Japan is a spectacular country with gracious people and incredible traditions, where cherry blossoms fall at your feet. It’s certainly more expensive than the rest of Asia, but it’s still possible to travel there on a tight budget.
The best time to visit Japan is spring, when cherry blossom fever holds the country in its grip. There are even special forecasts on TV, and enthusiasts move en masse from one side of the country to the other, following the predicted bloomings. Fall is great for the autumnal colors and local festivals. And winter offers excellent skiing and it's a great time to see the little snow monkeys in their hot baths.
- Population: 127,253,075
- Capital City: Toyko
- Climate: Varies from tropical in south to cool temperate in north
- Time Zone: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
- Language: Japanese
- Country Code: +81
Japan is an antique collector’s paradise. From unusual wedding gifts to snazzy souvenirs, the antique shops and local markets in central Tokyo have it all—and they are surprisingly affordable. Most of what’s sold is in excellent condition, even in the flea markets. Here are some items to look out for and where to hunt for them.
The largest arts festival in the world takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland, from August 1 to 25. If you haven’t experienced the Fringe Festival before, it turns almost every corner of the city into a performance space for comedians, musicians, actors, and theater groups.
Many emerging markets are actually in much better physical shape than the United States. So for instance, while people think of countries like Indonesia as being highly risky from a fiscal standpoint, Indonesia is actually on much sounder financial footing than the U.S.
Begin the month in Scotland’s Spey Valley where, as part of “Whisky Month,” the Spirit of Speyside Festival runs from May 1 to 5. Tastings, workshops, and even a guide on how to properly photograph a “wee dram” of whisky are all on the schedule.
Going abroad sometimes comes as a response to a personal shakeup: the end of a relationship, a financial loss, or the passing of a loved one. Getting out of Dodge, at least for a while, can provide the opportunity to gain a fresh perspective and explore your options.
More hot water pours out of the earth in Beppu, Japan, than in any other city in the world. Located in southern Japan on the island of Kyushu, Beppu is home to over 2,000 hot springs, which means Japanese-style baths (onsen) are never more than a short walk away.
The devil masks worn for the Diablada de Pillaro (The Dance of the Devils) in Pillaro, Ecuador, have spawned a whole school of art. It’s well worth joining the thousands of onlookers to see the elaborate processions that take place each night from New Year’s Day to January 6. The feast of Edina Bronya, which essentially represents Christmas for the people of Ghana, in west Africa, falls this year on January 2.
A new distillery in Dingle, on the southwest coast of Ireland, is putting whiskey in casks now, for drinking in five years. The barley comes from Irish farms, gets milled in County Kilkenny, and the water comes from a spring well in Dingle. You buy a cask (400 bottles) for €6,000 ($8,100). After five years you can have the whiskey bottled and labeled with your name… or you can sell it back to the distillery (with a minimum return)…or you can choose to keep it in Dingle and allow it to mature further.
In the Kisama Heritage Village in Nagaland, northeast India, the Hornbill Festival is a huge celebration of the indigenous warrior tribes of the region. Taking place between December 1 and 7, the festival is named after the Indian Hornbill, a large and colorful forest bird. You’ll need a government permit to visit, but it’s worth it to experience the beauty contest, archery, wrestling, and lots of singing and dancing.
My profession has taken me all across the world, experiencing unique journeys…attending world famous events…and meeting fascinating people. And I got paid to do it. I have rung in the New Year at Hogmanay in Edinburgh, danced up a storm at Seville’s April Fair, and was awed by the beauty of Buddha’s birthday celebrations in South Korea. I have ridden camels through the Sahara desert, liberated baby sea turtles in Mexico and swam with sharks in Belize.
Since writing was something that I’d always loved, it seemed reasonable that it could become my ticket to traveling the world. I spent a couple of months researching the best way to get started on this new career, and then submitted my first story about Costa Rica to International Living. You can’t even imagine how excited I was when they agreed to publish it!
I stayed at the best resort on the island where I lounged on their spectacular man-made, white sand beach with infinity pool, and shopped at Le Marché Municipale—the public market which covers a city block labyrinth of bargains.
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea, mega-thrust earthquake became the greatest ever to hit Japan. Minutes later another unforeseen event struck: a giant tsunami.
On April 1 only a fool would miss the feast on offer at Le Pince d’Or Crab Festival in Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean. In the capital of Fort-de-France, riverfront restaurants each set up a stall to sell matoutou (a spicy crab stew), as chefs compete to make the best bowl.
