By some measures, Japan is the snowiest place on earth, and winter in areas such as the Tohoku region north of Tokyo add to that rep. The Zaosan (蔵王山) mountains, on the border between Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures, for example, gets around 12 metres dumped on its forested slopes each season. That’s a far cry from the 40-metre (120-plus feet) epic blanket that smothers the Japanese Alps around Nagano each year (there’s a reason houses in the countryside traditionally have a second front door, upstairs), but still more than enough to transform this range of stratovolcanoes, crater lakes, and subalpine fir trees into a magical fantastical winter wonderland each year…
Cool beans! Not exactly sure how to take this – ‘though the expression “with a grain of salt” jumps to mind – but apparently I have earned “suggested writer” status in the Travel section on Medium.com.
I’m genuinely flattered, and it makes me want to sit down and write more essays and stories and publish them online, though to be honest I’m not sure what, exactly, it means to be a suggested writer. Is it a decision made by a cabal of wise gnomes at Medium.com, or is it some less-personal, more automated process, an algorithmic accretion of views/reads/recommends?
In either case, I’ll put aside the salt for a moment, as well as the self-deprecating humour, and take the credit gracefully and gratefully.
A photographer-friendly, photogenic site half-hidden in rural Japan.
We were on an overnight staycation in the mountains of Gunma prefecture, a couple of hours’ drive north of Tokyo. Kayabuki no Sato Yakushi Onsen Hatago is a traditional ryokan onsen hot spring inn half hidden on the shore of the Nurukawa River in a remote river valley.
The short version:
I’ve posted about Golden Gai many times on forums and even written an introductory guide to “Tokyo’s worst-kept secret,” a cluster of dive bars near Shinjuku’s notorious nightlife district where hipster travellers and in-the-know locals mix and mingle and together enjoy a unique Tokyo experience.
In 15 years of exploring Golden Gai’s narrow streets and cluttered bars, I’ve never really felt threatened, even when out all night, alone and killing time ‘til first train…
Until last night, Thursday Tokyo time. For the first time that I’ve seen, some of the touts from the dodgy nightclubs in the surrounding Kabukicho red light district are now in Golden Gai itself. One guy, in particular, chatted up patrons at the landmark Champions bar near Golden Gai’s unofficial entrance. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t take NO as an answer from me, and actually followed me right into Champions bar and wouldn’t leave until he thought I was calling the cops. When he did leave, it was with a threat that “he’d be waiting for me” outside Golden Gai.
Lousy way to end the night.
A one-off, rogue tout, or the beginning of a new and unwelcome phase in Golden Gai’s growing popularity? We shall see…