Advice For A First Time Tourist of Japan

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Image By Jason Goh

If you’re planning on visiting Japan, it’s likely that you already know that it’s one of the best parts of Asia, with its elegant architecture and amazing technological feats. However, without proper knowledge of the country, you are at risk of getting stuck in a situation you don’t know how to get out of, or completely over spending when it’s simply not necessary. To avoid this, here’s some of the best advice I can give for traveling to Japan for the first time.

  1. Eat At Fast Food Restaurants

Most people associate the phrase “fast food” with a grease filled burger or some variation of fried chicken, but in Japanese fast food restaurants that simply isn’t the case. Here you can order miso soup, dumplings, bowls of rice, and many other typical Japanese foods, often at a price cheaper than the processed junk from back home.

  1. Bring Cash

A lot of places in Japan don’t accept bank cards, and many ATMs don’t accept foreign cards even in Tokyo, so money really will be your friend on your trip. Because of this, you will have to make sure you either have enough cash or know of an ATM that will accept your card.

  1. Carry Hand Sanitizer

Strangely, most public bathrooms in Japan don’t have any dispensable hand soap, so if you want more than a simple rinse of warm water, you should probably carry sanitizing hand gel.

  1. Learn Japanese

You don’t necessarily need to learn Japanese fluently, as many people in Japan do speak English quite well. However, it’s always best to have a few key Japanese phrases memorized, in case you get stuck in a situation where there isn’t anyone that can speak English. It’s also polite, and many Japanese people would probably appreciate being asked if they can speak English in their language.

  1. Print Out Hotel Address In Japanese

Much like above, if you get stuck in a situation where you can’t find anyone that speaks English, it’s always best to have your hotel address written down in Japanese, to give to a cab driver to help you get back. This tip is useful in any foreign country you visit.

  1. Rent A “Pocket Wi-Fi”

A “Pocket Wi-Fi” is a wireless internet router that allows several different gadgets to connect to it and use its unlimited internet. They are available to rent at most airports in Japan, at a fraction of the cost of data roaming charges.

  1. Find Your Nearest Konbini

A Konbini is a Japanese convenience store that often sells anything you could possibly require, from hot meals, to gadget chargers, to socks. They also often have ATMs that do accept foreign bank cards, so it really is a refuge, if you get into a pickle.

  1. Get A Japanese Rail Pass

If you plan on visiting several different cities during your trip, a JR Pass could save you a lot of money, especially if you plan on going to another one of the four main islands.

Japan is a beautiful and elegant country, but it can get confusing if you don’t know the language and customs. Hopefully, this advice will help you navigate the country with a bit more ease, and allow you to have a completely stress free, and memorable getaway.

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Awesome Asia – The Best Bits Unveiled

Asia is certainly up there on many people’s must-see list. There are so many wonderful countries, each with their own incredible cultures. And then, of course, is all the amazing food you can sample from each region! So what would you most love to see in Asia next time you’re traveling? Needless to say, a long-haul flight or two will be necessary, but which bits of Asia would make it all worthwhile?

Vietnam

It’s hot, it’s humid, and it’s stunningly beautiful if you’re lucky enough to explore some of the countryside here. But did you know that you don’t have to be in the countryside to see the beauty and the charm of this country? Cities like Hanoi have an elegance and grace that reflects the time-honored traditions of the Vietnamese people. And in the city, you’ll find a much wider choice of food. Hanoi is the capital city that keeps on giving. There are some fabulous places to eat and some stunning architecture to admire. You’ll find beautiful Vietnamese parks to stroll through too.

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Hanoi image from Flickr

Japan

People most often come to Japan for two reasons. The first is business, which is understandable in the tech world! The second is for the beautiful cherry blossoms. You find these almost anywhere, but two cities really do stand out for their floral displays and their elegant architecture. Kyoto, with its Temples and Shrines rarely disappoints any visitor. Hakone has gorgeous springs, beautiful lakes, and a fabulous view of Fuji. Check ahead for the best anticipated dates for a full bloom.

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Japanese Cherry Blossom image from Pexels

China

From the moment you land at the airport, you can enjoy the best of modern China. You might start somewhere like your Xi An Hotel where you can enjoy a room with a view. From there, you might travel into the city to explore the marvelous Terracotta Army. Incredibly, these 6000 figures were only discovered about 40 years ago. After Xi An, you might explore more of this magnificent and historic country. Check out Shanghai for the best eclectic mix of ancient and modern China.

