Fuji Rock Festival

Fuji Rock Festival

Dancing neon lights sway to the beat of legendary tunes as an explosion of music drive hurdles of supergroupies, hippies and hedonists into a frenzy in the in the loudest, largest, craziest and most iconic music festival in Japan - Fuji Rock Festival.

Set in a mystifying location in the mountains of Naeba, to get some stages in the Fuji Rock Festival you have to trek through the forest or take a gondola. No wonder the event attracts all sorts of festival-goers, ranging from hardcore rock fans to ecstasy-addicts, festival enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The latter will specially enjoy the opportunities to exercise among the hillsides via atmospheric boardwalks through the forest, past sparkling streams, villages or hammocks and organic food stalls. An hour's walk from the site entrance, you'll come across the hippy hangout "Stoned Circle" where you can play ramshackle instruments and drums. Get on the Dragondola - the longest gondola lift in the world - as it takes you to the top of the mountain which overlooks the festival site.

The centre of the site is called Oasis, where you'll be able to choose from over 30 stalls offering food from around the world. Even though the main site closes each night after the final act, Oasis remains open until late at night, as well as the Red Marquee where you can join a rave till dawn.

The party starts the day before the official festival featuring bon-odori - traditional Japanese folk dance), prize draws, food stalls and a fireworks display. There are seven main stages and other minor stages scattered throughout the site. The main stage - Green stage - has a capacity for almost 50,000 spectators.

This four-day music festival is organised by Smash Japan and features more than 200 Japanese and international musicians. Every summer the event attracts up to a hundred thousands to the festival grounds and has a year-on-year crackling lineup.

Some of the headliners and performers have been The Stone Roses, Radiohead, Heady Eye, Elvis Costello and The Imposters, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Tokyo Ska Paradise, The Faces, The Chemical Brothers, The Faces, Muse, Vampire Weekend, Jamie Cullum, Oasis, Franz Ferdinand, Paul Weller, Weezer, Kiyoshiro Imawano Special Message Orchestra, among others.

If you want to stay at a hotel, it is recommend to book one a year ahead. Otherwise, make sure you bring a distinctive tent and enjoy the unique camping experience. If you feel like relaxing watching a movie, there's an outdoor cinema by the river - now picture how wonderful it is to watch a film in that setting. Don't miss out on the opportunity to have udon noodles for breakfast.

Where to Shop in Tokyo

Where to Shop in Tokyo

Tokyo is the place to go on a shopping spree. With the latest trendiest fashion, traditional handicrafts, branded goods, cutting edge electronics, and colouful anime, shopping in Japan is more than a necessity... It's an obsession. Therefore, surrounded by endless variety of world-class goods and accompanied by your credit card, it's not hard to fall into temptation while shopping in Tokyo.

Tokyo is famous for its department stores, some of which have been open for centuries. These department stores connect massive shopping malls and are extremely convenient for shoppers as they can find everything they are looking for under one roof. Some of these complexes compass 10 floors.

These outlets deal anything from modern merchandise to traditional goods such as cotton kimonos, iron teapots, ceramics, samurai swords and lacquerware. It's no surprise Japan is the best place to look for Manga, but to be more specific, the shops to look for them are in Shibuya and Akihabara.

The best place to buy branded clothing is Ginza shopping area, a fancy area characterised for high end stores, boutiques and cafes. From block to block, you'll find well-established Japanese shops and famous brand names like Gucci, Chanel, Armani, Louis Vuitton, among others.

Numerous fashion labels have appointed their own personal restaurants in Ginza. After a day of shopping in this fancy area, you can treat yourself to a gourmet delicacy from Gucci Café or the Armani restaurant. Some of the onsite attractions include a beer garden during summer and a play area for children.

Alternatively, browse through Harajuku's high fashion boutiques and branded shops to find pop culture and new, trendy styles.

Tokyo is the capital of shopping choices and Omotesando Hills is the proof of that. Here you'll find about 100 exclusive and famous brand shops; for instance "Anniversaire Omotesando" which is popular for its limited-edition champagne and chocolate, as well as Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dior boutiques. If you don't plan on buying anything, at least you can take delight in the majestic architecture of this hip boutiques.

