What’s New in Kyoto, Japan

Following the reopening of Japan to tourists, we returned to Kyoto and spent several weeks in the city. Suffice to say, a lot has changed. We revisited every major temple and shrine, checked in on hotels, wandered Gion, Arashiyama, Higashiyama, and other districts to see what things are like now. This update shares Kyoto photos, how things that […]

October 2024 in Kyoto, Japan: Crowds, Weather & Events

October 2024 is the start of fall in Kyoto, Japan. Leaves begin to change color, weather improves, and big festivals celebrate the season. It’s a great month to visit to enjoy lower crowds, special events & night illuminations, with lots of things to do in the city, its temples & shrines. This guide to October […]

Kobe Luminarie: Japan’s Wonderful Winter Illumination

Kobe Luminarie is one of the best winter light displays in Japan, and this free event will return in 2024 for the first time in 4 years. We attended Kobe Luminarie and wow is about all I can say. In this post, we’ll offer some background about the event, plus photos and thoughts from our experience at […]

1-Day Osaka, Japan Itinerary (Best of Highlights)

Our 1-day Osaka, Japan itinerary offers a step-by-step plan for visiting Dotonbori (and eating!), Osaka Castle, and other highlights. We cover the must-see museums and best points of interest, all of which are easily accessible via walking and Osaka’s public transportation. If you’re looking for an Osaka itinerary that offers as many experiences as possible […]

Hello Again! Where We’ve Been & Are Going in 2024

You might be wondering, who are these people and why did they email me?! If so, we don’t blame you. Many of you started following our newsletter for the updates we provided during Japan’s border closure and subsequent (slow) reopening process. Aside from some minor updates here and there to keep things accurate for 2023, we’ve […]

How Christmas in Japan is Celebrated: Unique Traditions & American Imports

There are two things you’ll see at Christmas in Japan that might make you do a double-take: Colonel Sanders as Santa and gorgeous cakes at convenience stores. This post discusses unique traditions started by KFC, 7-Eleven and Disney, and shares our experiences spending the holiday season in Kyoto and Tokyo. Let’s start with how Christmas […]

Why You Should Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine at Night

Fushimi Inari Taisha is an incredibly popular shrine in Kyoto, Japan that’s open 24/7. It’s especially beautiful at night, and this post features photos & tips of making the most of it. Visiting after sunset is one of the best travel hacks, as you can avoid crowds and have a unique experience. (Updated December 22, 2023.) […]

Is Japan Open to Tourists?

Is Japan open for international individual travelers? Are borders open as normal in 2024? What are testing, face mask, and vaccine requirements for visitors? These are questions among those planning trips to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and this covers the answers. The good news is that we now have an answer to questions we’ve been asking for nearly […]

Japan Reopening to Individual Tourists: Rules & FAQ

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that Japan will continue to reopen its border to foreign travelers. Starting on October 11, 2022, Japan will resume visa-free travel and accepting individual tourists. Japan will also lift the cap on daily arrivals, which is currently set at 50,000 per day. Kishida’s announcement was brief, and did not include any other details […]

Japan Reopening to Individual Tourists!

For nearly two years, we’ve been chronicling every update to Japan’s border closure in When Will Japan Reopen for Individual Tourists? We have great news: Japan will finally reopen to individual travel in October 2022! During a press conference in New York after his appearance at the U.N. (and before a speech at the New York Stock Exchange), Prime Minister […]