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Japan

Japanese Gardens 101 – Part 1: The History of Japanese Gardens

There is no doubt the Japanese have an extraordinary sense of aesthetics. This is evident from their traditional, colorful, silken kimonos to their trend-setting modern clothing designs, the stylized theatrical arts of Kabuki, Noh and Bunraku and their elegant but simple Ikebana floral arrangements. But perhaps this sense of aesthetics is no more evident than in...
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Musashi Miyamoto in Kyoto

  Musashi Miyamoto (1584-1645) was Japan’s most famous and most skilled swordsman. It is thought he participated in at least 60 duels and was never defeated. In his book,  “The Book of Five Rings”, he set down his thoughts on swordplay, on winning and on spirituality. Along with The Art of War by Sun Tzu, The...
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Kurama

Kurama is a rural town in the northern mountains of Kyoto City, less than one hour from the city center. Kurama is best known for its temple Kurama-dera and its hot spring, one of the most easily accessible hot springs from Kyoto. Outdoor and indoor baths can be enjoyed at Kurama Onsen, located at the...
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Taishogoto

Serendipity can be a wonderful thing. In August, I was taking a tour group around the Jinya in Takayama. As we were touring the facility, we kept hearing the sound of stringed instruments coming from somewhere in the Jinya. Finally, we happened upon the group in the video playing an instrument called a “Taishogoto” (大正琴)....
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Oysters – Miyajima Style

  As you travel around Japan, you will find each region has its type of food (or foods) that it is known for. My mantra when it comes to Japanese food is to eat the local specialties. One of the specialties, among others, of the Miyajima Island/Hiroshima area are oysters.
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Iga Ueno Castle

Iga Ueno

Located about half-way between Nagoya and Osaka, the city of Iga Ueno is a little hard to get to, but is a perfect day trip from either Osaka or Kyoto. Iga Ueno is most famous for ninja. The Iga school of ninjutsu (art of stealth), based in Ueno City, was at one time one of...
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Tanuki

Tanuki

Even though they are an actual animal living in Japan, Tanuki are also among the most recognizable images in Japanese folklore, and have been part of Japanese folklore since ancient times. The legendary tanuki is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shape-shifting but somewhat gullible and absent-minded. Statues of tanuki...
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Daio Wasabi Farm

Daio Wasabi Farm

The Daio Wasabi Farm is located about 32 kilometers north of Matsumoto in the city of Hotaka. The farm, covering 15 hectares, is the largest wasabi farm in Japan. Established in 1915, the natural water springs fed by melting snow from the surrounding mountains enable the farm to produce 150 tons of wasabi annually. Its...
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