Sweet times on sugar-isle Kohama

Oct 5, 2013

Sweet times on sugar-isle Kohama

In our minds, islands should be counter worlds, autarchies unsullied by continental concerns. We should arrive spellbound, leave anointed by their beauty. Wherever in the world you might be, it is virtually impossible to set foot on an island without experiencing the sensation that ...

Stroll through 1,000 years of history in one Nikko garden

Sep 28, 2013

Stroll through 1,000 years of history in one Nikko garden

Even before seeing the great sights of Nikko, the visitor cannot fail to be impressed by the luxuriance of the area’s moss. Towering cryptomeria trees, allowing filtered light to penetrate ground cover, provide ideal incubation zones and levels of exposure and protection for the ...

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 ...