Sanno Matsuri Parade

Sanno Matsuri is  one of the three major festivals of Tokyo, but don’t expect the millions of spectators that festivals like Sanja Matsuri have. What Sanno Matsuri lacks in attendance it makes up for in stature; it is one of the few festivals that is attended by the Emperor…sort of. In truth, the festival comes…

Eihei-ji

Eihei-ji temple is one of the head temples of the Soto Zen Buddhism sect and the temple grounds contain over 70 buildings housing up to 250 monks. Located in Fukui Prefecture, the area would not receive a lot of tourism if not for Eihei-ji’s tourist friendly policies and information. Tourists can explore much of the…

Gion

The Gion district of Kyoto, home to most of the remaining geisha (called geiko here) in Japan, is what most tourists think of when they think of Kyoto.  Though the wooden buildings have undoubtably burned down several times since the district’s birth five centuries ago, Gion emanates with history like no other place in Japan….

Hida Takayama

Hidden away in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture, Hida Takayama is probably most famous for its biannual Takayama Matsuri, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from across Japan to see one of the most amazing parades of historic floats in the entire country. The next festival takes place in April 2017, giving you some…

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…

Lakes Sayama and Tama

Located just outside of Northwest Tokyo in Saitama, these two lakes are reservoirs for the Tokyo area water system, but the areas around them are wooded rolling hills full of hiking and biking trails. On the north side of the lake sits the Seibu Dome, home of the Seibu Lions baseball team. On warm days,…

Enoshima Electric Railway

For train lovers visiting the Kamakura or Enoshima area southwest of Yokohama, the Enoshima Electric railway is a destination in itself. Rumbling mere feet between old homes, past ancient temples and along a beautiful stretch of Sagami Bay, this 115-year-old line is a throwback to the days when the ride itself was the destination. The line…

Old vs. New

The dichotomy of Japan’s attempt to maintain centuries-old traditions while staying on the cutting edge of the modern world is most striking in its architecture. Tokyo has ancient shrines and historic gardens resting in the shadows of skyscrapers dozens of stories tall. In Ginza, a small shop built over 100 years earlier is literally sandwiched…

川越 Kawagoe (Saitama)

The city of Kawagoe is barely half an hour from central Tokyo by express train, but it feels like you have traveled back in time when you arrive there. While Tokyo experienced fires and bombings that destroyed many of its ancient buildings, Kawagoe was spared from bombing during WW2 and before that, made some decisions that helped…

南禅寺 Nanzenji (Kyoto)

Nanzenji is one of Kyoto’s most beautiful temples, in the foothills on the eastern side of the city. However, one can’t help but notice the large brick structure that cuts through the temple grounds. The structure is an aqueduct built to carry water and goods to the people of the neighboring Shiga prefecture. Though the…