Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2017

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Top Japanese places to visit in London

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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

Japan Candy Box review + giveaway

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Takeshita Dori – Shopping in Harajuku

Takeshita Dori

Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street in English) is a very famous shopping street in Harajuku. It’s a pedestrian only street and the shops are focused on fashion, Japanese pop culture and young people. The street is about 400 meters long and there are a lot of shops on both sides.

The area

This part of Tokyo is seen as an youthful area. There are a lot of clothes shops with the latest trends in fashion, alternative styles and independent designers. Harajuku has become famous for young people dressed in more fun or alternative fashion styles, such as visual-kei, lolita and cosplay and hanging out on the Jingu bridge and in the Yoyogi park. Takeshita Dori is the place where new trends are tested and where you can spot Harajuku celebrities like Shironuri. It’s also where Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was discovered.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan harajuku station

Shopping

Of course, everyone won’t have the same favourite shops, it depends on your personal taste, but if you like Japanese fashion you’re very likely to find something you like here. You’ve got shop after shop after shop along the street. Some are more expensive, some are cheap. I didn’t have any problems finding clothes that were just as nice as the ones you find in Shibuya 109, but a lot cheaper, the difference being they’re no brand here. But you can also find very famous and more expensive brands too, like Liz Lisa.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan liz lisa

Here’s a list of a few of my favourite shops:

Paris Kids
Cheap and fun jewellery. You’ll find lots of teenagers coming here, because everything is so cheap. I think it’s a set price, 324 yen last time I was there, for each item. You’ll find necklaces, ear rings, bracelets, hair accessories and more. I found lots of nice necklaces that were typical Japanese and Harajuku style. I loved it! You’ll find the shop on your left hand side, if coming from the station, and it’s at the beginning of the street.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan paris kids

Daiso 100 Yen Shop
Daiso is a 100 Yen chain shop. They sell everything and anything, and it’s fun browsing the shop. It’s pretty big, several floors, and you will find beauty products, stationary, sweets, kitchen items, crafts and lots more. A lot of the things are of lower quality, but you can find some great bargains too. Daiso is also located at the left hand side.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan daiso

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan daiso 100 yen

Wonder Rocket
I absolutely love this clothing shop. You’ll recognize it by the mannequins with hare masks. The clothes are very Japanese, I’d say romantic and mori girl would describe their style. Lots of muted earthy tones and pastel colours, lace, ribbons and flowers. I absolutely love just browsing the shop and looking at all the pretty things they have for sale. It’s located on the right hand side, a bit further down on the street.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan wonder rocket

The crepes
Not really a shop, it’s a food stall. Harajuku is famous for it’s delicious crepes, and I dont think it’s possible to walk though Takeshita dori without stopping for a crepe. The queues can be long, but they move pretty fast, and it’s well worth the wait. They have loads of different fillings and I try to remember to try out a new one every time we are there. They’ve got whipped cream, strawberries, mochi, red bean paste, banana, chocolate sauce, ice cream, custard, peach… I could go on forever. Remember to stand to the side or have a sit down while enjoying your crepe, since it’s considered rude to eat and walk in Japan. If you go to the big crepe stand somewhere in the middle of the street on the left hand side, there’s a good area just behind the crepe stand for eating. You’ll probably see it, because that’s where everyone else is sitting or standing.

whysojapan takeshita dori harajuku tokyo japan crepes

How to get there

Takeshita Dori is located in Harajuku, an area in Shibuya in Tokyo. to get there, take the Yamanote Line to the Harajuku station. There are two exists, the southern exit is closer to the Yoyogi Park and northen exit is closer to Takeshita Dori, and it’s this exit you want to take, because as soon as you’re out of the station, you just have to cross over to the other side of the road, and there you have Takeshita Dori. If you happen to come out the other exit, you walk down the hill to the left until you reach the crossing and then cross the street. It’s very easy to spot Takeshita Dori once you’re close to it, because the entrance has a gate you can’t miss and the street is probably packed with people.





Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Fashion, Food & snacks, Shopping, Visiting Leave a comment

Review: Japan Travel Guide – The Ultimate Itinerary Planner

whysojapan japan travel guide The Ultimate Itinerary Planner

Japan Travel Guide – The Ultimate Itinerary Planner

We’ve been to Japan a few times now, and before each trip we always try and do some research, so we have a good plan of where we want to go and what we want to do. This can be very time consuming; searching websites, double checking sources, finding out important details are wrong, doing some more research, and so it goes on. This is where a guide would come in handy. The Japan Travel Guide – The Ultimate Itinerary Planner is a great source to turn to before (and during) your trip to Japan. They’ve done all the research for you!

whysojapan japan travel guide The Ultimate Itinerary PlannerAuthors Christopher Crane and Emma Chan have interviewed dozens of expats and experienced travelers to give you all the information you need for sightseeing, fin and interesting experiences and great food. The guide focuses on five areas: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Okinawa. You get tips about traditional and modern Japan, eat and drink, festivals and the cherry blossom viewing, with descriptions, tips and useful information, adresses, opening times prices and more.

