Most Japanese know a little bit of English since they have to learn it in high school, but every once in awhile, you might catch someone that doesn't know any English at all. Here are the top 10 Japanese phrases to know when navigating Japan.
Japan is the land of quirky, wacky and unique things and that's why we, along with millions of other travelers, love this country so much. On our last trip to Japan, I was on a mission to find the most unique and wacky things to do in Tokyo and here is my top 10 list:
There are so many things to see and do in Tokyo that it's hard to narrow down what to do if you only have a couple of days to spend in this iconic city. We grew up in Japan and still visit on a regular basis, so these are our recommendations from a tourist and local's perspective.
I have visited a Maid Cafe years ago when I went with a group of friends, but Ryan had never experienced one before, so we made sure to visit one this time while we were in Japan. Maid Cafes have been in Japan for awhile now and they are popular among otakus (Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, commonly the anime and manga fandom) and tourists. They are cafes with waitresses dressed as maids and they treat their customers as “masters”.
Karaoke isn't something new and has been a favorite pastime in Japan for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Japan and my classmates and I would go as often as 2-3 times a week. When I moved to the United States, I was surprised at how different the Karaoke experience was in the Western culture. It was nothing like Japan's Karaoke.
Grand Hyatt Tokyo is located in Roppongi Hills and it's an outstanding location right in the center of everything with shopping, entertainment, restaurants and more. It was perfect for our one night stay because we wanted to visit a couple of places that were within walking distance from the hotel: Hedgehog Cafe and the Mori Art Museum.
I was on a hunt for the cutest cafes in Japan and came across Pompompurin Cafe in Harajuku. Japan is well-known for creating kawaii (cute) dishes and this cafe did not disappoint. The entire yellow cafe explodes with cuteness from their decor to tabletop settings to dishes.
I recently visited the Akihabara Gachapon Kaikan store and this store is ridiculous with all the gachapon machines they have. If you’re a gachapon lover, you must go here.
Remember the movie, Lost in Translation? They shot that film at Park Hyatt Tokyo, where we were lucky enough to stay at! It's such a beautiful hotel and the service is top-notch.
Sushi is everywhere in Japan and there’s a wide range of sushi restaurants to choose from. You can go from chain sushi restaurants to the uber expensive sushi places like Sukibayashi Jiro from the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. We wanted to have fun while eating our sushi, so we went to Kura Sushi.
I’ve been hearing a lot about Robot Restaurant lately, so I had to go check this place out for myself while I was in Japan. It’s a pretty expensive show at ¥8,000 (~$80), but if you go to Beauty of Japan and purchase your tickets in advance, you’ll get a 16% discount, making it ¥6,700 (~$67) for the show.
We were staying at the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo and discovered that there was a hedgehog cafe within walking distance from our hotel. Margot Robbie went to this same cafe a few months prior and her instagram photo of her holding one of the hedgehogs was adorable. Since we already visited the Owl Cafe and liked it so much, we had to visit the hedgehog cafe too.
Are you a fan of of the anime character Totoro or cream puffs? We are! That is why we went to this cute little cafe that was located slightly away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Shirohige's Cream Puff Shop is a small little bakery and cafe located in Setagaya, Japan.
The Conrad Tokyo hotel in Japan is probably the most luxurious hotel we have ever stayed at. Everything about this hotel was top notch and we were impressed with just about everything the hotel had to offer. Right from the start, when we arrived, they made us feel like we were very important guests of theirs.
In 2016, Tokyo DisneySea celebrated its 15th Anniversary. DisneySea is located right next to Tokyo Disneyland and in 2013, it was the third most visited theme park in the world. The 176-acre park was originally aimed to entertain adults, but they have expanded and added several attractions for children as well.
Visiting the snow monkeys in Japan has been something I have wanted to do for years, but never had the time to visit them until now. We made an ambitious trip to Yudanaka in one day, where the snow monkeys are located, and it was quite a trek, but so worth it.
Japan has always been known for their awesome arcade centers, but they outdid themselves with this arcade center located in Kawasaki called Anata no Warehouse meaning “Your Warehouse”.
Last year, we visited two different cat cafes, so this year, we wanted to check out an animal cafe that was a little out of the norm. Japan is the master of stepping up the game once they find a fad. Since cat cafes were such a hit, they took animal cafes to another level and created an owl cafe. There are a couple of owl cafes in Tokyo and we visited the one in Akihabara called Akiba Fukurou.
If you happen to have a layover in Japan or want to see the second most visited hatsumode spots (first Shinto shrine visit of the Japanese New Year) in Japan, then Narita Shinshoji Temple is the perfect place to go. It is conveniently located only one train stop (8 minutes) from Narita International Airport.
The Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills is quite popular with world-class exhibitions and contemporary art. At the time we went, there was a great 'Universe and Art' exhibit going on that we were interested in checking out. If you are a fan of space, astronomy, astronauts, aliens, Galileo, Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, or teamLab, than this is a must-see exhibit.
Steak Katsu (or gyukatsu) is relatively new in Japan. It’s so new that not even my Japanese relatives knew about it when I went to go visit them in November 2016. Katsu, meaning (fried) cutlet, is very common in Japan, but most of the time, it’s made with pork or chicken. There’s a few places that I know of that currently serves steak katsu and Shibuya is one of them.
We wanted to visit Manzanar National Historic Site because it really hits home for us. It's not a site in the United States that is very well known. We actually found out about it recently through a friend. We knew the history behind it, but didn't know that the camp site was preserved.
Shibuya is one of the popular cities of Tokyo and we visit every single time we're in Japan. It's just a fun city to visit with lots going on.
We've been to a couple cat cafes in Japan and it is both bizarre and awesome! Crystal visited a cat cafe in Kyoto and Candy went to one in Tokyo. We had totally different experiences!
Growing up in Japan and being half Japanese, I've come across a lot of embarrassing things foreigners tend to do when they are in Japan. I'm sure I have done plenty of awkward things in other countries that I didn't know about.
Only have a few days in Japan, but want to explore as much of the country as you can? That was the dilemma we ran into, but we figured out how to fit in 5 cities in 4 days.
This is a bit of a throwback, but wanted to share it to those of you who have stumbled across our site recently. Every year we try to make a trip back home to Japan. Although we both reside in the United States now, our family (parents, siblings, relatives) still live in Japan.
Remember Gwen Stefani's Harajuku girls? Well, Harajuku girls don't really exist, but you can see a bunch of other types of unique fashion in Harajuku.