Kakigori – a Japanese Summer Treat

Kakigori – a Japanese Summer Treat

One of the things I love most about living in Japan is the seasonal nature of Japanese food. While it’s sad to have some of your favorite treats fall off the menu when the calendar changes, it’s also exciting to look forward to seeing your favorites return the following year (and having the chance to find new favorites, too). Last summer, my son and I discovered a delicious spot to get kakigori–the fluffy shaved ice that’s a favorite summertime treat across Japan. Kurashiki Coffee at Toritsu-Daigaku station offers three different flavors: strawberry, matcha (powdered green tea), and tiramisu–each with a

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Visiting Tō-ji: a Temple Tied to Kyoto’s Ancient Past (Part 1 of 3)

Visiting Tō-ji: a Temple Tied to Kyoto’s Ancient Past (Part 1 of 3)

In 794, Kyoto (then renamed Heian-kyo) became the capital of Japan. At that time, the official entrance to the city was in the south (the direction visitors came when approaching from the former capital of Nara). A pair of guardian temples stood on either side of the entrance, at the start of an enormous, broad, flat road that led from the official city entrance all the way to the Imperial Palace in the northern part of the city.

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CHAPTER 27: Tokachidake

CHAPTER 27: Tokachidake

September 11, 2018 This photo supplement tracks the events in CLIMB: Leaving Safe and Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan. The captions offer “extra features” that didn’t make it into the book. On the morning of September 11, my Hokkaido Nature Tours guide (who I’d christened the Yamabushi) and I drove approximately 200 kilometers from Sapporo to Daisetsuzan National Park in Central Hokkaido–home to some of the tallest mountains in Hokkaido, including our target for the day: 2,077-meter Tokachidake (Mt. Tokachi). What look like “normal” cumulus clouds in the photo above are actually clouds of smoke and steam rising from the

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Welcome, Spring . . . and Sakura-Flavored Everything

Welcome, Spring . . . and Sakura-Flavored Everything

Springtime in Japan means the return of the beloved sakura (cherry blossoms) — on the trees and on the plate. The blossoms are arriving about two weeks early this year. The trees in my Meguro neighborhood are already setting buds, and on my walk yesterday afternoon I spotted the first blossom of the year: When I stopped to take a picture, a woman walking next to me also stopped, looked up (to see what I was looking at) and startled. “Sakura!” she exclaimed. “Honto desu ne? Hayai desu ne.” (“Is it really true? They’re early, aren’t they?”) I agreed with

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CHAPTER 24: To Play With Crows

CHAPTER 24: To Play With Crows

August 14, 2018 This photo supplement tracks the events in CLIMB: Leaving Safe and Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan. The captions offer “extra features” that didn’t make it into the book. August is not the best month for mountain climbing in Japan. It’s hot, humid, and generally unpleasant in Tokyo, and while the more mountainous surrounding prefectures are somewhat better, it’s still a challenging (and potentially dangerous) time to exercise. That said, when you’re trying to climb 100 mountains in 365 days, you haven’t got the luxury of waiting on the weather, so with the summer heat in full swing,

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