Living in Japan

Moving in Japan [FULL CHECKLIST]

Moving in Japan can be tough. 

Not only is there a ton of things to do, but everything is also in Japanese, which makes the process much harder than it really should be. 

I recently completed a move from Tokyo to Chiba and did all the research, so I decided to take the opportunity to also write an English guide for any other foreigner in Japan that might be going through the same process!

Before the Move

1. Cancel Your Current Lease

Once you sign the contracts for your new lease, the first step is to cancel your old one. Make sure to have at least a couple of day of overlap between your new and old place for moving all your stuff. 

A note of warning: most housing contracts in Japan have a minimum length of 1 or 2 years, so if you cancel your contract, you may have to pay a penalty fee.  

2. Book a Moving Company

Once your window of moving date is confirmed, the next step is to decide how you will move everything. 

There’s the option of going with a moving company or getting a rental car. The moving company is the easier option while the rental car is the more affordable option. 

Either way, you’ll want to book this at least a month before moving to secure a vehicle and get the best value. 

3. Transfer Your Internet Service

Starting or stopping internet services may require construction for some older buildings. This is because they have to manually connect the fiber optic cables to your room. And the process for that may require making appointments up to a month in advance. 

In other cases, starting or stopping your home internet services can be done by giving a call and mailing back the router. 

And in other cases where internet is provided by the building, you won’t need to do anything at all. 

4. Make an Appointment for Large Trash Pickup

Around a month before the move, you’ll want to start sorting out what to throw away and what to keep. 

If you have any large trash, called sodai gomi (粗大ゴミ) in Japanese, you’ll need to make an appointment with your city or ward’s waste disposal center. When making the appointment, you’ll need to specify what item you’ll be throwing away and purchase the appropriate “waste” stickers for each item.

However, not everybody can know for sure what exactly they will throw away or not so early on in the moving process, so there are a couple of alternatives for this.

Solution #1: Sell it at a Recycle Shop

Instead of paying to get rid of your sodai gomi, you can try to first bring it to a recycle shop to see if they’ll take it. These shops don’t pay much for each item, even if it’s brand new, so don’t expect a huge profit. 

Solution #2: Give it away at an Online Free Market

There are many buy and sell Facebook groups for different regions of Japan. You can also try your luck and sell the item, and you might earn a higher profit than selling at a recycle shop. 

Another alternative is to try selling it on Mericari or Rakuma, which are the Ebay of Japan.

Solution #3: Make an Appointment with a Private Collection Company

If the days are closing in and you still haven’t gotten rid of your sodai gomi, it might be too late to set up a sodai gomi appointment. 

In this case, you can go with a private trash collection company, which often take last minute bookings and will pick it up from inside your home so you don’t need to go through the effort of taking the furniture out. 

This is however, more expensive than the government company, so this is more of a last resort. 

5. Set Up Mail Forwarding at the Post Office

The Japan Post Post Office offers a mail forwarding service, where they’ll gather any mail for your old home, with your name on it, and redirect it to your new home. 

This service lasts for up to one year and is completely free. This gives you the time to update your address info in various places at your own pace. 

6. Transfer Your Utilities

Before leaving your old house, you’ll need to either cancel your old utilities or transfer them to your new place. In most cases, you can do this online, but if not, then it can be done over the phone. 

Water utilities are handled by the government, so if you’re moving within the same ward or city, you’ll just need to transfer them. Electricity and gas are managed by private companies, so whether you’ll need to switch or transfer companies depends on your housing. 

When starting or stopping gas utilities, you’ll need someone from the company to come and do a safety inspection, so don’t forget to make an appointment for that as well. 

7. Submit a Move Out Notification at the Ward Office

When moving out, you’ll have to let the local government know that you’ll no longer be living there. To find the nearest ward office (kuyakusho, 区役所), you can search on Google Maps “(city name) 区役所”. 

The Move-Out Notification Form is call Tenshutsu Todoke (転出届け) and you’ll need to bring your resident’s card and health card. 

The ward office is usually open only during normal business hours on weekdays, so if you’re a student or work a full time job, then you’ll have to take some time off to complete this process. 

Also for those moving in the same ward, you’ll also have to fill this out as well, but you can skip the move in notification form after you move into your new house. 

After the Move

Congratulations on moving into your new wonderful home! There’s a few more things to do!

1. Check Your Utilities

The first thing to do after moving into a new home is to check if the utilities are working. Do a quick run-through to see if your electricy, water, and gas is working. A safety inspection from the gas company is required before you can start using gas, so confirm that you made an appointment for that. 

In case any one of them isn’t working, it’s always better to find out sooner than later.

2. Submit a Move In Notification at the Ward Office

The next step is to submit a move in notification at your new ward office. You’ll fill out a form called the Tennyu Todoke (転入届け) and once again, you’ll need your resident’s card and health card. 

You’re finished there once they stamp your new address to your resident’s card and you’re now an official resident of your new home!

3. Update Your Address Info

Last but not least, you’ll have to update your address information EVERYWHERE. 

If you filled out a mail forwarding application at the Japan Post Office, you have a full year to get this done, but it’s easy to forget, so it’s best to get these done as soon as possible. 


Congratulations! You should be proud of yourself as you’ve successfully completed your move in Japan! There were a ton of things to do but you pushed through and now you live in a new, beautiful home!

Travel Japan

Christmas Markets in Tokyo 2020

Japan has some odd ways to celebrate Christmas. 

Christmas in Japan is a couple’s day, it’s not a day off, and it’s common to celebrate by eating KFC. 

Yes. Not just any fried chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

However, one (normal) tradition that has made it’s way to the Far East is Christmas Markets!

This 600 year old German tradition is celebrated in various parts of Japan and some of the best ones are right here in Tokyo!

So in this article, we’ll be introducing some of the best Christmas Markets you can find in Tokyo in 2020!

Warning: because of coronavirus, some places may restrict entrance or even cancel to event itself so do further research before you go!

Roppongi hills

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The Roppongi Hills Christmas Market will be celebrating its 14th Christmas in 2020. This event is sponsored by Volkswagen, a German car company, so you know that this Christmas market is legitimate!

This event features a total of 7 shops, 3 for authentic German cuisines and 4 for German Christmas goods. Also, the Keyakizaka Street illuminations are close-by, so you can enjoy incredible illuminations on the way to the market. 

It doesn’t get any more authentic than this!


Date & Time: 11/28/2020 – 12/25/2020 11:00 – 21:00

Access: Roppongi Hills O-Yane Plaza 

Admission: Free


Yokohama red brick warehouse

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We visited the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Markets last year and it was nothing short of amazing. There were about 20 small vendors, set up in front of the brick houses to form an alley. 

At the end of the alley is a 10m tall Christmas tree shining brighter than any Christmas tree in Japan. 

Perfect spot for any date.


Date & Time: Dec 4th 2020 – Dec 25th 2020 11:00 – 21:00

Access: Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse #2

Admission: Free


Tokyo christmas market

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The Tokyo Christmas Market opens again this year in 2 locations: Hibiya Park and Shinjuku Odakyu Park. This Christmas Market is easily recognizable by the Christmas Pyramid standing tall in the middle. 


Date & Time: Dec 10 – Dec 25 11:00 – 22:00

Access: Hibiya Park

Admission: Free


Tokyo tower


— TOKYO TOWER 縁日テラス クリスマスマーケット (@ennichi_xmas) November 12, 2020

Celebrate Christmas right under the iconic Tokyo Tower at the Ennichi Terrace Christmas Market! This Christmas Market is set up right at the base of Tokyo Tower and you can enjoy both Japanese and foreign foods!


Date & Time: Oct 30 – Jan 11 

Weekdays 16:00 – 21:30 / Weekends & Holidays 11:00 – 21:30

Access: Tokyo Tower 1st Floor Entrance

Admission: Free



Unfortunately, some Christmas Markets, such as the Ebisu Garden Place Marche de Noël, are not being held this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, it’s also great to see that coronavirus countermeasures, such as requiring a mask and taking temperatures, are taken at the ones that are taking places this year. 

Whichever one you decide to go to, you’re bound to have a great Christmas time! Let’s be safe and have a Merry Merry Christmas!

Which Christmas Market will you be attending this year?

Travel Japan

Illuminations in Tokyo

As winter begins, the days are becoming shorter in Japan. While this means that your daytime is limited, it’s finally the season for Christmas decorations!

One of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in Japan is to watch illuminations, and this is especially true in Tokyo. Different parts of the city light up with incredible light decorations, competing to attract the crowds. 

If you’ll be enjoying Christmas in Tokyo this year, here is a list of different places to check out the winter Christmas illuminations in 2020!

Warning: because of coronavirus, some places may restrict entrance or even cancel to event itself so do further research before you go!

