14/12/2018 Travel Tips  Visit: Modern Japan

A Quick Reference Guide to Getting Around Shinjuku Station

As the world’s busiest train station, navigating the concrete hedge maze that is Shinjuku Station can be incredibly intimidating. Even those who use Shinjuku Station regularly can get lost if they stray from their usual jaunt between train lines.
Don’t, however, let that deter you from exploring the station and its surrounding districts. Each side of Shinjuku Station has a distinct vibe and exclusive set of attractions. Read on for an overview and some time-saving navigation tips.

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18/01/2019 Visit: Modern Japan

The Bunkyo Civic Center Observation Deck: One of Tokyo’s Best-Kept Secrets

As regular Tadaima Japan readers well know, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building offers free access to two of the best observation decks in Tokyo. However, if you’re willing to sacrifice 20 stories in height for a quiet, relaxing (and also free) observatory that welcomes amateur photographers, you owe it to yourself to visit the Bunkyo Civic Center. Overshadowed by more iconic locations, this secret sightseeing spot is so enjoyable that I almost feel guilty writing about it. Read on to learn why a visit is worth your time.

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11/01/2019 Travel Tips

Perspectives to Consider for Your First (or Next) Trip to Japan

As the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) boldly reminds us, Japan is a place of “endless discovery.” Japan is one of the few countries in the world that can marvel travelers with a landscape where ancient temples and Blade Runner-esque cityscapes coexist. Such variety makes Japan travel experiences as unique and diverse as the millions of people from around the world who visit the country annually.

Recently, I reached out to my network, both online and offline, to collect answers to one question: “What would you like to do during your first (or next) trip to Japan?” Read on to see my favorite answers, and discover some new ideas for your upcoming trip.

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30/12/2015 Everyday Life in Japan  Festivals & Events  Seasonal Activities  Traditions & History

【WINTER】Japanese Customs for January: Happy New Year!

Customs for January

1st January to 7th January: the first visit to a shrine Hatsumode, or the first visit to a shrine, is a custom for New Year in Japan.  Before, people used to visit a shrine at night after the sun set on New Year’s Eve, but now it’s common for people to visit in the morning, after breakfast. In some areas, people visit a shrine and pray exactly when the date changes. This custom is called “Ninen-mairi” (praying on two years). Sun, 6th January: Shokan Shokan is one of the 24 periods of the East Asian calendar. In Japan, around the 6th of January, the traditional Oshogatsu (New Year) period finishes and everybody goes […]

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11/01/2019 Arakicho  Bars & Restaurants

Kanae, an Arakicho Izakaya where Wishes can Come True

“So has your wish come true?” I asked Yoko, the owner of Kanae ”Well, partly” she admitted “I had wished to open my own place so that part has come true but there are other things I still wish for…” I had a good look around at the small, cozy izakaya, and agreed that this wish has been realised, even though it feels like we have time travelled back to Japan of the Showa era 50 years ago.

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09/01/2019 Everyday Life in Japan  Souvenirs  Travel Tips

Mission Shopping: Buying Stuff in Japan for Friends Back Home

I was talking with a friend visiting Japan about her travel plans, when she said that one day was reserved for “mission shopping”. “Mission shopping?” I asked, “ What is that?” “It’s a term I coined myself,” she replied, “It’s when, during your trip, you have to find and buy specific items from a list of requests by your friends.” Explained like that, it became clear to me that I had also done mission shopping myself. Calling it a “mission” makes perfect sense – specific items can be hard to track down, and there is a real sense of achievement in acquiring everything on the list. So what is the best way to go about “mission shopping” in Tokyo?

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20/12/2018 Bars & Restaurants  Ramen, Soba, etc...

Mugi no Hana (New 2018) Traditional Ramen in Shinjuku

If you’re exploring Tokyo alone and feeling hungry, a hot bowl of ramen is probably your best choice for a satisfying meal. One of the most highly ranked ramen restaurants in the Shinjuku area is located in the Arakicho area. Whether it’s your first time to try this Japanese dish or whether you are a ramen veteran, Mugi no Hana is definitely worth a visit (or two).

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09/01/2019 Souvenirs  Travel Tips

A Quick Guide to One-Stop Shopping in Shinjuku

Whether you’re a traveler looking for that perfect souvenir or a long-term resident hunting for the latest bargains on electronics or clothing, you’ll find what you’re looking for in and around Shinjuku Station. Few, if any, places in Tokyo can match the sheer number and variety of large stores concentrated into one place.
You’ll find famous department store brands such as Lumine, Odakyu, and Keio directly attached to Shinjuku Station. Don’t stop there, though. It’s well worth it to venture out into the districts surrounding the station. Read on for a few highlights.

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07/01/2019 Travel Tips  Visit: Modern Japan

Visiting Tokyo in 2019? Don’t Miss These 5 Shinjuku Attractions

Since the beginning of 2018, I’ve been exploring Shinjuku to cover everything from bento lunches in famous parks to historic shrines shrouded by skyscrapers. Although I’ve had many fascinating adventures, I realize that it’s impossible to squeeze a year’s worth of content into a single itinerary.

That’s where this top-five list of Shinjuku attractions comes in. Read on to learn more, and keep an eye out for links that provide more detailed information.

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27/12/2018 Activities  Seasonal Activities  Traditions & History  Visit: Parks & Nature

3 Mountain Lodges for New Year’s Eve and the First Sunrise of 2019

Although I prefer to go on day trips, I do enjoy staying the night of December 31st in a mountain hut and taking part in the tradition of “hatsuhinode” or seeing the first sunrise of the year on the 1st of January. There is something magical about spending the last hours of the old year and the first hours of the new year near the top of a mountain. In addition to the special year end food and drinks, seeing a beautiful sunrise is a great way to start the new year. The weather is usually excellent in this season, despite being cold, so you can also get in two days of solid hiking.

Here are three places which I recommend for doing hatsuhinode, with their pros and cons:

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21/12/2018 Festivals & Events  Seasonal Activities  Traditions & History

From Soba to Sunrises: 4 Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Japan

Spending the New Year’s Holidays (January 1 to January 3) in Japan can be bittersweet. If you’re visiting Japan for the first time, there are many exciting traditions to experience. Long-term residents without familial roots in the country, however, may find themselves feeling lonely and isolated. Normally bustling cities like Tokyo become apocalyptic as large portions of its populace seemingly disappear for several days.

In either case, those who find themselves in Japan for the holidays should be aware that many businesses will be closed for extended periods—especially locally owned and operated shops. (You should be fine with the big chains, though. In fact, you may even be able to score some bargains).

So how can you make the most of this time of year? As someone who usually spends the holidays abroad, I turned to my network, both online and offline, for answers. Read on to hear the top suggestions from Japanese and non-Japanese residents alike.

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17/12/2014 Seasonal Activities  Traditions & History

【WINTER】The ‘Nengajo’ Postcard: a heartwarming tradition of the Japanese New Year

Japanese people exchange Nengajo postcards as New Year Greetings, much like Western people sending Christmas cards to each other.

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