Tourists are now the big catch for reborn Otaru

Aug 19, 2005

Tourists are now the big catch for reborn Otaru

To think of a big city in Hokkaido is invariably to think of the place that fondly plants a prominent white, red or black star on the labels of the beers it brews. But back in the early part of the last century, the ...

Caving in to the gods

Jul 29, 2005

Caving in to the gods

If a foreigner happens to know just one Japanese myth, it’s usually the one about Amaterasu and the cave. Amaterasu had long been tormented by her brother, Susanoo. But Susanoo, who believed there was no such thing as too elaborate a brotherly prank, went ...

A prize catch for travel merchants

Jun 24, 2005

A prize catch for travel merchants

First impressions of a Japanese provincial town can be so thoroughly dispiriting as to make you inclined to believe that the developer of the station area set about his task grimly determined to bring a whole new meaning to the concept of drabness. And ...

Get peace of mind . . . in the off-season

May 27, 2005

Get peace of mind . . . in the off-season

Arrival in some places doesn’t always meet expectations. From stories I had read of Taketomi, I had built up a picture of a sleepy subtropical paradise. This island at the southwestern end of the Okinawan chain was, I learned, a place of coral-sand streets ...

Shopping for the little bookworms

Apr 29, 2005

Shopping for the little bookworms

It’s bedtime and you’re keen for the little ones to get off to sleep so you can return to that DVD you left on pause. For their story, you try winging it again with a Japanese picture book, but the version you concoct this ...

Sipping on Heian history in Uji

Apr 22, 2005

Sipping on Heian history in Uji

If there is one place in Japan to arrive absolutely gasping for a cup of tea, that place is Uji in Kyoto Prefecture. Since the 13th century, this town just to the south of Kyoto has been producing green tea, and many consider the ...

All fired up for ceramics central

Mar 25, 2005

All fired up for ceramics central

Despite having saddled itself with the dire name of Centrair Airport, Japan’s newest air facility, which opened last month near Nagoya, looks to have started off well enough. Like Kansai International Airport, Centrair has been built on an offshore artificial island. But whereas Kansai ...

Historic port city famous for fugu

Feb 25, 2005

Historic port city famous for fugu

Located at the western end of Honshu, Shimonoseki is one of those places that people tend to travel through rather than travel to. With Kyushu only 700 meters away across the Kanmon Strait, Shimonoseki is the main access point to that island, and as ...

Otherworldly Okinawan capital

Jan 28, 2005

Otherworldly Okinawan capital

Automatic doors open, you step through and the sleek monorail whisks you from the spanking-new air terminal to the profuse lights of the dense urban center. Except for having exchanged wintry weather for the almost-perpetual balmy summer of Okinawa, arrival in Naha at night ...