Conveyor Belt Sushi: 7 Tips to Go Wild, Cheaply

Conveyor belt sushi is famous for bringing around Japan's best-known food with no effort, but it's also one of the best ways to eat out cheaply while you're here.

Also known as revolving sushi or kaiten-zushi, the video above sets the scene pretty well. The conveyor runs in a big square. Patrons sit on the outside of the rectangle and chefs work inside the conveyor. They're not in the scene here, but waiters are running around behind the customers clearing tabs and serving drinks. On the conveyor belt are plates of sushi, obviously, but also little ads rolling by promoting seasonal items.

Here are 7 tips that let me leave stuffed for no more than 1500 yen:

Continue reading “Conveyor Belt Sushi: 7 Tips to Go Wild, Cheaply”

Is Japan Cool?

"Is Japan cool?" asks Japanese airline ANA.

If this video is any indication, it's great. It's part of a new international ANA ad campaign hoping to boost Japanese tourism in 2012. 

It covers pretty much all the major things tourists expect: sumo, bath houses, maid cafes, Harajuku girls, and all that. But the Sofia Coppola-mimic cinematography and soundtrack serve as a reminder that all of us have reasons to visit the country – or memories that will stay around for a long time.

Yeah, Japan's cool. But I admit, I'm biased.

Valentine’s Day in Japan: 3 Facts You Shouldn’t Miss

Valentine's Day in Japan is celebrated, but with a twist: 

Japanese chocolate fountainWomen give presents to men! It's another sign that Japanese society is still pretty male-dominated.

There are three more facts you need to know about Valentine's Day gifts in Japan:

1. It's chocolate. Chocolate is the traditional present.

2. It's platonic. Typically, women bring lots in to the office to give some choco to all the guys, regardless of relationship status. 

3. Women get paid back in March. March 14, a month after, is a separate "holiday" called White Day, where men give back to women. This one is more like how Westerners celebrate Valentine's Day: guys buy more expensive, more shiny gifts for the special ladies in their lives. 

So guys, sit back and relax. Ladies, where's that chocolate?!

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.

Japanese Martial Arts Styles Explained

If you're a fan of Japanese martial arts styles and want to learn more, there's a wiki that's a gold mine for you. Gottsupedia, as it's known, is a repository of Japanese martial arts – especially aikido – along with their histories and specific techniques.

Aikido-picFor example, here's a snippet on the Yoshinkan school of aikido:

Yoshinkan's emphasis on basics and instilling them in students through repeated drills is a direct product of the difficulties encountered when Yoshinkan first began teaching exceptionally large groups, such the Tokyo police. … Ueshiba did not give exact instruction, instead he would show a technique and let everyone figure it out saying "That's fine, that's fine" to everyone's way of doing it. 

The entire wiki is the work of just one guy, so there's not much yet in the way of collaborative editing or fact-checking, but the 193 articles on hand show that the one dude is pretty serious about his stuff. 

via Gottsupedia. Thanks, Cook Ding.

You probably won't get in a fight in Japan

But you should know what to do if you meet the Japanese police. Read the Guide to Police in Japan.

Manhole Covers in Japan: Unexpected Art

Wherever you are in Japan, there's sightseeing to be done on the street. Literally.

4947983_248f53b941Manhole covers are used as works of public art all over Japan. Patterns and even painted colors are used to create local images that can be seen by locals and visitors alike.

The variety of images is impressive. Nature makes a big appearance, as trees and birds are especially common throughout the nation's prefectures. Cherry blossom trees are especially frequent. Also appearing are dragonflies, deer, cranes, and other animals that are either locally common or well-known in the national mythology.

There's also a high number of firefighter-themed manhole covers. Those covers give firefighters easy access to water in case of emergencies.

via Kuriositas

Thanks to OpenCage for the cover image!

Did you miss the Naked Festival?

The annual Naked Festival just went down in the town of Yotsukaido, just east of Tokyo.  Did you miss it?

If so, you missed out on roughly 3,000 dudes – ladies are only observers – wearing nothing but loincloths and playing in the mud.

The mud actually comes from a rice paddy before it gets planted in the spring.  Even though it's the beginning of March, it's very cold out there.

A lot of attendees say it's a refreshing experience after it's over.  I can only imagine as much, considering just looking at that picture makes me want to take a warm shower…

Read more at, with thanks to Samurai Dave for the image.