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October Fests:

September 29th, 2015

Despite the popularity of summer travel, one of the best times to visit Japan is in the fall. That's when the leaves turn copper, crimson and yellow in the north, and temperatures are still warm in the south and west. It's also after the suffocating heat of summer has finally blown away for the year, and when the lines of tourists begin to shorten or disappear completely. In addition, airline tickets tend to be cheaper at this time than they are in the summer and spring months. And there's still plenty to see and do. Here are some of the top activities around the nation this month.

Teaching English in Japan 101:

July 19th, 2015

If you're considering teaching English in Japan, you're in luck. The jobs are still fairly easy to come by, even years after the bubble days. In general, you need few skills to get hired at an eikaiwa -- or English conversation -- school. Here are some tips on how to get started and what you need to land a job.

Lessons of Teaching English in Japan:

July 28th, 2015

I taught English in Japan for about a half year in 2010, and, again, to a few students to make extra cash over 2013 and 2014 while living there and freelance writing. Getting a job teaching at eikaiwa, or English conversation schools, is still relatively easy in Japan, even in the countryside. Here are the 6 rules of the job.

5 Tips for Surviving Summers in Japan:

July 27th, 2015

I used to think summer was the time for vacations. That was before I spent two entire summers in Japan. It took me a while to learn, but June, July and August are not the best times to enjoy Japan. They will make even the strongest deniers believe in global warming. But if you're there or have flights booked for a summer vacation in Japan, you can still have a good trip, if you know how to handle the heat...

Hot Events of August:

July 28th, 2015

If you can take the heat -- and it is hot in August in Japan -- the late summer is worth heading to the archipelago for one reason: The nation's festivals and fireworks. Here is a sampling of the nation's top summer festivities for the month:

Tourism With Benefits:

July 28th, 2015

As Japan pushes to boost tourism and preps for the 2020 Olympics, the nation is also seeing a boom in services and technology for travelers -- such as expanded free Wi-Fi hotspots, helpful apps for smart phones and SIM card vending machines in airports. Here are a few of the latest conveniences to look out for on your trip to the archipelago.

What to Give When You Go:

June 25th, 2015

If you go to Japan and return home without gifts for your close friends and family, you're being selfish. Even an inexpensive souvenir can tell your loved ones a story about the nation's culture, and, of course make them envious that you got to go, and they didn't. And probably a small present is all you can fit in your suitcase and afford, especially after the cost of such a trip. Here are eight gift ideas for the first-time traveler to Japan.

Tuttle Guide Offers Breezy Tour of Tokyo:

April 29th, 2015

Unlike some other books published recently by Tuttle, “Tuttle Travel Pack: Tokyo" achieves practicality, and little more. You wouldn't read the book for its prose and you wouldn't peruse it for its images. You would read it, however, to find out what to do and where to go in this overwhelming city.

"Kyoto Gardens" Rooted in Beauty and Prose:

April 23rd, 2015

“Kyoto Gardens” is the sort of travel book that will make you miss Japan, whether you've been there or not. The work, which is published by Tuttle and sells for $22.95, is a travel guide, but it's also a coffee table book and reference guide. In addition to using it to plan your trip to Kyoto, you can keep it on your shelf and pull it out to reflect on past visits to the old capital. Or, you can just flip through the glossy photos of picturesque gardens and intriguing stories about their histories and daydream about Japan.

Top 5 Reasons to Go to Osaka:

April 21st, 2015

While Tokyo is a favorite place to visit for vacationers in Japan, there are plenty of reasons to instead head for the capital's little brother out west: Osaka. Here are five of them.

Japan on the Cheap:

April 14th, 2015

Japan is known as a nation where you can buy melons that cost upwards of $30 and sushi dinners priced in the hundreds of dollars. Its top city, Tokyo, is one of the world's most expensive cities to live in. But these are the extremes, and travelers on a limited budget can still enjoy the archipelago if they plan properly. Here are six tips to vacationing in Japan on the cheap:

If High Prices Bug You, Hit the Flea Market:

April 14th, 2015

In general, the stereotype that Japanese like things that are new is true: New houses are built where old ones were, new cars dominate the roads, and a new Lawson opening is like a block party. But one exception is flea markets, where you may find a bargain-priced treasure in someone's junk. Or, you might just find junk. Here's a guide to flea markets in Japan.

To Bring or Not to Bring?:

March 31st, 2015

There are several things to consider when packing for your trip to Japan, more so, perhaps, than when travelling to Europe. Some things will get you in trouble, others will keep you out of it. Others will just make your life easier. Here are five tips for packing for your Japanese vacation:

Soak Up the Best of Japan:

March 25th, 2015

Probably one of Japan's most underrated attractions is its bathhouses. But, I promise, if you fly thousands of miles to the archipelago just for a soak in the tub, you won't be wasting your time or money. Here are five of the nation's top bathhouse destinations.

Himeji Spreads Its Wings:

July 28th, 2015

After $20-million in renovations, Himeji Castle in Hyogo prefecture is open again in all its fortified, yet thoroughly historic glory. The castle – called one of the world's greatest by many – was partially closed to visitors for a half dozen years while being restored. Here's what you'll find there.

