travel

Nagano Prefecture’s Mishaka Pond offers mirror-like waters, inspiration for art lovers

Mishaka-ike, or Mishaka Pond (御射鹿池), is a hidden natural jewel located in Chino City, Nagano Prefecture. The pond’s tranquil beauty inspired a famous painting several decades ago, and Japanese visitors have been increasingly traveling off the beaten path to view its waters for themselves, as it’s a place where the four seasons are distinctly and perfectly expressed.

Escape from the city for a relaxing moment with the following photographic collection of Mishaka-ike in the Japanese countryside.

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Seven amazing things our Japanese reporter learned while visiting Cuba

RocketNews24’s Japanese-language reporter Yuichiro visited Cuba a few months ago and had an amazing time in the Caribbean nation. Although he’s already shared several of his travel adventures such as sampling sushi at a five-star hotel and getting a haircut in the popular local style, Wasai recently compiled a list of the top seven things that impressed or surprised him about Cuba.  

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Japan’s newest hot spring springs forth…from the center of Kobe!

In movies, there’s never anything good hidden in the earth under a structure. It’s all Native American burial grounds, Egyptian mummies, and other assorted other corpses of non-specific ethnicities.

In real life, though, there are all sorts of desirable things waiting beneath the surface, such as oil and gold. An excavation crew in Kobe was looking for something just as good as those two valuable commodities, though: a hot spring, and they found one right in the heart of the city.

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Vampire Cafe: Over a decade of Tokyo’s best undead dining in Ginza

As one of Tokyo’s swankiest neighborhoods, Ginza is home to numerous up-scale restaurants and cafes that will as much do damage to your wallet as fill your stomach with delicious food. From French cuisine to delicious brunch, you can find just about anything in Ginza—including a Vampire Cafe!

Though you might not expect to see many theme restaurants like this in Ginza, it turns out these bloodsuckers have been going strong for over a decade. If you’re hoping for a night of spine-tingles and blood-red everything, this is the place for you!

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Cosplayers find a way to enjoy Japan’s love hotels while staying fully clothed: Photo sessions

Japan’s love hotels, as the name implies, are all about the loving. Not only do these short-stay accommodations provide a welcome oasis of privacy for couples that want to express their physical affection for one another, they often have elaborately decorated themed rooms to help them get in the mood.

But while most visitors to a love hotel aim to spend as little time as possible with their clothes on, one group has found a way to enjoy them while staying completely dressed: cosplay fans who’ve discovered one love hotel that makes a great photo shoot location.

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A hoodie that transforms into a travel neck pillow just made our Christmas wish-list

Traveling can be brutal, whether it’s by plane, train or car. It’s so hard to find a comfy way to snooze when you’re surrounded by strangers and your neck is left unsupported, wobbling to and fro. I for one, always thought those neck pillows were silly, until I tried one, at which point I swore never to leave home without one, that is, until I realized how cumbersome they are to carry around and how ineffective the space-saving, inflatable ones are.

But never fear, fellow travelers! A Japanese clothing start-up, Monogatari Project, has come up with the perfect solution: A hoodie that can be rolled up into the perfect neck pillow.

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30 things that will go through your mind on a business trip to Tokyo, according to our Japanese writer

It is perhaps common knowledge by now that folks in Japan tend to go on business trips a lot. Whether this is actually true or an exaggeration, we can’t exactly say, but it certainly seems that there are a ton of workers moving around the country as part of their jobs. And it should go without saying that quite a few of them end up coming to Tokyo.

So, what is it like taking a business trip to Tokyo for someone who lives outside of Japan’s most populous metropolitan area? Read on to find out!

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Beaver logs, Christmas dinner, and other crazy stuff foreigners bring to Japan in their suitcases

These days in Japan, you can get almost anything. Nonetheless, there are still some things that remain either hard to find or  unavailable at all. We asked our RocketNews24 English writers, as well as a bevy of tourists and expats, what things they’ve made a point to bring into Japan in their suitcases.

If you’re headed to Japan either for a vacation or for a longer stay, you’ll want to take a peek at what items you may want to bring with you. It’s helpful to know, for example, that if you plan on sleeping on a queen size bed in Japan, you should be prepared to bring your own linen because Japan only sells bedding sets up to a double. If it’s Skittles candy you’re addicted to, bring a stash of that too. But some people have more extravagant tastes than others, so you’ll surely find yourself saying, “You brought WHAT in your suitcase??” a few times.

Join us for some head-scratching after the jump!

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The Maasai people teach us how to kill a lion, demonstrate on our writer

Sure, you may have killed, like, 230 lions in Skyrim and traded in their pelts for a sweet dagger and maybe a cool tricorn hat, but it’s safe to say that, in real life, you probably wouldn’t fare so well against one of nature’s most efficient predators. First, where are you going to get a sweet set of gold armor and a giant warhammer? Secondly, humankind’s fight or flight response being what it is, you’re probably far more likely to projectile urinate onto your attacker while fleeing at top speed like the damn Roadrunner or something.

No, outside of Skyrim, there is only really one group of people (that don’t routinely use high-powered, modern weapons like they’re hunting the Predator) that can actually boast of taking on lions and walking away not only alive but victorious. Lucky for us, we’re tight with these folks – the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania – and they graciously taught us their technique, using one of our most unfortunate Japanese writing staff to demonstrate.

