Jujo Fujizuka where visitors can experience Mount Fuji without having to travel to the iconic mountain (Photo by Lisa Vogt)
Lisa’s Eye on Tokyo: Jujo and Oji--Why climb 3,776 meters when 6 will do?
Outside the kitchen window of the house I grew up in was a view of Tacoma Fuji. What’s that, you may ask?
A view from the Sapporo TV Tower in Sapporo where the Sapporo Snow Festival is being held. (Provided by Sapporo city office)
FROM AROUND JAPAN/ Sapporo: Snowed under with festival fun
I'm from a tropical country so the thought of being surrounded by snow is nothing short of magical. And the island of Hokkaido, where I live, evokes the classic image of a romantic, snowy island.
Ceramics by Kei Funahashi (Nobuo Onishi)
FROM AROUND JAPAN/ Omihachiman: Art without borders
The streets around Omihachiman in Shiga Prefecture exude a distinctly old-school Japanese vibe. This is largely due to the traditional-style buildings, many of which were historically homes of successful merchants, but it is also as a result of little touches here and there--signs in streets reminding people to greet one another, houses and shops with carefully arranged entryways, rows of potted plants, the familiar smell of home cooking wafting out from homes, and other signs of life. Down one particular street is my destination: a modest, but very special place known as the Borderless Art Museum NO-MA.
A large number of visitors flock to Tokyo's Ueno Zoo to see Kang Kang and Lan Lan on the pandas' debut Nov. 5, 1972. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: Pandas have 'ruled' at Ueno Zoo for almost half a century
To commemorate the normalization of bilateral relations between Japan and China, a pair of male and female giant pandas, Kang Kang and Lan Lan, were donated to Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo in October 1972.
“Please try sweeping the shrine’s grounds,” says Naoaki Kuwano, chief priest at Tarojinja shrine in Asaguchi, Okayama Prefecture. (Takuya Nishie)
Okayama shrine a site of pilgrimage for ‘Tenchi Muyo!” anime fans
ASAGUCHI, Okayama Prefecture--With its 320-step stone stairway and centuries of history, Tarojinja shrine here appears to be just like any other place of Shinto worship.
The banks of Lake Shinjiko on a typical stroll through Matsue (Brittany Partin)
FROM AROUND JAPAN/ Matsue: Go with the flow in the city of water
What does it take for a city in an island nation as blessed with water scenery as Japan to be declared a “City of Water”?
An event featured in a promotional video produced by the city of Takaoka (Provided by the Takaoka city government)
Oscar winner helps promote artisan culture of his Japan Heritage town
TAKAOKA, Toyama Prefecture--A video filmed by Academy Award-winning director Yojiro Takita has been released to advertise the cultural assets of this city, part of efforts to revitalize local communities.
The permanent exhibition area on the second floor of the main building of the Toyota Automobile Museum in Nagakute’s Yokomichi district features Japanese, U.S. and European vehicles side by side. (Takunori Yasuda)
Revamped Toyota museum hits gas with exhibits of decades of historic cars
NAGAKUTE, Aichi Prefecture--Showcasing the storied history of Toyota Motor Corp. and important vehicles from automobile manufacturers worldwide, the Toyota Automobile Museum here was recently given its first major overhaul since opening in 1989.
This giant torii gate, distinguished by a roof structure above the upper lintel, marks the entrance to Sanno Hiejinja shrine. (Photo by Lisa Vogt)
Lisa’s Eye on Tokyo: TAMEIKE SANNO--Gods, monkeys and falafel sandwiches
This column is about the area around the newest station on the oldest subway in Japan--no, I take that back--the oldest subway in all of Asia! It’s Tameike-Sanno on the Ginza Line.
Shigeru Mizuki, left, and his wife attend the unveiling ceremony of the bronze statues of themselves set up in front of JR Sakaiminato Station in the city’s Taishomachi district on March 8, 2010. (Provided by the Sakaiminato city government)
Events honoring late demon manga artist Mizuki running in his hometown
SAKAIMINATO, Tottori Prefecture--City officials are holding two events here to pay tribute to the late Shigeru Mizuki, a renowned manga artist known for his works featuring “yokai” ghouls and hobgoblins.
