Enjoy Kyoto (Part 1) — Stay in a restored traditional machiya house!

The ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan for foreign and Japanese travelers alike, and with good reason — there’s a whole lot to see, feel and eat in this beautiful, historic city. Yes, Kyoto is a city that definitely provides a feast for the senses. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to visit the city recently, and while you’re sure to find an abundance of tourist information on Kyoto from numerous sources in a multitude of languages, I thought I’d share some interesting aspects of the city I experienced during my trip that may not necessarily be part of a typical visit to Kyoto. Here’s the first article in our three-part series on some new and original ways to enjoy this picturesque city that is full of magnificent temples, gardens, works of art and, of course, exquisite foods.

But first things first. Once you have your plane and train tickets to Kyoto booked, you’ll need to think about where you will be staying. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of accommodation options in Kyoto, but if you’re tired of staying in a regular hotel, why not try staying in a restored old machiya house that combines history and function?

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Hellish Chinese summer heat causes sad pandas, exploding cars, and people literally retreating into caves

Oddly, while there are plenty of disaster movies about earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, sharknadoes, sharktopi, even unexpected ice ages – honestly, how does an ice age sneak up on you? – there has never been a disaster movie in our memories that focused on deadly heat waves. Which is weird, because here in Asia, deadly heat waves occur every single year. And this year, it’s so bad, it’s literally causing society in China to come to a grinding halt.

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The top 10 haunted spots in Japan as chosen by a professional ghost chaser

Ginti Kobayashi is a writer who in recent years can be seen in the series, Kaidan Shinmimibukuro Nagurikomi! In these DVDs, we follow Kobayashi and his colleagues as they explore Japan’s most notoriously haunted places.

In the spirit of summer, when Japan likes to cool down by sharing chilling stories, Kobayashi sat down with Spa magazine and laid out his choices for the top 10 most frightening haunted places he has ever experienced.

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7 surprising realizations during our Japanese reporter’s trip to Turkey

Turkey! It’s more than just a giant bird. It’s a mysterious country straddling the border between Europe and Asia. Practically everyone has heard of it, for its likeness to the popular holiday dish if nothing else, but it seems that a majority of people know very little about the region’s culture.

Recently, members of our Japanese staff took a trip to the alluring land of Turkey. While they weren’t exactly sure what to expect, they were nonetheless surprised by a number of things on their visit. Here’s a list of seven things that surprised our Japanese staff on their trip to Turkey.

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City of Yokohama offering 14 days of free Wi-Fi to overseas tourists

Yokohama, being Japan’s second-largest city, has a little something for everyone. Its romantic harbor is lined with parks and backed by a breathtaking skyline. History buffs can see numerous centuries-old structures inside Sankeien Garden. The Ramen Museum and Chinatown are great foodie destinations, and the Noge and Kannai districts are filled with enough cocktail bars and brewpubs give your liver a serious workout.

Unfortunately, many overseas travelers are unaware of all Yokohama has to offer, and skip right by the city on their way between Tokyo and Kyoto. In an effort to help get the word out on Yokohama’s numerous attractions, the city has teamed up with telecommunications giant NTT to provide free Internet access to foreign tourists.

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Souvenir shopping spree! 15 sweet treats you can only find at Japan’s Haneda Airport

Japanese manners dictate that when you take a trip, you should bring back a little something not only for friends and family, but for everyone in the office, too.

Of course, spending the time and money to purchase an individual gift for each and every one of your coworkers probably isn’t going to fit into your travel schedule or budget. Thankfully, popular opinion holds that the best gifts to fulfill these social obligations are kieru mono, or things that can be used up or consumed, such as snack foods.

To make souvenir shopping even easier, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport offers a selection of sweets that can’t be purchased anywhere else. So for the next time you realize you forgot to pick up souvenirs until you’re on the plane home, here are 15 options that are all better than smuggling out your unopened bag of in-flight peanuts.

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The top seven items experienced Japanese travelers recommend you bring along on trips

Do you love to travel? I do! I even love long plane flights, since you’re basically free to eat, sleep or watch as many movies as you like while flying. In fact, the only aspect of traveling I’m not keen on is having to lug around heavy pieces of luggage, and I can certainly understand if some people out there prefer to travel as light as possible. However, there may be some useful items that are worth taking with you on trips, even if it means your luggage becomes slightly heavier. According to a post on Japanese information compilation site Naver Matome, here are seven such items that experienced Japanese travelers say can be a godsend, which they recommend you pack with you on your next trip!

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12 disappointing things for Japanese people traveling in the US

Here at RocketNews24, we mostly talk about Japan and other Asian countries, doing our best to offer a sort of “Western perspective” on this fun and fascinating continent. And if you think we love doing it, well, you’re certainly right!

But sometimes it helps to have a little balance—you can’t eat kakigori every day for every meal after all—so today we’re happy to bring you a Japanese perspective on visiting the United States of America! While many Japanese people enjoy visiting the United States, there are some things that can end up being a bit… disappointing.

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Bullet train beer: the tastiest way to drink responsibly while moving at 186 miles per hour

Many visitors to Japan land in Tokyo, spend a few days in the capital, then hop aboard the shinkansen bullet train to see the sights in other regions of the country. The most common route is head west to Kyoto, but travelers shouldn’t overlook the northern prefecture of Akita.

With verdant forests, unique folklore, Japan’s deepest lake, and plenty of regional delicacies, Akita is well worth a trip, especially with the new Super Komachi shinkansen that makes the trip from Tokyo to Akita Station in just under four hours. Plus, to make the time fly by, the Super Komachi serves up its own microbrew.

