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A magical evening at Nebuta Matsuri

Never having been so far north before, Hannah set out on a road-trip in search of the famed paper-lanterns of Nebuta Matsuri. Vibrant, bustling and impressive, this festival is sure worth a visit! Its origins are unclear, but it is thought to be a cleansing ritual and prayer for good health. Living in Japan, festivals…

Type: summer  |   |  Tags: , , , ,

ANA Intercontinental Ishigaki

Overlooking the tranquil waters of Maesato Beach in Japan’s southernmost city, the expansive grounds of ANA InterContinental Ishigaki Resort invite relaxation — whether your time is spent lounging by the pool, indulging in a deep seawater spa treatment, or enjoying the generous facilities for golf, tennis and marine sports. Rich cultural traditions, abundant coral reefs,…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , , ,

Atami

Atami is a seaside resort at the northeastern end of the Izu Peninsula, about an hour west of Tokyo by bullet train. Although it was much developed during the bubble economy of the 1980s, with many hotels and ryokan built along the coastline, today many of these hotels lie empty and the area is trying…

Type: summer  |  Category: Central Honshu  |  Tags: , ,

Awa Odori Festival

The Awa Dance (Awa Odori) is Tokushima’s largest annual event and boasts a history of over 400 years. The festival is well established in various areas even outside the prefecture, and Awa Dance troupes are regularly invited to events outside of Japan, placing it alongside the Rio Carnivale as one of the largest dance events…

Type: summer  |  Category: Shikoku  |  Tags: , , , ,

Cormorant Fishing

Although there are a few places where ukai or cormorant fishing is still done, that of the Nagara River in Gifu is by far the most famous. It has played a vital role in the city’s history and has evolved from a means to live, to a profitable industry, to a major tourist draw. It…

Type: summer  |  Category: Central Honshu  |  Tags: , , ,

Hokkaido

The northernmost of Japan’s main islands, Hokkaido is still thought of as frontier country. Much like the Wild West, Hokkaido conjures up images of cowboys, wilderness, and far horizons, but bills itself as the Far North, with deep winter snows and arctic references in Sapporo’s shopping districts. This unique culture is also defined by the…

Type: summer  |  Category: Hokkaido  |  Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hotel Nikko Alivila

Hotel Nikko Alivila is a high class resort surrounded by some of Okinawa’s clearest waters and beautiful coral reefs. The Spanish colonial style exterior with its red tiled roof and white walls is complimented by the blue ocean of Okinawa. The name “Alivila” is a combination of the Spanish words “alivio” (relaxation) and “villa” (country…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , ,

Hotel Nirakanai Iriomotejima

Self-described as “Okinawa’s best kept secret”, Hotel Nirakanai is located on the wild and mysterious Iriomote island. Primeval forests cover the vast majority of the Iriomote, and the hotel offers the comfort and luxury of a high-class hotel within reach of a variety of breathtaking sights, sounds and experiences.

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , , ,

Hotel Rocore Naha

With a great location right next to Naha’s vibrant heart, Kokusai Dori, the Rocore Hotel offers free WiFi and TVs with multilingual broadcasts in the simple but comfortable guestrooms. The theme of the hotel is “High Quality Okinawa”. Local materials, such as Ryukyu glass and Ryukyu limestone, have been used to create an authentically Okinawan…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , ,

Iriomote

An island in the Yaeyama district of south western Okinawa, Iriomote is Okinawa‘s second largest island. Largely undeveloped, nearly 90 percent of the island is covered by dense jungle and mangrove forests, much of which makes up the Iriomote National Park, the southernmost of Japan’s national parks. Iriomote’s attractions are based around tours to Iriomote’s…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , ,

Ishigaki

Ishigaki is the main island of the Yaeyama island group in south western Okinawa. The island offers several pleasant beaches and has good snorkeling and diving in the surrounding coral reefs. Snorkeling can be enjoyed at nearly every beach on the island, while diving is usually arranged through one of the many dive shops. For…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , , ,

Jusandi Villa

“JUSANDI” means “sunset” in the local Okinawa dialect, and on the subtropical island of Ishigaki, surrounded by nature, sunset over the sea couldn’t be more beautiful. Jusandi Villa provides a moment of luxury with 4 individual villas each with their own garden and private pool. The restaurant serves delicious Japanese cuisine cooked from fresh local…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , , ,

Kerama Islands

Less than an hour by ferry from the main island of Okinawa Honto, the Kerama Islands boast unspoilt beaches, coral reefs, and stunning scenery. Scuba diving and snorkelling are popular, and friendly sea turtles make unforgettable swimming companions. In the winter months, migrating whales pass near the Kerama Islands, making for spectacular whale watching.

