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Olivia Sumner′s Wishlist
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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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6 Chome-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-6108, Japan
Watching the sunset from Roppongi Hills was my favorite Tokyo experience. We bought tickets to the Mori Art Museum, which included entrance to the observation deck on the 52nd floor of Mori Tower. We payed 1500 yen ($17) for the museum and...
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104-0061, Japan
The stark contrast of an ancient religion with the glitzy streets of Ginza.
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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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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, Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, 三条大橋東詰
I was privileged for their allowing gesture and pose, and very much thankful of the memories thereof from touring the grounds with a friend who grew up there. Quite respectful.
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Nanzenji Shimokawaracho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8434, Japan
Just when I thought I had seen enough shrines I stumbled across the Higashitenno-Okazaki Shrine in Kyoto, not far from the much larger famous Heian Shrine. This smaller shrine was completely empty and I was able to roam around in solitude and...
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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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Lhasa, Tibet, China
Just before dawn, I’d set out to explore Chakpori—the “Iron Hill”—highest promontory in Lhasa. On its summit, Sangye Gyatsho, seventeenth century regent of Tibet, built the Mentsikhang, a medical college that turned out doctors until it was...
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Pedestrian St, Chengguan Qu, Lasa Shi, Xizang Zizhiqu, China, 850000
In the Jokhang Temple square there were so many pilgrims representing many areas of Tibet. This elderly woman was watching me with my camera and seemed curious so using gestures I asked to take her photo. Her stories of a long life are etched in...
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Chengguan, Lhasa, Tibet, China, 850000
We Americans are private about using the toilet. It is not a group activity, and we don’t like to share the gory details. While I am able to vomit with dignity in front of my medical doctor spouse, I must have total privacy, with the door closed,...
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7 Jijilangka Rd, Sangzhuzi Qu, Rikaze Shi, Xizang Zizhiqu, China
One of my most favorite moments of my trip to Tibet... capturing this young woman's picture in Tibet at a monestary.
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Reykjavík, Iceland
We got to Reykjavik on a rainy night, and the first thing I saw and heard was a lot of people in the street partying and Cher's "Believe" blasting from some club, loud enough to hear it everywhere. I though then that this place was crazy, but then...
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Nauthólsvegur, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Riding a strange, shrunken horse into a mossy canyon outside Reykjavik on a bright, bracing day with winter rolling in and a plate of minke whale waiting for you at day's end is tops. Doing so on three days' sleep deprivation is, in fact,...
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Northern Europe
Iceland mineral bath
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The Horse Shoe, Iceland
My husband and I just returned from a trip to Iceland for my 40th birthday. We were lucky enough to be in Iceland during a somewhat-rare solar storm that made the Northern Lights much brighter and more active than usual, and since that's what I...
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Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavík, Iceland
Iceland’s largest and most famous geothermal spa lies around an hour outside Reykjavik, quite close to Keflavik Airport. With a dramatic setting amidst large black lava boulders, the steam-filled, creamy-blue pool area is a striking and...
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Sauðárkrókur, Iceland
This was a gorgeous day and a beautiful site to visit. No other tourists there so we had the entire place to ourselves. They knew how to build a well insulated house back then, well protected from the wind and feeling also soundproof. The Glaumbær...
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Djúpivogur, Iceland
I expected to see many things in Iceland but had no clue there were reindeer there too. I guess I should have done my homework on the fauna better :). It was a lovely surprise to see them though close to Djúpivogur. There was an entire herd of...
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333 Geissmann Dr, Mt Tamborine QLD 4272, Australia
Walk through rainforest canopy with the Rainforest Skywalk, a 300 metre bridge suspended ten stories high that weaves its way through the ancient rainforest on Mt Tamborine. I'm scared of heights, but it's not scary at all, and I felt really safe...
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333 Main Western Rd, Tamborine Mountain QLD 4272, Australia
It's not just the romantic and quaint timber cabins at The Polish Place that you'll fall in love with - the views from your back deck are to die for. The two-storey, self-contained cabins are designed for couples and this back deck comes with a...
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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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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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San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
There's probably more pictures of the GGB than 10 million. It doesn't really matter, every time I drive over the bridge it's a magical experience, especially when the fog is rolling in. (Bonus points for some super rad appropriate music blasting...
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Samseong 2(i)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Across the street from Asia's largest underground mall, Bong-eun-sa temple still functions as one of Seoul's largest and oldest Buddhist temples. Under the paper lanterns, ritual continues, a counterpoint to the the wired and wifi frenzy in the...
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185 Changgyeonggung-ro, Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The website said that Changgyeong-gung Palace was closed on Tuesdays. So on this particular drizzly Monday, (my last day in Seoul), I trekked over, planning on revisiting this site of a childhood outing...But when I arrived, the 400-year-old gates...
