Gaijin on Getas Blog

Posts in the ‘samurai tours’ Category

Convenience Stores

Posted on December 26th, 2012 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Lawsons Convenience Store

Lawson Convenience Store

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 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 »

Movie Review – Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Posted on September 15th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

At first glance, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is a foodie’s dream. A documentary made by David Gelb, it tells the story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, generally considered to be one of the best, if not the best sushi chef in the world. The Japanese government has designated him as a Living National Treasure. His small, unassuming restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station with only 10 seats has become the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin Guide rating. Sushi lovers from around the world go there, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

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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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Ozu’s Tokyo Story Selected as the “Greatest Movie ever Made”

Posted on August 29th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Ohara in Tokyo Story

Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Ohara in Tokyo Story

The 1953 film “Tokyo Story” (東京物語 or Tokyo monogatari) by Yasujiro Ozu was selected as “the greatest film ever made” in a poll of movie directors conducted once a decade by the British Film Institute. The organization’s monthly publication, Sight and Sound, reported that Ozu’s masterpiece was the top choice of 358 film directors, including Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Quentin Tarantino.  Read the full post »

Himeji Castle Renovations

Posted on August 26th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

There is little doubt that Himeji Castle is the best castle to visit in Japan About three years ago, the renovation of Himeji Castle was announced in order to preserve the castle for future generations, and to pass on the old methods to the future generations for whenever the next renovation will be needed. The renovation began in April of 2010, and is scheduled to last about 5 years. At present, the renovation is about half-way completed. After seeing a special on NHK about the renovation on Himeji Castle which grabbed my interest, I decided to visit myself to find out how things are progressing.  Read the full post »

Shinsengumi – Peace Keepers or Assassins?

Posted on August 20th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Modern-day romanticized version of the Shinsengumi

Modern-day romanticized version of the Shinsengumi

The late Edo Period and early Meiji Period (approximately 1855 to 1875) was a very chaotic time in Japan and Kyoto. In 1854, the Tokugawa Shogunate was accused by fuedal lords around Japan of caving in to demands from Commodore Perry to open the harbors to American whaling ships. This was seen as an act of weakness, and many people began to call for the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the reinstatement of the emperor of Japan as the supreme power of the land. Read the full post »