DC. Raised from a seedling with training that began in 1895.

This Juniper that inspired the logo of the Bonsai Foundation, a gift from the great master Kenichi Oguchi, who ran a bonsai nursery in Niigata, Japan. The tree is a yamadori, meaning it was collected from the wild.

This shinpaku juniper, estimated to be 1000 years old, was found in 1983 in the mountain of Itoigawa City, Niigata Prefecture.

Mr. Naoji Ito who transplanted it, turned it over to be cared for by Master Mr. Saburo Kato (1915-2008) who named it Hiryu (flying dragon).

A rare photo of Mr. Kato caring for Hiryu.

Thank you for visiting.


Shimonoseki (下関市) is a city located in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. With a population of 265,684, it is nicknamed the “Fugu Capital” because of the locally large annual catch of blowfish.

Shimonoseki is surrounded on three sides by ocean, the Seto Inland Sea, the Hibikinada Sea and the Sea of Japan, so it goes without saying that the seafood here is bar none. More than 80% of Japan's fugu are passing through these waters.

There are also many sights and places of historical and cultural interest in the city, such as ancient samurai residences and clay walls.

Commonly known as the Chōshū Domain, it was the seat of power for the Mōri clan.

The Mōri Family Crest

This Japanese samurai family descended from Ōe no Hiromoto. Despite joining the losing side in the Battle of Sekigahara, the family was still able to expanded its power in Shimonoseki, after being forcibly removed from Hiromshima.

Terumoto Mōri built Hagi Castle in 1604, and his family continued to rule over the Chōshū Domain until the Meiji Restoration which began after 1867.

Unfortunately the castle was destroyed in 1874 and only ruins remain.

The Chofu Garden (長府庭園) located in Shimonoseki, was once the private garden of a member of the Mōri clan.

It's a wonderful example of the Kaiyu style (strolling garden) where circulating walking paths are provided for enjoying the view from different angles.

Kaiyu style gardens were created for daimyo (Japanese feudal lords) in the Edo period (1603 to roughly 1868), and are said to have all the elements to fully enjoy the seasons. A big pond with colorful koi, walking paths, a variety of moss, trees, shrubs and flowers, a bridge and many beautiful stones. The landscape is carefully laid out to achieve multiple scenic viewing spots so one never gets bored.

Whether you enjoy while resting or walking, the view should change dramatically with the change of season.

Another destination to consider when visiting Shimonoseki is the former residence of Mototoshi Mōri, the 14th generation head of the Mori family built in 1903.

The seasonal beauty is framed by the turn-of-the-century traditional home that is quintessential Japanese by design.

The grounds and interior is often used to exhibit and celebrate various cultural events.

...and don't forget to try the fugu (blowfish) sashimi before you head out of Shimonoseki.

Thank you for viewing.

Otsukimi (お月見), literally meaning, “moon-viewing” is a tradition that dates to the Heian era (794-1185).

Tsukimi traditions include displaying decorations made from Japanese pampas grass (susuki) and eating sweet rice dumplings called tsukimi dango in order to celebrate the beauty of the moon.

In this fluff post, I'll share some of my favorite images of this late summer celebration.

First starting with the full moon and the rabbit.

Many old tales circulated that you could see the rabbit preparing the sweet rice balls (dango) in the shadows of the moon.

While viewing the full moon, children throughout the centuries have been asked, “Look! Can't you see the rabbit making the sweet rice balls?”

If you look just right, you can see the rabbit hunched over, making dango.

Now, the imagery becomes an artistic form of expression found in various ways.

Seasonal food boxes

Japanese décor


An antique brass tsuba (鍔), the hand guard of a sword

Lacquered fountain pen with 14k gold

Traditional sweets

Even in a reflection, moon-viewing can be enjoyed in your sake cup!

From a 18th century woodblock print, we can see how the tradition of a moon-viewing gathering was part of life in Japan, that still continues today.

Enjoy your own personal moon-viewing, wherever you may be.

The first Kutani-ware porcelain is said to date back to 1655, when a kiln opened in Kutani village under the orders of the local feudal lord Maeda Toshiharu.

