What can be a more enticing invitation to travel than a good place name?

At age 19, an American wanderer in India, I drifted from Rishikesh to Shimla to Dharamsala on the current of fantasy those storied names wove inside me. Often, the reality of ramshackle hotels and tourist trinkets was a letdown. But Shimla! Ah, the beautiful dreams that name stirred up were worth whatever disappointments it later delivered.

Japan is full of good place names. Who can resist Utsukushigahara (Beautiful Field) in Nagano Prefecture, Ginza (Golden Seat) in Tokyo or the sad irony of Fukushima — Isle of Good Fortune? For many, though, Fujimi would be hard to beat — since its mi means "see" and the place name means "a view of Mount Fuji" — Japan's most beloved peak.