VOYAPON https://voyapon.com Japan Travel Visitors Guide Wed, 08 Jun 2022 08:56:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://s3.voyapon.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/18185410/cropped-voyapon_favicon_transparent_no_text-1-32x32.png VOYAPON https://voyapon.com 32 32 Accommodations in Japan: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your Perfect Overnight Stay https://voyapon.com/accommodations-in-japan/ https://voyapon.com/accommodations-in-japan/#respond Mon, 06 Jun 2022 03:45:30 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=94307 The first thing to do before undertaking a trip is to plan it: looking for which airline to fly with,...

The post Accommodations in Japan: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your Perfect Overnight Stay appeared first on VOYAPON.

The first thing to do before undertaking a trip is to plan it: looking for which airline to fly with, planning an itinerary or hiring a guide, thinking about what to add to the suitcase, and choosing your accommodation. There are a lot of accommodations in Japan, each one offering a unique experience. To help you find the accommodation of your dreams, here’s a guide to the different stays you can have while visiting Japan.

Classic Accommodations in Japan

Here’s a selection of “Classic” accommodations, such as hotels, hostels, camping, and more in Japan.

Hotel (ホテル)

The most classic option is to stay in a hotel. In Japan, there is a huge diversity with a wide range of prices depending on the quality and services. In Japanese hotels, you will usually get a Western-style room with a private bathroom. It may include a toothbrush, a variety of shampoos, bathrobes, or towels, among other things.

Hotel reception usually has 24-hour service and may speak English, especially in Tokyo. These accommodations are perfect for those seeking Western comforts in Japan.

Some Japanese hotels can be themed on well-known Japanese characters, such as this Hello Kitty room at the Keio Plaza Tama Hotel or the Yuri on Ice room at the Prince Hotel in Ikebukuro.

Luxury Hotels (高級ホテル)

As in many countries, Japan has luxury hotels that offer unique experiences such as private spas, extra hairdressing services, and swimming pools, as well as impeccable service and large rooms with all the amenities. For example, in Tokyo, there are the Shinjuku’s Park Hyatt for $300/per night or Hilton Tokyo Odaiba for $200/per night.

Luxury Hotel in Japan
Park Hyatt luxury hotel in Shinjuku. Photo: Victoriano Izquierdo

Business Hotel (ビジネスホテル)

Business hotels are perfect for those who don’t want to spend so much money. There are several hotel chains such as Dormy Inn, Toyoko Inn, and Route Inn offering affordable rooms covering all the basic needs in many Japanese cities. Its prices are much cheaper, about $40-$80/night.

These hotels were made to be convenient, are well-located in central areas, and are close to train stations. Nevertheless, their rooms are usually smaller than a European hotel, so don’t be surprised if you have a feeling of a lack of space.

business hotel in Japan
A Business Hotel in Beppu. Photo: Clémentine Cintré

Hostel (ホステル)

If you want even more economical accommodations, you can try a western or Japanese-style hostel. In this accommodation, you may share all the facilities with other travelers, including bathrooms and rooms (usually separated by gender). They tend to be quite dynamic, as the usual clients tend to be young people. It is the ideal place for solo travelers who want to meet people. Prices range from $10-$40/per night.

hostel in japan
A Japanese-style hostel. Photo: Toshiko Sakurai

Resort hotel (リゾートホテル)

These hotels, located near the mountain or the beach, are aimed at contemplative tourism for guests who prefer a quiet vacation or families with children.

Resort rooms in Japan offer all kinds of amenities such as shampoo, soap, free coffee, and tea, as well as incredible sights. Half board is usually included for meals at their restaurants. Besides, they have many leisure activities like onsen, souvenir shops, karaoke, and game centers, and for an extra fee, you can also do activities near the resort.

Normally, foreign tourists don’t stay in these accommodations unless they want to do a specific activity, such as diving or skiing, but they are very popular among the Japanese.

As an example of a resort, we have Suginoi Hotel in Beppu (Oita Prefecture), with hot springs, swimming pools, bowling, and game centers. There is also Luigans Resort in Fukuoka city, which has a swimming pool and is located near the beach. They offer yoga or beauty treatments, and they have an aquarium and a park nearby. There are also luxury resorts such as ANA Intercontinental Beppu Resort & Spa, located also in Beppu.

Prices tend to be between $100- $300/per night, expert the high-end hotels, which can reach $1000/per night.

Pension (ペンション)

If you are traveling to onsen areas or ski resorts, you might not find western hotels. If you want to stay in a low-budget western-style accommodation, consider trying a pension. These guesthouses are western-style buildings run by families. They usually have a few rooms and bathrooms, and they can be private or shared. They also include dinner and breakfast served in the pension dining room, made with local products.

Here you have a list of pensions located in various prefectures (in Japanese), that usually costs between $50-$90. We visited Refre Inn Fukuza in Iiyama (Nagano Prefecture).

Guest House (ゲストハウス)

Also known as shared houses, this kind of accommodation in Japan is affordable if you stay one month or more in a city. It consists of renting a (usually) private and furnished room. The rest of the house is shared with the other housemates. There is also often a cleaning service for the common areas. You can find different companies dedicated to renting these seasonal accommodations to foreigners, such as Fontana or Sakura House.

The price varies greatly depending on the location and the size of the room, but you could find shared houses for $500 per month in a Tokyo neighborhood or even $300 per month if the room is shared.

shared house in japan
Room in a guest house. Photo: Toshiko Sakurai

Camping (キャンプ)

If you have an adventurous spirit, and you want to travel all over Japan, you can consider staying at a campsite, as there are many spots suitable for camping in nature. You can read our article about how to camp in Japan, but if you are already convinced, we recommend you rent private transport to travel more freely. One option is to rent a camper van or a car. There are several options, but remember to check beforehand how to drive in Japan and its requirements.

Traditional Accommodations in Japan

In this section, you will learn about traditional Japanese accommodations, perfect for experiencing Japanese culture.

Ryokan (旅館)

A ryokan (旅館) is the quintessential Japanese lodging. The rooms in this traditional hotel, which can be mid-range or high-end, have tatami floors, sliding doors, and futons. They offer an unparalleled dinner and breakfast, usually kaiseki food. A ryokan is a mix of Japanese culture and gastronomy with relaxing touches with its hot springs. They are usually located in quiet and natural spots, although little by little the concept is changing towards the cities.

Some of the ryokan we have visited are Sanso Tensui in Hita (Oita Prefecture), Zenzo ryokan in Kumamoto Prefecture, Onogawa Onsen Kajikaso in Yonezaka (Niigata Prefecture) or Nakamuraya ryokan in Iizaka Onsen (Fukushima Prefecture) among others. Their prices vary greatly depending on the quality of the establishment. There are inexpensive ryokans from $80 per night, while luxury ryokans can reach up to $1000 per night.

traditional japanese  room
A room in a ryokan room. Photo: Estelle

Minshuku Guesthouse (民宿)

If you don’t have enough budget to pay a ryokan, an economic alternative is a minshuku. Similar to a bed & breakfast, this Japanese-style lodging offers a traditional experience for a lower price. Their rooms are usually more simple than those of a ryokan, but in many of them, you will have similar experiences, such as wearing a yukata, having dinner and breakfast included, and onsen bath. This type of accommodation is more homely, as they are usually run by families.

Some minshuku we have stayed at are Flora Togari in Iiyama (Nagano Prefecture), Warakuso in Takahama (Fukui Prefecture) and Yodel in Semboku (Akita Prefecture). Their prices can range from $30 to $100 per night.

Tatami room at Flora Togari
One of the rooms at Flora Togari in Iiyama. Photo: Todd Fong

Farmstays in Japan

If you’re keen on experiencing Japanese life through the lens of a farming lifestyle, consider a farmstay in Japan.

Noka-Minshuku (農家民宿)

If you like the idea of the minshuku, but you also want to live a rural experience, stay in a noka-minshuku. The lodging system is similar, since the ryokan, the minshuku, and the noka-minshuku need the same license. But the difference lies in the rural experience that you will share with some Japanese farmers. You will be able to do some activities in the countryside, you will cook with them, and do many other daily ctivities.

Some noka-minshuku we visited are Tokutoku Sanso in Kitsuki (Oita Prefecture) and Zaigomon in Takane (Niigata Prefecture). The price varies depending on the area or the activities you want to do, but the average is around $60-$80/per night including meals.

traditional japanese living room in japan
noka-minshuku in Niigata Prefecture. Photo: Joachim Ducos

Noka Minpaku (農家民泊)

There is also the option of a noka-minpaku, similar to the noka-minshuku, but this requires other types of licenses. In a minpaku, you get to share the part of a house with a family, and you will experience different activities, above all related to nature and culture. As they are determined by the local government, the rates are different in each area.

I could experience a nokaminpaku at the Yuyuan samurai house with Mr. Katsuhiko and Mrs. Sachiko in Kagoshima Prefecture. There they showed me their private vegetable garden, its most precious Buddhist temple in the area, and we cooked dinner together.

Farmstaying in Izumi, Kagoshima, Japan
My experience at Izumi was unforgettable!

Rent a Traditional Japanese House

If you are traveling in a large group or with your family, you can go back in time by staying in a machiya o kominka. Both are traditional-style accommodations that can be rented fully. Despite this, they have some differences:

Machiya are centrally located houses, evenly aligned on a street. Its front side used to be a shop and the back area of the house is where the family used to live. Nowadays, some of them are accommodations. One famous machiya is located in Murakami (Niigata Prefecture).

Kominka are old wooden houses that have been restored following traditional Japanese techniques and rules such as not using nails. We have stayed at Yanoya kominka on Ojika island (Nagasaki Prefecture) and Atagoya, a marvelous kominka in Hamamatsu (Shizuoka Prefecture).

interior of japanese house
Yanoya kominka on Ojika. Photo: Todd Fong

Temple Lodging

The last traditional accommodation that we want to recommend to you is called shukubo (宿坊), which means temple lodging. Whether you are a pilgrim or a curious traveler, you can stay one night at a Buddhist temple in Japan. You can participate in different activities such as meditation with the monks in the early morning or participate in its sutra copying sessions. Moreover, this is a perfect option for vegans, as you can enjoy the shojin ryori, the Buddhist monks’ vegetable-based cuisine. Like in many other lodgings, you will sleep in a futon, share bathrooms and the price will include a vegan dinner and breakfast.

One of the most well-known places to stay is in Koyasan’s Buddhist temple, where there are 51 shukubo. Prices may vary depending on the location, but range between $50 and $100.

“Only in Japan” Accommodations

Although you can find these hotels in many countries, they are particularly popular in Japan.

Love Hotel (ラブホテル)

Love hotels are commonly known as dark places where lovers fulfill their inner fantasies. But realities go beyond this. They are also economical accommodation for long-distance couples or for travelers.

These hotel rooms can be rented either hourly or all night, with some rented for several nights. The only requirement to stay in this hotel is to be over 18 years old, and in some establishments, you will be asked to be accompanied by another person. They are usually located near train stations and inside the rooms, you will find all the essentials, and you can even order food. In Tokyo, there are many love hotel areas such as Shibuya and Uguisudani.

There are two ways to stay in a love hotel: make an online reservation through a hotel search engine (you will identify them because in the title it says “adult-only”), or go to the hotel directly and ask for a room. We recommend you to make a reservation in advance as you might not find room the day you will need them.

The prices of these hotels vary but can cost from $50 to more than $100 per night.

night district scene in japan
A love hotel at the end of a street in Tokyo. Photo: Aleksandar Pasaric

Capsule Hotel (カプセルホテル)

The world-famous capsule hotels are small capsules that serve as accommodation. These accommodations are also located near train stations, often used by people who have missed the last train. Capsule hotels can also be helpful if you don’t want to get up early the next day: if you have to go to an airport early in the morning, stay in one of them, and you will be able to sleep longer!

Inside the capsule, there is a futon/mattress, an alarm clock system, a small TV, an internet connection, and a door or curtain to separate you from your neighbors. Don’t eat or drink inside the capsule so as not to bother anyone, and instead use outer relaxation and lounge areas. There are washing machines and shared bathrooms. Many of the hotels are segregated by sex.

Also, in many capsule hotels, you are only allowed to stay one night. Even if you can book several in a row, you will most likely be checked in and out every day. Therefore, we recommend using these hotels once for the experience.

Prices are usually not very high, about $40 per night, depending on the place and the type of amenities offered.

Manga Kissa (マンガ喫茶)

An economical and Japanese style alternative is to stay in a manga café or manga kissa. It consists of a space with many books and unlimited internet where you can spend your day, or even all night, reading while having a drink. Its private rooms are small cubicles that often have a desk and a reclining seat, a tatami floor, or a mat. There are also double or family rooms.

