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Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0007, Japan
In western Kyoto, there is a very large forest of bamboo. As you can see in the photo, the shoots grow very tall, making those who stroll by look quite small. I'm sure there are times when this road is crowded, but when we were there, people were...
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Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Becoming a maiko - young apprentice geisha - is one part elegance and three parts hard labor. Available in many studios sprinkled throughout Kyoto, this rich experience lets you live the life of a maiko, if only for one ethereal night. Your visit...
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Japan, 〒299-5503 Chiba-ken, Kamogawa-shi, Amatsu, 1072
The Torii Arch reaches skyward on a small islet off the Pacific coast of Amatsu-kominato in the Boso Peninsula of Chiba. I came across this after walking around the breakwater of the fishing port located in front of Tanjoji Temple, birthplace of...
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1 Chome-8-20 Ōmachi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken 248-0007, Japan
During a visit to Kamakura (about 50 km south of Tokyo, about an hour by rail), we spent an hour or so at the Miyamoto Kimono Shop (1-8-20 O-machi, Kamakura City). In one of the back rooms, this young man was being taught chado ("the way of tea")....
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Japan, 〒603-8361 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Kita-ku, Kinkakujichō, 1
Built in the 14th century as a villa for a powerful shogun, Kinkaku-ji temple, commonly referred to as the Golden Pavilion, is an easy bus ride from the main bus terminal in Kyoto. The temple is one of the most popular buildings in...
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Lake Chūzenji, Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661, Japan
The Chuzenji Temple in Oku-nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, was originally founded in 784 by a Buddhist monk known as Shodo-shonin and is located on the shore of Lake Chuzenji, which is approximately 1,300 meters above sea level. In the middle of the...
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Japan, 〒104-0061 Tōkyō-to, Chūō-ku, Ginza, 3丁目5−8 銀座らん月地階
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I was with friends who wanted to learn about sake. Our biggest challenge was finding someplace open for lunch. Sake no Ana in Ginza was not only a great find, the variety and selection of sake was amazing. The sake sommelier here, Sakamoto-san (no...
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Saiwaicho, Narita, Chiba Prefecture 286-0028, Japan
I had an eight-hour layover in Tokyo (Narita). After doing a lot of research, I realized that I wouldn't have enough time to go into Tokyo without feeling incredibly rushed to get back to the airport to catch my connection home. Instead, I decided...
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Midoricho-1613 Tsuruga, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 380-8512, Japan
Shiga kogen national park near the town of yudanaka in nagano.
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Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Less than an hour south of Tokyo, Kamakura is a popular coastal town and home to the Great Buddha. This bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which stands on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple, has a height of 13.35 meters. It is the second tallest bronze...
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The “Contemporary Art of Japan” tour with Artisans of Leisure takes visitors to six centers of modern Japanese art and architecture. The trip includes a personal guide, who arranges meetings with curators and gallery owners, and with...
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Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
During our visit to Kamakura City in Kanagawa Prefecture, we stopped in at the Miyamoto Kimono Shop (1-8-20 O-machi). Before we were treated to chado ("the way of tea" or tea ceremony), we watched as Karen Iwade, the reigning Miss Kamakura, was...
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Japan, 〒922-0242 Ishikawa-ken, Kaga-shiYamashiroonsen, 55, 55 1 3 YAMASHIRO ONSEN
The public areas of this beautiful ryokan [inn] are modern, but many of the rooms are purely traditional, with nature right outside the window. It’s very peaceful. And the people who run it are so nice. They kept insisting we use their Wi-Fi. ...
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Japan, 〒059-0551 Hokkaido, Noboribetsu, 登別温泉町224
I was truly amazed at the human-like behavior of supposedly untamed brown bears cajoling and waving at me. With a zoom lens, the Noboribetsu Bear Park in Hokkaido, Japan is a great place for taking close-up photos of bears without having to go...
