N°135 [TRAVEL] Vegan travel in Japan

Vegetarian or vegan travelers visiting Japan may sometimes face challenges in finding dishes that suit their preferences. / Benjamin Parks for Zoom Japan Despite Japan’s long tradition of Buddhist vegan cuisine and macrobiotic diet, postwar Japan has been largely impervious to the penetration of i[...]

No.134 [TRAVEL] Tokyo, the cradle of modern sport in Japan

Baseball fans will be delighted with Tokyo Dome City./ Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan It’s in the country’s principal city where the story of the most popular sports began. It may sound obvious, but most of Japan’s modern sports started in Tokyo. It was in the Japanese capital that so[...]

No.133 [TRAVEL] Waiting for the Big One

Tokyo seen from the Rainbow Bridge, which, in the anime series Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, is completely destroyed by an earthquake. – Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan It’s like one of those long awaited lottery numbers that everybody is hoping for but never come, week after week, month after month.[...]

No.106 [TRAVEL] Kabukicho Tower is a tour de force

The skyscraper, which opened its doors on 23 April, stands out among the other buildings surrounding it in the district of Shinjuku. / Tokyu Corporation This new skyscraper, the first to be designed by a woman in Japan, is entirely dedicated to entertainment. Tokyo never ceases to amaze us. From wor[...]

No.105 [TRAVEL] Sawara, Chiba’s Little Edo

You can walk alongside the Ono River, which flows through the centre of this former trading city, or take a boat. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan A former trading hub, the city has preserved some of the architectural treasures inherited from its glorious past. Japan is famed for its many beautiful[...]

No.104 [TRAVEL] From Edo Castle to Imperial Palace

The precursor to Edo Castle was built in 1457 by Ota Dokan. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan The current Imperial Palace in the centre of Tokyo has a long and turbulent history. A lot of literature about Tokyo is fond of pointing out that the city centre, which was previously occupied by Edo Castle[...]

No.103 [TRAVEL] A public bathhouse unlike any other

The Kogane-yu is one of the last 500 public baths operating in Tokyo. Its management and decor have been brought up to date. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Under Shinbo Takuya’s management, Kogane-yu is reviving an activity that is in decline. Going to a sento (public bathhouse) used to be a co[...]

No.102 [TRAVEL] Aizu-Wakamatsu, the rebel city

Tsuruga-jo, the city’s castle, was rebuilt in 1965 after burning down at the end of the 19th century during the Boshin War. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Famous for having resisted change in the late 19th century, the city maintains its image as a rebel city. More than twenty years ago, the ci[...]

No.101 [TRAVEL] In Iwate, rendez-vous with history

Nothing beats the small railway lines to let you fully enjoy the Iwate landscape.Odaira Namihei for Zoom Japan Among its many attractions, this north-eastern prefecture is home to some very interesting small museums. Japan is a two-speed country. On the one hand, there is the Shinkansen (high-speed [...]

No.100 [TRAVEL] Welcome to Snow Country

The region is divided into “heavy snowfall areas” and “special heavy snowfall areas”. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan The western side of Japan spends most of the winter under metres of powdery snow. The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country. The earth lay white under the[...]

No.99 [TRAVEL] Shodoshima, between soy and olive

Shodoshima and the Inland Sea seen from Goishizan./ Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Located an hour from Takamatsu, the island, once home to up to 400 brewe- ries, is seeking new markets. Whether you love films, olive oil or soy sauce, there are many reasons to visit Shodoshima. And though you may h[...]

No.98 [TRAVEL] Aoniyoshi, the unforgettable train

The latest Japanese luxury train, the Aoniyoshi, will take you from Osaka to Kyoto via Nara./ Kintetsu Railway Company Travelling between Osaka, Nara and Kyoto, this new cruise train combines comfort and history. Japan is a train lover’s delight. The choice of journeys is astonishing, from the rom[...]

