Triparound travel community

Holidays in Jarvis Island

Understanding Jarvis Island

Or maybe not

In the early 2000s, a writer of "alternate histories" put up a web site which presented itself as the official site of the government of the "Republic of Baker Howland and Jarvis", portraying a bustling tourism destination, including a fake CIA World Factbook article providing statistics for the island nation The web site is no longer online, but puzzled more than a few armchair travelers

First discovered by the British in 1821, the uninhabited island was annexed by the US in 1858, but abandoned in 1879 after tons of guano had been removed The UK annexed the island in 1889, but never carried out plans for further exploitation The US occupied and reclaimed the island in 1935 Abandoned after World War II, the island is currently a National Wildlife Refuge administered by the US Department of the Interior; a day beacon is situated near the middle of the west coast


Equatorial; scant rainfall, constant wind, burning sun


Sandy, coral island surrounded by a narrow fringing reef Sparse bunch grass, prostrate vines, and low-growing shrubs; primarily a nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for seabirds, shorebirds, and marine wildlife

Talking in Jarvis Island

See also: Japanese phrasebook

The language of Japan is Japanese Most Japanese have studied English for at least 6 years starting from junior high school, but the instruction tends to focus on formal grammar and writing rather than actual conversation As a result, beyond the major international hotels and main tourist attractions, it is rare to find locals who are conversant in English Reading and writing comes much better though, and many younger Japanese are able to read and write in English despite not understanding spoken English If lost, one practical tip is to write out a question on paper in simple words and give it to someone young, preferably the high school or college students They may be able to point you in the right direction It can also be helpful to carry a hotel business card or matchbook with you, to show a taxi driver or someone if you lose your way Take comfort in the fact that many Japanese will go to extraordinary lengths to understand what you want and to help you, and try to pick up at least basic greetings and thank yous to put people at ease

Japanese is a language with several distinct dialects, although standard Japanese hyōjungo 標準語, which is based on the Tokyo dialect, is understood everywhere Areas like Kyushu and the Tohoku region have dialects that are nearly incomprehensible to other Japanese The slang-heavy dialect of the Kansai region is particularly famous in Japanese pop culture On the southern islands of Okinawa, many dialects of the the closely related Ryukyuan languages are spoken, mostly by the elderly, while in northern Hokkaido a rare few still speak Ainu

Japanese is written using a convoluted mix of three different scripts: kanji 漢字 or Chinese characters, together with "native" hiragana ひらがな and katakana カタカナ syllabaries, which were in fact derived from Chinese characters more than one thousand years ago However, hiragana and katakana do not carry the meaning of the original Chinese characters they were derived from and are simply phonetic characters There are thousands of kanji in everyday use and even the Japanese spend years learning them, but the kanas have only 50 syllables each and can be learned with a reasonable amount of effort Of the two, katakana are probably more useful for the visitor as they are used to write words of foreign origin other than Chinese, and thus can be used to figure out words like basu バス, bus, kamera カメラ, camera or konpyūtā コンピューター, computer However, some words like terebi テレビ, television, depāto デパート, department store, wāpuro ワープロ, word processor and sūpā スーパー, supermarket may be harder to figure out Knowing Chinese will also be a great head start for tackling kanji, but not all words mean what they seem: 大家 Mandarin Chinese: dàjiā, Japanese: ōya, "everybody" to the Chinese, means "landlord" in Japan!

What to see in Jarvis Island

Pilgrimage routes

  • 88 Temple Pilgrimage — an arduous 1,647 km trail around the island of Shikoku
  • Chugoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage
  • Narrow Road to the Deep North — a route around northern Japan immortalized by Japan's most famous haiku poet
  • Witness the real-life effects of atomic warfare in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • Pray at Ise Shrine, the holiest Shinto shrine in the world
  • Explore the grounds of Himeji Castle in Himeji
  • See the three great views of Japan Nihon Sankei; Matsushima, Amanohashidate and Itsukushima

What to do in Jarvis Island

  • Climb the 3776 meter Mount Fuji, an icon of Japan
  • Take a walk amidst thousands of cherry blossoms in Yoshino
  • Ascend Mount Aso to see one of the world's largest calderas
  • Visit the snowy peaks of the country's largest national park, Daisetsuzan
  • Climb the 2446 stone stops of the holy Haguro mountain through an amazing primeval forest
  • Soak in the hot springs of Japan's Onsen Capital, Beppu
  • Go River rafting in some of the last wild rivers in Japan in the Iya Valley
  • Ski the world famous powder of Hokkaido or in the Japan Alps
  • Overnight in one of the holy temples of Mount Koya

Buying stuff in Jarvis Island

There is no economic activity on Jarvis Island

Food and eating in Jarvis Island

Japanese cuisine, renowned for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, has taken the world by storm The key ingredient of most meals is white rice, usually served steamed, and in fact its Japanese word gohan ご飯 also means "meal" Soybeans are a key source of protein and take many forms, notably the miso 味噌 soup served with almost every meal, but also tōfu 豆腐 bean curd and the ubiquitous soy sauce 醤油 shōyu Seafood features heavily in Japanese cuisine, including not only creatures of the sea but many varieties of seaweed as well, and a complete meal is always rounded out by some pickles 漬物 tsukemono

One of the joys of getting out of Tokyo and traveling within Japan is to discover the local specialties Every region within the country has a number of delightful dishes, based on locally available crops and fish In Hokkaido try the fresh sashimi and crab In Osaka don't miss the okonomiyaki お好み焼き stuffed with green onions and the octopus balls たこ焼き takoyaki

Japanese food is eaten with chopstickshashi Curry rice and fried rice are eaten with spoons Eating with chopsticks is a surprisingly easy skill to pick up, although mastering them takes a while Some chopstick guidelines to be aware of:

