Pilgrim’s Progress, Senso-ji by way of Nakamise-Dori

Senso-ji, dedicated to the bodhisattva of compassion, Kannon, is metropolitan Tokyo’s oldest temple. Most of the temple was destroyed during Allied bombing raids in 1945 and rebuilt after the war. Senso-ji’s history dates back nearly 1400 years to 628 AD when, according to legend, two brothers were fishing in the nearby Sumida river and dragged […]

Miyajima, Beyond the Gate

The vast majority of visitors to Miyajima remain on the island for only a few short hours, a day trip from Hiroshima. Not venturing past the torii gate, paying their respects at Itsukushima, they return to the ferry terminal, stopping along the way to shop on lively Omotesando street with its restaurants, food stalls, and […]

Ryōan-ji, Peaceful Dragon Temple, Kyoto

Ryōan-ji, a Zen temple located northwest of Kyoto, eponymous with its more famous rock garden, is truly one of the most serene places on earth. The temple garden is considered to be the finest example of a kare-sansui, or zen rock garden, in Japan. It’s my favorite garden in the world. The garden is best […]

A City That Fits Into Seventeen Syllables, Kyoto

The allies had originally planned to drop the first atomic bomb on Kyoto. Kyoto was spared by the personal intervention of Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of War. Stimson wished to save this cultural center in which he spent his honeymoon. There are over 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines in Kyoto. It […]

You Say Shibuya, I Say Shi-BOO-Ya

Where else in the known universe can you see a graying middle-aged man, possibly someone’s Grandpa, walking quite nonchalantly down a heavily-trafficked urban sidewalk, dressed in full Sailor Moon regalia? Or, pet impossibly clean sheep? Then, there was this street performance. And, more people than you can imagine trying to cross the street at the […]