mikekato's Advice List

mikekato image mikekato United States 27 years in Japan

I've been living in Japan now for 27 years... and counting! Still having fun and learning new things each day, too.
I'm running a company, Japanese Greats Co., Ltd., that is providing solutions mostly for SMEs in Japan with great products and ideas in their international endeavors. We aim to make the world a better place by utilizing some of the great things Japan has to offer.

Ome Kaido images

Ome Kaido

Ome Kaido is a major street running generally west from Shinjuku. Once past Shinjuku, the street becomes Yasukuni Dori.Ome Kaido is an old highway, National Route 411, and it runs from Shinjuku to Kofu in Yamanashi Prefecture. It was a road used by travelers in the Edo period, both walking an…(249 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Shinjuku Police Kanto Earthquake Disaster Yamanashi
Wasabi images

Wasabi

First, the correct way to pronounce wasabi is by putting the strongest emphasis on the "wa" and not the "sa" - WA-sa-bi, not wa-SAH-bi.Wasabi is often referred to as Japanese horseradish. It is actually of a family of plants that includes, not only horseradish, but cabbage and mustard. Its fl…(208 words)

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mikekato

Horse radish Restaurant Sushi Soy sauce
Looking for a great location outside of Tokyo? Kichijoji is Great! images

Looking for a great location outside of Tokyo? Kichijoji is Great!

Staying for more than a few days in Central Tokyo can be a drain, both on the wallet and the mind. There are other cities that don't sleep, but there are few cities in the world that remain as bustling and wide awake 24-7-365 as Tokyo.While both the Imperial Palace grounds - Kokyo - and Yoyogi…(437 words)

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mikekato

Art Bus City Music Park Shibuya Shinjuku Shopping Tokyo Train
Mandarake images

Mandarake

Buying manga and anime anywhere in Japan is easy. It is available pretty much anywhere. After all, nearly every convenience store and station kiosk has a pretty broad selection of manga, for children and adults. And since there are Tsutaya and Geo shops all over Japan, you can almost as easily f…(487 words)

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mikekato

Manga Anime Otaku Akihabara Arcade Shopping Nakano
Nothing to stick your tongue out at images

Nothing to stick your tongue out at

Gyūtan, or beef tongue, is a common meat in Japanese Yakiniku restaurants. The meat is particularly fatty, with roughly 75% of its calories derived from fat. While many people may consider tongue meat to be difficult to stomach, it is actually quite commonly eaten around the world. In Europe, ton…(222 words)

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mikekato

 
Hand-made Camping Knife and where to buy and sharpen knives. images

Hand-made Camping Knife and where to buy and sharpen knives.

Snow Peak is a famous camping equipment manufacturer from the Tsubame Sanjo area of Niigata Prefecture. It was started by the father of the current president as a manufacturer of carpentry and work tools. But Yukio Yamai, the founder, was an experienced mountaineer, so he decided that he should m…(431 words)

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mikekato

Camping Kyoto Mountain Niigata Outdoor recreation Region Samurai Snow Tokyo
Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture images

Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture

Often said to be Japan's best example of a complete fortress castle, Himeji Castle is a picturesque beauty, sitting atop a hill in Hyogo Prefecture. It is often referred to as either a white egret or heron, referring to its white exterior and elegant shape, much like a great bird in flight.Som…(280 words)

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mikekato

Castle Hyogo Himeji Castle Building Bus Beauty World Heritage Site Mie
Super Hero Action Show images

Super Hero Action Show

The "Super Sentai" series has been one of Japan's longest action TV programs for children. It started in the early 70s, with new characters featured every year.Since 1971, the Tokyo Dome City (previously Korakuen) has hosted a Hero Action Show, that features the latest Super Sentai Action hero…(133 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Park City Tokyo Dome City Spring Summer
Cable Cars - Nothing like San Francisco, though! images

Cable Cars - Nothing like San Francisco, though!

There are many so-called "cable cars" in Japan, but most are really ropeways. They are pre-attached to the cable and are drawn directly by pulling the cable. A cable car, on the other hand, is controlled by the driver. The cable, usually underground, is constantly moving. The driver chooses to …(243 words)

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mikekato

Train River Onsen Hakone Hiking
A Pension by any other name... images

A Pension by any other name...