Illuminations in Tokyo



Date & Time: Nov 5 – Feb 4 15:00 – 23:00 (24:00 in December)

Access: Marunouchi Naka Dori, Around Tokyo Station, Otemachi Naka Dori

Admission: Free


Tokyo midtown

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Date & Time: 11/19/2020 – 2/28/2021

Access: Tokyo Midtown (Roppongi) 

Admission: Free


Ebisu garden place

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Date & Time: 11/14/2020 – 1/11/2021 11:00 – 24:00

Access: Ebisu Garden Place Plaza

Admission: Free



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Date & Time: 12/1/2020 – 12/25/2020 17:00 – 22:00

Access: Harajuku Station to Omotesando Station

Admission: Free


Tokyu plaza rooftop

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Date & Time: 11/17/2020 – 17:00 – 23:00

Access: Tokyu Plaza 6th Floor

Admission: Free


Tokyo dome city

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Date & Time: 11/13/2020 – 12/25/2020 17:00 – 24:00

Access: Tokyo Dome City

Admission: Free


Keyakizaka street illumination

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Date & Time: 11/13/2020 – 12/25/2020 17:00 – 23:00

Access: Roppongi Keyakizaka Street

Admission: Free


Yomiuri land

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Date & Time: 10/22/2020 – 4/4/2021 16:00 – 20:30

Access: Yomiuri Land

Admission: 1,500 yen for adults


tokyo city keiba

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Date & Time: 11/7/2020 – 1/11/2021 16:30 – 21:30

Access: Tokyo City Keiba

Admission: 1000 yen


tokyo midtown hibiya “Magic time illumination”

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Date & Time: 11/17/2020 – 12/25/2020 17:00 – 23:00

Access: Tokyo Midtown Hibiya

Admission: Free


Meguro river (online only)

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Shibuya ao no dokutsu(Cancelled)

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Honorable mention

Tokyo has some amazing Christmas illuminations, but there are places in other parts of Japan that are just as incredible, if not more. Here are some noteworthy places to take a visit to!

nabana no sato (Mie)

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Date & Time: 10/24/2020 – 5/31/2021 

10:00 – 21:00 (22:00 on weekends, holidays, except January and February)

Access: Nabana no Sato

Admission: 2,300 yen


huis ten bosch (nagasaki)

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Date & Time: 11/1/2020 – 12/25/2020 

Access: Huis Ten Bosch

Admission: 7,000 yen



While there are many places to see the Christmas illuminations on this list, it’s nowhere close to being a complete list. There are many smaller places and random streets around Tokyo that have fantastic illuminations as well!

What is your favorite place to watch Christmas illuminations?

Living in Japan Travel Japan

Ways to celebrate Christmas in Japan

Merry Christmas everyone!
Christmas is near and it’s that time of the year to gather at the fireplace, open Santa’s thoughtful gifts, and have a lovely family Christmas dinner!
Christmas is celebrated in Japan too and you can feel the holiday spirits here in Tokyo! However, when it comes to Japanese Christmas traditions, things are very different compared to western countries. 
KFC is the main food for Christmas, it’s not a day off for schools and offices, and people tend to celebrate with their loved ones rather than their families! You could say that Japan has its own way of celebrating Christmas. If you’re curious about these differences, check out our Youtube video for more!

That isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy Christmas in Japan, so in this article, we will explore some of those differences as well as many different ways that you can enjoy Christmas in Japan!

go Watch some illuminations

In Japan, people don’t decorate their homes. Rather, public places like malls and parks are the ones being decorated and they are on another level. Since Japan is a business-oriented country, lots of big companies see Christmas as a good way to market and attract people, so they compete with one another to get the biggest and baddest Christmas setup. 

Seriously, they are nothing short of AMAZING. 

The quality of these illuminations (light decorations) are up there with Disneyland. There are many different places that have illuminations, so I highly recommend stopping by one!

Visit a Christmas Markets

One Christmas tradition that Japan has successfully adopted is Christmas markets (perhaps due to Japan’s love for beer)! Most Christmas Markets in Tokyo also have amazing illuminations which makes it a magical experience (great for dates). 

Most markets are open all through December, so come stop by, eat some hot dogs or takoyaki, sip on some hot chocolate or beer, and enjoy the Christmas holidays!

Christmas Markets are always a fun time for everyone!

eat strawberry shortcake

The Christmas fruitcake equivalent in Japan is the strawberry shortcake. If you’ve ever had cake or been to a bakery in Japan, you should already know that Japan’s pastries are INCREDIBLE.  Nothing else needs to be said. 

Have your own christmas get together with a nabe party

KFC gets packed and if you’re celebrating Christmas in Japan, why not celebrate with Japanese food? Nabe, aka Japanese hotpot, is the staple winter food in Japan and is sold at pretty much every supermarket. It’s super easy to make, has lots of nutrients, and warms up your body.  What can be better than gathering friends and family at the Kotatsu table and sharing a big pot of nabe? 

go snowboarding

Another great way to celebrate Christmas can be on the slopes! Japan is made up of 80% or so mountains and there are literally thousands of ski resorts in this island country. If you love skiing or snowboarding, you can check out our most recommended ski resorts in Japan

Share some gifts

Christmas is the season of giving and while you’re in Japan, why not get a Japanese gift for a loved one? Since Japan is all about business, there are many high-quality Christmas gifts you can find in Japan. Around Christmas time, you can find gifts being sold everywhere from big shopping malls to the middle of the JR station.  This Christmas, show a loved one how much they mean to you!


The Christmas traditions are different in Japan, but that doesn’t mean that the Christmas spirit isn’t there! Wherever you are in the world, I hope that Santa comes by with many presents and that you have a wonderful Christmas season this year!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Living in Japan Travel Japan

Explaining the Go To Campaign

The Japanese government started to pay people to travel during the coronavirus. 

Sounds crazy? Maybe so.

In July of 2020, The Japanese government launched a campaign called the Go To Campaign where they would subsidize up to 20,000 yen per night per travel. This was combat the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Japan’s solution for recovering the economy was the Go-To Campaign where they subsidize up to 20,000 yen per night per hour. 

Let’s take a deeper look.

Why did they start the go to Campaign?

In 2020, the Coronavirus (covid-19) impacted the world and people’s daily lives have changed completely. Masks started becoming mandatory, social distancing became a daily practice, and travel was no longer an option. 

As many of you may know, Japan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. On top of this, they spent around 12.6 billion US dollars to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because they expected an additional 10 million tourists. 

However, instead of an increase, there was a 99.9% drop in tourists because of the coronavirus. So in order to save the travel industry, as well as the whole economy, the Japanese government invested 12.9 trillion yen into the Go To Campaign to increase domestic travels and support businesses nationwide.

who qualifies for the go-to campaign?

Anyone in Japan qualifies for the Go To Campaign. You don’t have to be Japanese and regardless of visa type, anyone who is in Japan at the current moment is able to take advantage of this campaign.

go to campaign details

The Go To Campaign started in July 22,2020 for residents and travelers that are outside of Tokyo. Because Tokyo had the most number of covid-19 infections (and people), the government supported any type of travels that were outside of this urban metropolis. 

However, the campaign didn’t see much results because most middle/upper class citizens lived in Tokyo (aka rich people). As a result, they included Tokyo into the Go To Campaign starting October 1, 2020.

How much does the go to campaign cover?

 The Go To Campaign covers up to 20,000 yen, or up to half the price, per night per person for travels in Japan. The campaign also covers day trips up to 10,000 yen per person. There are also unlimited times that you can use it, which is what makes it so attractive.

From the discounted cost, 35% of it goes to travel costs, which are hotel, transportation, and travel agency fees. The remaining 15% goes to other expenses at the destination, which includes food and shopping. 

So to fully understand how this works, let’s go over some scenarios. 

Travel cost scenarios

Scenario 1: Travels cost 40,000 yen per night

If your travels cost 40,000 per night, you get a 14,000 yen discount on your travel fee and receive 6,000 yen worth of local vouchers.

Scenario 2: Travels cost 10,000 yen per nightIf your travels cost 10,000 per night, you get a 3,500 yen discount on your travel fee and receive 1,500 yen worth of local vouchers.

Scenario 3: Travels cost 50,000 yen per nightIf your travels cost 50,000 per night, since the upper limit is 20,000, you get a 14,000 yen discount on your travel fee and receive 6000 yen worth of local vouchers.

day trip scenarios

Scenario 1: Day Trip costs 20,000 yenIf your day trip costs 20,000 yen, you receive a 7,000 yen discount and 3,000 yen worth of local vouchers.

 Scenario 2: Day Trip costs 5,000 yenIf your day trip costs 5,000 yen, you receive a 1,750 yen discount and 750 yen worth of local vouchers.

Scenario 2: Day Trip costs 30,000 yenIf your day trip costs 30,000 yen, it’s the same scenario as Scenario 1 and you receive a 7,000 yen discount and 3,000 yen worth of local vouchers.

When does the go to campaign end?

The Go To Campaign ends when the funds are exhausted, which is estimated to be around the end of January 2021. However, the funds are being used faster than expected, so there is a possibility that the government will add more funds to this campaign to last until the end of January.

local vouchers during your travels

When traveling, the Japanese government also wants you to support the local businesses as well, so they provide the remaining 15% subsidization in the form of local vouchers which are either in paper or electronic form, depending on the accommodation and how you book your travels.

