【TOKYU HANDS × WAttention】Top 5 Exercise Goods for Busy People

TOKYU HANDS is “THE ONE-STOP SHOP” chock-full of all kind of goods such as kitchen utensils, beauty goods, stationery, bags and tools, joined by fun discoveries and surprises. Visit TOKYU HANDS and gain a better understanding of today’s Japan.
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Are you ready for summer? For those who are not comfortable showing off your body, the WAttetion team has put together a list of easy to use and effective exercise goods for you. Try it at home and you’ll be ready for a beach in no time!

rankNo.1: Dr.Scholl, MediQttO (TM)

 

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MediQtto started in England as stockings for medical purposes. It helps you to get tighter, slimmer legs by reducing puffiness and improving blood flow through applying the same compression level as the medical stockings used in England. Within two hours, you’ll be able to see the difference by using Quick Refre. The best part of this product is you can wear this anytime and anywhere: whether you’re working in front of your desk, walking, driving or even while doing housework! Thanks to carefully selected materials and a unique weaving technique, Quick Refre is comfortable to wear and can be worn on top of your regular stockings. The special wing design also makes it easy to tell right from left, and extra ribbing enables you to put on easily. You can get slimmer legs without working too hard!

Product Name: MediQtto Quick Refre Short, Free size
Price: 1,922 yen (including tax)
Category: Exercise goods
WAttention Editor’s comment: “The pressure feels very comfortable and relieves swollen legs. They come in a variety of colors and lengths to fit your style.”

 


 

rankNo.2: La. VIE, My Versatile Stretch Roller

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This cute 30cm (1ft) roller is perfect for those who suffer from having tight shoulders, stiff backs, or lower back pain. Roll it over your shoulders and arms, or try it on your thighs and calves. With this small and compact roller, you can now exercise in any room of your house. Not only that, once you’re done exercising, you can wrap it with a towel and use it as a pillow.

Product Name: La. VIE, My Versatile Stretching Roller
Price: 1,008 yen (including tax)
Category: Exercise goods
WAttention Editor’s comment: “With its versatile design, you can use it as an exercise roller, pillow or cushion!”

 


 

rankNo. 3: La. VIE, Foldable Yoga Mat, Matte Salmon

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You don’t need a special carrier for your yoga mat any more. This foldable yoga mat can be stored flat and compact. Tuck it in your suitcase or put it in your bag, anywhere you go the yoga mat comes with you; may it be a picnic in the park, or your next vacation spot. Now, you don’t have to compromise your exercise schedule when you’re on vacation. If you need a little bit of additional comfort under your body, fold it twice or three times to get an extra thickness.

Product Name: La. VIE, Foldable Yoga Mat, Matte Salmon
Price: 2,036 yen (including tax)
Category: Exercise goods
WAttention Editor’s comment: “I always thought carrying a Yoga mat in a special tube-shaped carrier was cumbersome but now I can carry it in my bag!”

 


 

rankNo. 4: TURBO Cell Long Shaper

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Just like the compression socks, wearable exercise goods are becoming increasingly popular among health conscious people. Available only in Japan, the TURBO Cell Long Shaper helps slim down the excess fat around your hips and belly. An improvement from the previous shaper, this new version is lighter, 15% thinner, and contains more elastic fabric for comfort. Three layers of fabric help to heat up the body and encourage sweating. The Long Shaper covers 360° around your belly, so you will look good from any angle.

Product Name:
TURBO Cell Long Shaper, BLK, M
Price: 5,940 yen (including tax)
Category: Exercise goods
WAttention Editor’s comment: “With the TURBO Cell Long Shaper you can get the curves you’ve always wanted.”

 


 

rankNo. 5: NAGARA Cushion Smart

 

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A cute exercise cushion developed by a fitness club. With just one cushion, you can work out using a variety of exercise routines including stretching, muscle training, and aerobic exercises without going to the gym. Furthermore, you can do it while you are watching TV or working at the computer. The Internal rubber structure slowly applies pressure, so you don’t have to worry about straining your joints or over exhaustion.

Product Name: NAGARA Cushion Smart
Price: 6,458 yen (including tax)
Category: Exercise goods
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Studies also show that a little bit of stretching and exercise helps people destress and relax.”

 


 

TOKYU HANDS -Shinjuku Store-

Times Square Building 2-8F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

WEBSITE:http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/foreign.html

スクリーンショット 2016-02-17 9.32.40

2016 Tokyo Bay Summer Night Cruise Information

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Hop on board this definitive Tokyo summer experience!

Tokai Kisen, a company that runs passenger ship tours and routes in around Tokyo Bay, proudly announced the opening of the 66th Tokyo Bay Summer Night Cruise. Participate in this 2-hour cruise aboard the `Salvia-go`, a passenger ship that can be boarded by up to 1,500 people and drink in the beautiful view of Tokyo’s city lights while enjoying food, beverages, music and good company.

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In addition, you can get a special discount on weekdays if you join the tour wearing a yukata (light summer kimono). Do not worry if you do not have one – there’s a rental service available at the terminal! You can come empty handed and go home filled with fun summer memories.

If you’re not yet convinced, read this review of last year’s event written by a WAttention reporter.

Prior reservation is required so make sure to reserve as soon as possible!

Reservation

TEL 03-3437-6119 (9:00~20:00)
WEB http://www.nouryousen.jp/payment.html (Japanese)

Cruise Information

Dates: Jul. 1 - Oct. 10, 2016
Hours: 19:15~21:00 *boarding starts at 18:50
Location: Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal
Access: 7 min. walk from JR Hamamatsucho Station, 7 min. walk from Toei Subway Oedo line or Asakusa line Daimon Station, 1 min. walk form Yurikamome line Takeshiba Station
Fee: Adults 2,600 yen
High school or Jr High School students 1,050yen
Elementary school students 550 yen
・This fee includes boarding, free-flow drink and tax
・1,000 yen discount for passengers dressed in yukata (weekdays only, does not include Sat/Sun/Public holidays)

Yukata Rental Information

Summer night cruise Yukata rental shop
URL: http://yukata-natsu.tokyo/ (Japanese)
Rental fee:
Prices for renting the yukata and kitsuke (help with putting the yukata on) starts from 4,000 yen.
You can also bring your own yukata and get help with putting it on for 3,000yen.

Package plan:
1. Boarding pass + kitsuke only
4,500yen (weekdays) / 5,500yen (Sat/Sun/Public holidays)

2. Boarding pass + Full Set rental
6,000yen (weekdays) / 7,000yen (Sat/Sun/Public holidays)

(All rates including tax)

Nishimura with Collectif Prémices “Landscape Pocket Business Card”

Nishimura with Collectif Prémices
This simple yet exquisite leather collection is the product of collaboration between French design team, COLLECTIF PRĒMICES, and the traditional techniques of yuzen-chokoku, a pattern paper carving technique used in the dyeing process of kimono.
This series includes, Landscape – the name of a stylish table piece to store various modern day devices, as well as the self-explanatory Wallet and Pockets, for the storage of various items.

Nishimura with Collectif Prémices “Landscape Pocket Business Card”

$138.00

See in store

See other Nishimura Yuzen-Chokoku products: http://wattention.com/articles/nishimura-yuzen-chokoku-craft

Picturesque Matsumoto (8) – The Strange Ice Cream of Matsumoto –

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During our visit to Matsumoto City in Nagano prefecture, Wattention staff found some very interesting ice cream flavors. Please enjoy these unique finds when you make a trip to Matsumoto and don’t forget to check out our other articles for more sightseeing spots.

 

1) Cream Cheese

Found during our hike in Kamikochi, this ice cream can be purchased in a souvenir shop at the main bus terminal near Kappabashi bridge. It tastes very refreshing during a warm day and the cheese flavor is not too overpowering.

Cream Cheese Ice Cream

2) Wasabi

We all know it as that green spicy substance served with sushi, but did you know it also makes great ice cream? Don’t be afraid to try this frozen green treat as even non-wasabi lovers will be able to handle it. There is no hint of the sharp wasabi flavor, you’re only left with a nice and mild green taste. Available at the Daio Wasabi Farm.

Wasabi Ice Cream

3) Miso

This was the weirdest but also the most surprising flavor in all of Matsumoto. Miso is made from fermented soybeans and is a staple in the Japanese kitchen. Producing that uniqe Japanese umami flavor, miso is becoming loved all over the world. But we never would have thought about putting it in ice cream! The flavor is very unique and reminiscent of sweet and salty English fudge. Only available at the Ishii Miso Brewery.

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Kamakura Ajisai – Hydrangea Tour (4) : Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu

The last stop during our Ajisai-Tour, after visiting the Tokei-ji, Jochi-ji  and Meigetsu-in, was the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (鶴岡八幡宮), the most significant Shinto Shrine in Kamakura area. We reached the shrine within 30 min after leaving the Meigetsu-in.

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We entered the shrine from the back side and were welcomed by beautiful Hydrangea flowers.

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The shrine was built by Minamoto Yoriyoshi (988-1075) near the seaside in Yuigahama in 1063. Then, in 1191, the first Shogun of Kamakura, Minamoto Yorimoto (1147-1199) moved it to its current position.
The location of the shrine is meticulously calculated, with Mt. Hokuzan on the north and Nameri River on the east, making Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu the geographical and cultural center of the city.

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Interestingly enough, Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu used to be a hybrid of a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine until the Meiji government started the separation of Buddhism and Shinto. The new law “Shinto and Buddhism Separation Order” was enacted in 1868which forced the shrine to sell or even destroy Buddhism-related treasures and buildings. With that said, the remaining buildings still hold cultural importance and are designated as important cultural properties.

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The Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu was dedicated to Hachiman (八幡), the tutelary god of warriors. He acts as the divine protector of Japan and its inhabitants, as well as the Imperial Family. The dove is the symbol and messenger of the Hachiman.

You can purchase a variety of fortune bringing talismans, as well as… DSC_0443

… an o-mikuji, a strip of paper that predicts your fortune. You can also receive an English explanation of your o-mikuji.

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If you receive a bad fortune you can leave your bad luck at the shrine by putting the paper strip into the red box, which is located in front of the Ema wall.

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The view from the main shrine to the lower worship hall, the main gate and the alley of cherry trees.
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Preparations for the O-nikku-kensenko-kosha-sai, a special festival and consecration held on June 12th, were in full progres

On the right side of the shrine grounds there is a little park with a pond, where water lilies, kois and turtles can be spotted.

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The white flags can be purchased at the shrine. You can write down your prayer and put it on the little island.

After leaving the shrine grounds we headed to the beach. We strolled through the Komachi street, where coffee shops, souvenir shops and restaurants providing Kamakura’s specialties are located right next to each other.

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We arrived at the beach perfectly in time for the beautiful sunset.

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Information

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu
Hours: 5am – 8:30pm (Apr. – Sep.) 6am – 8:30pm (Oct. – Mar.), 24 hours (January 1st – 3rd)
Access: A 10-15 min walk from JR Kamakura Station – East Exit (JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line, JR Yokosuka Line)
Address: Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu, 2-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura-shi, 248-8588 Kanagawa

The Kamakura Walking Course:

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Sushi You Cannot Get at a Restaurant

Sushi on the Go

Travelling Sushi Bag Cover
Turn your suitcase into a giant sushi with this easily attachable nylon cover. Not only will it make spotting your luggage easier, but watching it come around the baggage carousel will fill you with the same anticipation of picking up your favorite sushi off the conveyor belt! Choose from a topping of shrimp, egg, salmon, tuna, mackerel, octopus, or salmon roe.

Where to Buy:
MEETSCAL Store (shibuya PARCO)
Address: Udagawacho 15-1 Shibuya Parco Part 1 1F, Shibuya
Hours: 10am – 9pm
URL: http://www.parco.co.jp/en/about/store/

Sole food

Sushi Socks
This is sushi for the sole. These fun socks look so much like the real thing you`ll be tempted to dip your toes in soy sauce.

Where to Buy:
ecute UENO
Address: Shinbashi 4-27-2, Minato
Hours: 9am – 8pm (Mon-Fri), 9am – 5pm (Sat), Closed on Sundays and Holidays)
URL: http://www.ecute.jp/ueno/ (Japanese)

Sushi for ears

Sushi earrings
Those tiny earrings are made in imitation of sushi by Japanese traditional textile, Chirimen (crepe). So cute and delicate!

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Where to Buy:
Tokyu Plaza Ginza
Address: Ginza 5-2-1, Chuo
Hours: 11am – 9pm
URL: http://ginza.tokyu-plaza.com/en/

Picturesque Matsumoto (7) – The Bizarre World of Yayoi Kusama –

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At the forefront of the artistic avant-garde movement stands Matsumoto-born artist Yayoi Kusama. She has had many successful exhibitions abroad but her permanent museum is in Matsumoto City.

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Born on March 22nd 1929, Kusama started painting at an early age. Her parents did not agree with her choices and after a short time studying in Kyoto she left for New York in 1957 without notifying her family. Here she spent almost twenty years surrounded by prominent avant-garde artists such as Donald Judd and Eva Hesse. In this environment she felt inspired to create large artworks, installations and happenings. Kusama has even been said to be an inspiration for Andy Warhol. In 1973 she moved back to Japan and her mental health started to deteriorate. She voluntarily admitted herself into a mental hospital in Tokyo and she still lives there today. During the day she commutes to her art studio just across the street.

Recurring themes of Kusama’s artwork are polka dots, mirrors and organic shapes. She creates large exhibits that the visitor can interact with or walk through. Most of the exhibits in the Kusama Yayoi museum bring the visitor into her world.

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15Information

Access: A 12-min walk or 5-min bus ride from JR Matsumoto Station
Hours: 9am – 5pm, closed on Mondays (but open on National Holiday-Mondays) and from December 29th – January 3rd.
Admission: 410 yen (Adult), 200 yen (University Student), FREE (elementary / junior high students and senior citizens)

Disappearing Treasures: Sento, a Public Bathhouse

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I know that many travelers come to Japan hoping to have an authentic Onsen (hot spring) experience, soaking in soothing hot water is truly relaxing and rejuvenating. It’s true, an Onsen is a blissful joy and you should definitely try it at least once, but there’s an alternative. For many busy Japanese people and travelers, there is an easier way to get a similar hot bath experience.

Sento, a local public bathhouse.

A true local experience
In the olden days, many Japanese apartments didn’t come with a private bath. Tenants often had to go to a nearby Sento bathhouse not only to get clean but also to socialize with neighbors. The Sento was and still is a social hub where different generations come together and talk about their everyday lives. Though most modern apartments and houses now come with a private bath, there is something special about going to the local Sento, seeing your neighbors and being part of the community.

On a verge of extinction
Unfortunately, Sento bathhouses are on a sharp decline. During the past few decades, the number of Sento baths around Tokyo has dropped from over 2500 to around 600. There are many factors for this decline but a few major reasons are a) there are less people using a public bath, b) facilities are deteriorating rapidly and the renovation cost is enormous, c) utility costs (water and gas) are getting more expensive and d) owners are getting old and they don’t have a successor who can take over the management.

Number of Sento Bathhouses
Statistics by Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other resources

Preserving by taking a dip
You might say this is just part of economic progress, an evolution from a poorer time, and that change is inevitable and necessary. But as one of many naive Sento enthusiasts, I would like to do something about it.

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So here’s the deal, I’ll highlight these one-of-a-kind bathhouses before they disappear. Hopefully I can shine some light on the realities and struggles they face and introduce some of the innovative solutions they’ve come up with. And you can try them out, give them a reason to stay around.

So be willing to expose yourself to a cultural experience and in the process bear witness to the naked truth. If we don’t contribute to keeping these landmarks relevant they will disappear and the stories of everyday life will wash away down the drain of history.

