A shallow, outdoor hot spring with large stones around and in it for decoration. It is surrounded by trees changing colors (green, red, yellow) in the fall season.

A Beginners Guide to Onsen (Hot Springs) in Japan

If you ever get the chance to visit Japan, one of the must-do experiences is to visit an onsen. An onsen is a natural bath that uses spring water to provide a warm, potentially healthy bathing experience. Visitors enter the baths in the nude, with the onsen usually separated into male and female areas. Then … Read more

A photo of five hands each holding a mug filled with beer that are converging in the middle of the image to toast. Under them on the table are plates of food like edamame, cucumber, and cabbage.

A Look Into Japanese Izakaya: A Quick Guide

Having a drink after work is a universal pleasure. Somewhere to retreat to after a long week or punishing day. Britain and Ireland have their pubs, Germany has the beer hall, the USA has the bar, from South Africa’s Shebeens to the Cantinas of Latin America and Spain. All have their quirks, but each is … Read more

A photo with a black microphone in focus in the middle on a table. In the background, a green and pink drink in glasses, a yellow tambourine, and a tablet for karaoke can be seen but are blurry.

A Short History of Karaoke & Its Culture In Japan

Karaoke, meaning “empty orchestra” in Japanese, is singing along to an instrumental backing track. A visual accompaniment usually shows scrolling lyrics on a screen in time to the music. Many people have tried karaoke, one of the most popular nightlife activities in Japan and globally, but few know the story behind it.   Karaoke: Origins The origins … Read more

A dark background with smoke and a director's "cut" take board with two rolls of film on the ground. The text reads,"The 20 Best Japanese Movies of All Time"

20 of the Best Japanese Movies of All Time

  Japan, a forerunner in world cinema, has one of the most acclaimed film industries in the world. Their contribution to world cinema has not gone unnoticed with Japan winning—not once, but four times—the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (the record high for any Asian nation). This list will chronicle some of the … Read more

A collage of the Miyajima Toori gate, a Shinto priest with his fingers touching his head, and some sort of alter, with mountains in the background. The image has tints of yellow and purple over it.

Shinto: A Look Into the Religion of Japan

Shinto, which means “the way of the Gods” or “Kami” (spirits), as they are referred to, is the oldest religion of the Japanese indigenous people. Shintoism dates back to around the sixth century B.C.E. Despite this lengthy history, Shinto is commonly understood to have become popular around the sixth century C.E. to distinguish between Buddhism, … Read more

A big Buddha statue in Japan. This statue shows the Buddha sitting down and meditating.

Buddhism: A Look Into the Beliefs, Practices & History 

Buddhism is an exercise in spiritual development. The ultimate aim is achieving enlightenment through the practices of meditation and mindful living. Practitioners also strive to develop qualities such as compassion, wisdom, and awareness. Enlightened beings experience life without rose-colored glasses, understanding that life—with all its beauty, trials, and tribulations—can be glorious. Buddhism teaches that by … Read more

A young woman sitting in a car and looking out of the window and smiling. She is holding keys in her right hand.

How to Get a Japanese Driver’s License

A Japanese driver’s license may seem unnecessary to anyone living in a large city. Places like Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya have great public transportation systems, so driving is easily avoided. On the off chance you can’t get to your destination by train, there’s definitely a bus within walking distance of where you’d like to go. … Read more

Four women and two men dressed in business attire clenching their fists as if doing a fightint pose. They are standing in front of a desk with laptops on top of it.

Japan Workplace Culture: Communicating with Your Japanese Co-Workers

Communication is the backbone of any office environment. This is no different in Japan. Language is important for communicating, but it’s more than just saying the right words. It’s usually much more nuanced. Your delivery of a statement can impact its meaning. Your body language can also affect how your words are interpreted. These subtle … Read more

A shot of the many buildings in a busy city at night, with the lights in the buildings lit up.

How to Find an Apartment in Japan

Looking for an apartment in Japan? Be prepared for a long and complicated process involving tons of paperwork. And, you’ll need quite a bit of money, too. Even for Japanese people, moving is frustrating.The upfront costs are incredibly high and come with strange, outdated fees like “key money”. But, if you’re a foreigner in Japan … Read more

A close-up of Pocky style snack sticks of different colors (black, pink, and green) in a pile on top of a grey surface.

The 10 Best Japanese Snacks You’ll Want to Try

The world of Japanese snacks is colorful and playful… and sometimes quite bizarre.  Snacks can come and go in the blink of an eye.  It’s not uncommon for Japanese snacks to disappear from existence forever – and sometimes after a very short stint. You probably wonder why. It’s partly because the Japanese obsess over seasonality. … Read more

In the background, a metal teapot and candles are on a wooden mat that has a cloth with flower patterns on it drapped across part of it. In the foreground are two black cups; one filled with green tea (left) and the other filled with green tea powder (right).

The Complete Guide to Japanese Tea

From traditional tea ceremonies that artfully prepare matcha to the palate cleansing konacha served at sushi restaurants, tea is an essential part of Japanese culture and cuisine. With dozens of different types, there’s a Japanese tea for everyone. Japanese tea tastes great. It gives you a whole slew of health benefits. There’s no reason not … Read more

An image of fireworks in the sky with the many buildings of Tokyo all around. Tokyo Tower is in the center of this image.

Temples, Soba, and Bags, Oh My! Celebrating New Year’s in Japan

3!..2!…1! Happy Pretend-the-world-isn’t-burning-down-around-us-Day! Happy New Year! Midnight strikes! Cue the kiss, or awkward “Do we hug, or high five? Or…” with your buddies that you may not be on intimate terms with. Go in for that hug! Be bold! It’s a new you, baby. And whether you’re breaking out of your shell over the New … Read more

A young Asian male and female taking a selfie with a smartphone in front of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan.

9 Cultural Mistakes Foreigners Make in Japan and What To Do Instead

Let’s face it – if you’re new to Japan, you’re probably gonna make a few cultural mistakes. And you wouldn’t be alone. Deeply rooted in tradition and religion, Japan has a rich and complex culture, with what seems like a million unwritten rules. That’s pretty tough to navigate, even for Japanese people. Just like with … Read more