9 ways Tokyo could become more foreigner-friendly in time for the 2020 Olympics

Despite Japan’s relative safety, abundance of delicious foodfascinating culture, and friendly people, the country still lags behind as a tourist destination for foreign travellers. So the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are the perfect opportunity for Japan to show off its famed omotenashi hospitality to the droves of foreign visitors who’ll be pouring into Tokyo to spectate.

As foreigners who’ve been living in Japan for a while, we think we might have some pretty good ideas about certain things Japan could do in order to make things a little easier on this influx of foreign guests

Read More

See a whole other side of Kyoto in this beautiful, quintessentially Japanese train, coming soon

With all the sights, sounds, and history Kyoto City has to offer, from the Golden Pavilion to the thousands of torii shrine gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine, most people forget that there is much more to Kyoto outside of the bustling capital city. Kyoto Prefecture actually reaches farther north, with its northernmost cities bordering the ocean on the Sea of Japan side, earning the area the nickname “Umi no Kyoto“, literally meaning “Kyoto of the Sea”.

For travelers looking to explore more than the usual tourist spots, there are trains departing from Kyoto Station which will take you for a scenic ride through the northern part of the prefecture to view other famous sites such as the beautiful Amanohashidate land bridge in Miyazu City. And now, Japan Railway (JR) has teamed up with a well-known designer to make the travel experience much more unique in this old-style Umi no Kyoto-themed train, set for departure soon!

Read More

Stunning Saitama rice field art snags Guinness record

You may have already heard about rice field art: Those complex works that use dyed or naturally colored rice grains to create gorgeous patterns, or that turn the whole rice field into a canvas for a massive “painting” that can only be fully appreciated from the skies. Also, because Japan, Ultraman is sometimes involved.

But the phenomenon, once a niche practice for small Japanese cities that otherwise had nothing in the way of tourist destinations, has caught on to the point that the Guinness Book has actually recorded, for posterity, the current world’s largest work of rice field art.

Read More

Kagawa’s Udon Monster joins Japan’s other local kaiju to help save the environment

Did you know that each of Japan’s 47 prefectures has a designated monster that represents their region? The larger-than-life beings were born from the “Gotouchi Kaiju” (“Local Monsters”) multimedia project helmed by Professor Hiroshi Sagae, who’s worked on a number of kaiju-centric films such as Godzilla Millenium, Ultraman Saga and Gamera the Brave.

Now there’s a special crowdfunding campaign that’s calling on the masses to support the plight of the monsters as they strive to protect nature and promote greenery in their towns. Patrons who contribute to their favourite beast will be rewarded with cards, T-shirts or even a 3-D kaiju figurine but best of all, the funds raised for each prefecture will go towards supporting environmental projects in the region.

Read More

Thinking about moving to Nara? Here are eight things that may surprise you!

Moving to Japan from another country can be a bit of a culture shock. Some handle the transition without any problems, and others can find it initially overwhelming. But it’s easy to forget that Japan isn’t one giant monolith, and the various prefectures can be wildly different—so much so that moving to a new prefecture can bring plenty of surprises even for those born and raised in Japan!

A great example is one of our own RocketNew24 Japan writers, Masami, who shares some of the things that surprised her after moving to Nara. Here are nine that may resonate with you!

Read More

Survey reveals the top five times Japanese travelers realise just how Japanese they are

Whether we like to admit it or not, where we were brought up has a huge impact on the person we become. From our way of thinking to what foods we prefer, it’s hard to deny that our environment shapes our personal identity.

While some people come from nations that are veritable melting pots of backgrounds, languages, and cultures, others come from a country with much more homogeneity. Japan is one such country, and its people have a strong sense of identity—though they may not readily admit it.

But often during a trip to a foreign country, there comes a moment of self-realization where they become aware of just how Japanese they really are. A recent survey asked Japanese travelers to identify the five moments they felt most Japanese when abroad. The results are really quite telling.

Read More

Saitama now offering free SIM cards to foreign tourists

Japan is well-known for its unique hospitality culture, which partially stems from the concept of “ichigo-ichie” (lit. “one time, one meeting”), the tea master’s philosophy that every encounter is a once-in-a-lifetime moment to be cherished.

