Top 4 Vegan & Vegetarian Ryokan Accommodations in Japan

Though many people say that it’s difficult to be a vegetarian in Japan, the truth is Japan has centuries worth of tradition processing plants in a plethora of delicious ways. Taking it one step further, their traditional Buddhist vegetarian cooking, called shojin ryori does not even kill plants. Using soy beans and parts of the plant without hurting the stem, these dishes are seasonal and produce very little waste, making them good for the body and the soul. If you can find the right places to eat and stay, there’s no better place to be a vegetarian than Japan!

Speaking of finding the right places, Japan recently announced a list of the best accommodations that are vegan and vegetarian-friendly. With this selection of ryokan (Japanese style inns) you can indulge in the complete Japan experience with top-notch Japanese hospitality and vegetarian cuisine.

1. Myojinkan – Nagano Prefecture

Located in hot spring haven Tobira Onsen area in Nagano, Myojinkan boasts spacious hot spring areas as well as beautiful Japanese-style rooms.
Their French cuisine by chef Masahiro Tanabe are elevated works of art, combining the sensibilities of Japanese macrobiotics and holistic health with the essence of gastronomy.

Address: Iriyamabe 8967, Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture
Access: 30 min. by shuttle bus or taxi from JR Matsumoto Station
Book now:

2. Koyasan Onsen Fukuchiin – Wakayama Prefecture

Stay in Koyasan Onsen Fukuchiin, a ryokan within a 1200 year old Buddhist temple located at the heart of Mount Koya. Partake in Buddhist morning services and Sutra readings then soak in their hot-spring baths for a truly tranquil experience.
For breakfast, they provide traditional shojin ryori dishes. You will be wanting more, so make sure to reserve dinner.

Address: Koyasan 657, Koyasan, Wakayama Prefecture
Access: 10 min. drive from Koyasan Cable Car Station
Book now:

3. Ryokan Koyokan – Shimane Prefecture

Koyokan is located within the premises of Kiyomizu Temple in Yasugi, Shimane which is part of the 33-temple route of the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, giving you the best views of the surrounding nature on the temple grounds.
Achieve a complete state of Zen by strolling around the premises then having their shojin ryori dishes for dinner.

Address: Kiyomizu-cho 528, Yasugi, Shimane Prefecture
Access: 15 min. drive from JR Yasugi Train Station
Book now:

4. Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo – Kyoto

Enjoy Japan’s changing seasons in this ryokan that is surrounded by beautiful Japanese gardens.
Located next to historical Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto, you can indulge in a vegetarian multi-course dinner, prepared in the traditional Japanese style.

Address: Sakyou Nanzenji Fukuchi 34, Kyoto City, Kyoto
Access: 25 min. drive from JR Kyoto Station
Book now:

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Anghela in Harajuku and Haneda Airport

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! 

I’m Satoru, a 3rd year university student and I am a staff of Japan Tour Guide.
This time, I guided Anghela, a university student from Barcelona to Harajuku and Haneda International Airport by myself. She has a cousin who is currently in Japan to study and Anghela said it was one of the reasons why she visited Japan this time so that she could meet her.

As she was busy while in Japan, I divided the whole guide into two parts. For the first part, we mainly went to the Monster Café in Harajuku. We met at Sugamo at first, where a Japanese summer festival was being held at the time and headed to Harajuku Station before long.


Monster Café located in Harajuku is really popular among foreign tourists because you can eat very Harajuku-style dishes and see stuff which is available only there!!


When you order something, you can use this cute device and the cake the staff brought us was so unique and amazing.


I was happy to hear that Anghela was satisfied with the experience in Harajuku.
If you have opportunities to visit Harajuku, Monster Café is definitely one of the places you must see!


When it comes to the second part, we went to Haneda International Airport on another day.
Some of you reading this may wonder why of all places I chose the airport for the guide. Against your image of a typical airport, Haneda International Airport is different from the others in terms of that you can see and touch very Japanese stuff and spend a good couple of hours there.

Let me introduce some of them.

1. The replica of the famous bridge Nihonbashi.
This bridge was first constructed in Tokyo in the Edo period (about 400 years ago) .
It has been rebuilt 19 times and has been contributing to the prosperity of Tokyo for a long time.

2. Japanese style resting place
Crossing bridge, you can see such a beautiful resting place on the right side. Since there is a famous Japanese cafe which serves green tea and sweets near this resting place, I think it good to order take-out and eat them while sitting here.

3. Great view from the observation deck
From the observation deck, you can see such an amazing view for free!! Since the planes waiting for departure are so close that you can see every detail and the ground illuminated by many colored lights is beyond description.


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!

Wakamatsu Chita Hot Spring Resort

Located on the Chita Peninsula, a less-traveled area in South Nagoya, the Wakamatsu Chita Hot Spring Resort promises a comfortable stay, combining the authentic Japanese “omotenashi” hospitality with state-of-the-art facilities.


Here you can rest in beautiful Japanese rooms with traditional tatami flooring. Take in the view of the Ise Bay and be lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean waves.


They also take pride in their hot springs. Four different onsen areas with different themes and views are available for you to experience. You can reserve the private bath on the roof with an amazing view.


And though the Chita Peninsula is off the beaten track, it offers a plethora of different activities and attractions, including fishing experiences, fruit harvesting experiences, whiskey making, theme parks, museums, and many more! Spend a relaxing stay at the Wakamatsu Chita ryokan and fall in love with the Chita Peninsula, the hidden playground in Central Japan.


Wakamatsu Chita Ryokan (Hot Spring Resort)
Address: Hamaokabe-19-1 Utsumi, Minamichita, Aichi Prefecture
Access: 30 minutes by car from Central Japan International Airport

A Day Trip from Tokyo: Chichibu

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Speaking of tourist destinations on the Seibu Railway network, Chichibu and Kawagoe are by far the most well known. In particular, Chichibu has been gaining popularity in recent years on the back of traditional and social media exposure. In this series of articles we will show you how we explored Chichibu by following Seibu Railway’s suggested itinerary. Join us and discover Chichibu!

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Our first stop was “Chichibu Meisen Exhibition Hall”. The building used to be an industrial site and is now a museum for “Chichibu Meisen”, a high quality silk fabric known for its daring designs and brilliant colors. The textile is officially designated as a Japanese traditional craft and yet it’s quite practical and modern fashionable. Here you can pose for a memorable picture wearing beautiful Meisen textile, or try your hands on silk dyeing. (Reservation required)

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Chichibu Meisen Exhibition Hall
Hours: 9:00-16:00
Admission: 200 yen
Website: (Japanese only)

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It’s about time for lunch, and let’s try the local specialty soba noodles! We had pork soba and sesame dip soba at “Maruta”, a soba restaurant right across the street from Chichibu Meisen Exhibition Hall. Do ask for the free soba soup after you finished the noodle. You can drink it as served or mix it with the dip sauce. I was told it’s good for the skin!

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Hours: 11:30-17:00
Facebook page:

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The historic Chichibu Shrine is the main venue for Chichibu’s Kawase Festival and Night Festival. The shrine is characterized with many colorful decorative sculptures, including the “three monkeys” that reminds people of its famous counterpart in Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Moreover, make sure to check out those creative anime “Emas” (small wooden plaque on which worshippers write their wishes) inspired by the animation film “Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day” and “The Anthem of the Heart”.

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Chichibu Shrine
Website: (Japanese only)

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Chichibu’s summer festival (Kawase Festival) and winter festival (Night Festival) takes place in July and December respectively. For those who missed the festive seasons, visit Chichibu Festival Museum and experience the charm of the festival through various interactive exhibits. Best of all, the video clips shown on the second floor are available in Japanese, Chinese, English, and Korean. It was so impressive that I bet whoever has watched it would make up his or her mind to come back again and experience the festival first hand!

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Chichibu Festival Museum
Hours: 9:00~17:00 (April~November); 10:00~17:00 (December~March)
Admission: 410 yen
Website: (Japanese only)

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Making good Japanese Sake requires high quality water. Blessed with the clear subterranean water flowing from nearby mountains, “Bukou Brewing” boasts an extensive lineup of sake products and offers tax-free shopping for foreign tourists. If you understand some Japanese language at least, do make a reservation for a free sake tasting and brewery tour.

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Bukou Brewing
Hours: 8:00-17:30
Website: (Japanese only)

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It’s about time to go back to Tokyo and we started to walk toward Seibu Chichibu Station through the Banba Street in front of Chichibu Shrine. Among the many stylish cafes and household zakka shops we discovered along the retro feeling kinda street, we were most impressed with the collaboration between a modern bagel bakery and an old shop called Yasudaya.

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Get a minced pork cutlet at Yasudaya and bring it to the bakery to make it a bagel sandwich. Yummy and innovative! It is such tiny creative stuff that brings vigor and tourists to town!

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Last but not least, shibazakura (moss phlox) bloom from mid April to early May in Chichibu. So why not visit Chichibu for a casual flower viewing trip if you’re visiting in Tokyo in spring!

Furugiya – Second-hand clothing shops in Tokyo

If you have been to Tokyo multiple times and have gotten bored of shopping along Ginza or Harajuku, it’s time to venture onto an alternative shopping experience; it’s time to explore vintage shopping.

Furugiya (vintage or second-hand clothes) shops are fairly common throughout Japan, but Tokyo has some of the best shops, with the best selection of items. Depending on the type of store, you may find regular second hand clothes, previous season’s designer items or designer vintage pieces, at a fraction of their original prices.

During my visit, I went to the stores along Harajuku Street near Tokyu Plaza, Ura-Hara area behind Omotesando and Shibuya.

Pigsty at Urahara. The owners actually started out in Osaka before opening their 2nd branch in Tokyo.


This street behind Omotesando leads to a few unique Americana vintage shops and the famous Ragtag.

The stores around Harajuku have a strong flavor of American culture, where you can find items from American brands such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. Some of the stores also carry a huge stash of southwestern printed items for all your bohemian needs.


Rama, a store on Harajuku street filled with Americana vintage goods.


Berberjin is another store along Harajuku street. They have an online site too.

Two must-see stores around Harajuku would be Jumble Store and Ragtag. Both stores are part of a larger chain and have online stores which you can browse before visiting. Jumble Store carries quite a range of items, from Dickies jeans to the latest designer labels such as Dior Homme and Balmain. However, going through the racks to find a designer item of your size will require time, effort and patience. If you only wish to find designer items, Ragtag would be better. Their store only carries famous labels; both mid-level priced as well as designer.


A 2-storey standalone Jumble store in Harajuku


For truly vintage items, I recommend Kodona and Sullen around Shibuya. Both stores are rather hard to access, but contain true gems. Carefully curated and extremely popular, both stores have to change their inventory frequently to keep up with demand. During my visit, I found beautiful vintage Christian Dior, Kenzo and Burberry pieces that were still in good condition.

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Kodona’s décor blends and enhances the pieces that they have in the store.

Before becoming too excited, here are some pointers to note when visiting:

Check: Check the pieces carefully. Some stores will have labels indicating defects or issues with the products. Do not be too excited about the discount given. Also check the stitching and condition and make your own judgment.

Ask: If unsure about an item, do ask the owners. They will be able to provide valuable information, such as the age of the item, condition of the item as well as care methods. They will also be able to provide you styling advice if you are unsure about a vintage item, but absolutely cannot do without it. They should also be able to provide advice on whether alterations should be done or not.

Enjoy: The entire process feels like a treasure hunt. Even if the item is not in your size, enjoy finding beautiful and interesting clothes while digging through the racks.

Decide: Most items are unique and there is only one. Decide if alterations can be done and if you truly would like the item. If you let it go, you probably would not find it again. So, choose wisely.


Contributed by Dwight Tan

Read the original articles on WAttention Singapore.

Discover the town of Onsens, Shuzenji

Located about 100km southwest of Tokyo, is Izu City, Shiszuoka Prefecture. Found at the Izu Hantō (peninsula), it is well known for its natural resources, mild climate and a mix of popular traditional and modern attractions, especially its onsens – making it a popular weekend getaway for Tokyoites.

The city can be split into three major areas: Eastern, western and central. Facing Sagami Bay, Eastern Izu is home to the famous Kawazu Sakura, the earliest flowering sakura in Japan while Mount Fuji lies in the west, across Suruga Bay’s coastline. Running through central Izu is the Kano River, Shuzenji Onsen and Temple. Other attractions include Atami Castle, Toi Gold Mind and MOA Museum of Art.

