Travelrific® Travel Journal

Picture postcards in prose.™ Check out the blogroll on the front page for official merchandise and other resources!

Archive for asia

Japan’s Bathing Beauties

By Linda Tancs

Buried in snow almost one third of the year, Japan’s Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano is home to Japanese macaques, popularly known as snow monkeys. The northernmost living nonhuman primate, they descend from the forest to bathe in naturally occurring hot springs, a pleasant respite from a cold day. Part of Jōshin’etsu-kōgen National Park, the monkey park is reportedly the only place in the world where monkeys bathe in hot springs. The park is not a zoo; the monkeys are wild and come and go as they please, enticed by feedings by professional staff. Keep a respectful distance when taking photos, or else you may go home with one less piece of equipment.

A Spiritual Quest in Japan

By Linda Tancs

Kumano Kodo is one of only two UNESCO-registered pilgrimage sites in the world (the other being Camino de Santiago). It’s a 1,000-year-old trek in Japan, plied by aristocrats and monks alike. The route is actually a network of trails stretched across the mountainous Kii Peninsula. One of the most popular trails is Nakahechi, extensively used by the imperial family on pilgrimage from Kyoto beginning in the 10th century. Your own route will depend on your ultimate destination, which might include Kumano Sanzan, a term used to collectively describe the three most sacred shrines in the area, one of the biggest draws of the pilgrimage. The main transport hubs to the region are Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

Japan’s Atlantis

By Linda Tancs

You may recall the legend of Atlantis, the lost civilization created by Plato, submerged by a cataclysmic earthquake. Scholars occasionally muse whether the place really existed, especially whenever a spectacular underwater rock formation is discovered. Japan has its own version of Atlantis, Yonaguni Submarine Ruins, a submerged rock formation off the coast of Yonaguni. The southernmost of the Ryukyu Islands, it’s located about 62 miles east of Taiwan. The primary structure is an ancient underwater pyramid measuring a staggering 500 feet in length, 130 feet in width and 90 feet in height. Is it the remnant of an ancient Pacific civilization or a natural wonder? You can take an underwater sightseeing boat tour or dive there and decide for yourself.

*************

To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

An Unusual Shrine in Hong Kong

By Linda Tancs

Legend has it that the cascade (known as “heung gong”) at Hong Kong’s Waterfall Bay Park on Hong Kong Island gave Hong Kong its name, but the park’s real claim to fame is its one-of-a-kind shrine in the nature of thousands of abandoned religious statues. You’ll find it by descending the stairs by a pathway at the park’s entrance. That leads to an orphanage of sorts for colorful deities adorning a hillside. Many faiths are represented there, the grounds tended to by a faithful local. In many cultures, it’s considered bad luck to throw away a religious figurine, so locals and visitors alike donate them to the site and sometimes pause for prayer. While you’re there, don’t forget to enjoy the scenic waterfall as well as the views from the park’s cliffs.

*************

To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Perpetual Stew in Thailand

By Linda Tancs

A Bangkok bistro is giving new meaning to the term “slow cooking.” To wit: a pot of beef stew has been cooking for nearly half a century at Wattana Panich, a local institution in the Bangkok neighborhood of Ekkamai. The secret to its longevity is the retention of some of the broth for the next day’s brew. And on and on it goes, through three familial generations (so far). The secret to its success is the taste—an aromatic mix of a dozen Chinese herbs, plus garlic, cinnamon, black pepper and cilantro root added to beef that’s allowed to simmer for seven hours. This is one dish for the ages.

*************

To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Green Caviar in Japan

By Linda Tancs

Miyako Island is the largest of the Miyako Islands chain located in Japan’s far southern Okinawa prefecture. It’s a subtropical haven known for its stunning beaches and coral banks, a go-to destination for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Amidst this natural splendor is another gem, a seaweed delicacy farmed on the island known as umi-budō (sea grapes). Because of its shape and color, it’s often referred to as “green caviar.” Why not give it a try, and visit the beaches (some of the best in Japan), which are best enjoyed between April and November.

*************

To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Fire-Breathing Bridge

By Linda Tancs

Stretching about 2,000 feet across the Hàn River in central Vietnam, the Dragon Bridge is more than just a speedy thoroughfare from the airport to Da Nang’s city center. In fact, it’s a tourist attraction, embedded with a gold-colored steel dragon above the six-lane roadway that spits smoke and fire. Day or night, it’s quite a sight, illuminated with over 2,000 color-changing LED lights for a spectacular night show.

*************

To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Fruit Kingdom

By Linda Tancs

Wakayama is a city in Japan’s Kansai region. Since feudal times, local farms have cultivated premium fruit, the notoriety of which has bestowed upon this region its designation as “the fruit kingdom.” One of its most prized crops is sanbokan. Similar to a mandarin orange, it’s easily distinguished by its pronounced basal nipple and unusual taste. Its parentage is unknown, which gives rise to many legends, including one that attributes it to a single tree that grew inside Wakayama Castle. Whatever its origin, fruit connoisseurs are sure to love orchard picking among the many farms in the area.

*************

To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Japan’s Wisteria Tunnel

By Linda Tancs

Arguably one of the most beautiful parks in Japan, Kawachi Wisteria Garden is awash this time of year in, you guessed it, wisteria. An overwhelming 22 kinds of wisteria flowers will be in bloom, forming a kaleidoscopic tunnel measuring 262 feet. The park is located in Kitakyushu, six hours outside of Tokyo.

*************

To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Japan’s Naked Festival

By Linda Tancs

Held on the third Saturday in February, Hadaka Matsuri (“naked festival”) isn’t quite as hedonistic as it may sound. Featuring over 10,000 men, the apparel of choice is a loincloth. They bathe in it at a pool at Saidaiji Kannon-in Temple to purify their souls. That might be one of the more serene aspects of this annual religious rite. Later at night, the party really gets going when the men pack themselves into the temple like sardines, vying for one of the twigs thrown into the crowd by a priest. A lucky catch means prosperity for the coming year. The temple is an easy walk from Saidaiji Station on the JR Okayama Station’s Ako line.

*************

To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

%d bloggers like this: