Travel to Japan to backpack, study, intern, volunteer, work or live as a digital nomad, expat or emigrant?

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Intro: life and experiences in Japan


Backpacking in Japan

  • Backpacking through Japan is best known for its high costs. With proper preparation and planning, you can very well keep costs down and do-able.
  • Features: modern, traditional, varied and diverse. A mix of culture, cities and nature. Even though you can't communicate with everyone in English, there are friendly and helpful people.

Travel in Japan

  • Traveling through Japan can be done very well by public transportation. The public transportation system works well. Japan is safe and you can either get the crowds or the quiet well.
  • Cities to spot: Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
  • Animal spotting: there are sika deer, tiger cats, macaques, forest chamois, eagle owls, raccoon dogs, cranes and many dog species (including Shikoku and Akita), among others.

Studying in Japan

  • The universities and colleges have high study requirements and are well regarded internationally.
  • Studies: technology, management, robotics and economics are well known.
  • Characteristics: Japanese education stands for hard work and discipline.

Internships in Japan

  • Internships: internships can be found in a variety of sectors. Japan is at the forefront of technology, which can be seen in the range of technical courses available.  
  • Characteristics: the English language will get you far in business, you have a big advantage if you speak Japanese.

Working in Japan

  • Jobs: Language schools employ many expats. Or you can work as a ski instructor. You have a better chance of getting a job if you speak Japanese in addition to English.
  • Characteristics: Japan has a large skala of tech companies and spots in IT available.

Volunteering in Japan

  • Volunteer projects: especially in the agricultural sector or in hostels.
  • Characteristics: short-term volunteering of 1 or 2 weeks is also well possible.

Working as a digital nomad in Japan

  • Favorite cities: Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima.
  • Characteristics: internet connection is good everywhere, and there are plenty of other things to do in the area for diversion both historical, cultural and spiritual.

Living in Japan

  • Language: it's an open door ... if you speak Japanese you have a big advantage over other people who don't speak Japanese. In the cities, you can get along well with English. A challenge is not only getting to know the customs, but also understanding and applying them.
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Recipes from Japan or with a Japanese twist by WorldSupporters - Bundle

Recipes from Japan or with a Japanese twist by WorldSupporters - Bundle

Vegetarian in Japan: A guide to vegetarian (or vegan) travelling in Japan

Vegetarian in Japan: A guide to vegetarian (or vegan) travelling in Japan

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Being a vegetarian in Japan is quite a challenge, let alone being vegan. However, it is far from impossible! Just like in many other places throughout the world, vegetarian food is becoming increasingly popular. While I was living in Kyoto in 2016/2017 I found quite some awesome vegetarian an vegan restaurants (want to know more, check out this blog). Similarly when I went to Tokyo in 2018, I found some great places as well. While it is still a bit difficult to figure out what you can and what you can't eat (especially if you're a strict vegetarian/vegan), there are some ways to make this life a little bit easier. 

Learn the Language
First of all, it definitely helps if you know Japanese, of have a friend who can come along and translate. While it seems obvious, this is one of the biggest problems. Generally, Japanese people don't have a full understanding of what vegetarian or vegan is. So even if you say "watashi wa bejitarian desu" (I'm a vegetarian), it doesn't guarantee you'll get vegetarian food. An easier way to make clear that you're avoiding meat and fish is to say: "watashi wa niku to sakana wo tabemasen", meaning I don't eat meat or fish. Of course you can say this for other things as well, just mention the thing you don't eat followed by wo tabemasen (meaning don't eat) and it will help a lot.

But even if you say "watashi wa niku to sakana wo tabemasen", you still have to be careful of katsuo-dashi, this is fish stock and often not regarded as 'meat' or 'fish', therefore your meal might still contain this. The same is true for bonito flakes (fish flakes), cold katsuoboshi in Japanese. If you want to make sure this is not in your food either, you can for example say: niku to sakana wo tabemasen. followed by: "katsuo-dashi to katsuoboshi mo tabemasen"

For vegans it's a little bit more difficult. Of course you can metion all the things you don't eat, such as: 

- egg: tamago
cheese: chiizu
milk: gyuunyuu

Get a dietary card
but be prepared to get some startled looks. There's an easier way as well. When I stayed at a hostel in Tokyo, they had these super useful dietary cards which said in Japanese what you could and couldn't eat. In this way you can just show the staff of a restaurant the card and then they can help you choose a dish. the website justhungry.com offers some options for cards for several dietary restrictions. Simply download them and show them on your phone. While these cards are useful, I prefer the cards on which you can circle your restrictions, such as the one provided by LiveJapan. They also show some common ingredients you should be aware of and ways to say you're allergic for example. 

Get the google translate app
When you're buying food in a store it can also be rather challenging to find vegetarian/vegan options. While you can sometimes ask the clerk, or another shopper, this is not always an option. Google translate can come in real handy in this case. Since many places have WiFi nowadays, especially convenience stores (although it can be a bit of a hassle to acces it), you can easily use the app. By simply scanning an ingredient list with the app, it will give you an immediate translation of the japanese ingredients. 

If you're not able to use internet or WiFi, you can also learn the kanji for the words important to you, or list them on your phone so you can check more easily. SurvivingnJapan also provides a great guide to reading food labels and the ingredients. 

Be aware of ingredients/dishes
You don't have to eat at vegetarian or vegan restaurants all the time, there are still plenty of options at other places. However, there are some things to be aware of. 

Sushi
When you go out to eat sushi, the obvious thing is to avoid fish sushi. However, other sushi options are less obvious such as sushi with fish eggs, sperm, or ground fish, but also the sushi wrapped in tofu pockets, they are almost always boiled in fish stock. Sushi you can eat/ask for are sushi with egg (tamago), cucumber (kappa maki), pickled daikon (oshinko maki), mushroom nigiri, okrah nigiri, eggplant nigiri, avocado onigiri, natto (fermented soy beans) maki, and some other options. So there's still plenty to eat. 

Ramen
Unless ramen is labeled as vegetarian or vegan, it will highly likely contain meat or fish broth. However, more and more vegan and vegetarian ramen places are popping up, so don't fuzz, since you'll find some great places to eat. A very popular vegetarian/vegan ramen place is T's TanTan in Tokyo, as well as Sorainoro where they have one delicious vegan option. In Kyoto you can eat vegetarian (not sure if it's vegan) ramen at Mumokuteki in the city center and Mamezen and Vegans Cafe a bit further away. 

Kushikatsu & Tempura
Kushikatsu in a great dish which you can find a lot in Osaka for example. Tempura is super delicious as well. While it is often vegan if you choose the vegetable options, the tempura batter can sometimes contain eggs, so be sure to check. The dipping sauce also usually contains fish, since it's often a mix of dashi and soy sauce. Sometimes you can ask for simple soy sauce (however, they don't always have it), or you can dip it in salt. 

Udon & Soba
Udon and Soba noodles can either be served in broth, or in a basket with many sides. I would avoid broths since they are always meat or fish based (unless indicated otherwise of course). If you order the ones that are not served in the broth, make sure you order it withous bonito flakes. Also the dipping sauce if other a mix of soy and fish stock and sometimes additional things. However, the noodles come with several sides such as sea weed, spring onion, pickles and can therefore still be greatly enjoyed! 

Convenience stores
While many things in the convenience store are not vegetarian/vegan, other things are. To start with: the onigiris. In the konbini you can find ume (pickled plum), seaweed, plain, red bean and corn-mayo onigiri which are all vegan, excepts for the last one. Furthermore you can find two types of vegan/vegetarian sushi. The vegan one is natto (which is quite a thing to get used to), the second one is a big roll with egg, vegetables and some pink grainy stuff that almost looks like fish eggs, this is vegetarian! Other things are things like Dango (rice balls), tsukemono (pickled vegetables), pre-made salads (they are in see through boxes so you can see what's inside), happy dates bars, nuts, edamame (soy beans), and more. If you want to know about more vegan dishes check out this great vlog by Currently Hannah

Last but not least... Prepare!
Preparing is a big part of finding the best vegetarian and vegan places to eat. You can find information through the large amount of blogs and vlogs on the internet, which can help you greatly, and you can ask locals or hotel staff. The website happycow.net is also a good source of inspiration. This website lists all kinds of places with vegetarian and vegan food. Other than that, if you're having a hard time finding a vegetarian place wherever you are in Japan, a good alternative is to find an Indian restaurant. Indian restaurants are really popular and always have vegetarian and vegan options. They are very aware of what it means to be vegetarian or vegan so you're safe there. 

Good luck! :)

Easy vegan Shakshuka recipe

Easy vegan Shakshuka recipe

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When I was in Budapest over the Christmas holidays, I had the most delicious Shakshuka! It reminded me of the time when to Israeli guys were making breakfast in a hostel in Japan and they shared some of their delicious meal with me.. However, at that time I wasn't able to remember the name of the dish... so it took me 3 years to finally figure it out, in the Jewish quarter of Budapest. 

What is shakshuka?
Shakshuka is a traditional North-African/Israelean dish that can be enjoyed at every moment of the day. It is great for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is very easy to prepare. 

While the dish usually comes with eggs cooked on top of the shakshuka base, I will leave this out in the vegan recipe. As a replacement, you can add extra vegetables, olives, tofu-feta (https://simpleveganblog.com/vegan-tofu-feta-cheese/, or just eat it as it is with some delicious bread. 

While many variations of shakshuka can be found on the internet, the traditional verson is basically spiced tomate base with onions and garlic (and bell pepper), and eggs on top. 

How to make Shakshuka?
1. You start with chopping the onions garlic, red pepper, bell pepper and tomatoes (if you use any) into small pieces. 

2. Then you heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large iron skillot. Add the onions and garlic and saute them for a couple of minutes. Before the garlic turns brown, add in the red pepper, bell pepper, the spices and the salt and pepper. 

3. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, but don't let it burn. 

4. Add the tomatoes (if you use any), tomato sauce and extra vegetables/tofu if using any. Cook for another 10 minutes.

5. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. 

6. Serve the sauce with some parsley on top and some delicious pita bread and/or salad on the side! 

 

Ready In: 25 min.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large white onions
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. paprika powder
  • 1 can peeled and diced tomaties
  • 1 tsp. tomato purée
  • salt and pepper to taste
Japanese food: 1

Japanese food: 1

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Let's talk about FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD :D Last week I posted a blog about Ecuadorian Fruits :D which described all kinds of super delicous Frutas, this week I will tell you about Japanese food. Japan is famous for it's elaborate and delicious kitchen. The food is fresh, beautiful, tasty and usually healthy, but if you don't know the names of dishes it's hard to figure out what to get and where to get it. 

So, let me tell you about some general dishes you can find everywhere, and some specific dishes found in specific regions: 

Onigiri
Onigiri are riceballs often wrapped in seaweed and filled with things like umeboshi (pickled plum), salmon, tuna, seaweed. They are great as a snack and cheap as well. You can basically find them at every conbini. 

Inari Sushi
Inari sushi is rice wrapped in sweet tofusheets. This you can also often find at conbinis, where you can buy them as a snack for a small price. A good place to get them for example is the 100yen lawson. While the normal Lawson is blue, the 100yen Lawson is green in colour. 

Shabu Shabu
Shabu shabu is basically a full dinner. It's a Japanese hotpot dish, in which you dip your meat and vegetables. I have often eaten the vegetarian version, which basically means you only dip in the veggies and ask the others to dip the meat into the other (half of the) pot. For a good place to eat Shabu shabu in Kyoto, check out the building of this restaurant, on one of the top floors there is a 1500 all you can eat shabu shabu place https://goo.gl/maps/whKnp2rCodM2 (there is also a yakiniku place on one of the floors for the meat lovers). 

100yen sushi 
100 yen sushi is basically better sushi than we get in Europe, for a better price as well. It's also a fun experience which often means sitting at a sushi conveyer belt. Sometimes the ordered sushi even comes on a sushi train. You just take as many plates as you want and at the end of the meal, the dishes are counted and you pay for the amount with the added tax. If you want to find a 100yen sushi place, check out kappa sushi, they are all over Japan. But there are many more cheap sushi places. 

Tempura
Tempura is basically fried anything. It is amazingly delicous, but not very healthy haha. While you can buy it at the supermarket, there are also some great places to eat out. In the supermarket it is usually not very crispy. One great place to eat tempura is here: https://goo.gl/maps/EpBHu2KmNHy . It is cheap and you can just choose seperate dishes like with the 100yen sushi. 

Local dishes: 
Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is an amazing dish which you can get in two different styles; Osaka style and Hiroshima style. Which are also the best places to eat this dish. It is a type of cabbage pancake with all kinds of extra ingredients like cheese, ham, octopus, and a lot more. The dish is topped with bonito flakes, seaweed, amazing okonomiyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. As a vegetarian this is a great Japanese dish to try, just make sure you avoid the bonito flakes and ask whether the sauce is vegetarian, but I believe it usually is. For vegans and If you want to be sure about the ingredients, go to this place in Hiroshima: http://nagataya-okonomi.com/ they truly have amazing food! :D It's is often crowded though, so you might have to wait in line. 

