In 1842, Tokugawa Nariaki (1800-1860), ninth lord of the Mito Domain (north and central part of modern day Ibaraki Prefecture) created a pleasure garden for the enjoyment of his people. His garden, situated on a hillside above Lake Senba, a natural lake forming a defensive boundary on one side of his capital city, was dubbed … Continue reading Kairakuen: Plum Perfect Pleasure
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.)
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
I recently enjoyed a lesson in yabusame, Japan's traditional horseback archery. What an interesting sport! What fun! Read about it in this article in All About Japan.
"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
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
Not long ago when speaking to a friend in Korea I mentioned that I was going to be visiting Ibaraki Prefecture for a few days. "Oh," she exclaimed. "You'll eat well. Ibaraki is famous for good food." Indeed, I soon discovered that one eats very well in Ibaraki. Famous Fish: Ayu and Anko My first … Continue reading Eating well in Ibaraki
The eleventh anniversary of the triple disaster in Tohoku is soon, making this look at the hard-hit Rikuzen Coast timely. The scars of the disaster are everywhere, but this is still a good spot to visit. (Archived article – Originally published by Japan Today.)
Mizusawa-dera is nestled in the foothills above the Gunma town of Shibukawa. The temple is known for its statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. This statue has eleven heads and a thousand arms, so that she can hear all prayers and reach out to help those who need it. Although many of the … Continue reading Mizusawa-dera and the Kannon who rescued a princess
Manazuru is a small seaside community in Kanagawa Prefecture. Many travelers from Tokyo bound for Atami or the Izu Peninsula pass along its picturesque coastline, but neglect to stop. Until recently, I was guilty of the same neglect. But now I have had the chance to learn a bit more about the place. Like many … Continue reading Mining and ministrations in Manazuru
During my last visit to Kumamoto Prefecture, I spent a bit of time acquiring some samurai skills, an experience I shared in this article in All About Japan.
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