Archive for the ‘Expat Tips’ Category

5 Important Things You Must Do Before Traveling To Japan

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

When you travel to Japan, you are given the chance to see a country that is rooted in their tradition and culture. In addition to that, this country has also welcomed technology and modernization with open arms. A mix of culture and technology– that is one combination you will not get to see in any other countries.

(1) Learn Basic Japanese.

Japanese is quite a difficult language to learn. Attempting to do this in just a few months is not possible. However, not knowing any Japanese terms at all can become quite a hassle when you travel to Japan. Learning basic Japanese words for simple terms like- Hello, Where is this, Thank you, Excuse me, sorry and the likes can turn your Japan trip from a nightmare into a wonderful dream. Here are some free resources to help you out. Keep in mind that not all Japanese speak fluent English. These terms will definitely come handy wherever you go.


(2) Plan Your Itinerary

If you wish to make the most out of your Japan trip, then you must plan your itinerary well. Once you have received your ticket and you already know how many days you will be staying in this wonderful country, then it is time to let the good times roll. Determine what places you will visit then schedule all the attractions on the same city on a day. You can also try calculating the travel time. There are lots of websites and mobile apps that you can use to plan your itinerary the most efficient and effective way possible. Here are some travel guides I’ve written to give you more insight on different areas of Japan.


(3) Know The Do’s and Don’ts.

Each and every country has their own culture. What is acceptable to US may not work well in Japan. This is why you should do your research first before the scheduled trip. In this way, you will be able to avoid disrespecting the culture and traditions of Japan. If you plan on visiting their temples, then know what appropriate dress to wear. If you wish to socialize with their people, then know what you should and should not do. If you wish to eat in Japanese restaurants, then know what is their eating etiquette.


(4) Buy Travel Insurance.

No matter how long or short your stay in Japan will be, having international travel insurance is highly recommended. By having this type of insurance, you will have protection when you travel abroad. There are actually many types of travel insurance that we have today– travel health insurance, personal belongings insurance or travel investment insurance. It is best that you know the difference between these types so that you can determine which type you would need the most.


(5) Finalize Bookings.

Aside from flight booking, you may also wish to book your accommodation in advance. In order to find and book a great place to stay in, you must finalize your bookings a few months prior to the scheduled trip. There are actually many types of accommodation in Japan– Ryokan or traditional Japanese hotels, western hotels and guest houses. For a more fruitful Japan experience, it is recommended that you try out all these types of accommodation.


Surfing in Japan

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Are you looking for adventurous water activities? There are plenty of interesting and exciting water activities to enjoy in Japan. As it is surrounded by ocean and lined with 32,000 rivers, streams and lakes, this island nation offers challenging activities to indulge.

You may think surfing and Japan are a bit like chalk and cheese, however, one visit during September will make any surfer realize that the two go together like a hot summer night and a cold Asahi!

As a holiday destination, Japan takes some beating. Contrasts abound and visitors will certainly feel enriched on all levels. Ancient temples and tranquil shrines lull them into stillness and contemplation, only for the famed ski-slopes to let them cut loose at high speeds. The wealth of fine cuisine ensures that the taste buds don’t feel left out!

On top of all that, there is another thing that makes my feet itch to return, “My desire to surf Japan”, the big swells of the typhoon season.

It is the combination of the usual Japanese draw cards and the surprisingly world-class waves that make it so alluring for a surf adventure. Many other surf destinations have been homogenized; the surf camps, boat charters, and banana pancakes, look and taste the same worldwide. Japan serves up some refreshing new flavors, especially in the rural ‘inaka’.

An unchanged culture is on display all day every day. It is there as you negotiate a maze of rice paddies to get to a secret surf spot, and it is there as the bemused ‘Oba-chans’ (Grandmas) stop work to stare at you – the “lost” foreigners with funny planks on the roof.

A blissful feeling arises when you are immersed in this slower side of the Japanese culture. You feel as if you have leapt back in time to a land still ruled by feudal lords and Samurai swords. To expose your senses to such a unique experience and at the same time indulge in a lifetime passion like surfing is truly something you never forget.

So, how are the waves?

I won’t go into too much detail here, but with many of the southern coastlines facing directly into ‘typhoon alley’, you can bet on some sumo sized swells rolling into the many reef, point, and beach breaks.

