Raina's Japan Travel Journal

Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

The Nagasaki Lantern Festival is one of the highlights of winter in Nagasaki, held to celebrate the lunar new year. Held in Chinatown, the festival runs for the first fifteen days of the lunar new year... read all

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016

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2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo

After the end of the autumn color season, one of the seasonal events that many look forward to is the winter illuminations... read all

2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula

For most locals, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Oita Prefecture is its reputation as a hot spring destination... read all

2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu

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2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori

Every year, on the last weekend of August, over ten thousand dancers converge in Koenji, a district in the Suginami Ward of Tokyo, to dance the lively and energetic fool's dance - or Awa Odori... read all

2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan

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2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region

Train travel in Japan is one of the most convenient ways to cover long distances across the country, and it was a no-brainer for me to take the train to Ise-Shima where the G7 Summit was held this May... read all

2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016

The Setouchi Triennale is a contemporary art festival held every three years across twelve islands in the Seto Inland Sea. While contemporary art is a major... read all

2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula

Common associations with Akita Prefecture include the Akita-inu breed of dogs, Akita beauties (Akita bijin) and rice (Akita Komachi)... read all

2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria

Sake isn't commonly associated with sangria, the fruity alcoholic beverage, and my curiousity was piqued when I heard... read all

2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report

Today I spent a wet Saturday in Tokyo checking out the plum blossoms in Yushima Tenjin Shrine not far from Ueno Park. Due to the warmer temperatures this year, the... read all

2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama

The end of January saw me going to the southern coast of Fukui Prefecture, also known as the Reinan coast.... read all

2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

The end of January saw me going to the southern coast of Fukui Prefecture, also known as the Reinan coast. The cities along the southern coast include Tsuruga, Mihama,... read all

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015

2015 was a massive travelling year for me, as I went to all the major regions in Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Despite having covered 33 out of the 47 prefectures this year, I have not been to all the prefectures in... read all

2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima

I had the opportunity to spend about three days, about 48 hours excluding flight time, in western Tokushima. From Tokyo's Haneda Airport, it was a 70-minute flight to Tokushima Awaodori... read all

2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Today I round up the week with another visit to Kyoto. It has been three days since my last visit to the old capital, and this time, I focused on the eastern side of Kyoto covering the area between... read all

2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei

Continuing my tour of valleys and gorges, I visited Kankakei Gorge located at the center of Shodoshima Island, the second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea. Kankakei holds the... read all

2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei

Today, we mix things up a little and head out of the Kansai Region, to Aichi Prefecture in the Chubu Region. My destination today was Korankei, a... read all

2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Staying in the Kansai Region, I visited Kyoto again today. It was forecast to rain from the afternoon and while the skies looked somewhat promising in the morning, it... read all

2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

With Joe and Scott covering the Kanto Region, I remain in the Kansai Region and revisited Kyoto again. This time, I went to different temples compared to my last trip three... read all

2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Today, I found myself in the old capital of Kyoto, a favorite sightseeing spot amongst locals and tourists alike. When Joe visited the city ten days ago, the trees were still mostly green.... read all

2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan

After Miyajima yesterday, I headed for another important religious site, this time in Wakayama Prefecture. My destination was Mount Koya, center of... read all

2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima

Today, I made my way to Miyajima in Hiroshima Prefecture from Dazaifu where I was yesterday. The autumn colors have... read all

2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu

Dazaifu in Fukuoka Prefecture is located over a thousand kilometers from the Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko) region where Scott was... read all

2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show

Celebrating over 60 years of history, the 44th Tokyo Motor Show 2015 is held at Tokyo Big Sight from October 29 - November 8. Tickets to the country's largest... read all

2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West

Hirado consists of a number of islands, and is connected to mainland Kyushu by the Hirado Bridge. If you are traveling between Fukuoka... read all

2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch

Today, I spent the day exploring Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture, especially the Kujukushima Islands (literally \ read all

2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki

Christianity had a major influence in the history of Nagasaki and it is difficult to miss out on the deep Christian history that shaped the area. The prefecture was where most foreign... read all

2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo

Today, I took a break from autumn color reporting to check out Haco Stadium Tokyo, in Chiba Prefecture, that opened earlier this year. Aimed at those who want to take pictures in different settings,... read all