This accommodation is designed for those who only stay one day in the city. Prices vary depending on the area, but usually, 8 hours of accommodation are about $15 to $30.

Other accommodations in Japan

Are the above accommodations still not appealing? Consider these other accommodation options in Japan.

Couchsurfing (カウチサーフィン)

Couchsurfing is a modern alternative for those who want cultural immersion and almost free lodging. Currently, the Couchsurfing website asks for a contribution to register: $13.99 per year or $1.99 per month. Within this site, there are hosts that offer their sofas, beds, or empty spaces to travelers. You have to contact them and wait for their approval. For more information about Couchsurfing, check out our article!

couchsurfing in japan
With Couchsurfing, you will be able to live with locals. Photo: Teona Swift 


Airbnb is a renting system of rooms or houses for travelers. In order to stay in one of these accommodations, you have to register on the website, contact the host and wait for their approval. There is a system of reviews that you can use to guide you in choosing your accommodation. It is a good option for families or people that want to stay in a private house during their stay.

Is Airbnb allowed in Japan?

In recent years, this platform has had problems in some cities. As far as Japan is concerned, since 2018 there are new laws to legalize Airbnb, which oblige hosts to register and obtain a license. During that year all unlicensed apartments were deleted and right now only those that comply with the new regulations appear.

japanese airbnb
You can rent an apartment for more privacy. Photo: Joseph Albanese

Volunteering and exchange

There are websites that gather all those people who need help in farms, hotels, and other establishments. In exchange, they offer free accommodation (and sometimes food). Currently, it is necessary to have a valid residence in Japan to do some types of volunteering:

  • Workaway: To be able to contact the hosts, you will have to pay $43 per year.
  • Worldpackers: To be able to contact the hosts, you will have to pay $49 per 15 months.
  • HelpX: To be able to contact the hosts, you will have to pay 20€ every two years.

Night Bus

If you want to travel and save money, moving around Japan by night bus is a good alternative. The night buses are adapted so that users can sleep at night on the bus and wake up the next morning at their destination. With the same ticket price, you can have “one-night accommodation” for free. Of course, the comfort of the bus can’t be compared to a bed, so this is recommended for people who can sleep anywhere or people with a lot of energy.

With this variety of accommodations in Japan, you can now decide what type of lodging that’s right for you. We hope you enjoy your stay in Japan!

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Where and How to Travel by Camper Van in Japan? https://voyapon.com/camper-van-japan/ https://voyapon.com/camper-van-japan/#respond Mon, 30 May 2022 01:44:39 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=85944 When you think of Japan, you might picture Mt Fuji, temples and shrines, sushi, and countless other cultural and gastronomical...

The post Where and How to Travel by Camper Van in Japan? appeared first on VOYAPON.

When you think of Japan, you might picture Mt Fuji, temples and shrines, sushi, and countless other cultural and gastronomical icons for which the country is so well known. Every year, millions of tourists visit Japan, exploring the dense city of Tokyo, the many temples of Kyoto, or the overflowing abundance of nature and snowy mountains of Hokkaido, among others. What may not immediately come to mind, however, is traveling via a camper van in Japan.

Traveling with a camper van around Japan is a low-budget rental choice, combining both your mode of transport and overnight accommodations, two of the most expensive aspects when visiting Japan. Moreover, traveling by RV has many advantages, such as added freedom to travel off-the-beaten-path into remote regions of Japan not regularly featured on popular tourist guides.

With the wisdom of two camper-savvy Voyapon collaborators, we’ve compiled a guide on campers in Japan to start your camper adventure in Japan.

What does a camper van rental come with in Japan?

Thanks to Voyapon contributor Matt, we know that campers in Japan have everything you would need to survive: a microwave, refrigerator, stovetop, sink, a seated area with a table, and of course, bedding. In addition, vans usually have many windows around the car, most of which have fly screens, so you can get some ventilation and protect yourself from bugs. Nina, our other collaborator, had a similar camper van experience, including additional rental options such as camping chairs, BBQ pits, and outdoor camping tables.

nina and her friends on a camping van
Nina and her friends travel in a camping van.

Depending on the camper rental company, your van may come with a high-tech GPS. Often, the GPS operates mainly in Japanese, though be sure to ask if they have more languages available! Your RV may also have a rearview video camera so that you can back up without fear of driving into things (or people!).

Another possible gadget is a slot for an ETC card, a highway toll card that cuts wait times at toll gates by automating payments without bringing your car to a stop. However, if you want to use an ETC (Electronic Toll Card) for your camper, you’ll have to bring your own as they aren’t available for tourists or temporary purchases in the same way train passes in Japan. If you live in Japan and have a Japanese banking system or credit card that is an ETC partner, you’ll be able to apply for an ETC card.

Another point to remember is that camping vans are usually delivered with a full tank of gas, and you have to return them under the same conditions. To Nina’s surprise, she could drive to Chiba and back (with many wrong turns and retracing their steps), using up only about a third of the tank.

How much does it cost to rent a camper van in Japan?

There are many types of campers and RVs in Japan. Rent can vary, and prices can change depending on whether you rent on the weekdays or weekends. For example, Camp in Car estimates their price per working day is 20,000 yen (about 153 euros / 181 dollars)*. Considering that five people can fit inside a camping van, the shared price is much lower than paying for a train ticket and daily accommodations. In addition, there may be discounts for long-term rentals.

Another expense to consider in Japan when traveling with private transport is the price of highways. Fortunately, some passes for foreigners include free movement on some of these roads. For example, you will cover a large part of the Japanese territory by taking the Japan Expressway Pass, or the Hokkaido Express Pass will cover that prefecture.

* Exchange rates reflect rates at the time of writing

How and where to rent an RV in Japan?

Many camping van rental services have the option to rent online or by phone. However, we recommend booking in advance to guarantee the availability of the vehicle you want. Some rental companies also offer an additional delivery service, bringing the RV straight to your doorstep, then picking it up on the last day of your travels. Fees can vary, starting at 1000 to 2000 yen, depending on your location.

Another gushingly sweet aspect that Nina experienced was the handwritten notes for clients posted inside the vehicle. For example, she found a note next to the driving wheel that said “Have a fun and safe journey!” and another one above the bed, which read, “Please sleep soundly and peacefully.” What a sweet touch to make the experience more personable.

Road trip Japan in a camping car with Camp-in-car

What should I bring to travel by camper in Japan?

While camper rentals often come with their necessities that are bundled with the rental price, there are other things to bring that’ll make your camper van travel even more comfortable. Contributor Matt suggests:

  • Pillows and blankets: Matt recommends you bring at least a thin blanket, even during the summer months. In July, Matt brought only pillows to sleep but found that temperatures dropped significantly at night.
  • Food: Bring snacks or larger grocery items. There might be some shops in rural areas, though hours can vary and it is better if you take your food with you to avoid being without food.
  • Trash bags: Like any rental equipment, you need to take your trash with you when you leave.
  • Cleaning supplies: Rental companies require you to return your camper clean, so take some paper towels and a basic cleaner spray from a 100 yen shop to wipe your interior down.
  • An international driver’s permit, home country’s driver’s license, and passport are essential to driving in Japan legally.
  • Better yet, bring your Japanese driver’s license if you have one.

Where can you park with a camper van in Japan?

There are several perfect places to camp in Japan with a camping van. For example, Matt decided to stay at the Odakyu Forest Cottage next to Lake Yamanaka before climbing Mount Fuji. Before deciding to stay in any place, it is essential to check if you are allowed to sleep in your vehicle. For example, you are not allowed to park and sleep overnight at a Michi no eki highway service stop.

What is required to drive with a camper in Japan?

If you want to drive in Japan but don’t have a Japanese driver’s license, you’ll need an international driving license. Americans can check Nina’s article comparing driving in America vs. Japan and Australians (or anyone used to driving on the left-hand side) can check out Matt’s article comparing driving in Australia vs. Japan. To summarize, you should remember that they drive on the left in Japan and most of their cars are automatic. Here’s Nina’s first-time experience driving in Japan. It is genuinely positive!

“This was my first time driving in Japan, and we came back safe and sound! I’ve been driving in the United States (big cities and rural places) ever since I got my license as a teenager. But here, the driver’s seat and driving road are opposite my home country. So, I was naturally nervous, driving in Japan for the first time, starting off in Tokyo, and in the largest vehicle I’ve ever driven (imagine: little girl x big city x big car!). Surprisingly enough, the car was so easy and comfortable to navigate, and the backup camera did wonders to help out, too!

Luckily, Japan is full of courteous and cautious drivers who follow the rules, and it’s nothing like what I’ve experienced in other foreign countries. If you’re used to driving in the United States or wherever you’re from, driving in Japan should come to you with just as much ease!”

Besides having your driving license, the driving law in Japan requires that you wear your seatbelt when the car is moving. Years ago, just the driver and the copilot had to wear it, but from 2008 it has been compulsory for everyone.

In Japan, you will drive on the left. Photo: Takahiro Taguchi

Where are the best places to travel by RV in Japan?

If you rent a camper, we recommend exploring off-the-beaten-path areas that are difficult to get to with public transport. Although the Japanese transport network is very efficient, rural areas can only be reached by private vehicle. Here are some ideas:

  • Explore Kyushu’s Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita prefecture, home to a unique local Buddhist culture and ancient temples, including the hidden temple of Futagoji, or head to samurai town Kitsuki for Japan’s smallest castle.
  • Spend the day driving to and around Mount Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture.
  • Go flower hunting in Yamanashi Prefecture for the peach flower blossoms
  • Drive through Hokkaido, where travel via car or RV is essential to explore this vast northern island.

When traveling around Japan, you will experience unforgettable kindness and care, and the now trending #vanlife is one of those communities in Japan. If you move around in a camper for some days, you will definitely see a different side of Japan — one filled with adventures and nature that city travelers often miss. Traveling on wheels can take you to new places unreachable by trains and at more of your own pace. Why not try it?

Are you interested to know more about camping in Japan? Check out our guide to camping in Japan.

Based on Matt DeSousa and Nina Cataldo’s previous articles in collaboration with Camp In Car.

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Religion in Japan: What is the main religion in Japan? https://voyapon.com/religion-in-japan/ https://voyapon.com/religion-in-japan/#respond Tue, 24 May 2022 09:20:04 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=88606 “A Japanese is born as a Shinto, marries as a Christian, and dies as a Buddhist.” This looks impossible, but...

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“A Japanese is born as a Shinto, marries as a Christian, and dies as a Buddhist.” This looks impossible, but in Japan, it has its logic. The concept of spirituality and religion in Japan is different from what we are used to in the West, so it is very interesting to learn about it. But be careful: once you are onboard the Japanese religion’s train, you won’t be able to stop. You must be willing to learn more to better understand its culture and society. So, travel with us as we learn the differences between Buddhism, Shintoism, and the other religions coexisting in Japan!

Two Japanese praying in front of a Shinto altar
Approximately 48.1% of Japanese inhabitants consider themselves Shintoists. Photo: Joachim Ducos

Religion in Japan: What is the Main Religion?

According to the 2021 official document of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, there are 48.1% of inhabitants in Japan consider themselves Shintoists and 46.5% Buddhists. There is only 1.05% of Christians, and the other 4.3% include other religions. This data doesn’t seem out of the ordinary until we see that this statistic has been made according to 181 million people, and Japan only has 126 million inhabitants. How is it possible? The answer is that many people consider themselves both Shinto and Buddhist and therefore choose both.

As you can see, Shintoism and Buddhism have great relevance in Japan. Their synchronicity over the years has made them coexist in the same country and influence each other.

Shintoism, the Indigenous Religion of Japan

The word Shinto (神道 — Shintoism) literally means the deity path. The first kanji 神 means kami (deity, spirit), and the second 道 is michi (way).

Line of Shinto monks in Japan
Shinto priests in a ritual at the Taikodani Inari Shrine. Photo: Roméo Arnault

What is Shintoism?

Shintoism is a religion that follows the cult of kami (spirits). It has greatly influenced Japanese culture for more than 2000 years, thus being the basis of Japanese thinking. This religion has its rituals and ways of expressing gratitude to the kami. Despite this, it has no founder, no supreme God, and no sacred scriptures.

This is one of the few archaic religions that still survive in the modern world, and it has never been in danger of disappearing due to the threat of a more powerful religion. Buddhism was the only religion that could overshadow it, but both have been able to adapt and influence each other in such a way to mix traditions, rituals, and representative figures.

