The Garden of Love

In Shintomi Town, on the road from Takanabe to Saito, is a garden carpeted in bright, pink flowers. During spring, when the shibazakura (moss phlox) is in full bloom, the private residence attracts up to 3,000 visitors a day. People come to admire the beautiful flowers, of course, but the garden is attractive for another reason; the story of how…

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Ajisai and the Plum Rains

Due to the stubborn Mei-yu front, most of East Asia experiences a two-month rainy season. During June and July, the weeks become an endless parade of cloudy days, accompanied by debilitating humidity and, if you’re not careful, drawers full of mould. In Japan, this period is known as tsuyu or baiu [梅雨], which literally translates to ‘plum rains’; the season is supposedly named for coinciding…

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Bokusui Spring Festival

Miyazaki is definitely an underrated prefecture, and one of the more un-known, buried in the depths of Google’s search results, under all the pages dedicated to Hayao and his many castles. But the great thing about living in the middle of nowhere is that there are plenty of places hiding in the countryside, waiting to be discovered. One such gem is Tōgō-chō [東郷町], a beautiful little mountain…

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Searching for Sakura

After leaving the snow in Nagano behind, and spotting hundreds of tree lilacs on the drive from Nikko to Ibaraki, John and I were starting to feel spring fever. Which is why, on the last day of our holiday, we decided to head to Saitama for the annual cherry blossom festival in Gongendo Park (権現度公園). We had checked the park’s website…

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