If you dig Japanese culture and language, you no doubt read and follow some Japan blogs. With so many out there, how do you pick the best Japan blogs to follow?
No worries, I did the hard work for you and combed through 200+ Japan blogs. Here’s a roundup of the top Japan blogs out there.
These blogs offer detailed and practical information about Japan, and are interesting to read to boot. Below is a compilation of 25 of the best Japan bloggers to follow right now.
This blog is written by Ashley, an American expat who used to live in Japan.
She has loads of practical and well researched posts about living in Japan and how to manage things even if you don’t know much Japanese.
She engages many guest contributors, which add to the variety in topics covered.
Favorite Post: How to Transfer Money To and From Japan (The post does what it says, love the practicality.)
This food blog is written by Makiko, a Japanese born in Tokyo but who has since then lived in various countries including the UK, the US and Switzerland.
She currently lives in the South of France. Her blog focuses on cooking Japanese food and explains exactly how to make Japanese dishes in plain English.
Favorite Post: Fugu, Are You a Pig? (This post explains the origins of the kanji for fugu.)
This blog is written by Eryk, an American who lived in Japan for 3 years teaching high school English with the JET program and later working as a researcher. Before that, he was a journalist.
I find his blog to be a rawer, more jaded version of Surviving in Japan. (This might be due to his training as a journalist.) He talks about tackling anxiety through Japanese traditions.
Favorite Post: 41 Things I Like About Japan (Some are fun, some are absurd, there’s bound to be something you identify with.)
One of the biggest culture shock moments for me in Japan was in a grocery store. I didn’t know it at the time. In the moment, I just thought the entire nation of Japan had been designed to make me angry. I wanted to find cereal. I was young and that was the extent of my “home cooking,” so when I moved to Japan I assumed it would be easy. I could survive on cereal until I figured out enough kanji to make sense of the foodstuffs lining the aisles.
I felt like I was losing my mind. I paced the grocery store, attacked by 30-second electronic jingles on loops. Tiny speakers blared excited information about sales I couldn’t understand. Cute Japanese mascots jumped out of every product. The mops had eyes. I felt like I’d taken LSD at a circus. I was angry, I was hungry, I was half a planet away from home, and I just walked out, empty handed. I couldn’t find the cereal. Nothing made sense!
It’s a simple story, and not particularly a crazy cultural difference, but the grocery had cereal on the bottom rack of the dessert aisle, because in Japan, it’s mostly served on top of ice cream. In the end, I ended up forcing myself to cook curries and make use of the fresh vegetables that were always in season. Let’s just say I survived after all.
It was a good metaphor for what happens when you live in Japan for a while. You try to cling to old habits until they make you miserable. Then you form new ones that you’ll miss when you come back. Life is constantly throwing us reminders that things – we – have to change and let go of things to grow. I’ve been out of Japan for three years now, and I’ve never once had corn flakes for dinner again.
This blog covers alternative journalism and exposes the hidden and dark side of Japan – its underground economy, its sex trade, and other seedy aspects that keep the country running.
Jake (who’s an investigative journalist specializing in organized crime in Japan) is the editor-in-chief and runs the show with a team of contributors.
Favorite Post: Everything You Wanted to Know About Tadamasa Goto But Were Rightly Afraid to Ask (This post gives you an insight into yakuza organizations.)
This blog is written by Baye, a black guy from New York living in Yokohama. He works as a writer and teacher and has interesting takes on Japanese culture and racism.
He says things as they are and is unapologetic about his honest writing. And his readers love him for that.
Favorite Post: The Trials and Tribulations of Teaching English in Japan (This post gives you a great insight into the Japanese psyche.)
This blog is written by Donald, an American who’s currently living and working in Ibaraki, Japan, as an English teacher.
His blog has plenty of useful tips and stuff about teaching English in Japan and is a compilation of his experiences and thoughts while living in Japan.
You can see what life as an English teacher in Japan is like through his blog.
Favorite Post: Why I Stopped Teaching as an ALT in Japan (For those who want to teach English in Japan, read this first.)
Black Tokyo was created in 1999 to provide a voice and a network for Blacks living in Japan.
The blog provides news on Japan and addresses inaccurate or false information, stereotypes and other issues concerning Blacks in Japan. Eric is the creative director of Black Tokyo and runs the show with a team of writers.
