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Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of

The 45th Tokyo Motor Show

The Tokyo Motor Show is a biyearly motoring event and in 2017 this year, it will be open to the public from October 28 till November 5... read all

Remote Riches in Toyama

Toyama Prefecture is home to some of the most stunning attractions in the country. Mountains make up more than half of the prefecture and are even visible from the capital city of Toyama... read all

Spiritual Chichibu

The mountainous region of Chichibu is an underrated gem just two hours north of Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture. The area offers a wide range of activities from hiking to river rafting to shrine-hopping... read all

Fuji Shibazakura Festival

Today, I went to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival, a very popular flower festival at the base of Mount Fuji. Shibazakura is also known as phlox moss, and has flowers that resemble cherry blossoms (sakura). About seven varieties of shibazakura are planted at the site... read all

Sneak Peek from Ginza Six

On April 20, the much awaited new shopping mall in Ginza, Ginza Six will open, and I had the opportunity to check it out before it opened to the public. Part of Ginza Six stands on where the former Matsuzakaya Ginza department store used to be... read all

A bit of everything in Fukui

Short trips are always good to refresh and reset your senses, whenever it feels like the city gets too overwhelming and you need some time away... read all

Nikko Toshogu Uncovered

Today, I made a quick trip to Toshogu in Nikko to check out the newly restored Yomeimon Gate. The gate has been under restoration works for the last four years and was finally unveiled to the public on March 10, 2017... read all

Subculture in Ikebukuro

Ikebukuro in Toshima Ward, is one of Tokyo's hubs offering an urban landscape of skyscrapers, plenty of shopping, including a mini Chinatown of sorts... read all

Travel to the Goto Islands

The Goto Islands are a group of over 100 islands about 100 kilometers west of Nagasaki in the East China Sea. Due to their location and remoteness, the islands have an interesting history... read all

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

Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu

The Oku Aizu region in the far west of Fukushima Prefecture is a mountainous region covered mostly by forest. Oku Aizu is roughly about the same size as Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo... read all

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

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

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

Sake Sangria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report

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

Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report

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

Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

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

Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report

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

Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report

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

Osaka Cherry Blossom Report

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

Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

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

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