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Japan 2015

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1 Chome-1-10 Aomi, Kōtō-ku, Tōkyō-to 135-0064, Japan
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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浅草 新仲見世商店街 Asakusa Shin-Nakamise, 1 Chome-26 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 111-0032, Japan
Stray from the path to some more modern and atmospheric shopping. Here bolts of silk are displayed for sale at one of the many kimono shops lining the Shin-nakamise covered shopping pavilion in front of the iconic Senjoji Temple. If you're...
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Narita, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
What do you do with a nine-hour layover in Japan? Take the train one stop to downtown Narita, and eat your way around town. I was surprised by how lovely this city was, especially for being so close to the airport. The little cobblestone streets...
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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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294 Kiyomizu 1-chōme, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0862, Japan
This is one of my favorite places in Japan, and in the world. It is one of the most beautiful temples. It's very nice to come here when it's not crowded. I often try to come here during the rain, as odd as that sounds (that's when it is least...
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409 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 247-0247, Japan
This is a stone statue of Buddha (jizou in Japanese) positioned in front of a withered tree on the grounds of Engakuji Temple in Kita-kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The large temple complex comprises 18 temples and was founded in 1282 by a...
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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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4丁目-7-35 Shibakōen, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 105-0011, Japan
Here is one of the many wacky costumes that runners wear during the Tokyo Marathon. Held every year in February, it's hands-down the most entertaining race in the world.
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4 Chome-2-8 Shibakōen, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 105-0011, Japan
The orange and white Eiffel Tower replica stands nine meters taller than its Parisian counterpart and has been the central focus of Tokyo's skyline since 1958. A visit to the tower is a bit underwhelming, but my favorite ways to take in the tower...
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4 Chome-313-番地 Hanasatomachi, Takayama-shi, Gifu-ken 506-0026, Japan
The Fujii Art Gallery is but one magnificent example of the stunning beauty in the Old Town district of Takayama. Some of the buildings and dwellings date back to the Edo Period, and seem to evoke a timeless intimacy... almost as if the entire...
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Japan, 〒390-0873 Nagano-ken, Matsumoto-shi, Marunouchi, 4, 松本市丸の内4番1号
Hidden floors.
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1 Chome-1 Komachi, 小町 Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0006, Japan
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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2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
The colorful Asakusa district is a laid-back, fun, colorful neighborhood where you can buy crappy kitsch and kitschy crap (there are a lot of kitchenware shops, for some reason). Asakusa is also home to Tokyo's most well-known temples and 45...
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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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12 Dejimamachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture 850-0862, Japan
Coming from the Philadelphia area, there's one thing I know and that's Italian food. Always on the lookout, I found this gem in Nagasaki, Japan. The food was so good, so authentic, it brought tears to my eyes. The chef/owner told me he has never...
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Japan, 〒602-8216 京都府Kyōto-shi, Kamigyō-ku, Tatemonzenchō, 京都市上京区 堀川通今出川南入竪門前町414
In the heart of the Nishijin textile district, the colorful textile center is worth taking a peek before continuing your stroll around beautiful Kyoto. Located in a modern building in Imadegawa, they offer tons of displays of completed fabrics and...
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Japan, 〒106-0041 Tokyo, Minato, 麻布台3丁目1-5 麻布台ヒノキビル1F
Sure, there are lots of breakfast places in Tokyo that may make better versions of specific dishes, but there very few (indeed, if any) that offer the sheer variety as the selection of morning grub available at Suji’s, located next to the Russian...
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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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2 Chome-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken 248-8588, Japan
Kamakura, Japan's medieval capital, is full of ancient sites and only a 40-minute train ride from Tokyo. It's full of temples, shrines, sailing, surfing, and souvenir shops. Make sure to see the Daibutsu, the over 750 year old and 40 ft tall...
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1 Chome-1-10 Ōtemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0051, Japan
I've visited many battlefields and war memorials but nothing felt as surreal as visiting Hiroshima, where the USA dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. The bomb exploded over the Atomic Dome, as it is known today that very strange day. Amazing...
