Guest Post: Five Fun and Free Things to Do in Japan

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Today I present to you a post on "Five Fun and Free Things to Do in Japan" brought by our avid reader Jess Signut! She's a long term expat who has spent the last years traveling around the world! She writes about her adventures in her blog at, so if you're a travel lover as well, don't forget to visit her blog and leave a comment!

Enjoy her article below!


If you’re looking to go to Japan, you’re spoilt for choice as far as where to visit. Take a trip to the capital city, Tokyo, and revel in its magnificent and modern life. Or take a trip to historical Kyoto, which is home to many important older sights. Or visit Mount Fuji, which many people recognize from pictures. Eat Japanese food, see some wonderful theatre, and explore this beautiful country—but you don’t have to break the bank to do it. Here are five fun and free things to do during your visit:

Learn About Traditional Japanese Arts
Japan is a country deeply rooted in traditional arts and crafts. Learn about the ancient Japanese tradition of origami at Tokyo’s Origami Kaikan, where you will be able to watch free demonstrations on how to make, dye, and decorate origami paper. You can also take classes to learn how to fold origami, but know that you’ll need to pay about $8-17 for a one or two-hour class (depending on how difficult that day’s design is).
Another option would be to visit the Japan Traditional Craft Center, where you’ll be able to learn about and often view demonstrations about Japan’s ceramics, bamboo-works, and other traditional aspects of the country’s crafts industry.

See Historical Architecture
Unfortunately, a lot of the older architecture in Japan was wiped out by the extensive bombings that happened during World War II, but even their reconstructions keep true to the original designs and will give you a feel for traditional Japan. If you’re really looking for impressive buildings, try heading from Osaka out to Himeji Castle or heading to Kyoto, which was once the capital of Japan and which still retains a lot of impressive edifices for you to explore.
In Kyoto, beyond the historical architecture, you can also check out the three Geisha districts, where Geishas continue to entertain wealthy people—just stroll down the streets and you’ll be able to see Geishas moving from building to building. You can also visit Kyoto’s imperial palaces and villas, although you’ll need to fill out an application at the Kyoto Imperial Household Agency Office first and it may take a couple days in processing.

Explore Modern Japan
Part of the modern side of Japan has to do with the widespread bombings that occurred during World War II, but part of it is due to the fact that Japan—and specifically Tokyo—is home to the headquarters of some of the most important electronics companies in the world. Many of these companies offer free showrooms where you can check out their latest gadgets or try out some of their unreleased gizmos. Try the Sony Showroom or the Panasonic Showroom in Tokyo.
If you’re really interested in trying out any sort of electronics—or in buying them—check out Akihabara Town in Tokyo, where you can try out various electronics even before they’ve been released in most countries, as well as purchase electronics for cheaper. If you need to do more research about the products you might purchase, know that you’ll be able to find free Wi-Fi access at most Starbucks and 7-11 locations, although you’ll have to sign up for these networks (using Wi-Fi) before you’re able to use them. Remember that you may first want to set up a VPN to protect your private information, first!

Check Out a Festival
The country of Japan is home to many festivals. The festivals are too many to name comprehensively—there are estimates that there are roughly 200,000 festivals in Japan during the course of a year!—but you can check out a list here. The most popular festivals are the Cherry Blossom Festivals in the spring, the traditional Gion Matsuri Festival held in Kyoto every July in Japan, and the Sapporo Winter Festival where you can ski or snowboard some great powder as well as see intricate snow sculptures of Japanese architecture.

Think About the Past
If you’re at all interested in recent history, your visit to Japan shouldn’t lack a visit to Hiroshima, site of the World War II atom bomb explosion. Here you have a couple options for free things to see, including the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. The park is free, and although the museum charges an entry fee, the price—roughly $0.50 US—is nominal. In Hiroshima, you can also visit the Flame of Peace, which has burnt since the mid-‘60s and will do so until all nuclear weapons are destroyed.

Although travelling can be expensive, your trip to Japan doesn’t need to be. During your time in this beautiful country, visit the temples, visit the museums, visit the local sights—but save a little money for your souvenirs! Maximize your sightseeing by visiting as much as you can as cheaply as possible. You’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time.

Dulcinea Quartet - Back to Japan!

Remember this name?

Their fundraising campaign was a success, and as a result, their 2015 Japan Tour has been scheduled! Here are the concert dates:

March 29
March 30
April 5
April 7
April 8

Also, there is information below (Japanese only) on their first concert which will take place in Yaesu Hall, Tokyo, starting at 16:00 (opens at 15:30).

They are also performing a piece together with a shamisen (Japanese instrument) player! It sounds quite interesting and I'm thinking of going myself as well! :)

If you're not sure about the place, check on the map below! (It's close to the Yaesu exit of Tokyo Station so it should be easy to get there!)

(Rehearsing for their children concerts in Japan, and with shamisen player Hibiki Ichikawa!)

Enjoy a piece from one of their concerts in Japan, as well as an audio track from their official website!

Culture Point 19: Table Manners

Japanese food, called “washoku” in Japan, has been registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, but you didn’t need an official declaration to know that it is absolutely delicious. But while enjoying Japanese food, many people commit complete etiquette crimes. Take a look at the following rules for eating Japanese food and save yourself some embarrassment while enjoying a traditional Japanese meal.

Cherry Blossoms 2015 Forecast!

For anyone planning to enjoy cherry blossoms in Japan this year, here is the forecast by region, and the map below (Japanese, announced today)!

LocationOpeningEstimated Best Viewing  
TokyoMarch 26April 1 to 9
KyotoMarch 26April 2 to 10
KagoshimaMarch 25April 1 to 9
KumamotoMarch 21March 29 to April 6
FukuokaMarch 21March 28 to April 5
HiroshimaMarch 25March 31 to April 8
MatsuyamaMarch 23March 29 to April 6
TakamatsuMarch 26April 1 to 9
OsakaMarch 26April 2 to 10
NaraMarch 27April 2 to 10
NagoyaMarch 25April 1 to 9
YokohamaMarch 27April 2 to 10
KanazawaApril 3April 7 to 15
NaganoApril 11April 15 to 23
FukushimaApril 9April 12 to 20
SendaiApril 12April 17 to 25
AomoriApril 24April 28 to May 6
HakodateMay 2May 5 to 12
SapporoMay 5May 7 to 14

Japan Epic Selfie!

Remember The Rising Sky's reader who shared with us two great videos?

Well, he's back! And with another great video!

This time he walked 250 km and explored 4 regions in Japan to bring to all of you this dynamic and entertaining video! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

And don't forget to subscribe his YouTube Channel HERE!

Changes will always be difficult

It's been quite a while since last post.

It's been a really busy time lately. And it's coming to an end as yet another cycle in my life as an expat in Japan is about to begin.

Last Sunday I had what might have been (or not) my last concert with my orchestra here in Tokyo. It's been a very fruitful three years and I have learned a lot. With no one to rely on here in Japan, it was here that I found a place to be able to be me.

However, from now on I want to fight for new objectives, accomplish new goals in my life, and for that, for the time being, I have decided to make a pause in my activity there.

School is also coming to an end as I finished my final work, my final report, and the graduation ceremony is approaching.

To be honest, I'm still not sure what I can do out there as a member of the working society, but I do have my values, my goals, and a motivation to fight. And as hard as it might be, I'm not one to give up!