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Shinjuku. Tokyo, Japan. By Mike Bliss.

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Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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Tokyo is amazing, but there comes a point where the circus is Blase. Visit periodically, a few days or weeks here and there.

The real Japan is in the country. You haven’t “done Japan” until you’ve seen the parts that are hard to get to. And no, I don’t mean the ski resorts in Hokkaido.

Find a far suburb of a city out in the mountains. Wander off on a trail for a couple hours, and see what’s there! Visit Shirakawa. Find a guide, and purify under a waterfall. Pay “goen” at a remote Shinto shrine.

These are the sorts of things you see in Miyazaki films, but will never find in Tokyo. You can find them IRL if you put in some time.