Experience: Itako Iris Festival

For most of Japan, June is the rainy season. But with the seasonal showers come the indigo blooms of irises. My favorite color being purple, I'm rather partial to these delicate flowers. There are plenty of places around Japan where one can catch a glimpse of irises in bloom but one of the best I... 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 →

Spotlight: Meiji Shrine (Tokyo)

Meiji Shrine (or Meiji Jingu) is not Japan's oldest shrine but it's one of its most beloved. Established in 1920, the shrine houses the spirits of the Emperor Meiji and his wife. Besides lending his name to a tasty chocolate bar (check your nearest Japanese convenience store), Emperor Meiji is best remembered for bringing Japan... 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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