A visit to my neighbor, Totoro

No one loves Totoro more than the Japanese themselves. The warm-hearted movie has inspired the nation to recreate his image in countless forms: mailboxes, pastries, children’s clothes; you name it and there is a Totoro version.



On Christmas I saw a man dressed as Totoro driving around Tokyo with a Christmas tree attached to his motorbike decorated with objects from the movie.

Little kids sing the theme song while walking down the road.

Middle aged men and women carry Totoro keychains attached to their briefcases.

He is well loved.

You can gather that love and maybe a few acorns too and pay him a visit in Tokyo’s neighboring prefecture, Saitama.

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Kawagoe: Little Edo and Candy Alley

In early spring I visited Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture. It is lovingly referred to by locals as Ko-Edo, or Little Edo. There you will find streets lined with warehouses and stores constructed during the Edo period. These stores are still open, bustling with tourists who want a nostalgic glimpse into an era past.

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Going to the dentist in Tokyo

Japan is notorious for painful dental care. I was not looking forward to my visit, even though it was a simple teeth cleaning.

After poking around a few dentists’ websites, with the help of a Japanese teacher I was able to find an English speaking dentist. Many advertise they have English speakers, but on the ground experience is teaching me that people lie about their ability.

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