Exploring Osaka's Surroundings: 5 Captivating Day Trips
The folks over at the Maido Osaka Siteseeing Guide kindly invited me to write a guest post for their Osaka travel guide.
Osaka’s location makes it a perfect hub for exploring the Kansai region. Its excellent public transportation connections provide easy access to several captivating day trip destinations.
In this guest blog post, I will take you on a journey to five fascinating day trips from Osaka: Wakayama, Nara, Kobe, Himeji, and Kyoto. Each destination offers its own unique attractions, be they culture, local food, history, or natural beauty.
Get ready to pack your day bags and embark on some unforgettable adventures! If you do read my post I'd really appreciate it if you could leave a comment so the host knows you found it useful. 🙏
Discovering Japan's Indigenous Ainu Culture at Japan House London
My wife and I recently attended an enlightening exhibition "Ainu Stories: Contemporary Lives by the Saru River" showcasing contemporary Ainu life and stunning handicrafts from their native Hokkaido region.
Handmade hunting tools, textiles, and boots creatively fashioned from salmon skin give an insight into traditional Ainu livelihoods and customs. Admiring their masterful craftwork gives you a deep appreciation for Ainu resourcefulness and adaptation in the harsh Hokkaido landscape.
Also screening is the poignant 2019 documentary Ainu: Indigenous People of Japan.
The film focuses on four elderly Ainu descendants in the Nibutani village as they fight to preserve their endangered language and cultural heritage. Their courage and hope leaves a profound impact. So much so in fact that Nibutani just made the shortlist of destinations for our next trip.
Don't worry if you cannot get to the exhibition, as I have a blog post and video about the Ainu you can see HERE - which recently went viral on Facebook.
Top 3 Blog Posts of 2023 As Voted For By You
Thanks to everyone who voted in my annual blog post poll.
The numbers have been crunched, your comments and feedback digested, so I can reveal the Top 3 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2023...
3rd PLACE: Osaka City Guide
The city goes by many names: Aquametropolis Osaka because of the ports and abundant waterways, Gateway Osaka due to its convenient location for travel, and The Nation’s Kitchen since it has such an incredibly rich food culture.
There is something for absolutely everyone, from manga lovers, to sports fans, to foodies, to history buffs. Family travelers will find plenty to do here too (hello Universal Studios Japan!).
This guest post by local expert Osaka Bob quickly became one of the most-read posts of the year and was a popular addition to my on-going series of Japan city guides.
2nd PLACE: The Best Time To Visit Japan – All You Need To Know
When is the best time to visit Japan?
It's one of the most-asked questions I receive, so I created this blog post to answer this very wise question.
Of course, the answer (in the blog post) depends on your personal preferences and needs, as well as what budget you want to make available.
Luckily, I have been exploring Japan throughout the seasons since 2000, so I’m probably well-placed to guide you on this topic.
Japan definitely has something to entice you, whatever time of the year. But how do you choose the best time to visit Japan for you personally?
Hint: Read this post. 😁
1st PLACE: Japan Travel Tips For When You Don’t Speak Japanese
The winner of 2023 Most Popular Blog Post was one that focused on tips for navigating the Japanese culture and language when travelling: Japan Travel Tips For When You Don’t Speak Japanese.
On your travels you’re likely to be identified as the gaikokujin or ‘gaijin’. Literally, gaikokujin means ‘outside country person’.
So, from the moment you step foot in Japan you are marked out as different from the Japanese themselves.
My goal with this post was to share some personal experiences I (as someone *not* fluent in Japanese) have picked up over more than 20 years of exploring Japan.
Cultivating a knack for reading situations and then applying what you learn is something most people are capable of.
Paying attention to non-language cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions and body language can all help ease your communication during your travels.
2024 Sumo Tournament Schedule + Tickets
I've just updated my guide to Visiting A Sumo Tournament to include the full 2024 schedule.
Sumo wresting, Japan's most iconic sport, evolved from a religious ritual performed in Shinto shrines more than 1,500 years ago, making it the oldest organised sport in the world.
Six tournaments (known as basho) take place every year in four of Japan's major cities: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.
Even if you only have a passing interest in sumo, watching the colourful spectacle live with 10,000 fans is an experience not to be missed.