Now, Japan is flexing its hospitality muscles in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by rolling out new services and products to help visitors and reduce the stress that comes with travelling in a country where things can sometimes get lost in translation. The latest display of impressive hospitality comes from Saitama City, where the city council is offering free SIM cards to its foreign visitors.

Read More

Hokkaido’s “White Shell Road” is gorgeous, makes us want to take a road trip! 【Photos】

In Hokkaido, there is an area of hilly countryside along the Souya Cape in Wakkanai, with peaks reaching from 20 to 400 metres above sea level. The area, known as Souyakyuuryou, features an idyllic backdrop of the Soya Strait, and with its wind farm and rolling hills it’s said to be reminiscent of the Netherlands. (It also reminds some people of the Ghibli classic Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind!)

But by far the coolest thing about the area is that it also has a country road that used to be a plain old dirt road until they decided to make it pretty – with crushed white shells!

Read More

Animal cruelty on Mt. Fuji? We investigate horses in Japan’s tourist trade

A concerned reader recently contacted RocketNews24 with regard to what appears to be a case of animal cruelty on Mount Fuji. As animal lovers, we got right on the case and, while doing our research, found ourselves learning all about abuse issues related to horses and signs of neglect. Our research took us overseas to the U.S., where we sat down to interview a horse trainer who speaks candidly about the reasons animal cruelty is so hard to eliminate.

In this article, we address our reader’s concerns about horses being used to carry tourists from station to station on Mount Fuji. We’ll also learn about equine nutrition, exercise, and mental health.

Read More

Ads for JR’s “Seishun 18” rail pass celebrate the isolated beauty of Japan’s most far-flung stations

It seems so easy to plan an entire Japan vacation around a single tour of the Tokyo metropolitan area. The mega city has just about everything a tourist could possibly want to see, from Akihabara’s blinding neon to the breathtaking skyline of Yokohama, to the quiet, old-world charm (and weird poop sculpture) of Asakusa.

But to not venture away from Tokyo, to Japan’s more far-flung and lesser-known destinations is to rob yourself of the grander Japan experience, and Japan Rail (JR) has long sought to encourage visitors, both domestic and foreign, to wander off the beaten path with the Seishun 18 unlimited rail pass. And, if the idea of unlimited access to JR’s vast and far-reaching network of tracks isn’t enough to inspire your sense of adventure on your next Japan visit, perhaps these ads for the Seishun 18 rail pass, which depict the isolated beauty of some of Japan’s most remote train stations, will be.

Read More

Things you won’t believe Chinese tourists are buying in Japan: drugstore edition

Often when you visit another country, one thing on everyone’s to-do list is a little shopping. It’s always interesting to see what products a foreign country offers that you can’t find back home. It’s also weird and fun to see the products you are familiar with presented in a different way.

One of the main reasons Chinese tourists visit Japan is to shop. It’s not uncommon to see a Chinese visitor enter a store and drop the equivalent of hundreds of U.S. dollars – usually in cash – on seemingly everyday products like clothes or electronics, but in some cases store shelves are picked completely clean.

But what’s on these tourists’ shopping lists? Here are 11 “godly” pharmacy products that Chinese visitors simply have to buy when they visit Japan.

Read More

Japan’s Top 10 Scenic Train Trips–according to two “densha otaku” train guides

Greg Cope and Ken Mitchell have been riding Japan’s railways for over 30 years. “When I first started to travel around Japan,” recalls Greg, “I was struck by the fact that Japan not only has one of the most efficient railway systems in the world, but they have myriad types of railways, from new to old, conservative design to outlandish.

On one of Greg’s succeeding trips back to Japan, he asked his train aficionado friend Ken, who had seen a lot of Japan during a visit in 1967, to come along. “I devised an itinerary…incorporating a variety of different trains. The trip that I had nutted out from the timetable turned out well and I was hooked on Japan’s railway system,” says Ken.