In the next article, I will explain the rules and proper etiquette of the Sento bathhouses, such as what you should bring and how you should act around naked strangers. So stay tuned.

Picturesque Matsumoto (6) – Matsumoto Castle –

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Matsumoto Castle is one of the oldest original castles still remaining in Japan. Besides being designated as a “National Treasure of Japan” and its beautiful surroundings, the castle holds an immeasurable historical value for Japanese and the global audience alike.

The castle used to be known as Fukashi Castle but during the Sengoku era, then it was moved to another location and renamed as Matsumoto Castle in 1582. Minor keeps, gates and moat were being added and finally the castle’s main keep was completed somewhere between 1593-1594.

Because of its black wainscoting and roof decorations that seem to be flaring out, the castle was nicknamed “Crow Castle.” Most of the original surroundings are still preserved but the gates and defensive measures have been upgraded to fit the standards of the modern world.

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Matsumoto Castle is a flatland castle(平城 hirajiro). Its complete defensive structure consists of an extensive system of interconnecting walls, moats and gatehouses. Inside the castle wall, there lived about a hundred Samurai families, all loyal to the lord of the castle.

One of the castle’s secrets is that it has a hidden floor. From the outside it seems like the main tower only has five stories, but it actually has six. The hidden annex area was used to hide weapons and gunpowder.

Castle Interior

The castle has a very interesting structure with wide passages and steep staircases. There are holes for defending the castle with bow and arrow all around the castle. These holes were later narrowed down for the use of guns. The wooden construction for the foundation floor curves inwards to follow the line of the stone foundation. Truly a historical architectural marvel.

Shrine
The sixth and top floor lies 22.1 meters above the ground and could be covered with 16 tatami mats for comfort. This floor was used as the headquarters of the “war lord” if the castle was under attack.

On the ceiling there is a shrine dedicated to Nijuroku-yashin, the 26th night goddess of the month. On the night of January 26th, 1618, one of the young vassals on duty saw a woman dressed in beautiful clothes. She handed him a brocade bag and said “if the lord of the castle enshrines me with 500kg of rice on the 26th night of every month, I will protect the castle from fire and enemy.” The deity is still enshrined in the castle rooftop to this day, and it is believed that because of this reason the castle has been able to survive as the oldest castle of Japan in its original form.

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The Moon-Viewing Room. Currently only two castles, Okayama and Matsumoto, have a moon-viewing wing.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the people of Matsumoto, the castle is still standing and keeps its history alive.

Information

Access: A 15-min walk or a 5-min bus ride from Matsumoto station (JR Line)
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm (doors close at 4:30pm)
Admission: Adults : 610 yen (Adults), 300 yen (Elementary School to High School students)
Closed: From December 29th until January 3rd
*Free English volunteer guides are available!

Big lunch with great value in Shibuya’s back streets

Having our office in Shibuya means that there is a plethora of lunch options for WAttention staff to choose from and thus we are always on the lookout for value for money restaurants that offer satisfying lunches.

Yesterday we discovered a new restaurant called Café Restaurant M.Nature Aoyama, which is located in the back streets of Shibuya, right across the street from Aoyama Gakuin University.

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We walked into a serene interior filled with fresh greenery. It was like stepping into a little oasis, away from the hustle and bustle of Shibuya. The concept of the restaurant is to offer safe and healthy meals for customers.

Their lunch menu features a total of three different main dishes. You can choose between pasta (900 yen), a salad (900 yen) or the daily special (1,000 yen).

Yesterday’s daily special was Omurice, an omelette filled with fried rice and topped with ketchup. The eggs were soft and creamy, a perfect match for the fried rice. The set also included a salad, a drink and a dessert as well. The amount was huge, I almost couldn’t finish it!

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Salad, Omurice and Gateau chocolat for dessert

Everything was very delicious and our stomachs were comfortably full with yummy goodies!
They also offer a wide range of cakes from NY style cheese cake to orange & spinach pound cake. Maybe next time we will try their cake set!

Information

Café Restaurant M.Nature Aoyama
Hours: 11:30am – 11pm (Mon. – Fri.), 12:00 – 11pm (Sat. & public holidays)
Access: A 8-min walk from JR Shibuya Station (East Exit), a 7-min walk from Omotesando Station (Exit B1)
Address: Luka Building B1, Shibuya 2-2-3, Shibuya-ku, 150-0002 Tokyo
URL: http://mnature.jp

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Picturesque Matsumoto (5) – Ukiyo-e Museum –

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Ukiyo-e, also known as Japanese woodblock prints, became a cultural phenomenon during the Edo era (1603-1868). But now they are admired around the world and many Ukiyo-e enthusiasts spend time and money to collect as many as they can to get their hands on.

One of the passionate collectors was Mr. Sakai, the second richest merchant in Matsumoto, Nagano prefecture. His extensive collection included paintings, scrolls and art books. But among which were about 100,000 of pristine Ukiyo-e prints. Thanks to the family’s generosity, the prints have been made available to the general public and the Ukiyo-e Museum was established in 1982 in the city of Matsumoto. There, you can admire and learn everything about Ukiyo-e: from their sense of design to delicate colors, and of course, how they are made.

So, how are Ukiyo-e made? 
The Ukiyo-e prints are the results of a collaborative effort of three artisans; an artist, a woodblock cutter and a printer. Unlike the modern machine-made prints, these prints require several woodblocks, sometimes dozens of blocks to produce. So, let’s look at the process of making an Ukiyo-e print step by step.

Tools
First the artist draws his picture onto a piece of paper, this is later traced to a thin and partially transparent piece of mulberry paper. The picture is then transferred to a piece of cherry wood so the outlines are visible. A carver, called a horishi, uses different tools to cut out the image from the woodblock. This takes special skill and years of training as some lines are very small and intricate. The woodblock cutter also has to make sure he does not break the piece of wood, or he has to start all over again. First, he makes one woodblock to print the outline of the picture in black.
Colors
Ukiyo-e used to be full-black pictures. It is only during the early 18th century that colors were added. This made the process longer and more complicated, but the effects are stunning! Brushes to apply the ink to the woodblock are made from horsehair and smoothed using shark skin. The Baren is a unique tool specially invented for woodblock printing. It is made with thin bamboo ropes and multiple layers of papers sheathed in a bamboo leaf.

applying color layer by layerDifferent colorsLayer by layer
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For a picture with many colors, separate woodblocks have to be made for each color used. Once the blocks were made, the printer had a lot of flexibility in changing and choosing colors. Of course the artist designed a main image with specific colors in mind, but now new colors could also be used.

The paper is aligned on the block and the printing happens color by color and block by block. The principle in Ukiyo-e is that you start from the lightest colors and finish with the darkest. However, the outline is always done first.

The print always needs to be aligned perfectly on the block and the printer has to adjust the positioning many times. If the alignment is wrong and the colors are not inside the black outline, then the print needs to be made all over again.

Using the Baren, the printer adjusts the pressure and decides just how much of the color he wants transferred. This results in a gradation effect or lighter imprints of the colors. It’s truly a craft on its own and groundbreaking prints were always collaboration between the artist and the printer.

Ukiyo-e Oiran

These prints were made by the hundreds and were very popular among the general populace of old Japan. Looking at Ukiyo-e prints with many colors, you can really admire the effort and craftsmanship that went into producing these pieces of art.

At the Ukiyo-e Museum in Matsumoto you can take a closer look at the process and the tools used to make Ukiyo-e. And of course, don’t forget to admire all the prints, which give you a glimpse of daily life during the Edo period.

Museum Inside

Information

Address: Shinkiri 2206-1, Shimadachi, Matsumoto, Nagano
Access: A 15-min walk from Matsumoto Railway Kamikochi line Ohniwa station or a 7-min taxi ride from Matsumoto Station (JR line)
Hours: 10am – 5pm, closed on Mondays (open on National Holiday-Mondays, closed on the following Tuesdays)
Admission: 1,050 yen (Adults) / 530 yen (Elementary School to High School students)

The Museum is located beside the Japanese Court and Open Air Architectural Museum (Rekishi-no-sato). 

Picturesque Matsumoto (4) – Daio Wasabi Farm –

You know wasabi as that green thing they serve with your Sushi, but do you know how it’s grown? 32km north from the center of Matsumoto City is a 15 hectares wasabi farm that has been in operation since 1915. Its location and prosperity is no coincidence, as the fresh Alps water provides the most ideal conditions for the perfect wasabi.

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Wasabi is a fickle root and takes a lot of effort to grow. If the leaves are damaged the whole growth process of the plant can slow down. The root needs constant caring since it requires plenty of fresh water. Furthermore, the plant can take up to three years to grow for the flavor to fully develop. This is why some wasabi can be very expensive. But for those who love Sushi with wasabi, it’s worth the wait and money.

During the warmer months with plenty of sunshine, farmers cover the wasabi with black nets so the sun doesn’t damage their leaves. The temperature of the water at Daio Wasabi Farm is kept at a constant 13°C all year.

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Wasabi

But the farm is not the only reason why visitors come to this area. There are beautiful walking trails between the fields where you can take in the fresh air and admire the crystal clear water from the Japanese Alps. Near the farm stands the Daio Shrine which enshrines the spirit of ancient local hero Hachimen Daio. It’s no wonder the farm was named after him.

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All the parts of the wasabi are harvested and processed for consumption. The restaurant and food stalls near the farm offer all kinds of food with wasabi: From the popular wasabi soba noodles to refreshing wasabi ice cream. If that’s not enough wasabi for you, stop by the gift shop and surprise your friends with some wasabi beer, wasabi chocolate, wasabi crackers, etc…

wasabi food

If you want to spice up your journey, come over to Daio Wasabi Farm where you can try all things Wasabi.

Information

Access: A 10-min taxi ride from Hotaka Station (JR Oito Line). Rental bikes (15-min) are also available in front of Hotaka station for 200 yen/hour.
Admission: Free
Hours: 8:45am – 5:30pm (April – October), 9am – 4:30pm (November – March)
URL: http://www.daiowasabi.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Charles in Asakusa, Nihonbashi & Kichijoji

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan. Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column!

We received a request from a French man, Charles, who is working as an intern in Japan. He wanted to experience something that locals do. This time, we, Yuko Harayama and myself, Yuka Takada, strolled around Tokyo with Charles. We met up with him in front of Kaminari-mon Gate in Asakusa.

First, we headed to Hanayashiki, the oldest amusement park in Japan. In operation since 1853, Hanayashiki has continued to develop and promote new attractions and events over the years. We got there in five minutes from the gate and he looked excited to see that there were so many attractions in such a small area, even though I had told him about the scale of the park in advance. Hanayashiki might be completely different from what foreign tourists expect. But I assure you that you can still enjoy the taste of its old atmosphere. Unfortunately, we couldn’t ride the most famous roller coaster because it was under maintenance, but we had a good time enjoying other attractions and taking pictures.

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Next, we walked towards Nakamise-street. As we strolled around, we found “omikuji” or fortune-telling paper strips. Charles had never tried it yet, so we all each drew one. Charles got Kichi, which means good luck in Japanese. When you draw bad luck, it is a Japanese custom to fold up the strip of paper and attach it to a wall of metal wires alongside other bad fortunes, or a pine tree in the temple or shrine grounds. None of us got the bad fortunes, so we didn’t do it, but if you get it, you should try! It is said that it will bring you a better fortune.

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Then, we headed towards the station through Nakamise-street. We took a train to Nihonbashi to have Hiyashi-chuka for lunch. Chuka means Chinese, so people tend to think of it as a Chinese food, but in fact, it originated in Japan. We all ordered Hiyashi-chuka with sesame sauce. The name of the shop was Sapporo-ya, a ramen shop, which is known among locals. Although he seemed to have difficulty eating noodles with chopsticks, it was really tasty, and for him, as a French guy, its flavor was acceptable. I heard it was his first time to eat Hiyashi-chuka so I hope he liked it.

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After we had lunch, we moved to Kichijo-ji station by train. There are so many things to see in Kichijo-ji. First, we went to Inogashira-park, and then, headed to one of the famous shopping arcades called Sun-road.
Inogashira-park has many attractions such as a zoo, aquarium, and place where vendors, musicians, artists and street performers gather. The park also contains a small shrine. There was a place to experience Zeniarai. Zeniarai means purifying money. It is said that if you wash your money with purified water, it will multiply! Charles looked shaken up by this conduct, but he enjoyed it and wished it would bring him much money!

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After strolling along the shopping arcade and taking a short drink break, we took one last picture together and said goodbye.

That is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide.
We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!!

Picturesque Matsumoto (3) – Narai Juku –

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Walking along this street makes me feel like a traveler from the Edo period (1603-1868). Narai Juku in Nagano prefecture was the thirty-fourth of the sixty-nine stations of the Nakasendo, one of the old five main roads between Tokyo and Kyoto. Back in the day, it took more than two weeks to walk the whole way, naturally, there were many station towns catering to weary travelers. The efforts to preserve Narai Juku street is clearly shown in every detail and the visitors can appreciate the benefits. Electricity cables are hidden, and cars are forbidden during the day.

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In contrast to the famous Tokaido route that runs along the coastline, the Nakasendo goes inland along mountain trails. What’s interesting about this street is that it’s built along a slightly curved road. This technique was often used in olden days so that all the storefronts were visible from travelers when they are looking straight ahead. This made it easier for inns and shopkeepers to advertise. There are still many traditional inns and ryokans in service, giving tourists an original experience.

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Popular souvenirs from Narai Juku were wood products and lacquerware. You can still find these in one of the many shops along the street. There is also a hidden statue of the Christian Virgin Mary at Taihoji Temple. The statue depicts the typical image of the Vergin Mary, caring for a child with a cross. During the Edo period Christianity was forbidden with severe punishments and Christians had to go in hiding for fear of their lives. This statue was most likely discovered by the Tokugawa authorities and decapitated.

Edo style houses line the street and create an air of the past. An interesting aspect of the Edo houses is that even though they have a second floor, no one lived there or held shop. In old Japan, the class system was still very much alive and the Samurai were at the top, right under the government officials of the Shogunate. When a high ranking Samurai would pass the street, people would go upstairs to the balcony to observe. Touching a Samurai’s sword, even by accident, or looking at him in a wrong way could result in a punishment or even death. Of course people did use the second floor for other things, but it was there as a precaution.

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Halfway down the street, you will see a small well filled with spring water. Coming straight from the Japanese Alps and purified by the mountains, this water is not only safe to drink but also is tasty. Since many travelers used to stop at Narai Juku either before or after climbing a mountain pass, pure mountain water was a precious source of energy and strength for the road to come. You can tell how dangerous the mountain path was by looking at two hundred statues of Jizo in a nearby graveyard, which were brought together to commemorate those who died on the Nakasendo.

If you want to feel the atmosphere of a traditional Edo period street, this area is made for you! Take your time to relax and feel yourself falling into a time slip.

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Information

Access: A 3-min walk from Narai Station (JR Chuo Main Line)
The Information Center has free English maps available.

Little Mermaid themed Sweets Buffet at Keio Plaza Hotel

Since the sweets buffet events are very popular among Japanese young women, the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku adds to that trend and prepares a special menu every month. The buffet’s main theme for this summer is the “Little Mermaid” and between June and August you can enjoy refreshing desserts and cakes. For June a range of blueberry flavored dishes are prepared, for July special peach flavored desserts are planned, and the main flavor for August’s menu will be mango.

Wattention staff tried out the buffet on Sunday afternoon at the Hotel’s restaurant “Jurin.” The beautiful ocean-themed decoration and the LED board which highlighted a selection of desserts raised our spirits.

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Colored roses, blue and green candles, as well as hydrangea flowers which represent the rainy season in Japan are used for decorations.

