Japan Travel Guide

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Well Done, Sir: One Man Ate His Way to a Free Trip to Tokyo

Where: Tokyo, Japan
January 22, 2015 at 8:06 PM | by | Comments (2)

How can one score a free trip to Tokyo? The answer is simple: just eat at all 72 Benihana Restaurants across America and enter the restaurant chain's "Passport Challenge" contest as part of their 50th Anniversary celebration (the contest is now, sadly, closed.)

Apparently, an astounding 11 people ate at all the 72 Benihana restaurants in the U.S. in 2014, but only one Lee Potter was selected to win the grand prize trip for four people to Tokyo. (Where he is going to eat authentic Japanese food that pretty much looks nothing like Benihana food. But that's another story.)

Other winners won lesser prizes like gift cards to Benihana, including those for visiting one Benihana restaurant as many times as possible during the year. (The top distinction goes to Jack King who visited the Benihana in Salt Lake City more than any other participant.) In total, Benihana said that 19,000 people participated in the contest, submitting 26,000 photos too. Yes, that's a lot of pictures of onion volcano towers and chefs flipping shrimp tails into their hats. #sofull

But back to Lee. If this is your first time to Tokyo, then we've got some suggestions for you. If it's not, well, we still think our Tokyo travel guide will serve you well. Sorry, fried rice is not included. But Okonomiyaki is!

· Top 10 Tips for a First-Time Visit to Tokyo

· Foreigner-Only Discounts for Traveling Through Japan

· Food Worth Flying For: Tokyo's Top Tempura and Tendon

· Why the Tokyo Skytree is Totally Worth the $20 Ticket

· Foreign Grocery Friday: Japan's Beloved Okonomiyaki

And we're sure Benihana has your hotel stay covered but if you're looking to extend the trip, HotelChatter has some good suggestions too.

[Photo: Jaunted]

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Five Things to Know Before Seeing a Kabuki Show in Kyoto

Where: Kyoto, Japan
January 6, 2015 at 9:00 AM | by | Comments (0)

The Minami-za Theater in Kyoto, Japan

Kabuki dance is Kyoto's most heralded art form, performed twice daily at the Minami-za Theater, which dates back to 1610.

Seeing a show while you're in town is a must, but to fully appreciate it, you'll want to understand the roots and significance of Kabuki before you go. Below, we've put together a brief history to give you some perspective:

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Kyoto's Best Ramen Comes from a Vending Machine

Where: Kyoto , Japan
December 26, 2014 at 12:41 PM | by | Comments (0)

As is the case with all local specialties, who makes the “best” version is always up for debate. Ask five people on the streets of Philly who makes the best cheesesteaks, for example, and you’ll probably get five different responses. The trick to finding the top places is to ask enough people and hope you get a few repeat answers. Then, at least, you know where to start.

On our recent trip to Kyoto, we spent the first few days asking around about a good place to get a Ramen bowl. Multiple people had mentioned a place called Tenkaippin across from the Kabuki Theater as one of their favorites. When I found myself in the neighborhood later in the trip, I decided to give it a try for lunch.

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Find the Luck of the Irish in Kyoto with This Taxi Cab Game

Where: Kyoto , Japan
December 22, 2014 at 10:25 AM | by | Comments (0)

Kyoto has an extensive public transportation system, but cabs are also a major player when it comes to getting around the city. Unlike the yellow cabs we're used to riding in U.S. cities, the taxis are a little more magical in Kyoto, with the rearview mirrors uniquely placed on the hood of the car.

One small tidbit that's fun to have in your brain as you make your way around town revolves around the Yasaka Taxi Company, recognizable for its "clover logo" on the top and sides of the car. The company has about 1,400 taxis operating in Kyoto, with almost all of them sporting a 3-leaf clover. But four of them have something special: A 4-leaf clover.

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Japan is in the Process of Fixing its 'ATM Problem' for Foreigners

Where: Japan
December 18, 2014 at 8:50 AM | by | Comments (0)

In addition to its pricey tendencies, another aspect of Japan has traditionally frustrated foreigners when it comes to money: Many of its local banks and ATMs do not accept international bank cards.

This has been a problem for quite some time, and earlier this year, the country announced that it was going to officially tackle the problem. The Japan Times reported that the Japan Tourism Agency was "urging" the country's banks to accept international cards going forward, perhaps as early as 2015.

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Take Advantage of These Foreigner-Only Discounts When Traveling in Japan

Where: Japan
December 16, 2014 at 10:08 AM | by | Comments (0)

Japan has a reputation for being pricey, especially when it comes to transportation costs. But a number of "foreigner-only" discounts can help save you some cash as you scoot around the country.

