Dazaifu Tenmangū Omotesandō, Dazaifu

As is traditional with shrines and temples, the road to Dazaifu Tenmangū is lined with shops and restaurants. This grew from the need to provide those on pilgrimages with supplies, and so stalls sprung up selling everything from buns to sandals, and over the centuries this has grown. You may have heard of the Starbucks…

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Dazaifu Tenmangū, Dazaifu

Dazaifu Tenmangū is a large shrine complex in the town of Dazaifu, Fukuoka, dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane. As you may recall from my post on the Yushima Tenmangū, Sugawara was a Heian-era scholar and poet who was, after his death, deified as Tenjin. Sugawara was born in Kyoto in 845, and was writing poetry…

Bikan, Kurashiki

Kurashiki is a city in Okayama Prefecture, about two hours west of Osaka by train. Within it, along the canal, is the Bikan Historical Quarter where many buildings are preserved in their Edo Period state to show what the city was like two hundred years ago. The city has even gone so far as to…

Himeji Castle, Himeji

Himeji Castle is staggeringly beautiful. I’m not prone to hyperbole – in fact, if anything, my English nature tends toward understatement more often than not. When I say, then, that Himeji Castle is one of the finest castles left standing anywhere in the world, I really do mean it. The downside? Well, I’m afraid Himeji-jō…

Omnomnom! Sembei!

This post isn’t about Shika Sembei at all! Oh, all right. Here’s a picture of me feeding a deer in Nara Park. I’ll be moving on to start covering Hong Kong soon, so my next few posts regarding Japan will be the last on the subject for a little while. After that I’m heading to…

Hie Jinja, Tōkyō

For a shrine which was once so important, Hie Jinja is remarkably… unremarkable. It receives few foreign visitors, and seems relatively new. The first clue to its magnitude is the vast quantity of names and nicknames it has; it’s not uncommon for a shrine so big as Sensōji to have a couple of alternative names,…

Tickets as souvenirs

Most people like to collect a few souvenirs on holiday, and in Japan there’s an almost bewildering selection of things to buy everywhere you go. But don’t overlook the souvenir you’ll be given every place you go: the humble admission ticket. Japan doesn’t seem to do the humble variety of admission ticket, though. Not to…

Yushima Tenmangū, Tōkyō

Yushima Tenmangū, also known as Yushima Tenjin, is a small shrine in the Bunkyō Ward of Tōkyō which is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a Heian Period scholar and poet. Deified after his death as the kami Tenman-Tenjin (often shortened to Tenjin), there are many shrines across the country dedicated to him, and the Yushima…

Sumida River Cruise, Tōkyō

There’s a fantastic way to see Tōkyō, and hardly anyone outside of Japan seems to know about it. Well, it’s time that changed, because the Suijo Bus “Tokyo River Cruise” is fantastic, and if you have the time and like to slow down once in a while, you should really give it a try. I’d…

Sensōji, Tōkyō, Japan

Also known as the Asakusa Kannon Temple, Sensōji is the oldest temple in Tokyo, after a statue of the Bodhisattva Kannon was fished from the Sumida by two brothers on the 18th of March, 628. Hinokuma Takenari and Hamanari recovered the statue from the waters while fishing from their boat, and the head of the…