Christmas Comes to the Westin

It’s Christmas Eve! This month, I went on a search for the best Christmas decorations in Tokyo. We all know Japan’s winter lights, called illuminations in Japanese, are outstanding, but they don’t have much to do with December 25th. I didn’t come across any nativity scenes but I did find one enchanting display in Ebisu. Continue reading “Christmas Comes to the Westin”

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Some No Komichi: Tokyo’s Colourful Festival

Despite being just a short 10-minute train ride north from Shinjuku, the area of Nakai and Ochiai couldn’t be more opposite to Tokyo’s red light district. While Shinjuku Station—the busiest station in the world—is surrounded by towering neon lights, packed bars and 24-hour entertainment, the northern part of Shinjuku Ward is desperately trying to hang onto its roots. Continue reading “Some No Komichi: Tokyo’s Colourful Festival”

Winter Paradise at Takaragawa Onsen

Being the volcanically-active country it is, Japan is teeming with natural hot springs. Though these onsen are everywhere from cities to the seaside, the best ones are always found in the mountains, in my opinion. There are few things more relaxing than soaking in an outdoor onsen (rotenburo) alongside a river in the middle of a forest. Continue reading “Winter Paradise at Takaragawa Onsen”

Setagaya in the Snow

The entire country, bar the subtropical Okinawan islands, has entered a deep freeze this week. On Monday, a snowstorm swept across Honshu, and Tokyo welcomed its first heavy snowfall since the “snowpocalypse” of 2014. It usually snows only a few days a year, and rarely enough each time to accumulate on the ground. Continue reading “Setagaya in the Snow”

The Monkeys of Hell Valley

With their gentle pink faces and thick fluffy coats, the snow monkeys have to be one of the cutest wild animals in Japan. I’ve encountered Japanese macaques in a few different areas – Kamikochi, Tateyama, Kyoto – but nowhere is comparable to seeing them at Jigokudani Yaen-koen. Continue reading “The Monkeys of Hell Valley”