Like many surfers, I have chased my wave habit all over the world, always bringing my wetsuit and my Surf Jimmy (, but when I reminisce on epic sessions past, it’s the visions of South Japan that drift through my mind. It can really turn on.

At the end of the day it’s the adventure that matters. Embarking on a journey into the orient, surf board under arm, who knows what you will find…

A Guide To Japan

Monday, January 13th, 2014

If you’re looking for a cultural change of scenery, we definitely recommend that you take a trip to Japan. Quirky, technologically-advanced and offering some of the world’s finest cuisine, Japan is a must-see for any avid traveller. Whether you’re after visiting the cosmopolitan wonders of Tokyo, or the serene Old Town of Tsuwano, Japan really does offer something for everyone. But we do hope that you like sushi! Here’s our run down of the top five things to do in Japan:

  • Visit a Cat Café

Could you imagine it? Enjoying a nice cup of tea with a group of Japanese cats? Only in Japan, you’d think? Think again, this phenomenon has now branched out overseas – there are plans to open one in London! Due to the high population in Japan, especially in cities such as Osaka and Tokyo, people seldom keep pets, thus cat cafes were born.

  • Sightsee at Hakodate Mountain

If you want somewhere special to take your loved one, a trip up Hakodate is definitely a strong contender. Often referred to as ‘Romantic Hakodate’, this is the perfect spot to show your partner how much you care about them or, even propose! People say that it’s best to visit this tourist spot around 30 minutes after sundown, to get the best views of the cityscape. Make sure you’ve had a big dinner before you start exploring Hakodate!

  • Go Clubbing

The concept of Japanese clubbing may seem a little odd to those of you who haven’t yet visited the country. However, think again – Japanese folk sure know how to party too. There are regular events on in city areas, just be sure to do a little research for the nights when you will be in certain towns. Just don’t go too mad on the sake, eh? Let the Japanese cool kids show you how it’s done.

  • Explore Kyoto’s Ancient Sites

Formerly Japan’s capital – Kyoto is a hotspot for historical landmarks and definitely a must-see for anyone who wants to get a real feel for traditional Japan. Your first port of call ought to be the iconic Kinkakuji – a brashly gilded Zen Buddhist temple that was formerly used as a shogun’s retirement villa! However, this isn’t the be all and end all of what Kyoto has to offer – there are an impressive 17 World Heritage sites to feast your eyes upon – not to mention a whopping 2,000 temples and divine gardens to wander around.

  • Harajuku – Cat Street

For any budding fashionistas, you’re going to want to check out Cat Street before you leave Japan. The hotspot for all fashion-mad Japanese kids to parade up and down, you can get a true feel for the J-Pop scene, and soak up the outlandish different fashion styles of the country’s youngsters. You may want to take a camera to get some street style shots and, whilst most Japanese fashionistas are used to this, you should always ask people first before taking images – it’s common courtesy in Japan. Always ask permission!

For more information and guides of how to get to Japan or even what to see, check out these sites here:

Flea Markets

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Flea markets in Japan – the easy way to find both rare antiques, slightly used and really cheap clothes and other stuff. Some visitors are searching for Japan souvenirs, some are trying to save money making shopping there, some just look for new impressions.

Japanese Flea Market

But to think of the matter seriously, flee markets movement is really a part of great saving Earth movement. The ones involved suggest that it’s very important to re-use goods, and don’t let go the unwanted items into environment as additional trash.

Flea markets in Tokyo are often held in different places around down town. Most common locations are: Togo Shrine (the first Sunday of every month), Yoyogi Koen, Oedo Antique fair near Yurakucho station (1, 3 Sunday of every month), Nogi shrine gardens (second Sunday of every month except November), Arai Yakushi Temple, Hanazono Shrine, Gokokuji Temple.

To find out more information about flea markets in Japan I usually check

This would Never Happen in Japan

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

In these videos, Steve touches on vending machines and the way the don’t take money but nickel and dime you to death! Working conditions, and J-Pop Fukuyama!!

From Steve’s Point of View (or スティーブ的視点 in Japanese) is a Youtuber I recently ran across while watching Japan related and Japanese videos. You can check out his Youtube Channel here! If you enjoy his videos, share some love! Make sure to subscribe, like, and comment! Here’s the full playlist.