Giant fox mask at the Japanese parade in Japan
Shinto is one of the few archaic religions that still survive in the modern world. Photo: Toshiko Sakurai

Even though we can find similar religions in other countries, such as Chinese Taoism, the Shinto religion itself only exists in Japanese culture. Japan is the only country that considers Shinto as an official religion. We just can find a few small shrines (called kaigai jinja — shrines outside the country) in countries where there has been a lot of Japanese immigration, such as Hawaii, Brazil, and the United States. At the same time, Shinto has no missionaries in other countries. We can say that Shintoism is completely rooted in the Japanese archipelago and its inhabitants. It is a way of understanding the environment, nature, the elements, and even the Japanese status quo and its emperor.

Is a kami a God?

A kami is not the same as the omnipresent Western God we know. We can define them as powerful spirits superior to mortals.

These Japanese spirits can be in many ways, and their numbers are endless. There are important gods such as the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, spirits living within living beings (animals), elements of nature (mountains or a storm), and deceased ancestors, including the ancient emperors of Japan.

A kami usually lives inside an object (shintai — 神 体) like a mirror, a jewel, a sword, and is stored in a hidden box located in the main shrine building. But others are hidden inside a tree or a mountain. There are some of them where they are stored within a kami itself, such as Mount Fuji!

What is the Origin of Shinto Religion?

Shinto is as old as the Japanese civilization. In the prehistoric Jomon period (14,500 BC — 300 BC), each community living in the Japanese archipelago had its own animistic beliefs. They also interpreted the surrounding unexplained events, believing powerful spirits and ancestors made it.

When they established the Yamato state (the first Japanese nation), they decided to unify these small beliefs to impose a “single truth.” The history of Japanese mythology was compiled in Kojiki, Japan’s oldest book. Here, they explained the beginnings of human existence according to Shintoism and linked these higher divinities with the Japanese royal family. It is good to remember that, according to Shinto, the emperor and his family are descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu and therefore have the legitimacy to reign in Japan.

Kagura Hall at Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine in Japan
Shinto is as old as the Japanese civilization. Izumo Taisha Shrine is one of the oldest in Japan. Photo: Todd Fong

Is Shinto a Symbol of Japanese Nationalism?

Shintoism is a true symbol of Japanese identity. In certain periods of history, it has been used by Japanese nationalists.

The Meiji Restoration is the most recent period of history when Shinto was used for non-religious purposes. Some purists of Japanese society wanted to impose Shinto as the only religion in Japan and even tried to suppress Buddhism. During this period, Shinto shrines became part of state institutions run by the government, which was the ones making decisions. This was called the State Shinto and lasted until the end of World War II.

After that, the government abolished the State Shinto, yet the relationship between Japanese nationalism and Shinto still has its open wounds. The clearest example is the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. This shrine was created in 1869 to honor the soldiers who died during the Boshin War. Since then, as we explained in our yurei ghosts article, many of the war fighters have been enshrined as kami there, including World War II criminal war soldiers. This seems an old story, but even nowadays, some Japanese prime ministers have visited this shrine to pay their respects on behalf of the government.

Main building and torii of Yasukuni Shrine
Yasukuni Shrine has been a controversial place since World War II. Photo: Toshihiro Gamo

Shinto Shrines to Visit in Japan

The sacred place for Shintoists is the kami‘s dwell, a shrine (神社 — jinja). Unlike other religions, sanctuaries are built in the place where the spirit is believed to live. This can answer why there are many sanctuaries in hidden and surprising places. Some shrines to visit in Japan are:

Japanese torri gates near a shrine in Japan
Shrines are built where a kami lives. Photo: Joachim Ducos

Buddhism, Another Religion in Japan

The philosophical doctrine of Buddhism was created by Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) in India (VI — IV BC). Buddha is not considered a supreme god, but as someone who reached a very high spiritual level, worth following his teachings. Buddhism has influenced the spirituality and behavior of many Asian countries, including Japan, and that makes it one of the most widely followed religions in the world. The Buddhist religion has some doctrines, and following them can lead you to complete happiness.

How did Buddhism come to Japan?

Buddhism was established in Japan during the Nara Period (710-794), in the 6th century during Emperor Kinmei’s reign. Thanks to the support of important families, the pro-Buddhist emperor Shomu built Todaiji Temple in Nara, a symbol and hub of a network of Buddhist temples around Japan. This was how Buddhism was rooted in Japanese society until today. Throughout history, some Buddhist schools had more powers beyond religion, reaching to politics and the imperial court. But in the Sengoku period, Buddhism was forced to abandon that power and focus on religion.

Japanese temple in Nara, Japan
The impressive temple Todai-ji shrine in Nara. Photo: Joachim Ducos

Buddhist Schools in Japan

Over the years, Buddhism has been creating schools of the different Buddhist sects. One of the most well-known is Shingon, an esoteric Buddhism current with the Japanese religious center in Koyasan. Another well-known Buddhist current is Pure Land Buddhism, devoted to educating and expanding Buddhism ideas to the lower classes of the Japanese society during the Kamakura Period. This school says that you can receive salvation by commending yourself to Amida Buddha by saying his name. The last school we will mention is the world-famous Zen, originating from China’s Chan Buddhism and divided into two ways: Rinzai (which emphasizes koan practice during meditation) and Soto (which emphasizes sitting with open consciousness). Zen focuses on meditation, following daily tasks, and knowing yourself to achieve enlightenment.

Kanshinji Golden Hall in Japan
Shingon sect’s Kanshinji temple. Photo: Toshiko Sakurai

Death in Japanese Buddhism

Shinto considers death as something negative, but when Buddhism arrived in Japan, the funerary rituals of both religions adapted themselves. Shinto priests rarely performed the deceased rituals, so Buddhist monks started the task of carrying out these funerary rituals. From the Tokugawa government, this was compulsory, as Buddhist monks were ordered to bury the deceased.

Nowadays, in Japan, you can choose both a Shinto or a Buddhist ritual. Even so, the majority of Japanese citizens choose the second option. Besides funerary rituals, Buddhism has more celebrations related to death and the spirits of the deceased ones, such as Obon.

Buddhist Temples to Visit in Japan

A temple is the place of worship for Buddhists. They can be identified by their big doors, the manji symbol (卍), and other distinctive aspects. Some temples to visit in Japan are:

 two statues guarding futago ji temple entrance in Oita, Japan
The impressive Futago-ji in Oita Prefecture. Photo: Clémentine Cintré

Where Can I Practice My Religion in Japan?

Religion in Japan goes further than Shinto and Buddhism. Even though existing more than 80,000 shrines and 75,000 temples, there are other places of worship for other religions in many cities.

Churches and Cathedrals in Japan

Nowadays, just 1% of the Japanese population considers themselves Christian. Christianity arrived in Japan in the 16th century thanks to the European missionaries. After a few rooting decades in the country, the Period Edo government forbade it and expelled the vast majority of missionaries living in Japan. It wasn’t till the 19th century that Christianity was allowed again.

In some areas, including many sites on Kyushu island, such as Nagasaki’s Goto Islands, you will find some Christian legacy existing in Japan. Moreover, in many main cities, there are many catholic churches and cathedrals, such as the modern St Mary of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Tokyo, with its surprising architecture designed by Kenzo Tange. Also, there are Orthodox churches and cathedrals such as the Holy Resurrection Cathedral and Anglican as Saint Andrew’s Cathedral.

Mosques in Japan

Islam had a negative connotation in 1853 Japan when the Edo period ended, and the country opened its borders to the rest of the world. One hundred years later, the first Japan Muslim Association was created. Even though it is a minority religion in Japan, the number of Muslims has highly increased recently, reaching 230,000 in 2019. 50,000 of them are converted Japanese.

There are about 80 mosques in Japan, some of them are big buildings, and others are small rooms, and most of them are located in large cities. For example, we have Tokyo Camii in Tokyo, the Kobe Mosque, or the Fukuoka Mosque.

Synagogues in Japan

There are still small communities of Jew people, even though many of them emigrate to Israel after the Second World War. One of the biggest communities is Kobe’s one, the Jewish Community of Kansai, where ex-pats or Jews taking a sabbatical year live. There is also a community in Tokyo (Chabad-Lubavitch), en Kyoto (Chabad Kyoto), and in Gifu prefecture (Chabad Takayama).

Also, in the small town of Yaotsu (Gifu prefecture), there is the Chiune Sugihara Memorial Museum, where Chiune Sugihara was born. This Japanese diplomatic rescued 5558 Jews during the Holocaust, offering them Japanese visas to stay in Japan to save their lives. Besides visiting the museum, there is Sugihara’s tomb in Kamakura, and many Jews visit it to pay tribute.

Eating in Japan with Religious Restrictions

In this last section, we will talk about what and where to eat in Japan if we have a halal or a kosher diet.

Where to Eat Halal Food in Japan

For those Muslims following a halal diet, there are two options: you can look for a halal product shop to prepare your own food or look for halal restaurants previously.

You have to remember that many Japanese dishes include pork, even if it doesn’t look like it. For example, many types of ramen are made with pork, so the safest alternative is to choose a vegetarian or chicken ramen. You can also order tempura or other vegetarian Japanese menu items.

Halal shop in Kobe
A halal store in Kobe. Photo: Eva C.

Halal Restaurants in Tokyo

There are also many restaurants with halal food. For example, in Tokyo, you can visit many restaurants such as: Honolu Ramen (there is another one in Osaka), Gyuumon (halal beef meat), or Tokyo Chinese Muslim Restaurant (halal Chinese food). If you want to try a halal curry, you can go to Coco Ichibanya in Shinjuku or Akihabara, or if you prefer sushi, you can go to Asakusa Sushi Ken (the first halal sushi in Tokyo).

Halal Restaurants in Osaka

In Osaka, there is Naritaya Osaka Minami (with ramen and other halal dishes), Matsuri restaurant (with many muslim friendly dishes), Okabeya (tofu restaurant with a halal menu), or Uemachi restaurant from the Sheraton Miyako hotel, where you can taste halal Japanese bento.

Halal Restaurants in Kyoto

In the ancient capital, you can also find halal places. If you want to try okonomiyaki, you can go to Okonomiyaki Sansei, and to try variate Japanese food, visit Yoshiya Arashiyama restaurant.

halal food in japan
Finding halal food in Japanese capitals is not difficult. Photo: Michael Burrows

Where to Eat Kosher Food in Japan

In Japan, there aren’t many places where you can find kosher food. Even so, thanks to Chabad Lubavitch website, there are some kosher shops in Tokyo:

In addition, the same website provides us with a list of kosher fish, with Japanese and English translations.

Your trip to Japanese spirituality just started. I wish you want to keep discovering more curiosities about religions in Japan and use all this knowledge for your next trip to Japan!

For this article, I have used as a reference these books: “Shinto: the Kami way” by Sokyo Ono and Japanese History by Brett L. Walker.

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How Do I Get an Internship in Japan? https://voyapon.com/internship-in-japan/ https://voyapon.com/internship-in-japan/#respond Mon, 16 May 2022 03:21:30 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=94061 In most cases, an internship is an essential part of studies or training. So-called mandatory internships are intended to help...

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In most cases, an internship is an essential part of studies or training. So-called mandatory internships are intended to help us determine which path we would like to take in our professional future by applying the theory from our studies in practice and gaining our first professional experience. But whether it is a mandatory internship or not, there are usually no limits when choosing the right internship. So, why not do an internship in Japan?

In addition to an insight into a vocational world, an internship abroad also offers you the opportunity to taste the world of work of another culture and gain international experience. Here are some tips and tricks for finding an internship in Japan.

Why Would an Internship Be a Good to Do in Japan?

If you don’t necessarily have to complete a mandatory internship, you will probably ask yourself what a voluntary internship is good for. For example, why would you go through the stress of applying, possibly in a foreign language, for an internship in Japan? Here are some reasons:

  • Gain First-Hand Work Experience: An internship offers you the opportunity to gain first-hand work experience. If you have not yet worked part-time, an internship is the best way to gain insights into the working environment.
  • Applying What You Learned in School: We all know that practice is always different from theory. Therefore, it is good to apply what you have learned from your studies or training in a real-life work environment.
  • Reveal What Your Strengths and Weaknesses Are: An internship helps reveal your strengths and weaknesses. For example, can you work under time pressure? Are you able to multitask? Find out during an internship.
  • Spend Time Being Curious: Although an internship can help point the way to your professional future, it can also reveal what you don’t like. Have a look at different areas and if you don’t like them, don’t worry! Mistakes are allowed, and an internship is limited in time. You don’t sign a permanent contract.
  • Network: You can make helpful contacts and expand your network.
Network through an internship in Japan.
Build up an international network through an internship abroad.

