June 23, 2014

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3 Fascinating Japanese Tourist Attractions

Shinjuku

We’ve spoken already about the tourist attractions of Tokyo, however the most visited tourist attraction in Tokyo is Shinjuku. It is in fact a districshrinet rather than an individual tourist attraction.

It is the skyscraper district and it hails from the 1970s. It’s an extremely crowded commercial area and has a whole host of sites, and you can lose one or two days there without any trouble at all. There are fascinating shopping zones, for example some extraordinary basement food halls sporting all sorts of strange Japanese cuisine. There are some beautiful parks including the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

This is a stunning garden which was originally the residence of one of Japan’s most famous families in the 1600s, after which it became a garden under the management of the Imperial household agency of Japan. It is now a park operated by the National Ministry of the environment.

Extraordinarily this park and garden totals almost 59 hectares with a circumference of around 3 1/2 kilometres. It features French formal gardens, an English garden and a Japanese traditional garden together with a traditional Japanese teahouse.

It is particularly stunning during the cherry blossom season. Should you wish to view the garden it’s worth remembering that it is normally closed on Mondays except during the cherry blossom season and chrysanthemum season, which are from late March to late April each year as well as early November. Otherwise the garden is open seven days a week. There is a stunning greenhouse which is also well worth a visit.monkeys

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Also extraordinary is the Jigokudani Monkey Park. This is located in a hot spring area near Nagano. Steam and boiling water bubble out of the ground, which is frozen, and there are extremely steep cliffs and forests surrounding the park. The major attraction of the park is its population of wild snow monkeys that come down into the park during the winter. [...]

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June 23, 2014

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Tokyo, One Of The Worlds Most Livable (And Expensive) Cities

tokyo2No visit to Japan is complete without a visit to Tokyo. In fact chances are you will fly into Tokyo and so you will be right there.

However it’s essential that you set aside at least a week for a stay in Tokyo, there is so much to do and so many things to see.

Tokyo is one of the most populous cities in the world. It is of course the capital of Japan and also its the center of the greater Tokyo area. The Japanese government is found in Tokyo as well as the Imperial Palace which is the home of the Imperial family of Japan.

Japan is made up of 47 prefectures, and Tokyo is officially a “metropolitan prefecture” which makes it unique in Japan, as it has elements of both a city and a prefecture.

The city is broken up into 23 wards, each of which is governed as an individual city. [...]

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June 23, 2014

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A Brief History Of Japan

japan12Japan is an ancient country, and there is evidence of habitation in what was known as the Japanese archipelago from around 30,000 BC. This has been called the Japanese Palaeolithic period and was the period when the very first stone tools were used in Japan, as has been found by the evidence.

There is controversy about whether or not Japan was inhabited prior to around 30,000 BC, with some archaeologists supporting the view that habitation goes back 5000 years further. The earliest human bones that have been discovered in Japan have been dated back to around 15,000 years ago.

Subsequent to the Palaeolithic period Japan was inhabited by a hunter gatherer culture and their genetics can be traced through to the contemporary Yamato people of Japan. It is known that they had rudimentary agriculture as well as rudimentary dwellings. There are also some simple examples of very early Japanese pottery from that period.japanese-woman

The first written evidence of the Japanese was around the third century when a Chinese historical text called the Records of the Three Kingdoms makes reference to the Japanese area. It is known that Buddhism was introduced into Japan around that time.

By the period commencing around 600 A.D. Buddhism was well established in Japan.

Similarly as was the case with many other cultures there have been epidemics which have killed large numbers of the Japanese population and one of these was around the year 735 A.D. when a smallpox epidemic killed, according to some experts, somewhere around one third of the population. [...]

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October 2, 2014

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From Kyoto To Tokyo – Your First Time In The Land Of The Sun

Japan, the “Land of the Rising Sun”, is a collection of over 6,000 small and large islands. While a thoroughly modern and advanced society, this island nation also retains ties to its past. With tucked-away villages and castles, along with the preservation and veneration of historic landmarks. Japan has no shortage of activities and places to see; the nearly 300 miles between Kyoto and Tokyo are equal to any adventurer’s quest for dramatic settings and rich heritage.