Paper vouchers

Paper vouchers, you receive at the accommodation and they look something like this.


On the vouchers is the official Go To Campaign logo, price of the voucher, prefectures where you can use the voucher, and the expiration dates. 

Electronic vouchers

If you don’t receive a physical voucher at your accommodation, then your vouchers are most likely online and you can access them here.

When you’re filling out your information to access your electronic vouchers, you’ll need a couple of information:

  • Booking agency ID (ID lookup table)
  • Reservation confirmation number
  • Prefecture

Every time you open a new browser to access your coupons, you’ll need to input this information so make sure to have your info ready before making a purchase!

how to use the local vouchers

You can only use the local vouchers at your destination prefecture and it’s neighbors. As for stores, it has to be somewhere that’s registered with the Go To Campaign.

On the Go To Campaign website, there’s a map that shows you shops that accept them, and what type of coupons they accept. There’s a huge variety in the type of shops that accept coupons. They range from convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants, drugstores, and shopping centers. Note that once you use the coupons, you don’t get back change, so be careful.

From our experience, most places accepted the paper coupons, but we had a hard time finding somewhere that accepted the electronic ones.

How to use the Go to Travel Campaign 

In order to receive the go to travel benefits during your travels, you need to book your travels through a registered travel agency or booking company. There are two scenarios when it comes to using the Go To Travel Campaign: booking a travel package or booking your travels separately. 

If you book your travels separately, meaning you book your hotel, transportation, and activities separately, the Go To Discount usually only applies to your hotel. On the contrary, if you decide to go with a travel package, the Go To Discount applies to the travel package and everything it may contain. This usually includes transportation and hotel. However, the drawbacks of a package are that there’s less freedom of choice, there’s a travel agency fee attached, and it often includes a middle to high-end hotel which may not fit budget travelers. 

where to book your travels

Unfortunately, many booking agencies and platforms in Japan are in Japanese, but there are some that offer English. Here’s a list of recommended travel agencies to consider for the Go To Travel Campaign. 

  1.  Nippon Travel Agency (English available)
  2.  Japan Wonder Travel (English available)
  3. (English website)
  4.  H.I.S (English available)
  5. (Japanese only)
  6. Yahoo! Travels (Japanese only)
  7. JTB (Japanese only)

what is go to eats campaign?

The GO To Eats campaign is another variation of the Go to campaign to support local businesses, for those that aren’t traveling. When you make an online reservation with the Go To Eats Campaign, you receive back points which you can use for different purchases later on. 

For lunch reservations you receive 500 yen worth of points per person and for dinner, you receive 1000 yen worth of points per person. However, in order to receive the point benefits of this campaign, there are 2 conditions:

  • make an online reservation with an official registered reservation service
  • register your point card with your account.

As for the type of points, it comes in existing  For the points, it’s existing point systems. (T-point, Docomo, Rakuten, etc.)Some online reservation service include:

As for the type of points, it’s in whichever form the online reservation site uses. For example, I used Tabelog and I received T-points, which can be used in places like Family Mart, Yoshinoya, and Maruetsu. 

The Go To Eats Campaign is estimated to last until January 2021 and the points can be used until March 2021.

safety precautions for covid-19

This campaign is a great way to go out and experience travels and dining that you haven’t been able to try, but let’s not forget that the coronavirus is still around. Whenever you go out, always make sure to:

  • wear a mask
  • use hand sanitizers frequently
  • avoid big groups
  • any other precautions that could help lower the infection rates as possible


The Go To Campaign comes in many different variations and it’s definitely a good way to boost the economy. By practicing safety precautions while also spending, we can help bring up the Japan economy together while also having a good time!
I hope that this information was useful to everyone and don’t forget to wear a mask! 
Also feel free to share this information with anyone else that might be interested in the Go To Campaign!


Things to do in Hirosaki

When most people hear the about Hirosaki, two words come to mind: apple and castle. Hirosaki is most known for the abundance of delicious apples, as well as the famous Hirosaki Castle Park Sakura Festival, which is held every year during the sakura season. Outside of apples and castles, Hirosaki is a small historic town with a friendly local community. There are unique cultures and interesting places around this small town. Here, we’ll show you several ways to enjoy a trip to Hirosaki! 

How to Get to Hirosaki

From Aomori City

You can get to Hirosaki from Aomori city by taking the Ou line. The Ou line runs through Aomori and Shin-Aomori Station and it takes roughly 40 minutes to get to Hirosaki Station.

From Tokyo By Bus

You can get to Hirosaki directly by bus. It’s quite an affordable option and you don’t need to transfer, but the only downsides are that there are only a couple buses a day and it takes 8-10 hours.

From Tokyo By Train

If you decide to go by Shinkansen, it would take only 3 hours to get to Aomori City, where you transfer to the Ou line to get to Hirosaki. Taking the Shinkansen is also much more expensive compared to the bus option, but you can get to Hirosaki with no additional cost if you use the Japan Rail Pass

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Hirosaki is undoubtedly during the Hirosaki Castle Park Sakura Festival, around late April or early May. There are hundreds of sakura festivals held throughout Japan, but the one at Hirosaki Castle is one of the most famous festivals. The sakura usually blooms around late April to early May, and many people visit Hirosaki during Golden Week, a national holiday week that happens to be around this time. 

If you’re visiting Hirosaki, we recommend going before Golden Week, around the last 10 days of April, so you can experience the local culture and the sakura celebration before it becomes flooded with tourists from all over Japan.

Popular Places

Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle is the pride and joy of the city of Hirosaki. 

It’s one of the most visited places in the whole Aomori Prefecture and especially popular during the sakura season. The Hirosaki Sakura Festival is one of the most famous sakura festivals in the whole country and the number of visitors to the castle in one day can easily triple the total population in Hirosaki!

While Sakura season and fall foliage are the best times to visit, Hirosaki Castle Park is always a great place to stop by when in the area. 

Hours: 24 hours

Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8356

Phone Number: 0172-33-8733

Apple Park

Apple Park is a huge park with a huge field of apple trees. There are over 1300 apple trees lined up with 65 different kinds of apples. You can pick apples to take home and learn about the different kinds of apples. You can also buy apple souvenirs that can help support the local business as well!

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: Terasawa-125 Shimizutomita, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8262

Phone Number: 0172-36-7439

Neputa Mura

Tsugaru-han Neputa-mura , 津軽藩ねぷた村 - panoramio (1)

Right outside of Hirosaki Castle is Neputa Mura, a small plaza (inspired by) the famous Neputa Festival. There’s a food and shopping area as well as an exhibition where you can learn about the famous Neputa Festival that happens in Hirosaki around early August.

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: 〒036-8332 Aomori, Hirosaki, Kamenokomachi, 61

Phone Number: 0172-39-1511

Historical Landmarks

Starbucks – Hirosaki Park Store

The Starbucks next to Hirosaki Park has a deep history. The building has been around since 1916 and served as the residence for a division commander Daihachi Dancho Kansha, followed by the mayor of Hirosaki. The building was then registered as one of Japan’s Tangible Cultural Assets and then renovated to serve as a Starbucks in 2016. 

If you go here, you’ll notice that the building has a vintage look and the inside was designed to both preserve the historical design while serving customers. 

Hours: 7:00am – 9:00pm

Address: 〒036-8207 Aomori, Hirosaki, Kamishiroganecho, 1-1 旧第八師団長官舎内

Phone Number: 0172-39-4051

Former Hirosaki City Library

The Former Hirosaki City Library is a great place to learn about the history of the area. It was built in 1903 to commemorate Japan’s victory in the Japan-Russo War. The building, as well as many other buildings from the early 19th century, has a bit of Western style since many Western missionaries came around this time. 

The library closed down in 1931 and it is now used as a memorial and a historical landmark. 

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: 〒036-8356 Aomori, Hirosaki, Shimoshiroganecho, 追手門広場内

Phone Number: 0172-82-1642

Fujita Memorial Garden

Fujita Memorial Japanese Garden - panoramio

On the outer corner of Hirosaki Park is a calm and peaceful traditional Japanese garden. The garden’s creation commemorated the 100th year anniversary of Hirosaki City and it was named after the entrepreneur Fujita Kenichi, who owned the garden at the time. 

Hours: 9:00am – 4:30pm

Address: 8-1 Kamishiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8207

Phone Number: 0172-37-5525

Choshoji Temple

Go a bit south of Hirosaki Castle and you’ll see a huge gate leading to Chushoji Temple. This temple is one of the main historical sights of Hirosaki and is the oldest wooden building in the city. There are statues of the 100 disciples of Buddha and a monument for the Tsugaru Clan, former rulers of the area.

Hours: 9:00am – 4:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-23-8 Nishishigemori, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8273

Phone Number: 0172-32-0813

Saisho-in Monastery

The monastery dates all the way back to the 16th century and was built by the Tsugaru clan. This monastery is one of the most popular shrines visited in Hirosaki, especially the five-story pagoda.