So, now that you have some pros of an internship in Japan let’s see how you can get an internship in Japan.

How to Get an Internship in Japan?

Let’s get to the good news first: Yes, getting an internship in Japan is possible.

The internship culture of Japan differs fundamentally from the one I know in Germany. An internship in Japan usually only lasts a few days or a few weeks if it is a summer internship. Also, internships in Japan are often part of the job hunting (就活, shūkatsu) of Japanese students and include seminars to get to know the company structure. As we know from our domestic internship positions, an internship with the possibility of taking on tasks or projects is not the norm in the Japanese internship culture.

So, if you are looking for an internship similar to your international internship culture, you should look up companies that also operate internationally. You will mainly find what you are looking for in the automotive industry.

But now the question arises: How do you find such an internship in Japan?

Find an Internship Position in Japan Online

The most common way to find an internship in Japan is to search for it online. Whether directly or on the career pages of your preferred company or with the help of special websites on which internship positions in Japan are advertised, you will find what you are looking for on the World Wide Web. You can also register for an internship program for a fee. In this case, an organization will help you get in touch with a Japanese company for an internship position.

Finding an internship in Japan online.
There are numerous ways to find an internship in Japan online.

Here are three websites where you can find internship offers from various companies in Japan:

  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a social network specializing in business and career networks. In addition to hundreds of thousands of job offers worldwide, you can also search explicitly for internship positions using search terms. Numerous filter options are making the search for the right position very easy. Another advantage of LinkedIn is that you can connect with other people and be found by hiring managers.
  • Glassdoor: In addition to full-time positions worldwide, you can also find internship opportunities on Glassdoor. Former and current employees can post reviews of the companies they have worked for or are still working for. These personal reviews can make it easier for you to find the right job by allowing you to find out whether the company is a good fit for you or not.
  • Kopra: On Kopra, you will only find job offers related to East Asia. This website focuses on internship positions, but job offers are displayed here. In addition, companies can send you messages directly, assuming your registered applicant profile is up-to-date.

Companies often display internship positions directly on their career pages, which is why it is also worth looking at the Japanese websites of your preferred companies.

You can also register for a paid internship program with an external organization. The costs vary significantly from organization to organization. You’ll have an external contact person for the entire duration of the internship. You can find examples of such organizations here:

  • CRCC Asia: Founded in 2006, CRCC Asia provides global internships in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, China, and the UK. This organization collaborates with more than 1,000 host companies in different career fields, including “Green Technology, Sustainability, & Environmental.” Visit the CRCC Asia website for more information.
  • AIP: You can register for internship programs in various Asian countries through the international organization “Asia Internship Program.” The internship positions in Japan are located at AIP in the greater Tokyo area. Unfortunately, a bookable language course is not possible with AIP. Visit the AIP website for more information.
  • Internship in Japan: This organization offers various internship programs, including customized ones, in which you can select the duration and the starting date of your internship. In addition, Internship in Japan offers group programs, either lasting 2 months or 14 days, where you can complete the internship from home, thanks to remote work. Visit the Internship in Japan website for more information.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with speculative applications, with which you can be particularly successful with NGOs.

Japan has both paid and unpaid internships. If you are looking for an internship, then pay attention to the information that the company writes about the respective internship. These usually state whether the internship will be paid or not. Salary can vary widely. The city where the internship is located can also affect whether you receive a commuter pass or get assistance with accommodations from your company.

My experience has shown that the salary at companies in the automotive industry is somewhat higher than an internship in the cultural sector. The average intern salary in Tokyo is around 130,000 yen (approx. 1,000 euro).

Salary for an internship in Japan.
The salary of an internship in Japan can vary greatly.

Internships found through one of the external organizations often have salaries. Information on whether the positions offered are paid, or unpaid internships can usually be found in the program information.

How Long are Internships in Japan?

Like the salary, the duration of an internship in Japan can vary greatly. However, the internship usually lasts between 6 weeks and six months. You will more often get the option of a one-year internship at international companies.

Program-dependent internships, such as summer internships, tend to be shorter internship periods. Your working hours can also vary. While full-time internships are more common, there is sometimes an option for you to do a part-time internship.

What are the Requirements for an Internship in Japan?

An essential requirement for an internship in Japan is a valid visa. What kind of visa you need depends on the type of internship. In addition, the duration and whether it is paid or unpaid must be taken into account.

All other requirements depend on the companies or organizations you are applying to. For example, the legal age in Japan is age 20, so most organizations will require applicants to be at least 20 years old.

Internship positions advertised by international companies usually focus on required qualifications. Undergraduate studies are often needed, as is current enrollment at a university at the time of the internship.

A person learning Japanese.
Being fluent in Japanese is not always a requirement for an internship.

The language skills you need also differ from internship to internship. In some cases, fluency in English is sufficient. In others, knowledge of Japanese at the N2 level is required.

What kind of visa do I need for an internship in Japan?

Which visa you need depends on the circumstances of your internship. Let’s take a look at the different visa categories that you may be eligible for:

PaidLonger than 90 days
Tourist Visa
Cultural Activities Visa
Designated Activities Visa
Student Visa✔
An overview of possible visas for an internship in Japan.

Tourist Visa

A simple tourist visa will suffice if your internship is unpaid and lasts less than 90 days. This won’t require you to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) or apply for a visa at your local embassy or consulate.

This visa is suitable for all those who, for example, want to do an internship in Japan during the lecture-free period and can finance it out of their own pocket.

Cultural Activities Visa

The Cultural Activities Visa (文化活動, bunka katsudō) is suitable for all those whose internship is unpaid and lasts more than 90 days.

This visa is valid for three months, six months, or one year. The visa variant with a validity period of 3 years does not apply to interns.

For the Cultural Activities Visa, you need a CoE to be able to apply for the visa at your local embassy or consulate.

Designated Activities Visa

The Designated Activities Visa (特定活動, tokutei katsudō) is suitable for all those whose internship is paid and lasts from a minimum of 3 months to a maximum of 1 year.

This visa’s validity period is also three months, six months, or one year. The visa variant with a validity period of more than one year does not apply to interns.

For the Designated Activities Visa, you need a CoE to be able to apply for the visa at your local embassy or consulate.

Student Visa

If you are studying as an exchange student at a Japanese university, your student visa is sufficient for an internship. However, there are a few things to consider here too.

The standard student visa (留学, ryūgakusei) allows you to do an unpaid short-term internship, which lasts no longer than a day or two.

Suppose you would like to do a paid internship that does not exceed 28 hours a week. In that case, you need the additional “permission to pursue other activities than those permitted by the previously granted residence status (資格外活動許可, shikakugai katsudō kyoka). The easiest option is to apply for this when you arrive at the airport.

If you want to do your internship for more than 28 hours a week in addition to the university, then you need another permission. Namely, “permission to work more than 28 hours a week” (1週について28時間を超える資格外活動許可). This permission assumes that you are sufficiently finished with your courses at university so that your university performance cannot be affected by the internship.

An Internship in Japan: A Unique Experience

From my own experience, I can only advise everyone to take the plunge and complete an internship in Japan. During my time as an exchange student, my path led me through a spontaneous application to an unpaid internship in a Japanese NGO and later to a paid, one-year internship in an international company in Tokyo.

People of a work seminar in Japan.

So, take advantage of the career sites of international companies, visit websites where internship positions are displayed, and don’t hesitate to send applications from your side. An internship in Japan can only be beneficial for your professional future. Good luck!

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How To Rent A House or Apartment In Japan: A Comprehensive Guide To Real Estate Agencies & How Much it Costs https://voyapon.com/how-to-rent-a-house-or-apartment-in-japan/ https://voyapon.com/how-to-rent-a-house-or-apartment-in-japan/#respond Fri, 13 May 2022 04:24:23 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=93792 So you’ve decided, perhaps to study Japanese or work, to take the plunge and move to Japan. If there is one thing...

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So you’ve decided, perhaps to study Japanese or work, to take the plunge and move to Japan. If there is one thing that most new residents of Japan have in common, regardless of where they come from, their age, how long they plan to stay, and the reason for their move, it is necessary to find a good place to live.

Renting a house or apartment for a foreigner in Japan can be complicated, especially if it’s your first time and you’re not familiar with the procedures, rules, and house-searching lingo. This article is intended to help you with the task of renting a house or apartment in Japan; we will look at the pros, cons, and costs of the main alternatives.

Is it difficult to find housing in Japan as a foreigner?

Finding a home in Japan, for a foreigner, can be either very simple or very complex. Several factors affect your range of options: your Japanese language skills first and foremost, but also the type of visa you have, or your employment and financial situation.

A person with a good knowledge of the language, a stable job, and steady finances, maybe even with a long-term visa to guarantee their stay in Japan, will have no difficulty finding accommodation through regular real estate agencies, just as Japanese citizens do.

How to find rent for foreigners in Japan
Searching for a house in Japan can be a lot of fun!

On the other hand, a student who doesn’t yet speak Japanese very well will probably have to resort to one of the options specifically for foreigners, certainly convenient from the logistical point of view but much less so for their wallet.

How to search for an apartment or house for rent in Japan

If you’re looking for a house or an apartment of your own, or one to share with a friend, you have two options: turn to a Japanese real estate agency (不動産屋, fudosanya) or contact an agency for foreigners. In both cases, you can either visit the agency in person or search for your apartment online.

Option 1: Use a Japanese real estate agency

Japanese real estate agencies offer a wider range of options than those specifically targeting foreigners, and usually, the cost of rent is lower. However, there are a few things to keep in mind: the duration of the contract is usually two years (the time and cost of premature termination and renewal of the lease are set out in the rental agreement); the apartment will be handed to you unfurnished, so you’ll need to be prepared to cover the extra cost of furniture; utilities are not included; and finally, there are often “hidden costs” that a first-time renter might overlook, which we will go over in detail later.

Real estate agencies can be found almost everywhere, and you’ll easily recognize them from the floor plans of the available accommodations displayed in the windows. If you have already decided on the neighborhood or area where you’d like to live, I recommend visiting an agency nearby because they’ll likely have a wider selection of properties that match your needs.

The biggest online agencies are At Home, Chintai, and Suumo, but there are many others. These portals are completely in Japanese, and if you contact an agent for more information about a house that has caught your interest, they will generally reply in Japanese.

Japanese rental agencies help foreigners with rental properties in  japan
Fudosanya agencies are easily recognizable from the floor plans on display.

Unfortunately, not all agencies “for Japanese people” rent to foreigners. If you decide to visit a real estate agency in person, you’ll be asked for some personal information, and, in some cases, the agent will call the landlord on the spot to make sure they’re willing to rent to a foreigner. As for online agencies, some allow you to filter the results to show only the options that accept foreign tenants, while sometimes you’ll have to put yourself in the hands of the agent who will deal with your request for information.

Be prepared to look for a guarantor (保証人, hoshonin) who will fill out some paperwork for you and agree to deal with any issues on your behalf if the agency can’t reach you and cover any outstanding rent if you’re unable to pay yourself. The guarantor can be a person or an organization and must be Japanese and a resident of Japan. There are also guarantor agencies that you can contact for a fee.

Japanese rental property management
In Japan, you don’t go directly to the landlord for any issues with your property, but through the kanri gaisha that manages the property.

If the response is positive, you’ll be given an appointment to see the house in person. If you’re happy with the property, it’s time to sign the contract. This is often done at a second agency (管理会社, kanri gaisha, property management company), which you can rely on for any eventuality during your lease.

Option 2: Use a rental agency for foreigners

Agencies for foreigners have several advantages: first, they offer support in several languages, so you don’t have to worry about missing out on some crucial information if you don’t yet master Japanese; secondly, their contracts are much more flexible than their Japanese counterparts, sometimes even offering single-month leases. Last but not least, the apartments are often furnished (as in the cases of Sakura House and Leopalace), and sometimes the rental fee also includes utilities and internet. Real estate agencies for foreigners would seem more convenient from every point of view… But of course, convenience comes with a price ー, that of the rent! If an apartment on Suumo costs 68,000 yen per month (approximately 545.00 USD), the same apartment through an agency for foreigners can cost as much as 99,000 yen (approximately 790.00 USD). That’s 40% more! The presence or absence of the “hidden costs” mentioned above varies depending on the agency.

*USD rates reflect the article publishing date and may not accurately reflect current rates.

Having said that, agencies for foreigners often offer the possibility to sign an online contract before you arrive in Japan (which is not the case for Japanese agencies): for this reason, it may also be a good idea to choose one of these accommodations as a temporary solution before moving on to a more convenient option.