On my recent visit I found some wonderful places which you can find out more about below.

Matsumoto Castle, Nagano

Matsumoto Castle in Nagano still retains the original wooden interiors after 500 years and two earthquakes.

Matsumoto Castle is approximately 200 miles northeast of Kyoto, near Nagoya on the way towards Tokyo. It is a must-see for tourists, being one of the few remaining examples of a feudal-style castle keep. Built in 1590, it is called a ‘flatland’ castle, since it was built on a plain rather than a high vantage point, and still has its original wood interior and stonework.Also known as “Crow Castle” because of its black outer walls, was once the seat of power for the Matsumoto Dynasty. Visitors are encouraged to explore the interior and grounds of this incredibly well-preserved castle and museum, which offers a fascinating look at the weaponry, rituals, and culture of feudal Japan. With its historic grounds and pristine architecture, it is a designated National Treasure of Japan. The castle is open daily and can be easily accessed on foot or via bus.

Villages of Shirakawa-Go and Gokayama

Along the borders of the Gifu and Toyama Prefectures 170 miles north of Kyoto are the historic villages of Shirakawa-Go and Gokayama. Some houses are over 250-300 years old, and offer overnight accommodations to tourists as “minshuku”, or bed and breakfasts. Visitors from all over the world come to enjoy the experience of traditional Japanese lifestyle and meet local residents — many of them families running the minshuku themselves. The villages are particularly famous for their traditionally and distinctive architectural style of Gassho-Zukuru, or “prayer hands”. The thatched roofs of the houses meet at a steep angle, resembling that of a Buddhist monk, clasped in prayer.

Tokyo

Lastly the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, ranked top in the “Best Overall Experience” category from Trip Advisor. This metropolis really does have something for everyone. Fantastic city scape, amazing shopping and a night life like you would not believe. The energy is electric and the possibilities endless. On my last trip I went from talking to a transexual how had undergone full treatment of gender re-assignment with vaginoplasty to a top political figure (who shall remain nameless) within 50 yards of one another. The city is a diverse and cultural masterpiece.

Hida Takayama

Tucked in the Japanese Alpine region 150 miles east of Kyoto, halfway to Tokyo, Takayama has retained a traditional way of life that is rarely seen in the more metropolitan areas — particularly in the old part of the city — and a treat for the Western visitor to see and experience. It is also well-known for its biannual festival, which takes place in the spring and fall each year and draws visitors from all over the globe. Visitors can also explore Takayama Jinya, a 17th century government house which is the only one of its kind left in Japan with its unique and rare architectural style. Also known as “Hida Takayama”, the city was first famous for its resident’s craftsmanship as carpenters. It is believed that they helped build the Imperial Palace in Kyoto and temples in Kyoto and Nara.

Mount Fuji

Approximately 60 miles southwest of Tokyo is the iconic, unmistakable cone of Mount Fuji, or “Fujisan”. At 12,389 feet, this active stratovolcano is a famous symbol of Japan and is also its highest mountain. Tourists love to visit this destination whenever they vacation in Japan. It is a place of spiritual pilgrimage for many, and its gently sloping sides make for a fairly easy climb. Because of the altitude, however, weather and temperature can change abruptly, so layers of clothing are recommended. Climbers are also advised to bring plenty of hydration and stop frequently to rest when necessary. A UNESCO cultural site, Fujisan is categorized as “active”, although it last erupted in 1708 and shows no signs of seismic activity.

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September 18, 2014

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Things to do in Okinawa

Okinawa2For many vacationers, the main attraction in Japan is the bustling city of Tokyo, but for those who would like to experience something a little bit different the beautiful islands that make up Okinawa provide the perfect getaway if you would like to experience a little more Japanese culture and see some sights that Tokyo is simply unable to offer.

