Toba and Kashikojima: pearls of tranquillity beside Ise Bay

Aug 10, 2013

Toba and Kashikojima: pearls of tranquillity beside Ise Bay

In places where land submerges itself beneath water, modes of transportation immediately change and, in some cases, endings become beginnings. The Kintetsu Line train to Toba in Mie Prefecture deposited me practically in front of Ise Bay, which is less known for its fish ...

Small is beautiful in a Kanazawa garden

Jun 30, 2013

Small is beautiful in a Kanazawa garden

It is always heartwarming to come across a historical preservation area where people actually live and go about their daily lives. Such is Nagamachi, one of several older districts of Kanazawa, the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast. Less ...

Reflections on two cities

Jun 23, 2013

Reflections on two cities

Having written over 10 guidebooks myself, I speak from experience when I say that working on these projects is a mixed blessing. Writing a first-time guide to a little-known part of the world, with the freedom to innovate with format and content, can be ...

May 19, 2013

Ranpo's novella of a desecrated grave continues to send shivers

There has long been a taste in Japan for the bizarre and abnormal. The experimental Taisho Era was no exception. A desire for sensory experience existed even in cinema. During a funeral scene, for example, an attendant might light sticks of incense in the ...

Taking it easy on stroll-size Omi-jima

May 19, 2013

Taking it easy on stroll-size Omi-jima

Mr. Hirohisa had made it clear when I called him from the nearest mainland city to the island — Nagato in western Honshu's Yamaguchi Prefecture — that there would be no supper provided that night; nor would he be able to pick me up ...

A double dose of guidance offers more than usual information

Apr 28, 2013

A double dose of guidance offers more than usual information

SHINTO SHRINES: A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan’s Ancient Religion, by Joseph Cali with John Dougill. University of Hawaii Press, 2012, 328 pp., $24.99 (paperback) KYOTO MACHIYA RESTAURANT GUIDE: Affordable Dining in Traditional Townhouse Spaces, by Judith Clancy. Stone Bridge Press, 2012, ...