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Month: August 2012

The roads from Sado – Day 11

The roads from Sado – Day 11

Even after leaving Nikko I was still going downhill, and the road to Utsunomiya was an unexpected treat. Route 119 is known as Nikko Suginamiki (日光杉並木 / Nikko Cedar Avenue), and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest tree-lined thoroughfare in the world. Way back in 1625, a local bigwig called Masatsuna Matsudaira began planting cedar here, and there are now more than 12,000 over the course of thirty-five kilometres. The only downside to its 400-year…

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Obon お盆

Obon お盆

The obon festival happens in mid-August, when most people take two or three days off work to return to their hometown and – more importantly – to pay homage to their ancestors at the family grave. Practically speaking, this usually means many hours stuck in an expressway traffic jam, followed by a day or two of over-eating and allowing the grandparents to spoil the grandchildren rotten, followed by many more hours stuck in an expressway traffic jam (some of this…

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Hay fever 花粉症

Hay fever 花粉症

It may seem a little strange given the fact that it was snowing the other day, but a lot of people are already suffering from hay fever, a condition that until a few decades ago was practically unheard of in Japan. Rather than summer grass pollen – which turns my nose into the physical equivalent of a bath tap with a broken washer when I’m in the UK – the problem here is spring tree pollen, specifically sugi (杉 /…

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