Hours: 9:00am – 4:30pm

Address: 63 Doyamachi, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8196

Phone Number: 0172-34-1123

Adventuring Out

Mt Iwaki

Wherever you are in the city, you can always see a mountain in the background. Mt Iwaki is like the Mt Fuji of Hirosaki and is often called “Tsugaru-Fuji”. At the foot of the mountain is Iwakiyama Jinja and has a very serene atmosphere. 

If you want to climb the mountain, it takes about 4-5 hours but only an hour if you take the cable car lift. You can go hiking in the summer months and during the winter, there is a ski resort. 

Hike at Shirakami Sanchi

Shirakami Sanchi is a mountain range that sits on the border of Aomori and Akita Prefecture. The core region of the mountain range is considered a UNESCO world heritage site because of the high number of beech trees that serve as home to many animals. 

Getting into this core region requires some additional procedures, but one of the most popular routes is to hike up to the Anmon waterfalls on the northern edge of Shirakami Sanchi. 

Shirakami Sanchi Visiting Center

Hours: 8:30am – 5:00pm

Address: Kanda-61-1, Nishimeya, Nakatsugaru District, Aomori 036-1411

Phone Number: 0172-85-2810

Events in Hirosaki

Hirosaki Castle Park Sakura Festival

The Sakura Festival is one of the biggest events held in Hirosaki. Hirosaki Castle is home to over 2600 cherry blossom trees and there are over 50 different types. The Castle Park is HUGE and every part has a different scenery filled with cherry blossoms. 

The festival starts around mid/late April and goes on for 2-3 weeks. During this period, there are food stalls set up where you can buy lots of different festival foods, play Japanese carnival games, and have a hanami (cherry blossom picnic) in lawns surrounded by the cherry blossom trees. 

There are many unique ways to enjoy the sakura. Around the center moat, you can ride a traditional boat where a staff member guides you around in the petal covered lake. If you prefer to row you rown private boat, you can do that in the west moat, where the banks are lined up with trees. After sunset, the lights come on and you can walk around and experience the Yoruzakura (night sakura). 

Here’s a video by the Hirosaki Tourism Bureau  to show you how incredible the Sakura trees in Hirosaki Castle are!

Food Stall Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm

Night Illumination Hours: 6:30pm – 10:00pm

Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8356

Cost: 300-500 yen

Phone Number: 0172-33-8733

Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival

Another famous event at Hirosaki Castle is the Snow Lantern Festival! During the snow festival, the Castle Park is covered in over 400 snow lanterns and statues all made by the local citizens. There are also food stalls, night illuminations, various cultural artworks, fireworks, and activities such as a snow slide!

The festival is a short weekend event around the 2nd week of February and goes on for 3 days. Snow festivals are incredibly beautiful in Japan and if you happen to be in Japan during the early half of February, we highly recommend checking out the Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival!

Here’s a video introducing what to expect!

Food Stall Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm

Night Illumination Hours: 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Address: 1 Shimo-shirogane-cho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8356

Cost: Free

Phone Number: 0172-26-3600

Neputa Festival

The Neputa Festival is a festival in the summer where they parade around the old town near Hirosaki Castle with over 70 traditional floats. The festival starts around 7:00pm during the first week of August.

In Aomori city, there is a similar festival called the Nebuta Festival. While both festivals celebrate for the same cause, the festivals are celebrated in slightly different ways. The Nebuta Festival has a more energetic atmosphere while the Neputa Festival is more calm and visually aesthetic. The Nebuta also uses 3-D figures as floats while the Neputa in Hirosaki have fan-shaped mural floats. 

Inakadate Field Art

Tanbo art in Inakadate 2012 B

Japan has a long history with rice and in Hirosaki, rice has even become a form of art. Every year, over 700 local citizens collaborate and plan out the artwork and the result is always remarkable. The artwork is viewable around June to October and changes every year. 

During the months from June to October, you can see the rice field artwork from a high point. 

Hours: 8:30am – 6:00pm

Address: Izumi, Inakadate, Minamitsugaru District, Aomori 038-1111

Where to Stay

Hirosaki is a small town and most of what to see is somewhere between Hirosaki Station and Hirosaki Castle. 


Budget Hotels

Mid-Range Hotels

Luxury Hotels



Osaka Travel Guide

Osaka, the biggest city in Kansai and one of the most visited places in Japan. 

Although it loses to it’s Kanto counterpart, Tokyo, in terms of size and popularity, Osaka has the upper hand when it comes to food and friendly people. Osaka has the urban environment with local vibes in each district. Osaka is also surrounded by amazing day trip destinations such as Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama, and Kobe, which makes Kansai one of the most recommended places to visit when traveling to Japan

This travel guide answers common questions people may have when traveling to Osaka. We show you how to prepare for your trip, where to stay, and what to expect in this amazing city. There’s a lot of information here so don’t forget to pin it for later!

Best Time to go

There is no particular “best” time for visiting Osaka and it may depend on your preference. In terms of temperature, spring and fall are most ideal (April, May, October, November). However, winter and summer temperatures aren’t as extreme as other parts of Japan like Tokyo. 

There are many perks to visiting Osaka during each season and and we highly recommend visiting during a different season for your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th trip. In the spring, you can witness the sakura trees come into full bloom and enjoy a pink landscape. During the summer, you can enjoy going to the beach and the summer firework festivals. In the fall, the landscape changes again as fall foliage starts and the trees prepare for winter. Finally, in the winter, you can enjoy various winter sports as Japan is famous for having many ski resorts in the country. 

Osaka or Tokyo?

Many people are often conflicted between traveling to Osaka or Tokyo. Just looking at the facts, Tokyo is a much bigger city, with 3x the population of Osaka, and has more attractions and things to do. However, Osaka also has similar attractions, just at a smaller scale. 

If you’re a foodie, Osaka is definitely the choice. Osaka is known for having great food and lots of famous dishes. If you love shopping, Tokyo has a bigger selection by far. In terms of the locals, people in Osaka tend to be friendlier, due to the huge comedy culture that exists there. 

Osaka and Tokyo are quite different and many people want to explore both. A recommended option is to fly into one city and fly out of another. There is no part city that we recommend flying into first, but this may require some planning since you may have to buy two separate tickets.

How Many Days to Spend in Osaka?

We recommend staying at least 2-3 days in Osaka, but a week might be a good amount of time to fully enjoy the city. With a week, you can spend more time exploring deeper into the city and trying all the food that Osaka has to offer. There are lots of unique destinations nearby Osaka as well, so with more time here, you’d be able to make short trips out to places like Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe. 

How to get to Osaka

Osaka has two airports: Kansai International Airport and Osaka International Airport. Most people will be flying into Kansai International Airport, which is the main airport for international flights, located in the Osaka bay. The quickest way to get to Osaka from Kansai International Airport is by taking the JR Haruka Airport Express train, which will take roughly 35 minutes. . 

Get the JR Haruka Airport Express tickets here

If you’re coming to Osaka from Tokyo, you can take the Shinkansen which will roughly take 2.5 hours. If you plan on traveling to various places in Japan, buying a Japan Rail Pass instead of the individual ticket can save you money on the long run, since it allows you to take unlimited Shinkansen rides during the duration. 

Get the Shinkansen ticket here

Get the Japan Rail Pass here

Where to Stay?

The best place to stay in Osaka is near Umeda or Namba station. These are two of the biggest transportation hubs of Osaka that offer convenient access to many parts of the city. Not only that, there are tons of shops, restaurant, and entertainment around these areas. 

Hotels in Umeda


  • Osaka Guesthouse Sakura – Simple Japanese style hostel conveniently close to Umeda Station. 
  • Drop Inn Osaka – Straightforward hostel with Japanese and western style living space. 




Hotels in Namba





What to do in Osaka

Osaka is a big city with lots of different things to do. 

If you want to visit some cultural spots, then we recommend visiting Osaka Castle and the Mozu Tombs, one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. There are also many viewpoints throughout the city where you can take amazing photos and overlook the city.

Universal Studios Japan is located in the Osaka bay area and it’s famous for being themed after both American movies and Japanese anime. In terms of food, we recommend checking out the Dotonbori and the Kuromon Market next to it. 

For a whole list and guide, check our Things to do in Osaka page.

What to eat?

Osaka is known to be the food capital of Japan and its specialty lies in street food. Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki are two extremely popular dishes in Osaka. The Takoyaki in Osaka are known to be bigger than usual and the Okonomiyaki is known to have originated in Osaka. Another dish worth eating is kushikatsu, deep fried skewers. This dish is the specialty in the Shinsekai district and highly recommended here. 

If you’re a fan of Japanese food in general, don’t forget to try other Japanese foods in Osaka as well, such as yakiniku, ramen, Kobe beef (in Kobe), soba, and matcha (in Kyoto). 

Day Trips

One of the best things to do when traveling to Osaka is take a step out. Osaka is surrounded by awesome cities that are special in their own way. Many people know of the famous Kyoto, but there are other destinations as well. Here are a couple day trips that you can make from Osaka. 


