Travelrific® Travel Journal

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

Archive for japan

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.

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.

It’s a Small World in Tokyo

By Linda Tancs

Miniature villages are a dime a dozen, but Tokyo’s Small Worlds takes it to another level. For example, many of the miniatures are operational, like a rocket that lifts off and planes flying at Kansai Airport. There’s even an opportunity for visitors to place model figures of themselves in the area of their choice using 3D printers and scan technology. Billed as the world’s largest miniatures theme park, the 86,000-square-foot facility is uniquely immersive. It’s located in the Ariake district of Tokyo, a short walk from Ariake-Tennis-no-mori Station.

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

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.

Art and Faith in Kyoto

By Linda Tancs

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is a Buddhist temple in the Arashiyama neighborhood of Kyoto, Japan. Neglected through the ages due to its exposure to natural disasters, it re-emerged thanks to the artistry of the late Kocho Nishimura and a cadre of amateur stone sculptors. Through their efforts, the temple has become best known for a small army of moss-adorned sculptures that now cover the hillsides. Known as ratan (followers of Buddha), the art represents ordinary people captured in stone by their makers, oftentimes memorializing a loved one. Bus or taxi is the best way to arrive at what may be Kyoto’s most intriguing temple.

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

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.

Let in Snow in Sapporo

By Linda Tancs

In 1857, the population of Sapporo was just seven people. Today, it is Japan’s fifth largest city and the capital of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands. You’ve come a long way, baby. In addition to hosting a winter Olympics, the locale is known for its ramen, beer and the annual snow festival held this month. One of the country’s most popular events, the festival features snow and ice sculptures (some measuring more than 82 feet wide and 50 feet high), particularly along Odori Park. Sapporo TV Tower offers great views, especially at night, when the sculptures are illuminated. This year’s celebration begins today and runs through February 11.

A Thousand Rice Paddies

By Linda Tancs

Shiroyone Senmaida (meaning “a thousand rice paddies in Shiroyone”) is a rice terrace outside Wajima, Japan, comprising 1,004 small rice paddies on steep slopes beside the Sea of Japan. Nationally designated a “Special Place of Scenic Beauty,” each field is farmed by hand. The view is stunning at any time of year, but from mid-October to mid-March (when farming ceases), the fields are illuminated at night with thousands of LED lights that change color every 30 minutes. To get there, take the local bus toward Ushitsu to Shiroyone Senmaida station.

It Flows in Takachiho

By Linda Tancs

In Takachiho, Japan, one might say you go with the flow. After all, it’s famous for Takachiho Gorge, formed from lava from Mount Aso that over time eroded to create towering cliffs of volcanic basalt columns complemented by plunging waterfalls. But it’s also considered the birthplace of nagashi-somen, a noodle rite involving catching ice-cold somen noodles with chopsticks as they float down a chute. Be grateful for the colander catching errant noodles at the end. A summertime tradition in most of the country, it’s practiced all the way to the end of November in Takachiho.

Bath of the Gods

By Linda Tancs

One of the oldest public bath houses in Japan is Dōgo Onsen Honkan, built in 1894 during the Meiji Period. Two public baths are available to visitors, the Bath of the Gods on the main floor and the Bath of the Spirits on the second floor. Different tour packages provide access to one or both baths and relaxation rooms. A tour of the emperor’s bathing facilities is also available. The facility is a four- minute walk from Dogo Onsen Station, the terminus of three tram lines. Just in front of the station in Hōjōen plaza is the Botchan Karakuri Clock. Built in honor of the baths’ centennial in 1994, it comes to life for several hours daily with mechanical figures featuring characters from the famed novel, Botchan. Get to the baths before January when planned renovations will close parts of the facility for several years.

%d bloggers like this: