Saitobaru: A Walk in Miyazaki’s “Valley of the Kings”

Sitting on a plateau above the Hitotsuse River valley in central Miyazaki Prefecture is a 58 hectare site covered in tumuli, the kofun burial mounds of the period from the second century to the seventh century AD, a period in Japanese history known as the "Kofun Period" because of this practice.  There are at least … Continue reading Saitobaru: A Walk in Miyazaki’s “Valley of the Kings”

Gunkanjima: an abandoned coal mining town like no other

Students of Japan's modern industrial history may have heard of Gunkanjima.  Fans of James Bond movies may recognize it as villain Raoul Silva's abandoned island hideout in Skyfall. Whatever it is, it sure is different! Gunkanjima's real name is Hashima.  Coal was discovered on Hashima, a rocky outcrop some 4.5 kilometers west of Nagasaki Peninsula, … Continue reading Gunkanjima: an abandoned coal mining town like no other

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