Spring events in Saitama

Days are becoming warmer and flowers are starting to bloom, this is the perfect time to visit Saitama city and see Japanese traditional crafts and beautiful Spring scenery!

Every March, Saitama city offers several events related to Hina dolls at the town of Iwasuki as well as several places to admire the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

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The town of Iwasuki in Saitama city is particularly known in the Kanto region for their Hina dolls. Lots of events are held before and after Hinamatsuri, or the Doll Festival, celebarted on March the 3rd. One of them is Machikado Hina Meguri, where you can see a beautiful parade of dolls and Taiko drums performances. During the festivities, you will be able to not just see the dolls but also try to make your own, learn to cook the local food and experience real Japanese culture. There are endless activities for you to enjoy.

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Event Information
The 14th Hina Doll Street Festival and the Machikado Hina Meguri
Date: February 25-March12
Place: Shopping streets around the East Exit of Iwatsuki Station.

At the beginning of March, the most popular places to admire the cherry blosoms start preparations to welcome guests. This year’s blooming forecast predicts that the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom around March 25th. Due to it’s proximity to Tokyo, Saitama city offers many beautiful and unique cherry blossom landscapes visited by thousands of people every year.

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Iwatsuki Joshi Park Sakura Festival (About 600 Sakura trees)
Date: April 1-2
Time: 10:00-16:00
Place: Iwatsuki Joshi Park
Cherry Blossoms Night Illumination
Date: Mar. 19-Apr. 9 (subject to changes in cherry blooming times)
Time: 18:00-21:00
Place: Iwatsuki Joshi Park Ayameike Pond

Saitama City’s famous Cherry Blossoms spots

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Omiya Park: About 1,000 cherry trees bloom from late March to early April. They are lit at night when in full bloom.
Access: 20-min walk from JR Omiya St., 10-min walk from Tobu Omiya Koen St. or Kita-Omiya St.

Saitama Stadium 2002
Every year you can admire beautiful cherry trees in full bloom just outside the stadium.
Access: 15-min walk from Urawamisono St.

Sagamiko Resort, fun comes in many forms

With so much to do at Sagamiko Resort, the fun is guaranteed

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If you ever find yourself undecided or at an impasse with your friends over what to do on weekends, consider this: nobody will have to compromise if you go somewhere that offers something fun for everyone like Sagamiko Resort. Located in Sagamihara city in Kanagawa prefecture, this amusement park is just 50 minutes away from Shinjuku station by train. It offers a variety of attractions divided into different areas. On Pleasure Forest you will find around 30 different attractions including a Ferris Wheel located at the top of a mountain with amazing views of the surrounding area. At Wild Cooking Garden you can make use of the BBQ facilities to enjoy a relaxed meal with friends on a sunny day, and even if it’s raining, you’ll be able to cook your BBQ inside the indoor facilities. And at night, the Illumillion decorations turn the park into a colorful wonderland as six million color light bulbs create a breathtaking landscape.

For people who want to get in touch with nature, Sagamiko offers Paddington Bear™ Campsite, with different kinds of lodging options and everything you might need to enjoy a night outdoors, as well as mountain bicycle courses and one of Kanto area’s largest radio-control car courses.The park also offers the on-site Ururi onsen, with an open-air bath, bedrock bath, a restaurant and resting areas among other facilities.

Three of our WAttention Ninja got the opportunity to experience a full day of fun at Sagamiko Resort and this is what they had to say about the trip.

Kerstin Thies

The first thing that amazed me was the view on the mountains all around the resort. It was a nice alternative to the bustling streets of Shibuya and the tall skyscrapers in Shinjuku. Since we arrived at lunch time, we had a barbecue lunch at the campsite and we even got to try a dutch oven where we cooked a tasty chicken. One of the highlights of the trip was the mirror maze, since it was something I had not done before and made me and my friends laugh a lot. But by far, the most amazing thing was the decorations once it got dark. The whole park was illuminated by pink, red, gold, blue and green lights in all shapes and sizes. There was even a field of glowing flowers and a light show. Soon after watching the show and taking pictures, we went to Ururi onsen. It was my first time in an Onsen and it was a great experience. It felt great to soak in the hot water after being on the move all day. I left Sagamiko Resort with a softer skin and a lot of beautiful pictures and memories.
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We started our day with a delicious BBQ lunch, where we got to test our cooking skills. After our tummies were full, we went on to the attractions. The mazes were a lot of fun, especially the mirror maze. It was challenging and confusing at the same time but we had a lot of fun. We then visited the Ferris wheel which offered an amazing view. As the sun was setting, the “Illumillion” show started and the whole park lit with many beautiful colors, it was such an amazing sight. After a nice walk around the park, our bodies were tired so we decided to go to the onsen. It had many different kinds of baths with different temperatures to fit everyone’s preference. After an hour-long, relaxing bath my skin was very soft and my body felt really good and filled with energy. We then rode a direct bus from the park to Shinjuku, which was very convenient for us. This was an amazing experience, and I made really good memories.

Maren Steine

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Romina Bonilla

I had an amazing day at Sagamiko Resort with my friends. We arrived around lunch time and we headed straight to the BBQ area, where we had a delicious meal and even got to use the dutch oven, which I had never used before. We then spent a few hours enjoying the many attractions that the park has to offer. My favorite one was the Ferris wheel because of the amazing view. At night, I was impressed by the beautiful lights that decorate the park. We also had the chance to soak in the onsen and I was surprised to feel that my skin was very smooth and relaxed. I would definitely like to come back soon, I highly recommend it for anyone looking to have an amazing time!
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Sample schedule for a day in Sagamiko Resort
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Sagamiko Resort

Open: Open daily except Thursdays from 10:00am to 9pm on weekdays and from 9:30am to 9pm on weekends. Operation hours vary according to the season.
Address: 1634 Wakayanagi,Midori-ku,Sagamihara,Kanagawa 252-0175
Phone: 042-685-1111
Website: http://www.sagamiko-resort.jp/(in Japanese)
Access: Get on the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku station bound for Otsuki and get off at Sagamiko station. Then, get on the bus no. 1 bound for Mikage and get off at Pleasure Forest Mae. You can also take a direct bus from Shinjuku bus terminal to Pleasure Forest. (Operates only during Sagamiko Illumillion display season).
Price: Park admission 1,700 JPY for adults, 1,000 JPY for children and 1,000 JPY for pets
Free pass including park admission and unlimited rides to all attractions is 3,900 JPY for adults and 3,100 per children.

Enjoy the Mt. Fuji Area to the fullest with this useful tools

・Mt. Fuji Pass
This is a tourist pass especially made for foreigners visiting Japan. Save on sightseeing and transportation and get preferential access to different tourists facilities, including Fuji Q Highland.
Find out more here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/mtpass/
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・Fuji-Q Resorts App
Get insider tips to make the most out of your visit to the Mt. Fuji area
The app is available in Japanese, Chinese, English and Thai
Find out more here: http://app.fujiq-resorts.com/fuji-qresorts/lp/
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Experience Japan’s Traditional Way of Living

Besides bustling excitement, Saitama City is full of remarkable historical and cultural
heritage which you can discover through walks and excursions. There is no place better to enjoy Japan’s rich and colourful tradition.

Musashi Ichinomiya Hikawa Shrine

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With more than 2,000 years of history, this shrine is one of the oldest in Japan. As its name “Ichinomiya” suggests, it is the top shrine in the Musashi area. In fact, this is the shrine that gave Omiya its very name.

Address:1-407 Takahana-cho, Omiya-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama Prefecture
Access:15-min walk from JR Omiya Station East Exit and Kita Omiya Station
on the Tobu Noda Line

Hikawa Dango Shop

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Located next to the path leading to Hikawa Shrine, this shop has won the heart of locals for years. Mitarashi dango, or grilled mochi balls dipped in sweet soy sauce, and fried manju confectionery are popular options.dangoahorasi
Dango in sweet soy sauce two for 200 yen

Hours:9am – 6:30pm (Closed Mon.)
Address:2-130 Takahana-cho, Omiya-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama Prefecture
Access:10-min walk from JR Omiya Station – East Exit

Masuya Unagi Restaurant

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Although there is no lack of restaurants in Urawa offering melt-in-your-mouth eel dishes, Masuya is the most famous because it has been around for over 120 years. The secret sauce gives the fish a special grilled flavor you can’t get anywhere else.
Hours:11am – 2:45pm (last order time) 5am – 8:45pm (last order time) 7:45pm is the last order time on Sundays and weekends (Closed Mon.)
Address: 7-1-3 Kishi-cho, Urawa-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama Prefecture
Access: 6-min walk from JR Urawa Station – West Exit (Keihin Tohoku Line, Utsunomiya Line,Shonan Shinjuku Line)

Minuma Tsusenbori Park

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At the centre of this lush area is Minuma Tsusenbori, the oldest lock in Japan. The space, covered with graceful bamboo stalks flowing and green grass, is both beautiful and historic.

Visit Omiya Bonsai Village
Saitama’s Kita-ku Bonsai-cho is within a couple minutes walk distance from the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum. In 1923, a group of gardeners from Tokyo moved in after the Great Kanto Earthquake, laying a solid foundation for today’s bonsai village. Although the number of bonsai gardens has dropped from 30 to six in recent years, the place remains the centre of Japanese bonsai culture.


Trivia information!

According to the staff at Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, beginners should try looking at the bonsai from the bottom up for an amazing outline of branches. This is fun trivia, bound to impress your friends!
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Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
Opened in March 2010, this museum aims to preserve the tradition of bonsai culture. As the only public bonsai art museum in Japan, it welcomes bonsai beginners from all around the world. The multilingual voice guide explains how to appreciate bonsai and is invaluable for those who want to know more about Japanese culture.

The 8th World Bonsai Convention in Saitama
Bonsai is celebrated all over the world not only as an aesthetic piece of art but also as an affordable, cute interior design feature. The World Bonsai Convention, slated to be held from 27-30 April, is a great chance to check out the latest trend in bonsai art.
Le Tour de France SAITAMA CRITÉRIUM
Named after Le Tour de France, this closed circuit race has been held in Saitama’s Shintoshin four times, attracting top riders who have participated in Le Tour de France as well as professional riders from across the world. Experience the excitement and adrenaline rush of Le Tour de France by visiting Saitama!

Gundam and Japan: ode to the statue

Bandai Namco recently announced that it will remove the iconic Gundam statue in front of Tokyo Odabai’s Diver City next year (Model RG 1/1 RX-78-2 Ver. GFT to be exact). Its last public appearance will be on March 5th 2017 when it will be removed. Not only the statue, but also the nearby Gundamfront Tokyo entertainment zone will close its doors on April 5th 2017.

The owners have not announced any plans of a replacement statue or where the current one is going, but with the Gundam franchise still strong in Japan there’s a high chance this won’t be the last time we’ll see giant robots in Tokyo. Fans speculate that we’ll see a new Gundam around 2019 when the franchise celebrates its 40th anniversary. In fact, the statue might even move if we can believe the “Gundam Global Challenge”!
If you want to see the original statue in front of Diver City head to Tokyo before spring next year. As an ode to the iconic statue, let us share some interesting facts about Gundam and its history in Japan.

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A hit since 1979

The Gundam franchise was conceived in 1979 as an original production by animation studio Sunrise, titled Mobile Suit Gundam. It was the first show to use realistic working robots in a military setting and it spawned one of the biggest subgenres of hobby crafts in Japan. Nowadays there are still new creator kits released for Gundam enthusiasts by Gunpla.
In fact, the 2016 Gunpla Builders World Championship will be held on December 18th, 2016 at Gundam Front Tokyo.

Get your Gundam on

Even with the statue and entertainment zone leaving Odaiba, you can still get your Gundam fix by going to the Gundam Café in Akihabara. This official café not only serves food but also sells official goods you can only get at the Café. While you’re in Akihabara you can visit various hobby shops selling Gundam models and kits.