Okinawa, roughly translated, means “rope in the open sea” and this name provides a small hint at the delights in store for any traveller who arrives there. Principle amongst the city’s attractions are its stunning beaches, the likes of which can be found nowhere else in Japan. They are the ideal place to unwind and enjoy the unique atmosphere this city provides, however they are not the only attractions for tourists to enjoy.

River trekking

The inland of Okinawa is as beautiful as the coastline and adventurous sorts will find that there are many stunning rivers and streams to take in and enjoy. Few things can beat trekking along this lush natural scenery, which has gone mostly unchanged by human hands for centuries. The natural ecosystem of the area plays host to a wide and unique variety of plants and animals that can be observed during the course of a nature trek and many areas also offer guided tours so that you can see the best that Okinawa has to offer. Traversing these areas during the night will require a high quality focus light but doing so will ensure that you are able to view some absolutely stunning sights.

Speciality cuisine

Japan is unique in the world for its approach to cuisine and Okinawa is no different. While you will be able to experience traditional dishes such as sushi, Okinawa is also the natural habitat for the Goya. This vegetable has been worked into traditional Okinawan cuisine for many years and provides a local touch to your dining experience that is completely distinctive to the area. To truly experience Okinawa one must be open to enjoying the culture that has flourished on these small islands for so many years.

Snorkelling

The sparkling oceans and bodies of water in Okinawa offer further chances for adventure for those who don’t simply wish to relax on a beach and enjoy the sun. Snorkelling activities provide a stunning glimpse into the marine life that surrounds the islands, with a huge variety of creatures that are resident to the area to see. In particular the beautiful manta rays are a sight to behold and everybody who visits should make time to enjoy the ocean as much as they enjoy the city itself.

Ogimi Village

One of the true bastions of traditional Okinawa culture is Ogimi village, which plays host to some beautiful sights. The village is famous for playing host to some of the oldest women in the world and there are many secrets just waiting to be discovered in this little slice of Okinawan paradise.

There is so much to see and do in Okinawa that it has become an essential vacation destination for any discerning holiday goer. Be prepared for adventure and discovery if you visit and be sure to sample everything that this amazing area has to offer.

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September 16, 2014

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Does Your Funeral Insurance Cover You While Traveling In Japan?

I never thought of how beautiful Japan would be until we landed at Narita International Airport. I was travelling with my family for a long vacation in the Far East. My wife, Pauline and my two kids, Ashley (16 years old) and James (9 years) were still complaining of jet lag when we arrived at our room reservations in the infamous Tokyo Grand Hotel.

It was going to be a busy week as we had made plans to cover almost every part of Japan, visiting famous travel destinations and shopping around the busy streets of Tokyo and other cities. In fact we had written down a list of some of the top attractions to visit in our one week tour of Japan. Here are some of the top destinations that we covered before our journey was cut short in a fatal car accident near the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

This was our last stop in our tour, but I like to start with the worst first. We were determined to view this haunting tribute to the lives lost when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. I was driving through the busy roads when I suddenly heard a screech followed by a sudden halt. My nose was bleeding and everyone was screaming. An accident had occurred. I looked around to check if my wife and kids were alright but I saw nothing, my vision was blurred.

I was half-dead, I felt nothing, everything was revolving in circular endless motions.

When I woke up the next day, I was lying in a bed in a local hospital. I asked the nurse about my family and the response was very agonizing. Even though we all survived the crash. The driver of the tour bus that we crashed into did not. Luckily for me, even if something fatal should have happened to one of us, I knew our funeral coverage plan would cover us while traveling. I immediately called funeral insurance provider to confirm and was comforted to know that if something were to happen to any of us, we are all covered for all the arrangements to fly us back home and payment of all burial expenses.

Mount Fuji

Our exploration in Japan started with a visit to Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776 meters (12,388 ft). This as our tour guide described, is an iconic symbol of Japan and a popular tourist attraction for sightseers and mountain climbers. We spent about two hours of our journey ascending the mountain, taking memorable family photos and mingling with the locals, whom sincerely speaking, were more than welcoming to us. We fell in love with every minute that we spent climbing this wonderful mountain.