We entered the restaurant and were guided to our table in front of the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the garden.

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The event starts at 3pm, so we had the chance to take a closer look at the already set up buffet and take some pictures.

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We received an explanation about the buffet and the time limit, as well as the drink menu.

The all-you-can-drink menu is in Japanese, but the staff will explain everything in English as well. You can choose between a variety of coffee, iced beverages and juice. Regarding the tea menu, a self service counter is set up to prepare your own pot of tea.

At 3pm we were allowed to enter the buffet and lined up in front of the mouth-watering delicacies.
DSC_0124Everything is carefully prepared, looks cute and tastes delicious.

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Round shaped rusk and Danish pastry with blueberry filling.

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Cold and iced desserts are served as well.
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From left, Mermaid Blue Sky Gelee, Pasta in Tropical Soup, Blue Soup and Honey Tiramisu.

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Rare cheesecake tart.
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Blueberry waffle sandwich and rice flour role-cake.

Beside desserts, you can choose a variety of savory dishes as well, like sandwiches, mini burgers, pasta, fried chicken, fries or variations of bread.

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DSC_0038Everything was very delicious and we had the chance to experience new flavor compositions as well. We are excited for the next month buffet!
You will receive a point card during the payment.

The card is valid for one year. If you collect 5 stamps, the next sweets buffet is for free! This is a really good deal and made us want to come back for the next buffet.

Information

Jurin – All Day Dining (Sweets Buffet – Little Mermaid)
Date: June until August
Time: 3pm – 5:30pm (Last Order 5pm)
Price: 3,800 yen (Adults), 2,600 yen (Children between 4-12 years old)
A reservation is recommended. Tel: 03-3344-0111 (English & Japanese OK)
Address: Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo, Main Tower 2F, 2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku,
Shinjuku
Access: Shinjuku Station (West Exit – JR, private railway, subway) -> 5min walk; Toei Oedo Line –> Tochomae Station (Exit B1)
URL: Sweets Buffet
URL: Restaurant “Jurin”

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Kamakura Ajisai – Hydrangea Tour (3) : Meigetsu-in

Our next destination after visiting Tokei-ji and Jochi-ji is Meigetsu-in (明月院) which is popular for its Hydrangea and flower garden. We left Jochi-ji and reached the temple grounds of Meigetsu-in after a 10 minute walk.

The little hike leading to the entrance of the temple was already covered by blooming Hydrangea flowers and fresh greenery.

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A romantic temple of flowers, rabbits and the moon

We reached the Meigetsu-in, paid 500 yen entrance fee and lined up to enter the Hydrangea garden.

Once you step inside, you will know why it´s called Ajisai-dera, the Hydrangea Temple. There are more than 2500 Hydrangea shrubs all featuring beautiful blue colors known as Meigetsu-in blue. They are in full bloom during the rainy season in June.

Meigetsu-in was built by Uesugi Norikata (1335-1394) in 1383. It used to be a part of a larger temple complex named Zenko-ji (禅興寺), which was then abolished during the anti-Buddhist movement after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, leaving Meigetsu-in as an individual temple.

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Every corner of the temple grounds is decorated with beautiful Hydrangea flowers. Even Hydrangea ema are available during this time. Ema (絵馬) are little wooden plaques, on which you write your own wish. Then you hang them on a board, where the specific god of the temple or shrine receives your wish.

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Inside the temple grounds you can see several small statues of rabbits, as well as real rabbits kept in cages. This is because there is a deep rooted connection between the temple´s name and the moon. Meigetsu means “harvest moon” or “bright moon.”  When you gaze at the moon, some see faces, others see figures or hands. But here in Japan, people see a rabbit pounding a rice cake.

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Beside the beautiful Hydrangea flowers, you can enjoy a stroll through the bamboo forest, as well as a cup of green tea in their Japanese style teahouse. Completing the Zen atmosphere of the place is the austere serenity of the Karesansui (枯山水), a traditional Japanese dry landscape garden.

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Information

Meigetsu-in
Hours: 9am – 4:00pm (8:30am – 5pm in June)
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen in June)
Access:  A 10-min walk from Kita-Kamakura Station (Shonan-Shinjuku Line and Yokosuka Line)
Address: Meigetsu-in, 189 Yamanouchi, Kamakura-shi, 247-0062 Kanagawa

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Kamakura Ajisai – Hydrangea Tour (2) : Jochi-ji

In the previous article, we visited Tokei-ji, a peaceful temple, which used to be a safe haven for women. Now on to our next stop, Jochi-ji (浄智寺).

It is located near Tokei-ji and it takes you 4min by foot to go there.
Since the outside scenery was so beautiful, covering so many kinds of Hydrangea, we decided not to enter the temple grounds and focus on the surrounding area.

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The entrance to this temple has so many different shades of green, turning this place into a mystical relic that takes you back in time.

Jochi-ji is a Buddhist Zen temple and was founded in 1283 by Hojo Munemasa (1253-1281) and his son Hojo Morotoki (1275 – 1311). The temple grounds used to be much bigger, including 11 buildings with 500 people living there. Due to the Great Kanto earthquake of September 1st 1923, nearly every building collapsed and the remaining ones you can see now are all rebuilt after the disaster.

The entrance of Jochi-ji features a Shoromon, a two-storied combination of a gate and a belfry, which holds a bell that is close to 7 centuries old.

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All these beautiful Hydrangea flowers are situated around the entrance of the temple grounds.

Information

Jochi-ji
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: 200 yen (Adults), 100 yen (Primary and Middle School Students)
Access:  A 8-min walk from Kita-Kamakura Station (Shonan-Shinjuku Line and Yokosuka Line)
Address: Jochi-ji, 1402 Yamanouchi, Kamakura-shi, 247-0062 Kanagawa

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Experience the world of Shakuhachi

Despite its simple structure, Shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute, conveys the full range of tones, melodies and emotion. The following event is a rare opportunity to listen to the Shakuhachi virtuoso, Akikazu Nakamura.

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Akikazu Nakamura’s Seventeenth Recital
The world of the komuso shakuhachi
―The Myoan Shinpo school, the evolution of Sanya―

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Akikazu Nakamura’s shakuhachi performance is highly praised not only in traditional Japanese music komuso shakuhachi, but also in jazz and rock. Its musicality is also well-recognized among artistic scenes of contemporary improvisation.

Komuso (monks of nothingness) pertains to the order of monks who were known to travel throughout Japan while practicing meditation through the playing of shakuhachi. They are characterized by their unique head covers that resemble an overturned basket, said to be a sign of suppression of self ego that also helps focus the attention of the listener away from the player’s emotions and desires, towards the enchanting tune of the shakuhachi.

Now you can enjoy the same meditative and calming effects through this recital of shakuhachi zen music on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. It will be performed by Akikazu Nakamura who is considered the leading musician for circular breathing, multiple stopping, overtones, and the ancient Japanese breathing technique Missoku. He has performed in 40 different countries, 150 different cities, and continues to play around the world.

In this concert, the shakuhachi virtuoso will bring back to life the ancient and mysterious music of Komuso and its mystical world. Enjoy the fascinating play of tones and silences by Akikazu Nakamura.

Information

Akikazu Nakamura Disc
Date: Tuesday, July 5th
Time: 7pm(doors open at 6:30pm)
Location: Yomiuri Otemachi Hall
Access: Otemachi station Exit C3 – Toei Subway Mita Line
Tickets: 4,000 yen (Presale), 4,500 yen (At the door)

For presales or inquiries, feel free to contact Office Sound Pot by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 03-5374-8373 (domestic) or 81-5374-8373 (international).

The Town of Sawara, Where Time Stands Still

More often than not, many travelers get stuck at the airport. Whether it’s an inconvenient layover or a flight cancellation, many find themselves in a situation where they have plenty of time on their hand but nothing to do. For those who have time to spare at Narita Airport, WAttention has the perfect itinerary that is sure to entertain!

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Picturesque scenery of Sawara

Stepping into the past
Only a 45 minute train ride from the airport lies the town of Sawara. At first glance this quaint old town seems like nothing out of ordinary, but once you step inside you’ll be amazed by its rich culture and history. From a century-old sake brewery to an old-fashion boat ride, the city is full of treasures from the past. It will come as no surprise that the area is known as an “open air museum.”

Authentic architecture
Old wooden houses line the main street of Sawara and set the tone of the town. Many of the houses are well over a hundred years old. Among them is the house of Tadataka Ino who drew the first map of Japan using surveying instruments. He walked far and wide to accurately survey the true shape of Japan.

You will have the rare opportunity to see inside these historical houses as some stores are still in business, including the Toraya confectionery shop and the Fukushin Kimono store.

In 1996, the town was designated as an important preservation district of historical buildings, the first designation in the Kanto region.

Producing Quality Sake
The town is in close vicinity to the Tone River, the second longest river in Japan. Thanks to an abundant supply of fresh water, Sawara flourished as a sake town producing a wide variety of sake. Tokun Brewery, one of the two remaining breweries in the area is open to public and still producing high-quality sake.

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The View from the River
Riding a boat on the Ono River is one of the best ways to enjoy a scenic view of Sawara. The boat moves at a leisurely pace giving you more than enough time to appreciate the atmosphere and all the architectural details. As you glide down the river, you’ll be able to get a good look at several traditional wooden bridges that span across the river.

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Visiting Sacred Ground
The Katori Jingu Shrine is a well-known “power spot,” a place that gives spiritual energy and helps visitors rejuvenate. But you don’t have to be a believer of power spots to appreciate this sacred ground. The shrine holds many treasures and its main building is now a designated cultural property.

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The shrine’s vermillion gate.

So there you have it, just a short train ride from Narita Airport, this “open air museum” offers you an experience you weren’t expecting to have with your “spare” time. It’s a little-known town among travelers but you certainly won’t forget it. Next time you are near Narita, why not enjoy a little time travel?

Information

Access: 10-min walk from Sawara Station (JR Narita Line)
From Narita Airport 2 Station, take JR Sobu Line or Narita Line to Narita Station, then take JR Narita Line to Sawara Sation.

House of Tadataka Ino
Address: Sawara-I 1900-1, Katori, Chiba
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

Tokun Sake Brewery
Address: Sawara-I 627, Katori, Chiba
Hours:10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Katori Jingu Shrine
Address: Sawara-I 1697-1, Katori, Chiba
Hours: Always open
Admission: Free

Akashiya Fude Pen with Lacquer Decoration “Dragon”

Akashiya handmade natural bamboo fude pens

Each Akashiya natural bamboo fude pen is made by hand, and a 14-step process is involved in the selection and treatment of the most suitable animal hairs for the brush. Due to this process and the use of natural materials, each pen is unique in terms of width, shape and colour. At the same time, to meet the needs of a modern and mobile lifestyle, the touch of a genuine calligraphy brush has been combined with the convenience of a refillable cartridge pen. This fusion of traditional craft and modern technology presents you with the best of both worlds.

Akashiya Fude Pen with Lacquer Decoration “Dragon”

$165.00

Buy from store

See other Akashiya products: http://wattention.com/articles/akashiya-fude-pens

Kamakura Ajisai – Hydrangea Tour (1) : Tokei-ji

On Saturday, June 11th, Wattention staff visited Kamakura to take a look at the beautiful Hydrangea flowers. Rainy season in Japan comes together with these flower blossoms and the shrine and temple areas in Kamakura where they grow attract thousands of people wanting to test out their photographic talents.

Our tour for this day: Tokei-ji -> Jochi-ji -> Meigetsu-in -> Tsurugaoka Hachimangu -> sunset view at the beach of Kamakura.

The tour starts in Kita-Kamakura . We left the station and headed to our first stop, the Tokei-ji Temple (東慶寺) which was just a 4min walk away. We paid a 200 yen entrance fee, and stepped onto the sacred ground.

Historical Importance and Natural Beauty

Tokei-ji was founded by nun Kakusan Shido-ni in 1285 after the death of her husband. During this period of time, it was common practice for women to become a nun after their husband’s death.

Back then it was easy for men to divorce their wives, but unfortunately women usually could not divorce their husbands. Tokei-ji temple became a safe haven for many women, sheltering abused wives who fled from their husbands to break ties. The temple authorizes the women to be officially divorced after having stayed there for three years.

During the Edo Period (1603-1868) about 2,000 women entered Tokei-ji to seek shelter and this tradition continued for almost 600 years. Due to a new law which got approved in 1873, the temple had to hand over its authority to handle divorces. Now the Court of Justice takes care of these matters. In 1902 Tokei-ji changed from a nunnery into a monastery. Up till then, men were not allowed to enter this place.


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You can enjoy a variety of Hydrangea flowers, which come in different colors and shapes.

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Behind the temple buildings is a graveyard. Many celebrities are buried there, among them are Oda Mikio (1905–1998), the first Japanese athlete who won a gold medal at the Olympic Games 1928 in Amsterdam for the “triple jump event,” and Daimatsu Hirobumi (1921-1978) a politician and the trainer of the Japanese Woman Volleyball National Team during the Olympic Summer Games of 1964.
We were surprised that this temple was not very crowded. After your stroll you can also buy some souvenirs and talismans, as well as enjoy a cup of green tea in the garden while viewing the Japanese iris.

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Let´s head to the next stop, Jochi-ji temple!

Information

Tokei-ji
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm (Mar. – Oct.), 8:30am – 4pm (Nov.-Feb.)
Admission: 200 yen (Adults), 100 yen (Primary – Middle School Students)
Access: A 4-min walk from Kita-Kamakura Station (Shonan-Shinjuku Line, Yokosuka Line)
Address: Tokei-ji, 1367 Yamanouchi, Kamakura-shi, 247-0062 Kanagawa

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Fancy Afternoon Tea in Tokyo’s Hilton Hotel

13321016_1020715364649038_1822880850_oSeveral times a year, Hilton Hotel Tokyo holds a special themed sweets buffet and afternoon tea. This is a rare opportunity to experience Hilton chefs’ superb culinary skills and creativity.

At the moment, they are offering an “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” themed sweets buffet that takes place between May 23rd and August 27th. Wattention staff went to try out the “Afternoon Tea with Alice” at the “Bar & Lounge ZATTA” on the 2nd floor of Hilton Hotel Tokyo.

We were guided to a nice seat near the panorama window, and since it was a Saturday, our afternoon was accompanied by a live guitar performance.

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The Afternoon Tea includes an all-you-can-drink set, which serves a wide range of tasty beverages. You can choose between different kinds of tea, coffee or iced drinks.

2After 20 minutes we received the ètagére full of goodies. Lemontea Madeleines and Orange Macarons on the first tray. Chocolate Brownies and Orange Marmalade Cream-Cheese Muffins on the second tray. Mini Scones with different creams and Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes on the third tray.

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The savory dishes are placed on the fourth tray. Gazpacho, Corn and Bean Salad, Mushroom Quiche and Cesar’s Chicken Baguette-Sandwiches.

You can order a refill of the sweets as often as you like within a span of two hours. With extra 1,000 yen, you can also get ZATTA’s original “Drink Me” set which includes 6 different beverages. If you are a fan of “Alice in Wonderland,” we would definitely recommend this buffet. This is a grown-ups version of Alice’s tea party: sophisticated, elegant, and of course, delicious.

