Japan

Bon Voyage!

Greetings from the Windy City! As I write this, Sarah and I are waiting to board our flight to Asia for a two month trip exploring Hong Kong and Japan (…but mostly Japan). Traveling for an extended period of time is an idea that has been percolating for a while for us. At the end […]

Kamakura Great Buddha & Kotokuin Temple Review

An hour south of Tokyo lies the seaside town of Kamakura, which is a popular side trip for visitors to Japan thanks to its “Daibutsu” Great Buddha of Kamakura statue and gorgeous Kotokuin Temple, among other things. In this post, we’ll share some thoughts and photos from our visit to Kamakura (namely, these two sites). […]

Odaiba Illumination Tips & Info

Odaiba is a manmade island on Tokyo Bay, located just outside of the city. Its year-round lighting, known as Odaiba Illumination YAKEI is a popular tourist draw, and one of the main reasons people make the trek to the outskirts of Tokyo. Winter Illuminations are popular throughout Tokyo November through December, and there are some […]

Cool Japanese Vending Machines: Drink 2

In a previous post, I shared my odd infatuation with Japan’s ubiquitous vending machines. I wrote that back in this blog’s infancy after a couple of trips to Tokyo and Kyoto, during which I obsessed over finding and buying the oddest/coolest drinks I could find from Japan’s vending machines. Here we are 4 years and […]

Todaiji Temple Review & Tips

Todaiji Temple (東大寺, Tōdai-ji) in Nara is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and houses several National Treasures of Japan. In this post, we’ll share photos of Todaiji, tips for visiting this important temple, and our experience in visiting. Thanks to its huge bronze Buddha, Todaiji Temple is a […]

Yasaka Shrine Info & Tips

Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社, Yasaka Jinja) or Gion Shrine, is one of the most famous shrines in Kyoto. The shrine is located between Gion District and Higashiyama District, making it a spot that’s relatively easy to visit when walking between the two districts or to Kawaramachi Station. In this post, I’ll share some photos of Yasaka […]

Nijo Castle Review & Tips

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 […]

Osaka Castle Tips & Review

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 […]

Golden Pavilion Temple in Kyoto, Japan

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, […]

Should You Buy the Japan Rail Pass?

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 […]