Destination: Kyushu

With summer quickly approaching, why not try a destination off the beaten path of Tokyo-Kyoto for your next trip? Although it takes some time to get there, the island of Kyushu has a lot to offer: gorgeous natural scenery, delicious foods, and activities to satisfy anyone’s interests. Whether you aim to soak in an onsen, learn more about Japan’s history, or go out on the town (or a combination of the three), you can do so on Kyushu.

Eight prefectures make up Kyushu, seven of which are on the mainland; the eighth, Okinawa Prefecture, encompasses hundreds of islands south of Japan’s major landmass. Since Okinawa is a destination in and of itself, I will leave it out of my travel advice for this column—besides, I haven’t been there yet! (Neither have I had the chance to travel to Saga or Miyazaki Prefectures, so I will leave them out, too. If you have recommendations for any destinations in Kyushu, feel free to comment below!)

The most convenient way to access Kyushu from Ishikawa Prefecture is by plane. Regular ANA flights connect Komatsu Airport with Fukuoka Airport, where you can disembark and travel downtown within six minutes by subway. Flight times average about an hour and twenty minutes, with prices depending on the season and booking times. If you wish to fly directly into any other prefectures on mainland Kyushu, you will have to travel to Osaka to do so. Taking the train is another option; it’s a two-and-a-half-hour trip by shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Hakata Station in Fukuoka (about ¥15000 one-way).

The weather in Kyushu is most favorable during fall and spring, with average temperatures slightly warmer than those on Honshu. In the summer, temperatures can rise to over 30°C with high humidity and rain. Winters are cool to cold, with lows in the single digits. Be sure to bring your rain gear, regardless of the season!

Fukuoka: Fukuoka Prefecture’s capital city, also called Fukuoka, is the largest city in Kyushu and a convenient launch point for trips around the island. The Sanyo and Kyushu shinkansen lines converge at Hakata Station in Fukuoka, and flights to Miyazaki Prefecture and Yakushima leave regularly from Fukuoka Airport. For a night in Fukuoka, I suggest fueling up with a bowl of the region’s famous tonkotsu ramen from Fukuoka’s yatai (food stalls), then walking along the Nakagawa River to see the city light up at night. From the riverbank you can easily venture into the Nakasu or Tenjin entertainment districts lining the east and west side of the river, respectively. For those wishing to travel to Fukuoka over the summer, the city’s oldest festival, Yamakasa, takes place in early July. The festival centers around a series of races run by groups of male representatives from Fukuoka’s seven districts…while carrying enormously heavy kazariyama floats.

Nagasaki: Nagasaki is an infamous name for many: the prefectural capital was the second and (so far) the last city in the world to experience an attack by nuclear bomb. The Fat Man plutonium bomb detonated over Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945. The city as it stands today is a testament to the extraordinary capacity of the Japanese people to overcome adversity and rebuild. Naturally, many places of interest in Nagasaki City reference this horrific historical event. The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb museum features a collection of fascinating and sobering photographs, survivor accounts, and other mementos from the bombing. Nagasaki Peace Park displays a number of sculptures and monuments donated to Nagasaki after the bombing as well as a huge statue of a titanic male figure, one hand pointing to the sky to warn of the impending blast.

Peace Statue, Nagasaki Peace Park

Peace Statue, Nagasaki Peace Park, Nagasaki-ken

Nagasaki has much to offer in the way of history outside the realm of World War II as well. Nagasaki Port was one of the only ports open to international trade during sakoku, Japan’s period of “closed country” foreign policy. As a result of Dutch traders’ influence during this time, the Japanese were introduced to badminton, coffee, and photography, among other Western products and inventions. Since 1996, Nagasaki City has endeavored to restore the artificial island of Dejima, which served as a trading post for the Dutch from the 17th to the 19th century. Nagasaki’s expansive Chinatown district lies adjacent to Dejima, if you’re hankering for some Chinese food.

The expanse of the city and Nagasaki Port is perhaps best viewed from Glover Garden, the site of the oldest surviving western-style house in Japan. Completed in 1863, the house and its surrounding gardens were owned by the Scottish merchant Thomas Blake Glover. Both the house and garden escaped the atomic bombing unharmed. The garden is especially beautiful during sakura season.

