Review: The Roads to Sata, A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan, by Alan Booth

Japan seems to inspire long walking trips; pilgrimages are an old and respected tradition. Even by that standard, what Alan Booth did is remarkable: he walked from the northernmost tip of mainland Japan (Cape Soya on the island Hokkaido) to the southernmost tip (Cape Sata on the island Kyushu), a distance of more than 3000 kilometers. The rules he imposed on himself…

Review: Isabella Bird – Unbeaten tracks in Japan

Isabella Bird is one of those travelers and writers that only the 19th century could produce. She was born in 1831 as the daughter of  Reverend Edward Bird and Dora Lawson. Because she had poor health from her youth, the doctors recommended an open-air life. Her family encouraged her, for example by letting her learn horse riding  (a skill that…

Padaria e Confeitaria Rio-Lisboa

Padaria e Confeitaria (Bakery and Confectionery) Rio-Lisboa is one of the remnants of an older Rio de Janeiro. Nowadays Leblon, the neighbourhood of Rio-Lisboa, is a very up-market part of Rio de Janeiro. Copacabana and Ipanema are world-famous for their beaches, but the same beach continues in Leblon, and the richer Brazilians have realised that. Consequently, it is not so much a…

Jacques Gabay, old scientific texts

One of the little pearls of Paris is the bookshop of Jacques Gabay. The shop is small, the book spines are boring, the prices are high, and the opening hours are quirky (we never close later than five o’clock’), but this is a veritable paradise for the right kind of book lover. Jacques Gabay selects, publishes, and sells reprints of old…

Things to do: visit the Baur foundation – Museum of Far Eastern Art in Geneva

Alfred Baur (1865-1951) was a Swiss businessman who spent a lot of time in Asia, and took the opportunity to collect Chinese and Japanese art. What makes his collection remarkable is first of all his impeccable good taste: he always chose quality over quantity, and the refined over the gaudy. Moreover, a few years before his death he bought a house in…

The Sultan’s elephant in Antwerp

The Sultan’s Elephant was a street theater performance by Royal de Luxe, a theatre company. It was originally performed in Nantes and Amiens to commemorate the death of Jules Verne a hundred years earlier. After that, the show was performed in London, Antwerp, and other places. In all cases it drew huge crowds.The story and characters of the show were very loosely based…

Things to do: visit Claude Monet’s house and garden in Giverny

One place that is certainly worth a visit is Claude Monet‘s house and garden in Giverny. Monet first saw the small village of Giverny from a train, and he decided to live there. Eventually he bought a house there and lived in it for 43 years. Next to the house he had a large studio, and around the house he created a beautiful…

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