Tucked away in Kansai mountainside lies Mount Koya —a centuries— old spiritual retreat.
The small former merchant district of Naramachi does its best to preserve its Edo-period atmosphere and charm to this day. When I first walked along the main streets in Nara, it seemed that not much remained of its past—apart from its temples—as most residential buildings had been torn down to make room for today’s modern concrete multi-story buildings. That was until I accidentally stumbled into Naramachi.
Plum blossom season is here, so what better time to share one of our favorite spots to see some pink-petaled beauties. And that spot is Ikegami Plum Garden in Tokyo’s Ota Ward—home to over 370 plum trees, made up of 30 unique varieties. The garden measures about 8,000 square meters, and was originally an artist’s studio before it became someone’s home and later was granted to the ward to be opened as a public space.
Buddhist temples in Japan always tend to leave quite an impression. They house some of the finest traditional art and architecture in the world and are maintained with the greatest care. Yet there is a catch for us cheapos: they tend to always ask for an admission fee. But what if I told you you can visit Japan’s most important Buddhist temples for free?
Retreating into the mountains, surrounded by nature, and solely devoting yourself to meditation and self-reflection. Sounds like a dream? Well, a temple stay offers you just that, plus a taste of traditional Japan.
Summer is just around the corner (and with it the Kansai heat), so why not head to one of Japan’s “three most beautiful sights” (Nihon Sankei) which just so happens to be right next to the sea.
Summer in Kansai is quite notorious among both locals and visitors to the region during the season.
The town of Uji makes a great day trip destination from Kyoto or Osaka to enjoy some delicious premium green tea as well as a relaxing walk along the town’s temples.
Daikakuji is what one would consider “slightly off the beaten path” as although it is located near Kyoto’s popular Arashiyama district, it largely remains unknown.
Once just another small temple town, Imaicho flourished as a merchant town after successfully negotiating a degree of autonomy with Japan’s legendary shogun Oda Nobunaga.