Yearly Archives: 2015

Shika no Tsunokiri (deer horn cutting)

For almost 330 years, the Shika no Tsunokiri has been a marker of the fall season in Nara since the Edo Period. The event was started to protect townspeople, as well as valuable cultural properties from being damaged by bucks’

Geography of Japan

Japan is an island nation located along the east coast of the Asian continent. The Japanese archipelago is composed of four large islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu—see below), the islands of Okinawa, and thousands of other smaller islands, with a

Seasons & Climate of Japan

Summary Japan has 4 distinct seasons starting with a cold and dry winter. The welcome spring is mild and brings out Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. The summer starts with the rainy season in late June or early July, followed by

The Japanese Language

Japanese (Nihongo 日本語), spoken by around 128 million native speakers, is the national language of Japan, though not officially designated as such. The literacy rate in Japan is said to be close to 100% of the population, and the country

The Japanese Calendar & National Holidays

Japan Standard Time The standard time zone in Japan is Japan Standard Time (JST), which is 9 hours ahead of UTC (UTC+09:00). The 24-hour clock is widely used. Currently, daylight savings time (DST, summer time) is not observed in Japan.

Japanese Customs & Practices

Japanese Manners Having cut itself from the rest of the world until the late 19th century, Japan has preserved many of its traditional customs, though western influences continue to grow. Many of these customs are closely linked with the changing

Money in Japan

The Yen (¥ / 円 / JPY) is the official currency in Japan. Banknotes and coins The Bank of Japan issues four types of Japanese paper banknotes, and 6 different coins. The banknotes, with value denominations of ¥1,000, ¥2,000, ¥5,000,

Measurements

Traditional Japanese Units Although the metric system is used in Japan, some traditional units of measurement are still in wide use as well. A common unit of area used when describing room size is , which is the size of

Power Supply

The power supply is 100V/50Hz in Eastern Japan and 100V/60Hz in Western Japan, but most electrical items can be used in both areas. Electric outlets are identical to 2-pin North American outlets, and many portable electrical devices from the U.S.

Trains in Japan

An overview of Japan’s rail network, and general information on train fares, tickets and prepaid IC cards.

Inter-city Travel by Rail

Express and bullet trains (shinkansen) allow you to travel long distances in a short time period. Unlike ordinary cars, they charge a fee in addition to the base fare. These trains may carry first class (“Green”) cars with more spacious

Rail Travel in Tokyo & Yokohama

Information and train line maps for rail services in Tokyo and Yokohama, with additional guides to delay certificates and women-only carriages.

Rail Tickets & Prepaid IC Cards

Information on ticket machines and IC charge cards for trains and buses, and a guide to commuter passes.

Tourist Passes & Day Tickets

Convenient discount tickets for train and bus services in the Tokyo area, and tourist passes including airport access combination tickets.

Buses in Japan

How to pay fares on the two main kinds of local bus in Japan, and information on discounted transfers on Tokyo buses.

Taxis in Japan

What to expect from taxis in Japan, and phone numbers for taxi companies in Tokyo and Yokohama.

Asakusa

As one of the most popular sightseeing spots, Asakusa offers a taste of historic and religious Japan. A number of festivals are held here throughout the year. The surrounding area also offers a unique feel of an older Tokyo that you do not find elsewhere in the city, so it is worth exploring.

TOKYO SKYTREE & TOKYO Solamachi & TOKYO mizumachi

At 634m in height, Tokyo Skytree is the tallest architecture in Japan and the world’s tallest free-standing broadcasting tower.

Tokyo Tower

This 333-meter-tall tower offers unbeatable panoramic views of Tokyo from the observatory at 150m and 250m.

Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is the residence of the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Inside you will find the East Gardens (closed Mon & Fri every week and 12/28-1/3 every year) which are the former site of Edo Castle’s innermost circles of defense. Guided tours are available with advanced booking. The moat surrounding the palace is a popular jogging course.

Meiji Jingu

In contrast to the lively Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Meiji Jingu (明治神宮) has an air of tranquility. Once you have passed through the large wooden Torii (鳥居, gate) and are inside the grounds, it is easy to forget about the

Ueno

Ueno Park is famous for its cherry blossoms. In addition to many great museums, such as the Tokyo National Museum and the National Museum for Western Art, you can also enjoy the oldest zoo in Japan with your family. There

Jindaiji

Built in 733, Jindaji, one of Tokyo’s oldest temples, is known for numerous soba shops in front of its temple gate, and 5,200 rosebushes in bloom in mid-May and mid-October in its botanical garden.

Tsukiji Shijo (Fish Market)

At one time one of the world’s busiest fish markets, most of Tsukiji’s operations were moved to Toyosu in late 2018. Visitors can no longer go inside the Tsukiji market, but there are still many restaurants and shops just outside.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings

The Metropolitan Government Buildings are 243m in height. From the observation decks on top of both the North and South towers (which are free of charge), you have an unrestricted view of the sprawling metropolis, and on clear days, you

Odaiba

This waterfront area on the other side of Rainbow Bridge from Shimbashi has many modern architectural sights including the FUJI Television Building, hotels and shopping malls. It is also beautiful at night.

