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Nijo Castle Review & Tips

Posted on Apr 25, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Points of Interest  •  4 Comments

Nijo Castle (二条城, Nijōjō) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kyoto, Japan that is the former residence of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. We’ll review the prestigious Japanese castle in this post and share some of our tips for visiting. While the construction of this site began in 1601, when the Shogunate ordered all the feudal lords […]

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Osaka Castle Tips & Review

Posted on Apr 12, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Points of Interest  •  2 Comments

Osaka Castle (大阪城, Ōsakajō) is one of Japan’s most popular tourist attractions, with millions of people visiting the iconic landmark each year, particularly during cherry blossom season when there are special hanami parties and night illuminations. I’ve had the chance to visit both during sakura season and regular times of year, and will share some […]

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Golden Pavilion Temple in Kyoto, Japan

Posted on Apr 4, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Points of Interest  •  5 Comments

The Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji, 金閣寺) in Kyoto, Japan is a world-renowned temple named (and famous) for its pure gold leaf finishing. In this post we’ll cover some of the pros and cons of visiting the Golden Pavilion, share some photos from our experience there, and offer random thoughts and history on the pavilion. For starters, […]

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Universal Studios Japan Tips & Strategy

Posted on Mar 28, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Tips  •  40 Comments

Universal Studios Japan is a theme park in Osaka. Due to its location, size, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it is an incredibly popular park. This post covers some tips for visiting Universal Studios Japan, and tricks for seeing as much as possible in a single day. At USJ, you’ll need all of […]

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Fushimi Inari Shrine Photos & Tips

Posted on Mar 21, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Points of Interest  •  15 Comments

Fushimi Inari is a shrine in Kyoto, Japan with thousands of vermilion torii gates stretching as far as the eye can see. This post reviews, includes photos, and offers tips for visiting Fushimi Inari, sometimes known as the “Fox Shrine” in Kyoto. Foxes are so prominent at Fushimi Inari because Inari, the Shinto god of rice, […]

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Kyoto Monkey Park Photos, Tips & Review

Posted on Mar 18, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Points of Interest  •  14 Comments

Iwatayama Monkey Park is a gathering place of Japanese Macaque monkeys in Kyoto, Japan. This post features my photos from the park, plus tips for visiting this unique location, and a review of whether it’s worth the time and money. This monkey park in Kyoto is extremely cheap to visit (~$5), so whether it’s worth it […]

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Kiyomizudera Temple Photos & Tips

Posted on Mar 5, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Points of Interest  •  12 Comments

Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto is one of the most popular temples in Japan. This post features my photos from the Temple, plus tips and other assorted info about it. This Temple is another of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, and ranks as probably my second favorite site in Kyoto after Fushimi Inari Shrine. It was […]

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Should You Buy the Japan Rail Pass?

Posted on Feb 27, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Tips  •  10 Comments

This post offers details about the Japan Rail Pass, including whether it’ll be worth buying for your trip, and answers to frequently asked questions about its use. For starters, the JR Pass for foreigner visitors is a cost-effective “all inclusive” pass on the JR rail lines available for purchase outside of Japan. It allows visitors […]

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Himeji Castle Review & Tips

Posted on Feb 26, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Points of Interest  •  2 Comments

One of my all-time favorite experiences in Japan was our visit to Himeji Castle during cherry blossom season. In this post, we’ll detail our experience making a day-trip from Osaka to Himeji, as well as review the castle relative to other comparable places in Japan (including whether it’s worth your time if you have to […]

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Where to Stay in Kyoto, Japan

Posted on Feb 23, 2017 by Tom Bricker  •  Hotels  •  13 Comments

Choosing the right hotel, ryokan, or other place to stay in Kyoto is important—not from the perspective of having a comfortable bed and the most high-tech toilet (although having the right temperature of heated seat is important), but primarily due to location. No matter how long you’re staying in Kyoto, you will not have enough […]

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