LIVE Camera at the Shibuya Crossing

April 30th, 2016

Get ready to see something awesome! You can view the live camera at Shibuya scramble crossing in Tokyo Japan on YouTube! Here’s the link. https://youtu.be/6q36pnzcw70

And here’s the live cam below!

Get Paid to Travel!

April 2nd, 2016

Seeking some adventure? Get paid to travel the world! The team from Hostelling International USA has launched the Explore the World Travel Scholarship! Click here to find out more!

The deadline for this scholarship is May 15, 2016.

Mt Fuji Travel The World

Saving Money on Transportation

March 2nd, 2016

This is an article about Transportation in Japan that I’m putting under the “Saving Money” category. Hopefully you’ll find this useful if you visit Japan or live in Japan.

Trains in Tokyo are unbelievably convenient and reliable and a great alternative to Taxis. They are rarely off schedule and have stations in every major location throughout the city. Here are a list of websites where you can buy affordable tickets.

Tokyo Metro Passes – visit the site here
JR East Rail Passes – visit the site here

If you would like a quick train pass that works on all trains in Tokyo, you could always purchase a SUICA card (very convenient). This can be filled with any amount of money and all you do is swipe through all train gates, use if on most vending machine, easy pay in convenience stores and more. In the end, you can keep it as a souvenir – more info on SUICA here.

* I focus on Tokyo because that’s where the majority of visitors go during their visit to Japan.

 

 

Japan Train Station

Japan Train Station

 

 

Japanese Martial Arts

February 25th, 2015

The term “Martial Arts” is used frequently to refer to any number of combat systems which originate primarily in Asia, but may also come from Europe or the Americas.  In most cases, martial arts focuses on the use of the body and mind to defeat an enemy, although some forms employ swords, sticks, or other weapons.  While the martial arts forms throughout Asia are all strongly influenced by each other, the Japanese had an important impact on martial arts across the region, largely due to their occupation of Korea, China, and Okinawa.  While each form of martial arts has it’s own combination of strikes, grabs, holds, movements, and philosophy, Japanese martial arts have had an important influence on most of the world.  The following are some of the best known Japanese martial arts.

Sumo Match in Japan

Sumo is a form of grappling in which two wrestlers attempt to force each other out of the circular ring or knock each other onto the floor.  While Sumo is often considered a martial art today, the sport dates back hundreds of years to the Edo period in Japan and has ties to the Shinto practice of wrestling with divine spirits in the form of dance.

Karate High Kick

Karate is probably the most well known martial art, and many people use the word Karate synonymously with the term martial arts.  Karate is a distinct form of martial arts that combines kicking, strikes with the elbows, knees, and fists, grappling techniques, and pressure points.  The art form originated in the occupied territory called the Ryukyu Islands, also known as Okinawa Japan.  Karate has strong influences from both Chinese martial arts forms and Okinawan Sho Ryn Ru.

Aikido Flip by an old guy

Aikido is a martial arts form that is primarily defensive in nature, using the momentum of an opponent combined with grappling techniques to throw the enemy off balance without injuring either party.  The art form is influenced by the idea of Omoto-Kyo which teaches a practitioner to use compassion and understanding toward the attacker to help thwart the attack without injuring the other person.

judo in japan

Judo and Jiu-Jitsu are both grappling style martial arts that use holds, joint locks, and choking maneuvers to stop an attack.  Neither style permits the use of weapons during competition, although students often practice with weapons in their katas.  Like Aikido, Judo uses the momentum of the attacker to defend from attacks, but also includes throws and ground fighting techniques.  The “Ju” at the beginning of both names refers to the “soft method”, which is an indirect application of force.  While Judo is derived from Jiu-Jitsu, the forms are distinct martial arts forms.

Kendo Fight

Chanbara and Kendo are martial arts techniques that use a sword.  These techniques are often associated with the Japanese Samurai or Ninja, thanks to the use of a Samurai style sword.  Students practice with foam boffers, known as Chanbara, in the Chanbara style.  In the Kendo form, shinai, which are swords woven from bamboo, are used to represent the katana-style sword.

Photo credits: Sumo by davidgsteadman, Karate by Hideya HAMANO, Aikido by L’oeil étranger, Judo by Kevin, and Kendo by Tom.

