Our Travel Inspiration, Nov. 18

We’re glad you’re back to join us for another week of Our Travel Inspiration. Please follow along with us each Monday for our carefully-curated selection of current Asia and travel-related news stories.

VN & Quote
 

Share-worthy pieces on Asia this week:

Travel tidbits that caught our fancy:

We’d love to hear your feedback—please comment below. And please come back next Monday for more of Our Travel Inspiration!

Our Travel Inspiration, Nov. 11

We’re glad you’re back to join us for another week of Our Travel Inspiration. Please follow along with us each Monday for our carefully-curated selection of current Asia and travel-related news stories.

Pandaw-065
 

Share-worthy pieces on Asia this week:

Travel tidbits that caught our fancy:

We’d love to hear your feedback—please comment below. And please come back next Monday for more of Our Travel Inspiration!

Our Travel Inspiration, Nov. 4

We’re glad you’re back to join us for another week of Our Travel Inspiration. Please follow along with us each Monday for our carefully-curated selection of current Asia and travel-related news stories.

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Photo by Sudipto Das

Share-worthy pieces on Asia this week:

Travel tidbits that caught our fancy:

We’d love to hear your feedback—please comment below. And please come back next Monday for more of Our Travel Inspiration!

Our Travel Inspiration, Oct. 28

We’re glad you’re back to join us for another week of Our Travel Inspiration. Please follow along with us each Monday for our carefully-curated selection of current Asia and travel-related news stories.

Bagan-075

Intriguing Asia stories this week:

Travel tidbits that caught our fancy:

We’d love to hear your feedback—please comment below. And please come back next Monday for more of Our Travel Inspiration!

Travel to Japan to See Newly Designated World Heritage Sites

Travel to Japan

Travel to Japan

Thanks to its rich history and nature, Japan has already been recognized as a country with many UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites with 14 designated destinations.  An additional two locations came into the international spotlight when they were added to the list this June.

Hiraizumi

Hiraizumi

Hiraizumi, a Northern Metropolis

Hiraizumi may seem like just one of the many historic temple towns, but founded in the 12th century, this was the political and commercial center of Japan’s northern region. This time, UNESCO recognized the legacy of the Fujiwara family.

The Fujiwara’s rivaled the capitol in Kyoto and established a northern political and cultural power hub with the paramount art and architectural techniques of that time, and the cultural and historic significance and appreciation of the remaining pieces.  The most significant sign of the past political power in Hiraizumi is Chusonji-Temple, an elaborated structure in such a rich design from its heyday. Konjikido, literally translated as Golden Hall, has fortunately been preserved – because among all the magnificent constructions of a 20-year project, it is the only original structure to survive fires and wars. Protected inside a later-constructed concrete pavilion, Konjikido is a must-see. The structure is covered with gold leaf inside and out and is full of Buddhism statues in the alter – which portray the Fujiwara Lord’s aspiration for Buddhism and top-quality designs.

Although Hiraizumi is located in the northeast region of Japan, fortunately the March earthquake didn’t affect the area at all. The international attention this region has received due to the earthquake has become a great momentum for the region’s tourism recovery.  Along with the Shirakami Mountain Range that was designated as a world heritage site in 1993, Hiraizumi has become one of the highlights of the northern Japan travel.

Tokyo’s Hidden Beaches, the Ogasawara

The Ogasawara Islands, also known as The Bonin Islands, is an archipelago of over 30 small subtropical islands located 1,000km (620 miles) directly south of Tokyo.  UNESCO found these hidden islands under Tokyo’s municipality as a natural sanctuary for a unique ecosystem.  Consisting of over 30 tiny islands, including well-known Iwojima, the Ogasawara Islands cherish very lightly worn jungles and infinitely blue beaches. The islands create a perfect environment for a very rich ecosystem which includes: one-of-a-kind mammals, over 400 native plants and several ocean species that create one of the world’s rarest scuba diving spots. Ogasawara is nicknamed the Oriental Galapagos.

As the Ogasawara becomes more well-known among outdoor lovers, there have been talks on building an airport to improve the weekly ferry shuttle between Tokyo’s downtown port and Chichi-jima Island, the most populated among the Ogasawara.  However, the high vulnerability of the area’s untouched, unique ocean life and ecosystem keeps the islands airport free. It also makes the islands’ wealth of nature even more attractive – as a hidden gem of Japan.

Ogasawara, Tokyo Beaches

Ogasawara, Tokyo Beaches

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Wanting to experience the ancient wonders of Japan for yourself? Learn more about small group Japan tours or custom travel to Japan organized by our Asia Travel Specialists. Visit Asia Transpacific Journeys online or call 800-642-2742 for more information.

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How to Prepare Yourself to Travel to Japan

The islands of Japan, with their harmonious coupling of cutting-edge technology and time-honored tradition, beckon from across the Pacific. As your far-away dreams materialize and your travel plans form, keep in mind a few items that will help prepare you for your journey to Japan.