No.97 [TRAVEL] In the footsteps of Prince Shotoku

Amagashi Hill offers a bird’s-eye view over Asuka, the region where Shotoku Taishi lived. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan In Asuka, birthplace of the Yamato Kingdom, distant precursor of Japan, traces of this famous figure still abound. Among all the ancient historical figures, the one Japanese [...]

No.96 [TRAVEL] Sankei-en, a big surpris

The relocated three-storey pagoda of Tomyo-ji Temple in Kyoto, is the only building visible from anywhere in the park. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan This magnificent park is not only an island of greenery but an architectural sanctuary. It is unmissable. The Honmoku district, located south of ce[...]

No.95 [TRAVEL] The early Christians of the Goto Islands

Consecrated in 1908, the redbrick Dozaki Church is located on the main island of Fukue. / Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Off the coast of Nagasaki, this archipelago was a long-time bastion of Christianity, although it was banned in Japan. Bordered by steep cliffs and covered in densely forested mou[...]

No.94 [Travel] On the banks of Lake Kasumigaura

Surrounded by numerous canals, rivers and lakes, Itako is definitely a “water town”. (C) Eric Rechsteiner for Zoom Japan Often shunned by tourists, Ibaraki Prefecture has many beautiful locations for lovers of nature. Every year, the Brand Research Institute asks thousands of Japanese to rate th[...]

No.93 [TRAVEL] Shimonoseki, point of entry

The Kanmon Straits separate the main island of Honshu from the island of Kyushu Located at the western tip of the island of Honshu, the port city has played an important historical role. In 1146, when ambitious warlord and court noble Taira no Kiyomori had the lavish Itsukushima Shrine built on Miya[...]

No.92 [Travel] Heading north on Route 58

Heart Rock Beach, Korijima, is where lovers meet! Our reporter followed the famous artery from south to north to discover its secrets. Travelling through Okinawa by car is an experience not to be missed if you wish to discover not only the landscape but also the history of this island, the largest i[...]

No.91 [Travel] Close to the sea and people

The Michinoku Trail provides breathtaking scenery like the Kitayamazaki Cliffs in Iwate Prefecture. The Michinoku hiking trail in the north-east of the Archipelago is ready and waiting for tourists to return. When Japan reopens to international travel, a fabulous treat awaits all who love hiking , f[...]

No.90 [TRAVEL] In the north lived the Jomon

The Sannai Maruyama site provides an insight into the way the Jomon people lived. Tohoku welcomes the inclusion of its prehistoric sites from the Jomon period on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Last summer, while the world was engrossed in the spectator-less Tokyo Olympics, Japan quietly received a [...]

No.89 [TRAVEL] Iizaka Onsen: A licence to bathe

A small Shinto shrine adjoins Sabakoyu, the oldest public bath in Iizaka Onsen. The famous spa is very popular with prospective driving licence candidates nowadays. Nestling in the mountains in the north-east of Fukushima Prefecture, Iizaka Onsen is a delightful spa town I discovered while obtaining[...]

No.88 [TRAVEL] Noto, a piece of land-sea heaven

Located in the north of the peninsula, the Shiroyome Senmaida rice fields plunging down to the Sea of Japan are one of the must-see attractions. Often overlooked by tourists, the peninsular overflows with treasures such as terraced rice fields. If you scan the map of Japan, your eye will be caught b[...]

No.87 [TRAVEL] A country at chrysanthemum time

The cultivation of this flower took off in the Heian period (794-1185) after being imported from China. From September onwards, the symbolic flower of the Imperial House is the focus of numerous festivities. Which flower first springs to mind when you think of Japan? If you answer “cherry blossom[...]

No.86 [TRAVEL] Tokyo, rollercoaster version

In many ways, this part of the capital is more reminiscent of a provincial town than a district in the country’s largest city. Hongo is one of the many districts in the capital where the numerous sloping streets are full of history. Tokyo is often seen as a pedestrian-friendly place, probably [...]

No.85 [TRAVEL] Kagurazaka, Tokyo’s hidden beauty

Today there are only around twenty geisha left in this district, compared to 600 in the 1930s. This is one of the last areas of the capital to have resisted the changes linked to the capital becoming modern. In ever-changing Tokyo, the few remaining vestiges of the past are being bulldozed out of th[...]

