Japanese Manhole covers T-shirts from 47Regions

Japanese Manhole covers T-shirts from 47Regions Japan is a place of so many different and wonderful things to do and see. A lot of times when we are planning our trips to Japan we decide not always to have our whole day Read more

Kizuna Japanese subscription box

Kizuna Japanese subscription box This is a promotional post. We were offered the opportunity to try a new subscription box from Kizuna Box from Japan. Of course we jumped at the chance. We were given the option of two different boxes, Read more

Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2017

Sakura Matsuri Stockholm – Cherry Blossom Festival On April 22nd was the annual cherry blossom hanami festival in Stockholm (“Körsbärsblommans Dag”), Sweden. It's an event organized by the Japanese Association, and we were very happy to see that they - once Read more

Top Japanese places to visit in London

Top Japanese places to visit in London In this post we have collected our top Japanese places to visit in London. The city has so many places that are connected to Japan in one way or another. In our top Read more

Best art, crafts and stationery shops in Tokyo

Best art, crafts and stationery shops in Tokyo As a person who love all things art and crafts I've hunted down the best shops that I could find during my travels in Tokyo. Here's a guide to my personal favourites. Read more

Using the Japan Rail Pass

whysojapan Japan Rail Pass

Japan Rail Pass

After visiting Japan a few times and spending all our time just in and around Tokyo we discuss if we should try to venture out from Tokyo on our next trip to Japan. There were a few places we wanted to visit, them being Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. So we went about seeing how much it would end up costing if we were to travel back and forth between Tokyo and said destinations day-by-day. We did decide in the end to book a hotel room in Osaka and have that as our base, since both Kyoto and Nara were not that far away from Osaka. We started to look into how much just a round trip would cost from Tokyo to Osaka and back. We found a couple of sites that can be used to look up train prices for Japan, and the site we ended up using was HyperDia. The price of a one way trip was around 14000¥, which would make a round trip around 28000¥ and that’s without the extra trips, like traveling over to Kyoto and Nara.

whysojapan Japan Rail Pass

Rail Pass

We had heard about the Japan rail pass before, so we decided to look into it. The rail pass has to be bought before traveling to Japan since it’s not available in Japan. The rail pass is available as 7, 14 and 21 day pass where once the pass has started it then continues to your last day, so you can’t divide the days up. We ended up choosing the 7 day pass, which would cost around 29000¥. Depending on which travel agent you buy it from, it may cost a bit more.

whysojapan Japan Rail Pass

How to get the rail pass

We checked where we could get the rail pass for the best price. The best price was from online store http://www.japan-rail-pass.com which was cheaper than buying it in our local Japan travel agent. Once the exchange order was ordered, we got them sent to us by FedEx within 2 days and as an added bonus we got the Japanese railways travel guide and a JR network map.

Exchange order

whysojapan Japan Rail PassYou don’t actually get a pass straight away, you get an exchange order, which you exchange once you get to Japan. It can be done at a lot of major transport hubs, i.e. train stations and airports. Just look out for an exchange office for JR. You will need to show your passport and also decide when you want your ticket to start from. We flew in to Narita airport and decided to go to the exchange office there on arrival. At the exchange office we got a form to fill in while we stood in the queue, which was quite long at the time. We started our pass from the point of exchange so we could use it on the JR NEX train into Shinjuku. The ticket can be used on almost all JR transport systems over Japan. Our first couple of days we stayed in Tokyo, so we used it a lot when and where we could, but to get the full value of the pass, you need to travel out of Tokyo on one of the many bullet trains, to earn the rail passes full value.

