Japan Travel Cheat Sheet

***Hey, folks. Modern-day Justin here. It’s time to update this old girl. After all, I’ve now been living in Japan for 16 months. Most of the info holds up, though, so I’ll only make a few changes and additions.

I’ve been to Japan 10 times now. I’ve studied the language pretty intensely for the last two years (thanks to the awesome app, Human Japanese). Japan has become my happy place, and a lot of others are interested in checking it out as well. I couldn’t recommend it more! To help facilitate travel, I’ve put together a cheat-sheet of (hopefully) valuable information and tips, along with several helpful phrases to get you by. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments. Enjoy! 楽しんで下さい!


  • Don’t forget that you are not only representing yourself, but your nation and your ethnicity. Leave the Japanese people with a good impression of us! Examples: Be wary of speaking too loudly (English to a non-native ear is noise) and be careful of taking pictures that may include/bother those around you. Privacy is treasured.
  • The flight(s) will suck. Things that will make flying to/from Japan suck less: plenty of snacks, good headphones (preferably noise-cancelling), an eye mask, toothbrush/toothpaste in your carry-on.
  • Jet-lag is legit. Try to get on Japan’s schedule ASAP. Don’t nap after noon the first day, and don’t go to bed before 10:30pm.
  • I suggest always having your passport with you. It’s your most important possession.
  • Do as much legwork and research as you can before you go. You can’t be too prepared, though I also love wandering around aimlessly.
  • When a Japanese person makes an X with their arms or looks like they’re swatting a fly, that means “No.” If you see one of those, maybe stop what you’re doing.

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Justin’s J-Pop Jukebox #8

Stay With Me by Tokyo Girls’ Style

me and TGS

The Artist: Sometimes, if you’re me, you walk around Shibuya. You go into a random music store and buy a DVD of the Morning Musume concert you attended in New York last year.
But sometimes you also look around and it just happens that an idol group you never heard of, Tokyo Girls’ Style, is having a cheki (photo) event to commemorate their new single. Sometimes you say what the heck and buy the CD/ticket. It’s a longer line than you thought, but you have time.
Sometimes you start talking to the guy lined up in front of you, and find he’s a TGS super fan. You talk for a while, about GWAR, America, this band you never heard of…whatever. Then it’s time for the cheki.
Sometimes you’re buff, so you remove your hoodie so you’re just wearing a t-shirt for the picture. You tell them you’re American and they’re surprised. They were just in San Francisco. Sometimes one of them (second from right) says “nice body” so you flex and let them all touch your biceps. There is much giggling and shouts of “Sugoi!” Then sometimes you take the little Polaroid of the moment, have an awkward goodbye with your new super fan friend, notice a few nearby schoolgirls looking wide-eyed at you, and then you go buy your wife some awesome socks. Sometimes. If you’re me. Continue reading

Justin’s J-Pop Jukebox #6

恋愛 WARS by Bitter & Sweet


The Artist: Bitter & Sweet are a duo made up of Asahi Tasaki (left) and Moemi Hasegawa (right). Individually, they won the Forest Award NEW FACE Audition (in 2012 and 2013, respectively). They were paired up at the end of 2013, after Tasaka had a brief solo career; she’s also an accomplished pianist. Continue reading

Justin’s J-Pop Jukebox #4

Gomen ne by Country Girls


The Artist: Country Girls is a new group under the Hello! Project banner (see also Morning Musume, ANGERME). It resurrects the spirit of Country Musume, while recruiting popular Berryz Koubou member Momoko Tsugunaga (Momochi) as an active member/mentor. Continue reading