Meet the artists of Kanazawa, Japan

Kanazawa is an often overlooked destination in Japan, as travelers often assume the city has little to offer. In reality, the area has a breathtaking landscape, rich culture and a plentiful arts scene that has been around for generations.

Kanazawa’s thriving arts community dates back to the sixteenth century, when the powerful samurai family the Maeda clan brought hundreds of artisans from around Japan to the area. Over the following 500 years, the arts flourished — most notably in mediums of lacquer, gold leaf, ceramics, glass, silk and metalwork.

Today, Kanazawa’s artists and artisans still practice these traditional crafts. Furthermore, the city supports an active geisha culture, Noh theatre, an energetic poetry community, and a rapidly expanding network of contemporary artists. For tourists, this means the opportunity to visit working studios, meet the artists, understand the process, and in some cases, try a workshop for themselves. Kanazawa’s artists are proud of their community and feel the city’s small size encourages a strong support system that is hard to find in larger cities.

To learn more about art in Kanazawa and to meet some of the local artists, check out the gallery below.

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10 sexy sites from around the world

Forget castles, churches, fine art galleries, and history museums; the sites on this list celebrate the thing almost everyone has in common, sex. From penis parks to fertility shrines to bondage demonstrations, these sexy sites from around the world will make your trip a bit quirkier and your mind a bit filthier.

Haesindang Park
Samcheok, South Korea

Also known as Penis Park, Haesindang Park is full of totem-pole like penis carvings, which make for interesting hiking scenery, to say the least. The story behind the park is that there was once a virginal young woman who was engaged to be married. One day, she had her fiancée drop her off on Aebawi Rock in the sea to harvest seaweed while he did work on the beach. Sadly, a change in weather brought the woman to an untimely, tragic, and penis-less death. For years following the incident, the villagers were unable to catch fish and, thinking it was because of the dead woman, created a park in her honor where they created these carvings and held religious ceremonies. While many tourists may find this site quirky, it truly is a celebration of sex and penis worship.Love Land
Jeju, South Korea

There is nothing subtle about Love Land, as the statues and public art found at this park ooze eroticism. Visitors can stroll through 140 sculptures poised in sexual positions, as well as enjoy rotating exhibitions and educational films. Interactive exhibits will get your mind racing with naughty thoughts.

Molokai Phallic Rock
Molokai,Hawaii

This 6-foot stone penis replica sits at the base of Nananhoa Hill in Palaau State Park. According to the legend attached to the site, Nanahoa the male fertility god, lived nearby with his wife. One day, the wife caught her husband checking out a young girl and, outraged, yanked her hair. Nananhoa retaliated, attacking his wife who then rolled down the hill and turned into stone. Moments later, he also turned into stone, except in the form of a penis. To this day, the site is still a sacred place of sex and fertility where women come to pray and make offerings, as can be seen by the surrounding coins, flowers, and shells.

Body Politics
Canberra, Australia

Body Politics is Australia’s first National Museum of Erotica and contains a collection of erotic art, sexual artifacts, and pornographic materials. What’s great about this museum is it blends sexual celebration with education as visitors can learn about things like how porn has changed through the decades, and how ideas on sexuality have evolved. One particularly interesting exhibit is the vibrator collection, which features the first commercial vibrator in Australia made out of a plastic flashlight, slot car motor, and a rubber prosthetic penis molding.

Lingam Fertility Shrine
Bangkok, Thailand

While it’s not unusual to find a garden full of flowers, how about a garden full of penises? The Lingam Fertility Shrine, located behind the Nai Lert Park Hotel, was created to worship the female deity who is thought to reside on the property, Chao Mae Tuptim. Around the shrine is a garden containing crops of wooden and stone penises beautifully wrapped in ribbon and adorned with flowers. While the experience may feel like some kind of erotic surrealism, the legend behind the site is that women who wanted to bare children would bring offerings of flowers and incense. That is, until one woman became pregnant after leaving a more phallic offering. From one look at the park, you can see that the trend caught on.

Beate Uhse Erotic Musuem
Berlin,Germany

The Beate Uhse Erotic Museum is the biggest erotic museum in the world. Moreover, Beate Uhse, the woman whom the venue is named after, opened the first sex shop (“marital hygiene” shop) in 1962. What makes this erotic museum particularly unique is that it doesn’t just emphasize pornography, but sexuality, history, and love as well. Travelers will also love that the artifacts, dolls, masks, and art are from all over the world, from 18th Century silk paintings from China to Balinese penis carvings.

