Sun Messe: The Maoi of the East

In the Valparaíso Region of Chile, a group of statues equal in shape and size rise from a site known as Ahu Akivi and stare out into the Pacific Ocean. These mysterious Maoi are just some of thousands discovered on Easter Island, built by the Rapa Nui to honor important people who had passed on. More than 14,000 km (±…

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Kumamoto Castle, Under Construction

“Please visit Kumamoto Castle,” my colleague urged when I told her we’d be driving through Kumamoto City on the way back from Nagasaki during the Golden Week holidays. The popular tourist attraction is Japan’s third-largest castle, after Osaka Castle and Nagoya Castle. It is especially well known for its expansive grounds, numerous buildings, and more than 500 cherry trees that…

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Yanagawa: The City of Water

“Aaa-eeh,” the punter sang, “tsukino dokoromo hatsukano yamimoe.” His throat danced around a different note for each of the syllables of the old Japanese poem. The sun was beating down, making me wish we had forked out the 100円for a kasa hat. Still, listening to his voice and water lapping up gently against the side of the donkobune was like…

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Glover Garden and Dejima Island

On top of Minami-yamate, a gorgeous hillside overlooking Nagasaki Harbour, sits Glover Garden (グラバー園), an open-air museum of the homes of former Western residents of the city, who settled there after the end of Japan’s isolationism in the latter half of the 19th century. The Garden is the original site of the former residence of Scottish trader, Thomas Blake Glover, and features six…

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Inside Japan’s Dutch Theme Park

I’ve always dreamed of visiting the Netherlands, partly due to my Dutch ancestry but mostly because of my love of cheese and other edibles. So when Golden Week began approaching, an annual string of public holidays, and Austin and I were planning a road trip around western Kyushu, I figured why not  make a stop in Japan’s very own Amsterdam. Huis Ten Bosch (ハウステンボス) is a 17th-century style Dutch-themed…

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