Autumn Foliage Season in Kyoto

Autumn foliage in Kyoto's Eikando Temple

I’ll admit that our trip to Japan was a bit last minute, but that doesn’t mean our timing was totally random. For years, we’ve been wanting to experience one of the country’s most stunning natural spectacles, the Technicolor fall foliage season. Fall foliage? Don’t you mean cherry blossoms?

No, while most Westerners associate the country with the world famous spring cherry blossoms, many Asian tourists are equally drawn to Japan’s gorgeous fall colors, which for religious and cultural reasons have become something quite unlike anything else on the planet. Continue…

Krampus at the Christmas Market in Munich

Ah, it’s December in Bavaria and the Christmas markets are in full swing. The Alps are shrouded in cool mist and half-timbered houses are decked out in twinkly lights and boughs of mistletoe. Locals are huddled ’round their fires drinking hot glühwein as holiday tunes float through the air.

Suddenly, the sound of synchronized cracking whips break the silence. Groups of Krampus and Perchten, Christmas devils and fur-clad Alpine monsters armed with bundles of twigs, rush into the crowded streets. The fiendish Christmas beasts dance through the crowds chasing rotten children and whipping them with stinging bundles of twigs. Adults laugh and stuff themselves with gingerbread as children run screaming in all directions. Yeah, Christmas in Germany has a bit of an edge. Continue…

Crazy Tokyo Experiences

Cat bonnet anyone?

Evolving post – more to come!

We came to Japan for the specific goal of diving into the country’s legendary craziness. We had visions of pouty Lolitas posing in front of multi-story video screens, robots performing the Nutcracker, warehouse-scale electronic sushi emporiums, and Gozilla peeking over a skyscraper down upon the city’s legendary street culture. Did we find it? Absolutely, it’s everything we ever dreamt of and more.

In coming days, we will be building the ultimate list of quirky, crazy, weird, wild and wonderful activities, a sort of must-do menu of kitschy Tokyo delights. Hai, dozo! Continue…

The Rockabillies of Yoyogi Park

The Rockabillies of Yoyogi Park are, perhaps, the best example of what makes Tokyo so Tokyo. This city is all about awesome subcultures, retro tongue-in-cheek chic, music, and serious love for everything fun.

For more than 30 years, these Tokyo icons have been gathering on Sundays at the southeastern corner of Yoyogi Park to dazzle visitors with their dance moves, humor and extreme vertical hair. They don’t do it for money; they don’t ask for a thing. They just Continue…

The Red Spider Lilies of Kinchakuda

japan-spider-lilies-2

No, we didn’t come to Japan during the cherry blossom season. 🙁 But it turns out that Japan has a whole lot of surprises up is floral kimono sleeves. We just randomly stumbled upon this little known (outside Japan) event, the blooming of the red spider lilies of Kinchakuda (巾着田).

Located a mere hour outside Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture, Kinchakuda Park lies on a forested bend along the shores of the Koma River. For about 8-10 days each year, a spectacular red carpet of lilies forms beneath the trees creating a fairy tale scene unlike anything we have ever encountered before Continue…

Rockin’ Room with a Space-Age View

View from our apartment in Nishi Shinjuku

We came to Japan with one major goal in mind, to experience the awesomeness, the craziness, the cuteness, the unexpectedness, the weirdness and the wonderfulness of the Japanese people. In other words, the Japaneseness.

When we told friends that we would be spending half of our time in the country just in Tokyo, they seemed a bit surprised by our decision. Why so focused on the capital? Why? Because Tokyo is prime hunting ground for everything that makes Japan so Japanese. We want skyscrapers decorated in giant video screens, anime madness, hustle and bustle, Harajuku girls, streets aflow with humanity, and food, food, food. First reaction to Tokyo… fabulous shock! It’s overwhelming in the most positive sense of the word. Continue…

Happy Birthday Thomas

Happy Birthday Thomas 2016

Happy birthday to one of the planet’s greatest explorers. What better way to celebrate than by diving into one of the craziest, most over the top cities in the world… Tokyo. This is going to be good.

Shades of Merzouga

Merzouga is one of Morocco’s top desert destinations. The sweeping dune sea, which has been featured in films such as The Prince of Persia and The Mummy, is where everyone comes to live out their desert dreams. Of course, we showed up in the middle of a series of raging sandstorms with blistering 105+ temperatures, so our desert dream felt a bit more like a very sandy, very hot hallucination.

Yes, we spent a great deal of our time in our hotel room watching the dunes push their way through the gap under our door. When the winds dropped a bit, me moved to the hotel restaurant and sipped mint tea with clouds of sand swirling around us as the hotel owner sat staring out an open door wondering aloud why his hotel was so empty. (Gee, I wonder why!) On two occasions, the wind stopped and we ran out the door into the Continue…