Asia

A Blogger’s Guide To Japan

“A Blogger’s Guide To Japan” is currently available at Amazon.com and through the CreateSpace eStore.  (International shipping is available through CreateSpace if you are unable to find the title through your respective Amazon site.).

Please note that the eBook version is currently being reformatted so that I can bring you a better product.  Stay tuned for an update as to when the eBook version will be available to purchase.  The Kindle app is free to download and allows you to read the book on any device (tablet, phone, etc.).

Amazon.com Link

CreateSpace eStore Link

 

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JAPAN: Saitama/ Koshigaya (Japan’s Largest Mall: Aeon Laketown Mall)

Koshigaya City is home the biggest shopping mall in Japan. The Aeon Laketown Mall occupies 224,000 square meters of commercial space which is split into three wings all connected by indoor bridges. The three wings are known as: Kaze (Wind), Mori (Forest) and Laketown Outlet.

Kaze is home to various Aeon group shops including Vivre, Maruetsu Supermarket, a cinema complex, sports and other large specialty stores as well as various restaurants. Mori is Japan’s longest shopping mall at 500 meters and houses the AEON Department Store and a myriad of specialty stores in its beauty zone, auto mall, sports & outdoor zones. There is even an outdoor garden area with its own small stream. The Laketown Outlet is an open-air mall where you can find discounted luxury brand items. You will find Japanese brand stores such as Uniqlo and Wego as well as recognizable international stores such as Zara, Lacoste, GAP, Quicksilver, Fossil, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme.

The mall is very cleverly laid out in that you can see the stores on various levels without any obstructions. Further, the mall space follows a curvature so you don’t feel as though you are walking endlessly.

Aeon Co., established in 1926, is the largest retailer in Asia and Japan’s single largest shopping mall developer and operator. It is said that Aeon invested over ¥85 billion in developing the Aeon Laketown Mall.

Shopping in a mall may not be on the top of your agenda when visiting Japan but an opportunity to see the largest mall in the country should definitely not be missed. The mall is conveniently located near East Japan Railway’s Musashino Line and is approximately one hour away from central Tokyo.

 

Web page:         http://www.aeon-laketown.jp/en/

Address:             2-8 Azuma-cho, Koshigaya-shi, Saitama Prefecture 343-0826

 

Japan: Yamaguchi Prefecture (Akiyoshido / 秋芳洞 )

When traveling in Yamaguchi Prefecture one of the places that you should definitely try visiting is Mine City, home to Akiyoshido Cave, the largest and longest limestone cave not only in Japan but in Asia as well. The cave, which contains five and a half miles of passage ways and is 328 feet wide was named by Emperor Hirohito in 1926 when he was still the crown prince. Today, visitors can enter a section a little over half a mile long, which has been designated as a public sightseeing course.

The cave is part of the Akiyoshidai Plateau, an area dotted with limestone pinnacles. The plateau is believed to be a 300 million year old coral reef, which in time was eroded by rain. Both the cave and the plateau are designated as a quasi-national park.

Akiyoshido Cave is relatively easy to navigate as there are paved pathways and ample lighting. The temperature inside the cave is a constant 63°F throughout the year making for a comfortable environment. Once inside, visitors will be treated to breathtaking limestone terrace pools filled with water, stalactites, which form natural sculptures and underground waterfalls. For an additional ¥300, they can traverse an adventure path, which is slightly difficult to navigate but offers a splendid view of the cave from a higher vantage point. The cave is home to six types of cave bats including the miniopterus fuliginosus also known as the Eastern Bent-Winged Bat which measures between 4-5 inches in length.

There are three entrances to the cave system: Akiyoshido Visitor Center (Akiyoshido front entrance), Kurotani Visitor Center (Kurotani) and Akiyoshidai Visitor Center (via elevator). The Akiyoshido entrance is the closest to the bus terminal and main parking lots while the Kurotani entrance is often utilized by tour groups. From the elevator entrance, it is a 5-10 minute walk to an observation deck. Visitors can glimpse nice views of the Akiyoshidai Plateau from this pathway. There are buses which run between the cave’s three entrances. They run relatively frequently on weekends and holidays but are often infrequent during weekdays.

The cave is open year round between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. Getting to the cave is straightforward using buses, which depart from both Yamaguchi Station and the Shin-Yamaguchi Shinkansen Station and drop passengers off at the cave entrance. There are also buses departing from Shimonoseki. The journey from these stations to the cave usually takes one hour so plan accordingly.

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Web page:         http://english.karusuto.com/html/tourism/akiyoshido.html

Japan: Miyazaki (Heiwadai Park)

Located on the southeastern coast of Kyushu, Miyazaki City enjoys one of the warmest climates in Japan. The town is dotted with beaches, resorts and sports facilities and was considered a top honeymoon destination for Japanese couples until the 1980s. However, after the 1980s tourism in Miyazaki declined until a popular comedian named Higashikokubaru Hideo became the governor of Miyazaki Prefecture in 2007 and used his celebrity to draw attention to Miyazaki once again.