Tokyo Gundam Project

The announcement of the removal of the Gundam statue and the closing of Gundamfront comes as a surprise to most fans, especially as 2016 was the special “Tokyo Gundam Project” year. This is not the first time Gundam fans collaborated on a Gundam project. In 2008 the Hiroshima Animation Biennale saw the rise of the “International Gundam Society” with lectures from actual scientists discussing the possibility of a real Gundam and fans giving opinions about the series. However, since then nothing has been heard of the International Gundam Society. A year before that, in 2007, the Japanese army announced “project Gundam”, the building of several weapons and suits inspired by the franchise. Even now you will occasionally see similar news pop up.

The Statue’s Legacy

Even with all these Gundam activities going on in both Japan and the world, it’s still sad to see the statue go. The statue was erected in the Summer of 2009 at Odaiba Waterfront and quickly attracted 4,5 million visitors in its first month. Still, it was moved to Shizuoka for the Shizuoka hobby fair in 2010, was disassembled for display to raise money for the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and only got its most known spot in front of Tokyo Diver City in 2012. Over the years it got more features such as a moving head, lights and smoke coming from its body.

If you still need more Gundam, check out the official Gundam Info page for all the latest news in Japan and the world.

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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.

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Christmas Afternoon Tea in Tokyo’s Shangri-La Hotel

Every month the Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo holds its special afternoon tea with a constantly changing menu in regard to the season. An étagère filled with sweet and savory goodies waits for you. Within a casual, yet elegant ambience you can enjoy the Shangri-La’s chef´s excellent skills and creations, as well as a breathtaking view over Tokyo out of the Lobby Lounge on the 28th floor.

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Since Christmas is right around the corner, this month’s afternoon tea even features lovely Christmas decorations on the table.

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You can choose your favorite tea out of a 2page menu, as well as other beverages. During these two hours you can change the sort of the tea as often as you like, as well as getting a refill anytime.

After the tea is served, the étagère full with all the delicacies arrives.

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Already the sight of these seven different goodies will make your mouth water!

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1. Chocolate and almond Bouche de Noel; 2. Christmas tree shaped Mont Blanc; 3. Snowman cheese cake; 4. Christmas tree ball shaped ginger bread macaroon, 5. Sandwich made of brown bread and filled with roasted avocado, Russian salmon and yuzu butter, 6. Sandwich made of red wine bread and filled with roasted beef, truffle butter and radicchio cream, 7. Sandwich made of spinach bread and filled with sliced smoked duck, foie gras butter and smoked cherry wood honey mustard.

Beside this you will also receive three kinds of golden brown baked scones (five-spices scones, traditional scones, vin brule’ scones) with several toppings like jam, honey or yuzu (Asian citrus fruit) butter.

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While it´s getting dark outside, the lights of the Lobby Lounge are dimmed and candles are placed on your table which provides the perfect atmosphere for a cozy afternoon with your friends or a romantic date with your partner.

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The last two goodies arrives, consisting of gold and yuzu mousse as well as roasted pumpkin royale with curry powder and apples served in a small cup (not included in the picture).

After enjoying this nice afternoon, don´t forget to walk down to the 27th floor and take a look at the big beautiful Christmas tree. The Christmas decorations on the first floor also acts as a nice photo spot and the concierge is happily willing to help you taking your picture.

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Information

The Lobby Lounge – Christmas Afternoon Tea
Date: December 3rd (Saturday) – December 22nd (Thursday)
Time: 12:00 – 5:30pm (weekday); 1pm – 3pm & 3:30pm – 5:30pm (weekend and national holiday)
Price: 4,500 yen per person
A reservation is recommended: Tel 03-6739-7888 (English & Japanese OK)
Access: 1min walk from JR Tokyo Station – Nihonbashi Exit; 2min walk from JR Tokyo Station – Yeasu North Exit; 2min walk from Otemachi Station – Exit B7 (Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, Marunouchi Line, Hanzomon Line, Chiyoda Line or Toei Mita Line); 3min walk from Nihonbashi Station – Exit A3 (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line or Toei Asakusa Line)
Address: Marunouchi Trust Tower Main, 1-8-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, 100-8283 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
The Lobby Lounge – Christmas Afternoon Tea

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Tabea Greuner
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Winter Illumination at Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture

Not even 2 hours away from Tokyo by train you can watch Japan’s No.1 Illumination Show at Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture. 3,5 million warm and sparkling lights will surround you at this spectacular event during the cold days. Enjoy different carefully prepared themes to walk through. This event is divided into three main events:
1. “Collaboration of lights and flowers”  (October 22nd – middle of November);
2. “Flower Parks’ Christmas” (end of November – end of December),
3. “New Year Illumination” (beginning of 2017 – February 5th).

We visited the park in the middle of November and had the chance to see the first event of the season as well as some Christmas elements.

First you will enter a big hall full of flowers and decorations that you can purchase. The flowers and decorations match the current season so during winter you can see hundreds of red shining poinsettias, cute Christmas decorations and many more.

After entering the actual park, you will see booths selling delicious hot amazake (a traditional sweet, non-alcohol drink made from fermented rice). Warm up yourself before exploring the park. Aside from that, several food stands as well as a restaurant with a nice garden view provide local specialties.

Enjoy the compilation of pictures of the most beautiful spots

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Wisteria trees are decorated with thousands of LED lights to enjoy these beautiful flowers even during winter.

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Red roses and water lilies out of LED lights offer beautiful picture spots.

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Take a stroll through the lavender garden with its LED wisteria flowers.

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Flowers placed inside big lanterns out of glass on the pond.

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A Christmas tree made from LED lights, as well as more water lilies.

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The rose garden features hundreds of color-changing LED roses.

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A huge wall with changing themed illuminations, all related to winter and Christmas.

If you liked the pictures, don´t hesitate and plan your next trip to the Ashikaga Flower Park!

Information

Illumination Period: October 22nd – February 5th
Hours: 3:30pm – 9pm (weekends & national holidays until 9:30pm) [closed on December 31st]
Admission: 800yen (adults); 400yen (children)
Address: 607 Hasama-cho, Ashikaga-shi, 329-4216 Tochigi
Access: 13min walk from Tomita Station (JR Ryomo Line) [Take the JR Utsunomiya Line from Ueno Station into Koganei direction and get off at Oyama Station (1h15min; 1,317yen). Change the train and get on the JR Ryomo Line into Takasaki direction until Tomita Station (32min; 583yen).
Tel: 0284-91-4939
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.ashikaga.co.jp

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Tabea Greuner
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Tobu Treasure Garden in Tatebayashi (Gunma Prefecture)

The Tobu Treasure Garden located in Gunma Prefecture about 55km away from Tokyo, can be reached within only 1hour from Asakusa Station (Tokyo) and is perfect for a day trip during spring, summer or early autumn. It´s especially popular for its beautiful Rose Garden, the moss phlox flower fields and the Blue Garden.

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The entrance buildings are made out of bricks and resemble an English residence covered in rose bushes.

After entering the park you will be welcomed by a fountain and a small canal which leads you to the Sakura-Tunnel, entangled by hundreds of small pastel pink roses.

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After strolling through the tunnel you are inside the Rose Garden and the English Rose Garden.

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Enjoy looking at many different kinds of roses blooming in dozen of shining colors.

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Relax in the shadows of white roses which bloom during May and June.

The main spot of the park features the pink moss phlox flowers fields.

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Beautiful pink and white moss phlox flowers in front of blooming cherry blossoms. (Please refer to the image of the pamphlet ;D)

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The next path leads you to the Brilliant Garden which features many colorful flowers arranged to a nice pattern. The lavender blue is one of the main colors for this theme.

 

 

Take a break in the Victorian House and enjoy some delicious food, buy souvenirs at Koruri’s or purchase original Treasure Garden goods at Mary´s Room.

Besides taking a visit to the park, you can also knot the tie with your beloved one in the chapel next to the park. You can book the full wedding-service and enjoy your special day surrounded by nature in the middle of a beautiful garden ambience.

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The St. Peter & Paul Church was built and based on an original church from England and offers the best and most unique wedding location in this area.

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A big rose window, typical curch stained glass windows, a pipe organ, pews and much more will let you experience a typical proper western wedding ceremony.

Tobu Treasure Garden Info:
Hours & Admission for 2017:
☆Moss phlox Festival: March 25th (Saturday) – May 7th (Sunday); 9am – 5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 600yen – 1000yen (adults: junior-highschool students and older); 200yen – 400yen (primary school students)
☆Rose & Garden Festival: May 8th (Monday) – June 30th (Friday); 9am – 5pm (las entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 1000yen – 1800yen (adults: junior-highschool students and older); 400yen – 800yen (primary school students)
☆Autumn Rose & Garden Festival: Early October – Early November; 10am – 4:30pm (last entry 4pm)
Admission: 800yen – 1000yen (adults: junior-highschool students and older); 200yen – 400yen (primary school students)
・July – September & Middle November – March closed due to maintenance
Address: 1050 Horikou-cho, Tatebayashi-shi, 374-0033 Gunma
Access: 15min walk from Morinji-mae Station (Tobu Isesaki Line) – 80min from Asakusa Station (Tokyo) station; 10min taxi ride from Tatebayashi Station (Tobu Isesaki Line) – 60min from Asakusa Station (Tokyo)
Tel: 0276-55-0750
URL: http://treasuregarden.jp/en/

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Tabea Greuner
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New Year Japanese Style in Saitama

New Year is often associated with countdown parties, midnight fireworks and endless drinking. But Saitama offers more than just that. Many valuable traditions passed down for hundreds of years are still being practiced here during the holiday season. For an authentic Japanese New Year experience, head down to Saitama where a full package of celebration and positive energy awaits you!

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Saitama’s New Year event calendar starts as early as December. Tokamachi, an annual open air market held on December 10, is a warm-up event of a month-long festival. At this time of the year, Musashi Ichinomiya Hikwawa Shrine and its neighboring areas are always packed with tourists and locals looking for colorfully decorated bamboo rakes called kumade to “rake in” success, wealth, fortune and happiness.

The tradition of selling and buying kumade in shrines dates back to the Edo Period (1603-1868). Kumade today comes in different sizes, price ranges and quality, but the rule remains the way it was hundreds of years ago: you have to get a kumade larger than the one you bought in the previous year for a bigger success.

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While at Tokamachi, it’s a good idea to let your taste buds explore some mouthwatering dishes. A wide range of traditional Japanese street food ranging from sweet dumpling dango to grilled fish and fried noodles can be found here at reasonable price. With so many food choices, you definitely won’t go hungry.

New Year Japanese Style in Saitama

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On January 3 at Saitama, the Seven Lucky Gods actually come to life in a special costume parade. This is an event you don’t want to miss because it just might be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to have a picture taking with Gods and Goddesses!

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Hatsumode, the first shrine or temple visit for the year, is another great way to start the New Year in Japan. Musashi Ichinomiya Hikwawa Shrine is just a 30 minute walk away from Omiya Station and thus a popular destination for hatsumode. Many people, dressed in traditional kimono, write their wishes on wooden plaques and get their fortune told by getting a scroll of white paper called omikuji.

After making a small offering, you can randomly choose an omikuji from a box. Unroll the paper to see what 2017 has in store for you. If the prediction is bad, don’t worry too much. Fold the strip of paper and tie it to a wall of metal wires to leave your bad luck behind.

The list of things to do in Saitama does not stop here. With its close proximity to Tokyo and rich history and culture, Saitama is the perfect place to spend not only the New Year holiday but weekends all year round!

New Year Japanese Style in Saitama

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Another event that will help you get into the New Year spirit is the Juninichimachi on December 12. The one-day market has been serving the community since the Meiji Period (1868-1915), attracting as many as 1,000 vendors selling amulets and traditional delicacies from the morning till late in the evening.

Juninichimachi extends from Tsuki Shrine to Kyu Nakasendo, one of the five routes connecting Tokyo and Kyoto in the Edo Period. Although the path is quite developed today, you can still follows the footstep of the 17th century haiku master Matsuo Basho and immerse in the nostalgic atmosphere.

For bunny lovers across the world, Tsuki Shrine is a must visit. Since tsuki can mean both textile and moon in Japanese, the shrine is vastly decorated with paintings and sculptures of rabbits, a messenger from the moon. Even the faucet used by worshippers for washing hands as a gesture of purification is in the form of a rabbit!

