This issue - Japan
This week we visit Japan.
Don't forget you can easily find cheap air fares from any starting point to any destination, using the Travel Select Fare Finder. And even better if your journey happens to start from, or pass through, the UK because there are special offers for flights originating in the UK. For accommodation, you can find real bargains in good hotels if you book with Precision Reservations.
So now, on with our review of the web sites we have reviewed for this issue:
A beautifully presented site. I can't describe it better than it's opening lines..."Hi there! My name is Edoreki Gakushimaru, and I live in the city of Edo (you probably call my city "Tokyo" -- that's the modern name for Edo). I'd like to take you on a trip through my city, to see what it was like when it was still ruled by the Shogun, when samurai walked the streets, accompanied by beautiful women wearing silk kimono. There are lots of sights to see and plenty to learn about ancient Japan."
As the author proudly explains:
"For the Japanese, Edo has a romantic image that one could compare to the Italian's image of Renaissance Venice, the British image of Victorian London and the American image of the Wild West, all rolled into one. This website is designed to take you exploring in Edo. Hopefully it will offer not only some enjoyment, but also some insights into the source of traditional Japan".
The design of the site is excellent and visually superb. Added to this, it is a joy to navigate and everything is clearly explained and interestingly portrayed. If you have any interest at all in this fascinating country of contrasts, contradictions and paradoxes you will enjoy this marvellous insight into what makes Japan so "Japanese".
To begin your exploration of Edo, visit:
Welcome to Edo
Kabuki for Everyone is an excellent introduction to an important aspect of Japanese culture. Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theater. It was founded early in the 17th century by Okuni, a shrine maiden who brought her unique and lively dance style to the dry river beds of the ancient capital of Kyoto, and over the next 300 years developed into a sophisticated, highly stylized form of theater. Here you will find the sights and sounds of Kabuki as well as a great deal of information.
The site explains that "though Kabuki survived government oppression during the Edo period, the loss of many young actors in World War II and censorship by occupation forces after the war, it faces its most difficult enemies in modern forms of entertainment like movies and television. Its position as a "traditional" form of theater often makes it seem stuffy, and people are not as familiar with the special peculiarities of Kabuki as they used to be. Still, popular actors continue to bring audiences into the theater and there has recently been a "Kabuki boom" centered around young people".
Many traditioal art forms around the world are dying as modern life leaves less time to appreciate what they have to offer. Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and visit:
Kabuki for Everyone
According to a Japanese saying "the one who never climbs to Fuji is a fool and the one who does so more than once is twice the fool!".
Here is a description of the climb by Archana K. Singh which leaves you in no doubt as to the truth of the saying. The trip is formidable - "The only meal available in the hut was 'Kare' - Japanese version of beef curry with rice. The amount being served was too frugal to survive after hours of commuting and hiking" and "If we had to reach there at the time of sunrise (4:30) we'd have to start at least before around midnight, which meant less than 3 hours of sleep" added to which "The beds in the huts have to be shared in the season. It is also probably the only way to keep the dormitory warm as there is no heating available and temperatures reach subzero in the night" but it's all worth it in the end.
Several other japanese experiences are described on this site which can be found at:
My trip to Fuji-San
The Japan National Tourist Organisation presents this In Depth Guide to the Regions of Japan. It is a very comprehensive and detailed site that provides all the information the traveller needs to plan an itinerary and enjoy a trouble free trip. The descriptions of the attractions of each location are excellent and illustrated with good photographs
There is a huge variety of architecture, landscapes and cultural activities available to the tourist in Japan and this site is probably the most convenient way of sifting through them and planning a worthwhile visit.
This site can be found at:
Regional Tourist Guides
The Japanese Garden is a unique blend of philosophy, aesthetics and nature. For me, the tranquility of a Japanese garden is one of the real joys of existence and this site is a real gem, making available in pictorial form a wide range of different gardens. The link given below starts you off in one of my favourites, but site navigation is excellent and you will be able to explore for yourself all the wonders of this beautiful art form.
A place to stop and rest in your restless browsing through the frantic maze of information known as the Web:
This is a useful little site, written in that inimitable Japanese version of English that mixes English language and Japanese thought. The site claims:
"Travel Japan" supports tourist's useful information such as The Recommended place to visit,How to get there, Jistac Link (accommodation,restaurant,entertainment,shopping in each areas) on the web And Specially Jistac "Answering service" is quite effective for people who travel Japan for the first time. Jistac will answer tourist's question through the net.
It also offers the following interesting advice:
"Each maps on the page have been made to easily find out the senic place where Jistac recommend. So they are not strict atlas. If you need more details of maps, you should get strict one."
So there you have it - a permissive gentle map will not suffice. You need a strict map, that presumably will scold you loudly if you stray from the correct path! However, with this site as a guide you shouldn't have too much trouble from your map. See:
(Regrettably as of September 2004 this site has disappeared. I am attempting to find its new location. Ed.)
The game of GO is still not well known in the West, although its popularity is growing. However it has long been part of Japanese culture and is widely portrayed in the arts. The game itself, for those who don't know it, is a board game of strategy amazingly simple to learn and amazingly difficult to master If you are interested in learning more about the game see my personal GO pages. However, even if you have no ineterest in the game, there is a marvellous collection of Japanese art which includes the game in its subject matter. The International GO Server hosts a unique gallery of these images and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Japanese art and culture.
The gallery can be found at:
GO and the arts
For useful books on Japan, you will find a comprehensive listing with prices and reviews on my "Books on Japan" page (with links to buy direct from Amazon.com) on:
Hotel accommodation in Asia is plentiful and using a reputable agent can secure you substantial discounts. Precision Reservations can usually find you a good deal and you can check their availability here:
Back issues of this newsletter are available. You can find them on:
The countries covered in other issues are:
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