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Rooftop Temples: It’s Just Different Here

Rooftop Temples: It’s Just Differe...

Looking out the window of a speeding train, it’s easy to spot lots of small temples tucked away in backyards, small forests, at the top of mountains and hidden in city streets.  But this was a first as we pulled into the station in Asa, in Yamaguchi prefecture, perched on about the 14th floor roof of a modern office building:
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Sour Milk: It’s Just Different Here

Sour Milk: It’s Just Different Her...

As a frequent traveler to Japan it should come as no surprise that there seems to be a different set of tastes that appeal to the average Japanese. The fruit flavors are different, the candies are different and certainly the drinks are different.  But this new offering — conspicuously being announced in the Tokyo subway system, had even my iron-stomached traveling companion gagging:
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Gaijin Panic!

So we get into the taxi  and say “Edo – Tokyo Museum” – being careful to pronounce it “ed – oh”, not “eed oh” and being sure to say Tokyo more like two syllables than three (Toh – kyo vs. Toh – kee – yo).   The taxi driver gives us a blank look.   So we try again – to no avail.  The aggitation starts.   Then we try our BAD pronounciation – no go.   Finally, we find our map.   We desperately try to locate the site on the map and finally succeed – showing the taxi driver exactly where...
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What’s with the No Chocolate Ice C...

OK, I can now say, without qualification, that it is impossible to find Haagen Daz Chocolate Chocolate-Chip ice cream in Japan.   This is too bad for the chocoholic, ice-cream addicted traveler who is jonesing for a fix. Here’s where we tried:  every 7-11 we could find, every Lawson’s we could find, every grocery store that we could identify as a grocery store, the Daimaru, Takashimaya and even the Haagen Daz shop on Kawaramachi-dori  in Kyoto.   None. Nada. Keine.  and, of course, Betsu. We also found every OTHER odd-ball flavor of Haagen-Daz – green...
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Moms Are Everywhere

Moms Are Everywhere

The gentle women of the ryokan were fussing around, putting each plate just-so, wiping up a tiny little crumb from the table and making sure that each course was presented perfectly.  Our information indicated that we were not to worry if we didn’t eat everything, as many of the dishes were unfamiliar, and that gaijin were not expected to finish every bite.  But apparently, the authors were unfamiliar with one particular attendant in Karashiki… It started with simple instructions, all communicated in sign language and three words of English.  Put this sauce on...
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Many Views of Mt. Fuji – Cellographing

Many Views of Mt. Fuji – Cellographing

Japan is a photographer’s dream destination and sometimes you’re lucky. The picture of Mt. Fuji on this blog header, taken from the shores of Lake Ashi on a perfect fall afternoon is an example of the serendipity of nature.   I always tell people to not expect to see Mt. Fuji when traveling to Japan, but, instead, to hope to be delightfully surprised if it shows up.   As a result, when I traveled to Hakone recently I had no expectations of seeing Mt. Fuji.  So it was pretty funny when it showed up outside the window on our train – I was too busy taking...