Mount Takao

This 599m high sacred mountain is a popular day hiking spot for Tokyo residents. From the peak, on a clear day, you can see central Tokyo and Mount Fuji. The colorful, wooded hills create a stunning background in autumn. The

Yokohama

Just a short train ride from Tokyo, Japan’s 2nd largest city is well-known for the sea breezes and newly renovated bay area. It also has a wealth of other attractions.

Kamakura

The many shrines and temples set amid the wooded hills bring to mind a poetic, oriental image of Japan. At Kamakura station’s east exit, there is a red Torii (gate) which is the side entrance to Kamakura’s symbolic shopping street.

Hakone

From Tokyo, Hakone is the closest Onsen (hot spring) resort, but this scenic area also has museums and art galleries. A ropeway trip to the top of Mount Hakone will give you spectacular views of the surrounding countryside as well

Nikko

Nikko, famed for being a World Heritage site, is situated northwest of Tochigi prefecture in the northern Kanto Region. Nikko Toshogu, the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu and an impressively decorated shrine, the fascinating 97m high Kegon-No-Taki waterfall and finally Lake

Mt. Fuji

It is not only the highest mountain in Japan, but is also a famous symbol of Japan. Many people like the thought of climbing Mount Fuji, although it is not easy and can only be climbed during July and August.

Sightseeing References & Tour Agencies

With so many options to choose from, it may be difficult to know where to begin planning your trip to Japan. Here are some sightseeing references and tour agencies that can help and arrange the right travel experience for you.

List of Traffic Signs

Below is a list of popular traffic signs as seen in Japan. A driver must display this mark on the car for one year after obtaining a driver’s license. Displayed on cars driven by a person over 70. Not obligatory.

Riding a Bicycle in Japan

Bicycles in Japan, especially the ubiquitous “mama-chari,” the (often) single-gear bike equipped with a basket and rack, are a convenient form of transportation ideal for running errands and making short trips in Japan’s urban areas, and cycling is often grouped

Driving a Car in Japan

Driving in Japan will show you many aspects of the city and countryside that are inaccessible by public transport. Be cautious, because roads and highways in urban areas can be very crowded. Driving Rules Drive on the left side of

Driver’s License in Japan

You can drive using a foreign license with an International Driving Permit or an official translation (depending on your country) for the 1st year, but you must get a Japanese driver’s license after the 2nd year. To transfer to a

Expressways in Japan

The expressway (“Kosoku-doro” / “高速道路” or “Jidoushado” / “自動車道”, in Japanese) is probably a much quicker option for long distance travel. For the most part, you will have to pay to use them. Charges are either flat-rate or distance-based. For

In Case of Car Accidents

Try to keep the scene as it happened. Rescue anyone who is injured. Call “119” (Ambulance) if there is anyone injured. Call “110” (Police) and explain the location and situation. Move the vehicle if it gets in the way of

Japan Rail Passes

There are a number of JR Passes aimed at tourists that allow for unlimited travel on designated services. In addition to the Japan-wide JR Rail Pass, the various member companies of the Japan Rail Group offer passes valid for travel

Inter-city Travel by Highway Bus

Inter-city coach transportation by “highway bus” (or “kosoku bus,” 高速バス) is an attractive budget option for long distance travel in Japan. Highway bus fares can be significantly cheaper than airplane or shinkansen tickets, and routes between major cities and tourist

Internet for Travelers

Internet access Internet in Japan is fast and reliable and most accommodation for tourists will have internet access. If in doubt, confirm with your accommodation provider before reservation. For those who need access on the go, there are a number

Types of Shop

Department Stores Japan’s world class department stores carry a similar range of products to their Western counterparts. The top floors usually have a selection of international restaurants, while bustling food markets in the basement floors are filled with beautiful selections

Sumida Aquarium

One of the main attractions of the Tokyo Skytree – relatively small but you’ll enjoy many creatures and interesting exhibits with very modern design.

Shopping Customs in Japan

Along with hotels and restaurants, shops in Japan pride themselves on their high standard of customer service. The shopping experience is generally a straightforward one, but there are a few customs and peculiarities you should be aware of in advance.

Shopping Districts

Tokyo and Yokohama have a number of districts where many shops specialise in a particular kind of item. Use this guide to find out where to shop based on what you’re looking for. Fashion and Brand Goods Tokyo is one

Decks Tokyo Beach

150 shops, restaurants and an indoor amusement park.

DiverCity Tokyo Plaza

A new shopping/amusement facility in Odaiba that opened in 2012, famous for the giant Gundam statue outside.

KITTE

A wide variety of shops and restaurants spread across 7 floors of this sophisticated shopping mall. Here you will find Japanese regional cuisine along with a variety of fashion and lifestyle goods retailers.

MARK IS minatomirai

This shopping mall is located in the center of Minato Mirai. Chic fashion boutiques and name brand shopping are joined by a wide selection of Japanese and international restaurants.

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