Lifestyle Strategies, Travel, Adventures--Todd's Wanderings
Drinking in the Back Alleys of Shinjuku Golden Gai

Just about every visitor to Japan searches for that stereotypical traditional atmosphere where they can sit and breath in the “real” Japan. The truth is that this “real” Japan is fading fast, and has been relegated to the shadows and corners of mainstream Japan. One place that still pulses with the traditional back alley street culture can be founded tucked into a corner of Shinjuku Tokyo’s red light district, Kabuki-cho. Drinking in Golden Gai Golden Gai is a small city block east of Shinjuku station made up of over 200 shacks, formerly brothels. The area consists of just 6 narrow alleys with even smaller passageways connecting everything. This atmospheric drinking area is renowned for the artists, actors and directors that frequent each nomiya (bar). Each small bar is big enough to fit a counter, stools and between six and fifteen patrons. The seedy image of Kabukicho, with its strip clubs, Read full article…

Japanese Hambagu Recipe (Japanese Gourmet Hamburger Patty? WOW)

This post is by Kay, who writes the K’s Kitchen section of Todd’s Wanderings. She also happens to be Todd’s lovely wife! First of all, I have to apologize for my looong absence from K’s Kitchen. Here is my excuse…I was on bed rest from February to June due to some complications for my pregnancy and I couldn’t use use the computer much. The good news is that (A) our son was born in good health 4 weeks ago; and (B) K’s kitchen is back now Today, I would like to introduce you to a ‘Japanese Western Food’ called ‘Hambagu’. Basically this is a dish made from ground beef and is similar to a rounded meatloaf or a salisbury streak. This dish originates from ‘Tartar Steak’ in Germany. It is not known exactly when this dish arrived at Japan but it’s sometime during Meiji Era (1868-1912) that similar dishes started Read full article…

Determine the Fate of Todd's Wanderings

Well, OK, maybe that title is a tad bit dramatic, but it is true nonetheless. Here at Todd’s Wanderings I am always trying to make the website more user friendly and to enhance your experience. I like it when you are happy, I’m also a bit anal and I need everything to look fresh and cutting edge, and of course I want my site to be more popular than twitter, I’m almost there…15 million more readers to go! Over the past few months I have been working with a designer to give my website a facelift. I have been trying to make the design and the brand as appealing as possible before I engage a coder. What I have realized is that I forgot to ask YOU what you think. Yes, I get carried away sometimes. So, I’m here to not only give you a sneak peak at what the Read full article…

My 7 Links that May or May not Deserve to See the Light of Day

Recently we were nominated by Cam and Nicole over at Traveling Canucks to take part in the 7 Links Project started by Trip Base. First off I like the Traveling Canucks because they only use one “L” when they spell “traveling.” Yes, I can be that superficial! Oh, they are also a fun couple to follow around the world. The Goal of the 7 Links Project What you are about to read is lifted directly from Trip Base (yes, I steal sometimes too): To unite bloggers in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again. My son is only 2 weeks old and he is already questioning whether ANY of my posts should have been allowed to see the light of day, let alone subject the world to another round. But Read full article…

Guide to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan

In Japan, UNESCO World Heritage Sites are extremely popular and there is even a weekly travel show dedicated to showcasing sites from all over the world. The United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims (among an incredibly long list of other duties) to designate and help to protect cultural or natural sites that show “outstanding universal value.” “Sekai isan” or World Heritage Sites, are so popular that Japanese tour companies do a steady business developing mass tours all around the world as well as within Japan itself. While many people of heard about World Heritage Sites, I was shocked to discover while researching for this article that despite the large sums of money invested to win World Heritage status, and then the vasts amounts of sums needed to protect and maintain those sites (with of course some funds made available from UNESCO) that there is very little interest Read full article…

Camping and Hiking in Kosovo's Backcountry: Brod to Lake Shutman

Working for the United Nations and as a Travel Blogger/writer has its moments…sometimes they intersect in an amazing experience or opportunity that just leaves me wondering how I ever became so lucky. If anyone ever tells you a dream job does not exist, share this link with them and then get working on making it come true. In the run up to my new guide book release (The Mountains of Dragash, Kosovo: Hiking and Nature Tourism Guide) I led a group of 30 people into the Dragash back-country for a weekend of hiking, camping, and getting back to nature (ie getting very wet on the hike in and out). The trip was part of a larger effort to develop a nature tourism strategy for the isolated Municipality of Dragash, and to create a series of value chains to help locals benefit from increased tourism. The project is sponsored by the Read full article…

Off Track on the Northern Albanian Komani Lake

It’s hard to know what is on and off the beaten path these days. Most travelers get their information from the Internet (yes, including you right now) in a way that was never possible before with regular guidebooks. But with the proliferation of information is there still a beaten path? Or are we all beating down the grass as we wander freely here and there depending on the whims of a Google search? Whatever the answer is, for most people Albania as a country is off the beaten path and is just starting to open up to tourism. Travel to the northern mountain regions, where the fastest way to travel is by lake ferry, or by foot, and you can be pretty sure you are off the beaten path. I heard about the Komani Lake Ferry in Kosovo and decided to give it a try. It is by Read full article…

Advanced Personal Development Sale: better life, save money, be awesome

Yay, the 72 Hour Sale is back and this time it jumps into the Personal Development arena. For me travel and working abroad has had a profound effect on my personal development, running the gambit from finances, to minimalism, to becoming a more self confident person. The only thing is hasn’t helped me with is my addiction to self improvement books… These sales don’t come around often, and it’s a great chance to get a ton of books at a ridiculous discount. I own a couple of the titles included and now own the rest for what it cost me to buy 2 of them earlier. This is the second 72 hour sale from the genius behind Man vs Debt, a super popular personal finance blog. The concept is simple, for 72 hours you can buy 22 Online Personal Development Courses and E-books for only $97 that would normally cost Read full article…

How to Manage Uncertainty- Don't

When life kicks you in the teeth, smile back. When life gives you a present, good or bad, say thank you. When life changes, accept it as the one rule in life that never changes, things change. This is not meant to be an inspirational post, if it gets wishy washy then I give you permission to click away, shut down your computer, and walk away. Actually, if it’s a nice day out, go ahead and take a walk now, I’ll still be here when you get back. Things change. Life changes. We change. Our significant others change, our family changes. Jobs come and go. You get the point. But how do we manage all this change? Uh, er, did you read the title? We don’t manage the change, we should just accept it, adapt to it, and move on. I know, easier said than done. But if nothing else, Read full article…

My Karate Kid Moment: Bar Fight in Japan

Three to one. Three soldiers, to me. An ex-girlfriend on my arm, scared. How did I get myself into this situation? More importantly, how did I get myself out of it? When we are kids we all have dreams of being the karate kid. No, not being lanky and whiny (I didn’t have to dream about that part), but being the guy who fights the bullies in the bar…and wins of course. In the summer of 2002 I had my own karate kid moment in Tokyo, Japan. I know, a very cool setting for the story. Yes, it seems I jumped straight to Part 2 rather than training on the beach in California with a small Japanese guy who can act really really well. Despite not being in Okinawa, I still managed to find a group of US Soldiers. Note, I really respect all US military personnel and thank you Read full article…

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