I was so excited to get this assignment, my dream assignment — a venue for 10 years accumulated knowledge of Tokyo! I co-authored this guide with Tim Hornyak; I covered the west side of the city and the day trips.
“Many Tokyoites will tell you that the best way to get to know their city is to travel station by station on the Yamanote Line. This commuter rail loop is one of Tokyo’s original train lines — it has been circling the city centre on raised tracks since 1925, and parts of the line are decades older. It is also the city’s most iconic, with a long chain of silver carriages striped an unforgettable lime green. Millions of people ride the Yamanote Line every day. At peak hours, trains run every two minutes.”
Read the rest on LP.com .
“One year after Japan’s heartbreaking triple-disaster, the country still has a lot more reconstruction ahead of it and some psychological and economic scars that have yet to heal. Yet while the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated a large swath of Japan’s northeastern coastline, whole other areas of the country were virtually untouched and remain well and truly open for business. . . . Those who do visit will be met with not just the customary Japanese courtesy, but with an unusually open display of warmth and gratitude. More than ever, Japan wants you to visit.”
Read the rest on LP.com
“In a city known for its affinity for tea, owner-run cafes — which take both coffee and the space in which it is consumed very seriously — are flourishing.”
Read the rest on BBC Travel.
“The Japanese clearly value tradition, yet for one reason or another — fire, natural disaster, the second world war, an enthusiasm for progress — there aren’t many towns left that truly encapsulate the way things were. Kyoto has its temples, but in between them is a thoroughly modern city. . . . To really get away from it all, you need to head deeper into the hills, to a tiny village like Maze.”
Published in the Guardian.
“Hakone is Tokyo’s favourite escape. It’s a Japanese ideal: a land of onsen (natural hot springs) and jagged, misty mountains. At the centre is calm, cool Lake Ashi, a natural reflecting pool for Mt Fuji, which rises in the distance. If it reminds you of a scene from a wood-block print, it’s because it has been, many times over.
“Hakone is also a Japanese reality. It’s overdeveloped and can be painfully crowded. Convenience rules: cable cars snake up hillsides, tour buses career down narrow mountain roads, kitschy ‘pirate ships’ ferry tourists across the lake.
“But like most things in Japan, the beauty is in the details. You just have to know where to look.”
Published in the Guardian
Fun book from Lonely Planet that includes tips to get happy from all over the world. I contributed some ideas from Japan, like writing down your wishes on votive tablets and singing your heart out at karaoke.
My first assignment for Lonely Planet! I did the “Around Tokyo” chapter, which includes popular day trips like Hakone, Nikko, and one of my favorite spots, Kamakura. It also meant that I got to go to the Ogasawara Islands and all the Izu Islands, which was awesome. The Ogasawara Islands are technically part of Tokyo but are 1000km away (closer to Guam than Tokyo) and the only way to get there is by ferry, which takes 25 hours.
“Over its long working life, Yoshiwara was home to the courtesans in decadent robes who were depicted in the ukiyoe of Kitagawa Utamaro and the charming, difficult women of Nagai Kafu’s novels and diaries.”
Read the rest on CNN Travel.
The original premise of this article was just to poke around and see what kind of place the Yoshiwara had become. Once I did a little reading and started talking to people though, it took a decidedly dark turn. Surprised they still ran this as a travel story!
“Simply put, Tokyo Local Restaurant pairs chefs in the capital with regional farms, offering diners a chance to sample seasonal, local delicacies in the close comfort of the city. Held at a different fashionable venue each month and with limited seating, the event takes the form of an exclusive, floating dinner party.
“The organizers, however, have ulterior motives: ‘As you can see from the Michelin Guide, we [in Tokyo] take a great interest in the food on our plates, but that wasn’t extending to the production of the raw ingredients. I started Tokyo Local Restaurant as a means of raising awareness of the latter,’ explains Yuichi Asa, who put together the first event in 2008.”
Published on CNN Travel.