English fortune

Help! I need a bad fortune!

Superstitious or not, it’s fun to buy a fortune. Fortunes are easy to find at shrines and temples in Japan and cost Y100 or occasionally Y200. Some come with a little charm inside for you to carry in your wallet. Fortunes are usually drawn from an open tray or deep container or come out of…

eating strawberries mid bite

Ichigo gari we will go (strawberry u-pick & eat in Ibaraki)

Sakuragawa City in Ibaraki prefecture is famous for strawberries. It borders Tochigi prefecture, which is the pinnacle of strawberries in Japan! On an unseasonably cold late April morning, we piled into the van for the land of strawberries. After an hour of twisting, skinny, rural roads past rice fields and through towns, the landscape changed to thick strands of…

futuristic boat leaving pier

Tokyo’s Boats: ducking bridges and sea sick romance

With rivers cutting through and the ocean at its toes, Tokyo has the advantage of water for a slower and softer way of getting around. Two options are the waterbus to cross the Sumida River and a night cruise around Tokyo Bay. Mizube Line My parents and I discovered the Mizube Line by accident. After visiting the thorough Edo Tokyo Museum…

Tokyo Metro Subway Ticket

Ticket tips for trains and subways in Tokyo

I love taking trains and subways in Tokyo but I initially had trouble with tickets. Buying them, finding discounts and discovering what happens when a train is delayed have been part of my experiences. Buying Tickets – help! The first train ticket I bought was on a stopover in Tokyo. It took me ages to figure out…

walking towards Hakata City Station

The Japan Rail Pass is nice but I want something different

arriving at Hakata City Station, Fukuoka If you have a tight budget and/or don’t have a firm itinerary, there are several alternatives to the Japan Rail Pass. In fact, many passes are available in Japan and are valid on most trains including the shinkansen (bullet train), express and local trains. JR East, JR Hokkaido, JR West and JR Kyushu offer passes for…

our pile of bags at Kyoto Station

Shipping Bags – the sweat-free solution!

My first employer in Japan insisted on new employees shipping luggage from Narita Airport to the placement city. This is how I experienced Japan’s incredible system for moving just about anything around the country. Service is fast, convenient and reasonably priced. How much does it cost? Costs are hard to pin down because no too bags are alike but we…

Mount Fuji from the shinkansen

Shinkansen (bullet train): more fabulous features

Four fun features of travelling by shinkansen (bullet train) were featured in Part 1. This post adds five more fabulous qualities. Reserved or unreserved? If you have a Japan Rail Pass, reserved seats are included but you still have to book them. Some trains, like the JR East Komachi, only have reserved seats. Getting a reserved seat means a…

boarding a train in Choshi

Online transportation planner – Hyperdia!

I love the tiny details when planning a trip. This includes looking at different routes, considering alternate forms of transport and figuring out how much it will cost. When I lived in Japan, Hyperdia was my best friend. This fantastic online transportation database helped me check travel times and routes from my apartment to anywhere in…