The Yankees Of Japan

At my apartment there’s a group of guys that hang out at the bottom of the stairwell.  japanese vanThey’ve got died, weirded-up Ziggy Stardust hair, they ride bikes, they smoke and they spit a lot.  They’re the bad guys on the block and they’ve got their little gang together.  When I come down the stairwell with my bags of trash to dump, they bow, apologize and move out of my way.

Is it because I’m ultra-bad?  Not at all.  It’s because even the baddest tough guys in Japan have a little bit of consideration for others.  These guys are ‘yankees’ (ヤンキー). Continue reading


The Kansai region of Japan is known as a colorful place; not just the scenery, but the people too.  Kansai people are known to be talkative and outgoing, unlike the more reserved people in Kanto or the more remote areas of Japan.  Most of Japan’s comedy talent come from Kansai, and Kansai speakers have a distinctive dialect called “Kansai-ben.”

Kansai is on the southern part of Honshu, just across the mountains from the Kanto region where you find Tokyo and Yokohama.  There are three cities in Kansai which are major attractions:  Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe.
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Kyushu is the southernmost island of Japan, and it’s hot and muggy all year around. It has an almost tropical climate, which is great for surfers and other beach lovers. Further inland you can find lush green mountains, but the big draw of Kyushu is the beaches.


The region of Kyushu also includes Okinawa, which is about an hour south by plane. Okinawa is a unique place in Japan because it used to be an independent kingdom. Now, Okinawa is a mix of Japanese, American and native Okinawan people. Okinawa has great fishing and beaches, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan.

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