Photo essay: Day trip to Mihonoseki

Seki is a goodly place, facing the morning sun; there, from the holy mountains, the winds blow softly, softly Soyo-soyoto! - Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan by Lafcadio Hearn Looking for more off the beaten track Japan? Mihonoseki should be your next stop. This small fishing town straddles the invisible border between Shimane and Tottori prefectures in [...]

Day trip: Tottori Hanakairo Flower Park

Tottori Hanakairo Flower Park, one of the largest in Japan, is located in Nanbu, a tiny pastoral town surrounded by the rolling mountains of the Daisen Oki National Park. It's a well-kept natural attraction. Everything is meticulously swept, arranged, trimmed, watered, plucked, weeded, and manicured. The park spans 50 hectares which change every season. In fall, there [...]

What it’s really like to live in Japan

In 2004, I traveled "around the world." Literally. At the time, zipping through six countries in three months seemed incredible. I (obnoxiously) emailed everyone I knew to let them know how amazing it was. I could think of nothing better than tramping across oceans and continents to experience alien foods, languages, and cultural practices. After that [...]

Bucket list Japan: see the peonies at Yuushien Garden

Daikonshima in Japan's Shimane prefecture is famous for peonies. Head to the island's Yuushien garden to see them in all their glory. This garden is kaiyu shiki teien or circuit style: you start at one end and wind your way around many different gardens. "The most famous place for this spectacle is the little island of [...]