Articles

Stardust Vegan Cafe & Boutique, Kyoto

Stardust Vegan Cafe & Boutique, Kyoto

Most people come to bustling Kyoto for the incredible wealth of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, and perhaps the hope of catching a Geisha or two walking elegantly in their geta to their next booking. Kyoto is also a good city for shopping. With the main shopping areas relatively compact and within a quick cab ride, short bus journey or a little longer but still pleasant stroll on foot from the main train station. As…

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A Secret Tour of Tokyo National Museum

A Secret Tour of Tokyo National Museum

Noh Mask, Edo period, 18th Century The very first time I went to Japan it was mainly for leisure, but also partly for business. I was working in intellectual property (copyright) licensing at the time and, although my employer was a UK-only not-for-profit agency, it is a member of a global federation of intellectual property rights organisations. Meaning they had a counterpart in Japan. And the one in Japan was some years behind in its…

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Period Charms of Aburaya Ryokan, Takahashi

Period Charms of Aburaya Ryokan, Takahashi

Aburaya ryokan can be found in Takahashi – a small city in Okayama Prefecture, towards the southern end of the main island Honshu. Nestled in a valley, surrounded by mountains, Takahashi is often used as a base for those visiting the nearby Bitchū Matsuyama Castle. We were here mid-winter, in early January, as an overnight stop before heading up Mount Gagyu early the following morning to explore Bitchū Matsuyama Castle – Japan’s highest castle.  …

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Review: Diary of A Tokyo Teen

Review: Diary of A Tokyo Teen

Helpfully and explicitly subtitled “A Japanese-American girl travels to the land of Trendy Fashion, High-Tech Toilets and Maid Cafes“, Diary of A Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer is a vivid personal record and a charming introduction not just to Tokyo but to Japan as a country and Japanese culture generally.       Christine Mari Inzer was born in Tokyo in 1997 to a Japanese mother and an American father. She spent her first years…

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Travel In Defiance of Terrorism

Travel In Defiance of Terrorism

 The date: 13th November 2015. I was already tired when I got on the plane at London Heathrow. I rarely sleep much on planes and tend to use the eleven-twelve hour flight between the UK and Japan as an opportunity to catch up on films missed at the cinema. I was already tired when I got on the plane at London Heathrow I also prefer to stay awake during the flight, getting into the destination…

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How To Choose A Japan Travel Guide Book

How To Choose A Japan Travel Guide Book

As much as the internet is a godsend to researching a trip to Japan, for many people, myself included, there’s still nothing quite like having a trusty, print guide book in your hands when travelling.   How do you choose the best travel guide to Japan? Selecting the best guide for you is a little like choosing your ideal partner, or your favourite album of all time – it’s a very personal thing. So, in…

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Exploring The World’s Longest Suspension Bridge – Akashi Kaikyo

Exploring The World’s Longest Suspension Bridge – Akashi Kaikyo

Most people won’t have heard of the small island of Awaji. It can be found in the Inland Sea, just between the main island of Honshu and Shikoku – the smallest, least populous, and least visited of Japan’s four main islands. Connecting Awaji to the mainland of Honshu is the Akashi Kaiyko Bridge – the longest single span suspension bridge in the world. Opened in 1998, at 1,991 metres (6,532 ft; 1.237 mi), its central span dwarfs…

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Meeting an Itako – Spiritual Medium

Meeting an Itako – Spiritual Medium

  “Itako – also known as ichiko (市子) or ogamisama (男神様), are blind women who train to become spiritual mediums in Japan. Training involves severe ascetic practices, after which the woman is said to be able to communicate with Japanese Shinto spirits, kami (gods), and the spirits of the dead. Itako perform rituals tied to communication with the dead and divination. The practice has been on the decline, with only 20 living itako in Japan,…

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LINE Friends Stores Are Awesome!

LINE Friends Stores Are Awesome!

I’m a big fan of mobile messenger app LINE. Partly because it has an excellent user interface and means I can make free international voice or video calls to other LINE users over the internet. And partly because its range of characters is just so damn kawaii (cute)! :-D I prefer LINE to Facebook Messenger as it is far less intrusive in the personal data it requires to function. If you’re not already familiar with…

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Review: Cafe Keshipearl, Kobe

Review: Cafe Keshipearl, Kobe

Not far from the business district in the harbour city Kobe, and 5 minutes or so walk from Sannomiya JR station, unassumingly tucked away on a first floor you can find Cafe Keshipearl. We discovered it just as they were celebrating their 5th Anniversary of opening. The understated signage at street level was stylishly attractive. When I first walked in I loved the look of the place. The interior design was minimal but certainly designed,…

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