Today, one of the main attractions in Miyazaki is Heiwadai Park, situated just 30-minutes on foot from Miyazaki Shrine. Constructed in 1940, the park sits 200 feet above sea level and offers impressive views of the surrounding area. It draws many visitors for its wide lawns, immaculately kept flower beds and cool forest atmosphere. Within the park, standing at 121 feet high, is the park’s Peace Tower, the most recognizable symbol of Miyazaki. Constructed of stones gathered from all over Asia it was originally intended to be a symbol of Japanese imperialism. However, following the events of World War II, the tower became a monument for peace and a united world. On the front of the tower, you will find the phrase “Hakko Ichiu,” which means “United under one roof.”

At the far end of the park, you will find Haniwa Garden. The garden is famous for its collection of 400 replica haniwa (burial statues) depicting animals, warriors, boats and houses, all arranged around a walking path. During the Kofun period, more than 1,500 years ago, clay statues like these were placed on burial mounds as a tribute to the deceased.

If you get hungry after walking around or if you just want to relax, there is a rest area in the park with a souvenir/snack shop and an organic restaurant serving dishes prepared with healthy organic ingredients provided by Miyazaki’s local farmers. The snack shop offers light snacks, organic coffee, ice cream and cold drinks.

The ideal outing is to combine a trip to the park with a visit to the Miyazaki Shrine and the Prefectural Museum. Admission to the park is free. There are direct buses each hour departing from Miyazaki Station to Heiwadai Park.

Higashikokubaru Hideo

Higashikokubaru Hideo

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The Peace Tower featured on the back of early Japanese currency

The Peace Tower featured on the back of early Japanese currency

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Sizen

Sizen Organic Cafe

Address: 1-1-1 Tachibana-dōri Nishi, Miyazaki-shi, Miyazaki-ken

California: Los Angeles Museums

No matter what your occupation, interest or experience level happens to be, there is a museum for you in Los Angeles!  Los Angeles is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country and L.A.’s museums are hidden gems for locals and tourists alike. For the cost of admission to a movie, you will be treated to everything from exhibits that depict the origins of life in remarkable detail to unequalled collections of artwork.  Ardent fans of the entertainment industry will love visiting the museums that specialize in movie, television and music memorabilia!

In Los Angeles, there is something for everyone!

Autry National Center

4700 Western Heritage Way,
Los Angeles, California

Gene Autry, was an American performer who gained fame as a singing cowboy on the radio, in movies, and on television for more than three decades beginning in the early 1930s. He also owned a television station, several radio stations in Southern California, and the Los Angeles Angels Baseball team from 1961 to 1997.

Established in 1988 by Gene Autry as the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum the Autry National Center is the home to 21,000 paintings, sculptures, costumes, textiles, firearms, tools, toys, musical instruments and other objects related to the American West.

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Bowers Museum

2002 N. Main St,
Santa Ana, California

The museum which bears the name of Charles Bowers, a late 1800s Orange County land developer, first opened its doors in 1936.  It was closed in 1987 only to reopen in 1992 as a totally transformed and significantly larger facility.

Bowers’ permanent collection includes over 100,000 objects from Africa, the South Pacific, and Asia.  The collection also contains numerous Native American, Pre-Columbian artwork.

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The Chinese Terra Cotta Soldiers were on display the Bowers Museum recently

The Chinese Terra Cotta Soldiers were on display the Bowers Museum recently

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California Science Center

Exposition Park
Los Angeles, CA

Formerly known as the California Museum of Science and Industry, the Museum was remodeled in 1998 as the California Science Center. Currently it consists of the IMAX Theater, the Sketch Foundation Gallery – Air and Space Exhibits (formerly Aerospace Hall), designed by Frank Gehry, and the Science Center itself.

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The Cleopatra Exhibit at The California Science Center

The Cleopatra Exhibit at The California Science Center

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Getty Center

Brentwood
Los Angeles, CA

The Getty Center is a $1.3 billion facility which opened in 1997 and is well known for its architecture, gardens and views overlooking Los Angeles.  The center sits on top of a hill connected to a visitor’s center which is accessible by a three-car cable tram.  The center draws 1.3 million visitors annually.

The museum’s collection includes pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th- and 20th-century American and European photographs.

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Tram

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Grammy Museum

800 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Opened in 2008 on the 50th anniversary of the Grammy Awards, the museum consists of four floors devotes to historical music artifacts, interactive instrument stations, recording booths and a 200-seat Clive Davis Theater.

The exhibits are renewed, with special features added on an ongoing basis.  During our visit, we were able to view the Ringo Starr and Jenni Rivera exhibits.

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Michael Jackson's stage clothes

Michael Jackson’s stage clothes

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Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

900 Exposition Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90007

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County opened in 1913 as the Museum of History, Science, and Art. It is the largest natural and historical museum in the western United States with nearly 35 million specimens and artifacts covering 4.5 billion years of history.

The museum’s main building, with fitted marble walls and domed and colonnaded rotunda, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Petersen Automotive Museum

6060 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California

The Petersen Automotive Museum is one of the world’s largest automotive museums and a nonprofit organization specializing in automobile history and related educational programs.

Founded in 1994 by magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen, and his wife Margie, the $40-million Petersen Automotive Museum is owned and operated by the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation. The museum has about 150 vehicles on display in its main galleries. The remaining half of the collection is kept in a vault, located on the basement level of the building.

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