The Golden Pavilion

Our next destination was at the Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion which is by far the most popular tourist attraction in Japan. Your journey to Japan is not complete without seeing the beautifully structured Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. We took a few pictures of the pavilion which is covered in gold leaf that highlights the reflection of the pavilion in the pond and the pond’s reflection on the building before returning back to our hotel in Tokyo.

The Tokyo Tower 

The next day was more enchanting as we spent quality time shopping at the Shibuya Shopping District and Asakusa District, two of the most famous market areas in Japan. It was then that I spotted the Tokyo Tower, a magnificent structure at the heart of Tokyo that acts as an observation hotspot for tourists. Travelers climb the tower for unparalleled views of Tokyo and the surrounding areas as well as stopover at the numerous shops and restaurants that serve delicious local Japanese cuisines at affordable prices.

Even though our trip ended in a tragedy (the driver who died was covered by Japan’s funeral allowance program), I was able to convince my family to not be afraid to travel again, so as to not let fear set in and keep us from exploring the world. I doubt we will be heading to Japan any time soon, but we are quite excited about our next trip to Ireland where we actually do have relatives and are more familiar with the roads and paths to travel.

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September 5, 2014

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Grab a pair of hiking shoes and hit the trails of Japan: the top 5

The beautiful nation of Japan has a world of wonder to explore, from the lively bustle of Tokyo to the quiet rural village of Noto-Hanto. It’s no wonder why it has swiftly become a popular destination for travelers, as not only does it offer astounding beauty, but a rich history running through its veins. Although its cities and technological advances are well-known, it’s worth seeking out the natural beauty that lies hidden in Japan’s countryside and mountain range
 
Even though it’s small in size, Japan has an endless amount of areas to discover. For the hiking enthusiast, these regions offer an exciting array of different experiences to witness and great trails to tread upon. When organizing your next adventure, consider the following gorgeous paths.
 
Mount Takao.
 
If you’re playing it safe and concentrating on the metropolis of Tokyo for a first vacation to Japan, there’s still plenty of nature surrounding the city to traverse. The most visited is certainly Mount Takao, which has eight trails that are fairly easy to tackle.
 
Kamakura.
 
Another option near Tokyo, Kamakura has the unique distinction of offering a cultural experience while maneuvering the historical forest. The chance to soothe the hiking itch is nicely complemented by the ancient shrines, temples, and statues. While the trail is not particularly hard to navigate, it may become difficult in the rainier months. During the wetter times its best to equip yourself with hiking shoes or waterproof work boots, which will ofter water protection and also safety against falling rocks.
 
Mount Fiji.
 
This famous mountain should not be taken lightly, as Mount Fiji can be extremely dangerous, especially for those who intend to climb it. As Japan’s tallest mountain, it’s a popular area to visit, even without an intention to explore the impressive landscape. Yet, if one is suitably equipped, discovering the trails around this well-known behemoth can be the experience of a lifetime.
 
Daisetsuzan.
 
Located on the lesser-known island of Hokkaido, Daisetsuzan is an extraordinarily beautiful national park that is brimming with untouched nature, particularly in the autumn and winter seasons. If seeking an intimate adventure within some of Japan’s most natural resources, there are multiple trails within the forest that offer a venture that could last a week. However, a smaller glimpse at this natural splendor is available through a day-long trek.
 
Mount Yoshino.
 
The beautiful wooded area of Mount Yoshida is glittered with the rosy cadence of the town’s famous cherry-blossom trees, cradling it in a lovely pink during April. Traversing the trails through the forest will also supply a candid look historic temples and an impressive array of nature.
 
