Incoming Message from the Big Giant Head, Daibutsu at Todaii-ji, Nara

Todaiji, “Great Eastern Temple”, is one of Japan’s most famous and historically significant temples. Construction started in 728 AD and was completed in 752 AD. It served as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan until it grew so powerful that the capital had to be relocated from Nara to Nagaoka in […]

Kinkaku-ji, Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Capped by snow in winter, set against the lush green of summer, or enveloped in autumn foliage – nothing is as symbolic of Kyoto as Kinkaku-ji. Perhaps even more so, its golden reflection shimmering across the rippled surface of the pond before it. This temple has been destroyed by fire numerous times, in the conflagrations […]

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 […]

Something’s Fishy, Tsukiji Market

It is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Of course, it is most famous for tuna carcasses weighing over 300 kilograms but the market handles more than 400 different types of seafood. From seaweed to caviar, and from the tiniest of sardines to whale, you can find it here. Tsukiji Market […]