Letters from Japan – Winter 2022

Snowy forest with onsen in Japan

Good afternoon,

It has been a while since I have last sent out one of these newsletters to a wider audience, I may have to remind you who I am. I am Burcu, a Tokyo resident who is originally from Istanbul. This is the newsletter for my blog where you will find many travel stories from Japan and many other cold, dark, yet – I think – alluring places from all over the world. There have been many new subscribers over the last few months and I would like to thank you for your interest in reading my mostly Japan related travel updates. I will do my best to not abuse your interest but no hard feelings if you click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of this email. I do it all the time.

Here is the winter issue of my sporadic newsletter with some border updates from Japan and my recent travels within the country.

I receive many questions about current border restrictions in Japan and the possibility of inbound travel. While the Covid-19 related rules often change in Japan, one thing unfortunately stays the same. Japan’s borders are still closed (since March 2020) for business or tourism related visits. I sincerely hope that the situation will soon change but it looks like it may take at least another six months for Japan to re-open for tourism. I wanted to share this link where you can find the most updated and reliable travel information for Japan: Japan current entry restrictions.

Recent travels to Tohoku

Today is very sunny in Tokyo but it has been an unusually cold winter. Despite the cold weather, Tokyo does not get much snow. But I was fortunate enough to travel to Northern Japan – where the snow almost never stops in the winter – for three different travel writing assignments.

One of the recent assignments was to Iwate (for Iwate Tourism Office and Gaijin Pot) – a region heavily impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and the subsequent tsunami. In Iwate alone, 5,140 lives were lost, and 26,079 buildings were destroyed. As one hailing from Turkey with its own share of devastating earthquakes, the trip hit very close to home. Iwate is rightfully praised for the resilience of its locals and I was particularly fascinated by their commitment to not forget and pass the lessons learnt to new generations with museums, monuments and folk tales. Seeing what the region achieved in terms of the recovery in only ten years after one of the most damaging disasters of the century was beyond inspiring. The trip was in mid-December but the article just came out: Road to Recovery in Iwate.

In November, I got to visit Fukushima for Fukushima Prefectural Government and Voyapon and was blown away by the liveliness of the small towns. This is honestly not very common in Japan due to the ongoing depopulation problem. Fukushima is another unfortunate region in Japan, which made the headlines not with its beauty but with the events of 2011. It was refreshing to experience the love of the locals for their region, which is home to many well preserved Edo period castle towns. I highly recommend Fukushima especially during the autumn season: Explore the Samurai Culture in Fukushima.

New blog posts

Although most of my recent travels, if not all, are for third party assignments, I still do my best to publish new content on my blog. My last personal trip was to Mount Aso in Kyushu in September. Mount Aso is the largest active volcano in Japan that recently erupted in October 2021 – fortunately there were no fatalities. It is a wonderful destination for moderately challenging hikes when the mountain chooses not to erupt: Hiking Mount Aso.

I also recently wrote about my favorite hostels in Japan. It was a personal follow up to a story that I worked on for Gaijin Pot about three hostels in rural Japan opened by young entrepreneurs and their impact on the community.

Until next time! Below is a raw sea food dish – bindon – that I recently got to taste in Miyako in Iwate. Assortment of raw sea food including sea urchin is served in a milk bottle that you pour over to warm rice. Delicious!

Once again thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. I would be happy if you write just to say hi or ask me any of your Japan related travel queries.

P.S: You can follow this link for more Letters from Japan.