Japan has been called "the land of the gods" because of its many gods, mostly associated with the Shinto religion. Perhaps one of the most popular, or best known, among these is Inari, a god believed to be dedicated to meeting such basic human needs as food, clothing, and shelter. As a god of food, … Continue reading Yutoku Inari Shrine: Kyushu’s largest shrine dedicated to the god of basic human needs
Island Hopping from Korea to Japan: A Journey Across Water and Time
This article in Go Nomad Travel magazine describes a ferry journey across the Tsushima Straits, island hopping from Korea to Kyushu. Lots of interesting things to see, do, and experience! (Archived article originally published in Go Nomad Travel.)
Chinkokuji: preserving part of Kukai’s legacy
It was a dark and stormy night. A young Buddhist monk named Kukai was aboard one of four ships crossing the East China Sea from Kyushu to Tang China, fearing, as did all aboard, for his life. He prayed for rescue to Munakata Omikami, a goddess of the sea, and also invoked the help of … Continue reading Chinkokuji: preserving part of Kukai’s legacy
Japan’s border islands of Tsushima and Iki offer simpler, slower pace of life
This article in Japan Today describes things to see and do on the border islands of Tsushima and Iki, closer to Korea than to the Japanese mainland with history to match their location. (Archived article published in Japan Today.)
Kikuchi Castle: an ancient mountain fortress
Seventh century Japan wasn't yet a nation-state, but neither were any of its Asian neighbors. Nonetheless, the most powerful of the various groups on the Japanese archipelago, the Yamato, had regular trade and cultural exchanges with its counterparts on the Korean Peninsula, especially the kingdom of Baekche (southwestern quadrant of the peninsula). So when the … Continue reading Kikuchi Castle: an ancient mountain fortress
Ondako: a curious symbol for an historical island
The island of Iki sits in the Tsushima Strait, about halfway between the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula and the northwestern shore of Kyushu island. Given its position, it has seen a lot of historical events. Iki was once commonly known as Onigashima (Ogre Island) thanks to a legend that a band of ogres … Continue reading Ondako: a curious symbol for an historical island
Suizenji Garden: one of the finest of Japan’s feudal samurai strolling gardens
This travel article for Japan Today visits Suizenji Jojuen, a traditional samurai strolling garden of the feudal age and an absolute must-see for visitors to Kumamoto. (Archived article in Japan Today.)
Zwinger: A Palace for Porcelains
Augustus the Strong (1670-1733), Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, was an ambitious man who sought to surround himself in the trappings of wealth and power. Perhaps for this reason, he became an avid collector of porcelains from China and Japan, precious and rare in Europe at the end of the seventeenth century, a … Continue reading Zwinger: A Palace for Porcelains
Yoshinogari: Fascinating park of Japan’s prehistoric society
My June 2022 article for Japan Today explores the Yoshinogari archaeological site, at which some structures have been reconstructed based on the archaeological record. Truly a fascinating place. (Archived article in Japan Today)
How I Learned to Wield a Samurai Sword
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.
Kumamoto Castle: rising from the rubble
In 1994 I planned a three week journey from Tokyo to Kagoshima with a friend who was a Japan neophyte. I included in the itinerary several of Japan’s castles. When my friend saw the itinerary, he scoffed saying, “I’ve seen plenty of castles in Europe; I don’t need to see more castles.” Nevertheless, I left … Continue reading Kumamoto Castle: rising from the rubble
Kujukushima – how many pretty little islands?
Kujukushima Bay in Nagasaki Prefecture is both a popular recreation/sightseeing spot and a thriving fishing port especially known for its pearl farming and oyster production. Although "Kujukushima" literally means "99 islands", there are actually 208 islands in the bay not to mention a number of rocky outcrops that don't meet the technical definition of island. … Continue reading Kujukushima – how many pretty little islands?