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Japan, 〒135-0064 Tōkyō-to, Kōtō-ku, Aomi, 1 Chome−1−10
Even if you only have a few days in Tokyo, I recommend taking the boat to Odaiba. The boat itself looks like a futuristic James Bond space vessel. Catch the boat from Asakusa (the area famous for Senso-ji, Tokyo's large Buddhist temple) and take...
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Japan, 〒299-2100 千葉県Awa-gun, Kyonan-machi, Motona, 安房郡鋸南町鋸山
After riding the ropeway cable car up the mountain from the fishing port of Kanaya, and taking in the view of Tokyo Bay, a short hike up the forested mountainside leads to this five-story Kannon (aka Avalokitesvara and Guanyin) carved into the...
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68 Fukakusa Yabunouchichō, Fushimi-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 612-0882, Japan

Fushimi Inari Taisha on Inariyama mountain is dedicated to the Shinto gods of rice and sake, but Inari is also the god of merchants and that brings a lot of businesspeople to worship here. Everyone else stops by to see the thousands...

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Japan, 〒444-0022 Aichi-ken, Okazaki-shi, Asahichō, 3 Chome−1 岡崎市役所東庁舎2F
It's officially springtime in Japan and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Okazaki Castle was a quintessential spot for viewing the blossoms against traditional Japanese architecture and gardens. The Castle was originally built in the late...
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1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-8111, Japan
A fairy-tale castle, Japanese-style. The grounds are massive, the tourist groups ever-present, the grounds inaccessible more often than not—but it's still worth the visit.
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1-1 Honmaru, Naka-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi-ken 460-0031, Japan
Taken from the north side of Nagoya Castle. The castle was sadly destroyed during WW2 bombing but the replica sits on the original foundations. Only a 15 minute walk from the shopping area of Sakae.
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1458 Iwanouecho, Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture 859-5121, Japan
Perched above Hirado Bay, the five-story Hirado Castle is surrounded on three sides by water. Once occupied by the Matsura Samurai clan, the castle’s exhibits showcase items from Japan’s feudal period including, documents, drawings, armor, and...
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Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, Japan
Okayama is so green...they have really nice botanical gardens. I went to Okayamajo, also known as "crow castle." If you have a chance, go to Okayama just for the gardens and all the delicious fruit! They have some of the most delicious peaches I...
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Japan, 〒556-0002 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Naniwa Ward, 惠美須東3-5-3
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Kushikatsu, deep-fried skewers, are an Osaka specialty. The dipping sauce is communal and so the need arises for signs that can convey the most essential kushikatsu commandmant: No Double Dipping.
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Tokyo, Japan
While visiting Tokyo, I was really happy to attend a traditional Kabuki performance at the Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre. I bought my tickets online before my arrival in Japan (at the box office, you must present the credit card that you purchased the...
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Japan, 〒250-0407 Kanagawa-ken, Ashigarashimo-gun, Hakone-machi, Ninotaira, 二ノ平1121
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This is the view inside the Symphonic Sculpture by Gabriel Loire at the Hakone Open Air Museum (彫刻の森 in Japanese) in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The museum opened in 1969 as the first open-air art museum in Japan. The spectacular grounds,...
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Japan, 〒100-0005 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi, 1 Chome−1−9−1 東京駅一番街 東京ラーメンストリート内 B1
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Rokurinsha’s original shop was in the suburbs of Tokyo, a considerable hike from the nearest train station, and still patrons waited for over three hours for a bowl of soup. Neighbors complained, and when the store was given a chance to open up on...
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Japan, 〒160-0004 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, 新宿区Yotsuya, 1 Chome−1−11 陽臨堂ビル 1F
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When I took my beautiful wife to Tokyo to celebrate her birthday in March, because we only had three days in town we had to very carefully curate our dining choices. While we did visit an old favourite, most of the restaurants we visited were new...
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Japan, 〒100-0005 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi, 1 Chome−1−9-1
Eating at Mutsumiya is like taking a trip to Hokkaido, an island in northern Japan. The place serves the classic Hokkaido miso-based ramen, created with water brought over from Hokkaido. The shop is located on the Tokyo Ramen Street, a collection...