[ Information ]
Bar & Lounge ZATTA – Afternoon Tea with Alice
Address: Hilton Hotel Tokyo 2F, 6-6-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku
Date: May 23 (Monday) – Aug. 27 (Saturday)
Time: 2:30pm – 6pm
Price: about 4,000 yen per person
Live Music: Friday to Sunday & Public Holiday, 1:30pm-5:30pm

A reservation is recommended.
Tel: 03-5324-8039 (English & Japanese OK)

Access: A 10-min walk from Shinjuku Station, West Exit
A free Shuttle Bus service (Platform No. 21) is available in front of the Keio Deparment Store.
URL: ZATTA – Afternoon Tea with Alice

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

In Harmony with the Seasons : Kashou Day

The blessings may have been believed to be greater with sweets that depicted the beauty of nature. These customs were introduced to the Imperial Court after the Muromachi period.text & coordination/ Rieko Ido, photo/ Hajime Watanabe
The blessings may have been believed to be greater with sweets that depicted the beauty of nature. These customs were introduced to the Imperial Court after the Muromachi period.
text & coordination/ Rieko Ido, photo/ Hajime Watanabe
Prior to the Meiji period, a custom had been observed in Japan to eat sweets on the day marking Kashou. Legend has it that the custom originated with the backdrop of an epidemic that had been going around in 848 during the Heian era. Emperor Ninmyo had renamed the period Kashou and performed a ritual with an offering of 16 pieces of beautiful sweets as he prayed for the good health of his people on the 16th day of June.
While there seem to be various views on where this number 16
came from, the 16th of June in the old lunar calendar seems to fall under a full moon, or the sixteenth day of a lunar month during the peak heat of summer. Perhaps the people at the time offered prayer on the night that was brightly lit by the moon when the world was believed to be linked with the other universe, offering delectable sweets to try to ward off evil that would come from the sixteen directions of the worlds. Confectionaries had been believed to soothe the violent souls of beings from the other world.
These types of festivals were conducted in all parts of Japan during those ancient periods when the curses of vengeful spirits had been believed to cause an illness or a disaster.


Rieko Ido
A graduate of Kokugakuin University, researcher of ancient Japanese customs and knowledge, conducting technical analysis on findings to apply them to modern lifestyles. Currently teaches at Tama Art University.

Eat Vegan and Gluten-free in Shibuya

Whether you are a full-time healthy eater, gluten intolerant, or just looking for a quick way to cleanse yourself after eating that mouth-watering spicy ramen or sinfully good burger, this tiny cafe and juice bar tucked away in a backstreet in Shibuya should be your next destination!

WAttention staff tried their house salad, priced at 1,000 yen. The volume is overflowing and judging by the colorful array of vegetables, this bowl is jam-packed with much-needed vitamins and minerals.

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And since we love sweets (proven by this, this, and this article), we also tried their gluten-free muffin made from almonds, raisins, coconuts, chia seeds and oranges and we were not disappointed! Apparently they change the flavor of the muffins every few days or so since we previously had one with walnuts and bananas.

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They are also well known for their cleansing cold-pressed juices and smoothies, even providing cleansing courses where you can buy a set of bottled juice to drink in 1-5 days.

Sky High Aoyama
Hours: 10am – 7pm(12am – 5pm on Sundays)
Address: Aoyama TN Building 2-3-4 Shibuya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
URL: http://skyhigh-tokyo.jp/

Picturesque Matsumoto (2) – Norikura Snow Wall –

 

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Impressive snow walls will greet you at the top of Nagano prefecture’s Mt. Norikura. Thanks to the stable climate on the mountain, you can enjoy skiing even from May until August. The snow corridor is only open for a limited time from April to June, so be sure to check the days before your visit. On the opening day, the walls can reach an amazing height of 13 – 20 meter and the only way to witness these massive walls of nature is to take a special Norikura Snow Wall sightseeing bus. This bus makes several stops along the way, giving you the opportunity to walk to the top of the 3,026m high mountain from whatever point you choose. The bus takes you about 2,700m up, so from there you still have some walking to do.

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Obviously, seeing the snow walls is at the top of people’s priority list. But the surrounding area is equally beautiful and invites hikers for amazing adventures. During the summer there is a marathon on Mt. Norikura called the “Heavenly Marathon,” which attracts more than 1,000 runners every year. The route up to Mt. Norikura is closed off for private cars, so you can enjoy the quietness of nature. Along the road there are some restaurants where you can stop for a drink or a bite.

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The view from the final bus stop at the top of the mountain already gives you an overview of the snow walls. Wattention staff went to the snow walls in early June so they were already past their peak. But even if the walls aren’t as high as they could be, they are still an impressive sight. Not to mention that it is extremely fun to play in the snow during summer.

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Can you believe it’s June?
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During its peak, the walls can reach an impressive height!
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The rice represents Mt. Norikura’s majestic “Sword” peak.

The bus goes to and from the top about 4-5 times per day and waits at the top for an hour before going down again. The snow walls are a 2-min walk from the bus stop so you have plenty of time to observe this wonder of nature. But if you brought your skis you can spend a longer time at the top and just take the next bus down when it comes. After getting back to the bus terminal you can enjoy a plate of special Mt. Norikura curry.

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The Norikura snow wall sightseeing bus departs every 1-2 hours.

Information

Access: Take an 80-min bus ride from Matsumoto Station (JR Line) to Norikura Station. Then take the Mt. Norikura Highland Shuttle Bus (about 50-min) from Norikura Kogen.
Price: 2,500 yen for a round trip.
Hours: Departures every 1-2 hours.
URL: http://welcome.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp/contents08+index.htm

You can download this multilingual brochure  from Matsumoto City about Norikura with the best walking routes and hiking tips.

【TOKYU HANDS × WAttention】Top 5 USB Fans

TOKYU HANDS is “THE ONE-STOP SHOP” chock-full of all kind of goods such as kitchen utensils, beauty goods, stationery, bags and tools, joined by fun discoveries and surprises. Visit TOKYU HANDS and gain a better understanding of today’s Japan.
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Although it’s not officially summer in Japan, we’re experiencing the hottest year in the history of the planet. In order to stay cool and comfortable at the office, we have chosen efficient, energy saving and good looking USB fans just for you.

rankNo.1: Pieria, Slim Contact Fan

 

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The Piera Slim Compact Fan utilizes three different power sources: USB, battery and power outlet. Hidden inside the slim design is a 13 blade fan which produces a powerful airflow. You can adjust its speed between two different settings. The foldable design allows you store it flat in a drawer when not in use, freeing you from a cluttered desk space. Comes with a 1.2m USB cable. Power consumption is 2.2W (with the AC adaptor).

Product Name: Pieria, Slim Compact Fan
Price: 3,218 yen (including tax)
Category:  Fan
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Beside its simple and elegant design, you can also choose the finish from white, dark wood or natural wood to fit in with your personal decor.”

 


 

rankNo.2: Mood, Desk Stand Fan

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The Mood Desk Stand Fan is designed after an old-school desk lamp. You can adjust the angle of the head so that the breeze can blow into the direction you desire. It can be powered by via USB or a power outlet. Power consumption is 2.8W (with the AC adapter). Two speed settings are available. Comes in three different colors: blue, white, and gray.

Product Name: Mood, Desk Stand Fan
Price:  5,378 yen (including tax)
Category: Fan
WAttention Editor’s comment: ”The long neck helps to direct the air in any direction you want and the retro design is suitable for offices, homes or even retail stores.”

 


 

rankNo. 3: RHYTHM, Silky Wind II

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Don’t be fooled by its compact size. The Rhythm Silky Wind II now oscillates so that the air doesn’t blow in just one direction. The double-fan structure is another added feature in which the back fan collects fresh air and the front fan directs the airflow. The two fans inside turn in opposite directions, canceling any excess noises. This fan has all the features that users are looking for: comes with a 1m USB cable, quiet, energy saving, and oscillation.

Product Name: RHYTHM, Silky Wind II, 9ZF005RH02
Price: 3,780 yen (including tax)
Category: Fan
WAttention Editor’s Comment:  “The noise cancellation system is a great feature when using it at the office.”

 


 

rankNo. 4: Elecom, Powerful USB Fan

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For those who are looking for a powerful fan, this is a perfect solution. With a stepless speed motor, you can adjust the air volume to your exact likings. This fan has more flexibility than any of the other USB fans. You can clip it on a desk or hang it on a wall, and adjust the angle right and left and up and down. Not only that, the head oscillates as well. Comes with a 1.5m USB cable.

Product Name: Elecom, High-volume USB Fan, Black, U39BK
Price: 2,678 yen (including tax)
Category: Fan
WAttention Editor’s Comment:  “If you have a limited amount of desk space, the clip on the back and the wall hooks are a real space saver.”

 


 

rankNo. 5: Elecom, Compact USB Fan

 

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Made of an aluminum frame, this fan is tough and durable. Slip resistant rubber adds stability to the feet of the fan, making it perfect for office use. The head moves up and down, so it’s easy to adjust the airflow. You can turn it on and off while it’s plugged into a USB port. Comes with a 1m USB cable.

Product Name: Elecom, Compact USB Fan, U35WH
Price: 1,922 yen (including tax).
Category: Fan
WAttention Editor’s Comment: ”In order to survive the endless hot summer days, durability is a must.”

 


 

TOKYU HANDS -Shinjuku Store-

Times Square Building 2-8F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

WEBSITE:http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/foreign.html

スクリーンショット 2016-02-17 9.32.40

Picturesque Matsumoto (1) – Hiking in Beautiful Kamikochi –

Some of the best hiking trails in all of Japan are in the Japanese Alps in Nagano Prefecture. You can make it as adventurous as you want, climb a high mountain or take a long leisurely walk in the forest. Be prepared for raw nature, as the Kamikochi area is forbidden for personal vehicles. Access is only possible by bus or taxi. Special buses are arranged to take you to Kamikochi.

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Most hikers start from the Bus Terminal near a wooden suspension bridge called Kappabashi (the Kappa bridge). A Kappa is a mythological water creature that lives under bridges. Near this suspension bridge are several hotels, souvenir shops and restaurants. Besides these facilities and the Visitor Center, the whole area is without human interference. The trails along the Azusa river provide you with the most scenic views as you see the Japanese Alps reflected in the crystal clear water. This easy walking route is often very crowded in the summer and the best season to go is from mid May through July.

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Along the way you may encounter some monkeys and various birds. Bears do live in the area but they are rarely spotted along the trails.

Monkeys

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You can get very close to wild monkeys!

There are about ten kinds of willow species in the Kamikochi area. The higher you go the more the landscape changes and the dominant trees shift from willow to Japanese elm and Japanese larch trees. During Autumn these trees turn into beautiful hues of red and yellow, giving Kamikochi a completely different look.

Mountains

For the more adventurous hikers there are plenty of mountains to challenge. A popular mountain is Mt. Okuhotaka-dake, the third-highest mountain in all of Japan. In 2016 Kamikochi is scheduled to be open from April 15 to November 15, as it can be dangerous to climb the mountains out of season. If you want to make your hiking trip longer than a day, there are mountain huts along the trails where you can stay for around 8,000 yen per person. No need to bring food or a sleeping bag as bedding and two meals are provided. It is advised to arrive at these huts before 3pm. Of course you can stay in one of the lavish hotels or relaxing ryokans where you can enjoy natural hot spring water. It is advised to make a reservation or check availability beforehand.

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Access

There are many ways to get to Kamikochi. You can start from the nearest city, Matsumoto, but there are even buses from Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka all the way to the Kamikochi area.

From Matsumoto Station, Nagano: A local bus takes about 90 min.
From Shinjuku, Tokyo: The highway bus takes about 4h 40min.
From Nagano Station, Nagano: With highway bus takes about 2h 30min.

2 Day Pass for sightseeing in Kamikochi, Norikura and Matsumoto: 
This pass allows unlimited travel by train & bus to/from Kamikochi, Norikura-Kogen, Norikura area and the local bus in Matsumoto within 2 days. This is the best deal if you want to sight-see not only in Kamikochi but also in Norikura and Matsumoto.
Price: 5,150 yen (adult), Children: 2,580 yen (children)
Pass is Available in the Matsumoto Bus Terminal.

Read also: Cool Summer Treks Around Tokyo (1): Kamikochi in Nagano Prefecture

Nihonbashi Information

Nihonbashi, a place where the traditions of old Japan are still alive. Take advantage of the helpful information center and convenient shuttle bus service to explore the city.

Check out the latest information on Nihombashi here:
http://nihombashi-tokyo.com/

Operated by Monthly Nihombashi, a community magazine that knows Nihombashi inside out, the site is packed full of local history, people, shops and more.
Available in English, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Korean and Japanese.

Metrolink Nihonbashi

Free Shuttle Around Town

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Get from Tokyo Station to all the main sites mentioned in this article using this free shuttle bus service. The buses run from 10am to 8pm every 10 minutes and you can track the location of the next bus online
http://www.hinomaru.co.jp/metrolink/nihonbashi/ (Japanese only)

Shuttle Map
  1. Tokyo Sta. Yaesu Exit
  2. Gofukubashi
  3. Subway Nihonbashi Sta.
  4. Subway Mitsukoshi-mae Sta.
  5. Mitsui Memorial Museum
  6. JR Shin-Nihonbashi Sta.
  7. Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-chome
  8. Nihonbashi South
  9. Nihonbashi 2-chome
  10. Nihonbashi 3-chome
  11. Subway Takara-cho Sta.
  12. Kyobashi 2-chome
  13. Kyobashi 1-chome

Nihonbashi Information Center

For Savvy Sightseeing

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Speak to the multilingual concierge staff available here to get insider tips on where best to shop, eat and sightsee to make the best of your Nihonbashi trip. The souvenir shop here stocks everything from food to modern accessories inspired by Edo chic, and the Ippin Café serves up green tea and traditional snacks from popular historical shops, perfect for a quick pick-me-up.

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Special Offer for WAttention Readers
Present a copy of our newest magazine at the Nihonbashi Information Center (COREDO Muromachi 1, B1) to receive a set of coupons that will entitle you to offers such as a 5% discount at KIYA, 8% off at Hashicho, a free gift at Hakuza, etc. at all 33 shops in COREDO Muromachi.

Spot Info

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Nihonbashi Information Center
Address: COREDO Muromachi 1
Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-2-1 Chuo
Hours: 10am – 9pm

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Kiya

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Designed by Mandai Architects

Slice of Edo Life
Kiya has been specializing in cutlery and knives since 1792 and its shop banner and logo can be spotted in historic art pieces depicting Nihonbashi in 1805. Here you can find traditional handmade knives and knives using modern materials and designs. Unlike Western kitchen knives, there are many specialized knives used for different ingredients, be it vegetable, fish, eel or meats. From steel to stainless knives, there’s sure to be one to fit the cut.

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Designed by Mandai Architects
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Kiya Haou-Kamakata 180mm: 20,000 yen

Shop Info

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Cutlery Kiya
Address: Nihombashi Muromachi 2-2-1 COREDO Muromachi 1F, Chuo
Hours: 10am – 8pm (Closed on Jan. 01)
URL: http://www.kiya-hamono.co.jp/english/

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Ninben

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Stock Up On This
Established in 1699, Ninben has been known as the leading brand in dried bonito flakes for centuries. Stock made using the fermented bonito is said to be origin of Japanese flavors. Now you can recreate these flavors at home with handy flavored-soups and seasonings here, which also make great souvenirs. See how the professionals shave bonito into flakes at live demonstrations here.

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Nihombashi Kezuriba: See bonito blocks being shaved here and enjoy the fragrance of fresh bonito flakes.

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Mazefuri (furikake) seasoning powder set of 3: 1,850 yen

Nihonbashi Dashi Bar Hanare
Experience real “UMAMI”

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Located at COREDO Muromachi 2 is a newly opened restaurant, Nihonbashi Dashi Bar Hanare, where you can get savory cuisine full of seasonal ingredients and flavor.

