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You may have heard about the political storm brewing over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the South China Sea. China has recently declared the airspace above these islands as part of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), meaning that they effectively control the airspace over this Japanese territory. If you’re planning a trip to China, you’re probably wondering what this means for your flight, which will likely pass through the disputed air space. The good news, if you are flying on a U.S. carrier at least, is not much. Read more
Winter predictably sees travelers heading to tropical islands for their vacations, but what about the cooler weather islands? There are a few advantages to heading someplace where you’ll be packing a sweater rather than a swimsuit: less crowds, better deals, and plenty of interesting things to do.
Here are a few of our favorite cold-weather island getaways.
Shetland Islands, Scotland
You’ll have to wrap up warm if you’re planning to visit Shetland in winter, but you may be rewarded with a sight of the Northern Lights; its far-north location makes it the best place in the British Isles to see them. Besides the aurora borealis, winter brings unique festivals, such as Up Helly Aa, a Viking fire festival held in Lerwick on the last weekend of January.
Hard to believe, but the movie Lost in Translation was released exactly 10 years ago today. For many, it was the first in-depth look at filmmaker Sofia Coppola’s work – and at the city where it’s set: Tokyo. If you have a trip to Japan on your wish list – or the movie in your Netflix queue – here’s a quick look at some of the film’s famous locations.
Park Hyatt Tokyo, Shinjuku
In the movie: This is the hotel where Charlotte and Bob stay, and much of the movie takes place.
What you can do there: Even if you don’t choose to stay in this luxury hotel (October rates start at $430 a night), make sure you hit up the 52nd-floor New York Bar for panoramic city views from the floor-to-ceiling windows ($23 cover charge after 8pm), or the New York Grill for Sunday morning jazz brunch ($70). Read more
As the city with the most Michelin rated restaurants in the world, Tokyo is an instant hit with most food lovers. But what if you’re looking for something a little more…unusual? The bustling Japanese metropolis doesn’t disappoint there either, with a plethora of themed restaurants perfect for the adventurous eater. At the following five places, it’s as much about the experience as the food itself, so it’s probably best not to show up expecting a gourmet feast (of course, if it’s top-notch ramen you’re after, that shouldn’t be too hard to find.)
1. Alice in Wonderland Cafe.
Fans of the Lewis Carroll story will love this quirky restaurant chain, which has several locations throughout Tokyo, and is popular with groups of young Japanese women. Servers come dressed in French maid-style Alice costumes, and the Wonderland-themed decor is unique to each restaurant (picture a Cheshire cat hovering over the doorway, or giant pages of Carroll’s novel plastered on the walls.) Meanwhile, as you sit there nibbling on pizza molded into the shape of the Cheshire cat’s tail, your Wonderland experience will be complete. Average Price: ¥3,500 (about $35.35) Read more
Angkor Wat, the Grand Canyon, the Blue Lagoon: just a few of the natural and man-made wonders many of us, if we’re lucky, get to experience during a lifetime of travel. In most cases, visiting them is as easy as just showing up. But what about the countless other jaw-dropping sites we’ll never get to see? Whether too remote, or frozen under ice, or sunk at the bottom of the ocean, here are a few “hidden” sites that no technological advancements – or wishful thinking – can ever bring us closer to.
Earlier this month, a team of scientists discovered a previously-unknown volcano, located deep under the Pacific, 1,000 miles off the coast of Japan. Confirmed as the largest volcano in the world (about a hundred times bigger than Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, which previously held the title), the rock mound, nicknamed Tamu Massif, would make for a pretty impressive sight – too bad its summit lies 4,500 feet below the ocean’s surface. Evidence shows that the 124-million-year-old volcano likely went dormant shortly after it formed, though that doesn’t bring us any closer to traversing its wide, craggy surface. Read more
To most of the world, ramen is the cheapest meal a college student can find. In Japan, ramen is practically a religion. Each restaurant prides itself on its broth and toppings, and ramen connoisseurs are picky about the thickness and curliness of the noodles, and the base of the broth – pork, salt, soy sauce, and miso are the most popular. Even so, some restaurants are universally loved. Here, we take a look at five great ramen restaurants you should stop by on your next trip to Japan.