Greg and Ken wanted to share their Japan rail experiences with others, so to achieve this goal they started Trainaway Tours out of Australia in 1998. These guys are living the train otaku dream, so when RocketNews24 started looking into Japan’s best, most scenic railways, we went straight to them for recommendations. From JR lines to small private rails, tourist trains to steam locomotives, let’s look at their picks for the top 10 train trips in Japan.

Read More

Japanese highway rest stop to get world’s largest Evangelion Unit-01 replica

For Evangelion fans who are tired of Gundam hogging the spotlight when it comes to large-scale, replica robot statues, the wait for your vindication will be at an end in under a month, according to Japanese media.

That’s because the beloved anime franchise will finally boast its very own replica robot of series hero Shinji’s iconic mech, the Evangelion Unit-01. And while the famous 1:1-scale Gundam that looms over Odaiba stands outdoors, the Evangelion Unit-01 replica will be housed in its very own badass mech hangar!

Read More

Impressive replicas of iconic Japanese tourist spots made from curry

As kids we were always told not to play with our food but someone didn’t get that memo at a recent curry exhibition. Online marketplace Rakuten recently hosted a one-day event showcasing regional curry dishes from all over Japan, and the curry creations were very playful, and some were downright awesome. As if the spict foodstuff wasn’t already delicious enough, it got even better with iconic Japanese tourists spots replicated from curry!

Check out some of the dishes after the jump. It’s tourism for your taste buds!

Read More

Korean Officials to foreign tourists: “If you contract MERS, we’ll give you $3,000!”

As you may have heard, there’s an epidemic in South Korea. Since last month, more than 150 people have contracted the deadly MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus, among whom 19 have died.

As a result, foreign tourists in South Korea have been leaving the country in droves, and the usually-thriving tourism industry has been suffering. To try and help alleviate matters, South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has made a somewhat unusual decision: they will pay tourists US$3,000 if they contract MERS while in South Korea.

Read More

Taipei introduces taxi tours and 24-hour toll-free interpretation services for foreign tourists

Hello, Rocketeers! Have our recent posts on cute Taiwanese girls, guys and pets gotten you wanderlusting for the fascinating lands of Taiwan? Well, if the language barrier is a concern, we have some exciting information!

Taipei’s city government has been working with the leading local taxi companies to roll out some city tour packages and 24-hour interpretation services to make travelling around Taipei easier for foreign tourists. All the details after the break!

Read More

Forget Tokyo’s giant Gundam statue, we wanna visit this plastic-bottle Gundam in Tochigi!

We’re pretty big fans of Odaiba’s full-scale Gundam statue, which towers over Tokyo Bay at an incredible 18 metres tall. But there’s nothing quite like homespun charm, and we’re equally delighted to discover the existence of a plastic bottle version, built single-handedly by one enthusiastic sake shop owner in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo.

Our friends over at off-the-beaten-track Japan travel site Another Tokyo went to check it out last month, and this is what they found.

Read More

Oblivious tourists wander back into Japanese airport’s departure area, mass chaos ensues

Delays at airports are often inevitable due to congested air traffic or technical difficulties, or because the evil cabal of airline operators deemed it time for more delays. Whatever the reason, it’s certainly frustrating to have to wait an extra hour on the tarmac while children scream, people shuffle around, and someone possibly has an Alec Baldwin-esque outburst.

But these woes are nothing compared to what people at Japan’s Naha Airport endured when three tourists accidentally wandered back into the departures area and single-handedly put the entire airport on lockdown March 9.

Read More

Yo-kai Watch’s Jibanyan meets the governor of Hawaii, global domination imminent

We’ve talked a lot before about how Yo-kai Watch has overtaken Pokémon as the phenomenally popular kids’ franchise of choice, and a lot of it is down to its loveable orange ghost-kitty mascot, Jibanyan. With the people behind Yo-kai Watch gearing up to bring the insanely popular series to the West (and believe us, there will be no escape), Jibanyan’s starting to get even busier lately.

Recently, he met up with the governor of Hawaii for a promotional campaign to get Japanese kids excited about having a holiday in Hawaii (as if that wasn’t exciting enough!). But we suspect that Jeeby’s trying to get in with the right people in order to satisfy his plans for complete global domination!

Read More

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 21,944 other followers