Sex Machines Museum
Prague, Czech Republic

While there are various museums around the world dedicated to eroticism through photography, art, and film, the Sex Machines Museum gives the idea a twist by focusing on sexual devices and pleasurable appliances. In fact, according to the museum website, it is the world’s only sex museum dedicated solely to sex machines. The museum encompasses three floors and 200 gadgets from the 16th century to present times, with life-like dolls demonstrating how to use the machines properly in times of passion (and times of abstinence if you’re looking at the scarily sharp chastity belts and electroshock penis rings meant to keep boys from masturbating).

Phallic Rock
Kharkhorin, Mongolia

Located near Erdene Zuu Monastary, the head of the phallic rock ironically points toward a vaginal-looking hill. It is said that the 2-ft long penis-shaped boulder was put there to stop horny monks who were turned on by the feminine hill from hooking up with young girls.

The City of Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s hard to choose just one sexy site in Amsterdam, as the city seems to ooze eroticism. First there is the famous Red Light District, where beautiful and scantily clad women beckon passersby in for some fun. Visitors can even take a guided tour of the area from a former prostitute through the Prostitution Information Centre (PIC). There are also myriad sex toy shops throughout the city selling every gadget, gizmo, costume, and cream you could want. Moreover, visitors have the choice to visit either the Sex Museum (shown right) or the Erotic Museum, which are both full of hardcore exhibits, pornographic photos, and crazy sex contraptions.

Erotic heritage museum Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada

I think the best part about the Erotic Heritage Museum Las Vegas is that it was created by a partnership between a pornographer and a preacher. The permanent and revolving exhibits focus on eroticism, sex, love and the belief that “sexual pleasure and fun are natural aspects of the human experience, that such pleasure must be made available to all, and that our individual sexuality belongs to each of us.” Sounds like fun!
[flickr photos via amanderson2, 4nitsirk, jscatty, kadavy, jessieonajourney]

The Spice Isle: What the Grenada guidebooks might not tell you

Grenada is so off the radar for a lot of Americans that it leaves a lot to be learned about the country. (For one, how it’s pronounced. Answer: “Gren-ay-da.”)

But here are some of the more practical tidbits that I learned while in the island country that might also serve you well on your visit:

Keep your swimsuits to the beach. An indecent exposure law forbids it elsewhere. Cover up, even if it’s just a little bit.

Don’t wear camouflage. It’s illegal to wear it in any color or format.

Ask before taking that photo of someone.
It’s good tact in any situation (although goodbye to spontaneity), but I especially felt the need to in Grenada. In fact, a few people called me on it when I didn’t. My instinct was to snap photos left and right at the market, but I intentionally stopped to talk about and buy produce first.

US money. Yes, you can use it and businesses accept it.

Go SCUBA diving. Grenada has the most wreck dives (sunken boats) in the Caribbean.

%Gallery-77695%Drive on the left. (Also means walking on the left-hand side). But first, you have to get a local driving permit from the traffic department at the Central Police Station on the Carenage. Present your driver’s license and pay a fee of EC$30.

No need to rush the spice-buying. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy spice and all of the variations of spice products — for cheap, too. Consider buying it from the shopkeeper that you’ve just enjoyed a great conversation with.

Say yes to insect repellent. Mosquito bites ended up being the majority of my souvenirs.

Keep some cash on hand for your departure tax. The airport doesn’t accept credit cards for the payment. You can use either American or Eastern Caribbean cash. Adults: EC$50 (US$20). Children ages 2-12: EC$25 (US$10).

Stick to one elevation at a time. Grenada is blessed with wonders from the depths of the ocean to the heights of a 2,000-foot-high mountain. But it’s such a distance that you’ll want to avoid going SCUBA diving and seeing Grand Etang in the same day — you’re sure to get decompression sickness (the bends).

Wait to buy chocolate until later. No doubt you’ll want to bring chocolate home (Grenada Chocolate Company makes an especially good kind — plus it’s organic and made small-batch). But if you’re like me you don’t have a refrigerator in your hotel room, the chocolate is sure to melt, so pick it up at the end.

Hydrate. It’s easy to forget that you need to drink more than usual because of the weather — even when you don’t feel thirsty.

Do as the locals do. Go to the beach on Sunday for an authentic Grenadian experience — you’ll find local families lounging on the beach, and kids starting up soccer games.

Keep an ear to the local slang. For one, “bon je” (jai/jay) is used as an exclamation of awe. That said, understanding the local patois can be as difficult as learning any new language.

Alison Brick traveled through Grenada on a trip sponsored by the Grenada Board of Tourism. That said, she could write about anything that struck her fancy. (And it just so happens that these are the things that struck her fancy.) You can read more from her The Spice Isle: Grenada series here.