This October, I was lucky enough to spend 3 days on Yakushima, a small, circular island 135km south of Kagoshima city. Before going, I’d heard about some of the island’s more famous attractions, like the Shiratani Unsuikyo Gorge (made famous by the Studio Ghibli animated film, ‘Princess Mononoke’) and Jomon Sugi (an ancient cedar tree). Imagine my disappointment when I heard we would not be visiting those famous sites but instead going off the beaten path to places less visited! It turned out great in the end, though.
We really lucked out with the weather. Yakushima is known to be the rainiest place in Japan, recording more than 4,000mm of rainfall on the coast and 10,000mm in the mountains each year. To put it simply, it rains twice as much in Yakushima than it does on the mainland. Autumns are generally one of the driest times of year for the island, but we were still told to come prepared with rain-gear, which we fortunately didn’t end up using.
We flew from Tokyo to Kagoshima on Japan Airlines (JAL), around 2 hours, and then from Kagoshima to Yakushima, 40 mins, by JAC (Japan Air Commuter, owned by Japan Airlines).
Yakushima is best explored by rental car. For Aussies, this means getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) from the automobile association in your state (NRMA or equivalent). It gives you more flexibility to visit the sites as public transport is not well developed. The island’s so small, you can actually drive all the way around it (without stopping) in 3 hours. There are several rental car shops found close to Yakushima Airport.
Senpiro no taki
This impressive waterfall has a drop of 60m into a granite ravine. You can view it from an observation deck.
Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen
We visited Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen, a natural hot-spring that can …continue reading
How much do you know about Japanese manners and customs? Read up on the most important etiquette tips before traveling to Japan.
1. Handling Chopsticks
Make sure to use your chopsticks with respect! Use the chopsticks to carefully pick up food in bite-sized pieces. Never aggressively stab your food or leave your chopsticks just sticking up out of your rice bowl. When taking food from a shared dish, use the chopsticks that were provided with the dish to take the food, or use the clean side of your chopsticks. When you’ve finished eating, place both chopsticks over the bowl or on the plate.
2. Don’t Be A Picky Eater
Japanese chefs work hard to select their menu items down to every perfect detail. When you ask to make changes to the food, it could be seen as disrespectful to the chef. Try to order exactly from the menu as is, and only modify things if you have an allergy need. It is also wasteful to leave food remaining on your plate, so try to finish every bite. In fact, Japanese children are taught to not even leave a single grain of rice left in the bowl!
3. Filling Water/Tea
It is typically Japanese custom for people to attentively watch the drinks of the people they are dining with, and notice when they need to be refilled. Japanese people are so polite that you rarely have to refill your own glass! Try to copy this politeness when you dine with others in Japan – when you notice their glasses are getting empty, offer to fill it or order another drink for them.
4. Show Your Thanks For The Food
Before you take your first …continue reading
As the shamisen sounds slowly guide you into the prelude, the white-faced, kimono-clad ladies of Tokyo’s Shimbashi district enter the spacious room, each stepping forward in her tabi, carefully heading to the stage. Their expressions are focused, their moves are precise and you can almost feel their tension — after all, they bear more weight on their heads than their wigs suggest; they carry the responsibility of continuing a nearly century-old tradition. Meet Shimbashi’s renowned geisha, the ladies behind Azuma Odori, one of Tokyo’s most respected historical performances.
© Photo by Kentaro Kumon
Held annually for an exclusive four-day limited period, Azuma Odori is a traditional performance that first took place in 1925 to commemorate the opening of Ginza’s Shinbashi Enbujo Theater, a place built to propagate the long-refined geisha culture. It is said that the performance initially began as a means to attract customers to Shimbashi, which at the time was a largely ignored and understated pleasure district — you see, most people were heading to the Kabukiza Theater just a few blocks away.
The new show imitated an open “ryotei” (Japanese-style high-end restaurant), which combines good sake, good food and good entertainment. As the years passed, the show became so popular that it not only transformed the district into a favorite entertainment locale but even inspired writers such as Yasunari Kawabata and Junichiro Tanizaki to write about it. Azuma Odori survived Japan’s most turbulent years and is to date continuing to entertain people while preserving the otherwise dying geisha culture in Japan.
And this May, the show is back even stronger by partnering with …continue reading
Source: Tokyo Cheapo
Mount Takao has it all: Stunning views, unusual statues, delicious food and exciting festivals. Why not spend a day exploring the wilds of one of Tokyo’s best-loved mountains?
Source: Tokyo Cheapo
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