Easily accessible from Tokyo by train, you can get to Izu City by taking 50-minute ride on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Atami and Mishima or an 80-minute one by Odoriko from Tokyo to Atami.


One of the oldest and most famous hot springs resort towns on the Izu Peninsula, Shuzenji Onsen was named after the Shuzenji Temple (修禅寺) that is found in the centre of the town. Surrounded by the volcanic Amagi mountain range, the onsen offers guests a beautiful hilly view in place of the regular ocean-view onsens. Rich in history, Shuzenji Onsen is also known as Sho-Kyoto (kanji, little Kyoto) for its historical architecture and traditional charms.

Take a stroll along the scenic bamboo-lined Katsura River and discover quaint coffee shops and Shuzenji Gallery along the way.

Founded by Kobo Daishi this 1,200 year-old Zen Buddhist temple’s mizuya (purification fountain) uses onsen water that you can drink.

Soak and relax your feet after a day of exploring at this free hot spring foot bath in the town centre.

Hop on the steam locomotive and discover the town’s four unique areas: Canadian, English and Izu villages and a Japanese garden.


Registered as a National Cultural Property, this 150year-old onsen is famous for its luxurious rooms, warm hospitality, high standards of service and mysterious cave hot spring. Guests can expect a truly authentic and historically-rich experience thanks to its well-persevered Showa Era architectural structure, traditional décor and gourmet seasonal kaiseki (懐石, traditional Japanese course meal).

Access: 20-minute cab ride from Shuzenji
Address: 1887-1 Yugashima Izu-City Shizuoka 〒410-3206


Tucked away in Shuzenji’s bamboo woods, this resort’s as well-known for its deeply relaxing hot springs as it is for its genuine Kyoto-style kaiseki. Their rooms are designed in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony style called Sukiya Zukuri (数寄屋造り) that is characterised by the use of natural elements such as wood and, of course, bamboo.

Access: 10-minute cab ride from Shuzenji
Address: 1116-6 Shuzenji Izu-City Shizuoka 〒410-2416

This hot spring resort has four uniquely themed open-air baths for you to choose from. Their contemporary “Lights” onsen has a clean and minimalistic look that is best enjoyed at night and “Sunset” offers a gorgeous view of the sun setting over Mount Daruma. “Rock” and “Stone” show the contrast of traditional and modern styles while using the same earthy element.

Access: 8-minute cab ride from Shuzenji
Address: 3455 Shuizenji Izu-City Shizuoka 〒410-2416



Get dressed up for a day at this charming little kimono rental store set across the Shuzenji Onsen bust terminal. There are over 150 designs to choose from with various accessories to complete your look.

One of Japan’s 100 exquisite falls of Japan, Jōren Falls is surrounded by beautiful fauna and flora. On your way up, savour a creamy wasabi soft serve sold exclusively at the entrance of the falls.


30-minute ride on the Izuhakone Railway from Mishima Station to Shuzenji Station or a 2-hour ride on the Odoriko trains from Tokyo Station to Shuzenji Station, followed by a 10-minute bus or taxi ride to the town itself.

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore

Kewpie and Veggie Buddies Cafe

Another awesome place to have lunch in Shibuya! Kewpie and Veggie Buddies Cafe just opened in Shibuya for a limited period of time until September 23. The cafe’s concept is to deepen your love of vegetables. And it’s definitely working for us!

Their mouthwatering lunch items include a wonderful Egg & Shrimp Cobb Salad (available from Aug 24 – Sep 8) and an energizing Chicken and Grapefruit “Power Salad” (available from Sep 9 – 23).

Egg & Shrimp Cobb Salad
Egg & Shrimp Cobb Salad
Chicken and Grapefruit "Power Salad"
Chicken and Grapefruit “Power Salad”

While their dinner menu offers Romaine Lettuce Grilled Caesar Salad and Fresh Vegetables with Colorful Mayo Dip 4-ways
Romaine Lettuce Grilled Caesar Salad
Romaine Lettuce Grilled Caesar Salad
Fresh Vegetables with Colorful Mayo Dip 4-ways
Fresh Vegetables with Colorful Mayo Dip 4-ways

They also have some cute Kewpie and Veggie Buddies merchandise, so make sure to check it out!


sub9Kewpie and Veggie Buddies Café
Hours: 11am – 11pm (last order: 10pm)
Access: A 10-min walk from JR Shibuya Station
Address: 2F Royal Garden Cafe Shibuya, 4-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya
URL: (Japanese)

Ninja ID: ururumeru


Melissa Wullur
I’m an amateur writer and avid reader who’s been living in Japan since 2007. I enjoy reading and writing about food, travel, and quirky trivia. I treat 100 yen shopping as therapy.


10 reasons to do a farm stay in Japan


One of the unique holidays in Japan you can take is a farm stay. Not only it is affordable, it is also a great chance to try something new while being eco-friendly. Also, there are places that cater to only English-speaking tourists as well! Check out the list of farm stays recommended by JNTO here!

If you love nature, green spaces, and crave adventure, a farm stay may just be for you!

10. All the wide open spaces

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You can finally get away from the cramped city life. No crowded roads, no rubbing shoulders with smelly strangers on public transport – you get to roam and explore an entirely new place. Mostly, you get to take a breather and enjoy your vacation at a slower pace.

9. Fresh air! 

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Most farms are located in suburban areas, away from the city, so fewer cars and transport means less toxic air from factories, exhaust gas and so on. Compared to Singapore’s less hazy seasons, the fresh air in Japan is on a whole ‘nother level. Of course, if you choose a farm with many animals, you’ll have to deal with the smelly poo.

8. Fresh produce; no preservatives

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For some farm stays, you are invited to harvest your own food, or even tasked to harvest some produce for the meals you’re about to eat! This may sound horrendous for the squeamish anti-dirt-under-nails people, but this is how you know your food is fresh. You may even be able to purchase some fresh produce from the farm directly.

7. Child- and family-friendly activities

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A farm stay for children is a great opportunity to teach them about where food comes from and how to work on the land. Also, there are some easy activities where families and children can do together as a group! However, farms do have a age limit and parents are responsible for the conduct of their children. 

6. Animals!

Sure, some of the farm animals may turn up on your dinner plate, but they are lovable creatures that you rarely encounter in the city. Some farms may even have animal-related activities, like horse-back riding, milking, or even helping out with feeding.

5. Explore nearby mountains or forest

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Depending on your farm, you may be able to explore the vicinity. Some farms are near mountains or forests, so you can go hiking and trekking. Just beware of wild animals and always check with your host if the areas are safe.

4. Experience new farm activities

Tea picking experience | picture source
Tea picking experience | picture source

As some farms are interactive, you are literally doing a home stay in a Japanese farm! Not only you can practice some Japanese phrases and learn more about the culture, you can also tick off items from your bucket list and try new activities like staying in a traditional Japanese house, making bamboo chopsticks, tea harvesting, fishing… The list goes on.

3.  Unplug and unwind

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While most modern farm stays offer WIFI in their rooms, you can also choose to unplug and focus on the greenery around you. Have an authentic back-to-nature vacation by packing away your gadgets.

2. Support ecotourism and help the environment

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You may just be helping the environment by doing a farm stay as these travels are often low-impact and eco-friendly. In addition to learning about local culture, you are also supporting local effort to maintain their farms and their sustainable way of life.

1. Opt for a long and authentic farm experience

If you fell in love with rural life, you can always choose to join WWOOF, which is an organisation that helps organic farms to find farm hands. You are usually not paid a stipend, but you will receive awesome farm food and lodging in exchange for your hard work. What’s more, you can choose to sign up for month-long farm stays!

 Try a farm stay in Japan next time!

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore

The Art and Culture of Kanazawa

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Kanazawa has been the economic and cultural center of the Hokuriku region since the Edo period, during which the feudal lords supported and encouraged the development of culture and handicrafts. Fortunately Kanazawa escaped destruction during World War Two, so parts of the old town remain in good condition today.

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Since the old days, traditional Japanese culture has been very much a part of daily life in Kanazawa and Ishikawa Prefecture. Fine arts such as Noh, the tea ceremony, dyeing and gold leaf are handed down to current generations and continue to dazzle.

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Designated as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage, Noh is a classical performing art which originated in the Japanese middle ages. A Noh play is far more about conceptualization than many other forms of theatrical art and thus takes some prep-work to understand it.

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Kanazawa Noh Museum is a great place to start. Here you can even put on a Noh mask and costume. Noh wonder!

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Kanazawa Noh Museum
Hours: 10:00-18:00, closed on Mondays
Admission: 300 yen
Address: 1-2-25 Hirosaka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa

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Kanazawa Gold Leaf
The making of gold leaf is another flourishing Kanazawa tradition. 99% of Japan’s gold leaf is produced in Kanazawa. At ‘Kanawana Katani’, you can try your hand at gold leaf decoration.

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One session lasts about 60 minutes. Price depends on your choice of creation and starts from 900 yen. You get to take your handiwork home of course!

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Kanazawa Katani
Hours: 9:00-17:00
Address: 6-33 Shimoshin-cho, Kanazawa, Ishikawa

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Contemporary Art
In Kanazawa you can immerse yourself not only in traditional Japanese culture but also modern art from around the world. Opened in 2004, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is a great example of Kanazawa’s flourishing art and culture. The architecture itself is a breath of fresh air and its collection of modern artworks promises to give you a new perspective on Kanazawa’s rich cultural landscape.

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21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art
Hours: 10:00~18:00, closed on Mondays
Admission: 350 yen for permanent exhibitions
Address: 1-2-1 Hirosaka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa

Japan Travel 101: Introducing Ishikawa

ishikawa map_nov 5-01Located on the coast of the Sea of  Japan, Ishikawa-ken 石川県, Ishikawa-Prefectureis in the Chūbu region of Honshū (本州, main island). Surrounded by the Sea of Japan on one side and mountainous regions on the other, Ishikawa is rich in resources and holds numerous treasures for visitors to discover.


Kanzawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture Photo Source

Formed in 1872 through the merger of Kaga Province and Noto Province, Ishikawa’s history and tradition is heavily associated with the Maeda-shi (前田氏 ,Maeda clan) who were one of the most powerful samurai families in Japan. Kanazawa, in the then-Kaga province, acted as their headquarters from 1583 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Till this day, Kanazawa serves as Ishikawa’s capital city.


Kenroku-en in autumn Photo source

Ishikawa has an abundance of Prefectural and National Historic Sites and many are cultural relics of the Maeda Clan. These include Kanazawa-jō (金沢城, Kanazawa Castle),  Kaga han shu Maeda ke bosho (加賀藩主前田家墓所, Kaga Domain Maeda Clan Graves) and Kenroku-en (兼六園, Six Attributes Garden).


Senmaida in the day  Photo source

Some other sites worth visiting are the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Senmaida (千枚田, 1000 Rice Fields) and Haku-san (白山, Mount Haku) – which is one of Japan’s Sanreizan (三霊山, Three Holy Mountains) and a potentially active volcano.


Yamanaka Lacquerware Photo source

Due to the Maeda Clan, Ishikawa’s traditional and cultural performance arts and crafts are heavily influenced by traditional samurai lifestyle and culture.

Sadō (茶道, tea ceremony), introduced in the mid 17th century by Kaga’s second lord Maeda Yoshitsune, in particular has left lasting impression on many of Ishikawa’s arts and crafts, including their lacquerware and sense of omotenashi (おもてなし, hospitality and service).


Yamanaka-shikki master Okada-sensei demonstrates how to apply delicate Kanazawa gold leaf to a fine piece of lacquerware at a recent live-demonstration at Isetan.

Introduced to Yamanaka in the 17th century, Yamanaka-shikki (山中漆器, Yamanaka lacquerware) originally used various woodcraft techniques such as sensujiniki (せんすじにき, thousand-line engraving) and komanuri (こまぬり, concentric circles) to create homely everyday items . Designated as a traditional craft in 1975, Yamanaka lacquerware developed into beautiful pieces of art when maki-e (蒔絵, lacquer sprinkled with gold or silver powder/leaf) was introduced to the craft. Since then, Yamanaka has been producing high end products that serve as beautiful souvenirs.