Glover Garden, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken

Glover Garden, Nagasaki, Nagasaki-ken

Lastly, you can visit Hashima, nicknamed “Gunkanjima,” an abandoned island off the coast of Nagasaki and a relic of industrial Japan (not to be confused with Mitsukejima here in Ishikawa, also called “Gunkanjima.” The nickname means “Battle Ship Island” due to the shape of the islands). Gunkanjima functioned as a coal mine until 1974, when petroleum began to overtake coal as an energy source in Japan. The coal mine shut down and the residents of the island abandoned their large concrete apartment buildings, schools, shops, and public bath house, leaving the buildings entirely intact. Subsequent exposure to the elements has transformed Gunkanjima’s structures into an eerie concrete jungle, said to have inspired the lair of Bond villain Raoul Silva in the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall. For many years the island was closed to visitors and visible only from tour boats that circled the island; as of 2009 visitors can set foot on and tour Gunkanjima. Gunkanjima makes the perfect setting for post-apocalyptic photo shoots and is accessible via 30-minute ferry ride.

Kumamoto: If you think Kumamon, Kumamoto’s prefectural mascot, is prevalent outside of Kyushu, just wait until you get to his birthplace. You can buy pretty much anything with Kumamon’s likeness on it here, including Kumamon panties.

Although the name Kumamoto translates as “origin of bears,” the region is perhaps more famous for its horses: Kumamoto is renowned for basashi, raw horse meat, first consumed when real-life “Last Samurai” Saigo Takamori commanded his starving troops to butcher their horses for food during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. Sometime between the late 19th century and the present day, raw horse became an exalted prefectural delicacy. Ba-yu, a line of bath products containing “the natural ingredient horse oil,” is also popular here. Extract of horse, according to one bottle’s label, is said to be “even better for your hair than mutton fat!”

Kumamoto’s most popular tourist destination is Kumamoto Castle, the site of the aforementioned campaign of Saigo Takamori against Meiji government troops, who entrenched themselves within the castle walls. The castle is considered one of the mightiest and most historically significant castles in Japan for its survival during this time. Another majestic sight, albeit of a different kind, is the volatile Mt. Aso volcano which rests within the world’s largest volcanic caldera. Although certainly out of the way, Mt. Aso is worth a visit. Depending on the season, you can walk, take a bus, or ride in a cable car up to the top of the mountain and look directly into the active crater (although if you have asthma or other breathing problems I would not recommend exposing yourself to volcanic fumes). The eerie, almost Martian landscape surrounding the volcanic crater makes for great hiking, and you can view the expanse of the surrounding caldera from the crater’s highest points.

The active crater of Mt. Aso

The active crater of Mt. Aso, Kumamoto-ken

Oita: Oita Prefecture is the site of some of Kyushu’s most famous onsen resort towns. In Beppu, pungent sulphuric steam rises from vents in the earth every few yards and from the flues of those fortunate enough to have personal hot-spring baths in their own homes. The streets are lined with stands selling corn, sweet potatoes, and eggs steamed in the hot spring vents. The city’s hot spring facilities are numerous and usually charge about ¥1000 to ¥2000 for entry, depending on whether it’s a weekend or weekday. Apart from the onsen, Beppu’s most prominent attractions are the so-called “Hells,” eight geothermic hotspots including vibrantly colored pools of hot water and a geyser. The Hells, considered viewpoints of scenic beauty, have unfortunately become quite touristy—you have to pay admission at each of the Hells separately and you often have to walk through a gift shop in order to see the Hell itself. Furthermore, many kitschy sites have sprung up around the Hells to draw visitors, and a few of them (a gloomy zoo and a crocodile exhibit) keep their featured animals in pretty appalling conditions. My advice is to visit only one or two of the hells and save your money. The Sea Hell (Umijigoku), is striking and features a spacious walking area to boot.

Umijigoku, Beppu, Oita-ken

Umijigoku, Beppu, Oita-ken

Just 10 kilometers inland from Beppu lies the trendy and scenic onsen resort district of Yufuin, said to be the most famous hot spring resort town in Kyushu. Yufuin offers a peaceful, secluded atmosphere, cute boutiques, and museums in addition to hot springs. Some of the rotenburo (open-air baths) here include a lovely view of Mt. Yufu.

