Exploring Wakasa: Kyoto’s Influence on Fukui’s Obama City and the Wild Monkeys at Hibiki Terraced Rice Fields

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. “GAH! MONKEYS!!!” I stopped dead in my tracks as I stumbled into a group of wild monkeys at Hibiki Terraced Rice Fields. I think I surprised them as much as they did me,…

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Exploring Tango Part 2: A Bridge to Heaven at Amanohashidate

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. Japan is a country of lists. Top five cities. Top ten shrines. Top 100 ramen joints… you get the picture. So it didn’t surprise me when I started researching the famous sight…

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Exploring Tango Part 1: Feeling Small at Maizuru Red Brick Park, Kyoto

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. In the beautiful stretch of coastal scenery in northern Kyoto prefecture (京都府), lies a port town of lovely red brick buildings at Maizuru (舞鶴) Brick Park. Facing the Sea of Japan (日本海), Maizuru was originally a fishing…

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Exploring Tajima Part 3: Takeda Castle Ruins and Ikuno Silver Mine

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. I have a confession to make: I hate haunted houses. As a kid, the looming fear that something would come to life and jump out at me from the dark terrified me…

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Exploring Tajima Part 2: A Private Spa and Local Flavours at Kinosaki Onsen

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. I might not have been the image of grace stomping along in my inch-high geta sandals. But it completed my yukata and onsen hopping outfit, as I clip-clopped along the willow-lined canal of Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉). With the…

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Exploring Tajima Part 1: My Soba Eating Tour in Izushi Castle Town

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. “Itadakimasu!“ With my stomach already dangerously at capacity, I dove into my last order of soba (buckwheat) noodles in the Japanese castle town of Izushi (出石). As my favourite go-to cold noodle dish during the summer months in…

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Exploring Tamba Part 2: Keeping the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive in Tamba Sasayama Castle Town

Originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. It was a day of wind and rain — not exactly the ideal weather for a photoshoot in Hyogo Prefecture’s (兵庫県) Tamba-Sasayama (丹波篠山市). Home to a rich 400-year old history, this Japanese castle town…

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Christmas 2019: Kurokawa Onsen

It was 3 years ago when I first visited Kurokawa Onsen. On my first trip back to Japan as an adult in 2016, my boyfriend and I splurged on a stay at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) at the famous onsen hotspot in Kumamoto prefecture. With absolutely no previous experience staying in any ryokan, this upscale…

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Miyazaki Day 3: Takachiho

Day 3: Takachiho Gorge Our last day in Miyazaki starts early. There’s a place I’ve wanted to visit since looking into our travels in Miyazaki. Takachiho Gorge is famous for its gorgeous ravines. There are turquoise blue boats you can rent for a unique perspective of the gorge. The previous night, we learn on the…

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Miyazaki Day 2: Udo-jingū and Wild Horses

It’s day two, and the sun feels prickly on the back of our necks. It suddenly feels like summer, and I am overly dressed with pants and a long sleeve shirt. Our first stop is Udo-jingū, a brightly painted shrine set within a cave on cliffs facing the Open Pacific. With brilliant red paint set…

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Miyazaki Day 1: Aoshima Island and Obi Town

From the 29th of April to early May, a string of consecutive holidays called Golden Week (GW) takes place every year in Japan. This year’s abdication of the Emperor and the subsequent succession meant that this Golden Week would be extended to the first ever ten consecutive days off around the country. It was always my…

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Showa no Machi

The change of weather into hotter days has given more opportunities to explore areas of Oita prefecture haven’t yet visited. That’s exactly what I did on a beautiful 22 degree Sunday. A 20 minute drive takes me to Bungotakada, where Showa no Machi (Showa-era Village) is. The popular shopping district preserves many nostalgic shops of…

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Grand Sumo Tournament

In November, the last major sumo tournament of the year takes place at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center. The wrestlers battle it out over 15 full days to decide the eventual champion. We were lucky enough to get tickets (thanks to a teacher in Usa City with an inside contact) and went to Fukuoka early Saturday…

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Futago-ji Buddhist Temple (and an Epic Hike)

There are many small pleasures in life, and one particular luxury for me is owning my own car. No rental cars or expensive car shares – just spontaneous road trips at the drop of a hat. One quiet Sunday morning, that’s exactly what we did. After a brief conversation with a barista about local activities…

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