The Japanese have a type of accomodation that is called a "pension." It is much like a minshuku, another type of hotel, but the pension usually has a Western feel, while a minshuku is usually quite Japanese. In general, pensions are found in the countryside and are much like a bed and breakfast. …(68 words)

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mikekato

Hotel Minshuku
Tokyo's Tropical islands images

Tokyo's Tropical islands

Tokyo's outer islands are very diverse. Most of them are volcanic and some of them are quite far from the main part of Tokyo. Most of the main islands are accessible from Takeshiba Pier, where you can find Tokyo's main ferry terminal. Many of the main islands are also accessible by plane, from C…(302 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Beaches Airport Kanagawa Okinawa World Heritage Site Atami Shizuoka
Matsuri (Festivals) images

Matsuri (Festivals)

The best time to experience a festival in Japan is in from spring to fall. The best ones are in the summer, although many are technically in the spring or fall because their origins coincide with harvests or the opening and closing of fishing season.The most interesting and common matsuri are …(306 words)

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mikekato

Japanese festivals Tokyo Hotel Jinjya (Shrine) Bank Spring Summer
Travel Slowly images

Travel Slowly

Shindai Ressha are sleeper trains, which used to be common all over Japan. Now, because most people want to travel quickly and there are so many airports throughout Japan, there are only 6 such trains left. One of the most popular is the JR East train Cassiopeia.Cassiopeia runs from Ueno Stat…(108 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Train City Ueno Hokkaido Sapporo
Yakatabune images

Yakatabune

Yakatabune are, literally "night ships," which are floating party boats. The vast majority are rented out to groups. Some, however, are open for individuals, couples, and small groups. Traditionally, yakatabune serve tempura as the main course. In Tokyo, one of the highlights has been anago…(173 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Yokohama Drink Beer Asakusa Osaka Sake (Rice wine) Tempura Shochu Okonomiyaki
Hakone Skyline drive images

Hakone Skyline drive

The most thrilling drive near Tokyo is the Hakone Skyline. Not only is the road designed so that cars slide on the mountainous curves, but it also boasts great views of Mt. Fuji. But don't drive too fast, especially when it is foggy and/or the road is wet. It may be the last drive you ever make!(58 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Hakone
Tokyo area resorts images

Tokyo area resorts

There are a very wide variety of resorts around Tokyo. Of course, the accessibility varies greatly, when even getting across Tokyo itself by public transportation can take well over an hour.For the resort areas closest to Tokyo, most residents on the west side show a preference for Hakone, whi…(184 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Train Transportation Hakone Lake Hiking Nikko Lake Yamanaka
Starting Pottery in Tokyo images

Starting Pottery in Tokyo

There are many Japanese ceramics studios in Tokyo and throughout Japan that offer introductory courses for beginners. In fact, most professional studios offer some kind of courses for people to make their own works, either formally or informally. But the easiest places to find out how to get star…(235 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Library
Where to Gyaru images

Where to Gyaru

The area between Shibuya and Harajuku is Mecca for Japanese "Gyaru," cool young girls. The two places where these girls converge in each location is at 109 in Shibuya and Takeshita Street in Harajuku. 109 is a department store, where many of the most popular Gyaru brands have their prestige shops…(190 words)

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mikekato

Shibuya Department store Harajuku Fashion
Eating great ramen images

Eating great ramen

Ramen is one of the most popular "B-gurume" (B-grade connoisseur) foods in Japan. Many chef's pride themselves for their soup, noodles, and toppings. In addition, it is a food where the chef's often begrudge people - their customers(?!!) - for asking for things differently. Watch the other peopl…(191 words)

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mikekato

Ramen noodles
Ewww - it's seaweed?!!! images

Ewww - it's seaweed?!!!

You might think it's yukky, but seaweed is really fantastic! Not only is it healthy, but it is tasty, too. There are so many different kinds of seaweed that Japanese eat and many different ways of eating it, too. Think of seaweeds as sea vegetables, and you get a better idea of the yummy variety…(192 words)

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mikekato

Sushi Sea Miso Miso soup Winter
Start Train-ing! images

Start Train-ing!