[TRAVEL] The Castle in the Sky is here!

Kisami beach is one of the most popular spots for surfers. A source of inspiration for the great MIYAZAkIHayao, the Izu Peninsula has plenty of treasures to discover. The silhouettes of surfers takes shape in the breaking dawn. It’s 5:00 in the morning at the end of August and the sun is rising sl[...]

Magical Journey in Fukushima: NHK WORLD-JAPAN

NHK WORLD-JAPAN program Magical Journey Fukushima – A New Leaf, A New Day Walking through Tohoku is like walking through time: everywhere you turn is a history lesson waiting to be discovered. Three foreigners⁠—a lawyer, a photographer, and a tour guide—embark on an adventure t[...]

No.83 [TRAVEL] Love nests in Tokyo

In Shibuya district, Tokyo, a couple search for a love hotel. In Dogenzaka district alone there are some 300 love hotels. A unique Japanese feature that is worth a visit. Dogenzaka Hill in Shibuya is one of those places that never sleeps. Art Theatre Eurospace screens films late and Club Asia is a h[...]

No.81 [TRAVEL] Tono – at the heart of legends

The town, which has 26,000 inhabitants, is the leading producer of hops in Japan.   The small town, which is the main producer of hops in the archipelago, wants to become a city of beer!   Yokohama, Sapporo and other big cities may be the main centres of beer produc- tion in Japan, but few[...]

No.80 [TRAVEL] Okutama, another aspect of Tokyo

The junction of the Tama and Nippara rivers.   Two hours from the capital city, lush and stunning countryside delights camping and hiking enthusiasts.   At the riverside, a dozen or so campers are eating the remains of a late barbecue among swirling woodsmoke. A twohour train journey from [...]

No.79 [EXPLORING] A railway paradise

Landscape near Nagaoka where the first section of the Joetsu line was opened in 1920.   To discover this beautiful region, the local railway companies have some original options on offer. “The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country”. The opening words of Yukiguni (Snow Coun[...]

No.78 [TRAVEL] Under the spell of Matsue

Sunset over Shinji Lake is one of the most eagerly awaited moments for tourists who are visiting the port city.   Located in the western prefecture of Shimane, the city founded by HORIO Yoshiharu is full of character. Driving north from Hiroshima towards matsue in Shimane Prefecture, you soon f[...]

No.77 [DISCOVERY] Hiroshima’s gardens

Saizo-ji Temple and its stone garden are a lovely invitation to pause and meditate. A green city par excellence, it’s full of places you can take a stroll, meditate, or even write poetry Japanese gardens are designed to “express the highest truths of religion and philosophy precisely as othe[...]

No.76 [TRAVEL] On the trail of Koshu wine

Château Mercian succeeded the Dai-Nihon Yamanashi Budoshu Kaisha founded in the mid-19th century. Produced in Yamanashi prefecture, this ambrosia is considered to be one of the best wines in the country. On a clear day, when KONDO Nobuyuki is busy with his vines, he can see Mount Fuji on the horizo[...]

No.75 [TRAVEL] Lake Inawashiro in autumn

The autumn landscape all around Lake Inawashiro is a symphony of colours and full of delights for visitors in search of unique locations in this beautiful region./Johann Fleuri for Zoom Japan Fukushima prefecture is the perfect place to observe the rich colours that autumn brings to the Tohoku regio[...]

No.74 [TRAVEL] To see nature, oze is a must

Ozenuma Lake offers a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains.   A real gem, this national park encompasses several mountains and the largest area of marshland in the country. If you love mountain hiking, Oze is, without doubt, the most beautiful place in Japan”. For many years, this ha[...]

