Travel 

Local's Guide to Tokyo - National Geographic Traveler

Local's Guide to Tokyo - National Geographic Traveler

"Cliches: portrayals of Tokyo are riddled with them, frequently restricted to the ultra-traditional and the absolute new, with the occasional bit of Japanese quirkiness thrown in for extra color. Admittedly, Japan's capital—as one cliché goes—does have its contrasts and contradictions. In places, skyscrapers do cast a shadow over historic gardens. That kind of mishmash of old and new is one of the city's endearing qualities. It's just that the Tokyo I live in has so much more to it than that. There are multiple layers between the extremes..."
The Sumo Bulls of the Oki Islands - Roads & Kingdoms

The Sumo Bulls of the Oki Islands - Roads & Kingdoms

"It’s 10 a.m. and the sake glasses are full. Hiroho Kadowaki—the head of the family—is at one end of the low dining table, trying to reel in a grandson crawling across the tatami in pursuit of a toy car. He keeps the toast brief. 'Let’s have fun. Let’s be safe.' With a kampai, or cheers, Kadowaki-san and the dozen other men sitting around the table—brothers, uncles, sons—raise glasses. Dogo Island’s autumn bull sumo tournament is about to get underway..."
Kyoto City Guide - Time Magazine

Kyoto City Guide - Time Magazine

"Japan's capital for over 1,000 years, Kyoto remains awash with remnants of its past glory. The city's stunning collection of UNESCO World Heritage sites alone would be enough to set it apart, but Kyoto also boasts a still-working geisha district, some of Japan's most exquisite cuisine, and a whole lot of Zen. Not that it's all temples and tradition: the city also hosts its share of hip cafes and modern art. Think of it as the cultural yin to Tokyo's yang, but with a sprinkling of modernity..."
Niigata Trinity - Korean Air's Morning Calm magazine

Niigata Trinity - Korean Air's Morning Calm magazine

"As the bullet train works its way north from Tokyo, the capital’s high rise gradually gives way to a suburban sprawl increasingly punctuated by rural pockets of green. Then mountain ranges emerge on the horizon, and but for the occasional blurred town civilization begins to give way to vast swathes of farmland. You are only a couple of hours from one of the world’s largest cities, but the transformation when you reach Niigata prefecture is pronounced. Ask someone Japanese what comes to mind when they think of Niigata and the answers will almost always be the same, the Niigata trinity: rice, sake, and snow. The farmland you see from the train window produces some of Japan’s best rice, high-grade varieties for eating like Koshihikari, plus others designed for making sake (or nihonshu, to use the more common Japanese term for it), while the region’s snow and snowmelt is said to account for Niigata’s fine water quality, which in turn helps the prefecture’s nearly 100 sake breweries produce a tipple that’s considered crisper and dryer than other parts of Japan, and with subtler aromas and flavors..."
Tokyo Travel Guide -  National Geographic Traveler

Tokyo Travel Guide - National Geographic Traveler

"Tokyo can feel energetic one moment and calm the next, green then gray, forward-thinking then stubbornly old-fashioned. Harajuku is youthful. Neighboring Omotesando is chic. The Izu Islands are sedate. Like a Noh actor, the city wears many masks, each bringing a new dynamic to the stage..."
The Night Train to Izumo - Japan Visitor

The Night Train to Izumo - Japan Visitor

"It's 10.20 at night and I'm on my back, in underpants and a tee shirt, watching commuters wait in line at Yokohama Station. Ordinarily, that should draw looks of horror, possibly the attention of the police, but not tonight. Between me and the breath clouds dissipating above the platform, the station is briefly framed by the rectangular window of my sleeper compartment, before the Sunrise continues into the night..."
A Hike in Tanzawa - ACCJ Journal

A Hike in Tanzawa - ACCJ Journal

"As dawn approaches atop Tonodake (Mount To), a chill wind whips over the exposed peak. Off to the west, Mount Fuji begins to emerge as the darkness that cups the peaks of the Tanzawa range fades to a fleeting purple hue before the rising sun changes the sky to a more familiar hazy orange. The night before, tired from two days of hiking through 35-degree heat, I grudgingly agreed to be woken early to catch the sunrise. Right now, watching Fuji’s symmetrical peak piercing a slow-flowing mass of creamy cloud, I’d have happily hiked a week for this. The man who woke me, Wada-san, stands beside me sharing the view. Short and lithe, and with skin weathered from living almost half of each year in Tonodake’s creaking wooden mountain hut, he’s wearing an expression of contentment that wouldn’t look out of place on a statue of Buddha. “It’s beautiful, isn’t?” he says. “I’m glad you got to see it like this.” I nearly didn’t..." Please click "view more" to read the story.

Food & Drink

Green Heat - Morning Calm

Green Heat - Morning Calm

"Tracing the River Abe northward out of central Shizuoka City, it’s only a 15-minute drive before urban Shizuoka is replaced by ever-heightening hills that offer glimpses at many of this part of Japan’s culinary specialties. Small mikan groves give an orange accent to the greenery. Steep, wooded slopes are punctuated by terraced rows of green-leafed tea bushes. And if you turn off the highway, following narrow curving roads deep into the hills, you’ll come across leafy patches of wasabi..."
The Last Days of Tsukiji - DestinAsian

