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TRAVEL April 5, 2017

The Grand Shrine at Ise

Japan’s original, pre-historic religion was a form of nature worship that centered around a number of gods associated with certain natural elements and processes. Chief among them was Amaterasu, the sun god. Unlike most other sun gods around the world, Amaterasu was a female deity. She is the most important Shinto god, and the Japanese […]

TRAVEL February 27, 2017

The Subtle, Confounding Zen Koan

The Zen koan is one of the least understood of Japanese creations, by either foreigners or even many Japanese – but that is by design. The essence of a koan is that it is not comprehensible by the rational mind, but instead works subtly, over time, on the subconscious. The koan – based on the […]

TRAVEL February 22, 2017

Four “Little Kyotos” in Japan: Kanazawa, Nara, Takayama and Kamakura

After a few days or so in Tokyo, most visitors to Japan find great relief in visiting Kyoto, which offers many contrasts to the modern megalopolis. Where Tokyo is huge and sprawling, Kyoto is smaller and ringed by mountains, which help a visitor feel oriented. Where Tokyo is all lights and traffic and modern architecture, […]

TRAVEL February 6, 2017

Nikko and the Area

In the early 20th century, foreigners such as Albert Einstein, Helen Keller and Frank Lloyd Wright discovered first hand what the Japanese have known for centuries: That you should never say kekkou – a word that means “I am satisfied” – until one has seen Nikko. Though still little-known outside of the country, within Japan […]

TRAVEL December 19, 2016

Japan’s Delightful, Traditional Ryokan

Although the traditional Japanese lodging known as the ryokan is often described as a country inn, or as Japan’s version of the French Auberge, many ryokan are more, being beautiful, elegant places that offer a total hospitality experience that is a must-do for any visitor to Japan. Less common in big cities like Tokyo and […]

TRAVEL August 16, 2016

11 Things to Remember When Visiting a Shrine or Temple

Unless you are going to spend all your time in Japan shopping, eating and drinking – and we could hardly blame you – Japan is one of the great cultures of the world when it comes to religious, or spiritual, expression. Much Japanese art and architecture is devoted to spiritual matters, and the country is […]

TRAVEL June 29, 2016

Introduction to the Onsen

Japan’s position on top of a volcanic archipelago has clear disadvantages, so it’s important to remember one of its great benefits: Japan is home to literally thousands of hot springs, or onsen. The Japanese have a long and beautiful tradition of deep enjoyment of this natural advantage. The word onsen refers to the hot springs […]

TRAVEL April 26, 2016

5 Japanese Tourist Sites That Take Visitors Back In Time

Japan is a modern country, moving ever faster, and it is easy when visiting to get caught up in the Japanese enthusiasm for the shiny, flashy and new, whether it is manga or karaoke or the latest food craze. Japan, especially Tokyo, can be as loud and glitzy as any city on earth – perhaps […]

TRAVEL April 18, 2016

10 Money-Saving Tips Every Tourist Should Know When in Japan

Even if you have ample funds and a healthy credit card, there are good reasons to shop for bargains beyond simply saving money: Watching for bargains gets you out of your accustomed ways, puts you in the position to meet ordinary Japanese (and other travelers) and see how they live, introduces you to new habits, […]