20 Best Japanese Dishes To Try (Besides Sushi)

Before I visited the land of the rising sun, my knowledge of what to eat in Japan could be summed up in one word: sushi. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan and I dined out like sushi was in short supply during my month in Japan, but I spent half of that month with my dad who, after trying sushi for the first time, promptly declared (with a scrunched up face), “mmm, not for me,”. That turned out to be a good thing because it left us searching for other Japanese food to try. I have to say I was surprised … Read more

Where To Stay In Japan On A Budget

After spending a month in the land of the rising sun, I’ve stayed in a fair range of places ranging from hostels to homes to hotels to temples.  In this post I share where to stay in Japan on a budget (and in some cases where not to stay). Types of accommodation in Japan Hostels: There are plenty of hostels throughout Japan and although the prices tend to be higher than elsewhere in Asia (rooms cost around $25 to $30 a night), they are one of the cheapest places to stay. Hotels: Bland, bland, bland was my hotel experience in Japan, … Read more

Okonomiyaki: One of Japan’s Best Food Inventions

What to eat in Japan Okonomitaki

It’s been too long since I wrote about eating in Japan – this time, my favourite discovery: okonomiyaki. What is okonomiyaki? Some describe it as Japanese pizza, others say it is more like a crêpe or pancake. I’m not sure I can accurately describe it in words…so I will describe it in pictures instead. The dish starts by combining eggs and white cabbage to make a omelet/batter type base. It may sounds disgusting, particularly if you have childhood memories of boiled cabbage smells permeating grandparents’ houses, but by the time it is cooked, I promise you can’t taste the cabbage. … Read more

A Life Changing Experience: Eating Kobe Beef in Japan

I’d heard that eating Kobe beef in Japan can be a life changing experience but as much as I love a good portion of rare, red meat, I didn’t have full faith in its power to alter my life…until I tasted it. It was a cold, wet day in Kyoto and knowing that the Golden Temple was unlikely to glimmer under the grey sky, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the short jaunt south to Kobe to sample this world-famous beef. Effortlessly managing to recruit a few others for the journey, we set off just before lunch (in … Read more

I Ate Deadly Fugu in Japan and Lived To Tell The Tale

what to eat in Japan fugu

One of my personal highlights when travelling is trying new food and I’ve eaten many curious items over the years – so it seemed only natural for me to want to try fugu in Japan. What is fugu? For those who don’t know, fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish. Not so remarkable, you might think, until you discover that it contains highly poisonous parts. These deadly bits are largely the organs such as the liver, which is never served, but if the fish is prepared incorrectly, eating fugu can kill you. (If you’re confused by the difference between pufferfish … Read more

Guide to Visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Life forever changed for Hiroshima and its residents on 6 August 1945 when the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Now, over 70 years later, visiting Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, which comprises a number of memorials, monuments and museums dedicated to the legacy of the attack, is one of the most important and popular things to do in Hiroshima, if not the whole of Japan. Although I knew that a visit with ‘highlights’ that include the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Children’s Peace Memorial and Peace Memorial Museum was going to be tough going,  I spent a day … Read more

How To Find Cheap Food in Kyoto

Japan is renowned for being one of the world’s most expensive countries. Fortunately, of all the things you’ll pay a lot of yen for in Japan, food doesn’t have to be one of them. Of course, there are endless opportunities to spend big on food in Japan (a recent trip to Kobe and a $135 bill later was personal proof of that). But it’s equally possible to get by on a budget of $5 and under per meal and finding cheap food in Kyoto is even easier. I plan to do a longer post on Japan’s food…when I’ve finished eating … Read more

How NOT to Visit Mount Fuji in Spring

If there is one thing Japan is famous for beyond the cherry blossom, it is Mount Fuji and I was determined to visit this snow-dipped wonder during my stay in Japan. However, things didn’t go to plan. Learning from my mistakes, here is how NOT to visit Mount Fuji in spring. Don’t assume seeing Mount Fuji is more at Mount Fuji than Tokyo I can’t determine whether it is truth or urban myth that Mount Fuji is visible from Tokyo. All the literature says that on a clear day, it should be possible to view the elusive mount, with the … Read more

Guide to the Japan Rail Pass

I consider myself to be a reasonably savvy traveller, yet the Japan Rail Pass had me stumped for a while. Why? It’s not the simplest rail ticket around. After several days researching what the pass is about, whether it is worth it, how to get it and how to use it (which I’m currently doing in Japan) here’s my guide to the Japan Rail Pass. The Vital Information Yes, the JR Pass is expensive, but it can almost pay for itself with a couple of long distance rides, e.g. return trip from Narita Airport to Kyoto and back. It’s cheaper … Read more

First Impressions of Tokyo

2 weeks in japan skytree

The first sights, sounds, smells and experiences of a country are often the most enduring. Here are my first impressions of Tokyo. It’s not as crazy as I expected In fact, it’s not crazy at all. Popular media portrayal would have us believe that Japan (and Tokyo in particular) is a place where the teen generation lives in manga comics, eccentricity prevails and there is always the possibility that the lady serving you green tea is in fact a robot. After a day of walking the streets (a lot – we got lost for hours) I didn’t see anything more … Read more