Wonders of Japan
Featured Articles
  • Great Walks of New Zealand: the Greatest Three, Routeburn, Kepler and Milford

    02 Sep 2023

    I spent the better part of March (2023) hiking in New Zealand. In addition to some day hikes, I did three of the famous Great Walks of New Zealand - namely Kepler, Routeburn and Milford Tracks. The experience has definitely exceeded my expectations.

  • Milford Track: a Hike Worthy of All Praise

    20 Apr 2023

    When a hike is as popular as Milford Track and promoted as "the finest walk in the world", there is always the inevitable question: "is it overrated?". For me, the answer is a definite no. The four days long trail is worthy of every praise.

  • Laos: Where the Wild Things Are

    07 Dec 2022

    I remember flying from Luang Namtha in Northern Laos to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, during a work trip in 2020. It was my second trip to the country. Our time in Luang Namtha was limited but still filled with several opportunities to introduce us to the landscape beauty of the region.

  • I Don’t Like Airbnb, Now Off My Chest

    02 Apr 2021

    This may be my most controversial post up to date as I will declare something that will be despised by many independent travelers and which will turn me into a less cool person immediately: I don’t like Airbnb. I would prefer staying at Hilton (even worse – probably even at Holiday Inn or Travelodge or Ibis) rather than staying at an Airbnb place. I prefer most of the hostels/hotels over an Airbnb apartment.

  • Svalbard: Travel to the Midnight Sun

    Interestingly - the first thing I ever heard about Svalbard many years ago was how mean all the people living there was and how much they hated the tourists. Really?

Favorite Hikes in Japan
  • Asahidake to Naka Dake loop hike in Daisetsuzan National Park in Hokkaido is one of my favorite hikes in Japan. You get to hike next to an active volcano and also walk through one of the most picturesque valleys in Japan – Susoaidaira. Read more.

  • Mt. Miyanoura in Yakushima is the highest peak in entire Kyushu. The hike that can be done as a day or multi-day hike offers the hikers the chance to experience a large diversity of landscape scenery in the company of monkeys and island deers. Read more.

  • Karasawa Cirque trail located in Kamikochi of Nagano, is one of the most popular fall colors hikes in Japan, if not the most. The long trail that leads to Karasawa from Kamikochi bus stop is, however, beautiful in every season. Read more.

  • Yakiyama and Magose Passes along Iseji Route of Kumano Kodo are two distinct trails in terms of the difficulty. The trailheads for both hikes start at lovely Owase town and offers a good opportunity to those who want to experience some of the pilgrimage trails of Kumano Kodo. Read more.

  • Mount Aso hike in Japan offers the best combination of the unique aspects of hiking in Japan. The trailhead is easily accessible with a direct bus leaving from Aso town. Depending on the alert level, hikers can get closed to the craters which are often steaming in all their glory. This is a relatively easy hike with only short steep sections. Read more.

  • Oirase Stream hike in Aomori prefecture of Tohoku is another very popular fall colors hike. P You follow the gentle Oirase Stream all the way until you reach Lake Towada. It is a very easy hike with almost zero altitude change but very rewarding with various waterfalls along the route. Read more.

  • Japan is definitely not short of active volcanoes. Yake Dake located in Northern Japanese Alps is a great introductory and non-technical hike in the Japanese Alps where the trails are often a little more challenging and even technical in some sections. Read more.


My Favorite Hostels in Japan


Japan to Reopen Its Borders!


Accommodation Along Shikoku Pilgrimage Route


I Don`t Like Airbnb


About Me

I am Burcu. I was born in a town of chemical engineers— including both my parents—near Istanbul on the winter solstice of 1980. I think this has a lot to do with my undying love for winters and cold destinations such as Norway, Alaska, and Hokkaido, but it hardly explains why I am asleep by 9 pm every night. I spent most of my youth in Istanbul, first at a boarding school and then with family, although I was also fortunate enough to spend few years of high school and university abroad, at an age young enough to admire other cultures, places and people before prejudices sink in and the world goes crazy. As for the job department, I am a lawyer and, after spending thirteen years in a law office, I now have a part-time arrangement that allows me location independence and I happily live in Japan. In my blog, you will read a lot about Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland—three of my favorite destinations with astounding nature. I also write articles for magazines and websites

Favorite Travel Habit

If I am in a city, I love to walk around during morning rush hour. That is the only time a city cannot hide its truth and pretend to be nicer than it is. I am sorry to report but Istanbul that you see during rush hour (ouch!) is what living in Istanbul feels like. I wrote more about some of my travel habits in the “why do we travel?” post.

Hotels or Airbnb?