1. Ramen Jiro
Foreign travelers often complain that Japanese portions are too small. Not at Tokyo-based Ramen Jiro. Here, bean sprouts, chashu (braised pork slices), and garlic come piled upon an ultra-fatty pork broth with noodles made from bread flour. Jirolians, as the shop’s fans are known, assure others the calorie splurge is worth it. Head to the original Minato location for lunch – it closes at 3pm. Price: ¥700 – ¥1100 (about $7.20–$11.30) Read more
Earlier this week, Japan announced that the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was hit by a tsunami in 2011 – and subsequently spewed radioactive chemicals into the environment – is opening up as a tourist attraction, complete with restaurants, souvenir shops, a tsunami-focused museum, and hotels. The idea is to educate future generations on the impact of the disaster, as well as support the local economy with new jobs. In reality, who, I wonder, will actually be going here?
Even without the context of the tsunami, it seems like a strange idea no matter how you slice it. I consider myself an open-minded traveler, but not in a million years would ‘nuclear plant’ ever cross my mind as a place I would want to spend my vacation. Four Seasons hotel, yes. White sandy beach, absolutely. But a themed resort on the edge of a steel-and-concrete labyrinth that still tests high for radiation levels? Er, no thanks. Read more
Like Japan itself, the country’s Keihanshin region (made up of Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe) is renowned for its cuisine, including Kobe beef and sashimi. But there are also some lesser-known local delicacies that are worth a taste. If you’re looking to experience the gourmet side of Keihanshin’s culture, here are five must-try dishes and the best cities in which to sample them. Read more
How to explain humans’ fascination with climbing mountains? Perhaps by paraphrasing doomed Everest climber George Mallory: ”Because (they’re) there.” While it still takes superhuman fitness, endurance and nerve, not to mention years of experience, to scale the world’s tallest peaks, the summits of a few legendary mountains are accessible even to the novice adventurer. Here’s a list…
Everest Base Camp, Nepal
Although the number of climbers attempting to scale Everest has exploded over the past couple of decades, the 29,029-foot peak of the world’s tallest mountain is still off limits for most of us. The South Everest Base Camp, however, is accessible even to beginner mountaineers. If climbing only to a “base” sounds like a cop out, consider this: South Base Camp reaches a height of 17,598 feet and it still takes about two weeks to get there.
One of your biggest challenges on the trek to Everest Base Camp is likely to be overcoming altitude sickness. Set aside some time to acclimatize and go slowly; make time to take in the natural beauty, monasteries and museums along the way. Read more
Big cities make for great vacations. The culture and palpable energy is a large part of why so many people gravitate toward the world’s great cities and put up with, even embrace, the hustle and bustle. Sometimes, though, even the most committed city traveler feels the need to check out of the constant stream of activity in, say, London or New York, and that is when they head to the quiet calm of a city park. Read more
Today, I learned about this incredible dining experience, and as a wanna-be-foodie, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. First thing I thought was: Leave it to Las Vegas to take something as simple as dinner and make it into a life-threatening, heart-dropping, stomach-churning experience. Enter: Dinner in the Sky. I poked around a little more into the phenomenon, and found that Sin City isn’t such an innovator, after all! The newest addition to Sin City’s roster of unique consumer experiences has actually debuted in a number of other cities and 40 countries around the world! This news sparked my curiosity: What are some of the other crazy dining experiences that I’ve never heard of? Here’s what I uncovered! Read more
I could rattle off a list of impressive and beautiful volcanoes (have you seen this one with three color-changing lakes on it?!), but none seem quite as amazing as this isolated mountainous landmass hundreds of kilometers off the coast of Tokyo, Japan. Aogashima is the southernmost island in the Izu archipelago. And, though it might seem improbable, people actually live on the island (and there are things to do there!). Read more
With news that Google Streetview sent a camera into Fukushima, the city that was abandoned after a 2011 Japanese earthquake cause the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiich nuclear power plant, we’re now able to see inside the now desolate town. Take a look at the eerie photos and others from around the world. Read more
Happy National Fragrance Day! Since many perfumes draw inspiration from places around the world, we thought there was no better way to celebrate than finding fragrances that best evoked their respective locations. Want to smell like a spring day? Maybe you’re more interested in evoking the romance of Paris at night? Either way, we’ve put together a list of fragrances that pay tribute to some of our favorite places in the world.
Whisky conjures up a bunch of feelings for me: First, I cringe a little (I’m more of a vodka-cranberry-type girl – I know, falling into a stereotype). Next, I think of either Tennessee, Kentucky, or Scotland, where whisky is best-known in my books. I definitely don’t think about Japan. But then again, maybe I should. Read more
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