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Showing posts with the label Trekking

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…

A Cooking Class High in Morocco's Atlas Mountains

Taking a cooking class is a great way to learn about another culture. In Morocco recently we had a cooking class in a very unlikely spot--a mountain top in the High Atlas Mountains.
At the trekking hotel, Kasbah Toubkal, adventurers head off by foot and donkey on trails that go deep into the mountains for all-day and all-week trips. Berber villages cling to the sides of the mountains, accessed only by dirt trails littered with donkey poop and walnut shells from the orchards along the path. For our cooking class, in a clean and organized kitchen, straight out of the 1960s, our group sat on low stools around tables covered with whole chickens, large chunks of bone-in lamb shoulder, fresh tomatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, garlic, zucchini and a jumble of herbs and spices. Haja Rkia ben Houari ("Haja" because Rkia had completed a pilgrimage to Mecca) had invited us into her kitchen to show us how to make a traditional Moroccan meal of couscous, tagine, freshly made bread and m…