  • Never place or leave chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice, and never pass something from your chopsticks to another person's chopsticks These are associated with funerary rites If you want to give a piece of food to someone, let them take it from your plate, or place it directly on their plate
  • When you are done using chopsticks, you can rest them across the edge of your bowl or plate Most nicer restaurants put a small wooden or ceramic chopstick rest hashi-oki at each place setting You can also fold the paper wrapper that the chopsticks come in to construct your own hashi-oki
  • Licking the ends of your chopsticks is considered low-class Take a bite of your rice instead
  • Using chopsticks to move plates or bowls is rude
  • Pointing at things with your chopsticks is rude Pointing at people in general is rude; with chopsticks, doubly so
  • Spearing food with your chopsticks is generally rude and should only be used as a last resort

Disposable chopsticks wari-bashi are provided in all restaurants as well as with bentō and other take-out foods It is a myth that you should "whittle" your chopsticks after breaking them apart

Many Japanese dishes come with different sauces and garnishes Japanese never put soy sauce on their rice, though they do dip their sushi in it before eating, and they pour it on grilled fish as well Tonkatsu pork cutlet comes with a thicker sauce, tempura comes with a lighter, thinner sauce made from soy sauce and dashi fish and seaweed soup base, while gyōza potstickers are usually dipped in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar and chili oil

Most soups and broths, especially miso, are drunk directly out of the bowl after you've chopsticked out the larger bits For main-dish soups like ramen you will be given a spoon


The number of restaurants in Japan is stupendous, and you will never run out of places to go For cultural and practical reasons, Japanese almost never invite guests to their homes, so socializing nearly always involves eating out

According to the world famous Michelin Guide, which rates restaurants in major cities around the world, Tokyo is the most "delicious" city in the world with over 150 restaurants that received at least one star out of three In comparison, Paris and London received a total of 148 between them

Most Japanese-style restaurants have lunchtime teishoku 定食, or fixed set meals These typically consist of a meat or fish dish, with a bowl of miso soup, pickles, and rice often with free extra helpings These can be as inexpensive as ¥600 yet ample enough even for large appetites Menus will, for most establishments, be in Japanese only; however, many restaurants have models many in exquisite detail of their meals in their front window, and if you can't read the menu it may be better to take the waiter or waitress outside and point at what you would like

Restaurants will present you with the check after the meal, and you are expected to pay at the counter when leaving — do not leave payment on the table and walk out The phrase for "bill" is kanjō or kaikei When it's getting late, a server will usually come to your table to tell you it's time for the "last order" When it's really time to go, Japanese restaurants have a universal signal - they start to play "Auld Lang Syne" This is true across the country, except at the most expensive places That means "pay up and move out"

Many cheap chain eateries have vending machines where you buy a ticket and give it to the server At most of these restaurants, you'll have to be able to read Japanese to use them, though At some of these restaurants, there will be plastic displays or photographs of the food with varying prices in front of them It is often possible to match the price, along with some of the kana characters to the choices at the machine If you're open-minded and flexible, you might get shoyu soy sauce ramen instead of miso fermented soy bean ramen or you might get katsu pork cutlet curry instead of beef curry You'll always know how much you're spending so you'll never overpay If your Japanese language skills are limited or non-existent, these restaurants with vending machines are really quite comfortable places because there is limited or no conversation required at these establishments Most of the customers will be in a hurry, the hired help will usually not be interested in making conversation and will just read your order when they take your ticket and the water/tea, napkins, and eating utensils are either supplied automatically or self-service Some other places have all you can eat meals called tabehōdai 食べ放題 or viking バイキング

Tipping is not customary in Japan and could be considered insulting, and you should never leave it because wait staff will not even understand that the cash you left on the table was intended for them and they will most likely chase you down the street to return it to you, assuming that you forgot your change 24-hour "family restaurants" such as Denny's and Jonathan usually have a 10% late-night surcharge

All-around eateries

While most restaurants in Japanese specialize in a certain type of dish, each neighborhood is guaranteed to have a few shokudō 食堂, serving up simple, popular dishes and teishoku sets at affordable prices ¥500-1000 Try ones in government buildings: often open to the public as well, they are subsidised by taxes and can be very good value, if uninspiring When in doubt, go for the daily special or kyō no teishoku 今日の定食, which nearly always consists of a main course, rice, soup and pickles

A closely related variant is the bentō-ya 弁当屋, which serves takeout boxes known as o-bentō お弁当 While travelling on JR, don't forget to sample the vast array of ekiben 駅弁 or "station bento", many unique to the region - or even the station

A staple of the shokudō is the donburi 丼, literally "rice bowl", meaning a bowl of rice with a topping Popular ones include:

  • oyakodon 親子丼 - lit "parent-and-child bowl", usually chicken and egg but sometimes salmon and roe
  • katsudon カツ丼 - a deep-fried pork cutlet with egg
  • gyūdon 牛丼 - beef and onion
  • chūkadon 中華丼 - lit "Chinese bowl", stir-fried vegetables and meat in a thick sauce

You will also frequently encounter Japan's most popular dish, the ubiquitous curry rice カレーライス karē raisu - a thick, mild, brown paste that most Indians would hardly recognize Often the cheapest dish on the menu, a large portion 大盛り ōmori is guaranteed to leave you stuffed

At the other extreme of the spectrum are super-exclusive ryōtei 料亭, the Michelin three-star restaurants of the Japanese food world, which serve gourmet kaiseki 会席 meals prepared from the very best seasonal ingredients Should they condescend to let you in — and many require introductions — you will be looking at upwards of ¥30,000 per head for an experience which, quite frankly, will go right over the heads of most mere mortals visiting Japan for the first time


