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City with a Hidden Past

City with a Hidden Past 2018 Publication Expected Essay Title: “Tokyo: A Sprawling City of Small Wonders“ Fumihiko Maki Yukitoshi Wakatsuki Hidetoshi Ohno Tokihiko Takatani

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Architecture: The Whole Story

Architecture: The Whole Story 2014 Essay Title: “Japan: Before and After the Bubble“ Denna Jones (Editor) Richard Rogers (Foreword) Philip Gunmuchdjian (Foreword) Buy it Here

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Concrete Tokyo Map

Concrete Toyko Map 2017 Tokyo is a city of concrete.  This sprawling metropolis is dotted with concrete structures of all sorts — hulking factory complexes and mid-sized office buildings as well as trendy boutiques, tony residences and treasured spiritual spaces … Continue reading

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Sou Fujimoto

Sou Fujimoto 2016 Occasionally an architect emerges whose vision is so fresh that it causes us to reconsider the very nature of architecture. Sou Fujimoto is one of those architects. Guided by instinct and keen observation, he casts convention aside. … Continue reading

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Jutaku: Japanese Houses

Jutaku: Japanese Houses 2015 With 400 houses, one house per page, one image per house, Jutaku: Japanese Houses is a fast-paced, “quick hit” shock to the system that shines a Harajukubright neon light on the sheer volume, variety and novelty … Continue reading

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Made in Japan: 100 New Products

Made in Japan: 100 New Products 2012 From chairs to cutlery, Japan creates some of the most innovative, elegant, whimsical and well-made objects in the world. Combining high aesthetic standards with cutting-edge technology, many of these designs turn everyday items … Continue reading

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New Architecture in Japan

New Architecture in Japan 2010 A photographic survey taken by Edmund Sumner accompanied by information texts written in conjunction with Yuki Sumner and David Littlefield, this book showcases projects of all types, including museums, private houses, schools, shops, hospitals, airports … Continue reading

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Hitoshi Abe

  Hitoshi Abe 2009 Born in Japan in 1962, Hitoshi Abe is the former chair of the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at the University of California Los Angeles. Educated at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, he worked … Continue reading

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Modern Japanese House

Modern Japanese House 2005 What makes the contemporary Japanese house distinctly Japanese? Unlike many commercial public or institutional buildings, which look increasingly the same worldwide, houses remain rooted in place. This book addresses this question and many more. It begins … Continue reading

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Japan 2000

Japan 2000: Architecture and Design for the Japanese Public 1998 Compiled in connection with colleagues on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, this book contains a selection of essays documenting Japanese contributions in the fields of both design and architecture … Continue reading

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Reiko Sudo + Nuno

Reiko Sudo + NUNO: Textiles from Japan 2014 Essay Title: “A Short History of NUNO” Michael Rikley-Lancaster Alan C. Elder Naomi Pollock Yoko Imai Buy It Here

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Humanitarian Architecture

Shigeru Ban: Humanitarian Architecture 2014 Essay Title: “The Architecture of Shigeru Ban: Blurred Lines and Ambiguous Boundaries” Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson Claude Bruderlein Naomi Pollock Shigeru Ban Buy It Here  

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Giant Vegetables

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More Trash Talk

You can tell a lot about a culture from how it disposes of waste.  Especially in a place like Japan which is so fastidious where garbage is concerned. Apparently, you can also tell a lot about a person by what … Continue reading

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Recycling Tokyo-style

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The Little Crosswalk that Could

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Umbrella Musings

One of the things I love most about Japan is the national enthusiasm for seasonal change.  Here the shift from one sector of the year to the next is heralded with great fanfare. The arrival of ume plum blossoms at the … Continue reading

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New Year’s Apples

I meant to post about these apples in January but, alas, I did not.  Better late than never, right?  Intended as gifts, each apple is tenderly cradled in its own styrofoam net and adorned with “2013” and a kind of … Continue reading

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Bike Parking

 

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Driving Range Oshibori

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Garbage Nets

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Made in Japan Debuts

“Made in Japan” is a simple phrase, but one full of meaning.  From cutlery to chairs, Japan creates some of the most innovative, elegant, whimsical and well-made objects in the world. I should know. I just wrote the book.  Called … Continue reading

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Changes in the Hood

Just around the corner, the 70s vintage (I think) apartment building, Homat Pearl, is a few steps ahead in the redevelopment process. Sorry for the poor picture. The old building already razed and the site prepared, the groundbreaking is about … Continue reading

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Oops!

We are fairly convinced that Japan has more ‘hair & make’ salons than any other city in the world. People in Japan obviously love to get a tonsorial fix — who wouldn’t when every shampoo comes with a head massage? … Continue reading

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Pippi’s Omimai

Very regrettably, Pippi had a bad encounter with a pair of rather aggressive beagles about ten days ago in Arisugawa Park. While Pippi was greeting a friendly labradoodle that she knows, two beagles on a double leash lunged at her. … Continue reading

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Coin Lockers

Coin lockers have a life of their own in Japan. A relative rarity in the U.S., they are common fixtures at train stations from Hokkaido to Kyushu. Aside from their day job of providing temporary storage for small parcels, spare … Continue reading

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Yuba Sashimi

To the uninitiated, yuba may not sound any more appetizing than raw fish. Composed of folded, filmy tofu layers, it is one of our favorite foods. Like sashimi, it is eaten with a dash of wasabi-laced shoyu. Though extremely benign, … Continue reading

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Bento Box Tools

Since we are on the subject of mother appreciation, now is a good time to talk about bento lunch boxes. A cherished responsibility and privilege, bento box making is taken very, very seriously by moms (and some dads) throughout Japan. … Continue reading

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Petal Snow Storm

Don’t they look like snowflakes?

