Source: Tokyo Cheapo
Discovered by a monk (as legend has it), Nozawa Onsen is the hot spring town crossed with a ski resort you’ve been dreaming of …
Source: Tokyo Cheapo
Spending summers with her maternal grandparents in Fukushima Prefecture as a child, UK-born Niki Micklem gained a deep understanding of Japan’s regions. Her British–Japanese heritage also fostered her desire to help bridge Japan and the world. In April 2018, she found the means to do so: a sales and marketing role at Heartland Japan.
A new firm, Heartland Japan creates and provides tours that showcase the hidden treasures of Japan’s rural areas via outdoor pursuits, cultural activities and interactions with local people. For Micklem, it is a hugely worthwhile project, given its potential to expose international tourists to more of what Japan has to offer and to rejuvenate regions across the country through tourism.
Niki Micklem on a tour in Shimane Prefecture, Japan
Savvy Tokyo met her to find out about her work, the challenges she faces and what motivates her to continue.
What brought you to Japan?
Spending two months in Japan each summer never quite felt enough. I also never had any formal study of Japanese growing up, so I went to Kyoto after university to study Japanese for six months. My plan was then to return to the UK, but six months wasn’t enough time, so I enrolled in a longer course and then realized that I wanted to work here, to connect Japan with the foreign community. I have an interest in food, so at first, entered the restaurant business, introducing Japanese tea to international travelers at a café.
What attracted you to Heartland Japan?
I realized that I wanted to do work with more variety. And, after the earthquake in March 2011, I saw that there was a lot of fear about visiting the areas affected. I wanted to do something that could help the region, as well as other rural areas in Japan. I had been …continue reading
Source: deep kyoto
This month our friend, Edward J. Taylor, continues his exploration of Kyoto’s modern and historical streets with a walk along Ainomachi.
“Do you Kyoto?” is a slogan seen frequently throughout the city, one puzzling both to its residents, who may not grasp the English, and its foreign guests, who are not quite sure of the vague sentiment. It becomes a point of derision to many, including this writer. What it refers to of course is the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, prodding us all in a nanny-like way about what we are doing to meet the agreement’s CO2 goals.
In a similar spirit, I think that the name of one of the city’s streets, Ainomachi, would make a good tourist slogan, if only the character for ‘Ai’ read ‘Love,’ ala “I NY”. Sadly, kanji is oft times a spoiler, and the characters instead read “The neighborhood between,” causing us once again to throw up our hands and cry “Between what?”
Toyotomi Hideyoshi has the answer, for it was he who insisted on a street being built between Takakura Street and Higashinotōin Street. Both these adjacent streets had their roots in the Heian period, as the sites of former estates of famous nobility. The latter, belonging to Fujiwara Michinaga, is said to have eventually evolved into the Imperial Palace itself.
But for my own purposes today, Ainomachi’s southern end stands between a carpark and a carpark. That is to say, the entire half block below Shichijō has been paved over into a parking lot now, an act so recent that Google Maps has yet to make the correction.
I wander away from its fenced in enclosure, to quickly find another reference to wheeled vehicles. The kurumaishi were grooves cut into stone that allowed …continue reading
Source: Tokyo Cheapo
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