Category Archives: Places in Japan

Great places and things to do in Japan. Unique places that only living in or visiting Japan can offer.

Japan’s Most Famous Rollercoasters

Spring is officially over in Japan with the first Monday of June settling into a start. This would mean the complicated weather of sunny and rainy days are about to commence. Before this confusing rollercoaster ride of sun and rain begins, here are a few actual rollercoasters in Japan worth taking a ride.

While its summer elsewhere, the rainy season is about to begin in the bigger parts of Asia of which include the country of Japan. June is relatively the start of heavy downpours which would be a big sign for travellers to opt other months for travel.

Yet, with June still settling in plus the sweet scent of Spring still fresh in the air, it’s a big risk to get out in the open. In an effort to enjoy the last days of Spring, heading out to the open is the best activity so far. When it comes to the open, nothing beats spending time at an amusement or theme park. Of course, in Japan the best parts of their theme parks are their crazy and not to mention awesome rollercoasters.

Here are rollercoaster rides that you should try out in Japan.

The Eejanaika

First up is the Eejanaika located at Fuji-Q Highland in Yamanashi, Japan. This rollercoaster was featured in Complex magazine’s best rollercoasters back in 2011. The Eejenaika has a height of 249 feet with a top speed of 78.3 mph. The ride starts off by pulling the cart backwards before the sudden 90 degrees drop vertically. Then, the ride throws around like a pendulum with a reverse, a flip, a corkscrew and a cracked out see-saw. This ride is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

The Dodonpa

Next up is Dodonpa also located at Fuji-Q Highland. The Dodonpa has a height of 52 meters with a top speed of 172 km/h. Like Eejanaika, the ride pulls you backwards before a vertical drop of 90 degrees. It’s not as exciting as the Eejanaika though.

The Fujiyama

Third is Fujiyama has been named “The King of Rollercoasters” with 4 Guinness World Records dating back to 1997. Fujiyama has a max speed of 130 km/h with a height of 79 meters.

The Takabisha

Last but not the least is Takabisha which has been named the “steepest drop in the world at 121 degrees.” This spine-tingling drop has been produced using the linear launch system with a vertical ascent and linear acceleration. It has a total speed of 100km/h.

Take advantage of the Spring weather before the rain showers start to pour and get a thrill of excitement from Japan’s most awesome rollercoasters.

Akihabara: The One Stop Japan Spot for Otakus

Japan is notable for its many splendour tourist spots such as Shibuya, Okina and Kyoto. However, if there is one spot Otaku’s from all over the world wish to visit and this would be none other than Akihabara. Akihabara has been considered Japan’s one-stop-shop for all anime lovers and enthusiasts.

Where in Japan:

Located in Sotokanda, Tokyo Prefectur, Akihabara (秋葉原) is two stations north of Tokyo Station. Locals call the area Akiba after the local shrine. This area has gained quite the recognition from all over the world due to its diehard otaku culture. Major developments have already occurred thanks to the Akihabara Crossfield complex that promotes Akihabara as the centre for global electronics technology and trade.

How to Get There:

It’s easy to head to Akihabra thanks to Japans’ complex train systems plus their trains give meaning to “faster than a speeding bullet.” There are two options of which are as follows:

  1. From Tokyo Station: Akihabara is located two stations north of Tokyo Station by Keihin-Tohoku or JR Yamanote Line. The trip costs 130 yen and will only take three minutes. However, during the weekdays, Keihin-Tohoku line skips one station between Akihabara and Tokyo which will cut off a few seconds off travel time.
  2. From Shinjuku Station: Travellers should take the JR Chuo Line (colour orange) from Shinjuku to Ochanomizu Station of which takes approximately ten minutes. After, take a quick transfer to JR Sobu line (colour yellow) for one more station headed to Akihabara. This trip takes two minutes max. Alternate options also include taking the yellow train without transfer from Shinjuku to Akihabara for seventeen minutes trip. The fare costs 160 yen for either case.

