Travel Writer and Photographer Diego Rojas: My Japan Is…

Odigo Travel Blog

In an ongoing series of mini posts we asked our most passionate writers in Odigo this question, “What is your Japan? ” In their own words and photos.

By Contributor Diego Rojas

MyJapan is a mix of the old and new, the combination of urban excitement and countryside peacefulness.

You can find my Japan here:

1. MT. FUJI 

Fujisan on its own is an amazing spot to visit but driving along route 139 towards the Fuji Five Lakes offers some breathtaking views of  the surrounding farms and mountains.

Mt. Fuji Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji Five Lakes Area Around the Mt. Fuji Five Lakes Area

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See Into The Future at the Tokyo Motor Show 2015

Please checkout my latest contribution with Odigo Travel as I visited the Tokyo Motorshow.

Odigo Travel Blog

By Odigo Contributor Diego Rojas

Since arriving in Japan, I commute on two wheels (that is bicycle wheels) or on the fantastic train system we are fortunate enough to have here in Tokyo. Except for renting a car every once in a while, it is safe to say that cars are not a big part of my current lifestyle. Even so, being a driver back home in Columbia, I do enjoy getting behind the wheel of a car. I have had a few chances to drive around Japan’s scenic routes, and I appreciate the state-of-the-art technology of the modern automobile. Which brings me to the reason of why I’m typing these words, The Tokyo Motorshow 2015.

Tokyo Motor Show 2015 The 2015 Motor Show at Tokyo Big Sight by Diego Rojas

Ranked among the best in the world alongside Frankfurt, Geneva, and Paris’ auto shows, Tokyo’s own is held every two years at Tokyo…

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Japan Festivals: Spotlight on Suginami

This is a post I wrote for Odigo Travel about one of the most exciting festivals that Tokyo offers in the summer. It is extra special since is held in my neighbourhood, Koenji. Please take a look and if you get the chance, come and visit.

Odigo Travel Blog


Long working hours and other stressful aspects aside, you can easily say that life in Japan is a party, or better yet: one big festival. If you stay long enough, you’ll notice that from January to December there are festivals or celebrations of some sort held for every month and season that passes by: The Dezome-shiki (Parade of Firemen) in Tokyo in January, the Sapporo Snow Festival in February, Shiga’s Sagicho Matsuri in March, the Sanja Matsuri (Three Shrine Festival) in Tokyo in May, the Soma-Nomaoi (Wild Horse Racing) in Fukushima in July, or the Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages) in Kyoto, just to name a few. The style, size, and raison d’être of the festivals vary a lot according to the season, but the common denominators are usually lots of dancing, fervor, drinking, and colourful outfits.

Koenji Awa Odori by Diego Rojas

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Surf’s up in Chiba, Japan

Odigo Travel Blog


Surfing in Japan… Say what? That’s right! The land of manga, temples, sumo, and ramen is also the land of a vibrant surfing culture. Bordered by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, Japan has an extensive list of surf spots to choose from with some locations even offering world-class waves. Luckily for those visiting or living in Tokyo, a mecca of surfing in Japan can be found in Chiba Prefecture. Though not as famous internationally as a tourist destination within Japan, the Boso Peninsula is the place to be when looking to hit the waves and at the same time enjoy some beautiful scenery and lively small beach-town atmosphere.

Surfing in Chiba

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Emma Parker – From the UK to 20 Years in Japan!

An exceptional person and excellent writer! If you are ever in the Itoigawa or Niigata area of Japan give her a shout!

Odigo Travel Blog

We’ve profiled a few people from our team over the last few months, but what really makes Odigo is the community and the excellent content we receive  from our contributors. One of those people, who’s been with us from the start, is our superstar contributor Emma Parker. Read on to find out more about Emma’s story…

Emma initially heard about ODIGO through our Community Manager Lauren, they knew each other from having taken a couple of creative writing courses together. As soon as Emma heard about the project, she wanted to get involved, as she loves travelling, writing, and introducing her favourite places in Japan to her visitors. She recently moved to a small town in the countryside, and was particularly keen to show that there is much more to Japan than Tokyo and Kyoto: ODIGO’s mission to introduce spots that are off the beaten tourist track matches her own philosophy very well.