Kagoshima: Kagoshima is the southernmost prefecture of Japan’s main islands. I have had the opportunity to visit this wonderful place three times through a sister-city-like connection with my hometown, so of all the places in Kyuushu, I know this one the best. In the prefectural capital of Kagoshima, I recommend the aquarium, which has a large host of fish as well as exhibits featuring the local fauna of Kagoshima Bay. (And who doesn’t enjoy hearing Japanese visitors exclaim “Oishisou!” when observing aquatic exhibits?) Within the city you can also sample kurobuta, specialty pork from black pigs, and other regional delicacies: sweet potatoes, daikon radishes, tiny tangerines, and shochu, liquor distilled from sweet potatoes. For an unparalleled view of the city, ride the Amuran Ferris Wheel on top of the Amu Plaza shopping center or bathe in the rotenburo at Shiroyama Kanko Hotel for an admission fee of about ¥1350.

Kagoshima City faces another one of Kyushu’s stunning active volcanoes, Sakurajima, which frequently belches ash and soot from its main crater. Although living within proximity of an active volcano is certainly dangerous, people in Kagoshima seem to take it in their stride. It’s not uncommon to see the citizens of Kagoshima sweeping soot from their storefronts and wearing masks to prevent the inhalation of the fine gray ash that occasionally descends on the city. About 20,000 people even live on the volcanic island of Sakurajima, and you can pay a visit yourself by taking a trip on one of the regular ferries from Kagoshima Port. On the island, you can rent bicycles and visit Sakurajima’s volcanic museum, hot spring foot baths, an ancient stone torii gate buried in volcanic ash from the volcano’s major eruption in 1914, and a volcanic observatory with a view of Kagoshima City across the bay.

Sakurajima, Kagoshima, Kagoshima-ken

Sakurajima mid-eruption, Kagoshima, Kagoshima-ken

If you’re looking to spend some time on the beach, travel an hour south of the main city along the Satsuma Peninsula to Ibusuki. Underground geysers heat Ibusuki’s black beaches, and burying oneself in the hot sand is said to promote blood circulation (it definitely promotes perspiration). Also worth visiting in Ibusuki is the Flower Park, a botanical garden with over 400 varieties of plants, some of which are downright alien in appearance. A hike to the top of the garden yields an awesome view of Kagoshima Bay. Lastly, be sure to try some nagashi somen, Ibusuki’s famous “swimming noodles.”

One of the craziest flowers I've ever seen, Ibusuki Flower Park, Kagoshima-ken

One of the craziest flowers I’ve ever seen, Ibusuki Flower Park, Kagoshima-ken


View from the top of Ibusuki Flower Park, Kagoshima-ken

Kagoshima Bonus: Yakushima About 3 hours south of Kagoshima by ferry, Yakushima is an absolutely gorgeous subtropical island forested with ancient cedar trees. The island is accessible by two types of ferry: a fast but expensive Jetfoil that leaves seven times a day (two and a half hours, ¥13000 round trip) or a slow but cheap car ferry departing twice a day (four hours, ¥7900 round trip). Driving the circumference of Yakushima, it seems there is a breathtaking view around every bend. After visiting the island in November, I can assure you it is a must see, as long as you fulfill these conditions:

1) Rent a car. One main road encircles the island, with smaller interior roads. It is easy to drive on Yakushima and worth it to rent a car to avoid having to wait for infrequent buses. Scooters are also available for rent, but if you have substantial luggage you’d do better to rent an enclosed vehicle to keep your belongings out of the rain; the cost is almost the same as that of a scooter if you split the cost between multiple travelers. One of the best ways to see the island is to drive the entire length of the main road, which takes only a few hours depending on how frequently you stop to take pictures.

And who wouldn't want to take pictures with views like this? Yakushima, Kagoshima-ken

And who wouldn’t want to take pictures with views like this? Yakushima, Kagoshima-ken

2) If you don’t speak Japanese well, travel with someone who does. I encountered few English speakers on Yakushima, and renting the car in particular required comprehension of Japanese. The elderly gentleman with whom I negotiated had such a strong accent, it was hard to comprehend if he was even speaking Japanese.

3) Although certainly not necessary, I recommend that you travel to Yakushima during the off season. It makes you feel as though you have the whole island to yourself, and you may even be the only guests in your whole hostel (as my travel buddy and I were!).

