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  • 7 reasons to visit Kyushu

    So far in our exploration of Japan's different regions, we've had a look at 10 reasons to visit Shikoku, 5 reasons to visit Tohoku, and 10 reasons to head to Hokkaido. Today, we'll be taking a look at just a few of the reasons to consider Kyushu... (more…)

  • 10 reasons to visit Shikoku

    Shikoku is the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, yet it has some of the country’s most beautiful sights. Much more rural than most parts of Japan, its lack of mega-cities and world-famous sights means that it is rarely included on holiday itineraries – but I strongly urge you to give it a thought! Here are a few reasons why… 1. Dogo Onsen Thought to be Japan’s oldest bathhouse, Dogo Onsen is so old that it’s mentioned in the oldest book of Japanese classical history, the Nihon Shoki. It’s also rumoured to have been the inspiration behind Hayao Miyazaki’s animated masterpiece, Spirited Away, and it has special baths reserved just for the Japanese royal family. Don’t worry though – there are baths for commoners like ourselves too. 2. Kazurabashi vine bridges Criss-crossing the I ...

  • Bunraku – The Ancient Puppetry of Japan

    Often obscured by its more famous siblings, traditional Japanese puppet theatre, known as bunraku (or ningyo joruri), is an experience well-worth having during your stay in Japan. A single performance can be quirky and delightful one minute, and devastatingly emotional the next. But what is bunraku? Along with the more well-known kabuki and noh, bunraku is recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Though it shares that honor with world-famous dramatic Japanese arts, most would be hard-pressed to describe what bunraku actually is and why it is so popular here in Japan. Lucky for you, I've written a primer for even the most casual bunraku fan! (more…)

  • 10 films you should watch before visiting Japan

    Any discussion of Japan and cinema is bound to alight on Lost in Translation, Studio Ghibli, and perhaps the insipid adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha. Though all worth a watch (except Memoirs. Seriously, don't bother) we thought we'd put together a list of a few of our personal favourites... Nobody Knows (2004) Dare mo shiranai Dir: Hirokazu Koreeda When speaking to the team, the name Koreeda came up time and time again. His film Nobody Knows is based on the true story of four children who were abandoned by their mother for nine months in an apartment in Tokyo, and was first shown at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, where it won several awards. Other Koreeda titles recommended by the InsideJapan team include Like Father Like Son, I Wish, and After Life. Zatoichi (2003) Dir: T ...

  • In Miyazaki’s footsteps: 5 destinations for Ghibli fans

    Following the runaway success of Spirited Away, an animated film about a young girl who has to save her parents by infiltrating a bathhouse for the spirits, Studio Ghibli has become a household name all over the world. Hayao Miyazaki, the mastermind behind the studio, has been producing beautiful films for decades and is considered a genius by many of his fellow animators. His most famous masterpieces include My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Howl’s Moving Castle and many, many more. The inspiration for Miyzaki’s films is often obscure, and there are many locations that claim a connection with the director. The following spots are our favourites! 1. Ghibli Museum, Tokyo A famed pilgrimage site for all Ghibli fans, the ...


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