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a girl in traditional clothing takes a picture with her mobile phone in Kanazawa

Kanazawa: Worth a Visit?

Kanazawa hit the travel sections in March 2015 with the opening of a new shinkansen (bullet train) line going there from Tokyo. It cut the travel time to less than two and half hours. I’d never heard of it before, but that coverage led me to add visiting Kanazawa to my plans. Kanazawa, I read, has…

Supporters of the Hiroshima Carp release whistling balloons at the top of the 7th inning.

A baseball game in Japan

When I took a group of Dutch students to the US a few years ago, I insisted that we attend a professional baseball game, something they were distinctly unenthusiastic about. They said it was a boring game. I told them it wasn’t about the game; it was about the whole event around the game: the…

The Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima

A day trip to Hiroshima

I had mixed feelings about visiting Hiroshima and initially decided not to. I know a lot about the atomic bomb attacks on Japan. Back in the early 90s, I attended a three-week intensive workshop for teachers about nuclear issues. I learned about the science of the various kinds of nuclear weapons, the mathematics of radiation…

another monkey carving in Tosho-gu Shrine in Nikko, Japan

What to see in Nikko, a breathtaking World Heritage site

Nikko, Japan, nestled in the mountains north of Tokyo, is a small town, but is home to an incomparable assemblage of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Sprinkled around a national park forest above Nikko town is a collection of Shinto and Buddhist shrines and mausoleums that are breathtaking in their beauty and workmanship. Most of them date to…

shoes lined up outside a temple in Himeji, Japan

Barefoot in Japan: A bumbling fool

Much of the time that I was in Japan I felt like a bumbling fool. Shoes were a big part of it. The Japanese have a lot of rules regarding footwear. Basically, you are expected to go barefoot in Japan pretty much anywhere inside. That was more difficult for me than you’d think. 1. Entering…