Even Japanese want something other than rice every now and then, and the obvious alternative is noodlesmen Practically every town and hamlet in Japan boasts its own "famous" noodle dish, and they are often well worth trying

There are two major noodle types native to Japan: thin buckwheat soba そば and thick wheat udon うどん Typically all dishes below can be ordered with either soba or udon depending on your preference and a bowl will only cost a few hundred yen, especially at the standing-room-only noodle joints in and near train stations

  • kake soba かけそば - plain broth and maybe a little spring onion on top
  • tsukimi soba 月見そば - soup with a raw egg dropped in named "moon-viewing" because of the resemblance to a moon behind clouds
  • kitsune soba きつねそば - soup with sweetened thin sheets of deep-fried tofu
  • zaru soba ざるそば - chilled noodles served with a dipping sauce, shallot and wasabi, popular in summer

Chinese egg noodles or rāmen ラーメン are also very popular but more expensive ¥500+ due to the greater effort involved and the condiments, which typically include a slice of grilled pork and a variety of vegetables Ramen can be considered to be the defining dish of each city, and practically every sizable city in Japan will have its own unique style of ramen The four major styles of ramen are:

  • shio rāmen 塩ラーメン - salty pork or chicken broth
  • shoyu rāmen 醤油ラーメン - soy broth, popular in Tokyo
  • miso rāmen 味噌ラーメン - miso soybean paste broth, originally from Hokkaido
  • tonkotsu ramen豚骨ラーメン - thick pork broth, a speciality of Kyushu

Slurping your noodles is not only acceptable, but expected According to the Japanese it both cools them down and makes them taste better Any remaining broth can be drunk directly from the bowl

Sushi and sashimi

Perhaps Japan's most famous culinary exports are sushi 寿司 or 鮨, usually raw fish over vinegared rice, and sashimi 刺身, plain raw fish These seemingly very simple dishes are in fact quite difficult to prepare properly: the fish must be extremely fresh, and apprentices spend years just learning how to make the vinegared rice for sushi correctly, before moving on to the arcane arts of selecting the very best fish at the market and removing every last bone from the fillets

Top from left: salmon shake, squid ika, amberjack hamachi, egg tamago, crab kani, ark shell akagai
Bottom from left: scallop hotate, halfbeak sayori, shrimp amaebi, mackerel saba, sardine iwashi, oyster kaki, ginger gari

There is enough arcane sushi terminology to fill entire books, but the most common types are:

  • nigiri 握り - the canonical sushi form consisting of rice with fish pressed on top
  • maki 巻き - fish and rice rolled up in nori seaweed and cut into bite-size chunks
  • temaki 手巻き - fish and rice rolled up in a big cone of nori
  • gunkan 軍艦 - "battleship" sushi, like nigiri but with nori wrapped around the edge to contain the contents
  • chirashi ちらし - a large bowl of vinegared rice with seafood scattered on top

Nearly anything that swims or lurks in the sea can and has been turned into sushi, and most sushi restaurants keep a handy multilingual decoding key on hand or on the wall A few species more or less guaranteed to feature in every restaurant are maguro tuna, shake salmon, ika squid, tako octopus, and tamago egg More exotic options include uni sea urchin roe, toro fatty tuna belly, very expensive and shirako fish sperm Tuna belly comes in two different grades: ō-toro 大とろ, which is very fatty and very expensive, and chū-toro 中とろ, which is slightly cheaper and less fatty

If you somehow ended up in a sushi restaurant, but can't or don't want to eat raw fish, there are usually several alternatives For instance the above mentioned tamago, various vegetables on rice, or the very tasty inari rice in a sweet wrap of deep fried tofu Or order the kappa maki which is nothing more than sliced cucumber, rolled up in rice and wrapped in nori

Even in Japan, sushi is a bit of a delicacy and the most expensive restaurants, where you order piece by piece from a chef, can run you bills into tens of thousands of yen You can limit the damage by ordering a fixed-price moriawase 盛り合わせ set, where the chef will choose whatever he thinks is good that day Cheaper yet are the ubiquitous kaiten 回転, lit "revolving" sushi shops, where you sit by a conveyor belt and grab whatever strikes your fancy, at prices that can be as low as ¥100 per plate Even in these cheaper places, it's still quite acceptable to order directly from the chef While in some areas like Hokkaido, kaiten sushi is of consistently good quality, in larger cities especially Tokyo and Kyoto the quality varies considerably from place to place with the low end restaurants serving little more than junk-food

When eating sushi, it's perfectly acceptable to use your fingers; just dip the piece in soy and pop it in your mouth In Japan, the pieces typically have a dab of fiery wasabi radish already lurking inside, but you can always add more according to your taste Slices of pickled ginger gari refresh the palate and infinite refills of green tea are always available for free

Despite fish sashimi being the most well known, there is no shortage of other types of sashimi for the adventurous ones Hokkaido crab sashimi and lobster sashimi are considered delicacies and are definitely worth a try Whale is also occasionally available, although it's not very common, and Kumamoto is famous for horse meat sashimi


Fuguふぐ or puffer fish is considered a delicacy in Japan despite being highly poisonous It can be rather pricey due to the tremendous skill required to prepare it, which requires complete removal of the internal organs which is where the poison is found Despite the potential danger, it is highly unlikely that you will be poisoned to death by it as chefs are assessed very stringently every year to ensure their preparation skills are up to the mark, and the Japanese government requires new chefs to undergo years of apprenticeship under experienced chefs before they are licensed to prepare the dish Because of the skill required, fugu is typically served only in speciality restaurants known as fugu-ya ふぐ屋 As a side note, the Emperor is banned from eating this dish for obvious reasons

