Category Archives: TRAVEL

World’s second-oldest hotel offers new self-service stays to cope during pandemic

Japanese onsen ryokan adapts to the new normal after being in business for over 1,300 years.

Japan is home to a large number of long-established businesses, including two of the oldest hotels in the world: Yamanashi Prefecture’s Keiunkan and Ishikawa’s Houshi Ryokan.

Houshi Ryokan held the Guinness World Record title for the world’s oldest hotel until 2011, when Keiunkan pipped it at the post, taking the title after its opening date of 705 was found to have preceded Houshi’s 718 founding by thirteen years.

▼ Houshi Ryokan is so old it’s even been depicted in paintings from the Edo Period (1603-1868).

While the two hotels have been accommodating guests–including luminaries like daimyo Takeda Shingen, shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, and numerous emperors–for over 1,300 years, both are now sadly struggling due to the drop in visitors brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

The hotels have since discounted their prices to help entice guests, which means people who couldn’t previously afford to pay the usual 30,000 yen (US$271.14) ballpark fee for a room can now fulfil their dreams of a stay and a soak in the historic hot spring waters. Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa is one of those people, and he didn’t waste any time in making a booking, choosing to head out to Houshi Ryokan for a night to remember.

▼ Arriving after sunset makes the legendary ryokan appear even more atmospheric.

Stepping into the lobby, Seiji was greeted by dark wood panels, paper-screen lanterns, and a high ceiling that exudes a sense of old-school luxury.

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Honzoin Temple 55 of the Kyushu Pilgrimage

Honzoin is a very small, urban temple in downtown Kumamoto and number 55 on the Kyushu Pilgrimage Its honzon is a Fudo Myoo, but I did not get into the main hall to see it. However there were multiple small Fudo statues in the grounds.The Daishido was a simple, modern, concrete structure that was open. There was also a statue of Kobo daishi outside. The temple has been here since the 1930’s but

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Essential Japanese For Arriving At The Airport

No matter where you live in Japan, it is worthwhile learning some airport Japanese. Sure, the big airports like Narita/Haneda (Tokyo) and Kansai International (Osaka) are so frequently used by foreigners that they have signs to help visitors navigate, this isn’t always the case.

Many of the smaller airports can be full of complicated Japanese and staff that barely speak English. Even at the relatively international Kansai Airport I’ve encountered staff that didn’t speak English. Therefore, it’s always useful to have some of the common Japanese phrases handy.

Immigration Japanese

One of the challenges for visitors is immigration. When you land in Japan, you will likely be given the 入国(にゅうこく) (nyuukoku kaado, disembarkation card) on the plane. This is for the 入国審査(にゅうこくしんさ) (nyuukoku shinsa, passport control).

When I first visited Japan, I was surprised to discover that as well as using the English-origin loanword ビザ (pronounced ‘biza’) when asking to see your visa, Japanese people also sometimes use the Japanese-origin word 査証(さしょう) (sashou, which also means visa). I got asked for my 査証 on my first trip and, even though I was pretty confident in my Japanese, I had to admit that I didn’t understand what they were asking me for.

At immigration expect the usual questions that visitors get asked at the airports all around the world. Some common ones include:

  1. どちらからいらっしゃいましたか? (dochirakara irasshai mashitaka?, Where are you flying in from?) (Literally: Where did you come from?). To reply you will say the name of your country and ~から来ました (~ kara kimashita).
  2. 滞在期間(たいざい きかん)はどの位(くらい)ですか?(taizai kikan wa dono kurai desuka?, How long are you going to stay here?) To reply you will say the number of days plus ~日間です(~kan desu, for ~ days).
  3. 旅(たび)の目的(もくてき)は何(なに)ですか?(tabi no mokuteki ha nan desuka?, What’s the purpose of your trip?) Depending on your purpose, you might reply: …continue reading

Tweet of The Week #125: The Go-To Gotou Campaign 

Source: Gaijin Pot

Japan is famously known for its overly cute safety signs and always going overboard with tons of them, even the smallest construction site.