A Prescription for Prison Time:

March 29th, 2015

If you're reading this on the plane to Japan and your suitcase contains a package of Tylenol Cold, your prescription for Adderall, and a dirty magazine you picked up in the bookstore at the O'Hare, you have reason to be worried: All three are not allowed in the country. Here's a guide to what's banned in Japan.

Always Sunny in Okayama:

March 19th, 2015

The southwestern prefecture Okayama, about an hour by Shinkansen from Osaka and not too much further from Kyoto, has hot spring bath houses, traditional pottery, a castle and garden and, by American standards, a big city. Here are the top spots in the prefecture.

5 Things You Must Know Before You Go:

December 5th, 2014

When traveling, it can be easy to follow the routines of home. The problem, of course, is you forget to think or learn about how things are done in the nation at which you're visiting. Here's what you need to know when traveling to Japan.

Go to Japan, Now:

December 27th, 2014

Thanks to a cheaper yen, more flights and preparations for the 2020 Olympics, now is the time to travel to Japan.

Yes, You Can Live Without Central Heating:

December 24th, 2014

As the leaves turn colors and temperatures drop, those new to living in Japan might wonder where's the thermostat in their homes. Well, there is none, because Japanese houses lack central heating. Here's all you need to know about staying warm on archipelago.

"Clueless in Tokyo" Will Clue You In:

November 30th, 2014

"Clueless in Tokyo" is an illustrated glossary of Japanese terms, both in English and Japanese. It's essentially an artfully drawn Japanese-English picture dictionary -- with lively and brightly colored stretches of nearly every aspect of Japanese daily life and tradition.

Kagawa Has the Best Artists You've Never Heard Of:

November 16th, 2014

Kagawa is mostly unknown as a tourist destination, but it houses works by some of the world's greatest – and often under appreciated -- artists and craftsmen: furniture-maker George Nakashima, sculptor Isamu Noguchi, architect Tadao Ando, and painter Genichiro Inokuma.

"I've Got Kagawa on My Mind":

November 24th, 2014

Kagawa prefecture is kind of like the South Carolina of Japan, only with fine arts, crafts, castles and temples. Find out about the area's rich tradition of bonsai growing and fan making, its famed artists such as Isamu Noguchi and George Nakashima, it's richly historic temples and shrines, and its island dedicated to art.

Volcanos: No Need for an Eruption of Fear:

November 13th, 2014

The recent and tragic eruption of a volcano in Nagano is a reminder of the real threat that lava and ash can pose. But, if you already have tickets to Japan in hand, don't worry about the next volcano. Just know what to look out for and expect in the very unlikely event you're near one that's about to blow.

So ... You Had a Baby in Japan ...:

December 16th, 2014

If you have a baby while in Japan, here's what you need to know to ensure your kid is an American citizen (presuming one of the parents, is, too).

"Tokyo on Foot" a Great Feat:

August 21st, 2015

“Tokyo on Foot" is not a guide. The book is a sketch diary of a French artist's six months in Tokyo. And those who've visited the metropolis -- or most anywhere in Japan -- and who have a healthy sense of humor will appreciate the observations on life in Japan and the drawings of sights of the city and of everyday objects that make Japan the unique, wonderful nation it is.

Eating on the Cheap:

October 9th, 2014

Tokyo always makes those Top 10 lists of most expensive places to live, and Japan in general can be a pricey place. But while it's true that you can spend as much as you'd pay for a new tablet computer at a fine sushi restaurant, cheap chow is always close by. Here are some of the best ways and places to get a truly Japanese meal that won't have you emptying out your bank account by trip's end.

The Longest Japanese Vacation:

October 3rd, 2014

Ever thought about taking the ultimate vacation in Japan -- living there? Well, if you can swing a year or so there -- or longer -- here's what to expect.

What's in Store in Odaiba:

September 13th, 2014

A giant Gundam statue, a Ferris wheel and tons of restaurants make the Obaida shopping centers more than just a place to buy stuff -- although that's why you'll go there. Here's the guide to shopping in Odaiba.

Top Spots in Odaiba:

September 18th, 2014

Built entirely on reclaimed land, the Odaiba area in Tokyo Bay has a storied history and a promising future. Odaiba is slated to house part of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and it's already home to a giant gundam statue. It's also got some excellent shopping centers. Here are three top spots in Odaiba.

From Reclaimed Land to Olympic Glory: Odaiba:

September 13th, 2014

Odaiba has a long history and a likely vibrant future as it will house the 2020 Olympic village. Here's what you need to know about Tokyo's young district.

Japan Postcard - Japanese free ecards -Japanese culture:

September 16th, 2014

Free Japanese ecards - Japanese Sumo Wrestler

White Glove Treatment:

August 17th, 2014

If you go to Japan, make sure you ride in a taxi at least once, even if just for a short distance. The driver will likely be wearing white gloves, the car likely lined with lacy white cotton seat covers, and the ride a taste of royalty. And it will all be at the cost the common man can afford.

