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5 Tips – Buying a Home in Japan

Tokyo rent might not be as expensive as London or New York… but it’s still pretty high! With interest rates in Japan so low now, however, this could be an excellent time to buy. There are a few things you’ll

Tokyo Flowers in Spring

The smell of spring is in the air, and it seems like everyone is looking forward to the cherry blossoms and making plans for hanami…but what are the other flowers that blossom in the city? Here are some flowers that

7 Tokyo Rail Hacks

Once you get used to the overcrowding, get to know which lines intersect at which stations, and which lines are operated by which companies, Tokyo’s rail network is not so difficult to navigate. Still, there are a few tips and

Japanese Tax Return Season

February and March in Japan is tax season, when all residents receive a tax return form from their local tax office. The two main forms of tax are income tax and . The rates you pay for both kinds of

Seasonal Food – Winter

To chase away the cold, warming dishes like nabe and oden are particularly popular in winter in Japan. Both can be made with a wide range of ingredients, with some of the most popular being in season (or “shun” in

Machiawase: Tokyo’s Famous Rendezvous Spots

Tokyo is the biggest city in the world, and if you haven’t gotten lost here at least once, you’re not trying hard enough. Even if you manage to keep a track of where you are, arranging to meet someone in

“My number” – What you need to know

If you are resident in Japan, you may have heard talk about a new social security number system that is being introduced this autumn. Nicknamed “my number” in Japanese, this Individual Number system identifies each resident by a single 12-digit

Seasonal Food – Autumn

Seasonality is an important aspect of Japanese culture, and in no area does it play a greater role than in the world of food and drink. The concept of “shun” (旬) refers to ingredients that are at their seasonal best,

Autumn Leaves in Tokyo

(original photo by Dick Thomas Johnson; CC BY 2.0)

Though Tokyo is often viewed as a concrete jungle, there are plenty of places where the effects of the changing seasons on nature can be seen and appreciated. This guide contains some of the best locations, both in the city

Tokyo Citizen’s Day

The 1st of October is Tokyo Citizen’s Day (都民の日, tomin no hi), on which many public parks, museums, galleries and other facilities offer free entry. Though not a public holiday, when it falls on a weekday most public school children

8 Things You Can’t Do on a Bike in Japan

Japan is well known for the safety of its streets and low crime rate – helped, no doubt, by the visibility of the country’s police force. With so little serious crime to contend with, you may wonder what it is

Things to Know about Winter Driving in Japan

(original photo by Dave See; CC BY 2.0)

Winter driving can be pretty treacherous, and you can never be too careful. When driving in Japan in the winter, remember to be aware of the road conditions. You might think that December is too early to think about heavy

Food Allergy Labeling

Expats with food allergies know that they need to be extra careful when dealing with foods in a new country. Besides the obvious language barrier they deal with when trying to decipher the backs of food labels, labeling regulations may

If you’re asked to a Japanese wedding

June in Japan is a month with a lot of weddings. Though the image of a sunny wedding may be at odds with a season of perpetual rain and clouds due to the ‘plum rains’, as you might expect many

The Japanese, the rain, and umbrellas

When you live in Japan you see that for half of the year in most places, it’s a rainy country — beginning with the fall of the cherry blossoms, then the thunderstorms in May, the monsoons in June, and the

Singing in the Plum Rain

This year’s ‘plum rains’ (tsuyu) are upon us, and across the length and the whole country will be plunged into the long rainy season. This may be a yearly occurrence, but people still get depressed about the days of endless

Hunting Fireflies

The end of May and throughout June is firefly season in Japan. Beginning with the genjibotaru (ゲンジボタル, laciola), you can spot many different varieties of fireflies near clear streams. Firefly viewing is a time-honored tradition and one of the features

Preparing for the New Year

Christmas decorations come down quickly in Japan to make way for the most important Japanese holiday – New Year’s. Preparations for the end of the year are many and require time. Offices and homes are cleaned, accounts are settled, and

Kotatsu: A Traditional Way to Stay Warm and Save Energy

(original photo by sakura_chihaya+; CC BY-SA 2.0)

Although temperatures rarely fall below 0C in Kanto, winters can seem especially cold in Japanese houses with little insulation. Places without central heating, are often heated by kerosene and electric space heaters, or electric wall unit heaters. Along with allowing


(original photo by; CC BY 2.0)

Right in between Japan’s multicolored spring and its scorching hot summers, there is a period of about 40-50 days, when the otherwise pleasant summer months become unusually gloomy, wet and humid. This is Japan’s official monsoon season, or as they

Setsuden – What Can You Do?

With the summer months ahead, the time where being inside with an open window leaves you at just the right temperature will soon be coming to an end. In the past, this meant the beginning of the Cool Biz season,

Back to School Japanese Style

April in Japan not only means cherry blossom viewing and streets flooded with university job hunters, but it also marks the beginning of another school year for Japan’s youngest. Now, most expat families choose to send their kids to international

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