2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko

Today, I went to Nikko for a follow up Nikko autumn color report. I visited Okunikko and Nikko to see how the colors had developed since the last time Joe went nine days ago. The autumn colors are... read all

2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292

Today I went for a drive along national route 292, the stretch between Yamanouchi and Kusatsu. The route reaches one of the highest elevations of the national routes at 2172 meters and because of its relatively... read all

2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze

Continuing with our autumn color reports, I headed to Oze National Park to check out the grass in the marshland, kusamomiji. Only 150 kilometers north from Tokyo, it is possible to visit Oze in a daytrip but it... read all

2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route

A day after the long weekend, colloquially referred to as Silver Week, I headed off to Murodo, the highest point along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to check out the autumn colors. Murodo sits at around 2450... read all

2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015

Today I headed to Nakanojo in northwestern Gunma Prefecture to check out the Nakanojo Biennale which started on September 12, 2015 and will carry on for a month through to October 12, 2015.... read all

2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region

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2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen

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2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015

Today I headed to Niigata Prefecture to check out the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale which started on July 26, 2015 and will run through to September 13, 2015. This art event is held once... read all

2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report

The cherry blossom season this year has been somewhat early in most cities, with the flowers opening a few days earlier than the average year. This was more pronounced in the northern cities where the flowers... read all

2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report

This week, we bring you cherry blossom reports from Hokkaido. Today, I am in Hakodate, Hokkaido's third largest city in the southern tip of the island, and visited the city's top cherry blossom spots. Hakodate is a... read all

2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report

To round up my short tour of the Tohoku Region, I headed to Akita Prefecture to check out the cherry blossoms in Kakunodate today. The city is famous for its cherry blossoms, especially around the... read all

2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report

Continuing with the northern Tohoku Region, I went to Hirosaki City in Aomori Prefecture today to check out Hirosaki Castle. The castle park bills itself as one of the top cherry... read all

2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report

After a short break from the cherry blossoms, we resume our reporting in the northern Tohoku Region where the flowers in the respective capital cities have reached full bloom (mankai) last week. The cherry blossom... read all

2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report

While Scott was in the Fujigoko region today and you can read his report here, I headed north to the Tohoku Region and checked out the cherry blossoms in Miyagi and... read all

2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

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2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report

Today I bring you our first report from Fukushima in the Tohoku Region, while Joe will be updating from Nagano Prefecture. Eastern Japan had a cold spell overnight and the Kanto Region... read all

2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

After spending about a week in the Kansai Region, I'm back in Tokyo today to bring you the latest cherry blossom update. Scott was in Kyoto today and reported that the petals are... read all

2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report

Today I'm back in Kyoto, three days after my last report, and visited different places. Kyoto reached full bloom two days ago on April 1, and the blossoms I saw today are still at their peak and... read all

2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report

Today's blue skies were definitely welcomed after yesterday's rain, and the warm weather brought everyone out to enjoy the blossoms and fine spring weather. As the temperatures have been quite warm over the past... read all

2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report

After the warm and sunny weather yesterday where the temperature reached about 24 degrees Celsius in the Kansai Region, the weather took a turn and there was a steady rain all day today. However, thanks to... read all

2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report

Moving away from Kyushu, I'll be continuing to bring you the latest updates from the Kansai Region this week. Scott was in Tokyo, and according to his report from yesterday, the... read all

2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report

To round up the week, I headed to Fukuoka and checked out Fukuoka Castle Ruins in Maizuru Park, and then to Kitakyushu, to check out Kokura Castle. Next week, Scott will be giving you an... read all

2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report

After yesterday's report in Tokyo where the cherry blossoms were just starting to open, I headed to Kyushu today where the opening of the first blossoms (kaika) in most cities were reported... read all

2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

The 2015 cherry blossom season has started in Japan and is overall slightly earlier, with most places opening about two to three days earlier than average. Nagoya, Kumamoto and Kagoshima kicked off the season on... read all

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014

2014 was a year of learning for me; I learnt more about Japanese history, geography, local flora and social customs. Travel also made up a sizeable portion of 2014 with the sakura and autumn color seasons being the... read all

2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai

Today I headed to Sendai in the Tohoku Region to take a look at their illumination which started on December 12 and will continue till December 31. The main illumination area is... read all

2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo

With the autumn colors in most cities over, we now turn our attention to seasonal illumination. Today, I had the opportunity to check out two spots in... read all

