Japan’s Shirakawa-go – Picture Perfect Ginger Bread Houses

Shirakawa-go farm house

They may not be real ginger bread houses, but Shirakawa-go's unique farm houses make the village look like a Christmas log cake came to life. Nestled in Japan's Hida Mountains ("northern alps"), this mountain village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of these historic farmhouses. Because of its location, this is a great place to visit in the winter if you're seeking snow.

Indeed the day I visited just after Christmas 2014, it probably only stopped snowing for just 15 minutes....

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Mitarai – Sitting Pretty on Japan’s Inland Sea

Osaki Shimo-jima island

A drive along the Seto Inland Sea from Takehara took us to the charming Edo era port town of Mitarai that sits on the tip of Osaki Shimo-jima island. Like Takehara, Mitarai has a well preserved historical district but its relatively small size means that it's easy to walk almost the length of the village along the waterfront. The drive out itself was scenic with the Akinada Islands linked by a series of bridges. The water, and mikan orange groves coupled with the quaint villages and...

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Takehara – Scenic Launch Pad to Hiroshima’s Coastal Islands

Takehara

The coast surrounding the Seto Inland Sea near Hiroshima is one of the most scenic in Japan and Takehara, with its nicely preserved Edo-era historic center, is a well located base from which to explore the area. We were here at year-end spending a day exploring the town before taking a drive and ferry ride for a round trip visit to nearby islands. Takehara is probably best known these days for Nikka Whiskey, with the family still residing in town, as well as being the setting for a popular...

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Murakami’s The 500 Arhats Exhibit at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum

If you’re in Tokyo, I think it’s worth it to spend an hour or more visiting Takashi Murakami’s The 500 Arhats exhibit at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills. Murakami is probably best known for his commercial work – such as the colourful Louis Vuitton monograms that adorned its bags. His recent work – The 500 Arhats – is tremendous and reveals that he is much more than just a pop artist. The exhibition has been running since Oct. 31 and will end on Mar. 6.

 

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Tokyo: A Walk Around Asakusa

On a recent business trip to Tokyo, I had a couple of free hours and decided to drop in on Asakusa, an old part of the city with a historic temple. The thing about Tokyo is that for historical cultural landmarks, it just can't compare to Kyoto. Some of this is because a number of temples and shrines and their surrounding areas have been rebuilt. This is certainly true of Asakusa. The place was also incredibly crowded - full of tourists as well as locals going to make their Sunday...

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