KurtisW's Advice List

KurtisW image KurtisW United States 4 years in Japan

I like to ride my bike!

The wooded South of Tokyo images

The wooded South of Tokyo

South of Tokyo, in Kanagawa prefecture, lies a quiet wood called Kiyokawa-mura. The rivers run through the steep and forested hills of this district, and it is very popular for both camping and barbecues. There are many options for simply camping, but another popular option is renting out a cottage…(128 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Restaurant Kanagawa Outdoor recreation Lodging Camping
Suburban Tennis time images

Suburban Tennis time

It's nice to get away from downtown Tokyo, and see some of the beautiful suburban areas. Going for a day of tennis could be a good way to spend an afternoon in Tokyo suburbia. Taking a trip to Chofu, west of Tokyo on the Keio line from Shinjuku is a good and close option for tennis.Keio sports …(102 words)

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KurtisW

Tennis Tokyo Shinjuku Sport Trip
Approach Casually images

Approach Casually

The police boxes placed all over the cities are not necessarily meant to scare you, or keep constant watch on you. I, as an American, have been conditioned somewhat to be afraid of police officers, and always suspicious that I myself am under suspicion for something. This has caused me to take a gr…(132 words)

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KurtisW

Police
Try Okonomiyaki and a Chuu Hai images

Try Okonomiyaki and a Chuu Hai

Okonomiyaki is an awesome Japanese dish that is basically a pancake filled with cabbage, meats, and whatever else you'd like. In the Tokyo area, okonomiyaki tends to be thinner, whereas in the Kyoto/Osaka region they get much thicker.Chuu Hais are a japanese interperation of the Highball drink …(72 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Drink Kyoto Osaka Izakaya Shochu Okonomiyaki Region
Five Rings images

Five Rings

If you are generally interested in Japanese samurai warriors, it is imperative to know about the most famous one: Musashi Miyamoto. Miyamoto was actually a masterless samurai, but in both legend and reality, is credited with the most victories in duels against other samurai.He wrote a book, whi…(110 words)

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KurtisW

Samurai Audio
Slapstick all the way images

Slapstick all the way

Japanese comedy is very heavily dependent on slapstick humor. One perfect example of this is the special new year's program shown every year in a unique episode.It's called "gaki tsukai ara-hen de", and it basically plays on the Japanese typical game called "batsu-game" (batsu is just the vocaliz…(141 words)

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KurtisW

Game Comedy New year
Try exploring the local area around you images

Try exploring the local area around you

Most people in Tokyo either intend on staying out all night, until the trains begin in the morning, or make it a point to get to the station early, even before the very last train to their respective destination. However, if you're one of the many who with every intention of returning home for the …(147 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Train
Just say Iie or No images

Just say Iie or No

In Japanese, the direct expression for no is iie. However, most Japanese people know the English word no and are more likely to respect a direct refusal. In Japanese culture, refusal is often done out of courtesy and Japanese people will ask a few more times unless your refuse directly. If you …(76 words)

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KurtisW

 
Not your typical comics images

Not your typical comics

Comiket is a great outlet for independent artists to get exposure for their work. Typically, the world of popular manga and anime is dominated by big brands with huge advertising capabilities. And it is only the truly dedicated fans and cult followers who will get to experience the underside of com…(132 words)

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KurtisW

Manga Anime
It is ok to drink in public in most of Japan images

It is ok to drink in public in most of Japan

In Tokyo and all of Japan, there are not many laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in public, whether it's on the sidewalk or in a park. Some parks, such as Shinjuku Gyoen park, prohibit, but if there's no signs posted, then it's fine. However, it's best to be considerate of others and not g…(83 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Park Etiquette Shinjuku Drink Beer
Try Jiro Ramen images

Try Jiro Ramen

Jiro ramen is a famous ramen restaurant chain that only exists in the Tokyo area. Most foreigners don't find it because it's not really advertised and the chefs don't usually speak English. If you feel brave, you can try it on your own or have a Japanese person accompany you. it is some of the best…(91 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Restaurant Ramen noodles
Just charge it and swipe it images

Just charge it and swipe it

You can purchase a suica card from most major train stations for a 500 yen deposit. You can then add credit to the card at most train stations. You can swipe it at train station turnstiles, vending machines and many convenience stores until it runs out of credit.(47 words)

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KurtisW

Train Convenience store Train station
Driving Ranges in Tokyo images

Driving Ranges in Tokyo

Full golf course are typically farther outside of Tokyo like the Chiba area. For something closer in Tokyo, you can find numerous driving ranges around Tokyo. They're often by rivers, but you can find them throughout most of Tokyo's wards.Tokyo Golf Range:Asahi Golf Range1-17-23, Higa…(50 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Chiba
Check out Lipovitan! images

Check out Lipovitan!

