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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Il Traghetto – Good Hearty Italian in Takehara

After a of day roaming around the nearby islands, I was looking forward to a good warm meal with decent wine and a place I could kick back and relax in Takehara. Il Traghetto certainly met our needs. This is rustic Italian food interpreted by Kaoru Shinzaki, a retired corporate man who loves cooking. Shinzaki-san uses fresh, local produce and seafood and my favorite dish was a delicious risotto full of shrimp that was as Japanese as it was Italian.

Shinzaki-san decided to retire in...

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Kanazawa – Three Good Meals

Fancy some great seafood? There are a few good reasons to go to Kanazawa - one being the fresh seafood from the Sea of Japan, the other two in my opinion are the Kutani porcelain and Kenrokuen Garden (see my photos). The new bullet train link to Tokyo makes a short trip to Kanazawa, known as "little Kyoto", all the more accessible. I spent two days, one night in Kanazawa a year ago (see my earlier blog and suggested itinerary) and had three good meals. Pricing ranged from a relatively...

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