Ginza, Visas, and the Start of the 100 Summits Quest

Ginza, Visas, and the Start of the 100 Summits Quest

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived in Tokyo to begin the first official step toward the #100Summits Project: filing my visa application. Japanese residence visas can be difficult to obtain, but I’m hopeful my plans to climb the hyakumeizan and my publishing contract for 100 SUMMITS–a nonfiction book about my quest to scale Japan’s most famous peaks in a single year–will be sufficient for me to obtain a one-year visa.

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A Visit to Nakamise Shopping Street (Part 1)

A Visit to Nakamise Shopping Street (Part 1)

Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, is also one of my favorites. The massive Kaminarimon, or Thunder Gate, is one of Asakusa’s best-known landmarks: and visitors often take photos with the gate’s massive chochin, which weighs almost 1,500 pounds. But a visit to Senso-ji is not complete without a stroll down Nakamise Shopping Street – the vibrant line of shops and stalls that lines the approach to the temple. Traditionally, vendors’ stalls or shops line the approach to Japanese shrines and temples. The goods on display can vary, but they usually include a variety of tasty local specialties, like these small cakes

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Temple and Toilet Slippers in Japan

Temple and Toilet Slippers in Japan

Most Japanese people don’t wear shoes inside. Apartments and houses typically have a small, lowered area just inside the door for removing shoes and a cabinet by the door where shoes are stored. This keeps the indoor spaces clean and undefiled – and it has been the custom in Japan for many hundreds (if not thousands) of years.

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Hello, Tokyo!

Hello, Tokyo!

By the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane to Tokyo! My son and I are heading over together–him for a job interview and me for a research trip–while my husband stays home and holds down the fort. (I’m lucky to have a guy like that!) I’ve got my trusty roller bag: and my laptop, and in addition to research for the next Hiro Hattori novel (and some preliminary work for the secret project I hope to announce very soon) I’m hoping to visit several–if not all–of the Christmas Markets going on in Japan between now and my return to

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The Main Shrine at Hakone Jinja

The Main Shrine at Hakone Jinja

Last week, I started a virtual tour of Hakone Jinja (Shrine), one of my favorite Shintō shrines in Japan – and today, we continue that tour with a look at the shrine’s main courtyard and worship hall. In some ways, the layout of Shintō shrines varies more than Buddhist temple architecture, in part because of the way Shintō attempts to integrate the shrine with the natural landscape. Hakone Jinja is no exception. The main courtyard, where the worship hall stands, sits uphill from the entrance. Because of the distance, and the fact that several paths lead up to the worship hall

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