Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tohoku

Tohoku is located in the northeastern part of Japan’s Honshu island and consists of six prefectures — Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata and Fukushima. The region is famous for its jaw-dropping scenery, magnificent temples, unique culture, delicious food and friendly people.

Aomori Prefecture : Spots 1 ~ 10

Quick jump links:

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6Hakkoda Mountains
Mid October
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7Hirosaki Park
Early November

Go to Aomori list top

Iwate Prefecture : Spots 11 ~ 18

Quick jump links:

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11Hachimantai
Beginning of October
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15Mount Kurikoma
Beginning of October

Go to Iwate list top

Yamagata Prefecture : Spots 30 ~ 35

Quick jump links:

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33Bonji River
October
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34Yamadera
Beginning of November

Go to Yamagata list top

Fukushima Prefecture : Spots 36 ~ 45

Quick jump links:

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36Bandai Azuma Skyline
Early to mid October
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40Tsuruga Castle Park
End of October to early November
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45Yukiwari Bridge
End of October to early November

Go to Fukushima list top

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tohoku – Aomori Prefecture Part 1

Aomori Prefecture 1~ 10


1Yagen Mountain Stream (薬研渓流) in Mutsu

A photo posted by kaorist (@kaorist) on

A photo posted by キソキソ (@kuwakeen) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Yagen Bridge, Koyo Bridge, Otome Bridge (Suspension Bridge), Rotenburo (open air bath)
Access: Take the bus from Shimokita Station (JR Omita Line) and get off at Ohata. From there it´s a 20min taxi ride (reservation before is necessary).
Address: Yagen, Ohata-machi, Mutsu-shi, 039-4401 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.en-aomori.com


2Mount Osore (恐山) in Mutsu

A photo posted by Hisaya Wada (@komanosuke678) on

A photo posted by Sachi Wakasa (@sachiwakasa) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the beginning of November
Event: Autumn visit at Mount Osore!
Date: October 8th (Saturday) – October 10th (Monday), 6am – 6pm
Admission: 500 yen (adults), 200 yen (children)
Details: Different guided walks through the nature, Yosakoi performance, food stands, Segway, etc.
Access: 43 bus ride from Shimokita Station (JR Omita Line) until Osore-zan
Address: 3-2 Usoriyama, Tanabu, Mutsu-shi, 035-0021 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp


3Kawauchi River Valley (川内川渓谷) in Mutsu

A photo posted by meg* (@me9mi3to) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Sekirei Bridge, Ajisai Bridge, Asunaro Bridge
Access: 15min Taxi ride from Kawauchimachi Station; 40min JR Bus ride from Ominato Station (JR Ominato Line) into Wakinosawa direction until Kawauchi
Address: Kawauchimachi, Mutsu-shi, 039-5201 Aomori
aomorishokoren.or.jp (Japanese only)
Ranking: ★★★★☆

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tohoku – Aomori Prefecture Part 2


4Jogakura Onsen & Jogakura Bridge (城ヶ倉温泉・城ヶ倉大橋) in Aomori

A photo posted by Qoo (@qoo_aomori) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Recommended Spots: view from Jogakura Bridge
Access: 1,5hour JR Bus ride from JR Aomori Station or JR Shin-Aomori Station into Towada-ko direction until Jogakura Onsen (30min walk)
Address: Minami-Arakawayama, Arakawa, Aomori-shi, 030-0111 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.en-aomori.com


5Lake Towada (十和田湖) in Towada

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Event: Oirase Mountain Stream Eco Road Festival 2016
Date: October 29th (Saturday) – October 30th (Sunday), 9am – 3pm
Details: Different guided walks through the nature, Yosakoi performance, food stands, Segway, etc.
Access: 2h15min bus ride from Hachinohe Station (JR Hachinohe Line, JR Tohoku Shinkansen, Aomori Railway Line); 2h45min bus ride from Shin-Aomori Station (JR Ou Main Line, JR Tohoku Shinkansen, JR Hokkaido Shinkansen)
Address: Kowadakohanyasumiya 486, Okuse, Towada-shi, 018-5501 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp


6Hakkoda Mountains (八甲田連峰) in Aomori

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Hakkoda Ropeway, Tamoyachi Shitsugen
Access: 1hour JR Bus ride from JR Aomori Station or JR Shin-Aomori Station into Towada-ko direction until Hakkoda Ropeway Station Mae
Address: Hakkoda Ropeway Sanroku Station, 1-12 Kansuizawa, Arakawa, Aomori-shi, 030-0111 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.hakkoda-ropeway.jp


7Hirosaki Park (弘前公園) in Hirosaki

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First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Event: Chrysanthemum and Autumn-Color Festival of Hirosaki Castle
Date: October 21st (Friday) – November 13th (Sunday), 9am – 5pm (Admission to the park until 4:30pm)
Admission: Botanical Garden of Hirosaki Castle 310yen (adults), 100yen (children); Botanical Garden of Hirosaki Castle + Around the castle + Fujita memorial garden 510yen (adults), 160yen (children)
Access: 15min Konan Bus ride from Hirosaki Station (JR Ou Main Line, JR Gono Line, Konan Line) into Fujishiro Eigyosho direction until Shiyakusho Mae Koen Iriguchi
Address: 1-1 Shimoshirogane-cho, Hirosaki-shi, 036-8356 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.hirosakipark.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tohoku – Aomori Prefecture Part 3


8Shirakami Sanchi (白神山地) in Nakatsugaru – Nishimeya Village

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Anmon Waterfall sidewalk
Access: 1h10min taxi ride from Hirosaki Station (JR Ou Main Line, JR Gono Line, Konan Line); 1,5hour bus ride from Hirosaki Bus Terminal
Address: Between Meya Bridge and Anmon Waterfall, Tashiro, Nishimeya-mura, Nakatsugaru-gun, 036-1411 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.en-aomori.com


9Sukayu Onsen & Jigoku Numa (酸ヶ湯温泉・地獄沼) in Aomori

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Recommended Spots: Manju Fukashi, Sukayu Camping Ground
Access: 1h40min JR Bus ride from JR Aomori Station or JR Shin-Aomori Station into Towada-ko direction until Jogakura Onsen
Address: Jigoku Numa, Arakawa, Aomori-shi, 030-0111 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.en-aomori.com


10Nakano Maple Mountain (中野もみじ山) in Kuroishi

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First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October
Event: Nakano Maple Mountain Light-up ~ Light Fantasy
Date: October 13th (Thursday) – November 6th (Sunday), 4:30pm – 9pm
Access: 40min bus ride from Kuroishi Station (Konan Railway Konan Line) until Itadome (10min walk); 30min taxi ride from Kuroishi Station (Konan Railway Konan Line)
Address: Nakano Shrine, Fudodate 27, Minami-Nakano, Kuroishi-shi, 036-0405 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.en-aomori.com

7 Japanese autumn activities

 

Every country has its own quirks regarding the seasons, Japan is no exception. Here are some activities that almost every Japanese person loves to do when the leaves turn color.

 

1 ) Tsukimi (moon viewing)

Dating back to the Heian era (794 – 1185), the concept of moon-viewing has evolved with time and adapted to modern customs. Instead of lavish banquets people love to gaze at the moon with a small snack. Officially Tsukimi is somewhere around mid-September, but you can celebrate the full moon on your own anytime you like. Read our article about how to celebrate Tsukimi for more information.

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2 ) Gathering Chestnuts

Go wherever the chestnuts may fall and, if allowed, bring a portable barbeque. The smell of roasted chestnuts on an open fire immediately means autumn. Invite some friends for a chestnut hunt and share the delicious harvest. Semboku city in Akita prefecture has the largest breed of chestnuts in all of Japan. One of its annual champion chestnuts weighed an impressive 66gr!

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3 ) Harvest Rice

Now is the time for to come off the fields. Whether its done manually or by machine, rice harvesting is hard labour requiring lots of man-hours. If you live in the countryside and see someone with a rice field, just ask if you can help them. They will be very grateful and you can get one step closer to understanding Japanese rice culture. Read more about traditional rice harvesting in our article here.

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4 ) Grill some Sanma

Sanma or “Pacific Saury” is a typical autumn fish. In early autumn this fish is at its most delicious and is often grilled until crisp on a small fire. At one point this fish smelled so good that it caught the emperor’s attention.

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5 ) Take an autumn walk

Nothing beats admiring the falling leaves than doing so up close. Japanese people are very active and love taking walks in parks or the countryside. Instead of a regular walk, why not go autumn leaf hunting? The creative Japanese loves crafts and will gather the most beautiful fallen leaves to press and conserve. If you need inspiration, here are Wattention’s top 3 leaf viewing spots in Japan.

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6 ) Eat some Satsuma Imo (roasted sweet potato)

It may sound like a simple sweet, but roasted sweet potato can be a godsend on a cold day. You can find potato sellers with their carts near parks, outside the city and even in your regular convenience store. Holding this steamy snack will warm up your hands and your body.

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7 ) Attend a school’s sports festival

Chances are you’re over the age to participate in one, but those still attending school have their annual sports festival this season. Many parents go see their children compete in various events and love to film it to preserve for future generations.

Most festivals usually start around 8:30 am with a parade showing all the different participating teams divided by either neighbourhood, class, geographical area, or school. It’s basically like a mini-Olympics.

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Katana Fair and Samurai dining

Go on a journey back in time to two of the most iconic periods for samurai; the Sengoku and the Edo period.
Diamond Dining is offering a unique dining experience for Japan’s history-loving women called Rekijo(歴女). The event is split into two areas, Sengoku and Edo. If you and your friends love Japanese history or you want to meet a Rekijo, this event is made for you!

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Sengoku Area

The Sengoku period (戦国時代) was from 1467 – 1603. The name literally means civil war era because of the many internal conflicts that were going on in Japan at the time. Local lords battled each other for more territory and army campaigns were a common occurrence. During this dark time genius strategists and powerful samurai were born. Some of the most famous samurai and swords have been incorporated into the dishes served in this area. The armors of Date Masamune, Yukimura Sanada, Keiji Maeda and Kenshin Uesugi welcome you to your private dining chamber.

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Heshikiri Hasebe (Sweet Potatoes in bamboo /780 yen
This dish is based on one of Nobunaga’s stories. One time he sensed an enemy hiding behind wooden planks and he pierced him right through the wall with his sword Heshikiri Hasebe. Oda Nobunaga lived from 1534 – 1582 and was one of the most powerful lords of Japan. He almost succeeded in completely unifying Japan before he was assassinated.

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Date Masamune nabe (2,980 yen)
This luxurious nabe is meant to mimick famous warlord Date Masamune’s hospitality. The beef is imported from Sendai. During his life (1567 – 1636) Date Masamune was the lord of Sendai and turned it into a prosperous city. He was very loyal to the military government but everyone feared his power. Because of his missing eye he was nicknamed “the one-eyed-dragon”.

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Tsurumura Kuninaga (830 yen)
This dessert is based on a famous white sword with a white scabbard. It is said that the sword stayed perfectly white even after hundreds of years. Its first owner possibly lived during the 13th century but it’s confirmed that the Date family possessed the sword somewhere during 1716 – 1736. The strawbberies mimick the blood that would have marked the pure white sword.

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Mikazuki Munechika (880 yen)
Regarded as one of the “Five Famous Swords of Japan”, this blade has a strong curve typical of a katana and a crescent pattern. The dish resembles the famous crescent curve and contains seasonal pike fish.

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Ichigo Hitofuri (1,280 yen)
This blade is the only tachi(long katana) made by Awadaguchu Yoshimitsu. The dish aims to mimick the alterations that have been made to the straight temper line of the blade to fit every new owner. Beltfish (a member of the cutlass family) and ginger are the main components.

And more…

The Edo Area

The Edo period (1603 – 1868) comes right after the Sengoku period and is a time of relative peace. Japan is united under the Tokugawa family, a military government with the Shogun as leader. Schools and roads are built, art flourishes and the population rises. It is only at the end of the Edo period that Japan is in turmoil again and the samurai rise again in a period known as the Bakumatsu (1853 – 1867).

Ikedaya Affair House

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In 2015 Diamond Dining already held the “Ikedaya fair” and thanks to the success it’s back again. Based on the “Ikedaya affair (1864)”, a famous event where Kyoto’s special police force, the Shinsengumi, managed to stop plans to deliberately burn down Kyoto. Members of the Shinsengumi will lead you to your table and serve your drinks.

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1) Kashuu Kiyomitsu
This sword belonged to the captain of the Shinsengumi’s first troop, Okita Souji. This sword was said to be used during the Ikedaya affair where its tip broke off. Contains cranberry and grenadine.
2) Yamatonokami Yasusada
Forged in the early Edo period, this sword had many owners but its most famous one was Okita Souji. Okita used this very lethal sword after Kashu Kiyomitsu broke at the Ikedaya affair. Contains calpis and lemon soda.
3) Nagasone Kotetsu
Belonging to Kondo Isami, the Shinsengumi’s commander, this fake kotetsu blade was probably the most famous. Made by Minamoto Kiyomaro, one of the best smiths of the era, it bears a fake signature. Contains mango and pineapple.
4) Izuminokami Kanesada
Shinsengumi’s vice captain Hijikata Toshizo, nicknamed “demon vice captain” was this sword’s owner. Made by the 11th generation Kanesada and a very popular sword. Contains white wine and raspberries.

Edo Shinsengumi Area

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When you enter the dining area it will feel like you entered the Shinsengumi’s headquarters. Statues of Kondo Isami, Hijikata Toshizo and Okita Soji welcome you before being lead to a private dining area.

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Horikawa Kunihiro (850 yen)
Inspired by the demon vice captain’s wakizashi (accompanying smaller katana). Contains pickled radish and a tartar of avocado. Hijikata was said to love pickled radish. One famous story tells of him taking a bucket of pickled radish with him after his host told him to take as many as he likes.

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Yamatonokami Yasusada (650 yen)
The are rumors that Shinsengumi first troop captain Okita Souji had a sweet tooth, but that’s not what this dessert is based on. One of the most feared swordsman of the Bakumatsu, the red bean paste and sweet potato’s color mimick his many assassinations.

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Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki (1,980 yen)
This beef nabe carries the name of Sakamoto Ryoma’s sword, the famous reformer of Japan. Containing miso, sweet sake and vegetables this was said to be Sakamoto Ryoma’s favorite dish made by his wife Oryo. Can be ordered by two people. Be careful to not let this nabe get too close to any of the Shinsengumi dishes as they were sworn enemies.

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Kashuu Kiyomitsu (680 yen)
Sushi roll bearing Okita Souji’s family crest and decorated with flowers.

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Nagasone Kotetsu (680 yen)
The commander of the Shinsengumi liked “tamago fuwafuwa”, literally meaning “fluffy eggs”. This is a kind of egg soup that became popular during the Edo period. The dish is decorated to resemble Kondo Isami’s family crest.

Information

This special event will run from Oct. 1, 2016 – Nov. 31, 2016

Sengoku Area

Hours: 5pm – 0am (Mon – Thurs) / 5pm – 3am (Fr – Sun)
Location: Shinjuku Kabukicho T-wing building 4F
Access: 3-min walk from Shinjuku station
Address: 160-0021 Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-6-2 T-wing building 4F
TEL: 03-3209-2277
URL: http://www.diamond-dining.jp/shop_info/sengoku-buyuden/(Japanese only)

Ikedaya Affair House

Hours: 5pm – 11pm (Mon & Sun) / 5pm – 4am (Tue – Sat)
Location: Musashino Hall 6F
Access: 2-min walk from Shinjuku station
Address: 160-0022 Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Shinjuku 3-27-10 Musashino Hall 6F
TEL: 03-5360-7644
URL: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g465407/(Japanese only)

Edo Shinsengumi Area

Hours: 5pm – 0am (Mon – Sat) / 5pm – 11pm (Sun & Holidays)
Location: Shinjuku building B1
Access: 1-min walk from JR Shinjuku station West Exit
Address: 160-0023 Tokyo Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 1-4-2 141 Shinjuku building B1
TEL: 03-3347-2207
URL: Http://R.Gnavi.Co.Jp/g600187/(Japanese only)

Don’t forget to pick up one of the free tsuba(Japanese sword mounting) gifts you get with each dining experience!
Tsuba
Source: PR Times

Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art Part2

A Great Escape

Visiting a museum is a great way to appreciate art, culture and history, but let’s not forget that it also gives us the wonderful opportunity to relax and escape from our busy everyday lives.

The Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art is just the right place to do so. Located in the Chiba prefecture, the museum boasts not only the world’s greatest art collection, but also the prefecture’s natural surroundings.

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We had the privilege of visiting the museum on a steamy summer day. Though it was excruciatingly hot, thanks to the surrounding forest, as soon as we stepped into the museum’s vicinity, the air was much cooler and refreshing. Unlike many museums in the city, Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art offers an abundance of natural settings for us to explore.

A winding trail that goes through the forest provides some much needed foliage to protect us from the harsh sunlight and blazing heat. Walking along the path was such a nice treat for both our feet and our soul.

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Inspired by Monet’s paintings, the water lily pond is a favorite spot for many visitors. Flowers open in the early morning and close in the late afternoon, these short-lived white flowers are a must-see in the early summer. Several benches around the pond offer comfortable seating for those who want to appreciate the beautiful scenery.

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Behind the pond is a path that is adorned by a Weeping Cherry and Magnolias in the spring and is a popular spot to enjoy flower viewing. In fact, every April, it is packed with people who love to capture the perfect Sakura photos.

⑮Weeping cherry

“Some come here to take photos and others visit here to sketch the authentic beauty of nature. I’ve seen families having a picnic here as well,” said Ms. Hayashi, the PR manager at the museum. The museum is an oasis for over 500 plants and flowers, for a wide variety of wild birds and insects, and for visitors to come back to again and again.

Wisterias in May, Hydrangeas in June, autumn leaves in the fall and a silvery sky in the winter. Nature always shows us the best side of the season and never fails to give us great joy throughout the year.

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People visit museums for different reasons. Some go there to admire the infamous art collection, others visit there to reflect on their own thoughts. This museum offers both and even more.

Forget about the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature. Enjoy the great escape from your everyday lives. Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art is a perfect place to rejuvenate.

Read other articles in this series: Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art Part1

Information
Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art
Address: Sakado 631, Sakura, Chiba
From Tokyo Station: 67 minutes expressway bus ride or 60 minutes train ride (JR Sobu Line) to JR Sakura Station and 20 minutes (free shuttle bus) to the museum.
From Narita Airport: 30 minutes train ride (Keisei Line Limited Express) to Keisei Sakura Station and 30 minutes (free shuttle bus) to the museum.
Hours: 9:30am ~ 5pm (Last entry 4:30pm)
Closed: Mon (except for national holidays, then closed the following non-holiday), New Year’s holiday, during exhibit changes
Admission: 1,000 yen (Adults), 800 yen (College students and people over 65 with ID), 600 yen (Elementary, middle and high school students)
Admission varies depending on the exhibition.
URL: http://kawamura-museum.dic.co.jp/en/

Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art Part1

The Perfect Harmony of Art, Architecture and Nature

The world is full of visual clutter and sometimes we get overwhelmed by information overload. It is only in an ideal environment one can appreciate the true color of what they are looking at.

①Exterior picture

Only about an hour train ride from the Narita Airport and Tokyo Station stands a hidden oasis that houses the private collection of the DIC corporation. Known as the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art, this is a perfect place to immerse yourself in impressive artwork, beautifully designed architecture and Chiba prefecture’s natural settings.

Undeniable Artistic Insight

An array of paintings by Rothko. An immense room adorned with a Frank Stella collection. These are just a few of the world-famous works of art at the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art. Established as a manufacturer of printing ink in 1908, DIC has cultivated numerous materials and finished products that bring “color” and “comfort” to people’s lives. The selected works here are a true reflection of DIC’s sophisticated taste.

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Take the time to embrace your natural reactions as each of the art pieces carries a different meaning and message. “Depending on the time of day, season, and even your mood, the artwork looks totally different,” says Ms. Hayashi, a PR manager at the museum. Besides their impressive permanent collections, special exhibitions are held throughout the year. So make sure to check what they are showing before you visit.

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In the Best Possible Light

543_RThe artworks are displayed with meticulous care, as each exhibition space is designed with a particular piece in mind. Room sizes, ceiling heights, wall colors, lighting and even the floor materials change to complement the art in the most compelling way. DIC knows that how people perceive art is at least as important as the art itself.

A great example of a remarkable blend of art and architecture is at the entrance, where an open atrium beautifully frames the statue of Venus by Aristide Maillol. Natural light through the mosaic glasses and the soft light from the ceiling creates a feeling of grandeur, giving the best first impression to visitors.

Spectacular Surroundings

Within its sprawling 10 hectares, there is a crescent-shaped pond that is home to white swans and a nature trail that winds through Chiba Prefecture’s indigenous green forest. The plants and flowers, even the outdoor furniture have been carefully chosen so that you can appreciate nature’s expansive palette throughout the year.

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Inside the museum both the restaurant and tea room offer spectacular views of the surrounding nature. The restaurant “Belvedere”, which means beautiful view in Italian, serves casual Italian cuisine while the tea room provides Yamamotoyama Matcha, a premium green tea brand from Nihonbashi, and seasonal Japanese sweets made by a well-established Japanese confectionery store in Kanazawa.

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Yes, this is a museum, but Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art is more than just a place to appreciate art. In the next article, we will explain why this place made a lasting impression on us.

Read also about their current special exhibition: Léonard Foujita and His Models

Information
Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art
Address: Sakado 631, Sakura, Chiba
From Tokyo Station: 67 minutes expressway bus ride or 60 minutes train ride (JR Sobu Line) to JR Sakura Station and 20 minutes (free shuttle bus) to the museum.
From Narita Airport: 30 minutes train ride (Keisei Line Limited Express) to Keisei Sakura Station and 30 minutes (free shuttle bus) to the museum.
Hours: 9:30am – 5pm (Last entry 4:30pm)
Closed: Mon (except for national holidays, then closed the following non-holiday), New Year’s holiday, during exhibit changes
Admission: 1,000 yen (Adults), 800 yen (College students and people over 65 with ID), 600 yen (Elementary, middle and high school students)
Admission varies depending on the exhibition.
URL: http://kawamura-museum.dic.co.jp/en/

Tokyo’s Top Halloween Parties

Tokyo has the most wicked Halloween parties in Japan. Here is Wattention’s pick to ensure you have a ghostly night out.

 

Shibuya Halloween Party

We have to start with possibly the biggest event in all of Tokyo. Every year there is a big informal event in the Shibuya area during Halloween and things can get very crowded. The famous crossing will turn into a flash mob of crazy costumes and scary monsters. Almost all the nearby clubs participate, turning Shibuya into one massive Halloween mob. Don’t miss this event!

Date: There is no set date for this event as it is unofficial, but seeing as Halloween is on a Monday this year the event will most likely be held on Saturday Oct. 29, 2016.
Hours: be sure to check Shibuya in the evening
Location: all around Setagaya street

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Image Credit: PR Times

VAMPS Halloween Party

The country’s largest live Halloween event makes a stop near Tokyo. In collaboration with karaoke chain Joysound you will be able to sing along with the artist’s lyrics using your smartphone. The organization warns that if you don’t come in a spooky dress, the ghost will haunt you more.

Artist appearances include; VAMPS, Atsushishi (Siam Shade), AKi, Shinya (Dir En Grey), Yutaka Hee Yatake (Golden Bomber), Kanon Wakeshima, Silent Siren and more…

Dates: Oct. 28 – Oct. 30th , 2016
Hours: doors open from 3:30pm, event starts at 5pm
Admission: 9,300 yen (tax included)
Location: Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Hall 9, 10 and 11
Address: 〒261-0023 Chiba Prefecture, Chiba, Mihama Ward, Nakase, 2−1
Access: about 30-min from Tokyo Station
URL: http://hwp2016.vampsxxx.com/index.html (Japanese only)

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Image Credit: PR Times

Ueno Halloween

A Jack-O-Lantern in the central fountain, costume parades and trick or treating. It’s Halloween in Ueno park! With an expected attendance of about 30,000 visitors the park will be swarmed by monsters and ghouls. Participate in the Halloween stamp rally and costume competition, watch the parade (Oct. 29) and scare anyone who isn’t in costume. Enjoy the open air performances and visit the various food stands. If you prefer your Halloweens under the light of the moon and beneath the trees, this is your place to be.

If you have little ones who can’t be out late at night, the park has plenty of child friendly activities during the day on Oct. 29 – 30.

Dates: Oct. 17 – Oct. 30, 2016 (most events are Oct. 29 – Oct. 30)
Hours: 11am – …
Admission: Free (2,000 yen to participate in the Costume Parade Competition)
Location: Ueno Park Fountain Square Halloween Village
URL: http://ueno-halloween.com/ (Japanese only)

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Image Credit: PR Times

Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Festival

If you want to show your love for that one fictional character, head to Ikebukuro! Professional and amateur cosplayers will all make an appearance during this two day event. Join the cosplayer parade, watch demonstrations by pro cosplayers and visit the various shops that have special Halloween discounts. If you are into crafts you can buy something at the Halloween&Cosplay craft market. Photo spots are scattered around Ikebukuro in the various parks and malls, discover them all!

If your cosplay is too large to carry around all the time or you need a relief from your everyday average Joe clothes, you can deposit them in one of the lockers in Sunshine City (500 yen). Dressing rooms are also available at the same location.

Events
11am: Opening Ceremony
12pm – 5pm: Stage Events
1pm – 2pm : Cosplay karaoke (only on Oct. 30)
1pm ~ : Open stage

Dates: Oct. 29 – Oct. 30, 2016
Hours: 10am – 6pm
Admission: Free
Location:  East Ikebukuro (Ikebukuro Station East Exit)
URL: http://ikebukurocosplay.jp/ (Japanese only)

 

Matchmaking Halloween party in Shibuya

Halloween is all about getting scared, but this party is all about love. The “let’s love Halloween party” in Shibuya’s FLAME is limited to 200 people, providing the best environment to get to know new people. When the party starts everyone has to wear a mask, if you don’t have one there will be a limited amount available at the venue. Even if you end up without a new boyfriend or girlfriend, the organization hopes you will make new friends.

Events
6:15pm – “find your partner” game
7pm – costume competition

Date: Oct. 29, 2016
Hours: 6pm – 8pm (entry from 5pm)
Admission: Men 5,100 yen / Women 3,200 yen
Location: Shibuya FLAME TOKYO
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Maruyama-cho, 2-4
Access: 5-min walk from JR Shibuya Station
URL: http://www.partyparty.jp/cmp/halloween/ (Japanese only)
Order tickets here: http://bit.ly/2dhXUup

You need to be between 20~38 years old to participate.

Halloween party 1
Image credit: PR Times

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

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

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Tokyo Yosakoi

Before Halloween, Ikebukuro has another big event coming up the Tokyo Yosakoi contest.More than a Matsuri, it’s a big dance competition.

Yosakoi is the name of the modernized Awa Odori, traditional summer dance. Thanks to the popularity of Yosakoi traditional Japanese dance is practiced by young and old all over the country. Most university and college students have a team with their own unique costumes and choreography. Every year the Tokyo Yosakoi contest in Ikebukuro attracts about a hundred teams.

History of Yosakoi

yosakoiThe Yasukoi dance is not as old as many other Japanese matsuri. It all started in the city of Kochi with the idea to reform traditional Japanese dance and to boost economic growth after the second World War. Yasukoi literally means “come at night” in the local dialect of Kochi prefecture.
The original Yosakoi song was written by Takemasa Eisuka who gave the rights to the public. This song combines a yosakoi melody, children’s song and a folk song from Kochi. Yosakoi dance teams are free to compose their own music but it must contain these elements but swapped with a folk song from your area. This music is either live or prerecorded and plays from a jikatasha, a colorful truck with speakers or a stage for musicians.

clapperAnother requirement is that the dancers must use a naruko, small wooden clappers that make noise when the dancer moves. Almost every competition has this requirement. Traditionally they are black and yellow but nowadays teams paint them in their own colors.

Costumes don’t have to be based on traditional Japanese clothing, as long as they have a connection with folk culture.

Examples of dances

Participants of last year’s Yosakoi competition in Ikebukuro

Yosakoi competition in Ikebukuro

The dancers will compete on nine venues around Toshima: the main site in front of Ikebukuro Station’s west exit, Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Park, Mizuki Street, Azeria Street, Yonshotengai, Sunshine Street on the east exit side, the plazas in front of Mejiro and Sugamo Stations, and Otsuka Station’s north exit area.

Dates: Oct. 8 – Oct. 9, 2016
Hours: dancers start around 11am
Location: around Ikebukuro
URL: https://www.yosakoitokyo.gr.jp/ (Japanese only)

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History of Halloween in Japan

 

Those who have been living in Japan for a long time know that Halloween is a fairly new holiday. In fact, it’s not an official holiday at all. The first ever Halloween event was held in the year 2000 at Tokyo Disneyland. Japan imported the concept from America and made it their own in a very grand way with large scale Halloween parades and flash mobs. Japanese love scary stories, so why did it take so long for Halloween to set ground?

It all started in…

the year 2000. Tokyo Disneyland made its first Halloween event in order to attract more visitors during the autumn season. The concept was taken from the other Disneyland parks worldwide that already had a Halloween event. Soon Universal studios in Osaka followed and every year the events grew. Before theme parks started these events Halloween was mostly celebrated by foreigners only. After all, Japan already has August as “scary month” when they celebrate O-bon.

The West celebrates Halloween because on October 31st the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. People wear masks to scare the bad ghosts and eat pumpkins as a symbol of good harvest. In Japan there is a similar story regarding the barrier between the two worlds but, in contrast to the West that wants to scare away the ghosts, Japan welcomes their ancestral spirits. So before Tokyo Disneyland started Halloween, Japanese felt no need to celebrate the dead outside of O-bon season.
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Then came the merchandising

When big stores saw that Halloween was rising in popularity at the theme parks, they quickly jumped on with a line of Halloween goodies of their own. Pumpkin keychains, plushies and snacks made their way to stores. It’s no surprise that Japan, the country that brought us cosplay, was quick to embrace the dress up aspect of Halloween. Premade costumes were being sold and cosplayers got one more big day to show off their talents. From grand scale events such as the annual flash mob in Shibuya to small local parties, Halloween had made its way into the hearts of Japanese.
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Not so scary

At its core, Halloween isn’t that scary of a holiday for the Japanese. The real scary ghosts come out during O-bon, making Halloween more of a “kiddie version” haunted event. Of course now there are big zombie themed events and truly scary experiences. But at its core, Halloween is an imported holiday from America meant to entertain. Just like Valentine’s Day Japan took something from abroad and made it their own. However, no one can argue that Japan might be the best at throwing big Halloween parties.

 

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

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

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Pink Halloween at New Ginger Museum

The New Ginger Museum in Tochigi is peculiar in itself, being a museum dedicated to a certain type of ginger so it comes as no surprise that it’s holding a peculiar Halloween event, Pink Halloween. And while pink is a very popular color in Japan (especially in spring with all the sakura blossoms), this color theme was chosen in honor of young ginger or shinshoga.

Naturally pink ginger
Naturally pink ginger
Young ginger contains pink pigment that makes the pickled ginger naturally pink. The taste of young ginger is also mild and the flesh is tender which is perfect to eat with sushi.

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Image Source: PR Times

The already pink interior of the museum will become even pinker with matching Halloween decorations. A Halloween costume competition will be held for both adults and children to decide who is the spookiest. Participate and win one of the ginger-themed prizes.

If you’re not that good with costumes, there is also a quiz. Show off your ginger knowledge and receive a free gift. While you’re breaking your head over the questions, sign your kid up for the “little monsters class”.