Grilled and fried dishes

The Japanese didn't eat much meat before the Meiji era, but they have picked up the habit and even exported a few new ways to eat it since then Keep an eye on the price though, as meat especially beef can be fiercely expensive and luxury varieties like the famous marbled Kobe beef can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of yen per serving Some options, usually served by specialist restaurants, include:

  • okonomiyaki お好み焼き - Japanese pancake-pizza, based on a wheat-cabbage batter with meat or seafood of your choice, slathered with sauce, mayo, bonito flakes, dried seaweed and pickled ginger
  • teppanyaki 鉄板焼き - meat grilled on a hot iron plate
  • tempura 天ぷら - light-battered shrimp, fish and vegetables deep-fried very quickly, served with a dipping broth
  • tonkatsu 豚カツ - deep-fried breaded pork cutlets elevated into an art form
  • yakiniku 焼肉 - Japanese-style "Korean barbeque", cooked by yourself at your table
  • yakitori 焼き鳥 - grilled skewers of every chicken part imaginable, a classic accompaniment to alcohol

One Japanese specialty worth seeking out is eel うなぎ unagi, reputed to give strength and vitality in the drainingly hot summer months A properly grilled eel simply melts in the mouth when eaten, and takes over ¥1000 from your wallet in the process

A rather more infamous Japanese delicacy is whalekujira, which tastes like fishy steak and is served both raw and cooked However, most Japanese don't hold whale in much esteem; it's associated with school lunches and wartime scarcity, and it's rarely found outside speciality restaurants such as Kujiraya in Shibuya, Tokyo Canned whale can also be found in some grocery stores at a huge price for a small can

Stewed dishes

Particularly in the cold winter months various "hot pot" stewsnabe are popular ways to warm up Common types include:

  • chankonabe ちゃんこ鍋 - a hotchpotch steamboat much favored by sumo wrestlers
  • oden おでん - a variety of skewered fishcakes, daikon radish, tofu, and other ingredients simmered in fish soup for days Primarily a winter dish, often sold in convenience stores and on the street in makeshift blue-tarp yatai tents
  • sukiyaki すき焼き - a hotpot of beef, tofu, noodles and more, often somewhat sweet Well known in the West, but not that common in Japan
  • shabu-shabu しゃぶしゃぶ - a hotpot of clear water or very light broth; very thin slices of meat traditionally beef, but seafood, pork, and other variations exist are briefly swished through the hot water to instantly cook them, then dipped in flavoured sauce

Pseudo-Western dishes

Throughout Japan you can find cafés and restaurants serving Western food 洋食 yōshoku, ranging from molecular-level carbon copies of famous French pastries to hardly recognizable Japanized dishes like corn-and-potato pizza and spaghetti omelettes A few popular only-in-Japan dishes include:

  • hambaagu ハンバーグ - not to be confused with the McDonalds-style hambaagaa, this is a standalone hamburger patty with fixings
  • omuraisu オムライス - rice wrapped in an omelette with a complimentary dollop of ketchup
  • wafū suteeki 和風ステーキ - steak served Japanese-style with soy
  • korokkeコロッケ; croquettes, usually filled with potato, along with some meat and onion
  • kare-カレー; Japanese-style curry, it is not as spicy as Indian curry

Beer gardens

During the summer months when it is not raining many buildings and hotels have restaurants on their rooftops which serve dishes like fried chicken and french fries, as well as light snacks The specialty though is of course draft beer 生ビール nama-biiru, and you can order large mugs of it or pay a fixed price for an all-you-can-drink nomihodai 飲み放題) course lasting for a set period of time usually up to 2 hours Cocktails and other drinks are also often available as part of all-you-can-drink sets

Fast food

Japanese fast food restaurants offer decent quality at reasonable prices Many chains offer interesting seasonal choices that are quite tasty Some chains to look out for:

  • Yoshinoya 吉野家, Matsuya 松屋, and Sukiya すき家 are gyūdon beef bowl specialists While beef was off the menu for a while due to the mad cow scare, it's back now
  • Tenya てんや, the best tempura you'll ever eat for less than ¥500
  • MOS Burger seems like just another fast food chain, but actually has a pretty interesting menu — for hamburgers with a twist, how about grilled eel between two rice buns? Notice also the list of local produce suppliers posted in each shop Made to order, so guaranteed fresh, and unlike some fast-food places, Mosburger products generally look like their advertising photos A bit more expensive than McDonalds, but worth the extra MOS stands for Mountain, Ocean, Sun, by the way
  • Freshness Burger tries to be a bit less fast-foody and more like an "all-American" joint The food's decent, but just be prepared for the tiniest burgers you've ever seen
  • Beckers Operated by JR, these fastfood burger restaurants are often found in and near JR stations in greater Tokyo and Yokohama Beckers offers made to order burgers and Menchi burgers minced black pork Unlike most shops, their buns are fresh and baked inside the stores Unused buns are thrown away if not used 15 hours after baking them Their Pork Teriyaki burger is awesome They also offer Poutine, which is of course a French Canadian snack consisting of french fries, gravy and cheese The chilli topping needs to be tried More often than not, you can pay with the JR Suica pre-paid re-chargeable multi use traincard
  • Ootoya 大戸屋 30 is really too good to call fast food, with a menu and atmosphere that matches any "home-style" Japanese restaurant While there are illustrated menus on signboards, ordering can be confusing: at some stores you order at the counter before taking a seat, while at others servers come to your table
  • Soup Stock Tokyo is a trendy soup kitchen chain that serves delicious soup all-year round, with a selection of cold soups in summer It is a bit more expensive than most other fast food chains but you may consider it a healthier alternative to burgers
  • Lotteria Standard burger-type place
  • First Kitchen This chain offers a few dishes outside of the standard fast-food fare, including pasta, pizza, and fries with a wide assortment of flavorings
  • Coco Ichiban serves Japanese style curry rice with a vast array of ingredient choices English menus available

