Top 5 Cherry Blossom Spots in Kyushu

Kyushu, in southern Japan, has some excellent sakura (cherry blossoms) spots. They may be just as busy as those up north, but they make for a good change of scene. The times are about the same as in Tokyo and Kyoto. For forecasts check out the Super Cheap Japan sakura (cherry blossoms) guide. Fukuoka is the best place toContinue reading “Top 5 Cherry Blossom Spots in Kyushu”

Snowy Buddhist mountain town – Koyasan Day 1

Koyasan is a secluded town south of Osaka, full of temples for people to stay in and view. I went here last week and had one of my holidays in Japan. This UNESCO World Heritage site is so stunning in the winter.  Day 2 report can be found here.  Here are some highlights from my trip:Continue reading “Snowy Buddhist mountain town – Koyasan Day 1”

Yabo Tenmangū Shrine (FREE)

Guest post by M A McDonald Yabo Tenmangū Shrine (谷保天満宮) is a beautiful Shinto shrine, a brief walk from Nambu Line’s Yaho Station. Founded in 903 and rebuilt on its present site (1924), Yabo Tenmangū protects a small sacred forest as well as a picturesque orchard of gnarled but flourishing plum trees (complete with resting platforms),Continue reading “Yabo Tenmangū Shrine (FREE)”

Top 5 Cherry Blossom Spots in Hokkaido

Coming to Tokyo or Kyoto a little bit too late for the cherry blossoms? Maybe coming to Hokkaido is your solution. The season starts here from around mid-April to the end of the month. There are a host of cheap and free places to check out the sakura trees, but here are our highlights! GoryokakuContinue reading “Top 5 Cherry Blossom Spots in Hokkaido”

Sumiyoshi Taisha

Sumiyoshi-taisha (住吉大社), or the Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine, is Osaka’s most famous shrine. It is the headquarters of over 2000 Shinto shrines across Japan and believed to enshrine 3 gods, for protecting the nation, sea voyages and waka (31-syllable) poetry. Registered as a national treasure, it also has a few unique aspects to it. The most interestingContinue reading “Sumiyoshi Taisha”

Shimogamo Shrine

Shimogamo Shrine (下鴨神社), linked to the northern Kamimono Shrine, is part of the world heritage sites in Kyoto. It is one of the oldest shrines in Japan, thought to be dating back to the 6th century. Not one of the most popular shrines, but worth visiting if you have done the most famous ones alreadyContinue reading “Shimogamo Shrine”

Kamigamo Shrine

Kamigamo Shrine (上賀茂神社), twinned with Shimogamo Shrine to the south, is an important Shinto shrine in northern Kyoto. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is known across the country for its iconic Tatesuna & Saiden sand cones. The shrine is also surrounded by a picturesque primeval forest. Budget travel tips Visiting shrines can getContinue reading “Kamigamo Shrine”

Daigoji Temple

Daigoji Temple (醍醐寺) is a picturesque Buddhist temple in south Kyoto. While a bit run down in places, the main pagoda and red bridge are iconic sites that set Daigoji Temple apart from all the other countless temples in Kyoto. It is also quieter than the other ones, due to being about 30 minutes fromContinue reading “Daigoji Temple”

Kotohira-gu Shrine

Kotohira-gu Shrine (金刀比羅宮), also known as Konpira-san, is one of Shikoku’s top shrines, and a worthwhile side trip from Marugame. There is a bit of mystery behind it’s exact founding date, but it is known to have been a focal point for centuries. It is the head shrine many in the region, and therefore could beContinue reading “Kotohira-gu Shrine”

Miyazaki

Miyasaki (宮崎), located in south eastern Kyushu, is a prefecture well known across the country for a stunning coastline and moderate climate. While it has seen better days in terms of tourist income, the prefecture is making a real effort to get visitors back, with generous discounts and transportation deals. The area has both great shrinesContinue reading “Miyazaki”

Izumo-taisha

Izumo Taisha (出雲大社) is a grand shrine, considered one of Japans top 3. Located in northern Chugoku, it is an essential stop if you are in the region. It is therefore a hugely popular shrine, but never feels overly crowded. The folklore behind the shrine says that the gods from all over Japan gather atContinue reading “Izumo-taisha”

Top Ten Cheap Activities In Osaka

By Tom Fay (http://www.thomasfay.com), author of Must-See Japan Japan’s ‘second city’, Osaka is a busy, bustling metropolis in the heart of the Kansai region. Known for its friendly atmosphere and great food, tourists have started flocking here in ever-increasing numbers in recent years. Here are some of the best activities around the city for those on aContinue reading “Top Ten Cheap Activities In Osaka”