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Video Interlude: The Infamous 'Shibuya Scramble' in Action

Where: Tokyo, Japan
November 7, 2014 at 12:08 PM | by | Comments (0)

There's no denying that Tokyo is cool, despite the many thousands of tourists walking around with guidebooks open. For a first-timer to the city, the hustle and bustle can be overwhelming, but there's nothing better than to be thrown in to the middle of the action with a visit to the hectic, yet quintessentially Tokyo, Shibuya Crossing intersection.

The neighborhood of Shibuya is considered one of the hottest fashion districts in town, not to mention that it's home to a massive JR train station and neon nightlife. While most people come to shop, socialize, or grab a bite to eat, keen observers will note that there's a whole subsection of Shibuya visitors who come simply to watch others cross the street.

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Food Worth Flying For: Tokyo's Top Tempura and Tendon

Where: Tokyo, Japan
November 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

That croissant in Paris. The char kway teow in Singapore. That cup of hot chocolate in Perugia. This is Food Worth Flying For. In this new series, Jaunted's contributors share the foods they'd gladly fly around the world for (and probably already have).

It's the favorite Japanese food of those unwilling to venture deeper into Japanese cuisine: Tempura, lightly battered meats, seafood, and veggies with a sweet and salty soy dipping sauce.

Despite its connotation as an basic entry dish into Japanese cuisine, a true Tempura is actually a complex dish. Whether you've had it State-side or overseas, there's no better place than Japan to sample what might be considered one, of many, iconic dishes.

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Why Billions and Billions of Disney Dollars are Bound for Japan

Where: Tokyo, Japan
November 5, 2014 at 11:58 AM | by | Comment (1)

In the wild world of theme parks the offerings by Disney over in Japan are often considered to be the best of the best. Sure Disneyland and Walt Disney World here at home are great spots to visit, but it seems like over in Japan they have all the best rides, newest attractions, and the biggest budgets—they spare no expense.

Now things are going to get even better, as it sounds like the folks behind the parks in partnership with Disney are spending around $4.6 billion to upgrade, improve, and expand the parks in Tokyo. Both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are set to receive the influx of cash and construction, as the renovations are expected to take place over the next ten years.

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Only Good News as Another Airline Announces Collaboration with Hello Kitty

Where: Japan
September 9, 2014 at 9:24 AM | by | Comments (0)

Stop the presses for important breaking news. Hello Kitty is collaborating with yet another Asian airline and, for the first time, the partnership is all about featuring the cartoon girl-cat in her signature colors of pink, purple and white.

This week, Peach , the low-cost airline based at Osaka's Kansai Airport and a subsidiary of ANA, showed off the newest addition to their merchandise.

The “Revoltech Hello Kitty Peach" figurine costs 2,300 JPY ($21.65 USD) plus tax and may be found on sale at Peach's online shop, within Peach's own airside brick-and-mortar store at Osaka-Kansai Airport Terminal 2, and in select toy shop locations (see Facebook).

Peach wants you to play with this toy, instead of just look at it on a shelf. It even includes accessories:

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How Japanese Airline Lounges Always Pour Perfect Beers

Where: Japan
September 8, 2014 at 11:49 AM | by | Comments (0)

Airline lounges are more than just comfy sofas, free wifi, and delicious food. Many lounges (mostly outside the United States) pull out all the stops when it comes to amenities for the relaxation of their frequent flyers, including in the beverage department.

Recent stops in both Japan Airline's Sakura Lounge at Tokyo-Narita and ANA's International lounge at Tokyo-Haneda had us decompressing in a thoughtful and welcoming space with plenty options for fill our bellies and imbibing at the self-pour bar. While there isn't a bartender to mix your drink for you, there is a unique server in the form of a special beer machine placed just next to the vodka, gin and whiskey.

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Duty-Free for You and Me: What to Buy at Tokyo's Narita Airport

Where: Narita, Japan
September 3, 2014 at 11:24 AM | by | Comments (0)

It's easy to whisk through the international terminal passing by the perfumes, bottles of cheap liquor and massive Toblerones on the way to your gate and there are even a few airport where we'd recommend skipping the buys altogether. This is not the case at Tokyo's Narita, which stands out as a supreme airport for shopping.

We already know that Japan has some of the coolest foods to bring home to your friends as souvenirs, and Narita is home to a wealth of duty-free shops selling cakes and candies boxed so primly and perfectly that it's less a question of "should I buy it" and more "how many should I buy?"

Here are a couple of this year's best and quickest buys at Narita:

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