Takoyaki
Takoyaki are doughballs with as the main ingredient octopus coming from Osaka. I've never had them, but according to other people they are either delicious or strange haha. If you want to eat them, you can find them on the streets in Osaka, or sometimes at temple markets. 

Miso-katsu & Miso nikomi udon
This first famous dish is for the meat eaters, Miso-katsu specifically stands for pork cutlets with miso sauce. The second dish is Udon in a broth of miso. Whether this is a vegetarian dish I can't say, but you can probably ask (although I doubt the answer the people at the restaurant will give you). Both are dishes Nagoya is famous for, specifically because of the miso-part. So if you pay Nagoya a visit, you should definitely get a miso-dish to try the best of the best.

Yudofu
It sounds like a martial arts type, but yudofu is a tofu dish found in Kyoto. It is a very simple dish, containing tofu, kelp and water, but that doesn't make it less delicious! The tofu bits are then dipped in sauce or just eaten like that. Here you can find more about tofu in Kyoto: https://favy-jp.com/topics/1471
I personally had the fanciest meal I ever had in Kyoto in a tofu restaurant and it was really amazing and such a great experience! Pure flavours, amazing textures and just super pretty food. I would definitely recommend it! 

Well, that's it for now! More dishes will follow in the future, but for now... Enjoy :D 

Cheers, 
Hannah

Delicious vegan ramen recipe

Delicious vegan ramen recipe

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It's RAMEN TIME! :D 

This is a Japanese ramen recipe that is delicious and suitable for everyone, also vegans. It is easy to make and you can create a different dish every time if you change the toppings. This recipe will give you the ramen stock, and some toppings I really like. In case you make the stock with mushrooms, add 1 hour to your cooking time. However, it's also delicious without the mushrooms! 

1. cut the tempe/tofu and put it in a bowl with a bit of soy sauce and garlic.

2. cut the garlic and ginger into small pieces and heat it in sesame or sunflower oil for about five minutes on low heating. 

3. now add the stock, soy sauce, mirin and if you use them, the dried shiitake or different type of mushrooms. Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes (the longer the tastier though), but in case you added dried mushrooms, let it boil for one hour before you continue with step 4. 

4. prepare the toppings (cut them into smaller pieces if necessary).

- heat some oil in a separate pan and bake the tempe/tofu. 

- boil some water in a separate pot, add the spinach for about two minutes, then drain the spinach with cold water. 

5. add the noodles and cook as long as necessary, then turn down the heat, add the miso paste and stirr well (don't boil when the miso paste is in). 

6. divide the stock and noodles over two bowls and add the toppings. I only use a little bit of pickled ginger in the middle because it looks very pretty but has a strong flavour. And you can sprinkle with sesame seeds. 

7. Enjoy

 

Ready In: 45 min.

Ingredients:

  • sesame oil (or sunflower will do too)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • Vegetable stock (i used two blocks), so about 1L
  • Two tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste (usually white, but I used red and it was tasty anyway :))
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • about 150 gram ramen (depending on how hungrgy you are)
  • Optional: dehydrated mushrooms (shiitake)
  • Toppings such as:
  • tempe/tofu marinated and baked in a bit of soy sauce
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 can of corn (200gram)
  • spinach (150-200 gram)
  • mushrooms
  • pickled ginger
  • sesame seeds
Which visum for Japan

Which visum for Japan

Tourist visum for Japan

Tourist visum for Japan

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So, you're thinking about paying a visit to the land of the rising sun? You might have already planned your trip, sought out the places you want to visit, the food you want to eat. Or you might have not, in that case check out my bundle with advice. But then you suddenly remember; I might need a visa!! Well, here you can find some information on how to check which visa you need for your next trip. 

First of all, while I can list some general requirements for getting a tourist visa here, it is important to remember that the rules might be different for different countries. Therefore it is important to check the most up-to-date information on the website of the embassy in your country. 

In general you'll have to comply with the following conditions

  • You need a valid passport (with an expiry date more than 6 months away)
  • You need two blank pages in your passport for the visa
  • You have to have a confirmation of an outbound ticket within the scope of your granted time in Japan
  • You have to know your accommodation address
  • You're not allowed to engage in paid activities
  • Short-term studies at Japanese language schools are allowed

Depending on the country you have to provide a lot more information, but these are the basic requirements (which are enough for Dutch citizens). 