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Image Source: PR Times

The museum also have a café with beautiful pink and ginger dishes. If pink is your thing, make a daytrip to Tochigi and spend a full day in Halloween cuteness.

About

museum
Image Source: PR Times

Dates: Halloween event from Sept. 14, 2016 – Oct. 30, 2016. Closed on Monday, Tuesday and public holidays
Hours: 10am – 6pm (Café last order at 5:30pm)
Admission: Free (Pink Halloween contest admission is 500 yen)
Location: Tochigi
Access: About 2h by train from central Tokyo
Address: 328-0034 Tochigi Prefecture, Tochigi Honcho 1-25
URL: http://shinshoga-museum.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido

Hokkaido, the great landmass in the north of Japan, boasts sweeping natural landscapes and a variety of adventures and activities. It is also the first region in Japan where you can enjoy autumn leaves in the fall, that in some regions would reach their full splendor as early as September. See WAttention’s list of fall foliage destinations starting from the earliest to the latest spots to reach their peak colors.



1Mount Daisetsu (Kogen Onsen) 大雪山 (高原温泉) in Kamikawa

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First colors: Beginning of September
Color Peak: Middle of September until the end of September
Access: 30min bus ride from Kamikawa Station (JR Sekihoku Main Line) until Sounkyo Onsen, from there it is a 40min taxi ride until Kogen Onsen
Address: Sounkyo Onsen – Daisetsuzan Kokuritsu Koen, Kamikawa-cho, Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com


2Mount Daisetsu (Kurodake) 大雪山 (黒岳) in Kamikawa

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First colors: Beginning of September
Color Peak: Middle of September until the end of September
Access: 30min bus ride from Kamikawa Station (JR Sekihoku Main Line) until Sounkyo Onsen, from there you can take the ropeway until the 5th station (7min), or the 7th station by lift from station 5 (15min). From station 7 to the top it is a 1,5hour climb.
Address: Sounkyo Onsen – Daisetsuzan Kokuritsu Koen, Kamikawa-cho, Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido


3Akan (阿寒) in Kushiro

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First colors: Middle of September
Color Peak: End of September until the beginning of October
Recommended Spots: The autumn colors and the waterfall seen from Takimi Bridge
Event: Marimo Festival
Date: October 8th (Saturday) ~ 10th (Monday); October 8th 10:30am~/October 9th 1pm~/October 10th 10am~
Admission: free
Details: Traditional event of the Ainu (ethnic group of Hokkaido) regarding Marimo, a round green alga which grows in lake Akan. A torch walk and the Marimo dance parade are further highlights of the Festival.
Access: 2hour bus ride from Kushiro Station (JR Nemuro Main Line) until Akan Kohan (10min walk)
Address: Akanko Onsen – Akan National Park , Akan-cho, Kushiro-shi, 085-0467 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.lake-akan.com


4Shikaribetsu lake shore (然別湖畔) in Kato – Shikaoi

A photo posted by Navi Chang (@navichang) on

A photo posted by まーどぅん (@bichanku) on

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: End of September until the middle of October
Access: 1h40min bus ride from Obihiro Station (JR Nemuro Main Line) until Shikaribetsuko
Address: Daisetsuzan National Park – Shikaribetsu kohan, Kato-cho, Hokkaido 
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com


5Eniwa Valley (恵庭渓谷) in Eniwa

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Recommended Spots: three step waterfall, Rarumanai waterfall, Hakusen waterfall (shop available)
Access: A 40min taxi ride from Eniwa Station (JR Chitose Line)
Address: Banjiri, Eniwa-shi, 061-1422 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com


6Onneto in Ashoro

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October
Recommended Spots: viewing platform
Event: 2016 Onneto Monogatari
Date: September 25th (Sunday)
Details: Mini live concert, Onneto Photo contest
Access: 2hour taxi ride from Obihiro Station (JR Nemuro Main Line)
Address: Moashoro, Ashoro-cho, Ashoro-gun, 089-3964 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.lake-akan.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido


7Shiretokogo Lake (知床五湖) in Shari

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the middle of October
Opening hours: End of April until the end of November; 7:30am – 6pm
Access: 1 hour 15 min bus ride from Shiretoko-Shari Station (JR Senmo Main Line) until Shiretokogo Lake
Address: Shiretoko National Park, Shari-gun, Shari-cho, 099-4356 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.env.go.jp


8Sandandaki Park (三段滝公園) in Ashibetsu

A photo posted by 岡篤士 (@atsushioka) on

A photo posted by 岡篤士 (@atsushioka) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Beginning of October until middle of October
Access: 25min taxi ride from Ashibetsu Street
Address: Ashibetsu, Ashibetsu-shi, 075-0000 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com


9Jozankei (Hoheikyo Dam) (定山渓 (豊平峡ダム)) in Sapporo

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the middle of October
Recommended Spot: the view from the dam side; the view from the viewing platform
Access: Jotetsu Bus from JR Sapporo Station or Makomanai Station (Metro – Nanboku Line) to Jozankei Yunomachi, from there you can take the free Hoheikyo shuttle bus until Hoheikyo dam parking area
Address: Jozankei, Minami-ku, Sapporo-shi, 061-2301 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.houheikyou.jp


10Lake Shikotsu – Lake Shikotsu Onsen (支笏湖 (支笏湖温泉)) in Chitose

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Mount Eniwa, Mount Fuppushi, Mount Tarumae, Mount Monbetsu
Event: Lake Shikotsu Autumn Color Festival
Date: October 9th (Sunday), 10am – 3pm
Details: Sale of seasonal vegetables, performance from the drum and fife band of the local primary school, food stands. The near Onsen will open its door for half the price, so you can relax in the hot tubs after the lively festival.
Access: 54 min bus ride from Shinchitose Kuko Station (JR Chitose Line); 44min bus ride from Chitose Station (JR Chitose Line)
Address: Kohan Enchi – Shikotsuko Onsen, Chitose-shi, 066-0281 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.shikotsuko.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido


11Sounkyo (Falling star・milky way waterfall) (層雲峡 (流星・銀河の滝 )) in Kamikawa

©社団法人層雲峡観光協会
©社団法人層雲峡観光協会
First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Access: 30min bus ride from Kamikawa Station (JR Sekihoku Main Line) until Sounkyo Onsen, from there it is a 3km walk.
Address: Sounkyo, Kamikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, 078-1701Hokkaido Prefecture
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.sounkyo.net


12Taki no Ue Park (滝の上公園) in Yubari – Yuni

A photo posted by @mtk_bchan on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Recommended Spot: Chidori Bridge, Taki Rope Bridge
Access: 3min walk from Taki no Ue Station (JR Sekisho Line)
Address: Takinoue 5, Yubari-shi, 068-0756 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
takinoue.com


13Katsurazawa lake shore (桂沢湖畔) in Mikasa

A photo posted by Tomomi.K (@tomollie33) on

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Event: Mikasa Katsurazawa Autumn Color Festival
Date: October 16th (Sunday), 10am – 4pm
Admission: free
Details: Fishing competition, live performances, game competition, autumn flavor tasting, etc.
Access: 50min bus ride from Iwamizawa Station (JR Hakodate Main Line, Muroran Main Line) to the terminal stop Ikushunbetsu, from there it is a 10min taxi ride
Address: Katsurazawa, Mikasa-shi, 068-2101 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
city.mikasa.hokkaido.jp


14Iwanai Senkyo (岩内仙峡) in Obihiro

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Event: Iwanai Senkyo Momiji Festival
Date: October 9th (Sunday), 10am – 2:30pm; In case of rain, the event takes place in the Kawanishi Nogyosha Kenshu Center (Nishi 2 sen 59-48, Kawanishi-cho, Obihiro-shi, 089-1182 Hokkaido)
Admission: free
Details: Live performances, vegetable weight guessing, auction of local harvested vegetables, Yosakoi Soran dance performance, Karaoke contest, food stands selling local dishes, pony riding area, etc.
Access: 55min Taxi ride from Obihiro Station (JR Nemuro Main Line)
Address: Iwanai Senkyo, Iwanai-cho, Obihiro-shi, 080-2121 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
visit-tokachi.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido


15Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park (国営滝野すずらん丘陵公園) in Sapporo

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm (autumn)
Admission fee: 410yen (adults), 80yen (children)
Recommended Spots: Waterfall area, Takino Forest (west and east area)
Event: Special Tour – Let´s see autumn colors!
Date: October 22nd (Saturday), 10am – 12:30pm
Admission: free
Details: A guide will show you the recommended places inside the park.
Meeting Place: Mori no Koryukan
Reservation: Tel 011-594-2222
Access: 35min bus ride from Makomanai Station (Metro Nanboku Line) with the Chuo Bus Takino Line until Takino Suzuran Koen; 1,75hour bus ride from Sapporo Terminal with the Chuo Bus Takino Line
Address: Takino 247, Minami-ku, Sapporo-shi, 005-0862 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
welcome.city.sapporo.jp


16Maruyama Park (円山公園) in Sapporo

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: near the playground area, Maruyama riverside
Access: 5min walk from Maruyama Koen Station (Tozai Line (Metro))
Address: Miyagaoka 3, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, 064-0959 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
welcome.city.sapporo.jp


17Shinnoboribetsu Long Bridge (新登別大橋) in Noboribetsu

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Access: 15min taxi ride from Noboribetsu Station (JR Muroran Main Line)
Address: Kaminoboribetsu-cho, Noboribetsu-shi, 059-0552 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.noboribetsu-spa.jp


18Onuma (Onuma Park, Tsukimi Bridge, Onuma lake shore) 大沼 (大沼公園、月見橋、大沼湖畔) in Kameda – Nanae

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First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October
Access: 3min walk from Onuma Koen Station (JR Hakodate Main Line)
Address: Onuma Kokutei Koen, Onuma-cho 1023-1, Nanae-cho, Kameda-gun, 041-1354 Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
onumakouen.com

Sakura – Japan in the Box : Fantastical Show in a 140-year-old Theater

The Meijiza Theater, one of the oldest theaters in Tokyo, is showing a new night-program that lets you enjoy cherry blossoms outside of spring time. Follow the fantastical adventures of a young high-school girl called Sakura as she journeys through the seasons. Look through her eyes as you experience Japan’s complex and multilayered beauty expressed by modern pop culture, including anime and pop-music, as well as traditional arts like dances, instruments and music performances. Don´t worry about your Japanese language proficiency, since the show is designed to be understandable to everyone.

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As expected of a theater house with a 140 year long tradition, the performances are top-notch professional. While the use state-of-the-art technology harmonized nicely with the traditional elements of the performance, drawing you in to an amazingly immersive experience.

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For foreign guests, you can also download a special app for your smartphone that is designed to synchronize and explain the meanings and messages of the story and figures of the show. The translation is in English and the app can be downloaded here for free.

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Information

“Sakura – Japan in the Box” Meijiza Theater
Address: 2-31-1 Nihombashi, Hama-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Dates: Sept. 7, 2016 – Mar. 31, 2017
Website: http://sakura-meijiza.com/en/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

Tokyo Edo Week

 

The kimono is making a comeback with a modern twist and both young and old are wearing it more than ever. Tokyo wants to encourage you to try this timeless garment by organizing the Tokyo Edo Week during September 22nd~25th at Ueno Park.

Edo currency-Image edited from: edoweek.com
Edo currency-Image edited from: edoweek.com

The goal of this event is to show Japanese culture to the world in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The whole venue will be modeled after a street from the Edo period (1603-1868) and you can even pay in traditional Edo currency. If you don`t have a kimono to show off , you can rent one at the event. Everyone who comes dressed in kimono will get a free limited gift at almost every stand. If you bought a kimono or yukata but don’t know how to put it on, use this tutorial made by Tokyo Edo Week.

Tokyo Edo Week is the world`s biggest festival that celebrates traditional Japanese culture. Here are some of the festival`s highlights!

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Go Kimono Shopping

Various kimono designers from all over Japan will be displaying their latest creations as well as recycle shops with unique vintage kimono. If you would like to know more about kitsuke (着付け), the art of kimono dressing, you can see a demonstration by one of the attending kimono schools.

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Kimono Exhibition

If you`re not into trying a kimono yourself, you can visit one of the antique kimono exhibitions or the unique Kabuki exhibition. This interactive ICT event will be open for free to the public for the first time.

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Amazing Crafts

Now that you’ve completely immersed yourself in the world of kimono, it’s time to admire some traditional crafts. The Edo period was an amazing time for craftsmen as they enjoyed a relative nationwide peace at the start and were influenced by foreign crafts at the end. The result of years of perfection can be seen in crafts such as glassware, hairpins, kokeshi dolls, traditional dyeing techniques and more. Why not take home a piece of Edo?

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Image Courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Meet Miss Sake Tokyo

The Tokyo Edo Week includes a special appearance by none other than the real Miss Sake. Ando Yumi proved she can be  Japan’s sake ambassador with both brains and beauty. Who knows, this might be the only time in your life that you get to meet a real Miss.

See Japanese Sword Arts and Plays

To top it all off, there are many amazing performers coming from all over Japan to show their talents. For those who like excitement there are samurai sword performances, a ninja show and even a DJ. If you like to have a more relaxed atmosphere, attend one of the traditional plays or comedy shows.

 

Enjoy Edo-style food with top class entertainment

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

The food stands are well equipped to give every visitor a taste of historical Japan. Try some Edo classics and Western-inspired food while listening to a shamisen, classic Japanese three-stringed instrument, performance.

Not only food, but also sake is available at the Tokyo Edo Week. Micro breweries and local sake brewers worked hard to bring you the best they have to offer.


 

It would take a while to sum up all of the amazing activities the Tokyo Edo Week has to offer, but we hope these highlights convinced you to visit. Check out the Edo Week website for more information.

Event Information
Date: Sep 22 – 25, 2016
Hours: 11am – 8pm (22nd to 24th, last entry 7:30pm), 11am – 6pm (25th, last entry 5pm)
Where: Ueno Park Takenodai Square
Admission: Free (but you need to buy tickets for the food stands and the kimono exhibition).
URL: https://edoweek.com

RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto: Quality Time with a Warm Contemporary Japanese Style

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After being closed for renovations in February 2016, the RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto was reopened on Sep. 8th to provide outstanding levels of service to all its customers. It was their first full renovation project since it opened in 1969, and the hotel now serves as a modern landmark of the area. The concept of the renovation was to create a Warm Contemporary Japanese Style, which seamlessly integrates materials that symbolize Kyoto’s original landscape, such as bamboo and stones, into a modern architectural design. The entrance and lobby are decorated with lighting fixtures highlighting the stone art on the floor. Walking through the entrance, customers can immerse themselves in the wonderful world of Japanese aesthetics.

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The concept continues all the way to the 10th floor with all 489 rooms getting a full makeover. WAttention staff got to stay in a Premium Suite Room on the 9th floor, an area designated for premium customers. The room was decorated with a bamboo forest theme with a subdued palette creating a quiet and relaxing atmosphere. Included in the room were luxurious amenities such as a Nespresso coffee machine and interior items from Kohchosai Kosuga, a Japanese premium brand of bamboo craft. The rooms on the 3th – 7th floor also convey the same warm and welcoming feel in the contemporary Japanese style.

RIHGA Hotel_bedroom

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Another highlight of the hotel is the All Day Dining at the Kaza restaurant. The restaurant provides a variety of Japanese and western food and sweets, made with carefully selected seasonal ingredients. You can enjoy high quality and delicious meals in a buffet style from breakfast to dinner.

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Only a 7-minute walk from Kyoto Station, this is a great place to pamper yourself with luxury design and services.

RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
Address: 1 Taimatsu-cho, Shiokoji-sagaru, Higashi Horikawa-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Access: 7-min walk from Kyoto Station, Free Shuttle Bus departs from Kyoto Station every 15 minutes from 7:30am – 9pm
Tel: +81 (0)75-341-1121
URL: http://www.rihgaroyalkyoto.com/

The life of a Harajuku Shop Girl – Choom

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I’ve been an obsessive follower of Japanese street fashion for many years now so when I was given the opportunity to work at 6%DokiDoki, one of the most established brands in Harajuku and adored by fans worldwide, I jumped at the opportunity.

