Category Archives: FEATURED

Nengajo: How to Send a Japanese New Year Postcard

Source: Gaijin Pot
Nengajo- How to Send a Japanese New Year Postcard

Japanese “nengajo” (年賀状) or New Year greetings cards are a fun and easy means of showing your appreciation to all those people who have helped you navigate the tricky waters of living in a foreign country—and they’re also a great way to send cool Japanese well-wishes to your friends and family back home.

But there are rules about when and who to send your nengajo to and restrictions based on what happened during the previous year. So, to avoid offending a large group of people too early on in the year here’s a step by step guide to sending your nengajo.

Step One: Buy or create your own nengajo

From late November onwards you can pick up pre-printed nengajo in variety and stationery stores like Loft and Don Quijote, post offices and supermarkets. There are literally hundreds of different designs to choose from but most will have a version of the zodiac sign for the upcoming year.

An example of a nengajo for 2020 with this year’s Chinese zodiac animal, the rat.

2020 is the year of the rat so not too difficult to draw if you want to create your own! Some people like to include photos of themselves or their family and there’s also the option to create digital designs and print them off. There are websites that offer free printable designs—the Japan Post has a whole amazing create-your-own section for nengajo.

You can also even just buy a normal card and write “nenga” (年賀) next to the address to indicate that it’s a New Year card.

Step Two: Write your message

Once you’ve made your nengajo, it’s probably best to include a message (there’s nothing more mysterious or creepy than an empty greetings card) and Japanese has many a stock phrase to wish …continue reading


Asakusa: A Guide to Tokyo’s Traditional and Spiritual Downtown

A Guide to Asakusa Neighborhood Strolls

A little slice of traditional Japan within Tokyo, if you want to get lost in some history and explore the old shopping streets or famous temples and shrines in the city, then a day in Asakusa is exactly what you need.

It’s a place where culture meets contemporary. From rickshaws going by to people dressed up in traditional costume to modern art statues that make you look twice, a wealth of photo opportunities open up to you in Asakusa.

What’s more, it’s a street food hub and it hosts some of the most tempting shops in the city if you love Japanese arts and crafts.

The best way to explore Asakusa? On foot, getting lost, wandering down side streets, and dipping into pockets of tradition and culture.

History and Background

A Guide to Asakusa Kaminarimon Thunder Gate

“Kaminarimon” Thunder Gate at the entrance to Senso-ji Temple.

Asakusa’s cultural history has remained intact and the area is still a shining example of Tokyo’s rich history.

The story of Asakusa begins with Senso-ji Temple, built in the 7th century. Today, this enormous and impressive Buddhist temple is still the main draw to Asakusa for both locals and tourists.

However, during the Edo period, in the shadow of Senso-ji’s holy Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the area grew as an entertainment district and was soon enough filled with theatres, geisha houses and all the debauchery that went with it.

Asakusa’s cultural history has remained intact and the area is still a shining example of Tokyo’s rich history.

Guide to Asakusa Traditional Store

A traditional “senbei” (rice cracker store) in Asakusa.

Unfortunately, Asakusa was severely damaged by US air raids during World War …continue reading


Japanese Monk “Exorcizes” Regrets of Those Unable to Take Paid-Time-Off

At a dimly lit ceremony hall in Osaka this week, a Buddhist monk sat at the front of a large room chanting, surrounded by 300 lanterns. The chants, however, were not Buddhist scriptures. They were the regrets and remorse of individuals who had been unable to take their paid-time-off. According to new legislation that was […]

…continue reading


Types of ALT That Teach English in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
Types of ALT That Teach English in Japan

Just as every school is different, every ALT is different. We all come from different walks of life and we all bring our own attitudes and styles to the table when it comes to teaching.

But after years of teaching English in Japan, I think that I’ve boiled it down to a few different styles that we all seem to fall into, in one way or another. Here are just some of the types that occur in the savage wilds of the English learning environment. Be sure to check out the video above to see the other varieties of ALT!

The Noobie

Rather than a type, I think this is more of a “stage” which we all go through. In your first class—AKA the dreaded “self-introduction” class especially, it’s hard not to be a nervous wreck, the overwhelming terror of 40 kids asking you random questions, shouting words in English, or straight up ignoring you. Don’t worry though, with each class you’ll gain confidence over time and inevitably find yourself taking on one of the other ALT personas. Or not if you just hate teaching. But that’s OK, too.

The Japanes-er

He’s confident, he’s comfortable, he’s amazing. He’s mastered the show-don’t-tell-technique and is ready for the next step of showing just how much of an assimilating superstar he is. It’s time to start instructing the kids in Japanese. Is it because he wants to connect with the kids on a deeper level? Or because he’s studying for the JLPT N2? Either way, the students are impressed AF.

The Cool ALT

A step beyond the Japanes-er, not only is this ALT really good at speaking Japanese, but she’s also a complete superhero. She’s got inside jokes, nicknames, memes, cultural fidelity, and grace with her students. The kids are so comfortable with her, they’ll be able to …continue reading


Christmas In The City: 10 Of Tokyo’s Best Restaurants For Holiday Dining

Christmas In The City- 10 Of Tokyo's Best Restaurants For Holiday Dining 2019

The holiday season is in full swing and can be felt all across Tokyo. Every inch of the city is decorated with illuminations and Christmas trees, transforming Tokyo into a beautiful winter festival just in time for the holidays.

This year, if you’re spending Christmas in the city and away from home, here are our top 10 recommendations for a special Christmas dining experience with family, friends, and your significant others, as offered by some of Tokyo‘s best hotels and restaurants.

1. Crista

This stylish American restaurant offers a special full dinner Christmas course, which includes five carefully selected dishes, from appetizers to dessert. The course begins with a fennel mousse and sea urchin parfait with dashi jelly, chives, and brioche croutons as the starter, a shrimp tartar with carrot purée, crispy tapioca puffs, garden sorrel, and yuzu oil appetizers, leading to pan-seared halibut filet and grilled Australian long-grain beef filet with foie gras, garlic mashed potatoes, beet purée, Brussels sprouts, and Port wine sauce. End your special meal with a banana split chocolate mousse cake with peanut caramel, vanilla gelato and chocolate cream served with an assortment of tea or coffee. Stick a fork in us, we’re done!

Where: 1-2-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
When: Dec. 24-25, 2019
Cost: ¥12,000 (+¥4,500 with wine pairing)
Reservations: Call 03-6418-0077 or book online here.

2. BLT Steak

This popular steakhouse in Tokyo is preparing a variety of special Christmas courses for the holiday season. Choose from their popular BLT menu, a tasty lobster grill course or this year’s special, a prime dry-aged T-bone steak. If you want to have a romantic Christmas lunch or …continue reading