All posts by blogsonjapan

Gift Giving Guidelines in Japan

Giving gifts are an incredibly important part of Japanese culture and presents are given for so many different occasions. In fact, gift giving in Japan is taken so seriously that it’s not only seen as common courtesy, but a social obligation as well.Of course, like any gift giving culture, there are a certain number of rules that one needs to follow. So let’s take a look at some of the etiquette involved in presenting presents to all types of people for all types of occasions.If you’re a visitor to Japan who plans on giving gifts to someone, a small present or souvenir from your hometown is greatly appreciated. And because Japanese people receive gifts all-year-round, it’s best not to overload the gift-receiver with too many trinkets. Therefore, something edible from your home country is probably the best gift you can give.The price of the present is also not as important as the meaning behind it. However, expensive gifts will still be appreciated (and are not viewed as a forms of bribery).It’s a good idea to avoid gifts that include the numbers four and nine, as well as potted plants, lilies, lotus blossoms, and camellias – as there are a number …continue reading


5 Hot Tokyo Exhibitions To Visit This Golden Week

It was Picasso who said that the purpose of art is “to wash the dust of daily life off our souls.” While living in Tokyo is an adventure in itself, there’s no doubt that a trip to a gallery can help inspire and invigorate. With Golden Week coming up, this may be the perfect time for you to lose yourself in one of the city’s cool art galleries or museums for some extra spark — you know, for when the holidays are over. From intimate shows in quieter suburbs to blockbuster exhibitions, there’s a whole lot of art in town. So here are five exhibits to get out and see over the holiday — all guaranteed to give you a creative lift.

© Photo by © Elizabeth Peyton; Sadie Coles HQ, London; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

Behind The Many Popular Faces

Elizabeth Peyton: Still Life At The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art

In the depths of downtown Tokyo lies the cultural gem of the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art and its current exhibition, showing the mesmerizing portraits of American artist Elizabeth Peyton, is not to be missed. Sparsely curated, this is the perfect place …continue reading


When you miss the last train home in Japan: Options and costs

The term ‘24 hour city’ is used far too loosely if you ask us. The flashy descriptor is mostly a myth, even in a place like Japan where, if it was to fit anywhere, this would be the place. OK, so the usage is not entirely misplaced, it’s just that it’s taken too holistically, the largest missing piece of the 24-hr puzzle being arguably the most important, transport.The last train home – 終電 / shuudenThis expat is based in Tokyo, where the last train home from central areas of the city is usually around midnight. Perhaps this sounds early to you. It does to me, and practically, it is. In a country where the work culture can keep people at their desks past 10 pm before dragging them out for compulsory (in a veiled way) company drinks, a midnight last train leaves little room for breathing space. In a kind of sods law predicament, it also does a poor job at balancing urges to stay out late but not wanting to stay out all night. What to do when you miss the last train home in Japan?Luckily, with many cities in Japan, this is where …continue reading


“Suggested Travel Writer” on

Cool beans! Not exactly sure how to take this – ‘though the expression “with a grain of salt” jumps to mind – but apparently I have earned “suggested writer” status in the Travel section on

I’m genuinely flattered, and it makes me want to sit down and write more essays and stories and publish them online, though to be honest I’m not sure what, exactly, it means to be a suggested writer. Is it a decision made by a cabal of wise gnomes at, or is it some less-personal, more automated process, an algorithmic accretion of views/reads/recommends?

In either case, I’ll put aside the salt for a moment, as well as the self-deprecating humour, and take the credit gracefully and gratefully.

Meantime, please check out …continue reading