No.73 [TRAVEL] Toyosu still needs to prove itself

built over an area of 41 hectares, the capital’s new market cost around £4.1 billion.   The new fish market is still facing comparison with Tsukiji, which remains a very lively location. at the beginning of October 2018, after interminable delays, Toyosu fish market took over from the venera[...]
URAWA REDS FAN supporter

No.72 [TRAVEL] A Saturday at Urawa Stadium

The fervour of the Urawa Reds’ supporters is legendary in the Archipelago. It recalls that of those other Reds, from Liverpool.   For more than a century, this city to the north of Tokyo has been passionate about football and attracts thousands of fans. Sitting in the sun-soaked stands, the T[...]

No.71 [TRAVEL] Sandankyo’s wild beauty

Located less than an hour and a half from Hiroshima, those who love stunning scenery will be delighted. The cherry blossom has all blown away for another year, but there are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful in Japan this month. The weather is warming up nicely after a long cold winter. Cascade[...]

No.70 [TRAVEL] Journey back in time in Hakone

The celebrated spa is well-known as a place that has succeeded in preserving the atmosphere of the Edo era. For two and a half centuries, Sakaichi-zake and its irregular paving stones was the only way to get to Kyoto.   With its hundred-year-old traditional inns, hot-water springs, lush landsca[...]

No69 [DISCOVERY] As wild as you could wish

The perfect cone shape of Komezuka, one of Mount Aso’s five volcanic peaks.   This impressive volcanic site has so many surprises in store for lovers of nature. The route called the Aso Panorama Line twists and turns around the slopes of volcanos hidden from view behind the white feathery plu[...]

No.68 [TRAVEL] a Japanese weekend in… Amsterdam

In the city centre, many stalls have been decorated by street artists inspired by Japanese art.   Former HQ of the Dutch East India Company, the port is an ideal destination for lovers of Japanese culture. After Japonismes, the incredible season of Japanese culture that France has been enjoying[...]

No.67 [A MUST SEE] Mie, jewel of the cultured pearl

Those who love to watch the sun setting will find something to satisfy their passion in this part of Japan.   An unspoilt marine oasis, Ago Bay in the Ise-Shima region is full of wonderful discoveries. The sea is calm and peaceful in Ago Bay, in the region of Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture. To keep [...]

No.66 [DISCOVERY] Along the Tobishima route

The Inland Sea seen from Kenmin-no-hama Beach on Kamagari Island.   Less well-known than the Shimanami Kaido, this route allows you to revel in the beauty of the Seto Inland Sea. The view from Mt Noro, near Kure City in Hiroshima Prefecture, is constantly changing. Islands appear, vanish and re[...]

No65 [TRAVEL] The subtle charm of miyazaki

Situated on the island of kyushu, at the southern end of the archipelago, this region is brimming with treasures crying out to be discovered. In the region of Miyazaki, situated in the south-east of the island of Kyushu, terraced rice paddies follow the coastline as far as the eye can see. The air i[...]

No64 [EXPLORATION] Niigata, the kingdom of sake

Niigata Prefecture is home to the largest number of breweries in Japan, with some 90 companies. Rice produced in Niigata is considered to be the best in the country.   It’s 9.40 a.m. on this particular Saturday, in the port city of Niigata, situated on the Sea of Japan coastline. In front of [...]

No63 [DISCOVERY] In the land of the matagi

In the north-west of the country, traditional hunters are trying to preserve their know-how by welcoming women. In this part of Japan, it snows abundantly and you need great expertise to get from one place to another.   As soon as he gets out of his vehicle and casts an eye up the side of the m[...]

No62 Sharing experiences in Iida

students from iNsEAd were able to discover an unexpected side to Japan while on a trip to iida.) Staying with a resident is one of the best ways to learn about the country. in mrs aGemaTSu Tae’s home.   It’s in small cities like ours that you can really discover the heart of Japan,” boast[...]

No61 An escape called chichibu

Fewer than 100 km from the centre of the capital, this region has everything to satisfy all your senses. The colourful decorations of the Chichibu-jinja Shrine resemble those of the Nikko Shrine in many respects.   The city of Tokyo is known for its dynamism, but also for the accompanying stres[...]

