Autumn is in full color at this koi pond at a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan

54 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Japan

It’s been many years since we’ve been to Japan, but we still dream of it often. It was our first international trip together (and Aaron’s first ever), and it holds many fond memories. We’ve certainly learned a lot since that first trip, and we’d design an entirely different one now. But these pictures still take me back and make me wish I was there once again.

Come dream of Japan with us. These images are sure to inspire wanderlust for Japan for you as well!

Women in flowery kimono looking at a cell phone at the Kiyoumizu Temple in Kyoto, Japan
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World Highlights: Top 5 Sounds of Japan

In Tokyo, the sounds of the city can be intense. With a metropolitan area of around 40 million, you can expect to hear plenty of interesting sounds as you are exploring. Some are completely in your face like advertisements, while others are more pleasing. Both of these have their place in our Top 5 Favorite Sounds in Japan.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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World Highlights: Our Favorite Japanese Meal

We’re toning back a bit on our blogging, as we’re now in crunch time before we leave for our big trip!  Therefore, enjoy full posts every other week, with quick travel highlights like these in the alternates.  Let us know what you think!  We’d love to know what your favorites are!


© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

We had so much incredible food in Japan; how could we pick just one favorite?  While we loved the comforting ramen and drooled over the extravagant ryokan breakfast, one restaurant rose to the top, and it still makes my stomach grumble at the thought of it.

World Highlights: Our Favorite Japanese Meal | BIG tiny World Travel | We only travel to eat! Japan had some of best food we've had, but one restaurant rose above the rest! Check out our favorite from our visit. | #travel #travelcouple #internationalfood #traveltoeat #travelfood

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A squat toilet in Japan

How to Use a Japanese Squat Toilet

Ok, this post is mostly for the ladies (and those without convenient anatomy), but others might learn something, too.

For those used to western-style, sit-down toilets, something that resembles an elongated sink in the floor might be met with trepidation and confusion.  These are squat toilets, and they’re quite common in Japan.  Sometimes, they’re your only option, so it’s good to know how to use them.

For those too embarrassed to ask, here’s a quick guide.

A sign depicting how to use a squat toilet in Japan
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Money in Japan

In America, most walk around with a few credit or debit cards, and that’s all they need. Few carry cash. We use cards for everything from gas to shirts to dinner. We’ll even bust out the card for few-dollar transactions like parking meters and coffee. Even our sole-proprietor food carts take credit cards, and restaurants have to explicitly state if they don’t meet this widespread expectation.

Japan is very different. Continue reading “Money in Japan”

Close-up of a bowl of ramen in Tokyo, Japan

What We Miss About Japan… And What We Don’t

It’s been a few years since we first visited Japan, but that trip was a huge milestone for us. It was Aaron’s first overseas journey, and it was a real dive into the deep end.  It was the first major trip we took since our honeymoon (for which we had the assistance of a travel agent), and it was the first time I visited a place that did not speak my native language.

These 12 days are probably also largely responsible for the travel bugs that now fully infest our lives.

We learned a lot about travel and about ourselves with that trip, and we will always hold it in our hearts as that first little wanderlust nugget. These are some of the things we miss about Japan.. and some we don’t.

The bamboo grove in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan
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The Crazy Shops in Akihabara

As you probably know, the Japanese have a remarkable sense of space – particularly in Tokyo. They can cram an insane number of people onto trains, and they’re known for capsule hotels and incredibly efficient tiny apartments. This holds true for their shops, as well. Continue reading “The Crazy Shops in Akihabara”

A curry bowl at a maid cafe in Tokyo, made to look like a bear in a bath

Maid Cafes

Of the many kitschy things to do in Japan, visiting a maid cafe usually makes many lists.  We aren’t typically ones for overly touristy things, and we often go out of our way to avoid them (tourist attraction undoubtedly leads to throngs of visitors).  But while we were recovering from having been inundated with the overwhelming noise and stimulation of the tiny Akihabara shops, we decided to duck into one of these cheesy maid cafes. Continue reading “Maid Cafes”

5 Fun Things to See and Do in Odaiba

Odaiba was an enjoyable stop on our last day in Tokyo.  It has so much to offer that we couldn’t fit it all in.  We’ll have many new things to check out next time!   Below are 5 fun things to see or do if you find yourself in this Tokyo district. Continue reading “5 Fun Things to See and Do in Odaiba”