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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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”

A latte with art in the foam that reads, "I

Cat Cafes – The Best Thing Out of Japan Since Anime

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)!

A cat looking up at a cat cafe in Tokyo, Japan

Thus, upon deciding to go to Japan, first on my list of activities was a visit to a cat cafe or two.

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5 Awesome Things To Do in Akihabara

Akihabara has so much to offer, so it is difficult to narrow it down to 5 top things, but these were some of our favorites while we were there (in no particular order):

  1. Cat Cafe: Visit a cat cafe, and play with cute little bundles of joy.   Neko Jalala has a great selection of furry felines and is located within a 10 minute walk of Akihabara station.  Here you can have a beverage and cuddle up next to a sweet loving cat.  They even have treats you can purchase to make the purrballs even happier.

  1. Shopping:  Akihabara’s electric town is full of shops packed with the latest tech gadgets, gaming consoles, and computers at a discounted price.  They also have manga, anime, and video game shops that span several stories with a different theme on each floor.  It is easy to lose yourself in one of these places on a rainy day (of which we had a few while we were there).

  1. Karaoke:  In Japan, you don’t have to sing in front of 100 people you don’t know. You get your very own private room that seats you and your closest friends.  At Big Echo Karaoke, you can order food and drinks from your room, rent cosplay, and sing songs in Chinese, Japanese, and English.  They have several K-pop, J-pop, anime, and even baseball-team-themed rooms.  Japanese songs come with some entertaining videos on the screen.  Gather up a few of your Japanese friends, and have some fun!

  1. Maid Cafe:  Waitresses dressed as maids are on hand to serve you, their master or mistress.  Their speech is almost sickeningly cutesy, and they’ll let you take a picture with them for a small fee.  Be sure to bring your own digital camera for them to use unless you don’t mind a lower-quality printout from theirs.  The food is almost too adorable to eat, lovingly shaped into teddybears and smiley faces.  Maidreamin is a popular maid cafe, but you will find several of them scattered all around Akihabara.  Just look for the maid costumes and fliers; you can’t miss them.

  1. Gaming:  If you want to play a retro game from the 80s, there’s a video game bar to do it.  In many electronics stores you will find just about any game you could possibly dream about playing or even buying for yourself.  If you have a Japanese console, your options are unlimited.

There are many other fun things listed below that didn’t make this list but could be in your top 5.

  • Watch J-Pop live idol performances like AKB48
  • Visit a weapons store with katana and shuriken blades
  • Explore a department store like Don Quijote for souvenirs
  • Stop by the Gundam Cafe if you are a robot/mecha lover
  • Enjoy the shops on Chuo Dori street on Sundays between 1-5pm, as it becomes a pedestrian-friendly zone that is closed to cars and bicycles
  • Food!!!  Food!!  And more food!  It’s everywhere, and it’s hard to go wrong with any restaurant

Have you visited Akihabara?  What did we miss?  What makes your top 5?

How to Plan an International Trip to Japan

Planning an international trip can seem daunting, especially if you have never done it before. There are so many things to think about like currency, language, transportation, activities, passports, flights, hotels, and food.  Japan was the first international vacation we’ve planned, and while it was challenging to put together, we found it was a fun and successful trip. After going through the exercise ourselves, here is how to plan an international trip to Japan.

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