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , , , ,

Kerama Terrace Tokashiki

This compact hotel is a 2 minute walk from Tokashiki‘s pristine Aharen Beach.  The water is warm and the fish are plentiful.  You can rent diving equipment at the hotel for a reasonable price.  The staff at the hotel provides a wonderful service – nothing is too much trouble. With its restaurant, bar and spa,…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , , ,

Lantern-making in Kyoto

On her latest trip to Japan, Into Japan’s Karan decided to get creative in Kyoto. With such a rich culture and history of tradition and creativity, Kyoto is the perfect place to turn your hand to something artistic. Lanterns abound not only in Kyoto but in Japan as a whole, providing a wonderfully soft, glowing…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , , , , ,

Life on the road

Keen to see parts of Japan she hadn’t seen before, Hannah hired a car and set off on a road trip to northern Honshu. Driving in Japan couldn’t be simpler, especially for British tourists as Japan also drives on the left side of the road! Summer isn’t everyone’s first choice of season to visit Japan….

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Miyajima Fireworks Display

Around 5000 fireworks are launched from boats in a spectacular display just off the north shore of Miyajima Island every year in mid August. Best viewed from around Itsukushima Shrine, combined with the shrine’s giant torii gate, this is one of Japan’s most iconic firework displays and very popular with photographers. The fireworks can also…

Type: summer  |  Category: Western Honshu  |  Tags: , , ,

Miyako Islands

Just 45 minutes by air from Okinawa main island, the group of eight Miyako Islands are a paradise for divers and snorkellers. With 400km of water separating the Miyako Islands from Okinawa Honto, the islands boast unique wildlife, and are among the few islands of Okinawa not inhabited by the poisonous habu snake. This separation…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , ,

Nagara River Fireworks Displays

Fireworks enthusiasts in central Japan during the summer are in for a treat; the city of Gifu is host to two spectacular fireworks displays on consecutive weekends in the mid summer. On the last Saturday in July, The Chunichi Newspaper Nagara River All-Japan Fireworks Festival is held and the following weekend, on the first Saturday…

Type: summer  |  Category: Central Honshu  |  Tags: , ,

Nebuta Matsuri

The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is a summer festival that takes place in Aomori, Aomori Prefecture. The festival attracts the most tourists of any of the country’s nebuta festivals, and is counted among the three largest festivals in the Tohoku region. It was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1980, and as one of…

Type: summer  |  Category: Northern Honshu  |  Tags: , , ,

Okinawa Main Island

The largest of the sub-tropical islands that make up Okinawa Prefecture, Okinawa Island is also the most populous, with Okinawa city near the centre and the prefectural capital of Naha on the south west coast. Naha was also the capital of the Ryukyu kingdom, and Shuri Castle remains a justifiably popular attraction. Famous for markets,…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , , ,

Okinawa Marriott Resort & Spa

Ideally located in the central part of Okinawa, Marriott Hotel is convenient in exploring both north and south of the island. The V-shaped building treats you to fantastic views of the sunrise in the morning, and sunset in the evening, from any of the 15 floors. Overlooking the beautiful East China Sea, the hotel also…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , ,

Surfing

Japan’s location, at the edge of the Pacific Rim, make it an excellent destination for surfing – at the eastern edge of the country there is very little to break the surf all the way to California. Deep sea swells coming in off the Pacific make for spectacular surfing, and while the pros relish the…

Type: summer  |  Category: Throughout Japan  |  Tags: ,

Sweet memories: Amezaiku Experience in Tokyo

The Japanese are not especially known for their love of sweets, and indeed Japanese children are more commonly seen snacking on an onigiri than they are a chocolate bar. That said, this wonderful people are certainly known for their attention to detail and love of all things cute. With this in mind, Into Japan’s Hannah…

Type: summer  |  Category: Throughout Japan  |  Tags: , , , , , , ,

Taketomi

Part of the Yaeyama islands in south western Okinawa, Taketomi is a small island just off the coast of Ishigaki.The small main village consists mostly of traditional style, single storied houses, surrounded by stone walls, and covered with red tiled roofs and traditional lion-like shisa statues to ward of evil spirits. The island has both…

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , ,

Tokashiki

Tokashiki is a small island in the Kerama island group of Okinawa, located a short ferry ride from Okinawa Main island. Popular with young Japanese holidaymakers, Tokashiki has some stunning beaches although not much in the way of high level accommodation.

Type: summer  |  Category: Okinawa  |  Tags: , , , ,