Travel, news, etc.

Writing from Asia and elsewhere by C. James Dale

Poutine in Tokyo: Japan takes on Canada’s favorite comfort food

Can a dish made of French fries, cheese and gravy catch on in the land of ramen? One Japanese fan is willing to take the risk

In Tokyo’s jam-packed restaurant landscape, filled with sushi, ramen and hundreds of other options, 26-year-old Yuta Fujino’s modest establishment stands out.

Robson Fries, tucked away in the winding streets of the Japanese capital’s funky Shimokitazawa neighborhood, has a menu focused on one item only: Canadian poutine. 

Read the full article on CNN Travel.

DANCING WITH DOLPHINS IN THE INDIAN OCEAN

On a trip to the Maldives, C. James Dale has a once-in-a-lifetime encounter, thanks to his pregnant wife


We had barely begun breakfast when my wife made a muffled sound, as though the coffee had burnt her mouth.


“Mmm…mmm…dolphins,” Katie blurted out, running to the railing of the Four Seasons Explorer, a luxury catamaran that plies the turquoise-blue waters of the Maldives. "Get the camera."


Although we’d been together for nearly a decade, I’d only just learned of Katie’s deep-seated obsession with these cetaceans (I mean, she’d cried during The Cove, but who hadn’t?). I fumbled with the equipment, clumsily attaching the zoom lens, and ran to join her, squinting to see what she was pointing at. Then I caught the flash of a dorsal fin breaking the surface and snapped away. Seconds later, it was gone, but the rush remained.

**The rest of this piece will be published in an upcoming issue of Signature Magazine.**

History and great buys in Okinawa’s Tsuboya Pottery District

The traditional Okinawan industry still lives in the hills and back streets of Naha. Here’s where to find it

The air is fresh from a recent rainfall as we step onto a tiny street in Okinawa’s capital of Naha. On a cloudy day, it’s even more apparent that this city — with its chunky concrete buildings designed to withstand typhoons — would never make a “Most Beautiful Places in the World” list.

But it does have its share of charming nooks and crannies.

One of them is the centrally located Tsuboya Pottery District.

A different approach: Golf in Okinawa

Amid ocean breezes and tropical scenery, even amateur golfers can’t get upset with their games in Okinawa

Failing at golf in a beautiful, outdoor setting feels so much better than shanking 5-irons in front of a computer screen with a bucket of balls and some local champion in a Tiger Woods wardrobe at your side.

Which is why I’ve chosen the Kise Country Club (KCC) in Okinawa to make my not-so-triumphant return to the game.

From Rio to Paris and all points in between, check out the 46 Places to Go in 2013, as chosen by the travel experts at the New York Times.
I’m loving the Guardian’s 2013 interactive holiday planner.
It’s well worth clicking through.

I’m loving the Guardian’s 2013 interactive holiday planner.

It’s well worth clicking through.

Healing waters: The Japanese onsen experience
Soaking up one of Japan’s best-loved traditions is a tonic for both mind and body
By C. James Dale 21 December, 2012
For a brief moment, I feel like a Japanese snow monkey — those furry, red-faced creatures that descend from the cliffs and forests of Nagano to sit and soak in hot spring water.
Flakes fall around me. Steam drifts into the air. I’ve nothing much on my mind.
It’s after 7 a.m. and I’m tout nu inside a private bath on a terrace at Arcana, a boutique hotel hidden in the trees of Japan’s Izu Peninsula.
The setting and time of day conspire to make me feel as though I’m the only one in the world who’s awake.
Click here to read the full story on CNN Travel.

Healing waters: The Japanese onsen experience

Soaking up one of Japan’s best-loved traditions is a tonic for both mind and body

C. James Dale 21 December, 2012

For a brief moment, I feel like a Japanese snow monkey — those furry, red-faced creatures that descend from the cliffs and forests of Nagano to sit and soak in hot spring water.

Flakes fall around me. Steam drifts into the air. I’ve nothing much on my mind.