Kagaya, Japan’s top rated ryokan for the past 35 years. Photo Source

Ishikawa is also home to Kagaya Ryokan. Located in Noto (north Ishikawa), Kagaya is a seaside ryokan (旅館, traditional Japanese inn) that has both traditional Japanese rooms and modern western rooms. Well-known for their meticulous care of their customers, Kagaya’s believes in “doing everything as if someone is watching you” and “always doing it the right way”. Their high standard of omotenashi is reflective of the samurai who paid careful attention to every small action they take.

Kagaya’s fastidious service, gourmet menu and elegant rooms have even won the favour of Emperor Akihito, who stayed in a Hamarikyu suite  at the top of Setsugekka (Kagaya’s traditional themed wing).


Wajima morning market Photo source 

Because Ishikawa is surrounded by sea and mountains on either side, there is an abundance of seafood, farmed and wild vegetables and meats. Japan’s second largest fishery is found in Noto, making Ishikawa one of the best places to enjoy fresh, seasonal seafood no matter where you eat.


Ishikawa oshizushi

One of Ishikawa’s speciality dishes is oshizushi (押し寿司, pressed sushi) featuring seafood such as anago (穴子, salt-water eel) and zuwaigani (ズワイガニ, snow crab). There’s also a pickled turnip and yellowtail version called kabura zushi ( かぶら寿司) that is found only in Ishikawa. Another traditional dish is jibu-ni (じぶ煮), a stew made with flour-coated duck or chicken meat, wheat gluten, vegetables, and mushrooms all simmered together in dashi stock.

Isokurumi, a local Ishikawa side dish is made from a mix of walnuts and small fish and shrimp. It was one of nine foods available at Ishikawa’s booth at Oishii Japan 2015. Other foods included oshizushi, steamed aged yuzu, wagashi (和菓子, traditional Japanese confectionary) and inari (いなり, deep fried tofu skin). 

Due to the prefecture’s location, Ishikawa experiences warm, humid summers and cold, snowfall laden winters, giving them the perfect conditions for creating fermented foods such as soy sauce chocolate, pickled fugu ranso (河豚卵巣, puffer fish ovaries), ishiri (いしり, fish soy sauce) and natto (納豆, fermented soy beans).


Students at Hakkou University Photo Source

Ishikawa is so famous for and dedicated to the fermentation process that they even have a Fermented Food College, Hakkou University, that specializes in the study of fermentation. Recently at Oishii Japan 2015, some of the facility came down to Singapore for the first time to conduct a lecture and share their knowledge.

From left to right: Chikuha Noto no Umeshu, Hakuto Brewery Oku-Noto no Shiragiku, Junmai-Ginjo, Sakurada Brewery Special Junmaishu Daikei and Matsunami Brewery Oeyama Fukkokuban Junmai-shu

Like many other Japanese prefectures, Ishikawa also has their own local sakagura (酒蔵, sake brewery). A majority of the breweries are found in Noto and Kaga while the remainder are closer to Kanazawa. Over the years, Ishikawa sake has seen a change in the flavour of their sake. However, despite going from fairly heavy and sweet taste to lighter, drier ones, Ishikawa’s sake remains clean, fragrant, light with deep complex notes. Most of Ishikawa’s sake is made from water running off Haku-san into the Tedorigawa river and 80% the sake is consumed in the prefecture itself.

Have you been to  or are planning to go to Ishikawa? Tell us what you’re looking forward to or if you have any tips for visiting this prefecture at our Facebook page or check out our feature on Ishikawa in our latest issues.

How to get to Ishikawa:

From Tokyo to Kanazawa: Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki 2 hours 30 minutes
From Osaka to Kanazwa: Limited Express Thunderbird 2hours 30 minutes

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore

Hokkaido: Indulge in the Paradise of Gourmet Food

Hokkaido Food (4)

Known as the Kitchen of the North, Sapporo boasts an endless list of delicious local specialties from ramen and fresh sea food to all sorts of sweets and confectionery. Plan your perfect Hokkaido holiday around gourmet food and get some souvenirs for your loved ones back home.

Hokkaido Food (3)

Miso ramen
First developed in Sapporo, miso (soybean paste) ramen usually features plenty of hot pork lard to keep your body warm during Hokkaido’s harsh winter. Typically bean sprouts are added to balance the robust and heavy flavor of the soup. If you want to eat like a local, order extra toppings of corn and butter.

Where to eat?
Ramen Sumire
URL: (Japanese only)

 Hokkaido Food (1)

Soup curry
This is a famous local dish that consists of rice and curry-flavored soup with lots of spices and ingredients such as vegetables, seafood, and tender chicken thighs. You can find many restaurants serving this dish around Sapporo, each with its own recipe. Besides eating in, you may as well bring home a microwavable meal of soup curry as a souvenir.

Hokkaido Food (5)

Where to eat?
Soup Curry Cocoro

Hokkaido Food (2)

Crabs and prawns
Seafood lovers will know that Hokkaido is a land of gourmet delicacies, especially when it comes to seafood. There are three famous crabs in Hokkaido, the King Crab, the Snow Crab, and the Horsehair Crab. The best way to try everything at one sitting is to head for a sumptuous crab buffet that offers not only unlimited crabs but also fresh prawns prepared in various styles such as sushi and deep-fried tempura.

Where to eat?
Ebikani Gassen
URL: (Japanese only)

Hokkaido Food (7)

Seafood rice bowl
Donburi Chaya is a seafood donburi (rice bowl) specialty store serving delicious seafood at incredibly low prices in Sapporo. Fresh ingredients are brought in from Nijo Fish Market, which explains why its seafood is so delicious and affordable. Donburi Chaya opens early, at 7:30 a.m., and during lunchtime it’s always packed with locals and tourists. Since it’s located right inside Nijo Fish Market, you can blend in with the lively atmosphere while enjoying a delicious meal!

Hokkaido Food (6)

Where to eat?
Donburi Chaya
URL: (Japanese only)

A Day Trip from Narita Airport: Historical Chiba


Narita is home to Narita International Airport, a main gateway to Japan. The following places are within 30 minutes by taxi or public transportation from the airport, and are also perfect for travelers with time to spare during layovers. There’s no need to go far from the airport to experience exotic Japan!

Narita-San Shinshoji


Visit one of the most popular temples in Japan. The headquarters of the Shingon sect’s Chizan School, this temple was built by Archbishop Kanjo in 940. The temple is dedicated to Fudomyo-o, the god of fire, and has been a favorite site for excursions and pilgrimages ever since the Tokugawa shoguns moved the national capital to Edo (Tokyo) in 1603. The temple currently attracts more than 3 million visitors wishing for their safety, luck, and prosperity during the first three days of the New Year’s Festival alone. Several of the temple’s structures have even been designated as National Important Cultural Properties.



Narita-San Omotesando


Stroll historic Japan at Omotesando. The 800-meter-long street leads straight to Narita-San Shinshoji Temple, and many small antique-style inns, restaurants, and souvenir shops are nestled along either side. Authentic local delicacies such as Unaju (eel over rice) are so juicy that will definitely satisfy both your stomach and travel checklist.





Travel 150 years into Japan’s past and try your hand at traditional crafts!  Boso-no-mura is an interactive museum park made up of authentic samurai residences, farmhouses, and other buildings from the Edo period. They offer around 350 types of demonstrations and hands-on experience programs.



Sakura Samurai Houses


Experience real Samurai life! Sakura City began as a fortified town at the foot of a local castle that served the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Edo period. Today, several historic samurai houses remain along Sakura Samurai Street, and the Horita House is one of the samurais houses open to the public.

URL: (Japanese)


Free Tour of Narita Area!

Great news for overseas travelers having a layover at Narita Airport! Narita Airport is running a “Narita Transit Program” offering free guided tours or self tours around Narita international transit passengers. For more information, please check their website.


Winter Activities in Tohoku : World’s Best Sake!

Vital elements to making great sake include fresh water, clean rice, fermentation starter and proper temperature. The Tohoku region, characterized by harsh winters, unpolluted water and dry air, is known across Japan for having the ideal sake-making conditions. Thanks to the dedication of toji (experienced brew masters), Tohoku sake has a time-honored place deep in the heart of sake enthusiasts. Several breweries offer tours from November to March, the best season for sake brewing.

Urakasumi Sake Brewery

Founded in 1724, this brewery has been tickling the taste buds of sake connoisseurs for nearly 300 years. The establishment offers a wide range of products, including classic sakes, seasonal specialties, plum wine and tasting accessories. Visitors can also enjoy a tour of the brewery, which is followed by a fascinating tutored tasting session.

Hours: Tour starts at 11am & 2pm (15 minutes long)
Access: 7-min walk from Honshiogama Station (JR Senseki Line)
Address: 2-19 Motomachi Shiogama-shi, Miyagi
*Reservation is required.

Dewazakura Sake Brewery

Dewazakura Brewery is a fantastic place to be if you’re a sake lover. The brewery, based in Tendo in Yamagata Prefecture, proved itself worthy of global praise by winning the numerous top prize in its category at the International Wine Challenge, one of the world’s largest wine competitions. Dewazakura sake is refreshingly light, slightly sweet and deliciously drinkable—even for sake non- aficionados!

Hours: 9am – 3pm
Closed: Sat, Sun and Holidays
Access: 15-min walk from JR Tendo Station (Yamagata Shinkansen & Ou Main Line)
Address: 1-4-6 Hitoichimachi Tendo-shi, Yamagata
*Reservation is required.

Other Recommended Sake Brewery Tours

Ryozeki Sake Brewery:
Hours: 9am – 11am or 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Access: 20-min walk from JR Yuzawa Station
Address: 4-3-18 Maemori, Yuzawa-shi, Akita
*Reservation is required at least 3 days prior to the tour date.

Suehiro Sake Brewery:
Hours: 9am – 5pm (Last entry 4:30pm)
Access: Take a bus from JR Aizuwakamatsu Station and get off at Yamatomachi Bus Stop. 1-min walk from the but stop.
Address: 12−38 Nisshin-machi, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima
*Reservation is required at least 3 days prior to the tour date.

Tohoku Meijo Sake Brewery:
Hours: 10am –4:30pm
Closed: Mon, New Year’s Holidays
Access: 20-min walk from JR Yuzawa Station
Address: 125 Higashiyama, Jurizukaji-mura, Sakata-shi, Yamagata
*Reservation is required.

Running around the Imperial Palace


As more and more runners hit the streets, the surroundings of the Imperial Palace have become a Mecca for runners; just like Central Park in NYC. Arguably the most popular running course in Tokyo, the parameters around the Imperial Palace is booming for several good reasons:


1. Easy access


The course is right in the city center, and can be easily reached via seven subway stations on four different lines.

2. Convenient facilities


Along the course, there are no lack of toilets, water fountains, and vending machines. Catering for office workers who want to hit the road before or after work, runner’s stations fitted with changing rooms and shower facilities have been built in recent years. You can even take a dip in one of the nearby public baths after a good run.

3. Safety


Needless to say, there are lots of police guarding the Palace, making it a safe place to run even at night.

4. Great running course



The course is traffic free and with good views. You will be greeted by spacious moats, stone walls, trees, and of course, modern buildings on the other side of the road. One lap of the course is around 5km, making it a perfect run for both beginners and experienced runners. As if to add a few more incentives, there are distance markers representing each prefecture in Japan, so you can honestly tell everyone you’ve run all the way from Niigata to Nagano.

5. Run with others


It is getting popular among office workers to have a drink together after a good run. The increase of well-designed and fashionable running ware also encouraged more female runners to put on their running shoes.


Because the running course is so popular, it can be crowded on weekends. As more and more runners join the running boom, runner’s etiquette has become a concern recently. To respond to the concerns, the local tourism association has come up with 10 guidelines. If you become one of the Imperial Palace runners, just remember one thing: the route is not reserved only for runners.

Akashiya Natural Bamboo Fude Pen Pencase Set

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 Natural Bamboo Fude Pen Pencase Set


Buy from store

See other Akashiya products:

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Eddie & Pete in Asakusa & Shibuya

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 guide request from Eddie and Pete from the US. They are colleagues and Pete has been in Japan on business trips before. This time, two of the members of Japan Tour Guide, Kazuhiro Takano and Tomoka Kosuge showed them around Tokyo! They met up in Akihabara.