Lipovitan is a small energy drink that comes in a bottle with a gold cap. They cost under 200 yen and are an effective energy drink without all of the liquid that western energy drinks have.(35 words)

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KurtisW

Drink
Vinegar, the cure all! images

Vinegar, the cure all!

When you go and eat ramen, at almost every single place, you will notice that they have 3 bottles of sauce at the table. One is dark, which is soy sauce, one is red chili oil, and the other clear one is vinegar. When I eat ramen, I always take a small spoonful of soup and pour some vinegar in i…(162 words)

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KurtisW

Vinegar Soy sauce Ramen noodles Rugby football
Call 119! images

Call 119!

In Japan, the emergency phone number is 119. Ambulances are free in Japan, so don't hesitate to call for one if the there is a significant emergency. If you do not speak Japanese, it is best to ask a Japanese person nearby to explain the situation to the operator for best results.(51 words)

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KurtisW

Ambulance
Almost Militarized images

Almost Militarized

Keirin is a very high intensity sport, with quick explosive races every hour. The athletes must be very clever and skilled, in addition to very fit and determined. It's hard to say however how much is planned in terms of who is intended to win, and who is intended to "almost" win...but that's anoth…(159 words)

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KurtisW

Sport Bicycle
Make sure they serve the flavor ramen you like! images

Make sure they serve the flavor ramen you like!

The most important thing to consider when looking for a ramen shop is what to make sure they serve the ramen broth flavor you prefer. As a basic guideline, there are three common types of ramen broth: Tonkotsu/Pork FlavorShoyu/Soy Sauce FlavorMiso FlavorWhile some Ramen restaurants serv…(89 words)

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KurtisW

Soy sauce Ramen noodles Miso Specialty store
Post Offices Take Most Cards images

Post Offices Take Most Cards

Tokyo post offices accept most foreign ATM cards and can be found in all Japanese cities. They usually have a couple machines and they are often available after the main post office closes. Look for the red T-shaped sign or ask a Japanese person for the yuubinkyoku.(47 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Bank Post office
Village Vanguard images

Village Vanguard

Village Vanguard is a cool chain of trinket shops in Tokyo, as well as other areas of Japan. They sell everything from plastic models, to squirtguns, to snacks. And there is also a lot of books. One thing that is pretty popular in Japan among young people is elaborate keychain set ups.Chain wal…(129 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Souvenir
Kyudo at the Tokyo Budokan images

Kyudo at the Tokyo Budokan

One of the nicest Kyudo ranges in the Tokyo area can be found at the Tokyo Budokan. The range is unique in that it offers both short range targets at 28 meters and long range targets at 60 meters. Unless you are possess a minimum of first level black belt rank from the Budokan or other Kyudo fe…(127 words)

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KurtisW

 
Expect a knock images

Expect a knock

My experiences at Japanese inns have all been very pleasant. However, to a certain extent, you have to remember the close quarters you are in. You will be getting somewhat familiar with the owners and employees of the inn as you will pass them by on the way to the bath, dinner, restroom, etc.Al…(134 words)

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KurtisW

Etiquette Japanese inn
Shinsen near Shibuya images

Shinsen near Shibuya

There is an area "Shinsen" which is close to Shibuya on the Keio train line. This area is well known for housing many Japanese celebrities both television and movie. While it may be difficult to actually meet a Japanese celebrity, unless you know exactly who you are looking for, you can see some of…(114 words)

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KurtisW

Shibuya Tokyo Train Movie Television
A major "craft" beer images

A major "craft" beer

Japan's readily available beers are all of the same light lager category; Kirin, Asahi, Suntory, and Sapporo. While there are slight variations in each, such as a black beer from each maker, IPA, stouts, etc are not easy to find. One beer however that is somewhat crafty that is conveniently availab…(120 words)

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KurtisW

Beer Tokyo Drink Roppongi Sapporo
Let off steam with a song images

Let off steam with a song

Many Japanese workers will go out with their colleagues after work to let off steam and stress; If you feel up to it that is. After some drinks and food, the common ritual is to go to a karaoke place to sing your heart out. For many, this is a way to break the ice with their colleagues, as there i…(160 words)

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KurtisW

Karaoke
YMCA images

YMCA

You could always organize futsal games and the like in one of Tokyo's many parks, but the logistics of getting to parks or the riverside can be somewhat difficult. The solution of course is to seek futsal courts within the downtown areas of Tokyo which everyone can access easily. Not to mention hav…(123 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Sport
Separate Sticks images

Separate Sticks

Yakiniku at a restaurant will always be grilled by your party, and not by employees. This is different from yakitori (grilled chicken) which is always done by chefs, as it is a more delicate process.One thing to keep in mind, especially when eating in groups where people will be communally tak…(159 words)