The old Kutani pieces, known for their bold and dynamic outlines decorated with thick over-glazing by the classical five “gosai” colors epitomize the lavish aesthetics of the day.

It is theorized that the long, harsh and grey winters of the Hokuriku region led to a desire among people living there for ceramic to show strong and bold colors like deep green, yellow ochre, bold blue, vermilion red and purple made for this signature look.

The Kutani kiln suddenly closed less than a century later, for reasons that remain unknown.

About a century after the closure of the Kutani kiln, the Kaga clan launched efforts to revive the lost art, and opened the Kasugayama kiln in the castle town of Kanazawa. Other kilns soon opened across the region, letting rise to new decorative styles of Kutani-ware.

Kanazawa castle the former residence of Kaga domain ruler, Maeda Toshiharu

Then for centuries to follow, many new styles of Kutani-ware have emerged. Here is a collection of some of my favorites. Enjoy.

Kutani Tile

The photograph above is a tiled wall inside the public bath (sento) “Konparu” which was an amazing retreat in Ginza. For more than one-hundred years, it served as an essential place for merchants, employees, and residents alike. It was my favorite place to visit on days with an open schedule, to spend some precious time relaxing in the hot spring waters.

I visited the back street just two weeks ago and found a four-story modern office building had taken its place.

You can imagine the void I felt.

Japanese Tanka consist of five units (often written as separate lines when translated) usually with the following pattern of 31 syllables total, divided in a rhythm of 5-7-5-7-7. It's longer and more complex than the well known “haiku” that uses the 5-7-5 format.

In ancient times, it was a custom between two writers to exchange poems instead of letters, and highly common between lovers.

Featured Poet: Ishikawa Takuboku

Ishikawa san as a young man shortly before he passed away.

Ishikawa Takuboku was born at Joko Temple, Hinoto-mura (presently named Hinoto, Tamayama-mura), in Iwate Prefecture. He was raised by his father who was the priest of the temple, and Katsu, his mother.

What looks to be possibly a wedding photo, notice her 半纏 (hanten), an in-door jacket, unique in style with the long covered sleeves to protect from the bitter cold winters of the northern region of Japan.

It was known that he often wrote in Latin script so that his wife could not read his work.

東海の Tōkai no

小島の磯の kojima no iso no

白砂に shirasuna ni

われ泣きぬれて ware naki nurete

蟹とたわむる kani to tawamuru

On the white sand

Of the beach of a small island

In the Eastern Sea.

I, my face streaked with tears,

Am playing with a crab

—Ishikawa Takuboku

On April 13, 1912 ~ Ishikawa Takuboku died of tuberculosis at the far too young age of 26. His works have been translated in many languages, and is often called the “King of Tanka”.

The castle of Kanazawa watches over the gold-leaf craft called hakuichi. In this blog edition, I have put together a collection of a dozen examples I hope you enjoy.

Ultra-thin sheets of 24k gold are applied to ceramic, wood, glass and other materials to create a glitter that pleases the eye.

A three-layer food box called a jubako with traditional Japanese sweets. The gold design is fresh and modern.

Two glasses with a lovely organic shape.


Yes, edible.

Love the touch of gold in the base of these wine glasses.

A special edition perfume bottle for the 100th anniversary of Guerlain Paris.

A detail of a calligraphy inspired wall art.


Traditional folding fan with a splash of gold.

Fountain pen with pink and gold cherry blossoms.

Gold Armor

Kanazawa was constructed during the Edo period and was called the Kaga Domain, governed by the Maeda family. Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家, January 15, 1538 – April 27, 1599) was one of the leading generals of Oda Nobunaga following the Sengoku period of the 16th century and he loved gold. Known for his flashy style, his gold leaf armor is on display at the hakuichi museum.

The origins of Sumo date back to the Nara Period, (The 8th Century) which was introduced to the Imperial Court. The present Japan Sumo Association has its origins in groups formed in the Edo Period (1601-1864).

