No13 [Travel] High up on the sacred mountain

Designated as a Unesco World Heritage site in 2004, Mount Koya, an important Buddhist shrine, holds many surprises. This place is often neglected by foreign tourists who prefer to visit Kyoto or Nara. Yet Mount Koya, or Koya-san to the iniated, is an amazing location that deserves a visit. Getting t[...]

No12 [Travel] Kawagoe, a journey through time

Less than an hour away from the capital, a city situated in the heart of Saitama prefecture will take you back in time 200 years. It’s a well-known fact that public transport is close to perfect in Japan. So much so that it’s better to catch the train to travel to Kawagoe, in the middle of Saita[...]

No11 [Travel] The art of the Inland Sea

The second Setouchi Triennial takes place this year. It involves twelve islands and two ports. To look at a Japanese landscape is, ofetn, to think of art. To look over the middle Inland Sea is, for me, to think of the rock garden at the Ryoan-ji in Kyoto – a rectangle of white sand from which [...]

No10 [Travel] A Tramway Named Desire

A unique survivor of Tokyo’s old tram network, the Arakawa line has a few beautiful surprises in store for eager visitors. I’ve always had an obsession with trams. Maybe it’s because I love trains as well and trams look like trains that happen to criss-cross our cities. So I was somewhat disap[...]

No9 [Travel] Onomichi, from Ozu to Wenders

For ages, this quiet port city situated by the Inland Sea has attracted appreciators of tranquility and good food. The town of Onomichi, on the Seto Inland Sea Coast, is a living monument to literature. Its great beauty has been inspiring writers and artists for centuries. It was even mentioned in t[...]

No8 [Travel] Amakusa, welcome to paradise

A few kilometres southwest of Kumamoto, the Amakusa archipelago is an astonishing place full of charm. Majestic but not overpowering, Matsushima Bridge is a work of art that you cross before getting to the heavenly Amakusa islands, the two main ones being Amakusa Kamishima and Amakusa Shimoshima. T[...]

No7 [Travel] Enjoy travelling through books in Jimbocho

There are many bookshops in this area situated in the heart of the capital, where Chinese revolutionaries used to come a century ago to form their plans. Along the docks of the Seine in Paris, tourists often stop and leaf through the second-hand books on sale. The booksellers’ lack of courtesy is [...]

No6 [Travel] Kawasaki, home of Doraemon

© Fujiko-Pro You will enjoy visiting this museum whether or not you are a lover of Fujimoto Hiroshi’s robot cat.” Paying tribute to one of Japan’s most famous authors of graphic novels is the aim of the Fujiko F. Fujio museum that opened on the 3rd of September 2011 in Kawasaki, just sout[...]

No5 [Travel] When Kyoto goes up in flames…

The ancient imperial capital welcomes visitors all year around, but autumn is the best time of year to visit, and this is why… “I was there, standing near the “water mirror”, and the other side was bathed in light under the setting sun. The fishing pavilion on the left was half hidden. The p[...]

No4 [Travel] So close, yet so different from Tokyo

Just an hour away from the capital, Kamakura is so full of charm that you will forget how close you are to a big city. Leaving Tokyo at this time of the year, with its stifling heat, is rather a good idea. Even more so now, since the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power station means that air co[...]

No3 [Travel] Monsters and all that

Sakaiminato is the birthplace of mangaka Mizuki Shigeru, a charming port city that pays tribute to his comic strip characters. Since the end of March there has been a certain soap opera broadcast on Japan’s NHK at 8am that has achieved a passionate following. “Gegege no nyobo” is an adaptation[...]

No2 [Travel] Hiraizumi’s secrets

Japan’s former cultural and intellectual centre, in the north east of the country, makes a beautiful stop off the beaten track. Iwate’s main city was hit by last year’s earthquake and tsunami. The effects of the disaster are still very obvious along the Pacific coast, but many inland areas wer[...]

No1 [Travel] Miyajima, more than just a cliché

Out at large from Hiroshima, a site registered as UNESCO World Heritage will make you picture-crazy. By choosing to write about Miyajima in the main column, the next question is what picture to choose for the opening. The island facing Hiroshima is so beautiful that the choice was far from easy. Eve[...]