No60 Hanami : Japan’s fleeting beauties

Every year, the Japanese wait impatiently for the brief moment they are able to delight in the cherry blossom. People gather along the banks of the Kyobashi River in Hiroshima to contemplate this fleeting beauty.   Japan is in the grip of cherry blossom fever once again. As the blossom front sw[...]

[DISCOVERY] in the east, the call of nature

The Shiretoko Peninsula has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2005.   Nature lovers and travellers in search of wild landscapes will find their hearts desire in Hokkaido. Whatever the season you choose to travel to Hokkaido, you can be sure that nature will be clothed in her finest attire[...]
The Ishinomori Manga Museum

[TRAVEL] Journey to the land of manga

The Ishinomori Manga Museum, also known as the Ishinomaki Mangattan Museum, has some wonderful surprises for lovers of the work of Cyborg 009’s creator. A tour around Japan on the trail of comic book heroes is easily arranged. There are many good reasons to visit Japan. You could be captivated by [...]
p16 Travel DISCOVERYKagura's affinity with Hiroshima

No57 [DISCOVERY] Kagura’s affinity with Hiroshima

The monster and the umbrella seller, performed by the Yokota Kagura troupe.   This theatrical art form intended to entertain the gods is particularly wellestablished in this still very rural region. Climbing the lantern-lit steps to Waseda Jinja, a small Shinto shrine on the outskirts of Hirosh[...]

No56 [FOCUS] Otsu, the authentic flavour of japan

For an uninterrupted view over Lake Biwa, just go to Biwako Terrace.   Avoid the suffocating crowds of tourists in Kyoto, by visiting this lakeside city ten minutes away from the former capital. oh Kyoto! With its temples, shrines, history and… its tourists. The former Imperial capital city h[...]

No56 [LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT] A warm welcome to Inase

Otsu offers visitors a range of accommodation. From luxury hotels on the shores of Lake Biwa to Enryaku-ji Temple, where you can stay in a modest room, one is spoilt for choice. Among the numerous available places in the lakeside city, Inase stands out for its character and high quality service. It [...]

No55 [DISCOVERY] Miyajima: foods of the Gods

The miyajima torii is as celebrated as mount Fuji around the world. / Angeles Marin Cabello for Zoom Japan   Known for its floating shrine and its torii rising out of the water, the island is also a gourmet’s paradise. Everyone loves Miyajima. It’s a World Heritage Site, one of Japan’s To[...]

No54 Shimane, homeland of sumo

The tradition is nurtured from a very young age on the Oki Islands. To find out more about the origins of this very popular sport, you need to travel to the west of the archipelago. It’s nearly 6.30pm in the village of Goka, on Dogo, the largest of the Oki Islands in the prefecture of Shimane [see[...]

No53 Ogasawara: The treasure archipelago

Situated more than 1,000 km away from Tokyo, a large part of the Ogasawara archipelago is still very wild . Shibuya, Harajuku and even Shinjuku are all part of Tokyo, but so is this string of islands 1,000 km from the city. From the bridge of Ogasawara Maru, passengers take photos of the first reefs[...]

No52[DISCOVERY] At the end of the Silk Road

The little port city isn’t just the homonym of the former American president, it’s also a relatively unknown region full of treasures. At the heart of Wakasa Province, Obama embodies ancestral Japan by preserving its culture and traditions. Iregret not having the time to visit the city with whic[...]

No51 Between heaven and earth on Nokogiri

The Nippon-ji has been a site for prayers since the 13th century. It’s home to one of the biggest statues of Buddha. Situated on the outskirts of the capital, this old industrial site is full of beautiful surprises. “Next stop: Hamakanetani”. On hearing that announcement, the tourists [...]