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Taiwan pulls ahead of Japan in moe race, plasters subway cars with doe-eyed girls

You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that the whole “moe” phenomenon – you know, that chibi, super cute anime girl style of animation and illustration that’s all over Tokyo’s infamous Akihabara district – is a Japan-only thing. But in reality, moe has spread throughout Asia and even beyond. It seems a lot of fans are captivated by the adorable schoolgirl outfits, exaggerated mannerisms and impossibly huge eyes of these distinct animated girls.

One such region in which moe has really taken hold is Taiwan, which is so obsessed with the animation style that it’s kind of doubled down on the moe-ness, pulling ahead of even Japan’s moe obsession by plastering its subways with moe characters.

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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.

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New Japanese luxury bus tour seats only 10 passengers, tickets cost over US$1,200 each

How do you picture being transported to your fantasy vacation spot? A giant cruise ship? A seat in the first-class section of a jumbo jet? How about… a bus?

Not quite sure about that last one? Well the Japanese company Isetan Mitsukoshi Travel is trying to change your mind by offering luxury bus rides from Tokyo to all over Japan. And we’re not exaggerating with the use of the word luxury here: each bus seats only 10 people, and the ticket will cost you around 150,000 yen (US$1,211).

Can such a price tag possibly be worth it? Read on to find out!

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Collection of retro travel posters proves Japan has always been a cool place to visit 【Photos】

Last year, over 13 million foreign visitors took a trip to Japan. Many of the country’s best attractions, though, are actually hundreds of years old. That means that while they’ve been drawing more international travelers than ever in the 21st century, they were hardly being ignored in the 20th, as shown by this collection of retro-cool travel posters from the early and mid-1900s.

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The Evangelion Shinkansen will let you ride the rails like a cool angel this fall

Over the past few years, we’ve seen Japan Railways, Japan’s largest rail operator, embark on a spurt of posh train building, with coaches that feature gold leaf accents, split-level suites, and relaxing foot baths. This fall, though, JR West will be launching a train that dials back the luxury while pumping up the awesomeness in the eyes of anime fans with the Evangelion Shinkansen.

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The surprising name for Universal Studios Japan theme park in Okinawa leaves netizens confused

We reported earlier this year that Universal Studios Japan (USJ) is floating the idea of opening a new theme park in Okinawa. We now know the proposed name for the new amusement park, and it has left many Japanese surprised and confused.

You see, the company plans to drop the “Universal” brand from its name, and instead the new theme park will, apparently, be called Nangoku Resort.

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Sakuragicho Station celebrates the coming of 1,000 dancing Pikachus with awesome new signs

If you love Pikachu, you’ll want to head down to the city of Yokohama this summer because that’s where you’ll get the chance to meet not one, not two, but a thousand Pikachus. And to add to the amazement, they’ll all be dancing up a Pokemon storm.

To celebrate the upcoming “outbreak”, as it’s being called, Sakuragicho is adorning their station platform signs with a number of adorable Pikachus. With signage this cute, we can hear the squeels of “kawaiiii” all the way up here in Tokyo!

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New Tokyo hotel lets you sleep in a bookstore

Bookstores are really relaxing places, particularly since many Japanese ones have responded to the rise of digital publishing by merging with cafes and creating inviting places to hang out and peruse the goods. With the quiet babble of background noise and a squishy chair to sink into, you may find your eyelids drooping over the new Murakami. However, a comfy chair is not a bed and the stores are generally not open 24 hours, so if you give in to sleep, you’ll probably find yourself turfed out at closing time with a crick in your neck.

If this has been a problem for you in the past, you’ll want to reserve a spot at Book and Bed, a new hotel in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood that invites bibliophiles to sleep in the stacks.

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Short clip shows us what it’s like to ride the train or subway in Japan in a wheelchair 【Video】

As our winner of the Japan Wish contest is currently living her dream in Japan, we continue to believe that everyone should visit at least once. It’s such an interesting and unique country that people who want to experience Japan, even those with disabilities, should definitely take the time to get here. Wheelchair access, though, isn’t always guaranteed everywhere you want to go, which can make planning a trip difficult.

A well-traveled electric wheelchair user has compiled a huge bank of information regarding accessibility in Japan. One of his videos clearly lays out the experience someone in a wheelchair will have when riding the train or the subway here. To quickly summarize, “All aboard!”

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Chinese tourist in Taiwan does some post-hot spring shopping dressed in just a towel 【Video】

At any time of year, a nice, long soak in a hot spring will leave your muscles relaxed and your skin feeling smooth. It’ll also leave your body feeling hotter than normal for some time after you get out, though, and while that’s part of the appeal in the winter, in the summer it’s just an unpleasant side effect of bathing in geothermally heated water.

That’s why in some parts of Japan that are famous for their hot springs you’ll see travelers walking around town wearing the thin, cotton kimono provided by their hotels as they take in the sites after a bath. A Chinese tourist at a hot spring resort in Taiwan seems to have had a similar idea, except he was apparently much more concerned with cooling down than staying covered up, as he decided do a little shopping wearing nothing but a towel.

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Sweet frog hat-wearing pup is a totally edible yuru-kyara available from one place in Japan only

Yuru-kyara, or regional promotional mascots, are so ubiquitous in Japan it can sometimes be hard to recall which one’s which, where they’re from, or even what type of brand or product they’re promoting.

Over 1,000 mascots represent different regions in Japan, which means the need to leave a lasting impression is a constant driving force in the creation of cute products like the sweet puppy above. Can you guess which region he represents and the even more unusual place where he can be found?

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