My Visit to Gifu Prefecture’s Bizarre Yoro Park

The subject of today’s post is an odd destination that has been on my to-visit list long before I started producing travel content in 2016. Known as the Site of Reversible Destiny, this peculiar attraction resides within Gifu Prefecture’s much larger Yoro Park. The space is a collaborative work that was fashioned by a pair of acclaimed architects in the late 1990’s. While located a long way off of the beaten path, the Site of Reversible Destiny is a unique spot that is definitely worth visiting if you’re looking to be dealt a new hand by fate.

Now, you, the…

Exploring the Southern Tip of the Miura Peninsula

Every time I think I’ve crossed Kanagawa Prefecture off my bucket list once and for all, something always comes along to capture my attention. Recently, while contemplating possible day trips from Tokyo, I realized that I had yet to cover Misaki Port. Lovingly referred to as “Tuna Town” by the locals, this cozy, seaside hamlet prides itself on its high quality catches. What’s more, much like the better known fish markets up in the capital, Misaki Port allows visitors to experience the daily tuna auctions.

Of course, tuna isn’t the only reason one ought to visit Misaki Port. The area…

A Pair of Attractions in Southeastern Kyoto

A statue of Murasaki Shikibu along the Uji River in Kyoto
A statue of Murasaki Shikibu along the Uji River in Kyoto

Over the years, I’ve been quite weary of visiting Japan’s former capital. Simply put, the place has been overrun with tourists for the past few years to the point where it had become akin to Disneyland. In fact, it was so bad that the very charm that makes Kyoto appealing in the first place had largely vanished. Alas, one silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic for residents of Japan has been that Kyoto has briefly returned to the bygone days prior to the inbound tourism boom. …

The Best Day Hike from Tokyo

The epic view from the top of Mt. Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture
The epic view from the top of Mt. Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture

Dear reader, allow me to begin this one with an intriguing folktale. According to this legend, back in the early mists of time, a deity descended from the heavens. Seeking a place to spend the night, this divine being beseeched two mountains. The first of these peaks was none other than Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately for our celestial friend, the iconic mountain haughtily refused, thinking that it didn’t need the deity’s blessing. Still needing a place to stay the god instead turned to Mt. Tsukuba over in Ibaraki Prefecture. In stark contrast to Mt. …

Recounting My Visit to Enryaku-ji on Mt. Hiei

Mt. Hiei’s Enryaku-ji temple complex in Kyoto burns from Oda Nobunaga’s attack.
Mt. Hiei’s Enryaku-ji temple complex in Kyoto burns from Oda Nobunaga’s attack.

“I am going to burn them with the flames of war and let the true Buddha be called forth from these ashes!”

— Oda Nobunaga

Imagine this. You’ve just consolidated control over most of Japan but there’s still a constant thorn in your side. Much to your chagrin, the warrior monks of Mt. Hiei continue to meddle in your affairs. Based in the mountaintop bastion of Enryaku-ji, this Buddhist collective has long held sway over the politics of Kyoto. In fact, many years ago, Emperor Shirakawa even went as far as lamenting that the only three phenomenon that he couldn’t…

A Pair of Dual Allures in Northern Kyoto

It’s really no secret that I’ve not been a fan of Kyoto over the years. Though I am sympathetic towards the plight of the city now that the pandemic has ground all inbound travel to a halt, Japan’s former capital used to suffer greatly from overtourism. Even during the days where Kiyomizu-dera and other popular sights were swarmed with hordes of tourists though, there were always a handful of yet-to-be-discovered allures such as the venerable Iwashimizu Hachimangu. While the more mainstream spots were honestly nigh unbearable at times, these attractions were rarely, if ever, crowded.

On that note, I’d like…

Round Two in This Rural Part of Fukuoka

Asakura’s iconic water wheels along the Chikugo River.
Asakura’s iconic water wheels along the Chikugo River.

It should really come as no surprise to those who already follow me on the Gram that Asakura has a special place in my heart. Not only is this provincial section of Fukuoka Prefecture a treasure trove of bucolic delights, it’s also under the jurisdiction of a close friend and his company, Discover Deep Japan. …

How this Japanese Vegetable Saved My Life

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a daikon (lit. “big root”). Known internationally among culinary circles in English as the “daikon radish,” this mild-flavored winter radish originally hails from China’s northern reaches. Though common to many Asian countries, the vegetable is regularly referred to around the world by its Japanese moniker. As you can likely surmise from the subtitle of this article, I have a bit of an odd connection to this Asian tuber.

How daikon ultimately saved my life is a bit of a long story. To follow the tale, you’ll need to first understand that I unequivocally love Japan…

Sakura City’s Hiyodori-zaka — the “Arashiyama” near Narita

Welcome back to another installment of Backyard Tourism. As always, we’ll be taking a look at an often overlooked part of Japan in an attempt to prove that just about anywhere in this amazing country has potential. This time, I’ll be introducing Sakura City’s Hiyodori-zaka. Located but a mere stone’s throw away from Narita International Airport, this hidden gem makes for a great final addition to your time in Japan. Simply budget for a few extra hours before your flight to allow for transportation time and you’ll be all set to enjoy Sakura City and the Hiyodori-zaka.

What makes the…

An Often Skipped Side of Tochigi Prefecture

Tochigi Prefecture’s Oya-ji Temple Complex in Utsunomiya City
Tochigi Prefecture’s Oya-ji Temple Complex in Utsunomiya City

Tochigi Prefecture is no stranger to welcoming overseas visitors. Home to several amazing national parks, as well as a cluster of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there’s a lot to do in this area of Japan. Alas, when it comes to Tochigi Prefecture’s capital city of Utsunomiya, most travelers simply elect to continue on to the popular destinations of Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen. While this is entirely understandable given how awesome these spots actually are, Utsunomiya deserves more credit than it receives. …

Donny Kimball

Tokyo-based digital marketer and travel writer who is addicted to exploring a different side of Japan.

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