Okinawa – An Island Fit for Any Type of Traveler (Travel Guide)

November 1st, 2013

Okinawa, said to be “the Hawaii of Japan,” is petite in size but plentiful in life. It is the largest island of the Ryukyu island chain, which makes it a central location for commerce and other activities.

For the traveler bent on seeing the top attraction sites on Okinawa, these sites would suffice: Shuri Castle, Kokusai Dori (also known as “Kokusai Street”), the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, the World War II Japanese Underground Headquarters, and the Peace Prayer Park.

Video from Kokusai Dori

Kuroshio Sea at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (second largest aquarium tank in the world)

For a more daring traveler, there are many hidden hiking trails and eco-adventurous places to visit. Common hiking spots include the Yara Castle Ruins, Hiji Waterfall, and Aha Falls. Forest Adventure Park is one of the most popular eco-tourist sites on the island. It is a fairly new park in Okinawa’s Onna village and tests the courage and strength of interested customers who use their skills to climb trees and glide through the forest on a special harness.

Hiji Falls in Okinawa Video

When visiting the many sightseeing spots or hiking until the point of exhaustion, relaxation can offer a great alternative. During the summer months, the beaches of Okinawa can be either a great place to relax or mingle with other people. Some well-known beaches on Okinawa are Araha beach, Sunset beach, Toguchi beach, and Emerald beach.

When visiting and salivating for a specific taste, there is always a place on this island to go that will fill or come close to filling this flavor need. On any given day on Okinawa, one can savor an American-style breakfast, taste sushi or ramen for lunch, and in the evening, delight in a home-cooked Peruvian meal for dinner.

This island may seem tiny in comparison to other places, but after spending quite a bit of time on its land, one will see how abundant in activities and food it is. If you have time, check it out!

 

Japanese Learning Resources

October 17th, 2013

Textbooks:

Online Dictionaries:

For kanji.

Online reading:

Manga.

Improving your speaking:

Listening:

Writing practice:

News:

Podcasts:

YouTube:

Japanese sign language.

TV:

Tumblr:

Those studying in Japan.

Blogging:

Learning websites:

Other resources:

Find more resources at Japanese Revision.

5 Awesome Things To Do In Japan

October 6th, 2013

There are plenty of great things to do in Tokyo but here are a list of the top 5:

1) Visit Tokyo

Minato Mirai is known as "the harbor of the future" in Central Yokohama

Minato Mirai is known as “the harbor of the future” in Central Yokohama

There are plenty of awesome cities to visit in Japan, you need to visit the infamous Tokyo. Not only is it the biggest and most famous place in Japan, it was also where many popular films such as the recent film Wolverine was filmed.

2) Eat Japanese food

There's a variety of food available in Japan of course, but sushi is the one that stands out! Japan has some of the freshest sushi available!

There’s a variety of food available in Japan of course, but sushi is the one that stands out! Japan has some of the freshest sushi available!

You don’t go to a famous steak house and order a salad so why on earth would you go to Japan and try some good old authentic Japanese food.

I promise you, when you compare the Japanese food of Japan and America, nothing will ever be the same.

3) Visit some temples

This is Kinkakuji aka the "Golden Pavilion" in Kyoto Japan

This is Kinkakuji aka the “Golden Pavilion” in Kyoto Japan

Japan itself isn’t a huge country but it still manages to pack in over 80000 different temples. Be sure to visit at least one and get a taste of Japanese culture.

4) Sing karaoke

This photo was taken by Hiro Shinohara (flickr.com/photos/psycho-spider/)

This photo was taken by Hiro Shinohara (flickr.com/photos/psycho-spider/)

Karaoke is super popular in Japan so be sure to hit up a karaoke bar or two during your time in Japan.

5) Drink some quality sake

Sake tastes great when you drink out of an ochoko (like this one) or sakazuki!

Sake tastes great when you drink out of an ochoko (like this one) or sakazuki!

Sake is the alcohol of choice in Japan. So if you love drinking, this is the alcohol you need to have. Maybe even hang out with some locals and get a little crazy.