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If you’re looking for some good ramen in Kyoto, head to Hakata Nagahama Ramen Miyoshi in Kawaramachi (Kyoto). Hakata ramen is a specific style of Kyushu ramen (Hakata being a ward in Kyushu), with a rich and creamy pork broth and firm, straight...
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Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan
In Japan, food rarely is what it appears to be. Whether you try to discern it from the artistically crafted plastic displays out front, or from the signs, you don't always get what you expect. I passed by these signs many times in the Shimbashi...
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Japan, 〒150-0001 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingūmae, 3 Chome−15−8 シャンブル15 1F
Tokyo is replete with tiny, cool boutiques specializing in everything from rare toys to carved owl figurines (to be honest, I still haven’t quite figured out how the latter stays in business, but it must have an established customer base since the...
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4 Chome-2-28 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0016, Japan
Most of our guests rank Kamakura's Great Buddha (Daibatsu) statue as one of their top ten highlights, if not their favorite. I can't blame them. Even on crowded days, one can't resist the feeling of serenity that envelops the grounds. From...
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91-2 Okazaki Enshōjichō, Sakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 606-8344, Japan
Kyudo: Japanese archery. Located northeast of the Heian Shrine is a martial arts center quietly bustling with martial arts activity. We stumbled upon a kyudo class. The archers were unbelievably concentrated on their art/sport that it brought real...
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1 Narita, Narita-shi, Chiba-ken 286-0023, Japan
Many Asiatic explorers know Narita for the international airport that connects them from one exotic country to the next. Many of the times, airport towns are not as interesting as we'd like them to be; often flourishing solely due to the airport...
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1-2 Nakajimachō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811, Japan
A super talented barista in Caffe Ponte near Hiroshima Peace Park inscribed a message of peace and love on my morning latte. For the last 67 years the city of Hiroshima has devoted itself to the causes of peace and nuclear non-proliferation.
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2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
This visitor center in Tokyo, designed by Japanese architects Kengo Kuma and Associates, is very distinctive: It looks like a stack of smaller buildings with sloping roofs. On the top floor, there's a cafe and balcony where you can catch 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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Akita, Akita Prefecture, Japan
One very valuable lesson I learned about Japan is that every town has tourist potential; so should I have been surprised when my host in Akita suggested going on a toilet adventure? To be honest though, Japan's oldest toilet was very cool. Leave...
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2-16-1 Konan, 26-32/F Shinagawa East One Tower, 2丁目-16 港南 Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8282, Japan
Shin Hinomoto is a noisy, boisterous izakaya squeezed under the JR tracks by Yurakucho Station. A family business for more than 60 years, the current owner is a Brit, Andy Lunt, who has been working at the restaurant and buying fish from Tsukiji...
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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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While all the neighborhoods of Tokyo are equally safe, some are more family oriented than others. Sensoji Temple, souvenir shops and easy transportation in Asakusa make it a great family destination. The free Asakusa Ueno Panda Bus shuttles...
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Japan, 〒105-0002 Tokyo, Minato, Atago, 1丁目 五番三号
The thing about visiting shrines in Japan is that they're everywhere and they're all special in their own way. So explore the ones in whatever neighborhood you're staying—they're bound to be peaceful and interesting. If you find yourself in Tokyo...
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Most people, including myself, hear the word Gion and immediately think of Memoirs of a Geisha. While Gion is definitely known for the elusive Geiko's and Maiko's that roam the streets after dark, there is a lot more to this neighborhood that...
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1−1 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0588, Japan
“I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world” Saduko Sasaki (young girl who developed leukemia from Hiroshima bombing) The floating torii is the "gate" to Itsukushima Shrine on Miajima island off the coast of Hiroshima....
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Japan, 〒730-0811 Hiroshima-ken, Hiroshima-shi, Naka-ku, Nakajimachō, 1, 広島市中区中島町1丁目1
Though it is hard not to view the Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum without a heavy heart, the signs of peace everywhere, from the kind docents at the museum to the prominently displayed paper cranes, bring an incredible sense of hope and...
