Hokan, male geisha

Hōkan, an Endangered Species of Entertainer – 1/2

As a magazine editor and writer, I sometimes have the opportunity to meet people in unusual professions. For example, “幇間 (Hōkan).” And many of you will probably ask “How do you read that?” The answer is “hokan.” Another name for this profession is “taikomochi.” Hōkan is difficult to translate into English, the best is perhaps “raconteur,” a French word that has come into English. The difference between the two is that a raconteur is mainly a story teller, whereas a hōkan also sings, dances and actively engages his audience in games and word play. Hōkan are entertainers just like geisha or rakugoka (a traditional Japanese story teller), but currently there…

September 2020 Trip – Touring Kyoto and “Sanbi”

On September 19, 2020, in the midst of the raging Corona pandemic my wife and I set out on a trip my wife had made reservations for a few months earlier. After leaving Shinyokohama on a Shinkansen train we arrived in Kyoto about two hours later. A bus from the station took us to Fushimiinari. From there to Kiyomizu-dera Temple only to find out it was partially closed for renovation! We got in, but unfortunately could not get on the butai (stage). Then a walk to Yasaka Shrine, Nanzenji Temple and Ginkakuji Temple – Ginkakuji Temple was terrific and then finally to our hotel Kyokoyado Muromachi Yutone for the night….

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KittyLoaf, Sideways Kitty Loaf & Curled Up Kitty

Video on Making Funny Clay Cats – Curled up Cat

We have now posted our fifth video lesson of how to make clay cats. When it is cold, cats curl up like snakes to keep warm. This video will explain how to make a cat in that position. So how do you create a curled up cat? The most important thing is to start with the right shape. Start by forming a lump of clay into a baseball-like shape. Next, use a spatula to remove one fourth of the clay. Use the clay you removed to make the head of the cat. For the rest of the instructions, click the link below to watch our YouTube channel. The close resemblance…

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Mastering Season Words – Haiku, a form of Japanese short poetry

I have just become a member of a Haiku society. I have long had a smouldering interest in haiku, but while I could read and understand some, there were others I could not make head or tail of. To me it seemed a hard to understand and unapproachable subject. However, when my mother-in-law no longer was able to attend her haiku society, the organizer suggested that I should take her place. Mustering up courage, I decided to give it a try.“Until our next meeting, please compose three haiku. If you are not able to attend our next meeting, you can submit your haiku by FAX.” the organizer kindly told us….

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Cat loaf & Sideways cat loaf

How To Make Funny Clay Cats: Cat Loaf / Kitty Loaf

COVID-19 shows no signs of abating and care is required every time we venture outdoors. At times such as these, what would be a better idea than spending some stress-free time with your children watching how to make clay cats on YouTube (^^)? During the coronavirus outbreak, we created a number of videos where Ms. Risa Takahashi shows us how to make clay cats. Editing the videos took time, but we have now posted video lessons 3 and 4 on YouTube. These videos were shot in mid-September and the crying of cicadas from the large park nearby her studio could not be kept out of the recording. This was especially…

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A Yukata Stroll around Kawagoe

Kawagoe City in Saitama Prefecture is also called “Koedo” or “little Edo” from its resemblance to Edo as Tokyo was known as before the Meiji period. The streets are lined with ancient merchant warehouses giving the city the atmosphere of Tokugawa period Japan. Even so the warehouses are interspersed with smart cafés and chic boutiques to make your walk even more interesting. In Kawagoe, you can rent a yukata, footwear and other gear and there is even a service that will help you to put them on. Thus even if you come unprepared, you can easily and quickly slip into more time-appropriate wear to enjoy the sites.   A short…

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