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Togakushi Kodo: A Spiritual Off-The-Beaten-Path Journey

For those looking to get off the beaten track and experience something authentic, the Togakushi Kodo Pilgrimage makes for a fantastic day-trip from Nagano. This lush, mountainous region is home to natural mineral springs, giant trees and...

Toyokuni Shrine: The Pagoda, The Preservation and the Provenance

From the moment you sail in, to the final wistful glance back, Miyajima is all about the visual wonders. I know the internal dialogue during my first visit went something like: ‘Ooh, look at those mountains! A torii gate in the sea?!...

How To Visit a Shinto Shrine (Jinja)

Many of Japan’s traditions and ideas are unfamiliar to those outside of Japan, particularly when it comes to religion and the etiquette around visiting temples and shrines. As there are jinja (Shinto shrines) and kami (gods) throughout Japan, read on to learn how to...

What are Jinja? Places of Worship Infused with Nature’s Energy

Japanese regard the sea, the mountains, the forest, and natural landmarks as places where the kami reside. In ancient times, these were regarded as sacred places, without the need for special buildings, as the kami were believed to exist everywhere. Later, dwellings...

Floats, Zodiacs and a Fountain of Youth: Kushida Shrine

A gentle breeze flaps the tall flags at the entrance to Kushida Shrine as I wait for a chance to cross the street. At first glance it appears like any other jinja but, in fact, it’s one of the oldest and most...

Shimogamo Shrine: One of Kyoto’s Oldest Shrines

Ask anyone where to go for the “really old stuff” in Japan, and they’ll probably mention Kyoto. Serving as the capital for over 1,000 years, it’s the birthplace of many traditional art forms and aspects of Japanese culture we see today. And,...

Mt. Mitake: A One-Day Itinerary for Nature and Serenity

When the excitement of Tokyo has gotten to be too much, head to the mountains to recharge in nature. My favorite mountain is Mt. Mitake, close enough to be accessed during a day trip from Tokyo yet still feeling worlds away. Originally...

Radio Taiso At Nezu Shrine And An Early Morning Walk

“Ohayōgozaimasu!” says the man stretching beside his portable radio. Its tinny sound reminds me of hanging around my grandparent’s garage, except I can’t quite make out what’s being said. The man is decked out completely in white, from his floppy hat down...

Half-day Kyoto Walking Tour Part 1: Gion to Kodaiji Temple

Looking for a short walking route in Kyoto that will give you real time chills and great photo opportunities? Look no further. We’ve put together a fabulous walking tour that winds through Kyoto’s Gion district and finishes at the Kodaiji Temple complex....

Kyoto After Dark: An Evening Stroll through Pontocho and Gion

Kyoto is the gently lit canal to Tokyo’s fit-inducing neon—part of its charm for many. As such, once the sun goes down and the monks close the temple gates, many visitors are left wondering what’s next. If you still have energy for...

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