Geeking Out in Akihabara: Arcades, Anime, Cat Cafés and more!

Anime Figurines in Arcade Display CaseAnime Figurines in Arcade Display Case

Akihabara is a Tokyo district that celebrates Otaku culture (Japanese geek culture) and is a haven for fans of anime, cosplay, computer and arcade games, electronics, themed cafés, model kits, and more. You’ll experience sensory overload in Akihabara—everywhere you look, something is happening. People walk the streets bedecked in cosplay. Brightly lit arcades with prize machines beckon. Huge signs display larger-than-life anime characters. Visit Akihabara to let loose and experience otaku culture in full force! read more

Visit Tsukiji Market and Eat Fresh Sushi at Iwasa Sushi

Omakase Set at Iwasa SushiOmakase Set at Iwasa Sushi

If you’re a foodie traveling in Tokyo, you must visit Tsukiji Market—the world’s largest seafood market. It’s a mad rush of activity, especially in the early morning when most of the commercial purchasing takes place. Forklifts and small trucks whiz back and forth, workers stack enormous piles of empty Styrofoam containers for recycling, and every type of seafood imaginable is on display. The sheer volume of seafood sold daily is astounding—over 5 million pounds! read more

Escape and Unplug: Camping in the Dry Tortugas

From the Battlements of Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park

From the Battlements of Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park

There are few places where you can truly unplug and escape the frenetic pace of modern life. But camping in Garden Key—a remote island in the Dry Tortugas National Park located approximately 70 miles from Key West and accessible only by boat or seaplane—disconnects you from the rest of the world, both physically and digitally, letting you live in the moment.

Natural beauty and wildlife surround you at the Dry Tortugas National Park. Aquamarine waters stretch as far as the eye can see. Each evening, spectacular sunsets grace the sky—the fiery orb of the sun sinks into the sea, while the sky fills with brilliant pink and golden hues. On a clear night, the stars shine perhaps more brightly than you will have ever seen before, thanks to the lack of light pollution. read more

Where to Eat in Chicago with Limited Time

Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder at the Purple Pig

Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder at the Purple Pig

I lived in Chicago for three years, and while I don’t miss the brutal, unrelenting winters, I certainly do miss the food scene. Chicago houses some of the nation’s best restaurants and markets. Whether you’re seeking a magically creative fine-dining experience or delicious craft beer and food in a fun, urban environment, you can easily find a restaurant (or three) to suit your mood.

I recently had the chance to travel with my sister to Chicago and revisit some of my old haunts, but only for a few hours between flights. It was a mad rush, so we had to come up with a game plan that would allow us to hit as many eateries as possible. This was my version of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, only much, much shorter. read more

Experience Japanese-Homestyle Cooking in Mayuko’s Little Kitchen

Japanese-Homestyle Cooking Class in Mayuko’s Little Kitchen

Japanese-Homestyle Cooking Class in Mayuko’s Little Kitchen

Whenever I travel, I try to immerse myself in the culture and experience local cuisine. I enjoy dining out, visiting markets and cafés, and tasting different regional specialties and styles of cooking. But I also like to see how the locals cook, as restaurant cooking usually differs significantly from what’s prepared in the home. That led me to Mayuko’s Little Kitchen.

Mayuko is a young Japanese woman, who quit her job as a cosmetics manager to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a cooking teacher. She teaches out of her small Tokyo apartment located on the border of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in a quiet residential area just off the main bustle. Her classes give an intimate glimpse into Japanese cooking. read more