The heights and falls of Miyajima Island

Travel Jan 9, 2016

The heights and falls of Miyajima Island

My alarm sounded at 6:45 a.m., but I quickly silenced it and rolled over in my futon. I enjoyed a fleeting moment of quietude before the thrumming of rubber soles on pavement and accompanying excited voices crescendoed, a brief multilingual hubbub that then faded ...

Dewa Sanzan: The arduous journey from ascetic to aesthetic

Travel Aug 15, 2015

Dewa Sanzan: The arduous journey from ascetic to aesthetic

The traditional pilgrimage to Dewa Sanzan, or the Three Mountains of Dewa, begins with the smallest and northernmost Mount Haguro. The plaque at the beginning of the path through Zuishin Gate tells of 33 carvings of "gourds, sake cups and the like" scattered along ...

Bouldering, a remedy to climbing the walls

Travel Apr 4, 2015

Bouldering, a remedy to climbing the walls

I emerged from Mitake Station, on the Ome Line, just after 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning amid a throng of day-tripping hikers easily identifiable by their heavy boots, seam-busting backpacks and seemingly standard issue trekking poles. Peppered here and there within this tribe was ...

A winter world of monkeys and men

Travel Feb 28, 2015

A winter world of monkeys and men

My overnight bus from Ikebukuro, Tokyo, packed full of bleary-eyed college students on holiday, rolled into Shiga Kogen around dawn and began making stops along the belt of 21 interconnected ski resorts that make up Japan's largest ski area. I disembarked toward the end of ...

Tottori's golden sandbox and fog-shrouded mountains

Travel Jan 17, 2015

Tottori's golden sandbox and fog-shrouded mountains

The region north of the Chugoku mountains in western Honshu is known as San'in — "the shadow of the mountain." In Tottori Prefecture, these craggy mountains give way to stretches of fertile farmland that butt up against the icy Sea of Japan. The erratic ...