American fast food chains are also ubiquitous, including McDonald's, Wendy's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken McDonalds restaurants are almost as ubiquitous as vending machines

There are also a number of Japanese "family restaurants", serving a wide variety of dishes, including steak, pasta, Chinese style dishes, sandwiches, and other foods Though their food is relatively uninteresting, these restaurants usually have illustrated menus, so travellers who cannot read Japanese can use the photos to choose and communicate their orders Some chains across the country are:

  • Jonathan's is probably the most ubiquitous local chain Skylark is owned by the same company and has similar fare, including a cheap and unlimited "drink bar" which makes these restaurants good places for reading or resting over extended periods Denny's also has many stores in Japan
  • Royal Host - tries to market itself as a bit up-scale
  • Sunday Sun - reasonable, decent food and menus
  • Volks - specializes in steaks, and offers a large salad bar

Coffee shops

Though Starbucks has planted its flag in Japan almost as well as in the United States, the Japanese kissaten 喫茶店 has a long history If you're really looking for a jolt of caffeine, go to Starbucks or one of its Japanese predecessors such as Doutor But if you're trying to get out of the rain, the heat or the crowds for a while, the kissaten is an oasis in an urban jungle Most coffee shops are one-of-a-kind affairs, and reflect the tastes of their clientele In a Ginza coffee shop, you'll find a soft "European" decor and sweet pastries for upscale shoppers taking a load off their Ferragamos In an Otemachi coffee shop, businessmen in suits huddle over the low tables before meeting their clients In Roppongi's all-night coffee shops, the night owls pause between clubs, or doze until the trains start running again in the morning

A peculiar kind of kissaten is the jazz kissa ジャズ喫茶, or jazz coffee shop These are even darker and more smoke-filled than normal kissaten, and frequented by extremely serious-looking jazz buffs who sit motionless and alone, soaking in the bebop played at high volumes from giant audio speakers You go to a jazz kissa to listen; conversation is a no-no

Another offshoot is the danwashitsu 談話室, or lounge The appearance is indistinguishable from a pricy kissaten, but the purpose is more specific: serious discussions over matters such as business or meeting prospective spouses All tables are in separate booths, reservations are usually required, and the drinks are pricey So don't wander into one if you're just looking for a cup of coffee

Convenience stores

If you're traveling on the cheap, Japan's numerous convenience stores コンビニ konbini can be a great place to grab a bite to eat, and they're almost always open 24-7 Major chains include 7-11, Lawson, and Family Mart You can find instant noodles, sandwiches, meat buns, and even some small prepared meals, which can be heated up in a microwave right in the store An excellent option for food on the go is onigiri or omusubi, which is a large ball of rice stuffed with say fish or pickled plum and wrapped in seaweed, and usually cost around ¥100 each

Most convenience stores in Japan also have a restroom located in the back While most of the stores located in suburban and rural areas will let customers use their bathrooms, many in large cities, especially those in downtown areas and amusement districts of Tokyo and Osaka, will not Therefore, you should ask whether you can use the bathroom at the cashier first, then buy an item later if you want to show your appreciation


For those really on a budget, most supermarkets have a wide variety of ready-to-eat meals, bentos, sandwiches, snacks and the like, generally cheaper than convenience stores Some supermarkets are even open 24 hours a day

One Japanese institution worth checking out is the depachika デパ地下 or department store basement food court, featuring dozens of tiny specialist stalls dishing up local specialties ranging from exquisitely packed tea ceremony candies to fresh sushi and Chinese takeaway They're often a little upmarket pricewise, but almost all offer free samples and there are always a few reasonably priced ones in the mix In the evenings, many slash prices on unsold food, so look for stickers like hangaku 半額, "half price" or san-wari biki 3割引, "30% off" to get a bargain 割 means "1/10" and 引 means "off"

Eating vegetarian

Despite its image as light and healthy cuisine, everyday Japanese food can be quite heavy in salt and fat, with deep-fried meat or seafood being prominent Vegetarians much less vegans may have serious difficulty finding a meal that does not include animal products to some degree, particularly as the near-ubiquitous Japanese soup stock dashi is usually prepared with fish and often pops up in unexpected places like miso, rice crackers, curry, omelettes including tamago sushi, instant noodles and pretty much anywhere salt would be used in Western cuisine There is a kelp variant called kombudashi, but it's fairly uncommon Soba and udon noodle soups, in particular, virtually always use bonito-based katsuodashi, and typically the only vegetarian-safe item on the menu in a noodle shop is zarusoba, or plain cold noodles — but even for this the dipping sauce typically contains dashi

An excellent option is the kaiten conveyor belt sushi shop Westerners tend to associate sushi with fish, but there are several kinds of rolled sushi available in these shops that does not include fish or other marine creatures: kappa maki cucumber rolls, nattō maki sushi filled with stringy fermented soy beans, an acquired taste for many, kanpyō maki pickled-gourd rolls, and, occasionally, yuba sushi made with the delicate, tasty 'skin' of tofu These types of sushi tend to be less popular than the sushi using marine animal products, so you may not see them revolving in front of your eyes on the conveyor belt Just shout out the name of the type of sushi you want and the sushi chef will prepare it for you right away When you are ready to leave, call the waitress over and she'll count your plates The vegetarian sushi options are always inexpensive