I am currently studying Japanese at university and an integral part of that is the year abroad in Japan. I chose to go to Tokyo because for me, it’s the only choice if you want to be a part of the fashion scene. The opportunity came about suddenly and quite randomly, first I was chosen to be a part of their show at the Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival then all of a sudden I was asked to be a Shop Girl. I was so thrilled!

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After a shaky start I quickly fell into step with my co-workers. Not only was this my first real job (I know, I know) but speaking the language was definitely tricky at first. After a few shifts and a lot of patience on behalf of my co-workers (thank you!!) I could communicate so easily with them and customers.
So a typical day at work would start not on the day of my shift, but actually the day before. I would message my manager and we would discuss what I would wear so then I could plan my accessories, foot wear and make up. The next day I would arrive about 30 minutes prior to when my shift would start. I was lucky to have lived about 15 minutes from Harajuku by train so the commute was never too bad. The only issue I would ever encounter would be tourists staring and shoving cameras in my face, so if you’re ever in Harajuku don’t be that person! You might be met with a very irritated shop staff! Once I arrived, I would finish my make up and put any final touches on my outfit.

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We have a schedule of things to do during our shift aside from helping customers and it always starts with taking pictures to post on social media and writing a bit about what we were doing and wearing. I didn’t know what I should say most of the time so I usually wrote about the weather, how very British of me! Other tasks on our schedule were cleaning the shop and restocking items that had been sold, so normal things any shop staff does. The only difference would be I’d be teetering over in my sky high platforms while sweeping up. I think a lot of people found it amusing for us to be cleaning up in over the top outfits and often took pictures of us outside the shop. I’m so worried somewhere on the internet someone has captioned a photo of me as ‘pink platform wearing cleaning lady in Harajuku.’

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Our customers were people of all ages, backgrounds and interests. I talked to both Japanese and non-Japanese customers and they all loved the bold, over the top cuteness of 6%DokiDoki. You could always tell when a new customer came in because they always exclaimed, ‘this is crazy’ or ‘this is amazing’ as soon as they walked through the door. There were always those that said they ‘could never wear something like that’ and asked me if I wore this kind of clothing every day. Sometimes I managed to coerce them into trying out some clothes and accessories by explaining how it could work with a simple, not very alternative outfit. I think it’s nice adding a little kawaii into people’s everyday lives!

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Obviously being a ShopGirl had its perks! Aside from the usual things like assisting customers we sometimes had photoshoots for both TV and magazines in the shop. Since 6%DokiDoki is so famous for its consistently outlandish and typically ‘Harajuku style’ it was a hotspot of interest to others. The shop also had diehard fans who loved everything about the fashion and the staff! It would be so lovely to turn up for work to find someone had left a gift for the staff. It really helped me to understand how much people appreciate the effort we went through to maintain the shop’s ‘sensational lovely’ image and the looks we created to promote the brand. I remember one day in particular when a customer came to the shop wearing a look I had done in my previous shift and I was so overwhelmed! Not only are we shop staff but people saw us as fashion inspiration too which is so cool!

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The experience I had as a Shop Girl was one to remember. My time both in and out of the shop was so fun and it made my year abroad memorable!

5 Ways to Unwind at the Phoenix Seagaia Resort

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Miyazaki City is associated with blue seas, surfing, mangoes, golf, honeymoon trips and spiny lobsters! There are many delicious things to eat, many beautiful landscapes to enjoy and many activities to try—and the Phoenix Seagaia Resort offers the best of Miyazaki all in a single sprawling location. Here are five great reasons to visit!


5. Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort

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The Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort is located in the center of the vast Phoenix Seagaia Resort. The hotel is 154 meters (505 ft) tall and has 743 rooms, most of them with an ocean view.

Sheraton puts an emphasis on comfortable sleep, and has developed the “Sheraton Suite Sleeper Bed” together with mattress-maker Sealy in order to provide the best sleeping conditions for guests. All the rooms are equipped with this bed, which embraces your body. A great hotel offers not only great views, but also great conditions for your comfortable sleep!
trip101.com

4. Miyazaki Phoenix Zoo
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A popular spot for families is the Miyazaki Phoenix Zoo, which isn’t too far from the hotel. There are 1,200 animals from 100 different species.

In the African-themed part of the zoo you can see zebras and giraffes up close. Some of the daily events include a walking demonstration by the elephants, marching goats, a show with flamingos and interaction with the smaller animals. The zoo opened in 1971, and one of its most famous attractions is the flamingo show, where 70 birds perform together.
trip101.com

3. Shosenkyo Onsen
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Japan is the land of onsen, or hot springs. There are a seemingly endless number of hot springs here, but Miyazaki City’s Shosenkyo Onsen has an elegance you won’t find almost anywhere else.

Located in a pine forest adjacent to the Phoenix Seagaia Resort, the opulent bath gives off an air of ancient royalty. There are three types of baths at Shosenkyo Onsen. Which baths guests can access depends on the package they’ve booked at the hotel. The baths are said to be great for nerve pain, sore muscles, joint pain, stiff shoulders, muscle pain from exercise, bruises, sprains, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, cuts, burns and skin disorders.
trip101.com

2. Phoenix Country Club
2. Phoenix Country Club
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On one of the Top 3 courses in Japan (and in the Top 100 in the world!), the Phoenix Country Club is surrounded by pristine pine groves. The gorgeous emerald course is as fun to play on as it is to marvel at its beauty. And the clubhouse is just as inviting!

Step inside the elegant clubhouse, renovated in 2002, and you’ll enter a world fully dedicated to the greats of the sport. The sophisticated, soft lighting highlights tournament memorabilia, including photos of past champions, caddie bags signed by Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia, and other historical trinkets.
www.seagaia.co.jp

1. Pokémon Scavenger Hunt

The Phoenix Seagaia Resort is also offering a unique event for Pokémon fans and their parents: a quest to search for over 200 Pokémon at the seaside hotel. Participants are given a “mysterious book” (actually a tablet computer in disguise) that lets them record Pokémon hidden around the resort, including some from the latest X and Y games. When certain markers are found and scanned, the Pokémon will appear as pages within the book. They’re even hidden around the hotel rooms!

The best part for slightly older Poképals: there’s no age limit, and the hotel even recommends that parents or guardians participate too—to help the kids out, of course!
www.animenewsnetwork.com


Read the original article on All About Japan: 5 Ways to Unwind at the Phoenix Seagaia Resort

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Traditional Meets Modernity at Hoshino Resorts

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Founded as a silk business in Karuizawa, Nagano, in 1904, Hoshino opened its first hotel in 1914, taking the name Hoshino Onsen Ryokan. The simple idea was to create an experience that combined modern luxuries with more traditional and natural views and ambiance. It has since expanded to become a multi-branded operator of hotels and resorts.

1. Hoshinoya
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The Hoshinoya brand of resorts and hotels includes the chain’s showcase retreat in Karuizawa. Their aim is to create a sense of peace and calm within the bounds of each resort, getting customers out of their daily, busy routines and into a peaceful utopia. TVs are not allowed in any of these hotels, but they do provide amazing scenery and pictures. Interestingly, the rooms here are dimmer than at other hotel chains so as to encourage interacting with the surrounding nature.
www.hoshinoresorts.com

2. Kai
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The Kai brand places more emphasis on the onsen (hot spring) experience. Having expanded to 13 locations in Japan alone, each ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) has less than 50 rooms to provide spacious and peaceful experiences to their clients. Kai Onsen Resorts make three commitments with their customers: to pursue amenity that matches with modern times and modern expenses; hospitality according with locality and seasonality; and good staff with excellent services. Kai aims to provide local charm and the best seasonal cuisine.
www.hoshinoresorts.com

3. Risonare
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Risonare is the rarest of these chains, having expanded to just four locations. However, these hotels are located in more remote areas, and are often less accessible by train. The theme of Risonare is nature—to let customers enjoy the air of the highlands, the openness of the sea and the spaciousness of the night sky. Risonare wants customers to enjoy every part of nature through different activities and make it a part of their memory.
www.hoshinoresorts.com

4. Overseas
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Hoshino Resorts is starting to expand overseas as well. Hotel Kia Ora Resort and Spa is located on the Rangiroa atoll in French Polynesia, roughly 355 kilometers (220 miles) northeast of Tahiti. Endless white beaches, an idyllic blue lagoon and jumping dolphins are sure to both entertain you and give you the guidance to simply relax!

A further international branch is opening up in Bali, Indonesia. In keeping with the corporate image, Hoshinoya Bali will keep most of its traditional aesthetic while adding some muted Japanese tones mixed with the bright colors of traditional Indonesia.


Read the original article on All About Japan: Traditional Meets Modernity at Hoshino Resorts

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6 Things You Need to Know About Izakaya

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An izakaya is a Japanese-style pub. This means you’ll have alcohol as well as food, but instead of everyone receiving their own main dish, the standard procedure is for everyone to order lots of small, typically inexpensive dishes that are shared by everyone around the table, ordering subsequent rounds along with accompanying drinks.

6. Izakaya Meaning
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The word izakaya is made up of the kanji 居酒屋, meaning “stay,” “alcohol,” and “room” or “shop.” So an izakaya is, in the most literal sense, “a shop for people to stay with alcohol.”

5. Getting a Table
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When you enter an izakaya, you’ll first be asked how many people are in your party. If you don’t speak Japanese, just showing the number with your fingers is fine, and even a common practice among Japanese people. If it’s a big number—and izakaya are much more fun with more people—just say the number slowly in English, and be ready to reinforce by counting up on your fingers if necessary. Pretty much every Japanese person is comfortable with numbers one through 10 in English, but any higher and it depends on how much they enjoyed English in school.

Depending on the style of izakaya—or simply where you’re placed—you may be seated at a regular table, at a bar, or on straw tatami mats. If you’ve got tatami, you’ll have to take off your shoes before stepping on the mats (some places will give you a little locker for your shoes; keep the little tab in your pocket to retrieve them later). Most tatami rooms will have a hole in the floor under the table, so you’ll still have a place to put your legs.

If you’re in a truly classic tatami room, you may find no hole in the floor, and you’ll have sit cross-legged or kneel in seiza! This is pretty rare nowadays, but it can happen from time to time (as you can see in the photo above). After a while, most people will stretch out, so just put up with your cramped legs for a few minutes, then ask if it’s okay to extend your legs (just indicate your legs and say, “Ii desu ka?,” which means, “Is it okay?” Everyone will know what you mean).

4. Oshibori & Otoshi
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You’ll probably be given an oshibori (wet towel) upon sitting down, which you should use to clean your hands. A nice oshibori will be refreshingly cool in the summer and satisfyingly warm in the winter, though cheap spots may just give you one made of paper.

You’ll also probably receive a very small appetizer called an otoshi (or possibly tsukidashi if you’re in the Kansai area). This will be charged to your table, so don’t be surprised at the end! (And no, you don’t have a choice.)

3. Ordering

So, how do you order all those rounds of drinks and food? You just need one word: Sumimasen! This literally means “Excuse me,” and is the standard for getting staff attention (more on this incredibly useful word here).

While chain shops will often have buzzers on the tables for summoning staff, a classic izakaya will be a big, noisy room, and nobody has any compunctions about hollering “Sumimasen!” over the din to secure the next round. The key to sounding friendly is to draw out the last eh sound; if you just clip it off at the end, you sound pretty grumpy. Once you get accustomed to it, it’s lots of fun to call out, “SU-mi-ma-SEHHHHHN!”

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Most chain izakaya will have a pictographic menu, so if you don’t read Japanese, just point and use extremely simple English (“This, two,” “This, one,” etc.). If you’ve wandered into a spot with no images and you’re stuck, just ask, “O-susume wa?” (“What’s your recommendation?”). Otherwise, pointing at random also works!

Typical dishes will include a selection of yakitori (grilled meat on sticks), kara-age (fried chicken pieces), tamagoyaki (sushi-style omelette blocks), sashimi, grilled fish, small meat dishes, tofu and salads—and you’ll pretty often find French fries as well (just as for “potato” or “potato fry”)! The standard appetizer is, of course, edamame.

“Beer” is biiru in Japanese, so you can get one of those pretty easily (just say “Beer” and hold up the number for the table with your fingers). Another common word is nama, which means “draft,” as in “draft beer,” and can be used interchangeably with biiru.

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You won’t find Western-style cocktails on most menus, but you’ll have lots of choices of umeshu (plum wine), shochu (distilled liquor akin to light vodka), sake (which you can also order hot as atsukan), “sour” drinks (or sawaa, basically shochu combined with soda and various kinds of fruit juice; grapefruit sour is the standard), and very basic whisky (usually a single brand on the rocks or with soda).

Non-drinkers will also be able to get soft drinks and green tea. When everyone gets their drinks, remember the Japanese word for cheers: Kanpai!

2. Nomihodai
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One of the most important things to decide when starting out at an izakaya is whether or not to get nomihodai—all-you-can-drink. While you probably won’t be able to get nomihodai at a small, local shop, most chains will offer a 90-minute or two-hour deal for about the price of three or four beers—though there are discount shops with cheap nomihodai deals as well! However, either everyone at the table gets nomihodai, or nobody gets it. Three people can’t get all-you-can-drink while a fourth sips on water: it’s all in or all out.

Be aware that the nomihodai deal usually won’t be for everything on the drinks menu, either. You’re typically limited to a much smaller selection of alcohol that will mostly focus on beer and sours.

1. Paying
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To get the bill, you can either pull a “Sumimasen!” and cross your index fingers, or simply stand up slowly and head toward the door, where the bill will be waiting for you.

While most restaurants in Japan are great at divvying up the bill betsu-betsu (individually by person), this is simply not possible at an izakaya, where everybody has been sharing multiple rounds of dishes. You’ll just have to split the total evenly between the members of your group.

If you’re in a large group, you’re definitely going to want to sort out the bill at the table—because there’s always one person who showed up late or had only one beer and doesn’t want to pay the same amount as everyone else, and nobody ever has exact change. If you’re in charge of collecting the money, be aware that it always seems to end up that at least half of one person’s contribution is missing, and since nobody can ever figure out who paid too little, you’ll either have to appeal to the group to cough up some extra or cover the gap yourself.

Between the shared dishes and the need to collaborate on your next order, izakaya are great for encouraging people to interact, which may be the key to their overwhelming popularity for groups of friends heading out in Japan!


Read the original article on All About Japan: 6 Things You Need to Know About Izakaya

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Japan’s 8 Best-Preserved Castle Towns

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Original surviving Japanese castles are a rarity. Only a dozen retain their original keeps, though there are many more that lie in ruins or have been reconstructed. Beyond the castles, however, many historic castle towns are extremely well preserved, and we’ve gathered eight of the best!

