Ajisai-Yashiki: A Spectacular Hydrangea Garden in Chiba

The rainy season in Tokyo typically kicks off in the first week of June, bringing about 20 days of rain in one month. The humidity is a killer but along with the rain, comes one of my favourite flowers: hydrangeas! Continue reading “Ajisai-Yashiki: A Spectacular Hydrangea Garden in Chiba”

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Southern Kyushu: Shrines, Volcanoes and Unusual Sea Views

The Golden Week holiday in Japan is the perfect time to get out of the city and explore the country. A few years ago, I spent early May on a road trip around Kyushu, Japan’s southern main island. I was lucky to have the trip planned for me, but that also meant I had no idea what sights we were going to see. I’m usually the one planning, so it was nice to just sit back in the passenger seat and enjoy the ride… I was in for a lot of unexpected sights. Continue reading “Southern Kyushu: Shrines, Volcanoes and Unusual Sea Views”

Spring Day Trips from Tokyo

After the whirlwind cherry blossom season has swept across Tokyo, leaving only fond memories of streets blanketed in pink and perhaps a throbbing head from one too many drunken hanami parties, we remember that a world does indeed exist outside of our beloved city. Continue reading “Spring Day Trips from Tokyo”

Nagoya Castle: My First Spring in Japan

I’ll always look back on Nagoya as being a safe haven.

Last week was the 7th anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake. The events that unfolded back on March 11, 2011 are just insane. An intense jolt in the ocean bed not only triggered a 9.0mag quake that shifted the Earth’s axis, but caused a 40m high tsunami, an endless string of powerful aftershocks, the meltdown of the coastal Fukushima nuclear power plant and the loss of tens of thousands of human and animal lives. Continue reading “Nagoya Castle: My First Spring in Japan”

Starting a Goshuincho at the Wedded Rocks

On the seashore not far from Japan’s most important Shinto shrine, is a cluster of towering rocks. Rising from the water like giant sea monsters, two rocks in particular stand out. Connected by thick, braided straw ropes, they represent a husband and wife couple, bound together till the end of time. In fact, these sacred monuments are said to be Izanagi and Izanami, the gods who created Japan. They have sat here for centuries watching over their land and people.

Continue reading “Starting a Goshuincho at the Wedded Rocks”

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. I’ve only had this experience once before – at Kurokawa Onsen in Kyushu. For another onsen to top that one, it would have to have something extraordinary. Continue reading “Winter Paradise at Takaragawa Onsen”