For anyone living in big cities, especially Tokyo, an excellent option is organic or macrobiotic food, known as shizenshoku 自然食 While "vegetarian food" may sound boring or even unappetizing to Japanese ears, shizenshoku is quite in vogue as of late, although meals may cost about ¥3000 and menus may still contain seafood items While considerably harder to find, it's worth looking out for a restaurant often run by temples that offers shōjin ryori 精進料理, the purely vegetarian cuisine developed by Buddhist monks This cuisine is highly regarded and thus often very expensive, but is often available at reasonable prices if you stay at temples

Keep an eye on your protein intake: while soybean products like tofu and miso are ubiquitous, other vegetarian protein sources like legumes and dairy products are virtually unknown in Japanese cooking

Drinking in Jarvis Island

The Japanese drink a lot: not only green tea in the office, at meetings and with meals, but also all types of alcoholic beverages in the evening with friends and colleagues Many social scientists have theorized that in a strictly conformist society, drinking provides a much-needed escape valve that can be used to vent off feelings and frustrations without losing face the next morning

In Japan, the drinking age is 20 as is the age of majority and smoking age, for that matter This is notably higher than most of Europe and the Americas excepting the United States However, ID verification is almost never requested at restaurants, bars, convenience stores or other purveyors of liquor, so long as the purchaser does not appear obviously underage The main exception is in the large clubs in Shibuya, Tokyo, which are popular with young Tokyoites and during busy times will ID everyone entering the club However, most clubs will accept any form of ID They will normally ask for a passport, but if you show them a driver's license legitimate or non-legitimate, they will accept it

Where to drink

If you're looking for an evening of food and drink in a relaxed traditional atmosphere, go to an izakaya 居酒屋, Japanese-style pub, easily identified by red lanterns with the character "酒" alcohol hanging out front Many of them have an all-you-can-drink 飲み放題 nomihōdai deals which are about ¥1,000 US$10 for 90 minutes on average, although you'll be limited to certain types of drinks Very convenient An izakaya will usually have a lively, convivial atmosphere, as it often acts as a living room of sorts for office workers, students and seniors Food is invariably good and reasonably priced, and in all, they are an experience not to be missed

While Western-style bars can also be found here and there, typically charging ¥500-1,000 for drinks, a more common Japanese institution is the snack スナック sunakku These are slightly dodgy operations where paid hostesses pour drinks, sing karaoke, massage egos and sometimes a bit more and charge upwards of ¥3,000/hour for the service Tourists will probably feel out of place and many do not even admit non-Japanese patrons

Dedicated gay bars are comparatively rare in Japan, but the districts of Shinjuku ni-chome in Tokyo and Doyama-cho in Osaka have busy gay scenes Most gay/lesbian bars serve a small niche muscular men, etc and will not permit those who do not fit the mold, including the opposite sex, to enter While a few are Japanese only, foreigners are welcome at most bars

Note that izakaya, bars and snacks typically have cover charges カバーチャージ kabā chāji, usually around ¥500 but on rare occasions more, so ask if the place looks really swish In izakayas this often takes the form of being served some little nibble お通し otōshi as you sit down, and no, you can't refuse it and not pay Some bars also charge a cover charge and an additional fee for any peanuts you're served with your beer

Vending machines 自動販売機 jidōhanbaiki are omnipresent in Japan and serve up drinks 24 hours a day at the price of ¥120-150 a can/bottle, although some places with captive customers, including the top of Mount Fuji, will charge more In addition to cans of soft drinks, tea and coffee, you can find vending machines that sell beer, sake and even hard liquor In winter, some machines will also dispense hot drinks — look for a red label with the writing あたたかい atatakai instead of the usual blue つめたい tsumetai Vending machines that sell alcoholic beverages are usually switched off at 11PM Also, more and more of these machines, especially those near a school, require the use of a special "Sake Pass" obtainable at the city hall of the city the machine is located in The pass is available to anyone of 20 years of age or over Many vending machines at stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area accept payment using the JR Suica or PASMO cards


Sake is a fermented alcoholic beverage which is brewed from rice Though often called rice wine, in fact the sake making process completely different from wine or beer making The fermentation process uses both a mold to break down the starches and yeast to create the alcohol The Japanese word sake 酒 can in fact mean any kind of alcoholic drink, and in Japan the word nihonshu 日本酒 is used to refer to what Westerners call "sake"

Sake is around 15% alcohol, and can be served at a range of temperatures from hot 熱燗 atsukan, to room temperature 常温jo-on, down to chilled 冷や hiya Contrary to popular belief most sake is not served hot, but often chilled Each sake is brewed for a preferred serving temperature, but defaulting to room temperature is in most cases safe If you are inclined to have one hot or chilled in a restaurant, asking your waiter or bartender for recommendation would be a good idea In restaurants, one serving can start around ¥500, and go up from there

Sake has its own measures and utensils The little ceramic cups are called choko ちょこ and the small ceramic jug used to pour it is a tokkuri 徳利 Sometimes sake will be poured into a small glass set in a wooden box to collect the overflow as the server pours all the way to the top and keeps pouring Just drink from the glass, then pour the extra out of the box and back into your glass as you go Occasionally, particularly when drinking it cold, you can sip your sake from the corner of a cedar box called a masu 枡, sometimes with a dab of salt on the edge Sake is typically measured in 合, 180 mL, roughly the size of a tokkuri, ten of which make up the standard 18L isshōbin 一升瓶 bottle

The fine art of sake tasting is at least as complex as wine, but the one indicator worth looking out for is nihonshudo 日本酒度, a number often printed on bottles and menus Simply put, this "sake level" measures the sweetness of the brew, with positive values indicating drier sake and negative values being sweeter, the average being around +2

