Tama River

Summer Fun on the Tama River

The water was fast flowing and icy cold, the round stones on the river bed clearly visible. Tiny fish swam freely below the surface while ducks paddled by above them. On either side of the river, lush greenery overflowed the banks and the dense forest created the illusion that the rest of the world was very far…

Koenji awa odori

Dancing the Night Away

As the train doors opened at Koenji Station, a familiar sound immediately filled the air. Beating drums… whistling bamboo flutes… clanging bells… twanging shamisens… Ahhh, the sound of a Japanese summer festival! The streets of Koenji were packed with hundreds of thousands of people this weekend for one of the most famous annual events in Tokyo, the Koenji Awa Odori.…

Kakigori

Summer in Japan

A few days ago, I came back to Japan after a business trip and holiday to Australia. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, it was coming to the end of winter. Winter in Oz is fairly mild, especially in the north where I’m from. It gets a bit chilly at night, but the days are beautiful and…

Kamikochi

Kamikochi: a Summer Escape

In the middle of summer, when the concrete jungles are stifling and humid and you are barely managing to get through each day, you can either spend your weekends inside with air-conditioning… or you can leave the city and head UP! One of my favourite summer getaways to date has been to the remote Hida mountains of Nagano prefecture.…

Summer Festivals: Fuji Rock

Try to picture this: you are up in the mountains, 40 minutes from the nearest train station, in a ski resort-come-festival grounds; surrounded by forest and low-lying clouds; music beating from every direction (200 different performers over 3 days); 11 stages spread out through the valley connected by paths that lead through forests and over shallow rivers;…

Summer Festivals: Kagurazaka Awa Odori

This festival should really be called the ‘cute kids festival’. Little elementary school children packed the main street stretching between Iidabashi Station and Kagurazaka Station. Awa Odori is a dance festival, originally from Tokushima prefecture, with groups of traditional dancers and musicians. This year’s Kagurazaka Awa Odori was held over four days: July 23, 24, 25,…