Godzilla captured the attention of an eight-year-old English lad named Rob Dyer. “A history buff like Dad,” from a young age Rob was an avid reader of books about Asia.
A business trip brought Rob as a young man to Tokyo in 2000. He enjoyed the tourist sights. Still, he desired to learn about the Japan beyond the clichés of Japanese manga, geisha and Godzilla. In 2015 after countless trips, Rob established The Real Japan. The web site was a way to introduce foreigners to the heart of Japan.
Over a Skype chat about Rob’s latest e-book, How to Travel in Japan Without Speaking Japanese, he made the point that Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara – all the typical tourist spots – are terrific. And there are rich experiences to be enjoyed in other Japanese towns.
Nestled within the Mount Rokko range, angels abide at the Arima hot springs. The divine assignation is not unique to yours truly. The oldest chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki) tell of Shinto gods who witnessed the healing of three crows bathing in the golden Arima springs. Legend also says Arima is protected by the Medicine Buddha. Emperors, Kabuki actors1 and other celebs have visited Arima hot springs. It’s one of Japan’s top three onsen (natural hot springs.)
Xiang Xiang means popular in Chinese. So it’s the perfect name for Tokyo’s star panda. Lucky were those who won a lottery ticket several months ago to see the “Made in Japan” baby. You, however, are the fortunate one if you travel to Tokyo today. Ueno Zoo – home to Xiang Xiang – now issues a Disneyesque Fast Pass. Even better news: You can leave the zoo and come back at your appointed panda viewing time.
Our bodies are our temples. Allow a morsel of gluten or a grain of sugar to trespass our lips…and we’ve committed a mortal sin! At least in Southern California.
Health is important. But so is fun! Eating can be enjoyable AND good for you. Did your inner Japanese bento master just say Amen? I thought so.