Japanese television shows Morning Musume pulling cool stunts

This one's pretty fun: members of pop group Morning Musume are basically doing cool backwards throws to put everyday objects in their places.

Trash is thrown in the appropriate cans, canned drinks are shoved across tables, cell phones are thrown into bags, and that kind of thing.

The stunts get more and more complex as you go through the video. So does the number of attempts it takes to pull off each one successfully – you can see the stunt translated in the upper right along with how many tries it took.

It's recommended, of course, that you not try these stunts if you come to Japan

Morning Musume's Guide to Japan

Aika Mitsui wrote Morning Musume's Guide to Japan in with a hand-written map of the popular Shibuya district and recommendations for the best shopping and snacks. Be sure to read it if you're a fan.

Can iPhone Be Used in Japan?

People love their iPhones, so I'm not surprised when visitors ask me if their phone will work in Japan.

White-iphone-japanPeople have heard that their cell phones won't work in Japan for a variety of reasons, but it's mostly old news. By now, just about any smartphone you buy can be made to work in Japan.

So yes, your iPhone can be used in Japan. 

Still, there are a few things to worry about if you do decide to bring your phone over, such as:

  • Which models work
  • Roaming fees
  • Data roaming
  • Changing your data usage
  • Why WiFi won't do

There's a lot to cover, so let's get down to it.

Continue reading “Can iPhone Be Used in Japan?”

Roppongi Hills: 5 Things to Do

Roppongi Hills is almost a city in itself. There are places to shop, eat, live, and play. It's also a hub for high-end culture in Japan with a number of luxury restaurants, international fashion brands, and apartment towers known for housing Japanese celebrities.

Roppongi hills mori tower nightSo, with all that awesomeness in mind, here are 5 highlights from the complex:

1. Mori Art Museum
Asia has some great modern art museums as it is, but the Mori suddenly showed up and made a splash. Situated near the top of the Mori Tower (the big tower of the complex, lit up in blue in the photo there), it's a beautifully-designed museum with a great rotation of exhibits. 

2. Tokyo City View
The soon-to-open Tokyo Sky Tree may quickly take away the title of "best city lookout point" from the top of the Mori Tower, 52 stories up, but for the time being this is the one you want. It's basically part of the art museum, so you can get a combined ticket and do exhibits and the awesome view. If it's light outside and the weather's OK, you can go outside on the roof and view the endless buildings of Tokyo al fresco

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Cheap Hotels: Tokyo – Keio Plaza Hotel

Nights at a 5-star Japan hotel are on sale!

Keio plaza hotel tokyoA "New Deluxe" room, normally from 39,000 yen, is just 18,000 yen. The "Plaza Premier" room, typically 43,000 yen, is just 20,000 yen.

These prices are good for single and twin rooms.

Also included are a complimentary breakfast and a late checkout.

The hotel will add 15% for taxes and service charges, so you'll pay at most 23,000 yen for a room that normally costs more than double.

The deal expires on March 23, so it's best for spring break travel.

Contact IACE Canada to make the reservation.

Tip: skip the free breakfast!

Eating in Japan is an adventure worth traveling for. Here's the guide to Japanese food.

Things to Do: Cat Cafe

If you're a serious cat lover, you may want to visit one of Japan's cat cafes for the novelty.

Basically, you can pay to go play with a cat. Some of them will also serve you coffee or such, but you're really paying for the cat.

Lots of Tokyoites would like pets but don't have the space to put them up and are never home. So, to them it kind of makes sense to be able to rent time with a pet. 

The Guardian recently went to a cat cafe and brought back about 7 minutes of video from the place. Get your tour below:

Looking for more things to do in Japan?

1 USD Yen – current data

Wondering what 1 dollar is worth right now in Japanese Yen?

Wonder no more, with this live chart from xe.com. Just click 'Go!' to see the current rate.

Of course, even though this data is current, don't take this for trading purposes. Just use it for planning a Japan trip.

You may get a slightly worse rate when changing currencies at airports. I recommend using Japan's ATMs to get the best rates while traveling.

Airport Yoga begins in San Francisco

San Francisco is the world's first airport to get its own yoga space!

Airport-yogaThe space comes with low lights and blue walls, setting it apart from the otherwise bright and contrasted colors inside SFO airport.

The idea came from a passenger suggestion at an open house event, according to an airport official. The room is located inside SFO Terminal 2, the one that was just redone to support Virgin America. 

The airport yoga room is after security – perfect for relaxation after suffering through the security theater. Despite yoga's Indian roots, there will be a Japanese touch to the room in the future: there are large rocks coming to create a Zen garden theme, and they'll be installed in the spring.

There's even a pictograph to join the other universal signs like passport control and restrooms, just for the yoga room.

via Reuters

Do yoga on your flight!

Read Konnichiwhoa's Japan Guide to Airplane Yoga and arrive refreshed.

Oden: a healthy Japanese food that’s an acquired taste

Oden isn't the famous kind of Japanese food that tourists come to the country for, but locals and expats know it all too well.

Oden2It's a sort of cuisine – it's a collection of things that are boiled in a fishy broth. Everything that comes out is hot, and most of it is pretty heavy on the protein. So, it's really known as a winter food.

Oden is found everywhere. During the coldest winter months, you can find it in every convenience store, and the stores will even smell of the stuff during that time.

Here's a more detailed explanation from the Japan Visitor Blog:

Dashi [the broth oden is made in] is made with konbu seaweed and shaved tuna flakes (kezurikatsuo), so oden is not really vegetarian, though many of the other ingredients are staples for non-meat eaters: daikon radish, potatoes, konnyaku, kinchaku (mochi in a deep-fried tofu pouch) and tofu. Other things found in oden include boiled eggs, chikuwa fish cakes, folded seaweed, meatballs on sticks, sausages, octopus and sometimes skewered beef.

Personally, it's not for me. But at least I was brave enough to try it.

via Japan Visitor Blog

More Japanese Food Not Found in America

The Japanese don't really do teriyaki chicken. Here are 6 Japanese foods not found in America.