There are six Grand Tournaments a year, with three being held in Tokyo. This summer match has returned to Tokyo with some modifications to the wrestler rooms like acrylic partitions along with a limited number of attendees allowed to watch in person, and are required to have a temperature check before entering the hall.

I've been a serious fan since 2003 and over the years, have gone to many tournaments, private parties and public celebrations. I'd like to share a few items (among quite a pile of things) that I've collected through my passion of the National sport.

This is an original illustration of the Grand Champion Hakuhou by a famous artist who sets up a small selling booth inside the Ryogokukigan Hall during the tournaments.

That same artist drew a portrait of me, as a surprise gift from one of my best sumo buddies, a young man who has been bringing me into the world of Sumo since 2003.

Morning workout and lunch with one of the Greatest Grand Champions ever, Asashoryu (Morning Blue Dragon) 2007.

Asashoryu, Year End Party 2008

A signed wrestlers card from Osuna Arashi (Sand Storm), the very first wrestler in Japan from the African continent. He stopped for me, as he walked the hanamichi after his bout to sign my card, and did with a smile. Sometimes asking a wrestler to stop is not an easy thing to do, especially when they are popular because of their assistants who act as bodyguards. Osuna Arashi had to retire early due to a knee injury.

Grand Champion Hakuho as he walked in front of me, protected by his assistants at the Kyushu Tournament in 2010. He holds the record for the most undefeated tournament championships at fifteen, which is seven more than any other sumo wrestler in history. He has been called the “quintessential all-round sumo wrestler” because of his strength in both grappling and pushing techniques. My girlfriend and I were invited to join him and other wrestlers in Las Vegas during an overseas exhibition tournament and attended their private party at the Mandalay Bay. That was something!

Another signed card from Aminishiki, one of the oldest wrestlers in history to maintain an upper rank. He is in the all-time top ten for a number of sumo records, including most career wins, most top division appearances and most tournaments ranked in the top division. He retired at the age of 40 in 2019.

The “tegata” is an autographed hand print made from inking the wrestlers hand and making an impression on a paper board. They can be quite collectible. This one belongs to the 68th Yokozuna (Grand Champion) in the history of the sport and is sought after on the secondary market. Take note that the lower-ranked wrestlers aren’t allowed to make a tegata.

This collage photograph has a special memory. First, I was escorted down to the off limits area of the basement in the Hall where there is a known ghost who often pushes people from the back side (as so many stories have been told), but I went through without any such experience. Secondly, my friend Kumiko san (to my left) was with me on that day and is currently in her last stage of a battle with cancer.

Thank you for taking a peek at my favorite sport.

指物 Sashimono is traditional Japanese woodwork where it is joined together without using iron nails. One such specialized craft, called 組子 Kumiko is my favorite. It is a technique that has been refined over the years from the Asuka era (history of Japan lasting from 538 to 710).

The patterns are countless. Here are a few you might see used in lamps, screens, doors, decorative boxes or interior accents.

Enjoy the collection of some of my favorite examples.

Japanese Restaurant Kisara in Korea

A private house in Wakayama which won “The American Architecture Master Prize” (formerly known as the American Architecture Award), one of the prestigious architectural awards in the world.

The sleeper bedroom on the “Seven Stars” train in Kyushu, Japan.

Hoshino Resort

The ANA Crown Plaza, Kyoto

Hattori Sushi, Tokyo

Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Private Residence, Japan

A Display Box that can sit or hang on the wall.

Storage box by Okawa Craft, Fukuoka

One of the many storage boxes to purchase on Rakuten.

A lovely screen (not for sale).

Okawa Craft, Fukuoka

Patterns of light

Yoshihara “Good Design Award”, Shimane

A detail with a combination of motifs.

Very tasteful.

Boys Day Display Stand

And finally, a simple yet beautiful tissue box.

Twitter is a fun place to look at the world of Kumiko in Japan. Use this hashtag: #組子 and enjoy.