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Cheonggyecheon, Jongno 5(o).6(yuk)ga-dong, Seoul
Chong-gye-cheon stream and park is a several-miles-long ribbon of pedestrian tranquility in the heart of Seoul. For decades, an elevated expressway ran through the heart of Seoul. The air pollution and congestion made people forget that a stream...
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Palpan-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The Throne Hall of Gyeongbok-gung Palace in Seoul has a lofty name based on Confucian principles: "Geun-jeong-jeon," meaning "diligence helps governance"—words for politicians to live by, eh? Originally built in the 1390s when a new dynasty...
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141-10 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Afar's description of the Are We There Yet? theme: "Embarking on your daily commute or navigating the Japanese subway. What surprises have you uncovered while getting from point A to point B that AFAR travelers would want to hear about?" is easy...
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Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Walking in one of Seoul's newer neighborhoods south of the Han River, this unlikely art caught my eye: a sculpture of backpack-toting gorilla climbing up an apartment building. The Gangnam district of Seoul has splashes of whimsy among the new...
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Changdeokgung-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Covering 78 acres of hilly forest in the middle of Seoul, the Huweon, or "Rear Garden" of Changdeok-gung Palace is better known by the city's millions as Biweon, or "The Secret Garden." Once exclusively for the royal family, today it's a favorite...
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175 Sejong-daero, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The open plaza area in front of the Sejong Cultural Center was a frequent visiting spot for me when I lived in Seoul. In the summer months the cool water was a relaxing spot to wet your feet and watch children running through the musically...
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Munhwa-ro, Namdong-gu, Incheon, South Korea
Sure, you can get Chinese food in Seoul, but a quick trip to the end of one branch of Seoul Metro's Line 1 can bring you a step closer to China! Enjoy Chinese restaurants and bric-a-brac shops galore! Insider's Tip: Seek out the garlic bud statue...
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161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Originally built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and greatest of Seoul’s Five Grand Palaces. Burned down during the Japanese invasion of 1592, it was reconstructed in 1867. Today, the palace grounds, filled with lotus ponds,...
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Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
This religious site is within a quarter mile of the popular Gyeongbuk Palace and is worth a visit. The courtyard in front of this wall of buddhas is shaded by bamboo. The atmosphere is extremely peaceful unlike the busy streets just outside this...
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Namyeong-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Serving roughly 300,000 commuters each day Seoul Station can be a bit overwhelming but don't fret. Signage and English help desks are never too far. Services to both of Seoul's airports run from here as do a plethora or local trains as well....
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Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
There is a definite rhythmic buzz along the streets of Myeong Dong, in the heart of Seoul. From the energetic calls of salesgirls thrusting skincare samples into the hands of passersby to the throngs of trendy travellers stopping at the roadside...
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531 Bongeunsa-ro, Samseong 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The beautiful roof tiles at Bong Eun Sah Buddhist Temple in Seoul.
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161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A statue of King Sejong, the man who invented Hangul, the Korean alphabet stands before Gwanghwamun gate (out of frame, on the far left). Out of frame to the right is a statue of Yi Sun-shin (1545-1598), considered to be Korea`s greatest admiral....
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531 Bongeunsa-ro, Samseong 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Modernization. Westernization. Globalization. These words are sometimes used synonymously, but while all three certainly might be used to describe East Asia, distinctions should be made. South of the Han River in Seoul is the Gangnam district; the...
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288 Jong-ro, Jongno 5(o).6(yuk)ga-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
a hidden gem among industrial buildings and wholesale shopping markets. a little oasis to be enjoyed by singles, couples, families and the elderly. the gentle swish as the water passes you by!
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137 Seobinggo-ro, Seobinggo-dong, Yongsan-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
The National Museum of Korea is the largest museum in Korea and houses a comprehensive collection of Korean cultural artifacts that tell the story of Korea’s fascinating history, from ancient days to the modern era. There’s also the Children’s...
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Deoksugung-gil, Sogong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Lovely place for a stroll.
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N Seoul Tower, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Seoul
Seen practically from most areas in Seoul. You can also hike up to the tower for some nice views.
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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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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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1 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Cheese fan? Love the childhood favorite grilled cheese sandwich, but want something a little more sophisticated? The Melt is your answer. With several locations in the city as well as a food truck to boot, this restaurant has an interesting...
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225 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA
With a coffee shop on every corner in San Francisco's Financial District, how do you choose? Well you do want them to have good coffee, after that it is all about the people and the story. Coffee Cultures has it all. Located in a historic...
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364 9th St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
Serving only freshly made mochi in about six flavors daily you have to find and buy before they run out! They always have red bean and sesame but the other flavors change. This is the freshest mochi I have had outside of Japan and in some ways I...
