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

Getting lost in rural Japan

Sado Island is an isle of wonders off the coast of Niigata Prefecture in the Sea of Japan. The biggest of the Japanese isles after Okinawa Island, here lies a land of rich history and a flourishing traditional culture particularly noteworthy for its abundance of nature; from the clean, blue waters that lap at its shores to its verdant mountains and flat lands of fertile soil that produce delicious fruit and vegetables. On this visit, I was eager to learn more about how the island's inhabitants interact with the beautiful nature that surrounds them, especially with autumn, among my favorite seasons, starting to take hold... read all

On the road in Tohoku: Driving through Miyagi and Yamagata

Located in the Tohoku region in the north of Japan's main island of Honshu, Miyagi and Yamagata are two prefectures which are certainly not visited as often as other areas of the country, including the ever-popular areas surrounding Tokyo and Kyoto. Despite this, these two prefectures boast some of the most amazing sites in the country and are brimming with majestic mountains, hot springs and stunning nature spots... read all

Mount Shirane reopens for exploration

One week ago to the day, the no entry zone around Mount Shirane's iconic Yugama Crater was reduced to 500 meters due to a decrease of volcanic activity in the area. This means that visitors can once again utilize the area's parking lot and resthouse as well as hike up to the observation area from where stunning views can be had of the lake. In light of this recent development, I headed yesterday to the famous mountain to take a look at the situation for myself, and also combined my investigation with visits to a few other of the area's main attractions... read all

Exploring Nikko

Today I traveled to Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture to visit some of the main attractions of this revered tourist destination. As well as being popular during ... read all

Wisteria Watching at Ashikaga Flower Park

Today I traveled to Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture to take in some of the floral delights the park has to offer. The park boasts spectacular displays of seasonal flowers at various points throughout the year, but is particularly well known for its wisteria flowers that typically come into full bloom around late April to mid May and invariably draw in droves of flower fanatics... read all

Tokyo Early Spring Update

Winter is finally coming to an end with spring just around the corner, and this usually means that it is a great time to see some of the early-blooming cherry blossom species, which averagely hit full bloom around this time. Accordingly, I took a trip today to Tokyo to check on the state of the cherry blossoms at some of the city's most popular spots... read all

Renovations start at Kiyomizudera's main hall

Kiyomizudera in Kyoto has been undergoing significant renovation works on many of its buildings since 2008. As the final phase of this large renovation project, the temple's most iconic building, its main hall, will be renovated; namely by replacing its famous thatched roof... read all

Crane Watching in Kushiro

The area around Kushiro in eastern Hokkaido is not only revered for its natural beauty but also as the last home of the Japanese Red-crowned Crane. Tancho as they are called in Japanese were found all accross Hokkaido and Honshu up until the Meiji Period, when over hunting and the disapearance of their natural habitat brought them to the brink of extinction. The species was thought to have been completely extirpated from Japan in the early twentieth century, before a small flock of 20 birds was discovered in the Kushiro Marshlands in 1924... read all

2017 Asahikawa Winter Festival

Today I headed to Hokkaido's second largest city to check out the opening day of the 58th Asahikawa Winter Festival. Though smaller and not quite as famous as the Sapporo Snow Festival, the Asahikawa Winter Festival also showcases an array of snow and ice sculptures which are spread out over two sites in the city and illuminated in the evenings. A 90 minute train ride and convenient side trip from Sapporo, The festival will run all this week until Sunday 12th... read all

2017 Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

The Yuki Akari no Michi Festival (Snow Light Path Festival) is one of Hokkaido's most popular winter festivals and, Otaru being only a 45 minute train ride from Sapporo, is convenient to visit in combination with the Sapporo Snow Festival... read all

2017 Sapporo Snow Festival

The 68th annual Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo Yuki Matsuri) started today and will run through the week until Sunday, February 12th. The largest and best-known of Japan's snow festivals, this year's Yuki Matsuri features around 200 snow and ice sculptures spread across downtown Sapporo... read all

Early Blooming in Atami

This year, Atami's early-blooming plum and cherry blossoms have began bursting to life particularly early, making it a great time to visit the town. In the name of catching the most of this floral fantasia, I was particularly keen to see the city's reputed plum garden, as well as to take a stroll along the banks of the Itogawa River lined with a Atamizakura... read all

Walking the Roots of Japan

The Yamato area in Nara Prefecture around today's Sakurai and Tenri cities is highly significant in the history of Japan as the first center of power for the imperial court... read all

Hakone Update

The Hakone Ropeway has been marred by disruption since it closed all services due to increased volcanic activity in the area over a year ago... read all