One of the most popular destinations and the former capital of Japan. It’s known for the traditional style architecture and having lots of Japanese temples and shrines throughout the city. 


The city directly to the east of Osaka. Nara is famous for deers that roam freely throughout Nara koen park and bow to people in exchange for food. 


Kobe is the city next to Osaka that borders the Osaka bay. It’s famous for the Kobe beef and the iconic skyline from the harbor. 


180428 Umikongo Kushimoto Wakayama pref Japan01bs

Wakayama, the hidden gem of Kansai, tucked away directly south of Osaka. Wakayama is a famous tourist spot for Japanese people due to its beautiful nature. 


Okinawa Travel Guide

If you’re looking for a tropical paradise in Japan, Okinawa is the answer. 

Often called the Hawaii of Japan, Okinawa is the group of islands located south of the main islands. The biggest island of Okinawa, Honto, is the most visited island since it’s the most populated while also having incredibly beautiful beaches and landscapes. It’s also home to Japan’s most famous aquarium as well as many American-influenced shops and cuisines. This guide will show you everything you need to know for traveling to Okinawa.

Don’t forget to pin it for later!

About Okinawa

Okinawa consists of over 160 islands, 49 of which are inhabited. Okinawa was part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which extended from Kyushu all the way to Taiwan and then became a part of Japan in the 19th century. After World War 2, Okinawa was occupied by America for roughly 30 years before returning to be a part of Japan again. As a result of its past, you can see evidences of Ryukyu, American, and Japanese culture in this small island. 

The Weather

Okinawa’s weather is as one expects of a tropical island. In the summer, it gets hot and humid while in the winter, it stays relatively warm, but still too cold to go swimming. Just like most tropical islands, there are also lots of typhoons that pass by Okinawa, usually in the summer. It’s important to check the weather often when traveling to Okinawa in case the typhoon may affect flights, ferries, and activities. 

Best Time to Go

We think that the best time to visit Okinawa is any time except the middle of summer. In the summer, Okinawa is blazingly hot and humid while getting a lot of rainfall. May and June are considered rainy seasons while July and August are typhoon season. Ironically, summer is also peak tourist season since Japan’s major holidays tend to be around this time as well. 

March, April, and October are probably the best months since you escape the heat and crowd while also enjoying the waters. January is also a great time to go if you want to experience the cherry blossoms in Okinawa, much earlier than other parts of Japan.

Winter is also a good time to go if you’re coming from a colder climate (like from anywhere else in Japan) and want to escape the cold. However, the waters lose their warmth so swimming may not be an option for everyone. 

How to Get There

The only way to get to Okinawa is by either airplane or ferry. 

Naha Airport connects to every major airport in Japan, and a few from other countries nearby. The best way to get to Okinawa from far away would be to fly into a big city, like Tokyo or Osaka, and transfer to Naha Airport from there. It may also be a good way to see a part of main Japan before enjoying the island life in Okinawa.

You can check below for ways to get to Okinawa from your country!


In Okinawa, there is a monorail that runs from the airport to Naha city and various buses that connect Naha to the other parts of the island. To ride the public transportation in Okinawa, you can either buy individual tickets or get the OKICA transportation card, which you can charge up and easily ride the monorail or bus. If you’re coming from mainland Japan, the PASMO or SUICA card does not work in Okinawa and you would have to purchase the OKICA card. 

While public transportation is available, the best way to see the beauty of Okinawa is by renting a car. With a rental car, you have access to remote beaches and parts of the island and get to places much faster. In addition to that, rental cars in Okinawa tend to be much cheaper than the rest of Japan, so it’s good to take advantage of that!


Where to Stay

Hotel Deal - Okinawa Marriott Resort & Spa just $84 (using Marriott LNF)

Naha (South Okinawa)


3 Star Hotel

4&5 Star Hotel

  • Loisir Spa Tower Naha – Upscale beach resort with relaxing spa, luxurious dining, and rooms overlooking the sea. 

Nakagami (Central Okinawa)


3 Star Hotel

4&5 Star Hotel

Nago (North Okinawa)


3 Star Hotel

  • Hotel Resonex Nago – Beachfront hotel with onsen, gym, and an open patio next to the beach. 
  • Kanehide Kise Beach Palace

4&5 Star Hotel

What to Pack


The weather is hot and humid from April to November, so you’d want to wear as light as possible. During the winter months, you might want to wear long sleeves and pants, but also keep some shirts as well. 

Whether it’s rainy season or not, Okinawa has random rainfalls, so it may also be a good idea to bring a waterproof jacket

For a more detailed clothing guide, you can check the official Okinawa Travel Guide


You need cash, not just in the natural parts of Okinawa, but also in cities like Naha as well. Many chain restaurants, supermarkets, and big establishments accept credit card, but cash is the only acceptable payment everywhere else. If you need cash while there, you can withdraw from any convenience store or a Japan Post ATM. 

Beach Essentials

Going to a tropical island means that you’ll be going to the beach as often as possible. Instead of figuring it out when you get there, it can be more cost effective to prepare everything beforehand. Here is a general packing checklist of beach essentials. 

Compact Umbrella

As mentioned before, Okinawa has random rainfalls, whether it’s rainy season or not. Having a compact umbrella around can be useful in these situations. 

Buy a compact umbrella here

International Drivers Permit

If you are renting a car you need either a Japanese drivers license or an International Drivers Permit. In the USA, an IDP application may take around 10-15 business days, so make sure to plan ahead!

Universal Adapter

Japanese outlets have the same shape as the ones in the US. If you’re coming from the US, you won’t be able to connect your three-prong outlets. If you’re coming from outside of the US, you may need to bring an electrical adapter. It’s also recommended to bring a power cord as well so you can have multiple sockets. 

Buy a universal adapter here


It’s hard to travel without wifi these days. When traveling to Okinawa, you need a wifi provider that has coverage in the smaller islands as well, 

Get pocket wifi here

Power Bank

The more you use your phone, the more battery it uses. 

You may need a power bank when traveling to countryside, when you’re not quite sure when the next time you can find an electric socket. 

Get electric power bank here


Churaumi Aquarium

Japan’s most famous aquarium.

The Churaumi Aquarium is located on the north western tip of the main island, in Ocean Expo Park. It has one of the biggest tanks in the world that can hold 7.5 million liters and houses two whale sharks, manta rays, and hundreds of marine life. 

How to get there

The fastest way to get there is by car, by taking the Okinawa Expressway. There are also several local and express buses which you can take from Naha, Nago, and other parts of the island. You can see all the bus information and timetable on this website.

Tickets available here.

Hours: 8:30am – 7:00pm

Address: 424 Azaishikawa, Motobu, Kunigami District, Okinawa 905-0206

Phone Number: 0980-48-3748

Orion Happy Park

If you have an interest in beer, Orion Happy Park is a great place to learn about the entire process. Orion is one of Japan’s most famous beer companies and they are based in Okinawa and at Orion Happy Park, they have tours that guide you through the entire process from raw materials, all the way to the bottle.

Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm

Address: 2 Chome-2-1 Agarie, Nago, Okinawa 905-0021

Phone Number: 0980-54-4103

Nago Pineapple Park

Nago Pineapple Park (32183097142)

If you’re at a tropical island, it only makes sense to eat pineapples (and maybe go to a theme park about it). 

Okinawa is famous for its pineapples and at Nago Pineapple Park, you can ride through fields of them and learn about the various different kinds. There’s also a cafe that offers various pineapple dishes and a shop where you can take home some pineapple sweets, cider, alcohol, cosmetics, and other souvenirs!

Tickets available here.

Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm

Address: 1195 Biimata, Nago, Okinawa 905-0005

Phone Number: 0980-53-3659

Ryukyu Mura

Ryukyu Mura is another theme park that’s more centered around the Ryukyu Kingdom culture. Here, all the houses are traditional Okinawa style and you can engage in various activities, purchase unique souvenirs, and eat traditional Okinawa dishes. 

Tickets available here

Hours: 9:00am – 5:30pm

Address: 1130 Yamada, Onna, Kunigami District, Okinawa 904-0416

Phone Number: 098-965-1234

Okinawa World

Gyokusendo Nanjo Okinawa Japan03s3104

Okinawa World is a theme park based on the Okinawan culture with lots of attractions. Inside is the 5km long Gyokusendo Cave, the second longest cave in all of Japan. There’s also a village with Ryukyu-style houses with hands-on workshops inside for glass blowing, sugar cane processing, pottery making, and much more. The park also features a snake park, brewery, and a huge orchard where they grow various island fruits. 

Tickets available here

Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm

Address: Maekawa-1336 Tamagusuku, Nanjo, Okinawa 901-0616

Phone Number: 098-949-7421

Culture and Landmarks

Shuri Castle

If you want to witness the symbol of Okinawa, you need to check out the Shuri Castle. Shuri Castle is located on top of a hill overlooking Naha and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site as part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Inside is a small traditional Japanese style cafe where you can sit down and have some tea with light snack. Occasionally, there are festivals held at the castle grounds during certain times of the year. 