Surprisingly, this list has hardly touched the surface of what there is to see and do in Japan, especially regarding the delicate carvings of trails spread throughout the region. The gorgeous exploration that is accessible in the country can be life-changing, but without the suitable gear, it could become difficult or even treacherous. As such, quality hiking boots and appropriate clothing should be worn. Even if the planned hike will not be an extensive one, a backpack can hold food, water, and a first-aid pack in case of emergencies. It’s also advisable to check the weather beforehand, as the elements in Japan can be intense.

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September 4, 2014

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Tips For Visiting Japan

Many people know Japan as a country of technology and this makes it one of the places that you should put on your list when looking for a spectacular vacation. With a population close to 150 million people, the country is one the beautiful places you could ever hope to visit.
However, many people often go without thinking of the places they will see before they get there! Here are some things that I highly recommend to make your trip great:

Some of the top tourist attractions Japan has to offer

You should make sure that you set enough time to visit the breathtaking attractions! Some of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan are

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial

  • Jigokudani Monkey Park
  • Kiyomizu-dera
  • Himeji Castle
  • Todaiji Temple
  • Tokyo Imperial Palace
  • Mount Fuji
  • Golden Pavilion

That ought to be enough to get you going! In addition, you should make sure that you do your research as a way of getting more information you need to help you make a decision of what you would like to accomplish when visiting.

You could also ask your local travel agent for a list of places to visit depending on your expectations and what you would like to see during your tour of Japan. With that tip, you will always be sure of having fun during your tour within this gorgeous country.

Be familiar with the cost of living for the duration of the trip

Most people often ignore this important factor not only to realize its importance when they have traveled to Japan. You should estimate and research the cost to make the best choice of what you need. How do you do this? I would enlist the help of travel agents again here, as they will be familiar with the cost of the entire trip. After determining how much you need to live you can figure out the attractions you’d like to visit depending on your budget.

My friend’s wife saved for 6 months before they took their last trip. It can take a while to make sure you have enough. She works in the healthcare billing industry. Her medical billing and coding salary is substantial, but leaving the house for 2 weeks can cost a lot of money.

Know the weather and the time of year

This is also often overlooked, but it is important that you have an idea about the weather conditions of any destination to which you are traveling. I would consult the advice of the travel agents here as well, if you seek their assistance to help budget. Since different tourist hotspots often vary depending on what time of the year it is, you should take this into consideration when you plan your visit.

There are a lot of considerations to keep in mind before you travel, and Japan is certainly no exception. One last bit of advice before you go is to make sure that your home is secure before any extended absence. Our house does not have a security system, so I use my best trail camera to send pictures directly to my cellphone when they detect movement.

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September 4, 2014

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Can A Foreigner Study For A Forklift Licence In Japan?

I was recently researching opportunities for work for foreigners in Japan. The reason was that a friend of mine asked me, knowing that I had some significant experience in matters relating to Japan, to research whether or not it was possible for him to travel there and work as a forklift driver.

He is currently employed as a forklift driver and has very good references and has a desire to live in Japan for an extended period of time. So he wanted to know whether he could qualify for his forklift driver’s licence in Japan and work there.

It transpired after speaking to him for some time that he had a Japanese girlfriend and was considering getting married, and wondered whether, if he did so, he would be entitled to work if they decided to live in Japan.

So I suppose the first question to research is whether or not foreigners are entitled to work in Japan at all, or is it only Japanese people who are entitled to work there.

It seems from my research that foreign nationals with certain types of “residential status” are permitted to work in Japan.

These “residential statuses” include permanent resident, spouse or child of a Japanese national, spouse or child of a permanent resident or long-term resident.

If a foreigner has any of these statuses then they are free to work in Japan had any work they wish.

And there are other statuses which would entitle foreigners to work within a certain more limited range of job, and these limited ranges of jobs are specified clearly, one by one right here: http://tokyo-foreigner.jsite.mhlw.go.jp/english/seekers_1/spec/spec_1a.html

So it would seem to me from some quick research that if he married his girlfriend and they lived in Japan he would have the status of “spouse or child of a Japanese national”.

And in that case, from my research, it seems to me that he would be entitled to work there. Notwithstanding I have suggested that he get some more detailed legal advice, I don’t wish to find him relying on my limited experience.