Sake is brewed in several grades and styles which depend upon how much the rice is milled to prevent off flavors, if any water is added, or if additional alcohol is added Ginjō 吟醸 and daiginjō 大吟醸 are measures of how much the rice has been milled, with the daiginjo more highly milled and correspondingly more expensive These two may have alcohol added primarily to improve the flavor and aromaHonjōzō 本醸造 is less milled, with alcohol added, and may be less expensive; think of it as an everyday kind of sake Junmai 純米 meaning pure rice, is an additional term which specifies that only rice was used When making a purchase, price is often a fair indicator of quality

A few special brews may be worth a try if you feel like experimenting Nigorizake 濁り酒 is lightly filtered and looks cloudy, with white sediment at the bottom of the bottle Turn the bottle gently once or twice to mix this sediment back into the drink Though most sake doesn't age well, some brewers are able to create aged sake with a much stronger flavor and deep colors These aged sake or koshu 古酒 may be an acquired taste, but worthwhile for the adventurous after a meal

Worth a special mention is amazake 甘酒, similar to the the lumpy homebrewed doburoku どぶろく version of sake, drunk hot in the winter often given away free at shrines on New Year's night Amazake has very little alcohol and it tastes pretty much like fermented rice glop which is to say, not that bad at all, but at least it's cheap And, as the name implies, sweet

If you're curious about sake, the Japan Sake Brewers Association has an online version of its English brochure You can also visit the Sake Plaza in Shinbashi, Tokyo and taste a flight of different sakes for just a few hundred yen


Shōchū 焼酎 is the big brother of sake, a stronger tasting distilled type of alcohol There are largely two types of shōchū; traditional shōchū are most commonly made of rice, yam, or grain, but it can be made of other materials like potatoes, too The other is rather industrially made out of sugar through multiple consecutive distillation, often used and served as a kind of cooler mixed with juice or soda known as a chū-hai Note however that canned chū-hai sold on store shelves do not even use shōchū but even cheaper alcoholic material Shōchū is typically around 25% alcohol although some varieties can be much stronger and can be served straight, on the rocks, mixed with hot or cold water at your choice Once solely a working-class drink, and still the cheapest tipple around at less than ¥1000 for a big 1L bottle, traditional shōchū has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years and the finest shōchū now fetch prices as high as the finest sakes


Umeshu 梅酒 is prepared by soaking Japanese ume plums actually a type of apricot in white liquor so it absorbs the flavor, and the distinctive, penetrating nose of sour dark plum and sweet brown sugar is a hit with many visitors Typically about 10-15% alcohol, it can be taken straight, on the rocks rokku or mixed with soda soda-wari


There are several large brands of Japanese beer ビール biiru, including Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, and Suntory A bit harder to find is an Okinawan brand, Orion which is excellent Yebisu is also a popular beer brewed by Sapporo Microbrewed beers are also starting to appear in Japan, with a few restaurants offering their own micros or ji-biiru 地ビール but these are still few in number Most varieties are lagers, with strengths averaging 5%

You can buy beer in cans of all sizes, but in Japanese restaurants beer is typically served in bottles 瓶 bin, or draft 生 nama meaning "fresh" Bottles come in three sizes, 大瓶 ōbin large, 066L, 中瓶 chūbin medium, 05L and 小瓶 kobin small, 033L, of which medium is the most common Larger bottles give you the opportunity to engage in the custom of constantly refilling your companions' glasses and having yours topped off as well If you order draft beer, you each receive your own mug jokki In many establishments, a dai-jokki "big mug" holds a full liter of brew

Some Japanese bartenders have an annoying habit of filling half of your mug with head so that you only have half a glass of actual beer Though the Japanese like their draft beer poured that way, you may find it irritating - especially when you're paying ¥600 for a glass of beer as in many restaurants and bars If you have the gumption to ask for less head, say awa wa sukoshi dake ni shite kudasai "please, just a little foam" You will baffle your server, but you may get a full glass of beer

Guinness pubs have started appearing all over the country recently, which is nice for those who like Irish drinks

For those with a more humourous tastes in beer, try kodomo biiru こどもビール, literally Children’s Beer, a product that looks just like the real thing but was actually invented with children in mind there is 0% alcohol content

Happōshu and third beer

Thanks to Japan's convoluted alcohol licensing laws, there are also two almost-beers on the market: happōshu 発泡酒, or low-malt beer, and the so-called third beer 第3のビール dai-san no biiru, which uses ingredients like soybean peptides or corn instead of malt Priced as low as ¥120, both are considerably cheaper than "real" beer, but lighter and more watery in taste Confusingly, they are packaged very similarly to the real thing with brands like Sapporo's "Draft One" and Asahi's "Hon-Nama", so pay attention to the bottom of the can when buying: by law, it may not say ビール beer, but will instead say 発泡酒 happoshu or, for third beers, the unwieldy moniker その他の雑酒2 sono ta no zasshu2, lit "other mixed alcohol, type 2" Try to drink moderately as both drinks can lead to nightmare hangovers

Western wine

Japanese wine is actually quite nice although it costs about twice as much as comparable wine from other countries Several varieties exist, and imported wine at various prices is available nationwide Selection can be excellent in the larger cities, with specialized stores and large department stores offering the most extensive offerings One of Japan's largest domestic wine areas is Yamanashi Prefecture, and one of Japan's largest producers, Suntory, has a winery and tours there Most wine, red and white, is served chilled and you may find it hard obtaining room-temperature 常温 jō-on wine when dining out


The most popular beverage by far is tea お茶 o-cha, provided free of charge with almost every meal, hot in winter and cold in summer There is a huge variety of tea in bottles and cans in convenience-store fridges and vending machines Western-style black tea is called kōcha 紅茶; if you don't ask for it specifically you're likely to get Japanese brown or green tea Chinese oolong tea is also very popular