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Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0007, Japan
We stumbled on this massive bamboo forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto. This exact road had been my desktop wallpaper for years, and then I was standing in it. Incredible.
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Miyajimacho, Miyajima Island, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0588, Japan
When I was on the prowl for a beach in Japan, locals rolled their eyes and told me to go to Hawaii. Determined, I poked around a bit and found the sweet Miyajima Island, just off the coast of Hiroshima. Sure the water isn't fit for swimming, but...
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2 Chome-4-3 Ōtemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0051, Japan
From the dark , silent streets, we entered the buzz of a wine bar, packed with friends sipping from bottles that lined the shelves-- my kind of library! We sat at the crowded counter, a square shaped bar, wherein a small charcoal grill was...
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Komachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0006, Japan
When I first moved to Japan, I met many fellow foreigners who collected everything – paintings, dolls, kimonos, obies, chopsticks, to name just a few. To avoid amassing knickknacks destined to be dust-bunny magnets, a friend and I devised a...
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6 Chome-7-2 Higashinippori, 荒川区 Tokyo 116-0014, Japan
Fabric lovers around the world know that Japan has some incredible textile designers. You can find all of them and more at Nippori Textile Town, home to 84 shops that go on for blocks selling fabrics, notions and sewing services. From the JR north...
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406-1 Zōshichō, Nara-shi, Nara-ken 630-8211, Japan
The Todai-ji Temple in Nara wrapped up a day-long excursion from Yokohama that also included a visit to the temples of Kyoto. The Todai-ji Temple is grand in size and its craftsmanship most impressive, created and carved of all wood it is one of...
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Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0016, Japan
We traveled to Hase to see the Great Buddha, but I enjoyed Hasedera temple even more than the Great Buddha. It is a much bigger area with several different temple buildings. There are two large goldleaf buddhas that are impressive. The cave is an...
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541 Nijōjōchō, Nakagyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 604-8301, Japan
Verdant grounds, stone fort and nightingale floors in which the wood is so joined that it sings like a nightingale no matter where you step - no sneaking around this castle!
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Minato, Tokyo 105-0000, Japan
The Tokyo skyline from Rainbow Bridge is a must see while visiting Tokyo. The trip across the bridge can take a few hours by foot or just have your camera ready to take some beautiful shots while driving across this beautiful bridge.
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14-2 Fukudamachi, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa-ken 760-0048, Japan
One of the great things about visiting Japan's smaller, more provincial cities, like Takamatsu, is that you get a glimpse of what the place was like decades ago. This woman operates a mobile fish stand and carves fresh seafood into filets suitable...
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1−1 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0588, Japan
Miyajima is a popular tourist destination and has a ton of shops and restaurants open during the day. By night however, the whole place seems to become a ghost town. We stayed at a Japanese-style (with futons and tatami, as opposed to...
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Japan, 〒850-0843 Nagasaki-ken, Nagasaki-shi, Tokiwamachi, 1−60 常盤ターミナルビル 102号
A couple kilometers off the coast of Nagasaki city lays the abandoned island of Hashima, more commonly known as Gunkanjima or "Battleship Island." The nickname stems from the small island being surrounded with sea walls and being built up with...
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2 Chome-6-6番24号 Ōtemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0051, Japan
I find it amazing how things change. Before that fateful day on August 6th, 1945 the world was a different place completely in the minds of citizens of the world. Man had always found new and improved ways of killing each other throughout history,...
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2 Chome-28-9 Sendagi, Bunkyō-ku, Tōkyō-to 113-0022, Japan
Lemon No Mi is one of those places that you want to keep on the DL, but it's so good you can't. What looks like a run-down, slightly neglected building turns out to be the provider of one of the most rewardingly delicious meals in the area. It's a...
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Japan, 〒150-0043 Tokyo, Shibuya, Dogenzaka, 2 Chome−29−11 第六セントラルビル1階
Multi-lingual touch pad screens replace wait staff at this sleek Shibuya sushi spot, orders arrive in threes via maglev-like scooters whooshing sushi to you and diners further along the single aisle seating arrangements.