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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The Tō-ji Cherry Blossom Illumination in Kyoto (Tō-ji, Part 3 of 3)

The Tō-ji Cherry Blossom Illumination in Kyoto (Tō-ji, Part 3 of 3)

n April 2019, while finishing the 100 mountain climbs that became the basis for CLIMB, I visited Kyoto with my friend (and fellow author) Laura VanArendonk Baugh. By chance, our day in the ancient capital coincided with the final nights of the annual sakura (cherry blossom) illumination at Tō-ji, the UNESCO World Heritage temple that also happens to be one of Kyoto’s oldest sacred sites.

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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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Jogasaki Coast Nature Study Course Hike (Part 2 of 2)

(Click to see Part 1 of this two-part virtual hike.) I love the Jogasaki Nature Study Course, both for its beauty and for its easy accessibility from Tokyo. When I’ve gone, it was also significantly less crowded than the Picnical Course, which is a significant point in its favor. After leaving the “hidden cove” (pictured above, and where I left off at the end of Part 1) I headed back to the trail, which followed the shore, alternating between the open coast and the forest that grows almost to the edges of the cliffs. Statues of Jizō, like the one

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Hiking the Jogasaki Coast: Nature Study Course (Part 1 of 2)

Hiking the Jogasaki Coast: Nature Study Course (Part 1 of 2)

South of Cape Kadowaki, the Jogasaki Picnical Hiking Course becomes the Jogasaki Nature Study Course. There’s no significant difference in the nature of the trail itself–the Nature Study Course is longer, and has a few more posted signs describing the natural features of the Jogasaki Coast, but aside from the extra length, the Nature Study Course isn’t really any more difficult than the Picnical. The first time I hiked Jogasaki, hiked both courses in a single afternoon–and I did the same this May, so this virtual hike picks up where the Picnical left off–just south of Cape Kadowaki. I’m splitting

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Hiking the Jogasaki Coast: Picnical Course

Hiking the Jogasaki Coast: Picnical Course

The Izu Peninsula juts into the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo. The northeast portion of the peninsula is called the Jogasaki Coast (城ヶ崎海岸 – Jogasaki Kaigan), and it’s home to a pair of excellent hiking courses that run through portions of the Izu Peninsula Geopark. It’s a great hike at any time of year, but particularly in the summer, when the coastal breeze helps mitigate the heat and humidity.

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Hiking Marudake From Otome-Toge (Hakone)

Hiking Marudake From Otome-Toge (Hakone)

Earlier this month, I took advantage of a sunny Sunday and headed out to hike another “new-to-me” trail in Hakone: Marudake (1,154 m) via Otome-Toge. As always, the hike information is at the bottom of the post. I caught the highway bus from Shinjuku to Otome-toge; the route goes through Gotemba–where I caught a great view of Mt. Fuji–always an excellent way to start the day. I’ve hiked the first part of this trail several times, and the view from the Otome-toge bus stop is one of the best anywhere when Fuji is in a cooperative mood. She was a

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