The major types of Japanese tea are:

  • sencha 煎茶, the common green tea
  • matcha 抹茶, soupy powdered ceremonial green tea The less expensive varieties are bitter and the more expensive varieties are slightly sweet
  • hōjicha ほうじ茶, roasted green tea
  • genmaicha 玄米茶, tea with roasted rice, tastes popcorn-y
  • mugicha 麦茶, a drink of roasted barley, served iced in summer


Coffee コーヒー kōhī is quite popular in Japan, though it's not part of the typical Japanese breakfast It's usually brewed to the same strength as European coffee; weaker, watered down coffee is called American Canned coffee hot and cold is a bit of a curiosity, and widely available in vending machines like other beverages for about ¥120 per can Most canned coffee is sweet, so look for brands with the English word "Black" or the kanji 無糖 "no sugar" if you want it unsweetened Decaffeinated coffee is very rare in Japan, even at Starbucks, but is available in some locations

There are many coffee shops in Japan, including Starbucks Major local chains include Doutor known for its low prices and Excelsior A few restaurants, such as Mister Donut, Jonathan's and Skylark, offer unlimited refills on coffee for those who are particularly addicted to caffeine or want to get some late-night work done

Soft drinks

There are many uniquely Japanese soft drinks and trying random drinks on vending machines is one of the little joys of Japan A few of note include Calpis カルピス, a kind of yogurt-based soft drink which tastes better than it sounds and the famous Pocari Sweat a Gatorade-style isotonic drink A more traditional Japanese soft drink is Ramune ラムネ which is nearly the same as Sprite or 7-Up but is noteworthy for its unusual bottle, where one pushes down a marble into an open space below the spout instead of using a bottle opener

Most American soft drink brands Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew are widely available The only choices for diet soda will be Diet Coke, Coke Zero, or Diet Pepsi Root Beer is nearly impossible to find outside of speciality import food shops or Okinawa Ginger ale is very popular however, and a common find in vending machines Caffeinated energy drinks are available in many local brands usually infused with ginseng

In Japan, the term "juice" ジュース jūsu is catch-all term for any kind of fruity soft drink - sometimes even Coca-Cola and the like - and extremely few are 100% juice So if it's fruit squeezings you want, ask for kajū 果汁 Drinks in Japan are required to display the percentage of fruit content on the label; this can be very helpful to ensure you get the 100% orange juice you were wanting, rather than the much more common 20% varieties

Accommodation in Jarvis Island

There are no public accommodations on Jarvis Island

Working in Jarvis Island

The Tokyo region generally offers the widest array of jobs for foreigners, including positions for lawyers, accountants, engineers and other professionals To work in Japan, a foreigner must receive a job offer from a guarantor in Japan, and then apply for a working visa at an embassy or consulate outside the country Working visas are valid for a period of 1 to 3 years, and may be used to secure employment at any employer within the scope of activities designated on the visa including employers other than the guarantor Expect strict penalties if you overstay on any visa Spouses of Japanese nationals can obtain spousal visas, which carry no restrictions on employment

The Working Holiday 47 program is open to young citizens between 18 and 30 from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, France, Germany, Ireland and the UK: those eligible may apply for working holiday visas without having a job offer

The most common form of employment among foreigners is teaching English, especially in after-hours English conversation schools known as eikaiwa 英会話 Pay is fairly good for young adults, but rather poor compared to a qualified educator already at work in most Western countries Working conditions can also be quite strict compared to Western standards, and some companies have very bad reputations An undergraduate degree or ESL creditation is essential for most desirable positions For the larger chain English schools most teachers would have been interviewed in their home countries before coming to work in Japan Learning English is no longer quite as fashionable as it once was and the boom years are long since over Recently there has been greater emphasis on children's education Besides English, other foreign languages that are popular include Portuguese, French, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese

The JET 48 Program Japan Exchange and Teaching offers young university graduates a chance to teach in Japan The program is run by the Japanese government but your employer would typically be a local Board of Education who assigns you to one or more public schools, often deep in the countryside No Japanese skills or formal teaching qualifications are required and your airfare is provided Pay is slightly better than the language schools and, unlike at such a school, if you have a serious problem with your employer you can appeal to the JET program people for help The JET program also has a small number of positions for international relations or sports co-ordinators, although these require some Japanese ability

Foreigners with postgraduate education may be able to find jobs teaching English or even other subjects at Japanese universities, which offers better pay and working conditions than the eikaiwa industry

Quite a few young women choose to work in the hostess industry, where they entertain Japanese men over drinks in tiny bars known as sunakku スナック and are paid for their time While pay can be good, visas for this line of work are difficult if not impossible to obtain and most work illegally The nature of the work also carries its own risks, notably poor career prospects, alcoholism, smoking, potential problems from clients such as groping and lewd questions, and even harassment or worse, exemplified by the abduction and murder of hostess Lucie Blackman in 2000

Cities in Jarvis Island

What do you think about Jarvis Island?, your travel companion

We all like to travel. I created for you and me and others like us, people who are always looking for somewhere to travel. Be it a country you've never been to before, or a country you've visited for seven times already. Create your travel profile and share your travel updates with friends, find the perfect cheap flight tickets and book the cheapest hotels around the world. In case of any problems, just drop me a line!

Where to start?

The best place to start, obviously, would be to create register (for free) and create your own traveller profile and start sharing your travel updates with friends. And of course, any time you start thinking of going travelling, use to search for flights, cheap hotels and rooms as well as things to do while travelling.


Please note that we really do recommend the sites we share with you, be it for hotels, flights or anything else. We use them ourselves as well. In case of some links our affiliates codes have been embedded, just to help us keep working on this site.