When Japanese Toilets Fight Back

  I was excited, nervous and sweaty. It was 2000 and I was on a date in Japan. I chose the perfect spot, the 11th floor bar overlooking Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake and where I spent 5 years of my life after university (near the lake, not the bar). The bar was called Medusa. Small and smokey (like most Japanese bars at the time) the dark room was sandwiched by glass. One side was wall to wall panoramic views of the lake, distant mountains  glowing in the sun’s retreat for the day. A black light lit massive aquarium claimed the wall behind the bar. At first glance it looked empty. “Look again,” the bartender advised. He didn’t look up and kept at his task of shaping a large cube of ice into a sphere to accompany the scotch destined for a group of black tied salary men. We found two small Read full article…

10 Free Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

Many people dream of traveling to Japan and experiencing this unique island first hand. Culture, history, technology, fashion and food blend together in an unforgettable experience that not only rewards the intrepid traveler but has fueled pop culture around the world for decades. Japan has taken on a somewhat mythical persona as it highlights its cultural differences to the outside world and implanting the desire to visit the country in minds of countless travelers. However, one myth has served to repel would be visitors:  Japan is extremely expensive. While its true Japan can be expensive, a trip to Tokyo can still be done on a budget and can cost much less than a jaunt to Europe’s largest cities. A journey to Japan can be incredibly rewarding without cashing out your child’s education fund. I lived in Japan for over 5 years, and my wife is from Tokyo. Since we travel Read full article…

Top 5 Foods to Eat and Experience in Japan

No visit to Japan is complete without experiencing Japanese food the way the locals do. In Japan there is no way to separate eating from the atmosphere and experience. Food in Japan touches all of the senses from the minimalistic elegance of sashimi to the visual gourmet versions of hamburger patties. There’s more to Japanese food than sushi but let’s face it, navigating the difficult menus in a New York Japanese restaurant can be daunting enough, let alone tackling lesser known dishes on their home turf.  With Fall in full swing, and November Japan Blog Matsuri, hosted by Surviving in Japan tackling the topic of Fall foods in Japan, I started to think about what I love to eat in Japan this time of the year. This made me hungry and ruined all objectivity, displaced Fall and set me down the path to the 5 foods I love to eat Read full article…

Japan Highlights - Japan Blog Matsuri

Welcome to the October Japan Blog Matsuri! This month’s topic is Japan Highlights and we asked the brightest Japan Bloggers to tell us what THEY thought was the best Japan has to offer…Japan’s best places, experiences, activities…whatever. The “whatever” is important. This is not your typical Japan “must see list” that tries to speak to everyone. This is not a clumsy “top ten things to do in Japan” post that has been repeated over, and over again. This is a glimpse into what makes Japan special to a bunch of completely different people. There’s something for everyone here, so pour yourself a sake, squeeze out that wasabi and enjoy a guided tour. Before the tour starts and the train doors close, don’t forget to check out last month’s host Nippon-Ichigo, who rocked out to the theme Japan Music. Awesome! Weather your just planning your trip, or you’re already there, these Read full article…

As I travel I encounter all sorts of cultural divides and misconceptions that stem from American TV. For the longest time everyone I met thought America was one big crew of either the hill living “Beverly Hills 90210″ or the beach going “Baywatch”. You can’t blame them, the export of American pop culture is all many people have to base their judgments on. But it has made my life quite maddening at times as I suffered though question after question on LA life an culture. In some ways I see my travels as a way to show others a different side of America. Well, my last ten years of work has been undone by no other than an international conspiracy by MTV and its Japanese counterpart. In March the “Jersey Shore” hit Japan and thanks to an article from March on CNN International the conspiracy has been exposed. Apparently, neither Read full article…

