Travel Secrets

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Japan: Four Spring/Summer Festivals to fly down for.

Boat parties, kite flying and grand parades – Spring/Summer in Japan is a time for vibrant Festivals. Here are four you simply cannot miss.

Hamamatsu FestivalHamamatsu Festival (3rd - 5th May) - Japan

Where: Nakatajima Dunes, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture

When: May 3rd – 5th 2015

Nakatajima Dunes wear an umbrella of colours as the sky fills up with kites. Some sway, some move with a rush, as they cut past one another. Trumpets announce the commencing battle and the air gushes with excitement. Watch the strings intertwine, cut one another and striving to endure till the end. No worries even if you don’t want to compete — fly your kite just for fun in the open space nearby. The spectacular Hamamatsu Festival dates back to the 16th Century when large kites were flown on the joyous occasion of the birth of the Lord’s son, and is still celebrated with the same enthusiasm across the city.

Aoi Matsuri

Aoi Festival (May 15th)- Japan

Where: Shimogamo-jinja Shrine and Kamigamo-jinja Shrine, Kyoto

When: May 15th, 2015

A 1000 year old festival, highlighted by a magnificent procession in Kyoto city. Time travel to the 10th century as more than 500 people parade through the main streets of Kyoto, dressed in extravagant costumes of the past and traditional makeup. An unmarried woman is selected to lead all the other women — she will be dressed in 12 layers of Kimono. Dance performance and horsing events also add charm to the clebrations.

Shunki Reitaisai (Grand festival of Spring)

Toshogu Grand Spring Festival (May 17th-18th) - Japan

Where: Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture

When: May 17th and 18th

The spring parade, Hyakumono Zoroe Sennin Gyoretsu recreates the scene of Tokugawa’s grave being transferred to honor his will. A thousand men on horsebacks, representing the dignified samurai warriors in their full armour, is an impressive sight especially when they shoot at their targets with finesse! The parade staged, at the world heritage site departs from the Otabisho shrine, and will captivate your attention the melodious ancient court music and spirited dance performances too.

Mifune Matsuri

Mifune Matsuri (May) - Japan

Where: Oigawa River, Asahi-cho, Saga, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City

When: Third Sunday of May

Celebrating a 1000 year old boat party on the Oigawa River that was held upon receiving the Emperor on his visit, the ceremonies start with a procession along the beautiful Togetsukyo bridge. Revelers then board their boats, some with dragon heads or with bird heads. Each boat is unique — one for the musicians, another for the dancers, more for little kids in their pretty kimonos.


Read more about the festivals here

I’ve seen most of the touristy Switzerland. Somewhere fresh this summer?

You can always come to us for just the right advice! Travel Secrets Editor Shubhra Krishan discovered a stunning Swiss gem on her recent trip. It’s the Klosters region, quiet, lovely and relatively tourist-free, unless you count Prince Charles, who is a regular guest!

Why Klosters

If you are taking a holiday in Switzerland, you probably have greenery and serenity in mind. Klosters ticks those boxes in bold! And if it is adventure you seek, there’s plenty of that to be had here, too.

Nestling in what has remained the rural part of the Prättigau (Graubünden), Klosters, with its romantic village-like atmosphere, stands in stark contrast to the nearby Alpine metropolis of Davos. It’s a tiny town dotted with shops selling outdoorsy sportsgear, and cosy restaurants. A silvery river streaks across the town, and big mountains gaze indulgently down upon the town.


Hotels and homes all over Klosters are laden with flowers. The combination of wood, greenery and brilliant blossoms is heady and irresistible!


The photo above shows Hotel Alpina: we stayed here and totally loved it. Not only is it beautiful, but located right across the small railway station. The cable car up to a gorgeous mountain is also across the road. The rooms have a homely touch, breakfast is delicious, and the staff warm and welcoming. This hotel is proof that you don’t need to be a five-star to be a five star experience!


See? This is a house in Klosters…one among dozens we gaped at! So much beauty, sprinkled all over, just like that!

Lazy, sunlit lunches in Klosters are a food lover’s dream come true. Our dream came true at this one:


Every delicious dish here reflects the freshness and beauty of the region.


And how can you ever leave without indulging in Switzerland’s best-loved comfort food, starring potatoes: yes, we’re talking about Rosti!


Paired with local wine and sunshine, all this good food is the perfect recipe for an afternoon snooze. We took our cue from this bovine beauty and treated ourselves to a nap, too!


The valleys of Klosters will take your breath away. It is easy to lose track of time gazing in the distance and feeling your soul heal. Far in the distance, on gleaming tracks, the bright red streak of a train passing by, is stunning against the green backdrop: quintessential Switzerland!


A whole mountain of adventure awaits to be explored: your kids are going to be floored!


To hear more of our adventures in Klosters, grab a copy of Travel Secrets magazine’s May-June 2015 issue.

Tell me about the white nights of Saint Petersburg.

Travel Secrets Serbia Correspondent Anna Rostokina reports:

“One of the greatest Russian marvels, Saint Petersburg is at its best in summer, when the sun dominates the usually rainy city providing for enjoyable walks and boat rides.

Saint Petersburg

June is the famous “white night” season. In summer in this part of Europe the sun does not descend below the horizon enough for the sky to grow dark, so it is basically a no-night period. This natural phenomenon has inspired great writers such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, but more importantly it inspires millions of citizens and tourists to literally explore this vibrant city 24/7.”

000065Anna Rostokina:
a Moscow girl, Anna settled down in Serbia a few years ago following her love to the Balkans. She works as a translator and a language teacher and enjoys exploring her beloved city of Belgrade, the region and beyond. She also takes great pleasure in writing and translating poetry, doing yoga and hiking.

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