The snowy peak of Mt Fuji. The flashing lights of Shinjuku, Tokyo. Quiet temples, secluded gardens, geisha and blaring pachinko arcade games. The highlights of Japan include her traditions and customs as much as her places to visit and things to do.
Kamakura. It’s one of those words I’d never heard until I went to Yokote in north Japan.
Snow was falling as I arrived in the city, 260 miles from Tokyo. Softly at first, like…
Tendrils of smoke curl and float past scarlet pillars. Fingers fold white paper into prayers. Heads bow, hands wash in water, and the soft, sonorous chime of a gong, flecked with gold, reverberates through the crowd.
This is the Asakusa Shrine, or Sanja-Sama (the shrine of the three gods,) in the heart of pulsing Tokyo. And right around the corner, I found worship of a different kind.
Heads bowed, sirens blazing, flickering lights in fuchsia and fluorescence.
This is the whir and buzz, the whizz and blaze of Pachinko: a Japanese pinball arcade where silence is forbidden and tranquillity long since forgotten.
Visiting the Stunning Reed Flute Caves in Guilin China It’s amazing what you can do with a little rock, water and patience. Well, a little water, a lot of rock and all the patience in the world, I suppose. Plenty of places talk about the caves they have but few have managed to entice […]
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China Odyssey Tours in Review Should you travel independently in China? Or is it worth booking a tour? That’s a big question when it comes to travel in China, and I’ve done it both ways now. In a way, it’s a question that arises every time you travel but China does present certain challenges […]
In many a culture, the lusciousness of a woman’s locks says something about her status. Kate Middleton’s hairdresser arrived a good five hours before Kate ventured outside holding the third king in waiting of England. And the symbolic photo of US pop princess Britney Spears’ meltdown involved her hair, or lack of it. After hairdressing […]
Visiting Gunkanjima The Japanese call it Gunkanjima. But Bond knew it as the base camp for Silva, his archenemy in the latest Blockbuster Skyfall. Pitched a good half hour boat ride from the city of Nagasaki, this eery, derelict enclave once served as a workplace, playground and home to a community of Mitsubishi coal miners. […]
The Ibusuki Sand Bath is a ritual in Kyushu, building on the idea of the traditional onsen and making the most of all that volcanic sand. Here’s a look at what it’s like to have the sand bath and how you can do it yourself. Shovels at the ready? It’s time to sweat…The Ibusuki Sand […]
Nagasaki survivors: One of the most moving moments of my time in Japan, if not my life altogether, was speaking with a survivor of the Nagasaki atom bomb drop that took place in 1945. Shimohira Sakue was a child at a time. Meeting a Nagasaki Nuclear Bomb Survivor I met Shimohira Sakue in the foyer of […]
Whenever I feel the cold breath of winter on my neck as autumn runs out of time, my tastebuds turn to octopus, the signature dish at…
When the US occupied the Okinawa islands in southwest Japan, they switched the rules of the road to make everyone drive on the right. These remote Yaeyama islanders did what they had always done: they let the water buffalo choose the route.
Japan has no shortage ofonsen, natural hot springs where people dip in and out of skin-scalding pools in order to soak, scrub and just relax and say ahhhhh.
Yet in Jigokudani Yaenkoen, macaque monkeys got there first.