Shiratani Unsuikyo, Yakushima, Kagoshima-ken

Shiratani Unsuikyo, Yakushima, Kagoshima-ken

4) Bring a raincoat and rain gear. It rains a lot on Yakushima, but don’t let that stop you from exploring the extraordinary natural beauty this island has to offer.

Have any additional tips for destinations, lodging, or restaurants in Kyushu? Add your comments below!

Close acquaintances have described Karin as “a loose cannon cop on the edge who doesn’t play by the rules.” When not on the run from bounty hunters, she enjoys listening to public radio, ice cream, and ambitious cooking projects.

Know Your Holiday: Showa Day

If you’re like me, you’ve picked up one of those treasured red-numbered days on your radar and are ready for a day off next week.  That means it’s time for another installment of Know Your Holiday!  This time, we’ll talk about Tuesday, April 29th 2014 - Showa Day.


Emperor Showa (Hirohito), the namesake of Showa Day.

Historically, April 29th was celebrated as the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, the previous emperor and father of today’s Emperor Akihito.  Emperor Hirohito reigned from 1926 to his death in 1989.  After his death, the day was renamed Greenery Day, a nod to Hirohito’s love for plants and nature.

A parliamentary vote in 2007 renamed it from Greenery Day to Showa Day — he was posthumously renamed “Showa,” which translates to “enlightened peace” – and moved Greenery Day to May 4th.  This change-up raised some eyebrows and indignation among Japan’s neighbors, including the Koreas and China, since Hirohito was the emperor during Japan’s brutal militaristic years.  However, some point out that he was also the emperor during Japan’s unprecedented post-war economic growth, and that he made a lasting effort to promote peace in the wake of World War II.

These days, Showa Day is a time of national reflection on both the tumultuous reign of Emperor Showa, as well as contemplation on the future of the country.  Though some places hold parades or street dances, the most popular activity is to visit a shrine to pray.

Miyabi-tei Udon – Nanao Restaurant Review




Quick Facts

Ro−19−8 Shinmeichō, Nanao
Across from Nanao City Hall
Find it on Google Maps

☎ 767-52-0218

Hours: open until 20:00

Website (Japanese)

Nanao Community Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5 stars

手打うどん雅亭What’s on the Menu: Noodles: udon and soba made with a variety of different vegetable, seafood, and pork combinations. The soups come in large bowls that fill you up for a reasonable price. The menu is in kanji, and doesn’t have pictures. I suggest the nikuudon (meat udon, pictured above) and tsukimiudon (literally “moon-viewing udon,” made with a poached egg). You can also order your noodles as a set with rice and pickled vegetables.

Quirks & Perks: Miyabi-tei has large, glowing orb lanterns that shine through the windows, inviting you inside. The dining area is a combination of raised tatami mat seating and a main floor with tables and chairs. The tables are pretty low and may knock your knees, so if you’re tall it may be more comfortable to sit on the tatami. There is enough room for a large group if you’re willing to be split up at multiple tables.

If you’re looking for an affordable and filling bowl of udon, this is the place to go.

Patricia is a second-year ALT. Prior to moving to Nanao, she managed social media for a high-end bistro in Michigan. You can usually find her at local restaurants poised over her dish with a camera. She blogs about food, among other adventures, at My Present Life.

How to be a Great Co-Worker

Spring break is drawing to a close, which means that for most of us here in Ishikawa with the JET Program, we’re headed back to a regular working schedule.  Back to teaching, back to English club, and of course back to the staff room.

The Staff Room

Ah, thar she is. ‘Tis a thing of beauty.

In light of that last reality, I recently found a great survey from the website What Japan Thinks, a site dedicated to translating Japanese public opinion polls into English.  If you have time, it’s a great way to gain insight and understanding into some really intriguing subjects of Japanese culture that are rarely discussed openly, much less with people from other countries.

The survey I want to discuss, however, is one that all of us can learn from and use in our daily JET lives: Office Annoyances That You Just Can’t Talk About.

The survey asked over 1,000 Japanese office workers what kind of behaviors they can’t stand in their co-workers, yet do stand, presumably because it’d disrupt the social harmony of the office if they burst out screaming at their neighbor.  Reading through the list, I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty at my own office habits.