A round-up of the weird and wonderful events taking place around the world over the coming months.
Fog clung to our clothes. The air smelled of wet wood smoke. The wind chilled our bones. We were on our way down Mount Misen, on the Japanese island of Miyajima. We’d ridden two ropeways to the top, cameras in hand, to photograph the famous panoramic view of the Inland Sea. Sadly, visibility was poor and it was starting to look like we would be heading back empty handed.
News and notes from around the world.
The Cayman Islands hosts an annual Pirates Week Festival from November 10 to 20. It’s got everything you’re looking for in a pirate fest: an underwater treasure hunt, paddleboard races, and a Miss Pirate Queen pageant. Don’t forget your costume!
I’ve already urged you to buy leading Japanese stocks through the iShares MSCI Japan Index ETF (NYSE:EWJ). I made this recommendation before the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. Following the earthquake, I believe the investment case for Japan is even stronger.
Our mission here at International Living Investor is to hunt down the best profit opportunities the world has to offer. That means harnessing the power of the world’s fast-growing emerging markets—places like India, Brazil and China.
If you want to make real money in the markets, you have to do one thing above all else: Buy when others are fearful and sell when others are greedy. Buying when others are fearful forces you to “buy low.” Selling when others are greedy forces you to “sell high.”
The Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world: four to five years longer than their U.S. counterparts, and their country boasts more than 20,000 centenarians. So what is their secret?
After a year of planning, my husband and I finally packed our bags, emptied our piggy banks, took our three kids out of school and set off around the world for six months. As we had no salary coming in and were living off of savings, we had to think really hard about getting the most value for our money in the 15 countries we traveled through.
“Timing is everything.” They say it about wine. About fashion. And, of course, about real estate. I’m ill-qualified to comment on the first two. But when it comes to property investing, I’d agree.
“I’ll need to work to support my new life. What kind of job can I get?” This is a typical question from the would-be expat. The answer is that it’s usually difficult to get a job in a foreign country unless you meet a host of requirements. And if you don’t speak the language of your new country, things can be even tougher. There is one way, though, to ease into a new culture and make a bit of money at the same time. You may be able to get a job teaching English.
by Suzan Haskins “I’ll need to work to support my new life. What kind of job can I get?” This is a typical question from the would-be expat. The answer is that it’s usually difficult to get a job in a foreign country unless you meet a host of requirements. And if you don’t speak […]
When I started International Living nearly three decades ago, two things were obvious: The U.S. dollar was headed down, especially against gold…and there were surely better investment opportunities outside the U.S. That was in 1979, eight years after Richard Nixon had broken the final link between the greenback and gold; with nothing to hold it […]
When I started International Living nearly three decades ago, two things were obvious:
The U.S. dollar was headed down, especially against gold…and there were surely better investment opportunities outside the U.S.
International Living selects 6 of the best ski resorts in the world.
Take the slow train from Tokyo to Kobe to admire Japan’s coastal scenery. Year after year, Japan is cited as one of the world’s most expensive countries, yet there are extraordinary bargains to be found: I traveled from Tokyo all the way to Kobe, in western Japan, for the price of two movie tickets, on […]
A much bigger event overseas than in Ireland itself, St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) is a good excuse for expats around the world to get nostalgic and indulge a little. Here’s a whirlwind tour of how this green day is celebrated on different parts of the globe…
The next time you take a domestic flight in Japan, you may qualify for a “birthday hayawari”. These are promotional airfares offered by Japan’s two major airlines: ANA and JAL. As long as your birthday is within one week of your departure date, you qualify. Here’s how it works: You–and up to three other people […]
Modern Tokyo offers the best of Japanese traditional theater, including Noh plays, which date back to the 12th century. Read on for the best venues in town. Dear International Living Reader, Japan boasts three traditional forms of theater; Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku, all of which can be seen at their finest in Tokyo. The National […]
A typical onsen on Kyushu–most bathing aficionados will direct you to their “best” picks on the island. Ignore them all, and head south… Sharing bath water with several nude strangers does take a little getting used to. If you’ve ever spent time in Japan, then you may have noticed the national obsession with bathing. No […]
If you can order French fries in the drive-thru, you’ve got a skill that others want. And the ability to teach your native tongue in a foreign country can be your gateway to big opportunity. While formal programs may serve as a shortcut, all you really need is an open mind, persistence, and a teacher’s bag of tricks…