Can he get a forklift licence in Japan?

If he wishes to work as a forklift driver in Japan then of course he needs to qualify for a Japanese forklift licence, it seems to me from my research that it is highly unlikely that his current Australian forklift licence, that he got from http://forklifttrainingaustralia.com/, would be recognized in Japan.

As is the case in many countries it’s essential for a person who works as a forklift driver to undertake an approved forklift training course and get a licence to drive a forklift before being able to be employed as a forklift driver.

The reason for this is that driving a forklift is a skilled job and unskilled people driving forklifts can cause serious accidents resulting in injury or even death to others.

I have been successful in finding a course that is open to foreigners. Notably the course is more expensive for foreigners than it is for Japanese nationals.

For Japanese nationals the course costs ¥15,000, however for foreigners the course costs ¥20,000. However I’m sure he would be willing to make up the difference.

To undertake the course he would either need a Japanese drivers licence, which he does not have. However it is also specified that if he is able to produce evidence that he has worked as a forklift driver for more than three months handling forklifts of less than one ton capacity then he would qualify.

So it seems he would be able to obtain his forklift licence.

Are there jobs for forklift drivers in Japan?

From a quick search it does appear there are jobs available for forklift drivers in Japan. This is encouraging.

So I’ve given him is the results of my preliminary research and advised him that there appears to be some opportunities available. It’s up to him to research those opportunities in much greater detail.

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September 4, 2014

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Must-See Attractions of Japan: Daikin Air Conditioner Plant and Japanese Psychics

 

Everyone has their favorite places to visit in Japan. My favorite places center around Osaka and Toyko. These sites cover my interests in science, Japanese culture and nature.

1. Daiken Air Conditioning Plant

This industrial facility, located in Osaka has been certified 100% green. All of the materials left over from manufacturing its air conditioning products is recycled and returned to the environment, including water used in the industrial process of manufacturing air conditioners. All of the plants, excess fluorocarbons, are recycled as well, and the plant also recycled fluorocarbons from outside sources. Tours are available of the plant, which discuss the company’s industrial processes. This plant manufactures fluorocarbons, air conditioning units, oxygen concentrators, fluororesins, fluoropaste and industrial chiller units. You can learn more about air conditioning from www.airconditionerlab.com.

2. Osaka Castle

Once the largest castle in Japan, this castle was built in the 15th century. The castle features a museum that explains Japanese history and the castle has a great selection of Japanese military equipment. Set in a park, food, and other activities are near the castle. There is also a martial arts center on the grounds that does demonstrations of the martial arts taught there. This castle is tall with many stories and features an observation deck on the top that is reachable by elevators. Located in Osaka Castle Park, there is cherry blossom and orchid garden that can be reached as one exits the castle.

3. Universal Studios Japan

This park is located in Osaka. It can be quite crowded in the summer and special reservations or an express ticket is needed to enter many attractions including the Harry Potter area. This park is less crowded during the morning hours, so this is the time to ride the popular attractions. This park includes a Jurrasic park ride, Jaws, space fantasy, and a tribute to anime such as One Piece. It can be quite hot in the afternoon in the park, so this is a good time to take a nap or ride inside attractions.

4. Japanese Psychics

In Japan, the use of psychics or fortune tellers is an everyday fact of life, especially in large cities. Psychic reading is popular in Japan but Tokyo is the best place to see and visit the numerous psychics that have stalls and tables in all of the large shopping areas of the city. It is expected in Japanese society to visit a psychic to help with major decisions and life changes. Psychics are usually consulted on the birth of a new child or an upcoming marriage or career change. Most of the psychics welcome tourists and are happy to tell your future but you don’t need to visit Japan to learn more about psychic reading.

5. Tokyo Sky Tree East Tower

This is the tallest building in Tokyo and lights up the sky at night. For a fee, you can ride to the top of the tower and lookout on the whole city of Tokyo. The top floor has clear plexiglass that makes it seem like you are standing on air. The tower also has some great shops and restaurants, many that have a spectacular view. If you don’t have much time to spend seeing Tokyo, this is one place not to miss to truly see this city.