Definitely hotels. I like the transitional feel at hotels, that temporariness. It makes me feel lighter. Airbnb on the other hand makes me feel suffocated being surrounded by someone else`s life/decoration choices. I wrote more about Why I Don`t like Airbnb. Another post inspired by my love of hotels/hostels is the Favorite Hotel/Hostels list.

Favorite Destinations

I love anywhere with beautiful nature. Alaska, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland are four countries/regions that I find to be exceptionally beautiful. As for cities, I am a devoted fan of Paris. I think it is the most beautiful city in the world.

Where I live

Well, not in a bathtub or in an onsen but you probably still get the clue – in Japan. More specifically in Tokyo, in one of its very laid back eastern wards, Shibamata of Katsushika where the wonderful Mizumoto Park is located. I love it.

More Japan Destinations
  • Traveling Japan on a Budget

    26 Apr 2023

    Is traveling Japan on a budget possible? Short answer - yes. Is Japan really that expensive? Short answer - no. Here are some of my recommendations to keep your Japan travel costs at a reasonable level.

  • Aoni Onsen in Aomori, Autumn Wonderland

    08 Nov 2020

    If it was not for the promise of surrounding fall colors and an onsen only lit up with oil lamps, I would not find my way to the wonderful Aoni Onsen in Aomori and finally connect with the onsen experience. Aoni Onsen was like a scene from one of the novels of Tanazaki with its very traditional feel with each guest perfectly playing the part.

  • Letters from Japan – Spring 2022

    11 May 2022

    Good afternoon, happy belated Ramadan to all who celebrate and to my home. I love all the events surrounding Ramadan and what, at least once, the season culturally meant for my country.

  • Cape Ashizuri in Shikoku: Japan`s Wild Cape and Most Beautiful Temple

    08 Feb 2022

    We have a long trip from Tokyo to Cape Ashizuri, or Ashizuri Misaki in Japanese. We first need to take the plane followed by a hopefully scenic train journey before we get on the car for the final leg.  We barely make it to our plane out of Narita bound for Kochi due to the train line suspensions caused by power outage.

  • Shikoku Pilgrimage Accommodation

    01 Apr 2021

    The accommodation along Shikoku Pilgrimage Route is one of the most discussed topics in relation to this journey. Along the route, there are various types of accommodation including free temple (tsuyado) or locally funded accommodation (zenkonyado), paid temple accommodation (shukubo) and various other paid categories ranging from hostels to high end hotels.

  • Walking Kumano Kodo: UNESCO World Heritage

    22 Mar 2021

    It is 5 am in the morning. I will shortly start hearing the footsteps of the monks and their students. The preparations for the morning pray start at 5.30 am. The prayer room, which is decorated with hundreds of lanterns, needs to be heated up.

Explore More
  • New Orleans, a City Ruled by a River

    21 Mar 2023

    New Orleans is a city, which is much older than its own country. This makes perfect sense once you get to spend a few days in this amazing city that is geographically and politically part of the USA but is mentally million miles away.

  • Best Hiking Movies and Documentaries

    27 Jan 2022

    Whenever I feel blue or anxious, watching hiking movies and documentaries always helps me to lift my mood. While this may attest to a strange character trait on my part,  I also enjoy the survival movies where the protagonists need to cover thousands of kilometers on foot overcoming unthinkable challenges.

  • Into the Greenery: Scottish Highlands by Train

    25 Feb 2023

    After years of contemplating - I finally traveled to Scottish Highlands in the summer of 2016 for a short visit of three days. I benefited from a long weekend that fell between two weeks of meetings in London.

  • Gobekli Tepe: Interview with Excavation Team

    01 Apr 2021

    There is no question that Turkey is an archeological wonder and home to magnificent sites such as Ephesus and Pergamon in the Agean region. While we are very proud for hosting such extraordinary sites on our own soil, we are never short of imagination and the ability to “manufacture” stories associated with these sites. I reached out to German archeologist Jens Notroff, who is part of the crew of the archeologists running the Tepe Telegrams to discuss the story of Gobekli Tepe.

  • Farewell to Fuji – Back to Canon

    25 Aug 2020

    Farewell to Fuji, I today sold my X-Pro II and lens set - my main camera for the last 4.5 years and probably the most beautifully designed camera ever but if we can talk of chemistry between cameras and humans, we sure did not have it. I went back to my old full frame Canon.

  • Dancing in Kenya

    13 May 2021

    It has been almost two years since one of my best friends whom I have known since age 11 and I went to Kenya. I have posted numerous photos but never wrote a proper post. So here we go. The idea of going to Masai Mara in Kenya got into me when I was traveling in a region which is the complete opposite of Kenya: Alaska. I still remember the moment when I was riding on a bus in Denali National Park (certain areas are only accessible via buses in order to protect the wildlife - Nat Geo of this month (Feb 2016) has an amazing article on this very specific point).