Japan Blog Matsuri Theme for October is....Submit your articles NOW

Todd’s Wandering is the happy host of the October Japan Blog Matsuri. We’re looking for the best, the brightest and most unique bloggers to join the Japan Blog Matsuri (psst…that means “festival/carnival”, and everyone is welcome to join). Before I reveal this October’s theme a  huge thanks to last month’s host, Nippon-Ichigo and their fun theme Japanese Music. Ok, ok, October’s THEME is… “Japan Highlights!” Yup, a whole Matsuri dedicated to the best Japan has to offer…or at least what YOU think are Japan’s best places, experiences, activities…whatever. Everyone has a different idea of what Japan is, and different reasons for visiting. What are  the things you ABSOLUTELY MUST see, visit, hear, taste or do while in Japan? You can offer advice on the top 3 places to visit, the top 5 foods to eat, the best sake to drink, the best clubs, the most remote temple, the place to Read full article…

Iwayaji Temple Japan- My Favorite Place in the World

I’m not the type of person to have favorites. Whether they are movies, places, people, authors or anything else. My tastes and my boredom levels change too quickly to push any one place above another. But when I was asked by the Lonely Planet Blogsherpa Carnival to write about my favorite place in the world, I knew immediately where it was, the back side of Iwayaji Temple on Shikoku Japan. A Little Background Iwayaji Temple is the 45th temple on the Pilgrimage to the 88 Buddhist Temples of Shikoku, located in Ehime Prefecture. The pilgrimage, covering 1,200-1,400 kilometers depending on who you believe, is Japan’s most famous and visited pilgrimage. Still going strong after more than 1,000 years, legend attributes the pilgrimage to the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Daishi who was born and gained enlightenment on the Island of Shikoku. Not satisfied with just enlightenment, he also created the Read full article…

Use Travel to Make You Happy

I know, it seems rather intuitive and obvious. On the surface it may be. After all why would we do things that don’t make us happy. But I meet a surprising number of people who aren’t happy. Some people think that travel is the answer to their happiness. Other people think settling down, having a steady job and a house will make them happy. Others think making an extra $1,000 USD a month will allow them breathing room to feel happy. If you are already happy with your life this post may not be for you. Then again you will be happy enough to continue reading as well Last week a collective atomic bomb was dropped on the travel blogging and lifestyle design community. I consider myself a part of both, and yes there really is a Lifetyle Design sector (although I use Lifestyle Strategies). The bomb was released by Gadling Read full article…

Hiyashi-chuka (Ryan-Ban-Mien)- Chinese Cold Noodles for Summer

This post is by: Kay (my lovely wife and founder of K’s Kitchen!) In Japan and some parts of Europe, this summer has been extremely hot and harsh. In Kosovo, we had some rather cool weeks in July, but it’s finally become hot in the past 2 weeks. Having spent several years in the tropics, I actually prefer a hot and sticky summer to a cool one….I love licking ice cream while complaining about the temperature and the humidity….I know I’m odd (at least my husband claims so)! There are noodles under there, I promise! When it’s hot, we lose our appetite and don’t know what to cook. A-ha! Here is a great menu for you! Hiyashi-chuka, which literally means Cold Chinese (or Ryan-Ban-Mien in Chinese). This dish is very popular among Japanese in the summer because the cold taste stimulates their appetite. The standard Hiyashi-chuka is with a soy Read full article…

Chinese Fried Chicken with special sauce- Yu Lin Chi

This post is by: Kay (my lovely wife and writer for K’s Kitchen!) Is it only kids who love fried chicken? Nope! I still love fried chicken and this ‘Yu Lin Chi’ is even more special for adults because it goes well with chilled beer!! This dish is popular among EVERYONE-drinkers and non-drinkers, adults and children. The ‘Yu Lin Chi’ recipe is also from my mom which I learned more than 13 years ago. Having lived outside Japan for 10 years, I’ve been absent from my mom’s cooking class (yes, she teaches cooking), but I still get her recipes from time to time and try out new dishes. It is not always easy to cook some dishes without the right ingredients but I’ve learned how to substitute some ingredients with other items by now! The beauty of this ‘Yu Lin Chi’ is that you can cook with generally available ingredients. Read full article…

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