Indonesia

This nation is an absolute must for any traveler that loves the great outdoors. Indonesia is actually a large collection of volcanic islands. This makes for some of the most extraordinary landscapes in the world. But the beauty of this place doesn’t stop there. It’s hard to find beaches anywhere else that are quite so lovely. Beyond the sandy coastlines, you can also find lush jungles that are home to elephants, tigers, and orangutans. Check out the Komodo dragon and listen out for the gentle gamelan music.

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Indonesia image from Pexels

Thailand

Many Thai communities live by or even on the water. Fishing is a big part of life here, so you can find some of the more flavorsome dishes you know and love made with fish. The Emerald Buddha Temple is a firm favorite among tourists, and it is certainly worth visiting this incredible place. Bangkok is a weird and wonderful mix of old and new and is far more modern in some places than you would expect. Enjoy your tour of Asia.

 

Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon

PORTLAND JAPANESE GARDEN, OREGON: “Here, miles from Japan, I stand as if warmed by the spring sunshine of home” is what the Poetry Stone of Portland Japanese Garden inscribed with. Truly, this place makes you feel like you are in a place far away in the East. This 5.5 acre garden is proclaimed to be the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. Tucked away in the scenic hills of Portland, this is a tranquil haven for anyone.

Heavenly Falls in Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon

Heavenly Falls in Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon

Portland Japanese Garden features five different garden styles and some of these styles are typically found in Zen monasteries. It changes its face with every season with different blooms and colors. Different trees adorn this place at different times of the year. My favorite is probably the autumn when colors change and you see eloquent beauty of this place. I still have to visit this place during the cherry blossom in April. Try to avoid weekends as this garden is packed with tourists and enthusiasts photographers trying to capture its striking beauty from different angles and perspectives.

Falls colors in Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon

Falls colors in Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon

The garden hosts different art exhibitions, festivals, workshops, and lectures throughout the whole year in the Pavilion. My first visit here was a brief one only with my camera and a tripod. During my second visit with my family and uncle-in-law from Chicago, there was an exhibition on Japanese lacquered art “Urushi”. Also standing on the veranda of this Pavilion offers a magnificent view of Mt. Hood and the valley.

Intimate pond and crane statues in Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon

Intimate pond and crane statues in Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon

Stroll around stone pagoda lantern, stand on the Moon Bridge, enjoy Lower Pond and crane stones, marvel at traditional constructions, walk along the Zig Zag Bridge that leads to Heavenly Falls where koi swim beneath the clear water. You will enjoy the trees, shrubs, ferns, mosses, and mushrooms that grow in their natural form. Make sure to stop by their gift-shop for unique Japanese arts and traditional trinkets at the end of the trip.

Mushrooms on the ground of Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon

Mushrooms on the ground of Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon

The garden is located on Kingston Avenue in Portland, very close to Children’s Museum and Washington Park. It’s open year-round. There is a paid parking space for the visitors. Entrance fee is $9.50 per adult and extra $5 if you want to use a tripod. Free guided tour is available few times in a day during summer time.

A small stream running down in the middle of Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon

A small stream running down in the middle of Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon

 

 

Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium

HASSELT JAPANESE GARDEN: Hasselt Japanese Garden is a little piece of Japan in Belgium. This is a miniature version of the real natural beauty reconstructed the way Japanese have been doing for centuries. This is a must-see spot in Hasselt since it’s the biggest Japanese garden in Western Europe. Built about 20 years ago, the art of landscaping of this imperial garden depicts calm mountain scenery, with soothing sound of river, and view of rocks. Japanese style house, cherry blossoms, a Shinto temple, water-falls, and clear water are just some ideal things to give its visitors some inner peace and tranquility.

Enjoy the pictures that I took during our visit and don’t forget to visit Hasselt Japanese Garden if you are ever in Belgium:

Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
          
Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
        
Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
       
Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
      
Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
Hasselt Japanese Garden in Hasselt, Belgium
     

Entry fee to the garden is 5 euros per person (kids 12 years and below are free). The park is open from 2 – 6pm during the summer time. Couple hours inside the park is sufficient. We didn’t find any place to have lunch (thank god we brought sandwiches with us that day) but you can find tea and some snacks in the center of the park, just follow the sign.

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