Which is better: guesthouse, room share, or apartment?

So far, we’ve talked a lot about apartments, but if you want to save a little money, you can also choose to share your home with other people.

A guesthouse (or sharehouse, シェアハウス) is an inexpensive, furnished accommodation with a monthly or even weekly lease. The rooms are usually private, while the common areas are shared (often with other foreigners, although lately, many young Japanese have chosen guesthouses). There are guesthouses for every preference: women only, foreigners, and students, with rooms in Western or Japanese style, single or double.

renting a room in a Japanese guesthouse in Japan
Choosing to share housing with other people can also be a way to make new friends.

Then there are the so-called Social Apartments, a much more luxurious (and expensive) type of guesthouse where residents have access not only to a common lounge and kitchen but also to movie theatres, gyms, billiard rooms, bars, and more, all within the same building. This accommodation is favored by young Japanese people, but about 15% of the rooms are occupied by foreign guests.

Finally, there are also room sharing options, where you will have to share both a room and common areas with several people. Personally, given the absolute lack of privacy (which you’ll already have to fight for, especially in big cities), I recommend keeping this option as a last resort.

How much does it cost to rent a house or apartment in Japan?

The rent can vary greatly depending on the size of the house, the number of rooms, the area, and the distance between the building and the nearest station.

In Japan, you will often encounter terms such as 1R, 1K, 1DK, and 1LDK. These abbreviations indicate which rooms and how many rooms the house has, excluding the bathroom. Here’s a quick overview:

  • 1R stands for 1 Room, meaning literally “one room.” These are often tiny studios, where the kitchenette is located in the same room where you sleep.
  • 1K stands for 1 Kitchen, which means “one room + kitchen.” Here the kitchenette is separated from the bedroom by a wall. These apartments are also quite small, usually between 15 and 25 sqm, and the kitchen is barely big enough for a regular dining table.
  • 1DK stands for 1 Dining Kitchen, meaning “one room + eat-in kitchen.” Again, the kitchen is separate from the room and is spacious enough for a dining table.
  • 1LDK stands for 1 Living Dining Kitchen, meaning “one room + kitchen + living room.” These apartments are usually the largest, having a kitchenette and living room separate from the bedroom.

The number in front of the acronym indicates the number of rooms. For example, a 3LDK will be a property with a kitchen, living room, and three rooms.

Japanese rooms and layouts in japan
Different layouts (間取り, madori) of Japanese properties.

But how much does it cost to live in Japan? When renting in Japan, several costs are involved, which is often hard for foreigners to figure out. In addition to the rent and condo fees that are listed in the real estate advertisements, you will have to deal with:

There’s also a rental renewal fee (更新料, koshinryo) to be paid in case you want to renew the contract after two years, which in most cases corresponds to another month’s rent.

breaking  the piggy bank when renting in Japan
Renting a house in Japan is much more expensive than just your monthly rent.

If you decide to rent an apartment in Japan, you should prepare the equivalent of about 5-6 months’ worth of rent to pay when you sign the contract. For example, if you find a 1DK that suits you in the center of Tokyo for 80,000 yen per month (about 640 USD), be prepared to pay up to 480,000 yen (about 3,800 USD) upfront before you can move in. On top of this, unless explicitly included in the lease, are the costs of utilities, internet, and furnishing your new home.

Luckily, not all expenses listed in the table above are always due. Agencies that offer affordable options for foreigners, for example, often do not require a guarantor, and recently, more and more real estate agencies have begun to offer reikin-free rental housing.

Finding a home in Japan can seem a bit complicated, but there are so many options that you’ll have no trouble finding one that is just right for you. Whether you decide to go with a Japanese fudosanya or a real estate agency for foreigners, your new home will become the centerpiece of your new life in the Land of the Rising Sun. Is there anything more exciting? Happy searching!

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Ozu City: Spend an Autumn Getaway in Ehime Prefecture https://voyapon.com/ozu-city-ehime/ https://voyapon.com/ozu-city-ehime/#respond Wed, 11 May 2022 08:51:15 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=86640 Japan’s smallest main island, Shikoku, is usually not one of the main destinations for international tourists visiting Japan. Many follow...

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Japan’s smallest main island, Shikoku, is usually not one of the main destinations for international tourists visiting Japan. Many follow the golden route with Tokyo – Fuji – Kyoto – Osaka – Hiroshima. However, a visit to the four prefectures on Shikoku is very worthwhile, not just to escape the crowds of tourists. We visited Ehime Prefecture in the autumn of 2020 and took a day trip to Ozu City (大洲市, Ōzu-shi) from its capital Matsuyama which was a highlight of the trip, especially because of the beautiful autumn colors. Here are some of the best things to see and do in Ozu City.

Ozu Castle: Visit a Reconstructed Wooden Castle

The Hijikawa River flows through Ozu city and provides a beautiful backdrop for one of the city’s main attractions: Ozu Castle (大洲城, Ōzujō).

Ozu Castle is on the hill, surrounded by trees and the Hijikawa River.

Ozu Castle (大洲城) is located on a hill by the river and was originally built in 1331. The castle is also called Jizogadake (地蔵ヶ嶽城). Like many Japanese castles, it has been destroyed several times during history, be it by fire, natural disasters, or human hands. After the Meiji Restoration, the castle remained neglected until the decision to demolish the main building was made in 1888. Only four watchtowers (櫓, yagura) remained intact, which were declared an important cultural asset of Japan in 1957.

Ozu Castle in Japan
In the middle, you can see the replica of the main building, tenshu, with the original watchtowers koran yagura (left) and daidokoro yagura (right).

The plans for the reconstruction of the castle started in 1996. For this purpose, historical records of the old construction methods and traditional techniques were used using wood without nails. So, the new building was kept very close to the original structure. The work was completed in 2004.

Inside the castle, there are steep stairs and an exhibition on the history and reconstruction work of the castle, with models, figures, drawings, and photos. The admission fee is 550 yen for adults, and the castle is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (the last entry is at 4:30 p.m.). You have a wonderful view of the city, the river, and the mountains in the surrounding area from the top floor.

If you want to experience the castle even more, there is a unique opportunity to make an overnight stay at Ozu Castle. Sleeping with futons on the traditional wooden floors where the samurai once spent their nights — surely you would like to tell your family and friends about that after your trip.

Garyu Sanso: A Charming and Historic Japanese Villa

About a 15-minute walk from the castle is Garyu Sanso (臥龍山荘), a mountain villa that you shouldn’t miss during your visit to Ozu. The villa, built in 1907, consists of a large garden with several buildings. Numerous architects were consulted for the planning, and even designs of the imperial villas in Kyoto were used as templates. There are numerous details to discover when taking a look around.

From the elegant main house, you can enjoy the view over the moss-covered garden. The garden is very beautiful, especially in autumn, with the red and yellow colors of autumn leaves (紅葉, kouyou). The garden’s end is a building on stilts that overlooks the river. It is said that the moonlight from the river should be reflected in the vaulted ceiling construction.

Three of the buildings were named important national treasures in 2016. These include the garyuin (the traditional main building), the furoan (the tea house on stilts), and the bunko (a warehouse for documents, books, paintings, and other essentials).

Admission to the Garyu Sanso Villa is 550 yen and the opening times are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (the last entry is 4:30 p.m.). However, there is also a combined ticket with the castle, which costs 880 yen for both places.

What Else To See and Do in Ozu?

Ozu Castle and Garyu Sanso Villa are the most popular tourist destinations in Ozu City. But the small town has even more to offer. A part of the historic city center has been preserved and is reminiscent of samurai residences and merchants’ houses. The canals with clear water are decorated with flowers, and you can sometimes spot Koi fishes swimming around there. With a walk through this area, you can immerse yourself in a mix of the Edo and Meiji periods. Or do you prefer the Showa period (1926-1989)? The city of Ozu has to offer this as well.

A Showa Era Shopping Street and Retro Museum

The Pokopen Yokocho (ポコペン横丁) area reflects a shopping area from the 1950s / 1960s. You will find old advertisement tin plates on the walls and stalls in the Showa style, where a wide variety of things are sold every Sunday from April to the end of November and every third Sunday from December to March. This includes food but also old toys and antiques. You can also try out old games at some stalls from that time.

This area also includes the Omoide Soko Museum (思ひ出倉庫), a small Showa retro museum filled with all sorts of things from that era. There is a rebuilt garage workshop inside and an entire Showa apartment, and a corner dedicated to Coca-Cola. Admission costs just 200 yen for adults and allows you to travel back to the past century.

Go Souvenir Shopping at Ozu Redbrick Hall

Right next to it is the Akarengakan (赤レンガ館), also known as Ozu Redbrick Hall. This has a more western style in its red bricks. It used to be a bank building; however, nowadays, tourists are welcome. In addition to a sales area for regional products such as candles, ceramics, and pictures, there are also exhibitions and a place to relax.

So many different architectural styles in one city!

At the end of your visit to Ozu city, you can buy delicious souvenirs with you and for your loved ones. The Ozu Castle Kinako Kusa Dango, a sweet made from mochi, soy flour, and red bean paste, is very popular. The castle is even shown on the packaging. Ehime prefecture is also known for its mandarins, and so you will find endless products with these fruits. The prefecture mascot, Mikyan, also looks like a dog in the shape of a mandarin.

I hope you enjoyed our little tour through the autumnal Ozu. During our trip at the beginning of December, we were able to see numerous beautiful places with autumn leaves and, above all, the temperatures at this time are also very pleasant for traveling.

How to Get to Ozu City

Ozu City is located in the western part of Shikoku in Ehime Prefecture (愛媛県). The best way to get to Ozu from Matsuyama is by express train. It takes about 35 minutes to get to Iyo-Ozu Station and costs 1,500 yen each way (2,460 yen with a seat reservation). You can also use the local trains, but that takes almost three times the travel time.

Iyo-Ozu Train Station is about 1.5 to 2 kilometers away from the city’s main attractions. You can either walk there or take the bus (pay attention to the schedule, as the buses don’t run often). Alternatively, you can borrow a bicycle from the tourist information office in front of the train station and explore the city with it.

A visit to Ehime prefecture and Ozu city is also worthwhile at other times of the year, including spring’s cherry blossom season or summer’s lush green landscape. If you are planning to travel to Ozu at the end of April / beginning of May, you can combine your visit with over 60,000 azaleas that bloom in Tomisuyama Park (冨士山公園). Depending on when you will make your next trip to Japan, plan a detour to Shikoku for its many other unique destinations on offer.

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Plastic Culture in Japan: Challenges, Selective Sorting, and New Recycling Management Solutions https://voyapon.com/plastic-in-japan/ https://voyapon.com/plastic-in-japan/#respond Fri, 06 May 2022 06:47:02 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=87135 Japan is a country of consumption. Commercial solicitations are everywhere, in supermarkets, shopping centers (depato, デパート) and konbini (コンビニ), and...

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Japan is a country of consumption. Commercial solicitations are everywhere, in supermarkets, shopping centers (depato, デパート) and konbini (コンビニ), and in the convenience stores open 24 hours a day. In-store, overwrapping is on the shelves of all departments, and shopping without plastic is a challenge. As a result, waste accumulates at breakneck speed, and the delicate question of their treatment arises. Amid mountains of plastic, let’s look into why there is so much in the first place, challenges with waste management, and new green initiatives.

The Culture of Overpackaging Food Products

Does Japan use a lot of plastic? Yes, plastic is deeply rooted in everyday life, and Japan is the world’s second-largest producer of plastic waste per capita, behind the United States. In 2018, the annual national plastic production was 9.4 million tonnes.

It is difficult to go shopping without also stocking up on plastic. Meat and fish are packaged in plastic or polystyrene trays, covered with cellophane. Some fruits and vegetables are packaged in batches in these same trays and/or covered with a plastic film. Some fruits and vegetables, such as mangoes, melons, and even carrots or peppers, are sometimes individually wrapped. Pears, persimmons, peaches, and citrus fruits are often even protected by a polyester net on top of the tray and the plastic wrap. It is hard to avoid. Even loose fruits and vegetables are wrapped in small plastic pouches at the checkout. And overpacking is ongoing even in so-called “natural” product stores.

In addition to the concern for product protection, individual portions are common. Biscuits are often packaged in individual plastic bags, and sometimes gathered on plastic trays.

During the checkout, plastic is used again. Meat and fish trays and some small products are rewrapped by the cashier in another plastic pouch. It is still possible to politely refuse this additional packaging, but in the land of conformism, the approach is not natural and is often considered with surprise.

After the checkouts of supermarkets, tables are available to pack the purchases. And once again, plastic pouches are in self-service. They are quite often used to avoid dirtying the bags during carriage.

