This is just a breath of work done for Metropolis Magazine working for Japan Travel.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is in the south of Kyoto and is famous for its thousands of vermilion tori gates. The trails through the gates and around the shrine lead you into the forest and up Mount Inari. Fushimi Inari is dedicated to the god of rice, Inari, and the fox statues found throughout the pathways are Inari’s messengers. The best way to explore the grounds is through Senbon Torii, which are two dense rows of tori gates leading up the mountainside. Along the trails are smaller shrines, restaurants, rest areas, and beautiful views like at Yotsutsuji intersection, which takes about 45 minutes to get up to from the Romon Gate.
The Hiranosato Summer Festival announces the coming of mid-summer in Osaka city. It is the largest float festival with nine floats competing in a pulling contest before they enter Kumata Shrine.
At Kumata Shrine, the paths are paved with street venders, food, drinks, festival games and so much more. The shrine is just minutes from Hirano Station and is said to have originated in the 4th year of the Yeikan Period in 862. During this festival the three pavilions open, with each one holding an important cultural asset, including an 800-1,000 year old camphor tree.
The parade of floats are fascinating to watch as groups of supporters gather and run towards and against the floats, each one gyrating between the entrance and another street. It is truly an experience to remember.
Tokyo at night is the city of lights. Around every corner is a new street or alleyway where the hustle bustle never stops. After spending a week in Tokyo I still have no clue which way is which but the bewilderment of each turn keeps my legs moving. Here are some of the best things to do at night in Tokyo.
Head to Shinjuku for bright lights and some dancing, where every turn from the busiest station in Tokyo has people spilling out onto the streets. One of the best things to do is stop at a local convenience store, grab some ice cream and roam the fantastically lit streets.
Next I would shift to Shibuya where the people watching and chaos go hand in hand. The Shibuya scramble crossing is the busiest in Tokyo. The sheer energy of the place makes you stop and watch. Right outside the station is also the Hachikō Statue, a must see if you are a dog- or animal lover for that matter.
After that, move over to Roppongi, where some of the best nightlife spots are located. A view of Tokyo Tower can be seen with all its glory. A huge sculpture of a spider, Louise Bourgeois' Maman, meets you along the way. In Roppongi, on many nights there are film premiers, world-class art exhibitions, and always tons of shopping opportunities.
If you have time stop at Odaiba Island, the island is perfect for the majestic sights of Tokyo bay. You can head over to the look out over the beaches to see the bridge lit up or hop onto the Ferris wheel to get a birds eye view. If you are hungry or in need to shop, many of the malls are open to 9 p.m. Legoland, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and Gundam, a huge robot statue are all perfect photo-ops.
All in all, Tokyo is an amazing city to explore day or night. The smell of food brushing your nose down every lane. The hustle and bustle of tourists and locals alike. Whether you like to go dancing or drinking you will find tons of places here. And who could forget karoake! Favorited by everyone who comes to Tokyo, you can try karoke by yourself, with a group of friends, or try one of the many bars located all over the city where you get to sing with complete strangers. Tokyo is truly a city of lights.
Memory Lane also known as, Omoide Yokochō, is a small alley filled with yakitori joints, and is located on the west side of Shinjuku Station. Yakitori (literally 'grilled chicken') cuisine implies skewers of chicken alongside other meats and vegetables. The traditional yakitori-ya restaurants here are essentially small stands with chefs grilling skewers on the charcoal right in front of hungry customers.
Yakitori restaurants are often crowded with young adults and office workers. It is an informal atmosphere to unwind after a long day with a cold beer or sake. The yakitori restaurant that I was able to dine at was served all pork with 5 different skewers, including thinly sliced pork belly. Most restaurants have English menus and it is a definitely a must see when visiting Shinjuku.
Minoh Park is located near Osaka in Mino City, Osaka Prefecture. Minoh Waterfall is located in one of Japan’s oldest parks. The pathways leading up to the falls are lined with shops, temples, beautiful scenery and so much more.
The Festival of Fire, Water, and Light takes place from July 12 to August 31 with the illumination of the waterfall nightly. On July 19, Minoh Candle Road occurs. The pathways leading up to the falls are lined with over 6,000 candles. As the festivities continue all the way up the walkway many musicians, shops, food stalls, and games are set up for the many visitors to the park. It was truly a magical experience and wonderful exercise.