Celebrating Spring at Lake Suwa

This article introduces leisure and sightseeing at Lake Suwa, Nagano's largest lake. It also describes the Suwa Grand Shrines, their history and their major festival, the Onbashira Festival, which takes place in April and May every six years (including in 2022). (Archived article – Originally published by Japan Today.)

Ichinomiya: an historic hilltop in Tomioka

These days, Gunma's Tomioka is best known as the site of the World Heritage-listed silk reeling factory, Japan's first modern production facility. But it has more ancient roots and more modern history as well. Some of this can be found on a hilltop about a 10 minute walk from Joshu-Ichinomiya Station. Nukisaki Shrine: Nearly fifteen … Continue reading Ichinomiya: an historic hilltop in Tomioka

Kumejima’s Hate-no-hama: site of a 19th century shipwreck

"I caution all masters of vessels to give a good berth to the Loo Choo Islands, as several coral reefs are now known to exist, and I suspect many more whose places are not noted in any charts." So wrote Captain William J.S. Clark (some sources say "Clarke"), master of the Elizabeth and Henry, from Shanghai on 20 … Continue reading Kumejima’s Hate-no-hama: site of a 19th century shipwreck

Yajiyagama Cave: telling geologic time and human history

Okinawa, Japan's 47th prefecture, is different and distinctive from the Japanese mainland in myriad ways relating to its location and geology as well as its people and their unique cultural history. A surprising place to explore some of those differences is Yajiyagama Cave on Kumejima island, about 100 kilometers west of Naha. Yajiyagama, once the … Continue reading Yajiyagama Cave: telling geologic time and human history

Traditional sake brewing is best in winter

Traditionally, sake is brewed in winter. This isn't just because the process begins shortly after rice is harvested. Rather, it's because the fermentation process works best at constant cool temperatures (ie, below 15C). Perhaps for this reason, the Japan's snowy Tohoku region is thought to produce some of the best sake in the country. A … Continue reading Traditional sake brewing is best in winter