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  • World Heritage Japan: Part Two

    Following on from World Heritage Japan: Part One, in this post we’ll cover the nine sites to have received UNESCO World Heritage Status since the year 2000 – ranging from Okinawan castle ruins to the wild and rugged landscapes of northern Hokkaido. 11. Okinawa’s Ryukyu castles Inscribed: 2000 Japan’s southernmost prefecture, Okinawa, was once a proud, independent country known as the Ryukyu Kingdom. Having been subjected to a brutal history of Japanese conquest, bloody battles and subsequent American occupation, all that remains of the once-great trading nation are the ruins of its castles – or gusuku as they are called in Okinawan dialect. 12. The Kumano Kodo Inscribed: 2004 The Kumano Kodo is an ancient network of pilgrimage routes that has been trodden by peasants and roya ...

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  • World Heritage Japan: Part One

    “Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.” – UNESCO Since 1972, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has been identifying and protecting sites across the world that are considered to be of universal significance, whether owing to their exceptional natural beauty or their intrinsic cultural value. For almost as much time, travellers have been using the UNESCO World Heritage list as an arbiter of what is worth visiting and what isn’t. Japan is home to 19 World Heritage Sites (four natural and 15 cultural), spanning the length and breadth of the country and running the gamut from war-era remnants to religious buildings to spectacular national parks. Many of these sites (including th ...

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  • Celebrating Super Mario’s 30th Anniversary

    This year marks the 30th anniversary of the venerable Super Mario Bros. series and, in addition to making millions the world over suddenly feel very old, Japan celebrated by doing what they do best - creating themed food! In partnership with Tower Records, Nintendo took over three locations in Tokyo last week in order to celebrate the paunchy plumber and his friends. In addition to selling limited edition goods, the in-store cafés offered dishes inspired by the ground-breaking game series. The Tower Records in Shibuya was decked out in Mario decor. The entrance had even been transformed, with a giant Mario standing atop two massive, and instantly familiar, green warp pipes. The instantly recognisable warp pipe sound effect was even used when entering and exiting the front door! ...

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  • A 500-Mile Day Trip to Central Japan

    One of the perks of the tour leader job is the opportunity to scout out places in preparation for an incoming group tour. Although not my first visit to the area during my 15 years here in Japan, it had been a while since I had visited the little known town of Inuyama, in the southern area of the Kiso River valley, just an hour north of Nagoya. Today would, as always, be a day of running around, checking train and bus times, locating stops and areas in which to enjoy a walk, lunch options and so on. These days can be very full on as we have to pack in everything and more, in a time frame far less than a tour group would have. The challenge was on…there and back, 500 miles give or take, in a day! So, leaving my apartment in Tokyo, I headed on the 6:46am commuter express train to T ...

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  • 11 great experiences from my trip to Japan

    This week in the InsideJapan UK office we have had Anna Rogers from Katharine Lady Berkeley School visiting for her year 11 work experience, learning the ins and outs of working in the travel industry. Anna is 15 and studying for her Japanese GCSE, and she recently visited Japan for 10 days to brush up on her language skills, staying with a host family in Yamanashi Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo. As well as helping us out with a number of tasks, Anna has written a blog about her favourite experiences from her trip to Japan. Read on to hear her first-timer's take on Japan... 1. Itchiku Kubota’s Kimono Museum This museum is dedicated to the life and work of the kimono-maker Itchiku Kubota. It was amazing to see the different styles and colours - I hadn’t realised they were so big! There ...

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