Note: The castle had been destroyed due to a fire in 2019 and is currently under re-construction. Constructions won’t be complete until roughly 2022, but you can still visit the castle park area during the re-construction. 

Hours: 8:00am – 7:30pm

Address: 1 Chome-2 Shurikinjocho, Naha, Okinawa 903-0815

Phone Number: 098-886-2020

Nakijin & Nakagusuku Castle Ruins

The Nakijin and Nakagusuku Castle Ruins are another UNESCO World Heritage site that’s part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Here, you won’t find a full castle-like structure, but rather a field of remainders of the castle walls, thus being called the castle ruins. 

The Nakijin Castle Ruins are located in the north close to the Churaumi Aquarium, while Nakagusuku Castle Ruins are located in central Okinawa, near Ginowan city.

Nakajin Castle Ruins

Hours: 8:00am – 6:00pm

Address: 5101 Imadomari, Nakijin, Kunigami District, Okinawa 905-0428

Phone Number: 0980-56-4400

Nakagusuku Castle Ruins

Hours: 8:30am – 5:00pm

Address: 503 Ogusuku, Kitanakagusuku, Nakagami District, Okinawa 901-2314

Phone Number: 098-935-5719

Nature and Beaches

Naminoue Beach

111204 Naminoue Beach and Naminoue-gu Naha Okinawa pref Japan04s3.jpg
663highland, CC 表示 2.5, リンクによる

When you arrive to Naha, Naminoue beach may be the first beach you might visit. In fact, Naminoue Beach is the only beach in Naha city and also the only one with a highway running over it. It’s not exactly the type of beach that comes to mind at a tropical island, but the waters are very clear and it’s the most accessible beach from Naha. 

Address: 1 Chome-25-9 Wakasa, Naha, Okinawa 900-0031

Ginowan Seaside Park

If Naminoue Beach doesn’t satisfy your tropical cravings, then perhaps Ginowan Beach will. Located only 20 minutes away from Naha, Ginowan Seaside Park is a huge national park with an endless beach on the other end. Here, you can not only enjoy the tropical beach settings, but also enjoy a nice barbecue, participate in sports, and use clean beach facilities such as showers and bathroom. 

Hours: 9:00am – 9:30pm

Address: 4 Chome-2-2番1号 Mashiki, Ginowan, Okinawa 901-2224

Phone Number: 098-897-2751

Cape Manzamo

Onna Okinawa Japan Cape-Manzamo-01

Halfway up north is Cape Manzamo, the perfect place to find stunning views overlooking the ocean. The cape is famous for the elephant trunk shaped roots and is a popular spot for scuba diving as well since it’s surrounded by corals. The cape is also visible from the ANA Intercontinental Resort Hotel, on the opposite side of the water. 

Hours: 24 hours

Address: Onna, Kunigami District, Okinawa 904-0411

Phone Number: 098-966-1280

Kouri Island & Kouri Bridge

If you can make it to the north of the island, you can find the most beautiful beaches in Okinawa. Kouri Island is a small island in the Nakijin area. You can access Kouri island through a 2 km bridge with an amazing view. 

Address: Kouri, Nakijin, Kunigami District, Okinawa 905-0406

Water Activities

Into the water

Snorkeling in Kerama Islands – Dip in the water with various marine life in the archipelago next to the main islands.

Blue Cave Snorkeling and Scuba Diving – Snorkel or scuba dive into an underwater cave by Onna Village. 

Onna Village Marine Walk – Walk on the ocean floor with a special dive helmet and witness marine life up close. 

Semi-Submersible Boat Ride – Descend to the ocean in a semi-submarine and witness marine life through windows from the boat. 

Over the water

Parasailing Experience – Safe and fun parasail ride up to 50 meters above the ocean and a nice boat ride over the tropical ocean. 

High Speed Jet Boat Ride – Soar through the Okinawan waters inside an exhilaratingly fast jet boat. 

Surfing Experience – Learn to surf from a licensed instructor in the beautiful beaches of Okinawa.

Marine Sports Package – Package including 4 marine activities: jet ski, parasailing, and 2 variations of banana boat ride. 

Shopping & Entertainment

International Street

If you want to find the “city side” of Naha, look no further. International Street (Kokusai Dori) is the central street of Okinawa and has everything from shopping to restaurants and various kinds of entertainment. Personally, we love to visit here after sunset, when the neon signs light up the streets. This is also a great place to shop for souvenirs as many shops sell the Okinawa classics such as Shisa merchandise and snake sake. 

Hours: 9:30am – 10:00pm

Address: 3 Chome-2-10 Makishi, Naha, Okinawa 900-0013

Phone Number: 098-863-2755

American Village

American Village is a huge, flashy entertainment complex located in the city of Mihama. It was once used to be an American base that’s now been turned into a popular entertainment district. There are more than 100 American influenced shops and restaurants that sell various American and Japanese goods. 

It’s a nice unique place to go for sightseeing, shopping, and trying out various Okinawan foods (plus it’s right next to the beach). American Village is quite huge so you may want to refer to this interactive map for information on individual shops. 

How to get there:

There are various buses that connect American village to both the Naha side and Nago side. You can find the bus information here

Hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm

Address: 904-0115 Okinawa, Nakagami District, Chatan, Mihama, 9−1

Phone Number: 098-926-4455

Other Islands

There are many islands in Okinawa and Honto is only half the experience. Each island has its own culture and hidden nature. Some are reachable by ferry from Naha while others require plane transportation. Here are some islands that are worth visiting among the Okinawa Islands! 

  • Ishigaki
  • Miyakojima
  • Amami
  • Yonaguni
  • Iriomote
  • Taketomi

What are you looking forward to the most in Okinawa?


Things to do in Tokyo

Tokyo, the urban capital of Japan and a very popular tourist destination. In fact, it’s one of the most populated metropolitan area in the world, with more than 38 million people. Being a city so popular, Tokyo definitely has a lot to offer.  

We’ve gathered some of the best things to do in Tokyo and organized it into easy to understand groups. Every district in Tokyo has its own features, so we’ve also included some insight into these different districts. If it’s going to be your first time Tokyo, we highly recommend checking out the full guide to Tokyo for tips on how to prepare a trip to Tokyo. 

Classic Spots

Shibuya Crossing, the Busiest Crossing in the World

Just like visiting the Times Square in New York, the Shibuya Crossing will make you realize that you are finally in Tokyo. At the crossing, up to over 3,000 people cross the intersection per light, from all directions. Once you’ve experienced the crossing first hand, step away and watch from a distance to really feel the magic!

Sensoji Temple, the Oldest Temple in Japan

Built in the mid 7th century, Sensoji temple is one of the oldest temples in Japan. It was built to honor the god of mercy, Kannon. The temple is located in Asakusa, where there are lots of shops and traditional Japanese buildings still remaining. Once you pass the iconic Kaminarimon gates, there is a long row of food stands and souvenir shops before reaching the temple itself.

Tokyo Skytree, the Tallest Building in Tokyo

Located right across the Sumida river from Sensoji Temple is Tokyo Skytree, the tallest building in Japan. Standing at 634m tall, you can get the highest view of Tokyo from the observation deck. There’s also a shopping mall on the bottom floors full of various restaurants and shops.

Tokyo Tower, the Tallest Steel Structure in the World

Despite being shorter than the Skytree, Tokyo Tower is actually the tallest standing steel structure in the world. Both have an observation deck and are radio towers, but they’re quite different in many ways. 

Tokyo Tower is located on the opposite side of Tokyo, in the Hamamatsu-cho area. Near the tower is the Hamarikyu gardens and the entertainment district, Roppongi. 

Tokyo Metropolitan Building, the Cheapest Viewpoint of Tokyo

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building - Tokyo, Japan

Most viewpoints in Tokyo require money to access the observation deck, but there’s a free one near Shinjuku Station. On a good day, you can see all of Tokyo’s famous landmarks, as well as Mt. Fuji in the distance. The observation deck itself is free to access and there are souvenir shops at the top, to help finance the deck. 

Ueno Zoo, the Oldest Zoo in Japan

Entrance to Ueno Zoo (9409818400)

If you love animals, you should check out Ueno Zoo, the oldest zoo in Japan. This zoo is home to over 400 different species and even has a monorail to connect the two parts. The zoo is most famous for its pandas, which is the reason for the panda statues all over Ueno station. 


Tokyo Disneyland Theme Park

Whether you’re a Disney fan or not, the Disneyland Theme Park is worth a visit! There are two parks: Tokyo Disney and Disney Sea. While Tokyo Disney is also great, Disney Sea is a unique experience and we highly recommend checking it out first if you’re short on time. 

Buy Tokyo Disney 1-Day Passport here

Ghibli Museum

If you love classic Ghibli films such as Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro, you’d definitely want to check out the Ghibli museum in Mitaka. There are various exhibitions centered around each classic movie and you can tell that each part of the interior design has been carefully thought out, just like the films. Photography is not allowed inside and tickets are quite hard to come by so make sure to secure them months before your visit!