Do you need a visa in advance?
68 countries don't need to apply for a visa, but can get one on arrival. Check here if your country is on this list. On this list are currently 9 Asian countries, Canada, USA, 12 countries from Latin America & the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Turkey, UAE, Lesotho, Mauritius, Tunisia and almost all European countries. 

For Brunei, Indonesia and the UAE, a 15-day visa is granted upon arrival, while for the other countries a 90-day visa is handed out. There are some notes for certain countries, so make sure to check the government's website. 

If you're from Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Switzerland or the UK, you can apply for a visa extension of another 90 days at an immigration bureau in Japan. 

Another exception for these countries is that if you have more than 30 million Japanese yen in savings, you can apply for a 1-year visa for sightseeing and recreation. Read more about it here

Other countries do need to arrange a visa in advance. Since this can be different for each country, check the most recent and up-to-date information on the government's website

 

 

 

 

Working Holiday agreement between Japan & Netherlands is a fact!

Working Holiday agreement between Japan & Netherlands is a fact!

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Finally! For the past 8 years I have been wondering why there was no working holiday agreement between the Netherlands and Japan. In the 1600s we were the only country from the west that was allowed to trade with Japan, and since then our bond has been quite good. Nevertheless, while the Germans, French, English, Austrians, Hungarians, Norwegians, Portugese, Polish, Danish, Irish, Slovaks, Spanish, Czech, Lithuanians, Icelanders were able to work, stay and travel in Japan for a year, the Dutch weren't. 

But, things have changed :D. This week I finally saw the news that there now will be a working holiday visum for Dutch citizens going to Japan. This will allow youth from both countries to support their travels in the other country and to experience the culture in a different way. The programme will kick-off on the 1st of April 2020 (hopefully not an April Fools joke!). 

For more information, follow the Japanese embassy's website

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~This blog comes from my personal blog "Hannah-chan's travels" for more blog check out this blog page ~ Finding the best way to travel in a country is always a bit tricky. In some countries it can be cheaper to take the bus, in other countries to take a train of flight. What is always cheaper is hit...

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Hi! Since I have been to Japan a couple of times and since the country is becoming more and more popular, I decided to make a magazine where you can find many Japan-related blogs to guide you through your travel plans. :) Enjoy!

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Japan, the land of traditions. So you're visiting Japan and are ready for an amazing trip, but after all the stories about polite Japanese people you become a bit worried.... What is okay to do and what isn't? What should you avoid doing when eating? In this blog I will tell you about the most impor...

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Hi all!  Today I want to tell you something about Matsushima; one of the three views of Japan, which were already elected in 1643. These three places are places that provide some of the best scenic views of Japan. Matsushima is one of these places due to it's scenic coast with over 200 small is...

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Hi! Since I have been to Japan a couple of times and since the country is becoming more and more popular, I decided to make a magazine where you can find many Japan-related blogs to guide you through your travel plans. :) Enjoy!

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Set a hook in tofu - Do something useless, as in carry water to the sea Strangle someone with a silk cloth - Be very sweet, to force someone wearing silk gloves To cut the head of a flee with an axe - Shoot with a canon on a mosquito Let peas fall on a lying door - To use a lot of words, someone who...

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Hiking in Japan is something that can’t be skipped! If you’re up for an adventure outside of the everyday city excitement, get up to the mountains around Kyoto. In this blog you’ll find a description of Fushimi Inari, Hieisan, Daimon-ji, Takao-Hozukyo Fushimi Inari The hike up Fus...

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If you're a vegetarian and have been to Japan, you'll probably know that finding vegetarian, let alone vegan, food is quite a challenge. If you haven't been to Japan, now you know... Most dishes contain meat or fish, and even if they seem vegetarian, they often hide some fish stock, bonito flak...

Favorite tips and suggestions related to Japan
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Kanamara Matsuri, or "steel phallus festival", is a yearly festival in Kawasaki, Japan. Having visited the festival I have to say I was intrigued. It takes place in spring on the first Sunday of April. The festivities are not like the ones you usually see at shrine festivals in Japan.  It ...

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World Smart Energy Week All kinds of technologies/products related to "hydrogen & fuel cell", "solar cell/module", "PV systems", "rechargeable battery", "smart grid", "wind energy", "biomass power", "thermal power" and "recycling of renewable energy resources" are gathering. Each field is divide...

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