No50 Setouchi, a whiff of the aegean sea

With its 12,000 olive trees, the ushimado Olive Garden is one of the city’s most prized locations. Situated to the south of Okayama Prefecture, this port city attracts visitors with the riches of its region. Such landscapes are rare in Japan, aren’t they? A calm sea, boats sailing to the little [...]
Kosanji, setoda, Onomichi-shi

No49 [KOSANJI] A touch of madness

Born of the unbridled imagination of a former business man, Kosanji is a unique example of its kind. Filial piety can sometimes go way beyond the limit, as this unique architectural complex shows. Stuck for Mother’s Day gift ideas? Why not build her a temple? Well that’s what Kanemoto Kozo d[...]

No49 [IDEAS] What to do, eat, and see

A system of self-service rental bikes allows you to travel around the city easily. Hiroshima and its region are not lacking in interesting things to do. Here are some suggestions for making the most of your visit.. Every year, over 1.2 million people visit Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Me[...]

No48 [Hokkaido] In the footsteps of Ken-san

Notoro lake near Abashiri is once again frozen and covered in snow. A typical mid-winter sight in Hokkaido In this far northerly region, where winters are harsh, ghosts of the past can sometimes change the course of a journey. When I first set off to the port city of Abashiri in the northeast of Hok[...]
ritsurin garden, takamatsu, japanese garden

No47 [Taking a Walk] In the gardens of Shikoku

People from Takamatsu consider the Ritsurin Garden to be the one of the most beautiful in the country. Although most famous for its pilgrimage of 88 temples, this island has many other hidden treasures. According to the inhabitants of Takamatsu, a city in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, Ritsurin Koen [...]
Mount Fuji, fujiyoshida

No46 [Discovery] Mount fuji in full colour

Mount Fuji as seen from Chureito Pagoda in Fujiyoshida. There are many treasures in the lakeland region surrounding the famous volcano, including the Itchiko Kubota Art Museum. At the foot of Mount Fuji is a region full of lakes, waterfalls and caves with stunning natural landscapes. Two hours out o[...]
hiroshima, tomo, tomo no ura, fukuyama, japan, travel

No45 [Bewitched] A gem named Tomo

“The most beautiful view in Japan”. This is how a Korean emissary described what he saw from a window at the Taichoro guesthouse in 1711. Hiroshima Prefecture is full of wonderful places. One of them is the charming port of Tomo-no-ura. The priest from Fukuzenji Temple, sitting cross-legged on a[...]
stockholm ryokan yasuragi

No44 [Trip] A Japanese week-end in Stockholm

Zoom Japan will be taking you on a tour of Japan right here in Europe. Our first stop is in Scandinavia. If there is one country in Europe that most resembles Japan, it’s Sweden. Not only do Swedes have a similar relationship with nature as the Japanese, but Sweden is also famous for its design, j[...]
japan by rail

No44 [Book] The Bible for train travel in japan

Nothing beats traveling around Japan by train, and there’s nothing better than a good guidebook to avoid getting lost. For many of the tourists who are increasingly visiting Japan, one of the biggest fears is being unable to travel around due to difficulty with the language or the complexity of th[...]

No43 [Travel] Hachijo, Pearl of the Pacific

Located to the south of Tokyo, this volcanic island excites the curiosity of visitors with its many cultural and maritime treasures. All of a sudden, our boat’s whistle sounds. Passengers stand up and hurry to put away their belongings before heading to the stairs to disembark. The long night sinc[...]

No42 [Taste] Nara and Kyoto, food and drink (2/2)

The two ancient imperial cities are full of history and have a long tradition of fine cuisine. Among the many trains circulating on the busy Kintetsu Nara line linking the two ancient imperial capitals is the Shimakaze, a different kind of train that offers passengers extraordinary levels of comfort[...]

No41 [Travel] Nara and Kyoto, food and drink (1/2)

Japan’s two ancient imperial cities are full of history, and have a long tradition of fine cuisine. Kyoto and Nara are two cities that are almost obligatory destinations for visitors to Japan. Both ancient imperial capitals are full of hidden treasures, and the charms of the numerous important[...]