What to See:

As mentioned, Akihabara is the centre for Otaku enthusiasts and lovers. From maid cafes to Tokyo anime centres selling merchandise and games, everything can be found here. It’s best to load up the wallet because the merchandise scattered around can easily lure Otakus in.

  1. Maid Cafes: Cosplay themed restaurants abound where food is served basically by waitresses in frilly and colourful attires. These “maids” also engage in fun activities with the guests.
  2. drinks

  3. Tokyo Anime Center: This is found on the UDX building of Akihabara Crossfield where anime related exhibitions are held.
  4. akihabara-2

  5. Gundam Café is extremely popular where food is served in gundam themes. A gift shop is also connected where visitors may purchase souvenirs and goods.

gundam-cafe

Why Visit Akihabara:

While Akihabara is heaven on earth for Otakus, some visit the area for real steals when it comes to the latest gadgets and electronics. Various centres offer whopping deals that are definitely a real steal as compared to any other place in Japan or overseas.

When to Visit:

Akihabara is open all year round! Take a trip to one of Japan’s busiest and most Otaku-friendly place on earth.

Important Reminders:

Japanese don’t like tourists taking photos inside stores. Unless you’re a famous celebrity or you’ve got special permission, keep the trigger happy camera’s to yourself or outside the store.

Japan MPs visit controversial war Yasukuni shrine amid islands tension

NEARLY 170 MPs have visited a controversial war shrine seen as potent symbol of Japan’s imperialist past, stoking regional tensions as eight Chinese vessels sailed into disputed waters.

The annual trip to the Yasukuni shrine, which usually draws a far smaller number of legislators, has riled neighbours China and South Korea, which lodged protests after several Japanese cabinet members visited at the weekend.

A total of 168 parliamentarians visited the site in central Tokyo on Tuesday morning according to upper house member of parliament Toshiei Mizuochi.

The shrine honours 2.5 million war dead, including 14 leading war criminals enshrined there, but is seen by Japan’s Asian neighbours as a symbol of its wartime aggression.

The visit came a day after South Korea shelved a proposed trip by Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se to Tokyo in protest at trips by Japanese cabinet ministers to the shrine.

Read the rest of the story: Japan MPs visit controversial war Yasukuni shrine amid islands tension.

Kyoto Gardens Guided Tours

How do you appreciate a Japanese garden? The typical temple visit — where you ponder a seemingly random assemblage of rocks and raked gravel or push your way through a throng of tourists jostling for camera angles — can leave one confused and underwhelmed.

Kyoto-based garden tour organizer Mark Hovane, 47, suggests that visitors first becalm themselves. He quotes master gardener Kinsaku Nakane’s advice that we view Japanese gardens “with a detached gaze, without preconceptions, and in a state of total receptivity.”

On a recent midwinter day, Hovane explained the history and design of two gardens in the Daitokuji Temple complex in northern Kyoto. It is a prime destination for his tailored tours, Kyoto Garden Experience, which take no more than four visitors at a time to intimate but historically and aesthetically noteworthy gardens.

He displays effortless erudition and a passion for his topic, achieved through a 23-year residence in Kyoto. In his tours, he said, “I try to provide clients with a set of tools to interpret what they see, so they can experience gardens in a deeper way.” Today, he also provides this writer with an extra pair of wool socks, which become increasingly appreciated as we linger on an open-air temple veranda.

Read the rest of the story: Kyoto gardens give up all their secrets during intimate guided tours.

Japan PM Visits Meiji Shrine

Japan’s prime minister has visited Tokyo’s main Shinto shrine, which has strong imperial connections, in an apparent attempt to appeal to his right-wing supporters.

Shinzo Abe, who recently started his second stint as Japan’s leader, visited the Meiji shrine today, becoming the first premier to do so since his 2007 visit. The shrine commemorates Emperor Meiji, a symbol of Japan’s militarisation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Abe has said he hopes to visit the Yasukuni war shrine, which honours war criminals among others. His visit to the Meiji shrine could be a move to avoid angering China, which has expressed concerns about Abe’s rightist policies.