Shop Info

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Ninben Original Nihonbashi Store
Address: Nihonbashi Muromachi, 2-2-1 COREDO Muromachi 1 1F, Chuo
Hours: 10am -8pm (same rest days as COREDO)
URL: http://www.ninben.jp/

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Ninben Nihonbashi Dashi Bar
Address: Nihonbashi Muromachi, 2-3-1 COREDO Muromachi 2 1F, Chuo
Hours: 11am -11pm (Last order 10pm)

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Nishikawa

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Not Resting On Laurels

Bedclothes and sleeping goods maker Nishikawa has been in Nihonbashi for over 400 years since the Muromachi era. Nishikawa has history of pacesetting innovation, dating back from improving the mosquito net and futons centuries ago to modern ergonomic mattresses today. Nishikawa provides sleep consulting using the latest technology to provide sleeping goods best suited to individual needs.

For a fully customized pillow fine-tuned to your personal measurements
Get a fully customized pillow fine-tuned to your personal measurements and preferences

Nishikawa craftsmen combine tradition with technology.
Nishikawa craftsmen combine tradition with technology.
Nishikawa’s AIR mattress is one example of Nishikawa’s pioneering spirit.
Nishikawa’s AIR mattress is one example of Nishikawa’s pioneering spirit.

Shop Info

店外
Nihombashi Nishikawa
Address: Nihonbashi 1-5-3 Nihombashi Nishikawa Bld, Chuo
Hours: 10:30am – 6:30pm

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Nihonbashi Saruya

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Get Picky
This is the only handmade toothpick specialty store not only in Japan, but in the world, with a history dating back over 300 years.

The toothpicks come in a special box made of Paulownia.
The toothpicks come in a special box made of Paulownia.

These individually-carved toothpicks are made from high-quality fragrant wood and used for eating wagashi during tea ceremonies or as an auspicious gift.

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Shop Info

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Nihonbashi Saruya
Address: Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-12-5, Chuo
Hours: 10am – 6pm (closed Sun, Holidays)

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Haibara

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The Write Stuff
Now run by the 7th generation owner, this washi (Japanese paper) specialist has been along Nihombashi for over 200 years. The exquisite paper products here will make you feel like rediscovering sensory pleasures of writing.

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Chiyogami Paper Box 864 yen (tax included)

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Uchiwa Fan with Stencil-Dyed Paper 4,806 yen (tax included)

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Haibara Notebook: 1,512 yen (tax included)

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Shop Info

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Haibara
Address: Nihombashi 2-7-1 Tokyo Nihombashi Tower, Chuo
Hours: 10am – 6:30pm (5:30pm on weekends)

Bunmeido Nihombashi Café – Fit For Royal Tea –

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Adjacent to the cafe is the Bunmeido Gallery where works of Shinsui Ito are displayed.

Bunmeido started in Nagasaki Prefecture over 100 years ago and is the most famous castella cake maker in Japan. While this cake is said to originate from Castilla, Spain, no doubt the Japanese have perfected the recipe to rich and moist perfection. Head to the Nihombashi Café for a taste of this confectionery which is also served to the royal family of Japan.

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Bunmeido Cocktail in classic Japanese kiriko glass: 630 yen (tax included)

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Bunmeido Premium Castella: 880 yen (tax included)

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Freshly Baked “Mikasa” Pancake: 780 yen (tax included)

Shop Info

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Bunmeido Nihombashi Café
Address: Muromachi 1-13-7 Nihombashi, Chuo
Hours: 11am – 11pm

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Kuroeya

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Lasting Lacquerware
This lacquerware shop harks back over 300 years to the Edo era, and preserves techniques from the Kuroe Village in what is now known as Wakayama Prefecture, famed for its lacquer production. A piece from here will last for generations to come.

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Wine Cooler, 15,000 yen
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Hand Mirror, Red
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Ornamental Plate

Shop Info

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Nihonbashi Kuroeya
Address: Nihombashi 1-2-6 Kuroeya Kokubun Bld 2F, Chuo
Hours: 9am – 6pm (closed weekends, holidays )
URL: http://kuroeya.tokyo/

Omotenashi Nihonbashi

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Get a taste of authentic Japanese cultural activities such as tea ceremonies and geisha performances, as well as tours led by international tour guides.

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Time to Geisha

See a geisha performance and try traditional games
Approx. 60 min.
5,500 yen


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Kimono Rental & Dressing

Walk around Nihonbashi in a traditional kimono
Fitting from 10:30am to 3:30pm, return by 6pm
5,500 yen


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The Way of Tea

Discover the world of tea ceremony
Approx. 60 min.
5,500 yen


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Best of Japan Gourmet Tour

Taste food from across Japan
Approx. 90 mins.
from 1,000 yen


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Culture Experience Tour & Lunch

Find out about local tradition and culture
Approx. 150 min.
From 5,500 yen


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Origami Workshop

Make your own paper crane
Approx. 30 min.
500 yen


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Design Your Own Hanko!

Make a name stamp in Japanese
Approx. 60 min.
2,000 yen

Info

案内所スタッフ小
OMOTENASHI NIHONBASHI
Nihonbashi Information Center
Address: COREDO Muromachi 1, B1
Tel: 03-3242-2334 (English, 10am – 7pm)
Hours: 10am – 9pm
URL: http://www.nihonbashi-info.jp/omotenashi/

Tastes of Tradition

For an affordable taste of Edo flavors passed on through the generations, stop by for lunch at one of these classic shops that preserve the methods of old.

SUSHI

Sushi as we know it today first developed in the Edo era as a type of fast food, eaten while standing at a street stall.  Sushi in the old days was also made in bigger sizes then, unlike today’s delicate servings.

Janoichi Honten
Real Edomae Sushi

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Edomae sushi doesn’t get more authentic than this. Janoichi, now run by the 5th generation, has been feeding the hungry tradesman working at the fish market since over 120 years ago. Come here for a luxurious dinner or try the value-for-money set lunches.

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[ Shop info ]
Address: Nihombashi Muromachi 1-6-7, Chuo
Hours: 11am – 2pm (lunch), 5pm – 10pm (dinner)

YOSHOKU

Literally meaning “Western Food”, this type of Western-influenced Japanese cooking – using foreign ingredients such as Worcester sauce and ketchup – started during the Meiji Restoration.

Taimeiken
Egg-cellent Choice

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Omurice is a dish of tomato sauce-flavored fried rice wrapped in an omelette – hence the name which is a combination of omelette and rice. Taimeiken, founded over 80 years ago, is one of the most famous yoshoku restaurants in Tokyo.

たいめいけん  外観1-1_R[ Shop info ]
Address: Nihombashi 1-12-10, Chuo
Hours:   11am – 8:30pm (last order)(Mon-Sat) 、 11am – 8pm(last order) (Sun, National Holiday)
*For first floor dining

SOBA

Buckwheat noodles are known one of the three main foods of the Edo era, in addition to tempura and sushi. These thinly sliced noodles can be eaten either cold and dipped in a broth or served in hot soup.

Nihombashi Yabukyu
Soba So Good

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This soba shop has been serving up soba at the very same location since 1902 and is now run by the 4th generation. Savor the fragrance of buckwheat noodles, accented by the smoky flavors of its bonito broth.

IMG_0999_R[ Shop info ]
Address: Nihombashi 2-1-19, Chuo
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am – 3:30pm (last order)(lunch), 5pm – 22:30pm (last order)(dinner)
Sat: 11am – 3:30pm (last order)(lunch), 5pm – 9pm(last order) (dinner)

Mikado Coffee – Pioneering Coffee Connoisseur –

Humble Origins - Mikado Coffee started its long history as a coffee stand in 1949
Humble Origins – Mikado Coffee started its long history as a coffee stand in 1949

Mikado can be said to be a pioneer in the third wave coffee movement, roasting imported coffee beans in house to suit the local tastes since 1948. They take pride in good acidity in their brew, balanced with body and aroma.
Left: Mikado coffee is mild and smooth, perfect for your everyday cup of joe.  Right: A signature menu, Moca ice cream.
Left: Mikado coffee is mild and smooth, perfect for your everyday cup of joe.
Right: Coffee float (brewed coffee topped with a swirl of their signature Mocha ice cream).
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Shop Info

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Mikado Coffee – Main Store
Address: Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-6-7, Chuo
Hours: 7am – 7pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 6pm (Sat), 10am – 6pm (Sun, Holidays)

COREDO:Explore Japanese Culture

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Located in the center of Nihonbashi, COREDO – referring to the “core of Edo” – is a modern shopping complex with traditional and modern Japanese products and services that convey the essence of Japan.

The Best of Japan All Under One Roof

Nihonbashi was known as the starting point of any journey from Edo, where people would set off for Kyoto or other parts of Japan along the five main highways that converged here. Today, all the traditional manufacturers and brands are brought under one roof and given a modern touch at COREDO in Nihonbashi.

SUSgallery

(COREDO Muromachi3, 2F)
Cool Containers
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These one-of-a-kind tumblers made of titanium are specially designed to have top-notch insulating properties, keeping the temperature of their contents – be it freezing cold beer to steaming hot beverages – stable for long periods.
Made in Tsubame City in Niigata Prefecture, famous for its fine production of cutlery and kitchenware, the modern designs add a touch of luxury to daily life.

Simply

(COREDO Muromachi 3, 3F)
Advanced Aprons
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The simple waist-down apron used in the Edo era has evolved, 140 years on, to become a fashionable yet functional item popular with the ladies. Simply presents a selection of these stylish workwear garments. The denim collection is Japan-made and is available as a couple outfit – great for encouraging teamwork in the kitchen!

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Unique aprons starting from 4,000 yen

Hashicho

(COREDO Muromachi 3, 2F)
Perfect Pairings
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Choose from over 1,300 types of chopsticks from all over Japan, made from various types of wood and different cuttings and designs at this chopstick specialty shop. Prices range from 300 yen for a pair up to a staggering 1 million yen gift set from Fukui prefecture.
Product caption: Chopsticks and chopstick rests from all over Japan are available here.

Chopsticks and chopstick rests from all over Japan are available here.
Chopsticks and chopstick rests from all over Japan are available here.

Nihonbashi Dashi Bar

(COREDO Muromachi 1, 1F)
Try Dashi Here
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If you don’t think you’ll have time to make dashi broth at home, try some here at the Dashi Bar of bonito flake and stock specialist Ninben. One cup of bonito dashi broth costs just 100 yen, and there are also more hearty soups available for lunch, with ingredients such as root vegetables, fish or chicken going for 360 yen at this standing bar.

Tomato, cream and miso flavored soups are also available from 150 yen, depending on size. (※ prices include tax)
Tomato, cream and miso flavored soups are also available from 150 yen, depending on size. (※ prices include tax)

Kyo-tsukemono Nishiri

(COREDO Muromachi 1, 1F)
Pick Your Pickle
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Kyoto tsukemono (pickles) are famed as the best in Japan, and Nishiri is one of the most renowned brands for it. The COREDO Muromachi store is its first footprint in the Kanto region. Come sample a wide range of freshly pickled seasonal vegetables here, and savor a healthy pickled vegetable sushi boxed lunch with miso soup for a special and refreshing treat.

Pickled vegetable sushi set, 1,300 yen
Pickled vegetable sushi set, 1,300 yen

HAKUZA NIHONBASHI

(COREDO Muromachi 1, 1F)
Go for Gold
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Coming from Kanazawa City, which is famous for its tradition in gold leaf production, HAKUZA NIHONBASHI continues to glitter with gold-leaf covered cakes, rice crackers, face masks and fashion accessories, to name just a few. HAKUZA innovated the world’s first pure gold-platinum leaf. Give your loved ones a taste of gold with their edible gold-leafed souvenirs, and rest your feet at the tea corner.

Gold Leaf Mask, 4,500 yen Acrylic bangles, starting from 5,000 yen
Gold Leaf Mask, 4,500 yen
Acrylic bangles, starting from 5,000 yen
Omotenashi Nihonbashi

Nihonbashi Information Center
COREDO Muromachi 1, B1

Read more about the activities you can try at Omotenashi Nihonbashi: http://wattention.com/omotenashi-nihonbashi

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Shop Info

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COREDO Muromachi 1
Address: Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-2-1 COREDO Muromachi 1, Chuo
Hours: 10am – 9pm (shops), 11am – 11pm (restaurants)
URL: http://coredo.jp.en

Nihombashi Takashimaya

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Marking the Passage of Time: Classic Takashimaya

When you visit the Nihombashi branch of Takashimaya, you are entering more than just a store. You are stepping afoot onto an Important Cultural Property of Japan. Built in 1933, the building exudes elegance of the Showa era – a “modern-style building reflecting an oriental taste.”

Intricate design details aside, the shopping experience is also carefully curated with original shops and all the major luxury brands. Satisfy – or rather, enlighten – your palate here with classic dishes harking to the Edo era such as unagi and sushi to modern fusion gourmet. True quality is, after all, timeless.

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Watch Out For This

Takashimaya Watch Maison

_DSC0446-修正済み_R2_DSC0589-修正済みTakashimaya has embarked on a new venture last year with the launch of the two-storey, around 8,600 sq ft Takashimaya Watch Maison, just across the street from the main store, dedicated exclusively to watches. Housing over 80 brands such as Omega, Jager-leCoultre,Vacheron Constantin, IWC, Longines, Seiko, Casio and Citizen, the largest watch boutique on the streets of Japan and the world today – and perhaps for time to come.

Sushi Made By Craftsmen
Sukibayashi Jiro Nihombashi Store 7F
すきやばし次郎 盛り合せ_DSC0502-修正済み_RThis famous dining establishment is sure to satisfy any craving for an authentic sushi meal, combining the freshest seasonal catch with seasoned sushi-making skills. The interior décor may be simple but the gems served up are divine.
Japanese Craftsmanship
WAGOTO 7F

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Add a touch of Japanese chic to your daily life with a handcrafted lifestyle item made by the best craftsmen. Choose from eating utensils, tea sets or decorative items.

Tetsubin
Japanese Classic Style: Tetsubin Add iron to your water with this modern pink iron kettle. 8,000 yen

Services For Foreign Tourists

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The following services are available for foreign tourists:

  • Tax Free Counter 2F
    Apply for tax exemption for items purchased here
  • Foreign Exchange 2F
    USD, Euro, RMB and other foreign currencies available here
  • Hello Kitty Shopper’s Card (for 5% discount) 2F
    Present your passport to receive this cute limited-edition discount card
    *Excludes some goods

Shop Info

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Takashimaya Nihombashi Store
Address: Nihombashi 2-4-1, Chuo
Hours: 10:30am – 7:30pm
Phone: 03-3211-4111
URL: http://www.takashimaya.co.jp/tokyo/store_information

Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store

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Mitsukoshi: Accessible & Authentic Japanese Culture

Mitsukoshi Department Store in Nihombashi may be proud of a grandiose Renaissance-style façade, but Japan’s first department store dating back to the 17th century is actually very accessible, with authentic and affordable culture available to anyone who walks through their hallowed doorways.

For example, taking center stage in the main hall on the first floor is a resplendent wooden statue of the Goddess of Sincerity, which took ten years for a master craftsman to make and completed in 1960.

And at the front entrance, you will notice two grand lions which were installed in 1914, modeled on their counterparts

found at the Trafalgar Square in London.

With its Art Deco façade and historic features such as the only surviving theatre organ from the early Showa era at the 2nd floor balcony of the Central Hall, marble made from fossils used for its interior walls and floors, and a special restaurant that retains interior designs with distinctive elegance, it is not surprising that Nihombashi Mitsukoshi was recognized as an Important Cultural Property this May. And unlike some classic European department stores, Mitsukoshi is not about wealth, but culture.

This is the same ethos that makes Nihombashi tick even today. People in the mercantile

area were defined by craft, not birth. And Mitsukoshi, with its roots as a kimono fabric specialist, continues this emphasis on culture consciousness.
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Ms. Kiyoko Kondo, the okami or chief service manager, at Mitsukoshi Nihombashi makes sure all guests are well taken care of in the way of omotenashi, or Japanese hospitality.