8. Tsuwano (Shimane Prefecture)
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Surrounded by verdant mountains, Tsuwano, often called “Little Kyoto,” is one of Japan’s most beautiful historic castle towns. Visitors can stroll down Tsuwano’s streets visiting traditional sweets shops, sake distilleries, and samurai residences. The streets in the Tono-machi neighborhood are even lined with canals filled with brightly colored koi fish!

www.jnto.go.jp

7. Izushi (Hyogo Prefecture)
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Izushi Castle was partly reconstructed in 1979, combining with the extant ruins to give a fine impression of what this impressive hilltop structure would have looked like hundreds of years ago. Its surrounding town is now part of Toyooka City, but reminders of Izushi’s historic past remain. Visitors will notice the striking Shinkoro Tower that watches over the traditional city streets. You’ll also be able to try the town’s specialty cuisine—Izushi soba noodles.

www.izushi.co.jp

6. Iwamura (Gifu Prefecture)
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The ruins of Iwamura Castle, the highest castle in Japan, overlook the surviving town from atop a mountain. After an invigorating hike, visitors can stroll through the thoughtfully preserved streets. All electrical wires now run underground, truly transporting guests back to the Edo Period (1603-1868).

www.mustlovejapan.com

5. Omihachiman (Shiga Prefecture)
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An easy day trip from Kyoto, Omihachiman has a lot to offer. with its serene location along Lake Biwa, its reed-laden canals and dazzling whitewashed 19th century houses. Visitors can take a lazy boat ride through the city’s meandering waterways, catching glimpses of Edo Period warehouses and shops. Omihachiman boasts intense natural beauty too, and is considered to be Japan’s first Important Cultural Landscape.

www.jnto.go.jp

4. Kawagoe (Saitama Prefecture)
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A short distance from Tokyo, visiting Kawagoe is a great way to escape the rush of metropolitan life and travel back in time. During the Edo Period, Kawagoe was an important trade town, supplying Tokyo (which was then called Edo) with much-needed resources. The town’s characteristic clay-walled warehouses are a keen reminder of Kawagoe’s commercial past.

allabout-japan.com

3. Hagi (Yamaguchi Prefecture)
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Hagi Castle only stands in ruins today, but the surrounding city streets still carry strong reminders of the town’s long history. The town is home to luxurious feudal mansions and samurai residences, as well as thriving merchant districts. Visitors to Hagi can even explore some of these fine houses along with the town’s many temples and museums.

www.japan-guide.com

2. Kakunodate (Akita Prefecture)
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Not only a prime spot for cherry blossom viewing, Kakunodate is also steeped in history. It’s one of the best places to experience what a true Japanese castle town might have been like. Descendants of Kakunodate’s samurai still live in and own the town’s historic residences, and some are open for public tours.

www.jnto.go.jp

1. Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture)
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Kanazawa was a prominent Edo Period city and home of the influential Maeda Clan. Like Kyoto, Kanazawa was mostly spared the destruction wrought by World War II, meaning many of its historic buildings and shopping districts are well preserved to this day. Kanazawa is known almost as much for its Edo Period residences as it is for Kenrokuen, one Japan’s top three landscaped gardens.

allabout-japan.com


Read the original article on All About Japan: Japan’s 8 Best-Preserved Castle Towns

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Here’s your chance to participate in the Kawagoe Festival 2016!

The sign up period for this event has ended. Thank you so much for all your submissions!

WAttention is looking for 20 foreign residents in Japan to participate in the Kawagoe Festival on October 16th, 2016.

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If you’re chosen, you will wear a happi coat and rub elbows with the locals in the festivities pulling one of the festival’s colossal floats! You will also receive the convenient Seibu Rail Pass from Shinjuku Station to go to and from the event place for free.

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Here are the very simple requirements:

Foreign national who will be in Japan on October 16th, who will be alright to have their pictures published in our magazine and website and has a sense of responsibility as not to cancel suddenly.

If you think you fulfill these requirements, please register through the form below by September 30th (Fri). We will choose a total of 20 people and contact them via email.

If you have any questions or technical issues with the form, please contact us via email to [email protected]

3 Wild ‘Onsen’ Theme Parks

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Want a little more than just a soak in hot water? Try an onsen theme park, where a whole world of water-related adventure awaits!

3. Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Hot Springs Amusement Park & Spa Resort (Kanagawa)
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Located most of the way up toward the Hakone Ropeway in western Kanagawa, Hakone Kowakien Yunessun boasts over two dozen water attractions. While the resort presents typical water slides and hot baths under grandiose themes, the real feature here is the weird water: there’s a Sake Spa, a Green Tea Spa, a Coffee Spa and a Wine Spa that contains real wine, garnished with a giant 3.6-meter (12 ft) wine bottle hovering over the pool. You can spend all your time in the bathing suit zones, or head over to the no-clothes zones for a more traditional onsen soak.

http://www.yunessun.com/

2. Spa World (Osaka)
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Spa World is an edifice of hot water on Osaka’s south side that isn’t too bashful for the occasional tie-in with Attack on Titan. In addition to four floors of food and three of various relaxation services, the baths are divided into European and Asian Zones, featuring slightly weird themes like Atlantis, Ancient Rome and a Finnish-style sauna on the European floor, or various Japanese baths mixed with a Bali-style resort bath and a Persian bath supposedly inspired by Persepolis on the Asian floor. The two zones rotate between men and women monthly, closing for only 75 minutes between 8:45 and 10 a.m. each day. There are also various saunas modeled (some rather loosely) after different regions around the world, while the eighth floor features a kids’ pool, waterslides and two large rooftop jacuzzis.

http://www.spaworld.co.jp/english/

1. Edo-Onsen Monogatari (Tokyo)
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The two primal themes are hot spring baths and the Edo Period, the time from 1603 to 1868 when the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan. A rental yukata robe is included with the price of admission, leaving you free to wander in classic style through 14 different kinds of baths, numerous restaurants and even an old-school shopping arcade, where you can play old-fashioned carnival games, try throwing a shuriken (ninja star) or savor Edo Period candy. All this is located right in the Odaiba area on Tokyo Bay, with the water sourced from natural springs 1,400 meters (4,600 ft) underground.

http://daiba.ooedoonsen.jp/en/


Read the original article on All About Japan: 3 Wild ‘Onsen’ Theme Parks

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Special exhibition: Léonard Foujita and His Models @ Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art

Tsuguharu Foujita in his studio by Jean Agélou (1878–1921), French photographer

From September 17, 2016 to January 15, 2017, selected works of Léonard Foujita will be on display at Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art in Sakura City, Chiba.

As one of the most successful artists working in the West during the 20th century, the Japanese-born French artist is best known for his paintings with “milk white” backgrounds.

Portrait of Anna de Noailles, 1926. Oil on canvas, 167.1 x 108.4cm.
Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art
© Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016 G0445
Self Portrait, 1936. Oil on canvas, 127.7×191.9cm
Hirano Masakichi Museum of Fine Art
© Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016 G0505
The special exhibition will focus on the models in his works to reveal a new aspect of the painter’s unique art style. In addition to the exhibition, the museum has a permanent collection ranging from impressionists such as Monet and Renoir to modern artists such as Picasso and Chagall, and the 20th century American art.
Portrait of Jean Rostand, 1955. Oil on canvas, 100.0×81.0cm
Carnavalet Museum
© Musée Carnavalet / Roger – Viollet
© Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016 G0505
Kakuryoku, 1934. Watercolor on paper, 169.0×82.0cm.
Hirano Masakichi Museum of Fine Art
© Fondation Foujita / ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2016 G0505

Information

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Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art
Léonard Foujita and His Models

Dates: Sep. 17, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017
Address: 631 Sakado, Sakura, Chiba Prefecture
Hours: 9:30am – 5pm (last admission 4:30pm)
Access: 20-min free shuttle bus ride from JR Sakura Station
URL: http://kawamura-museum.dic.co.jp/en/

How to celebrate Tsukimi in Japan

Like with hanami (flower-viewing) and yukimi onsen (snow-viewing in a hot spring) the Japanese make it a habit to sit down together and marvel at the signs of passing seasons. However, unlike hanami that can turn rather boisterous with much drinking and celebrating, tsukimi (moon-viewing) is a solemn and quiet affair. Perhaps it’s the chill of the night wind, colder now as summer dissolves into autumn. Or perhaps it’s that deep, inexplicable feeling of longing that people get while gazing at the moon’s achingly beautiful glow. Whatever the reason, enjoying the Tsukimi Festival in Japan is a wonderfully poetic experience that shouldn’t be missed!

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The festival’s tradition in Japan dates back to the Heian era where it became a tradition for court nobles to celebrate tsukimi by throwing lavish banquets on boats or nearby a pond that reflects the moonlight with music performances and poem recitals dedicated to the moon. Rabbits are also a recurring theme because when Japanese people see the face of the moon, they see the shape of a rabbit pounding mochi, thus rabbits are believed to be inhabitants of the moon.

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Nowadays, in most Japanese homes, people would put susuki (pampas grass) and seasonal produce, such as persimmons, chestnuts, as well as tsukimi dango (rice dumplings) in a place where the moon can be seen, as an offering to the moon as well as a sign of gratitude for a good autumn harvest.

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Traditionally celebrated on the 15th of the 8th month of the old calendar, in 2016 this Jugoya (fifteenth night) falls on September 15th. This year, you will also be able to celebrate it the Heian way, with musical performances under the moonlight in Sankeien Garden in Yokohama. From gagaku (ancient imperial court music and dances), to koto performances, to piano and saxophone renditions of Japanese songs, this event is sure to delight every artistic soul.

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Not all tsukimi traditions are as serious and solemn, though. Many food joints including fast food chains and udon shops provide special tsukimi menu items which are often just their regular fare with an added egg on top as the yolk resembles the shape of a full moon.

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And as expected for the land of kawaii, the Japanese will pounce on any excuse to prettify their food with cute bunnies.

Morozoff O-tsukimi Cream Cheesecake
Morozoff O-tsukimi Cream Cheesecake

Consider us moonstruck!

Event Information

Sankei-en Garden Moon-viewing Event
Dates: Sep. 15 – 19, 2016
Hours: 6:15 – 8:15pm
Location: 58-1, Honmoku Sannotani, Naka-ku, Yokohama
Access: 10-min bus ride from JR Negishi Station
URL: http://www.sankeien.or.jp/en-about/index.html

Moshi Moshi Kimono Salon produced by Yumenoya in Harajuku!

Starting Saturday, September 10th, the new Kimono Salon located on the 2nd floor of the “Moshi Moshi Harajuku Tourist Information Center” opened its doors to provide a unique and unforgettable experience to their customers!

Immerse yourself in the world of Harajuku and as you try out fancifully designed kimono. The kimono that they provide feature the traditional Japanese design of the Taisho Period (1912 – 1926), as well as elements from the current trendy Harajuku fashion style! You can choose between different style-options, for example the gothic-lolita kimono, the sweet-lolita kimono, the super colorful kimono, the princess kimono, the classic traditional one and many more!

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The up-coming fashion designer Yuka (有伽), who is also in charge of the costumes for the popular Japanese Wagakki-Band, created these fancy kimono designs.
Get your picture taken in the appointed photo studio which includes a colorful sliding paper door as a photo-background. It was created by art director Sebastian Masuda, the owner of the brand 6% DOKIDOKI who was also the main designer for Harajuku idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s music video “PONPONPON” (2011).

The Moshi Moshi Kimono Salon is the only place in Japan where you can have such a unique experience.

There are 4 different course options available:

The basic course includes the dressing of the kimono and the photo shooting. You will receive a CD with all your photos.

The next course is based on the basic course but includes a full make-up and hair styling make over (different types of wigs are also available).

If you choose the full course, an additional photo album and one edited photo will be included. You can receive your specially made photo album on the following day.

There’s also the full course including an outdoor photo shooting, where you can spend 30 min in full kimono regalia in the streets of Harajuku. Get the J-fashion star treatment as you capture the real Harajuku atmosphere in your pictures along with your eye-catching kimono outfit.

Wattention visited the Salon already last Friday, September 9th, and had the chance to wear one of these magical Harajuku Kimono!

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The models who welcomed us at the entrance looked fabulous and everyone was really friendly.

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Don´t miss this experience during your adventures in Harajuku!

Information

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Moshi Moshi Kimono Salon produced by Yumenoya
Hours: 10am – 6pm
Tel: 03-5770-5131
Access: 5min walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line) – Takeshita Street Exit; 9min walk from Meiji-Jingu Mae Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line); 13min walk from Omotesando Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line・Hanzomon Line・Chiyoda Line)
Address: Moshi Moshi Box – Harajuku Tourist Information 2F, Jingumae 3-23-5, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
URL: http://www.tokyo-samurai.com/blank

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

What’s in Kyushu? Vol. 2 Saga Prefecture

Although Saga Prefecture (佐賀県) is the smallest in Kyushu, it played an important role in Japan’s history as a hub for trade and transmission of culture between the Japanese archipelago and mainland Asia. Rich in nature, a large portion of the region is covered by forested and agricultural lands. As such, one can expect high quality produce such as Saga beef, strawberries and mochigome 糯米 (sticky rice). One other speciality of Saga is ceramics from the towns Karatsu, Imari, and especially Arita.

View over Oura rice terraces in Karatsu. Photo by Agustin Rafael Reyes
View over Oura rice terraces in Karatsu. Photo by Agustin Rafael Reyes

Saga City (佐賀市)

As with every Japanese city, its castle is one of the main attractions. Sadly, the Saga Castle was destroyed by fires during the Saga Rebellion of 1874, where only the gate known as Shachi-no-mon survived. Originally built on a plain instead of a hill, Saga castle was surrounded by a wall. The main keep of the castle was reconstructed by Naomasa Nabeshima during the late Edo period and and is the largest wooden structure in Japan. It is now home to the the Saga Castle History Museum. Nabeshima lived simply and encouraged people to do the same, so as to prevent the Saga domain from falling into debt. This is evident from the design of the castle keep / museum.

Saga Castle: From JR Saga Station, take the bus from Gate No. 3 at
Saga Station Bus Center and alight at Sagajo-ato stop.

As you wander around the city, much of its history can be seen it its buildings, from old samurai residences to “kurazukuri-style” (warehouse style) buildings from the Meiji era, forming part of the Saga City Cultural Museum (佐賀市歴史民俗館). For example, the firdst floor of the Former Koga Bank (旧古賀銀行) is now a cafe and concert venue, while the Former Nakamura House (旧中村家), now converted into a restaurant with traditional bento set meals!

Who can resist? Photo source
Who can resist? Photo source
Saga City Cultural Museum: From Saga Bus Station, take the bus going towards Katatae-intersection and alight at Gofukumoto-mach stop.

The Saga International Balloon Fiesta is annually between end of October and early November in Saga City. For 2015, 20 hot-air balloons from 20 countries will be participating in Asia’s largest hot-air balloon competition. It’s the perfect opportunity for photography enthusiasts to capture amazing shots of the many hot-air balloons against a backdrop of clear, blue sky and vibrant, green grass.

Balloon Saga Station: A temporary station will be opened. It is 1 min away from the launch site in Kasegawa Riverside.

Kanzaki City (神埼市)

Catch a glimpse into Japan’s past by visiting the archeological sites at Yoshinogari Historical Park (吉野ヶ里歴史公園), which showcases reconstructed settlements from the Yayoi Period (300 BC to 300 AD). Thought to be the remains of “Yamatai”, an ancient country in present-day Japan, unique pit dwellings from this period can be seen. Do not miss the Minami Naikaku, which is enclosed by defensive walls and moats. Within it lies lies the Ruler’s Residence.

A typical pit dwelling from Yayoi p
A typical pit dwelling from Yayoi period. Photo source
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Jewellery making experience. Photo by kenta-low

Apart from the reconstructed settlements, one can spend the day visiting a museum dedicated to the ancient forest that covered the area, or try your hand at stone carving and how to use a bow-drill to start a fire.

Yoshinogari Historical Park: From JR Saga Station, take the JR Nagasaki Honsen Line to JR Kanzaki Station. From there, it is a 15 min walk to the ruins.

Karatsu City (唐津市)

Karatsu is full of natural and scenic locations, such as the beautiful Japanese black pine forest arc known as Niji-no-Matsubara (虹の松原). The pine trees were initially planted by the first lord of Karatsu clan (Terasawa Hirotaka) along the coastline as a counter-measure against the strong winds and tides.

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Inside the Rainbow Pine Grove. Photo by tomosang
Niji-no-Matsubara: From JR Karatsu Station, take the JR Chikuhi Line to Niji-no-Matsubara Station.

The small town of Yobuko (呼子) is well-known for its fresh squid, which is usually eaten raw. The Yobuko Morning Market is one of the three major morning markets in Japan. With over 40 stalls on weekdays and more during the weekends, visitors can eat their hearts out with the large selection of fresh and dried seafood, vegetables and fruits.

The Nanatsugama Caves (七ツ釜) are seven large caverns carved out by the raging waves of the Sea of Genkai. The largest of them has an opening of 3 m and a depth of 110 m. Ferry services are available to bring visitors up close to the caves, while there is a lookout and walking trail above.

