My bowl of udon tempura was so small, it fit into the palm of my hand. I couldn’t eat it either, because the chopsticks were the size of toothpicks. It was, however, extremely fun to make. In Mayuka’s Bonchi studio of miniature plastic food, we sliced tiny clay noodles, painted little shallots, and poured epoxy … More Kyoto in sketches: Japan’s cultural heart
Dambulla temple is Sri Lanka’s best preserved cave temple complex, one of the country’s fantastic UNESCO world heritage sights. It’s a decent climb to reach the caves, but the reward are five sanctuaries with outstanding wall fresco paintings, images of past kings and queens, and many golden statues of the Buddha.
Koyasan, a secluded temple town in the mountains, has a quiet, charming sense of mystery. The centre of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Daishi’s tomb, the surrounding cemetary, and the temple complexes are a lovely trip away from modern Japan.
Nara might be the perfect day trip. Easily accessible from Kyoto and Osaka, friendly and quaint, with plenty to see on foot in a just a few hours. But what are day trippers missing out on? Dinner menus unique to Nara, for one, and excursions out of the city. So is it worth extending a … More Visiting Nara – is it best as a day trip or overnight stay?
Near the top of the mountain, we walked into a perfect view of Fushimi Inari’s torii gates. We turned a corner, and there it was waiting for us, with no tourists or anything. A long tunnel of vermillion was being illuminated by a perfectly angled sun, turning every gate a different shade of bright orange, … More Fushimi Inari, Kyoto’s wonderful torii gate mountain
With Kyoto’s 1600 Buddhist temples, and 400 Shinto shrines to choose from, the choice of where to visit seemed overwhelming. After some research, we narrowed our visit down to just a few standouts.
Kyoto’s eye-catching bamboo forest is called Arashiyama, and you’ve probably seen photos of it before. The forest is dense and tall, and wandering through it is a lovely, elemental experience, feeling completely enveloped by these hollow giants.
Kyoto is not really a busting supercity like Tokyo or Osaka. While there still are high rises and department stores, Kyoto is best known for its cultural treasures. Think of it as a place of culture; traditional houses, geishas in elegant kimonos, and amazing food. Alll these things are celebrated in a city that has … More Kyoto for first-timers
The Ueno area is known or its large, beautiful park. It has some of the most beautiful green areas and temples in Tokyo city (better, I thought, than the Imperial Palace). But outside of cherry blossom, and in the cold days of winter, what is there to do? Toshogu shrine and Kiyomuzi Kannon are years … More Walking Ueno Park in the winter
Shinjuku is Tokyo big city life all rolled up into one lively ward. Shopping, eating, drinking, flashing neon signs, giant crowds in suits; it’s all here, right next to the world’s busiest train station. Shinjuku is a big economic hub in Tokyo, and a wonderful jumping off point into the neon-lit megacity madness that many … More What to see in Shinjuku for first-time visitors