Favorite Post: Black / Black – Asian / Blasian Hair! (A topic which is close to the heart of black people, plus useful product tips for those living in Japan.)
This blog is written by Hector, an engineer and self-professed geek from Spain who moved to Japan in 2004. He currently lives in Tokyo and is involved in the startup scene there.
He authored a book called “A Geek in Japan” and is now working on the sequel. On his blog, he publishes photo essays of his daily life in Tokyo and trips around Japan.
Favorite Post: Pokemon GO in Tokyo (A photo essay of the Pokemon GO craze in Tokyo.)
This blog is written by Ken, who settled in Japan in 2008 and writes about his life in Japan in a humorous way.
Example: he says that the language that opens doors and helps you make friends in Japan is English, not Japanese. He also gives advice on the reality of living and working in Japan.
Because he has had a dozen jobs in Japan (some good, some bad, and most horrible), he’s more than qualified to give you the lowdown.
Favorite Post: Renting an Apartment in Japan (Great for those who are moving to Japan.)
This blog is written by two foreigners (Mike and Cal) living in Tokyo and they talk about Japan news stories with tongue-in-cheek humor and sarcasm.
They also have travel guides to help you get the most out of your time in Tokyo in a cheap way (definitely not rehashed information you find in every other guide book and blog out there).
You’ll discover another weirder side of Japan via their blog.
Favorite Post: We Try McDonald’s Japan’s New Tofu Nuggets (A great example of how they report on Japanese weirdness.)
This blog is written by Jasmine, a German woman who has lived in Japan since 2008 and has experienced natural disasters, cultural oddities and work life there.
Because she has traveled to all 47 Japanese prefectures and visited over 100 Japanese castles, she can offer many insights into Japan.
Also, she lives in the countryside, so her blog might give you a different perspective from those based in big cities.
Favorite Post: Teaching German in Japan (A rare resource, what you usually come across is teaching English in Japan.)
Wander Tokyo is a blog with travel information, cultural facts, and good tips on living and food in Japan.
In the articles, you can find advice, recommendations and information for foreigners working and studying in Japan (particularly Tokyo). These tips are usually not easy to find in English.
Favorite Post: NICOS VIASO: My Japanese Credit Card (In this post, the author shares his experience of applying for a credit card in Japan.)
“Can you come see me in the meeting room next door for a moment?”
Only the bosses at Mt. Fuji summit elevations in the hierarchy have their own offices.
Mr. Fukuda put my job evaluation on the table between us.
“In the year you’ve been at our company, you’ve done an exceptional job in this department.”
I dared feel a little pride.
“So it’s been decided that you’re going to be moved to help another department in two and a half weeks.”
I’d seen coworkers shuffled around departments with little notice.
Even so, I had felt immune; shielded by the U.S. cultural assumption that you were hired for one fixed job, not for an entire type of position within a company.
“Yes, I know, it’s really Japanese.”
My boss had experienced living abroad for longer than I had been alive.
“And please don’t tell anyone until the last week. I know, that’s really Japanese too.”
A few days later over Skype, I told my parents:
“I’d thought culture shock was stuff like being surprised when someone peels a grape. Or annoyed that almost none of the stores I go to accepts credit.”
As I was learning, culture shock was the name for that uncertainty built from many small moments in an unfamiliar environment.
For me, the uncertainty stemmed from feeling not in control.
As an expat, the length of my visa is determined by an opaque bureaucracy.
As a contract worker, the length of my employment was decided by a law limiting contract renewals and companies that were unwilling to hire employees permanently after the contract ended.
As a permanent employee, my work location and position are always subject to change.
Instead of dwelling on this frustration, talking with friends and coworkers has been enlightening.
The contract law was trying to prompt companies to hire workers permanently. Instead, the law may be backfiring.
Frequent moves allow permanent employees to understand the company better in preparation for possible advancement.
Even the inscruciable immigration procedures have indicated some patterns, favoring “stable” living and work situations as defined by Japanese society.
Looking into reasons behind potentially distressing customs has led me to see the positive in them. Or, at the very least, cope.
For the record, I’m enjoying the new department and am hoping for that promotion.
If you’ve experienced culture shock, what was a situation that made you realize it?
This blog is written by Grace, an American girl married to a Japanese boy (they met in college in the US).
Though they used to live in Tokyo, they now live in the outskirts of Tokyo in the countryside. As Grace is a recent college graduate, her blog would probably appeal to a younger crowd.
She writes about interracial relationships and living in Japan, and alternates between blog posts, comics (she has published 3 comic books already!) and videos.
Favorite Post: Doing My Best? (Love her comics, I can seriously spend an entire afternoon on them.)
This blog is written by Jamie, an American aspiring manga artist who moved to Tokyo in 2004.
She has worked as an assistant manga artist in the past and now works as a Japanese TV program host and an English newspaper columnist.
Her blog is about daily life in Tokyo and how to become a manga artist. She’s 1.83m so you can imagine she sticks out like a sore thumb in Japan!
Tall gaijin ladies might find her stories especially relevant.
Favorite Post: How to Be a Mangaka (Great post for those who want to become a manga artist in Japan.)
This blog is written by Jeffrey, an American software engineer based in Kyoto. He’s into cycling and photography and has extremely beautiful and professional photos of Japan (mainly Kyoto).
Some of them are good enough to be used as wallpaper!
Favorite Post: Monday’s Norikura Big Loop Ride (A typical detailed trip report for avid cyclists.)
The title of the blog might be misleading, it’s not a blog about Japanese haikus, but about Japan in general.
The blogger, Alison, used to live in Japan from 2009 to 2011 and worked for one of the biggest English language schools (“eikaiwa”) there.
She now works in the UK as a travel consultant specializing in Japan and she provides readers with a lot of information about Japan and Japan related events in the UK.
Favorite Post: HYPER JAPAN Festival and How I’ve Changed (An event report for Japan fans in the UK.)
This blog is written by Lili, a Romanian woman who spends 1 month per year in Japan. She’s most well known for publishing a photo of Japan every day on her blog.
And she also gives travel tips, and writes about Japanese customs and traditions, history, pop culture and food.
Favorite Post: A Japan Photo Per Day (Not strictly a blog post but a series of daily Japan photos.)
This is the ultimate guide to Japanese castles in English. If you’re a castle lover, you can refer to this when planning your trips, you’ll get most of the necessary information here.
This blog is written by Eric, a corporate librarian based in Tokyo since 2001. He became interested in Japanese castles as a high school exchange student to Tokyo in 1992.
His aim is to make his blog the most authoritative and comprehensive site available in English on Japanese castles.
Favorite Post: Castle Map (Again, not a blog post but a super useful map of castles in Japan.)
Another great guide if you’re interested in Japanese castles. The blogger, Daniel, is an Australian who has been living and working in Japan since 2001.
Whenever he can, he likes to go out in search of Japanese castles and interesting cars. Being also interested in photography and computers, he created this site.
Favorite Post: Castle Map (You can have lots of fun playing with the interactive map!)
This blog is written by Dean, an Australian who used to live and work in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Now, he travels to Japan at least once a year for 3 weeks.
His blog is a Japan travel blog with nice photos of Japan and travel tips.
Because he has traveled extensively throughout Japan during his time there, he publishes “best of” series and has posts on a variety of locations.
Favorite Post: Etiquette for First Time Travel Experiences in Japan (Great for those who are going to Japan for the first time.)
This blog is dedicated to traveling and living in Japan without bursting the bank.
The owner, Matt, is a British expat who has traveled in Japan with almost no money, so he knows some nice money-saving tricks.
Personally, I think the blog is great for backpackers, students and those on working holidays.
Favorite Post: Tax Free Shopping in Japan (If you love shopping, you’ll love this post that teaches you how to do tax free shopping in Japan.)
For me it has to be the vending machines! At first this may not seem like much of a culture shock, but they really do blow your mind here. They sell everything, from donuts, underpants and shirts, fruits, electronics to books. I once went on a walk through Shinjuku, counting the number of vending machines in the space of a few minutes. I soon lost count and gave up when I got to the west side of the station, where there were 10 vending machines all lined up together!
But craziest experience with had to be at the top of Mount Fuji, where, of course, they had vending machines! More than 3000 metres up, some genius brought up some vending machines to keep hikers hydrated and refreshed. They cost 500 yen each (usually 160), but how could I resist?
Andres is the founder of Boutique Japan, a travel company helping people experience the real Japan.
He moved from New York City to Tokyo in 2005 to study Japanese and his blog posts share his first hand experience and findings with travelers.
Favorite Post: Traveling to Japan with Dietary Requirements (Super useful and practical post for celiacs, vegans, etc.)
Many many years ago, while living in Tokyo, I would spend my days studying Japanese and playing drums in a band, and my nights working at a restaurant/bar run by Japanese surfers.
One of my job perks was the nightly makanai (employee meal). The food was great, and I could ask the chefs to make me almost anything I wanted (within reason).
On top of that, I was allowed to grab a refreshing nama biiru – or even make a mojito or margarita, if I wanted.
I always enjoyed this nightly ritual, and usually enjoyed a relaxing meal on my own. But one night I finished work around the same time as a colleague, and we sat down to eat together.
As we ate, all of a sudden he looked at me – alarmed – and asked why I was using a napkin.
I didn’t understand the question. I always grabbed a paper napkin, along with cutlery, and nobody had ever said anything (why would they?).
Turns out I had committed a major faux pas, very unknowingly, and none of my colleagues had ever noticed until that night!
As any non-Japanese person who has ever worked in the service industry in Japan (which is, by the way, one of the best ways to master conversational Japanese) probably knows, the paper napkins are strictly for customers!
This is a blog containing useful tips and advice for living in or travelling to Japan. It is dedicated to travel, culture, food and modern life in Japan.
The blogger, John, is an Aussie who lives and works in Gifu.
He has lived and worked in Japan for over 12 years, and been learning Japanese for over 15 years (he started studying the language in his university days in Australia).
He started this blog to share his experiences about Japan and highlight the lighter aspects of the country, including some stuff that only happens there.
Favorite Post: See the Cherry Blossoms in Japan with a Rail Pass (This post tells you how to follow the cherry blossom trail by rail.)
Yes, it’s true, you can slurp ramen for a living! Brain, a ramen expert from the US, is doing just that. He has tried more than 1000 shops and wants to introduce the best ramen shops in Japan to you.
There’re thousands of shops serving ramen in Japan and his blog’s mission is to find the best of the best.
Favorite Post: Ramen Adventures: Best of the Best (If you live in Tokyo or are planning to visit, check this out for some of the best ramen eats in Japan.)
Bumble Bee Mum is a parenting + travel blog.
The blogger is a Singaporean stay-at-home mum who doesn’t stay at home, and she journals her adventures with her kids, both in and out of Singapore.
As a travel addict who brings her kids on all her vacations, she loves sharing her travel experiences through her blog.
Her favorite country is Japan and you’ll find extensive travel tips on Japan travel on her blog.
Favorite Post: Hokkaido Self Drive Trip: Asahikawa, Sounkyo, Shiretoko (Hokkaido visitors usually stick to the big cities. But she managed to make it to the remote Shiretoko National Park, and with two young kids to boot!)
As we have been travelling with young children, we haven’t had the opportunity to do anything crazy on our Japan trips (unless you consider driving more than 2000km around Japan in 2 weeks and chalking up more than 30000yen of toll fees crazy). But our most memorable and unique Japan experiences include visiting a Hello Kitty onsen and staying in a Gassho-Zukuri (traditional Japanese farmhouse).
Yes, I said “best 25 Japan blogs” but I came across this blog and just had to share it with you! So here’s #26 as a bonus. Money We Have is written by Barry, a budget travel expert based in Toronto.
He provides practical money saving tips to help you take that dream vacation, whether it’s adventure travel, a relaxing all-inclusive resort or backpacking around the world.
You’ll find useful common sense tips everyone should know, from avoiding currency exchange fees to taking advantage of free stopovers.
He strives to help people travel on any budget and has a series of posts on budget travel in Japan.
Favorite Post: Japan Rail Pass – Is it Worth it? (This post gives you a breakdown of the costs, so you can decide for yourself if it’s worth it to get the JR pass for your trip to Japan.)
I don’t know if I experienced culture shock, but I was amazed at how friendly the people are. From the school children who wanted to practice their English with me to the Buddhist monks at Koyasan who shared their traditions with me – every person I met in the country was happy to chat with me. As for experiences, any trip to Japan wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the robot restaurant in Tokyo. It may sound like a tourist trap, but trust me, this is one experience you’ll only find in Japan.
There are, of course, so many more Japan blogs out there but this list is a good start. Take a brief moment to check out those blogs which catch your fancy!
If you dig more roundups, check out Japan Culture Shock: 10 Travelers Share Their Stories.