Tag Archive | tokyo

Top Things To Do In Japan

Fuji-Hakone-Izu National ParkMany people will be familiar with Japan as one of the most industrially and economically successful countries in Asia, but it can also boasts a wide range of activities that visitors can enjoy too.  Whether you are looking for an amazing shopping experience in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan capital or you are looking to relax in idyllic surroundings, then Japan is the right destination for you.  Japan has certainly suffered in terms of tourism recently, but the country is still one of the most attractive in Asia and has plenty of activities to help keep visitors busy.

Visit The Icon Of Japan – Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is one of the most distinctive mountains in the world, standing well above the tiny foothills that lie around it, and this has helped the image of the mountain become known around the world.  For those who have an adventurous streak, Mount Fuji is certainly a very popular mountain to climb, with the majority of people ascending to the summit during the summer months.  Mount Fuji is also a particularly popular spot for paragliders in Japan, and the low number of other mountains in the vicinity and the wonderful surroundings make it a great place to see from the sky.

For those who are a little less adventurous, the views of Mount Fuji from LakeYamanaka are absolutely spectacular, particularly during the calm days when the waters are so still they can demonstrate a clear reflection of the mountain.

Travel On A Bullet Train

The development of the Bullet Train, or the ‘Shinkansen’ as it is known in Japanese has been one of the great post-war successes in Japan, making travel between the major cities in the country a very quick and enjoyable journey.  The Tokaido line on the train also offers magnificent views of Mount Fuji as it whisks you quietly and comfortably between Osaka and Tokyo at up to 186mph.  No trip to Japan is complete without one of these ultra fast journeys on the sleek ‘Shinkansen’.

Enjoy The Cherry Blossom Festival

During the spring in Japan the cherry trees come into flower, and between the months of March and May many people will gather for a traditional celebration under the cherry blossom in many public spaces.  This tradition is known as ‘Hanami’ in Japan, and the type of celebration held will often vary depending on the people.  Younger people will often host a party in these spaces and enjoy food and drink with their friends, while older people will relax with a picnic below the cherry blossom.

Shopping In Tokyo

The bustling streets of Tokyo are a godsend to those who would love to spend their time shopping, and with such a large city it is natural that there are shops catering to almost everyone.  Many of the districts see similar types of shops opening in the same area, which can often make it easier for those looking to shop for specific items.  Ginza and Marunouchi are great for those looking for designer names and luxury goods, while young people looking for cutting edge shopping should head to Harajuku.

Skiing In Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the northernmost island in Japan, and the distance from the equator along with a suitable mountain range has helped to give a wonderful backdrop for a number of skiing resorts.  Whether you are new to the sport or are experienced and looking for a challenging black route on the slopes, resorts such as Kamui and Sapporo have a selection of routes to enjoy.  Because of the excellent flight and train connections, it is also quick and easy to get to Hokkaido to enjoy some time on the slopes.

Adventures in Tokyo

tokyoIt was almost 2am and I had just finished my shift at the language school where I was teaching English. I had come here just over 3 months ago through a teaching agency that found me a good school to teach in. The students are great – mostly they are adults who are learning English for their work and i get along very well with them.

Well anyway, I was walking home at 2am – tonight I had vowed to politely refuse the karaoke bar offer from colleagues – I really needed sleep. The language school is in the Sumida district downtown and I live in Minato. The bus was late for some reason so i started walking keeping an eye out for a taxi on the road to hail.

I had barely taken 15 steps when I heard a barely audible voice say “Kane!”, while I felt something sharp pricking up against my back. I tried to turn around by now a hand grabbed my shoulder and shook me while poking harder with the sharp object, urgently saying: “Kane! Kane!”

It was obvious the man wanted my money. I knew that much in Japanese even though I’d only been here a few months. I was extremely nervous, but I slowly reached into my jacket while saying “ok” and turned around.

It was a kid just a bit younger than me with a Justin Bieber style hairdo. He looked really uncomfortable with his stanley knife in hand and gave me a shy grin. I looked at him and asked him: “You want a drink?”

He nodded. I walked with him to a bar across the street, got him a cocktail, ordered a beer and then we started to talk.


I traveled to Toktoshogu shrineyo in the middle of May so that I’d avoid both the busiest tourist week and the rainy season. While I was there I wanted to see a few of the cultural landmarks that both defined the city and how I’d always thought of it.

The first place I went was Akihabara. It was crowded, noisy and pricey but that’s what I went there to see. Essentially, it’s an area dominated by computers, electronics and anime with tons of shops both big and small. They cater to tourists as well as locals so it never felt like a shopping center meant purely to placate tourists with cheap souvenirs. Instead, there was some fantastic merchandise but since I’m not all that knowledgeable about the latest electronics, anime or computer parts, I didn’t actually buy anything. My trip there was more to enjoy the sites and sounds than to purchase merchandise and I justified it because it was only four or five minutes away (by rail) from Tokyo station. I did however stop in at one of the maid kissaten for a coffee. It was certainly an interesting cultural experience I could only enjoy in Japan.

My time in Akihabara was brief and I spent most of that day in Ueno Park. Regrettably, I missed the cherry blossom season by a few weeks so I didn’t get to see Ueno Park’s 1,000 cherry trees in bloom. However, there was plenty to keep me busy since the park is home to a number of museums, a zoo, a temple and much more. The highlight of my trip to the park was visiting Toshogu Shrine.

The shrine is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu who founded the last Japanese shogunate. There are apparently more than 100 of these shrines scattered around Japan but I doubt they’re all as intricate as the one I visited in Tokyo. There was a small admissions fee in order to enter the shrine itself but it was worth it. As a nerd who has always been interested in Japanese history, being in a shrine dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu was pretty cool.

The next day being a Sunday, I stopped at Harajuku station. The Harajuku area is home to a number of up-scale fashion boutiques and also functions as a place where young, fashion-conscious Japanese young people hangout. I took a brief walk around the area and while I didn’t want to be rude by staring at individuals, I did find the culture on display to be fascinating. The costumes of the cosplayers were quite elaborate and the odd combination of Victorian and gothic dress was fascinating.

The whole time I felt as though the outfits belonged in a museum but the fact that people actually dress that way made it a totally unique cultural experience. These were just a few of the places I visited while in Tokyo but they made the greatest impression on me. I’d wanted to see them for years before I actually went to Japan in May and I have to say that the wait was worth it.