Gambling is one of the oldest leisure activities in human history, from dicing in the streets of Greece and Rome, to card games in China.
However one country where you haven’t been able to gamble in the past hundred years is Japan. At least, that’s the international perception, but it’s not entirely true.
Gambling has been a taboo subject in Japanese society, and since 1907 most forms of gambling, including casinos, have indeed been illegal. However there are many forms of legal gambling within Japan, including Pachinko, the Lottery, and certain types of sports betting.
With the realization of just how big international casino tourism is (hello Macau tourism dollars), and with COVID moving culture to online entertainment, Japan may just be starting to embrace changes to their century-old gaming laws. Here’s an introduction to Japanese gambling culture.read more
Ancient traditions fuse with modern-bustle in timeless Japan, and whether you love the great outdoors, busy cities, or traditional, historic sites, Japan has something wonderful to offer.
With so many destinations though, spread out across 6,852 islands, planning your first trip to Japan can be overwhelming in choosing where to go.
Japan holds many incredible treasures, and is one of those countries which calls you back for more. There’s a lot of opportunity here for traveling off the beaten path, but if you’re planning a first trip and want to start out with the classics, the following places offer a great introductory tour.read more
Famous throughout the world, Japan’s cherry blossoms put on a spectacular show every spring with visitors coming from far and wide to view the incredible sight.
In Japan this season is called “Hanami” which literally translates to “viewing of cherry blossoms” (the flowers themselves are referred to as Sakura). Cherry blossoms play such a significant role in Japanese culture; they are fleeting, short-lived, and cherished for their ephemeral beauty.
The Hanami season begins in March and lasts until May, and whether you’re visiting busy cities like Tokyo or Osaka, or sourcing out hidden parks and temples, pink and white cherry trees will blanket the country from north to south!
But the cherry blossoms are fleeting, and most cities only offer a short window of 2-3 weeks. Tokyo’s cherry tress are predicted to start blooming from March 22 in 2020, with the best viewing from March 29 – April 6.
So, want to learn more about Hanami? We’ve updated our popular guide with dates for 2020, so you have all the info you need for planning a cherry blossoms trip to Japan, and extra fun facts about its significance to Japanese culture.read more
Besides family and music, my other great passion in life is travel. I have been blessed to have travelled the world, either with my family or touring with bands, and it has enriched my heart and soul and provided so much fuel for the fire when it comes to writing songs.
So many of my songs are based on stories and experiences borne out of globe-trotting – travel is a constant source of joy and inspiration.
Some of these tales I have shared in the liner notes of my albums, but believe me, that just scratches the surface. There is so much more to tell.
To get things started I am going to talk about a country that is a place of complete intrigue for me – the Land of the Rising Sun.
These are my stories – memories from Japan in the 1960’s, and how this fascinating country inspired my songs.read more
My love for Japan is well documented, and I’ve traveled here more than I have any other country. It’s a truly timeless destination where ancient traditions, futuristic technology, and modern culture have all been thrown into the same melting pot.
Japan might seem small on a map, but don’t be fooled – it’s a very large country. And the mainland is absolutely jam packed with cultural icons. So I don’t blame you if you initially find it hard to decide which cities you’ll focus your attention on.
Thankfully though, you don’t need to settle on a single destination when visiting Japan, since their extensive railway network means you can explore the whole archipelago in a way that’s easy, fast, cheap, and comfortable.
There’s genuinely no better way to get around Japan than by rail, and thanks to the JR Pass for foreign visitors, you can do so quite economically. Read on for everything you need to know about the JR Passes and traveling around Japan.read more
Come 2020, travelling to Japan will suddenly become a lot easier for those who require a tourist visa.
Unless you’re a citizen of one of the 68 visa-exempt countries, you’ll need a visa to travel to Japan. Until now this has meant applying at a Japanese embassy or consulate. However the government has decided to introduce a new Japan e-visa to simplify the process.
Available to the general public from next year, a tourist visa for Japan will grant you access to the hidden treasures of an intriguing destination; this is a country where traditional culture blends seamlessly alongside and modern dynamic cities; a bucketlist destination it would be a shame to miss.
In the lead up to its much anticipated launch, read on for more information about Japan’s new travel e-visa application process.read more
People have long fell in love with the beauty of cherry blossom season in Japan. These pink and white flowers bloom en masse every spring, enveloping the country in soft magnificence.
The Cherry Blossom Festival, or Hanami, takes place from March to May and during this time, locals come out in full force, staging picnics, meeting for walks, and other outdoor activities beneath the blossoms to appreciate and enjoy their beauty.
But the blooming season varies across Japan, so picking your destination at the right time is an important part of planning. For example, blooming in Kyoto usually happens around April, while Sapporo experiences their blooms around May.
If you’re planning your Japan trip for April, make sure you visit Kyoto to catch the cherry blossom bloom.read more
My first ever trip overseas was to Japan when I was 15. It was a language immersion trip with my High School, and my name was pulled out of a hat for one of the coveted places.
And while this introduction to travel involved many cultural highlights like attendance at a local school, a homestay with a Japanese student, and traveling to Hiroshima to place 1,000 cranes, the one day I was most looking forward to was Tokyo Disneyland.
Fastforward 15 years, and I would find myself traveling back to Tokyo, with the sole purpose of visiting Tokyo DisneySea®. And, in a country where embracing worlds of fantasy is part of the cultural fabric, I discovered the same sense of pure joy and wonder as I had felt at age 15.
Tokyo DisneySea is an incredible theme park inspired by the myths and legends of the sea. And in the lead up to my trip, fellow adults would lose their composure and absolutely gush about how incredible their time at the park had been.
In the fierce debate about the best Disney park in the world, I feel confident awarding the title to Tokyo DisneySea. Here’s why.read more
My love for Japan is well documented; it’s a timeless country that captures your heart, soul and imagination; a place where ancient traditions come together with futuristic technology and modern culture.
Tokyo is a tourist favorite, but did you know that Japan has a whopping 6,852 islands?!
Most travelers stick to the main island, and take in the classics like Yokohama, Osaka and Kobe. But it’s so easy to travel between islands in Japan, that it’s well worth mixing up your itinerary to explore further out.
One island it would be a shame to miss is Kyushu. This is Japan’s third largest island, though sitting in a sub tropical climate on the southwest end, Kyushu remains a hidden gem.
You might picture ancient temples, neon lights, and dizzying skyscrapers when you think of Tokyo, but Kyushu allows you to discover a side of the country you don’t expect; one of Jurassic looking volcanoes, ultra lush forests, tropical coastlines, and bubbling hot springs.
So, after you’ve experienced everything Tokyo has to offer, let Kyushu show you a different side of Japan. Check out these 6 short videos for a virtual trip to both Tokyo and Kyushu Island.read more
I typically don’t live life with regrets, though if I was pushed to name one regret, it would be not being able to speak a foreign language.
Especially since I used to be able to.
And to be honest it’s quite embarrassing. Being in a foreign country where the locals are making all the effort to speak in English and I can’t string a sentence together in theirs.
Telling people that yes, I did learn Japanese in High school, but now it’s all but disappeared.
So on my most recent trip to Japan I decided that enough was enough. I was done with feeling ashamed and guilty that I hadn’t put the effort into retaining Japanese as a second language, and I wanted to replace that with a feeling of pride at being able to thrive in real world conversations.
I told myself I wasn’t going to travel with a portable translator, and a couple of months before I left I downloaded Rosetta Stone on my desktop and phone.read more