Arashiyama in Autumn

Sitting on the west side of Kyoto, the Arashiyama area is renowned for its mountain scenery, Togetsukyo wooden bridge, vast bamboo grove, and the World Heritage-listed Tenryuji temple.  It is particularly popular in the autumn, when the turning leaves render the mountains even more beautiful. To really enjoy the season, we recommend starting your day … Continue reading Arashiyama in Autumn

Autumn Enlightenment at Kyoto’s Chion-in temple

Japan has a well-deserved reputation for the colorful splendor of its autumn leaves.  The only challenge to enjoying them is figuring out where to go to do so.  The mountainsides in many areas become a riot of color that can be enjoyed by hikes on well-groomed trails.  There are also the many magnificent gardens.  And … Continue reading Autumn Enlightenment at Kyoto’s Chion-in temple

Usa Jingu: the original Hachiman shrine

There are more than 40,000 shrines across Japan that are specifically dedicated to Hachiman, the guardian god of warriors. Usa Jingu in northern Oita Prefecture is widely regarded as the oldest such shrine, with all the rest mere satellites of this parent. Hachiman is a posthumous deification of the 15th Japanese emperor, Ojin (201-312). There … Continue reading Usa Jingu: the original Hachiman shrine

Kanamaruza: the historic Kabuki theater of Kotohira

I recently blogged about Kabuki, one of Japan's more modern performing arts.  Kabuki is highly entertaining wherever it is performed, but it is often said that there is nothing like seeing a Kabuki play performed in an historical theater in order to truly get the feel of the art. The trouble is, there aren't that … Continue reading Kanamaruza: the historic Kabuki theater of Kotohira

Kabuki: Japan’s historic theatre art

Japan has many great traditional performing arts, some with over a thousand years of history.  Perhaps the best known of these is kabuki, a form of theatre developed "only" about 400 years ago.  The plays involved relate-able stories, elaborate costumes and clever staging, making kabuki immediately popular across all social classes (must to the displeasure … Continue reading Kabuki: Japan’s historic theatre art

The Old Shinohara Family Home: glimpse into the lives of Meiji Period merchants

The Shinohara family of Utsunomiya were a long-established mercantile family and a visit to their beautifully-preserved home, just minutes from Utsunomiya, offers insights into how successful merchants lived, as well as into the architectural styles of late 19th century Japan.  As one might expect of a large family home in this area, it is faced … Continue reading The Old Shinohara Family Home: glimpse into the lives of Meiji Period merchants

Tokamachi City Museum – great on a rainy day, or when the sun shines

A few months ago I visited the Niigata town of Tokamachi with the intention of attending a local festival.  Alas, the festival was rained out and it seemed there wasn't much to do after checking out the intriguing sculptures on the high street. Fortunately, I found that Tokamachi has a wonderful city museum that proved … Continue reading Tokamachi City Museum – great on a rainy day, or when the sun shines