Niche Blogs

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:

How to be heian

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

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.
drivers seat

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

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.
Gaijin tonic
Gaijin Tonic treats as its subject everything related to alcohol in Japan. There are good posts on Japanese drinking games, an Alcatraz-themed restaurant, and Tokyo’s Top Ten Weird Watering Holes.” It’s all written with humor and style, and never gets old.
Japanese law blog
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.
Daily Fuji

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.
kyushoku

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.

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10 Responses to “Niche Blogs”

  1. shibuya246 Says:

    Very nice collection of niche blogs you have put together. There are about 300 Japan related blogs at http://bloglinkjapan.com showing daily updates of blog posts, which is where I saw your post from.

    Some of the ones you mentioned above may need adding.

  2. moritheil Says:

    It’s interesting that the law is progressing so far. I wonder if popular attitudes are likewise progressing.

  3. Tornadoes28 Says:

    Thank you for the plug. I’ve been on a Samurai movie watching kick recently but I plan to post some more about Japanese history.

  4. vm Says:

    So great to see what people are passionate about. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Joshua Zimmerman Says:

    Well good thing I just came in from taking a photo… seriously.

    Fuji looks great today. Lots of snow from yesterday’s rain.

    Thanks for reading!

  6. Mike Says:

    Great post! I really like your own content and it was nice to see some other quirky and niche blogs introduced here :) I have a quirky section on my own Japan site, but it can’t complete with all the fantastic information you’ve amassed! I’ve referred to your Quirky Japan Homepage several times before looking for places off the beaten track. Great stuff ^^

  7. The Envoy Says:

    Interesting lists. I’ll have a look through them.

  8. jcg03002 Says:

    Thank you for the plug. I’ve been getting back into some of the more obscure Heian diaries recently, and will have to post about it.

  9. Peko Peko Says:

    How to be Heian is one of the most clever and interesting Japan blogs that I have come across. Glad you like it too!

  10. Tokyo Catalog Says:

    Great collection for me to go and check out, thanks for sharing!


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