First, our guides took them to Asakusa to let them enjoy Japanese traditional atmosphere. It was so busy with both visitors from other countries and even Japanese. They seemed to be interested in the rickshaws called “Jinriki-sha” in Japanese, which are really popular in Asakusa. They all took a picture in front of “Kaminarimon-gate”, and then took a walk along “Nakmise-street”.


They were little bit hungry by this time, so they bought some “Ningyo-yaki” which is a pancake stuffed with sweetened bean paste or custard. The ones they had were freshly baked, so they were lucky to get the best ones!


Then, they headed to the confectionery store, “Kagetsu-do” which is famous for its melon shaped bun. It’s really popular now and they took to it very much. They also had a Japanese dessert, “Anmitsu,” which is a Sweetened Red Beans Parfait with some pieces of fruits served in syrup. They all were able to enjoy such Japanese sweets in Asakusa, so if you like sweets, I guess Asakusa would be the best spot to enjoy them!

Then, they left Asakusa, and moved to Shibuya. They walked to “Shibuya KAMO” to buy the uniforms of “Gamba-Osaka”, a famous Japanese soccer team, as a souvenir to their friend.


After that, they went to Don Quijote to buy matcha flavored Kit Kats. They told our guides that it is really popular in their country. So they looked really happy to purchase a lot of them.


Then, our guides heard that the guests had wanted to eat sushi, so they took them to the sushi restaurant, “Sushi Zanmai” for dinner. They have few opportunities to eat sushi in their hometowns, so they seemed to be satisfied with eating the sushi along with some alcohol. They all enjoyed the meal and had a good time with each other.

After finishing dinner, they saw Eddie and Pete off to the station platform, and then 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!

【TOKYU HANDS × WAttention】Top 5 Green Tea Products

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.

Delicious and refreshing, green tea is a staple drink for Japanese people. Not only that, it’s numerous health benefits are well known around the world. For those who love green tea, we’ve selected a few green tea products full of Japanese flair, including a tea ceremony kit for the beginners out there. Now you can enjoy fresh green tea in the comfort of your home.

rankNo. 1 Yamasu Sugimoto Store Japanese Style Green Teabag



Aren’t these the cutest tea bags ever? These tea bags come with razor-cut tags in all sorts of shapes, such as adorable cats, fighting Ninjas, Sumo wrestlers and dancing Geisha. The silhouetted tags are realistic and fun, you can even use them as decoration or wall art once you’re done with the tea. The bag contains premium green tea leaves from the Shizuoka Prefecture. The “Selection of Great Actors” tea bag set has an English explanation on the package. Why not get it for your family and friends back home?

Product Name: Yamasu Sugimoto Store, Cat Tea Bag Set (3g of tea leaves x 6 bags), Selection of Great Actors Tea Bag Set (3g of tea leaves x 6 bags)
Price: 1,080 yen (including tax)
Category: Green Tea Product
WAttention Editor’s comment: “There’s a plethora of green tea bags available in Japan. But these tea bags are definitely a good conversation starter.”


rankNo. 2 PLUG Iced Tea Jug


When it comes to designing a water jug, you have to think of all the different ways it’s used on a regular basis; stored in a refrigerator, placed on a table and pouring beverages into a cup. With this in mind, KINTO, a modern tableware manufacturer, came up with an excellent solution. PLUG Iced Tea Jug features a simple and elegant design. An extra fine mesh at the bottom of the filter catches all the small tea leaves, leaving the tea clear and smooth. Thanks to its air-tight lid, even when you store the jug sideways, you don’t have to worry about leaking. Furthermore, the handle is ergonomically designed making it surprisingly easy to pour.

Product Name: PLUG Iced Tea Jug 1.2ℓ
Price: 2,484 yen (including tax)
Category: Tableware
WAttention Editor’s comment: “This beautifully designed jug is the pinnacle of form and function.”


rankNo. 3 Uji Seicha Tea Ceremony Set with 4 Items

macchasetIf you have participated in a tea ceremony and are interested in trying it at home, this is the perfect kit for you! This tea ceremony set comes with 4 essential items: Macha (green tea powder) from Marukyu-koyamaen in Kyoto Uji, a renowned green tea production area, Chawan (tea bowl), Chasen (tea whisk) and Chashaku (tea scoop). All you need is hot water, but make sure to let it cool, since the ideal water temperature is between 70℃ to 85℃.

Product Name: Uji Seicha, Tea Ceremony Set for a beginner
Price: 3,780 yen (including tax)
Category: Green Tea Product
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Selecting the right items can be overwhelming, but this kit eases you into trying the tea ceremony at home.”


rankNo. 4 Kyoto Uji Maruhisa Koyama-en, Macha Shohaku


This Macha is approved by Urasenke, one of the most prestigious tea ceremony schools. Because of its premium quality and superb taste, it is often used for official tea ceremonies in Japan. The marriage of bitterness and sweetness is supreme.

Product Name: Shohaku 20g
Price: 864 yen (including tax)
Category: Green Tea Product
WAttention Editor’s comment: “It’s hard to find Macha outside of Japan. So if you are a Macha enthusiast, get this excellent brand before you leave Japan!”


rankNo. 5 HARIO Water Brew Teapot with Handle



During the hot steamy summer days, it is only natural to crave a nice refreshing cold tea. With this tea pot, you can make your own cold tea at home. Just put a good amount of tea leaves in the filter, and pour water up to the instructed amount, then keep it refrigerated. Within 3 to 6 hours, your iced tea is ready to be served. Quench your thirst with your own home-made iced tea!

Product Name: Water Brew Teapot with Handle1,000ml
Price: 1,188 yen (including tax)
Category: Tableware
WAttention Editor’s comment: “This tea pot comes with a ultra-fine filter, you don’t have to worry about small tea leaves floating in your drink.”


TOKYU HANDS -Shinjuku Store-

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


スクリーンショット 2016-02-17 9.32.40

Winter Activities in Tohoku : Vintage Winter Rides

Make the most of your winter holiday by getting away with friends and family on transportation methods exclusive to Tohoku. Every winter, local operators run old-fashioned rides that bring Tohoku’s rich cultural heritage to life. Enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere on a stove train, kotatsu train or kotatsu boat as they tour along some of the most scenic routes in Japan.

Stove Train (Tsugaru Railway)

Equipped with two fully- red potbelly stoves, each train car boasts a warm, cozy atmosphere where travelers can mingle freely while winding through the vast snowfields of the Tsugaru plain. Dried squid, a traditional snack from centuries ago, is cooked on top of the stoves and served comfortably warm. Be prepared in advance, though: The train operates only three roundtrip rides from December to March, so be sure to check the schedule.

Stove Train
Date: Dec. 1 – Mar. 31
Access: 1-min walk from JR Goshogawara Station (Gono Line)
Price: 950 yen (Adult), 680 yen (Children)
*The train operates three round trips per day, so make sure to check the schedule.

Geibikei Boat

Geibikei, a 2-kilometer gorge surrounded by towering cliffs, is famous year-round for its 90-minute sightseeing boat ride. December through February is an especially popular time to visit because traditional foods, such as hot pot and rice cooked in iron pots, is served on kotatsu, a Japanese wooden table that comes with a blanket and a heater underneath. Huddle around the kotatsu, listen to the guide hum folk songs and immerse yourself in scenic splendor—life doesn’t get any better!

Kotatsu Boat Ride
Date: Dec. 1 – End of Feb
Closed: New Year’s Holidays
Access: 5-min walk from Geibikei Station (JR Oofunato Line)
Price: 1,600 yen (Adult), 860 yen (Children), 200 yen (Infant), Boat ride with meals 3,300 yen – 5,500 yen
*Reservation is required for the boat ride with meals.

Kotatsu Train (Sanriku Railway)

The Sanriku kotatsu train was forced to shut down temporarily after the railway was severely damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Reopened in 2014, it not only allows you to relax while enjoying mouthwatering bento lunches—made with fresh sea urchin, abalone and scallops caught from nearby coasts—but also offers panoramic coastal views of Iwate Prefecture.


Kotatsu Train
Access: Train starts either from Kuji Station or Miyako Station
Date: Dec. – Mar. Operates on Sat, Sun & Holidays
Price: 1,850 yen (Adult), 930 yen (Children) + 500 yen (Reserved seat fee)
The train operates one round trip per day, so make sure to check the schedule.

Five places to enjoy the Olympics in Tokyo before 2020

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1. View exciting live broadcasts of the Rio Games in Ueno Park

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Want to follow the Olympic Games but don’t feel like watching TV at home or in your hotel room? Then join the crowds at Ueno Park and cheer for your favorite athletes by watching live broadcasts shown on a big screen. Apart from various stage events and sport experience sessions, I was most impressed with the realistic multimedia footage of athletes’ performances shown on a screen with a length of 30m! Also don’t forget to get a free Tokyo 2020 pin badge by filling out a simple questionnaire.

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Tokyo 2020 Live Site in 2016 – from Rio to Tokyo –
Dates: Aug. 6, 2016 – Aug. 22, 2016 and Sep. 8, 2016 – Sep. 19, 2016
Hours: 9am – 6pm
Admission: free
Location: Ueno Park (check the website for five other venues in suburb Tokyo and Tohoku area)
URL: click here

2. Buy Tokyo 2020 official merchandises in Shibuya or Ginza

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Get official licensed Tokyo 2020 products before anyone else! Selection ranges from t-shirts and towels to souvenirs such as pin badges and key holders.

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Dates: Jul. 29, 2016 – Sep. 19, 2016
Hours: 10:30am – 8:30pm (Shibuya); 11am – 8:pm (Ginza)
Location: Tokyu Toyoko Store 2F concourse (Shibuya) and Tokyu Plaza Ginza 6F (Ginza)
URL: click here (Japanese only)

3. Experience various sport activities at Tokyo Sports Expo

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The annual event features a whole range of sport experience sessions instructed by Olympic medalists and other top athletes. Definitely a great chance to experience and develop an interest in various kinds of sport activities!

Tokyo Sports Expo 2016
Dates: Oct. 8, 2016 – Oct. 9, 2016
Hours: 10am – 5pm
Admission: free
Location: Komazawa Olympic Park, Koganei Park
URL: click here (Japanese only)

4. Watch a baseball game in Yokohama Stadium

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Baseball the national pastime of Japan will return to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 after a 12-year hiatus. Though not has been confirmed yet, Yokohama Stadium, home of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, is emerging as the most likely candidate to host the baseball games during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. So why not catch the baseball fever before 2020 by watching a BayStars game at Yokohama Stadium?

*The professional baseball season starts in April and ends in October.

Yokohama Stadium
Access: 3 minutes walk from Kannai Station on JR Negishi Line.
URL: click here (Japanese only)

5. Revisit Tokyo 1964 at Komazawa Olympic Park

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Though National Stadium, the main venue for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, has been demolished to make way for a new stadium for 2020, you can still get a taste of the 1964 Games at Komazawa Olympic Park, the second site for the 1964 Olympics when facilities such as athletic fields and gymnasium were used as venues for soccer, wrestling, and other competitions. It was opened to the public after the Olympics, and is also one of the venues for the above mentioned Tokyo Sports Expo.

Komazawa Olympic Park
Access: 10 minutes walk from Komazawa-daigaku Station on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line.
URL: click here

Winter Activities in Tohoku : Snow Activities

Gliding over or schussing through high-quality powder is the ultimate delight for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. Tohoku, just a few hours away from Tokyo by shinkansen (bullet train), is the perfect destination for those who ache to spend some serene or invigorating time hitting the slopes. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, there are myriad other tantalizing activities on offer to meet every particular fancy.

Zao Onsen Ski Resort (Yamagata)

At Zao Onsen Ski Resort, you can enjoy magnificent views of windblown juhyo (fir trees) heavily coated with thick, sparkling snow. These legendary “snow monsters” are often grotesquely shaped due to the extreme velocity of the northwest winter Siberian monsoon cutting through. January and February are the best times to see for yourself the weirdest and wildest—even scariest!—of snowscapes in all of Japan.

