distantdystopia distantdystopia

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🎌 Donny Kimball 🎌  Tokyo-based marketer and travel blogger who is working to putting huge swaths of #Japan on the digital map.

OK, Japan travel tip time. If you’re going to be making the journey to Japan, you had best be prepared to climb some stairs. Simply put, all the cool attractions sit atop what can often feel like an endless flight of steps and your trip will be rather dull if you cannot make the ascent. Thinking of doing Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto? Stairs! Fushimi Inari Taisha? Even more stairs! What about more off the beaten path spots like Oita prefecture’s Kumano Magaibutsu? The flight pictured here is just the beginning of the torture. If you’re concerned about the amount of stairs you’ll need to climb, best start working on your mobility now. You’ll thank me later...
📷 Photo Credit: Me
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One of the things that drives me absolutely insane about traveling in Japan is that the country has an endless treasure trove of amazing attractions. Often times it seems like every time I cross something off of my bucket list, ten more things pop up to take its place. At this rate, I’ll never get around to many of my “must visits” such as Matsumoto castle (pictured here). Ah, well. I really shouldn’t complain. After all, it’s a wonderful problem to have...
📷 Photo Credit: MasterLu
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As anyone who follows my Instagram stories already knows, I had a great time exploring Kagoshima’s Sengan-en over the weekend. Far more than just another traditional Japanese garden, Sengan-en takes its historical legacy as a former residence of the powerful Shimadzu clan extremely seriously. Its commitment to authenticity makes it easy to see how the site earned its UNESCO status. The level of historical accuracy displayed here is just unreal. If you swing by for a visit, be sure not to miss out on the Shoko Shuseikan museum and Shimadzu Satsuma Kiriko Glassworks which are both also next door to the garden. 📷 Photo Credit: @sengan_en

Huge shout out to my digital marketing padawan Yuko Yamasaki (@chou_8004) for putting together an EPIC tour for me last weekend. During our travels, we traversed many of Oita prefecture’s hidden gems while tracing the area’s lost narratives. Moreover, Yuko even arranged for me to meet the head monk of Monjusen-ji where I was finally able to ask some burning questions I had about the origins of the Kunisaki peninsula’s unique Rokugo Manzan culture. Pictured here are the steps leading up to Futago-ji, an important center of ascetic training for the region.
📷 Photo Credit: Me

After referencing the Wikipedia article more times than I care to count, I’ve finally decided to just sit down and write my own exposé on how Buddhism and Shintoism formed a syncretic union (known in Japanese as Shinbutsu Shugo). If you want to know why there’s often something like a torii at a temple, be sure to check out the piece that I’ll be dropping this Friday night! I assure you, you’ll never be able to look at a shrine or temple again!

Looking for a unique way to experience Japan? Why not ditch the hotel and spend a night in nature at any one of the country’s numerous campgrounds? It’s bound to be an unforgettable experience that few tourists ever have the chance to partake in.
📷 Photo Credit: Blanscape

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The past few weeks have been a caffeine infused whirlwind. I’ve had family visiting from overseas and together we went on the adventure of a lifetime. To start the epic journey, we spent the night at a ryokan on Miyajima before heading up north for a five day tour through many of the prefectures in Tohoku. En route to our final destination of Aomori prefecture, we soaked in the onsens on Mt. Zao, climbed the 1,000 steps of Yama-dera, and biked around the tragic ruins of Hiraizumi. Our escapades culminated in a two-day stint in Aomori’s city of Hachinohe where we ate like locals and traced the roots of Japan’s prehistoric Jomon period. While I am certainly sad to be parting with family, I’m absolutely exhausted and feel closer to death than the Jack Skellington plushie that we found at the top of Yama-dera (final picture). My god, what a legendary trip...
📷 Photo Credit: Me & My Trusty iPhone
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Super pumped to head off to Tohoku for the next five days! As part of the trip, I’ll be finally visiting Hiraizumi. Often hailed as the “Kyoto of the North,” this historical site has long been on my bucket list. Honestly, I really don’t think that I could be more hyped to visit!
📷 Photo Credit: Taira Masao
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Ah Yamanashi — known internationally for its wildly popular Mt. Fuji climb and…well, not much else. This is a real shame. You see, this landlocked prefecture is host to breathtaking natural wonders as well as a rich historical pedigree. In addition to being the former domain of the legendary Warring States period warlord Takeda Shingen, Yamanashi is surrounded by some of Japan’s tallest mountain peaks. As such, the prefecture boasts a collection of unforgettable views from its basin floor. Pictured here is the magnificent natural phenomenon that is Shosenkyo gorge which is one of Japan’s most beautiful crevasses. Want to learn more about how to take a tour of this gorgeous spot? Check out my latest article!
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Did you know that traditional Japanese architecture uses absolutely no nails? Instead, it makes use of interlocking pieces of wood to achieve the same effect. If you want to learn all about this and other craftsmanship techniques, head on down to Tokyo International Forum either tomorrow or Friday for #Monozukuri - A Celebration of Traditional Artisanal Techniques. It’s entirely free and a good way to escape the rain!

Woah… It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since I was last in Hakone. I definitely need to get back down there sometime soon. From onsen and history to anime pilgrimages and even a pirate ship, Hakone has got a little bit of something for everyone. I highly suggest you consider adding it to your itinerary!
📷 Photo Credit: Yaophotograph

OK everyone, the party is over. I am henceforth going back to being a teetotaler! Despite purporting to “not drink,” I’ve found that I’ve been imbibing far too often over the last eight months. In addition to compromising my health, this in turn has lead to some severe bouts with depression and existential angst. Therefore, in an effort to reclaim that “on top of the world” feeling that I had at the end of 2017, I am hereby commiting to no longer drinking. To honor this decision, I decided to have to have one final alcoholic beverage. Of course, for such a celebration, what else would do but my favorite craft beer from my beloved Kawagoe? Now I am sure I’m going to catch a lot of flack from my friends (especially here in the comment) for going back to so-called “monk mode” but such is life. Should you guys feel the need to buy me a drink when we’re out, I’ll take a coffee instead (or tea if that isn’t an option). Here’s to officially getting back on the wagon!

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