Why Such An Abundance of Packaging and Plastic?

As we said, Japan is a big consumer of plastic. But why are the Japanese so little green? The cult of packaging is deeply rooted in tradition, and the cult of plastic can be explained by several cultural factors.

In Japan, the packaging is almost as important as the content. This is especially true when it comes to gifts. The Japanese take great care in their packaging. As proof, furoshiki (風呂敷), the traditional Japanese technique of folding and knotting fabric, is a full-fledged art. Even for everyday consumer goods, the packaging, even plastic packaging, stands for the quality of service and gives the product a luxurious touch.

Another reason for plastic use is that it guarantees cleanliness. Care of hygiene is essential in Japan. The more and the better the product is wrapped, the better it will be protected. Plastic is cheap, sturdy, and hygienic.

Japan is also a major consumption society. Commercial solicitations are everywhere: in shopping centers, in the very dense commercial fabric of supermarkets, drugstores and konbini, even on train station platforms, with ekiben kiosks (駅弁, station bento), in the streets, and sometimes even in the temples, with beverages vending machines (jidohanbaiki, 自動販売機). Japan owes its economic achievement to a strong and sustained domestic consumption.

Vending machines are ubiquitous in Japan. Photo: Mylène Larnaud

Other Daily Disposable Items in Everyday Life

At the restaurant, disposable chopsticks are often used. They are made of wood, but still…

Those disposable chopsticks are available at checkouts in supermarkets and konbini. Canteens are rather rare, which requires employees who haven’t brought their bento box (弁当) to buy their lunch in individual portions at the konbini. On the menu: ready-made meals packed in plastic or polystyrene trays, sliced fruit presented on plastic trays, apples or bananas sold individually and wrapped in plastic bags; and concerning drinks, soda in a can, green tea in a plastic bottle, or a café latte in a plastic cup (with a plastic straw), or, at best, a single-served fruit juice in a cardboard packaging. The reheated dish and the cold drink are packed in two separate bags. And this is how the lunch break turns into a plastic feast

Ready-made meals in a konbini

When it rains and you don’t have an umbrella case, plastic sleeves are available at the entrance of shops, restaurants, businesses and administrations. Before entering, visitors slip their umbrella into the sleeve to prevent it from dripping.

Ultimately, plastic waste represents about 37 kilos per capita per year in Japan. Packaging accounts for more than half of Japanese household waste by volume and almost a quarter by weight. According to the Ministry of the Environment, plastic packaging accounts for 68% of plastic waste generated in Japan.

A plastic waste bag. In Japan, a family of 4 people generates a bag full of plastic waste each week.

How Does Japan Practice Selective Sorting and Waste Collection?

After these somber assessments, we must say that the Japanese carefully practice selective sorting. And when we talk about sorting, it is much more selective than what is done in Europe. Since the end of the 1990s, the municipalities have implemented very strict selective sorting rules. They are summarized in booklets that are sometimes so detailed that sorting can turn into a headache for the novice.

In Japan, it is not uncommon to have at least four or even five different bins that must be collected in specific bags: the garbage can for combustible waste, the bin for plastic waste, the bin for cardboard waste, the bin for glass, and the bin for cans and jars. At a minimum, combustible waste is separated from non-combustible waste, and at least one product category is sorted. Plastic is often separated from cardboard.

Collection points with recycling bins are also available at the entrances of supermarkets, some drugstores, and shopping centers.

Newspapers, cardboard and corrugated cardboard, non-combustible waste (porcelain, ceramics, metal products, etc.), and flammable products are sorted in other specific bins and separately collected. To ensure that waste is collected, it is necessary to carefully assemble newspapers, food cartons, and cardboard into regular, tied bundles.

Cardboards and corrugated cardboards are collected about twice a month.

Concerning the collection of bulky items, it is generally necessary to book an appointment, print a voucher, and take out the item(s) at the specified time, along with the voucher(s). In other words, you cannot just throw anything away!

And although all these rules are very strict, they are usually scrupulously enforced by residents.

How Does Recycling and Waste Disposal Work in Japan?

After sorting, how does recycling work? Three-quarters of the waste is incinerated, only one-fifth is recycled, and the rest is buried in landfills.

Concerning plastic, only a small amount is recycled. Even if plastic waste is widely sorted, nearly 80% is burned. 55 to 70% of plastic waste undergoes “thermal recycling,” which is transformed by combustion into thermal energy and electricity. Only 23% of plastic waste is recycled to produce other materials. The rate of mechanical plastic recycling doesn’t really occur because Japan doesn’t have infrastructures adapted to cleaning waste.

As for plastic bottles, each Japanese consumes an average of 183 bottles each year. But the recycling rate is better: 85% of them are recycled, one of the highest rates in the world, with a target of 100% by 2030. Plastic bottles are transformed into other bottles or into synthetic fabrics.

But on a national scale, storage and recycling capacities are saturated: treatment plants are lacking, and the Japanese archipelago runs out of space. The Japanese Ministry of the Environment has asked municipalities to do their part by incinerating plastic waste from companies. But the incineration of waste generates carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, and even their burial generates soil pollution. And the mountains of plastic are responsible for the pollution of the seas.

So, in reality, Japan exports the majority of its sorted waste. Until 2018, nearly three-quarters of sorted waste was sent to China to be recycled… or incinerated. But in 2018, the rapidly expanding China banned these toxic and unprofitable imports. Japan was unprepared for such a concentration of waste, directly resulting from its consumerist model. Exports have been partly shifted to other Southeast Asian countries: Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. But some countries, like Thailand, are, in their turn, considering banning these imports. The plastic and waste treatment problems in Japan are far from being solved.

Japan’s Future Waste, Ecology, and Environmental Goals

The government has recognized the unfolding ecological drama and the urgency of the situation, both in terms of waste reduction and recycling. The issue is regularly on the agenda at various political summits. As part of the G8 Summit in 2004, Japan launched the “3R” Initiative (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), intended to promote a society that respects material cycling. So far, the program has a mixed picture: while recycling has been improved, there is still a long way to go concerning the first two components, “Reduce” and “Reuse.” During the Kobe Environment G8 in 2008, Japan announced the Action Plan for Global Zero Waste Societies. Reducing plastic waste was once again on the agenda at the G20 Summit in Osaka in 2019.

In January 2019, the Plastic Smart Forum brought together nearly 40 companies and non-profit organizations. In the same year, Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada presented a recycling strategy to reduce single-use plastic waste by a quarter by 2030.

This ambitious scheme included the switch to compulsory invoicing of plastic bags before the end of 2020. After some reluctance, it is now done. Since July 1, 2020, plastic bags have been chargeable at the checkout. The businesses now bill customers for a nominal sum ranging from 3 to 10 yen. The government wants to encourage the Japanese to reconsider their consumption patterns. Some brands like Seico Mart have adopted bags made of bioplastic, materials of plant origin based on sugar or corn.

But to achieve Japan’s ecological goals, billing for plastic bags is not sufficient. Yoshiaki Harada’s plan also includes promoting the use of products made from carbon-neutral and plant-based bioplastics or derived from renewable sources. Researchers have developed vegetable plastic made from biodegradable polymers. Also, Japan has begun searching for new partners on the corporate side. Because as everywhere, companies often blame the consumers.

Moving Towards Better Waste Reduction and Recycling in Japan

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Some manufacturers are looking to replace traditional plastic packaging with greener alternatives. The famous KitKat brand now packs its chocolate bars in cardboard bags. The konbini store chains are also making efforts. 7-Eleven replaced the plastic wrappers of onigiri with a material derived from cane sugar. Family Mart now uses recycled plastic for noodle wrappers, and Seico Mart has undertaken several initiatives to reduce plastic use.

Widely invested in recycling, Osaki, in Kagoshima prefecture, southern Kyushu, is considered a model of ​​selective waste sorting. Waste is divided into 27 categories, and 25 types of waste are fully recycled. The recycling rate is over 80%, the highest in Japan.

Some citizens themselves are committed to ecology in Japan through collectives and associations. The Internet sees the emergence of many sites and Instagram accounts that promote waste reduction and recycling, such as zerowaste.japan, PlasticObsessedJapan or zerowastejapan.

Japan lacks infrastructure and space to recycle. Another track is therefore being explored: building artificial islands on plastic that could not be recycled. And it has already been the case in Tokyo! The futuristic district of Odaiba has been extended on new artificial islands, built on embankments and polders made of recycled plastic waste. Rebuilding on waste is quite a statement.

Kamikatsu, the Zero Waste Japanese Village

Private initiatives are emerging, such as the Kamikatsu Zero Waste Village, a Japanese village between the mountains and the rice terraces of Shikoku. It is part of the international “zero waste” movement, promoting the reuse of waste, compost, and recycling.

Kamikatsu Village. Photo: Clémentine Cintré

Upstream, this movement is committed to reducing waste. It encourages a cleaner industrial system and less reliance on toxic products contaminating landfills and incinerators. Downstream, it encourages more virtuous consumption practices. The goal is “zero waste.”

Kamikatsu’s Zero Waste Academy coordinates these efforts. It encourages manufacturers to facilitate recycling and fight against illegal dumping and works to change attitudes. It also advocates that local governments stop incinerating waste in landfills.

Japan faces an overproduction of plastic and its waste treatment infrastructure saturation. It relates to ecology, but it is also a societal issue. While manufacturers are responsible for packaging, consumption patterns are also the responsibility of individuals. And consumption habits die hard. The question arises as to the viability of the consumerist model. Despite the relative inertia of consumers and the weight of traditions, awareness is growing. Initiatives are emerging to reduce the production and consumption of plastic, improve recycling chains, and even reuse waste to build artificial islands.

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Meet Nara Park’s Bowing Deer and Other Historical Monuments You Shouldn’t Miss https://voyapon.com/nara-park-deer/ https://voyapon.com/nara-park-deer/#respond Mon, 02 May 2022 05:24:23 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=87279 Located a few kilometres from Kyoto and Osaka, Nara (奈良市) is one of the historical capitals of Japan. Numerous Buddhist...

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Located a few kilometres from Kyoto and Osaka, Nara (奈良市) is one of the historical capitals of Japan. Numerous Buddhist temples and traditional buildings from its glorious past make it one of Japan’s top tourist destinations. But when we are visiting Nara, while strolling between its historical monuments, we are struck by the presence of hundreds of deer freely roaming in Nara Park and approaching tourists to beg for a portion of the rice crackers they are addicted to.

A girl close to a deer in Nara Park

The Deer of Nara, Sacred Animals Who Became National Treasures

The 500 hectares of Nara Park are home to more than a thousand sika deer, called shika (鹿) in Japanese. Not shy, the deer of Nara allow people to approach them and even often go to meet the tourists by themselves. The recklessness of these wild animals can probably be explained by their unique place in Japanese mythology which guaranteed them a special treatment throughout history.

Numerous deer in Nara Park, Japan
For a long time, Nara deer were considered deities.

According to the legend, the deity Takemikazuchi-no-Mikoto, the God of Thunder, arrived in Nara riding a white deer. Therefore, the deer of Nara were themselves considered gods, and the Japanese had to pay them respect by nodding their heads when they met one. Until 1637, killing one of these deer could be punished with death.

The divinity of Nara’s deer was revoked after the end of World War II, but they soon became Living National Treasures, a status that guaranteed their protection.

sika deer living in Nara Park, Japan
Sika deer are now considered a Living National Treasure.

Tips on Feeding the Deer in Nara Park

Through the centuries, the deer of Nara learned how to live among humans and adopted some of their customs. They use the zebra crossing, patiently wait for the cars to pass, and nod their heads like people when you greet them.

But their civility may not be selfless. They approach tourists hoping to receive one of these precious rice crackers that they devour in seconds.

A girl feeding a small deer with a rice cracker in Nara, Japan
A deer of Nara will never say no to a rice cracker!

For 150 yen, you can buy a packet of these rice crackers for deer, called shika senbei, in one of the numerous small stalls found anywhere in Nara Park. As soon as you take possession of the crackers you will be surrounded by the deer who will want their part of the treasure you hold in your hands!

You will have to be careful, as Nara’s deer can be particularly pushy, especially if they notice that you carry some shika senbei with you. A moment of inattention, and you may very well realise that a deer is searching into your bag (it happened to me several times).

It’s essential to keep in mind that, while these deer are not fearful, they are wild animals. They can bite, push, or kick. Deer can sometimes become violent during the mating season between September and October or when females are protecting their newborns between May and July. Some tourists are injured by deer in Nara Park every year, so be careful, especially during these two periods.