Access: 40 minutes from Yamagata Shinkansen Yamagata Station by bus

Appi Kogen Ski Resort (Iwate)

Iwate Prefecture is proud home to several popular winter destinations, including the ever-so-famous Appi Kogen Ski Resort, one of the largest in Japan with 20-odd trails and a total length of 45.1 km. A vacation here, however, is not as exclusive to skiers and snowboarders as one might assume: Appi Family Park, for example, offers gentle slopes for sledding and tubing—as well as a snowman-making area open to “Frosty builders” of all ages!

Access: 50 minutes from Tohoku Shinkansen Morioka Station by JR Hanawa line or bus

Ura-Bandai (Fukushima)

Skiers, snowboarders and sightseers never get enough of the silky, microfine snow at Ura-Bandai Kogen. Aside from thrilling, well-groomed trails designed to satisfy anyone from “bunny trail” novice to “black diamond” expert, there are also scenic backcountry fields for fans of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The views from the slopes are absolutely breathtaking—like scenes lifted straight off the canvas of a classic landscape painting!

Access: Urabandai Kogen: 30 minutes from JR Banetsusai Line Inawashiro Station by bus

Snowmobile Night Cruise (Zao Onsen Resort, Yamagata)

See ghostly trees illuminated in magnificent colors every night during the peak winter season. The stark contrast of brilliant white, mystical black and rainbow hues creates a fantasy world you will not want to miss. Hop on the resort’s snowmobile, which is equipped with heating, and experience this amazing spectacle—at minus-10 degrees

Zao Night Cruise
Date: Dec. 23, 2016 – Mar. 5, 2017
Hours: 5pm – 9pm (Last tour starts at 8pm)
Access: 40-min bus ride from JR Yamagata Station
Price: 3,800 yen (Adult), 3,100 yen (Children)
Tel: 023-694-9518
*Reservation is required.

Other Recommended Ski Resorts

Onikobe Ski Resort : 40 minutes from Naruko Onsen (Miyagi) by city bus Located in Naruko onsen village, the ski resort has eight slopes for different levels and a snow park for kids.

Nekoma Ski Resort : 2 hours from Tohoku Shinkansen Koriyama Station by free shuttle (available during ski season,reservation required).
The ski resort attracts a great number of skiers with its fine powder snow and a beautiful view of Mount Bandai’s lakes and marshes.

Scenic Food Spots: Mori no Eki Fujisan

Our next spot to get good food with a million-dollar view is Mori no Eki Fujisan, a newly opened eatery and souvenir shop at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Look out of their giant glass windows for a breathtaking and unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji.


They serve dishes made from ingredients taken from the local area as well as fresh seafood from Suruga Bay.

Try their green onion and pork soba, made from pork raised at the foot Mt. Fuji and buckwheat that was cultivated in nearby Gotemba.

If you prefer beef, try their “Hayashi Rice” (hashed beef rice) made to look like Mt. Fuji.

If you plan to go as a large group, you can reserve a grand meal in buffet-style, consisting of more than 20 types of dishes including sushi and freshly cut roast beef.

For an additional 2,000 yen to the price, you can even add crab to the menu!

Find interesting Fuji-themed treasures on the 1st floor souvenir shop, as well as some seasonal vegetables harvested from the surrounding area.

Being at the foot of Mt. Fuji, this eatery is located in an extremely strategic spot. There is a large parking lot nearby for people planning to climb up Mt. Fuji. It is also within a short driving distance from major tourist spots around Mt. Fuji, such as the Fujisan skyline and Grinpa theme park, making this place a convenient and beautiful place to eat and rest during your trip up and around Mt. Fuji.

Address: Shizuoka Prefecture, Susono, Suyama
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Telephone: 055-998-0085
URL: (Japanese)

August 2016 Fireworks Festivals Schedule – In & Around Tokyo

Here comes the second part of our Fireworks Festivals Schedule! All big Events In & Around Tokyo for August are featured in this article.  Get your Yukata ready!


The 34th Koto Fireworks Festival

Date: August 1st (Monday), 7:30pm – 8:30pm
This fireworks display will be held along the Arakawa River. In case of light rain, the event takes place. In case of stormy weather, the fireworks display moves to the next day, August 2nd (Tuesday).
Visitors last year: 350,000 people
Number of fireworks: 4,000
Access: Tokyo Metro Tozai Line –> Minami-Sunamachi Station, Exit No. 2A or 3 (15min walk)
Address: Arakawa・Sunamachi Mizube Koen, 8-22 Higashi Suna, Koto-ku

63rd Todabashi & 57th Itabashi Fireworks Festival

DSC_0486Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks festival features two festivals which are very close to each other and count as one. The Arakawa river separates those both places, Toda City belongs to Saitama Prefecture and Itabashi belongs to Tokyo. Therefore you can enjoy the festival from both sides of the river. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: Itabashi Area 520,000 / Todabashi Area 420,000
Number of fireworks:  12,000
Access & Address:
① Todabashi Fireworks Festival (Arakawa Kasenshiki, Todabashi Joryu, Japan National Route 17, Toda-shi, Saitama)
JR Saikyo Line -> Toda Koen Station (20min walk)
② Itabashi Fireworks Festival (Arakawa Kasenshiki, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo)
JR Saikyo Line -> Ukima Funado Station / Toei Mita Line -> Takashimadaira Station・Nishidai Station・Hasune Station (20min walk)

41st Edogawa-ku Fireworks Festival & 32nd Ichikawa Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

DSC_0487Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:15pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks festival features two festivals which are very close to each other and count as one. It is located at the border of Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 1,390,000 (Edogawa-ku 900,000 / Ichikawa-shi 490,000)
Number of fireworks:  14,000
Access & Address:
① Edogawa-ku Fireworks Festival (Edogawa Kasenshiki, Toritsu Shinozaki Koen, Kamishinozaki 1-25, Edogawa-ku)
Toei Shinjuku Line -> Shinozaki Station (15min walk); JR Sobu Line -> Koiwa Sation/ Keisei Line -> Edogawa Station (25min walk)
② Ichikawa Summer Nights Fireworks Festival (Ozu 3, Ichikawa-shi, Chiba )
JR Soba Line -> Ichikawa Station (15min walk); JR Sobu Line -> Motoyawata Station (30min walk) , Keisei Line -> Konodai Station (20min walk)

Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival

DSC_0193Date: August 20th (Saturday), 7:30pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks festival acts as a charity at the same time, concentrating on the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Kumamoto Earthquake. Popular artists will perform as well. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, August 21st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 1,000,000 people
Number of fireworks:  12,000
Access: JR Sobu Line -> Sendagaya Station・Shinanomachi Station・Yoyogi Station; Tokyo Metro Lines -> Gaienmae Station・Aoyama-Itchome Station・Omotesando Station・Kitasando station; Toei Oedo Line -> Kokuritsu-Kyogijo
Address: Meiji Jingu Gaien, Minato-ku, Shibuya-ku, Shinjuku-ku

Movie City Chofu – Summer Fireworks Festival (34th Chofu Fireworks Festival)

DSC_0464Date: August 21st (Sunday), 6:50pm – 7:50pm (*Paid seats are available)
Since Chofu is the movie city of Tokyo (many movie production companies are located in this area) the fireworks festival comes along with music out of popular movies.
In case of stormy weather, the event will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 380,000 people
Number of fireworks:  8,000
Access: Fuda Area: Keio Line -> Chofu Station (25min), Keio Tamagawa Area: Keio Line -> Keio Tamagawa Station (10min walk)


2016 Yokosuka Fireworks Festival

DSC_0151Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:15pm – 7:45pm
150 booths are set up to enjoy local food. In case of stormy weather, the event will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 223,000 people
Number of fireworks:  5,000
Access: Keikyu Line -> Yokosuka Chuo Station (25min walk)
Address: Umikaze Koen, Mikasa Koen, Yokosuka-shi

70th Atsugi Ayu Summer and Fireworks Festival

Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7pm ~
In the end of the Ayu Summer Festival, about 10,000 fireworks will turn the sky into a mood-enhancing play of lights and colors.  While watching the fireworks you can taste local dishes which are prepared by the 400 booths which are set up around the area. In case of stormy weather, the event will be postponed.
Visitors last year: 180,000 people
Number of fireworks: 10,000
Access: Odakyu Odawara Line –> Hon-Atsugi Station – North Exit (15min walk)
Address: Sagamigawa Kasenshiki Sansen Goryuten, Atsugi-shi

42nd Southern Beach Chigasaki Fireworks Festival

DSC_1129Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:30pm – 8:20pm
Booths are set up to try local food while watching the fireworks display. In case of stormy weather, the event will move to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 80,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: JR Tokaido Main Line・Sagami Line –> Chigasaki Station – South Exit (20min walk)
Address: Southern Beach Chigasaki, Chigasaki Kaisuiyokujo, Nakakaigan 4-12986, Chigasaki-shi

36th Miura Kaigan Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

Date: August 9th (Tuesday), 7:30pm – 8:15pm
The fireworks will be set off from the sea and you can enjoy the view while sitting on the beach. 90 booths selling local food are prepared. In case of rainy or stormy weather, the event will move to the next day, August 10th (Saturday).
Visitors last year: 105,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: Keihin Kyuko Kurihama Line –>Miurakaigan Station (3min walk)
Address: Sagamigawa Kasenshiki Sansen Goryuten, Atsugi-shi

75th Tamagawa Fireworks Festival

Date: August 20th (Saturday), 6:30pm – 8pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and will be held along the Tama River. 200 booths are set up to enjoy local food. In case of stormy weather, the event will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 308,000 people
Number of fireworks:  6,000
Access: Tokyu Den’entoshi Line -> Futako-Shinchi Station (15min walk – Kawasaki Area), Oimachi Line -> Kaminoge Station (8min Tokyo Area)
Address: Tamagawa Kasenshiki, Futakobashi  ~ Daisan Keihin Doro, Takatsu-ku, Kawasaki-shi

66th Shonan Hiratsuka Fireworks Festival

Date: Friday August 26th (Friday), 7pm – 8pm
In the end of the Ayu Summer Festival, about 10,000 fireworks will turn the sky into a mood-enhancing play of lights and colors.  While watching the fireworks you can taste local dishes which are prepared among the 400 booths which are set up around the area. In case of stormy weather, the event will be postponed.
Visitors last year: 140,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: JR Tokaido Main Line –> Hiratsuka Station – South Exit -> 10min Bus ride into Sukaminato direction until the last stop (5min walk)
Address: Sagamigawa Kako, Shonan Itako, Hiratsuka-shi

42nd Kanazawa Fireworks Festival

Date: August 27th (Saturday), 7pm – 8pm
This fireworks display will be held in front of Tokyo Bay. About 20 booths are set up to enjoy local food while watching the fireworks display. In case of rain, the event takes place. In case of stormy weather, the fireworks display will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 280,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,500
Access: Kanazawa Seaside Line –> Uminokoen-Minamiguchi Station・Uminokoen-Shibaguchi Station (right in front); Keikyu Main Line -> Kanazawa-Bunko Station (20min walk)
Address: Kanazawa-ku Uminokoen, Uminokoen 10, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama-shi

45th Sagamihara Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

Date: August 27th (Saturday), 6:45pm – 8:15pm (*Paid seats are available)
About 200 booths are set up to enjoy local food while watching the fireworks display. In case of stormy weather, or floodwater of Sagami-river, the event moves to the next day, August 28th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 200,000 people
Number of fireworks:
Access: JR Yokohama Line –> Sagamihara Station – South Exit -> Bus No. 17 into Suigotana direction via Tana Bus Terminal until the last stop (5min walk)
Address: Sagamigawa Takatabashi Joryu, Suigotana, Chuo-ku, Sagamihara-shi


Teganuma Fireworks Festival 2016

DSC_1196Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
The fireworks will be set off at three different areas which are located close to each other. For example, the first venue features characters loved by kids, and the second one shows a fantastic fireworks display set off on water. Booths are set up at the Akibo area to enjoy local food. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 410,000 people
Number of fireworks: 13,500
Address & Access:
① Kashiwa Spot 1 (Teganuma Shizen Fureai Ryokudo・Kita-Chiba Dosui Visitor Center  Area)
Access: JR Joban Line –> Kita-Kashiwa Station (25min walk); Kashiwa Station – East Exit (40min walk)
② Kashiwa Spot 2 (Teganuma Shizen Fureai Ryokudo・Michi no Eki  Area)
Access: JR Joban Line -> Kashiwa Station – East Exit -> Bus Platform No.5 -> Tobu Bus into Shonan direction -> 20min ride until Oi (20min walk)
③ Abiko Spot (Teganuma Koen  Area)
Access: JR Joban Line -> Abiko Station – South exit (10min walk)

