Spotlight: Koyasan (Mt Koya)

The other weekend, I had the pleasure of making the journey into the heartland of Wakayama Prefecture to the snowy precincts of Koyasan. Koyasan, or Mt Koya, is home to a temple complex that is celebrating its 1200th year in 2015 and ranks among travelers' favorite destinations in Japan. The temples of Koyasan were founded... Continue Reading →

Spotlight: Zenko-ji Temple (Nagano)

There's plenty to do in Nagano. From skiing to snow monkeys to making your own soba, this mountainous prefecture has something for every visitor. But some of my favorite memories come from Nagano City itself, wandering the quiet streets as the light from street lanterns cast eerie shadows and the low hum of voices at... Continue Reading →

Crash Course: Shinto and Shrines

Temple? Shrine? Shrine? Temple? There are few greater perplexing questions for travelers to Japan than how on earth (or in heaven 🙂 ) to refer to the myriad religious structures dotting the landscape. The word Shinto, when translated poetically, means "the way of the gods". It's Japan's native religion, though not an exclusive one. Many Japanese claim... Continue Reading →

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