Shirakawa-Go

Shirakawa village in the northwest part of Gifu prefecture is literally frozen in time thanks to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The houses of the village are built in a traditional gasshō-zukuri style, resembling an A-frame with a very thick thatched roof. This roof insulates the house from the cold winters and nights…

Hokan-ji (Yasaka Pagoda)

In the early morning and late evening hours around Hokan-ji in eastern Kyoto, the streets are nearly deserted and you can enjoy a magical moment of alone time with this six centuries-old pagoda. Sitting on a sloped narrow stone path, this historic pagoda is mostly surrounded by traditional wooden shops and residences. At one time the pagoda…

Kanazawa

Kanazawa sits on the nearly forgotten west coast of Japan, the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. Kanazawa has a rich history and a strong bond with traditional Japanese culture, so it is no surprise that Kenryokuen, considered one of the three finest Japanese gardens, is in this city. Tsuzumimon, a huge gate built to resemble traditional…

Roppongi Hills

One of the original monuments to the redevelopment of the once seedy Roppongi area of Tokyo, Roppongi Hills opened in 2003 as an “integrated development” of residential, commercial and business space. Though it was designed as a place where residents can live, work and play in the same space, the truth is only the extremely…

Walk The Rainbow Bridge

Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge connects the artificially-made island of Odaiba with the rest of the city and is used not only by vehicles and a monorail, but by foot traffic as well. The 30 minute walk on a nice day or evening affords spectacular views: the Tokyo skyline on the north side and the modern buildings of Odaiba on…

Omotesando Dori

For a taste of unique modern architecture and luxury boutiques, stroll down stately Omotesando Dori. Start or end at Omotesando station at one end and Meiji Jingu-mae station at the other. Weekends, the sidewalks are packed with people but you can also enjoy an excellent used kimono outdoor market at the corner opposite Tokyu Plaza (with…

Tokyo Station Renovation

The grand old train station has been undergoing a lot of changes recently and for good reason: it celebrated its 100-year-anniversary in December 2014 and had to get dressed up nicely. The area around Tokyo Station has also seen renovation recently, the huge ultra-modern structures now standing guard over the classic beauty. The beautiful domes atop the…

Log Road Daikanyama

Singapore talent and model Esther Leong enjoys a cup of coffee from Log Road, a boutique shopping center in the trendy Daikanyama area of Tokyo. Log Road opened last year to much fanfare though it really only houses a few shops and cafes. But each is unique to Tokyo and many to Japan: LA clothier…

Fuji TV Building

Looking across Tokyo Bay at the man-made island of Odaiba, the Fuji Television building stands out even among a crowd of architectural marvels. Designed by Kenzo Tange and completed in 1997, it is the headquarters of one of Japan’s major networks. The sphere on the upper floors has a viewing deck that is open to…

Shibuya

Shibuya has been the epicenter of youth culture in Tokyo for decades, but in the next few years, expect Shibuya to do a little growing up, literally. Hikarie, from where this photo was taken, was completed in 2012 and is the first of four new skyscrapers to rise above a brand new designed Shibuya station,…