Monday, September 4, 2017

The Philosopher's Path


The Philosopher's Path, or Philosopher's Walk, got its name from 20th century professor Nishida Kitaro, who used his daily walk along the canal as a meditation ritual. Its famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring. During the rest of the year, it still provides a nice place for a stroll between the temples of northern Higashiyama. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Deluge at Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha is probably the most famous site in Japan. Even if you don't know its name, you've seen pictures - rows of thousands of brilliant orange torii gate, winding up a mountain. There are other Inari shrines around Japan, but aside from being the original, what makes this one so impressive is the sheer number of gates - said to be over 10,000. Inari is the Shinto god of rice, and given that rice was so important to the development of Japan that it used to be used as currency, Inari also represents prosperity. The torii gates are donated by companies and individuals, who pay between 400,000 to a million yen to have a gate with their name inscribed on it on the mountain. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Gardens of Tokyo

We set our alarms for 8:00am and were checked out of Bunka Hostel by 9:30ish. Arriving at Tokyo Station, Monica and I stashed our bags in a locker in the maze of underground passageways (it took us a good half hour to relocate that specific locker bank later - geo-tag your things).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nikko Day Trip

After crashing the night before, I woke up fairly early (6:00ish) to wrangle with T-Mobile again. This time, the tech I got discovered the problem - the band my phone runs on isn't supported in Japan. I was put out that none of the other techs (and myself, before leaving) hadn't figured this out already. (In my defense, I had checked - I'd just managed to plug in the wrong version of my phone.)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Western Tokyo

On our first full day in Tokyo, I'd planned for us to tackle the western side of the city. It's where a lot of the icons of Tokyo are located - the famous Shibuya crossing and Harajuku, to name a couple. The sky was gorgeous and blue and the weather not as hot as I'd worried - though we were still sweating within blocks of the hostel. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Senso-ji, Night and Day

When I started planning our trip to Japan, the idea of using not just Tokyo - but Senso-ji Temple in particular - to bookend our trip, started to appeal to me. I'd read the temple was great to visit at night, as it was illuminated and empty. (For some perspective, Senso-ji and and Meiji Shrine are tied for 'world's most-visited religious site'.) We could experience its beauty in peace when we arrived and then visit it during regular hours on our last day in Japan, getting some last-minute souvenir shopping done in the bargain.

Thursday, July 27, 2017



I'm so happy that I discovered shuin before arriving in Japan. When I was looking at souvenir ideas (guys, I was so prepared for this trip, you have no idea...) I came across websites devoted to these neat little books, called goshuin-cho. The name means "honorable red stamp book" and it works almost as a shrine and temple passport. You pay 300 yen and a monk or kannushi will first stamp your page with red ink and then - this is the cool part - will calligraph the name of the temple and the date you visited over the stamps.