A natural wonder. Photo source
A natural wonder. Photo source
Yobuko Morning Market: Take a bus from Karatsu Oteguchi Bus Center and alight at Yobuko stop. The market is approx. 2 mins walk away.
Nanatsugama Caves: From Karatsu Oteguchi Bus Center, board the Showa Bus bound for Yobuko via Minato. Alight at Nanatsugama stop and walk for 20 mins.

Arita (有田)

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Late Edo period Arita porcelain. Photo by Paul Atkinson

Home to one the the world’s most famous ceramics, Arita-yaki (有田焼), originally a type of blue and white porcelain with a pattern drawn on a white background. New styles such as the Kakiemon introduced colours and resulted in vibrantly-colored porcelain, which appealed to the Europeans in Nagasaki. Hence, Arita-yaki was exported to Europe from Imari port and both styles were called Imari-yaki (伊万里焼). Nowadays, there is a distinction between both styles, which are named according to the place where they were produced.

Many of the attractions are also related to pottery, such as the now-defunct Izumiyama Quarry (泉山磁石場) where the discovery of kaolin stone (raw material for Arita-yaki) led to the development of this region as the centre of porcelain production. Take a look at this beautiful video about Arita-yaki, where the quarry can be seen in the first 30 seconds of the video.

Izumiyama Quarry: Take the Arita-cho Community Bus at Arita Station on the
JR Sasebo Line, alight at Hakujigaoka stop, and walk for 5 mins.

Dedicated to the influential Korean potter Ri Sampei (the father of Arita porcelain), the Tozan Shrine / Sueyama Shrine (陶山神社) is famous for having both its torii gate and komainu (guardian dogs) made out of… PORCELAIN! Built at the foot of a mountain, you can expect to have an amazing view of the town, as well as blooms of cherry blossoms, azaleas and altheas (the national flower of Korea).

Tozan Shrine: Take the Arita-cho Community Bus at Arita Station on the JR Sasebo
Line, alight at Fudanotsuji stop, and walk for 5 mins.

Further away from the town center lies the Arita Porcelain Park (有田瓷器公園), an interesting porcelain-related theme park which contains a reproduction of the Zwinger Palace in Dresden, Germany. Some of ceramics exhibited in the gallery were produced during periods of export boom (the Bakumatsu period and the Meiji period). One noteworthy exhibit is a 1.82m high flower vase exhibited during World Exposition in Vienna in 1873.

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A well done replica of the Zwinger Palace! Photo by PIPIQ Lai

Apart from Arita-yaki, visitors also have the opportunity to tour the sake brewery and have a taste for yourself!

Arita Porcelain Park: From Arita Station (JR Sasebo Line), take a 8 mins taxi
ride to the theme park.

Tips:

  • Check out this link for all events happening in Saga prefecture.
  • Download Doganshitato, a Saga travel support app (in English) to aid in your planning!

Follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook or read an issue of our magazine!

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore.

Visit the Origin of Ninja (2) : Museums and a Ninja Trick House

After accomplishing a tranquil mind like a ninja, we moved on to the ninja house!

Just across the road from the entrance from Okusha, we arrived at the Togakushi Folk Museum, Togakushi Ninja Museum and the Ninja Karakuri Yashiki (Ninja Trick House) which are all located in same area.

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In the Togakushi Folk Museum, there is an exhibition of tools and items that were mainly used for daily use and farming. We were impressed by the ingenuity of these functional and convenient items.

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Togakushi Ninja Museum was built like a two-story house. While visiting the first floor, we learned the lifestyle of ninja that doubled as farmers. After climbing to the second floor, the atmosphere changed completely. The long history and way of ninja were revealed there. Historical documents, pictures of mysterious techniques and items are shown here to make you wonder about how they can do all of this!

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The Ninja Karakuri Yashiki is the highlight of this place as both adults and kids can enjoy finding their way out of the maze-like building. The Ninja Karakuri Yashiki was built based on tricks used by ninjas, so it is easy to go into the house but difficult to find your way out. In the past, this kind of trick was a great way for ninja to escape their enemies. All rooms seem like normal rooms, but if you cannot think like ninja, you may not find the right direction to reach the exit. The most impressive room in the Ninja Karakuri Yashiki is the room with a sloped floor so we have to walk upward against the gravity.

ninjahouse

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In other areas, there are game corners, and a souvenir shop in Ninja theme.

Read other articles in the series:
Visit the Origin of Ninja (1) : Togakushi Shrine
Visit the Origin of Ninja (3) : Ninja Soba
Visit the Origin of Ninja (4) : Kids’ Ninja Village

Information
Hours: 9.00 – 17.00 (Last entry 16.30)
*In 2016, opened 23 Apr – 23 May
*From 6 Nov, open only on Saturday, Sunday and Holiday.
Admission: Adults 600 yen, Kids 400 yen
URL: http://www.togakushi-ninja.com/

Winning Flavors: 5 Lucky Japanese Food Items

From lucky-sounding snacks to food that was shared with the gods, the Japanese believe some foods can ward off failure and ensure success. Lucky or not, these food items are delicious and comforting, so try and eat them when you’re studying for an exam or preparing for a big game. Who knows, you might just get a little extra luck!

1. Katsudon

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Comforting and filling, the hearty katsudon has been the classic “winning” food in Japan for decades. The reason why it’s considered lucky is straightforward – “katsu (カツ)” as in “cutlet” is pronounced the same way as “katsu (勝つ)” as in “win”.

2. Omusubi

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The humble Japanese rice ball is said to be especially auspicious, originating from farmers who sought the favor of the mountain gods. The farmers would form the rice in the shape of a mountain and would bring them on their journeys to the mountains to share with the deities.

3. Pasta

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Comparatively new and hip on our lucky food list is pasta. The shape is fortuitously long like soba, but most importantly, pasta sounds like pass-da!, as in “I passed the exam”!

4. Slimy textured food

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Perhaps slightly harder to stomach for foreigners, this food group includes the infamous natto (fermented soybeans), tororo (grated mountain yam), and okra. Supposedly filled with health benefits, they’re considered lucky because the onomatopoetic Japanese word for slimy is “neba-neba”, which sounds a lot like “never, never (give up)”.

5. Kit Kats

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Pronounced “kitto katto” or “kitto katsu”, it means “sure to win” in Japanese. A lot of people swear on the lucky powers of Japan’s many-flavored Kit Kats, but look out for the special “exam season” version, which would usually be on sale in January and February with messages on them in Japanese to cheer you on.

Honorable Mention: Koala no March

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The Japanese word for falling can also mean failing, and since koalas don’t fall off their trees even when they sleep, these adorable cookie puffs featuring koalas with delicious chocolate filling should give you a steadfast grip on your dreams!

Ninja ID: ururumeru


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

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.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Visit the Origin of Ninja (1) : Togakushi Shrine

Togakushi Shrine

After taking an approx. 1,5 hour trip by Shinkansen from Tokyo, we arrived at Nagano Station. This time our destination is Togakushi which is located in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture. Togakushi is the birthplace of the mysterious Togakushi Ninja. Our first stop was Togakushi Shrine which is mainly related to the sun goddess Amaterasu in Japan mythology. The shrine consits of 5 shrines called Okusha, Chusha, Houkousha, Kuzuryusha, Hinomikosha. However, this time we focused only on Chusha, Okusha and Kuzuryusha.

 

Chusha Shrine
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The first thing we saw in front of Chusha Shrine was a gigantic Torii, a traditional Japanese gate which can commonly found in front of shrines. Moreover, there are 3 enormous trees that made us feel like we received power from nature as we drew close. Following Japanese traditional etiquette when visiting shrines, we washed our hands with the crystal clear water from the pond. This is a symbol of cleaning up body and mind before entering a spiritual place like the shrine.

 
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The most impressive thing about this shrine was Omikuji (fortune draw) which normally shows good or bad luck. Omikuji is usually just numbers written on a paper, but this shrine gives your fortune in the form of a letter. After telling our age to the shrine, we got a specially selected Omikuji, a letter that was supposedly given by the deity of the shrine. Usually, people should draw this omikuji only once a year and carefully keep it and refer to it throughout the year as a letter from the god.

 

Special Omikuji of Togakushi Shrine
Special Omikuji of Togakushi Shrine
In the main hall of Chusha, there was another must-see spot, which is the painting of the great dragon, one of the deities worshiped there. Apart from that, we also enjoyed seeing pure water fall in a well-known nature power spot for monks to make their physical and mental training and for normal people to escape from their busy daily lives.

 

Okusha Shrine

The next stop for training our mind as a ninja was Okusha. The approach to Okusha is around 2 kilometers from the entrance. In the past, no matter they were great people or farmers, everyone had to leave their horses near the entrance and walk step by step to the spiritual shrine as equals. On both sides of the path, you can enjoy ancient cedar trees that have been standing for more than 400 years to welcome visitors and clear your mind as you walk down the green pathway.
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Afterwards, we arrived at the red Zuijinmon. In winter the ground will be covered by white snow, providing a gorgeous contrast to the color of the gate. We passed through this historical gate to enter another natural pathway ringed with cedar forest.
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Finally we saw Okusha up on the hill with the scenery of Togakushi Mountain as its backdrop. Some folktales said that Amaterasu, mighty goddess of the sun hid her body in the cave on this location so other gods and people held the celebration to bring her out. Since the god of this shrine, Amaterasu, is known as the major deity and the goddess of agriculture as well, the symbol of the shrine is crossed sickles which represents the relation between the shrine and agricultural life of the people throughout its long history.

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A short distance from Okusha, there is Kuzuryusha built for the nine-headed dragon deity Kuzuryu, where people commonly pray about the weather. Furthermore, the deity is also believed to be the god of teeth and the god of love. Even now, people still offer food and fruits to the Dragon God in the forest.

Read other articles in the series:
Visit the Origin of Ninja (2) : Museums and a Ninja Trick House
Visit the Origin of Ninja (3) : Ninja Soba
Visit the Origin of Ninja (4) : Kids’ Ninja Village

Information

Access: From Tokyo to Nagano: Shinkansen Hokuriku Line, Bus
Chusha: Bus Togakushi line (via Birdline) from bus stop no.7 (in front of Nagano Station) to Togakushi-Chusha
Okusha: Bus Togakushi line (via Birdline) to Togakushi-Okusha
*In the winter during ski season, the bus will not stop at Togakushi-Okusha

URL: http://www.togakushi-jinja.jp/

 

 

Looking for a Great Local Restaurant in Japan? PlanB to the Rescue!

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PlanB is a new website which offers a dining concierge service for those who are looking to get the best dining experience. A PlanB concierge will listen to your specific needs, propose dining options and make the reservation for you!

WAttention signed up as a PlanB concierge recently. With many years of publishing travel magazines, we have in-depth knowledge and information only locals know. We are here to help you get the best and truly authentic experience in Japan!

How PlanB works

Dialog with WAttention Tokyo _ PlanB
Everything is done in an easy-to-use PlanB messaging system.

On their website, you can see a list of helpful and knowledgeable concierges. The concierges all have different experiences and specialties. You can also see their reviews from other users. After registering with the service, you can select the one you like and tell them your preferences and requirements.

Step-by-step: As easy as 1-2-3!

customer

Customer A

My husband and I are planning on climbing Mt. Takao this coming October for our wedding anniversary. We want to end the day with some nice authentic Japanese food with exquisite service near there. Any recommendations?
Congratulations on your anniversary! We will select restaurants that are perfect for this occasion.
Here are our selections! What do you think?
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Concierge (WAttention)


Restaurant Am_165239_R
Located at the foot of Mt. Takao, Restaurant A specializes in char-grilled chicken. You will be seated in a traditional Tatami room with a picturesque view of a Japanese garden.
Link: http://www.restaurant-a.com/
Restaurant Bm_104018_R
This restaurant serves a traditional Japanese course menu, using only fresh ingredients that are in season. They also offer a selection of premium local sake, which complement the meal.
Link: http://www.restaurant-b.com/details
Restaurant Cm_159039_R
Surrounded by the bamboo garden, this secluded restaurant offers a quiet and serene atmosphere as well as exquisite Japanese kaiseki meals.
http://www.restaurant-c.com/en/#

customer

Customer A

Wow, thanks! All of them seem so nice!
We absolutely love the Japanese garden of Restaurant A. Can you book a table for us on Oct. 25th at 7pm?
Absolutely.
We just made a reservation for you on Oct. 25th at 7pm!
squarelogo-wattention

Concierge (WAttention)

customer

Customer A

Thank you so much!

A few days later…

customer
Customer A
5stars
“We had a wonderful evening! The food was excellent and the service was superb. We would recommend this restaurant to anybody. Thanks WAttention for making our anniversary memorable.”

It’s that simple! With PlanB, you can easily get top-notch recommendations and reservations from local dining experts in Japan. That’s why, if you ever need failproof dining plans, PlanB dining concierge services are truly worth a try.

Click here to check out PlanB’s website

What’s in Kyushu? Vol. 1 Fukuoka Prefecture

Recently, the southern parts of the Japanese archipelago has seen a spike in the number of tourists visiting. What is so attractive about Kyushu (九州)? Shrouded in tranquility, each of the seven prefectures of Kyushu has something special for everyone, from lively open-air food stalls in Fukuoka to hiking up a volcano in Kumamoto or go onsen-hopping in Oita. Stressed out individuals can find some peace and quiet in this laid-back yet beautiful region, with relaxing hot spring baths and majestic mountains.

Fukuoka, c1950. Photo by Rob Ketcherside
Fukuoka, c1950. Photo by Rob Ketcherside

First on the list is Fukuoka Prefecture and its two main cities – Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. Fukuoka, the most densely populated prefecture in Kyushu,  has about 5 million people in an area seven times the size of Singapore! Closer to Seoul than to Tokyo, the Fukuoka prefecture is a quirky mix of traditional Japan and the modern West.

Fukuoka City (福岡市)

Photo by Brian G. Kennedy
View of Fukuoka City, Photo by Brian G. Kennedy

Fukuoka City (福岡市)

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Hakata ramen. Photo by J.G. Wang

Present-day Fukuoka resulted from the merging of the port city of Hakata and the castle town of Fukuoka. Thus, some of you may be familiar with Hakata ramen, which comes from Fukuoka. What is so unique about it? The soup uses pork bones and boiled under extreme heat, thereby releasing the characteristic flavour that comes from the bone marrow. The noodles are very thin but firm. Although portions are small, diners can always order extra noodles cheaply – this kaedama system is unique to Hakata ramen.

The most notable underground shopping street in Kyushu is none other than Tenjin Underground City (天神地下街). It is a stretch of European style space filled with various shops of fashion, gourmet, books and more. A unique experience in Fukuoka is definitely eating at one of the approximately 150 yatai (屋台, open air food stalls) in the city. They sell food items from ramen to oden, gyoza, tempura and more.

Try to be early as the area gets crowded, but the stalls remain open till after midnight. Tenjin yatai is popular with tourists and have their menu in English, phew! Micaela Braithwaite is a popular YouTuber living in Fukuoka city, and here is her take on eating at a yatai, where you can get friendly with the locals! Other famous yatai areas include Nakasu 中州 (near Nakasukawabata Station) and Nagahama 長浜 (near Fukuoka City Fish Market).

Tenjin Underground City: Connected to Tenjin station and Tenjin-Minami station.
A replica of the three machiya houses. Photo by Norio NAKAYAMA
A replica of the three machiya houses. Photo by Norio NAKAYAMA

Museum-lovers will enjoy spending time at the Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan (博多町家ふるさと館), which occupies three traditional Japanese townhouses known as machiya. Housed within this folk museum are buildings and artifacts that reflects a Hakata neighbourhood during the Meiji era. In the Exhibition Hall, you can find everyday objects and crafts of the Hakata people, while the Machiya Hall is an example of old architecture. Elsewhere in the museum are old photographs, recordings of the unique Hakata dialect and artisans available to demonstrate their crafts. Get a gift from the shop selling Hakata ori (folk woven textile) or Hakata dolls to remember your stay!