The 890th Anniversary of the foundation of Chiba-City
Makuhari Beach Fireworks Festival 2016 (38th Chiba Fireworks Festival)

Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:30pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and it is popular for reading special messages like marriage and birthday slogans while setting up the fireworks. Booths are set up to enjoy delicious festival food during the event. In case of stormy weather the fireworks festival will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 300,000 people
Number of fireworks: 15,000
Access: JR Keiyo Line –> Kaihin-Makuhari Station (15min walk)
Address: Makuhari Kaihin Koen, Mihama 1, Mihama-ku, Chiba-shi

56th Sakura Fireworks Festival

Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and will be set off from the water. Booths selling local food are set up. In case of stormy weather the fireworks festival will move to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 160,000 people
Number of fireworks: 16,000
Access: Keisei Main Line –> Keisei-Usui Station (30min walk)
Address: Sakura Furusato Hiroba (Inbanuma Kohan), Usuita 2714, Sakura-shi

40th Nagareyama Fireworks Festival

Date: August 20th (Saturday), 7pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and is also called “Nagareyama Sky Musical”. Booths selling local food are set up. In case of stormy weather the fireworks festival will move to August 26th (Friday).
Visitors last year: 165,000 people
Number of fireworks: 10,000
Access: Ryutetsu Nagareyama Line –> Nagareyama Station・Heiwadai Station (5min walk); Tsukuba Express -> Nagareyama Central Park Station -> Free Shuttle Bus until Ryutetsu Nagareyama Line –  Nagareyama Station
Address: Edogawa Tsutsumi, Nagareyama 1~3, Nagareyama-shi

69th Kisarazu Port and Fireworks Festival

Date: August 15th (Monday), 7:15pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
The fireworks display will be the highlight of the Kisarazu Port Festival. 500 booths are set up to enjoy typical festival food, as well as playing festival games. In case of rainy weather the fireworks festival will move to the next day, August 16th (Tuesday).
Visitors last year: 120,000 people
Number of fireworks: 10,000
Access: JR Uchibo Line –> Kisarazu Station (15min walk)
Address: Kisarazu-Ko Naiko, Naka no Shima, Kisarazu-shi


33rd Asaka Festival (Saika-Festival)

DSC_0471Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:15pm – 8:15pm (*Paid seats are available)
The fireworks display will be the highlight of the Asaka Saikasai, which takes place from Friday August 5th until Sunday August 7th. 300 booths are set up to enjoy typical festival food and playing festival games. In case of stormy weather the fireworks festival will move to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 280,000 people
Number of fireworks: 9,000
Access: Tobu Tojo Line –> Asaka Station (5min walk)
Address: Camp Asaka Atochi, Asaka-shi

38th Tatara Festival & Fireworks Festival

Date: August 7th (Sunday), 7:45pm – 8:30pm
The highlight of the Tatara Festival will be the fireworks display. 160 booths are set up to enjoy typical festival food, as well as playing festival games. In case of rain, the fireworks festival will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 160,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: Saitama Rapid Railway Line –> Minami-Hatogaya Station (15min walk)
Address: Kawaguchi Autorace, Aoki 5-21-1, Kawaguchi-shi

Higashi Matsuyama Fireworks Festival

Date: August 27th (Saturday); 7pm – 9pm
30 booths are set up to enjoy typical festival food. In case of light rain, the fireworks festival takes place. In case of storm and rain, the event moves to August 28th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 90,000 people
Number of fireworks: 5,000
Access: Tobu Tojo Line –> Takasaka Station (15min walk)
Address: Tokigawa  Riverside Park, Ooaza Takasaka 700-1, Higashi-Matsuyama-shi

Saitama City Fireworks Festival 2016 (Higashi-Urawa Omagikoen)

Date: August 11th (Thursday); 7:30pm ~
The light up of the garden due to the fireworks offers a beautiful sight. 250 booths are set up to enjoy local dishes. In case of light rain, the fireworks festival takes place. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to August 12th (Friday).
Visitors last year: 80,000 people
Number of fireworks: 5,000
Access: JR Musashino Line –> Higashi-Urawa Station (20min walk)
Address: Omagikoen Area, Midori-ku, Saitama-shi

Ninja ID: nene16



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

Shibuya’s Peko-chan Restaurant

In the heart of Shibuya, across from Shibuya 109 you can find a branch of Fujiya Restaurant featuring its cute mascot character Peko-chan.

DSC_0006 Fujiya Food Service Co., Ltd. famous throughout Japan for its confectionery stores and restaurants, opened its first store in 1910 in Yokohama. The chain’s mascot is a little girl with pigtails who is constantly licking her lips.

Her name is Peko-chan, a play on the word ‘peko peko’ which is the onomatopoetic sound for being hungry or peckish in Japanese. You can spot a figure of her in front of every Fujiya pastry shop and restaurant, greeting customers. Here is Peko-chan and her boyfriend, Poko-chan sitting above a store in Kamakura right next to Kamakura Station.

The restaurant in Shibuya offers a cheap lunch menu with great value.DSC_0662

The advertisement says pasta & parfait lunch, including a salad and drink for only 950 yen (tax included)! We were curious and had to try it!


You have the choice between six different main dishes, including pasta, gratin and doria/pilaf dishes, five parfaits and several beverages.

It was a hard decision, but in the end we ordered the shrimp & chicken macaroni gratin and the custard-pudding strawberry parfait.


Our stomaches were filled and the taste was really good!


You can even celebrate your birthday together here with Peko-chan.

For every 500 yen you spend at the restaurant you will get one stamp on your point-card and if you collect several points you can exchange them for special Peko-chan goods at the restaurant.


After collecting two point cards you can receive this cute, round box for example!


Hours: 11am – 11pm
Tel: 03-3477-2226
Access: 5 min walk from Shibuya Station (Hachiko Exit)
Address: Sanrui Building 2 F, Udagawa-cho 26-2, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Ninja ID: nene16



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

Kyo Karakami Karabaco (Large) Metal Lines

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 Karabaco (Large) Metal Lines


See in store

See other Karakami stationery products:

Ginza Cozy Corner’s monthly cake-set

Japanese people love food. They’re willing to line up for hours to enter popular restaurants and cafés, and they value taste as well as the appearance of the dishes. Therefore, cooks and pastry chefs are always making new improvements on their creations whether it is the taste or the arrangement of the menu to satisfy the high expectations of their guests.

Ginza Cozy Corner is one of the most popular pastry factories in Japan, establishing its first shop in January, 1948 in Tokyo´s Ginza district. Throughout the decades, the company has opened 400 shops, including cafés, restaurants and take-out shops all throughout Japan.

A cake set which comes with 9 delicacies is one of the highlights of Ginza Cozy Corner’s take-out shops. The variety and taste changes monthly and features a different theme each time.

Until July 31st, the cake set theme was Alice in Wonderland, celebrating the new movie that was recently released in Japan. The cakes come in a beautiful designed box. If you have a long way to your destination, don´t worry, they will put ice packs inside the box, so that the cakes will stay fresh until you arrive.


The artwork is very pretty and promotes the little cakes very well.


Each piece features a character or item of the fairy tale and was additionally decorated with little plastic parts contributing to the atmosphere.


1 Tea jelly (Earl Grey)
2 Tea with milk pudding
3 Banana fresh cream & raspberry jam tart
4 Lemon fresh cream & tea cake
5 Pistachio fresh cream & apricot jam tart
6 White chocolate fresh cream cake
7 White chocolate mint fresh cream tart
8 Raspberry cream swiss roll with strawberry jam
9 White chocolate fresh cream & raspberry jam tart


Now we’re all set for a Mad Tea-Party in the world of Alice!

Starting August 1st, the new line of cakes features a refreshing summer theme, which seems to be a big hit during these humid hot days!


The name of the product is “Petite Selection - refreshing cool fruits” and contains the following delicacies: 1 Lemon Tart, 2 Mango Pudding, 3 Kiwi Tart, 4 Peach Jelly, 5 Strawberry Mousse, 6 Soda Jelly, 7 Fruit Tart, 8 Passion-Mango Mousse, 9 Blueberry Tart.

Get your cake set at your nearest branch of Ginza Cozy Corner!


Ginza Cozy Corner – Shinjuku Station South Exit Branch
Hours: 9am – 11pm
Period: Aug. 1-31
Price: 2,268 yen (tax included)
Access: JR Shinjuku Station – South Exit within the ticket gate area.
Address: 3-38-1 Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, 160-0022 Tokyo
URL: Ginza Cozy Corner

Ninja ID: nene16



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

The Charm of Hokuto (6): Moegi no Mura


Spend a day in Moegi no Mura, a theme park village located in the Kiyosato Highland of Yamanashi Prefecture. It was started with the establishment of the café “ROCK” in 1971. The president of Moegi no Mura, Joji Funaki, was fascinated by German architecture and musical organs during his study trip in Europe. When he came back to Japan, he had the vision to bring a glimpse of Europe to Yamanashi. Together with six architects and engineers from Canada, the first buildings of the village were built with imported material from North America. The village was established in 1977 acting as a natural resort in the style of a western village for young people to experience the charm of the nature.


Surrounded by nature in the middle of the woods and having more than twenty different exciting attractions, you can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and visit many shops, restaurants and cafés. Here are a few of its highlights:

Yatsugatake Outdoor Activities

Here you can get information about nature activities such us trekking, hiking, and Segway tours. For Segway beginners, we recommend the early morning Segway tour which includes a quick training session followed by a guided tour around Moegi no Mura.

Hours: 9am – 5pm
Closing days: Thursday (except during summer season)
Facebook page:

Music Box Museum “Hall of Halls”

One of the main attractions of the village is the Music Box Museum “Hall of Halls” showing antique music boxes and automatic mechanical musical instruments which reach back in time until the 19th century. The collection features antique acquisitions from France, Germany and many other European countries.
In the left upper corner of the collage you can spot the “Limonaire 1900” pipe organ, which was made for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris.  Another highlight of the museum is the “Mozart Barrel Organ” which plays songs composed by Mozart especially for this mechanical orchestra.

Hours: 10am – 6pm (last entrance 5:30pm)
Admission: 800 yen (adults), 500 yen (students) – there is an extra charge of 500 yen during the musicians live and the organ live
URL: Music Box Museum “Hall of Halls”

Mori no Merry Go Round Cafe

Another popular spot of the park is the Merry Go Round and its café, which is a big attraction among young and old visitors. It´s location in the woods of the village, makes this place very magical. Many Japanese pop stars used this location for their Music Video or CM production, including Ayumi Hamasaki and Bekky.

Hours: 10am – 6pm
Closing days: Thursday (except August to October)
Admission: 300 yen for the Merry Go Round
URL: Merry Go Round

Café “Carole”

For a tea or coffee break we recommend the Café “Carole” offering healthy lunch plates and home-made cakes. The café has a warm and cozy atmosphere, a bit like sitting in your grandma’s house and waiting for her home-cooked meal. We had a taste of the original Short-Cake with peach filling and the walnut tart, as well as three different kinds of cookies.

Hours: 10am – 6pm (until 5pm during winter season)
Closing days: Wednesday (except during summer season)
Tel: 0551-48-2520
URL: Café Carole

The many crafts shops of Moegi no Mura

For all cat-lovers, the shop “Le Chat Des Bois” focuses only on selling products in shape of cute cats. The products are designed by Japanese designers, as well as imported products from overseas.


At shop “Ellen”, you can buy handmade goods and accessories for your beloved dog. Dog leads, harnesses and eco-shopping bags are the best sellers among the products. The shop “Sugar Plum” with its old blue Citroën sleeping in the front garden, offers country crafts, fabrics and original eco-shopping bags. The flower garden leads the way to the next shop, the “Fair Heaven”. Here you can purchase your favorite scent in form of body care products, essential oils, aroma bags, herb water, incense or aroma candles. Also many products feature flower prints, like tableware, table clothes, or umbrellas are available as well. Most of the shop owners import the goods from its origin country, and emphasize the image of rural life. When you enter those shops you are embraced by a calming atmosphere that can be found throughout the village.