Bushido is a code of conduct that emerged in Japan from the Samurai, or Japanese warriors, who spread their ideals throughout society. They drew inspiration from Confucianism, which is a relatively conservative philosophy and system of beliefs that places a great deal of importance on loyalty and duty. The Bushido code contains seven key principles or virtues that warriors were expected to uphold.

The top kanji character “BU” translates to warrior; military; chivalry; arms. The middle kanji character “SHI” is gentleman; scholar; samurai. The lower kanji character is “DO(U)” meaning the road-way; street; district; journey; course; moral; teachings.

The seven virtues of the code, often have an eighth virtue added that includes self-control, due to the book Bushido written by the scholar Inazo Nitobe who now by the way, adorns the 5,000 yen note in Japan.

** (GI) Justice; righteousness; morality; honor; loyalty

Justice is a core value of the Samurai. Incorporating the Bushido principle of justice into your life requires reflecting on what is fair and upholding the value of upstanding moral character.

** (YUU) Courage; cheer up; be in high spirits; bravery; heroism

Courage, like justice, entails deciphering what is right and wrong. Courage requires the strength not only to perceive but also to act.

** (JIN) Compassion; humanity; virtue; benevolence; charity

Compassion is the ability to manifest love and sympathy through patience. It also requires attempting to see the world from the perspective of another. This is an especially important trait for those in a leadership role.

** (REI) Respect; salute; bow; ceremony; thanks; remuneration

Respect means that you acknowledge your regard for the experiences and feelings of others. In order to collaborate with another person, politeness must be employed.

** (MAKOTO) Integrity; sincerity; admonish; warn; truth; fidelity

In order to practice many of the other principles listed, one has to maintain integrity. This mean living honestly and sincerely.

*名誉* (MEI YO) Honor; credit; prestige

Samurai were warriors who upheld a sense of self worth and lived by the highest code of conduct. In order to abide by the principle of honor, you must acknowledge your moral responsibilities.

*忠誠* (CHU SEI) Loyalty; sincerity; allegiance; fidelity; integrity

First, stay true to yourself. When fealty is given to another, this must not be abandoned even under difficult circumstances.

*自制* (JI SEI) Self control; self restraint

Self-control in the Bushido code means adhering to this code under all circumstances, when with others and when alone.

(Image Courtesy Unsplash)

Born November 10, 1923, Hachiko was a Japanese Akita dog remembered for his remarkable loyalty. He was the companion of a University professor, Hidesaburo Ueno who used the Shibuya station for his daily commute.

The pair followed the same routine every day. In the morning Mr. Ueno would walk to the Shibuya Station with Hachiko and take the train to work. After finishing the day’s classes, he would take the train back and return to the station at 3 p.m. on the dot, where Hachiko would be waiting to accompany him on the walk home.

One sad day in May 1925, the Professor suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage while teaching and passed away. That same day, Hachiko showed up at 3 p.m. as usual, but his beloved owner never got off the train. Hachiko was at Shibuya Station the next day, then the day after, and the day after that. The days turned into weeks, then months, then years. Every day during the following nine years, nine months and fifteen days, Hachiko would wait, showing up just as the train arrived at the station, for a reunion that wouldn’t happen again. Soon, the lone dog began to draw the attention of other commuters. His presence had a great impact on the local community of Shibuya and he became something of an icon.

In 1932, an article was published in the national daily Asahi newspaper, and Hachiko's tale spread throughout Japan. The dog quickly found nationwide fame. Soon, people from all over the country were coming to visit Hachiko, who had become a symbol of loyalty and something of a good-luck charm.

Hachiko’s great vigil finally came to an end on March 8, 1935, when he was found dead in the streets of Shibuya at the age of 11.

The last known photograph.

His passing made national headlines. He was cremated and his ashes were placed next to Professor Ueno’s grave in Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo. His fur, however, was preserved, stuffed, and mounted. It’s now housed in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno, Tokyo.

Today, a bronze memorial statue of Hachiko sits proudly at the west exit of Shibuya Station, overlooking the world's busiest pedestrian crossing called the “scramble”. You'll find a rather modest cherry tree providing him shade in the summer, but all year round he's surrounded by friends.