Japan’s World War II government used Shinto as an official religion to push militarism and waged war in the emperor’s name.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qah__tZhyPs&feature=plcp

Japan’s ‘Cat Island’ – Tashiro-jima

While many cities are working to curb feral cat populations through spay-and-neuter programs, there’s one place where cat numbers continue to grow and the locals encourage it.

Tashiro-jima is a small island in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, that’s home to more cats than people. Better known as “Cat Island,” it has about 100 permanent residents — most of whom are over 65 years of age — and hundreds and hundreds of cats.

During the 1800s, Tashiro-jima was popular with fisherman who would stay on the island overnight. The cats would follow them to the inns and beg for scraps, and over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and began interpreting their actions as predictions about weather and fish patterns.

They believed that feeding the cats would bring them wealth and fortune, a belief that continues today.

Read the rest of the story: ‘Cat Island’ is a feline’s purrfect paradise.

Hopes of Home Fade Among Those Displaced in Japan

The mayor of Okuma, a town near the Fukushima Daiichi plant that was hastily evacuated when a huge earthquake and tsunami crippled the reactors’ cooling systems on March 11, 2011, has vowed to lead residents back home as soon as radiation levels are low enough. But the slow pace of the government’s cleanup efforts, and the risk of another leak from the plant’s reactors, forced local officials to admit in September that it might be at least a decade before the town could be resettled.

A growing number of evacuees from Okuma have become pessimistic about ever living there again. At a temporary housing complex here in Aizu-Wakamatsu, a city 60 miles west of the plant, the mostly elderly residents say they do not have that much time or energy left to rebuild their town.

Many said they preferred plans that got them out of temporary housing but helped them maintain the friendships and communal bonds built over a lifetime, like rebuilding the town farther away from the plant.

Read the rest of the story: Hopes of Home Fade Among Japan’s Displaced.

Imperial Couple in Okinawa

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko began a four-day visit to Okinawa on Saturday for a series of engagements, their first trip to the prefecture in eight years, the Imperial Household Agency said.After arriving in Naha, the Imperial Couple headed to Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, where they met with surviving members of the Shiraume student nurse corps mobilized for the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and laid flowers for the war dead. They will attend a national convention on marine resources in Itoman on Sunday, and will also release shellfish and coral larvae into the ocean.On Monday, the Emperor and Empress will visit the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, which opened in Onna in September, and on the following day they will travel to Kume Island to view the Okinawa Prefectural Deep Sea Water Research Center. They will return to Tokyo on Tuesday evening.

Read the rest of the story: Imperial Couple arrive in Okinawa.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb2zPNgDe0w&feature=player_embedded

Grand reopening rehearsal lights up Tokyo Station

Moving images of musical instruments, steam locomotives and other objects were projected onto the facade of Tokyo Station on Friday night as its grand reopening ceremony approaches on Oct. 1.

The light show was a rehearsal for a special 10-minute music and movie performance that will take place on Saturday and Sunday as the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building, as it is formally known, prepares to wrap up five years of restoration work.

The red-brick building, designated in 2003 as an important Cultural Property of Japan, was built in 1914 but partially damaged during air strikes in 1945. Restoration work began in 2007.

Read the rest of the story: Rehearsal for grand reopening lights up Tokyo Station.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKTwOH1AHO0&feature=player_embedded

Volcano erupts in Japan, showers nearby Kagoshima City with rocks and ash

A volcanic eruption spewed flames into the southern Japanese sky and blanketed a nearby city with ash.

Debris filled the air in Kagoshima City, wreaking havoc with transportation, forcing residents to wear facemasks and prompting extensive cleanup efforts.

The Mount Sakurajima volcano is in a state of near-perpetual eruption, with more than 600 minor explosions this year, the BBC reported. But when it started spewing ash Tuesday at 7:15 p.m., residents knew it wasn’t a trivial flare-up. The eruption sent 18-inch rocks more than a mile through the air

Read the rest of the story: Volcano erupts in Japan, showers nearby Kagoshima City with rocks and ash.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v6ZJ01lfO8&feature=player_embedded