February 05, 2011
Yakushima, a mountainous island with its highest peak reaching 1,935 meters, is sometimes called the "alps in the ocean." And because of geographical features that provide subtropical to subalpine climates all on the same isle, it is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, including some native to the island.
January 29, 2011
The highest peak in Japan and a symbol of the nation, Mount Fuji has for generations adorned calendars, souvenirs and nearly every conceivable type of Japanese memorabilia. It has inspired a great range of art from ukiyo-e woodblock prints and Western-style oils to wall paintings at public bath houses, literary works, photography and song.
January 22, 2011
Osaka has long been considered "the country's kitchen," a comfortable confluence of people and goods traveling in and out of the city by land, sea and river.
January 15, 2011
The island of Sakurajima rises out of the water a mere 4 kilometers from downtown Kagoshima.
January 08, 2011
Once upon a time, Chinese envoys visited a land called Yamatai, according to the "Wei Zhi: Account of the Wa People," a part of a history book from China's Wei Dynasty (220-265). Sitting on the Yamatai throne was the mystic queen Himiko, who was able to chat with the gods. Her domain was believed to have been a rice-farming community protected by stout wood walls manned by fierce armed guards.
January 01, 2011
This week provides adventurous readers with another chance to get their hands dirty and explore the ancient religion of Shugendo, this time visiting the very epicenter of the faith that fuses mountain worship with Buddhism and eccentric practices.
December 25, 2010
In ancient, wild days, people tread cautiously around Mount Mitokusan. How could they not, knowing it was the favored hangout for a rowdy gang of spirits and deities, not all of whom were particularly benign? And also knowing it was better to be safe than sorry, they paid proper homage to the mountain itself, worshipping it as a god.
December 18, 2010
Looking at the megalopolis that is Tokyo, it's hard to imagine it as warrior chieftain Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) must have seen it when he took over the fishing village by the bay in 1590.
December 11, 2010
Dazaifu may now be a mere satellite of the prefectural capital of Fukuoka in Fukuoka Prefecture, but it wasn't always so.
December 04, 2010
Legend has it that even Matsuo Basho, the celebrated 17th-century haikuist and travel writer, was at a loss for words when he first gazed at Matsushima.
November 27, 2010
"Kiso" is not just a generic term for the mountainous area upstream of the Kisogawa river in Nagano Prefecture. It's also used to describe a once well-trodden old highway through the mountains that joined what is now Tokyo and Kyoto.