Especially since I (and may I be so bold as to suggest that a majority of the readers) don’t speak Japanese at a fluent level, I’m sure there are little cues or tones of voice or connotations that I miss during interactions with my co-workers that would offer some clue as to how I could better my office behavior.  As such, I loved reading this survey.  Hopefully we can all learn a thing or two about how to become better co-workers while we’re in the staff room.  You can tell that the questions are geared more for your traditional office setting and not necessarily a school staff room, but overall I think they’re very applicable.

So then.  Are you ready to start being a better co-worker?  How many of these annoyances do you do on a daily basis?  You can find the full survey results here.

Topping the list is the co-worker “who has terrible coughs or sneezes and doesn’t wear a mask.”  Yeah, that seems a little rude I suppose, though I’d still advocate for “cover your nose/mouth and wash your hands frequently” over “wear a mask and let ‘em rip,” as seems to be the approach in my own staff room.

Interestingly, the next two in line have to do with smell – co-workers who wear too much perfume, or co-workers who smell like an ashtray.  Take note!  Your fellow teachers have sensitive noses!  (Included in the ‘smell’ category is number twenty, “co-worker who eats smelly food like curry or ramen at their desk,” which I am most certainly guilty of.)

Pictured: Something way more adorable than me.

Pictured: Something way more adorable than me eating curry at their desk.

Many more of the annoyances had me vigorously nodding my head in agreement, such as “Co-worker who has an unnecessarily loud telephone voice” (HAI!  HAI!  ARIGATOUGOZAIMASU!  HAI!) and “Co-worker who batters their keyboard keys” (I once had someone in a completely silent staff room delete an entire paragraph of text by repeatedly slamming the backspace key, instead of holding the dang thing down or just highlight-deleting it.)

Yet just as often, I caught myself thinking, Oh, crap!  I didn’t know people found that annoying!  When I read things like “Co-worker who frequently cracks their knuckles, neck, etc.”

Sheesh!  Next thing I know, I'll learn that "staring menacingly at others" makes the list, too!

Sheesh! Next thing I know, I’ll learn that the “co-worker who stares menacingly at others” makes the list, too!


I hope the survey enables you to be a more hospitable office-mate to your fellow teachers this year, and that you can remember to avoid the things that secretly drive your co-workers crazy.




Daniel is a second-year JET living in Kanazawa.  He teaches at a junior high school and enjoys coffee, riding his bike around the city, and hanging out with his wife.

Ristorante Rio – Nanao Restaurant Review

rio outside


Quick Facts

1-145-8 Minatocho, Nanao
East of Fisherman’s Wharf
Find it on Google Maps

☎ 767-52-5351

Hours: 11:00-14:30, 17:30-23:00

Website (Japanese)

Nanao Community Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5 stars

ameblo jpWhat’s on the Menu: Italian food: pasta, pizza, a wide variety of appetizers, fancy desserts, and an excellent wine selection. The menu is handwritten in kanji and katakana, and doesn’t have pictures. I suggest buying several meze (Italian appetizers) and sharing them around. If you’re a party of one, you can splurge on a set-course meal. I recommend everyone try the prosciutto - the thinly sliced dry-cured ham is especially delicious because it’s freshly cut with every order. Prices are on the expensive side.


The owner is very friendly.

Quirks & Perks
: Rio boasts a beautiful view over Nanao Bay, especially at sunset. Wedding parties are often attracted here because of its romantic atmosphere. The restaurant can accommodate large groups in its table-and-chairs dining space, as well as a sit-on-the-floor enkai room. You can even watch muted cartoon movies projected on the wall during dinner. Overall, a must-visit.


Patricia is a second-year ALT. Prior to moving to Nanao, she managed social media for a high-end bistro in Michigan. You can usually find her at local restaurants poised over her dish with a camera. She blogs about food, among other adventures, at My Present Life.

Hanami 2014

The time is near!  Soon those barren, sad trees that have been collecting snow on their branches all winter will bloom, triggering one of Japan’s most recognizable springtime activities: Cherry blossom viewing.

What are your plans for this season?  Make sure you think ahead, because an unfortunate characteristic of hanami season (especially in Ishikawa) is its brevity.


