649 Travel Tips For Japan

Keiko gives Todd ideas about what to do in Japan with his family.

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Todd: Keiko, my family is coming to Japan to see me and it's the first time they've been to Japan. What do you recommend? Like what should we see? They are going to be in Tokyo for one week.

Keiko: OK. Do they want to go outside of Tokyo or do they want to stay in Tokyo?

Todd: I think they would like to do one day, a one-day trip outside and then maybe spend the rest of the time in Tokyo.

Keiko: OK, I think, a lot of people say that Tokyo is not really Japan, you have to go outside of Tokyo to really see Japan because Tokyo is like New York in the states, but I don't think it's true because if you go to downtown in Tokyo you can see a lot of traditional old things for example if you go to places like Asakusa, but in the back streets you can see these old people who grew up in that area, you know doing their own thing in their own little ways and I think Tokyo's quite interesting because you can see, like example, places like Asakusa, you can see on the one side of the street, you can see cosmopolitan, you know, kind of buildings, new buildings and on the other side of the street you can see the old little traditional buildings or the cultures. You can kind of compare at the same time, so I recommend the places like the downtown in Tokyo, Asakusa.

Todd: How about, what city would you recommend besides Tokyo?

Keiko: Besides Tokyo, my favorite -- is it just a one-day trip?

Todd: Let's say two days.

Keiko: Two days. Well, if you really had a chance to go really far away, I recommend Shikoku because it's, it has a really nice nature.

Todd: Now is Shikoku, is that an actual city or an island or?

Keiko: It's a prefectural Shikoku area. It has four prefectures. That's why it's called Shikoku, four countries. It used to be four different countries and you can actually take a bus tour around the four prefectures and then you can see those little small reserved villages between the prefectures.

Todd: So Shikoku, huh?

Keiko: Shikoku is really nice but you have to fly there so if you only have two days, I recommend you go to maybe Kamakura. You can see the shrines and and temples and Buddha.

Todd: So Kamakura. And how far is Kamakura from Tokyo?

Keiko: About 2 hours from on the train.

Todd: That's not too long.

Keiko: It's not too long and then you can down even further south to Hakone and you can go to a lot of different hot springs.

Todd: Actually, I'm thinking of taking family to Hakone to hot springs but I worry about the prices. How much would a ryookan, a Japanese hotel cost?

Keiko: About maybe 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen per person.

Todd: Oh really?

Keiko: Yeah.

Todd: So that's about between a hundred and two hundred U.S. dollars. That's not too much.

Keiko: No, but I mean it can go higher than 20,000 yen. It can always go higher.

Todd: Right. I got to be careful.

Keiko: Yeah, but you could also find a place between 10,000 yen and 20,000 yen range.

Todd: OK, and what -- if they could try three Japanese foods, what Japanese foods would you recommend?

Keiko: I recommend sashimi, the raw fish, and I recommend kani-miso, which is the brain of the crab. That's a very kind of, very special kind of a treatment for the guests.

Todd: Kani-miso.

Keiko: Kani-miso. Because it's so tiny. The brain of the crab is so tiny, and you can't get so much out of one crab so it's quite expensive and you put that on the cracker, so you put that on the rice.

Todd: Wow! Crab brains.

Keiko: Yeah, crab brains, and if you go to Hakone, it's by the sea so, it's close to the sea so you can get a lot of seafood and I also recommend natto just to see their reaction.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson

back streets

In the back streets, you can see these old people who grew up in that area.

'Back streets' are small roads that not many cars drive on. These are usually streets that go through neighborhoods and are not direct paths to get anywhere. Notice the following:

  1. Driving on these back streets can get very confusing.
  2. It's safe to play soccer in the middle of the road on some of these back streets.


Besides Tokyo, my favorite is Shikoku because it has really nice nature.

Here, 'besides' can be replaced with 'other than.' We understand that Tokyo is her favorite, but what other cities does she like? Notice the following:

  1. It would be difficult to be a vegetarian here, because they don't eat much besides meat and seafood.
  2. Besides swimming, is there anything else to do here in the summer?


It's called Shikoku because it has four prefectures or four countries.

A 'prefecture' is a territory or an area with specific boundaries. Keiko says that this area used to be four different countries, but now it is four different territories in the same country. Notice the following:

  1. Which prefecture is your favorite?
  2. We live in different prefectures now, but we still see each other quite often.


You can see those little small reserved villages between the prefectures.

Here, 'reserved' refers to the fact that these villages don't have much contact with other villages.  They are small, quiet and isolated. Notice the following:

  1. They are a very reserved family, and almost never come to community gatherings.
  2. I feel like I don't know his personality at all, because he is so reserved.


You can go to Kamakura to see the shrines and temples and Buddha.

A 'shrine' is a sacred construction which is built to glorify or show honor for a specific religious figure. Shrines can come in many forms, but usually people will leave gifts for the religious figure and top in front of a shrine to pray or give thanks. Notice the following:

  1. This is the time of year when the people in this area make shrines to honor dead loved ones.
  2. This is one of the biggest shrines in all of Thailand.
Answer the following questions about the interview.

Keep Listening

Below are some more great lessons!

Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
back streets • besides • prefecture
reserved • shrine
  1. This would be a difficult job for someone who is as as you.
  2. They have a beautiful in the living room of their house.
  3. Do you know your way through the here?
  4. English, he speaks three other languages.
  5. Does each have its own local government?