As Roppongi is surrounded by numerous embassies, there are many shops, bars and restaurants distinguished for its international flavour and cater to people from other countries. The area has both aspects as an office town and an entertainment centre with its new shopping centre - Roppongi Hills. One of Japan's newest commercial developments, Roppongi Hills has over 200 shops and restaurants making it the ideal place to spend the day exploring local Japanese culture.

With its train station handling the largest number of passengers in the world, Shinjuku is one of the busiest towns in Japan and as such, it's filled with customers wandering from department stores, electrical appliance megastores and huge book stores. Browse through the dozens of shops in the underground mall to find an unexpected deal. In the Kabuki-cho bright lights district, buzzing with restaurants, adult entertainment spots, arcades and theatres.

A great place to shop for youngsters is Shibuya - one of Japan's busiest towns. There are numerous miscellaneous goods shops, clothing boutiques, shoe stores, accessory and cosmetics shops and fast food stores.

Curious Facts about Japan

Curious Facts about Japan

Myth or fact? Japanese people are obsessed with sumo and cameras. Wrong. These are not real Japanese national passions. And you might think that everyone in Tokyo loves raw meat. No, it is not true, just like sushi is not the only food they eat. However, there are some really interesting facts about Japan that might amuse you. Here is a list...

1. Some of our Western choices when it comes to food might shock other cultures around the world, and certainly, eating dogs is something that the Western world doesn't find very appealing. Well, take a deep breath: raw horse meat is actually a popular meal in Japan.

2. Dogs on the tube in Tokyo don't bark. They are even more civilised than people in big cities. But everyone is very polite on the underground in Tokyo since it is so crowded railway staff are employed to cram passengers inside. Can you imagine if everyone was pushing in?

3. Many couples in Japan celebrate Christmas like Valentine's Day. December 25th is more of a lovers' holiday. Now picture Santa Claus wearing Cupid's wings.

4. If you find a misspelled ad in London, the error serves the purpose of highlighting a message or capturing the audience's attention. If you see a misspelling in Japan, don't bother to look for the meaning, poorly written English can be found everywhere, including T-shirts and other fashion items.

5. This fact will not surprise anyone: Japan's literacy rate is almost 100%. Actually, the annual university entrance examination is internationally known as "exam hell" given its difficulty.

6. Far from a person that attends to men's needs with her charms, Geisha actually means "person of the arts" and the first geishas were actually men.

The Origin of Godzilla

The Origin of Godzilla

"Listen kid. There's two things you don't know about the Earth: one is me, and the other is Godzilla," said Captain Douglas Gordon to the Xilien Commander in "Godzilla: Final Wars".

And certainly, how much do we know about this kaiju (Japanese giant monster)?

Godzilla comes from the word "Gorija" which is Japanese for "The King of the Monsters". This giant monster made its first appearance over half a century ago in Ishiro Honda's 1954 film "Godzilla". Ever since, Godzilla has become a pop culture icon all over the world.

The famous Japanese monster has not only starred in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd, but also has appeared in several other media incarnations such as video games, novels, comic books, and television series.

Nowadays, most people are familiar with Godzilla, but not everybody knows that this creature that terrorizes mankind was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons. Indeed, this creature was born in 1954 when the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident was still fresh in the Japanese consciousness. Hence, Godzilla was envisaged as a gigantic mutant dinosaur transformed from the fallout of an atomic bomb test.

As the film series continued, some stories portrayed the character of Godzilla as a hero. In these story lines, Godzilla saves the world from other threats - usually from Outer Space - such as King Ghidorah, Gigan and MechaGodzilla, along with other monsters like Rodan and Mothra. In some other plots, Godzilla was the lesser of two menaces, who plays the defender by default yet is still a threat to humanity.

For many people worldwide, Godzilla is one of the defining elements of Japanese pop culture. Even though its popularity has weakened throughout the years, Godzilla continues to be one of the most renowned monster characters in the world. Today, the King of the Monsters is still an central feature of Japanese films, embodying the kaiju subset of the tokusatsu genre.