I don’t go through my old photos nearly as often as I should. There are a lot of gems in there, and many of them fill me with a rush of nostalgia. The other day I was browsing through my summer vacation photos and I stumbled across when I spent a week or so in Kyushu, an island south of Honshu in Japan that is home to boatloads of delicious food and sightseeing places that people rarely manage to put on their “to see” lists when coming to Japan.
My first memory of Fushimi Inari Shrine is hiking up the mountain and getting so turned around that a wandering worker had to help me find my way back down it before sundown.
Since then, I’ve had a fondness for the winding torii gates, the little fox statues, and the views from the mountaintop. I guess you bond with a place when you get stuck for a few hours, huh? But over the years as it’s become more and more crowded, I’ve visited it less and less, reluctant to face the wave of humanity that hits it. And when I did visit it, it was purely to grab an omamori charm or to lead a visiting friend through. I didn’t visit it for myself anymore.
At least, not until I performed there.
“So, what are you doing for vacation this time?” my coworker asks.
“I’m going abroad.” I frown. “Ugh, I still need to pack.”
“Don’t we all. Where you flying out of? Itami? KIX?”
“Narita,” I say offhandedly.
The look on my coworker’s face each time is priceless.
We had quite a week here in Japan; on Monday the Kansai area experienced an earthquake that left several injured and at least 4 dead. I was fortunate in that I live in Kyoto and was not on a train or anywhere near the epicenter when it happened; the worst I endured was a sudden, loud BANG followed by the sudden rocking of my apartment building–though I will say, that left me huddled in my doorway for several minutes after, eyes wide, clutching my phone.
After that, getting out of the house and enjoying things to take my mind off of the potential for aftershocks was a necessity. So when a friend suggested that we go and check out Daruma Temple, I readily agreed to the outing.
In mid-May, I received a text from a friend out of the blue, asking if I felt like going to Kanazawa. I agreed, because hey, who wouldn’t like a brief getaway from everyday life? It was only after we’d decided on the dates and times that I paused and wondered, “What’s even in Kanazawa?”
Turns out, a lot.
There are lots of ways to spend your free time in Japan; roadtrips, bowling, taking one-off cultural lessons, and, of course, karaoke. If you’re downtown in any given city in Japan, you’ll run across the Jankaras, the Shidaxes, the mom and pop snack bars that offer karaoke, and a host of other options. Depending on your group size or even what you like to sing, the world is at your fingertips in terms of options.
While walking the streets of Kyoto, I’ve noticed that something else has been popping up beside the karaoke boxes: climbing gyms. You can go in for one-off sessions, or sign up for a monthly membership just like you would at a traditional gym. Whether you’re already a lean, mean, climbing machine or a newbie, there’s something available for you.
It was only a matter of time before someone mashed those two ideas together.
Hello and welcome to a Throwback Thursday post! I don’t do these very often, but while perusing my past blog posts and my pictures, I realized that there are a few adventures I haven’t talked about here. Some may remain in obscurity for a while longer; others, like this one, grow more pertinent as travel season is upon us.
Yes, Golden Week is around the corner, and before we know it, it’s going to be summer. With all that entails. Cicadas, tour groups, and every flavor of ice cream you can possibly imagine. Among other things.
Today, I’d like to share with you part one of the tale of our overnight Hiroshima trip.
“So, where have you been in Japan?”
I thought. “Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Hokkaido…”
The Japanese local nodded, a satisfied look on their face.
“Wait. Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku?” The satisfied expression has dropped and they’re staring at me, wide-eyed.
“Yeah. I went to Takamatsu for a long weekend.”
New Year’s means a lot of things to lots of different people. For some, it means going out with friends and seeking out a party. For others, it’s relaxing at home and watching the countdown/fireworks on the television. For yet others, it means a chance to go to bed early and sleep in the next day.
Japanese New Year’s is similarly flexible- to an extent. You’ll find any number of posts floating around about which shrine or temple to visit at midnight January 1st; what kind of soba to eat; whether you should shell out for KFC’s Christmas chicken or not. (Spoiler: Family Mart Chicken is cheaper and a great alternative.) But there’s something I’ve noticed missing: the practicalities.