Get simple, actionable tips on how to travel more
and save money
. We all need more adventures! »

Japan: Instagrammed


After spending 10 days in Japan, followed by a week in Korea, my mind is still processing the whole, amazing experience. I visited Japan in 2008 on my round the world trip, and it’s still one of my most-loved countries for so many reasons. For now, I’ll start by sharing some of my favorite Instagrams from Japan!

Frozen yogurt and freshly made potato chips, drizzled with chocolate sauce at Calbee+ on Takeshita St in Harajuku.

Japanese bookstores have a nice selection of cat magazines. Shocking how much print is NOT dead in Japan. Side note: their fashion magazines come with a purse attached!

One of the things I love about Japan is their dedication to cute (“kawaii”) culture. Socks shopping at Mighty Soxer on Takeshita St in Tokyo.

Biking in Karuizawa (& fall colors). Also love the trust factor of bike locks in Japan.

Hot coffee from vending machines – why do we still not have these?

Snow monkeys soaking in their mountain onsen in Yudanaka – one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen!

Fall colors from the Shinkansen train from Nagano back to Tokyo.

First stop in Osaka: okonomiyaki for dinner

The best aquarium I’ve ever visited. Fantastic.

Japan takes photo booths to a whole new level. Another Japan item I thought would have reached American shores by now.

We stopped by a cat cafe in Osaka. It was an… odd experience.

Worth a second visit. Golden Pavilion temple in Kyoto.

Udon in Kyoto.

Love the food “cart” culture along Fukuoka’s waterfront.

We spent our last few hours in Japan watching sumo!

Have you been to Japan?

Tokyo Highlights


Over the last few days I’ve revisited a few districts, Shibuya and Akihabara, and had a great time catching up with my sister. Being in Tokyo for a week has been an amazing experience. Here are a few of my favorite things about Tokyo:

  • Akihabara was much more fun the second time around. My brother-in-law watches some anime and collects Transformers, so he was kind of like having a tour guide. We checked out several hobby/toy shops and went to one of the capsule machine shops. I spent way to much yen for trinkets. So much fun. And we went to another arcade and got sticker pictures taken. Hilarious!
  • Ginza for dinner and a Kabuki play (which was so boring I almost fell asleep and we only went for 1 act).
  • Harajuku for people watching and socks shopping.
  • Meji Shrine, a forest in the city.
  • Tokyo Metro Government Office Tower for views of the city.
  • Sony Building for cool gadgets.
  • Tempura restaurant in Shinjuku area where we saw live eel being murdered in front of us. I was glad I was done eating. The chef held up an eel, smacked it, pinned it’s head, chopped the head off, slit it down the middle, skinned the inner meat out, rinsed it, dipped in batter and threw it in the frier. Oh geez. Now that’s fresh seafood.
  • Ghibli Museum in Mitakato was a magical place.
  • Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest fish market in the world. This place is so busy.
  • Shopping in Shibuya.
  • American actor advertisements. This was very “Lost In Translation.” Tommy Lee Jones and Cameron Diaz do a lot of advertising in Japan.

I’ve loved my time in Japan, especially Tokyo, but I’m ready to move on (and to get some sun)! I’m flying to Cairns, Australia this evening, (I’m also saving an expensive night of lodging in Tokyo by sleeping on the plane). Goodbye, Japan!

Lost In Translation


I love seeing a familiar face that looks like mine! :) I sat for about an hour at the Asahi Beer Tower (a very visible tower on the Tokyo skyline, as the “froth” on top of the building is nicknamed the golden turd) before my sister came up the escalator. She and her husband arrived in Tokyo last night. I’m so excited to see them after traveling for three weeks! We headed to the Asakusa district for lunch and touring the Sensoji temple. We probably did more catching up than touring this afternoon. :)

We planned to meet for dinner later in Shinjuku and I headed back to my hotel to pick up my bag and move to my hostel that’s closer to the Shinjuku area. It was pouring rain and rush hour on a Friday and I was so tired and frustrated. I finally got back on the JR line with my pack, transferred to the Shinjuku line, and finally arrived at my hostel. I’m staying at a capsule style hostel near Shinjuku, that has a floor for females. Regular capsule hostels are really cheap, but don’t allow female customers. :( Thankfully, my “capsule” is by the window and my pack fits in my locker. Since I’ll be here for about a week I dumped everything out of my pack. After unpacking I jumped back on the metro and then walked around and around Shinjuku station. The Shinjuku station is huge, it’s the busiest train station in the world with over 200 exists, so to say I wandered around (and around) several times is an understatement. I’ve often been accused of having internal GPS, so to pass the same exit several times was so frustrating! Well, I finally arrived at their hotel and decided that I needed a better strategy for navigating the station next time. :) After dinner, I started my long trek “home.” Oh and my new Shinjuku strategy is to find the biggest tourist attraction near where I want to go and then follow the signs for that exit only, much easier!

Akihabara, Shibuya, & Roppongi


We left on the 6:21 train to Tokyo this morning, which put us in Tokyo by 7:30 am. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we walked around the outside of the Imperial Palace (a small scale Himeji Castle), before heading to Akihabara, techy shopping center of Tokyo. Nerd central! We wandered through shops and stared at electronics and people equally. After lunch we took the rail to Shibuya, a well-known shopping and fashion district. It’s so fascinating to see all the people and trends and signs and lights. A little sensory overload. I’ve never seen anything like Tokyo.

Later, we checked out the Roppongi area, a nightlife and expat district. It didn’t really seem to Western-y, but there were more foreign influence than the rest of Tokyo: Italian restaurants, Irish pubs and African club promoters.

Olivia Raymer
Things I ♥: travel, food (I'm a pescatarian), the Pacific Northwest, bikes (I ride an orange mixte), beer (IPAs), summer, coffee, lists, and kitties. Travel enthusiast, former product manager, dabbler, and currently helping small businesses with digital strategy at Early Bird Strategy.

Oh hai!

Subscribe via RSS
Follow Me on Pinterest

Check out my productivity & marketing blog:

RSS Early Bird Strategy

  • 2015 Editorial Calendar Template: Free Download 12.04.14
    NEW: UPDATED FOR 2015! As each new year rolls around, we often get renewed focus on planning and goals. Then as the weeks and months pass, our excitement often fades and it’s harder to think of ideas and follow through with existing plans. Sound familiar? One of the most important reasons for creating a content […]
  • 9 Ways to Prep Your Business for the Holiday Season 11.19.14
    With the holidays approaching, it’s not too late to get your business and marketing prepped for shopping season. Depending on your business, this is either the hectic and exciting busy season (retail/ecommerce) or if you are on the consulting side, it might be time to hunker down and plan for the coming year. Whether you have a retail […]
  • How to Track Email Campaigns in Google Analytics 10.01.14
    A colleague recently asked me how to track the effectiveness of an email campaign on getting donations and volunteer signups on their website. Here’s her questions: As a non-profit, we want to be able to track how effective our email newsletter is in generating donations and volunteer signups. I can see how many opens and clicks we’re […]