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Inside the State Guest House

Visiting Akasaka Palace on one of its open days, you can take a tour through a series of lavishly decorated rooms on the second floor. Signage is in English and Japanese, and audio guides in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean

Akasaka Palace – The State Guest House

Wander south of Yotsuya station at the south-east corner of Shinjuku ward and you will find the road widens as it splits, towards Akasaka to the left and Meiji Jingu Gaien to the right. In between, behind tall gates of

5 Tokyo Stations for Anime Fans

Sound effects and jingles are a big part of everyday life in Tokyo. Among the sounds heard most often in the city are so-called , the tunes played on station platforms when a train is about to leave. In the

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

Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution

This addition to Japan’s World Heritage List from July 2015 comprises 23 locations, mainly concentrated along the coast of Kyūshū, which capture the history of Japan’s industrial revolution during the Meiji Era. Japan developed quickly during this period and was

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

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

Michi no Eki: Japan’s Roadside Stations

Japan’s toll-based kōsokudōro (高速道路, expressways) stretch the length and breadth of the country, offering faster and more direct routes between cities than ippandōro (一般道路, regular roads). To make cross-country road journeys more manageable, the expressways have regular service areas with

Edo-Tokyo Museum Reopens

(original photo by Yoshikazu TAKADA; CC BY 2.0)

What is that looming structure, slightly reminiscent of a walker from the Star Wars saga, poised to beam down the Ryogoku Kokugikan (sumo hall)? Yes, it is the Edo-Tokyo Museum, which reopened to the public on March 28 after renovations.

Shima Onsen

A four-hour bus ride away from Tokyo, overflows with nostalgic charm as well as healing spring waters. The unique hot spring experience found here continues to draw visitors to this isolated spot, deep in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture. The

Ski Resorts near Tokyo

Every winter, Japan’s mountainous region is transformed into a snow-filled landscape providing great opportunities for winter sports. Known worldwide for its characteristic dry and powdery snow, the Japanese and internationals alike flock to the slopes of Japan’s numerous ski resorts.

Trip – Shimane and Tottori

Off the beaten path and a little exotic, the San-in Coast offers both the Japanese quintessential temple experience and something a little more unique. Located on the lower western coast of Honshu, the Shimane and Tottori prefectures may not have

Kamakura Koyo Drive

Kamakura (鎌倉) is a coastal town in Kanagawa Prefecture, which used to be the capital in 12th and 13th century Japan. It’s about an hour driving south of Tokyo. It has a whopping 65 temples and 19 shrines, along with

Snowscapes Icescapes

The Japanese archipelago is rich in geographical diversity and allows different regions to enjoy different winter sights. Due to the westerlies hitting the rugged, tall mountain ranges cutting through the country like a spine, the western side of the country

Trip to Eastern Akita (3) – Lake Tazawa and Kakunodate

Lake Tazawa (Tazawako) Leaving Tsurunoyu Onsen, we travelled further into the mountains. After about 30 minutes, we suddenly caught sight of the blue of a lake through the spaces in the trees. As the car left the mountain forest, our

Trip to Eastern Akita (2) – Nyuto Onsen

Following dinner, we set out from Misato-cho for , about an hour and 15 minute drive by car. Our ryokan, a single structure called , maintained a modern appearance amidst the rustic onsen village, situated in a lush forest at

Trip to Eastern Akita (1) – Misato Town

Situated one hour from Akita Airport by car, a trip to , with its expanse of fields and green mountains that stretch out as far as the eye can see, is enough to release anyone from the oppression of the

Sadogashima (Sado Island)

Sado Island might appear small on the map but its separation from the mainland, as well its diversity of terrain and abundance of nature make it seem much larger than it looks. From the port in Niigata – two hours

New Entries into the UNESCO World Heritage List

(original photo by pha pha; CC BY-SA 2.0)

Amidst the seemingly endless string of bad news that has centered around the Tohoku region of Japan, a recent decision by UNESCO manages to bring hope and pride back to the citizens of the disaster stricken area. In June 2011,

Are there electronics that can be used back home?

Japanese electric/broadcast specifications differ from most other countries, which prevents you from using appliances from your home country. Unfortunately, 99% of the products sold in Japan are designed according to Japanese specifications with instruction manuals in Japanese only. Sony Overseas


Got a free weekend? Hawaii and Guam are too far away, and Okinawa’s too expensive? Shizuoka might just be the place for you then. To be precise, the small and cozy seaside town of Atami. Located just 100km south of

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