2017 - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

To Do in Tokyo: The Yebisu Garden Place Christmas Illumination

6:46:00 PM
Christmas is a time for dating here in Japan and you can find many places both in and around Tokyo where they are having special winter illuminations to help get you in the right mood. Some of my favorites so far include the Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market in Yokohama and the Country Farm Tokyo German Village winter illumination in Chiba. This time my darling and I went to the Yebisu Garden Place to enjoy some time together there.

Monday, December 25, 2017

【Norwegianclass101】 How do Norwegian People Celebrate Christmas?

7:06:00 PM

Hi there! It is time for Christmas again and here in Japan I've been spending the 24th celebrating with friends and sleeping in a capsule hotel after renting out my home on AirBnb (I guess that's a story for another time). In Norway we celebrate Christmas mainly on the 24th so it's already a bit overdue, but here's a video I've been working on with Norwegianclass101.com where we give a brief introduction to how Norwegians celebrate Christmas. Hope you like the video! God Jul!

Thanks for watching! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below
- Anette

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Monday, December 18, 2017

10 Top Rated Hotels in Osaka Chosen by travelers for 2018

10:22:00 PM
Osaka is a popular destination for visitors to Japan, and along with the increasing number of tourists, there are also more and more accommodational options available for visiting tourists (check out my list of new Osaka hotels 2017 here).
I've consolidated a list of Osaka's 10 best-rated 3+ star hotels from the hotel reservation site Agoda. The hotels on the list have received a minimum of 50 guest reviews and are ranked by average review score where 10/10 is the maximum.

See also: 10 Top Rated Hotels in Tokyo Chosen by Travelers 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

10 Top Rated Hotels in Tokyo Chosen by Travelers for 2018

10:09:00 PM
As Tokyo is getting ready for the upcoming 2020 Olympics the number of hotels offering accommodation to foreign visitors has exploded. Every year a number of new hotels are opening up their doors to the increasing number of visitors from all over the world (check out my list of new Tokyo hotels 2017 here), making it hard to know which hotels that provide the best experience for its guests. It can also be hard to choose from the large number of options out there, ranging from traditional ryokan inns to futuristic capsule hotels.
In this post, I will present Tokyo’s 10 best-ranked hotels according to guest reviews on the hotel booking site Agoda. The hotels included in this post are all 3+ star hotels and have received a minimum of 50 guest reviews. They are ranked below by average review score where 10/10 is the maximum.

Visiting Osaka? Check out: 10 Top Rated Hotels in Osaka Chosen by travelers 2017

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

[Hotel Review] Tokyo: A night at the upscale Centurion Classic Akasaka - Premier Family Suite

10:56:00 PM

More and more of the hotels opening up in the Japanese capital Tokyo are catering towards foreign guests. With an increasing number of visitors preferring apartment-style accommodation that can accommodate larger family groups as well there are also hotels that try to adapt to this trend by offering wider rooms and the sort of equipment you'd regularly find in an apartment. This is also the case for The Centurion Classic Akasaka, a newly opened hotel situated in Akasaka, an upscale area north of Roppongi popular among wealthy foreigners.

See also: 
All Tokyo Hotel Reviews
Tokyo's 10 best-rated hotels 2017
Tokyo Hotel Special: 20 Grand Opening Hotels 2016 - 2017
Japan's Top 10 Traditional Ryokan Hotels

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tokyo Restaurants: Fish your own meal at the Fishing Restaurant ZAUO

10:46:00 AM
Tokyo might not be the first destination that you'd think of for your next fishing trip. But if you want to try and catch your own dinner without the risk of having to go home with an empty stomach there are indeed options available for you. As an expat living in Tokyo I usually would cook my own dinner at home, but this time I took my visiting family to the fishing restaurant Zauo in Shibuya where we tried it out for ourselves. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

[Hotel Review] Manila: A night at the Hotel H2O Aquarium Hotel

9:20:00 PM
On our way back from holiday in Brunei my darling Yuma and I had a one day layover in the Pilipino capital Manila. With only one night to spare we wanted to make sure we could get a memorable stay, and after having done some research about accommodation I stumbled about Hotel H2O, a hotel that comes fully equipped with its own underwater world in the hotel room.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Brunei's Best Hotel: The Empire Hotel and Country Club

10:08:00 PM
Have you ever wondered how it's like to stay at Brunei's best hotel? For the last part of our trip to Brunei my darling and I had the pleasure of staying at The Empire Hotel and Country Club, a self-proclaimed seven-star hotel where even the Sultan himself occasionally comes to play polo. The hotel has been welcoming guests since 2000 and has become a symbol of Brunei's cultural heritage with its extravagant and luxurious interior.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sightseeing in Brunei: A Visit to an Iban Longhouse