First, confirm your travel plans with a trusted travel company. At Asia Transpacific Journeys, our exemplary reputation with the world’s most respected cultural organizations will put you at ease. Our exhilarating Small Group Trips and private Custom Journeys to Japan will provide an unrivaled, rich and immersive Japan vacation experience.

Make sure your party’s travel documents, including passports, are current. Then, let one of our travel experts assist you in arranging your flight to Japan. We will take care of the logistics so you can focus on soaking up as much as you can of Japan’s thrilling landscape, unforgettable people, age-old customs, and progressive achievements.

Before you travel to Japan, you will receive a customized Japan Travel Guide to help you familiarize yourself with Japanese customs and etiquette. This comprehensive book also includes a few key phrases of the Japanese language that you may want to memorize prior to departure, as even the most basic attempts at Japanese will go a long way to facilitate meaningful interaction with its people. Our Japan Travel Guide also includes tips on cultural traditions, historical background, and destination information to familiarize you with Japanese culture. It includes a Japan reading list that provides wonderful suggestions for you to explore Japan’s rich literary traditions.

Although you can never fully prepare yourself for a life-enriching travel experience to one of the world’s oldest and most complex cultures, learning as much as possible beforehand will make your journey Japan immersive and meaningful.

Mahjong, a Popular Game in China

We just came across an online version of mahjong, a favorite pastime in China, Japan and other Buddhist communities throughout Asia. Learn how to play online, then impress new found friends while traveling in China with your skills. We’ve found learning traditional pastimes is a wonderful way to make connections with people while traveling, so we encourage you to try your hand at mahjong. Warning: it’s slightly addictive once you get the hang of it!

Cherry blossom season begins in Tokyo

USA Today published an article on Cherry Blossom Season in Tokyo by Jay Alabaster.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency said Monday that the country’s capital was officially in bloom, a closely watched announcement that marks the start of the yearly cherry blossom viewing season.

The annual rite of spring in Japan goes back hundreds of years and involves sitting under “sakura” trees and taking in the fluffy pink flowers, which drop off about a week after they appear. In Tokyo, residents flock to parks to lay down tarps and claim the best spots, then host elaborate picnics and long drinking sessions.

In Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, a small group of flower viewers gathered underneath cherry trees laden with pink buds…

Japan designates certain sakura trees for monitoring all across the country, and considers a region to be in bloom when at least five or six flowers can be counted on its trees. On Monday, an official government counter visited the Yasukuni Shrine, home to Tokyo’s trees, and proclaimed the city abloom.

When 80% of the trees’ flowers have opened, typically a few days later, an area is officially designated as in “full bloom,” prime time for blossom gazing and revelry.

This season starts a day later than last year in Tokyo, but six days before the historical average. The first flowers have bloomed earlier in recent years, triggering concerns of global warming. In the southern, warmer Okinawa islands, cherry blossoms began blooming in late December.

To read the complete article, visit usatoday.com

Visit our site for information on group travel to Japan or creating a custom private trip to Japan for just you and your family or friends.

Kawagoe, Tokyo of Yore

The New York Times featured an article on Kawagoe, a city close to Tokyo, reported by Ken Belson.

TO learn about Tokyo, you sometimes have to leave it. The capital has been rebuilt so many times that those wanting a glimpse of what it looked like years ago head to places like the Museum Meiji-Mura, more than two hours away.

But the city of Kawagoe, right in Tokyo’s backyard, is a more practical alternative. Less than 45 minutes by train, the center of Kawagoe is filled with a well-preserved collection of century-old kura, or warehouses, that still double as stores, workshops and homes.

Many kura are clustered around an even older wooden clock tower and a jumble of buildings from the Taisho and early Showa eras that create the feel of a small town with a charm missing in many Japanese cities. A former castle town, Kawagoe does such a good job evoking the Tokyo of yore that it is affectionately called Little Edo, a reference to the ancient name for Tokyo.

To read the entire article on travel to Japan and see a slide show visit NYTimes.com

Visit our site for information on creating a custom private trip to Japan, to include a visit to the ancient city of Kawagoe, for just you and your family or friends.

‘The Cultures of Buddhist Asia—Japan, Laos, and Bhutan’ Named One of National Geographic Travelers’ Tours of a Lifetime

Three Faces of Buddha
“From the raked rock gardens of Kyoto to the temple architecture of Laos to the traditional paintings of Bhutan, explore how Buddhism informs three different cultures in this ambitious journey inspired by a longstanding interest of the operator’s founder. Highlights include an overnight in a shukubo (traditional Japanese temple lodgings) and a hike to the cliffside Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan. The outfitter has knocked off $400 from last year’s rate. Asia Transpacific Journeys: “The Cultures of Buddhist Asia—Japan, Laos, and Bhutan,” 17 days; $9,995.”


View the National Geographic Traveler article or visit our site for The Cultures of Buddhist Asia—Japan, Laos, and Bhutan Small Group Trip details.