A crowd gathers around a vendor selling stone-roasted sweet potatoes in the Hiroo district in 1953. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: The rise and fall of the stone-roasted sweet potato
From 1950, a common sight on the streets of Tokyo was vendors pushing carts selling stone-roasted sweet potatoes.
Keihanna Plaza and the Laser Sundial, the centerpieces of the "science city" (Provided by Seika town office)
FROM AROUND JAPAN/ Seika: Crossroads of the Past and Future
Many first-time visitors to Japan expect to see ancient temples hiding among skyscrapers with far-out technology appearing around almost every corner. It is a somewhat cliched belief, but that aspect of Japan certainly does exist. I believe that the town of Seika serves as an excellent example of what this unique harmony of ancient and cutting-edge looks like.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and Himeji Mayor Toshikatsu Iwami at Himeji Castle in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, Jan. 21 (Koji Takahashi)
Caroline Kennedy's wish comes true with visit to Himeji Castle
HIMEJI, Hyogo Prefecture--It took U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy almost 40 years to get there, but she finally realized one of her long-held dreams by visiting Himeji Castle on Jan. 21.
Mount Fuji is seen with a perfect snow cap from Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Jan. 20. (Masahi Rokubuichi)
Mt. Fuji sparkles with season's 1st full snow crown
FUJINOMIYA, Shizuoka Prefecture--Mount Fuji is topped with its first perfect white snow cap of the season.
The Golden Pavilion at Kinkakuji temple shimmers in white after a heavy snowfall on Jan. 20. (Ryo Kato)
Snow-covered Kinkakuji offers majestic gold-and-white contrast
KYOTO--The famed Golden Pavilion at Kinkakuji temple here was a sight to behold Jan. 20 as snow blanketed its roofs and grounds.
An "Odensha" tram runs through Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, in December. (Minako Yoshimoto)
Tickets on Aichi 'oden' hot pot tram selling like hotcakes
TOYOHASHI, Aichi Prefecture--Crowds of hungry passengers are feasting on a seasonal hot pot dish being offered on a special wintertime trolley here, leaving tickets in short supply.
A diver explores the inside of the sea cave nicknamed “Cave of Love” at Cape Inugamisaki in Kyotango, Kyoto Prefecture. (Provided by the Kyotango city government)
Big plans in the cards for Kyotango’s ‘Cave of Love’
KYOTANGO, Kyoto Prefecture--Dubbed the “Cave of Love,” a natural formation caused by wave erosion at Cape Inugamisaki here could be the next hot new diving and leisure spot--if divers don't mind the sharks.
Visitors can view the repair and preservation work being conducted on the roof of the West Cocoon Warehouse of the Tomioka Silk Mill in Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture. This photograph was taken Jan. 19. (Yuji Endo)
Historic silk mill invites public to view its cocoon warehouses
TOMIOKA, Gunma Prefecture--A special media preview offering an up-close look at ongoing repair work on the West Cocoon Warehouse at the Tomioka Silk Mill, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was held here on Jan. 19.
A Japan Coast Guard official monitors the drift ice off Monbetsu, Hokkaido, from the air on Jan. 15. (Kotaro Ebara)
Declining Sea of Okhotsk drift ice puts chill on Hokkaido tourism hopes
Hokkaido's travel industry, preparing to host visitors eager to witness this winter's drift ice phenomenon, fears that as its size reduces, this tourism market will also melt away.
Cosplayers take photos in front of Nankai Electric Railway Co.'s "Star Wars"-themed "Rapi:t" train at Kansai Airport Station on Jan. 16. (Yoshichika Yamanaka)
PHOTO: The force is strong in this 'Star Wars' tour package
OSAKA--Instead of destroying planets and spreading evil, Darth Vader found himself forced to serve coffee to tourists.

More AJW