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Besides getting an amulet from shrines for good luck, you can ask the deities for a year of abundance. Shichifukujin Meguri is an Edo tradition of making a short pilgrimage to seven temples and shrines during the New Year holiday. With each visit to a temple or shrine on the course, you get a red stamp. After collecting all the seven stamps on a decorative cardboard, place the cardboard in your house for happiness and prosperity in the coming year.

The pilgrimage is usually done on foot. But if walking in cold weather is not your thing or if time is not on your side, then cycling might be a good choice. Along the course are a homemade soba noodle shop and a Japanese sweets shop that has been in the business since 1864. The strawberry daifuku—a large size strawberry wrapped with red bean paste inside chewy mochi rice—is really worth dropping in for.

Cheap all-you-can-drink Umeshu

If you’re a lover of Umeshu, Japanese plum win, you MUST visit Puedo Bar in Tokyo. For the mere sum of 1,080yen you can drink all the Umeshu you want for one hour, possibly the best umeshu deal in Tokyo! Puedo has a large selection of umeshu from all over Japan so prepare yourself to explore all the different tastes in the world of umeshu. This Japanese plum wine is a drink typically enjoyed by women because of its sweetness. Besides Umeshu, the bar also has a dinner menu designed like the classic Izakaya offerings.
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We stumbled upon Puedo after a fun day in kimono and felt a bit too dressed up for a bar. But Puedo is different, the interior is really nice and the friendly staff were ready to welcome us. We ordered some food from the menu when the waitress informed us about the cheap all-you-can-drink deal. We quickly decided to take this golden chance to get our money’s worth of umeshu.

Rushing to make the most of our hour
Rushing to make the most of our hour

We received glasses and ice from the waitress and were told that the nomihoudai, all-you-can-drink, option was self service. Meaning you can freely take the bottles and pour your own drink.
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When I said there was umeshu from all over Japan I meant literally from all over Japan. On the shelves you can find umeshu from Okinawa, banana umeshu, yuzu umeshu and even tomato umeshu.
Umeshu
When we asked the waitress what their best umeshu was one of the patrons quickly responded with “babaa no chi”, which translates to “grandma’s blood”. We were very surprised to hear this name for a bottle of umeshu but we found it right in the middle of the umeshu wall. The bottle’s label reassured us we heard correctly.
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Everyone’s verdict was that all the umeshu were delicious and that the one hour deal made the evening perfect. And if you want to know how “grandma’s blood” tastes you have to visit Puedo Bar yourself. All I can say is that it tastes better than its name!

Information

Name: Puedo Bar
Hours: 5pm – 11pm (closed on Sunday)
Access: near Kitasenju station
Address: 〒120-0026 Tokyo-to, Adachi-ku, Senjuasahicho, 41−14, Daiichi Building 1F

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

Festive Christmas Markets In and Around Tokyo

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Get into the right mood for Christmas as you take in the decorations and have your fill of festive food and drinks as these spots in and around Tokyo are transformed into magical Christmas wonderlands.


1Tokyo Christmas Market – Hibiya Park

The Christmas Market in the Hibiya Park resembles the traditional German one the most. Last year a 14m high Christmas pyramid was imported from Germany to add to the traditional cozy atmosphere. Enjoy typical German dishes, hot wine and chocolate, art crafts as well as live performances with guests from Germany.

Date: December 16th (Friday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 10pm
Place: Hibiya Park – Water fountain area
Admission: free
Access: 1min walk from Hibiya Station – Exit A14 (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line); 5min walk from Kasumigaseki Station – Exit B2 (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line); 5min walk from Uchisaiwaicho Station – Exit A7 (Toei Mita Line); 20min walk from JR Tokyo Station – Marinouchi Exit; 10min walk from Yurakucho Station (Hibiya Exit)
Address: Chiyoda-ku, 100-0012 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
gardenplace.jp


2Christmas Marché – Yebisu Garden Place

This Christmas market leans on the typical Christmas market from France and provides hot mulled wine, typical dishes, seasonal crafts and decorations. As a highlight you can even buy items and Christmas themed clothes for your dog. A giant Christmas tree is set up right next to the stalls and sparkling illuminations provide the right mood.

Date: November 5th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 12:00 – 8pm
Place: Yebisu Garden Place – clock square
Admission: free
Access: Access: 5min walk from JR Ebisu Station (East Exit) via the “Yebisu Skywalk”
Address: 4-20 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, 150-6018 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★★
gardenplace.jp

Festive Christmas Markets In and Around Tokyo


53rd World Christmas Festival

The 3rd World Christmas Festival in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park provides Christmas food, drinks and music from all around the world. Dance performances are held as well!

Date: December 24th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 6pm
Place: Yoyogi Park – Event space
Admission: free
Access: 3min walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line) or Yoyogi-Koen Station (Chiyoda Line), a 3min walk from Meiji-Jingu-mae Station (Chiyoda Line or Fukutoshin Line), or a 6min walk from Yoyogi-Hachiman Station (Odakyu Line)
Address: Yoyogi Kamizono-cho 2-1, Shibuya-ku, 151-0052 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★☆
yoyogipark.info


6Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market

This authentic Christmas market sells traditional German dishes like schnitzel, sausages, gulasch, stolen cakes, mulled wine, beer and much more. Also traditional decorations and wooden dolls directly from the Erzgebirge in Germany are on sale. The highlight of the market will be the huge Christmas tree which provides the perfect atmosphere for a cozy evening.

Date: November 26th (Saturday– December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 10pm
Place: Red Brick Warehouse
Admission: free
Access: 10min walk from Bashamichi Station (Minatomirai Line)
Address: 1-1 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, 231-0001 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★★
yokohama-akarenga.jp

Festive Christmas Markets In and Around Tokyo


3Roppongi Hills Christmas Market

This year is the 10th anniversary of Roppongi Hills’ Christmas Market. It´s based on the biggest Christmas market located in Stuttgart, Germany and features a total of 11 stores lining up under the “O-Yane Plaza” and offer a lot of traditional Christmas decorations, like Christmas pyramids, Christmas tree decorations and many more. Mulled wine and sausages add to the typical German Christmas flair.

Date: November 26th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 9pm (Friday, Saturday and the day before a public holiday open until 10pm)
Place: O-Yane Plaza
Admission: free
Access:
Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line) Exit 1C (direct access)
Roppongi Station (Toei Oedo Line) Exit 3 (4min walk)
Azabu Juban Station (Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line) Exit 4 (8min walk)
Nogizaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line) Exit 5 (10min walk)
Address: 6-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 106-6108 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
roppongihills.com


4Tokyo Midtown Marché de Noël

©Tokyo Midtown Management Co., Ltd.

Tokyo Midtown’s Christmas market is located on the first basement floor of the Galleria shopping center. You can purchase tableware, gifts, cards and much more with beautiful Christmas prints and designs. After shopping, go out and enjoy the beautiful illumination show in the starlight garden.

Date: November 15th (Tuesday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 9pm (December 22nd (Thursday) – December 25th (Sunday) open until 10pm)
Place: Tokyo Midtown – Galleria B1 – In front of DEAN&DELUCA
Admission: free
Access: 5min walk from Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line; Toei Oedo Line); 6min walk from Nogizaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
Address: 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 107-0052 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tokyo-midtown.com

Dragonball themed Café at Tower Records Café – Omotesando

The next time-limited café for November opened its doors in the beginning of the month. The popular anime series “Dragonball” celebrates its 30th anniversary, therefore the Tower Records Cafe branch opened three Dragonball themed café’s in Tokyo (Shibuya and Omotesando) and Osaka (Umeda).

The dishes and drinks feature the motives and characters of the anime designed by Akira Toriyama.
While enjoying your food you can listen to the original soundtrack and watch parts of the anime via a big screen.

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The menu includes two main dishes, two desserts and four drinks. We decided for the “Trunks and My Special – Plate” which comes with grilled pork, fried rice, egg and salad (1,500yen (tax included)); the “Majin Buu‘s Sweets Plate” with light berry cream, sponge cake, frozen fruits, chocolate, cookies, marshmallows and ice cream (1,200yen (tax included)); …

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… the “Planet Namek x Piccolo Soda” which is kiwi soda topped with grape sherbet and fresh cream (750yen /tax included) and the “Shenlong Soda”, melon soda topped with mango ice cream (800yen (tax included)).

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Everything was very delicious and it´s a MUST-GO for every fan!

Don´t forget to bring home some souvenirs as well!

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The original soundtrack, anniversary plates and coasters, T-shirts, bags, hoodies and much more are on sale!

We had a lot of fun and definitely plan to visit the other two cafe´s as well!

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Information

Date: November 1st (Tuesday) until November 30th (Wednesday)
Hours: 11am – 10pm (L.O. 9pm)
Tel: 03-5778-9491
Access: 6min walk from Harajuku Station – Omotesando Exit (JR Yamanote Line); 2min walk from Meiji Jingumae Station Exit 5 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line); 8min walk from Omotesando Station Exit A2 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line, Ginza Line)
Address: Imon Building 2F, 6-3-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆

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

Kapibara-san theme Café at Tokyu Plaza Omotesando

Another limited-time café came to Tokyo in the beginning of November and enchants its guests with cute dishes featuring Kapibara-san a fluffy capybara and his friends.

Located on the 5th floor of Tokyu Plaza’s Omotesando Building, the Tokyu Hands Café is holding a special collaboration event with a carefully made menu featuring cute dishes in the shape of Kapibara-san.

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The place is nicely decorated with panels and stuffed animals, …

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…as well as cute welcome messages at the entrance.

The collaboration menu covers two main dishes, one dessert and two different drinks. Of course you can also choose out of the normal menu.

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We decided for the Teriyaki-Chicken Sandwich plate (1,380 yen including tax), the apple pancakes (1,280 yen including tax) and the Marshmallow Latte (700 yen including tax).

Everything was really delicious and carefully decorated!

After enjoying your meal how about spending a relaxed evening at the Starbucks Terrace on the 6th floor and view the illuminations and the sunset over Shibuya?

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Information

Date: November 1st (Tuesday) until November 30th (Wednesday)
Hours: 11am – 9pm (L.O. 8:30pm)
Tel: 03-3478-0717
Access: 4min walk from Harajuku Station – Omotesando Exit (JR Yamanote Line); 1min walk from Meiji Jingumae Station Exit 5 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line); 7min walk from Omotesando Station Exit A2 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line, Ginza Line)
Address: Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku 5F, 4-30-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tokyu-hands.co.jp

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo

 

15Yomiuri Land Jewellumination

The whole theme park is covered in beautiful colorful lights and makes a normal visit even more special.

Date: October 14th (Friday) – February 19th (Sunday); Park is closed on January 17th (Tuesday) – 19th (Thursday) and January 24th (Tuesday) – 26th (Thursday)
Hours: 4pm – 8:30pm (December 17th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday) until 9pm)
Place: Yomiuriland
Admission: 1,800Yen (adults), 1,500Yen (junior-high and high-school students), 1,000Yen (children)
Access: 5-10min ride with the Sky-Shuttle gondola or 5min Odakyu-Bus ride from Keio Yomiuri Land Station (Keio Sagamihara Line)
Address: 4-4015-1 Yanokuchi, Inagi-shi, 206-8725 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★☆
yomiuriland.com


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

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


13Venus Fort Christmas Projection Mapping “FROZEN VENUSFORT”

This year’s projection mapping features the popular Disney movie “Frozen”. Creative company NAKED Inc. created a spectacular show which you can only enjoy at Venus Fort. Music and illumination takes you into another world where you will feel like a character directly popped out of a fairy tale. The Venus Fort is a shopping center designed in the style of an old cityscape of the Middle Ages.

Date: November 3rd (Thursday) – middle of march / The show “Melting Story” around the water fountain takes place on November 3rd, 5th , 12th, 13th , 19th, 20th , 23rd , 26th and 27th ; in December on the 3rd, 4th, 10th , 11th ,17th , 18th , 21st , 22nd , 23rd , 24th and 25th.
Hours: “Melting Story”: 11:30am / 12:30 / 1:30pm / 3:30pm / 5:30pm / 7:30pm
Place: Venus Fort
Admission: free
Access: 3min walk from Aomi Station (Yurikamome Line) or Tokyo Teleport Station (JR Rinkai Line)
Address: 1-3-15 Aomi, Koto-ku, 135-0064 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
venusfort.co


14Showa Memorial Park “Winter Vista Illumination”

The area between the Tachikawa-entrance gate and the Fureai open space is covered in sparkling warm lights. Showa Memorial Park illumination theme changes every year. This year’s highlight will be a champagne glass tower made out of 15,000 glasses and located in the middle of the canal area located in the entrance of the park. You can enjoy a magical world of lights, featuring the light-up of the parks symbol, the big water fountain, and the alley.