Two deer eating rice crackers from the hands of a girl in Japan

That being said, no reason to panic here. The vast majority of Nara’s deer are calm, and their presence makes up part of Nara Park’s unique atmosphere. This cohabitation between humans and deer is quite exceptional. A moment here is all the more pleasant as a perceptible good mood reigns with many street-food stands of Kansai specialities such as takoyaki. And the presence of the deer is not the only reason why Nara Park is a beautiful place.

The Best Historical Monuments of Nara Park You Shouldn’t Miss

Aside from all these deer sleeping peacefully or chasing tourists for that tasty shika senbei, Nara Park is home to many World Heritage monuments. Temples can be found in every corner of the park, and there is no doubt that you will discover some hidden gems during your exploration. Here are the most famous monuments in Nara Park that you shouldn’t miss.

Deer in the grounds of Todai-ji temple in Nara
Deer and temples: the two highlights of Nara Park

The Todai-Ji Temple and One of Japan’s Largest Bronze Buddha Statue

The Todai-Ji temple (東大寺) is mainly known for the Daibutsu-den, the hall of the great Buddha, listed as a World Heritage Site. While the original building was built in the 8th century, the one you can visit was built during the 16th century. A third smaller than the original building, it is one of the largest wood structures in the world.

Daibutsu-den in Todai-ji, home to Nara(s Daibutsu
Daibutsu-den is one of the largest wood structures in the world.

The reason for its enormous size is the presence of a massive statue of Buddha. This bronze daibutsu (大仏) is over 15 meters tall, making it one of Japan’s largest bronze statues. The amount of bronze needed to create this masterpiece was so tremendous that it took most of the bronze resources available in Japan at the time of the construction.

Nara's great Buddha, one of the largest bronze sculptures in Japan

All around the Buddha statue are other massive sculptures that are just as impressive as they protect the temple. You can even try to pass through a hole in one of the pillars of the building, an experience that should guarantee you a Buddhist awakening for your next reincarnation.

But Todai-Ji is way more than Daibutsu-den. If you take the time to explore the temple’s grounds, you will pass by a shoro (kind of bell tower for Buddhist temples) and climb to the Nigatsu-do, a temple built on stilts and offering a fantastic view of Nara city.

view of Nara from the top of a temple, japan

History lovers can visit the Todai-Ji Museum to discover a great collection of historical objects related to Buddhism.

The Kofuku-Ji Temple: One of the Main Symbols of Nara

Like the Todai-Ji, the Kofuku-Ji temple (興福寺) is more than a single building. Located near one of the main entrances of Nara Park, the Kofuku-Ji includes several historical buildings known as national treasures, and the whole temple is now a World Heritage Site.

At its peak, Kofuku-Ji consisted of 175 temples. Unfortunately, fires and other natural disasters damaged and destroyed many of them through the centuries, so few of the temples can be seen in their original forms.

The five-story pagoda (五重の塔) of Kofuku-Ji is probably the most impressive monument of the temple. Initially built in 730, it was devastated by fire and lightning on several occasions. However, the pagoda was tirelessly rebuilt and is now considered one of Nara’s symbols. With its 50 meters height, it is the second tallest pagoda in Japan.

More recently, a museum was built within the grounds of Kofuku-Ji, the Kofuku-Ji National Treasure Museum. This museum preserves and displays the national treasures of Kofuku-Ji, including wonderful religious statues, paintings, and historical documents.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine: The Lantern-Illuminated Forest Shrine

The Kasuga Taisha Shrine is also a World Heritage Site, just like the forest in which it is located. The original shrine dates back to the 8th century. The current site of the shrine is the place where Takemikazuchi, one of the deities enshrined in Kasuga Taisha, visited Nara while riding a white deer.

Shinto shrine in Nara Park, Japan
The Kasuga Taisha Shrine is located where the deity Takemikazuchi came to Nara riding a white deer.

You will find the shrine at the end of a path lined with old stone lanterns. These lanterns are still used the same way it was centuries ago. They are lit with candles at nightfall, lighting up the wonderful path through the Kasugayama forest.

Inside the shrine, visitors can admire different kinds of lanterns. Beautiful bronze lanterns are suspended alongside the wall of a colourful and elaborate traditional building. A corridor formed by red pillars gives the illusion of a path of red torii gates, contrasting with the raw wood of the building. This is a very photogenic place to discover the Shinto aesthetic that is drastically different from what can be seen in the Buddhist temples.

bronze japanese lanterns in Japan

The Floating Pavilion at Sagi-Ike and Lantern Festival

Slightly off the main path of Nara Park and less crowded with tourists, Sagi-Ike Pond is the perfect place to rest in a refreshing and quiet environment and enjoy Nara deer’s company.

This small pond is mainly known for its wooden pavilion called Ukimi-do (浮見堂). After a long walk in Nara Park, taking a seat in this small traditional building above the water is highly relaxing and lets you enjoy the lush nature surrounding the pond.

For ten days in August, Nara Park is lit with lanterns and candles for the Nara Tokae Lantern Festival. The candles around the Ukimi-do pavilion are reflected in the pond’s waters, a fascinating view that made this place one of the most famous spots of the Nara Lantern Festival.

Near the Sagi-Ike Pond, the traditional district of Naramachi is the perfect place to continue a visit to Nara after a stroll in the park. Hundreds of shops and restaurants built in beautiful traditional Japanese houses give Naramachi an atmosphere that can only be experienced in old Japanese towns. You will even be able to visit some traditional houses.

A deer posing with a girl in Nara Park in Japan

Access and Business Information

Getting to Nara is very easy, especially from Kyoto and Osaka. A short ride will bring you to one of the two main train stations that are located within walking distance of Nara Park.

How to Get to Nara Park

To get to Nara from Kyoto station, you can choose the JR Nara Line or the Kintetsu Nara Line. The Kintetsu Nara Line is slightly faster and will bring you to Nara in 35 minutes. But if you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can ride for free on the JR Nara Line that can take you to Nara in 45 minutes.

From Osaka, you can choose between a JR train or a Kintetsu train. The trains of the Kintetsu Nara Line leave from Namba station and arrive at Nara in 40 minutes. The trains of the JR Kanjo-Yamatoji Line, accessible with a JR Pass, leave from Osaka station and arrive at Nara in 50 minutes.

japanese train going to Nara

Once in Nara, you will only have to walk 5 minutes from the Kintetsu station to reach Nara Park and 15 minutes from the JR station.

Todai-Ji Temple Business Hours

The Todai-Ji Temple grounds have free entry, just like Nara Park. However, you will require a ticket to access some temple buildings, including the Daibutu-den, the Hokkei-do, the Kaidan-do, and the Todai-Ji museum.

  • Temple Opening Time: Open every day from 7:30 to 17:30 between April and October and from 8:00 to 17:00 from November to March.
  • Museum Opening Time: Open every day from 9:30 to 17:30 (last entrance at 17:00) from April and October, and from 9:30 to 17:00 (last entry at 16:30) from November to March.
  • Fee: The entrance ticket gives access to all the temples of Todai-Ji. It costs 600 yen for adults and 300 yen for children. To visit the Todai-Ji Museum, you can buy a ticket that’ll get you access to the temples and the museum at 1,000 yen for adults and 400 yen for children.

For more information, visit the Todai-Ji official website.

Kofuku-Ji Temple Business Hours

The Kofuku-Ji grounds are free all year long. A ticket is only needed to access the Kofuku-Ji National Treasure Museum.

  • Opening time of the museum: Open every day from 9:00 to 17:00 (last entrance at 16:45)
  • Fees: It costs 700 yen for adults, 600 yen for middle-school and high-school students and 300 yen for elementary-school students.

For more information, visit the official Kofuku-Ji website.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine Business Hours

  • Opening time: Open every day from 6:30 to 17:30 between March and October and from 7:00 to 17:00 between November and February.
  • Fees: It costs 500 yen to access the main shrine

For more information, visit the official Kasuga Taisha website.

The deer of Nara Park will leave incredible memories to the visitors. Feeding these wild animals with shika senbei while they peacefully walk between countless Japanese temples and shrines is one of these unique experiences that can only be made during a trip to Japan. A must-see destination if you are in Kansai!

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How to write a Japanese postal address correctly? https://voyapon.com/how-to-write-japanese-address/ https://voyapon.com/how-to-write-japanese-address/#respond Sat, 30 Apr 2022 08:00:00 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=87839 If you have friends or relatives in Japan, you might have tried to send a letter or a parcel abroad....

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If you have friends or relatives in Japan, you might have tried to send a letter or a parcel abroad. Thus, you may know that postal services can be sensitive in case of wrongly written addresses. Also, the quality of the service depends on several factors: border rules, time of the year, and the specificities of each country. It’s been three years since I left France to live in Japan, and I have often exchanged letters and deliveries with my relatives. Still, the same question comes back each time: How do I write the address in Japan? This is the question I’ll try to answer here while sharing my tips.

Should I write the address in Japanese or Romaji?

“Romaji” is the transcription of Japanese characters in the latine alphabet. For example, 東京 would become “Tokyo,” and 大阪 would become “Osaka.” So both are possible. But for my grandparents, who never went anywhere in Asia, it’s not easy to understand.

That said, which one is the most appropriate? We tested both with my family: I sent them my address in kanji through the internet so that they could print and stick it on the envelope and send it from France, and surprise: more than six months later, the letter came back to them with the note “address error.” In fact, it never left France, and as the country’s name was written in Kanji, French postal services didn’t know what to do with it nor what country to send it to.

On the opposite, when my family wrote my address with “Japan,” written as such, the letter could leave France and reach Japan without any problem. But instead of simply having it delivered to my mailbox, I got a delivery notice from the postman asking me to go to the nearest post office to get the precious letter. With my ID and the delivery notice, the embarrassed postman asked me if there was no mistake. This experiment made me realize that even though the letter will eventually make it to Japan, it may give difficulties to the postal services. Therefore, I would recommend writing both. You can print the address in Japanese and its transcription in romaji. And then, everyone is happy!

How to correctly write a Japanese address on a letter or a parcel

In order not to share any confidential information, I’m going to use the address of the Tokyo Tower. So, let’s just imagine that I live on top of this great red iron lady of Tokyo and see how to write my new address.

My new home Tokyo Tower
My new home on top of Tokyo Tower (only in my wildest dreams).

How to read a Japanese postal information

Before going any further, let’s see some kanji and vocabulary words used in Japanese addresses. In Japan, the address always starts with the postal code, then goes from the largest to the most specific, as shown below :

  1. The Japanese postal code
    • (郵便記号, yubin kigo) is the postal acronym often used to indicate a postal code. Introduced in 1968, it was inspired by the katakana テ (te) from the word teishin (逓信, communications). You’ll see it everywhere in Japan: on mailboxes, on envelopes, on postal delivery trucks, etc. It is the first information that is filled in on a Japanese address. So we write this small character followed by a 3 and 4-digit postal code separated by a dash.
      • e.g. 〒105-0011 (postal code 105-0011)
  2. The Prefecture
    • (ken) is a prefecture. It is the most commonly used word for prefectures in Japan (with some exceptions).
    • (fu) is a so-called “urban” prefecture, such as Osaka or Kyoto.
    • (to) is a metropolis. It is used especially for the city of Tokyo, which comes to replace both the prefecture and city names.
      • e.g. 東京都 (Tokyo-to, city of Tokyo)
    • (do), which is used only for Hokkaido prefecture.
      • e.g. 北海道 (Hokkaido, Hokkaido prefecture)
  3. The City
    • (shi) is a city with a population exceeding 50,000 people.
      • eg. 奈良市 (Nara-shi, city of Nara)
    • (gun) is a county, usually including less than 50,000 people.
      • e.g. 群馬郡 (Gunma-gun, Gunma county)
    • (machi or cho) is a town with a population smaller than a county (郡 gun).
      • eg. 宇治田原町 (Ujitawara-cho, the township of Ujitawara)
    • (son or mura) is a village. It is the smallest type of municipality in Japan.
      • eg. 柳河村 (Yamagawa-son, Yamagawa village)
  4. The Ward
    • (ku) is a ward. This is used for very large cities, comparable to the arrondissements of Paris, and is mostly used to refer to the 23 wards of Tokyo.
      • e.g. 渋谷区 (Shibuya-ku, Shibuya ward)
  5. The District
    • 丁目 (chome) is a district. It is often preceded by a number. Note that in Japan, there are no street names, but numbers are used instead.
      • e.g. 四丁目 (Yon chome, fourth district)
  6. The Block
    • 番地 (banchi) is a block of several buildings. It, too, will be preceded by a number.
      • e.g. 二番地 (Ni banchi, block number 2)
  7. The Number
    • (go) means “number” and refers to the room or apartment number within a building.
      • e.g. 203号 (number/room/apartment 203)

There, it’s clear, right? Now that we know the different terms used in Japanese addresses let’s see how to combine them together.

