Category Archives: FEATURED

The Cutest Place in Japan: A Guide to Visiting Rabbit Island

Source: Japan Cheapo

You’ve seen the YouTube vids and the Insta pics. Now it’s your turn to be covered in adorable wild bunnies. So how do you actually get to Okunoshima, the “Rabbit Island”? And what can you do once you’re there?
Japan’s Rabbit Island
There are two competing theories on how Okunoshima became a rabbit mecca. The first is that a few pet rabbits were released by children when the islands were evacuated in the 1940s. The second is that the rabbits are escaped test subjects from the island’s former toxic gas production labs (more on that later). Either way, rabbits were let loose on the island. With few natural predators and abundant resources, the rabbits did what rabbits do and multiplied. By most estimates, there are well

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Shotengai: Exploring the Nostalgic Pulse of Japan’s Local Shopping Streets

Source: Gaijin Pot
Selling food in a shotengai in Japan

On my last trip to Japan, I queued with my friends Yoshie and Tatsu at Toridai, a decades-old food store in the Jujo Ginza shotengai (shopping street) in northern Tokyo. There’s always a line at Toridai. It’s a beloved neighborhood institution selling takeaway fare, including famously delicious and cheap chicken meatballs for just ¥10 a piece.

So, why did standing in line for 15 minutes at a timeworn suburban delicatessen that was part of this old-school shopping street become one of my holiday highlights?

From the kinetic crush at Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing to the selfie stick chaos at Kyoto’s Kinkakuji Temple — I actually don’t mind the festive, frenzied energy of tourist crowds. I also love ticking off Japan’s impressive bucket list of iconic sights. Yet over six visits, I’ve discovered an equally captivating side to Japan in its everyday streetscapes. They’re starkly different to those in Australia (my home country).

That’s why when Yoshie and Tatsu, born-and-bred Tokyoites in their 60s, offered to show me around, I said, “Take me to your favorite local shotengai!”

The winding charms of Japan’s shopping streets

Tatsu was born in Jujo, a lively, working-class neighborhood in Tokyo’s Kita ward. Kita was a collection of rural villages and towns until the 1880s when it was connected by rail to central Tokyo.

Tatsu lived in Jujo for 31 years, just five minutes’ walk from Jujo Ginza. When he was a child, it was unpaved, unroofed and lined with wooden shops. The dirt road turned to mud in the rain.

My friends Tatsu and Yoshie.

We strolled past Taisho era buildings from the 1920s, bought tea in a quaint establishment from the 1950s and sipped drinks in a cafe with a somewhat dated 1980s vibe. All the while, I …continue reading


Sponsor Your Own Visa For Japan

Japan immigration

If you want to get the benefit of doing part-time work at multiple schools, when visa renewal rolls around you might want to self-sponsor your visa. But how do you do that?

It’s hard to know what to do if you want to sponsor your own visa, as the Japanese Immigration authorities wouldn’t know what you meant if you asked about this. That’s because there is no such thing as a self-sponsored visa, but then why are so many people talking about it and asking about it on online forums like Reddit or in Facebook groups?

It’s actually just a way to get a part-time employer to sponsor your visa and using the “Permission to Engage in Activities” forms to fill in your other part-time jobs! Sounds simple right? There are a few things you need to keep in mind and that caused me quite a headache when I got one of my clients to sponsor my visa so I could continue working part-time with the higher pay that comes with it. More on how to get higher paying part-time jobs here.

What should I do if I want to self-sponsor?

First you need to get the right form. Many freelance photographers, teachers and engineers use the Humanities, International Services and Engineer visa now, and you can find that form to renew it here.

You’ll probably spend more time than you want to at this place…

You’ll need:

  • Demonstrate an income of ¥3,000,000 annually (that’s ¥250k per month) to show that you can survive in Japan with your part-time incomes. I’ve heard people saying ¥200k per month is enough outside of Tokyo, but I can’t confirm that with my experience as I live in Tokyo and make more than that. For example, if you have your biggest salary of ¥150k/month from a part-time teaching job, …continue reading

10 Laws that Benefit Women in Japan

10 Laws that Benefit Women in Japan

The July 21 election revealed an exciting trend in Japanese politics—28 women were elected to the upper house of Parliament, tying the record set in 2016. Though women now only make up 23 percent of seats, this is the highest number of female political representation in Japan’s history.

With a surge of women entering Japanese parliament, the game could very well change when it comes to who the law benefits in Japan. Historically, laws have favored men—they were the first to vote, they once had full control over their spouses, and continue to make more money than the opposite sex today.

Yet, the playing field will likely be leveled with time. Though the state of women’s rights in Japan is often under scrutiny, the nation has made strides in recent years to better the lives of women, hinting that things are only going to get better.

Let’s look at 10 Japanese laws already in place that are benefiting women in Japan.

1. The right to divorce in 1896

The Right to Divorce - 10 Laws that Benefit Women in Japan

We know that marriage contracts—though legally binding until at least one of the participating parties perishes—were made to be broken.

Yet, the epidemic of divorce is a relatively new phenomenon, especially for women.

Article 728 of Japan’s Civil Code (also known as Act No. 89 of 1896) granted women the right to separate from their spouses. Matrimony has existed in some form in Japan for centuries, yet only about 100 years ago did half the equation have the power to end it. Imagine having no way out of an abusive or dead-end marriage!

The Civil Code further prohibited nuptials between close and adopted relatives and required minors to …continue reading


A Day in Hiroshima: A Guide on What to Do, See and Eat

Source: Japan Cheapo

Hiroshima is known for one thing, and is on most people’s Japan itinerary—but besides visiting the museums, what can you do there? Our Hiroshima guide will outline all that there is to do, see and eat for a full day of discovery.

While Hiroshima’s history is an important part of the city’s memory and legacy, it is also a place of renewal and beauty. No doubt it will be on your list if you’re traveling in Kansai, and so it should be. But in addition to the memorials to the atrocities of the past, there are plenty of things to enjoy as well as learn from. Only 1 hour and 20 minutes from Osaka by bullet train (or 4 hours from Tokyo), Hiroshima is the perfect day trip, and the perfect double-day trip when combined wi

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