Archive for the ‘travel’ Category


Problem: You’ve just arrived in Japan and are standing in the supermarket weeping softly at the price of steak, or you’ve spent all Saturday wandering the blistering streets of Tokyo looking for shoes that will fit your prodigious, paddle-like feet.

Solution: Nihonhacks.com

Thomas Hjelms keeps this blog, which is devoted primarily to offering quick answers to questions that plague some foreign residents for years.  Some of the suggestions here may seem fairly obvious, but it’s alarming how often the obvious can go unnoticed.  From where to buy ingredients for Thai food to using your new keyboard to type Japanese characters, Thomas has your back.  And best of all, he’s constantly looking for further questions or tips, so feel free to jump right in, here or from the sidebar.


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What a find!  There are some foreigners who pick one town or neighborhood in Japan and cling to it like barnacles.  Then there are the other kind.

Meet the other kind.  From their first blog entry:

In spring 2008, two Australian writers are leaping into a very big and exceedingly ancient pond, walking the entire length of Japan, upright and erect (at least at the start), a journey of up to six months and 3,500km. Ian is hiking solo from ‘mainland’ Japan’s most easterly point (Cape Nosappu: 43, 22′ N; 145, 49′ E) to its most westerly (Kousakibana: 33, 13 N; 129, 33′ E) ; Chris is starting at the opposite end of the country, walking from the most southerly point (Cape Sata: 30, 59′ N; 130, 39′ E) to the most northerly (Cape Soya: 45, 31′N; 141, 56′ E). Though physically and psychologically demanding, their adventure will provide two intimate, ever-changing views of Japan.

This looks like it’s going to be one hell of a trip, crisscrossing each of Japan’s four main islands. Be sure to check out their About page, in which they lay out the ground rules for the project and list the twenty “Waypoints” they’re both required to pass through. They’re about a month and a half into the journey now, and as might be expected they’ve hit a few snags. Fortunately it looks like neither of them is about to give up yet. As a bonus the writing is, for the most part, excellent. Check it out here or from the sidebar.

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A consistently interesting peephole into the mind of an American yoga teacher and self-described “internationalizationer” living in the Kyoto area.  Includes local events, the odd haiku, long and thoughtful  posts on the author’s ramblings around Japan and farther afield, and a number of entries that are obviously 3 a.m. seismic rumblings at the base of the skull.  Good stuff, not least of all the most recent entry, a surprise announcement of his marriage.

Here or from the sidebar.

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In addition to the many wonderful photoblogs maintained by Japanese bloggers, there are a growing number of excellent offerings from foreign residents in Japan.  One of the best of these is Sushicam, an eight-year old blog started by Jeff Laitila.  Jeff is an American living in Yokosuka, and the blog consists of both his writing and photography.  There are also occasional posts from guest bloggers, and hundreds of photos to look at in the archives. 

Here, or from the sidebar.

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Walking with Lee

Not a foreigner’s blog, but an excellent English language blog by a resident of Tokyo. The basic idea?  Shige takes us along as he walks Lee, his miniature dachshund, through some of the capital city’s loveliest spots, morning markets and shrine festivals.  Be sure to stop by and take a look. 

Find it here, or from the sidebar.

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Here’s a blog that leaves Japan’s city streets behind in favor of a walk in the hills. “Laughing Knees” is a Japanese term for the shaky feeling in your legs after a long, steep descent. The blog’s writer calls himself Butuki, and describes himself like this:

A German/ Filipino/ African-American who grew up in Japan, it’s not really my genes that matter to me, but the timbre of place and kinship. If there is anything I would rather be doing, that would be a long walk in the hills, be it alone with my camera and sketchbook, or with a good, like-minded friend.

This is a great blog for anyone interested in outdoor Japan, and an excellent reminder of the country’s astonishing natural beauty. You can visit here or from the sidebar.

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