10:50:00 PM
For the second half of our day trip to the Ulu Temburong National Park we went to visit the house of a local Iban tribe called a "longhouse". As the word "longhouse" indicates this is literarily a long house. Once upon a time it started out just as one small building ment for a single couple, but as the younger members of the family got married they would add a small house of the exact size and shape next to their parents/relatives' house, thus making the house grow longer and longer with each new generation. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Brunei: A Day Trip to the "Green Jewel of Brunei" Ulu Temburong National Park

8:14:00 PM
During our stay in Brunei the most exciting experience we had was when we went for a day trip to Brunei’s first National Park called Ulu Temburong. This area is a part of the Batu Apoi Forest reserves and it has been under protection as a safe haven for nature since 1991. In fact, up until revent years it was only accessible for researchers. These days the area is also open to low impact Eco-tourism, so if you're interested in a unique glimpse into the life in the jungle this is definitely something for you. In addition to the jungle adventure we also stopped by a long-house, the authentic home of a family in the local Iban tribe. You can read more about this in my next post, but without further redo here's a short introduction to our jungle adventure.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Behind the Scenes of the Kawagoe Festival: Pulling the Festival Floats

11:47:00 PM
Every year on the third weekend of October the charming town Kawagoe, also known as "Little Edo" (Koedo), gets ready for one of their biggest events of the year; the Kawagoe festival. The town attracts around 6.2 million visitors a year, with the 2-day long Kawagoe festival being the liveliest event of the year.
Above: Photo taken from the last time I visited the Kawagoe festival
I visited Kawagoe a couple of years ago to see the Kawagoe festival (you can read more about that here), but this time I had gotten the chance to be one of the participants pulling the floats thanks to Japan Room Finder

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Asap SCIENCE Study Tips to Study Smarter instead of longer

10:12:00 AM

Just came across this video from AsapScience about how to study smarter instead of longer.
As a full-time employee it is hard for me to find time to study outside of work. This video gave me some interesting tips that might make it easier for me to keep up with my studies while also doing my best at the regular job. I hope it can be of help for you too :)

Here is the transcript of the video:

Time for school! And it's no surprise that many of us are determined to study smarter instead of longer. But which study tips and tricks actually work scientifically and can help you get those perfect grades? First up, research shows that study sessions are most effective in small short chunks. Instead of cramming in a 10 our study session. It's much more effective to spread it out into twenty thirty minute sessions over a few weeks. This is because your brain is better at encoding information into the synapses in short repeated sessions as opposed to one large one.
And this is why even learning different skills whether it's swimming tennis or a singing lesson often follows the same format. And well cramming and pulling all nighters maybe a ritual, it turns out that this is linked to the lowest grades. After prolonged nocturnal study sessions, reasoning and memory may be negatively affected for up to four whole days. Instead, setting up specific times in a day or during the week just to study, primes your brain by creating a routine and over time studying actually becomes easier as your brain is trained to learn in those moments.
And while many of us spend hours passively rereading our notes or highlighting a text book, studies have shown this to be an effective. It doesn't improve your understanding of topics nor does it link key concepts together. It can even be detrimental as it draws your attention to less important information. Flashcards on the other hand are proven to be excellent memory reinforcement’s tools. Whether it’s during scheduled study time or drying off times like a bus ride home.
It also helps to have a specific goal for each study session. Instead of aimlessly studying, pick one aspect of focus on. Whether it's balancing chemical equations or learning how to conjugate French verbs. If you can't explain it simply then you don't understand it well enough. In studies where individuals were asked to learn a passage and then half were told that they would be tested on the material while the other half were told they would have to teach it to other students, participants expecting to teach it did much better at understanding the main points. When you're expecting to teach, your brain organizes the information in a more logical-coherence structure.
Of course practice practice practice. Not only do you practice test your brain in the environment but even if you make mistakes they help identify gaps in your knowledge. Practice tests have also been shown to increase confidence thereby leading to better performance. So where should you be studying research shows that having a designated secret spot for study that's well equipped with every tool you might need is best. Just like setting times this primes your brain for studying. Have an awesome study playlist? Not so fast. While some studies have shown that certain types of classical music can help improve concentration, a recent study has shown that learning with rhythmic background noise can be detrimental to focus and those not using music fared much better.
And if you haven't already, put away your phone! This is a no-brainer but your text and social media notifications severely decrease concentration. Of course exams can be extremely stressful so if you want some tips on how to deal with exam anxiety, check out our ASAP thought video which breaks down some tips for that . Link in the description.
And a big thank you to TD Bank for sponsoring this video. If you're heading to campus this fall, click on the link below or visit td.com /student to see how TD CAN help you start school with a plan. We know how tough it can be getting buried in books and bills and TD has some great solutions for you. Be sure to check it out and subscribe for more weekly science videos.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Palm Garden Hotel and Brunei's Best Health Club the Fitness Zone