How to write a Japanese address in kanji

Like the pieces of a puzzle, the above-mentioned kanji, when put together, form an address in Japanese. Let’s see together the Japanese version of the address of my new home (Tokyo Tower):

  • 〒105-0011 東京都 港区 芝公園四丁目 2番地 8号 東京タワー

Unlike Western addresses, Japanese addresses go from the most general to the most specific element and always work in this order: postal code (105-0011), prefecture, city or metropolis (東京都 Tokyo-to), district (港区 Minato-ku), ward (芝公園 四丁目 Shiba-koen yon-chome), block number (2番地 ni-banchi) and building number (8号 hachi-go). Then you can write the residence name (if there is one) as well as the name of the recipient (東京タワー Tokyo Tower).

how to write an address in Japan in kanji
Once separated, the different parts of the Japanese addresses seem less complicated.

How to write a Japanese address in romaji

Comparatively, when we look at the address of the Tokyo Tower indicated by Google in English, we can notice that the order has been completely reversed, and we start from the most specific to the largest:

  • Tokyo Tower, 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo 105-0011

It starts with the name of the residence (Tokyo Tower), the block, building and ward numbers (4 chome 2-8), then the name of the ward (Shibakoen), then the prefecture (Minato), then the city or metropolis (Tokyo), and finally the postal code (105-0011).

Although the English version seems simpler, it can also be tricky to understand for Japanese letter carriers since it follows a completely different order from the original.

how to write an address in Japan in romaji
The romaji version works just as well, but don’t you think this letter has slightly lost its charm?

Should I choose kanji or romaji?

I often write both in a row while mentioning “JAPAN” in capital letters to ensure that the letter doesn’t get lost.

  • 〒105-0011 東京都港区芝公園四丁目2番8号 東京タワー
  • Tokyo Tower, 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo 105-0011, JAPAN

This order always worked for me, so I recommend you to ask directly to the recipient for the romaji transcription to not make any mistakes. Then you just have to print it (or copy it by hand if you feel like a calligrapher), and it’s done! Then you can decide if you prefer to write it horizontally or vertically (Japanese use both).

how to write an Japanese address in kanji and romaji in  japan
On the envelope, I always write the Japanese addresses in kanji and romaji so that everyone can find what they are looking for, but everyone can do what they want as long as the letter reaches its destination.

You can try to copy the address in kanji by hand and thus put yourself in the shoes of a great calligrapher for a moment. Even if your kanji is not perfect, the most important thing is that they are legible so that your letter or parcel arrives at its destination.

However, you should know that writing the address by hand is not mandatory and that a simple printout will work. Just stick it directly on the envelope, and that’s it! For my grandparents, who have difficulty understanding the Japanese addressing system, I sent them several copies of my address in kanji and romaji that they just have to stick directly on the envelope. Simple and efficient!

Tips and tricks from an ex-pat living in Japan

Before concluding this article, I would like to share some tips and tricks that I acquired during my three years living in Japan. Some things may seem obvious to you, but others may not so let’s increase your chances that your precious package or letter will reach you. It doesn’t matter if you send your letter from your country or Japan; the following advice applies to both:

  • Tip #1: Don’t mail letters/packages directly into the mailbox. Go to the counter to ensure you have the right rate and fill out the right documents.
  • Tip #2: Always write the sender’s address (yours) on the back of the envelope. If there’s a problem, the letter will be returned to you, and you can try to send it again. It’s better than having to start again from scratch.
  • Tip #3: The country of destination should be written in the language of the sending country and/or in English. I recommend that you write it in capital letters and in English. Your letter will be less likely to get lost along the way. One year, my parents sent me a letter from France to Japan, and it went through… Argentina! Mystery… Anyway, they had written “JAPAN” on the letter, and it finally reached its destination. It just took a vacation along the way.
  • Tip #4: If you send a package, write the address clearly on the package and inside! Imagine the journey this little package will take, crossing seas and oceans, braving the weather… The recipient’s label could come off, in which case the postal service will open the package to try to find an address. If they can’t find an address, the package will be transferred to lost and found, and you will probably never see it again.
woman receiving a parcel
You should receive your letter or package without any problem with all these tips!

The Japanese address system seems to differ from Western postal address presentation standards. Street names are replaced by numbers, and the order is reversed compared to the West. However, with a few little tricks and a basic understanding of reading Japanese addresses, they are not as different as they seem at first sight. Now that Japanese addresses have no more secrets for you, you have all the keys in hand to send letters or parcels to your friends in Japan!

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Jindaiji Temple, a Hidden Gem in Suburban Tokyo https://voyapon.com/jindaiji-temple-tokyo/ https://voyapon.com/jindaiji-temple-tokyo/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2022 00:53:07 +0000 https://voyapon.com/?p=85903 For many, the first things that come to mind when they think about Tokyo are the crowded streets full of neon lights in Shibuya or Shinjuku, the...

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For many, the first things that come to mind when they think about Tokyo are the crowded streets full of neon lights in Shibuya or Shinjuku, the anime figure stores and game centers in every corner of Akihabara, the traditional buildings around Asakusa or the tall skyscrapers and luxury stores in Ginza.

But despite all the time I’ve been living in Tokyo, I’m still discovering new places and hidden gems even today. Without a doubt, some of my favorite spots to explore in Tokyo are the areas called shitamachi (下町). The term shitamachi means ‘lower town’ and describes areas with little pockets of history and showcase a different side of the city where visitors can still get glimpses of traditional Japan.

Jindaiji Temple (深大寺) and the surrounding area are great examples of shitamachi, where you can stroll through history and nature around the second oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo.

Jindaiji Temple, the second oldest temple in Tokyo

Jindaiji Temple is located in Chofu city, less than an hour from Shibuya and Shinjuku, and is a good option if you are going to visit the Ghibli Museum as you can take a bus to Jindaiji very close to this museum’s entrance.

Jindaiji is a Buddhist temple founded in 733 and is the second oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo after Sensoji in Asakusa. But the atmosphere and surroundings of these two temples are completely different. While Sensoji is in the urban heart of the touristy Asakusa district, Jindaiji is set amidst nature, traditional soba restaurants, and a botanical garden. It is also well known among the locals as a temple at which to pray for success in love relationships and marriage.

jindaiji temple main building

This temple’s name comes from the god Jinja Daio, and there is a legend about its origin: It is said that a boy named Fukuma fell in love with a girl from a rich and powerful family. However, her parents opposed the relationship and sent her away to live on a small island in the middle of a large lake.

Fukuma prayed to the god Jinja Daio to help him get the girl back until one day, a mysterious turtle appeared and led him to the island in the lake. Then, seeing that Fukuma had divine protection, the girl’s family changed their minds and allowed them to marry.

The couple had a son, who became a monk named Manko Shonin and founded the Jindaiji temple to fulfill his father’s wish to thank the god Jinja Daio for all he did for him.

But the Jindaiji area is not only attractive for the temple but also for its surroundings, which make us feel as if we were in a little Kyoto. It’s also famous for its soba noodles, and there are several traditional restaurants where you can enjoy this popular dish of Japanese cuisine.

Try the local soba noodles and street food stalls

When I visit the neighborhood, I usually eat at Yusui (湧水), one of the most popular soba restaurants in Jindaiji. This restaurant has two floors, and its style and atmosphere are very traditional. Besides the Western-style tables and chairs, there are also traditional low tables with cushions to sit on the floor.

people sitting at the low tables in Yusui restaurant

The Yusui menu has many soba noodle options. There is both cold and hot soba, and there are many types of toppings. I ordered the cold soba set with shrimp and vegetable tempura.

Together with the cold soba, they usually serve tsuyu sauce, made from dashi soup stock and a mixture of soy sauce, mirin (rice wine), and sugar. Dip the noodles into tsuyu right before eating it for a delicious mouthful. Yum! 

detail of cold soba set

In addition to the soba and tsuyu, they will also give you a small teapot of sobayu, the water in which your soba was cooked, which has a light, slightly sweet, and earthy flavor. When you finish the noodles, pour the sobayu into the tsuyu and mix it with your chopsticks. The result is a very rich and intensely flavored broth to drink at the end of the meal.

For dessert, order typical Japanese sweets made of rice and sweet bean paste and a hot green teacup for free for a satisfying end to your meal.

japanese sweets made of rice and a cup of green tea

There are also several traditional cafes to have coffee or tea around Jindaiji, including small food stalls where you can buy street food and Japanese sweets.

Make your own pottery souvenirs at Jindaiji

Amongst many attractive souvenirs shops, I recommend the Mushashiya Jindaiji-Gama pottery workshop, where you can enjoy a pottery experience and create your unique masterpiece. They offer three different courses:

  • The easiest and quickest is ‘Rakuyaki,’ where you can choose a piece of unglazed pottery from more than 100 kinds, paint it and wait twenty minutes until they bake it.
  • The second option is ‘Honyaki,‘ which is similar to the first option, but they will apply clear glaze and bake your piece for about 16 hours in an electric kiln and then deliver it to you later.
  • As a third option, they have ‘Tebineri,‘ where you can make your piece by kneading clay and hand molding. Firing takes about one month, but it can also be shipped anywhere in the country.
paints and brushes in jindaiji's pottery workshop

Prices vary according to the course, but it is a great experience to remember your visit to Jindaiji with a unique and handmade souvenir. They also sell many handmade ceramics such as cups, glasses, plates, chopsticks holders, and other Japanese-style decorations.

Meet the cute yokai monsters at the GeGeGe no Kitaro store and cafe

Another peculiar place in the area is Kitaro Chaya, a themed store and cafe based on the famous yokai manga “GeGeGe no Kitaro.” The store is decorated with the manga’s main characters — the yokai, the ghostly creatures of Japanese folklore.

I recommend visiting this place even if you don’t know the manga because it is interesting and fun. There is a small exhibit of yokai paintings and other related items on the second floor and a cafe where you can taste themed original sweets and seasonally limited menu items.

Other things to see and do around Jindaiji Temple

Jindaiji temple area is also home to some interesting sights to make into a whole day itinerary. Here are some of my other favorite spots to visit:

Jindaiji Pet Cemetery: The largest pet cemetery in Tokyo

Jindaiji Pet Cemetery is the largest pet cemetery in Tokyo. Pet owners can rent a small shelf to make an altar and display pictures of their pet, the animal’s ashes and amulets, flowers, and even cans of food and favorite toys.

Jindai Botanical Garden: Seasonal flowers in Tokyo

Next to Jindaiji Temple is the Jindai Botanical Garden, operated by Tokyo metropolitan government. More than 100,000 species of plants and trees transform during the seasons. It is famous for having the most extensive rose garden in Tokyo, with more than 5000 blooming roses in mid-October. You can also admire local plum trees, cherry trees, wisteria in spring, azaleas, peonies in summer, and exotic tropical and sub-tropical plants all year round.

Onsen Yumori no Sato: A hot spring in the middle of Tokyo

Here you can experience hot springs without traveling outside Tokyo. It is a 7-minute walk from the Jindaiji temple, and the atmosphere is exceptional and traditional. There are nine different types of baths in total a sauna and a restaurant. The onsen experience consists of three distinct zones, one indoor and two outdoor, and the water is dark, almost black, a phenomenon unique to Tokyo hot springs.

How to Get to Jindaiji

The most convenient way to get to Jindaiji Temple is by bus from Chofu, Tsusujigaoka, Mitaka, and Kichijoji train stations.

I recommend using the bus from Kichijoji as it’s a JR station and can be accessed with the JR Pass. However, the bus ticket to Jindaiji is not included in the pass.

The bus stop to Jindaiji is located at the entrance of the Don Quijote store at the south exit of Kichijoji station on platform number 6. You can take the buses 04, 06, or 14, and depending on the bus we take, we’ll have to get off at different stops. For example, if we take the 04, we will get off at the Jindaiji (深大寺) bus stop. If we use the 06, we will get off at Jindaiji Iriguchi (深大寺入口), which is a 7-minute walk from the temple. Finally, if you take the 14, get off at the Jindaiji Shogakkomae bus stop (神大小学校前).

In addition, the route of these three buses also passes by the Ghibli Museum, making a visit to both Jindaiji and the Ghilbi Museum an easy day trip. (The bus stop is located three minutes walk from the museum and is called Myojo Gakuen Iriguchi (明星学園入口).)

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