The nearby Kushida Shrine (櫛田神社) has a long history and is fondly regarded by the people of Fukuoka as “Okushida-sama” (お櫛田様, the god of immortality in Shinto). The locals come to the shrine in the belief that “Okushida Sama” will bless them with long life and prosperity in business.

Prominently located in the shrine yard is the symbolic gingko tree, with two monumental tablets of the Mongolian invasion at its foot. It is most well-known for holding the summer festival Hakata Gion Yamakasa (博多祇園山笠) each year.

Kushida Shrine: From Tenjin Station, take the Kuko Line (K10) to Gion Station and
walk for 5 mins.

Located within the giant entertainment complex Canal City Hakata (キャナルシティ博多) is a “Ramen Stadium” that offers the local favourite Hakata ramen, as well as seven other shops with noodle dishes from all over Japan. Known as “a city within the city”, visitors can stay in the two hotels (the Washington Hotel and the Grand Hyatt Fukuoka) while enjoying the many attractions such as the huge shopping mall, Fukuoka City Theater and the artificial canal that weaves across the complex!

Interior of Canal City Hakata. Photo by tomosang
Interior of Canal City Hakata. Photo by tomosang
Canal City Hakata: From Hakata Station / Tenjin Station, take the 100 yen loop bus
to Canal City Hakata. OR Take the subway to Nakasu Kawabata Station and walk for
5 mins.

Kitakyushu City (北九州市)

Kitakyushu was once a flourishing port, playing an important role in the international marine trade. Remnants this legacy can be seen in the Moji Port Retro Area (門司港レトロ倶楽部). Take a walk along the promenade to take in the view of the Kanmon Strait. Situated all over the port are countless Western architecture such as the wooden Mojiko Station and the Moji Customs Building. Learn about history of the Kanmon Strait at Kaikyo Dramaship, or ogle at retro locomotive and drive a mini-train at the Kyushu Railway History Museum.

Moji Port Retro Area. (https://flic.kr/p/74zY9r)
Moji Port Retro Area along the Kanmon Strait. Photo by Spaceman Spiff
Yaki curry at Cafe Dining Bear Fruits (http://wp.me/pBmXM-2OF)
Yaki curry at Cafe Dining Bear Fruits. Photo by sleepwalkingintokyo

Two local favourite dishes to try is “yaki curry” (焼きカレー, baked curry rice), and fresh fugu (blowfish)! Fugu is so popular that during the annual Fugu, Lights and Hina Dolls Festival, the glow from blowfish lanterns light up the area while the crowd can enjoy blowfish hot pot and even blowfish fin sake tasting.

Also catch the banana auction which is unique to Mojiko!

Moji Port Retro Area: From Hakata Station, take the JR Kagoshima Line and alight
at Mojiko Station. Explore the rest of the sights by foot.

History buffs can spend some time at the castle town Kokura (小倉), which is the starting point for Nagasaki Kaido (長崎街道, an ancient road that leads to Nagasaki Port). The famous Kokura Castle is an imposing structure with one unusual feature – the fifth storey of the castle keep is larger than the fourth. There is a karakuri puppet (からくり人形, mechanized Japanese traditional puppets) theater on the third storey, with many amazing puppets on display. Although small in comparison with the castle, the lush greenery of the Kokura Castle Japanese Garden makes it a wonderful place for a stroll.

Gorgeous Kokura castle at sunset. Photo by frickr_stock
Gorgeous Kokura castle at sunset. Photo by frickr_stock
Kokura Castle: From Hakata Station, take the JR Kagoshima Line and alight at
Nishi Kokura Station. The castle is 8 mins walk away.

Pop over to the “Kitchen of Kitakyushu area”, also known as the Tanga Market (旦過市場), for some fresh seafood and produce. Shoppers can collect stickers in exchange for vouchers, movie tickets and more. It’s an interesting way to keep the business going! After all the fun, head over to nearby Murasaki River to enjoy the lovely view.

The market also provides stalls for the Wasshoi Hyakuman Summer Festival (わっしょい百万夏まつり), where visitors can check out the “Boat Heaven” expo held at Moji Port, followed by amazing Yamakasa floats at the “Summer Festival Roundup” and the Hyakuman Odori dance consisting of 10,000 participants. Of course there’s always the fancy display of nearly 3,000 fireworks in every Japanese festival.

Tanga Market: The market is accessible by monorail to Tanga Station. OR Take a bus
to Nishitetsu “Tangabashi Quest” stop.
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The most popular dish is Unaju! Image source

Those eager for some delicious unagi (eel) dishes should make a visit to Inaka-an (田舎庵), a quiet yet posh restaurant specializing in fresh eel caught from nearby rivers that flow into the local Buzen and Ariake Seas. Top on the menu is “Unaju”, a dish consisting of juicy grilled eel drizzled with a sweet-and-spicy sauce and placed on top of fragrant Japanese rice.

Other goodies include the tangy Yuzu Karashi Mentaiko (柚子風味辛子明太子, spicy cod roe is seasoned with yuzu fruit), and Unagi Chazuke (鰻茶漬, eel with green tea rice gruel). Both dishes are available from grocery stores and are recommended souvenirs to take home from Kokura!

Inaka-an: From Hakata Station, take the JR Kagoshima Line and alight at Kokura
Station. The restaurant is 5 mins away on foot.

Make plans for an exciting day of fun at the world’s first space theme park, Space World. The rides range from mild to thrilling, where the heart-stopping “Titan V” leaves you craving for more. Like every theme park, there are family-oriented shows in the “Galaxy Theater”, or a cooling water ride in the hot summer.

Space World, illuminated. Photo by kobori88
Space World, illuminated. Photo by kobori88
Space World: From Hakata Station, take the JR Kagoshima Line and alight at
Spaceworld Station. The amusement park is 5 mins away on foot.

Dazaifu City (大宰府市)

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All that remains today… Photo by m-louis

Although original established as an administrative centre for Kyushu in the 7th century, Dazaifu also played a significant role in Japan’s diplomatic negotiations with foreign countries and defended Western Japan.

A lingering memory of the city’s administrative legacy can be seen in the Government Office Ruins (大宰府政庁跡), which showcase the remaining stone foundations of the government offices. The scale of the ruins gives us a glimpse of the enormity of Dazaifu’s administrative centre.

Dazaifu Government Office Ruins: Alight at Tofuromae Station and take a bus
(3 buses every hour) to Dazaifu-seichoato bus stop.

Today, the city lies in the outskirts of busy Fukuoka City and serves as a quick getaway for locals and international visitors. An icon of the city is the famous Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (大宰府天満宮), which houses the deity for academic excellence, Sugawara Michizane. Students from all over Japan come to the shrine to pray for passing the entrance examinations or academic achievements.

Beautiful plum trees around the shrine. Photo by RW Sinclair
Beautiful plum trees around the shrine. Photo by RW Sinclair
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine: From Hakata Station, take the JR Kagoshima Line to
JR Futsukaichi Station. Walk 10 mins to Nishitetsu Futsukaichi Station and take
the Nishitetsu Dazaifu Line to Dazaifu Station.

That’s it for now, stay tune for upcoming posts on the remaining 6 prefectures of Kyushu! Follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook or read an issue of our magazine!

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore.

A quick guide to Halal Japanese Cuisine in Tokyo

The struggle is over. What was thought to be extremely difficult – finding Halal Japanese cuisine that is both allowed and prepared according to the Islamic dietary guideline – is no longer the case as meticulous and attentive Japanese restaurants step up to the demands of a group of visitors they have long neglected. As more Muslims are drawn to the land of the rising sun, Wattention brings to you a myriad of choices, perfect amalgamations of Halal and Nippon cuisine, that will satisfy every single, each and one of your cravings!

1. YAKINIKU

Did you know, that prior to 1872, there was a 1,200 year ban on meat eating in Japan?It was not until the Meiji Period that the restoration government sought to remove this centuries-old social taboo against meat. As meat lovers went on to experiment and perfect their craft of preparing meat, we now have the fortune of enjoying Japanese BBQ, or more fondly known as “Yakiniku”!

Gyumon

Unassuming entrance
An unassuming entrance | Photo Source

Ready yourselves for a battle of speed as we huddle over an arena of charcoal grills, protected by extractor systems to whip away the wonderfully distracting smell and smoke, equipped with the longest tongs and eagle eyes to swoop in at the finest meat that is marinated in perfection.

Isn't this tempting!
Need I say more!? | Photo Source

One of the most-raved about Halal Yakiniku restaurant in Tokyo, Gyumon prides itself for its generous portions and succulent, delicious beef Yakiniku. This traditional and cosy restaurant even offers its diners a crash course on understanding their food!

Gyumon 3
Cow-tography 101 | Photo Source
Mouthwatering halal dining
DIY – You can be the next Asia’s masterchef! | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 3 Chrome-14-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku Toyko
  • Average Price: JPY4000~
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 5pm – 4am; Sun & Pub Hols: 5pm – 11pm
  • Halal Status: Certified by Malaysia Halal Corporation Co. Ltd
    *Reservations recommended!

Sumiyakiya Nishiazabu 

This BBQ restaurant rose to fame when former Prime Minister, Mr Mahathir bin Mohamad visited and tried their Halal Yakiniku. A family-ran business, the restaurant came up with the idea of a Halal menu when they noticed a gap in the market that dedicated to Halal service. Since then, they have worked closely with professionals to learn how to prepare food in accordance with the Halal traditions.

Sumiyakiya 1
Korean style BBQ, Japanese style ingredients! | Photo Source

Using  ‘F-1’ Yakiniku (Herb-fed crossbred between Holstein cattle and Wagyu), Aomori Shamo chicken and Herb-fed Chicken from Brazil,  Sumiyakiya ensures that all their Halal meat used for your BBQ is Halal-certified. A unique (and healthy!) feature of Sumiyakiya is that their choice of cattle are herb-fed, and their Halal meats are marinated with plenty of herbs – as their slogan goes: “Herbs do more than simply adding flavor and color to your favourite dishes!”

Sumiyakiya 2
Cosy setting for family and friends | Photo Source
Sumiyakiya 3
All set to feast! | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 3-29-16, Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY2000~ (Lunch); JPY4000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 1130am – 3pm, 6pm – 1130pm; Sat: 6pm – 1130pm (Closed on Sun & Pub Hols)
  • Halal Status: Malaysia Halal Corporation
  • Official Website: http://sumiyakiya.com

2. TEPPANYAKI

Teppanyaki, which literally means “grill on an iron plate”, should definitely be on your food-to-try list in Japan! The strong emphasis on the freshness of ingredients, coupled with the performance aspect of the chef’s preparation, it will be both eye-candy and mouth watering experience!

Saishoku Teppan Ippin

Founded by La Copakku Japan, Saishoku Teppan Ippin aims to provide its diners with a ‘healthy and beautiful’ dining experience. As a pioneer in the Halal Teppanyaki industry, the restaurant has worked relentlessly to create a Halal menu to allow its Muslim diners to indulge in true Japanese culinary.

Ippin 1
Spoiled for choices? | Photo Source

Armed with skilled chefs, stashes of organic vegetables and premium selection of meat, Saishoku Teppan Ippin challenges its diners’ taste buds to a waltz they will never forget.

Ippin 3
Soaking in the atmosphere | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: Langs Daikanyama 2F, 2 Chome 13-16, West Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY1000~ (Lunch); JPY3000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 1130am – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm; Sun: 5pm – 11pm (Closed on every 3rd Sunday of the month)
  • Halal Status: Certified by Nippon Asia Halal Association
  • Official Website: http://ippin-halal.jp

3. SHABU SHABU

This bubbly dish got its name from the ‘Shabu Shabu’ sound supposedly emitted when ingredients are stirred in the hotpot. Finding its roots in Japan, it is one aspect of the traditional Japan cuisine a faithful tourist should not miss!

Hanasakaji-san

Named after a fairy tale, Hanasakaji-san beckons with quiet dignity; its simple and almost too-well-hidden entrance indicates its food’s quality with utmost confidence. A short-walk from Shibuya station, hungry diners after a day’s shopping can find comfort for their tummy at this lovely restaurant.

Hanasakaji 1
Hanasakaji-san’s special Halal stew! | Photo Source
Hanasakaji 2
Beef Shabu Shabu | Photo Source 

While Hanasakaji-san is not exclusively Halal, they are thoroughly committed to providing an authentic Japanese experience for their Halal diners. Taking extra steps such as keeping their Halal meat in a separate freezers from non-Halal meat, designating utensils for Halal diners which are kept separate from non-Halal diners and even serving non-alchoholic wine and champagne, the restaurant is faithful, helpful and genuine to its Halal diners.

Hanasakaji 4
Eat till your heart’s (tummy’s) content! | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: Sakura Build B1f 3-22 Sakuragaoka Shibuya Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY4000~
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 1030am – 3pm, 5pm – 12am; Sat: 5pm – 12pm (Closed on every Sun)
  • Halal Status: Certified by Malaysia Halal Corporation Co. Ltd
  • Official Website: http://hanasakaji-san.jp/
    *Reservations recommended!

4. RAMEN

The origins of Ramen are unclear – however, Ramen has become such a popular dish in Japan that anyone who dreams of slurping down the best of these piping hot noodles would necessarily associate it with Japan. As Ramen is extremely affordable and can be found effortlessly all around Japan, it makes an ideal dining option for any traveller!

Naritaya

It is not uncommon for Ramen shops to use pork broth as the soup base or chashu for the Ramen toppings. But fret not, fellow Muslim travellers! Naritaya, who opened just earlier this year, is pioneering the Halal Ramen revolution so that people from all around the world can share in the enjoyment of Ramen.


Welcoming customers from all walks of life | Photo Source

In its carefully thought-out Halal menu, Naritaya does not use any pork or alcohol in its preparation of food. Ingredients for their Ramen include noodles made from domestic wheat produced at its very own noodle factory, refreshing chicken broth as its soup base, and toppings such as the usual nori seaweed, seasoned bamboo shoots, green onions and boiled egg.


Halal Ramen – First of its kind! | Photo Source

Embracing the internationality of its diners, the Japanese-ran Naritaya also has instructions in English plastered on its walls on how to eat their personalised Ramen. Naritaya even has a prayer room for its Muslims diners, including an arrow on the ceiling pointing to Mecca. This thoughtful Ramen stall sure deserves a thumbs-up!


Step-by-step Guide | Photo Source

Prayer Room | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 2 Chome 7-13 Asakua, Taito-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY1000~
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 11am – 10pm; Sat & Sun: 8am – 8pm
  • Halal Status: Certified by Japan Islamic Trust

T’s Tan Tan

As farmers’ markets become a regular feature on Tokyo’s urban landscape and diners choose to be increasingly health-conscious, we see more vegetarian restaurants and more places offering vegetarian menus to cater to the change in taste. Priding itself for using “smile veggie”, T’s Tan Tan uses only fresh vegetables and soy-meat to create a range of delicious Japanese-Western fusion dishes, including the unique vegan ramen!


Bestseller! T’s Shoyu Ramen | Photo Source
T's Tan Tan 3
For spicy-flavour lovers! Shiro TanTan | Photo Source

Located at an inconspicuous corner in JR Tokyo Station, favourable reviews rave of T’s Tan Tan creative and amazing vegan ramen, which is topped with soymeat, beansprout, green onion, seasoned chinese bamboo shoot and seaweed. I don’t know about you, but soymeat sure sounds enticing for eat-clean-foodies like us!!

T's Tan Tan 4
Tokyo’s first vegan ramen! | Photo Source

Simple interior to house hungry customers | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: Keiyo Street, Tokyo Station, 1-9-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY1000~
  • Opening Hours: Daily: 7am – 11pm
  • Halal Status: Not Halal certified, but welcomes Muslim diners (Vegetarian Restaurant)
  • Official Website: http://ts-restaurant.jp/tantan/

5. KAISEKI

Kaiseki refers to a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner that originates from the 16th century tea ceremony rituals. A culinary art form of the highest degree, it shows off the chef’s skills and techniques in preparing a meal that would utterly tantalize their diners’ taste buds.