From Echigoya to Mitsukoshi

Mitsukoshi was known as Echigoya in the Edo era and was the first to introduce the concept of selling kimono fabric at labeled prices and at any length the customer desired. This “customer first” philosophy is carried on to the present day.

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Own a Piece of Japanese Culture

Add a touch of Edo class to your life with these items that combine timeless style with lasting quality.

DSC_6475_RIt’s a Wrap!
Discover the versatility of furoshiki cloth which can be folded into a cute bag or used as a wine bottle cover or carrier.

DSC_6425_RFit to a Tea @ Fukujuen (Main Building 5F)
Sample a cup of green tea at this Kyoto-based tea specialist which has a live demo counter and specialist on hand to advise you on the perfect brew.

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The depachika, or food basement 1 floor, is an eyeful of Japanese food culture, which puts as much emphasis on how the food looks, tastes and is presented and packaged.

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Hana bento 1,200 yen
Furoshiki
from 10,000 yen
Main Building 4F

Furoshiki is a multi-functional cloth that can be used to wrap items or add accent to your living space.
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Japanese silk folding fan
8,000 yen (Main Building 4F)
Keep cool while looking hot with this sakura-motif silk folding fan.
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Chiso Silk stole
18,000 yen
Main Building 4F

Steal some hearts with this delicate silk stole with floral prints made in Kyoto.
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Modern [email protected] Teshigoto Corner
(Main Building 5F)
Traditional craftsmanship is given a modern form with items curated by Tokyo Teshigoto, a project to promote local handiwork.

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Silver lacquerware sake cups made of jade
from 15,000 yen each
The reflection of the moon seems to float on your sake in these fascinating silver cups, combined with different materials such as lacquerware.
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Urushi glass paperweight
20,000 yen each
Enjoy the play of light with these reflective glass paperweights engraved with classic Edo Kiriko motifs.

Foreign Customer Service Counter (Annex 2F)
Visit this counter for a tax-free procedure on the day of purchase. Free wi-fi is also available here. Present a copy of WAttention to the counter staff to get a free gift (offer lasts until Aug. 31, 2016)!

Shop Info

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Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store
Address: Nihombashi Muromachi 1-4-1 Chuo
Hours: 10:30am – 7:30pm

*All prices listed are exclusive of tax.

URL: http://www.mitsukoshi.co.jp/int
Blog URL: http://mitsukoshi.mistore.jp/store/nihombashi/wa/

Nihombashi Walkabout

Nihombashi is best explored on foot, and preferably in traditional Japanese garments for a taste of the heart of Edo. Take a virtual tour around Nihombashi with the 26th Chuo City Tourism Ambassador, Ms. Asami Kure.
Ms. Kure clinched the 26th Chuo City Tourism Ambassador prize to become Miss Chuo in 2007. She now serves with a smile as Team Leader for the Sales Operation Division at the Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store.

Navigating Nihombashi

Get a glimpse of what Nihombashi was like in its past glory and present grandeur at these historical sites.

1: Nihonbashi Bridge
First built in 1603 by Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate who unified Japan, this symbol of the area has been rebuilt 19 times. The original bridge was made of wood, but the current bridge is made of stone and features statues of mythical creatures on the parapets.

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*The kimono and obi in this feature are products of Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store

2: The Road Origin Marker of Japan
Located right in the middle of Nihonbashi bridge, this continues to mark the official starting point for Japan’s highways.

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3: Nihonbashi Fish Market Memorial Plaque
Before Tsukiji Fish Market, there was the Nihonbashi Fish Market. This stone plaque commemorates the first fish market in Nihonbashi that was run by some 30-odd fishermen from Osaka.

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4: Nomura Securities
The headquarters of Nomura Securities was built in the 1930s and features a “Japanese-style modernism” design.

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5: Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store
Built in 1914, this renaissance-style white brick building had an extension added in 1935 to reach its current form. It was also where the first escalator in Japan was introduced.

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6: Bank of Japan (the Old Building)
This neo-baroque style building shares the same designer as the grand old dame, the Tokyo Station. Completed in 1896, it was modeled on the National Bank of Belgium and is designated as an Important Cultural Property.

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7: Mitsui Memorial Museum
Opened in 2005, this museum houses many valuable Japanese and Asian works of art. The western-style structure created in the early Showa era has been designated as an Important Cultural Property.

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8: Fukutoku Shrine
Also called Mebuki Shrine, this shrine is said to have been around since the late 9th century and visited by famous shoguns.

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9: Nihonbashi Nakadori
A 50m stretch lined with restaurants, cafes and shops with a modern twist to traditional Japanese culture, this road recalling the pavements of the Edo era is pedestrian-only on weekdays and holidays from 11am to 8pm.

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Nihonbashi or Nihombashi? Why we used two different spellings

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In the articles within our website, you will see two different spellings for Nihonbashi.

Typically, Japanese words are spelled out phonetically, but the letter “ ん” is spelled with either an “n” or “m”, depending on how you want to pronounce it. In fact, these mixed spellings can be seen on the streets of Nihonbashi and other areas as well.

In regards to this variation in spelling, we have established our own set of rules.

We’ve decided to adhere to the brand identities, by using Nihombashi for the names of certain stores and facilities.

Articles using the spelling Nihombashi include:

For others, we used Nihonbashi which is now the standard for addresses and road signs.

Articles using the spelling Nihonbashi include:

We hope you understand our intention and the nuances of Japanese linguistics.

The Nostalgic Charm of Nihombashi

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“Hiroshige Toto Meisho” Utagawa, Hiroshige. Edo era – from Japan National Diet Library

Heart of Edo

The phrase “hi sen ryo,” or a thousand gold pieces a day, was used to describe the streets of Nihombashi – or the amount of money that changed hands each day in this flourishing merchant district in the Edo era.
As the nexus for the Edo Five Routes that connected to all the major areas of Japan, traders, artisans and samurai from various parts of Japan gathered here to exchange goods and ideas.

The streets were vibrant with refined craftsmen selling their wares, major retailers, restaurants and a fish market, and culture thrived along with the booming economy that was driven by the influx of transient workers who created a demand for various services and goods.

"Nihonbashi bridge in Edo" Katsushika, Hokusai 1831 - 1835
“Nihonbashi bridge in Edo” Katsushika, Hokusai 1831 – 1835

Ms. Miki Sakai, Editor-in-chief of Monthly Nihombashi told WAttention this spirit of abundance and enjoyment of high culture continues in Nihombashi till this day.
She added that, “Over the past 10 years with the advent of an ‘Edo Boom,’ interest in Nihombashi has revived.”

Boom Town

With around 80 shops selling goods and services in the Nihombashi area spanning over 100 years old, whiffs of the Edo era can still be experienced when walking along the streets.

And new developments such as COREDO Muromachi and late night dining options have also given Nihombashi a new lease of life at night.
“The area is now really packed on weekends, whereas it used to be quiet before,” said Ms. Sakai.

The concept of eating out has its roots in the Edo era. As many single men had come to Edo to find work, they would eat out, and the fish market at Nihombashi became the gourmet hub for the locals, who enjoyed various Edo era fast foods such as sushi, soba, tempura and eel.

Today, locals and tourists alike head to Nihombashi for a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine, seasoned with a dash of nostalgia.

Ms. Miki Sakai

Editor-in-chief of Monthly Nihombashi, a monthly community magazine focusing on Nihombashi history and culture, in circulation since 1979
Ms. Miki Sakai
Editor-in-chief of Monthly Nihombashi, a monthly community magazine focusing on Nihombashi history and culture, in circulation since 1979

Monthly Nihombashi Editor’s Pick!

Tokyo Bay Cruising Nihombashi Cruise
The Nihombashi river cruise goes right through the Nihombashi district. Offering rare opportunities to go under the many bridges and peek into deeper allyways, this is a pleasant way to discover the different side of Nihombashi not possible on the main street.

[ Information ]
Access: A 3-min walk from Mitsukoshimae Station (Ginza Line and Hanzomon Line), a 5-min walk from Nihombashi Station (Tozai Line and Toei Asakusa Line)
Price: 1,500 yen (45 min), 2,000 yen (60 min)
Hours: Departure time varies depending on the route and date.
URL: http://ss3.jp/nihonbashi-cruise/index.html (Japanese)
*Reservation is required

Bar Hopping in Osaka

Tokyo is not the only city that never sleeps in Japan. Osaka, the neon lit metropolis also offers a plethora of nightlife experiences. From classic bars to specialty bars, live houses and a whisky gallery, your choices are infinite.

Classic Bar

Bar Augusta Tarlogie

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Behind the unassuming façade lies a whiskey bar brimming with character – and bottles of rare whiskeys, both Japanese and international.

While entering a small bar like this can be daunting for first-timers, veteran bartender and owner, Mr. Kiyomitsu Shinano, is ready to welcome you in refined English. Here, no effort is spared, from the preparation of hand-carved ice-balls to the choice of water used to mix drinks – spring water from Scotland for Scotch whiskeys and Japanese spritzers for local whiskeys.

Recently, visitors from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia have come to sample various Japanese whiskeys, and the stock here is extensive with around 20 different labels.

Order a rare Japanese whiskey – such as a 1980’s Nikka Miyagikyo single malt – that might set you back several thousand yen for a shot, or the frothily refreshing signature cocktail, Augusta 7, vigorously shaken up with passionfruit liquor, lemon and pineapple juice.

The menu is minimal, with just finger food such as nuts, cheese or parma ham, but the conversation with Mr. Shinano is sure to be free flow.

[ Information ]
Bar Augusta Tarlogie
Hours: 5pm – midnight
English Menu Available
Credit Card  OK
Access: 4-min walk from Hankyu Umeda Station

River Cruise

Kitahama Rumba

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Enjoy a riverside meal of tapas with wine while enjoying the breeze on the open air terrace of this Spanish restaurant and bar that overlooks the Tosaborigawa River. From here you can also get a view of the Osaka’s most famous bridge, the Naniwabashi Bridge, and the illumination of the Osaka City Central Public Hall. For an unforgettable night out, book a river cruise that sets off from the nearby pier.

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This is one of the restaurants that makes up the Kitahama Terrace. The riverbank is officially opened from end-March, when all the eateries open their terraces for dining.

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[ Information ]
Kitahama Rumba
Hours: 6pm – 12 midnight (last order 11pm)
Cuirse Hours: Depart at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm
English Menu Available (partial)
Credit Card  OK
Access: 1-min walk from Kitahama Station (Keihan Line, Sakaisuji Line) or a 2-min walk from Naniwabashi Station (Keihan Line)

Live House

Billboard Live OSAKA

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Entertainment brand Billboard – internationally known for charting the top artists and songs around the world – brings you its selection of the hottest international and domestic artists. Catch acts ranging from Jazz and J-Pop to reggae and rock, live on stage at this centrally located underground theater.

Expect fine dining to accompany your first-class performance, with a gourmet seasonal menu and a drink selection featuring original cocktails and a wide array of whiskeys and wines. Seat choices range from bar stools and standing room in the casual area, to table and counter seats, to spacious box seats with an excellent view of the stage.

Access couldn’t be easier, as the landmark Herbis Plaza Ent building is directly connected to underground public transportation.

[ Information ]
Billboard Live OSAKA
Hours: 11am – 10pm (Weekdays), 11am – 8pm (Sat & Nat. Hols), 11am – 7pm (Weekdays with no shows scheduled), Closed Sun.
English Menu Available
Credit Card: Accepted
Access: 3-min walk from Nishi-Umeda Station (Yotsubashi Line)

Bar

Rooftop Bar OO

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If you’re with a crowd that can’t decide whether they want to go clubbing, have a good restaurant meal, or chill at a bar, this is the perfect place to go.

Away from the throngs of tourists at Dotonbori, find an international party crowd here on the 7th floor of the New Japan Sauna complex. Rest your feet at one of the plush sofas at the lounge area (and even play some board games!) or watch what’s on the 500-inch projector screen outdoors by the pool – great for watching sports matches at!

Events are held regularly with DJs mixing up house, club, hip-hop, trance and the lot to keep party people on a constant high. Otherwise, the usual BGM makes for a relaxed resort atmosphere.

The menu features seasonal buffets (eg: oysters in winter) and an extensive a la carte menu serving pizza, pasta, salads and bites that go with beer.

[ Information ]
Rooftop Bar OO
Hours: 6pm – 3am (Closed Tues)
English Menu Available
Credit Cards Accepted
Access: 4-min walk from Midosuji Line Namba Station

Specialist Bar

SUNTORY WHISKEY HOUSE

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If you haven’t already discovered Japanese whiskey, this is the place to do so. Suntory, recognized as one of the top whiskey makers in the world, originated from Osaka, and this three-in-one concept store is the first of its kind, combining a Whiskey Gallery, Whiskey Dining WWW.W and Whisky Bottle Bar.

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Whiskey Gallery

Whisky Dining WWW.W is the only dining establishment in Japan where you can try five popular types of Suntory Japanese Whiskey in one set. You can also savor the much sought-after Hibiki 21 Years Old that clinched the International Spirits Challenge Trophy 3-years in a row. The Roast Beef Cutlet Sandwich is a must-try, or choose from a wide array of dishes created to go with whiskey.

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Whiskey Dining WWW.W

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*Note: Whiskey is not sold over the counter here, though bottle-keep services are available at the Whiskey Bottle Bar.

Complement your whiskey collection with tasteful furniture or household accessories made from the over century old white oak used to make whiskey casks, only available for sale at this gallery. Study the history of Suntory’s award winning whiskey at the displays here as well.

[ Information ]
SUNTORY WHISKEY HOUSE
WHISKEY DINING WWW.W
Hours: 11:30am – 2pm (lunch)
5:30pm – 11pm (dinner)
English Menu Available
Credit Card OK

WHISKEY GALLERY
Hours: 11am – 8pm
Access: 5-min walk from JR Osaka Station, Midosuji Line Umeda Station

Kyo Karakami Stamp Kit 1 “Kanae” Lucky items

Karakami Gift

While not everybody may be able to appreciate the texture of karakami via calligraphy, almost anyone, from young to old, can experience the joy and satisfaction of making your own printing block creation with Maruni’s Karakumi Gift sets. With this, anyone can create their own patterned paper greeting cards.

Kyo Karakami Stamp Kit 1 “Kanae” Lucky items

$65.00

See in store

See other Karakami stationery products: http://wattention.com/articles/kyo-karakami-stationery

Sailor Moon Exhibition at Roppongi Hills

The exhibition is open until June 19th.
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The “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” exhibition is being held at the 52nd floor (Tokyo City View observation deck) of Mori Tower in Roppongi, Tokyo.

This popular Manga series which got first published in 1992 and was written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi, gained worldwide success due to what was then considered a fresh new story, and acted as the forerunner for the now ubiquitous mahoshojo (magical girl) stories. The whole series sold more than 35 million copies worldwide and stands as one of the most influential manga titles, raising the popularity of Japanese animation in Western culture.

“Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” features the adventures of a middle school girl, Usagi Tsukino. She transforms into Sailor Moon and has to find a princess, and an artifact called “Legendary Silver Crystal.” Usagi becomes the leader of the Sailor Guardians, which is a group of girls around her age, fighting against villains who are trying to destroy the solar system and want to steal the Silver Crystal.

The manga has been adapted into an anime series, consisting of several seasons. For the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon, a new anime series, “Sailor Moon Crystal” premiered on July 5th 2014.

WAttention staff checked out the exhibition last Saturday, and was totally impressed by this accurate and carefully made event. Even if you are not a fan of this manga series, you will probably feel nostalgic for the 1990´s!

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We received our ticket, went up to the 52nd floor and entered the exhibition room.