Date: December 3rd (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 5pm – 9pm (admission until 8:50pm)
Place: Between the Tachikawa-entrance gate and the Fureai open space area
Admission: 410 yen (adults); 80 yen (primary – and middle – school students); free for children; 210 yen (over 65 years old)
Access: 15min walk from Tachikawa Station
Address: 3173 Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, 190-0014 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
sp.jorudan.co.jp

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


11Meguro River Minna no Illumination

Gotanda Fureai Waterside Square and the cherry trees along Meguro river will be decorated with light pink LED lights to create the image of blooming Sakura – Cherry blossoms during winter. The electricity used for this event will be extracted from edible oil which comes directly from restaurants and citizens living in this area.
Date: November 18th (Friday) – January 9th (Monday)
Hours: 5pm – 10pm
Place: Gotanda Fureai Mizube Hiroba and along Meguro river
Admission: free
Access: 6min walk from Osaki Station (JR Saikyo Line, JR Yamanote Line, JR Shonen-Shinjuku Line) or Gotanda Station (JR Yamanote Line; Toei Asakusa Line; Tokyu Ikegami Line)
Address: 2-9 Higashi-Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, 141-0022 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
minna-no-illumi.com


12DECKS Tokyo Beach Illumination “YAKEI” in Odaiba

This all year-around Illumination takes place around Odaiba’s Shopping mall “The Decks” and offers the best view of Tokyo Bay, including the Rainbow Bridge, as well as Tokyo Tower. About 40 trees are decorated with LED lights, one 20m high tree sparkles in all colors and the first 360° Projection-Mapping tunnel, the “Illusion Dome” shows you another world.

Date: all around the year
Hours: sunset – 24:00
Place: Decks Tokyo, Seaside Deck 3F
Admission: free
Access: 2min walk from Odaiba-Kaihinkoen (Yurikamome Line); 8min walk from Tokyo Teleport Station (JR Rinkai Line)
Address: Seaside Deck, Decks Tokyo Beach 3F, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku, 135-0091 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
odaiba-decks.com

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


9Omotesando Hills

The trees of the wide sidewalks of Omotesando are decorated with warm lights to make your shopping adventure even more special and luxurious during Christmas season. Don´t forget to pop into Omotesando Hills’ and enjoy their beautiful Christmas decoration. Due to Omotesando Hills’ 10th anniversary a sparkling 10m high Christmas-star-tree will be set up. The theme “Find your stars – A starry Christmas” features 15,000 LED lights and mirror balls reflecting and producing the twinkling and shooting stars.

Date: November 9th (Wednesday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 11pm
Place: Omotesando Hills
Admission: free
Access:
Omotesando Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line) Exit A2 (2min walk)
Meijijingu-mae (Harajuku) Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line) Exit 5 (3min walk)
Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line) Omotesando Exit (7min walk)
Address: 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
omotesandohills.com


10Ebisu Garden Place

Ebisu Garden Place features two illumination events, the “Baccarat Eternal Lights” shows a 8,4m tall and 4,6m wide crystal chandelier and the usual illumination event with its huge Christmas tree decorated with French ornaments.
Date: November 5th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Place: Ebisu Garden Place
Admission: free
Access: 5min walk from JR Ebisu Station (East Exit) via the “Yebisu Skywalk”
Address: 4-20 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, 150-6018 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
gardenplace.jp

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


7Tokyo Tower – Winter Fantasy ~ONE PIECE Snow Dome Illumination~

Beside the yearly illumination and the light-up of the tower, this year’s special illumination collaborated with Tokyo Towers One Piece Tower and created a huge Snow Dome which features one of the episodes of the popular anime One Piece called “The miracle Sakura which blooms during winter”.

Date: November 3rd (Thursday) – February 28th (Tuesday)
Hours: Snow Dome Show: every full hour between 1pm – 10pm for 5min; Illumination: 4pm – 11pm
Place: Tokyo Tower (Shiba-Park), in front of the entrance
Admission: free
Access: 5min walk from Akabanebashi Station
Address: 4-2-8 Shiba-Koen, Minato-ku, 105-0011 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★☆
onepiecetower.tokyo


8Shinjuku Terrace City Illumination

The 888m long Shinjuku Terrace sparkles in warm Christmas lights, featuring 300 Christmas ball ornaments and 235,000 LED lights.

Date: November 9th (Thursday) – February 14th (Tuesday)
Hours: 5pm – 24:00
Place: Shinjuku Terrace City (Within the HALC building (Shinjuku Station west-exit); Odakyu Ace building; within the Shinjuku – My Lord shopping mall; Odakyu Department Store; My Lord Mosaic Street; Shinjuku Southern Terrace; Flags)
Admission: free
Access: Shinjuku Station (South- and West-Exit)
Address: 1-1-3 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 160-0023 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★☆
odakyu.jp

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


5Roppongi Hills – Artelligent Christmas – Keyakizaka Galaxy Illumination

The main illumination takes place along Keyaki slope on the Azabu side of Roppongi Hills. The illumination covers two themes, the “Snow and Blue” one and the “Candle and Amber” one. 1,200,000 LED’s turn that place into a romantic illumination spot including a view of Tokyo Tower. Beside this illuminated street, you can also enjoy the Christmas Market inside of Roppongi Hills, featuring German decorations and traditional food.

Date: November 14th (Monday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 5pm – 11pm
Place: Roppongi Hills
Admission: free
Access:
Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line) Exit 1C (direct access)
Roppongi Station (Toei Oedo Line) Exit 3 (4min walk)
Azabu Juban Station (Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line) Exit 4 (8min walk)
Nogizaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line) Exit 5 (10min walk)
Address: 6 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 106-0032 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
roppongihills.com


6Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination

With the 150th year of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Italy, this year’s theme for Tokyo Dome City’s Winter Illumination features the Italian folklore of Befana, an old woman delivering candy and chocolates to children throughout Italy in the night of January 5th, the Epiphany Eve. Besides that, the official title of the event “Fall in love ♡ Italy” describes the different love-powerspots of Italy which attract many customers from all over the world. This theme will take place at the Tokyo Dome Area.

Date: November 10th (Thursday) – February 19th (Sunday)
Hours: 4pm – 1am
Place: Tokyo Dome City
Admission: free
Access: 1min walk from Korakuen Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line); 5min walk from Suidobashi Station (JR Chuo-Sobu Line; Toei Mita Line)
Address: 1-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, 112-0004 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
tokyo-dome.co.jp

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


3Marunouchi Bright Christmas – The marvelous story of “The Nutcracker”

The main event takes place at the Marunouchi-Building and features a 15m high and 65m wide Christmas theater. The theater begins above the walkway of the 3rd floor along the window wall, which will act as the screen for the Projection Mapping “The Nutcracker”.
On the 1st floor of the Marunouchi-Building, a 7m high Christmas tree with the images of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince will be prepared. Within the Marunouchi area many more attractions featuring this story are set up. Also a Christmas market and illuminated streets transform this area into a magical Christmas world.

Date: November 10th (Thursday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Place: Marunouchi Building, New-Marunouchi Building, Marunouchi Brick Square, etc.
Admission: free
Access: 1min walk from Tokyo Station (Marunouchi South Exit); 4min walk from Tokyo Station (JR Keiyo Line); direct access from Tokyo Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line); direct access from Nijubashi-mae Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line); 3min walk from Otemachi Station (Toei Mita Line); 8min walk from Yurakucho Station (JR Yamanote Line; JR Keihin-Tohoku Line; Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line)
Address: Marunouchi Building, 2-4-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, 100-6390 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
marunouchi.com


4Tokyo Midtown Illumination – Starlight Garden, Starlight Road and Tree-Illumination

The Starlight Garden which is located in the Midtown Park Square is the main spot of this event and features up to 180,000 LED lights. With its blue and white sparkling lights it represents the image of the cosmos and attracts a lot of guests every year. This year’s highlight contains four spotlights reaching up to 100m.
As a memento of this romantic event, a special Illumination Photo Service will capture your photograph in front of the Starlight Garden. It´s a limited service between 23rd November (Wednesday) and December 18th (Sunday) only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 6pm to 8pm. (The taken photograph can be purchased online for 1,080 Yen)
Between November 26th (Saturday) and December 18th (Sunday) on Weekends at 1:30pm, 3pm and 4:30pm for 30min each, you can enjoy Christmas classical live performances within the Galleria building.

Date: November 15th (Tuesday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 5pm – 11pm
Place: Tokyo Midtown
Admission: free
Access: 5min walk from Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line; Toei Oedo Line); 6min walk from Nogizaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
Address: 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 107-0052 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
tokyo-midtown.com

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo

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While many people come to Japan in spring and autumn, winter in Tokyo is made special with the many illumination lights on display throughout the season. WAttention presents you with the top spots in Tokyo to enjoy these romantic and fabulous spectacles.

(Click on the markers on the map below to preview and get the quick jump link to each spot.)


1Caretta Illumination

This is one of the top Illumination spots in Tokyo and attracts thousands of light-up lovers every year. The theme of this year’s show is called “Canyon d’Azur ~Blue mystical forest” and features about 270,000 LED lights. The show takes place in a time interval of 20minutes starting at 5pm.

Date: November 17th – February 14th (closed on January 1st and 2nd)
Hours: 5pm – 11pm (January & February 2017; 6pm – 11pm)
Place: Caretta Shiodome
Admission: free
Access: 2min walk from Shiodome Station (Toei Oedo Line; Yurikamome); 7min walk from Shimbashi Station
Address: 1-8-2 Higashi-Shimbashi, Minato-ku, 105-7090 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
dreamchristmas2016.jp


2Tokyo Skytree Town – Dream Christmas

Around the Skytree, a Christmas market will be set up with typical German decoration, food and a big Christmas tree. While strolling around the Christmas market, you can enjoy a special made projection mapping, as well as beautiful illuminated decorations made out of 350,000 LED lights.

Date: Illumination: November 10th (Thursday) – December 25th (Sunday); (Illuminations until March 5th (Sunday) / Projection Mapping: December 10th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday); Between 5:30pm and 8pm all 30min / Ice Skating Park: December 10th (Saturday) – March 5th (Sunday); 11am~
Place: Tokyo Skytree
Admission: free
Access: 20min walk from Asakusa Station, Direct access from Tokyo Skytree Station (Tobu Skytree Line); Direct access from Oshiage Station (Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Toei Asakusa Line)
Address: 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku, 131-0045 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
dreamchristmas2016.jp

Ninja ID: nene16

Kappabashi: Home of Japanese Knives

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Just a short walk away from Asakusa, Kappabashi is a great place to spend an afternoon among a joyful chaos of stores specializing in all sorts of kitchenware, and a must-visit destination for visitors looking to pick up world-class Japanese knives.

Over 100 Years of History

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Kappabashi Dogu-gai (Kappabashi Kitchenware Street) has been a center of commerce related to tools for over a century, and is one of the best places in Tokyo to find cool (not to mention useful) souvenirs. The two main streets are stocked to the brim with everything from super-realistic food samples to ramen shop signs, pots big enough to make curry for 100 people, dainty sake cups, chopsticks in every color of the rainbow… and knives.

Kamata Hakensha: Knives Galore

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Located around the middle of Kappabashi, this little shop is heaven for both amateur and professional cooks, as it stocks a huge range of Japanese and Western-style knives, each individually checked (and sharpened!) by the owner. The staff speak decent English and are really good at helping you find the right knife for your needs and ability.

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From the window you can watch Seiichi Kamata (the owner and third-generation craftsman) engraving names on the knives (a rather cool touch, especially if the blade is a gift) or restoring the razor-sharp edges of the implements used by top chefs around the city.

