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Matsumoto Castle, including both of the added wings

Matsumoto: My first Japanese castle

I chose to visit Matsumoto because I love castles. I’ve seen many in Europe, so this was an obvious choice in Japan. There are a few other things to see in Matsumoto, but the castle is the big draw, and, judging by the hordes of tourists shuffling through the castle with me, it’s a popular…

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

Is 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, which makes a Kanazawa day trip a viable option. I’d never heard of it before, but that coverage led me to add…

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…

Row houses in the Emerald Hill neighborhood of Singapore

Singapore, the Old and the New

NEW Singapore After my visit to Pulau Ubin in Singapore, I spent most of the rest of my very short stay visiting with my foster daughter, Krislyn, and her Singapore family. But Krislyn and I needed time for a good long chat, and decided to check out Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. The Gardens by 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, and 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. Disclosure:…

the beach on Pulau Ubin next to the ferry ("bumboat") landiing

Pulau Ubin: Singapore’s Memory Lane

When my new friend and fellow blogger, Betsy Wuebker, posted about her visit to Pulau Ubin, near Singapore, it couldn’t have come at a better moment. I was on my way to Hong Kong but had just heard from my foster daughter, Krislyn, who lives in Singapore now. It turned out she couldn’t come visit…