Hanami refers to cherry blossom viewing, but it literally means “flower viewing”. These beautiful flowers usually come into bloom between March and May. The exact duration will depend on its location. The milder the climate, the earlier they bud. In warm islands of Okinawa for example, you can view the cherry blossoms as early as January. This of course depends on the weather, so the dates may vary a bit each year,
Cherry blossom seasons lasts for a little over 2 weeks if there are no strong winds and rain. They usually come into full bloom (mankai) a week after the first buds blossom (kaika). These lovely flowers are viewable for another week and then they start falling off.
The art of hanami may be done at parks and even tourist spots such as castles, temples or shrines. Hanami parties in form of picnics at parks or gardens are also quite popular. Here is a list of cherry blossom spots which you can visit when you are in Japan.
Tokyo –Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, Chidorigafuchi, Sumida Park
Yokohama –Sankeien Garden, Mitsuike Park
Kamakura –Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Full Five Lakes –Northern Shores of Kawaguchiko, Chureito Pagoda
Matsumoto –Matsumoto Castle
Nagoya –Yamazakigawa Riverside, Nagoya Castle
Hikone –Hikone Castle
Kyoto –Philosopher’s Path, Maruyama Park, Arashiyama, Heian Shrine
Osaka –Kema Sakuranomiya Park, Osaka Castle, Expo 70 Commemorative Park, Osaka Mint Bureau
Nara –Nara Park
Himeji –Himeji Castle
Botanical Garden, Korakuen Garden, Okayama Castle
Hiroshima –Hiroshima Peace Park. Miyajima
Takamatsu –Megijima Island
Matsuyama –Matsuyama Castle
Fukuoka –Fukuoka Castle,
Kumamoto –Kumamoto Castle
Sendai –Mikamine Park
Tohoku –Miharu Takizakura, Kitakami, Kakunodate, Hirosaki Castle
Hokkaido –Matsumae Park, Goryokaku Fort, Maruyama Park and Hokkaido Shrine
Posted March 29th, 2012 by Anna+ | Comment (0)
Mt. Fuji is one of the symbols of Japan and at 3,776m it is the country’s highest mountain. Although it has lain dormant since 1707, it is still classified as an active volcano. Best viewed in winter or early morning when the air is clear, Fuji-san stands alone and is always a spectacular sight. It has been the subject of countless works of art, such as the ‘Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji‘, a series of (woodblock prints) by Hokusai. Many tourist spots have grown up around the mountain and many of those, such as Miho no Matsubara in Shizuoka Prefecture, are famous simply because of their view of the mountain. People often predict the weather from the shape of the clouds hovering above the summit.
Fuji-san has long been regarded as sacred by some sects and climbing it started as a religious pilgrimage. The official season for climbing the mountain is July and August during which some 200,000 people make the pilgrimage, although these days mostly for fun. There is a saying that every Japanese should climb Mt. Fuji but only a fool climbs it twice. Certainly the time I ventured up the slopes the biggest problem wasn’t the steep climb but rather the rush-hour crowds of grandparents and kids determined to make progress slow for everyone. To be honest, with its surface of black volcanic sand and rock, the mountain is at its best from a distance but the view of the sunrise from the summit can make the climb worthwhile. The summit is around 20 degrees colder than the base so warm clothes are a must. There is a bus from Tokyo’s Shinjuku station to Go-gome (5th station) on the mountain (2 hours 30 minutes), from where it’s a 5km, 5-hour climb. There are several simple lodges along the way where you can get your climbing stick stamped and have a rest or a bite to eat. A 10pm start, allowing for the crowds and an occassional rest-stop, should see you at the summit in time for a memorable sunrise.
Posted August 19th, 2010 by geisha+ | Comment (1)
It’s not really a surprise, is it? After all, the Japanese people are known to be very conscious when it comes to the environment. With electric cars poised to be one of the major solutions to the carbon emission problem, it is quite logical that they will make it big in the Japanese market. We also have to consider the fact that electric cars involve a lot of advance technology, and this nation is also well known for that.
Last week, the first mass-market electric car was launched in Japan. The brainchild of big brand Mitsubishi, the car is called i-MiEV. It is shaped like a bubble (yeah, like something from the future), and it costs 2.8 million yen. That’s roughly $30,000. This price is not the original selling price, though. In fact, the price will only go down to that amount (from 4 million yen or $43,000) after you take into consideration government incentives.
This brings me to another point – the importance of government action in encouraging people to become more environmentally-aware. Who would want to purchase a car that is so much more expensive and maybe not as well-performing as the “good old fuel” cars? With such incentives in place, however, the playing field is somehow leveled.
Mitsubishi is not the only Japanese automaker that is offering an electric car. Nissan has its Leaf, which it is already taking orders for. This car is much cheaper at around $25,000. Needless to say, other car makers are already rolling out plans to join the fray.
Posted April 4th, 2010 by Maki+ | Comments (2)
Remember that article I posted on the movie â€œThe Cove?â€ It is a documentary about a practice in Japanese town, wherein fishermen annually catch dolphins. They then either sell the dolphins to aquariums and other similar establishments or slaughter them for meat. The documentary stars Ric Oâ€™Barry, erstwhile trainer of the TV series Flipper, which aired in the 1960s. Activists were quick to join Oâ€™Barryâ€™s bandwagon, pushing the movie into the international limelight. As a result, the international community has created an outcry that no one can ignore.
The town of Taiji is an otherwise quiet town. Following the release of The Cove, however, its residents have experienced such intense scrutiny that it seems that they have no choice but to accept their â€œfame.â€ The international pressure on their tradition has reached such a point that the Taiji fisheries association has succumbed â€“ even if only temporarily.
An unknown official of the organization has announced (anonymously, of course) that they will NOT be killing any of the dolphins in their first haul of the year. Instead, they will be picking out the best 50 of the lot and sell them to aquariums. The rest they will set free. He says, though, that they are still unsure as to what to do in the long term. On the one hand, the townâ€™s residents â€œdo not want any trouble.â€ On the other hand, they do not want to let go of tradition because of the pressure.
Oâ€™Barry and the rest of the people involved in the film are, naturally, elated at the news â€“even if it is not set in stone.
Posted September 10th, 2009 by Maki+ | Comment (1)
There is a new film that is already stirring up a lot of controversy. When films are released for the whole world to see and they target the culture of a nation, controversy is sure to come with it. This new film is dubbed â€œThe Cove,â€ and it focuses on some practices of Japanese fishermen.
Based on what the film portrays, Japanese fishermen allegedly lure wild dolphins into a hidden secret cove in Japan. According to activists, these dolphins are then captured for sale to amusement parks and for food as well. The Cove is actually a documentary which follows the pursuits of a group of activists led by Ric Oâ€™Barry. He is in fact an ex-dolphin trainer and he used to be in the TV series Flipper.
The film is due to be released in the United States on Friday but, unsurprisingly, no release date has been announced for Japan. The Japanese government maintains its stance that they are not doing anything wrong and that have not been doing anything wrong. More so, they have also cited cultural differences as the reason behind the misunderstanding.
In spite of this official stand, critics and audiences have already given the film a lot of praise. In fact, it won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The goal of the activists is to shut down the cove for good and to save the dolphins.
I have not seen the movie myself, but I would like to. At least if I do, I can judge it for myself.
Posted July 31st, 2009 by Maki+ | Comments (2)
Although we know that Japan is prone to earthquakes, many might not know that the nation is also home to many volcanoes. There has not been a major volcanic eruption in the recent years but early today, one of Japanâ€™s most active volcanoes awoke and spewed ash and rocks.
Mount Asama stands at 2,568 meters tall and started rumbling today. It is located about 90 miles from the city of Tokyo but the eruption was strong enough to send some light clouds of ash down its way. The good news is that despite the amount of ash and rocks coming from the volcano, no damages or injuries have been reported.
The last major eruption of Mount Asama was in 2004. That eruption was not that serious either. It only spewed enough ash to damage some local crops. This was not the case when it erupted in 1783, though, as about 1,500 people were back then.
Mount Asama is not the only volcano in Japan that seems to be making noise these days. According to the authorities, Mount Sakurajima, another volcano found in the southwestern part of Japan has also been showing signs of activity. The same thing has been observed of Karymsky, located in the Russian Kamchatka peninsula. These activities are only classified as minor eruptions, however.
Some additional information on Japan, its volcanoes,and seismic activityâ€¦the country is part of the seismic ring of fault lines in the Pacific. It is also home to about 108 active volcanoes â€“ a whopping 10% of the worldâ€™s total number of volcanoes!