Moegi no Mura
Access: 12min walk from Kiyosato Station (JR Koumi Line)
Address: Takane-cho Kiyosato 3545, Hokuto-shi, 407-0301 Yamanashi
Tel: 0551-48-3522
URL: Moegi no Mura

Read the rest of the series:
The Charm of Hokuto (1) : Oasis of the Highlands
The Charm of Hokuto (2) : Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum
The Charm of Hokuto (3) : Suntory Hakushu Distillery
The Charm of Hokuto (4) : Inn Blue in Green
The Charm of Hokuto (5): Top 5 Photogenic Nature Spots
Restaurant Review: Soba Restaurant Sanbuichi

Ninja ID: nene16



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

The Charm of Hokuto (5): Top 5 Photogenic Nature Spots

Get your cameras ready! Wattention staff visited Hokuto in Yamanashi prefecture and listed up the most photogenic spots in this area.

  1. Hokuto City Akeno – Sunflower FestivalDSC_0663

600,000 sunflowers will welcome you at the Sunflower Festival in Hokuto City. Surrounded by Mount Fuji, the Yatsugatake Volcanic Group and the Southern Alps, the scenery is breathtaking and counts as one of the best photo spots during summer.

Date: July 23rd – August 21st
Hours: 8am – 5pm
Admission: free
Access: About 20 minutes by taxi from Nirasaki Station (JR Chuo Main Line)
Address: Akeno Sunflower Field,  Asao 5664, Akeno-cho, Hokuto-shi, 408-0201 Yamanashi
URL: Hokuto Sunflower Festival 2016

2. Sun Meadows – Kiyosato Terrace


The Kiyosato Terrace located at 1900m altitude is usually known as a popular ski area during winter season, but in summer you can enjoy the beautiful view of Kiyosato Highland, Mt. Fuji and the Southern Alps while relaxing on the huge bed-like sofas together with a delicious drink or dessert available at the Kiyosato Terrace Café. The Panorama Lift which takes you to the terrace has a total length of 1100m and the altitude difference from ground to top is about 330m.


The price range for food and drinks is between 200 ~ 500 yen and the Sky Waffle for 500 yen is our recommendation!

Date: May 28th – November 6th
Hours: 10am – 3pm (weekday); 9:30am – 3:30pm (Weekend, public holiday and during summer season)
Admission: Lift ticket (both ways) – 1,300 yen (adults), 700 yen (children)
Access: About 20 minutes by taxi from Nirasaki Station (JR Chuo Main Line)
Address: Sunmeadows Kiyosato Ski Area, Nishiide 8240-1, Oizumi-cho, Hokuto-shi, 409-1501 Yamanashi
URL: Sun Meadows – Kiyosato Terrace

3. The Red – and Yellow Bridge of Hokuto


The red bridge named “Higashizawa Ohashi” and the yellow bridge named “Yatsugatake Kogen Ohashi” are surrounded by beautiful nature and especially during autumn season they offer a stunning photo scene when the trees show their beautiful autumn colors.

Higashizawa Ohashi – Red Bridge
Address: 8240-1 Nishiide, Oizumi-cho, Hokuto-shi, 407-0311 Yamanashi

Yatsugatake Kogen Ohashi – Yellow Bridge
Address: Higashiide, Takane-cho, Hokuto-shi, 408-0024 Yamanashi  (Prefectural Road No. 28)

4. JR Koumi-Line and the Yatsugatake Volcanic Group

The JR Koumi-Line runs along the Yatsugatake Volcanic Group and offers a beautiful view of the surrounding nature and the mountains.


JR Koumi-Line connects Hokuto in Yamanashi with Komoro in Naganao Prefecture. It runs 78,9km through the mountains with 31 stations. The best place for trainspotting is the Kobuchizawa Big Curve, where the train turns and you can get an unobstructed view of the sky and mountains. Or get on the train itself at Kobuchizawa Station and be fascinated by this unique panoramic view.

5. Suisha no Sato Koen (water wheel village park)


This beautiful little park is surrounded by paddy fields and shows you the original rural life of Japan’s countryside. If you are lucky you can even spot Mt. Fuji.

Hours: open all day
Admission: free
Access: About 10 minutes by taxi from Hinoharu Station (JR Chuo Main Line)
Address: Mukawacho Mifuki 2573, Hokuto-shi, 408-0301 Yamanashi
URL: Rural Water Wheel Park

Read the rest of the series:
The Charm of Hokuto (1) : Oasis of the Highlands
The Charm of Hokuto (2) : Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum
The Charm of Hokuto (3) : Suntory Hakushu Distillery
The Charm of Hokuto (4) : Inn Blue in Green
The Charm of Hokuto (6): Moegi no Mura
Restaurant Review: Soba Restaurant Sanbuichi

Ninja ID: nene16



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

The Charm of Hokuto (4) : Inn Blue in Green

If you want to try something other than the traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan, try staying at a Japanese pension. Usually more laid-back and homey compared to the traditional ryokan, pensions in Japan are western-style lodgings that are run by families or private individuals. Very similar to B&Bs, pensions in Japan usually offer homemade breakfast, lunch, dinner and sometimes even tea! And since pensions usually double as the home for their owners, they always seem to showcase the owners’ personalities, hobbies and interests. Which is why each pension is so unique.

Inn Blue in Green

Only a 10-minute drive from Sunmeadows Ski Resort and a 5-minute drive from JR Kiyosato Station and Moeginomura, Inn Blue in Green is located in a very strategic yet quiet and beautiful place.


The interior is cosy and comfortable, decked with warm wood and soothing colors. Here and there you can see dried flowers and little crafted decorations made by the owner’s wife. There’s also the owner’s huge collection of CDs. Both the owner and his wife are very kind and friendly. Let them know if you find a CD you like and they will gladly play it for you.


Their sign shows the words of Paul Rusch, touted as the "Father of Kiyosato": Do your best and it must be first class
Their sign shows the words of Paul Rusch, touted as the “Father of Kiyosato”: Do your best and it must be first class
They have 3 cozy rooms with lovely views of the mountains. They are also family-friendly with a play area for kids on the first floor.


For dinner, indulge in their Italian style home-cooked fare, made with fresh ingredients sourced locally from the surrounding area. Breakfast is also delightfully hearty and homemade.


Step out onto the outdoor deck where you can enjoy your dinner or breakfast in the surrounding nature. The deck opens out to a wide expanse of green meadows and trees with breathtaking views of the Yatsugatake mountain range. Keep your eyes peeled and you may spot some deer!



Inn Blue in Green
Address: Takane-cho Kiyosato 3545-6030, Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture
Access: 5 min. drive from JR Kiyosato station

Read the rest of the series:
The Charm of Hokuto (1) : Oasis of the Highlands
The Charm of Hokuto (2) : Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum
The Charm of Hokuto (3) : Suntory Hakushu Distillery
The Charm of Hokuto (5): Top 5 Photogenic Nature Spots
The Charm of Hokuto (6): Moegi no Mura
Restaurant Review: Soba Restaurant Sanbuichi

Enoshima Island Spa

Enoshima Island Spa (Enospa) is located on Enoshima island, only 1 hour away from the center of Tokyo. This resort prides itself as a holistic health therapy center, a retreat to heal the body and mind from the stress of daily life, and for good reason! Healthy food made from fresh local ingredients, massage sessions, hot springs and heated pools with amazing views, this place has it all!

Soak in the spacious indoor hot springs or spend time in their heated outdoor pool with a view of the ocean and Mt. Fuji and check out the cave pool that features a cafe and bar. Swimsuits are required in the pool areas, and are available to rent at check-in.


Certified medical physicians and instructors also provide supervision and instruction to ensure the best use of hot springs, exercise, and meals. Different exercise, yoga and meal programs are available for guests, regular members, and athletes.



Enospa – Enoshima Island Spa
Address: 2-1-6 Enoshima, Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture
Access: 15-20 min. walk from Katase-Enoshima station

Beer and Soul Food @ B-1 Grand Prix Shokudo

The annual B-1 Grand Prix started as an event aimed to promote Japan’s regional dishes though now the focus has shifted to a more holistic approach, promoting the local towns and cities instead of just the food. Even though this event was credited for starting the B-kyu gurume (B-grade gourmet) boom that swept the nation, the “B” in B-1 actually stands for Brand, with each region bringing their own brand to the table. And the quality of what they’re bringing is definitely not B-grade!


The B-1 Grand Prix Shokudo Aki-Oka Caravane in Akihabara is the first certified place to serve award-winning B-1 dishes within Tokyo so you can enjoy 16 delectable local dishes from 16 different prefectures, all within a 3-minute walk from Akihabara station! Prices range from 300-700yen.



As if that’s not enough, their summer beer event lets you drink all the alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks you can drink in 1 hour for 980 yen.


This year’s local cuisine beer garden will continue until Sep. 30.


B-1 Grand Prix Shokudo Aki-Oka Caravane
Address: 15-1 Kanda Neribeicho, Chiyoda Tokyo
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-9pm Sat-Sun, Holidays 11am-8pm
Access: 3 min. walk from Electrical Town Exit, JR Akihabara station
URL: (Japanese)

Scenic Food Spots: Shiretoko Kaigan Shokudo

Good food in a picturesque place is one of the best luxuries in life and Shiretoko Kaigan Shokudou in Shari, Hokkaido gives you exactly that. Looking out to the Okhotsk sea, indulge in awe-inspiring ocean and sunset views all summer long.


Opened in July, 2015, this restaurant offers seafood freshly caught off the coast of Utoro as well as rice, vegetables and other ingredients from Hokkaido.


Have some fresh seafood on top of soft fluffy white rice.


Or try delicious Hokkaido beef, crab or shellfish slow-grilled over hot charcoal in rustic robatayaki style.


If you want something more exotic, they also have “kumadon” (bear meat rice bowl) on the menu.


This restaurant is open every day until Oct. 17, 2016. They plan to open again during ice floe season (end of January – February).


Shiretoko Kaigan Shokudou
Address: 361 Utorohigashi, Shari, Shari District Hokkaido
Hours: Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm Dinner 6pm-9pm
Access: (Japanese)

Winter Activities in Tohoku : Yukimi Onsen

For many, taking a dip in an onsen (hot spring) surrounded by snow-capped mountains while watching snow fall gently is a tranquil experience bordering on the heavenly. This is called yukimi onsen, meaning enjoying snow views while soaking in an open-air hot spring. In Japan, it is common for people to do this in order to relax their bodies and minds, and to socialize with family and friends. Although stripping down naked in front of total strangers might sound daunting for some first-time visitors, the tradition (hadaka-no-tsukiai) goes back centuries; it is thought to break down boundaries between individuals, thus allowing relaxed, peaceful conversation.

Matsukawa Onsen

Matsukawa is a charming, secluded hot spring town tucked neatly inside Towada-Hachimantai National Park. Established in the Edo Period, the water has a light, milky appearance because of its high sulfur content and is said to boost blood circulation, thus helping to heal many ailments. There are a couple of ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) where guests can enjoy old- style open-air baths with scenic views for free. Visiting is a soothing and unforgettable way to experience the traditional appeal of rural Japanese culture.

Access: 90 minutes from Tohoku Shinkansen Morioka Station by bus

Sukayu Onsen

Sukayu Onsen, famous for its giant mixed-gender bath, is located on a 925-meter high plateau on Aomori Prefecture’s Mt. Hakkoda. Every winter, visitors from Japan and abroad come seeking moments of supremely blissful relaxation and reflection at this picturesque hot spring hideaway. The main bath, sen-nin-buro, received its name from its massive size and features an old, large cypress cabin with a timeless atmosphere. If you are looking for a genuine, traditional Japanese public bathing experience, this is the perfect spot!

Access: 70 minutes from JR Aomori Station by bus

Nyuto Onsen

Akita Prefecture’s Nyuto Onsen is one of the most unvisited in Japan due to its remote location. Surrounded by lovely beech forests and an abundance of seasonal scenery, it is blessed with a mineral-rich spring that has been helping to heal the ailments of locals for more than 350 years. There are seven traditional inns that offer outdoor baths with views of unparalleled beauty, especially in the winter when piles of snow blanket the mountains surrounding the isolated area. If you are in the market to experience the true peace and quiet of rural Japan, this is a blue-chip choice!
Access: 45 minutes from JR Tazawako Station by bus

Other Recommended Yukimi Onsen

Tsuta Onsen: Towada-shi, Aomori
One of the most popular hidden onsens in Japan. Feel the spring water well up from the bottom of the bathtub.

