Category Archives: Small Towns and Villages

Under attack at Osorezan

You would expect that coming up to Osorezan by bus means you go back to Shimokita by bus. However, for the intrepid – or naive – you can walk back down the mountain to Ohata then bus it back to … Continue reading

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Goshogake bubbling up

By chance our travels north from Tokyo to Kamaishi coincided with a reward of delightful cherry blossoms in Morioka Castle Park in full bloom. More of that in a later post. Today I wanted to relay the story of a … Continue reading

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More to explore in Tohoku, this time in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture

The Tohoku region north-east of Tokyo may not at the top of the visitor list, but it should be. Spectacular scenery, coastal and mountain landscapes, large cities as well as very small villages, numerous places to walk and with many … Continue reading

Posted in Disasters, Iwate, People, Small Towns and Villages, Volunteer Guide | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

First hand account of Disaster Resilience education at work

I am in Japan again. Usually on one day I take some time to do ‘work’ around the management of disasters. This time I caught up with someone who I saw present at the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk … Continue reading

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Strolling the Mitake Gorge

No need to go further up the valley deeper into the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, strolling the Mitake Gorge riverside walking path caps off a great day that included the Mitake Tozan Ralway and the Musashi Shrine. Starting just below Mitake … Continue reading

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Musashi Shrine at Mt Mitake

When Tokyo gets discussed, the only image conjured up by most visitors is concrete and people. Yet as soon as you leave the flat land conurbation, extensive hills, mountains and forests beckon. Ome in western Tokyo is one of those … Continue reading

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Can the Mitake Tozan Railway get any steeper?

Mt Takeo is a very popular destination on the western edges of Tokyo. Maybe less popular but an immensely interesting place to visit is Mt Mitake in Ome City where your day can have three distinct elements – the Mitake … Continue reading

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Cafe Aun quiet beside the Tama River

From the riverside walking track only a small wooden gate sign lets you know that both a gallery and cafe lie on the other side. The short path leads you past kid’s bikes, a cubby house and a deflated football … Continue reading

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Akagi-goe section of the Kumano Kodo

The loop from Hongu Taisha to Hosshinmon-oji, on to Funatama-jinja and then on to Yunomine via the Akgi-goe section of the Nakahechi route is a very popular day walk. A short distance from Funatama-jinja, the route crosses over the Otonashi-gawa. … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, Onsen, Small Towns and Villages, Wakayama, Walks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kawayu Onsen – better second time around

There is something exotic and very reflective of the heart of Japan to stay in an old wooden ryokan, a fast flowing river in front before big hills that surround. Add to that open air hot spring baths. Kawayu Onsen … Continue reading

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Heart beat #19958

Contemporary art can be weird wonderful and whimsical, more often weird. When it is participatory, it is at another level again. And so I became heartbeat #19958 recorded on 13 April 2016 in Christian Boltanski’s worldwide installation ‘Les Archives du … Continue reading

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Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival

With declining rural communities as well as less Shinto followers  across Japan, local religious and cultural local festivals might be struggling to maintain community interest and participation. S0 I say to fellow visitors in particular – seek out and celebrate … Continue reading

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Images of the Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival

Big festivals in Japan are vibrant and exiting, the energy of the massive crowds palpable. But small festivals with rich history and cultural connections are worth finding. On such festival is the Kumano Hongu Taisha Spring Festival, in Hongu, Tanabe … Continue reading

Posted in Art and Culture, Festivals, People, Small Towns and Villages, Temples and Shrines, Wakayama | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A short but well-formed section of the Kumano Kodo

Historic pilgrimage routes are becoming extremely popular with serious trekkers and casual visitors. The Kii Peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture offers the Kumano Kodo network of pilgrimage routes. The 7 km walk from Hosshinmon-oji to Hongu Taisha is an easily accessible … Continue reading

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My Umbrella

The simple question from my work colleague was “where did I get my umbrella?” It might look like an ordinary, cheap looking, clear plastic, black ribbed and black handled umbrella. But that umbrella is a link to disaster, resilience, hope … Continue reading

Posted in Accommodation, Disasters, Iwate, People, Small Towns and Villages | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Miffy Cafe brings smiles in Kamaishi

Fair to say that I am not a fan of theme cafes. But the unmistakable line visage of Miffy adorning a cafe in far-off Kamaishi took Veronica and I back to those days some 30 years ago when Dick Bruna’s … Continue reading

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Cafe Ryusenkei replaces a faster music life

So this is Cafe Ryusenkei, an American Airstream caravan from the 60’s transformed into an intimate, mobile cafe fitted out by award-winning designers. Moving from place to place, a calendar identifying the next port of call.