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2234 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
You could walk right by this incredibly popular restaurant on Mission Street and not even be able to tell what it was, thanks to the misleading “Lung Shan Restaurant” sign out front. What will tip you off? The incredibly long lines of San...
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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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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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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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Calum´s Road,Kyle, Arnish, Kyle IV40 8PF, UK
Raasay is a fourteen-mile long slip of land nestled between Skye and the Scottish mainland. The heathery isle is weighted in history, and the scenery is wonderful: waking up to views across the water of the snow-capped Cuillin mountains is nothing...
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Isle of Islay, UK
The southernmost island of Scotland's Inner Hebrides, Islay is known for its whisky, specifically smoky, peaty whisky. It also has lovely beaches (worth checking out if the weather cooperates) and a mostly flat landscape ideal for cycling.
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Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India
While working on a university study abroad project in Dharamsala, we got word that His Holiness the Dalai Lama would be returning from Australia and we could have the chance to see him drive by on his way back from the airport. We eagerly rushed...
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400 W 2nd St A, Austin, TX 78701, USA
Tacos in Austin are like pizza slices in New York. They’re everywhere. I dined at La Condesa restaurant in buzzing downtown Austin to learn more about quintessential TexMex cuisine. Condesa is known for its hip Latin style and two-story bar...
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South Congress, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Austin keeps going and going. And growing and growing. I know all my local friends bemoan the influx of new people, Californication and other bad elements, but really, there is so much cool stuff going on here, it puts most of the rest of the...
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Kiehnwerderallee 1-3, 12437 Berlin, Germany
Even fun has a shelf life. This is what runs through my mind as I walk around Spreepark, the abandoned, dilapidated amusement park in Berlin. When East Germany and the GDR fell, so did many of the businesses operating under the rules of communism....
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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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Japan, 〒604-8054 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Higashiuoyachō, 富小路通四条上る西大文字町609番地
I’m starting to believe in the weight loss properties of matcha. Something about how it triggers thermogenesis; perhaps it’s the restorative antioxidants. It’s the only way I can explain how I was able to eat my daily half of a FU Baum, a matcha...
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Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Shibuya is a center of Japanese fashion, culture, color, noise, and light. Harajuku girls? They're in Shibuya. Manga? Find it in Shibuya. Biggest scramble crossing in the world? Sit at the Starbucks in Shibuya and marvel at the madness below. You...
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Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
From the quiet of a monastery in Koyasan and the serene beauty of Mount Fuji to a winter's evening in Tokyo, there is quite the paradigm shift! Tokyo amazes, it takes your breath away, but it doesn't stop for you, it just sweeps you along for the...
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Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Lovely ladies in kimonos brave the rain in Kyoto. This was taken in front of Chion-in Temple near Gion earlier this week. Even in the pouring rain the Sakura, which are in full bloom, were lovely to behold and holding up nicely.
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1 Kinkakujichō, Kita-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 603-8361, Japan
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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Kalabaka 422 00, Greece
Meteora means "suspended in air" in Greek. The town of Meteora, about a 5-hour drive north of Athens in Thessaly, Greece, is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site: six Greek Orthodox monasteries built on enormous rock pinnacles that rise up to...
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The Rock, Moor Ln, Moor, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
As the bus weaved around a few crooked corners the Rock of Cashel manifested before us behind a veil of mist. Perched on top of a lush green hill overlooking what’s known as the Golden Vale of Tipperary County. This Golden Vale refers to the view....
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2015 Greenwich St, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA
Vantigo tours is a brand new touring company that offers a more unique and personalized to those hop on hop off tours and the very dull Big Bus tours. Erik, owner of Vantigo, your designated driver and tour guide offers city tours, oyster lunches...
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Jogibara Rd, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh 176219, India
At the edge of Mcleod Ganj sits the lovely Him View Hotel. Away from the city center, the area is very quiet and peaceful. The hotel is run by three sisters who take great pride in the well-kept and inviting hotel. Each room is named for one of...
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Nuwakot,, Trisuli 44900, Nepal
To experience Nepali life off the tourist trail, head to the one-lane town of Nuwakot, a four-hour bus ride northwest of the overcrowded alleys of Kathmandu and an easy detour on the way to the popular Langtang trek. Terraced rice paddies, pumpkin...
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71895 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
For such a remote region, Big Sur has more than its share of amazing places to stay. One of the most unique is Treebones Resort, nestled high in the foothills of South Big Sur overlooking the Pacific. The off-the-grid property offers 16 signature...
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Chengguan, Lhasa, Tibet, China, 850000
The heart of the city of Lhasa, Tibet is Barkhor Square. The place thrives with all sorts of commercial and religious activities that are uniquely Tibetan and it’s a great place to just watch a very fascinating world go by. While there are a few...