The Last Days of Tsukiji - DestinAsian

"Tsukiji Market in Tokyo just after 5 am. Outside, a rainy season downpour briefly cuts through the humidity. Inside, there’s an air-conditioned chill in the fresh tuna auction hall as an army of wholesalers move between the rows of tuna lining the auction floor, trying to evaluate the day’s catch. They do it with barely a touch; just a hook in the gills to gently tilt the tuna so they can shine a torch into the ice-packed slit in its belly; a study of the exposed flesh where the tail has been removed; a scan of the yellow and orange paper tags on the skin that indicate the tuna’s weight, lot number and where it was caught. At 5:30 am sharp, hand bells start ringing, drawing the wholesalers into clusters around auctioneers who rap out a breathless string of calls that even to Japanese speakers are incomprehensible. A few hand gestures in return from the huddle and a tuna is sold. Occasionally a bow is exchanged. Or a casual nod..."
A Jolt of Tokyo - National Geographic Traveler

A Jolt of Tokyo - National Geographic Traveler

Where to dine and drink in the plush Aoyama and Omotesando neighborhoods of Japan's capital. For a special luxury issue of National Geographic Traveler.
Takamatsu's Sweet Tradition - Find Shikoku

Takamatsu's Sweet Tradition - Find Shikoku

"Walking into Yoshihiro Ichihara’s workshop in downtown Takamatsu, your senses are immediately struck by the delicate, almost sweet scent of freshly worked wood. Then your eyes take over. Chisels large and small litter the main workbench where Mr. Ichihara sits, in jeans and a checked shirt, carving the initial outline of a maple leaf into a small rectangular slab of wood. On a bench behind him are several small machines; a mix of fixed drills, sanders and lathes. Another is home to a small collection of hard-looking, bite-sized pink and white sweets, some shaped like flower heads, others depicting the faces of cartoon-like characters. Even in a nation renowned for the breadth, depth and quality of its traditional artisans as Japan, Mr. Ichihara is a rarity. The septuagenarian is the last person in Western Japan handcrafting the wooden molds (called kashikigata) used to make a type of sugary sweet called wasanbon, a traditional accompaniment to green tea that shares its name with the fine-grained sugar used to make it..."
Sake, Dogs, Community

Sake, Dogs, Community

"With a sudden tug, Henry sends a slug of sake over my hand. Blame it on the toy poodle in the distance. Or me for trying to hold a one-cup sake with his lead wrapped around my drinking hand. In fairness, it wouldn’t be a one-cup if I didn’t spill a bit. The pull-tab lids take just enough of a yank to frequently cause a mishap. A damp patch on your jeans. A boozy trickle down the arm. All common place for a one-cup drinker. For Henry—a black shiba—and me, a sake spillage is part of our routine. A couple of nights a week, we forego a walk around the park or pee-punctuated run along the riverbank for a bench and a brew outside our local convenience store. Tokyoites can be standoffish, but just as a drink can bring down barriers, so too can a dog. Combining the two has become a way to connect with other people who call my neighbourhood home. On this night, the socializing begins with a familiar face. A familiar set of teeth gnarling at all and sundry. Kenta-kun, a fluffy tan shiba. He comes by and growls incessantly while his mum chats with me and Henry. We talk about how early both the dogs seem be waking up of late—Henry wanted a lick at 4:15 yesterday, Kenta-kun was pulling off his mum’s bedding at 5. Occasionally, she turns to Kenta-kun and scolds him for being grumpy – the kind of soft, but rising intonation that has no effect. “Aren’t you going to play with Henry? He’s your friend,” she says at one point. I get the feeling Kenta-kun doesn’t do friendship..."

Other Features & Projects

Tokyo by Design - Omega Lifetime

Tokyo by Design - Omega Lifetime

A 3,500-word feature from June 2016 covering contemporary design and style in Tokyo for OMEGA LIfetime magazine. Shortlisted for a 2016 NATJA Award for Best Destination Feature.
Central Japan's Nostalgic Route - Reuters

Central Japan's Nostalgic Route - Reuters

A web project with Reuters where we created a standalone site covering the Shoryudo route that winds through Mie, Aichi, Gifu, and Nagano prefectures in central Japan.
The Running Shoe Takumi - Lexus

The Running Shoe Takumi - Lexus

An interview with running shoe designer Hitoshi Mimura - the man who fashioned shoes for several Olympic marathon champions - for Lexus Magazine.
Tokyo: Modern, Tradition - Economist 1843

Tokyo: Modern, Tradition - Economist 1843

Eight pieces for the Economist 1843 looking at various cultural aspects of Tokyo, from Edo-kiriko glassware production and jazz to zazen meditation and martial arts.
Raising Bilingual - iNTOUCH

Raising Bilingual - iNTOUCH

A feature on the different approaches to raising kids to be bilingual.

Books (as author)

Japanese Inns & Hot Springs

Japanese Inns & Hot Springs

A look at centuries of finely honed ryokan hospitality and tradition, focusing in on 40 of Japan's finest traditional inns, from the historic Hiiragiya in Kyoto to the contemporary Zaborin in Niseko. Tuttle Publishing, 2017. Co-authored with photographer Akihiko Seki.
Japan Traveler's Companion

Japan Traveler's Companion

A photo-heavy follow-up to the award-winning Capital of Cool. Tuttle Publishing, 2017.
Travel Pack Kyoto & Nara

Travel Pack Kyoto & Nara

A guidebook that looks at the best sights and experiences in Japan's two ancient capitals - Kyoto and Nara. Tuttle Publishing, 2016.
Tokyo: Capital of Cool

Tokyo: Capital of Cool

An alternative, photo-heavy guide to Toyko. Tuttle Publishing, 2015. Winner of the Silver award in travel book category at the 2015 NATJA Awards.
Travel Pack Tokyo

Travel Pack Tokyo

A follow up to the NATJA Award-winning Travel Pack Japan. Tuttle Publishing, 2014.
Red to White

Red to White

A short collection of haiku and senryu published in 2014
Travel Pack Japan

Travel Pack Japan

A guide to the best of Japan, from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa down south. Gold Award winner at the 2013 North American Travel Journalists Awards. Tuttle Publishing, 2013.