Category Archives: Quick bites

April 21

New bullet train opening – The Hokuriku Shinkansen, Kanazawa.

How a train loving nation launches a new train line.

December 19

Early winter sunset at the lake


April 08

Dawn over Sha Tin Racecourse, Hong Kong

Catching the morning training session at the world famous Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong.  

March 28

Pretty in Pink

A local enjoying the plum blossoms, the first and most colourful harbinger of spring here in Japan.

February 20

Blue Sky Day in Hakuba

A postcard-perfect day at Hakuba Iwatake Ski Field, high in the Japanese Alps.  Aside from sublime scenery, the enormous Iwatake Ski Field offers plenty of runs for all levels of skiers, including this complete beginner. This area even hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998.  If you’re keen for some prime powder time this season, Hakuba […]

November 12

If you go down to The Peninsular Tokyo today….

You’ll probably find this talented fellow working away in the basement creating beautiful sugary adornments the day’s desserts.  Thanks to huge glass windows, you can watch not only pastry sous chef Hayato Yamada but the rest of his staff as they work their magic in three different rooms. Time was limited so I didn’t linger […]

November 09

The spirit of dance

I spied these unusual dancers and musicians on a recent visit to Ise Grand Shrine in Ise, Mie Prefecture.  They are performing gagaku, a style of ceremonial court music and dance. This art is inherently religious and is only performed at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and at very select Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples […]

October 23

Eat. Pray. Race?

Amidst all the hubbub that springs forth when the F1 teams and fans roll into Suzuka every year for the Japanese Grand Prix, there’s a small and very fortuitously named Shinto shrine nearby that reckons it’s got the inside running on influencing the race result.   ‘Ema’ (絵馬) are small wooden prayer plaques sold at […]

October 15

Taiko in Tsu

The ‘Tsu’-grown duo Tsu Ise-kumi (津伊勢組み) returned this year to again open the Final Stage Anotsu Yosakoi Competition (a traditional team dance competition – see my earlier Yosakoi post) at the Tsu Festival. Flutist Kusafuka Masafuji (草深 晶藤) and taiko drummer Tanaka Yoshihisa (田中 嘉久) have been putting on their high energy performances together since […]

October 01

Bike + train = …

Owning a bike bag in Japan is a curious thing. This flyweight contraption into which you stuff one’s partially dismantled bike is the ticket to being able to take your bike on a train just like an over-sized handbag. Suddenly your range is expanded immensely and those two wheels feel far more like four. Hello […]

July 08


Tanabata is the star festival. Held this year in Tsu City on July 6th, children write their wishes on strips of brightly coloured paper and tie them to freshly cut bamboo. Here in Tsu they decorate a small bridge in the middle of the city turning it into a multicolour bamboo forest. Wishes can be […]

July 01

Name that flower

Bet you can’t.  Wildflowers in Japan abound but you’ll have about as much chance spotting them as catching a glimpse of a geisha in Gion.  Just like the ‘flowers of the night’, Japanese wildflowers can be highly localised and their seasonal show very brief. Alas whenever I’ve gone in search of the rarer blooms, they’ve remained […]

June 12

Spirited Away

Fancy feeling like you’ve stepped into animated Studio Ghibli film? Try stepping straight into Spirited Away by visiting Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. This enormous three storey 19th century wooden bathhouse was apparently the inspiration for the spooky bathhouse of otherworldly beings in Spirited Away. In this world, the hot spring waters of Dogo […]

June 10

Shimanami Kaido – The Essentials

Here is some key information about riding the Shimanami Kaido. What: A 77km long cycling route that links Honshu and Shikoku via six bridges between a series of islands. Where: The route runs from Onomichi, in Hiroshima Prefecture, to Imabari in Ehime Prefecture. Rent or bring your own bike? Unless you have a road bike […]

March 12

Bring on the blossoms

Originally posted on Mie!:
Spring has arrived and with it so too has blossom season begun.  While the world famous sakura (桜 – cherry blossoms) steal top billing every year, the first blossoms on the scene are the plum blossoms.  More colourful and sweetly scented, mid March is their peak season.  Two top places to…