1:22:00 PM

During our visit to Brunei we stayed for the first half of our trip at Palm Garden Hotel Brunei, a 3-star hotel in the outskirts of Bandar Seri Begawan. There were a few other interesting hotels to choose from in the area, but what finally made us go for this hotel was the reasonable price (around 65 BND/night), the free airport transport and the sport facilities including swimming pool available for free for staying guests.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sightseeing in Brunei: Eating Like A Local at the Pasar Gadong Night Market

10:14:00 PM
Above: My favorite at the night market called Roti Boyan
Finding authentic Bruneian food while in Brunei can be a lot harder than one would expect. Most restaurants serve food originating elsewhere, and during our stay we ran into restaurants serving anything from Nashi Goreng to Japanese teriyaki. We wanted to ensure that we could try out some of the cuisine that is unique to Brunei, and in order to do that our best shot was to visit the Pasar Gadong Night Market.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Featured on TourRadar: The Most Affordable Places to Stay in Kyoto For Solo Travelers

7:46:00 PM
This week I had the honor of getting by blog featured on Days to Come, an online travel magazine by the tour booking site TourRadar. In the post you can read about a number of great accommodation alternatives in Kyoto that you can stay at for a reasonable price. I've added my quote from the article here:

According to a friend working in the travel industry in Kyoto Piece Hostel Sanjo is the most popular hostel in Kyoto among foreign travelers. It is a traditional Japanese ryokan that has been renovated into a hostel and should be an interesting place for people who want to experience Japanese culture at a budget. They’re apparently also opening up a new hotel in December this year, and are currently doing some opening promotions on their site. Most travelers visit to Kyoto either for the autumn leaf (kouyou) season or the cherry blossom (sakura) season, so you can save money on visiting Kyoto right before and right after these periods when the hotels have lower occupancy rates. – Anette, Adventures of Anette

You can check out the full post with a lot of great tips for visiting Kyoto here

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Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave me a comment or question below!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sightseeing in Brunei: A day of downtown sightseeing in Bandar Seri Begawan

3:00:00 PM

As the travel enthusiast I am I always seek to explore new places I haven't yet been to. When I was in university I would spend my holiday backpacking South-East Asia, and recent years I've had the pleasure of visiting countries like Myanmar, Palao, the Philippines and the Maldives.
This year my darling and I decided to try out yet another unknown terrain; the Empire of Brunei. Doing our usual light research online (I usually don't do much research, as I prefer to go to a new destination with an open mind and just see what I stumble upon while I'm there) we soon figured out that there weren't many sources that could help us on the way. Hopefully, my series of posts about Brunei can be of help to some of you out there considering a visit to this beautiful country.

Above: The Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque
We stayed in Brunei for 5 days, and one of the things we did during the stay was the mandatory visit to the capital city Bandar Seri Begawan. For the first half of our trip, we stayed at the Palm Garden Hotel, which was located a 30 min walk from the city center. Although our hotel offered free transportation service we figured it would be nice to walk to town on the first day to explore our surroundings a bit.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

[Hotel Review] A Night at the Majestic Hotel Okura Tokyo

10:38:00 PM

It has already been 7 years since I first moved to Japan as an exchange student, and my darling and I had decided to celebrate the event with a little dose of luxury in between our busy daily life. With its long history as one of Tokyo's greatest hotels it was clear that there was no better way to celebrate the occasion than with a night at Hotel Okura Tokyo.