2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa

After the sunny weather in Kyoto yesterday, I headed to Kanazawa where there was a steady rain all day today. With most of the popular autumn color... read all

2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

After about two months of reporting almost all over the country, we are reaching the tail end of the autumn season. The leaves and temperatures are starting to fall... read all

2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka

After visiting Kyoto, Hiroshima and Nagoya this week, it was about time to show some love to... read all

2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Back in the Kansai Region, I headed to Kyoto today. This time, I visited the sites that Scott and... read all

2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei

Today I leave the Kansai Region and detour to Korankei, a valley near Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture,... read all

2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima

My destination for today was Miyajima, one of Japan's three most scenic places. The other two top scenic places are Matsushima near Sendai and... read all

2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Today I headed to Kyoto to check out a few of the city's popular autumn color spots. As Scott reported last week, the colors in Kyoto are a little earlier than... read all

2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji

Today, I head back to the Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko) region for the last time this season. I revisted most of the places in the last trip nine days ago; while the cherry... read all

2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji

Today, Scott and I headed down to the Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko) region at the northern base of Mount Fuji, ten days... read all

2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa

After Joe's report from Shima Onsen in Gunma Prefecture, I headed to Karuizawa an upmarket mountain resort in... read all

2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai

After a day out in Lake Towada yesterday, I headed to Urabandai in Fukushima Prefecture for another day of... read all

2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada

Today I visited Lake Towada and the Oirase stream in the Tohoku Region. Located way up in the northern most part of the region, Lake Towada... read all

2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park

Oze National Park is about 150 kilometers north of Tokyo, spanning Gunma, Fukushima,... read all

2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route

Today, Scott and I made a trip to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to see some autumn foliage and do a bit of... read all

2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo

Opened on June 11, 2014, Toranomon Hills is Tokyo's newest landmark. It is named after the Toranomon district which lies between Tokyo Station and Tokyo Tower. Toranomon Hills is... read all

2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
full bloom

Kitakami is under 3 hours away by bullet train from Tokyo, and that's where I headed today.... read all

2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
full bloom

Today I continue the cherry blossom report from Morioka, the capital of Iwate prefecture, in the... read all

2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
full bloom

After a brief hiatus and continuing with cherry blossom reporting in the Tohoku region, I headed to Aizu-Wakamatsu today. Aizu-wakamatsu is in... read all

2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
full bloom

Today, I visited Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture. The cherry trees at Matsumoto Castle and... read all

2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
petals starting to fall

For my last report from the Kansai Region, I headed back to Kyoto today. Sean was at the... read all

2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
full bloom

Sean went to Yoshinoyama four days ago and reported that while the blossom petals at the bottom of the mountain had started to fall, the flowers towards the top were... read all

2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
end of season

Yesterday I mentioned that Sendai and Fukushima had their cherry blossom... read all

2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
petals starting to fall

Today, I headed to Kanazawa, northwest of Tokyo, and the capital of Ishikawa prefecture. Being on the northern side and close to the Sea... read all

2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
petals starting to fall

Today I visited western Tokyo, after being away in the Kansai region for the past week. Petals are starting to fall in Kyoto... read all

2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
petals starting to fall

The last time I was here in Kyoto, it was full bloom and everywhere was just a sea of whitish pink cherry blossoms. Now, four... read all

2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
beyond peak

After yesterday's cool weather and falling cherry blossom petals in Osaka, I headed west towards Hiroshima today. It has been five days since... read all

2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
petals starting to fall

After three days of beautiful weather, I woke up to slight rain and cooler temperatures today. Because of last night's rain and strong gusts... read all

2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
full bloom

After being in Tokyo and Nagoya the past two days, it is finally my turn to visit Kyoto after... read all

2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
full bloom

Nagoya is 1.5 hours west of Tokyo and 35 minutes from Kyoto, famous for Nagoya Castle, and... read all

2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
full bloom

It has been four days since my last visit to Tokyo when the cherry trees were just... read all

2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
just opened (0-10%)

Exactly three weeks after my early Tokyo blossom report, yesterday was the official start to Tokyo's sakura (cherry blossom) season.... read all

2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report

Started off the day with checking out the early flowering sakura varieties, namely the Okanzakura and the Kanzakura types in Ueno Park. It... read all

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