Posted February 2nd, 2009 by Maki+ | Comment (1)
Acts of charity are always considered news worthy and this item is no different. A young British adventurer is planning a considerable feat that would benefit charity. He plans to skate down Mt. Fuji with the aim of helping The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths.
Mt. Fuji, as you might already know, is the most popular peak in Japan. It is visited by countless tourists from all over the world as well as the locals. Year in and year out, people come in droves to experience this majestic mountain for themselves. James Langridge, however, is not only coming for his own sake.
Japan Today reports:
Langridge arrives with the aim of skateboarding down Mt Fuji for charity. This will be his first trip to Japan, so his knowledge of the mountain is limited to online articles, images from Google Earth and advice from people who have visited.
Langridge plans to get an early start, and heâ€™s been assembling a team thatâ€™s randomly come together since he first put word out. â€œSome of the Outdoor Japan people [who took part in the first descent] have said they might join me. A few people have also contacted me over the internet expressing interest â€” one from Hawaii, one from Baltimore, and one from Sweden,â€ he says. â€œPeople can contact me by email if they want to join in.â€
I admire this guyâ€™s sense of adventure as well as intent. I hope that he succeeds!
Posted August 26th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
A 5.4 magnitude quake hit Japan yesterday at 12:19pm. The quake was centered in Mie prefecture, which is about 200 miles southwest of Tokyo. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency reported 11 injured with one serious injury. Other damages include partial damage to 26 houses in Mie and a 400 year old castle.
Earthquakes are pretty common in Japan being one of the most earthquake prone countries in the whole world. The reason for this is that the country sits atop four different tectonic plates. Japan, of course, being technologically advanced manages to cope with the problem with cutting edge earthquake-resistant buildings and regular earthquake drills. However, despite all their preparation they are still powerless when nature decides to unleash a powerful quake. All anybody can do then is hope that the preparation minimizes the damage and casualties.
The last killer quake (magnitude of 7.2) occurred in 1995 at Kobe wherein 6,433 people died.
Posted April 16th, 2007 by geisha+ | Comments Off
This popular leisure activity is not normally associated with Japan yet if you just take a deeper look, there are in fact wonderful places wherein you can scuba dive. From the last count, there are over 2,000 diving spots all over the country, many of them world class. Here are a few spots which you should consider.
This is the most popular dive spot in the mainland. Only a train ride away from Tokyo, the Izu Peninsula is home to many different kinds of diving activities as well as the onsen. In fact, it is more popular for the latter.
Also part of Tokyo, these islands have a warmer temperature and thus warmer waters. It is quite far though â€“ at 1,850 km to the south. It is perfect for those who are looking for a longer diving trip.
A familiar name to many, Okinawa is actually the Japanese tropical paradise. Located in the southernmost part of the country, Okinawa offers the best scuba diving in all of Japan.
[tags]Japan, scuba diving, onsen, Okinawa, Izu Peninsula, Ogasawara Islands, Tokyo[/tags]
Posted March 22nd, 2007 by geisha+ | Comments Off
With so much in the news about the dire situation our planet faces in terms of global warming, it was fitting that the Japan Prize for 2006 was awarded precisely in this terse area. British scientist, Peter Ashton, who specialises in asian forestry with a vision to promote the harmonious co-exsistence of humans and nature, won this year’s 50 million yen prize this January in Tokyo for his project which observed 3 million trees and 6,000 species in tropical forests around the world.
Dr. Ashton, who is a professor of forestry at Harvard University, is also the forest botanical advisor to the Sultan of Bruneiâ€™s government. Aside from authoring over 200 articles and several books on forestry, Dr.Ashton has already won awards for his achievements such as
the Sultan Qaboos of Oman Prize (through UNESCO), for research and training for improved management of tropical forests with his Sri Lankan colleagues, and the Environmental Merit Award of the Environmental Protection Agency, for significant efforts in conservation in New England and Asia.
Kunio Iwatsuki, panel chairman of the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan commented:
â€œDr. Ashtonâ€™s research may form the basis of policy-making to optimize usage of forests by local people and enhance the sustainability of forest eco-systems……Younger people are concerned with conservation of the environment and over time harmonious co-existence will become an established field in its own right…”
[tags]Japan Prize, Conservation, Environment, Peter Ashton[/tags]
Posted January 12th, 2007 by geisha+ | Comments Off