No40 [Travel] On Iwakuni’s bridge

Every year, 40,000 people attend a celebration unlike any other, in an amazing setting. Under the Kintai bridge, flat-bottomed wooden boats carry passengers through the water, just as they used to centuries ago before the general population was allowed to cross over its span. One long vessel glides [...]

No39 [Travel] Okinawa – A relaxing time in Taketomi

Situated in the extreme south of Japan, this little island has found a way to control the growth of its tourism successfully. A glimpse of paradise is the first impression you get when you set foot on Okinawan soil, especially if your first point of contact is Ishigaki, at the southern tip of the Ry[...]

No38 [Travel] Samurai spirit, are you there?

Just like the Siena Palio, Fukushima prefecture’s Soma Nomaoi is an event where riders can represent their region with pride. The sun is rising over the Nakamura Shrine and Ito Kazuhiko is hard at work in the stables where he is preparing his horse for the annual Soma Nomaoi races. With velvet[...]

No37 [Travel] The divine at Togouchi

There is an ancient ritual held in the mountains surrounding Hiroshima that is well worth seeing. Yabusame (horseback archery) originated in the 6th century as a ritual for warriors to pray for health and good fortune. It was originally performed only within shrine precincts and during the Kamakura [...]

No36 [Travel] Tomioka, a taste of France

Japan owes a Frenchman for its its first modern silk mill, now listed as a world heritage site. While their economy might not be doing too well, the Japanese are taking great pleasure in rediscovering their industrial heritage. After having neglected this aspect of their history somewhat, they have [...]

No35 [Travel] The hidden face of Yokohama

The second largest city in Japan is known for its harbour and Chinese quarter. Let’s discover its hidden treasures. Ten years ago I discovered the manga writer Taniguchi Jiro thanks to a work of his called “Aruku Hito” (Translated into French and English as “L’Homme qui Marche” and [...]

No34 [Travel] The incredible Kii Peninsula

By following the Kisei line that runs along the coast, you can discover all the treasures of this region, which are more than worth a detour. Located in an ideal spot at the far end of a large bay, the charming town of Kii-Katsuura sits in a half circle, reflecting the bright colours on the hulls of[...]

No33 [Travel] Ishinomaki Faith in a rebirth

Badly damaged by the tsunami in March 2011, the city has high hopes with its manga museum. I f one has heard the name Ishinomaki, it’s probably because of the earthquake of Spring 2011. Last March Prince William came on an official visit to the city. It gave encouragement and hope to the inhabitan[...]

No32 [Travel] In Hiroshige’s footsteps

Several sections of the famous road that links Edo to Kyoto are accessible. We travelled along one of them. A meeting place was agreed on: Nihonbashi in Tokyo. Built more than four centuries ago, this bridge, initially made of wood, was the starting point for the main routes travellers had to take t[...]

No31 [Travel] The magic of the oki Islands

If you are looking for a place where you can recharge your batteries, then think about travelling to this unique archipelago. Prize-winning novelist and former Japan resident David Mitchell once remarked “If you only make one trip while you are in Japan, make sure it’s to the Oki Islands”. Th[...]

No30 [Travel] A walk through Torasan’s shibamata

Yamada Yoji built a great part of his legendary film career in the Shibamata district of Tokyo. Since ancient times, and especially with the establishment of the Edo shogunate (1603-1867), Tokyo has been divided into two roughly defined areas: on the west side of Edo Castle (the site of today’s Im[...]

No29 [Travel] A little jaunt to Kanazawa

Thanks to a new fast section of railway line, this port city is now only two and a half hours away from Tokyo. The countdown started a year ago. Now everybody knows that the shinkansen, the fastest train in Japan, will be stopping at Kanazawa from March 2015, taking just two hours and 28 minutes to [...]

No28 [Travel] Walking in Taniguchi’s footsteps

700 kilometers west of Tokyo, Tottori prefecture has much to attract the curious. It all starts on a train, as it did for Nakahara Hiroshi, the main character in A Distant Neighbourhood (Fanfare, Ponent Mon). The idea of this journey is to discover the region in which Tanugichi Jiro, Manga artist an[...]

