Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
Wedding at Shukkei-en Garden in Hiroshima, Japan

Click on title to view photo in large format. Lovely Shukkei-en Garden in Hiroshima, Japan, was created in 1620 by Ueda Soko, a renowned master of the tea ceremony. Located near the hypocenter of the Atomic Bomb blast, the gardens were extensively damaged during WWII. In the months following the bombing, the gardens were closed to the public and used as a refuge for victims of the war. In 1951, they were restored and reopened. Shukkei-en Garden is an oasis of serenity, with Read More

The Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan

Click on title to view photo in large format. During WWII, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, flattening almost everything within a three-kilometer radius. One of the few exceptions was this building, the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, an arts and education exhibit hall. It was the only structure left standing near the hypoenter of the blast. Read More

Just the idea of traveling to Japan can be intimidating. It is a culture like no other around the globe, with a unique language, food, and cultural rules. Having just spent two weeks there, I thought it would be good to pass along the following things to know before traveling to Japan.

  • It is considered impolite to blow your nose in public
  • Take off your shoes when entering a private home or tea house
One of the most important things to know before traveling to Japan is that you will be expected to take off your shoes before entering a private home or a tea house

One of the most important things to know before traveling to Japan is that you will be expected to take off your shoes before entering a private home or a tea house

  • When making a purchase in a store, put money in the tray that sits on the counter. Your change will be placed there by the clerk for you to pick up.
  • Japanese greet one another with a short bow and you should do likewise. Only offer your hand to shake if they do so first.
  • People in service industries will often bow to you. For instance, conductors on trains, turn around at the head of each carriage and bow to the passengers before leaving.
  • When leaving temples, you should turn around at the entrance and bow to the altar
  • Few Japanese I met admitted to speaking English. More puzzling, unlike in most other countries I have visited, older Japanese seemed more adept at English than younger ones
  • Other than signs on highways, streets, in train stations, metro stations, and airports, you will find very little written English
  • A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese guest house where you will sleep on tatami-covered floor mats, over which a thick futon mattress is placed. You may be expected to make up your own bed. The only other furniture may be a low table with a chair back and perhaps a lamp on the floor.

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The Sun, part of a to-scale representation of the Solar System on the Riva in Zadar, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. The Sun, part of a to-scale representation of the Solar System on the Riva in Zadar, Croatia. The display begins far back on the promenade that runs along the Adriatic Sea. Furthest from the Sun is Pluto, represented by a small disc, followed by Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter. After another stretch of empty space, Mars, Earth, and Venus appear as tiny specs in comparison to the massive sun. Each panel is also a solar cell that generates electricity for the city. The panels light up when stepped on, and the attraction is Read More

People's Square in Zadar, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. People’s Square in Zadar, Croatia is located on a narrow peninsula that protrudes into the Adriatic Sea. The stone building at the center of the photo is the City Hall, and the square itself is one of the city’s most popular gathering places. Zadar is particularly known for its Roman and Venetian ruins. The entire Old Town is a Read More

Pier on the Riva in Zadar, Croatia

Click on title to view photo in large format. The Riva in Zadar, Croatia, is a popular destination for summer visitors to the Dalmation coast. Even on a cloudy day, tourists lounge on this stone pier to catch some rays and enjoy seaside breezes. The “Riva” is a term used throughout Croatia to refer to the promenade that runs along the Adriatic Sea. Dalmation communities take great pride in their Rivas, and Zadar is no exception. In addition to the pier, the Riva in Zadar features a Sea Organ that produces music from waves, as well as Read More