The entrance area is designed to look like the Moon Castle of the lunar royal family.
The window area is covered with huge wallpapers featuring the Sailor Guardians in the latest artwork design. In front of that, a photo spot is set up to take a picture with the five Guardians, which you can purchase for 1,300 yen.

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Around the photo spot, there were magazines, video games, action figures, pens, plush toys, and a lot more merchandise on display to get you into the right mood. We already could hear all the joyful laughter and stories of the visitors reminiscing about some of the merchandise that they owned as a child.

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In front of the windows and near the photo spot, Sailor Moon´s weapons and transformation items are shown.

On the way to the next room, you will pass a wall demonstrating the chronological order of all the seasons of the Anime series, featuring the different characters and their relationships, as well as the various stories. Walking through the next room which shows a short movie out of Manga pages, you will enter a new spot decorated with huge colored Manga pages to understand the beginning of the story, as well as cover pages of the magazine “Nakayoshi” from 1992, in which Sailor Moon was published.

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On the way to the next corner, you can discover another photo spot with life-size figures of Neo Queen Serenity and King Endymion.

The next section of the exhibition features rare merchandise items from the 1990´s, such as the transformation items of Sailor Moon, figures and dolls, sweets, a bicycle, a game console, cosplay outfits, card games, and much more.

The following room features the original artworks of the cover pages of “Nakayoshi” and the Manga books. It is amazing how you can see which material, colors, and technique was used.

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For souvenirs you can visit the merchandise shop which sells limited items. The highlight between all those goods is a marriage certificate which comes in four different designs. We spotted some couples choosing their favorite layout. Even Japanese people were surprised about this item, and girls bought it “just in case” for their future plans.

After our visit at the exhibition we decided to have lunch at the “Chibiusa Café,” which is located on the same floor. Since it was a Saturday we had to wait in line for 2 hours to get a seat. Thanks to the food samples located near the entrance of the café, we could imagine how the real dish will look like.

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We decided to try the “Sailor Moon Special Burger” which comes in the shape of the Crystal Star compact (1,600 yen including tax), as well as the “3 different kind of Talisman Curry” in shape of the talismans carried by Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (1,450 yen including tax).

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The recommended beverage called “Beauty Boost Juice x Chocola BB of the 5 Sailor Guardians.” It is a mix of juice, or ginger ale and the popular Chocola BB drink, which is meant to be good for your skin. The different colors of the drinks represent the colors of the Sailor Guardians. We tried the drink of Sailor Mars, mixed with grapefruit juice (850 yen including tax).

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As a dessert we shared “Heaven’s Miracle Romance Parfait”, a parfait out of different flavored jellies, ice cream and chocolate. (1,250 yen including tax)

The food was very delicious and when you are lucky you will even get a window seat to enjoy the amazing view of Tokyo as well!
In conclusion it was a great exhibition. We recommend going there, even if you are not a fan of this series. The artwork is beautiful and it takes you on a time-travel back to the 1990’s.

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Details:
Exhibition: Roppongi Hills Observation Deck  Tokyo City View  Sky Gallery,
Address: Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 52F, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato
Website: Sailor Moon Exhibition

Chibiusa Café: Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 52F
Hours: 11am – 10pm (L.O. Food 9pm, Drink 9:30pm)
Website: Chibiusa Café

Access:
Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line “Roppongi Station”, Exit 1C
Toei subway Oedo Line “Roppongi Station”, Exit 3, 4min walk
Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line “Azabu Juban” Station, Exit 4, 8min walk
Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line “Nogizaka” Station, Exit 5, 10min walk

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Firefly Night in Shibuya

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The beginning of summer means firefly season in Japan and you can participate in Japan’s tradition of firefly viewing through many events throughout June. Fireflies usually gather near clear streams, but if you don´t have the chance to leave the busy streets of Tokyo, you can catch a glimpse of these nature’s little light bulbs in Shibuya’s Botanical Garden FUREAI! The garden will be holding its 12th “Firefly Night” between June 17th and June 21st. The entry for this evening-event is free.

Hours: 5:30pm – 9pm (entrance until 8:15pm)
Address: Shibuya-ku Fureai Shokubutsu Center, Higashi 2-25-37, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Website: http://www.botanical-fureai.com/

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Kanto Matsuri

Designated as one of Tohoku’s top three festivals, the Kanto Matsuri is a sight to behold. The name “Kanto Matsuri” does not mean that it is in the Kanto region, “Kanto” is the name for the wooden poles with lanterns attached to them. Every year from August 3rd till August 6th in Akita City, Akita prefecture, young men parade with poles full of lanterns that can weigh up to 50kg (110lbs)!

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The kanto is eight meters high with 46 paper lanterns shaped like rice bales. The decorative paper streamers on top of the pole, which are often seen in Shinto rituals, drive away evil spirits. Kanto are always in the shape of an Akita cedar tree.

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More than 200 kantos are paraded through the city, turning the streets in the an amazing lit-up spectacle. Some members of the parade perform amazing tricks such as balancing the poles on one hand or on their face. This is because it is actually not allowed to hold the pole with your hands. While ensuring that the paper lanterns do not go out, men try to impress each other by showing off one amazing trick after another.

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The origin of this festival can be found in the more quiet and serene Tanabata festival. In some parts of Japan it is celebrated in August rather than in July because August is closer to the 7th month of the old Lunar calendar.

More Information

Access: 10 min walk from JR Akita Station, Akita City in Akita prefecture
Location: Kanto O-dori
(between the Sanno Jujiro Crossroads and Nichomebashi Bridge)
Dates: Aug. 3 – 6, 2016
Hours: 9:20am – 3:20pm (Day Parade, Aug. 4 & 5), 6:15pm – 8:35pm (Night Parade, Aug. 3 – 5)

Wind Chime Festival : Enmusubi Furin

A fairly new festival in Japan, Enmusubi Furin has proven to be very popular and is refreshing newcomer amidst all the loud and busy Japanese summer festivals. The festival is held at the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine near Tokyo, a shrine dedicated to the God of Marriage.

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The highlight of the festival is of course the “Enmusubi Furin Kairo” (Corridor of Marriage Wind Chimes). Just like the “Wind Chime Lane” at the festival, this “marriage corridor” is filled with wishes for love and a happy marriage. These wishes are written on paper strips and tied to the wind chimes. Every time the wind makes the wish move, the bell chimes for it to come true.

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During the evening there is a beautiful projection of the Milky Way, reminiscent of the Tanabata origin story. After admiring both the wind chimes and the Milky Way, you can observe the beautiful bamboo-shaped ornaments that are on display.

Of course there are stalls with festival food so you can eat while watching the various performances in the court music pavilion. If you prefer a more refined taste, go to the nearby Hikawa Hall where a professional chef is serving a delicious buffet. Or if you have a sweet tooth, buy one of the limited edition sweets at the adjacent Musubi Café.

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The Shrine is in Kawagoe near an area called “Little Edo”, because the streets are still the same as during the Edo period.

Access

Date: Jul. 9(Saturday) to Aug. 31(Wednesday), 2016
Hours: 09:00 – 21:00
Where: 1 Chome-407 Takahanacho, Omiya Ward, Saitama, Saitama Prefecture 330−0803
From Kawagoe: Hikawa Shrine bus stop on the Eagle line or the Miyashita-machi stop on the Tobu line.
From Ikebukuro: Tobu Tojo Line express, 31 minutes (450 yen) to Kawagoe station
From Seibu Shinjuku: Seibu Shinjuku Line Limited Express, 43 minutes (890 yen) to Kawagoe station
From Shinjuku: JR Kawagoe Line Local, 60 minutes (570 yen) to Kawagoe station

The Matsuri Manual : Matsuri Games

 

Japanese summer festivals, or Matsuri, are the main spot during the summer to see yukata, eat delicious food and of course play games. Just like every festival has traditions that have been passed down over the years, the same games have been making a comeback every year due to popularity. Here we will introduce some of the most popular Matsuri games.

 

Water Balloon Yoyo (ヨーヨーつり)

Small water balloons are filled with both air and water, giving them enough bouncy power. The balloons are closed with a rubber string with a loop. To acquire one of these balloons, you use a stick with a paper string with a metal hook attached to the end. The goal is to “fish” the balloon out of the water before the paper string holding the hook disintegrates. After you catch your balloon, you loop it around your finger and bounce it around like a yo-yo.

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Gold Fish Scooping (金魚すくい)

Using a scooper with a thin piece of paper as a net, you try to catch as many goldfish as you can before the thin paper breaks. This game is seen as very difficult and does require some skill. You can take home the goldfish you caught and keep them as pets for years to come. Maybe you can name them after the Matsuri you got them at.

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Senbonbiki (せんぼんびき)

Various items such as snacks, toys or sometimes even coupons are attached to one end of a string. The other ends are collected together in one bundle and you can choose one string to pull. The item that moves at the other end is yours to keep.

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Fireworks (花火)

It might sound unsafe but these small firework sticks are totally fine to play with. Matsuri often go on until late into the night and the sparkles from these sticks bring everyone into a festive mood before the real fireworks are set off.

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Now you have all the knowledge you need to survive the classic summer Matsuri games. So get dressed in your yukata and join the festival fun!

Have you read the other articles in this series?
The Matsuri Manual : Festival Style Guide
The Matsuri Manual : Festival Food Guide

The Matsuri Manual : Festival Food Guide

 

A festival in Japan is not complete without rows of street stalls selling soul food and street snacks before the main event. Here are some all-time Matsuri favourites:

Yakisoba (焼きそば)

This dish of Worcester-sauce flavoured stir-fried noodles with vegetables, pork and topped with pickled red ginger is a staple dish at any festival. Toppings vary according to region.

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Takoyaki (たこ焼き)

Originally from Osaka, these ball-shaped snacks are a festival favorite for sure. Fillings vary for each region but the main ingredients are minced or diced octopus, tempura pieces and green onion. When done, they are sprinkled with their signature takoyaki sauce and topped with bonito flakes (dried fish) and mayonnaise.

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Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)

Just like takoyaki, this savory Japanese pancakes come from Osaka in the Kansai region. Nowadays there are many variations of this dish as the name literally means “grill it how you like it.”  The Kyoto okonomiyaki has chopped scallions and the Hiroshima version has noodles, but the basic ingredients are always slices of pork, cabbage, and okonomiyaki sauce. Just like the takoyaki, okonomiyaki is topped with mayonnaise and bonito flakes.

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Taiyaki (たい焼き)

This is a fish-shaped pancake-like pastry most commonly filled with red bean paste. More modern fillings include custard, ice cream and whipped cream.

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Candied Apple (りんご飴)

A sweet treat of apples covered in a sugary and sticky starch syrup and eaten on a stick. Similar to the candied apples eaten in the West.

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Choco Banana (チョコバナナ)

This snack has had a huge popularity boost in the last few years. While it may not seem traditionally Japanese, the bananas are always decorated with fancy colours giving them that touch of “Japanese festival flair.”

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Kakigori (かき氷)

Eaten since the Heian period (11th century) but made affordable for people in the late 19th century, this shaved ice has been Japan’s favorite festival treat to cool down. Flakes are shaved from a huge block of ice and then topped with syrup and condensed milk. Popular flavors include green tea, strawberry, blue Hawaii, cherry, lemon, grape and melon.

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Next in this series: The Matsuri Manual : Matsuri Games

Kyo Karakami Wall Panel Nature “Kohrin-ohnami”

Own a unique piece of classic Japanese design

Add a touch of taste and tradition to your home with a Kyo Karakami wall panel made according to your preferences.

Karakami – which literally means “Tang Chinese Paper” – originated from China during the Tang Dynasty but since it started production in Kyoto over 1,000 years ago, has become a treasured form of washi (Japanese paper) that is recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Now, you too can transport the art of ancient Japanese living to your living room.

Applying this traditional craft to modern fixtures such as wall panels, wall paper, lanterns, fans and other accessories, Maruni has made this intangible cultural heritage, tangible to the homes and lives of the discerning.

Just like before the days of mass production, at Maruni, you can order a unique wall panel to your liking, choosing everything from the printing block pattern, to paper colour, printing colour and paper type.

Kyo Karakami Wall Panel Nature “Kohrin-ohnami”

$76.00

See in store

See other Karakami interior and accessories products: http://wattention.com/articles/kyo-karakami-interior-accessories

Summer With A Bang! – Top 3 Fireworks Festivals in Japan 2016

Summertime in Japan isn’t complete without watermelons, shaved ice, wind chimes, mosquito coils and last but not least, fireworks of massive proportions!

It’s a great reason to put on a summer yukata, throng the streets and look up into the night sky for an hour or two.

Here are some of the top few heart-stopping, jaw-dropping fireworks festivals in Japan.

The Oomagari no Hanabi All Japan Fireworks Competition
Daisen City, Akita Prefecture

– Japan’s No. 1 Fireworks Competition –

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With an ideal backdrop of two mountains and a riverfront, Oomagari is where top firework technicians stage their best musical fireworks show to compete for the coveted Prime Minister’s Award for fireworks. Now into its 106th year, this offers one of the widest starmine displays.

Event information:

No. of fireworks: 15,000 – 20,000
No. of spectators: 80,000
Date: August 27, 2016
Time: Day fireworks: 5:30pm~  Night fireworks: 6:50pm~
Access: Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Oomagari Station, 30 minutes’ walk from the station to the venue.

Nagaoka Matsuri Great Fireworks Festival
Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture

– Historic Fireworks –

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The fireworks festival here has a painful past – August 1 was when Nagaoka City was practically razed to the ground during a World War II air-raid 71 years ago. These shells are launched in commemoration of the lives lost then, and a celebration of recovery.

Event information:

No. of fireworks: 20,000
No. of spectators: 960,000
Date: August 2 and 3, 2016
Time: 7:20pm – 9:15pm
Access:  Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to JR Nagaoka Station, and walk for 30 minutes, or take the shuttle bus from the station.

 

Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival
Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture

– Fireworks Frenzy –

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The Suwa Lake Fireworks Festival boasts the most number of fireworks for such displays. Surrounded by mountains, the display is particularly dynamic in terms of sound. The 2km-long water starmine here is another treat for the senses.

Event information:

No. of fireworks: 40,000
No. of spectators: 500,000
Date: August 15, 2016
Time: 7pm onwards
Access: Take the JR Chuo Main Line to Kami Suwa Station then walk for 8 minutes from the Kami Suwako West Exit

For more festivals in & around Tokyo: July 2016 Fireworks Festivals Schedule – In & Around Tokyo

Come on over to Komatsu (7) : The 7 wonders of Komatsu

The world might have its seven amazing wonders, but Komatsu has them too!

Located in Ishikawa prefecture, this city has many wonders to discover. Besides being famous for kabuki, there are many more interesting things in this city near the ocean.

1) World’s Largest Dump Truck

Komatsu is not only the name of the city, it’s also the name of the famous producer of construction machinery. At Komatsu no Mori you can go on the 930E, the largest piece of riding industrial equipment you will ever see.

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2) Gold Snacks

Responsible for 99% of all of Japan’s gold production, Komatsu has plenty of the stuff. So much even that they wrap their ice cream in it and sprinkle it on their cakes. You can buy these gold snacks at Yunokuni no Mori.

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3) Amazing Moss Forest

The “Forest of Wisdom” has amazing moss growth that took the locals years to cultivate. Nowhere else will you see such a beautiful green-covered forest.

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4) Breathtaking Stone Caves

Actually, they’re stone mines. But that doesn’t make them any less awesome. These caves are carved into the mountain by hand or with special equipment. The stones the excavated were used to build bridges, castles and walls. Walking in these halls makes you feel like an adventurer about to find the legendary sword of Komatsu.

