Gaijin on Getas Blog

Travel Tips

What is a Ryokan?

Posted on April 12th, 2013 by Rachel Moore

When looking at our tours, you will notice that we often stay at ryokans, instead of  a “western style hotel”.  So what is a ryokan?

Ryokan Entrance

Ryokan Entrance

Well first, so you know how to pronounce it, say it with me: ree-o-kahn. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn.  They are smaller, more quaint, and often more hospitable than your mainstream hotel.  Since our tour groups max out at 16 people, it allows us to have the opportunity to stay at such wonderful facilities. You could almost compare the mannerisms to bed and breakfast lodging that we are used to in Western culture, though the room layout is very different.  The rooms will have traditional tatami (straw) mats on the floor, and you will have your own mattress (similar to a futon mattress) to sleep on.  You can often layer a couple of these mattresses to give yourself a little extra height and/or cushion.  Some ryokans offer a few western-style rooms, but you will need to check with us on the particular tour you are interested in to see if this option is available.  The food is also very wonderful (they can cook for a smaller amount of people, giving their food more attention to detail). The “Kaiseki-style” dinners are a treat for both your tastebuds and your eyes. Everything is delicious and served with excellent presentation. Read the full post »

Money Matters in Japan

Posted on February 3rd, 2013 by Rachel Moore

With exchange rates, international charge fees, and money conversion, it can be very confusing to know what the best way to pay for things in another country are.  Japan is very much still a cash society and you are expected to pay in cash most of the time, but you still have options.  Here are a few things to help you be more prepared: Read the full post »

Luggage 101- How Much Luggage to Really Bring

Posted on January 10th, 2013 by Rachel Moore

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 the full post »

Dogo Onsen

Posted on December 23rd, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan

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.

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How much walking do we REALLY do?

Posted on December 21st, 2012 by Rachel Moore

Tour Group

Tour Group

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 the full post »

There’s Something Fishy Going On With The Food Here…

Posted on November 23rd, 2012 by Rachel Moore

We will often get questions from people who are interested in taking our tours if it is possible to avoid fish in their meals.  There is so much more to Japanese food other than sushi and sashimi, but escaping fish all-together is near to impossible in Japan.  After all, it is a staple in Japanese cooking and the Japanese eat more fish per capita than any other country in the world!  You can avoid eating the actual pieces of fish, both raw and cooked, but there are so many things that you may eat and not even realize that there is fish in it.  I have enjoyed a lot of meals in Japan where they use fish broth and fish essence, and it often didn’t taste like fish was in it at all. By definition, here are a couple items that you may be unaware of. Read the full post »

Why (Free) Wifi Is So Hard To Find In Japan

Posted on October 26th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Wifi (at least free Wifi), can be very difficult to find in Japan. Many of our customers will often ask why there are no, or very few, Wifi hotspots available at hotels and cafes in Japan. They mention that in their countries, many places offer free Wifi for guests. Often it is completely open, or you simply need to ask the staff for the password. “After all”, they ask, “Japan seems to be a very technologically advanced country (which it is), so what gives?” Read the full post »

Japanese Onsens

Posted on September 9th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Dogo Onsen Honkan

Dogo Onsen Honkan

After traveling around Japan for all these years, I have come to really enjoy and appreciate the Japanese style baths. It is truly relaxing, and part of the Japanese experience that shouldn’t be missed. Bathing is an important part of Japanese life and culture. And one of the best places to experience bathing in Japan are at onsens. However, over the years I have become aware there is a basic misunderstanding of what an onsen is.

 

 

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10 Ways to Save Money While Dining Out in Japan

Posted on April 21st, 2012 by Mike Roberts

 One of the biggest misconceptions about Japan we run into commonly is the idea that food in Japan is very expensive. While some things such as fruit are much more expensive (but usually much better), there are many things that are not. And there are many things you can do to save money dining out while you are in Japan. After all, you’ve got to ask yourself: the per capita income in Japan is a little lower than in America. If food was so expensive, how could the Japanese live on that income. (Then again, maybe that’s why there are so many thin Japanese.) But seriously, there are things you can do to cut costs, and still enjoy the wonderful Japanese food. The secret is simple: do as the Japanese do. Read the full post »