Find out about the The Zen Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto, a masterful example of Zen landscaping. Learn about the Waterfight Festival in Tokyo, where people fight each other with rotten tomatoes, oranges, colored pigments, and everything in between. Read about Yamachan in Osaka, one of the best takoyaki restaurants.

This is a very useful guide. We found information about well known must-see spots, but we also found great information about things we’ve never heard about before, the hidden gems you really don’t want to miss. The next time we plan a trip to Japan we will sure turn to this guide.

At the moment you can get Kindle edition of the guide for free on Amazon.

Download your copy here:
Japan Travel Guide: The Ultimate Itinerary Planner





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

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 4 Comments

Book Review: Halfway Home: Drawing My Way Through Japan

whysojapan halfway home Christine Mari Inzer

Halfway Home Drawing my way through Japan

Christine Mari Inzer, age 17, is the author behind the book. Christine is half American and half Japenese. She was born in Japan but moved to the States at a at young age with her family. She is currently a high school senior in Connecticut. “Halfway Home drawing my way through Japan” is her first published book and the book brings out two of Christine’s talents – a great young writer and brilliant comic book drawer. She has already recieved lots of appreciation from fellow writers.  With this book being her first, if she continues to persuit a career in writing books, it’s a great strong start.

About the book

whysojapan book review Halfway Home: Drawing My Way Through JapanWe get to follow Christine as she travels back to Japan on her own for the first time. The book takes us on every step of her journey, from the second she leaves the airport (all nervous about the long trip that she has in front of her), all around Japan and back home. I can really recognise myself in the way Christine feels about travelling to Japan. It’s quite hard work with all the airport stuff and then sitting on a plane not being able to sleep when every one around you is fast asleep. Once Christine is in Japan we get to follow her on her trip, from meeting her family that she hasn’t seen for a long time, to going it alone and taking on the street of Tokyo. We get to see and read about some of Christine’s favourite things in Japan, like going to MOS burger and more. Christine also takes us with her as she travels to over parts of Japan with her grandma and gets to see some more traditional Japan and a lot more. I don’t want to tell you what happens in the whole book because it’s best to read it in Christine’s own words.

whysojapan halfway home Christine Mari Inzer

What we thought of the book

I found the book to be a great and easy read with lot’s of comical pages. I love the mixture of both the sketches, photos and the text. I found that the sketches compliment the book in a great a way. Instead of having a whole page of text trying to explain something, Christine’s drawings explains it so well. The book is perfect for those who don’t like to read a lot but still enjoy a good story. What makes it different from a lot of books on Japan is that it’s written by a young person, it is something that’s not very often seen. Apart from being a good read, the book can also work as a little guide to Japan, since the book features places Christine visits, like Harajuku and Kyoto. Maybe you’re planning your first trip to Japan and maybe you need a more personal insight to Japan? Then this book would be perfect for you. And if you’re like me and can not sleep during that long-haul flight to Japan, then take “Halfway Home drawing my way through Japan” onborad with you –  a perfect way to spend your time flying into Japan. Even if you’re not going to Japan or have already been there, this book is still a fun read. The book is for ages 12 and up.

The book is available to buy online via stores like Amazon etc. Links to US & UK store.
Check out Christines official site at http://christinemari.com/





Posted on by Paul in Media, Reviews, Shopping Leave a comment

Harajuku Happy Times

whysojapan harajuku happy times

Harajuku happy times

Pharrell Williams song “Happy” has been a big hit all over the world. Some might love it, some not. At first I didn’t think much of the song really, it wasn’t going to a song I would buy. But its a happy and cheerful song, so I could see why others would like it. The song was first released last November, in 2013.

Music video

The original music video has lots of different people miming to the song while dancing around in different parts of Miami. The video has inspired more than 1500 videos from people all over the world to dance to the video in their part of the world. The easiest way to find all the inspired videos is to search for “Pharrell Williams – Happy – We Are from [name of the city]” on YouTube. This will help you find the city of choice. There is also a website that has a collection of all the inspired versions of Happy. 
http://wearehappyfrom.com

Japanese version

I have seen a couple of diffrent versions of the video in Japan, but this one I think is my favourite video. The title of the video is Harajuku Happy Times and the video seems to be, for the most part, filmed in and around the trendy part of Tokyo called Harajuku. The video has a good mixture of different Japanese people of all ages dancing and miming to a part of the song. My favorte part is the sumo wrestlers, because they always seem so serious, but in this video you can see them smiling and walking to the song.

For me it was first when I saw this video that I became a fan of the song, and it is definitely this video that makes the song for me. This version of the video has it own YouTube channel, and also can be found on the following site: http://harajukuhappytimes.com There is not much about the video on the site though. There is a little section under “about” where can you read a little about it in Japanese.

Anyway, here’s the video below. Hope you enjoy it as mush as me!

 





Posted on by Paul in Media, Music Leave a comment