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Travel across Japan in under an hour without leaving the comfort of your home!

I’m sure taking a trip across Japan is a thought that has crossed the minds of many, whether they’ve already visited the country or not. However, unless you’re enjoying a gap year or have an extremely understanding boss, taking enough time off to see it all in one go isn’t easy. Experiencing the change in climates as you travel between the different regions of the country or admiring the scenery particular to a specific area carries an undeniable charm. If only there were a way to experience Japan in its full glory without being restricted by the factor of time.

Well, we might have just the solution for all you busy people out there. It comes in the form of a special Google Street View movie which boasts footage of the whole journey across the country, from the northernmost tip of mainland Japan right down to the south.

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China’s ancient oasis: The beautiful crescent lake of Yueyaquan

Just a nine days into the month of July and the majority of Japan is in the grip of a heat wave. With highs of 35 C (95 F) and stifling humidity, city workers are already wiping themselves down with deodorizing body paper at every opportunity and dodging from one area of shade to the next while outdoors. It’s at times like these that many of us dream of escaping to a hidden oasis of our own, enjoying an icy cold beer and listening to soft music as we doze in the shade of a tree. For those of us working in the city, though, a trip to a cheap izakaya or beer garden is about as close as we’re likely to come to making our daydream a reality.

Today, though, we’d like to invite you to come with us to Gansu Province, China, which is home to a natural oasis known as the Crescent Lake, where the thought of padding across its lush grass and dipping our feet in the pure springwater is already helping us feel cooler. Welcome to Yueyaquan.

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Zao Fox Village: Where all your cutes are belong to us

Foxes, as you may already know, have long played an important role in Japanese culture. Appearing in myths, literature, theater, video games, and even music videos, the adorable-yet-mysterious creatures have long captured people’s imagination.

And now, they’ll capture your heart, leaving you “awwwing” in a catatonic state of cute-overload at the Zao Kitsune Village!

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Riding the B Line in Argentina? Better bring a Japanese dictionary

There’s apparently a running joke in Beunos Aires, Argentina, that if you’re planning on riding the subway’s B Line, you’d better bring a Japanese dictionary. No, Argentines don’t have a bizarre and nonsensical sense of humor; it turns out the country imported the B Line’s trains from Japan and didn’t even bother to change all the Japanese writing.

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Unlimited refills of limited availability beer at Park Hyatt Tokyo

The five-star Park Hyatt Tokyo, known to many as one of the locations used in the movie Lost in Translation, has plenty of things going for it, including luxuriously appointed rooms, ample business facilities, and a full array of spa services. But we already live in the area and have an office nearby in Shinjuku. Plus, the natural stunning good looks of the RocketNews24 team preclude the need for any beauty treatments. So what can the Park Hyatt do to get us through their door?

How abut offering two types of beer you can’t get anywhere else, and free refills to boot?

Yeah, that’ll do it.

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The top 10 sightseeing spots in Kyoto Prefecture

With more than a thousand unique temples and countless sites of natural beauty, planning a short trip to Kyoto can be no easy task. Thankfully, there’s a Japanese travel website that’s made things easy with a top ten list of unmissable places in the region. If you’re looking for a way to escape the information overload and simply visit the best that Kyoto Prefecture has to offer, then this list–complied by native Japanese no less–might just be the list for you.

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Places you simply must visit: Nara edition

Often overlooked in favor of Kyoto, Nara Prefecture is one of the most beautiful and significant places—culturally and historically—in Japan. If you happen to be traveling in the Kansai region, we cannot urge you enough to make the time to swing by!

In fact, there’s so much to see that we can’t possibly tell you about every amazing place in Nara, but here are a few of our favorites!

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Japanese gifts most wanted by foreigners

As a foreign resident of Japan, I take occasional trips back home. And on such occasions, I almost always find myself at a surprising loss for ideas when souvenir shopping for friends stateside.

Sure, there are obvious choices: Hentai manga makes a great gag gift, for example, but you’re bound to go on some kind of watch list if customs decides to randomly inspect your luggage. Yukata seem universally appreciated by new-agey aunts, and quirky Japanese toys are great for kids. But foolproof, sure-to-please-anybody gifts are surprisingly hard to pick out.

Luckily, a Japanese reporter at Excite Japan, who travels frequently and thus has lots of souvenir purchasing experience, has revealed the top Japanese gifts most likely to please friends and family abroad.

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Unfortunate Google employee forced to wander alone on eerie abandoned island for Street View photos

Google Street View seems to have its priorities all out of whack. While only just getting around to snapping the more remote areas of mainland Japan and having yet to cover the majority of Canada, Google sent out one intrepid employee to explore the completely abandoned Japanese island of Gunkanjima.

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Chochikukyo: Japan’s original eco-friendly house

Although just last week we took you on a guided tour of traditional Japanese homes that had been given new life, today’s quintessentially Japanese abode is a little different. This is Chochikukyo, an 80-year-old house located in Kyoto designed by the renowned early 20th century Japanese architect Kouji Fujii. It is so popular and well-loved that even the Japanese emperor made a special visit earlier this month!

But what makes it so special? Find out after the break.

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Pray for rain – Six great wet weather deals in and around Tokyo

I love summer. Cold beer! Warm sunshine! Cold Beer! Hot sand between my toes on the beach! And how can I forget lukewarm beer left in my glass after waking up from an impromptu nap brought on by all the cold beer proceeding it?

Unfortunately, summer in Japan also means plenty of rainy days, as humidity levels are at their highest across the country. Thankfully, it’s not all bad news on rainy days, and as long as you’re willing to take an umbrella with you when you go out, you can score some great deals in the Tokyo area.

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