Best Restaurants in Japan for luxury travelers

February 24th, 2015

Michelin Guide (fr. Michelin, Le Guide Rouge), sometimes also referred to as the “Red Guide” – the most famous and influential of restaurant ratings at the moment. The guide is available since 1900 and has a three-star system for evaluating restaurants. Japan has one of the highest densities of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, with many restaurant owners having been known to turn down a Michelin star as they don’t feel like they would be able to serve so many patrons. Aronia de Takazawa, rumored to have declined a Michelin star. Chef Takazawa’s small diner place has long been one of Tokyo’s mysteries, more gossiped about than actually visited. Not surprising, at all – Aronia have had only two tables with max capacity of 8 visitors.

Our tour among the most famous sushi restaurant will start with Jiro, from the movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Sukiyabashi Jiro, Tokyo, The restaurant has three stars Michelin, which is the highest grade sushi restaurant in the world. It is dedicated to documentary protagonist Sukiyabashi chef Hiro called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” The sushi is prepared perfectly, and the staff is excellent.

Japanese cuisine has developed over the last 300-400 years under strong influences from China and Korea, and later and European cuisine, to form what today can be described as a traditional gourmet cuisine on the island.

RESTAURANT “NIHONBASHI YUKARI” in Tokyo, Japan

Nihonbashi Yukari Japan Restaurant

Tokyo is not a place where you expect to find a restaurant at an affordable price, right? One of these restaurants is Nihonbashi Yukari. Devoid of any ostentation, it was established in 1935 and exists to this day. It is currently managed by the third generation – chef Kimio Nonaga – san. If you are a guest of the restaurant you will be born lucky if namely Nonaga san prepare you gazpacho Japanese or tomato jelly with tongue in the form of flowers or crowned sea urchin served in an exquisite way. We strongly recommend you seafood there – fresh tuna grilled with soy. What would you choose to end of the evening? We remained particularly impressed with the ice cream with black beans. This is certainly a very attractive dessert that will be remembered.

RESTAURANT LA NAPOULE in Odawara, Japan

LA_NAPOULE_Narisawa

Definitely haute cuisine, but still modernist, slightly theatrical and highly sensitive and dependent on organic products – these are the common characteristics of the restaurant La Napoule in Odawara. Luxury travelers to Japan flock to this restaurant. To find his kitchen that the essence is neither typical French or Japanese, you have to browse in the past to its owner. 19 years old – young Narisawa traveled to Europe, spending some time in Switzerland, Italy and France. After eight years, he has worked in many famous kitchens of Europe – including Joel Robuchon and Paul Bocuse, he decided to return to Japan in 1996 and opened the restaurant La Napoule in Odawara. The restaurant is surrounded by diverse nature that combines mountain, river and bay. Narisawa use fresh and not so famous spices creating specific sensation that occurs depending on the time of seasonality in his kitchen. Narisawa opened restaurant “Les Créations December Narisawa” in Tokyo in 2003. Although he is now closer to its customers there, Narisawa is true to his philosophy of fresh herbs, which collect them directly from the forest, beach, garden or mountain of Odawara. They form the basis of its cuisine. Restaurant in Tokyo is characterized by a minimalist interior with white starched linen tablecloths and chairs in the same style, which provide the perfect setting.

RESTAURANT “KIKUNOI” in Tokyo, Japan

Kikunoi Restaurant Yoshihiro Murata

Restaurant “Kikunoi” in Tokyo was established in 2004 by Yoshihiro Murata, a third generation chef “Kikunoi” and synonymous with haute French cuisine. It’s over a century since the establishment of the first restaurant in Gion – Maruyama (Kyoto) of his ancestors. The restaurant offers exquisite dishes from the French gourmet cuisine, which under the creative leadership of its owner become unique dishes that await guests of the restaurant.

Yoshihiro Murata has created a restaurant in London, which is similar to “Kikunoi” in Tokyo. His fans who can not visit Tokyo will be able to enjoy their meals in a restaurant in London “Murata”, which is also awarded with a Michelin star ranking of the 50 best restaurants in the world. The restaurant offers a dish of seasonal vegetables, which looks like a rainbow layers of vegetable terrine with savory, refreshing tomato sorbet. All dishes are based on the best techniques of European cuisine. They use typical Japanese ingredients characteristic of their kitchen and gets a really excellent result. This is Kikunoi Tokyo.

The abovementioned restaurants can form the basis of a luxury gastronomic trip to Japan but this list is by no means exhaustive.