Riding The Bullet Train

On the day we decided to travel to Osaka we made our way to Tokyo train station, where we were to get the bullet train from. Beforehand we had checked the time-table via HyperDia. A good function on the site is that you choose which companies to travel with, and since the rail pass only works with JR we uncheck all others. You can either book a seat for free at a JR ticket office or via their booking site. Otherwise you can just get on one of the cars which is marked non-reserved. We didn’t have a problem getting a seat, but maybe if you are traveling on a Japanese public holiday you might want to pre-book seats just in case, which you can do for free.

whysojapan Japan Rail Pass

How to use the Rail Pass

The rail pass differs from a lot of other train cards. It can’t be read by the turnstiles in Japan, so you need to always go to the side of the turnstiles, where you normally can find the station staff – either in a little booth or an office. You need to show your rail pass to the staff before entering and leaving the station. The pass does say to have your passport with you, in case the staff needs to check that the rail pass belongs to you. We had our passports with us, but didn’t need to show them at all.

whysojapan Japan Rail Pass

Final thoughts

If you are going to travel a bit while in Japan and not just use the local routes, more long distances like we did to Osaka, then the rail pass is great value. There are some rules and regulations around the use of the rail pass, like it can’t be used by Japanese residents. Check the official site for all the rules and regulations and you can also find a list of places that are official to sellers of the rail pass: http://www.japanrailpass.net/





Posted on by Paul in Visiting 5 Comments

Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Sakura Matsuri Stockholm – Cherry Blossom Festival

Every year there is a cherry blossom festival (“Körsbärsblommans Dag”) in central Stockholm, Sweden, organized by the Japanese Association. For the public, it’s a lovely tradition to go there every year and experience a little bit of the hanami spirit even though Sweden is far away from Japan. This year the cherry trees were just beginning to flower and it was a nice sunny day. The festival was packed with people, it seems to become more and more popular each year.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

 A taste of traditional Japan

During the festival there were lots of stalls where you could see some of the traditional side of Japan.

Furoshiki – traditional wrapping cloth you use to wrap your gifts or goods in. Both sides of the fabric are decorated with beautiful colours and patterns.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015 WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Bonsai – Growing trees in small pots to make them grow into miniature size. The bonsai trees come from the Swedish bonsai association club, bonsaisallskapet.se. Even though none of the trees were for sale, the club members that had brought them along were very happy to talk about all things bonsai.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Origami –  Folding paper and sculpturing it into shapes.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Shodō –  Japanese calligraphy. This seemed to be one of the more popular stalls, where you could get your own zodiac animal sign in calligraphy, beautifully hand painted.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Kimono – A traditional Japanese garment. At the festival you could try it on to see what it’s like to wear. This was another one of the stalls that we had seen before which seemed to be very popular. We also saw lots of people walking around with kimono and yukata.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Ikebana – Flower arrangement art.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Karuta – A Japanese card game.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Food stalls, Japanese goods and more

There were also several food stalls where you could buy bento, onigri, kimchi, macha cakes, sushi, noodles and lots more.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Bon Aibon are Japanese sweet cakes made by Ai Ventura, who also sells her cakes at the cafe Kikusen in Östasiatiska Museet in Stockholm.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

The food stalls were really popular at the festival with some of the stalls having very long queues.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

The Swedish manga association also had a stall, showing off lots of different manga books.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Sunai Japan Shop had a stall with stationary, magazines and bento boxes for sale.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Selmish was there, selling packets of Japanese treats and more.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

It was also great to see a lot of our favourite dog breed, the shiba inu, which were all walking around very proud.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

The Japanese Association of Stockholm is a great site to check for other Japanese events in Sweden.

We have posted lots of other articles about hanami over the years. They can all be found by clicking the following link: hanami





Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Events Leave a comment

Taiko no Tatsujin Arcade Game

whysojapan Taiko no Tatsujin

 Taiko no Tatsujin 太鼓の達

whysojapan Taiko no TatsujinThe Taiko drumming game gets its roots from playing the musical drum, which is a popular thing that is played in Japan. The arcade version of the game is a 1-2 player game consisting of two big taiko drums and a large screen. Each player has its own drum and two drum sticks. The game can also be played as a one player game where you use one of the drums. I have seen people that are really good at this game using both drums to play, there may be a setting for the game which allows one person to play two drums at once. It’s nothing that I have ever looked for since the menus are all in Japanese. We normally just keep to the basic game play, of one vs. one mode. A typical game consists of three songs, with most songs having different grades of difficulty. In two player mode you both can choose your own difficulty level while playing the same song.