With almost four decades of experience, his fingers can detect the slightest imperfection in the metal, invisible to the naked eye. During a recent visit, he spoke of the intense training his son (the fourth generation) underwent under both his tutelage and that of the master knife makers in Sakai City, Osaka, in order to ensure that he too will gain this level of craftsmanship.

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As many of the knives are completely handmade, they’re priced accordingly. However, the shoo does have a nice range of light but sturdy stainless steel kitchen knives that are very reasonable, as well as other unusual choices (my favorite being a pair of scissors with a cherry blossom motif).

Be sure to check out the Japanese-style knives decorated with flowers, leaves and dreamy wave patterns, which look almost too pretty to use!

www.kap-kam.com


Read the original article on All About Japan: Kappabashi: Home of Japanese Knives

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Autumn Foliage Hunting in Hanno, Saitama!

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Wanna go hiking in the golden season of autumn leaves? There is no lack of such hiking routes in suburban Tokyo! To show you what Tokyo has on offer, students from the graduate school of tourism in Rikkyo University took a Seibu Railway train to Hanno in Saitama prefecture (adjacent to Tokyo). Our trip features not only autumn leaves, hiking, and onsen, but also surprises for anime fans!

Anime pilgrimage: Yama no Susume

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Speaking of anime pilgrimages in Saitama, the top destination might be Chichibu, which is the place featured in “Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day”. While in Hanno, the talk of the town is “Yama no Susume”.

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Hanno Ginza shopping street

Departing from Hanno Station, we walked through the main shopping street and arrived at Kannon Temple, one of the locations featured in “Yama no Susume”. Be sure to check out those “Emas” (small wooden plaque on which worshippers write their wishes) and a distinctive statue of a white elephant featured in the anime. Take a group photo and see how it compares with the scene in the anime!

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(C )しろ/アース・スターエンタテイメント/「ヤマノススメ」製作委員会

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Ascending Mt. Tenran for its panoramic views and autumn foliage

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Mt. Tenran (a small mountain at about 200 meters above sea level) and Noninji Temple are famous for their autumn leaves, especially when the leaves are expected to be in full glory from the end of November. Though we were here a bit earlier (first weekend of November), we still had a whole lot of fun taking loads of pictures!

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An easy autumn hiking trip to Lake Miyazawa

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Departing from Mt. Tenran, we continued our casual hiking trip to Lake Miyazawa. The air was refreshing and the forest a perfect location for taking pictures. It took us about 90 minutes to get to the lakeshore. Shall we rent a boat and fish on the lake, or take a walk along the lakeshore path? Well, taking a soothing hot spring bath maybe the first priority!

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Reminder:

  1. Get some food around Hanno Station or refuel halfway in the super market near the Seibu Railway elevated tracks.
  2. Though this hiking route is beginner-friendly, there are some up-hills and down-hills that may become slippery after raining.

Enjoy a lakeside hot spring bath

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Our last stop is Lake Miyazawa Onsen “Kirari”, a hot spring facility boasting lake views from both the open-air hot spring bathhouse and the restaurant. After refreshing our mind and body with a soothing hot spring bath and a good meal, we hopped on a bus and returned to Hanno Station. What a perfect day!

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How do you like our trip? For those interested in walking and hiking, do check out Seibu’s pamphlet for various hiking trips departing from stations of Seibu Railway. Hope it will be helpful during your next trip to Japan!

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Lake Miyazawa Onsen “Kirari”
Hours: 9:00~24:00
Admission: from 1,000 yen (towel included)
Website: click here (Japanese)

Other useful information

Hiking route and map from Hanno Station: click here (Japanese)

Bus Schedule from Lake Miyazawa to Hanno Station (bus departs every an hour or so, takes about 10 minutes and the fare is 180 yen)

Seibu Railway Walking & Hiking Pamphlet (online version)

**For more information about tourist attractions along the Seibu Railway lines, check out Seibu Railway’s English website and facebook page!

Saitama Triennale 2016

To the north of Tokyo lies Saitama City. It’s not so well known amongst tourists but there are many fun activities and green areas. It’s a fun place for a daytrip. Currently Saitama is hosting the 2016 Saitama Triennale of which one exhibition area is in Saitama City.

The Saitama Triennale 2016 has participating artists from all around the world, famous in their own country and abroad. The Saitama Triennale has become a festival to be enjoyed by all five senses. This year’s theme is “Discover the Future!”. Discover Saitama’s charm and daily life through the art’s stories. There’s an indoor and an outdoor zone so you can enjoy the artwork in many different ways.

Wattention interviewed Thai artist Wisut Ponnimit who designed the event’s mascot character “Mamuang-chan”. We talked about his work and the Saitama Triennale.

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Tam’s interview

งาน Saitama Triennale 2016

Profile

Wisut PONNIMIT (Thailand)
Born in 1976, Bangkok Thailand. Nicknamed Tam. Debuted in 1998 in Bangkok as a manga artist. He lived in Kobe from 2003 until 2006 and currently works in Bangkok. His works include the “Mamuang” series, “Blanco” (Shogakukan), “Hesheit” (Nanaroku inc.) and various manga art. He also participated in the Yokohama Triennale 2005. In 2009 “Hesheit Aqua” received an honourable mention at the Cultural Affairs Media Arts festival in the manga division. In 2015 he had a solo exhibition “MELO HOUSE” in Bangkok. Besides having done animation work, Tam also collaborated with musical artists such as “Baan” (2013) and Harada Ikuko.

About the Saitama Triennale 2016
Q: Why did you participate in the Saitama Triennale 2016?
A: It’s a big event, so I think I participated to test my own strength.

Q: How do you feel about participating in an international event like this?
A: As I thought, I’m a bit nervous to work together with the other artists. I will have to work hard on my own art as well.

About his work
Q: What’s the style of your work? / What kind of work did you make?
A: Because the theme of this exhibition is “Discover the Future!”, I created work in that image.

Q: You also designed the event’s mascot character. Could you briefly introduce her?
A: The exhibition area is very big, the event is held at various places in Saitama. There are people who come only for the Saitama Triennale 2016 so I think most of them might not be familiar with Saitama City or its station. This is why we decided to place a guide sign with Mamuang chan near the station that guides visitors to the event. Because Mamuang chan is there, I hope people won’t get lost and will feel safe.。

Q: What kind of character is Mamuang chan?
A: I think she’s a child who doesn’t overthink things too much.

Regarding his studies and living in Japan
Q: Why did you study abroad in Japan? What sparked your interest in Japan?
A: When I was a child I loved Japanese manga and this made me start working on manga. I wanted to learn more about the origin of manga and came to Japan to better understand Japanese culture.

Q: Why do you think your work is also popular in Japan?
A: I think my art pieces has something that Japanese people cannot get from their normal life. Maybe, when they see my work they feel a sense of security.

Q: For foreigners in Japan and tourists from overseas who come to see the 2016 Saitama Triennale, please share your recommendations.
A: I think it’s an interesting event because there are many artists. The entrance is free and the weather is getting cooler so I think it’s a good chance to visit Saitama. Please come and see the event.

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Like Tam said in the interview, the Saitama Triennale 2016 is a great opportunity to visit various spots in Saitama. The event’s scenery and artwork is different in every area so photography enthusiasts can also enjoy themselves as well. There are events you can enjoy together as a family, events where you can experience culture and hands-on exhibitions so please come and see them in a leisurely mood.

Near Omiya Station, one of the venues for the Saitama Triennale 2016, is a railway museum with about 36 train cars on display from the late 19th century until the latest modern bullet train. There are 5 different driving simulators such as the steam locomotive D51 (Japanese built steam locomotive) and the Shinkansen 200 series (bullet train). It’s an interactive museum where you can see, listen and touch.

Iwatsuki, another exhibition area, is the lead producer of dolls in Japan with more than 80 doll ateliers. Dolls for Hinamatsuri (girl’s festival), boy’s festival and a variety of traditional dolls have been shipped to both domestic and foreign customers. How about experiencing a doll workshop after visiting the art exhibition?

In Saitama City you can enjoy the bonsai gardens and the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, Japan’s leading bonsai museum and the host for the 8th World Bonsai Congress in 2017 (Apr. 27 -30, 2017). There are many other interesting spots in Saitama City.

The Saitama Triennale 2016 is held until December 11th. Why not make an art journey to Saitama City?

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Event Information

Dates: Sept. 9, 2016 – Dec. 11, 2016
Locations: 1) Yohonmachi Station ~ Omiya Station 2) Musashi Urawa Station ~ Naka Urawa area 3) Iwatsuki Station area
Link to the area map and access information (Japanese – English)PDF
Official website URL: https://saitamatriennale.jp/(Japanese – English)(Japanese – English)

Sanrio Puroland

I guess there are just a few people left who haven´t heard about the white fluffy cat with its big round eyes which enchants her fans since 1974!
In  the western part of Tokyo you can find an indoor theme park dedicated to Hello Kitty and her friends. Opened in 1990, Sanrio Puroland attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year.
If you want to treat your kids to a magical experience, or if you are curious about Japan´s popular characters itself, don´t hold back and immerse yourself into a whole new world full of cute adventures.

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The entrance is a huge hall decorated with lovely artwork featuring the main characters of Sanrio Puroland.

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After entering the park you will be welcomed by one of the many characters which whom you can take a memorial picture with. Further, at the merchandise and souvenir booth located near the entrance, you can transform yourself into one of your beloved characters while purchasing its characters hairband with attached ears.

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Now you will take the escalator and reach Hello Kitty´s magical world.
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Beside having the chance to take a sneak peek inside Hello Kitty´s and Little Twin Stars house, you can also make a trip through Mariland with My Melody´s newest ride attraction.

While Cinnamoroll invites you to an exciting boat ride through the world of Sanrio Characters….

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….Hello Kitty takes you to see her fantastic musical at the “Märchen Theater”.

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It´s a magical place not only for families and children, also couples and friends can enjoy a pleasant day at Santrio Puroland.

Sanrio Puroland Info:
Hours: The opening hours and closing days differ from month to month, please check the website in advance.
Address: 1-32 Ochiai, Tama, Tokyo 〒206-8588
Access: 5min-walk from Tama Center Station, Keio Line
Keio Line: Central Exit / Odakyu Line: West Exit
Tel: 042-339-1111
URL: http://en.puroland.jp/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

Welcome to Mount Oyama and its Afuri Shrine

One sunny autumn day we decided to hike Mount Oyama, located in Kanagawa Prefecture about 1,5 hours from Shinjuku Station. It takes a little while to reach the mountain foot, but the view across the valley featuring Mount Fuji is totally worth it!
The Odakyu Line brings you to Isehara Station, from there it´s a 30min bus ride until “Oyama Cable Station.” Another 15min walk along small souvenir shops selling handmade traditional goods and snacks, brings you to the actual Cable Car Station.

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The wooden plate says “Welcome to Mount Oyama, which brings nature and history together”

We arrived at the station and took the Cable Car until “Afuri-Jinja Station.”

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Ninja ID: nene16

Welcome to Mount Oyama and its Afuri Shrine

The view over the city from Oyama Afuri Shrine is very beautiful and the shrine area itself offers many things to discover.

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The shrine was built more than 2,000 years ago and its name derives from the word “amefuri” which literally means “rainfall” or “rainy weather”. That´s why mostly farmers visited the shrine to pray for rain and a good harvest.

Next to the shrine, a statue showing two children of the post war period caught my eye. The name plate says “Kagayakesugi no Ko” (輝け杉の子) which could be translated as “The children of the shining cedar”. Sugi, the Japanese cedar is the national tree of Japan. You can find it mostly around temple and shrine areas. Therefore, Sugi can also symbolize the country itself and refers to the children of the nation.

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After some research I found out that during World War II on June 30th 1944 the decision was made to evacuate elementary school children between grade three to six of Kawasaki-city (Kanagawa Prefecture). Out of those 7,100 children, 3,200 children were sent to Mount Oyama. Children from nine different schools left Kawasaki between August 21st and 24th 1944. Until the evacuation dissolution due to the end of the war in October 1945, children were sent to different places.

This statue shows these young children during the reconstruction of the country after the second world war, sending gratitude and peace into all directions of the prefecture. It was built as a symbol to commemorate 40 years of the end of the evacuation.

