Gaijin on Getas Blog

Hidden Gems

Kumano Kodo – Part 1: What is the Kumano Kodo?

Posted on March 23rd, 2014 by Mike Roberts

Entrance to the Hasshinmon-oji along the Nakahechi Trail

Entrance to the Hasshinmon-oji along the Nakahechi Trail

The Kumano Kodo is a large and complex subject, and could not be sufficiently discussed in one blog. So this is the first part of three blogs. I have found that few people, even people who are very familiar with Japan, know what the Kumano Kodo is. So this blog will define what the Kumano Kodo is. Part 2 will discuss the major trail routes that are part of the Kumano Kodo. And Part 3 will discuss the Kumano Sanzan.

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Arashiyama Monkey Park

Posted on March 6th, 2014 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Feeding Time at Arashiyama Monkey Park

Feeding Time at Arashiyama Monkey Park

Monkeys are the closest species to humans and they are often portrayed in proverbs and sayings as stupid and incompetent. For example, ‘monkey brain’ means ‘stupid’, ‘monkey about’ means messing around. But are they really silly? Arashiyama Monkey Park is a very rare place where you can observe how monkeys behave, and buy them bananas to feed them from inside a cage. You can see baby-monkeys chasing each other around, wrestling with each other and climbing or jumping off trees. Arashiyama Monkey Park has come to be known worldwide since Tom Cruise visited there and introduced it to the public. Even though they are tame, they are wild animals. When you are in the park, please follow these three rules and enjoy the time with monkeys!: ‘Don’t feed them, touch them or make eye contact with them’. The entrance to the monkey park is near the JR Arashiyama station, and it’s about 30 minute-uphill walk from the entrance.

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Dogo Onsen

Posted on December 23rd, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Located in the city of Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku, Dogo Onsen is considered to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest onsen in Japan. There are references to Dogo Onsen in documents from the 8th century. It is reported Prince Shotoku (considered to be the father of Japanese Buddhism) enjoyed the baths, and the baths are mentioned in the “Tales of Genji” written about 1,000 years ago. According to the legends, long ago many egrets lived in Dogo. One day, an egret who injured his leg was seen soaking its leg every day in the hot water. Eventually the egret became well and flew away. The people who saw this began to use the hot springs and their health improved. The news spread that the hot spring was beneficial for ones health, and the hot spring became popular.

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Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai

Posted on December 16th, 2012 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Tsutenkaku

Tsutenkaku

Tsutenkaku is a symbol of Osaka.It means ‘tower reaching heaven’. The first tower, built in 1912, lived up to its name and was the highest in the East at that time. The original tower had an eccentric design that combined influences from the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Unfortunately, it was dismantled in 1943 to supply iron for the war. The present tower is the second one, constructed in 1956 by a well-known architect Naito Tachu, who is called the ‘father of Japanese high-rise towers’, and is 103 meters high.

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Japanese Onsens

Posted on September 9th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan

After traveling around Japan for all these years, I have come to really enjoy and appreciate the Japanese style baths. It is truly relaxing, and part of the Japanese experience that shouldn’t be missed. Bathing is an important part of Japanese life and culture. And one of the best places to experience bathing in Japan are at onsens. However, over the years I have become aware there is a basic misunderstanding of what an onsen is.

 

 

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Himeji Castle Renovations

Posted on August 26th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

There is little doubt that Himeji Castle is the best castle to visit in Japan About three years ago, the renovation of Himeji Castle was announced in order to preserve the castle for future generations, and to pass on the old methods to the future generations for whenever the next renovation will be needed. The renovation began in April of 2010, and is scheduled to last about 5 years. At present, the renovation is about half-way completed. After seeing a special on NHK about the renovation on Himeji Castle which grabbed my interest, I decided to visit myself to find out how things are progressing.  Read the full post »

Shinsengumi – Peace Keepers or Assassins?

Posted on August 20th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Modern-day romanticized version of the Shinsengumi

Modern-day romanticized version of the Shinsengumi

The late Edo Period and early Meiji Period (approximately 1855 to 1875) was a very chaotic time in Japan and Kyoto. In 1854, the Tokugawa Shogunate was accused by fuedal lords around Japan of caving in to demands from Commodore Perry to open the harbors to American whaling ships. This was seen as an act of weakness, and many people began to call for the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the reinstatement of the emperor of Japan as the supreme power of the land. Read the full post »

Arima Onsen

Posted on February 28th, 2012 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Arima Spa in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture is one of the oldest and best hot spring resorts in Japan along with Dogo Onsen Spar in Ehime Prefecture and Shirahama Onsen in Wakayama Prefecture. Arima is about one hour bus ride from Umeda (Osaka), the traffic center of North Osaka. It’s known as an oasis of Osaka and about 1.6 million people visit Arima Onsen every year. 

Arima Onsen

Arima Onsen

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Instant Ramen Museum

Posted on February 3rd, 2012 by Mike Roberts

 

Instant Ramen Museum

Instant Ramen Museum

According to a poll taken in the year 2000, the Japanese believe their best invention of the 20th century was instant noodles (the second best was the Walkman). In 2010, it is estimated approximately 95 billion servings of instant noodles were eaten worldwide. It all started in the sleepy town of Ikeda located in northern Osaka. In 1958 Momofuku Ando of Nissin Foods, introduced the first instant noodle dish known as “Chicken Ramen”. In 1971, he introduced the even more popular “Cup of Noodles”, an instant ramen dish prepared by adding boiling water to a polystyrene cup to cook the noodles and other ingredients.  Read the full post »

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Posted on February 2nd, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Its picture can be found in many travel brochures, and it has even appeared in movies such as Memoirs of a Geisha. And even though it is only a short 5 minute train ride from the always busy Kyoto Train station, few people make the journey to Fushimi Inari Shrine. Often thought of as the headquarters of the more than 20,000 Inari Shrines located throughout Japan, this shrine can provide a quiet respite to a busy itinerary.

In Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, Inari is the goddess of cereal, or in other words, rice. So as you might guess, both the goddess and the shrines are very important. It is said the very name Inari, is derived from the words Ine, meaning rice, and Naru meaning to grow. Read the full post »