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Showing posts from November, 2010

Re-educating a Japanese man: Yasukuni

A Japanese client had asked me about sights and good places to eat in Tokyo. Instantly, two places came to mind, Yasukuni Shrine and the Yushukan.  No trip to Japan would be complete without a visit to these places; just visiting the alter of this sacred shrine wouldn't be enough and neither would it suffice the enormous cultural and spiritual significants attached to it. The legacy of the men and women who fought for the country are interred there, so it's much more than just a place to snap pictures of cute gargoyles and blonde haired kimono clad young Japanese girls. It's a place where the bereaved mourn their loss and a place I feel that all Japanese and tourist should visit at least once in their life time. I was asked, so I delivered. Welcome to Yasukuni, again.
It's not the first time I've taken Japanese people to their own shrine.  Since 2004 I've been re-institutionalizing Japanese about their history.  I have  taken females, high school students, and…

Asaya Hotel: Rooftop Bathing

Rooftop onsen(s) are really nice no matter what season. I know how I feel when I'm on my way to an onsen, do you? I don't know about you, but for me, a nice drive up a long winding road through Tochigi, a stop here and there, at a rest stop overlooking a breathtaking vista. A little road side diner, some tea, a light snack, a stretch, a piss. Getting back in the car and readjusting my seatbelt, feeling refreshed, checking the rear view mirror, back on the road again. Half a tank of gas left, quick glance at my watch, a sudden impulse to drive faster. On my mind right about then is checking-in at three, so I want to be walking in the front door of the hotel at 2:30, if possible, but my watch says 2:45. I want to take every advantage to be the first in that hot water.

Welcome to Asaya Hotel.

I've been sitting on dozens of photos of onsen hotels since I last published my book on natural hot springs back in 2008. Now, back to doing what I do best, and that's talking abou…

Senso-Ji Temple of Asakusa

Reaching the Kaminarimon Gate (" thunder gate"), which by the way is the most famous gate entrance in all of Tokyo. When you look at picture post cards of Japan, you will almost always see a picture of this gate. The gate itself is guarded by two enormous wooden statues: Furin the wind god, and Raijin the thunder god.

Passing under the first huge red lantern through the gates you enter into another world. Welcome to old Edo. Walking along Nakmise-dori street you instantly get a sense that you are in the real Japan. Everybody making their way down this street are usually headed to the second gate called Hozomon Gate which houses two Nio statues that guard the temple. You must snap pictures of these. Once finished continue through to the Main Hall. Before proceeding any further stop and take a few more snaps of the Main Hall then reflect a little on its beauty. It was destroyed during the Tokyo Fire Bombings. Rebuilt in 1958 now houses the secret Bodhisattva Kannon statue.

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Maid Cafe: Welcome to the Land of Dreams

Today a client swung by and picked me up in the company car and whisked me off for an afternoon of fun in the electronics capital of Japan, Akihabara. No, we didn't visit any go-go-gadget shops, but where we did go was a Maid Cafe which was something totally unexpected. Maid Cafes are a part of Japan's erotic and exotic subculture, so knowing me I had to go, and Mr. K was the perfect host who knows how a like the " weird and the strange," and about how I love to explore the unknown. The name of the cafe is called MaiDreamin' and it's here where we were escorted up to the 6th floor by elevator. Stepping off into a magical dream land, we entered into a portal full of eager to serve young spry Japanese vixens who ran about at every beck and call, bright eyed and bushy tail like...super cute. I was impressed. When we tried asking where one of the maids was from she just looked at us with this look of utter befuddlement and said "niya-niya, nippon!" Lite…