See also: 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

[Hotel Reviews] Shikoku: Rotenburo Heaven at Hotel Kazurabashi

7:58:00 AM

Among my favorite parts of traveling around Japan is to stay the night at traditional Japanese ryokan hotels. Although small in size and often operated by families they often provide a service that would be worthy a five-star hotel (check out my introduction to Japan's 10 best ryokans here). During my recent trip to Shikoku we had the delight of spending a night at Hotel Kazurabashi, a family-owned ryokan-style hotel taking its name from the popular sightseeing spot located in the neighbourhood; the Kazurabashi bridge.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sightseeing in Shikoku: The Peeing Boy Statue of Iya Valley

11:02:00 PM
The famous Peeing Boy Statue
Tokushima Prefecture is known for its beautiful nature, and if you'd like to explore some of the more untouched areas of Japan then a visit to this island won't let you down. One of the most popular places for tourists is the Iya valley, a place written 祖谷 in Japanese and, because of the kanji characters normally being read as So and Ya, often mistakenly gets read by outsiders as Soya. In Iya valley you can find steep mountains and deep gorges with rough nature and marvellous views ideal for anybody who likes to be surrounded by nature.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sightseeing in Shikoku: Kazura Basket Weaving and Soba Making at Experience Atelier Tsuzuki

10:37:00 PM

If you have the chance to travel around Tokushima and are looking for some unique cultural experience to try out along the way then a stop at a vine weaving experience might be a fun option for you. The vine tree is known in Japanese as "kazura", and is particularly known in Tokushima as an important material used for everything from weaving baskets to making great extension bridges.
During my recent trip to Tokushima and Iya valley we stopped by Experience Atelier Tsuzuki (the full Japanese name is 祖谷めんめ塾 古式そば かずら工芸 体験 都築) where we had the chance both to weave our own basket using local weaving techniques as well as making our own soba noodles.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sightseeing in Shikoku: The Kazurabashi Suspension Bridge of Iya

8:00:00 AM

Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku is an area blessed by lush green nature and picturesque valleys. While the prefecture is struggling with a declining population resulting in abandoned villages and schools closing down there are still areas in the prefecture that are benefiting from the quiet natural surroundings that have lead to an increase in visiting tourists from near and far, and one of the popular places to visit is the Kazurabashi extension bridge in Iya, which is one of only three remaining suspension bridges in the area.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Shikoku: More dolls than people!? The Scarecrow Village of Nagoro

9:42:00 PM
Tokushima Prefecture is situated on the Shikoku island, and as many rural areas in Japan the small prefecture is struggling with a decreasing number of people who can sustain the local community. I recently had the pleasure to travel around Tokushima (you can also check out my post about my visit to the Iya Valley or an abandoned school made cafe) and in this post I'll introduce the village of Nagoro, a place where the vast majority of the inhabitants are dolls.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sightseeing in Shikoku: The Abandoned School Cafe Haretoke (ハレとケ珈琲)

8:00:00 AM

As many other rural areas of Japan the Tokushima Prefecture is struggling with the side effects of an aging society. Surrounded by nature the number of people is steadily decreasing, leading to abandoned villages (or villages with more scarecrows than people) and empty buildings. During my recent trip to Tokushima we stopped by a school that closed down some years ago and that has been turned into a posh cafe drawing tourists from near and far.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Traditional Lodging in Japan: Top 10 Japanese Ryokan Hotels chosen by Experts Part 2

7:34:00 PM
This is part two of my post about Japan's top ryokan hotels, based on the annual award  “Top 100 Hotels & Ryokans Voted by Industry Professionals” (プロが選ぶ日本のホテル・旅館100選) for 2017 presented by the Ryoko Shinbun (you can find top 1-5 here). The list includes the best of the best when it comes to Japanese omotenashi service, cuisine and overall hotel atmosphere, and provides some excellent alternative for those out there who want to experience a truly outstanding Japanese ryokan. Please keep in mind that, as mentioned in the previous post, some of these ryokan hotels are mainly catered towards domestic guests, so some of them might not be accustomed to welcoming foreigners who don't speak Japanese. If you don't speak Japanese you might want to choose one of the hotels where they have English-speaking staff available. 

Without further redo, here's top 6-10:

Yamagata Prefecture is famous among tourists for among other things the hot spring area Ginzan onsen, the Mount Zaō ski resort and the annual August festival hanagasa matsuri (花笠祭り) held in Yamagata city.

Number 6 on the list of Japan's best ryokan hotels you find Yamagata's Hotel Koyo, a ryokan situated about 10 minutes by train and bus from Yamagata station. The easiest way to get there is to take the train to Kaminoyama Onsen Station, and from there you can take a shuttle bus to the hotel.
Hotel Koyo is known for its delicious Japanese food, outdoor rotenburo hot spring with marvelous view of Mt. Zao, Japanese style rooms with private onsen baths. However, the hotel doesn't have an English page and doesn't seem to sell their rooms actively towards foreign guests so it is uncertain how used they are to foreign guests.

