The Beautiful Red-Crowned Cranes of Hokkaido

My first encounter with a red-crowned crane was many, many years ago. I was probably around six when I first saw the Japanese folktale book, Tsuru no Ongaeshi (The Crane’s Return of Favour). In the story, a red-crowned crane is rescued from a hunter’s trap by an old man. Under the disguise of a woman, the crane visits the man and his wife to repay them for helping her. Continue reading “The Beautiful Red-Crowned Cranes of Hokkaido”

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Into the Wild: Akan-Mashu National Park

From the air, the first thing I noticed as we glided over the sea, past the coastline and descended towards the runway, was the vast forest that carpeted the land below. There were virtually no other buildings around the tiny Kushiro Airport. We stepped off the plane, and filled our lungs with Hokkaido’s fresh summer air. Continue reading “Into the Wild: Akan-Mashu National Park”

Summertime at the Fairytale Village of Shirakawa-go

It was a typical August day. The sound of cicadas filled the air and it was hot and humid like the build up to a summer storm. Only, I was not in Tokyo, or even remotely near any city for that matter. I had found myself deep in the mountains of northern Gifu Prefecture, at a place that very much looked straight out of a fairytale.  Continue reading “Summertime at the Fairytale Village of Shirakawa-go”

Summer Bliss at the Izu Peninsula

The Izu Peninsula was beyond anything I had ever imagined. For most people in Japan, Izu is synonymous with beaches and onsens. It’s a popular weekend trip from Tokyo, but I’d only been to the area once before, to see the early-blooming cherry blossoms in Kawazu. Continue reading “Summer Bliss at the Izu Peninsula”

The Mighty Gion Matsuri

It’s festival season! For enduring the hot summer months in Japan, we are rewarded with dozens and dozens of exciting festivals… traditional street festivals, lantern festivals, obon dance festivals, fireworks festivals, awa dance festivals, you name it!  Continue reading “The Mighty Gion Matsuri”

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!

Last year, I went on a massive hydrangea hunt around Tokyo. The highlight was a little place in the middle of nowhere that I found advertised on a local Japanese website. Continue reading “Ajisai-Yashiki: A Spectacular Hydrangea Garden in Chiba”