This year, it looks like the first bloom should come around April 5th, with the full bloom coming a few days later, around April 9th.  There are numerous hanami forecasting websites, including the one I just linked, so do a little bit of research to make the best prediction.

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 4.42.00 PM

A sakura forecast for 2014.


Sure, there are trees all over this fair country.  Why, on your way to work you probably pass by numerous cherry trees.  But where are the best places to get the full hanami experience of kicking back on a blanket, drinking a delicious chu-hai, and soaking in the springtime sunshine?  (Disclaimer: due to your residence in Ishikawa, your “sunshine” experience may vary.)  I asked a few JETs, both current and former, for their best picks for blossom viewing.  Here are some suggestions, with a map below:

“My favourite is Rojo Park in Komatsu! The park is absolutely filled with cherry blossom trees and there’s plenty of space to sit, drink, and barbecue all day (and night) long. There are also delicious festival food booths close-by, of course. Lanterns are strewn throughout the tress, and as the sun sets the park is lit up with soft, pink light. Rojo Park is rather beautiful in general – with small waterfalls and scenic bridges – but in the spring, it becomes a sea of pink.”  -Danielle

“Kenrokuen obviously but also along both rivers in KZ (Asanogawa and Saigawa). Sakuragaoka high school also has that name for I reason I suppose.” -Ida

“Saigawa.” -Hantz

“The obvious would be the Saigawa between the blue bridge and I believe it’s the Sakura bridge? Basically anything east of Katamachi.  The sakura trees along Hyakumangoku road are quite nice.”  -Mauricio

“Up behind Kanazawa, there’s a few groves in the ’400-Year Forest’ (四百年の森) that were great, especially later in the season because of the higher elevation and since they were shielded from the wind.”  -Daniel

“I know it is awkward asking people to go up there – but the Education center is stunning. There is even a little 10 minute hike you can do to the look out.  Komaruyama park and Sakura Station in the Noto/Nanao region are supposed to be beautiful too.” -Melissa

“My favorite place is, of course, along the banks of the Saigawa; but if you’re looking for a place a bit less traveled to, check out the shidare sakura ( in Kahoku.”  -Joanna

For a map of these locations, just click here!

Now hopefully you’re ready to go stake out a spot and enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms in a few weeks.  Have fun, everyone!  

If you have any suggestions for other great hanami areas in Ishikawa, post them in the comments section below.

Know Your Holiday: Vernal Equinox Day

Don’t you just love those glorious red numbers on the staff room calendar?  Your mind wanders at the sight of them, imagining all the things you’ll be doing on your day off: sleeping in, playing Minecraft, riding your bike, or, more likely, staffing some ESS event.  Regardless, many of us take our holidays without a second thought.  But have you ever wondered what all these Japanese holidays mean?

Well then, today’s your lucky day.  It’s time to Know Your Holiday!  Today’s holiday: Vernal Equinox Day, or 春分の日 (Shunbun no Hi).

seasonsAs the name implies, this day marks the time of year when the sun crosses the equator, making night and day equal in length.  Since it depends on astrological circumstances, the exact date varies from year to year, so its date is announced the previous year in February.  This year, it’s on March 21st.

A brief history: Vernal Equinox Day became a state holiday in 1948, set forth in the Japanese postwar constitution.  Prior to that, it was a Shinto holiday known as Kōreisai (皇霊祭) where people prayed for a good harvest and venerated past ancestor spirits.  However, it was repackaged into Vernal Equinox Day during the American occupation in an effort to separate religion and state.

The seven-day period around the vernal equinox (starting three days before and ending three days afterwards,) is known in Japan as Higan and is a time for families to visit the graves of their ancestors, often cleaning and decorating them with flowers and incense. In case you’re curious, the Higan period also occurs around the autumnal equinox, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves there.


Vernal Equinox Day is also regarded by many as an unofficial end to winter and beginning of spring.  As such, it’s a great time to enjoy nature and look forward to the cherry blossoms that’ll be blooming here in Ishikawa around April 5th through 8th.

Have fun on Vernal Equinox Day, everyone!

Want to learn more about Vernal Equinox Day?  Give a gander to the sources I used for this article:

Encyclopedia of Shintoism:

Japan Holidays for Kids:

Good ‘ol Wikipedia: