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Tag Results: Japan

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Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and many others countries speak the English language. But sometimes talking with the locals there can feel as foreign to U.S. travelers as communicating with those in, say, Thailand. To help clear these up, here are a few words that our stateside readers are all familiar with — but that mean something completely different in other English-speaking places around the world.

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Travel is filled with emotions. Anytime you go somewhere, you’re giving yourself the chance to be delighted, to fall in love, to feel out of place, to find comfort. That’s a big part of why we like to get out there — and yet sometimes nothing in the English language adequately explains these experiences. Or at least not as succinctly as these foreign travel-related words we’ve gathered below. We’re keeping these in our back pocket for the next time we’re grasping for a word to capture a specific, evocative moment from our journeys, and we invite you to do the same.

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Relaxation takes form in all shapes and sizes. To some, an afternoon coffee with a pastry eases away the tension better than a full-body massage. To others, being pricked in the back with dozens of needles does the trick. From skin-eating fish to dives into icy lakes, here are some of the varied  techniques you can seek out on your next travels.

Japan: Sake Bath
First practiced by Japanese geishas to decrease the appearance of age and skin spots, thousands of Japanese men and women continue to experience the healing effects of the rice wine’s kojic acids, which smooth and hydrate the skin. Sake also contains a healthy mix of ginger and pine extracts that’s proven to relax muscles (or is that just the alcohol talking?) and help breathing. Japan’s Yunessun Spa Resort, 50 miles southwest of Tokyo, invites guests to soak in their giant pool of sake — or try their red wine, coffee, or green tea baths — for an all-inclusive entry fee of ¥2,800 ($28).

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Flight: booked. Hotel: reserved. Language podcasts: Completed. What else do you need to prepare before jetting off on vacation?

Most of us would probably never think that feeding pigeons in parts of Venice could get us fined as much as our plane tickets there cost. Likewise, while we always leave a substantial tip after dining at a restaurant in North America, the practice is a foreign concept to many international visitors. Needless to say, very diverse cultural customs abound around the world. Here are a few quirky ones that we love and think are useful to know for preventing cultural mishaps abroad.

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hong kong light show

If you thought that light shows were reserved for children at theme parks or at techno shows for young adults, think again. Each year, each day, cities around the world ignite their skies with colorful arrangements of phosphorescent lights. From decorative cranes at an old Croatian navy yard to entire harborscapes like those in Hong Kong and Singapore, there’s a delightful journey in some of the world’s finest light shows. See our favorites here.

virgin galactic 1Thirty years ago, we wondered if today’s world would have flying cars, hover boards, and a sports almanac that would change the sports-betting industry forever — at least that’s what “Back to the Future” told us. While those things haven’t exactly come to fruition, it seems like the only thing limiting the travel of the future is our collective imagination. Here’s a taste of what travel could look like in the not-so-distant future:

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vinyls - steve snodgrass - 620A big part of the travel experience is bringing a piece of it home, so you can remember where you’ve been long after you’ve returned. We recommend skipping the chintzy souvenir shops and loading up on genuine local goods instead. Here, four ways to find items that really represent the destination, wherever you are.

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Skellig MichaelBarcelona has its Sagrada Familia. Sydney has its white-hooded Opera House. And other places? Well, they’ve got steps – lots and lots of them. As the examples illustrate below, epic staircases aren’t just a way to reach higher ground. They can be major attractions unto themselves. From the fabled Ha’iku Ladder in Hawaii, to Norway’s never-ending Flørli Steps, these jaw-dropping ascents aren’t for the faint of heart. But once you get to the top, we think you’ll agree the views more than make up for the effort. Read more

Last month, a report claimed that a fifth of the 720 UNESCO World Heritage Sites could be at risk of drowning due to climate change and rising sea levels. In the spirit of not taking these sites for granted, we’ve rounded up a few of the landmarks on the list that may not be as well known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Statue of Liberty – but are just as stunning and worthy of any traveler’s bucket list. See them while they still exist…

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Kinderdijk-Elshout Mill Network, Netherlands
Kinderdijk, a low-lying town in the Netherlands, had been kept dry since the 1940s by a network of 19 windmills together with more modern pumping stations, storage basins, and sluices. The risk of flooding for the still-operational mills is obvious. While you can, we highly encourage driving along the neighboring trail – it feels like stepping onto the set of a perfectly scenic Dutch movie. Read more

KabukichoGreat cities are always changing, and as property developers and big businesses move in, often the first neighborhoods to lose their character are those that operate on the margins – places where economies are decidedly underground. Even though a lot of that gritty neighborhood character is lost to history, there are audioguides out there that capture the essence of times gone by.  Next time you’re headed to New York, London, Tokyo, or Paris, plug in to one of these guides to experience a different, seamier side of city life.

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Elvis Diner JerusalemStuck forever in the era of boat-sized convertibles, Elvis memorabilia, and red-checkered tablecloths, these American-themed diners offer a nostalgic ride into ‘50s Americana while satisfying rumbling tummies. Although commonplace throughout the fifty states, you don’t tend to come across these neon-lit, chrome-plated structures anywhere else in the world. So if you happen to be abroad and craving a burger and a milkshake, here are twelve diners around the world that’ll transport you back home.

Visit the full slideshow here.

tokyonightWhile Tokyo is not nearly as unaffordable as common wisdom would have it, it’s certainly not a cheap place to visit – starting with the four-figures-and-counting price of the airfare to get there. But with a little bit of insider knowledge, you can enjoy Tokyo – including some of its ritizier trappings. Here’s how to do it.  Read more

Whether you’re looking for a tropical escape or windswept remoteness, the following destinations are perfect for island-hopping. From there, your biggest challenge is choosing your favorite beach…

Inner and Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Despite their wild and remote image, getting around these archipelagos in western Scotland can be straightforward. A few of the most accessible islands include Skye, where the geologically diverse landscape includes lochs (lakes), forests, and glens (valley) and Islay, with its whiskey distilleries. Iona has white sandy beaches, and Lewis has mysterious standing stones.  Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne runs services to 22 islands, most year-round. Visitors planning to travel extensively around the islands can purchase an Island-Hopping pass, which can save you some money. For example, one pass includes ferry rides from the mainland and to the islands of Skye, Harris, and Lewis, and back to the mainland. For car and passenger, the pass costs $30 per person in the summer ($28, or $56 total, in the winter). By comparison, the total price for a car and passenger making the same trip by buying single tickets would be $202 in the summer.
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Helsinki AirportAh, airport layovers. Few of us will ever actually look forward to them, but there are some airports where top-notch facilities make waiting for a connection much easier. Here’s a list… Read more

firecrackers-chinese-lunar-new-year-Luica-MakTraveling in Asia, or to an Asian community, this week? You’re in luck. The Lunar New Year, typically falling at the end of January or the end of February, is arguably the most festive and also the most interesting time of the year. Big events like lion dances and firecrackers aside, this is when communities everywhere come alive with cheer and tradition, with good wishes and ancient folklore at top of mind.

While it’s unlikely that anyone would expect a traveler to follow all the customs, we can’t think of a better way to get to know a destination’s culture. Plus, helping to usher in auspiciousness is a great way to delight a kind host or helpful friend. Here’s our guide to the general dos and don’ts – there’s naturally an overlap between the traditions of different ethnic groups and countries – as well as a gift guide for visits and meet-ups.  Read more

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