sightseeing

Travel through time from Shibuya

Travel through time from Shibuya

Most Japanese history buffs know that Kyoto is a must-see, but for those who prefer not to be one in a mob of tourists, it’s essential to find the hidden gems like the Kyū Asakura House. It is one of those rare places where you can experience what it may have felt like to live in another era—and this one is in the middle of Tokyo! Because it is relatively small and not too well known, visiting is a peaceful experience.

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“We came all the way to see THAT?!” The top disappointing sightseeing spots in North America

“We came all the way to see THAT?!” The top disappointing sightseeing spots in North America

Ah, the joys of international travel. You shell out the majority of your paycheck for a ticket and spend sleepless nights counting down the days to your adventure of a lifetime. Then the day of departure finally comes and you board the plane, arriving hours later at your destination and trembling with anticipation. Camera in hand, you journey to the first famous place on your list that you’ve been dreaming about for weeks on end. Finally there, you take a quick look around, eyes widening in surprise, and blurt out, “…that’s it?!” 

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Eight Tokyo observation towers – all free, all awesome

Eight Tokyo observation towers – all free, all awesome

One of the best reasons to come to Tokyo is to experience the sheer energy of being in the biggest city in the world. There’s no better way to get an idea of the massive scale of Japan’s capital than with a bird’s eye view from hundreds of feet above its streets.

Unfortunately, the city’s two most famous observation towers, Tokyo Tower and its younger sibling the Tokyo Skytree, both charge hefty admission prices. But if you just spent your last bit of cash because you couldn’t say no to the chance to buy hot coffee in a can, here are eight spots that offer awesome views of Tokyo that won’t cost you a single yen to see.

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NPO lobbies to rebuild Edo Castle at the cost of 50 billion yen (US$500 million)

NPO lobbies to rebuild Edo Castle at the cost of 50 billion yen (US$500 million)

Naotake Odake, former managing director of the Japan Tourist Bureau (JTB) and once director of the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau, spent years of his professional life traveling to cities across the globe in order to promote Tokyo as a worthwhile tourist destination. In his travels, he noticed a trait shared by all the major cities: they each had a unique and well-recognized landmark embodying the history and culture of the land. According to Odake, a structure of this sort is vital to bolstering a spirit of pride in any given population. Unfortunately for Tokyo, he believes that this sort of historical landmark is something that Japan’s capital city severely lacks. What he has against Asakusa Temple, Tokyo Tower, or Tokyo Skytree, I’m really not sure. But, it is for this reason that Odake has taken the lead as the chairman of a non-profit organization which hopes to rebuild the Edo Castle’s innermost tower. “In order to present Tokyo as a proud tourist city, we need something like Edo Castle,” he says. But will the payoff really outweigh the costs?

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Five things not to do on a romantic getaway in Japan

Five things not to do on a romantic getaway in Japan

Who doesn’t want to take a vacation alone with their special someone? Couples’ vacations are quite popular in Japan with both the young and old. In a country that boasts a wealth of hot springs, rustic townships, and even big tourist-centered cities, there is no end to exotic places to visit. Shared vacations can be a great way to learn more about the local areas and spend some time with your Japanese boyfriend or girlfriend.

But what happens after the first couple days of excitement wear off? What do you do when he starts snoring too loudly or she takes too much time picking out an outfit to wear for the evening?

Here are some helpful hints for couples looking to take a trip with their Japanese partner.

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Old becomes new again: The beauty of traditional Japanese homes

Old becomes new again: The beauty of traditional Japanese homes

With raw, unpainted wood, tatami rooms, and a tranquil atmosphere, traditional Japanese homes can be quite beautiful. Appreciated by many for their historical look and feel, the buildings have recently undergone a bit of a surge in popularity.

Though probably not something the average person can afford to live in (or would even want to live in), the larger houses have found new life in many forms, including as group homes and rural hotels.

Here’s some great examples and photos of traditional homes in use today.

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Places you simply must visit: Toyama Prefecture

Places you simply must visit: Toyama Prefecture

Japan, as I’m sure you know, is a gorgeous country. Whether it’s sand dunes, beaches, forests, mountains, or snowy plains, there’s something for nearly everyone.

But even with so much amazing scenery, some places still manage to stand out, like Toyama Prefecture! Here’s a list of places in Toyama you simply must visit at least once!

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Finally, an Udon Museum Where You Can Taste the Difference Between Over 45 Kinds of Udon Noodle Dishes From all Over Japan!

Finally, an Udon Museum Where You Can Taste the Difference Between Over 45 Kinds of Udon Noodle Dishes From all Over Japan!

This Udon Museum will open on December 22nd from 11:00 in the Gion area of Kyoto. Udon is a thick noodle made from wheat flour.  With all the variations out there – over 45, including noodle shape, thickness, soup varieties, ways to be eaten, included ingredients and cooking procedures – it makes perfect sense to have a ‘Udon museum’!

One of the best things about Japan is its vast and comprehensive food culture where a wide variety of culinary dishes can be enjoyed. Japanese people take great pride in their ‘washoku‘ (Japanese food), with multiple varieties of the same dish according to geographical location. Different areas have their own version of country cooking, sweet or savory, which becomes that area’s ‘meibutsu or speciality, often times giving that area a name which they become famous for. So it is with Udon. Read More

Fish of Love: Koi Carp with Heart-Shaped Mark Becomes Firm Favourite Among Tourists

Fish of Love: Koi Carp with Heart-Shaped Mark Becomes Firm Favourite Among Tourists

Thanks to the unusually shaped red mark on its head, a koi carp has brought busloads of tourists to its home in Ishikawa prefecture, Japan, as word spreads of the “heart fish” and excited sightseers jostle for position to get a snap of it.

The fish, naturally oblivious to the reason for the attention it is suddenly receiving, now spends most of its day treading water near the bridge in Kenroku-en gardens, peering up at excited tourists’ faces, thankfully unable to hear the shrill cries of teenage girls proclaiming how “kawaii!!” it is…

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Is It Possible to Take a Photo of Mount Fuji from Kyoto? One Teacher Says Yes

Is It Possible to Take a Photo of Mount Fuji from Kyoto? One Teacher Says Yes

Alright all you photographers, this might be your chance to take a historical, never-before seen shot of Mt. Fuji taken 261km (162mi) away in Kyoto.  Although it was calculated to be possible by a geography teacher at Tsukuba University High School, Hiroshi Tashiro, it’s certain to be easier said than done.

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Visit the US Navy Ship Held Prisoner for Over 30 Years in North Korea

Visit the US Navy Ship Held Prisoner for Over 30 Years in North Korea

In 2012, a Japanese man was allowed to take a supervised tour of the secretive country of North Korea, we’ve reported some of his observations about their fine dining, public transportation, and more.  And now we bring you coverage of one of the most unique tourist spots in the world: the only currently captured United States Navy Ship, the USS Pueblo.

Our correspondent’s tour guide and government appointed escort took him to the ship moored in Pyongyang where the guide told him “even today, America continues to beg the ship be returned.”

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