March 11th Earthquake Disaster: Before and After

We're creeping up on the one-year anniversary of the March 11th earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown that turned northeastern Japan upside-down.

Article-0-11AF37C6000005DC-718_964x128023 million tons of debris is said to be scattered around areas hit by the tsunami. The photo on the side shows just how impossible it looked to clean the mess up – but as the before/after shot shows, some Herculean efforts have been made to successfully clean up the towns. $50 billion has already been budgeted for cleanup, and it's likely more money will come.

That doesn't mean the whole region is totally fixed. The nuclear situation, while under control, isn't resolved and won't be for a long time. More than 19,000 people lost their lives, breaking as many families. Tens of thousands of people still live in temporary housing and tens of thousands more will always be upset that they can never go home again. The Japanese people's trust in their government was broken and that wound will take a long time to heal.

Still, Japan has a long history of cleaning up after disasters. To visit Kobe today, following its huge earthquake in 1996, you wouldn't know a massive disaster had struck there.

Like the 'after' photos show, Japan will march on.

via Daily Mail [UK]

Study Abroad in Japan

Japan is a great place to study abroad. Japanese students are relaxed during their college years, and foreigners get to enjoy the safety and health that the country is known for.

Blake_in_roppongiStudying abroad in Japan is ideal for college students, but there are full-time language schools where you can live the student life at any age. 

This little guide will cover what to do if you're a:

  • College student
  • Adult
  • Looking for information about the Monbusho scholarship

Let's get started!

Continue reading “Study Abroad in Japan”

Working Holiday Visa in Japan

If you're a young person with one year to spare and you come from a country that allows it, it's super easy for you to spend one year working in Japan with a working holiday visa.

Japan-immigrationThis type of visa is easy to get because it doesn't require a degree or significant amount of money, and you're allowed to do almost any kind of work you can get.

The visa lasts for six months with an option to renew for six more, for a grand total of one year. After one year, that's it – no renewals. If you decide to stay behind, you'll have to get someone to sponsor you for a different type of visa.

Continue reading “Working Holiday Visa in Japan”

Legendary Biru – Japan’s take on a beer commercial

American beer commercials are known for sex and bland jokes. When Japanese beer giant Sapporo Beer wanted to make a quintessentially Japanese commercial for its beer, however, things were very different.

The result is a traipse through countless old Japanese traditions including sumo and taiko and ends on the requisite modern Japanese cityscape. The idea, though, is that it all contributes to Sapporo's product. Cool stuff.

Here it is, the Legendary Biru commercial:

Continue reading “Legendary Biru – Japan’s take on a beer commercial”

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.

1 USD Yen – current data

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

Wonder no more, with this live chart from 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.

Introducing the Mini-Shop

Konnichiwhoa is proud to introduce the Mini-Shop, a small online store with travel gear and books about Japan. Here are three great things about it:

Konnichiwhoa mini shop1. Travel gear that we actually use
Travel products that we use ourselves, including noice-cancelling headphones and travel-size memory foam pillows, are available in the Travel Goods area. Fly like you're in first class at economy prices.

2. Only good books about Japan
We've populated the Japan Books section with high-quality books on a variety of topics including design, gardens, and the yakuza.

3. Amazon security and shipping
The shop is powered by's backbone, so we never see your address or billing info. 

Coming soon!
Japanese gifts, snacks, and fashion. 

Find that one tool you need for your next flight: go mini-shopping now!

Happy Chinese New Year!

DragonKonnichiwhoa wishes readers a very happy Year of the Dragon.

Today isn't a holiday in Japan like it is in China or Korea, but Japan does follow the Chinese zodiac, where there are twelve years each representing animals.

If on your birthday this year you're turning a multiple of 12 (12, 24, 36, etc.) then you are a Dragon!

In Japanese, that's ryu. The Kanji symbol, derived from Chinese writing, can be seen in the picture right over there.

So get to it, Dragons. Tradition dictates that this should be a very good year for you!