Asians Bearing Gifts: The Omiyage in Japan

If you live and work Japan, it’s pretty much expected that you bring back souvenirs for your colleagues, friends and family. It’s a custom that utterly confused me when I first came here. Unlike other countries, souvenirs here are a small food item that’s beautifully and individually wrapped. Don’t you dare present it in a brown paper bag. Yes – the wrapping matters. A lot.

A Dangerous Tokyo Suburb? My day trip to Adachi

I can’t say I’ve ever truly felt unsafe in Japan. And then it was brought to my attention that Adachi is a ‘dangerous’ place. People even use it as a cautionary tale to scare young children into behaving themselves. The things local tour guides don’t tell you before showing you around their neighbourhood. Hmm… The area is renowned for its broken public school system and a couple of high profile incidents.

A 3 step guide to making friends abroad

You’ve packed your bags. Thrown that caution to the wind. You’re on a plane to someplace you’ve always wanted to go. Someplace where you don’t know anyone. Maybe it’s even someplace where you don’t even speak the language. People often ask me how I make friends so quickly. I promise you it isn’t rocket science. If I can do it, so can you.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year in Japan’s Biggest Chinatown

Whenever I get homesick, a quick visit to Yokohama Chinatown is all it takes for me to feel slightly placated. Back in 1859, Yokohama was one of the first Japanese ports that opened up to foreign trade. Chinatown quickly developed to accommodate the many Chinese traders who settled down in this city. Of course, that was a long time ago and these days there are more businesses than actual people living here.