Travel & Culture

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Japanese culture and lifestyles through the eyes of NHK WORLD personalities

November 5, 2015

Exploring a Travelers' Paradise - Japan!

Charles Glover / Actor, Announcer, Presenter, Photographer
Charles Glover

Charles Glover is a man whose face and voice are well-known in Japan. He works both as an actor and a narrator. On NHK WORLD, he contributes to Journeys in Japan, Dining with the Chef, and KABUKI KOOL.

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When I was growing up my grandfather loved to take his grandchildren on 'field-trips' as he called them, trips out into the countryside, looking around. No doubt he took the word from his days as a teacher and being an armchair scientist and more importantly being an explorer. Our journeys were day trips not that far from our home in a semi-rural part of the southwestern U.S. but they were journeys of discovery as we searched for prehistoric shark teeth, ancient cliff drawing but mostly adventures. We always had a wonderful time and sometimes even found some truly amazing things, once an untouched and maybe undiscovered, newly exposed, 3 meter long dinosaur leg in the side out of a clay hill.

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These 'field trips' had a huge impact on me, leading me to hunger to find new and interesting places. In many ways, it's why I'm living in Japan and why you are reading this right now. I live in Japan and my 'field trips' continue. I find nothing more enjoyable than looking around Japan and seeing what is around the next bend and inside the next shop. It is a wonderful place to explore and has a immense variety of places, people and culture.

I have been lucky enough to explore much of Japan, enjoying every minute. What initially surprised me was the diversity of terrain and sights. Many people outside Japan may have an image of Japan as a land of temples, geisha and Mt. Fuji. The reality is so much more. An enormous range of sights-stretching from the untouched natural beauty of Hokkaido in the northeast, (much like Siberia and Alaska) full of beautiful, natural vistas, down to the unspoiled subtropical golden beaches and vibrant turquoise blue waters of Okinawa in the southwest. And everything in between; jagged, wild coastlines, sleepy fishing villages that time forgot, and the majestic peaks of the aptly named Northern and Southern Alps.

It is hard to mention Japan without considering its fascinating temples, shrines and castles; living volumes of history they have their own unique flavors and stories. If you have had your fill of history, Japanese urban areas are a dynamic statement of what is hip in this part of the world. I know many people that love the nightlife so much that they don't bother to venture out of the cities.

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Japan to be sure is a traveler's paradise. It is a very safe country, perfect for female solo travelers. Many foreigners are pleasantly surprised and almost everyone has a legendary story of a stranger helping them. For example if you drop something, a total stranger will often come running after you to give it to you. Stories of wallets full of money being turned in to lost and found, not 100% of the time but it seems like it. Just ask anyone that has spent much time in Japan, most have a similar story.

I have been lucky enough to travel to quite a few places in the world and I am still amazed at the infrastructure of Japan. Almost everywhere the train stations and highway signs are in roman-ized letters and you can get to almost anywhere using public transport. To sweeten the deal, the train and bus staff are very helpful and enjoy having travelers around, as do most people you meet.

I first came to Japan out of curiosity, looking for a new adventure...and I found it. Now 20 plus years and I am still exploring and taking my own 'field trips'. I just wish that my grandfather were along for the ride. Actually in many ways he still is.

Photographs by Charles Glover

photoEnd to another perfect day; Tomonoura, Hiroshima Prefecture
photoSurf awaits; Tomonoura, Hiroshima Prefecture
photoSharing a laugh; Tomonoura, Hiroshima Prefecture
photoTwo old friends; Tomonoura, Hiroshima Prefecture
photoLighting the evening sky; Tomonoura, Hiroshima Prefecture
photoManual power still rolls...; Edo-mura, Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture
photoStopped in time; Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture
photoTraining for a festival; Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture
photoEdo Era Bell Tower; Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture
photoThe night comes to life; Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture
photoIced persimmons; Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
photoTop of the world; Takayama, Gifu Prefecture

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Charles Glover / Actor, Announcer, Presenter, Photographer

Born in the U.S. Charles is an accomplished and respected actor, whose career ranges from serious roles in major motion pictures to comedic roles on television, as well as being trained for the stage. He also shares his passion for travel as a periodic presenter/traveler in the popular travel program "Journeys in Japan". He also narrates "Dinning with the Chef" and 'KABUKI KOOL' on NHK WORLD. Charles has one of the more recognizable voices in Japan and Asia, doing the voice logo for Panasonic and Mitsubishi Motors among others. Having traveled to the 7 continents and over 120 countries, Charles shares his continuing explorations around the world as an award winning photographer.

Question How long have you been in Japan?
25 years! Gasp... more than half my life!
Question What was your original reason for coming to Japan?
I was a Peace Corps volunteer. After I finished my 2 years stint I wanted to see a bit more of the world. I thought I would stay here, 'a few years'.
Question What's your favorite scenic spot in Japan?
Tough question, so many amazing sites but probably the Ogasawara Islands in the far south. They are very wild, beautiful, untouched, hard to get to and have amazing scuba diving.
Question What's the one thing that's essential to your life in Japan?
A camera! And lots of batteries!
Question What is your favorite Japanese word? Please briefly describe what it means in English.
有言実行
"Yuugen jikkou" Simply put... To do what you say you are going to do.

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