Into the Heart of Ancient Japan: A Journey to Kyoto and Shikoku
Last year I wrote an article for National Geographic Traveler magazine about one of my favorite places in the world: Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four principal islands, located in the Inland Sea between Kyushu and the main island of Honshu. In that article I wrote: "I fell in love with Shikoku in the 1970s, on a visit with my then girlfriend, Kuniko, who brought me to her family home here from the university in Tokyo, where we were both living. On that trip I discovered a Japan I hadn’t known existed: A place of farms and fishing villages, mountainside shrines and seaside temples, rugged seacoasts and forested hills, time-honored traditions and country kindness."
Since that first visit, Kuniko has become my wife, and Shikoku has become my adopted homeland. We have returned more than a dozen times, and astonishingly, Shikoku remains just as I found it more than three decades ago. That's why I'm extremely excited to be leading a small group for GeoEx there this spring, when the cherry blossoms should be in glorious bloom. We'll be venturing along the tranquil coast through traditional fishing villages and deep into the verdant valleys of Iya, where we'll soak in an outdoor hot spring and stay in a beautifully restored 300-year-old thatched roof farmhouse; we'll also trace part of the island's venerable pilgrimage circuit of 88 temples. And we'll begin our trip exploring the back-alley bounties of Kyoto, with visits to tiny temples and craft shops that embody the essence of Japan's cultural capital.
You can read more about Shikoku in my National Geographic Traveler article.
And you can read more about the GeoEx trip in Journey to Ancient Japan.