A Brief History of Japan

One of the things we’ve discovered about Japan is that it would be very hard to understand Japan today without understanding a bit about its long and unique history and culture. Sometimes it’s hard to separate fact from legend, history from tradition, but here’s our short summary of the history of Japan for what it’s worth. The most famous…

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Kyoto, the Soul of Japan

Kyoto must be considered one of the world’s cultural and historic treasure troves. With 17 World Heritage Sites, more than 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, Kyoto has been called the “soul of Japan”. The guidebooks are full of descriptions of Tokyo as the bustling hub and gleaming modern capital versus Kyoto as the traditional, ancient capital…

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Review: Hotel Granvia Kyoto

View from Hotel Granvia Kyoto, an integral part of the architecturally striking JR Kyoto Station Building, which also includes a department store, museum, musical theater, and a vast underground shopping mall. Escalators and steps going up 15 floors. We’re not normally big fans of train station hotels, but the Granvia is an exception. While it’s not the…

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Two Tales of a City, Hiroshima

“Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British Grand Slam, which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare”. These fateful words…

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Our Stay in a Japanese Ryokan

Our hotel in Takayama, Hidatei Hanaougi, is a ryokan. The hotel’s website lists ‘Heart-warming hospitality” as the Number 1 reason to stay there, and we couldn’t agree more. From the first moment we arrived, we felt welcomed, pampered and attended to. Where else does the general manager himself stand at the curb at the end of…

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Hiking Around Mt Fuji with Mountain Trek

We’ve spent the past week in the company of 6 other intrepid trekkers hiking around Mt Fuji with Mountain Trek guides Ted Taylor and Kirkland Shave. Mountain Trek is a hiking and health spa retreat just outside of Nelson, British Columbia where we’ve enjoyed some fantastic hiking in the past. Each year, Mountain Trek leads an international adventure trek. This…

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