Buy Ghibli Museum tickets here.

teamLab Borderless Exhibition

MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM EPSON teamLab Borderless

The teamLab Borderless exhibition in Odaiba is one of the most popular art exhibitions in Japan. The teamLab group of artists are known for creating visually aesthetic artwork that seem to extend beyond the walls and defy any concept of space. This exhibition is highly recommended for anyone visiting Tokyo.

Buy teamlab Borderless tickets here

Sunshine Sky Circus

The top floor of Sunshine City started off as an observation deck, but has evolved into so much more. There is now a VR theme park, planetarium, and various other interactive displays. There are also restaurants, smaller amusement parks, and many anime themed shops on the bottom floors of Sunshine City and this place is highly recommended for families and anime-lovers!

Buy Sunshine Sky Circus and Observatory tickets here.

Tokyo Dome City

LaQua(Tokyo Dome City )

Tokyo Dome City is a city within a city. Not just an amusement park, the area also has a hotel, sports stadium, restaurants, shopping mall, spa, and an event hall. Start your day off at the amusement park, explore the shopping mall area throughout the day, and finish it off by relaxing at the spa. 

Buy Tokyo Dome City Attractions and Space Museum tickets here

Unique Experiences

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji is home to one of the world’s most famous fish auctions and is one of the most distinct experiences in Tokyo. Here, you can try fresh seafood, experience the fish market culture, and buy authentic Japanese ingredients for souvenirs. To get the full experience, take a tour with a local guide that’s familiar with the Tsukiji culture and history.

Reserve a Tsukiji Fish Market Food Tour here.

Oedo Onsen

Oedo Onsen Monogatari

For a complete onsen (hot spring) experience, head over to Tokyo’s most famous Oedo Onsen Monogatari. Located in Odaiba, Oedo Onsen has various types of baths including open air, steam, and foot. After washing up, you can change into a Yugata and enter the mix-gender amusement area, decorated as a mini Edo town, where you can eat, relax, and participate in various Japanese activities. 

Buy Oedo Onsen Monogatari tickets here

Watch the Sumo Morning Practice

Sumo tournaments are hard to come by and can be really expensive. A better way to experience the 2000 year old Japanese sport is to watch their practice in the morning. In Tokyo, there are several sumo practice spots where sumo wrestlers practice in the morning. Once you’re at the sumo dojo, they have several rules in place so it doesn’t disturb the athletes’ training. 

Watching the sumo practice itself is free, but if you’d like re-arrangements for practice schedule changes or would like assistance with the language barrier, there are several tours available that can arrange everything for you.

Book a Sumo Practice tour now

Drink at an Izakaya

One of the best ways to experience the local culture in Tokyo is to step inside an izakaya. It’s the gathering spot for many people from college kids to full-time salarymen. An izakaya is the halfway point between a restaurant and a bar where drinks are served with small dishes meant to complement the alcohol. There are many different izakaya ranging from chains like Torikizoku and Kuranokuniya to hidden local spots, some even without a name! 

Purchase a Local Bar Hopping tour here

Robot Restaurant

The Robot Restaurant can either feel like a unique experience or a tourist trap. Inside, there are stadium-style seats in a dark room. Once the show starts, robot floats and exotic costumes parade through the stadium with neon lights and dances. The show lasts about 90 minutes and whether you walk away satisfied or weirded out, you’re definitely in for a surprise!

Buy Robot Restaurant tickets here

Maid Cafe

If you’re open to new experiences, check out a maid cafe. These are themed cafes where the “maid” staff treat the customers as if they are princes and princesses. You can order cute menu items and there are traditions set for when you call for the maid. The maids also perform shows and you’re given a souvenir to take back home. 

Purchase the Maid Cafe Experience here

Kawaii Monster Cafe

The Kawaii Monster Cafe in Harajuku is another unique cafe experience. The whole interior is decorated with colorful yet spooky creatures and the staff are dressed up in exotic costumes. There are different zones of seating and the food also comes in a colorful yet spooky theme.

Michelin Star Restaurants

For the foodie travelers who want to taste the best, check out some of the Michelin Star restaurants in Tokyo. Tokyo has a full list of Michelin Star restaurants and they range anywhere from a small ramen shop to high-end luxury restaurants.

Gardens & Nature

Shinjuku Gyoen Park

Shinjuku Gyoen Park is one of the biggest parks in Tokyo. The park is divided into three different types of garden and also has a greenhouse. This is also one of the most popular spots to see the cherry blossom and you can see many locals and travelers gather around to take pictures and enjoy a picnic.

Ueno Park

Ueno Park is another popular park in Tokyo, located right next to Ueno station. Ueno is one of the first Western style parks in Tokyo and was built in 1873. The park has a pond, where you can ride boats, and there are various art museums within the park as well. 

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine is one of the biggest shrines in Tokyo. What’s cool about this shrine is that there are Japanese weddings held often and you can watch the traditional ceremonies happen from a distance. Despite being in the urban area of Harajuku, the entrance to Meiji Shrine is surrounded by tall trees, and can be a nice, calm place to take a breather from your busy travels.  

Mt. Takao

If you really want to immerse yourself in nature while in Tokyo, Mt. Takao is the perfect place. Mt. Takao is located at the western end of the Chuo line and is a relatively small mountain. It takes about 1-2 hours to hike to the top but there’s also a cable car that you can take halfway. At the foot of the mountain, there’s a nice, relaxing onsen which we recommend stepping into after your hike. 

Hamarikyu Garden

Jardines Hama Rikyu

The Hamarikyu Garden is a great place to catch a breather in the middle of the day. Hamarikyu Garden is located in the Tokyo bay and is surrounded by a seawater moat. The garden was designed in a traditional Japanese style and you can see that every small detail has been thought out, as it used to be a private garden for the shogunate. The scenery of a peaceful garden with skyscrapers in the background makes this garden quite unique.

Main Districts of Tokyo


Shinjuku is the world’s busiest station. There are over 12 train lines that are used by over 3.5 million people per day. You can also find all kinds of shopping malls from low to high end. Shinjuku is home to the famous Golden Gai, the Tokyo Metropolitan building, and the notorious Kabukicho district. 


Shibuya is the city that never sleeps. There are lots of entertainments here from karaoke to clubs and bars. It’s also the home to Japan’s Time Square, the Shibuya Crossing, and the famous Hachiko statue. Shibuya is continuously growing with more and more skyscrapers appearing in the skyline every year and will soon be the corporate hub of Tokyo.


Harajuku is the station just before Shibuya and it’s the fashion central of Tokyo. It’s most famous for Takeshita Street, filled with lots of colorful fashion and street food. The main street that runs parallel to Takeshita is Omotesando, where it’s lined up with all the high-end fashion. 


Akihabara is famously known as the electronics, anime, and manga town. You can find all of Japan’s biggest electronics retailers competing to give you the lowest price and there are also rare figurines and anime goods that you can only find in Akihabara. Other than shopping, you can find lots of arcades and themed cafes. 


Asakusa is the city of Tokyo’s past. You can see lots of older style buildings and restaurants serving Japanese style. In the streets, you can see people riding the Jinrikisha, a man powered cart used as a cheap form of transportation in the late 19th century. Asakusa is also home to the famous Sensoji Temple and the Tokyo Skytree. 


If Asakusa is the city of Tokyo’s past, Odaiba is the city of Tokyo’s future. Odaiba is a big shopping and entertainment district built on man-made land. It’s easily recognizable by the Gundam statue and the Statue of Liberty replica. It’s also home to the popular teamLab Borderless exhibition and the Oedo Onsen Monogatari.


The Marunouchi area is bordered by three big stations: Tokyo station, Otemachi station, and Yurakucho station. This is known as the business area and it’s filled with skyscrapers. You can find lots of good quality restaurants and izakaya around the station. This area is also a main transportation hub with Otemachi station serving the metro lines and Tokyo station serving the JR lines, along with the Shinkansen


Ginza is Tokyo’s luxury district. The area is packed with brand name shops and high end dining. There is also a thriving nightlife in Ginza and you can also find some of the most exquisite lounges and nightclubs. Regardless of whether you’re into the luxury life or not, window-shopping is always free!


Kagurazaka preserves the elegance of traditional Japan. The sloped street between Iidabashi and Kagurazaka station is lined up with lots of unique restaurants and izakaya and you don’t see too many chain restaurants here. The area used to be famous for being the geisha district during the Edo period and is now home to a considerable French community. If you branch off into the side streets, you can find traditional walkways and restaurants mixed in with some French restaurants as well. 

Trendy Areas


Daikanyama is a small, decorative neighborhood near Shibuya. There are various high-end individual brand shops everywhere, each standing with their own unique architecture. In the heart of Daikanyama is the Daikanyama T-site, one of the most popular book stores in Japan. Daikanyama is also known to have some of the best brunch spots in Tokyo, as well has lots of hip cafes and craft beer breweries. 


Shimokitazawa is one of the most popular places for the younger crowd. The streets are decorated with murals and the area is known for having lots of thrift and vintage shops. You can also find home decor stores, live houses, and trendy cafes in this area as well. 


