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Chris Bamforth

For Chris Bamforth's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

In the realm of the Fujiya Hotel

Dec 28, 2013

In the realm of the Fujiya Hotel

It’s a different matter with ryokan, Japan’s traditional and often premium-priced inns, but outside the stellar class of regular hotels charging astronomical rates, their down-to-earth cousins aren’t usually the kind of places to feel too strongly about. You generally expect little by way of ...

Stairway to heavenly Haguro

Nov 9, 2013

Stairway to heavenly Haguro

Some of the more interesting spots in Japan are the ones that are not really on the way to anywhere else at all. A sense of remoteness and being firmly off the beaten track lends them a particularly beguiling character. In the northeastern neck ...

Mount Fuji's lacustrine Gang of Five

Dec 16, 2012

Mount Fuji's lacustrine Gang of Five

Among Japan’s many physical features, none comes even close to matching the manner in which its loftiest peak has carved out the fondest niche in the national psyche. The Mount Fuji name and image are evident practically everywhere in Japan today — as they ...

Adrift from Amanohashidate on Heaven's Floating Bridge

Sep 23, 2012

Adrift from Amanohashidate on Heaven's Floating Bridge

The Japanese have long had a fondness for categorizing impressive features of the world around them into numbered lists. And in this enterprise, trios hold particular fascination. Thus, in addition to the Three Great Festivals and the Three Great Night Views, among well over ...

Feline fine in Iriomote's unspoilt wilderness

Jul 1, 2012

Feline fine in Iriomote's unspoilt wilderness

For the jaded traveler, arrival in one place in Japan can often seem suspiciously like arrival in any other. After quitting a station building, you can find yourself viewing thoroughfares lined with familiar-looking stores, with it all appearing instantly similar to other places beheld ...

Dec 19, 2010

Savor Yufuin's peaceful charms

Set your travel planning to autopilot and — if you are in northern Kyushu in need of the thermal succor only a hot-spring bath can lend — you are sure to be drawn by the gravitational pull of Beppu, the brash town in Oita ...

Lofty tonic in the heat

Sep 5, 2010

Lofty tonic in the heat

So what do you do when it’s summer in Japan and the heat and humidity have become just plain silly? You can seek solace in air-conditioned spaces or in the cold depths of fermented beverages. Or you can do as the Brits did in ...

Old Japan lives on at Ikaho Spa

Aug 1, 2010

Old Japan lives on at Ikaho Spa

The ways are various in Japan for having one’s sense of local pride bolstered by recognition on some official list. Japan has its three most famous scenic spots, its three most celebrated gardens and, more prosaically, UNESCO’s growing roster of World Heritage Sites. But ...

Nara still boasts its ancient lure

May 16, 2010

Nara still boasts its ancient lure

In a geographical battle for the hearts and minds of Japanese people, Kyoto would win hands down as the wellspring of so much of their culture for which they feel such reverence. But while Kyoto certainly has its magnificent fistfuls of historical treasures, it ...

Where history whiffs in the air

Mar 21, 2010

Where history whiffs in the air

As anyone with even a scant knowledge of Japanese history is probably aware, the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 was the “Big One.” The absolute victory of Tokugawa Ieyasu made shoguns of him and his successors, who kept their hands firmly clutching the reins ...