No27 [Travel] Behind the scenes in Asakusa

Everyone comes here to see the famous Thunder Gate (Kaminarimon). However, the district has many other surprises too. The eastern district of Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s more popular areas, for it retains that shitamachi (downtown) old-time feeling that has all but disappeared from the rest of the [...]

No26 [Travel] A trip back in time in Matsumoto

Located in the heart of the Japanese Alps, this city is home to one of the rarest gems of military architecture. “Matsumoto, Matsumoto, Matsumoto” sings out a woman’s voice in welcome as you step off the train in this town nestled at the heart of the Japanese Alps. The city has many attraction[...]

No25 [Travel] Autumn in Hiroshima

The trees clothed in their autumn colours are a stunning spectacle that’s not to be missed. There’s something magical about the onset of autumn in Hiroshima. Summer’s suffocating heat is just a memory; the typhoon season has blown itself out, leaving bright days and refreshingly cool nights. T[...]

No24 [Travel] Walking sacred paths

Kumano and its sacred pilgrimage routes were jointly registered as a UNESCO World heritage sites ten years ago. A good place to start your journey through this sacred area is at the summit of Mount Koya (koyasan) where you will find a large cluster of 120 temples and monasteries founded in 816 by th[...]

No23 [Travel] Yanaka, an oasis of peace in Tokyo

Yanaka has become one of the capital’s most popular locations, yet it is still one of the most peaceful. Let’s give you a guided tour. Allan West adds the final touches to his latest work before climbing down from his stage-like workplace and joining us out in the street. The American artist has[...]

No22 [Travel] The Inner Sea by bike

  There’s nothing like a lovely bike ride from one island to the other to discover one of Japan’s most beautiful regions. Despite the dense steam rising from the onsen (hot spring bath), Jupiter is clearly visible over the twinkling black waters of the Seto Inland Sea. It’s not hard to se[...]

No21 [Travel] Between heaven and earth

Far less well-known than Naoshima, Teshima in the Inland Sea has many surprises in store. For several years now, contemporary art lovers travelling to Japan have been visiting Naoshima whenever they can. This island situated in the Inland Sea has become the symbol of the potential to turn an industr[...]

No20 [Travel] The power of cherry blossom

Every year, at the arrival of spring, cherry blossom casts a spell over the Japanese. Can’t you feel it in the air? The interminable winter is finally over. The days are warming up and getting longer, the birds are singing and the bees are buzzing. This can only mean one thing: sakura season is n[...]

No19 [Travel] On top of the mountain

Located just thirty kilometres southwest of Takamatsu, Kotohira has many hidden treasures to offer. Shikoku is one of the archipelago’s most attractive regions but many foreign tourists are not aware of this. However, many of the little islands of the Inland Sea, such as Naoshima or Teshima have g[...]

No18 [Travel] Meeting the soul of Kyoto

Every year the inhabitants of the ancient city celebrate their past with a highly colourful procession The young lady sitting on the bench straightens her wig and applies the finishing touches to her make-up. Her face is painted porcelain-white; her lips are bloodred and heart-shaped but her express[...]

No17 [Travel] The tale of Edo and Tokyo

The Edo-Tokyo museum opened in March 1993. In the space of twenty years it has become an essential tourist destination. When you take a walk in Tokyo it is hard to imagine what the capital was like just a century ago. Unlike many other big cities around the world, there are very few places that give[...]

No16 [Travel] Railway magic in Kyushu

Japan has had a new train since the 15th of October and it is a unique way of discovering regions that were little known up until now. In 2012, Japan welcomed eight million foreign tourists. The number is growing but it is still far from the current government’s hope for twenty million by 2020, th[...]

No16 [Travel] Welcome to Tokyo-upon-Avon

If you feel like wallowing in one of the capital’s 700 thermal baths, here are three top places to visit. On the morning of the 1st of September 1923, there were more than 2,000 sento in Tokyo. Just two days later only 400 were still standing following the biggest earthquake to ever hit the city. [...]