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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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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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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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1 Chome-3-3番28号 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 130-0015, Japan
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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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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1074番地 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 601-1111, Japan
There are whole graveyards in Japan full of small Buddha statues with bibs tied on and toys placed lovingly about - they commemorate those lost to abortion and miscarriage. "Liquid Life" by William LaFleur provides an engaging study.
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1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tōkyō-to 181-0013, Japan
A great trip with the kids or adult fans of Miyazaki's films. We bought tickets at our local JTB office in NYC as it's necessary to reserve in advance. Only a 40 minute train ride from Shinjuku, the museum is located in Inokashira Park which is...
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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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2-1 Yoyogikamizonochō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 151-0052, Japan
Last November my wife and I had an 11-hour layover at Narita Airport, and so we took the Narita Express and then the Yamanote line into Shibuya. After Shibuya, we walked to Yoyogi Park. It was a Sunday morning, and the dry cold air made us feel...
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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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Ainokura, Nanto, Toyama Prefecture 939-1915, Japan
Ainokura Village, located outside Toyama, is a unique cultural experience. Designated a World Heritage site in 1995, it is home to over 80 residents. Because families still live and farm on the land visitors are asked to be respectful. The village...
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3 Chome-10-22 Hase, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken 248-0016, Japan
Just a five minute train ride from the center of Kamakura is the Daibutsu, a giant Buddhist statue. This bronze statue was created 761 years ago. My husband's grandfather has photos of himself with the Daibutsu from 1945 when he was stationed...
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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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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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2 Chome-14-7 Kitazawa, 世田谷区 Setagaya-ku, Tōkyō-to 155-0031, Japan
This is a great little coffee shop located in the super-funky neighborhood of Shimo-kitazawa that specializes in single-origin coffee beans hailing from such faraway places as Tanzania and Papua New Guinea, which it roasts in-house using a Fuji...
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80-1 Motohakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-ken 250-0522, Japan
Just a stone’s throw from Lake Ashi at the foot of Mt. Fuji lies Hakone Jinja, a wonderfully old Shinto shrine nestled among the forests that dot the surrounding hinterlands. The tree-lined approach by foot through the red torii gate lends a...
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7-9 Uguisudanichō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0032, Japan
Japanese architects clearly have a thing for spaceships; perhaps it’s the heavy anime/manga influence they’ve been inundated with since childhood, but whatever the reason many buildings in Tokyo abound with sci-fi accents and flair. A neat example...
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4 Chome-13 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan
When I stumbled upon a pristine vintage Airstream trailer in a tiny lot in one of Tokyo's most expensive neighborhoods, I had no idea what would be inside. I was amazed to find a gem of a café, ironically called Uchu (Space) Café. With no more...
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1 Chome-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 130-0015, Japan
If Japan suddenly decided to launch a giant concrete space-faring craft into the deepest reaches of the cosmos—with the sole purpose of conveying a realistic mockup of traditional Edo Period and early 20th–century daily life in Tokyo to a bunch of...
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6 Chome-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-6108, Japan
Tokyo just can’t catch a break—it’s been flattened, firebombed, attacked by Godzilla, and now it’s been invaded by a giant spider. A spider sculpture, that is—Maman, as the series of art installations by the late American artist Louis Bourgeois...
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Japan, 〒105-0022 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Kaigan, 2 Chome−7, 東京都港区海岸2丁目7−104
Want to spend a night out in the future? No problem, the Jicoo Floating Bar is your time machine ticket there. Open for business every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night from 8 to 11pm, Jicoo (which is a cute Romanization of the Japanese word “...
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1 Chome-1-10 Aomi, Koto, Tokyo 135-0064, Japan
Everyone knows Japan is famous for certain things—sushi, geisha, Mt. Fuji, samurai and ninja, Godzilla, and of course giant robots. And in Tokyo, even the latter is real—at least, life-sized mockups of them are. A great place to see one is Odaiba,...
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14 Chidori, Urayasu-shi, Chiba-ken 279-0032, Japan
I am high above Tokyo at night in a helicopter somewhere near Roppongi. Excel Air Service offers a number of excellent helicopter cruising packages that allow you to experience Tokyo and Yokohama in a way no other method of transportation can—...
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Yurakucho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0006, Japan
Under the tracks of the Yamanote line train, running from Tokyo to Shinbashi stations, you'll find hidden, unique dining experiences. Down here locals serve everything from specialty Japanese cuisines to unique international tastes—Thai, French,...
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Japan, 〒321-1662 Tochigi-ken, Nikkō-shi, Yumoto, 2549−5 栃木県日光市
These little wooden structures house pumps that send piping-hot water from sulphur hot springs to the many inns and B&Bs dotting the area around Oku-nikko, a picturesque resort town located in the mountains of Nikko. It's a fantastic overnight...
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Japan, 〒250-0407 Kanagawa-ken, Ashigarashimo-gun, Hakone-machi, Ninotaira, 二ノ平1121
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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Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
I love Japanese folklore, with its stories of Samurai, demons, and spirits. One of my favorite characters from Japanese lore is the Tengu, a mountain nymph of sorts, who likes to tempt Buddhist priests to break their vows, and to teach devoted...
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1072 Amatsu, Kamogawa-shi, Chiba-ken 299-5503, Japan
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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Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, Japan
“Nature” may not be a word generally associated with Tokyo, but the Kanto Plain on which the city sits abounds with forests, rivers, and mountains. In many cases, though, you may only find one or two out of the three available in any one location,...