My 5 Biggest Travel Surprises of 2017

2017 isn’t quite over yet, neither for me—I’ve still got trips to Hong Kong, South Korea and the USA coming up—nor for the world. At the same time, it’s difficult not to become pensive and even nostalgic as December draws ever closer. To be sure, while I’ve been a traveler for almost half my life at this point, many things still managed to surprise me as I trotted the globe this year. Here are the ones that…

What makes Tokyo so special?

A side street in Shinjuku, Tokyo What to Do in Tokyo in 5 days A handpicked selection of secret and not-so-secret things to do in Tokyo for those who wonder what makes the place special. Tendrils of smoke curl and float past scarlet pillars. Fingers fold white paper into prayers. Heads bow, hands wash in water, and the soft, sonorous chime of a gong, flecked with gold, reverberates through the crowd. This is the …

Green spaces of Tokyo

As the biggest city in the world (by most definitions), Tokyo is not exactly famous for its greenery. Concrete jungle, sure. Actual jungle, not so much. [Tokyo – it’s a jungle out there.] I was a guest of the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau, and I spent a day visiting gardens and green spaces of Tokyo. …

Famous Places to Visit in Tokyo, Japan

You’ll never lack places to visit in Tokyo as it’s the world’s largest urban area with over 35 million people. Just let that sink in for a moment, it’s a city with the population larger than many countries. As a result, there are endless tourist attractions in Tokyo, restaurants to eat at and stores to shop …

An Interview with Ashley Isaacs Ganz on Japan

Artisans of Leisure founder and CEO Ashley Isaacs Ganz is recognized as one of the world’s leading Japan travel experts. Read more about some of her favorite places she visited and experiences she had on her most recent visit to Japan. Q: You used to live in Japan and have traveled extensively…

5 Unmissable Sights in Oita Prefecture, Japan

In a small corner of Japan’s southwestern Kyushu Island, the little-known destination of Oita Prefecture awaits. It’s a region that boasts plenty of natural beauty – think hot springs, mountains and beaches – as well as a rich cultural and religious heritage. Oh, and mouthwatering food. I landed in the Prefecture’s capital, the city of Oita, just… The post 5 Unmissable Sights in Oita Prefecture, Japan appeared first on The Travel Hack.

Learning How to Wear a Kimono in Japan

There’s no denying that a Japanese kimono is a thing of beauty. It’s elegant, traditional and more than just a little bit cool. But there’s one thing that a kimono is not. A kimono is absolutely not easy to put on, as I learned when I visited Kitsuki Castle Town in Japan’s Oita Prefecture. This… The post Learning How to Wear a Kimono in Japan appeared first on The Travel Hack.

Japan’s Most En-deer-ing Day Trip

Japan is great for many things, among them opportunities to get up-close and personal with animals. Whether you visit islands filled with cats and rabbits, an onsen where red-faced macaques bathe or a fox sanctuary, Japan is paradise for people who love to pet things. One of the most accessible kawaii (a Japanese word used to describe all things cute and cuddly) destinations is the city of Nara, located in easy day trip destination of both Kyoto and Osaka—that’s the good news. The better news? Its population of wild deer notwithstanding, Nara is also home to some…

Three Outstanding Days in Osaka

People tell you Tokyo is strange, but I’ve never felt stranger in Japan—or maybe anywhere—than I did traipsing down Osaka’s Dotonbori pedestrian walk on a cold evening in January a couple years ago. Having wandered past the streets iconic mechanical crab, I was setting up my tripod beneath a giant octopus, a cacophony of foreign languages, stomping…

Circling The Whirlpool’s Edge

As I walked down the hall of the hotel, with its brown carpet and plastered faux-finish wallpaper, a Muzak version of “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” began to play. I pressed the button, and the elevator arrived the moment Evita would’ve stepped onto the balcony, had this rendition of the…

What to do at a Japanese onsen – a guide for beginners

The first thing I noticed about my hotel room was that there was no bed. Curious, I looked in cupboards and searched for hidden panels in the wall where perhaps a Murphy bed could be hiding. Nothing. Then it dawned on me. My room search had revealed that another fairly important feature was missing from… The post What to

7 Things to Do in Kinosaki, Japan… Besides Soak in the Hot Springs

Kinosaki Onsen/Laura Motta The onsen — or traditional hot springs — experience is a must-do in Japan. Whether you’re heading to a big-city bath house that resembles an amusement park, or to a natural pool in a small town, there’s nothing more Japanese than stripping down, lathering up, and soaking for an hour or two in the hot, steamy springs. One of those small towns, Kinosaki, is situated directly on a natural hot spring, and is home to seven bath houses and countless ryokan (small traditional hotels). Visitors who come…

The World’s Most Amazing Two-Week Trips

I’m currently in Nepal, where I just finished a 30-mile, five-day trek through the Himalayas. After a couple days in the lakeside city of Pokhara, where I’m recuperating, I’ll head to Chitwan National Park to see elephants and, hopefully, tigers. By the time I leave next Friday, I’ll have also explored the national capital of Kathmandu and the historical city of Bhaktapur. And I’ll have spent just two weeks here…

The Best Day—and Weekend—Trips from Tokyo

As one of the largest, most complex cities in the world, Tokyo is simply not a place you can fully experience within a few days (although I did do my best to come up with an itinerary for short visits here). You owe it to yourself to spend as much of your time in Japan as possible in Tokyo proper, whether you stroll under the neon of Shinjuku, go back in time in Asakusa or chow down on …