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 [...]

3 fire festivals in Tottori and Shimane you should not miss

In Japan, Tottori and Shimane often get a bad rap. The shinkansen doesn't go there so they must be pretty backwater places. Au contraire, my friend, au contraire!  There's always something going on, if you know where to look. Like other prefectures in Japan, Tottori and Shimane have their own quirky light and fire festivals. [...]

A wedding at Izumo Taisha

The couple exits one of the halls at Izumo Taisha, surrounded by a tiny cluster of relatives. The bride steps on the path in a swath of white and holds her head carefully, under the weight of her domed headdress. She looks demure, apart from her crimson lips. The wedding coordinator places her hand on [...]