Not too long ago, on sunny mornings, one could depend on the dull thwacking sounds that echoed through Tokyo’s quiet suburban neighborhoods as housewives beat the futon bedding they hung over their railings and balconies, dusting and airing it in preparation for the evening. It’s not as common a ritual these days in a place where the westernization of Japan’s culture continues to gather pace. Apartment towers with hard flooring and raised beds have mostly replaced *tatami* floor mats and traditional bedding; kimono long ago gave way to suits and sneakers; pasta restaurants and cafes are, especially among younger Japanese, more popular than sushi shops and tea houses; and I’d bet that there are many more aspiring rock stars than kabuki actors. The one constant is change. In many ways it is for the better, but it’s hard not to get nostalgic and feel some sadness about the fading of a unique culture.