Minokichi

Minokichi was founded in 1716 by Jurobe Satake, descendant of the highly respected Akita Satake Samurai Clan, and has a rich history in preparing the Kyoto Kaiseki cuisine. It While based in Kyoto, Minokichi has devoted to designing Halal menus for at least one of its branches in Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo.

Minokichi 3
Exquisite food models by the Shop Entrance | Photo Source

The Muslim-Friendly menus encompass a myriad of Kyoto dishes, including traditional Japanese appetizers of  seasonal dish,  beef shabushabu, grilled fish, halal tempura, assorted simmered vegetables and more! All ingredients are meticulously prepared to ensure that the food does not include pork or alcohol. If you are craving for a slow-paced, finely detailed and delicious meal, this is your to-go!

Minokichi 5
Kyoto Kaiseki in a Box! | Photo Source

Instagram-worthy Food! | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: Spice Ikebukuro Tobu 15F 1-1-25, Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY3000~ (Lunch); JPY7000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 11am – 11pm; Sun & Pub Hols: 7pm – 10pm (Closed on New Year’s Day & 3rd Wed of February and Aug)
  • Halal Status: Certified by Kyoto Council for Sharia and Halal Affairs
  • Official Website: http://www.japanese-kyoto-cuisine.com/
    *Reservations 2 days in advance required!

Kusumoto 

Located in the heart of Nishi-Azabu, a quaint and serene location that homes small restaurants and bars, Kusumoto aims to provide Muslims living or visiting Japan a taste of authentic Japanese food. Serving a brilliantly designed Halal Kaiseki, the restaurant only allows dine-in during dinner. Nevetheless, one can still order their beautiful Bento boxes for lunch delivery to your door-step!


Bento delivery for lunch on a restful day! | Photo Source

Dinner Dine-in | Photo Source

The beautiful restaurant is extremely committed to its Halal standards – all cookwares for halal menu are completely labelled and kept in specific places whilst all ingredients used for the Halal menu, even right down to the details such as  their seasoning, are Halal certified! If you are ever shopping around the Roppongi Hills area, be sure to check out this chic diner~

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 3-23-5, Nishi-Azabu, Minatoku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY2000~ (Lunch – Bento Delivery ONLY); JPY10,000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 6pm – 11pm; (Closed on Closed on Sun & Pub Hols)
  • Halal Status: Certified by Nippon Asia Halal Association
  • Official Website: http://www.tokyomuslim.jp
    *Reservations required! 5 days in advance for lunch delivery; 2 days in advance for dinner

6. FINE DINING

Kozue

Throwback to the olden days with traditional amber wood and handmade pottery and waitresses in kimonos – then past forward again to the modern times where you dine in a quiet restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooks the Tokyo Skyline. That interplay between Japanese traditional and modern culture is exactly what Kozue sells.

Kozue 3
Pamper yourself to luxurious scenery and food | Photo Source

Breathtaking scenery | Photo Source

Resting on the 40th floor of Park Hyatt hotel, one can even see amazing views of Mount Fuji on e a clear day. While the restaurant may be pricier than most other Halal options, it continues to be highly recommended by online Muslim travel guides. As expected of a luxury brand, the service is known to be top-notch. The waiters and waitresses explain with much patience and details the ingredients used to prepare each dish – all of which that retains the traditional element despite the restaurant’s setting – as they serve the exquisitely designed dishes to their customers.


Sashimi – Perfectly sliced! | Photo Source
Kozue 2
Yonezawa Sirloin wrapped in Hoba Leaf | Photo Source
Kozue 5
Doesn’t this look too pretty to be eaten? | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY3000~ (Lunch); JPY10,000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Daily: 1130am – 230pm (Lunch); 530pm – 930pm (Dinner)
  • Halal Status: NIL
  • Official Website: http://tokyo.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/Kozue.html
    *Reservations required!
    *Dress Code: Smart Casual (Sportswear/ Beachwear not allowed)

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore.

No Beef with Kobe: Eat, See, Enjoy!


picture source

I took a day trip with K-san (unnamed for privacy) to Kobe during my week-long Japan vacation. We took the direct JR line (around 50 minutes) from our Osaka accommodation to Kobe’s central station, Sannomiya Station. Check out Japan Guide for a detailed travel guide between Osaka and Kobe!

Wagyu immediately comes to mind when Kobe is mentioned, and I am so excited because we planned to visit a good wagyu restaurant, and do some leisurely sightseeing. The area leading to our first stop, Mt. Maya, was covered in beautiful sakura blooms lining a river. There were also many sakura trees outside the Art Center of Kobe. Appreciative remarks about the sakura made by the hanami viewers could be heard as we enjoyed our walk through the area.

Tsubaki flower on the rail
Tsubaki flower on the rail

After many kirei desu ne (綺麗ですね, it’s so beautiful) the pair of us finally reached the bottom of Mt. Maya. Mt. Maya is one of the smaller peaks of the Mt. Rokko chain, and is highlighted for its scenic and natural beauty! There were already a few hikers heading up the mountain before us.

A word of advice: wear comfortable shoes! The bottom steps of the mountain were oddly shaped so it can be difficult to climb. The hike up to the waterfall was steep but I really enjoyed the serenity of the place. Hiking never really appealed to me, but the experience is really meditative. You either introspect, admire nature, or talk to your companion. I highly recommend this for either pairs/couples or individuals. 🙂

Can you feel the energy from the waterfall?
Can you feel the energy from the waterfall?

The waterfall we saw wasn’t that majestic or big, but still beautiful nonetheless. Visitors and hikers alike were quietly talking amongst themselves, keeping the peace of the place. Perhaps they are bathing in the negative ions of the waterfall!

We decided to climb a little higher towards the observation platform, which promised a skyline of Kobe city. The platform was also surrounded by sakura trees! Few people were in this area so we could take as many pictures as we liked at our leisure.

 

 

shrine
A hidden shrine on the way up to the observation platform
sakura kobe
More beautiful sakura await at the observation deck!
kobe skyline
The Kobe skyline. The air was so fresh and rejuvenating! Singapore was so hazy when I left. ):

Finally, it was time for our lunch reservation at Wakkoqu, a restaurant famous for quality Tajima wagyu! You definitely have to make an early reservation either at their website or call them directly because they are very popular. They also have English speaking staff and a website in English, so reservation is fuss-free and easy. Do double-check that you have chosen the right store as they have two locations.

The A4 wagyu steak that went into our bellies. :D
The A4 wagyu steak that went into our bellies. 😀

We were ravenous for some yummy wagyu after our workout, so we ordered the Lunch Wakkoqu Course: 150g sirloin, six kinds of grilled vegetables, soup of the day (potato soup), salad, rice and Japanese pickles, dessert, and coffee. I think “heavenly” is the best adjective here.

IMG_2855
In midst of preparation. Can’t wait!

We could not stop gushing about how scrumptious the food was. The course started with the potato soup, which was creamy but light with small bits of potatoes. Meanwhile, the chef brought out the A4 sirloin, while we were served the salad. We were rather disappointed that the sirloin was divided between the both of us instead of being served one each.

The chef prepared the sauces and condiments-salt, pepper, garlic, mustard, and soy sauce-before grilling the garlic and the steak. If you have eaten good quality steak before, you will know that each piece of meat just melts in your mouth. The first piece was sprinkled with salt and pepper, the conventional way of eating steak. I really loved the meat juices that melded with salty flavour. The next piece was paired with pepper and garlic. The sweet garlic and fragrant pepper really complemented the steak. This must be what people call a medley of flavours dancing in your mouth. The third piece was quite unusual-soy sauce and mustard. I really loved the spiciness of the mustard but I felt that the soy sauce was a little underwhelming. Out of these three styles, I preferred the very first. Of course, you are always welcome to eat the steak in any way you like!

IMG_2858
Beansprouts and wagyu fat!

The chef had also cut the strip of fat and cooked it with some beansprouts. It was delicious because of the added beef flavour but I probably would have just liked it the same attached to some meat. Even so, the different textures of the wagyu can really be enjoyed to the fullest. I really want to go back.

After the starters and main course, we were served some delightful yuzu sorbet and coffee. The portions were slightly small but the food was certainly delicious. Gochisousama deshita! (Thank you for the meal!)

 

IMG_2871
UCC Coffee Museum Tasting: Blend coffee (left) and 100% Brazil origin coffee (right)

We headed to the UCC Coffee Museum on a whim as it was in the area. Unfortunately, coffee tasting was over so we didn’t get any. I am slightly disappointed because UCC’s drip coffee smells really good and the kokumi (こくみ, richness or depth of flavour) is just rightnot too acidic or bitter.

Different parts of the coffee seed
Different parts of the coffee seed

So now you know, coffee tasting is held at specific times! The museum’s website (in Japanese) explains that for the month of April 2016 visitors can compare blend coffee (Brazilian base) and 100% Brazilian coffee at 4 designated times.

If you miss the coffee tasting, you can always either buy some from their cafe or the museum shop. Coffee aficionados should definitely visit at least once, even if to try the coffee or out of pure interest for the  technical details of coffee plant seasons to the interactive exhibits.

 

The coffee belt of the world. The red line is the equator.
The coffee belt of the world. The red line is the equator.

There were so many interesting facts I never knew about the coffee plant, i.e. the flowers of the coffee plant are white. You can challenge the quiz they have in the museum to get a Dr. Coffee Certificate. Not to worry, they have the questions in English as well.

I think the most interesting fact I’ve learned that day is about the coffee belt. The coffee plant is grown only between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, which points to warmer countries – but does not include Japan! The coffee plant is also rather sensitive to climate changes, so coffee may become scarce in the future. 🙁

 

What volume of coffee beans can be harvested from a single coffee tree? Click the photo for an answer!
What volume of coffee beans can be harvested from a single coffee tree? Click the photo for an answer!

 

Want More Kobe? 

These were some of the places we wanted to visit but couldn’t fit in our schedule. They shall be on our itinerary for our next trip to Kobe!

1. Nunobuki Herb Gardens

Nunobiki Herb Garden Glasshouse | Source
Nunobiki Herb Garden Glasshouse | Source

This place comes highly recommended by nature lovers due to the sheer volume of stunning flowers in the greenhouses. The area is really big so I reckon I can easily spend a hour or two strolling in the flower fields.

2. Handmade Nada Shop

aa5個_パッケージ_ロゴ
Chewy Crunchy Cacao | Source

Like its namesake, the pastries are all handmade! This shop serves delicious pastries and sweets which you can either get as a takeaway or indulge at their cafe area. The images on their website looks irresistible! Give me some now!

3. Rokkosan Pasture and Kobe Cheese House

The cute sheep you'll get to see at the farm | Takuya
The cute sheep you’ll get to see at the farm | Takuya

You should definitely visit this place if you love animals and nature! You can pet them at designated parts of the farm. There are also many hands-on activities where you can make ice cream, butter or engage in wool craft. You can also observe the cheese-making process at their factory.

  1. Mt. Rokko
The night view from Mt. Rokko | Charlie Brown
The night view from Mt. Rokko | Charlie Brown

I didn’t get the chance to scale Mt. Rokko but someday, I really want to see the nightscape in person at the top of this mountain! You can also build a musical box at the Rokko International Musical Box Museum, or enjoy a leisurely walk through the Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden.

  1. Kobe Animal Kingdom
Rock eagle owl | No
Rock eagle owl | Noppawat Charoensinphon

This place is basically an interactive zoo suitable for animal lovers and families. Their main feature though, is the largest collection of owls! Seasonal flowers also grace the zoo making it one of the highlights for visitors.

  1. Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum
Hakutsuru Brewery Museum | Source
Hakutsuru Brewery Museum | Source

Sake is known to be a Japanese alcoholic beverage but do you really know how it’s made? In addition to observing the sake-making process, you can also acquire some special sake at their museum shop!

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore.

Japan’s Wild Side : Japan’s Interesting Wildlife

Tourists flock to Japan year after year for its deeply-rooted traditions, exquisite cuisine, and vibrant popular cultures. However, nature lovers can also indulge in the rich biodiversity that Japan offers. Its vast mountains and forests, coupled with snowy Hokkaido in the north and tropical Okinawa in the south, is home to many interesting and unusual wildlife, as well as their associated cultures.

Here are some unique ones:

Tanuki ( Raccoon dogs)

Often depicted in anime, tanuki can be found throughout Japan, even in the suburb of Tokyo. They were thought to be able to change into human form or into objects, and were mischievous but untrustworthy creatures. However, many temples and noodle shops have tanuki statues for good luck!

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 18.06.09
How they really look like | Photo source

There are 8 traits to note:

  1. A hat for protection against trouble or bad weather
  2. Big eyes to analyse the environment and help make good decisions
  3. A sake bottle that represents virtue
  4. A big tail that provides steadiness and strength until success is achieved
  5. Over-sized testicles that symbolise financial luck
  6. A promissory note that represents trust or confidence
  7. A big belly that represents bold and calm decisiveness
  8. A friendly smile

“Have you seen me before?” | Photo source

Nihonzaru (ニホンザル Japanese macaques)

I’m sure most of you have seen photographs of “snow monkeys” enjoying a hot spring bath. These Japanese macaques are native to Japan and are excellent swimmers. In winter, their fur increases in thickness to keep them warm in temperatures as low as -20° C (-4° F). A popular tourist attraction, Jigokudani Monkey Park (Nagano Prefecture) features hundreds of these monkeys playing in the snow.

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Who says hot springs are only for humans? | Photo source

Toki (トキ Japanese crested ibis)

With a scientific name as patriotic as Nipponia nippon, the toki deserves our attention. Extensively hunted until 1908, the last wild-born toki died in 2003. Fortunately, captive breeding efforts has successfully reintroduced several of these beautiful birds in Sado Island (Niigata Prefecture), which is one of Japan’s most rice-productive areas.


A toki in flight | Photo source

The toki depends on the rice paddy fields to find their prey such as loaches, frogs, snails and more. Visit Sado toki-no-mori Park to catch a glimpse of this rare bird!

Tsushima yamaneko (対馬山猫 Tsushima leopard cat)

As the name suggests, this critically endangered species can only be found on Tsushima Island (Nagasaki Prefecture). They face threats such as road kills, diseases transmitted from domestic cats and habitat loss.


That’s one chill kitty! | Photo source

Although similar in appearance to domestic cats, they can be distinguished by a white spot behind each ear. Those who wish to see them can visit Fukuoka city zoological garden, Inokashira park zoo, Zoorasia Yokohama zoological garden, Toyama family park zoo, or Ishidake zoological garden.

Esayari (餌やり Feeding wild animals)


Feeding carps in the ponds is a common sight | Photo source

Touted as a national pastime, many Japanese love to feed the animals, from the usual cats and dogs to tanuki, bears, fishes, monkeys and a whole variety of other wildlife. Even tourists, hikers and photographers know to attract these fearless animals with food, so that they can get close for photographs or for pleasure. It is not unusual to see animal feed being sold in temples, shrines, parks and other recreational spots such as “wild monkey parks”.

Why is this so popular? Some of the possible reasons include taking pity on the animal and wanting to “tame” it, especially when it begs for food.

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Sometimes these animals may attack humans! | Photo source

However, we need to note that esayari is actually NOT ENCOURAGED! Feeding the wild animals allows them to become overly familiar with humans and acquire a taste for human foods, which can result in them raiding our crops. Several Japanese prefectures have taken action against feeding the wildlife through slogans such as:

“Wild animals are not pets.”

“For the sake of coexistence with humans, stop feeding pigeons.”

“Wild monkeys come down to the village and cause a nuisance. Please don’t feed them.”

“To protect their way of life, please do not feed the deer.”

“Food is something we [animals] will find for ourselves.”

“Offering food is not the same thing as love.”

In order to prevent unnecessary killing of wild animals due to human-wildlife conflicts, we should not be feeding them!

What do you think?

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Read the original article on WAttention Singapore.