Recommended for foreigners: Uncertain

Address:  5-20 Hayama, Kaminoyama, Yamagata Prefecture 999-3242
Website: http://www.koyoga.com/

With its location in the center of Japan Gifu has long been an important crossroad between the east and west of the country. Gifu is a landlocked prefecture most famous for the UNESCO World Heritage Site mountain village Shirakawa, and other popular destinations include the city Takayama (known as "little Kyoto") and Gero Onsen hot spring area also known as Bijin-no-yu, or “baths of beauty.” .
Gero Onsen Suimeikan is situated in this popular hot spring area, and at the ryokan hotel you can find 3 great onsen baths. The main onsen bath on the 9th floor is open 24/7 and offers a stunning view of the outside nature. Guests can choose between Western and Japanese room types after their own preference.

Staying guests can enjoy cuisine made by vegetables grown locally and handpicked by the hotels' chefs. The ryokan hotel also has a variety of restaurants and bars that can accomodate those who want alternatives to the Japanese meal. The ryokan hotel's helpful English speaking staff will also do their best to make sure that you'll have a memorable and relaxing stay.

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address: 509-2206 Gifu Prefecture, Gero, Koden, 1268
Website: http://www.suimeikan.co.jp/english/index.html

Kagoshima Prefecture has played an important role as an international trading port with connection to the West going back to the 16th and 17th century. The city of Kagoshima has become known as the "Naples of the Eastern world" for among its beautiful bay location and the proximity to the characteristic Sakurajima volcano. 
Ryokan Ibusuki Syusuien is the first of two ryokan hotels in Kagoshima to make it on the comprehensive Top 10 ryokan list. The ryokan is a green getaway with its elegant Japanese garden, but it also provides great access to the sea with only five minutes walk to the beach. One of the things visitors praise the most is the ryokan's luxurious dining with high quality breakfast and dinner served in private rooms. In fact, while the ryokan is ranked number 8 on the comprehensive Top 10 list it makes it all the way to the top of the Cuisine category. You can also get some fun cultural experiences at the ryokan; they let you rent accessories that go with your yukata robe, such as the characteristic Japanese umbrella, a weaved basked for your belongings and outdoor sandals so that you can stroll outside in the traditional outfit as well. The ryokan offers pickup service from the station, but the walk along the shoreline from the ryokan to the station is apparently also a great experience.

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address: 5 Chome-27-27 Yunohama, Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture 891-0406
Website: http://syusuien.co.jp.e.et.hp.transer.com/

Yamanashi Prefecture is a popular destination for those who want to see/climb Mt. Fuji. There are also many activities visitors can take part in, such as a visit to a safari park, hiking in the nearby mountains or paragliding with Mt. Fuji in the background.
Hotel Kaneyamaen is one of the best ryokans you can choose if you want to enjoy a majestic view of Mt. Fuji right from the window of your own room. The ryokan has traditional Japanese style tatami-mat rooms with private baths, so for those who can afford the luxury this would definitely guarantee a lasting memory from Japan. The ryokan is also renown for its delicious kaiseki meals with around 10 different small dishes served one by one and which could provide a total new tasting experience for those unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine. This is a ryokan that can be enjoyed to the fullest in all four seasons with a large and elegant Japanese garden. Every evening visitors can experience a real Japanese taiko drum show, and the ryokan hotel even has its own little festivals held throughout the year!

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address: 6283 Kamiyoshida, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture
Website: http://www.kaneyamaen.com/eng/

Kagoshima Prefecture is the only prefecture that has more than one ryokan hotel that made it to the Top 10 list. For those of you visiting the southern part of Japan (Kyushu) you might want to try out a night at each of them and find your favorite!
Ibusuki Hakusuikan Ryokan is situated by the coast, and offers high floor Japanese style rooms with sea-view for those who appreciate a spectacular view of the surrounding nature. This is a ryokan perfect also for those who are traveling with kids, as the children can enjoy the pool and the adults can relax in the hot spring onsen. The ryokan also offers a sand spa for those who want an alternative to the regular onsen. At the ryokan you can enjoy delicious cusine such as shabu-shabu hotpot and fresh sashimi. At the ryokan they are used to attending to foreign guests, and have English, Chinese and Korean speaking staff ready to assist you during your stay.

Recommended for foreigners: Yes!

Address: 12126-12 Higashikata, Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture 891-0404
Website: http://www.hakusuikan.co.jp/

That's all the top 10 hotels chosen by The Ryoko Shinbun! In addition to the all-over ranking the award is also given out for subcategories such as best cuisine, best service and best design, so those who are interested in staying at the best of the best can choose from their preferred category. You can find the complete lists here (Japanese only).

Do you have a favorite ryokan hotel? Please leave a comment in the comment section below and let me know your recommendation!

Thanks for reading~

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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