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Japan on a Budget: Toyako Onsen

About half way between Hakodate and Sapporo you’ll find an almost circular lake with a handful of islands in the middle, and on the southern shore of that lake the resort town of Toyako Onsen. Lonely Planet describes it as “faded”, which is a pretty fair description, but if you have the time it’s worth […]

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Japan on a Budget: Hakodate

Six months after leaving Kyushu, I couldn’t resist a super-cheap flight into Haneda in early May. Having never visited Japan in springtime before, this was a chance to finally see the famous cherry blossoms – except that I would be arriving a bit late, and the only area still blooming with sakura would be the […]

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Booking Japanese train tickets from outside Japan

I’ll say this upfront – if you’re visiting Japan as a tourist, probably using a Japan Rail Pass, there’s really no need to book tickets before you go. I’ve hauled myself around most of Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido on dozens of trains, usually booking a day or two, at most, before traveling. But then, sometimes […]

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Kittens vs UKIP

Per the excellent suggestion of Marina Isaac, UKitten is a Chrome Extension that replaces all images of Nigel Farage or related to UKIP with images of kittens from Tea and Kittens. It’s available now from the Chrome Web Store. UPDATE: Now also available for Safari – click here to download, then double-click that file to […]

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Japanese TV in the UK: JSTV-i

In the past I’ve written about using iOS apps to help study Japanese, and I even ended up writing my own Kanji flashcard app. But lately I’ve been trying something a bit different to help absorb vocabulary and the patterns of informal speech: watching a load of Japanese TV. And, as there’s not much information […]

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The Buzzfeedification of Bullshit

Hey, heard the one about the Ugandan President’s daughter? She’s trending on Twitter, and for the best possible reason – right after her father backed some really hideous homophobic laws, she came out as gay. Except, you know, she didn’t. Ten seconds on Google tells you that Diana Kamuntu is, or at least was, married […]

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In App Purchases

Lots of people are angry about the way that In App Purchases (IAPs) are being used in iOS games. They make three key points: 1) Many iOS games are shitty and designed primarily to require the player to buy many IAPs 2) Apple promotes many of these shitty games on its App Store storefront 3) […]

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Las Vegas to Palm Springs

A couple of years ago I found myself with three days to kill in Southern California, so I rented a car and circled around – passing through the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs along the way. It seemed like a nice little town, but I didn’t really have time to stick around – instead I […]

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Japan on a Budget: Beppu and Aso-San

My last must-see stop in Kyushu was the area around Aso-San, a massive volcano in the middle of the island. To get from Aoshima (via Miyazaki) to there involves passing through Beppu – take a limited express up via Oita. Beppu: All about the Onsen I’ll be absolutely honest: if you don’t like onsen*, you […]

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