A Taste of Japan: Shrines

It’s hard to visit Japan without visiting at least a few shrines, but they’re all so different and uniquely beautiful that it’s also hard to get bored doing so!

LotsaSmiles Photography

It’s difficult to visit Japan without tripping over at least a dozen shrines and temples.  While most of the Japanese population wouldn’t consider themselves particularly religious, many practice the standard rituals of visiting shrines, saying a prayer, and drawing fortunes.  The young go hoping for favorable test scores or new love; others simply wish for good luck and good health.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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A Taste of Japan: The Robot Restaurant (Shinjuku)

This was a fun display of Japanese ingenuity. They truly are masters of space management!

LotsaSmiles Photography

For a truly wild spectacle, check out the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku (follow the giant light signs; it’s hard to miss).  The name is a slight misnomer, as this is primarily a show, with snacks, sushi bento boxes, and drinks available for separate purchase.  This is certainly geared toward tourists, with everything predominantly in English.  They pack about 200 people into a tight room, and proceed to parade wifi-controlled floats and extravagant illuminated robots.  Cute Japanese girls dance and fill the room with thunder on the taiko.  The animatronics reach out and right over the audience; it’s amazing how they can fit these things in such a small room.  Music, laser battles, lights, dancing, robots!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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A Taste of Japan: Mizuko Kuyou

This was one of the most interesting traditions we learned about in Japan. Sad, yet comforting to those who need them.

LotsaSmiles Photography

Visiting temples in Japan, you might come across lines of small statues dressed in red caps or children’s clothing.  These are Jizou statues, and they are to ease the grief of a passing infant or unborn fetus (and some believe to appease the vengeful spirit).

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

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5 Lessons Learned as a Foreigner in Japan

Every day while we were in Japan, we definitely had lessons we learned as we fumbled through many different situations or discovered new things we weren’t expecting. Here are 5 that we took away from our trip. Continue reading “5 Lessons Learned as a Foreigner in Japan”

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”

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”

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”

Cat Cafes in Japan

A sensation only just now gracing our United States shorelines, cat cafes have been widely popular in Japan for many years.  The world’s first cafe actually opened in Taiwan in 1998, but the concept was quickly adopted by the feline-loving, pet-deprived, Japanese culture.  Because of its popularity, the idea is commonly attributed to the latter (After all, they even have entire islands dedicated to the fuzz balls (a must on our return bucket list)! Continue reading “Cat Cafes in Japan”