North Asia & Japan
Welcome to a land of contrasts, a region where you will find the world’s most populous country right next to its least populous. Places that are home to the world’s biggest cities, located next to one of the world’s last great wildernesses as urbanism collides with the wild. North Asia is home to some of the most welcoming countries in the world as well as two of the most secretive and closed off. This area is well known for strange sights and experiences so it’s right up our alley – wait until you see what Inverted Atlas can do in North Asia and Japan! Robot restaurant anyone?
Afāq Khoja Mausoleum, China
Located in the far west of China in the province of Xinjiang just outside the town of Kashgar is the Afaq Khoja Mausoleum. The mausoleum was established in 1640 as the resting place of Muhammad Yūsuf, a Central Asian holy man thought to be responsible for bringing Sufism to China proper. Later, Muhammad’s more famous son and successor Afaq Khoja was interred there along with five generations of the Afaqi family. The mausoleum is also the resting place of the so-called ‘fragrant concubine’ one of Afaq Khoja’s descendants and wife of a rogue leader captured by the Qianlong Emperor’s troops and taken to Beijing to serve as the emperor’s concubine. Refusing to serve him she was forced to commit suicide or was murdered by the emperor’s mother or so a Uyghur tale tells us.
Aryapala Meditation Centre, Mongolia
Situated in Terelj National Park in the Mongolian wilderness just outside Ulaanbaatar, this Buddhist meditation centre occupies a spectacular location set into the hillside. The centre is reached by a sloping walk uphill; whose path is lined with Buddhist proverbs. Around the halfway point there is a prayer wheel which, when spun points to the number of the proverb that best suits the travelers life. Just before the main staircase to reach the main temple cross an old swing bridge and then ascend the steep stone steps and meet the little old caretaker who has spent decades working here. Upon reaching the top of the stairs, turn around to be greeted with an astounding view of the surrounding wilderness.
The Golden Pavilion, Kyoto
One of Japan’s most iconic sites and a must visit while in the city of Kyoto. The pavilion has a history dating back to 1397 and was originally a villa belonging to a powerful statesman. Besides the obviously beautiful Zen Buddhist temple, to which the original villa was converted, the site is home to some of the most spectacular gardens in Japan and that’s really saying something! Designed as a “strolling garden,” the location implements the idea of borrowing scenery or ‘shakkei’ integrating the outside with the inside and creating an extension of the views surrounding the pavilion, connecting it to the outside world.