June 24, 2011
Just the fact that Himeji Castle has survived nearly 400 years without being destroyed in a battle or by a natural disaster borders on the miraculous.
June 17, 2011
Mount Hieizan, visible from the heart of Kyoto, is not only the site of Enryakuji temple, but also home to a breeding ground for wild birds.
June 10, 2011
Eighty-eight Buddhist temples associated with the monk Kukai (774-835) are scattered around Shikoku--the smallest of the four main islands of Japan and which comprises Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime and Kochi prefectures. For centuries, it has been popular among the devout to go on a pilgrimage, or "henro," totaling about 1,400 kilometers and visiting all 88 sites.
June 03, 2011
Feudal lord Maeda Toshiie (1538-1599) rode into the area in 1583. He then did what lords do: he built a castle. Soon, the stirrings of commerce could be heard and before long, the bustling city of Kanazawa had sprung up outside the walls of the fortress.
May 27, 2011
Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto is so famous for its platform built over a steep cliff that even people who have never visited the temple are familiar with the saying, "leap off Kiyomizu platform," which means "taking a leap in the dark."
May 20, 2011
Oita Prefecture in northern Kyushu offers an attractive range of tourist destinations, including the highly regarded hot springs of Beppu and Yufuin.
May 13, 2011
Far back in history, the monk Dogen made the hazardous journey to China. After training, he returned to Japan and was invited in 1244 to head what has become one of the nation's most accessible Zen temples, Eiheiji.
May 06, 2011
Izumo Taisha, widely believed to favor those hoping to get lucky in love, is also one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan.
April 29, 2011
Many cities and towns sprang up around castles erected by samurai lords, but possibly no better surviving example of that lifestyle can be found than the city of Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture on the Sea of Japan.
April 22, 2011
It is impossible for even the most carefree tourist to ignore the atomic bomb legacy when the destination is Hiroshima. Regardless of which side of the Pacific you come from, you cannot help but be reminded that on 8:15 a.m. Aug. 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on the city, the first time the devastating weapon was used in the world.
April 15, 2011
Two Shinto shrines in Kyoto claim the name of Kamojinja--Kamigamojinja and Shimogamojinja. Both are in the north of the ancient capital, in an area far from the city center, and both offer visitors a haven from the downtown hustle and bustle.
April 08, 2011
Facing Sagami Bay to the south and sheltered by mountains on three sides, Kamakura has always been a natural stronghold, the perfect place to fend off enemies.
April 01, 2011
Perhaps no place in Japan better befits the word historic than what is today Nara Prefecture.
March 25, 2011
Once upon a time there were villages filled with industrious farmers living in unique dwellings. Frequently a kindly wizard would visit.
March 18, 2011
Of course, Kyoto has its share of Buddhist statues and religious architecture, but what really sets the city apart are its magnificent temple gardens. For centuries, these enchanting creations have lured millions of visitors and influenced the work of landscape gardeners.
March 11, 2011
The southern section of Kyoto, along with the adjacent city of Uji, is dotted with temples and Shinto shrines, each with their own histories for the curious to explore.
March 04, 2011
Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture has flourished for centuries as both a significant religious center and as one of the most beautiful places in Japan. Visitors have traveled from afar to worship at the many temples and shrines and to pay homage to the mountains surrounding the city.
February 26, 2011
Ise Jingu is one of the nation's major Shinto shrines and remains a destination for thousands of pilgrims, including the imperial family.
February 19, 2011
Todaiji, one of the nation's major Buddhist temples, is certainly familiar to the Japanese--almost all have either studied it or visited it on school trips. Yet, somehow, this massive structure still manages to evoke a sense of awe and wonder in visitors, be it their first time or their 50th.
February 12, 2011
Old castles or fortresses in Okinawa have traditionally been called "gusuku." These were the residences of chiefs of small kingdoms that fought fiercely during the 14th century. The battles eventually led to establishment of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which prospered from 1429 through 1879 before becoming part of Japan.