There are sooo many trains in the Tokyo Metropolitan area! It is a maze for people who live here; for a visitor, it may seem a huge mess. But getting around by train is often the best way to get around, so start your train-ing early in your visit.I recommend two things to make train riding ea…(241 words)

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mikekato

Train Tokyo Bus Railways
Just a tad to remember images

Just a tad to remember

Soy sauce, or shoyu, is one of Japan's most important condiments. It is used more in Kanto (around Tokyo) than in Kansai (around Osaka), but it is used throughout Japan. it is usually on the table in most restaurants and in every home. The most important thing to remember when using soy sauce is…(108 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Soy sauce Osaka Salt Kansai Kanto
Taking the bus in Tokyo images

Taking the bus in Tokyo

With so many buses and bus stations, how can anyone get around Tokyo by bus? Although you can get fairly near anywhere by trains, sometimes the bus is the best way to get around. Sometimes a bus takes a much more direct route between two spots. One clue is if you think two places are pretty clos…(142 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Train Ticket Bus Subway
Bathroom slippers images

Bathroom slippers

The most important thing to remember when you use bathroom slippers: Don't forget to take them off when you finish using the restroom. it is sometimes very difficult to remember, because you were wearing room slippers before you went in. The faux pas is going to get caught pretty quickly - the ba…(99 words)

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mikekato

Etiquette Slippers
Nomihoudai: All you can drink (but not too much) images

Nomihoudai: All you can drink (but not too much)

Nomihoudai - all you can drink - is a very customary service in a Japanese pub. The service usually includes all of the drinks in one part of the menu, usually beer and some mixed drinks, and sometimes wine. Nomihoudai usually has a time limitation, such as 2 or 3 hours. But as is common in Japa…(195 words)

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mikekato

Drink Nomihoudai (All you can drink) Beer Izakaya Wine
Life's a Beach! images

Life's a Beach!

In the summer, many Japanese beaches enjoy a "kaisuiyoku," literally meaning an ocean bathtub. It is the only time of year that there are lifeguards at most Japanese beaches. During the brief season, many of the beaches have beach houses, where there are lockers, showers, bars, and great festival…(99 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Music Kamakura Beaches Enoshima Island Summer
Traditional Japanese lodging images

Traditional Japanese lodging

The two most common traditional Japanese lodging facilities are ryokan and minshuku. The biggest differences between the two is usually the price and type of services offered. A ryokan is a full service facility, usually accompanied by a fairly high price. Many ryokan are located in popular tour…(98 words)

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mikekato

Japanese inn Onsen Lodging Minshuku
Leave the dog images

Leave the dog

The most popular meeting place in Shibuya is, by far, at the Hachiko statue, the famous dog. But not only is the place crowded, but the odor of tobacco is extremely difficult to bear for a non-smoker. The best place near Hachiko is inside the green train car located in the plaza area. However, t…(71 words)

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mikekato

Train Shibuya Museum
Meeting someone in Shinjuku images

Meeting someone in Shinjuku

The most popular meeting spot in Shinjuku tends to be in front of the Studio Alta building. The building is close to the station and is convenient to shopping and nightlife on the east side of the station. But if you are either coming from the west side, or meeting someone staying at any of the m…(125 words)

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mikekato

Shopping Shinjuku Building Police
Dagashi-ya images

Dagashi-ya

The most interesting places to get snacks in Japan are at dagashi-ya, which means, literally cheap snack store. Dagashi are mostly very inexpensive candies and other snack items that have been around for many years, especially in the mid-Showa post-war period. While the prices have gone up since …(101 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Shinjuku Shibuya Akihabara
Lost without Translation images

Lost without Translation

Don't worry, in most places in Tokyo, you're not far from someplace easy to navigate. Try asking anyone you meet. Some people may say they can't speak English, but they should be able to direct you to the nearest train station, or "eki." If not, ask for the nearest "koban." The police boxes are…(96 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Train Police Train station
Going wild in Tokyo images

Going wild in Tokyo

Ueno Zoo is by far the most well known zoo in Tokyo. It is especially well known for its most popular animal, the Giant Panda. But possibly the best zoo in Tokyo is the Tama Zoo, in the foothills west of Tokyo. The zoo is spread out over a huge area, so wear good shoes. One of the highlights is…(107 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Bus Ueno Shoes Ueno Zoo
Making tasty okonomiyaki images

Making tasty okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki means, literally, "cooked to your own preference." At a restaurant, take a look around and see how others cook it. Making a pancake and letting the first side cook is reasonably easy, But taking the special spatulas in both hands and flipping it in a single motion takes practice. Ord…(58 words)

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mikekato

Restaurant Okonomiyaki