Travel Articles

Hiking in Tokyo- Mount Takao

I bet you didn’t know you could hike in Tokyo! I bet you didn’t know you could hike with mountain gods (well ok they are minor mountain kami)! Most people only see the hip (or crazy) fashion of Harajuku, the stately Emperor’s Palace and the blinding neon signs of Shinjuku at night when they think about Tokyo. Packed trains ferrying 10 million people in and out the city each day, name brand department stores, and tourist swamped temples either excite a visitor or make them run screaming away from Tokyo. But there are more things to do in Tokyo than meets the eye and the visitor or resident can have both the packed cultural experience of the world’s largest city and a nice day of hiking out in the mountains. Just 2 days before the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan I was enjoying views of Mount Fuji from the top Read full article…

Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan

This post is part of the Blog4Japan campaign helping to raise donations for the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami. Please share it and considering donating to one of the worthy local Japanese organizations responding to the disaster. This year will mark a different type of cherry blossom season. Usually each year as these transient beauties reveal themselves to the country the Japanese gather together with friends, family, and coworkers and party under the blossoms in a custom called hanami. It is by far my favorite activity in Japan, eating delicious food and drinking into the wee hours of the night celebrating life and beauty that we all know will fade shortly after. In fact it’s the short time period that makes us appreciate the beauty all the more. In the wake of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami the cherry blossom parties will be understandably subdued. But I Read full article…

Beautiful places to visit in the North of New Zealand

This is a guest post by Craig Martin and is a part of the Blog4 New Zealand campaign to raise awareness that after the Christ Church Earthquake it is perfectly safe to visit New Zealand. In fact your tourism will help them to rebuild and keep people employed! There are plenty of places to explore while you travel through New Zealand. Here are five of my favourite spots to stop and spend some time. Auckland The country’s largest city, and likely the city you fly into. Auckland is cosmopolitan but it is spread out over countless suburbs. Make sure you explore further than the central city – heading out towards Mission Bay for coffee and gelato on the beach, or the Waitakere Ranges for instant escape from the city into a series of forests and reserves. Matakana A weekend escape for many Aucklanders, Matakana is home to amazing farmers markets, Read full article…

How to Help Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami Survivors by giving to Japanese Organizations

This page is dedicated to helping the survivors of the Friday 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan by channeling international donations to local efforts. The earthquake and tsunami have caused extensive and severe damage in Northeastern Japan, over 9,500 people have been confirmed dead and another 16,000 are missing, and millions more affected by lack of electricity, water and transportation. The images of the destruction and suffering have shocked the world. However, with the World Bank reporting over 300 billion USD in damages and families torn apart there is a need for everyone to help both financially and emotionally. A few weeks ago I posted about my Experience During the Japan Earthquake and made a plea to my readers to spread the word about helping Japan recover. My wife is from Tokyo and we are both professional aid and recovery workers with the United Nations. We have seen Read full article…

My Experience During the Japan Earthquake

The Japanese Earthquake On Friday 11 March 2011 just before 3:00 pm the largest earthquake in Japanese recorded history hit with a magnitude of 9.0. I was in Tokyo at the time visiting my wife’s family. As I sat at the kitchen table, happily posting pictures of Japan on Facebook, the room began to shake. The quake started small, but with a sudden jolt. When the shaking didn’t stop I started to worry as the large cabinet rattled at my back and the light above me began to swing violently. I moved to the middle of the room, away from anything that could fall on me. The preparation drills tell you to get under a table, put a cushion over your head, and open the door to make sure you have a way out if the house collapses. You are also supposed to shut off the gas to prevent a Read full article…

Find Love, Good Health, Wealth and High Test Scores in Japan

In the last article we explored the Japanese trend of visiting “Power Spots,” areas where you can gather invisible energy. Whether you believe in Power Spots or not the act of visiting specific places to gain a certain type of benefit is a long held practice in Japan. Temples, shrines and hot springs are the most commonly visited. Natural areas are usually associated with one of them and are where visitors focus their prayers when venturing out into rural Japan. Much of what people ask for are physical rewards. While I’m not sure praying for wealth is the best use of your time, there are thousands of places all over Japan that cater to physical and spiritual improvements. If you are heading to Japan and you have issues with health, love, and money, need to pass an exam, could use a bit of healing, or just want to get rid Read full article…

Power Spots: Japanese Spiritual and Travel Craze

Gain Energy, Luck and Happiness through Travel to Power Spots Want to get married, become rich, get rid of a little evil, or do away with that ugly wart? It’s as simple as visiting a Power Spot. One the biggest trends in Japan last year was the rise of Power Spots, and any type of travel associated with them. Power Spots are supposedly any place where you can receive invisible energy that can help you achieve all your life’s dreams, whether they be material or spiritual. This is of course not a new concept in Japan, as the Japanese have ascribed specific powers to temples and shrines for thousands of years. Shinto beliefs also stress a spiritual aspect to nature,  inhabited by millions of gods. What is new is the packaging of all such Power Spots into one large mixture of your favorite spiritual energy dogmas. A little Feng Shui Read full article…

5 Unique Things to Do in Boston

Boston is not only a visually stunning city, it is also home to the Red Socks, Beer and Lobster! The city of Boston is one of my “second” homes. From historical battle fields, to Irish pubs, a mix of colonial and modern architecture, the fusion of blue collar values and lofty academics leaves me feeling relaxed and welcomed. The city is smaller than most capital cities and boasts a host of unique neighborhoods. It’s more intimate than it’s rival New York, and  it’s easy to escape for those dreaming of New England sea coast villages or the mountain wilderness of New Hampshire and Vermont. Boston is where my mother’s family is from, where I went to school, it’s where all of my best friends live, it’s my first stop during any trip home, and it’s one of those places you could spend years exploring and never really figure it all Read full article…

Inside Tokyo's Red Light District Kabukicho

As far as red light districts go, Tokyo’s Kabukicho near Shinjuku station is relativity tame. Unlike Amsterdam there are no pot houses (aka “coffee shops”), prostitutes are not for sale in windows like a pimped out version of a holiday display, and at only 600 square meters it’s not even that big. What Kabukicho lacks in overtness it makes up for in subtlety and uniqueness. I spent a day walking around during the day time, but come after 6 pm and the streets are packed with partying salary men showing business associates a “good time” and getting hammered. Sounds enticing doesn’t it. What type of clubs exist in Kabukicho? The area is dominated by small drinking holes, DVD shops, peep holes, and host and hostess clubs that cater to lonely husbands and wives who need a little attention from well dressed, flirtatious professional conversationalists. If you are expecting the run Read full article…

Nanakusa Gayu (Japanese Porridge or Congee with Seven herbs)

This post is by Kay, who writes the K’s Kitchen section of Todd’s Wanderings. She also happens to be Todd’s lovely wife! This is a special and traditional dish that Japanese eat on January 7th with the wish to get rid of evil and bring health. Also, there is a connotation for resting your stomach after eating heavy and rich Osechi Meals over New Years. The porridge/congee is cooked with seven kinds of herbs: (Japanese parsley (seri); Shepherd’s purse (nazuna); Jersey Cudweed (gogyō); Common chickweed (hakobera); Henbit (hotokenoza); Turnip (suzuna); and Daikon (suzushiro). They are seven herbs which represent spring. For your reference, there are seven leaves for autumn but they are for decoration not for cooking. To be honest, this is not a very tasty and attractive dish as it is, but I like the significance of this custom and the idea to rest my stomach after eating a Read full article…

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