One of the most mythical figures in Japanese folklore is that of the Ninja. Unlike the Samurai (the warrior class of the military) the ninja was a secretive figure, often hired as a covert agent or mercenary. Think of him as a Japanese Jason Bourne. He could sneak around undetected, he knew martial arts and was taught, from an early age, how to use multiple weapons like swords, daggers, darts, spikes, knives and star-shaped disks (shiruken). [Read more...]
I guess it’s a natural progression – working the 9-5 lifestyle, leaving it all to travel full-time, followed by the inevitable…finding a base somewhere.
We’re not quite there yet but, after 2 ½ years of full-time travel, 2017 might be the year we actually sign a lease somewhere. It is in no way a rejection of the full-time travel lifestyle – we love travelling and exploring different places as much as ever. [Read more...]
I had kept it as a surprise for 2 months. We were at the Premier check in counter of the Keio Plaza Hotel when Lissette spotted a familiar image on the room cards that were handed to us. “HELLO KITTY!!!” she exclaimed, her face suddenly red in excitement. She did a skip and a hop. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her as happy. [Read more...]
When people think of Tokyo, visions of Shinjuku come to mind.
Shinjuku is modern Tokyo: the home of tall skyscrapers in West Shinjuku, the neon lights of Kabukichō (the city’s red light district in East Shinjuku), and Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world. Crowded day and night with office workers, tourists, and the service workers that cater to them, the area is (with a few exceptions) bustling and chaotic. [Read more...]
Great white sharks, mean Panda bears riding cows, scary rabbits, huge snakes, a whole bunch of other robots spitting fire or just making things explode…This has to be one of the craziest shows on earth. It’s for sure the craziest we’ve ever seen. [Read more...]
We don’t usually stay in hotels when we travel. We’re full-time travellers so we usually rent apartments. But Tokyo was different. For one thing, we were on vacation (it’s been a while since we were on “vacation”). No cooking, no cleaning, no buying groceries. The Gate Hotel reminded us that it is sometimes really, really nice to stay in a hotel and have a bit of luxury. [Read more...]
A popular daytrip from Tokyo are the famous Buddhist-Shinto temples and shrines of Nikko. It makes for a long day as it takes 2 hours to get there (ie. 4 hours total travel time) – but it is totally worth it because in addition to some magnificent monuments you’ll find yourself in a mountain town surrounded by forests and streams. It’s a pretty place, even when you get crappy weather like we had on this day.
This post features the highlights of Nikko and includes a few tips on getting there and around. [Read more...]
When people think of Tokyo they think of a megalopolis of modern skyscrapers. That’s a pretty accurate description of most of Tokyo. In fact – between earthquakes, fire, and war – very little of pre-World War II Tokyo survives. The exception to this are the northern neighborhoods of Asakusa and Ueno. It’s a part of town where you can take a traditional rickshaw ride, walk through streets of Edo-style architecture (little wooden shops and houses), and where you can explore temples, shrines and museums as well as one of Tokyo’s largest parks (Ueno Park).The area also has notable sites such as the Sensoji Temple (Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple) and the Tokyo Skytree (the tallest tower in the World).
Visiting a foreign city can be intimidating, especially one as huge as Tokyo. In our case, Tokyo was the first stop in what would be a 7 week stay In Japan. I’ll admit I was nervous about the unknown: how to get around, where to do grocery shopping or eat (as a local), how to work the vending machines and crazy toilets that Japan is known for. I had a million questions. So when I heard that you can get a free volunteer tour guide I thought it would be a great introduction to Japan.
We were to spend 7 hours with our guide and are so thankful for the fantastic experience. I’ll get to that. But first here are some things you need to know about Tokyo Free Guides as well as some tips on actually getting a guide (because of its popularity, only about 25% of applications are successful). [Read more...]