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Colourful Asakusa Rejoices During Sanja Matsuri in Tokyo

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Having lived in Japan for a year to date, I am now getting used to being amazed and filled with awe by the various aspects of the local customs and the intricate cultural details that the Japanese hold dear to their hearts and spirits. But I have to admit that it had been a little while since the last time I was struck by this sense of wonderment. And although in my life I’ve experience a good share of joyful carnivals and festivals, – Easter processions and the Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia, Holy Week in Lorca, Spain, the “Murgas” in Buenos Aires, Awa Odori in Suginami, Japan – I never experience something with the rarity and intensity as the day 3 of the Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa, right in the traditional heart of Tokyo…cont.

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Summer still alive and kicking in Japan…

Thinking about cooling down from the blistering heat and escaping Tokyo’s concrete jungle?  Think no more and head over to Moriya Beach.

This little chunk of Japan’s Pacific Coast is located in Katsuura, Chiba Prefecture, approximately 110 km from Tokyo and accessible either by car or by train (final destination is JR Katusaokitsu Station).  It is a great spot for sunbathing, hanging out with friends, and cooling down  with a swim around the reefs.

If snorkelling is your thing, Moriya’s waters do not disappoint and you can catch a wide array of marine life, including some speedy squid and beautiful jelly fish (careful with those stingers).

So wait no more and don’t let the hot weather get to you.   Moriya awaits!


Feeling at peace on the coast of Chiba, Japan.


If you are in Japan and haven’t made it to the beach yet…no worries! With temperature hovering around the 36 degrees (celcius) the summer is still on and the conditions are perfect for a visit to the Pacific coast of Chiba. Here’s a little taste of Moriya Beach at sunset!

A cup of coffee Ghibli style in Koenji

As a coffee lover, I spend a significant time of my life either drinking it or searching for the best places to enjoy a good cup of it.  Recently, I was very fortunate to stumble upon Koral Café, this tiny and curious café in the neighbourhood of Koenji in Tokyo.

Located in what seems like a rundown wooden shack just a couple of metres off from the Shotengai in Koenji, stepping into Koral Café feels like stepping into the fantasy world of Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki.

As you walk through the narrow entrance, Kumiko-san, the owner and charismatic barista will greet you with the biggest smile I have ever received at a café. Kumiko-san is not very fluent in English nor other languages but she’ll make a serious effort to talk a few words or will quickly hand over the multilingual menu.  And she won’t be alone…at Koral Café you will run into very random and very interesting locals and regulars, all of whom seem to be taken straight out of one of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic animate movies.  The woman hiding her smile while pretending to read the newspaper but discretely gazing over the “Amerikanjin”;  Kumiko-san’s best buddy who can speak several languages and serves as the unofficial translator for foreigners; or the student who just sits and smiles at every comment from older regulars…

And let’s not forget about the coffee of course…If your are picky about the cremma in your americano or are looking for the latest in latte art, this might not be the place for you.   At Koral’s you will only find good old drip coffee, maybe from Colombia, or Costa Rica, or Brazil, the regions vary…but what doesn’t vary is the highly old-fashion but very technical procedure (see photos) Kumiko-san employs to brew your very own cup of coffee.  You might think she just forgot your order while chatting up with her friends…just be patient, the process takes a bit longer than usual, but is worth the wait.  In the meantime enjoy all the vintage items and the entertaining environment typical of the old Japanese establishments.

And if you feel like satisfying your sweet tooth, ask for the home-made pancake with vanilla ice cream.  This option (ice cream) is not on the menu but with a big smile  Kumiko-san will give in and prep you one.

Come to Koenji and visit Koral Café…a coffee experience you will never forget!