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More of Memphis

Tuesday, we took a look at Memphis and covered only the musical landmarks. There's much more to enjoy and learn about in Memphis.

The Mississippi River itself is quite an impressive landmark. You can take a ride on the Memphis Queen riverboat or enjoy a concert at Mud Island, where you can also explore a scale model of the entire Mississippi River.

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The Lorraine Motel at 450 Mulberry Street, just a couple of blocks from Beale Street, was the site where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. King was in town to support the sanitation workers strike, and had just given his famous "Mountaintop" speech the night before. The Lorraine went into foreclosure in 1982, and was bought by a group of prominent Memphians who founded The National Civil Rights Museum on the site. The museum is open every day.
Yet more Memphis, after the jump.

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The Peabody Hotel on Union Avenue opened in 1925. The famous Peabody Ducks still swim in the hotel's fountain each day, escorted to the lobby from their penthouse apartment by the Peabody Duckmaster. See a video of the ducks here.

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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was founded by Danny Thomas in 1962 in response to a vow he made to build a shrine to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. The hospital serves children with cancer from all over the world with no regard for their family's ability to pay, if they fit into their current research protocols.

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A. Schwab's Dry Goods at 163 Beale Street is the oldest business on the street, in operation since 1876. You can still get everything from underwear to voodoo spells at Schwab's.

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In 1991, the city of Memphis built The Pyramid Arena, a 32-storey civic center in tribute to the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis. The Pyramid is home former home to the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team and the University of Memphis basketball program. It also hosts concerts and other big events.

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And you can't go to Memphis without a visit to the Memphis Zoo, home of pandas Ya Ya and Le Le. You can follow them online with the Panda Cam.

For more on Memphis, see Tell the Truth Travel and the city's official site.

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11-Headed Buddha Statue to Be Revealed in Japan for First Time in 33 Years
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Buddha statues come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The various poses and hand gestures of the Buddha represent different virtues, and any items he happens to be holding—say, a lotus flower or a bowl—have some religious significance.

But not all Buddha relics are created equal, as evidenced by the reverence paid to one particularly holy statue in Japan. The 11-headed figure is so sacred that it has been hidden away for 33 years—until now. Lonely Planet reports that the Buddha statue will be revealed on April 23 during the Onsen Festival in Kinosaki Onsen, a coastal town along the Sea of Japan that’s famous for its hot springs. The statue is kept inside Onsen-ji Temple, a religious site which dates back to 738 CE.

Al altar inside Onsen-ji temple

Patrick Vierthaler, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The big Buddha reveal, however, will be held elsewhere. For that, festivalgoers will need to ride a cable car to the top of Mount Taishi, where they’ll catch a glimpse of Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu, a name which means “11-faced goddess of compassion and mercy.” It will be hard to miss—at 7 feet tall, the statue would tower over most NBA players. Considered a natural treasure, it’s displayed in three-year blocks once every 33 years. So if you miss the initial reveal, you have until 2021 to catch a glimpse.

“The people of Kinosaki are very excited about this event, especially the younger generation," Jade Nunez, an international relations coordinator for the neighboring city of Toyooka, told Lonely Planet Travel News. "Those who are under 30 years old have never seen the statue in its entirety, so the event is especially important to them."

After paying their respects to the Buddha, festival attendees can take a dip in one of three hot spring bathhouses that will be free to use during the Onsen Festival.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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All National Parks Are Offering Free Admission on April 21
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Looking for something to do this weekend that's both outdoorsy and free? To kick off National Park Week, you can visit any one of the National Park Service's more than 400 parks on April 21, 2018 for free.

While the majority of the NPS's parks are free year-round, they'll be waiving admission fees to the more than 100 parks that normally require an entrance fee. Which means that you can pay a visit to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, or Yellowstone National Parks without reaching for your wallet. The timing couldn't be better, as many of the country's most popular parks will be increasing their entrance fees beginning in June.

The National Park Service, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2016, maintains 417 designated NPS areas that span more than 84 million acres across every state, plus Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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