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Japan, 〒381-0401 長野県下高井郡山ノ内町平穏6845
I left tropical Southeast Asia for Japan in the dead of winter for one reason - to see snow monkeys. I'd always seen pictures like the one above, of zen macaques in steaming hot springs surrounded by snow, and had no idea how accessible they were...
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Japan, 〒106-0045 Tokyo, 港区麻布十番1丁目4−6
In addition to the works of Takashi Murakami, this gallery exhibits a lot of manga-inspired art. I go here to see the up-and-coming artists of the Tokyo scene. —Alondra De La Parra This appeared in the March/April 2012 issue.
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Japan, 〒130-0015 Tōkyō-to, Sumida-ku, Yokoami, 1 Chome−3, 横網1丁目3番28号
I have found that one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a foreign culture is to attend a local sporting event. My husband & I happened to be in Tokyo during the annual sumo wrestling tournament. So we bought the cheapest tickets that were...
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Japan, 〒104-0061 Tōkyō-to, Chūō-ku, 中央区Ginza, 6 Chome−6−4−15 トニービル 2階
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Whenever I'm in Tokyo I go to this tiny sake bar Kuri, in the Ginza district. A very stoic but mellow place to go at the end of the night, and they specialize in local sakes.
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1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-8111, Japan
Even in the middle of winter, the Imperial Palace Gardens are well worth a stroll. There are plants from all the prefectures of Japan, and the bamboo is lush year-round. The palace is about a 10-minute walk from Tokyo Station, and it's a...
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Japan, 〒248-0006 Kanagawa Prefecture, Kamakura, 小町Komachi, 1 Chome−1
I toured this 500-year-old temple in Kamakura with my oldest son in 2012. A very humbling and spiritual visit!
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294 Kiyomizu 1-chōme, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0862, Japan

Kiyomizu-dera on Mount Otowa is one of the most famous temples in Japan, a place that appears in every sequence of Japanese travel photos. The landscape is all cherry trees and forest; it is among Kyoto's loveliest spots. The current structure...

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Japan, 〒605-0931 京都府京都市東山区茶屋町530
The Mimizuka (耳塚?, literally "Ear Mound", often translated as "Ear Tomb") is a monument in Kyoto, Japan, dedicated to the sliced ears and noses of killed Korean soldiers and civilians taken as a war trophy during the Japanese invasions of Korea...
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Nakijin, Kunigami District, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Once used to house and protect the King and his family, Nakijin Castle still stands firm against typhoon alley and is a frequently visited UNESCO World Heritage site. In the spring, many people flock to see its magnificent cherry blossom trees.
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Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Jizo Bodhisattva is the guardian spirit of Buddhism tasked with protecting children and rescuing souls from hell. The hats and bibs are hand sewn by faithful visitors who want a chance to interact with Jizo in hopes of gaining his protection. I...
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Koyasan, Kōya, Ito District, Wakayama Prefecture 648-0211, Japan
Garden in the center of the Buddhist Shala where we stayed with monks and nuns. The garden was pristine and carefully maintained with the gentle love of these gentle souls. Buddhism in Japan is a fascinating study. The thoughtful and respectful...
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Japan, 〒111-0032 Tōkyō-to, Taitō-ku, Asakusa, 2 Chome−3−1
Both Tokyo's largest and oldest Buddhist temple, Senso-ji is one of the city's must see sights. The streets leading to Senso-ji are filled with souvenir shops where you can find tapestries, kimonos, kitschy key chains, and finger foods....
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Japan, 〒605-0074 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Gionmachi Minamigawa, 祇園町南側570‐2
It’s rare to spot a real geisha, even in Kyoto. Walk around the Gion district at dusk, and you may be lucky enough to see one walking briskly to her appointment for the night, but to stop her for a photo would be uncouth. We lucked out, arriving...