Friday Photo: April 2016

I feel like a broken record, but this has been a busy month. Cherry blossoms, a trip to Kumamoto, an earthquake in Kumamoto, a fresh batch of visitors, and now, Golden Week. April is always a month full of festivals and flowers, but this year, it has seemed exceptionally packed. Somehow, amidst the chaos, we... Continue Reading →

Manhole Monday: Hitoyoshi

Hitoyoshi is a small town in the southern end of Kumamoto Prefecture and, despite the distance from my home, I've actually been there twice. They have a fairly good Doll Festival (though not as impressive as Yanagawa, in my opinion) and some lovely onsen. Here's what I found beneath my feet in Hitoyoshi: The Kuma... Continue Reading →

Spotlight: Matsuyama Castle

While Japan boasts dozens of castles dotted around its islands, only twelve of them are considered "original". Of those dozen, four are located on the little-visited island of Shikoku. Matsuyama Castle (also known as Iyo-Matsuyama) is one of Japan's hilltop fortresses, perched on a peak in what is now the downtown area of the capital... Continue Reading →

Friday Photo: July 2014

Ah, the dog days of summer. Yup, it's STILL hot here. This is not my favorite time of year in Japan. The heat is one thing (temperatures have been in the high 80s and low 90s for the second half of this month) but it's the humidity that really saps you. Still, as much as... Continue Reading →

Manhole Monday: Karatsu

Though the Culture Day weekend was a bit of a bust weather-wise this year, my family and I did manage to make it up to Karatsu (about a two hour drive from our home in Kumamoto) for their annual autumn festival, the Karatsu Kunchi. The streets were packed and we had to park a good... Continue Reading →

Spotlight: Matsumoto Castle

The medieval gem of Himeji castle is currently undergoing a multi-year restoration and the remains of Edo Castle (now the Imperial Palace) aren't really all that interesting, in my opinion. So where should a traveler go for a good castle experience in Japan? Head for the hills - of Nagano Prefecture, that is - and... Continue Reading →

Family Fun: Iga Ninja Museum

Have a kid (or spouse) who can't get enough of Japan's shadowy warriors? Then make tracks to Iga City, the ancestral home of one of the country's prominent ninja clans. Iga City isn't on the beaten tourist trail - it's a good two hour journey from either Kyoto or Nagoya. But the Iga Ninja experience... Continue Reading →

Manhole Monday: Osaka

It might sound silly, but I get really excited about Japan's manhole covers. That's because over 1500 communities in Japan - ranging from tiny villages to megacities - have specially designed manhole covers that showcase what makes their town known. It's literally a piece of art beneath a traveler's feet. I hope you enjoy this bimonthly series on... Continue Reading →

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