Welcome to Mount Oyama and its Afuri Shrine

The real hike until the top of Mount Oyama starts on the left side next to the shrine. Steep stairs lead you to the hiking trail, which takes about two hours until the summit. Since it is a very tough hike, rugged footwear is a big recommendation.

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On a clear and sunny day, you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance.

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On the top of the mountain, food and beverages are on sale, but keep in mind that it might become very pricey. We bought two bottles of water and two small portions of “Kakigori” (a dessert made of shaved ice) and paid 1,600Yen (about 15US$), which was quite a shock. The best way to enjoy the stunning view is bringing your picnic blanket, prepare a lunchbox and have a nice break surrounded by nature.

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If you are lucky you can even spot deers on your way back to the station.

Enjoy your trip to Mount Oyama!

Information

Access: From Isehara Station (Odakyu Line) it´s a 30min bus ride until Oyama Cable Station; until Afuri-Jinja Station it´s the second stop of Oyama-Cable (Last departure 4:30pm weekdays/5pm weekend/national holiday)
Address: Isehara-shi, 259-1107 Kanagawa
Ranking:
www.ooyama-cable.co.jp (Japanese only)
www.afuri.or.jp (Japanese only)

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

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Kanagawa Prefecture


51Lake Tanzawa (丹沢湖) in Ashigarashimo – Yamakita

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Access: 50min Fujikyu Shonan Bus ride from Shinmatsuda Station (Odakyu Odawara Line) into Nishi-Tanzawa Station direction until Tanzawa-Ko (direct access)
Address: Kamioda, Yamakita-mura, Ashigarakami-gun, 258-0203 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com


52Oyama Temple & Oyama-Afuri Shrine (大山寺・大山阿夫利神社) in Isehara

A photo posted by てり~ (@telliart) on

First colors: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: Oyama Temple – 30min bus ride from Isehara Station (Odakyu Odawara Line) until the terminal stop “Oyama Cable”. From there it is a 15min walk to Oyama Cable Car Station. Take the cable car for a 2min ride to “Oyamadera Station”, get off and walk 2 min to the temple grounds.
Oyama-Afuri Shrine – 6min ride from Oyama Cable Car Station to Afuri Jinja Station (2min walk)
Address: Oyama Temple, Oyama 724 / Oyama-Afuri Shrine, 355 Oyama, Isehara-shi, Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Kanagawa Prefecture


49Lake Ashi (箱根・芦ノ湖) in Ashigarashimo – Hakone

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Access: 1hour bus ride from Odawara Station (JR Tokaido Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, JR Tokaido Shinkansen, Odakyu Odawara Line, Hakone Tozan Line, Daiyuzan Line)
Address: Moto-Hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, 250-0522 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
hakone.or.jp


50Yumoto (箱根・湯本) in Ashigarashimo – Hakone

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: Hakone-Yumoto Station (Hakone Tozan Line) (direct access)
Address: Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, 250-0311 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
hakone.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Kanagawa Prefecture

Kanagawa Prefecture 47~ 54


47Miyagase Dam (宮ヶ瀬ダム) in Aiko – Kiyokawa

A photo posted by かえる (@rhacophorus101) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 40min bus ride from Hon-Atsugi Station (Odakyu Odawara Line) via the Center into Hanbara direction until Aikawa-Ohashi (15min walk); Bus from Fuchinobe Station (JR Yokohama Line) until the Tana Bus Center, from there it´s another 40min bus ride until Hanbara (30min walk)
Address: 940-4 Miyagase, Kiyokawa-mura, Aiko-gun 243-0111 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com


48Sengokuhara (箱根・仙石原) in Ashigarashimo – Hakone

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the end of November
Access: 25min Hakone Tozan Bus ride from Hakone-Yumoto Station (Hakone Tozan Line)
Address: Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, 250-0631 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
hakone.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Kanagawa Prefecture


53Zuisenji Temple (瑞泉寺) in Kamakura

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the middle of December
Admission: 200yen (adults), 100yen(children)
Access: 15min bus ride from Kamakura Station (JR Yokosuka Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, Enoshima Electric Railway) into Otonomiya direction until the terminal stop “Otonomiya” (15min walk)
Address: Nikaido 710, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp


54Sankeien Garden (三溪園) in Yokohama

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Admission: 500yen (adults), 200yen(children)
Access: Bus from Negishi Station (JR Keihin Tohoku Line/Negishi Line, JR Yokohama Line) until Honmoku (7min walk)
Address: Honmoku Sannotani 58-1, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
sankeien.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan: Tokyo

Tokyo 33~ 46


33Yoyogi Park (代々木公園) in Shibuya

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 3min walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line); 3min walk from Yoyogi-Koen Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
Address: Yoyogi Kamizono-cho 2-1, Shibuya-ku, 151-0052 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tokyometro.jp


34Meijijingu Gaien (明治神宮外苑) in Shinjuku

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Ginkgo tree row
Event: 20th Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival
Date: November 18th (Friday) – December 5th (Monday), Weekday 10am – 6pm, Weekend & Public Holiday 9:30am – 6pm (Last day until 2pm)
Access: 5-13min walk from Shinanomachi Station (JR Chuo Sobu Line), Sendagaya Station (JR Chuo Sobu Line), Aoyama-itchome Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Toei Oedo Line)
Address: Kita-Aoyama 2-chome, Minato-ku, 107-0061 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
meijijingugaien.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


35Mukojima-Hyakkaen Garden (向島百花園) in Sumida

A photo posted by こーさん (@kotyatora) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the middle of December
Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 150yen (adults), 70yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school students with residence in Tokyo
Access: 8min walk from Higashi-Mukojima Station (Tobu Skytree Line); 13min walk from Keisei-Hikifune Station (Keisei Oshiage Line)
Address: 3-18-3 Higashi-Mukojima, Sumida-ku, 131-0032 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp


36Rikugien Garden (六義園) in Bunkyo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Suikonoue, Tsutsuji tea house
Event: Daimyo Garden & Autumn Color Light-up
Date: November 19th (Saturday) – December 7th (Wednesday), sunset – 9pm
Opening Hours during the Light-up period: 9am – 9pm (last entry 8:30pm)
Admission: 300yen (adults), 150yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school students with residence in Tokyo
Access: 7min walk from Komagome Station (JR Yamanote Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line)
Address: 6-chome Hon-Komagome, Bunkyo-ku, 113-0021 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


37Koishikawa Korakuen Garden (小石川後楽園) in Bunkyo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Oigawa, Tsuten Bridge, Momiji Forest
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 300yen (adults), 150yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school with residence in Tokyo
Access: 8min walk from Iidabashi Station (Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line, Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, JR Chuo-Sobu Line, Toei Oedo Line), 8min walk from Korakuen Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line), 8min walk from Suidobashi Station (JR Chuo-Sobu Line)
Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, 112-0004 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp


38Showa Memorial Park (国営昭和記念公園) in Tachikawa

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Canal, Katarai Ginkgo Tree row, colored maple leaves in the Japanese garden
Opening Hours: 9:30am-5pm
Admission: 410yen (adults), 80yen (children), 210yen (pensioner)
Access: 2min walk from Nishi-Tachikawa Station (JR Ome Line), 10min walk from Tachikawa Station (JR Ome Line, JR Chuo Line, JR Nambu Line)
Address: 3173 Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, 190-0014 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆

showakinen-koen.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


39Tonogayato Garden (殿ヶ谷戸庭園) in Kokubunji

First colors: Middle of November until the end of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Koyo Pavilion
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 150yen (adults), 70yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school students with residence in Tokyo
Access: 2min walk from Kokubunji Station (JR Chuo Rapid Line, Seibu Kokubunji Line, Seibu Tamako Line)
Address: 2-16 Minami-cho, Kokubunji-shi, 185-0021 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp


40Road Koshu’s Ginkgo Row (甲州街道いちょう並木) in Hachioji

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Recommended Spots: Musashi Imperial Mausoleum, Ryoho-Temple
Event: 37th Hachioji Ginkgo Festival
Date: November 19th (Saturday), 9am – 5pm; November 20th (Sunday), 9am – 4:30pm
Access: 3min walk from Nishi-Hachioji Station (JR Chuo Main Line); 15min walk from Takao Station (JR Chuo Main Line, JR Chuo Rapid Line, Keio Takao Line)
Address: Higashi-Sakawa-machi 120, Hachioji-shi, 193-0834 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


42Mount Takao (高尾山) in Hachioji

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Recommended Spots: Cable car, mountain summit
Event: Mount Takao Maple Leaf Festival
Date: November 1st (Tuesday) – November 30th (Wednesday)
Place: The Mount Takao “Takao Shinrin Center”, in front of the mountain foot`s cable car station “Kiyotaki”, in front of the mountainside teahouse “Juitchome Chaya”
Access: Takaosan-guchi Station (Keio Takao Line)
Address: Takao-machi, Hachioji-shi, 193-0844 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
jnto.go.jp


43Mitake Ravine (御岳渓谷) in Ome

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spots: Around the Gyokudo Museum
Access: Mitake Station (JR Ome Line)
Address: 310 Mitake–honcho, Ome-shi, 198-0173 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pregamestraining.tokyo2020.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


44Akigawa Ravine (秋川渓谷) in Akiruno

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Around Ishibune Bridge, around Aokidaira Bridge, Kamiyozawa
Access: 15min bus ride from Musashi Itsukaichi Station (JR Itsukaichi Line) until Jurigi
Address: Akiruno-shi, 190‐0174 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
gotokyo.org


45Okutama & Okutama shore (奥多摩・奥多摩湖畔) in Nishitama – Okutama

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Recommended Spots: Mukashi Michi, Yama no Furusato Mura, Ikoi no Michi, Miharashi no Oka
Access: 20min bus ride from Okutama Station (JR Ome Line)
Address: 1740 Kawano, Okutama-machi, Nishitama-gun, 198-0225 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


46Okutama & Hikawa Ravine (奥多摩・氷川渓谷) in Nishitama – Okutama

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spots: Nippara Ravine, Hato no Su Ravine, Sogaku Ravine, Otaba River upper stream, Mukashi Michi
Access: 3min walk from Okutama Station (JR Ome Line)
Address: Okutama Visitor Center, 171-1 Hikawa, Okutama-machi, Nishitama-gun, 198-0212 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Chiba Prefecture


32Yomogi Fudo Falls (四方木不動滝) in Kamogawa

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First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Access: Bus ride from Awa-Amatsu Station (JR Sotobo Line) until Yomogi (15min walk)
Address: Yomogi, Kamogawa-shi, 299-5506 Chiba
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
city.kamogawa.lg.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Chiba Prefecture

Chiba Prefecture 28~ 32


28Hondo-ji temple (本土寺) in Matsudo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November
Access: 10min walk from Kita-Kogane Station (JR Joban Line)
Address: Hiraga 63, Matsudo-shi, 270-0002 Chiba
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor


29Narita-san Shinshoji (成田山新勝寺) in Narita

First colors: Mid November
Color Peak: Mid November to early December
Access: 15min walk from JR Narita Station or Keisei Narita Station
Address: Narita 1, Narita-shi, Chiba
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Chiba Prefecture


30Lake Kameyama (亀山湖) in Kimitsu

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 5min walk from Kazusa-Kameyama Station (JR Kururi Line)
Address: 8 Kawamata Kyukawamata, Kimitsu-shi, Chiba-ken 292-0524
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor


31Komatsu-ji Temple (小松寺) in Minamiboso

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 8min taxi ride from Chikura Station (JR Uchibo Line)
Address: 1057 Chikura-cho Onuki, Minamiboso-shi, 295-0013 Chiba
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Saitama Prefecture

Saitama Prefecture 21~ 27


21Nagatoro (長瀞) in Chichibu – Nagatoro

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spot: Around Iwadatami
Access: 5min walk from Nagatoro Station (Chichibu Railway)
Address: Nagatoro-machi, Chichibu-gun, 369-1300 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com


