Category Archives: Japan

Arashiyama: A Beautiful Retreat near Kyoto

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Resembling an ink wash painting, Arashiyama in the western outskirt of Kyoto has long been a favourite escape of the Japanese elites. Since the Heian period, the nobles came here to unwind from the hustle of the city. Today, foreign and domestic tourists flock here to see the evergreen bamboo groves of Arashiyama, as well as to find serenity at Tenryūji – a temple with a stunning mountain backdrop.

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Nijō Castle and a Spectacular Kimono Exhibition

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With wide moats, massive stone walls and imposing keeps, Nijō Castle demonstrates the power of the Tokugawa shoguns who ruled over Japan for more than 260 years. Hidden behind this intimidating facade are, however, dreamy gardens and a magnificent palace where an exquisite collection of kimono was on display.

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Fushimi Inari: A Stroll through Thousands of Torii

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Best known for its endless trail of vermilion torii, Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of Japan’s most important Shinto shrines. It is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, and has attracted pilgrimages and merchants for centuries. These days visitors from all over the world pour into this place to have a stroll through the beautiful holy gates, as well as to pray the deity for luck and business success.

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Ryokan and the Japanese Hospitality

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To put it simply, a ryokan is a Japanese-style inn. But unlike its Western-style counterpart, the ryokan is an embodiment of Japanese lifestyle which was treasured and passed down over generations. From the traditional and often historical architecture to a skilful level of attentive and service, spending the night at a ryokan is definitely an ideal way to experience the “true Japan”.

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Nara: The Ancient Capital of Japan

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Overshadowed by its more famous neighbours, the city of Nara is usually omitted from the itinerary of many time-pressed travellers. But as Japan’s first permanent capital, Nara boasts many important scenic and historical sites. Thus, it’s definitively worth spending one or two days here to enjoy the atmosphere of ancient Japan.

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Kurashiki: The Town of Old Storehouses

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Totally in contrast to the surrounding concrete jungle, Kurashiki’s historic centre is a rare piece of old Japan that still exists. The quarter features narrow, flagstone streets, white-walled traditional houses lined along a delightful canal. Occasionally, a punt floats past propelled by an elderly local, giving us a glimpse into Japanese daily life centuries ago.

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Hiroshima: The Hope for A Nuclear-Free World

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To most people, Hiroshima recalls an ill-fated city where hundreds of thousands of people died as the result of the world’s first atomic bomb. But if you look at the city today, you won’t believe that this place was once a ground zero. Within seven decades, Hiroshima has re-born into a modern, peaceful city where people around the world came to wish for a future without nuclear weapons.

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Miyajima: On the Island of the Sea Goddesses

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Considered as the home of the goddesses of the sea, Miyajima has been treated as a sacred site since ancient times. The island is widely known for its gigantic vermillion torii that seems rising from the seabed, as well as a grand shrine floating over the waves. In both cases, human craftsmanship has been skillfully integrated with the sea, reflecting harmony between Mother Nature and the human.

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Admire The Transient Beauty of Sakura

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Pure and elegant, sakura (or cherry blossoms) has long been an unseparated part of Japanese culture. The flowers symbolise the arrival of spring, marking the time for renewals after a winter sleep. Yet this beauty is short-lived. After their peaks around two weeks, the blossoms start to wither, leaving a carpet of pink blush…

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Kōyasan: A Trip to the Sacred Mountain

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Green and soothingly beautiful, Kōyasan in Wakayama is a spiritual retreat and one of Japan’s holiest sites. It features long avenues of vast cedar trees, as well as hundreds of temples and gardens. It’s also here that Kōbō Daishi, one of the most significant religious figures in the country, established the first centre of Shingon Buddhism some 1200 years ago.

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Himeji Castle: The Beautiful White Heron

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Elegant and lustrous white, Himeji Castle appears like a giant heron flying in the sky. Together with a 400-year-long history, it’s undisputedly one of the most spectacular castles in Japan. After several years of extensive renovation, Himeji Castle was re-opened to the public in March 2015. The White Heron once again dominates the sky of Himeji.

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Osaka: The Bold and the Colourful

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A forest of concrete buildings, Osaka is hardly Japan’s prettiest city in the conventional sense. But this brazen city packs more colour than most, with eye-catching signs and vivid shopfronts can be found at nearly every corner. From the bustling streets of Minami to spectacular skyscrapers in Kita, Osaka is a city that definitely isn’t afraid to express itself.

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A Culinary Journey to Japan: Comfort Food

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Centuries-old history, spectacular landscape, and one-of-a-kind culture – Japan is an amazing destination for so many reasons. But for foodies, Japanese cuisine alone is reason enough to visit. With an endless variety of regional and seasonal dishes as well as international cuisine, Japan is definitely a paradise for any food enthusiast. From intricate haute cuisine at a luxury ryokan to down-to-earth street food, the country offers a wide range of gastronomical delights.

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