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Putting Hiraizumi on your itinerary 

A few hours north of Tokyo is the recently registered World Heritage Site of Hiraizumi that is recognised for its remarkable buildings and gardens that directly express Pure Land Buddhism. I know little about Buddhism and less about the ancient … Continue reading

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Remains of the Stay

Traveling brings with it an accumulation of momentary conversations and connections. Relationships that are never developed, and highly unlikely to be rekindled. Like a variant on Kazuo Ishiguro’s fantastic book The Remains of the Day. I smile to myself at … Continue reading

Posted in Akita, Disasters, Nagoya, People, Small Towns and Villages, Temples and Shrines, Tochigi, Volunteer Guide | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ok. Ok. I am wearing tights.

The universal snow symbol near Akita was a good clue that Kakunodate was not going to miss out on the upcoming cold snap. Predicted light snow from Tuesday when i was arriving, through till Friday AM, with the wind chill … Continue reading

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No regrets, but next time ….

Being a single traveler has a particular advantage in flexibility it brings. However you are always on the outside, a 2 hour drop in to a place, a single seat at the izakaya buzzing with small work groups. For all … Continue reading

Posted in Accommodation, Big Cities, Disasters, Miyagi, Small Towns and Villages | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t bother with Ginzan Onsen. Unless …

Yes I hear you. Ginzan Onsen is a beautiful place. Local and Prefecture visitor guides and bloggers consistently recommend Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata Prefecture for its old buildings, picturesque street and hot springs.  But in March as winter slowly moves … Continue reading

Posted in Accommodation, Onsen, Small Towns and Villages, Yamagata | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The cold, the old and the bold

My return to Japan in March revolved around attending the United Nations third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR). Posts about that amazing event, the organisations and the people around the world putting their energies into mitigating the impacts … Continue reading

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Another little train that could: Akita Nairuki Railway Line

Blizzard conditions had cut short the visit to Lake Tazawako, restricting my time there to an enjoyable loop around the lake on a scheduled local bus from Tazawako. Returning to Kakunodate JR station, I spied a forlorn a single carriage … Continue reading

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2:46pm, March 11, at Kakunodate Fire Department

2:46pm today was the fourth anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. As I make my way lazily toward Sendai for the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) I wanted to take time out from my … Continue reading

Posted in Akita, Disasters, Fire fighters, People, Small Towns and Villages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Easy to get to and enjoy Kawagoe

It’s always nice to visit a location the subject of many positive posts. Kawagoe being only an hour or so north of Tokyo makes it really accessible for the visitor. From Shinjuku, take the JR Saikyo Line Rapid service direct … Continue reading

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Very sweet potato town: Kawagoe

Starting out early on the day of the June 2013 Australia v Japan game in Saitama I was at the magnificent Hikawa Shrine near Omiya before 9:00am. With its kilometre long tree-lined avenue, you can’t help but to be drawn … Continue reading

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Fire Station 21, Matsumoto, Japan

Originally posted on Having a ball in Japan:
Matsumoto Fire Station #21 covers Uchida and Kotobukidai areas south-east of Matsumoto CBD where 2,646 households and 6,357 residents are there. This cross-cultural exchange had been arranged via Yuri at the Matsumoto City Government…

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Outrunning those damn leeches

I am not fond of leeches. I am yet to work out how they add to the ecological values of our planet. Call me paranoid if you like. At home in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, I … Continue reading

Posted in Shizuoka, Small Towns and Villages, Tochigi, Wakayama, Walks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Quiet and beautiful Heda in Izu

As long as I can can get there by public transport I will give it a go. Being based at Mishima for 4 days, the Izu Peninsula looked accessible. Even better, I could do a loop from Mishima to Shuzenji … Continue reading

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