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.

Yamanashi is a prefecture that is home to the likes of both Mt. Fuji and Kawaguchiko. As such, it has a fair bit of recognition overseas. That said, other than these two popular destinations, many of Yamanashi’s other allures are all but missing from the digital map. Luckily though, the local tourism organization is aware of the issue and is working hard to remedy the situation. Quite frankly, their proactive approach and openness to change is a real breath of fresh air in what can often be a stagnant and stuck up industry. Presently, Yamanashi is putting together a number of exciting tours that solve for its glaring awareness and connectivity issues. To be frank, I couldn’t be more impressed with what they are trying to do. If you’re interested in learning more about what the Yamanashi Tourism Organization has come up with, check out either of the two “Hidden Yamanashi” articles that I’ve published on my blog!

Happy thoughts…
I’m trying to think happy thoughts. In the flash of an eye, I went from having the time of my life on a four day trek across Okayama prefecture to having a broken collarbone and elbow. To be honest the entire situation is overwhelming and I’m only making it through thanks to the greatly appreciated support of those close to me. Needless to say, I’m going to be out of the game for a while. Hopefully following the surgery to fix my collarbone, I’ll be able to get back to things as usual.

I bet that a lot of you didn’t know that all of this Japan travel stuff is nothing but passion project on the side for me. It’s how I get my meaning and purpose in life. My main line of work is actually in PR and digital marketing. Alongside these other idiots pictured here, I’ve helped many multinational clients navigate the challenges of the local Japanese market. While the agency life isn’t as sexy as being a travel blogger who is always on the go, I have a privileged position as one of the only foreigners ever to be this deeply involved in marketing in Japan.
📷 Photo Credit: My Trusty iPhone

While spring and summer are by far the most popular seasons to visit Japan, I’m much more partial to autumn myself. Not only are temperatures a lot more bearable but the entire country also comes alive with vibrant hues as the foliage begins to turn. As anyone who follows my Instagram stories already knows, I spent the past weekend traversing Aomori prefecture and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. While I know that work and school schedules often get in the way of fall vacations, if you have the chance to visit in October or November, I cannot more highly recommend it.
📷 Photo Credit: Me

Getting off the beaten path need not just mean exploring mossy forest and obscure destinations. There’s a temporal component to it too. For example, I’d never in a million years tell someone visiting Kyoto to skip Fushimi Inari Taisha. But, if you want to get a shot like this that’s devoid of people, you’re going to need to visit either VERY early or VERY late to avoid the hordes of tourists. Most temples open as early as 8 AM and many shrines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Keep this in mind when planning your trip as things feel a hell of a lot more authentic when they aren’t spoiled by bus loads of tourists.
📷 Photo Credit: Amthinkin

OK, can we chat for a second about Aokigahara? Unfortunately, thanks to the likes of Logan Paul and a VICE documentary, this place of natural wonder has been stigmatized as the so-called “Suicide Forest” overseas. While it is certainly true that some people choose to end their lives here, the “Sea of Trees” (as it’s known in Japanese) is also a place of wonder and beauty. The jagged landscape was shaped by one of Mt. Fuji’s violent eruptions in the year 864. Thereafter, the mangled wood that is Aokigahara miraculously found a way to grow out of the harden lava. The gnarled forest quite literally feels as if it were ripped right from the pages of a fantasy novel like Lord of the Rings. From a collection of caves that were formed in the eruption to the tranquil “Sea of Trees” itself, Aokigahara is so much more than what it’s grim reputation overseas would have you believe. If you’re interested in nature or the outdoors, I cannot more highly recommend a visit! The forest is by no means scary and Aokigahara’s utter deafening silence is a much needed reprieve from the hyper connected modern world.
📷 Photo Credit: ae0816146146

Getting off the beaten path need not be limited to just visiting historic buildings and mossy forests. In fact, Japan’s urban environments are home to plenty of amazing hidden gems too. Take for instance this picturesque collection of factories in Mie prefecture. Located in an area known as Yokkaichi, this industrial zone looks like it was ripped right from the pages of Final Fantasy VII or something. I’d wager that a tour of the complex at night by boat is easily able to satisfy the even the most hardcore of cyberpunk enthusiasts. 📷 Photo Credit: Sean Pavone
#Mie #Yokkaichi #VisitMie #VisitmieSupporter2018 #GoCentralJapan

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
#Travel #Traveler #Traveling #Travelholic #TravelGuide #TravelPhotography #Travelgram #TravelBlog #TravelBlogger #TravelBug #TravelPhoto #TravelPic #Trip #Adventure #Wanderlust #Backpacking #BucketList #HiddenGem #OffTheBeatenPath #OffTheBeatenTrack #History #Culture #TravelAsia #Japan #Japanese #TravelTips #Stairs #Kunisaki #Oita

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
#Travel #Traveler #Traveling #Travelholic #TravelGuide #TravelPhotography #Travelgram #TravelBlog #TravelBlogger #TravelBug #TravelPhoto #TravelPic #Trip #Adventure #Wanderlust #Backpacking #BucketList #HiddenGem #OffTheBeatenPath #OffTheBeatenTrack #History #Culture #TravelAsia #Japan #Japanese #GoCentralJapan #Nagano #Matsumoto #MatsumotoCastle

📲 SWIPE FOR MORE PICS 📲
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!

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