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5) A Stone Turtle

According to the legends, this turtle wanted to be near the god of the shrine so bad that he crawled all the way there from the ocean. When he arrived, he turned into stone and is now forever with his beloved god. Even though the ocean is quite close to the shrine, it’s still an amazing feat for a turtle.

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6) This Tree

You think we’re running out of wonders, right? Wrong! This fresh tree branch is actually growing from a bona fide pine tree. A completely different type of tree is sprouting from its branches. We can’t wait to see how this will develop. You can find this tree in Rojo Park.

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7) Japan’s #1 Chestnut Sweet

This delicious chestnut snack has been crowned the number one of all chestnut sweets in Japan. And in the world of nutty snacks, that counts for something. We have tried it ourselves and can confirm it is indeed very worthy of its title.

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Read Also:
Come on over to Komatsu (1) : The City of Kabuki
Come on over to Komatsu (2) : The Forest of Wisdom
Come on over to Komatsu (3) : Craft Theme Park
Come on over to Komatsu (4) : Natadera, the temple in touch with Nature
Come on over to Komatsu (5) : 1300 year old Ryokan – Houshi
Come on over to Komatsu (6) : Rojo Park

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

July 2016 Fireworks Festivals Schedule – In & Around Tokyo

Summer means Hanabi Matsuri (花火祭り) season in Japan, and refers to great Fireworks Festivals held throughout the country. During the hot and humid summer, the festivals lighten up the mood and provide a sparkling colorful night sky.Unbenannt-22
Japanese people tend to wear traditional Yukata (light summer Kimono) to turn this event into a special occasion during the year. If you feel like experiencing a Hanabi Matsuri while wearing the traditional summer outfit, you can already get cheap Yukata sets starting at 6,000 yen, including Yukata, Obi (sash) and Geta (wooden clogs).

Read also: The Matsuri Manual : Festival Style Guide

We summed up all the big Fireworks Festivals in and around Tokyo for July 2016 in the following article.

Too many festivals, too little time? Check out our 3 top picks: Top 3 Fireworks Festivals in Japan 2016

Tokyo

The 39th Sumida River Fireworks Festival

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Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7:05pm – 8:30pm
The oldest fireworks display of Japan comes back to Tokyo’s Sumida river. At two spots you can enjoy a huge spectacle of colours. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 950,000 people
Number of fireworks: 20,000 (1st Spot 9,350 / 2nd Spot 10,650)
Access & Address:
Tokyo, Taito-ku and Sumida-ku
① Spot 1 (Sakura Bridge Karyu ~ Kototoi Bridge Joryu) Tokyo Metro Ginza Line –> Asakusa Station (15min walk)
② Spot 2 (Komagata Bridge Karyu ~ Umaya Bridge Joryu ) Toei Asakusa Line Toei Oedo Line -> Kuramae Station (5min walk)

50th Katsushika Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

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Date: July 26th (Tuesday), 7:20pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
For Japans oldest fireworks display, all the fireworks supplies are made in Japan, and not imported. Therefore the colours of the fireworks are simply held in an orange-red style. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, July 27th (Wednesday).
Visitors last year: 630,000 people
Number of fireworks: 15,000
Access: Keisei Kanamachi Line -> Shibamata Station (10min walk); JR Joban Line -> Kanamachi Station・Keisei Line -> Keisei Kanamachi Station (20min walk)
Address: Katsushika-ku Shibamata Baseball Stadium (Edogawa Kasenshiki), Shibamata 7-17-13, Katsushika-ku

The 38th Adachi Fireworks Festival

Date: July 23rd (Saturday), 7:30pm – 8:30pm
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and will be held along the Arakawa River. The event will be cancelled in case of rain.
Visitors last year: 550,000 people
Number of fireworks: 13,500
Access: JR Joban Line –> Kita Senju Station (15min walk); Tobu Isesaki Line (Tokyo Skytree Line) –> Kosuge Station・ Gotanno Station・Umejima Station (15min walk)
Address: Arakawa Kasenshiki, Adachi-ku (Held between Nishiarai – bridge and Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line – railway bridge)

Hachioji Fireworks Festival

Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7pm-8:30pm
This event will take place in the Hachioji Citizen Ball Park. In case of stormy weather the event will move to Sunday, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 100,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,300
Access: JR Chuo Line –> Nishi Hachioji Station (15min walk); Keio Takao Line –> Yamada Station (15min walk)
Address: Hachioji Shimin Kyujo, Daimachi 2-2, Hachioji-shi

Tachikawa Festival – Showa Memorial Park Fireworks Festival

Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7:20pm-8:20pm (*Paid seats are available)
Food booths and festival related booths will be set up inside the park. After 6pm you don´t need to pay any entrance fee for the park. In case of stormy weather, the event will move to the next day, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 360,000 people
Number of fireworks: 5,000
Access: JR Chuo Line –> Tachikawa Station (15min walk)
Address: Minna no Harappa , Showa Kinen Park, Midoricho 3173, Tachikawa-shi

Kanagawa

Yokohama Sparkling Twilight 2016

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Date: July 16th / 17th (Saturday / Sunday), 11:30am-8:30pm, Fireworks display: 7:30pm-8pm
During this weekend you can not only enjoy the fireworks display in the evening, you can also see the parades, live shows, and live music events, as well as a rescue live demonstration by the fire brigade. The Sparkling Parade features mikoshi (portable shrines) from every district of Yokohama, including Chinatown. Enjoy the restaurants and bars along the beachside of Yamashita Park, providing food of  the oldest and best-known places of Yokohama. The combination of music and fireworks provides a sparkling – final to the event. In case of light rain, the event will take place, in case of stormy weather it will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 380,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: Minatomirai Line –> Nihon Odori Station・Motomachi/Chukagai Station (3min walk)
Address: Yamashita Park, location towards the sea, Yokohama-shi


2016 Kurihama Perry Festival and Fireworks Festival

Date: July 16th (Saturday)
The festival is dedicated to the opening of Japan to the world and the friendship between Japan and America due to US naval officer Matthew Perry in 1853. In case of bad weather, the Hero Show takes place in the arcade and will be changed into a Sign and Handshake event. The other events will be cancelled or resecheduled.
Access: JR Yokosuka Line –> Kurihama Station (17min walk); Keihin Kyuko Line –> Keikyu Kurihama Station (15min walk)

Event schedule:
Yokosuka Kaikoku Bazar
Hero Shows and Band performances, as well as refreshment booths are set up.
Location: Kurihama Shotengai Harodo Dori
Time: 10am – 3:40pm
■ Memorial Ceremony for US naval officer Matthew Perry’s arrival
This event commemorates Perry’s arrival at Kurihama to arrange the opening of diplomatic and trade relations between Japan and the US.
Location: Perry Park
Time: 2pm-2:40pm
Japan – America Friendship Perry Parade
The Parade features a fleet of black ships on the water, groups of people dressed in ancient costumes, drum and fife bands, dancers, etc.
Location: In front of Perry Park; In front of Keihin Kyuko Kurihama Station
Time: 4pm – 5:30pm
Kurihama Fireworks Festival
In case of bad weather the fireworks display will be held on the following day, July 17th (Sunday).
Time: 7:30pm – 8:10pm (*paid seats available)
Visitors last year: 90,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,500
Location: Perry Park, Kurihama Kaigan, Kyu Nichiro Ganpeki, Yokosuka-shi

68th Kamakura Fireworks Display

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Date: July 20th (Wednesday), 7:20pm-8:10pm
Kamakura´s fireworks display is special, since the fireworks will be set off from boats, while you sit on the beach and watch this beautiful event. At some point the fireworks are also released underwater, where half of the explosion happens underwater, and the other half above the water.
In addition to that, festival booths are set up and sell tasty local foods to enjoy during the fireworks display. In case of rainy and stormy weather, as well as high waves the event will take place on the next day, July 21st (Thursday).
Visitors last year: 140,000 people
Number of fireworks: 2,500
Access: Yokosuka Line –> Kamakura Station (15min); Enoshima Dentetsu Line –> Yuigahama Station ・ Wadazuka Station (5min walk)
Address: Yuigahama beach ・ Zaimokuza beach, Zaimokuza, Yuigahama, Kamakura-shi

51st Hayama Beach Fireworks Display

Date: July 27th (Wednesday), 7:30pm-8pm
Hayama beach is wide and beautiful and the perfect spot to enjoy this fireworks display, which will be set off from the sea. Festival booths are set up, so don´t worry about an empty stomach. In case of stormy weather, the event will move to the next day, July 28th (Thursday).
Visitors last year: 32,000
Number of fireworks: 1,100
Access: JR Yokosuka Line –> Zushi Station -> Bus Platform No. 3 –> 15min ride until Morito Kaigan (1min walk); Keikyu-Line –> Shin Zushi Station –> Bus Platform No. 2 -> 15min ride until  Morito Kaigan (1min walk)
Address: Morito Beach, Horiuchi, Hayama-machi, Miura-gun

Chiba

Funabashi Festival – Funabashi Port Water Park Fireworks Display

Date: July 27th (Wednesday), 7:30pm-8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
The highlight of this fireworks display will be the image of Funabashi’s PR character “Funaemon” in the night sky . Booths are set up to buy local dishes. In case of light rain, the event takes place. In case of storm it will move to the next day, July 28th (Thursday).
Visitors last year: 80,000 people
Number of fireworks: 8,500
Access: JR Sobu Line –> Funabashi Station (25min walk)
Address: Funabashi Harbor Water Park, Funabashi Fishing Port area, Funabashi-shi

38th Urayasu Fireworks Display

Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7:30pm-8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
The fireworks display adapts to the music and provides a nice atmosphere. You can also enjoy local foods while watching the fireworks. In case of stormy weather, the event will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 150,000 people
Number of fireworks: 6,500
Access:  KeiyoLine -> Shin Urayasu Station; Tokyo Metro Tozai Line –> Urayasu Station (A shuttle bus departing from both stations is planned)
Address: Urayasu-shi Comprehensive Park, Meikai 7-2, Urayasu-shi

Sanmu City Summer Carnival

Date: July 30th (Saturday), 3pm-8pm
This event has a Brazilian flair and you can see street performing artists as well as Samba Dances all day long. Up to 10 booths are prepared to enjoy local dishes as well. In case of rain, only the fireworks display will move to the next day, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 17,000
Number of fireworks: 1,000
Access:  JR Sobu Main Line –> Yoko Shiba Station –> 30min bus ride (Hasunuma Junkan Hasunuma direction) -> Minamihama stop (5min walk)
Address: Hasunuma Seaside Park, Hasunuma ho, Sanmu-shi

Saitama

68th Ogawa Tanabata Festival Fireworks Display

Date: July 23rd (Saturday), 7:15pm-8:30pm
The city center is decorated with Tanabata themed decorations. Regarding the legend, the festival celebrates the reunion of the deities Orihime (star Vega) and Hikoboshi (star Altair) who are separated by the Milky Way. Only once a year, on July 7th, the lovers are allowed to meet. Traditionally, on this day you can write down a wish on a paper strip called Tanzaku, and tie it to bamboo branches. Beside the fireworks display, 150 booths are set up to buy local dishes, as well as goods of the Festival’s Character “Stamu-chan”. In case of rain, the event takes place on the next day, July 24th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 220,000 people
Number of fireworks: 1,800
Access: Tobu Tojo Line –> Ogawa Station –> 20min bus ride (Park Hill direction) -> Saitama Dentokogei Kaikan stop (the venue is right there)
Address: Sengenyama Miharashi no oka Koen, Ogawa 1440, Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun


21st Ageo Fireworks Festival

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Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7pm~
Enjoy local foods while watching this popular fireworks display. It is famous for reading marriage and birthday slogans while setting up the fireworks. In case of rain, the event moves to August 6th (Saturday).
Visitors last year: 160,000 people
Number of fireworks: 10,000
Access: JR Takasaki Line –> Ageo Station -> Tobu bus 20min bus ride (Heiho direction) -> Heiho stop (3min walk); (* There will be a shuttle bus from Ageo Station-West Exit -> last stop (10min walk))
Address: Heiho Arakawa, Heiho 2606-1, Ageo-shi

2016 Saitama Fireworks Festival “Odawa Park”

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Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7:30pm~
400 booths are set up to enjoy a lot of Japanese local dishes, as well as experiencing the traditional summer festival of Japan. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 100,000 people
Number of fireworks: 5,000
Access: Tobu Noda Line –> Omiya Koen Station ・ Odawa Station (15min walk)
Address: Around Odawa Park, Saitama-shi, Kita-ku・Omiya-ku・Minuma-ku

Ninja ID: nene16


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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Morning Glory Festival

 

The Iriya Asagao Matsuri,or Morning Glory Festival is celebrated from July 6th to July 8th every year. This event is by far the biggest festival in Japan dedicated to the morning glory flower.

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About 120 producers of morning glories and about 100 festival stalls line Shingen-ji Temple and Kototoi-dori Street. Shingen-Ji is the common name for the Iriya temple, dedicated to the goddess of childbirth and children. The morning glories of Iriya are said to have gained fame around the late Edo period (1603 – 1868). During the Meiji period the flowers from Iriya were deemed so attractive that they became a very popular decorative plant.

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The flowers vanished for a while during the Taisho period (1912 – 1926) and after World War II. But the flowers are back thanks to a dedicated team of locals and nowadays there are about a thousand varieties of morning glories. Together with the the Shitaya Tourism Association they revived the tradition and organized the Asagao Matsuri as we know it today.

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When you visit the Iriya Asagao Matsuri you will get the traditional Edo summer festival feel as you gaze upon the beautiful morning glories.

Access

Date: Jul. 6 to 8, 2016
Area:1-12-16 Shitaya, Taito-ku / In and around Iriya Kishimojin
Access: 1-minute walk from Iriya Station on the Hibiya Subway Line or a 5-minute walk from JR Uguisudani Station.
Hours: 6am – 11pm
URL: http://www.asagao-maturi.com/ (Japanese only)

The Matsuri Manual : Festival Style Guide

In Japan, it is common to attend a summer festival (Matsuri) in a traditional Japanese outfit. Men usually wear a jinbei while women wear colourful yukatas matched with a pair of geta (Japanese wooden clogs) and a drawstring bag called a kinchaku. To complete the picture, a paper fan is a popular choice as the perfect accessory. Of course you are free to wear what you want on the festival grounds. But wearing traditional Japanese clothes at a Matsuri adds to the overall experience.

Yukata

A yukata, or summer kimono, is made of hemp cloth or cotton that keeps you cool during the summer heat. It is much easier to wear than a regular kimono and young ladies may prefer the trendy mini-yukatas. Yukata are not difficult to wear at all and are easy to walk around in.

During the festival season many shops will sell yukata sets at a reasonable price and accessory shops will sell flower hairpins for cheap.

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Of course there are also men’s yukatas. These are less colorful and either have simple patterns or really flashy ones such as Japanese demons or dragons.

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Jinbei

Consisting of a top and shorts, a jinbei cools you down in the summer breeze. They are mostly made of cotton. The more traditional jinbei has a striped pattern with a simple colour such as black, grey or brown.

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Kinchaku

These small Japanese drawstring bags can be made of hemp fabric, cotton or recycled kimono cloth. To be really fashionable, buy a kinchaku with the same pattern as your yukata. Tie a bowknot to close the bag, and carry it by its strings. Since yukata do not have any pockets and carrying a regular purse with a yukata kind of ruins the traditional image, a kinchaku is a must-have.

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Uchiwa and Sensu

Go for a casual uchiwa (round paper fan) or a classy sensu (folding fan). Tuck it in your obi (yukata belt) when not in use. To look like a local, tuck the uchiwa in the back and the sensu in the front of the belt.

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Now let’s all head out in yukata and enjoy the summer!

Next in this series: The Matsuri Manual : Festival Food Guide