It’s not everyday that you get to travel across the globe and visit an amazing, historical country you have never been to before. Or maybe you have been to Japan, and know what amazing goodies there are to offer to bring back home to your friends and family. Either way, we do like to shop and bring back great souvenirs, as well as look stylish while we are there, and (if you are like me) be prepared for anything that may come your way (weather, fancy outings, last minute opportunities, etc.). But that may often cause a problem…there is only so much you can take (and bring back) with you! Which raises the question: how much luggage can/should I bring (and how large)? Read more on “Luggage 101- How Much Luggage to Really Bring” »
Osaka is said to be a ‘Gourmet Paradise’ for the Japanese and is famous for its specialties such as Okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) , Takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and noodles. Another specialty of Osaka, especially in winter is the poisonous fugu (pufferfish). Most of the fugu in Japan is caught in the Shimonoseki area (the water between the main island of Honshu and the southern island of Kyushu). But it is estimated that 70% of all the fugu eaten in Japan is consumed in Osaka. Read more on “Fugu (Pufferfish) in Osaka” »
Tokyo retained its title as the Michelin guide’s world gourmet capital with the latest version of the Michelin guides published on Nov. 28, although the number of three-star restaurants fell slightly. This is the sixth consecutive year the capital of food-obsessed Japan has been awarded top honors by the publishers of a guidebook regarded by many as a fine-dining resource. Read more on “Tokyo Retains its Title as the Gourmet Capital of the World for the Sixth Straight Year” »
Convenience store have become a part of our daily lives. The convenience store concept was first born in Dallas, Texas in 1927. The Japanese borrowed the concept from America, but just as with everything the Japanese borrow, we made it our own. Today there are more than 40,000 convenience stores, and they can be found everywhere in Japan. Known as ‘konbini’ in Japanese, they are clean, brightly lit and very convenient, are open for 24 hours and sell a wide variety of products. On average, every person in Japan spends 1000 Yen (about $12.50 USD) at a convenience store every week, and purchase 10 rice balls from a convenience store every year. In metropolitan areas, the average distance between convenience stores is 900 feet (about 275 meters). There are about the same number of convenience stores in Japan as there are schools and universities. Read more on “Convenience Stores” »
Located in the city of Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku, Dogo Onsen is considered to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest onsen in Japan. There are references to Dogo Onsen in documents from the 8th century. It is reported Prince Shotoku (considered to be the father of Japanese Buddhism) enjoyed the baths, and the baths are mentioned in the “Tales of Genji” written about 1,000 years ago. According to the legends, long ago many egrets lived in Dogo. One day, an egret who injured his leg was seen soaking its leg every day in the hot water. Eventually the egret became well and flew away. The people who saw this began to use the hot springs and their health improved. The news spread that the hot spring was beneficial for ones health, and the hot spring became popular.
Japan is so beautiful, and you seem to see more, take more in, and get more of a ‘cultural immersion’ experience when you travel by foot and public transportation. Another common question that comes up when people are considering our tours is “How much walking is there, really?” We have clients of all ages participate on our tours, and all are welcome, but you will want to be very comfortable with walking and staying on your feet for long periods of time. We always suggest comfortable, broken in walking shoes to use on the tour. We take public transportation everywhere. So we walk to the subway and train stations, then we walk to our destination which is always nearby, but may be a good 10-20 minute walk, and we are often on our feet going through wherever we are visiting. We do encounter stairs, and while there are often elevators or escalators around, they are not everywhere and not always available. Read more on “How much walking do we REALLY do?” »