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KurtisW

Restaurant Etiquette Shoes Yakitori Slippers Grilled meat barbeque
Southern Beach images

Southern Beach

South of Tokyo in Chigasaki on the Tokaido line lies a convenient option for a day at the beach, or for the more sporty, a day in the surf. Chigasaki beach has very easy access from the station, and along the way are plenty of shops and restaurants.A good solution for board rentals is the South…(127 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Sport
Step into Old Tokyo images

Step into Old Tokyo

I recommend taking a stroll through Edogawabashi, on the Yuurakucho line. It is not exactly gorgeous like the shopping streets of Ginza in Tokyo, or Kannai in Yokohama, but it has an unmistakable old Tokyo feel to it. "Shoppy" Japanese tunes play over the tall speaker posts lining the street, and s…(147 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Yokohama Shopping Ginza
Credit Cards images

Credit Cards

If you lose your wallet while traveling in Tokyo, I would recommend searching thoroughly, and waiting a few days for a report before cancelling your cards. One time, I lost my bag with my wallet and cancelled all my cards for fear of fraudulent use. However, after making a report to the local polic…(132 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Police
Beware of a hangover images

Beware of a hangover

Happoshu, for all intents and purposes, is cheaper beer; or more specifically, "beer flavored malt beverage". Taxes on beer are somewhat high in Japan, and many are not willing to pay around 3$ U.S for a pint of beer even in a can. The solution is Happoshu, imitation beers that have as many varieti…(146 words)

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KurtisW

Drink Beer Dietary supplement
Back it in images

Back it in

When boarding a really packed train in the morning, it may look like there is absolutely no more space, with people already flush against the entrance way. However, don't be fooled, as there is still space in between each person. They simply maximize the amount of space they have at the moment, so …(135 words)

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KurtisW

Train
Yokohama Bay images

Yokohama Bay

Just south of Tokyo, about 30 minutes by train, you'll find Yokohama, the first major international port at the beginning of the Meiji period in Japan. You will definitely find yourself spending at least a day or two in Yokohama during your time in Tokyo, so it is a great place to get a little bit …(129 words)

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KurtisW

Yokohama Tokyo Train City Sea
Soup Base images

Soup Base

Soy sauce seems to make its way into all of Japanese cuisine one way or another. Often times just as a replacement for salt in cooking. I find that my bottle in my apartment most commonly makes its way into soups. I usually boil green onions and other stuff like a chicken carcass or fish flakes, an…(108 words)

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KurtisW

Soy sauce Soba noodles Miso Salt Miso soup Cuisine Japanese cuisine
Check the vicinity images

Check the vicinity

It is not as though earthquakes are constantly happening in Japan, it is just that they are more frequent statistically. Being slightly more aware and prepared is thus advisable, but the precautions don't need to be excessive. One thing however to keep in mind is where you will go in the event of a…(142 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Event Earthquake Zone
Good for the teeth, wallet, and diet images

Good for the teeth, wallet, and diet

Japan certainly has some interesting snacks, some that may seem a bit outlandish and wild; mostly of the seafood variety. It may take a bit of courage and a bit of time to stomach some the stranger ones, but once you get used to the smell, texture, or flavor of some of the more "unique" snacks, the…(172 words)

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KurtisW

Convenience store Sea
One park to the next images

One park to the next

A great cycling course for all skill levels is the length of Inokashira Ave., which runs from Inokashira park in Kichijoji, to Yoyogi park in Harajuku. I always recommend this course for bikers and walkers alike, because it gives you a great idea of the distinct environments of Tokyo suburbia and t…(111 words)

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KurtisW

Park Tokyo Shibuya Harajuku Yoyogi Park Inokashira Park Trip
Tatami in the summer time images

Tatami in the summer time

Although not all houses have tatami flooring these days (many apartments and homes will just have one or two "tatami rooms", usually bedrooms), you generally do not have a bed with legs on the tatami floor. Having heavy furniture with edges will leave pressure dents in the tatami after time, so sim…(133 words)

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KurtisW

Summer Futon
A peaceful resting ground images

A peaceful resting ground

Japanese graveyards are in my experience much different in appearance than those of the U.S, where I'm from. There are some smaller neighborhood graveyards, and there are larger ones in reserved areas in town. One thing that is very different is the physical layout of the graveyards. Cremation is l…(136 words)

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KurtisW

Tokyo Graveyards
No reply necessary images

No reply necessary

One thing to point out, which may not be terribly important except in saving you some confused looks, is when you walk into a store, employees will greet you with a special phrase: “Irashaimase” (E-ra-shai-ma-se). This is the universal greeting that store owners and employees use toward customers t…(118 words)

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KurtisW

Greeting Phrase