Object of the game

The drum has two parts that can be hit with the drum sticks, the main section of the drum and the outer rim of the drum. On the screen you will see symbols moving across the screen and when they go past the left handside of the screen you hit the drum in the way that corresponds to the symbol. Small red faces mean one hit of the centre of the drum and the small blue face means you the outer side side of the drum. The drum strikes will go in rhymthm to the music that you’ve chosen to play to. There are also other variation of symbols, like a big red or blue face, which means you hit the drum with both sticks at once.

Versions of the game

whysojapan Taiko no TatsujinThe game has been released on many different platforms, like Playstation, Nintendo wii and iOS devices. A review of the iOS version of the game will becoming soon to the blog.
There have been many releases in Japan with updates, like new music etc. The game has also been released once in North America, going by the name of  “Taiko: Drum Master” and is available as a Playstation 2 game, which came out 2004. The nature of the game being you are playing a Japanese drum makes the main market target of the game is Japan.

whysojapan Taiko no TatsujinThe main mascots of the drums is Don who has the red face icon and Kat that has the blue face icon. There are also other colourful face icons that appear, like the yellow one and the red one, but the main mascots are the red and blue face icons. Products in the shape of drums with the colourful faces are available, like Happy Meal toys, plush toys and so on.

The music is normally a mixture of j-pop songs, classical music, children’s songs and songs made just for game use.

One day maybe I will be this good…

The official site for Taiko no Tatsujin is here: http://taiko-ch.net





Posted on by Paul in Gaming Leave a comment

Japanese TV Adverts #44 and #45

We can’t get enough of the wonderful and lot of time the wacky TV adverts from Japan. We just love to share them with you and we hope you enjoy this great selection of adverts that have been shown on TV in Japan recently. We have ads from SoftBank as normal (which has a bit of a cross over to the world of Disney this time), a cat driving it’s Yahoo! van around the streets like cats do, a fun ad for the theme park Fuji-Q Highland, an advert for Green Aroma featuring Perfume, and also an ad showing some of the cool looking robots from Murata.

As always, please check out this YouTube user for more adverts: http://www.youtube.com/user/JPCMHD

Also check out older posts with Japanese TV adverts under the media category to the right of this post.





Posted on by Paul in Media Leave a comment

Book Review: Tokyo Clash Japanese Pop Culture

Why So Japan Tokyo Clash Japanese Pop Culture

About the author

Tokyo Clash Japanese Pop Culture is written by Ralf Bähren, a German designer and photographer, that spent a year living  and working in Tokyo, where half of the time he documented lots of close relationships and cultural discussion with all different of sort of people that live in Japan. From the old-fashioned to the more interesting side of Japanese people. This is his first book that he has released. When Ralf Bähren is not writing books, he designs exhibitions, interactive experiences, animation and websites.

Why So Japan Tokyo Clash Japanese Pop Culture

Tokyo Clash Japanese Pop Culture

The book features lots of different pop cultures that can be found all around Tokyo. I remember on our first trip to Tokyo how so many things were so different compared to how things are here in Europe. Not always the big things, but the way day to day life can be. The way Japan looks at solving day to day problems can be an eyeopening experience. I think one of the things I really love about this book is that it presents so many of these things that we never see here in the Western countries, but are very present in Tokyo, Japan. It’s also highlighting the Japanese pop culture, and the way things look in modern Tokyo.

Why So Japan Tokyo Clash Japanese Pop Culture

On each page of this book you find a short piece of text in multiple languages (German, English and Japanese) describing subjects that goes along with one or several photos. I found the pictures to be of great quality and they really seem to jump out of the pages of this book. You can really see that someone has designed it well.

Why So Japan Tokyo Clash Japanese Pop Culture

It’s a perfect book for a coffee table read and I would really recommend it for anyone that loves Japan or is interested in Japanese pop culture.

More info about the book and author: http://www.visuaheli.com/blog/?p=409#more-409
Buy online at Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tokyo-Clash-Japanese-Culture-Style/dp/3833156996

 





Posted on by Paul in Reviews, Shopping Leave a comment