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Lots o'fish
Fish vie for attention (and fish food) outside a souvenir store on the shopping street leading to the Akiyoshi caves.


One of the secrets of sounding like a good writer is to make people believe that you have a huge supply of facts and figures right on the tip of your literary tongue. In reality, we have to stop what we are doing and wade through piles of research material fill in the details of all the stuff we forgot to ask about when we were there.


Even though this memoir is an example of state of the art, electronic publishing, most of the research was performed with ordinary books. Actually, I have to admit that many of my resources were quite extraordinary books. Even though they are all in English, many were published in Japan and available here only through Japanese-American bookstores. All are available through Kinokuniya Bookstores which has branches in many large cities. If you are fortunate enough to live outside of a major city, they are usually happy to ship books directly to you.

Unfolding Japanese Traditions, Masako Yanagita & Masako Hanada, Apricot Press (Japan); 1994, ISBN (Japan) 4-905737-60-5; 216 pp.

This is a remarkably concise and complete book on the culture and customs of Japan. There are numerous illustrations and the book is fun and easy to read. It is actually shorter than the 216 pages reported. All the left-facing pages are in Japanese and the right pages are in English.

Pictorial Encyclopedia of Japanese Life and Events Nakayama Kaneyoshi, Gakken Co., Ltd. (US distribution via Kodansha America, Inc.), 1993, ISBN (US) 0-84040-921-2; 130 pp.

Kaneyoshi's book focuses on Japanese holidays, festivals and other important annual events. Even though it is primarily a picture book, it holds a wealth of well-organized information. (Note: Even though this book is listed by both Amazon and Barnes & Noble as being out of print, it is still very much available through Kinokuniya and other Japanese bookstores in the US.)

Talking About Japan Q&A, Patricia Mari Katayama, et al., Kodansha International, Ltd., 1996, ISBN (Japan) 4-7700-2026-0; 312 pp.

Like Unfolding Japanese Traditions, this is a bilingual English/Japanese book and one in an excellent series called, not surprisingly "Bilingual Books" published by Kodansha. This volume offers a nice balance of hard facts and astute observations about Japanese life and culture. Other books in this large series cover topics such as history, food, literature and current events.

Japan, An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Kodansha Ltd., 1993, ISBN (Japan) 4-06-205938-X; 1,924 pp.

This is unquestionably the most complete and definitive source of information on Japan published in English anywhere. Even at nearly two-thousand pages, the articles are not particularly lengthy, but they touch on virtually every aspect of the country and culture. There is a CD-ROM version (Windows only) available as well. Available through Barnes & Noble.

Etiquette Guide to Japan, by Boye De Mente, Yenbooks (Tuttle), 1990, ISBN0-8048-1643-3; 132 pp.

Virtually essential when traveling to Japan for business (or visiting relatives) and extremely helpful for the casual tourist. In spite of its brevity, it covers nearly all of the essentials and occasionally provides some fascinating bits of cultural and historical insight into the customs. Available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Here's a short (for now) list of my favorite links to sites about Japan's culture, language and railway system.'s Japanese Language site

Even though her focus in on Japanese language, Namiko Abe is the Guide of what I believe is the Web's best site on Japanese society and culture. It contains a rich archive of articles and fresh new features virtually every week. My sincere thanks to Ms. Abe (and the folks at in general) for showing how valuable a resource the Web can be.'s Japan pages

This brilliant idea for a site contains first-person travelogues and photos from around the world, all submitted by individual travelers. There are great suggestions for things to see and do that are often off the well-trod tourist trails. Their home page is a gateway to a world of travel experiences.

Passion for Japan

Dynamic imagery of funky Japanese street fashion, culture with informative features from Japan photographer Pat Lyttle. Pat's site (as well as her photography and writing) captures the country's unique blend of tradition and cutting-edge style.

Schauweckers Guide to Japan

Schauwecker's web site is an excellent portal with one of the best assortments of links and greatest abundance of original content on Japan. If you are planning a visit or are simply interested, this is a great resource.

Japan 101

Thousand of pictures & hundreds of articles all about Japan. Share photos, meet friends, & learn about Japan.

Mainichi Shimbun
Asahi Shimbun
Japan Times Weekly

Three of Japan's best papers offer offer their daily news online in English ( (in spite of its name, Japan Times Weekly provides daily, online updates). They're a great place to visit if you want to know what's news in Japan (or if you just happen to miss being there).

Byun Byun shinkansen Site
Schauweckers Guide (Trains)

Okay, I will confess that I have become completely enamored with Japan's rail system. For fellow shinkansen fans, Dave Fossett's Byun Byun shinkansen site is the best that's out there.

The bullet trains may be the most glamorous stars of Japanese railways, but I've fallen in love with the entire cast. This page on Schauweckers Guide (mentioned above) has a great list of links and information about Japan's rail system, past present and future.

J!-ENT: Japanese Entertainment in English

Hooked on Japanese dramas (dorama), pop music or fashion? This is the site to visit.

Noritake Visitor's Center

Information (in English) about Noritake and tourning the Craft Center in Najoya.


If you find any absolutely great sites worth listing, drop me a line and I will include them.




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