Shaken and Stirred: Earthquakes in Japan:

September 11th, 2014

The chances of being in Japan on vacation at the time of a major earthquake are next to zero. Still, it doesn't hurt to know what to do if one were to strike.

Japan's Miracle City: Hiroshima:

September 9th, 2014

Hiroshima, for Americans, is mostly associated with the World War II atomic bombing. But the first-class city was rebuilt long ago into a thriving metropolis, and is home to historic sites, culture and nature. And the prefecture by the same name has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and island retreat.

The Fun Adds Up in Asakusa:

August 27th, 2014

Traditional Tokyo is alive and well in Asakusa, in particular the brand of Japanese folk culture that was the hallmark of the “shitamachi,” the working class culture that symbolizes everything neighborly and friendly to Tokyoites. And while Asakusa, like almost everything else in Tokyo, is a reconstruction, many of the stores and businesses that populated the “shitamachi” are still around, even though they have disappeared everywhere else. All of the following are within a five-minute walk from the subway and train stations serving Asakusa, including Asakusa station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza and Asakusa lines.

Airline Review: Delta Departed from 'Hospitality' Long Ago:

August 17th, 2014

Planning your trip to Japan? Choosing the right airline will be key to how good your trip over there and back is. I tried Delta, so you don't have to. ...

Need a Mobile Phone? You Call the Shots:

August 12th, 2014

Getting a mobile phone in Japan isn't that hard if you know where to look. For visitors, several companies offer devices you can rent, and, for long-term residents, Japan's major phone carriers offer English-language websites with plenty of details on their plans. Or, if you're like me, you can always just carry around a bunch of heavy coins for the nation's huge number of old green pay phones that are still in use.

Tokyo's a Real Walk in the Park:

July 20th, 2014

The vast city of Tokyo can appear like a mass of concrete, glass and steel. But many sprawling parks full of trees and acres and acres of green occupy greater Tokyo -- the city and the prefecture. Here's a guide to the top parks of Japan's capital.

Tokyo Gets Fired Up for Hanabi:

July 19th, 2014

July and August light up with fireworks festivals throughout Japan. If you're in Tokyo, here's the event lineup for 2014.

Tokyo Tower Still Rises to the Occasion:

June 27th, 2014

Tokyo Tower is not only an antique symbolizing Japan's recovery years, but an icon of the city, still worth visiting, even though it's now overshadowed by today's high-rises.

Tiny Takamatsu's Big on Small Wonders:

July 9th, 2014

Deep in the countryside of Kagawa prefecture, a few hours from Osaka, are two small neighboring areas that produce 80 percent of Japan's pine bonsai. Tens of thousands of the dwarfed plants grow there in hundreds of nurseries that span as many acres, creating miniature forests of magnificently manicured and manipulated trees. Here's your guide to the small wonders of bonsai in Kinashi and Kokubunji.

B.Y.O.B.: Bring Your Own Barbecue:

July 14th, 2014

Looking to cook up a good time in Tokyo? Then bring your own barbecue. But you better know where. Here's the top spots to grill your own steak in Japan's capital city.

Branching Out: Top Bonsai Destinations in Japan:

July 9th, 2014

Bonsai may have roots in ancient China, but Japan owns its tradition of the living art form. And for fans of the craft, plenty of bonsai festivals and destinations await on the archipelago. Here's your guide to bonsai in Japan.

Tokyo Gas Museum Is Illuminating:

July 6th, 2014

It wasn't until the late 19th century that Japan warmed up to the gas energy revolution, brightening streets in Osaka and Tokyo with gas-powered lamps by the early 1870s. And throughout the years, gas has played an important role in the nation's development. This history is documented at the Tokyo Gas Museum in Kodaira.

Kyoto: Geisha, Gion and the Golden Temple:

June 13th, 2014

Though Kyoto is a small city of 1.5 million, it's dense with destinations: It has dozens of temples and shrines and 17 World Heritage sites. So, if you've only got days in the old capital city, you might not know where to begin. Here's a short list of sights to whet your appetite.

"Heritage Sites" Offers Picture of Perfect Japan:

June 20th, 2014

John Dougill, a professor at a Kyoto university and author, draws you into the wonders of Japan's World Heritage Sites in his aptly titled book, "Japan's World Heritage Sites." The images, helpful maps and sidebars, along with fact-rich text, make this a necessary resource for students of Japanese culture and history, or anyone planning a trip to the nation.

Don't Get Bitten on Your Trip to Japan:

June 18th, 2014

There's a very rare chance you'd get bitten by a snake in Japan, but the risk is still real. Venomous snakes can be found throughout the archipelago, and here's what you need to know to stay safe.

Quick Kyoto: 6 Spots to See in the Historic City:

June 16th, 2014

Gion,with its quaint streets, old wooden buildings, and traditional shops, is considered the heart of Kyoto.

Going off the Peak:

June 14th, 2014

Most people save their vacation time for the summer, but this isn't always the best idea when heading to Japan. Some of the best times to travel to the archipelago are during the cool of November or March -- and even the chilly months in between can save you money on airline tickets and hotel rooms and the hassle of competing with other tourists for the best spots and views. Here are tips to traveling off the peak.

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