5 Faves: Day Hikes (Part 2)

This heat has me running for the hills this week. We're not breaking any records here, but I'm not ashamed to admit that my air conditioner is getting a workout. Hard as it may be to contemplate breaking a sweat in this weather, here are some worthwhile hikes around the archipelago to plan for when... Continue Reading →

5 Faves: Small Museums

Most people come to Japan for its shrines, temples and food, but if you're here, you shouldn't miss the museums. Most of the "must-sees" are mentioned in the guidebooks (ie the National Museum in Ueno) but here are a few that are far less publicized but no less worth tracking down. 1. Amuse Museum (Tokyo)... Continue Reading →

5 Faves: Japan Fiction for Adults

I have to admit, I've never read Murakami. Or Soseki. Or even Lafcadio Hearn. I know. I know. What kind of Japanophile am I? The kind that also finds authors like Steinbeck and Joyce too dense for my liking, and they wrote in my own language. I definitely enjoy a good nonfiction tome but when... Continue Reading →

5 Faves: Waterfalls

Japan's cities hold endless fascination for me, but step out of the urban sprawl and you'll find a country chock full of natural wonders. Here are some of my favorite waterfalls in Japan, a few that aren't too far off the beaten track: 1. Nabegataki Falls - It's worth venturing into the Kumamoto countryside to... Continue Reading →

5 Faves: Ema (Prayer Plaques)

In a similar vein to manhole covers, I've spent the past few years collecting pictures of ema. Ema are prayer plaques, found at nearly every shrine in the country (yes, I really DO need to get a hobby!). For a small fee, visitors can write their hopes, dreams, wishes or prayers on them and leave them... Continue Reading →

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