It isn't a good time for Airbnb hosts or renters in Japan right now: The private residence renting service was recently forced to cancel thousands of already booked and paid reservations in Japan, all thanks to a new set of Japanese laws that went into effect on June 15. Here's what's going on over there, and what you can do if you were planning on renting with Airbnb in Japan in the near future.
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Traveller, let me give you my most useful tip for visiting Japan: The "konbini" is life. It's a one-stop shop for literally anything a wide-eyed tourist such as yourself may need while you explore the brightly lit corridors of Tokyo, or get swallowed by the serene silence of temples and shrines in Kyoto.
On the fourth Sunday in April, Japanese parents descend on the shrines of Tokyo with their bundles of joy, which they promptly hand over to a sumo.
The two rikishi, babe in hand and weighing over 150 kilograms each, step into the ring. In a normal bout, they'd collide, trying to push each other out of the ring, but on this afternoon, it's the two infants that are the competitors.
This competition is all about seeing which infant can cry the loudest.
The Japanese flag is an immediately recognizable emblem of the island nation, a brilliant red circle stamped on a pure white background. It's simplicity belies it's cultural importance to the Japanese and although you may think of the flag as a mainstay of Japan dating back at least 100 years, until 1999, the flag - known as the Nisshōki or Hi no maru - was designed completely differently.
Okay, maybe not completely differently.
Japan is a great place to visit, especially for first-time international travellers. It feels completely different than Western countries, yet totally familiar. I recently got back from a trip there, and while it wasn't my first visit, I still learned a whole lot. Mainly, I figured out what kind of items are best to keep on you at all times.
If you'd like to see what Japan is like first hand, and maybe check out the Robot Restaurant for yourself, good news: Jetstar is offering return airfares to Osaka and Narita for as little as $419. Here are the details.
In Japan, anime is a big part of popular culture and is adored by people of all ages. In Australia, the genre has been mostly consumed by school kids who saw certain shows on morning TV, or hardcore fans who track down cult shows on disc and online. Since 2015, this has started to change, and it's largely down to the free streaming service AnimeLab. Here's what you need to know.
Japanese animation can feel like an impenetrable fortress of obscure slang, iconography and inside jokes. After 16 years of fandom, I'm quite comfortable with it. But what about curious outsiders who don't care to memorise, say, the differences between each and every Sailor Moon adaptation? This guide is designed to help intrigued westerners dip their toes into anime and manga.
To enable Australians to check on family and friends in Japan following last week's earthquake/tsunami disaster, Telstra will not charge for calls to Japan made using its mobile and landline networks. The fee-free period (which also covers text messages) runs from 6:00am on Friday 11 March through until the same time on Friday March 25, with calls to Japanese numbers billed as zero cost. Handy to know if you're trying to get in touch or stay in touch.
I don't kid myself that four days spent in Tokyo, staying in Western-oriented hotels and with someone around to translate most of the time, is going to lead to in-depth insight into Japanese culture and work approaches. Nonetheless, there were a few self-evident lessons about the future of technology. Click after the jump for some quick ideas to help you approach organising from a different angle. (Photograph of votive prayers at the Meiji Shrine, which might put your to-do list into perspective.)
Editor: Meet io9 contributor Lisa Katayama. When she's not blogging about robots and futurism, she's spreading the word about how to GTD in the most unexpected ways. Here's a sampling of a few clever tricks you'll find in her new book, Urawaza. When it comes to life and getting things done, we like to do things a little differently in Japan. When I break a glass in the kitchen, I don't use my vacuum cleaner to clean it up; I use a slice of bread. When my socks become dirt-stained from running in a muddy ravine, I don't pour bleach on them; I stuff them with marbles. And to save space and money, I have never bought a document shredder. I just stuff incriminating documents in a stocking and toss them in the washing machine.