Japan & Nature
Japan Is Actually Not That Beautiful and That Is Why I Love ItOct 2022
I love Japan and I love living in Japan even more. But I do not think that Japan is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. It does not compare to countries like Switzerland, New Zealand or Norway in terms of the majestic and picture perfect scenery. It is not a country where the surroundings are so flawless that you may often think of yourself as a character in a Tolkien novel or even in a Miyazaki anime. Japan is a country where the love for concrete is strong.
Journey to Goto Islands and Beyond: a Matter of Faith or Religion?May 2022
When I first watched the movie Silence by Martin Scorsese, the only thing that I could think of—besides the oppressing but wildly beautiful scenery—was "trample, trample, please just trample." Why would not people, the Hidden Christians of Japan, just step on the fumi-e, carved stone featuring the image of Jesus Christ or Virgin Mary, to avoid death by torture? Were these symbolic gestures linked to religion or renunciation of it more important than human life?
Walking Shikoku: Discover the Temples, Small Towns and Surf BeachesMar 2021
Back from Shikoku. What a wonderful two weeks it was and how I need these rural Japan breaks to better connect with this beautiful country that I now call home. It all started with mountains, two of the most atmospheric temples that I have been to in Japan, heavy rain and wind (a blessing and visual feast when you hike through forests).
Lotus flower excites me even more than the sakura. Thankfully, there are many wonderful parks in Tokyo for lotus viewing. Lotus season in Tokyo usually occurs between mid-July and mid-August. The frequency of the full bloom lotus flowers change every year. Read more.
Please allow me to say that the most beautiful temple in Tokyo is in my neighborhood. This may sound like a very subjective comment but please give Taishakuten Temple located in Katsushika a chance when you next visit Tokyo. You will not be disappointed if you have the slightest level of interest in temples. You can get to Shin-Shibamata Station from Asakusa in 17 minutes and from there it is a mere five minutes walk to Taishakuten Temple and its amazing wood carvings. Read more.
You are probably familiar with Hokkaido if you are a Murakami fan. That is the region in Japan that Murakami’s characters will either think of or actually travel up to just to leave behind the busy Tokyo. I can now understand why Hokkaido is always mentioned in Murakami’s books in one way or other. Anyone who has been to Hokkaido and who is emerged in some sort of art form or literature would probably not be able to get that place out of their minds. Read more.
Aoni Onsen in Aomori will make you feel in Tanizaki novel. No electricity, lit by oil lamps, surrounded by a beautiful forest. One of the greatest onsen experiences that I ever had. Read more.
Notes from a walk discovering Iseji Route of Kumano Kodo – “I took my dinner at Huuhan Minshuku, which is run by a mother and son duo, who go out their way to make your stay a very comfortable one. I each night enjoyed the delicious menu (always including sashimi among other changing dishes) and the chance to practice my very underdeveloped Japanese with other guests who traveled to Owase for work purposes. The highlight of my stay at Huuhan was the view of the fisherman’s wharf right from my Japanese style tatami room and ability to watch the fisherman to prepare for take off right before daylight”. Read more.
Biking trip to Shimanami Kaido – ““Is Shimanami Kaido trail difficult for no serious bikers?” (you would know what I mean by no serious biker if you saw the bike that I am riding in Tokyo on a daily basis). A question that I typed on Google dozens of times in different forms before I decided to bike the trail. I now know the answer based on personal experience – “definitely not”. It is not a short trail, you will have to cover 75km with climbs up to six different bridges (with a varying degree of interestingness) if you want to cover the whole trail in one day. However, many people prefer to spread the experience into two days with an overnight stop at one of the many islands of Seto Inland sea”. Read more.
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. The temple where I am lodging in is located in the temple town of Koyasan sitting at the altitude of 800 metres surrounded by the eight peaks of Mount Koya. Joki-in Temple is among 117 Buddhist temples of Koyasan. Read more.