Posts Tagged ‘Japan’


Soak in Green Tea, Wine, or Coffee at Japanese Spa

June 26, 2008

Green Tea SpaWhen you travel, you’re bound to do at least one American thing out of habit. Maybe you’ll break down and eat at a McDonald’s on the Champs-Élysées (shame on you). Maybe you’ll skip a cultural tour to hunker down in a bar and watch the one TV tuned to U.S. sports.

Or maybe you’ll wear a baseball hat.

You’re allowed to enjoy the things that remind you of home once in a while as long you counter it by doing something completely bizarre that you would only find in the country you’re visiting. Go watch a cricket match, even if you have no idea what’s going on. Try to wash your laundry in a river like the locals do. Or spend a day laying in a tub full of fake ramen noodles.

At the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Hot Springs Amusement Park & Spa Resort in Japan you can spend a day trying out 25 different pools, spas, and slides for just 4,000 yen (about US$37). The fake ramen noodle spa may be the most bizarre, but the other rooms are just as unusual. They don’t just put wine in the water, they have a giant wine bottle pouring it in. There’s also a humongous kettle by the green tea spa and an enourmous cask of sake next to that bath.

As theme parks go, this is one that adults can enjoy playing in even more than children. The website is available in English and has all the details of how to get there from Tokyo. Travel CUTS has some of their top Japanese tours on sale now, so get in touch with one of their agents if you’re ready to take a splash down Rodeo Mountain!


The Truth About Japanese Toilets

June 11, 2008

Japanese toiletThere are a lot of things you’re prepared for when you travel. You plan for using foreign currency, you may study a few words and phrases of a foriegn language, you pack according to your destination’s different weather patterns. But how often do you study up on toilets?

Depending on where you’re headed, you may be treated to nothing more than a hole in the ground to aim for. Or maybe you’re headed to Europe and you’ve heard of a bidet, but don’t actually know what to do with it.

Or maybe you’re going to Japan. Have you read about the toilets in Japan? Do you know what to expect? Because in all of my reading and studying up on travel and other cultures, this little tidbit never came up until last week when I commented to a co-worker that another female co-worker had the strange habit of flushing the toilet five or six times in a row while she was in a stall. I assumed it was because she was trying to create a wall of sound for privacy, and my co-worker agreed, saying, “Right, like the toilets in Japan that make noise for you.”


So I emailed my friend who is currently living in Tokyo and asked if it was true. Do Japanese toilets really cover up your noises with its own noises?

“it’s true!  toilets are frequently equipped with music or some kind of sound system to make noise that is noisier than weeing and pooing noises (also drunken vomiting is very common among salarymen).  and yes it’s basically shameful to admit that you release noisy substances from your ends. more for J women than anything else.  they’re prudish as anything.”

(Comments about the prudishness of Japanese women are the opinion of the email writer, and in no way reflect the views of this blog.)

And this is why you should travel. Because you can read about museums and landmarks from home, but you’ll never learn about the toilets unless you go. (Pun. Ha.) 


Hello Kitty, Ambassador of Tourism

May 20, 2008

Hello KittyJapan just named Hello Kitty as their ambassador of tourism in an effort to enourage more women to visit Japan. This article also tells us, “According to her official profile from Sanrio, Hello Kitty lives with her family in London.”

Huh? Shouldn’t living in Japan be a main part of the job? Especially for a fictional character whose fictional bio could have her living anywhere?

Ah, well. If Miss Ambassador visits the U.S., I hope we send both Mickey Mouse and Homer Simpson to welcome her.


Make Your Way in Japan on a Student/Teacher Budget

May 8, 2008

Yesterday I told you about the sale on tours of Japan (good through the end of May). But maybe you’re not a tour person. Maybe you want to plan your own trip, go your own way. Perhaps you’d prefer to work in Japan and stay a while, get an apartment, make friends with the locals. That’s a great idea, and I give you some ideas on making it happen.

First, unless you have loads of money to spend and just plan to spend a few months sightseeing and hitting karaoke bars, you’re going to need a job. It’s safe to say that most students to head to Japan to work go to teach English.

Luke in JapanOne little hiccup in that plan now is that one of Japan’s largest English schools, the Nova Group, filed for bankruptcy in October 2007, leaving a few thousand foreign teachers out of work and unpaid, flooding the market with qualified workers. Some of those people found other jobs, others packed up and left the country, but it goes to show that when traveling it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan and some extra cash.

One of the people who found himself out of work was my friend, Luke. See how happy he looks teaching these kids? Well he looked a lot less happy when he had no job, no rent money, and no idea what to do next. Ah, but our Luke is a resourceful Englishman. He knew he had skills that could make him some quick cash in Tokyo, namely being able to sit around and look English. He signed up with some modeling agencies and soon found work as an extra for television programs that needed Westerners.

Luke also picked up some private English lessons and found work with a high school, then a university, helping students study English. It took some time, but soon he was able to afford a decent apartment on his own and even have a few yen left over for a game of snooker and a pint of ale.

How is this going to help you plan your trip? Hopefully it’s going to make you think about alternate plans of action if your first one falls through. Talk to people, share information with other travelers you meet, find out where the work is, what opportunities are available to you and what the visa or work requirements are for where you want to be. And when in doubt, do like Luke and fall back on a career as an international model and actor. Simple.