Simultaneously modern and traditional, with a culture that can take you into the future or deep into the past, the Land of the Rising Sun is truly in a class by itself.

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6 enchanting destinations not to miss in Japan

    The Land of Rising endlessly fascinating, with its bamboo forests, serene temples, neon arcades, futuristic skyscrapers, and exquisite cuisine - not to mention ultra-polite people. A fascinating mix of highly traditional and cutting-edge modern, it's on many travelers' bucket lists. But with so much too see, where should you head to make the most out of your visit?   read post  

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Summer In Kawagoe, Japan's "Little Edo" City

From June 30 to July 10, visitors to the lovely "Little Edo" city Kawagoe (population a bit over 353,000) just a half hour north of Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture, can experience Chinowa Kuguri. This Shinto ritual, held at Kawagoe Hachimangu Shrine, began in the early Edo period (1603-1867) with the intention of warding off plagues and promoting disease-free breathing. A perfect event for an era with Covid, the liturgy, also known as Nagoshi no Harae ("summer passing purification…

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2 great Japanese evening "light-up" events in autumn 2021

In Japan's Nikko and Kinugawa-onsen areas, two hours north of Tokyo along the Tobu Railway Nikko and Kinugawa lines, special moon-viewing festivities with light-ups are being held from September through November. There is a Japanese expression, "aki no yonaga," which means "long autumn night." This year, despite the pandemic, two popular celebratory light-up events held annually are illuminating the autumn evenings in the Nikko-Kinugawa region, along Tobu Railway's Nikko and Kinugawa lines.…

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  • In its look at best foliage destinations outside the USA, the Wall Street Journal cites Nikko National Park, two hours from Tokyo:
    New England, New Schmengland! Where to Find the Most Stunning Fall Foliage Outside the U.S.
    Would you fly overseas to do some world-class leaf-peeping? Before you answer, consider these six dazzling destinations—and factor in post-hike hot-s…
  • Hot off the presses: as of just eight months ago, visitors to Tokyo have an entertaining (and interactive!) chance for a look at traditional Japanese sumo wrestling:
  • Find out why CNN Travel recently included Naoshima Island, in the southwest of the country, on its list of top spots to visit in 2023:
  • Japan doesn't spring to mind when you think top ski destination, but parts of this country are quite mountainous, and in fact there are a number of world-class ski resorts (remember the 1998 Winter Olympics were held in Nagano). Recently I caught a BBC Travel piece about one of the lesser known ones and why it's so spectacular, off Hokkaido's northwest point on the remote island of Rishiri:
    The Floating Mountain: Japan's most remote ski destination
    Buffeted by wild winds and blanketed in deep powdery snow throughout winter, the remote island of Rishiri off Japan's north-western tip is a self-pow…
  • Japan is packed with enough amazing destinations for a lifetime of travel, but after experiencing some of the "A-list" musts, visitors who want to delve into lesser known places like Nikko, recently featured in in CNN Travel's look at a dozen and a half under-the-radar gems in Asia:
  • The world's newest theme park has opened east of Nagoya City - by train, less than two hours north of Tokyo and less than an hour from Osaka and Kyoto. But Ghibli Park is fairly narrow in its focus on the animated movies and series of Ghibli Studios, and it has no rides, but is rather a 17½-acre indoor indoor "town" filled with streets, exhibits and famous scenes from Studio Ghibli's films including Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and Castle in the Sky.
  • I remember when visiting Japan many years ago our tour group was treated to a greatly abridged version of the traditional "way of tea" ceremony, which normally can last hours. On its website the Japanese tourism board has a concise description of what goes on and what the ceremony's background is:
    Japanese Tea Ceremony | Guide | Travel Japan (Japan National Tourism Organization)
    Originating in China, the tea ceremony has become part of Japanese culture. The ritual elevates hospitality to an art, with its roots in Zen Buddhism.
  • Came across an interesting item about an off-the-beaten track region and city, both called Kochi, on the second smallest of Japan's four main islands, Shikoku. (south of the western end of Honshu), with plenty of eco/adventure travel options, water sports, authentic regional cuisine, and historic sites. Check it out!
    4 reasons to visit Kochi, a lesser known part of Japan, once Japan relaxes travel restrictions
    A hidden gem in Japan.
  • After more than two years of closing it borders to most visitors Japan is finally opening up:
    Japan opens up to foreign tourists after two years
    Visitors from 98 countries will be allowed to enter, but some restrictions still remain.
  • If yhou love sushi, you'll be interested in this BBC Travel article about its fermented ancestor funazushi, still kept alive in a handful of places in Japan:
    Funazushi: The fermented predecessor of modern sushi
    For the past 18 generations, one family has preserved a 400-year-old recipe showing how sushi once tasted, and it doesn't use raw seafood, but fish a…
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