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Showing posts with the label Japan's Heartland

An Island Shrine, a Special Meal and a Unique Museum in Japan's Aichi Prefecture

In pursuit of a week-long adventure in Japan’s heartlandShoryudo Region, I sped west from Tokyo on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen. The train’s path followed the Old Tōkaidō Road (the 'eastern sea' road), used for centuries to travel between the governmental capital in Edo (modern Tokyo) and the Imperial capital in Kyoto. I was on my way to Aichi Prefecture which hugs the Pacific coast and offers a rich experience with culture, history, nature and culinary deliciousness.

I settled into my seat on the train, happy to be in Japan where public transportation makes it easy to explore all parts of the island nation. For intercity visits under three hours, I'll always take  the 200+ mph Shinkansen. 
Called the "bullet train" for good reason. Stand near railroad tracks as a Shinkansen passes and it feels like a jet on wheels is streaking by. Inside, when I'm sitting in a comfortable seat, reading a book or snacking on a bento box, I forget how fast we're traveling.  

I woul…

Hike a Forested Pilgrimage Trail and Escape to a Hidden Shrine in Japan’s Mie Prefecture

I’ve been writing a lot about the Japan I have come to love, the Japan outside of Tokyo and Kyoto, the Japan of the heartland prefectures.

For my latest trip, I visited the Shoryudo Region of Honshū, Japan’s main island. Made up of nine prefectures stretching between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, Shoryudo is known for its rich agricultural land, spiritual landscapes and majestic mountains, including the iconic Mt. Fuji.


I explored Mie Prefecture on the eastern edge of the region. Bordering the Pacific Ocean and Ise Bay, the prefecture is home to pilgrimage trails that cut through ancient forests and lead to the most famous Shinto shrines in Japan.
The Route Magose-toge Pass on the Kumano Kodo Iseji Route
Trucks and cars jockeyed for position as they sped up the steep hill on busy Route 42 (Kumano Kaido). We pulled off the highway as quickly as we could to avoid the traffic and parked at a trailhead where there was room for about a dozen cars.
During Japan’s feudal era, travel b…