Diving into Ise-Shima's ancient womanly traditions

Aug 12, 2012

Diving into Ise-Shima's ancient womanly traditions

The hut of the pearl divers is more modern than I’d expected. Here, in the village of Osatsu along the craggy coast of the Ise-Shima region in Mie Prefecture, the small concrete building named Hachimankamado blends in with its 21st-century surroundings. But inside the ...

<em>Bashōfu</em> culture weaves its spell in Kijoka

Jun 3, 2012

Bashōfu culture weaves its spell in Kijoka

White-caps beat steadily against the northwestern shore of Okinawa’s main island. Winds have stirred up the seas, yet the water looks as cerulean and inviting as ever. I should be paying more attention to this enviable vista but I’m preoccupied, indifferent. The circuitous coastal ...

Dazaifu's rich past still delights today

Mar 18, 2012

Dazaifu's rich past still delights today

The gravel of a path in the garden at Komyozenji Temple has been swirled into the shape of the kanji for “light.” It’s a bit of an ironic choice for the fall day I visit, as only a few of the sun’s rays have ...

Exploring Yanagawa's watery world

Dec 4, 2011

Exploring Yanagawa's watery world

The boatman sings a low-pitched, wistful air as he poles our craft down the watery freeway. Some of my fellow passengers obviously know the melancholic song, and join in on what passes for a chorus as we’re propelled otherwise noiselessly down the wide canal. ...

Castles and Crafts on the Yomitan Peninsula

Sep 18, 2011

Castles and Crafts on the Yomitan Peninsula

Most people come to the Yomitan Peninsula on Okinawa’s main island for the sand and the scuba opportunities. I, however, am one of those island residents on whom paradise is wasted — I like neither a sweltering day at the beach nor an afternoon ...

Beat the heat in the green hills of Izu

Jul 17, 2011

Beat the heat in the green hills of Izu

Nobody likes Japan’s cities in the summertime — at least not those south of Hokkaido. With heat rising off the tarmac and radiating from the concrete, and humidity that clings like a wet towel, thoughts of escape come readily to mind — and there’s ...

Strawberries and shoguns in Shizuoka

May 15, 2011

Strawberries and shoguns in Shizuoka

It’s a clear spring morning and the view over Suruga Bay just outside of Shizuoka City is captivating. At least, that’s what my travel companions say. As our car hugs the coastal road known as Ichigo Kaigan-dori, my husband and our friends are admiring ...

Hiking on Kyoto's doorstep

Mar 13, 2011

Hiking on Kyoto's doorstep

The Eizan Electric Railway serves a sparsely traveled route — or so I infer from the dinky two-carriage train we board shortly before it lurches out of the terminus at Demachiyanagi Station in Kyoto heading for the mountains on the city’s northeastern outskirts. Certainly, ...

Roads less traveled on Okinawa Island

Jan 23, 2011

Roads less traveled on Okinawa Island

I’m normally intolerant of Sunday drivers, but as our little car winds its way up the two-lane coastal roads of eastern Okinawa Island, I find myself pleasantly inclined to just that kind of unhurried progress. The motorcycle riders who have suddenly appeared in our ...

Dec 26, 2010

Exploring historic Nagasaki

The gate in front of me once opened to the world. Steps — now long gone — formerly led down from there to a quay in Nagasaki’s sheltered harbor where, in centuries past, visiting trading ships tied up. It was here that European mariners ...