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September 3, 2014

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Japan – Beautiful, Strange and Endlessly Fascinating

Japan is a fascinating country. Most people, when they visit Japan for the first time are almost totally overwhelmed. They often feel like they’re on a different planet – it really is that different to most western visitors. And really, Japanese people have an entirely approach to life, when compared to the rest of the Western world.

Japan is usually associated with cutting-edge hi-tech stuff, and while that is true, there is a fascinating dichotomy over there, because it is also a country with such rich history, with its roots planted deep in the past. History and tradition play a huge role in Japanese society and this seem to mix smoothly with their high tech side! Also, another thing that makes it one of the most unique countries in the world is the fact that it consists of 4 different islands, named Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.

Healthy Japan – What is their Secret?

The Japanese have long been the world leaders when it comes to life expectancy and healthy lifestyles, and they still are today. Most of it due to their dieting and moderation, which is the cornerstone of their culture. The west has always had a keen interest in how they manage to seem so healthy and balanced as a nation. We love to try and emulate some of their eating and exercise habits but somehow we just don’t seem to be able to manage this.

But, for those who are into living a healthy lifestyle and working out regularly, Japan might be a strange place. If you are just visiting, obviously, you can give yourself a break, and do without going to the gym every day. But, if you’re a foreigner who happens to be living in Japan, things can get weird. The younger generation in Japan has really embraced technology in the gym and in fact going to the gym has become a total social experience – a night out almost!

One of the first things that struck me was the scale of some of the local gyms – huge places with chill out rooms, spas and internet cafes! The equipment of course was beyond anything I’ve experienced in the U.S. especially how everything seems to be integrated with other technology. Everything seems to be connected to the internet – streaming music and videos to your personal console while you work out. Elliptical machines are very popular, and have been for years – even though they are only just now becoming popular in western gyms. The modern Japanese elliptical machine is way ahead of their counterparts in the west – have a look at this model, one of the most popular in Japanese gyms. With fan coolers and iPod docking, not to mention the technology in the machine itself – what is seen as top end in the U.S. is basic in Japan!

Japan is still one of the most stunning places on this planet, I find its ways and customs fascinating and as for their use of technology – we could all learn a thing or two. Attempting to describe its culture would require countless volumes of books, and still, they would come up short. Suffice to say, this article then fails miserably, which just goes to show that Japan is one of those places that cannot be described easily. Japan has to be experienced in real life. If you consider yourself to be one of the lucky ones that can choose their destination regardless of distance or costs, go with Japan. Discard your preferences and preconceived notions and approach it with an open heart and mind. There is simply no place like it.

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September 3, 2014

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Weird and Wonderful Japanese Hair Styles

The country of Japan is known for its food, its culture, and it’s dramatic and sometimes downright strange hairstyles. Here, we’ve collected the best (and weirdest) hair styles that Japan has to offer.

Ombre Hair

The ombre hair style has gained prominence around the world, and is becoming increasingly popular in Japan. These styles consist of dying the hair in descending or ascending shades of a particular color to create a rainbow effect. The most common color schemes for this type of style are natural (blond, brown, red, black) but as the picture above shows, bright color makes it that much more wonderful.

Chonmage

The Chonmage was considered for centuries to be THE traditional Japanese hair cut for men of noble birth. It consisted of a ponytail or topknot that was held at the back of the head while the top (or pate) was shaved. It is the hair cut you would see on Samurai and noblemen during the Feudal era, but now it is almost exclusively reserves for the sumo wrestlers.

Lolita

The Lolita subculture is similar to the western Steampunk movement in many respects. Participants dress in Victorian-era clothing, complete with elaborate and complicated hair styles. These amazing styles can be accomplished with natural hair (right) or with the use of styled wigs (left), as demonstrated in the picture above.

