2015 is a good year to stay in Japan

Good morning everyone,

The stretch of nice weather has come to an end and for the next two days we can expect to see some rain. It may not start till later today and then it:ll rain overnight and off and on again tomorrow. Friday will be mostly cloudy with sunny periods and then it'll clear up by the weekend. It's looking like the beginning of next week will be warm-they're calling for Tuesday to see a high of 15C...I'll believe it when I see it.

With the yen having lost about 15% of its value in the past year, it might be a good idea to do your travelling in Japan in 2015. And I've got some ideas to help you...

・Tokyo, Jan 25


You’ll have to hurry if you want to make this, but if you are in Tokyo on Jan 25, the place to be is  the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium. Yokozuna Hakuho is set to shatter all previous records by winning his 33rd Emperor’s Cup. The Mongolian-born wrestler is currently undefeated in this tourney and favored to take the prize. Of course, if by some chance he doesn’t become the all-time-winningest sumo wrestler this time around, you could make the next tournament in Osaka for the rematch.

・Himeji, March 27


Unlike most of the castles in Japan, 14th-century Himeji Castle has never been razed by fire, war or earthquake, making it the finest surviving example of feudal architecture. Renovation work has been ongoing since 2010, but the castle is set to completely reopen on March 27, with the walls and roof returned to the sterling white that gave the building its nickname of Heron Castle.

・Echigo-Tsumari, Niigata, July 26-Sept 13


With the aging population and urban migration, many small towns in Japan are battling for survival. The Echigo-Tsumari region of Niigata has taken a rather unique approach: become a center for the arts by hosting modern art festivals and dotting the 760-square-kilometer landscape with permanent installations. The area is now home to hundreds of pieces that can be found both in towns and in unlikely spots out in the countryside. Once every three years, a major festival is held in the summer, bringing artists from around Japan and all over the world to create and perform, and if you make your way there this year, you can be a part of it too.

・Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Aug 6 and 9


This year marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both cities have various programs and events planned throughout the year, with the August 6 ceremony held at the Hiroshima Peace Park as the centerpiece, and many civic groups and individuals are planning events of their own. Unfortunately, renovations on the Peace Park are not scheduled to be completed until 2018, but most of the museum and related buildings will still be open to the public.

・Koya-san, all year


As the home of Shingon Buddhism, Mount Koya in Wakayama is considered one of the most sacred sites in Japan. The secluded mountain town is home to hundreds of temples, including Kongobuji, the sect’s head temple, and as the beginning and end of the 88-temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, it has always featured prominently in local tourism. This year, which marks the 1200th anniversary of the founding of Shingon Buddhism, the area is going to draw even more crowds for events marking the milestone, including a 50-day memorial ceremony for the sect’s founder from April 2 to May 21.

Which of these looks the most tempting for you? For me, the only two places I haven't been to are the outdoor art show in Niigata and Kongobuji. I'm not that into art, so probably Mount Koya...

Have a great day!

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