22Mount Hodo (宝登山) in Chichibu – Nagatoro

A photo posted by Kzm Iwt (@kzmkzmmzkmzk) on

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spot: Hodosan Small Animal Park
Access: 15min walk from Nagatoro Station (Chichibu Railway) until the ropeway Station
Address: Nagatoro-machi, Chichibu-gun, 369-1305 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.chichibu-railway.co.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Saitama Prefecture


23Nakatsu Ravine (中津峡) in Chichibu

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Access: 50min Seibu Kanko Bus ride from Mitsumineguchi Station (Chichibu Railway) until  Aiharabashi
Address: Nakatsugawa, Chichibu-shi, 369-1903 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
jnto.go.jp


24Park Togo (東郷公園) in Hanno

A photo posted by Misato Kitagawa (@misato_1966) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spots: The grounds of Chichibu Ontake Shrine
Event: Maple Leaf Festival
Date: November 19th (Saturday) – 3pm~; November 20th (Sunday) – 10am~
Details: Saturday – Jazz music beneath the maple trees, Sunday – music and dance performances; as well as food stands
Admission: 100 yen (adults)
Access: 20min walk from Agano Station (Seibu Chichibu Line)
Address: 580 Sakaishi, Hanno-shi, 357-0215 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
city.hanno.saitama.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Saitama Prefecture


25Lake Kamakita (鎌北湖) in Iruma – Moroyama

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 60min walk from Moro Station (JR Hachiko Line); 70min walk from Higashi-Moro Station (Tobu – Ogose Line)
Address: Oyagi, Moroyama-machi, Iruma-gun, 350-0452 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor


26Torii Kannon (鳥居観音) in Hanno

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Access: 40min bus ride from Hanno Station (Seibu Ikebukuro Line) until Renkeibashi (5min walk)
Address: 3198 Kaminaguri, Hanno-shi, 357-0111 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
city.hanno.saitama.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Saitama Prefecture


27Mount Tenran (天覧山) in Hanno

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November
Recommended Spots: Mountaintop, Juroku Rakan
Access: 40min walk from Hanno Station (Seibu Ikebukuro Line) ; 45min walk from Higashi-Hanno Station (Seibu Ikebukuro Line, JR Hachiko Line)
Address: Hanno, Hanno-shi, 357-0063 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Gunma Prefecture


15Suwakyo Gorge (諏訪峡) in Tone-Minakami

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First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Access: 20min walk from Minakami Station (JR Joetsu Line)
Address: Minakami-machi, Tone-gun 379-1616 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp


16Sarugakyo (猿ヶ京) in Tone-Minakami

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Recommended Spots: Around lake Akaya
Access: 25min bus ride from Jomo-Kogen Station (JR Joetsu-Shinkansen) until Sarugakyo Onsen;
40min bus ride from Gokan Station (JR Joetsu Line) until Sarugakyo Onsen
Address: Sarugakyo Onsen, Minakami, Tone-gun, 379-1403 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.visitgunma.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Gunma Prefecture


17Agatsuma Ravine (吾妻渓谷) in Higashi-Agatsuma

First colors: end of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Access: 1hour walk from IwashimaStation (JR Agatsuma Line)
Address: Matsutani, Higashi Agatsuma-machi, Agatsuma-gun, 377-0814 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp


18Kajika Bridge (河鹿橋) Illumination in Shibukawa

河鹿橋紅葉(2)(渋川市)_TN

First colors: End of October
Event: Oct 25 – Nov 13
Access: About 25 minutes by car from Shibukawa-Ikaho IC of Kan-Etsu Expressway
Address: Ikaho, Ikaho-machi, Shibukawa-shi, Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Gunma Prefecture


19Mount Haruna & Lake Haruna (榛名山・榛名湖) in Takasaki

榛名湖 (5)(高崎市,東吾妻町)_TN

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Recommended Spot: The view from Kohan no Yado Memorial Park
Access: 1,5h bus ride from JR Takasaki Station until Harunako
Address: Harunasan-machi & Harunako-machi, Takasaki-shi, 370-3348 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.visitgunma.jp


20Usui 3rd Bridge / Megane Bashi (めがね橋) in Annaka

めがね橋(3)(安中市)_TN

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Early to mid November
Access: About 15 minutes by bus from Yokokawa Station on JR Shin-Etsu Line
Address: Sakamoto, Matsuida-machi, Annaka-shi, Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Gunma Prefecture

Gunma Prefecture 13~ 20


13Fukiware-no-taki Falls (吹割の滝) in Numata

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Late October to early November
Access: About 40 minutes by bus from Numata Station on JR Joetsu Line
Address: Okkai, Tone-machi, Numata-shi, Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com


14Tanigawa-dake Tenjindaira (谷川岳天神平) in Tone-Minakami

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Access: 25min bus ride from Minakami Station (JR Joetsu Line) to Tanigawa-dake ropeway , 45min bus ride from Jomo-Kogen Station to Tanigawa-dake ropeway (Ropeway round-trip 2060 yen)
Address: Yubiso, Minakami-machi,Tone-gun, 379-1728 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tochigi Prefecture


9Setoai Ravine (瀬戸合峡) in Nikko

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First colors: Beginning of October until the middle of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Access: 1h10min Nikko-Shiei Bus ride from Kinugawa-Onsen Station (Tobu Kinugawa Line ) into Meotobuchi-Onsen until Kawamata-Heikezuka (10min walk)
Address: Kawamata, Nikko-shi, 321-2717 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nikko-travel.jp


10Mount Futara Shrine, Rinno-ji Temple, Tosho-gu Shrine (二荒山神社・輪王寺・東照宮) in Nikko

toshogu

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Event: Light-Up Nikko
Date: November 11th (Friday) until November 13th (Sunday), 6pm – 9pm  
Access: 8min Tobu Bus ride from Nikko Station (JR Nikko Line) or Tobu-Nikko Station (Tobu-Nikko Line) until Nishisando (10min walk); 20min walk from Nikko Station (JR Nikko Line) or Tobu-Nikko Station
Address: Kawamata, Nikko-shi, 321-2717 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tochigi Prefecture


11Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖湖畔) in Nikko

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First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the middle of October
Access: 50min Tobu Bus ride from Nikko Station (JR Nikko Line) or Tobu-Nikko Station (Tobu-Nikko Line) into Chuzenji-Onsen or Yumoto-Onsen direction until Chuzenji-Onsen (direct access)
Address: Chugushi, Nikko-shi, 321-1661 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com


12Ryuzu Falls (竜頭ノ滝) in Nikko

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First colors: End of September
Color Peak: End of September until the beginning of October
Access: 1hour Tobu Bus ride from Nikko Station (JR Nikko Line) or Tobu-Nikko Station (Tobu-Nikko Line) into Yumoto-Onsen direction until Ryuzu no Taki (2min walk)
Address: Chugushi, Nikko-shi, 321-1661 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tochigi Prefecture

Tochigi Prefecture 7~ 12


7Nasukogen (那須高原) in Nasu

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First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spot: Nasu Onsen Shrine, Sessho-seki
Access: 35min bus ride from Kuroiso Station (JR Utsunomiya Line, JR Tohoku Main Line)
Address: Nasu-machi, Nasu-gun, 325-0301 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
nikko-travel.jp


8Kawaji Onsen (川治温泉) in Nikko

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First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the middle of November
Event: Kawaji Onsen Autumn Color Festival
Date: November 6th (Sunday); 10am – 3 pm
Details: 8 pm – 8:30pm Firework Show
Access: Direct access from Kawaji-Yumoto Station (Yagan Railway Aizu Kinugawa Line)
Address: Kawaji Onsen, Nikko-shi, 321-2521 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
travel.tochigiji.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Ibaraki Prefecture

Ibaraki Prefecture 1~ 6


1Hanazono Gorge (花園渓谷) in Kita- Ibaraki

盛紅葉

First colors: Late October
Color Peak: Early to late November
Access: 30min taxi ride from Isohara Station (JR Joban Line)
Address: Hanakawacho Hanazono, Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.ibarakiguide.jp (Japanese only)


2Eigen-ji (永源寺) in Kuji – Daigo

永源寺(もみじ寺)

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November
Access: 10min walk from Hitachi-Daigo Station (JR Suigun Line)
Address: 1571 Daigo, Daigo-machi, Kuji-gun, 319-3526 Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.co.uk

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Ibaraki Prefecture


3Hananuki Gorge & Hananuki Dam (花貫渓谷・花貫ダム) in Takahagi

紅葉の花貫渓谷

First colors: Early November
Color Peak: Mid to late November
Event: Hananuki Gorge Autumn Foliage Festival October 29 – November 27
Access: 25min taxi ride from JR Takahagi Station
Address: Takahagi, 318-0104 Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.takahagi-kanko.jp (Japanese only)


4Ryujin Great Suspension Bridge (竜神大吊橋) in Hitachi-Ota

©常陸太田市観光物産協会
©常陸太田市観光物産協会
First colors: Early November
Color Peak: Mid to end of November
Access: 45min bus ride from JR Hitachota Station to Ryujin Otsuribashi, then a 20 min walk to the bridge.
Address: Kegano 2133-6, Hitachiota, 313-0351 Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★★☆
ohtsuribashi.ryujinkyo.jp (Japanese only)

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Ibaraki Prefecture


5Hitachi Seaside Park (国営ひたち海浜公園) Kochia plants

紅葉のコキア(写真使用の際は制限有 *下記参照)

First colors: Early October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Access: 15min taxi or bus ride from Katsuta Station (JR Joban Line)
Address: 605-4 Onuma-aza, Mawatari, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki 312-0012
Ranking: ★★★★☆
en.hitachikaihin.jp


6Mount Tsukuba (筑波山)

筑波山夕景

First colors: Mid October
Color Peak: Mid of November
Access: 40min shuttle bus ride from Tsukuba Station (Tsukuba Express Line)
Address: Tsukuba, 300-4352 Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kanto

Kanto is located on Japan’s Honshu island and consists of seven prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa. As the most densely populated area in Japan, Kanto, especially Tokyo, is the hub of culture and home to striking contrasts of modern urban advances, historical traditions and natural landscapes big and small.

Ibaraki Prefecture : Spots 1 ~ 6

Quick jump links:

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4Ryujin Great Suspension Bridge
Mid to late November

Go to Ibaraki list top

Tochigi Prefecture : Spots 7 ~ 12

Quick jump links:

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8Kawaji Onsen
Mid October to mid November
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11Lake Chuzenji
Early to mid October

Go to Tochigi list top

Gunma Prefecture : Spots 13 ~ 20

Quick jump links:

13Fukiware-no-taki Falls
Late October to early November
河鹿橋紅葉(2)(渋川市)_TN_TN
18Kajika Bridge Illumination
Oct 25 – Nov 13
めがね橋(3)(安中市)_TN_TN
20Megane Bashi
Early to mid November

Go to Gunma list top

Saitama Prefecture : Spots 21 ~ 27

Quick jump links:

nagatoro
21Nagatoro
Mid to late November
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23Nakatsu Ravine
End of October to early November
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26Torii Kannon
Early to mid November

Go to Saitama list top

Chiba Prefecture : Spots 28 ~ 32

Quick jump links:

kameyama
30Lake Kameyama
End of November to early December
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32Yomogi Fudo Falls
Mid November to early December

Go to Chiba list top

Tokyo : Spots 33 ~ 46

Quick jump links:

tokyo
38Showa Memorial Park
Early November to early December
42Mount Takao
Middle of November
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45Okutama
Early to mid November

Go to Tokyo list top

Kanagawa Prefecture : Spots 47 ~ 54

Quick jump links:

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49Lake Ashi
Early November
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54Sankeien Garden
Mid November to early December

Go to Kanagawa list top

MoCHA, the stylish cat café

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Image credit: PR Times

Japan has many cat cafés, but this chain takes it up a notch. MoCHA, reminiscent of the French word for cat “chat”, is a stylish chain in Tokyo providing both cats and visitors with a relaxing atmosphere. Cat cafés are often built to be cosy, making MoCHA unique with its trendy interior.

How does it work?

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Image credit: PR Times

Cat cafés all around Japan mostly have a similar system; you pay a set entry fee for a certain time limit (this may or may not include a drink) and you’re ready to go! Most often shoes are off limits, but this can depend on the café. The management will also ask not to pick up the cats or disturb them. These furry hosts get many visitors on one day and would like to be able to relax when needed.