Zao Onsen: Yamagata-shi, Yamagata
Discovered more than 1,900 years ago, the onsen is located in one of the most famous mountain resorts.

Naruko Onsen: Osaki-shi, Miyagi
Naruko Onsen consists of ve areas: Naruko, Higashi Naruko, Kawatabi, Nakayamadaira and Onikobe. With more than 370 hot spring sources available, visitors can fully enjoy the experience of traditional Japanese bathing.

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Jerome in Oshiage and Asakusa

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 guiding request from a Belgian guy, Jerome, who teaches mathematics in Belgium. Although it was his first time to come to Japan, I heard that he had been interested in Japanese culture. He wanted to go to somewhere we recommend, so Yurie Nakamura and myself, Yuka Takada, took him to some interesting places to see and hang out in Tokyo. We met up with him at Oshiage station.


First, we went to Tokyo Skytree which is known as the tallest tower in the world. It was built three years ago in 2013 and the number of tourists has been increasing year by year. We took the elevator up to the observatory which was 350 meters high. On that day, it was cloudy and the sky was not so clear so we couldn’t see the view very much. If it was sunny, we could have enjoyed the magnificent view from there.


Then, we headed for Tokyo Solamachi. It stands by Skytree and has quite a few things to see. Many of the stores were targeted at tourists from other countries. For lunch we had udon, a kind of noodle made of wheat flour. The guest, Jerome ordered udon topped with sliced beef. He seemed to have liked it and we all were satisfied with this familiar Japanese cuisine!


After having lunch, we went to Asakusa. I heard that one of the famous Japanese style confectionery stores Kagetsu-do in Asakusa holds an event during the summer season, so we took him there to experience a little Japanese tradition. Have you heard of “Kingyo Sukui” before? It means “goldfish scooping” in Japanese. Kingyo Sukui is a traditional Japanese game which is often seen in Japanese summer festivals or Ennichi. The rules are so simple that both children and adults can enjoy this game. Of course it was his first time but he was pretty good at scooping goldfish! Surprisingly, he got more than 10 ones which was even better than the Japanese Ms. Nakamura did. He looked really enjoyed this Japanese tradition, so we hope he likes Japan much more now!


After taking the last picture together in front of Asakusa station, we 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!

Kyo Karakami Paper Fan Chidori Design

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 Paper Fan Chidori Design


See in store

See other Karakami interior and accessories products:

7 Great Train Passes to Save Money on Transit

Trains are amazing in Japan, but depending on how far you plan to travel, those ticket prices can start to add up. Fortunately, there are a number of passes you can buy to get unlimited transit in popular tourist areas. Here are seven great picks, with a focus on the Tokyo and Kyoto areas!

1. Japan Rail Pass

This is pretty much the ultimate pass, and it’s available only for tourists—in fact, you can only buy it before you arrive in Japan! The Japan Rail Pass gets you unlimited travel pretty much anywhere in Japan using JR lines, including the Shinkansen bullet train.

However, you won’t be able to use non-JR trains, and the Nozomi (the fastest version of the Shinkansen on the Tokaido Line) and the Mizuho (the fastest Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo) are also out.

Pass options include a regular Japan Rail Pass or a Green-type pass that allows access to the superior-class Green Cars on certain long-distance trains (including the Shinkansen). Passes are available for seven days, 14 days or 21 days, priced at ¥29,111, ¥46,390 and ¥59,350, respectively, for a regular pass. See below for details and availability.

2. Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokunai Pass)

A good choice for Tokyo is the Tokunai Pass, which can be used in Tokyo’s 23 wards. It covers almost all areas of the city, coming in at ¥750 for adults and ¥370 for children for a day of unlimited travel.

It can only be used on local and rapid JR East trains, excluding reserved seats. However, be aware that it doesn’t cover subways, so you’ll have to stick to overland travel.

3. Tokyo Metro 24-Hour Ticket

This is similar to the JR Tokunai Pass, but applies to the expansive Tokyo Metro subway system. Just like the Tokunai Pass, it can be purchased either in advance or on the day of travel. Adult passes cost ¥600, while the pass is ¥300 for children.

If you’d like access to more subway lines, you can also get a Common One-Day Ticket for Tokyo Metro & Toei Subway, which allows access to Toei lines as well as those run by Tokyo Metro. These are ¥1,000 for adults and ¥500 for children.

If you can’t be bothered trying to figure out the difference between all the different lines, you can also just go for the Tokyo Combination Ticket, which gives you a day of unlimited access to the Tokyo Metro, Toei Subway, Toei Streetcar, Toei Bus (except those with fixed seats), all sections of the Nippori-Toneri Liner and all JR lines in Tokyo. However, you’d better be planning on traveling some pretty long distances in your one day, as this pass goes for ¥1,590 for adults and ¥800 for children.

4. Triangle Tickets

Triangle Tickets are passes for the Tokyu railway lines in Tokyo, allowing unlimited travel in the popular triangle between Shibuya, Jiyugaoka and Futako-tamagawa. The pass is ¥400 for a day, and includes unlimited access to the Toyoko Line between Shibuya and Jiyugaoka, the Den-en-toshi Line between Shibuya and Futako-tamagawa, and the Oimachi Line between Jiyugaoka and Futako-tamagawa.

5. JR Tokyo Wide Pass

The JR Tokyo Wide Pass gives you access to a truly wide range of options in Tokyo and the surrounding Kanto area, including reserved seats on limited express trains and ordinary cars on the Shinkansen toward Nasushiobara, Sakudaira and even Gala Yuzawa ski resort! While other Shinkansen routes are unavailable, you can still use regular and express trains down to Tateyama in the south of Chiba, Ito City on the Izu Peninsula, and Kofu in Yamanashi. Useable for three days, adult passes are ¥10,000 and children’s passes are ¥5,000.

The JR Tokyo Wide Pass can only be purchased and used by holders of non-Japanese passports.

6. JR West Kansai Wide Area Pass

Similar to the JR Tokyo Wide Pass, this pass offers unlimited access to the Shinkansen, limited express trains and local trains in the Kansai area for five consecutive days—including Nozomi and Mizuho super-express trains between Shin-Osaka and Okayama, though the Shinkansen cannot be used between Shin-Osaka and Kyoto. The price is ¥9,000 for adults, ¥4,500 for children—with a discount for online purchases or purchases from a travel agent overseas!

To be eligible to use the pass, you must be a temporary visitor, and cannot be a resident of Japan.

7. Kyoto Tourist 1-Day or 2-Day Pass

The Kyoto Tourist 1-Day or 2-Day Pass offers unlimited access to the City Bus, Kyoto Bus and Municipal Subway, as well as coupons for selected tourist sites. You can get a one-day pass for ¥1,200 or a two-day pass for ¥2,000. There are also various passes for just the bus or just the subway, which you can look into below.

Read the original article on All About Japan:

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Feudal Lord’s Treasure: Zuigan-ji Temple

© Zuigan-ji Temple
© Zuigan-ji Temple

Zuigan-ji Temple, designated as a Japanese National Treasure, was originally established in the year 828 by the noted Buddhist monk, Jikaku Daishi. Later, the famed feudal lord Date Masamune rebuilt it as his family temple in 1609. In order to replicate the robust, opulent Momoyama architectural style of the late 16th century, Masamune gathered 130 master craftsmen nationwide for the reconstruction. Today, Zuigan-ji stands as an idyllic reflection of Matsushima’s majestic natural beauty. With the main hall reopened to the public in 2016 – surrounded by dense, picturesque cedar trees on all sides – it houses a vast array of past treasures that nobody should miss!
© Zuigan-ji Temple
© Zuigan-ji Temple
Access: 5-min walk from JR Matsushima-Kaigan Station
Hours: 8am – 3:30pm (Jan. Dec.), 8am – 4pm (Feb. Nov.), 8am – 4:30pm (Mar. Oct.), 8am – 5pm (Apr. to Sep.)
Admission: 700 yen (Adult and high school students), 400 yen (Middle and elementary school students)

Yamagata Adventure (5) – Safflower dyeing experience

One of the popular spots in Yamagata are Safflower (jp.: Benibana) fields. From these bright orange flowers, you can extract the red coloring pigment carthamin, as well as the yellow pigment called carthamidin. You can create colors like light pink, cherry red, brown red and brown yellow with these pigments. Benibana used to be valued only for its colorful dyes, but since the petals’ numerous health benefits become known to the world, people started adding the flowers to several dishes.


Our first coloring experiment was to dye a scarf in ikat style. We received a white scarf and were introduced to create a pattern using rubber bands and wooden sticks. Areas with tight knots and folds are meant to stay white after putting the scarf into the dye.


The result turned out very well.


The second task was creating a safflower picture while rubbing the petals over a vignette which was attached on a piece of silk.


You need quite a lot of force to create the deep yellow-orange color.  After doing the same procedure for about 20min we separated the vignette from the piece of silk and put the silk into an alkaline solution to separate the yellow color from the red color.


The yellow color fades away and the red color remains. The end product was put into a picture frame and is now a nice decoration. The petals can be used for dishes like pickled radish or sweet desserts.



Shinrin Joho-kan “Morina Tendo”

Hours: 9am – 6pm (Closed on January first)
Tel: 023-651-2002
Access: A 35-min walk or 10-min car ride from Tendo Station (JR Yamagata Shinkansen)
Address: 2-3-41 Kuwanomachi, Tendo-shi, 994-0022 Yamagata-ken

Ninja ID: nene16



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

Yamagata Adventure (4) – Nakano Sake Shop

Right beside the Dewazakura Sake Brewery is the Nakano Sake Shop, which sells all the popular beverages produced in the brewery.


Dewazakura Sake Brewery was founded in 1892 and due to its long tradition, experience and excellent quality, the company received gold and bronze awards in the sake category during the “International Wine Challenge” in 2008.

We had the chance to taste the gold prize-winning sake called Ichiro, and we immediately came to the conclusion why this one has to be the best-seller of the brewery. It has a fresh flavor of grapefruit, lime and cantaloupe and was very delicious.

The Champion Sake comes in a 720ml bottle and costs 3,024 yen.


Since Yamagata is famous for its fruit growing culture, the brewery also produces wines based on local fruits like cherries and pears. They also produce special beverage with the twelve zodiac signs. This year being the year of the monkey, the package has a monkey illustration. After finishing the bottle, they recommend to keep the bottle, put glass pearls into it and fill the bottle with water to create a shiny and sparkling interior decoration item.

Besides selling their own products, there are other related products on sale.


The highlight of the shop is the full-scale-model of a liquor store from the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The original poster that is hung on the wall adds the finishing touch.


Nakano Sake Shop
Hours: 9:30am – 5pm (Closed on Monday)
Tel: 0120-59-3010
Access: A 15-min walk from Tendo Station (JR Yamagata Shinkansen)
Address: Hitoichimachi 1-4-12, Tendo-shi, 994-0044 Yamagata

Ninja ID: nene16



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: Festivals

text & coordination/ Rieko Ido, photo/ Hajime Watanabe
text & coordination/ Rieko Ido, photo/ Hajime Watanabe
In Japan, various shrines and temples hold summer festivals during the months of July and August. The origins of these festivals stem from a way to soothe the tired souls from farming labor, and to pray for protection from illness, as well as a ceremony to remember the deceased.
One of the joys of the summer season is visiting the temple and shrine grounds during these festive days when rows of shops would be lined up. Many of these shop owners were traveling businessmen who used to be called “Jusanyashi” and moved
between various prefectures selling their wares. The items sold include medicine, tobacco, toothpaste and other rare items that came from overseas. In the olden days, there were known to be 13 such items, hence the naming of “Jusanyashi”, referring to this number. There would also be manzai comedians or singers selling their acts to entertain the crowds at the festival. Before the days of newspapers and mass communication, these people were the main source of news for the locals, who head to the festival to fulfill their curiosity.

Now, this custom remains in form with different goods being sold, leaving some stalls such as goldfish fishing, mask shops and candied fruits that still continue to delight the children.

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.