Traveling: See Japan for Cheap with the Seishun 18 Kippu

On a previous travel guide post, I mentioned some cheaper ways to travel around Japan.  One of the ways to to do this is with a Seishun 18 Kippu (read as “seishun juuhachi kippu“), that allows you 5 days of unlimited JR train access except for special expresses/shinkansen.  Granted you’ll need a lot of time to get around, but it’s great for backpackers, group travel, and hopping off random stations to explore…  Or people like me who don’t mind spending half a day or two on the train to save 40,000 yen ($400 USD) in travel costs.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

That’s right!  I went to Gifu, Okayama, and back, and that’s about how much I saved with this ticket and choosing to by local/rapid trains instead of taking the bullet train.  My whole train fare for the trip (including another trip I took to Tokyo with a friend to see the Fushigi Yūgi play) cost me less than 10,000 yen ($100 USD) with a Seishun 18 Kippu.

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Traveling: Autumn Takes Branch in Kyoto

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Kyoto tower, the first landmark you’ll see outside of Kyoto Station.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

Mr. J and I finally got internet up and running on the 3rd, woohoo!  Over that weekend a couple of friends and I decided to take a short trip to Kyoto, since the foliage is supposed to be stunning there around this time of year.   Up until now I’d only ever visited Kyoto for training with my first company, where all I saw was my hotel room, the boardroom, and a cheap mom and pop izakaya (Japanese-style pub) down the street.  So needless to say I was pretty excited to finally have a chance to actually see the old capital after so many years!

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Traveling: Summer Vacation in Hokkaido!

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

It’s officially Obon break for most folks in Japan!  This year I lucked out and Mr. J was allowed to take a few days off for us to take a trip together to Hokkaido.  Of course, being the holiday week everyone else was traveling, flights and hotels were pretty pricey.  Still it was nice to get away from the heat and the incoming typhoon for a few days, and we had a really nice time.  If you find yourself over that way, here’s some suggestions for sightseeing in the Sapporo/Otaru area of Hokkaido.

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The Most Magical Place on Earth, Tokyo Disneyland

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Even if you’ve never been to a Disney theme park before, I recommend going to Tokyo Disneyland at least once.  One thing is for certain, if you’ve ever visited Japan for any significant amount of time, you know that Japanese people love them some Disney.  As proof of this, Tokyo Disneyland is visited by more people annually than both original parks in the U.S. and any other franchise park in the world.  Why is Disney so popular here?  Sadly I’ve yet to unlock that mystery, because neither Mr. J nor I are big Disney fans.  Still, when Mr. J got us a free pair of Disneyland tickets for renewing his life insurance plan we decided not to waste the opportunity for a nice date, and so at the end of May we found ourselves on a bus bound for Tokyo Disneyland.

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Tokyo Design Festa Vol. 39

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Last Saturday an old friend who flew over here for a wedding, who coincidentally I hadn’t seen since our wedding a few years back, invited me out to come with her to Design Festa 2014 going on that weekend at Tokyo Big Sight and catch up.

I hadn’t really looked up anything about it going in, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  My mental image was a bunch of art, crafts, local goods companies, and graphic/interior design companies coming together for a huge promotional and networking event.  I was a bit off the mark, though.  The event was much more laid back with a bunch of indies and upcoming artist and designers displaying and selling their wares.  If you’re looking for some cool new accessories or clothing, knick knacks or art prints to decorate your pad, or some insight on what the next big trend in the character world of Japan might be, this is the place for you.  The amount of talent showcased in one place was astounding, and I hope I’ve managed to capture a small part for anyone checking out this post.

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Traveling: Getting Ready to Travel!

© LINE Corporation

© LINE Corporation

It’s the end of the school and fiscal year in the Japan, but if your social calendar is anything like mine, it’s not a time for rest! On the Japanese side of things there’s graduations, new students, and new hires to celebrate.  On the expat side, old friends will be leaving to return home or move on elsewhere and new expats will be moving over in their place, with a string of sayonara parties to pay your respects at and parties to welcome the newcomers.  If you’re staying put in Japan, chances are like most Japanese you’ll be traveling somewhere.

No matter if you’re just arriving, staying put, or leaving, I’d like to share with you some good tips that I hope you’ll find useful during your next travel.

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How Japan Celebrates Halloween…

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Halloween decorations often sold at 100 yen stores.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

…or more like how it pretty much doesn’t!  There’s not much going on unless you’re a club or party type living in a bigger city, or want to buy a bunch of cute knick knacks to decorate your house with.  You really have to actively go out of your way to find something fun to do.

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