These signs warn us of danger, apologize for the inconvenience and provide some extra information. Sometimes, they’ll even have workers to guide people.

Recently, a particular set of road signs near someone named Gotou’s house has got quite a bit of attention on Twitter. With the road ahead closed for construction, the signboards give various redirections around Gotou’s residence, including a unique one made just for the occasion.

Of course, tweeps couldn’t help but crack jokes regarding the 看板(かんばん) (signboard). Is Gotou a VIP? What about his neighbors? Others made “Go-To Gotou campaign” puns, a dad joke referencing Japan’s Go-To Travel campaign.

You’re so lucky, Gotou


— やっさんブル (@atataka_yassy) March 19, 2021


“Gotou, you’re so lucky.”

From right to left, you can read:

  • 全面通行止(ぜんめんつうこうどめ): Fully closed to traffic
  • この先(さき)、後藤さんの家(いえ)まで行(い)けます: From there, you can go up to Gotou’s house.
  • この先工事中(こうじちゅう)につき通(とお)り抜(ぬ)けできません
    ご協力(きょうりょく)ください: From there, you cannot go through because of ongoing construction. Please cooperate.
  • 富士霊園(ふじれいえん): Fuji Cemetery
    富士小山(おやま)ゴルフクラブ: Fuji Oyama Golf Club
  • 富士スピードウェイ西(にし)ゲート: Fuji speedway West Gate
  • 東(ひがし)富士カントリークラブ: Higashi Fuji country club
  • 須走(すばしり): Subashiri trail
  • 迂回路(うかいろ): bypass

The legendary Go To Gotou

これが伝説の「go to 後藤」か..実物を見ることが出来てよかったです。ありがとうございました。

— 三流亭四流 (@watakino) March 19, 2021

これが伝説(でんせつ)の「go to 後藤」か..実物(じつぶつ)を見(み)ることが出来(でき)てよかったです。ありがとうございました。

“Is this the legendary ‘Go To Gotou?’ Glad to see the real thing. Thank you very much.”

How about the neighbors’ house?


— 黒鷹 (@descoingsii) March 20, 2021



“Does ‘until’ Gotou-san’s house mean you can’t go to the neighbors’ house?”

How to give an official reason with につき

Kinkyuu jitai sengen ni tsuki, ibento ga chyuushi ni narimashita.

The JLPT N2 expression につき has four functions to give a formal reason in a notification. You can translate につき with “due to,” …continue reading


Hiroshima to Miyajima by Ferry: Here’s Why it’s Worth a Day Trip

And in this exact site, a grand torii gate has been standing since 1168 AD. Thinking about adding day trip from Hiroshima to Miyajima to your Japan itinerary? You’ve come to the right place! Not only is it a delightful day out, Itsukushima Shrine with its Grand Torii gate that graces the pages of travel brochures […]

The post Hiroshima to Miyajima by Ferry: Here’s Why it’s Worth a Day Trip appeared first on The Invisible Tourist.

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Kyoto now has Pokémon manhole covers as Generation 2 comes to the real-life Johto region

City’s famous Gion and Arashiyama neighborhoods welcome Kyoto’s first Pokéfuta.

The Pokémon games and anime are set in a fictional universe, but many of the locations would-be Pokémon Masters’ travels take them to are based on real-life places. In the case of the Pokémon Gold and Silver games, for example, the Johto region is based on Japan’s Kansai region, and things have come full-circle as you can now find Pokémon while out and about in Kyoto.

This week, five new Pokémon manhole covers, or Pokéfuta, as they’re called in Japanese, were installed in Japan’s old capital. These are Kyoto’s first-ever Pokéfuta, and while many of the other covers are in less-traveled parts of Japan, these five have been placed in public parks not too far off the beaten path, making for easy side-trips during visits to one of Japan’s most sightseeing attraction-packed cities.

The stars of the show this time are, naturally, Gen-2 Pokémon who made their debuts in Gold and Silver, starting with baby Pikachu Pichu, accompanied by Cleffa and Igglybuff, on the Pokéfuta in Maruyama Park.

