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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Two Days in Kyoto

Ahh, Kyoto.

Who doesn’t dream of visiting Kyoto while in Japan, especially during cherry blossom season? For me, this was my number one city to visit while living in Tokyo. I imagined this quaint city of wandering streets, of temples and geishas- a city known for its traditional elements. Tea ceremony and kimonos. Quiet reflection under the cherry trees. You know, a Japanese postcard.

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Jizo and Hiking Mount Misen

One of the most ubiquitous features of any Japanese shrine is the round-headed stone statue clothed in a knit red bib, hat, and soft smile.

They are the guardians of travelers, saviors of unborn children, and all around good guy spirits.

And they are everywhere: from shrines to cemeteries to hiking paths high on a mountaintop.

They are jizo.

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