Crazy Creatures

Need something to complete your latest cosplay or Halloween costume? You’ve come to the right place. Stylists in Japan have become skilled in crafting amazing creations out of hair. The picture above would make the perfect finishing touch for a Medusa or Gorgon costume! Snakes aren’t all they can do though. Here’s a tutorial that will teach you how to twist your (or your wig’s) hair into cat ears!

Bedhead

Many Japanese men have straight hair (I wonder if they even have straighteners in Japan), which makes it easy to style it any way they would like. The short, mussed, ‘just rolled out of bed’ look is very popular in current styles. Unlike other Asian countries, men in Japan are more likely to include bright or dramatic colors in their hair.

Neon Colors

In Japanese culture, it is traditional for women to keep their hair long and naturally colored. For young women, cutting their hair short and coloring it brightly became a way to express rebellion. Hair styles like the one above, while not overly common, have still become very popular in parts of the country.

The Bob

The chin or shoulder length bob is one of the most popular and common hair styles in Japan for women. While it will have small variations from person to person, this style of hair cut is the most common Google result if you search for Japanese Hairstyles.

There are so many different amazing and wonderful hairstyles in Japan, both for men and for women, that it is impossible to gather them all in one article. Maybe it will give you an idea for your next big hair change?

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August 31, 2014

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Travelling to Japan with Your Pet Dog

When people go on vacation, they want to take their pets with them. This includes traveling to foreign destinations such as Japan. When traveling to Japan with a pet, there are some rules and regulations that a person must be aware of to ensure their pet is allowed to enter the country.

Concern for rabies

Rabies is a disease that can be common in dogs and cats. This disease can also be transfered to humans if they are bitten by an infected animal. Since 1957 Japan has not seen a case of rabies. Before a person is allowed to bring their pet into Japan, they have to prove that the pet has a current vaccination against rabies. The pet will also have to have other vaccinations and proof from the vet. The pet is also required to have a microchip. Japan takes health conditions seriously so they may require your pet to go through a quarantine process.

When the pet arrives in Japan, it is going to be inspected by the officials at the airport. The owners of the pet will cover the costs of inspection. The owner will also have to show not only the vet and shot records but the pet’s license as well. There is an application for inspection that the owner will have to prepare and pay for upon arrival. Any information given to the airline about the transportation of the pet will be shown to Japanese officials. A vet at the facility will look over the records and examine the pet.
If a pet is found to be in good health, it will be allowed to return to the owner. There are only specific airports where pets can arrive. It is the responsibility of the owner to check this before booking a flight. Lastly, the Japanese officials must be given 40 days notice before the pet arrives.

Importance of pet insurance during travel abroad

When taking a pet to Japan it is important to have pet insurance. Learn more about pet health insurance from this site. When adding to an existing policy or opening a new policy be sure to tell the pet insurance company where you will be travelling with your pet. Some policies cover the pet in case they get hurt during the plane ride or while on vacation. It is better to be covered for the unexpected and be prepared in case the pet needs treatment overseas. Read more about top rated plans for dog insurance.

Where to go in Japan with your pet

Traveling with a pet is a lot of work but it is worth it. In Japan, there are many pet-friendly attractions.
1. Ueno Park allows wildlife and dogs to gather in the park and relax. They can also see unique artwork and experience some of the Japanese cultures.
2. Yoyogi Park is dedicated to allowing animals the chance to be off their leash and be able to run free. This park has a larger section for the big dogs and a smaller area for smaller pets.
3. The Mejirodai Sports Ground is another place where pet owners can bring their pets to enjoy the outdoors and look at scenic Japan. Animals have to preregister and provide proof they are free of rabies.

Pet-friendly hotels in Japan

There are even some hotels that will allow pets to stay. Hotel Chinzanso will allow owners to stay with their furry friends. The Best Western in Tokyo will also allow pets to stay provided that the owner cleans up after them. Japan is a great place to visit for both people and pets. As long as the pets have the proper documentation they will be able to accompany their owners on an unforgettable trip.

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