Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Akama Shrine: Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Honshu

More and more, as I fully cover most of the attractions of my hometown here in Nagasaki and Fukuoka Prefectures in the southern island of Kyushu, I continue to expand my range and areas of expertise.  Luckily with my new area of residence being Fukuoka, many places of interest in the north east region of Kyushu and just across the Kanmon Strait into Yamaguchi Prefecture on the main island of Honshu, have become accessible to me. Over time, I will get to many of them and document exactly the areas that are worth visiting on our private tours.

One of these attractions is called Akama Shrine.  Indeed a beautiful shrine in a fabulous location, facing the Kanmon Bridge and Strait as well as Fukuoka Prefecture from which I just came from.  The shrine is striking in its colors with the bright red gates and certainly has a great feel and vibe about it even though its history is quite perverse.

Akama Shrine is dedicated to the child emperor Antoku who committed suicide by drowning after the defeat of the Heike at the final battle of the Genpei War (1180- 1185) at Dan-no-ura. It is also dedicated to Taira-no-Tokiko, the grandmother of Antoku who died before the war but helped lead the Heike.

In May of every year there is a festival held in memory of Antoku, in which women come to the shrine in beautiful kimonos to mourn the memory of the emperor who cut his life short at a young age.  It`s a scene that looks straight out of a traditional Japanese picture book.

I visited the Shrine in late December just as the preparations for the New Years were coming into play.  There was quite a bit of activity at the time but that didn`t stop me from getting some great pictures and generally really enjoying the experience of a place that has a rich and powerful history.  I am sure I will return again soon and do some more investigation of the area.

Please click here to see the Akama Shrine on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Also please click on the videos below to see more about the Akama Shrine:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Autumn Viewing: Nagasaki Prefecture

Autumn Viewing Pleasures are one of the best things to do in November just before the change of season into winter.  I am blessed here in Nagasaki to have an abundance of places right on my back doorstep to indulge in a little bit of Autumn viewing pleasures especially since I don`t have to travel too far.

In fact, the road from my place goes straight up the mountain to Unzen on the Shimabara Peninsular and half way up a private residence has turned his home and its wide open spaces into a public viewing of all things amazing in Autumn.  Here people come from near and far to participate in some Nagasaki Autumn Viewing Pleasures and for a nominal fee of around $3 US for adults and free for kids, anyone can wander around the beautiful landscape and basically get lost in their own little world whilst taking in all the splendor that there is to offer.

Although I had missed the peak of the Autumn Leaf changing season by a few days, I was still able to see many exquisite sites and revel in the nature that was abundant and never ending.  The Japanese Momiji (Maple Leaf) is absolutely entwined in the Japanese psyche and has a strong connection cultural as well as being entrenched in their culinary habits.  It is common to see the Momiji used as food displays during the Autumn period so it is normal for the average Japanese person to feel the need to connect with the Momiji through nature as well.  Hence you are never alone during the Nagasaki Autumn Viewing Pleasures as there is always one or 20 people around you.

On this day, I was fortunate to have my family with me and my kids absolutely relished in the environment.  I plan to come back a few days earlier next year to arrive at the peak of the Momiji powers.  Come join me if you like?

Check outAutumn Viewing in Nagasaki here on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Orange colors everywhere

My children enjoyed the leaves

Picture perfect

Please click on the videos below to see more Nagasaki Autumn Viewing Pleasures:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fukuoka Day Tours: Fukuoka Prefecture

It is my pleasure to inform past, present and future customers that I am starting up a new tour company in Fukuoka.

Fukuoka Day Tours will be providing private, specialized and customized tours for international visitors who wish to see the best and most exciting destinations in Fukuoka that are difficult and in some cases impossible to get to using public transportation.

Pick up`s and drop off`s at Hotels, Airports and International Cruise Terminals are all complimentary and part of the service.  In the next weeks and months I will be introducing a new website but in the meantime information about the new company can be accessed here and also from the Instagram Page:  fukuoka_day_tours

I am very excited and looking forward to this opportunity to expand my travel services to the inbound market in Japan and especially to the Gateway of Kyushu, Fukuoka.

The longest reclining Buddha in Japan is in Fukuoka

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hinoe Castle Ruins: Nagasaki Prefecture

One of the more spectacular sites on the Shimabara Peninsular is the leftover ruins of the Hinoe Castle.  It is located in Minamishimabara City on the Shimabara Peninsular. The castle was originally built in the 13th century.  It belonged to the Arima Clan and was the residence of the Christian Diamyo.  

In 1637, during the Shimabara Rebellion, it was burned down by the forces of the Tokugawa Shogunate because the Arima Clan protected the Christians and encouraged their vassals to adopt Christianity thus actively promoting international exchange which ran counter to the Shogunate`s isolation policy of that time.

The castle's ruins can still be seen today as a reminder of the religious turmoil that Japan was going thru during the 15th and 16th centuries.

To see Hinoe Castle Ruins Nagasaki on a map click here

Here are a few photos that I found around town which depicts the times and lives of the people at that time.  Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Tensho Embassy

Street view

Feudal Japan

                                             Here are some photos of Hinoe Castle Ruins:

                                                   Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Not much English


This one has English

Retaining Walls

Ruins located in Minamishimabara City in Nagasaki:

Please check out these videos below of the Hinoe Castle:

Monday, May 2, 2016

Nagasaki Shippoku Food Course: Nagasaki City

Without a doubt the most famous type of dish and No 1 high end gourmet option in Nagasaki is called Shippoku.   

This is basically a fusion of Japanese and imported Chinese dishes to create a gastronomical and intense dining experience.  

The oldest and most influential place to have this experience is a restaurant named KAGETSU, which has hosted and dined many dignitaries, famous people and samurai`s such as the famous Ryoma Sakamoto, who is well known as being the driving force in Nagasaki to update and drive Japan to become a modern society in the 19th century.

                                                     Please click on the photos below to enlarge:
Details about the establishment

View from outside


This dining experiences involves and activates all your senses of sight, smell and taste.  It is a highly intimate affair and only used for business or very special personal occasions as a result of not only the price but also the prestige and standard of presentation that it is esteemed to be.

The Entrance

One of the Banquet Halls

Beautifully Arranged

One of the many courses

Presentation was superb

Served by ladies in Kimonos

The kimono

Spectacular at night

Beautiful Gardens are part of the experience

Amazing Interior Displays

Of course, this type of atmosphere and food course won`t be for everyone.  It is highly specialized and truly of the highest order.  The courses come in one by one, the ladies fully dressed in traditional kimono`s, explain the significance of each dish and even a tour of the building is on the agenda.  In all, the experience will come to about 20 000 yen (approx. US $200) which includes your choice of alcohol such as beer, wine or Japanese Sake.  In my opinion it was well worth it, as the experience will be remembered forever.

I highly recommend this for the adventurous gourmet eater and foodie lover.