Posts Tagged ‘japan’

New Year’s Travel Resolutions

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Vietnam’s Evocative Ha Long Bay – a great place to go in 2010

Where do you want to go in 2010? Here are some of our top 2010 picks…

Relaxing in Japan – with tranquil gardens, quiet temples, and the enlightening possibilities of tea.

Tackling the Amazon – for river dolphins, scarlet macaws, and really poisonous frogs.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda and Rwanda -  one of life’s incomprable adventures.

Cruising in Alaska – for kayaking around icebergs, checking out the humpback whales, and sailing Glacier Bay.

Stargazing in Hawaii - for a possible glimpse of the newly discovered super-Earth, and for the search for the real Pandora.

Wherever the new year may take you, we wish you all the best in 2010. Thanks for reading our blog, and for sharing your stories with us!

Travel Hit List: Japan

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Taizoin Temple Tea Garden, Kyoto. Photo: Daniel Hagerman

Forget the cold, rainy weather, your overstuffed inbox, and that growing pile of voicemails. Take a minute to go on a virtual trip to Japan, where they revere the old, but embrace the new.

Read: Serene temples, beautiful gardens, and a reverence for ancient traditions can be found on Japan’s less-traveled San-in Coast. From Smithsonian Magazine.

Hear: Sakura: A Musical Celebration of the Cherry Blossoms. From Smithsonian Folkways.

Watch: A video of modern Japanese artisans faithfully recreating the painstaking processes of Edo period printmaker Katsushika Hokusai. From the Smithsonian Channel.

Eat and Drink: Become a student of tea and discover the intriguing beauty that is the Japanese Tea Ceremony. From the Smithsonian Journeys Blog.

Check out: Masterful Illusions, an online exhibition of Japanese Prints. From Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries.

Go: Now is a great time to book a journey to Japan.

Join: Smithsonian Journeys is on Facebook. Become a fan today.

Tokyo's Meiji Shrine

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Our arrival at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine is the first time our group members have to take off their shoes, but if there’s any (minor) grumbling, it soon turns to hushed awe as a white-robed Shinto priest ushers us into the inner hall. Careful not to point our feet at the altar, we sit in an orderly row on the tatami, whose fresh aroma wafts through the room, bringing the beauty of nature indoors.

Women in traditional dress at Tokyo's Meiji Shrine. Photo: Charlene Miller

Traditional dress at Tokyo's Meiji Shrine. Photo: Charlene Miller


Photo: Colorful Japan

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009
Saki Barrels at Tokyo's Meiji Shrine. Photo: Alyssa Bobst

Sake Barrels at Tokyo's Meiji Shrine. Photo: Alyssa Bobst

The Meiji Shrine is located in the Shibuya section of Tokyo. This Shinto shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken, and was created in response to the wishes of the Japanese people to pay their respects to their beloved Emperor and Empress.

Emperor Meiji began a period of Restoration that led to enormous changes in Japan’s political and social structure during the second half of the 19th century, in direct response to the opening of Japan to outsiders. The shrine is surrounded by an 175-acre forest, with trees donated by the Japanese people. It is considered a spiritual home and recreation area for the people of Japan.

Learn more about tours to Japan.


The Way of Tea

Monday, February 2nd, 2009
The traditional Japanese tea is used throughout the year to celebrate and make offerings. Photo: Helen Hasenfeld.

The traditional Japanese tea is used throughout the year to celebrate and make offerings. Photo: Helen Hasenfeld.

As a long time tour leader in Japan, I have taken many Smithsonian Journeys participants to Tea events. I love to introduce the many unspoken aspects of Tea (Sado, the Way of Tea) to visitors from abroad. As I look back at my years as a student of Tea, I realize how much it has taught me about art, ceramics, gardens, calligraphy, and great food in my adopted city of Kyoto.  When I first began studying tea, I assumed that I would master the basics in about a year. Now, years later, I find myself only beginning to understand that both the world of tea as well as the country of Japan, hold many treasures and surprises for those who take the time to look. (more…)