I guess every blogger in Japan sometimes envies the Japan Probes and the Danny Choos and the millions of visitors they get. I read them and enjoy them, but sometimes I think the blogs that take the most creativity and work are the little niche blogs with a narrow focus. There are quite a few of them that I visit regularly, and I’m always surprised at how they keep coming up with so much interesting content on a narrow topic.
Today I’m profiling a few of the most interesting ones:
In How to be Heian Japanese, a blog on the bizarre customs and lifestyles of people in the Heian Period (794-1185), you’ll learn about how people were known to call off marriages if their potential partner’s calligraphy was not up to snuff, how women never cut their hair, and how courtiers all had litter boxes in their rooms.
Onsen Soaker is written by a hot spring fanatic who goes on more than a hundred bathing expeditions a year. There are tons of great hot springs here that you’ll never find in the guidebooks, and the Japanese writer always has interesting observations about them. She’s a real connoisseur and will tell you about the quality of the water, the facilities, and much more. She visits hot springs all over Japan, and provides detailed access information for all of them. My only complaint is that I can’t see the photos when I visit this site in Firefox, but it works fine in Chrome.
Japan From the Driver’s Seat is the blog of Michael Cash, an American Truck Driver living and working in Japan. The majority of his photos are taken from inside his truck, which must be an enormous challenge. Being a truck driver, he gets to a lot of places most people never see, and he has a great sense of humor.
As I see Japan…from L.A. faces what I would have thought would be an insurmountable handicap for a blogger.Since he’s not in-country the blogger posts movie and book reviews. I’m not into samurai movies, but I find his history book reviews really interesting. They’re actually closer to summaries, and he always picks out interesting things. For example, I really enjoyed this post where he writes:
However, most of these [samurai] stereotypes are not based in reality. Medieval samurai often used deception or surprise to defeat an enemy. Samurai fought not just for honor but usually for very clear rewards.
One of the biggest myths of the samurai is that the samurai sword was his primary weapon, the soul of the samurai. However, during most of samurai history, it was the bow and arrow that was the true weapon of the samurai. It is true they carried a sword but it was a back-up weapon. Similar to modern soldier whose primary weapon is a rifle but they also carry a sidearm. It was not until the 250 years of peace during Edo period under the rule of the Tokugawa shoguns where the samurai considered the sword to be their soul.
Read a few posts of the Japanese Law Blog
, and you’ll be amazed at how much Japanese society is changing. Posts about the government’s plan to allow couples to have separate surnames
, proposals to lower the voting age
, lay judges
, and changes to the organ donation laws
make you realize that there are big things afoot right now. It’s surprisingly readable without too much legalese, and I find it adds some much needed analysis to the poorly reported stories in Japan’s English dailies.
I really respect Joshua Zimmerman for getting off his butt and taking a photo of Mt. Fuji every single day (even when it’s not visible!). He takes it from a different angle every time, and some of the photos are really beautiful.
This blog about Japanese school lunches has everything you ever wanted to know about school lunches in Japan. It’s more interesting than it sounds.