Francois' Japan Blog
by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com

Final Post

In the next few weeks, the first reports for this year's koyo season will be published from the mountainous national parks of central Hokkaido. As fall's cool, crisp air and autumnal colors make for my favourite of Japan's four... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo

After our report from Hakodate from three days ago, Schauwecker and I made our last cherry blossom report from Hokkaido and the last report of the season. Today we visited some of Sapporo's most famous cherry blossom spots and found the... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate

Schauwecker and I have followed the cherry blossoms to Japan's northermost region and the last place to find flowers: Hokkaido. Today we explored the most famous cherry blossom sites of Hakodate, and within the next few day will write our final report of the season from Sapporo. read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Aizu

We spent the second and last day of our cherry blossom report trip to the southern Tohoku Region in Aizu, a popular tourist destination in Fukushima Prefecture, over 100 kilometers east of the Fukushima power plants. Tsuruga... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai

As the season progresses, the cherry blossoms are reaching the Tohoku Region and with it the areas worst hit by last month's earthquake and tsunami. Today we visited Sendai... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto

This is the seventh and final cherry blossom report from Kyoto this year. Today, one week after Scott saw the city at full bloom, I found most places were decidedly beyond the peak and can say that the season in Kyoto will be ... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka

During today's visit to Osaka, I found that the city's somei yoshino cherry trees have reached and past their most attractive state for this season. There was occasional rain throughout the day, causing many more petals to fall from the trees. Today was the second and final... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa

Today I visited the most famous cherry blossom spots of Kanazawa and found the city's flowers to be at full bloom. From now and into the weekend will be the best time to see the flowers in the city this year. Today was the only cherry blossom report from Kanazawa this season. read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino

Today I took a day trip to Yoshinoyama (Mount Yoshino), one of the most famous cherry blossom spots in Japan. About 30,000 cherry trees are distributed along the mountainside, and... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto

Scott visited Kyoto three days ago for the April 9 Cherry Blossom Report and found all the sites he visited at full bloom. Since then a few of Kyoto's cherry blossom spots have begun to lose some flowers. It is still a great time to... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo

Three days ago I found many spots in Tokyo at or near full bloom during the April 8 Cherry Blossom Report. Since then the blossoms have advanced quite a bit so that the spots that were approaching full bloom have now reached it and those that were at full bloom are now in decline... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo

Today I made the 5th cherry blossom reporting trip to Tokyo this season. When we first visited on March 27 the buds of the somei yoshino trees hadn't opened yet, and just a few days ago on April 5 some spots were approaching full bloom... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto

Despite the official opening of the cherry blossoms taking place one week ago, the flowers of Kyoto's somei yoshino are still not far along in their development. However, with clear skies and warm weather predicted for the next three... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka

For our last cherry blossom report of this year from Kyushu, today I made a second trip to some of Fukuoka's cherry blossom spots. When Schauwecker visited Fukuoka for the March 31 Cherry Blossom Report, he found the city's... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima

This morning Schauwecker and I took the first Sakura Shinkansen train from Fukuoka to Kagoshima to investigate the state of the cherry blossoms at the other end... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto

This year Kumamoto was the first major city to have its cherry blossoms open, about a week and a half ago on March 21st. As predicted, the city is just entering into the ideal period to see the flowers, with this weekend likely to be... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo

The cherry blossoms officially opened in Tokyo two days ago on the 28th, the day after Schauwecker's initial report from the city. Today I visited a number of the same attractions that were visited on the March 27 cherry blossom... read all

Shiretoko Fantasia 2011

We concluded our winter reporting trip to Hokkaido with a visit to the Shiretoko Peninsula. Located on a geographical longitude comparable to Venice (Italy) or Portland (Oregon)... read all

Asahikawa Winter Festival - by night

Evening activites, concerts, on Sunday night taiko and dancing and fireworks After yesterday's report from the Asahikawa Winter Festival during the daytime, we checked out the state of the festival during the evening. Like at the... read all

