Keeping the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive in Tamba Sasayama Castle Town

Originally written for Voyapon Sponsored by North Kansai Tourism Association 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 includes a unique pottery culture, a contemporary castle, and perfectly preserved samurai…

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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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