Top Tips for Traveling in Japan

October 1st, 2013

For many people, traveling to Japan is the trip of a lifetime.  But traveling to any foreign country can be a little intimidating, especially if you don’t know what to expect.  The good news is that Japan is one of the cleanest, safest countries in the world, and visitors who got to Japan will find that they don’t have to worry about many of the problems they may experience in other Asian countries.

Tokyo Skyline

It is important to remember, as a traveler, that you are visiting a country that is rich in tradition and custom, and there are some basic rules that will help prevent you from becoming one of the “rude tourists” that give travelers a bad name.  The following are a few simple tips for traveling in Japan:

  • When visiting Japan, you will need to remember that shoes used for walking outside are considered dirty and should be removed in many places.  You will need to remove shoes when entering religious places like shrines and temples, when you enter a restaurant, and when you enter a hotel or inn.  Many travelers find that wearing slip-on shoes or those with Velcro can make the process easier and faster.  Be sure to find out whether you should remove shoes before entering any building.
  • Japanese restrooms are different than those found in the US or other parts of the world.  There are two types of toilets that you will encounter- “western style” toilets are similar to what you are used to and you will find these in most newer buildings.  However, “Japanese style” toilets are sunk into the floor and will require that you squat over the toilets.  Toilet paper is not always available in public restrooms, so it is a good idea to carry tissues with you.  In private homes and many inns, you will find that there are slippers provided exclusively for use in the restroom.  Remember to wear these slippers inside the restroom and remove them when you leave.
  • Bathing in Japan is also different than bathing in other parts of the world.  Baths are not only designed to help you get clean, they are also designed for relaxation.  Most Japanese bathrooms feature an entrance room with a sink where you will undress before entering a second room with a deep bathtub and a shower.  Before entering the bath, wash your body using the washbowl provided outside of the bath, and then soak in the bathwater.  When you are done soaking, get out of the tub and wash up with soap, but do not get soap in the bathwater.  After you have washed up, get back into the tub for a final soaking.  In many homes, the bathwater is left to be used by the next family member, so do not drain the tub.  Hotels will provide more traditional “Western” bathing facilities, and small inns may provide an “Onsen”, or communal bathing area.
  • Tipping in Japan is generally not done, and is considered rude in most circumstances.  In large cities, most people will simply respond “no, thank you” and decline your tip, but the practice may be more upsetting to people in smaller areas.  If you stay in a ryoken, or Japanese Inn, you may be able to place some paper money in an envelope and give it to the person who deserves it, however, you should never pull money from a pocket or envelope and attempt to hand it to anyone as a tip.  Tipping is not practiced in Japanese restaurants.
  • Dining in Japan is slightly different from dining in other countries.  First, do not “help yourself”, wait for the host (even at restaurants) to offer you food, and do not pour your own drink.  If you leave a plate empty, it signifies that you want more to eat, so be sure to leave some food on your plate if you are full.  The area where you eat should be left tidy, with the napkin folded and chopsticks set neatly together.  Never take a napkin, chopsticks, or any other small “souvenir” item- this is considered rude.  Be sure to thank your host both before and after the meal.  Also, slurping when eating noodles or drinking soup is considered respectful, showing that you enjoy your meal, so don’t be surprised when you hear it.
  • Body language and positioning is very important, and showing poor manners by not following accepted practices is a quick way to make people around you upset.  Japanese people do not like to be touched, and they do not enjoy standing very close to others.  When you sit, do not show the bottoms of your shoes.  When you talk to others, do not put your hands in your pocket, and avoid making direct eye contact or staring.  When visiting with someone, sit erect on the edge of the chair or bench, as leaning back or slouching is considered bad manners especially for strangers.  Remember to that smiling doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is happy- it can show that someone is mad, embarrassed, disappointed, or sad.  Never walk away when you are being greeted, and greet people with a quick handshake without making eye contact.  Bowing has many rules, but most Japanese people do not expect tourists to bow correctly.

Funny Japanese Commercial Reel

September 12th, 2013

An American actor made a fake Japanese Commercial Reel and it is HILARIOUS!! You have to check it out. Youtube… who would have known how awesome it would become. Bam!

Washing Hair in a Jacket Japanese Commercial