japan travel

The shrine beloved of scholars


Yushima Tenmangu shrine is associated with scholars and learning On my second-last day in Tokyo, I took the Chiyoda Line to Yushima, not far from Ueno Park, to pay my respects to the kami of learning. Yushima Tenmangu shrine was founded in 458 AD. It was originally dedicated to Ame-no-Tajikarao-mikoto (天手力雄命), a kami associated with physical power. But sometime in 1355, Tenjin was added to...

Food in Japan


A visit to Japan is a gastronomic delight.  It’s even more of a treat when you live in a meat-and-potatoes place like Germany, where abendbrot — bread and butter with cold cuts and cheese — is considered a brilliant supper innovation (‘It’s like breakfast…. without the muesli…!’). I particularly miss the availability of fresh fish living in an inland city like Berlin. We get freshwater fish...

At The Temple of the Beckoning Cat


Gotokuji temple Gotokuji temple (護国寺), in a quiet corner of Tokyo’s Setagaya ward, is said to be the origin of maneki-neko, the beckoning cat figure you see next to the cash register in Asian restaurants. I decided to cross the city and pay my respects at this place because I had a cat for many years, whose friendship was important to me. Misled — as is so often the case — by Google Maps, I...

The endless steps of Yamadera


The Yamadera temple complex clings to the slope of Mt. Hoju in Yamagata prefecture, not far from Yamagata City. The site’s official name is Risshakuji Temple. Yamadera (山寺) just means ‘mountain temple’ in Japanese. When my wife’s brother suggested we tag along on a work trip to this area, I jumped at the chance for a temple visit, followed by an onsen. It was only much later that I found out we’d...

Take a Walk Through Tokyo With Me


It’s been quiet here in Road Wisdom land, but it’s the silence of distant places rather than the silence of inactivity that has fallen over my blog… I’ve been on the road these past couple months. Exploring the rugged interior of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Navigating the hectic city streets of Tokyo, and the quieter corners of northern Honshu. And more recently in...


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