Jon Fain

Social Media Director for the Tochigi ALT Network, Contributor for Taiken and Japan Travel, independent fiction writer.

Ashikaga Flower Park

The Ashikaga Flower Park is one of the most famous parks of its kind in the world. It was selected by CNN as one of the top nine international dream destinations in 2014, and for good reason, as it has something remarkably alluring to offer for each of Japan’s four seasons. Long-stemmed tulips, brightly colored hydrangea, dense rows of rose bushes, and the famous, looming wisteria are just a few of the featured flowers that are highlighted over the course of the year.

Nara's Yamayaki Festival

For over 250 years, people have gathered at the base of Mt. Wakakusa in Nara on the fourth Saturday in January to watch the mountain burn. The Yamayaki, which translates to “mountain burning”, festival is said to have its roots in a conflict between the Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji temples that dates back to 1760. But what started as a conflict grew into a revered custom. The uniquely beautiful city of Nara has kept true to this tradition ever since, only faltering when the weather does not permit...

Rock Craft

In Oyama, Tochigi prefecture’s second largest city, a rock climbing gym sure to meet the needs of thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts alike lies a quick cab ride from the Oyama JR Station. This famous climbing gym has hosted both Yuji Hirayama and Chris Sharma, two men sitting atop the list of the world’s greatest climbers. Rock Craft will redefine your image of what a rock climbing gym is, offering a taste of adventure that even those with acrophobia can manage.

Downtown Ashikaga

Ashikaga is a small city nestled in the mountains of southern Tochigi prefecture, roughly 70 km from Tokyo. The gentle heart of Ashikaga balances the busy spirit of Tokyo with rich history and vibrant Japanese culture, making it the perfect destination for a day trip. A five minute walk from Ashikaga JR station will bring you to Japan’s first academic institution, a beautiful Kamakura era style Ashikaga Clan temple, and traditional Japanese restaurants that are both delicious and affordable.

The Ashikaga Kid Blog

The following weekend I went to Hip Hop’s for a boat ball. I live tweeted the whole thing and the response was startling because there was none. I had a really good time, met some great folks, and at one point a young Japanese man who spoke very little English sang the most articulate version of “YMCA” that I have ever heard. I felt entranced by the spot on eloquence of his angelic voice as my arms shifted from the M position to the C position, the most difficult position in the sequence and one that is often done half-assed, in my opinion.