▼ The shidarezakura (weeping cherry blossom) tree they’re frolicking under actually exists in the park, which sits inside Kyoto’s Gion geisha quarter.

Over at Nishikyogoku Athletic Park, at the western edge of downtown, you’ll find Chikorita and Shiftry.

Cyndaquil and Darmanitan hang out in Okazaki Park, right across the …continue reading


A visit to Japan’s cursed tunnel and statue of Oshima Zuido【Haunted Japan】

One cursed spot just isn’t enough for this small coastal town.

We recently discovered what appears to be a loophole in the rumored curse of Japan’s Oshima Bridge in the town of Sakai, Fukushima Prefecture. There’s more than one supposed curse that can befall visitors to this town on the coast of the Sea of Japan, though, and while he was in the field our reporter Seiji Nakazawa passed through another supernaturally suspicious part of Sakai: the Oshima Tunnel (or Oshima Zuido, as it’s called in Japanese).

The tunnel is part of the seaside road just east of where the bridge from the mainland to Oshima Island starts. Right off the bat, it gives off a creepy vibe. It’s short enough that you can see the light on the far side, but long enough for deep shadows even in the middle of the day. In the middle of the tunnel is a statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, which ordinarily would be a reassuring presence.

However, local legends say that long ago a man who was passing through the tunnel looked at the statue. When Kannon’s eyes met his, a bright red light burst out of the statue’s eyes, and before he could return home, the man met with a terrible accident and died.

So Seiji resolved to keep his vision focused dead-ahead during his drive through the tunnel. Try as he might, though, he couldn’t help but notice the alcove with the statue of Kannon in it on his left as he approached the mid-point of the passageway.

From the corner of his eye, he could see some sort of green, tent-like covering had been placed over what he imagined must be the …continue reading


Kokin Denju no Ma Teahouse

Kokin Denju no Ma teahouse is an old, thatched building with fatastic views out over the large pond in Suizenji garden in Kumamoto. The teahouse is actually a bit older than the garden, but it was not moved here until 1912.For more than 300 years it had stood inside the grounds of the Imperial palace in Kyoto but it probably had a different name then.Kokin Denju is an esoteric teaching on

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14 Amazing Day Trips From Tokyo You Haven’t Thought Of

Ichi go ichi e 一期一会” translates to “once in this lifetime”, meaning we should treasure each individual moment, as it can never be completely replicated. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, you’ll really be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting exciting day trips from Tokyo. Contrasting characteristics of modern, bustling cities and […]

The post 14 Amazing Day Trips From Tokyo You Haven’t Thought Of appeared first on The Invisible Tourist.

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Pickup-And-Stay Quarantine Service for incoming Foreign Workers

Japan has some pretty strict quarantine procedures for allowing foreign workers to enter the country these days. How are companies getting new employees into the country safely and without putting tons of resources into adhering to these government procedures which can change at any moment?

Jobs in Japan is working with Hitotoki Travel to offer a service for employers to help ease the burden when bringing first-time foreigners to Japan. This will be especially valuable those employers that are too busy or those schools and companies in rural areas where it would be difficult to deal with the quarantine procedures and other COVID safety measures.

How Covid-19 Quarantine Procedures are making it difficult for Employers with incoming foreigner workers

The incoming person has the following issues that usually fall on the company to help them solve. They:

  • Cannot use public transportation
  • Have to be met at the airport
  • Have to quarantine in a hotel and be escorted there privately

Traveling to Narita or Haneda to do this and ensure everything is done can be VERY time-consuming and could possibly put yourself and others at risk (especially if done regularly for multiple new staff every month). This is much better outsourced to professionals who lower companies’ risk and reduce the amount of time investment needed to bring in new employees to Japan.

Why would you want to keep track of the complicated frequent changes to official government procedures when you can outsource it to our agent who does this easily every day, and has better bargaining power with hotels to save you money on booking quarantine rooms?

Have a refreshing and relaxing stay in quarantine!

The service includes:

  1. Welcome & Greeting at the Airport (takes about 2 hours to take PCR test and clear customs/immigration)
  2. Private Driver (required by health authorities) takes the …continue reading