Manhole Monday: Nagasaki

I'll close out the run of posts on Nagasaki with the city's manhole cover. Nagasaki is known for a number of things - its trade ties, its mix of culinary styles, its sad history as a target of the second atomic bomb. And yet here is what the drain cover looks like: That's right. Hydrangea.... Continue Reading →

Spotlight: Dutch Trading Post (Hirado)

If you're familiar with Japanese history, you might know that Japan was essentially a closed nation from the early 1600s until the mid-1850s. The only contact with the outside world was through the Dutch trading post on the fan-shaped island of Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor. What most people don't realize, however, is that Dejima wasn't... Continue Reading →

Spotlight: Dejima (Nagasaki)

It might seem hard to believe today, but Japan was once closed off to the world. Between the 1630s and 1868, the Tokugawa Shogunate essentially followed a closed-door policy - no one in, and no one out. Foreigners entering the country were strictly punished and even killed and Japanese who left were never permitted to return home... Continue Reading →

Manhole Monday: Shizuoka

This post is part of a series on artistic manhole covers around Japan. It's Mt Fuji climbing season again. The trails opened around the first of July and each day, hundreds of hikers tackle Japan's sacred peak. I'll post a bit more on how to do the actual climb in another entry but for this... Continue Reading →

Crash Course: The Tokugawa Shogun(s)

Quick - name a Japanese historical figure. (And no, Ken Watanabe's character in The Last Samurai does NOT count.) Chances are one of two names comes to mind - Emperor Meiji, the man who oversaw Japan's emergence as a modern power, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the samurai who fought to unite Japan and ushered in an... Continue Reading →

5 Faves: Specialty Travel Guides

I must confess, I am a guidebook junkie. Some people smoke, some people imbibe their daily Starbucks. Me? I line my shelves with the likes of Lonely Planet and her kin. If you want to get under a country's skin, however, you'll need to look beyond the general guidebook market (Frommers, Fodors, Rough Guides, etc) and... Continue Reading →

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