At Kichijoji, you can get the local experience of one of the most popular residential areas in Tokyo. Kichijoji was named the most desired place to live in Kanto for several consecutive years and it’s not hard to see why. Kichijoji is quite separated from central Tokyo, yet very well connected, having easy transportation to Shibuya and Shinjuku. Right next to the station is Inokashira Park, where you can fully experience nature in the middle of the city. There are also a considerable amount of stylish cafes, thrift shops, and local izakaya. 


Things to do in Aomori

Many people have heard of Aomori but don’t know much about it. 

Aomori prefecture is located on the northern tip of the Honshu main island of Japan. They produce some of the best apples in the country and is home to one of the most distinct dialects in Japanese: Tsugaru-ben. 

If you want to experience a completely off the beaten path experience in Japan, we highly suggest you come to Aomori. In this port town, you can indulge in Aomori’s specialty foods while learning about the local culture and the Nebuta. Separate away from the main city, and you can find lots of hidden gems in both the nature and other local towns of Aomori Prefecture.

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Aomori may depend heavily on the seasons. 

Aomori has 5 long months of winter, from November to March, with lots of snowfall, making it a great place for winter sports. Around April/May, you’d be able to visit the snow corridors and enjoy the sakura trees. During the summer and fall, hiking trails open up for those that love exploring out into nature. Finally in August, the famous annual Nebuta Festival takes place. 

How to Get to Aomori

From Tokyo

  • Shinkansen: The fastest option. From Tokyo Station to Shin-Aomori Station, it usually takes around 3.5 hours and costs around 17,000 yen. Best option if you have a Japan Rail Pass
  • Highway Bus: The cheapest option but also the longest. It takes roughly 9-11 hours to go from Tokyo to Aomori and usually the prices are less than half the cost for the Shinkansen.
  • Plane: Usually considered the middle option. The plane ride from Tokyo to Aomori takes roughly 1.5 hours, but with the trip to and from the airport, it can realistically be around 3-4 hours.

From Osaka

  • Plane: From Osaka, plane is the most effective method. It takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes and average price ranges around 20,000 yen.
  • Shinkansen: Taking the Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Aomori Station will cost around 31,000 and take roughly 5.5 hours. Taking the plane is recommended, but if you already plan on getting a Japan Rail Pass and can spare half a day for travel time, we recommend the Shinkansen since it comes at no additional cost. Read more about it here

From Sapporo

  • Plane: The best way to get to Aomori from Sapporo is by plane. It takes roughly 45 minutes and average price ranges around 13,000 yen.
  • Train: By train, the journey takes 6 hours 30 minutes, costs roughly 14,000 yen, and requires a transfer at Hakkodate. 

Things to do in Aomori City

Learn the Culture at the Nebuta House Warasse Museum

Nebuta house Wa-Rasse

You can get a great introduction to the native Nebuta culture at this uniquely designed museum. Here, you can learn about the Nebuta Festival, learn how the floats are made, and experience the culture through various interactive exhibitions. There’s even a seafood buffet and a shop that sells various Aomori specialties and souvenirs. 

If you are in Aomori during August, don’t forget to check out the Nebuta Festival!

Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Yasukata, Aomori, 030-0803

Cost: 620 yen

Phone Number: 017-752-1311

Seikan Ferry Memorial Ship, Hakkodamaru

The ferry ship, Hakkodamaru, was one of few ships that served as a connection between the main island of Japan and the island of Hokkaido. In 1988, the Seikan Tunnel was completed, which allowed trains to travel to Hokkaido from the sea, allowing a safer passage. Since then, the Hakkodamaru halted operations, docked on the shores of Aomori, and was transformed into a museum. 

Hours: 9:00am – 7:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-4 Yanakawa, Aomori, 038-0012

Cost: 510 yen

Phone Number: 017-735-8150



The big A, one of the most distinct buildings in the Aomori Bay skyline. The ASPAM building is like an all in one building. The bottom floor is like a mall, with lots of restaurants and souvenir shops selling Aomori’s goods. There’s also a movie theater and an observation deck on the upper floor. 

Hours: 9:30am – 6:00pm

Address: 〒030-0803 Aomori, Yasukata, 1 Chome−1−40 1F

Phone Number: 017-735-6675


While you’re in the Aomori Bay, check out A-Factory to try the best foods and drinks of Aomori. Inside, there’s a market that sells various goods made in Aomori. They also brew their own ciders and juices with Aomori grown apples, which we highly recommend as souvenirs. Towards the bay-side, there are several restaurants and cafes from which you can relax and enjoy the fresh air of Aomori Bay on a nice summer day.

Hours: 9:00am – 8:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-4-2 Yanakawa, Aomori, 038-0012

Phone Number: 017-752-1890

Sannai Maruyama Site

Slightly separated from the city center is an ancient archaeological site with artifacts that date all the way back to around 3000 B.C. You can visit this site and experience what it was like to live in the Jomon Period. 

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: Maruyama-305 Sannai, Aomori, 038-00311

Cost: 410 yen

Phone Number: 017-766-8282

Aomori Museum of Art

Right next to the Sannai Maruyama site is the Aomori Museum of Art. In fact, the museum’s design was inspired by the ancient structures, having a  minimalist look and low profile. The museum is most remembered for by the 8m tall dog statue, Aomori-ken. Inside, various artworks are on display that represent the art and culture of the Tohoku region.

Hours: 9:30am – 5:00pm, closed Mondays

Address: Chikano-185 Yasuta, Aomori, 038-0021

Cost: 510 yen

Phone Number: 017-783-3000

Eat a Nokke Don from Furukawa Fish Market

When you come to Aomori, you have to try the fresh fish and you can do exactly that at Furukawa Fish Market. The Furukawa Fish Market is a local fish market where they sell fish freshly caught. You can get a build-your-own bowl called a Nokke Don. You first tickets, which you can exchange at the stores for different types of fish to put on your rice bowl. Aomori is famous for having delicious tuna, scallop, and squid!

Hours: 7:00am – 4:00pm, closed Tuesdays

Address: 1 Chome-11-16 Furukawa, Aomori, 030-0862

Phone Number: 017-763-0085

Eat Apple Anything

弘前 青森 Trip to Aomori

Aomori City and the western part of the prefecture are famous for producing high quality apples. When you’re in the city, try some apple, apple pies, and take some apple ciders home!

Try Some Niboshi Ramen

In the cold climates of Aomori, people turn to ramen as a source for warmth and comfort. As a result, Aomori has developed lots of high-quality ramen, but the most native to this land is the Niboshi Ramen, made from dried sardines.

Where to Stay in Aomori City

 Budget Option

Mid Range

Things to do in Aomori Prefecture

Winter Sports at Hakkoda Mountain

If you’re looking for winter sports in Aomori, Hakkoda Mountain is the spot. When it comes to ski resorts in the Tohoku region, most people tend to go to Zao which is halfway towards Tokyo. Both Hakkoda and Zao have great onsens and the Juhyo “Snow Monsters”, but Hakkoda tends to have fewer people since Zao is the more popular resort. 

Hours: 9:00am – 3:40pm

Address: 1-12 Arakawa-Kansuizawa, Aomori-shi, Aomori 030-0111

Phone Number: 017-738-8591

Check out the Snow Corridors

Snow-wall (yuki no otani) at Murodo Tateyama

Aomori has one of the most snowfalls in Japan and you can really feel this when you go through the snow corridors. Around April of every year, roads near Hakkoda Mountain are open up after a long winter of snowfall. Only the snow on the roads are cleared and what’s left is a huge wall of snow, sometimes as tall as 10 meters. 

Time of year: Starts April 1st

Address: 青森県青森市荒川国道103号線

Phone Number: 017-723-7211

Experience the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival

Not too far from Aomori is Hirosaki, a city famous for its cherry blossoms. The Hirosaki Castle Park Sakura Festival is one of the biggest in Japan and many people travel to Hirosaki during Golden Week to experience this. At Hirosaki Castle, there are over 2600 cherry blossom trees with 50 different kinds. The whole park gets covered in pink and its like you’re in a cinematic film.

Time of Year: mid April until early May

Food stall hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm

Night Illumination Hours: 6:30 – 10:00pm

Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8356

Phone Number: 0172-33-8733

Towada Lake


If you want to experience the real nature of Aomori, head down to Towada lake, the biggest caldera lake in Japan. There are several viewpoints around and you can also ride a ferry boat on the lake. On the way down is the Oirase Gorge, where a river flowing through a lush forest. Public transportation runs to the lake, from either Aomori or Hachinohe, but is closed during the winter time. 

Where to Stay in Aomori Prefecture

  • Nambuya Kaisenkaku – Ryokan hotel with onsen and views that overlook the bay side from Asamushi. Easily accessible and only 30 minutes away from Aomori City.
  • Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen – Ryokan in the middle of a lush forest near the snow corridor and Lake Towada.
  • Hakkoda Hotel –  Relaxing cabin stay, close to the Hakkoda ski resort.
  • Towada Prince Hotel – Upscale hotel with a remarkable view of Lake Towada.