Asahikawa Winter Festival - by day

Moving eastward from Sapporo, the next of our Hokkaido Winter Festival Reports comes from the middle of the prefecture in Asahikawa. The 52nd Asahikawa Winter Festival started on Tuesday and will continue until this weekend, finishing on... read all

Sapporo Snow Festival 2011 - by night

After an initial visit to the 62nd Sapporo Snow Festival on its opening day on February 7, 2011, we explored the festival further by seeing how the snow sculptures of Odori Park look during the evening illuminations... read all

Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi 2011

The 13th Yuki Akari no Michi Festival (Snow Light Path Festival) in Otaru began last Friday and will continue until Sunday, February 13. Located north of the concurrent Sapporo Snow Festival, Otaru's festival offers travelers in Hokkaido... read all

Sapporo Snow Festival 2011 - by day

The 62nd Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) was opened today and will delight visitors to the city for the next seven days through Sunday, February 13, 2011. Below are some of our photos from our visit to the festival's main... read all

Travel Highlights 2010

Once again, the last 12 months offered a wide variety of travel opportunities while researching and reporting for japan-guide. Below are my top 10 travel highlights for 2010. Number 10: Hiking in Kirishima Although a planned hike... read all

Autumn Color Report: Osaka

After reporting from Kyoto for the last three days, I spent one last day in the Kansai region investigating the state of the autumn colors. Today I went to Mino Park, located about 30... read all

Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Yesterday evening, wanting to get one last bit of koyo in Kyoto, I went to two evening illuminations of koyo spots that I had already visited over the past few days. The first was... read all

Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Today was my third consecutive day reporting from Kyoto and the last day for this season. Schauwecker is scheduled to report from the city one last time early next week. Over the last three days I have been able... read all

Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

For the second day in a row reporting from Kyoto, today I visited the Arashiyama district, Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and Myoshinji Temple. It seems once again that... read all

Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

As Scott predicted in his reporting from Kyoto last week, the peak of this year's autumn colors are beginning to arrive in the old capital this week.... read all

Autumn Color Report: Tokyo

After our autumn color report from Kyoto's Takao yesterday, today I investigated the state of the leaves in the Kanto region's Takao, a mountain within metropolitan Tokyo... read all

Autumn Color Report: Yamadera

Yamadera is a group of temples in the mountains whose name literally means mountain temples. Located just outside of Yamagata City, the temples were my destination for today's autumn color report. Yamadera can also be... read all

Autumn Color Report: Kuju

Today Schauwecker and I continued our autumn color reporting in Kyushu in Oita Prefecture's Kuju Mountains. We planned one long hike through the national park to... read all

Autumn Color Report: Kirishima

Today we did our very first japan-guide autumn color report from Kyushu, as Schauwecker and I explored the koyo around the hiking trails of the Kirishima... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto

Many spots in Kyoto are now losing their cherry blossoms at an accelerated rate and soon enough the season will be more or less over. When I visited the city three days ago... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa

Today was the first and only japan-guide cherry blossom report from Kanazawa this season, and I found the cherry trees in the city to be at full bloom. The peak of the cherry blossom season in the city should continue into this weekend... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka

Today was our second time reporting from Osaka this season. When Scott visited some of the city's cherry blossom spots a week and a half ago on March 29 between 20 and 50 % of the flowers had open... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto

Though the japan-guide staff has made five previous visits to Kyoto during this year's cherry blossom season, this is my first time reporting from the city. When Schauwecker last visited on April 4 read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo

This is my third cherry blossom report from Tokyo within a week, during which time I have seen the cherry blossoms progress from being around 20 or 30 % open on March 30 to being generally at full bloom today... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo

The cherry blossoms in Tokyo have developed quite a bit since I last visited a couple days ago for the March 30 cherry blossom report. As suspected, many places in the city are at or approaching full bloom and this weekend should be the... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo

This is our third report from Tokyo this season. The cherry blossoms have advanced quite a bit since our first report last week on March 23, and with the nice weather today there were a lot of people enjoying hanami. It seems that many... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya

The cherry blossom front is advancing into the more populous areas of Japan, and today the japan-guide.com staff is reporting from four locations around central Honshu. Scott looked into the progress of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo, to.... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Nagasaki

Cold weather has slowed the process of the opening of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo and Kyoto, where the flowers are still only just opening. Meanwhile, several... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto

Cherry Blossoms in Kumamoto Six days after the flowers were reported to open there, we checked out Kumamoto, one of Japan's first cities to see cherry... read all

Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka

This year's japan-guide.com cherry blossom reports are starting anew, and like last year we are starting with Fukuoka, the largest city on the island of Kyushu and one of the first places in Japan to see the blossoms open... read all

Wakakusa Yamayaki

This weekend the japan-guide staff attended Nara's Wakakusa Yamayaki event, during which the grass of the Wakakusayama mountainside was set afire... read all

Travel Highlights 2009

As 2009 draws to a close, I can look back on the past 12 months and recall many pleasant memories. It has been a pleasure to search through the thousands of pictures I have amassed over the year and pick out my annual top 10... read all

Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Many of Kyoto's popular autumn color spots are reaching their peak, and for my last day reporting from Kyoto I went to some of the most commonly visited attractions. The first spot I visited was the Imperial Palace... read all

Autumn Color Report: Kyoto Light Up

After a couple of days in Nara Prefecture doing research unrelated to autumn colors (koyo), this evening I returned to Kyoto to continue the search for fall foliage. I did not get back until about sunset, so I checked out a few more of the city's read all

Autumn Color Report: Kyoto

Today's autumn color report covers three popular koyo spots in Kyoto; Tofukuji Temple, Kinkauji Temple, and Daitokuji's Kotoin Temple. The first stop of the day was Tofukuji, which is located just one station east of Kyoto Station... read all

Autumn Color Report: Hakone

Today we got an early start and headed to Hakone in pursuit of fall colours. We were hoping to capture pictures that included both Hakone's koyo and Mount Fuji and chose to leave today based on favourable weather forecasts... read all

Autumn Color Report: Hachimantai

Our report on the Tohoku Region's koyo (fall colors) continued today in Hachimantai. We began at Tamagawa Onsen, which is famous for its exteremly acidic hot spring water. There was a decent amount of color surrounding the onsen... read all

Autumn Color Report: Mount Akita-Komagatake

Today our pursuit of fall colors lead us to the Tohoku Region, where we hiked up Mount Akita-Komagatake in Akita Prefecture. We took an early shinkansen to Morioka Station in Iwate where we picked up a rental car... read all

Autumn Color Report: Kamikochi

Today we went to Kamikochi to investigate the color of the leaves. Kamikochi is part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park in Nagano Prefecture, and is located about 1500 meters above sea level... read all

Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park

The fall colors are beginning to appear in higher elevations of Honshu, such as Oze National Park. Oze is mostly located in the prefectures of Gunma and Fukushima, and is accesible by public transportation from Tokyo... read all


Experiencing one of Nagasaki's newest attractions, a tour of "battleship island". read all

Bears in Hokkaido

A surprise encounter with a couple of brown bears in Hokkaido's Shiretoko National Park. read all

Miyajima Trip

Enjoyed a visit to Miyajima, and took some time to admire its iconic torii gate. read all

Post Towns

After having visited a few, some reflections on visiting the "post towns" of Japan. read all

Baseball Game

With time off for Golden Week, I take the opportunity to explore the Chugoku region a bit . While there, I went to a Japanese baseball game. read all

ASIMO and Aoyama Cemetery

At the Honda Showroom in Aoyama, I saw the robot ASIMO in person. I also saw the final resting place of many antecedent gaijin during the cherry blossom peak. read all

Ninja Restaurant

After hearing about Ninja Akasaka for a long time, I finally got the opportunity to check it out for myself. read all