Kegon Falls

Kegon Falls

Kegon Falls, in Upper Nikkō (Tochigi Prefecture, Japan) consistently ranks among the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan, if not the world. The 97-meter, bridal-veil style fall was created when ancient lava flows from nearby Mt. Nantai diverted the flow of the Daiya River. While most of the water cascades down the face of the lava flow, some of the water filters through the porous rock and emerges near the base of the primary fall, creating more than a dozen smaller waterfalls near the base of the primary falls. Kegon Falls is open to the public, and accessed via an elevator

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Heaven, Hell, and Off the Beaten Path in Japan

Heaven, Hell, and Off the Beaten Path in Japan

I love traveling to new and unexpected places here in Japan, and sharing the experiences I encounter. My trip to Kyushu (Japan’s southernmost major island) last January was both exciting and unexpected, and I’m thrilled to be able to share my experiences in “heaven and hell” at Matcha–which is also, hands-down, the best English-language website for travel ideas and travel advice about Japan. Here’s the link to the first installment of my “Japan, Off the Beaten Path” series: “To Heaven and Hell in Beppu” (with plenty of photos of the adventure, too!)

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By Ferry Across the Seto Inland Sea

By Ferry Across the Seto Inland Sea

After finishing last week’s climbs in Kyushu, I decided to travel home by a slower, and often (wrongfully) underrated means of transportation: an overnight ferry across the Inland Sea. The shinkansen (bullet train) is faster, and the overnight bus much cheaper, but overnight ferries have a surprising amount to offer . . . especially when you splurge on a private room. Like most Japanese ferries, the Meimon Taiyo ferry that sails between Kitakyushu and Osaka (the black line on the map below shows the route) offers several classes of accommodation. Tourist and economy classes basically consist of dormitory-style rooms with futon on the floor for sleeping and shared bathroom and shower

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New Year Fireworks at Fuji Five Lakes

New Year Fireworks at Fuji Five Lakes

I tend to plan my travel fairly thoroughly, but always leave enough flexibility in my plans to enjoy the unexpected opportunities that happen frequently here in Japan. Last week, I traveled to the Fuji Five Lakes region, near Mt. Fuji, to continue my climbs for the 100 Summits project. While on the train to Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi), I saw a flyer advertising New Year fireworks–a common celebratory event here in Japan. To my surprise, the flyer said the final night of fireworks was that very night–and since my ryokan (traditional inn) was located near the lake, I hoped I would be able to

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Taking a Cat to Japan – Part 1

Taking a Cat to Japan – Part 1

Our decision to spend a year in Japan for the #100Summits Project depended, in part, on our ability to take our cat, Oobie, along on the journey. My husband and I believe that “pets are for life” and we wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving her behind. However, since Japan is a rabies-free country, entry requirements for pets are strict (see also: “draconian” – but with good reason) and it took us almost a year to ensure that Oobie could enter without undergoing extended quarantine.

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Celebrating The Unexpected

Celebrating The Unexpected

When traveling, I try to remember that closed itineraries–like closed fists–are unable to catch an unexpected blessing. Although I plan my travel in advance in fairly great detail, when I’m actually traveling I try to remain alert to the opportunities for spontaneous experiences, and to take advantage of them when I can. As a result, I get to enjoy the unexpected opportunities and sites that come my way. Here are just a few from the last week’s travels:

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