It’s after 7 a.m. and I’m tout nu inside a private bath on a terrace at Arcana, a boutique hotel hidden in the trees of Japan’s Izu Peninsula.

The setting and time of day conspire to make me feel as though I’m the only one in the world who’s awake.

Click here to read the full story on CNN Travel.

Next time you’re in Chiang Rai, Thailand and you have $50 burning a hole in your pocket, why not try a cup of Black Ivory Coffee? It’s a new brew made from beans eaten by elephants and plucked a day later from their dung.
Click over to the Toronto Star to read about the coffee, and the Canadian behind it.

Next time you’re in Chiang Rai, Thailand and you have $50 burning a hole in your pocket, why not try a cup of Black Ivory Coffee? It’s a new brew made from beans eaten by elephants and plucked a day later from their dung.

Click over to the Toronto Star to read about the coffee, and the Canadian behind it.

Get a taste of Japan’s blissed out island life at the Ritz

C. JAMES DALE
OKINAWA, JAPAN — Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 23 2012, 11:05 AM EST


RITZ-CARLTON OKINAWA
1343-1 Kise, Nago; 81-980-43-5555; ritzcarlton.com/okinawa; 97 rooms from $512 a night (¥41,000), including buffet breakfast.
People in Japan have been jetting down to Okinawa for years to sit in the sun, swim in the sea and soak up the culture of this former kingdom, now famous for its long-living population. The tropical archipelago, once known as the Ryukyu Islands, is made up of about 160 islands that are essentially outcroppings of coral surrounded by blue and turquoise waters. Recently, visitors from China and other countries have been discovering Okinawa’s distinctive food and flair, and new hotels have emerged. The Ritz-Carlton Okinawa is one of the best.
Click here to read the full review.

Get a taste of Japan’s blissed out island life at the Ritz

Insider Guide: Best of Toronto
The New York of the “Great White North” is a standout international destination
By C. James Dale 15 October, 2012

Toronto would be just another dot on the map of the United States had Canadian, British and First Nations warriors not banded together to beat the Americans and win the War of 1812.
Two centuries later, the city once known as York is the biggest in Canada and one of the most multicultural in North America, home to 2.5 million people (5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA) of more than 200 distinct ethnic origins.
Other Canadians often mock Torontonians for their center-of-the-universe attitude, but top dogs are always targets for those with bones to pick. This city is the country’s economic and social powerhouse.
Once ruled by Victorian and Protestant morality, it has matured over the past few decades into a truly international destination, with a vibrant bar, restaurant and club scene, not to mention world-class sports teams and arts institutions.
Toronto the Good, as it was once called (and sometimes is still called in jest), isn’t afraid to show its bad side — or any of its sides.
It’s a city of neighborhoods — Chinatown, Little Italy, Riverdale. It’s a city of festivals — the Toronto International Film Festival, Caribana, Gay Pride. But above all, the best of Toronto makes it a livable city, one full of promise and potential.
Click here to read the full guide.

Insider Guide: Best of Toronto

The New York of the “Great White North” is a standout international destination

C. James Dale 15 October, 2012

Toronto would be just another dot on the map of the United States had Canadian, British and First Nations warriors not banded together to beat the Americans and win the War of 1812.

Two centuries later, the city once known as York is the biggest in Canada and one of the most multicultural in North America, home to 2.5 million people (5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA) of more than 200 distinct ethnic origins.

Other Canadians often mock Torontonians for their center-of-the-universe attitude, but top dogs are always targets for those with bones to pick. This city is the country’s economic and social powerhouse.

Once ruled by Victorian and Protestant morality, it has matured over the past few decades into a truly international destination, with a vibrant bar, restaurant and club scene, not to mention world-class sports teams and arts institutions.

Toronto the Good, as it was once called (and sometimes is still called in jest), isn’t afraid to show its bad side — or any of its sides.

It’s a city of neighborhoods — Chinatown, Little Italy, Riverdale. It’s a city of festivals — the Toronto International Film Festival, Caribana, Gay Pride. But above all, the best of Toronto makes it a livable city, one full of promise and potential.

Click here to read the full guide.