Lesley Downer

For Lesley Downer's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Crossing the Himalayas through memory to Ladakh

Sep 21, 2013

Crossing the Himalayas through memory to Ladakh

I’m in a small van careering along a rough and narrow road beside a rushing river with brightly painted temples along its banks and craggy peaks towering overhead. We’re traveling in the prescribed Indian fashion — drive as fast as you can and hope ...

Delving into Ethiopia's ancient past and present

Jun 30, 2013

Delving into Ethiopia's ancient past and present

I’m edging my way through a long tunnel in pitch darkness, feeling for the roof so I don’t hit my head, waving my trusty flashlight around to scan the walls and sandy floor and check for any unwelcome wildlife. I feel like Indiana Jones ...

A cup of coffee in cheerful ceremonial style

Jun 30, 2013

A cup of coffee in cheerful ceremonial style

Ethiopia has no tea ceremony, but it does have a coffee ceremony all its own. Walking down the road you will often come across a young woman sitting under a leafy roof with a tray of small handleless cups like Japanese teacups in front ...

How the Ark of the Covenant got to Ethiopia

Jun 30, 2013

How the Ark of the Covenant got to Ethiopia

According to the Bible, the Koran and several detailed Ethiopian texts, the Queen of Saba/Sheba, named Makeda, visited Solomon in Jerusalem in the 10th century B.C. They had previously exchanged letters full of questions and riddles. When she arrived, bringing gifts of gold, spices, ...

Warm memories of an Aizu winterlude

Feb 17, 2013

Warm memories of an Aizu winterlude

It starts to snow soon after the train leaves Koriyama, and further inland at Aizu Wakamatsu the snow is knee deep. My hosts, Nobuyuki and Mikiko, are waiting at the station. I’m relieved to see they’ve brought boots for me. Aizu has been part ...

To Kagoshima in search of a great samurai unbowed

Nov 11, 2012

To Kagoshima in search of a great samurai unbowed

Flying into Kagoshima from Tokyo across the volcanic landscape of Kirishima and Ebino Kogen, I feel as if I’m arriving in another country. The air is moist and warm, the light sharper, the sky bluer and the foliage intensely green, sprawling exuberantly over the ...