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Tokyo Unplugged

In compliance with the country’s energy consumption hold back, businesses from Tokyo Tower down to the ubiquitous vending machines have turned off their unnecessary lights. Lots of store fronts in our neighborhood sport these little black and white signs in … Continue reading

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The New Normal

Damaged during the quake, Tokyo Tower’s wonky antenna tip. We have been back in Tokyo for a few days and I am pleased to report that things seem to be pretty normal, albeit the new normal. We have only felt … Continue reading

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Niseko Snow

The snow in Niseko is amazing. Even compared to other parts of Hokkaido. You really have to see it to believe it. Due to Niseko’s relative proximity to Siberia, the area gets enormous snow falls every year. I heard that … Continue reading

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New Year’s Decorations in My Neighborhood

I always enjoy returning from the US after New Year’s or Oshogatsu in time to see all of the special holiday decorations. Usually, by the end of the first week of January they start to disappear. When we came back … Continue reading

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The Saga of Pippi’s Pink Ball

This is a very sad story with a surprise, happy ending. Last weekend, David and I took Pippi on a walk to Tokyo Midtown. While David was inside, Pippi and I remained outside on the wood deck wrapping the rear … Continue reading

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Minakami Rice

This time of year, Minakami is an armchair agriculturalist’s dream. Everywhere, everyone is harvesting something. Why this past weekend alone, we spotted kiwis on the vine, mushrooms of every shape and size, chestnuts in their spiky casings, purple eggplants ready … Continue reading

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Urban Archeology in Juban

In Japan most buildings have a relatively short shelf life. But those that survive often have a long memory. Take this boarded up building on a corner in Azabu Juban. Today it is overlooked, passed without so much as a … Continue reading

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Aji & Ajisai

I am really grooving on the hydrangea this year. For the second year in a row, I dragged Abby to the Ajisai (hydrangea) Matsuri (festival) inside Toshimaen amusement park. I had to bribe the girl with soba and sora mame … Continue reading

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The Best Artichokes Ever

On Sunday the most wonderful gift arrived via same day takkyubin delivery service. I knew that something very, very special was in store for me when the Styrofoam cooler chest made its appearance. And let me tell you, the contents … Continue reading

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My Favorite Tokyo House

I know I shouldn’t play favorites. But I am often asked which Japanese house I like best. Every time Tower House wins. Hands down. My apologies for the poor photo. The original “tiny house” makes a star appearance in the … Continue reading

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Ode to Almond

Oh, Almond, Almond! Where have you gone? Thanks to the infestation of Starbucks, Tulleys and other coffee bars, old fashioned kissaten (cafes) like Almond are dropping like flies. The first time I walked by Roppongi Crossing after Almond’s demise, I … Continue reading

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The Old, Old Thing

Sometimes the new, new thing is actually an old, old thing. This morning, while walking Pippi, I noticed this gate near my house for the first time. I have passed this way on countless occasions but today the gate’s charm … Continue reading

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A Tokyo Yarn

A cautionary tale about losing a car and finding a yarn store.  It is not everyday that one has the good fortune to stumble upon a yarn store in Tokyo. But when I do, it is the cause for a … Continue reading

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The Hand Over

We knew this day would come but now that it is here, we are all feeling, well, a bit blue. Perhaps no one more than the Little Blue Man himself. For the past year plus, the Little Blue Man has … Continue reading

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Kitto Mail

The other day I went to the post office to mail a card for Abby. Transaction completed, I was about to leave when I noticed some small, red and white, flower-bedecked boxes on the counter. Despite the growing line behind … Continue reading

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The Incomparable Savoy

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Car for One

In Japan, you can find anything and everything in miniature. Isn’t this car cute? Don’t you just love its tapered profile? What about the jaunty way its steering wheel sits front and center? And it only needs one windshield wiper! … Continue reading

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Pippi: Queen of the Forest

 We all love our weekend retreats to Minakami. But, perhaps, none of us more than Pippi. In Minakami, Pippi gets to be a Real Dog. She walks off leash, exercises her nostrils, chases stuff and snoops around freely. In short, … Continue reading

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What’s in a Name?

If you live in Japan, a lot. Take my name, for example. I adore my name. I love the way it sounds. I love the way it looks. I love its rich history. And here it is one of the … Continue reading

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Gingko Glory

About a month ago the air was full of a dreadful pong. The culprits? The innocuous-looking, but horrible-smelling, gingko nuts littering the ground. For most of the year gingko trees just meld in with the scenery. But come mid-fall, they … Continue reading

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Meiji Chocolate gets a Makeover

Good news. Meiji Chocolate has changed its image. Gone is the gold lettering with 70s retro styling. To my eyes, the bar’s former presentation was enticing but, frankly, boring. Not to mention, the chocolate’s taste was vaguely reminiscent of the … Continue reading

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The Teeny, Tiny Kaki

This time of year I make it my business to eat kaki, or persimmon, on a daily basis. I also like to keep them in a bowl (preferably one of the blue ceramic ones) on our dining table. I simply … Continue reading

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Dog Days

Summer’s dog days of may be over but in Azabu every day is dog day! There are so many dogs in this neighborhood! Labs, Goldens, Shibas, Dachshunds (long as well as short hair varieties), poodles and every type of “tea … Continue reading

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Endings are just Beginnings in Disguise

Yesterday Abby, Pippi and I were hiking on the Yamanashi Prefectural hiking trails. It was our last hike before relinquishing our country house and we were feeling a bit morose. But I digress. So we were on our ascent back … Continue reading

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