Rules at MoCHA
-Don’t chase the cats
-Don’t hold the cats
-Don’t feed the cats any human food. If you want to feed them, you can buy some treats at the café
-Photos are allowed, but turn off your flash
-Don’t speak in loud voices

What makes MoCHA different?

The main concept of MoCHA is to provide a serene, healing space. MoCHA thought about both cats and humans while designing the interior. Wooden trees, fake bird cages, ladders and plants provide plenty of entertainment and relaxing space for the cats while being a treat for the human eye. Instead of regular chairs and benches there are relaxing sofas and reclining chairs.

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Image credit: PR Times

All that’s left to feel completely at ease is a kitty on your lap, and MoCHA has about 15~20 of them at every café! You can learn their names and favorite foods from one of the photo books. These adorable cat dictionaries also have baby pictures of when they were just a kitten.

Cat themed drinks

Besides offering the basic café drinks, MoCHA also has an “all you can drink” option for 350 yen. Some hot drinks come with a kitty-shaped marshmallow or snack.

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Image credit: PR Times

Starting September 2016, MoCHA is collaborating with professional marhsmallow maker “Yawahada”, creating treats based on the café’s three most popular cats, all coincidentally named after delicious food! Wasabi: a female black and white Siberian, Azuki(sweet red beans): a female calico Munchkin, and Kinako (roasted soybean flour): a male light-cream tabby Scottish Fold. For the paws you can choose between vanilla, chocolate and black tea.

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Image credit: PR Times

Information

MoCHA Shibuya

Shibuya
Image credit: PR Times

Hours: every day from 10am – 10pm (last entry at 9:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen / 10 minutes (1h stay is 1,200 yen)
Location: Asoruti Shibuya building, 8F
Access: 5-min walk from Shibuya Station
Address: 32-12 Udagawachō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0042
Characteristics: The café is like a big lounge, watching over Shibuya
URL: http://catmocha.jp/shibuya/

MoCHA Ikebukuro West

Ikebukuro West
Image credit: PR Times

Hours: every day from 10am – 10pm (last entry at 9:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen / 10 minutes (1h stay is 1,200 yen)
Location: Near Ikebukuro Westgate Park, there is a seven eleven store on the 1st floor
Access: 1-min walk from Ikebukuro Station West Exit
Address: 1 Chome-15-6 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tōkyō-to 171-0021
Characteristics: Natural materials such as wooden trees and soft ambient light give this café its relaxing atmosphere.
URL: http://catmocha.jp/ikebukuro/

MoCHA Ikebukuro East

Ikebukuro East
Image credit: PR Times

Hours: every day from 10am – 10pm (last entry at 9:30pm)
Admission: 1,800 yen general admission
Location: Sanke building 4F
Access: 3-min walk from Ikebukuro Station East Exit
Address: 1 Chome-22-5 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tōkyō-to 170-0013
Characteristics: Relaxing lounge style
URL: http://catmocha.jp/ikebukuro2/

MoCHA Harajuku

Harajuku s
Image credit: PR Times


Hours
: every day from 10am – 8pm (last entry at 7:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen / 10 minutes (1h stay is 1,200 yen)
Location: Cross Avenue Harajuku 3F
Access: Right next to Harajuku Station Omotesando exit
Address: 150-0001 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingūmae, 1 Chome−14-25
Characteristics: Refreshing green carpets, wooden trees and fake bird cages for the cats to rest
URL: http://catmocha.jp/harajuku/

My Neighbor Totoro Café in the heart of Tokyo

Hidden in the backstreets of the popular fancy Shimokitazawa Area, a small cute café called Shiro-Hige´s Cream Puff Factory attracts their customers with self-made cream puffs and cookies shaped in the silhouettes of the characters appearing in the movie “My Neighbor Totoro”.

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The entrance welcomes you with selected Totoro merchandise and the whole ambience feautures the charm of a cozy, friendly and warm home.

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On the first floor you can visit the little shop selling cookies and cream puffs for take-out.

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The filling of the cream puffs come in different flavors, two standard ones (custard & fresh cream, chocolate cream) and some which are limited to the current season (caramel banana cream: January – April; strawberry cream: January – June; green tea cream: May – August; peach cream: July – September; chestnut & chestnut cream: October – December; raspberry & cream cheese: September – December).

We went up to the second floor and where happy that a lunch and dinner menu is available as well, beside their speciality, the cream puffs.
We ordered the steak lunch together with custard & fresh cream cream puffs. (The cream puff must be ordered together with a drink.)

food

It was really good, and we couldn´t stop taking pictures of the cute Totoro-shaped goodies.


Information

Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory
Hours: 10:30am – 7pm (Closed on Tuesday)
Tel: 03-5787-6732
Access: 3min walk from Setagaya-Daita Station (Odakyu Odawara Line)
Address: 5-3-1 Daita, Setagaya-ku, 155-0033 Tokyo
URL: http://www.shiro-hige.com/ (Japanese only)

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 : Wattention reports

 

Last week Tokyo organized a new event called the Tokyo Edo Week to promote traditional Japanese dress. There were definitely more people out in kimono than usual and Wattention was there to catch them all on photo.

The stands were laid out like a traditional festival with places to sit in the middle. There were kimono shops, kimono photo studios (even a samurai one) and accessory shops. The highlight of the event was the main stage where performers showed tricks and kimono makers showed their latest creations.

Edo week 1

The workshops were given in both English and Japanese, making it easy for foreigners to participate. With easy to understand instructions everyone was able to create a beautiful souvenir to take home. The ladies here are using traditional materials to make beautiful hairpins.

workshop

sake2Guests in kimono received one of these traditional sake cups made from cypress wood. The smell of the wood was amazing and it makes for a beautiful souvenir. You could use the cup to try some of the vintage sake brought all the way from Nara. This sake is brewed with a traditional recipe, ensuring that you could drink the same sake as they did during the Edo period.

After having drunk sake from the cypress wooden cup, the smell became even stronger and sweeter.

Sake

On the main stage there was a kimono show, the miss Tokyo Edo beauty peageant and a sword demonstration. All three events were very entertaining to watch. It was very interesting to see furisode (long sleeve kimono) in one single color.

kimono

The sword show was a mix between modern dance and acted fights. It all seemed very serious at first but at the end everyone broke down in a synchronized dance. The actors looked like they were having a lot of fun on stage.

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Our last stop before it became completely dark was the Kabuki experience stand. There were various masks on display showcasing all the different types of makeup a Kabuki actor can use. The choice depends on the type of role and character.

kabuki

The Tokyo Edo Week was a great event to revive traditional Japanese culture. I was happy to see many happy foreigners at the event who enjoyed the food, workshops and shows. Here’s to hoping they organize a second edition next year.

show end

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.

239_R⑱Autumn Leaves2

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.

④Room106

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.

004_R⑲Chinese swans_

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.

⑫Restaurant Belvedere398_R

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 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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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”.

new ginger
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

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!

Edo week
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?

Crafts
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

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!

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/

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

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.

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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.

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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
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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!!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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
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Yonezawa Sirloin wrapped in Hoba Leaf | Photo Source
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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me introduce some of them.

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

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

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

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

A Day Trip from Tokyo: Chichibu

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

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

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Chichibu Meisen Exhibition Hall
Hours: 9:00-16:00
Admission: 200 yen
Website: http://www.meisenkan.com/ (Japanese only)

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

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Maruta
Hours: 11:30-17:00
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sobadokoromaruta/

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

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Chichibu Shrine
Website: http://www.chichibu-jinja.or.jp (Japanese only)

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

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Chichibu Festival Museum
Hours: 9:00~17:00 (April~November); 10:00~17:00 (December~March)
Admission: 410 yen
Website: http://www.chichibu-matsuri.jp (Japanese only)

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

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Bukou Brewing
Hours: 8:00-17:30
Website: http://www.bukou.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

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

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

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

Furugiya – Second-hand clothing shops in Tokyo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A 2-storey standalone Jumble store in Harajuku

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

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Kodona.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Contributed by Dwight Tan

Read the original articles on WAttention Singapore.

Kewpie and Veggie Buddies Cafe

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

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

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

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

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

Information

sub9Kewpie and Veggie Buddies Café
Hours: 11am – 11pm (last order: 10pm)
Access: A 10-min walk from JR Shibuya Station
Address: 2F Royal Garden Cafe Shibuya, 4-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya
URL: http://www.kewpie.co.jp/event/yasai_cafe2016/tokyo/index.html (Japanese)

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

A Day Trip from Narita Airport: Historical Chiba

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

Narita-San Shinshoji

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

URL: http://www.naritasan.or.jp/english/

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Narita-San Omotesando

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

URL: http://www.nrtk.jp/lang/en/sightseeing/02_omote.html

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Boso-no-mura

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

URL: http://www.chiba-muse.or.jp/MURA/e/

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Sakura Samurai Houses

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

URL: http://www.city.sakura.lg.jp/0000000627.html (Japanese)

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Free Tour of Narita Area!

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

URL: http://www.narita-transit-program.jp/

Running around the Imperial Palace

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

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1. Easy access

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

2. Convenient facilities

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

3. Safety

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

4. Great running course

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

5. Run with others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After finishing dinner, they saw Eddie and Pete off to the station platform, and then said goodbye.

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

Five places to enjoy the Olympics in Tokyo before 2020

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

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

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


2. Buy Tokyo 2020 official merchandises in Shibuya or Ginza

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

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


3. Experience various sport activities at Tokyo Sports Expo

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

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


4. Watch a baseball game in Yokohama Stadium

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

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

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


5. Revisit Tokyo 1964 at Komazawa Olympic Park

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

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

August 2016 Fireworks Festivals Schedule – In & Around Tokyo

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

Tokyo

The 34th Koto Fireworks Festival

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

63rd Todabashi & 57th Itabashi Fireworks Festival

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

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

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

Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival

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

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

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

Kanagawa

2016 Yokosuka Fireworks Festival

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

70th Atsugi Ayu Summer and Fireworks Festival

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

42nd Southern Beach Chigasaki Fireworks Festival

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

36th Miura Kaigan Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

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

75th Tamagawa Fireworks Festival

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

66th Shonan Hiratsuka Fireworks Festival

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

42nd Kanazawa Fireworks Festival

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

45th Sagamihara Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

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

Chiba

Teganuma Fireworks Festival 2016

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

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

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

56th Sakura Fireworks Festival

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

40th Nagareyama Fireworks Festival

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

69th Kisarazu Port and Fireworks Festival

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

Saitama

33rd Asaka Festival (Saika-Festival)

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

38th Tatara Festival & Fireworks Festival

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

Higashi Matsuyama Fireworks Festival

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

Saitama City Fireworks Festival 2016 (Higashi-Urawa Omagikoen)

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

Ninja ID: nene16


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

Shibuya’s Peko-chan Restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our stomaches were filled and the taste was really good!

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

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

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

Information

Hours: 11am – 11pm
Tel: 03-3477-2226
Access: 5 min walk from Shibuya Station (Hachiko Exit)
Address: Sanrui Building 2 F, Udagawa-cho 26-2, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
URL: http://shop.fujiya-peko.co.jp/b/fujiya/info/84129/

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

Enoshima Island Spa

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

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

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

enospa

Information

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

Beer and Soul Food @ B-1 Grand Prix Shokudo

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

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

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

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

Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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After taking the last picture together in front of Asakusa station, we said goodbye.

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

7 Great Train Passes to Save Money on Transit

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

1. Japan Rail Pass

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

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

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

www.japanrailpass.net

2. Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (Tokunai Pass)

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

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

www.jreast.co.jp

3. Tokyo Metro 24-Hour Ticket

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

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

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

www.tokyometro.jp

4. Triangle Tickets

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

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5. JR Tokyo Wide Pass

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

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

www.jreast.co.jp

6. JR West Kansai Wide Area Pass

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

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

www.westjr.co.jp

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

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

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Read the original article on All About Japan: http://allabout-japan.com/en/article/2223/

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3 Cool Countryside Day Trips from Tokyo
Where Do Old Trains Go?
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A Visit to the Kawaii Monster Café in Harajuku

Wattention staff visits the Kawaii Monster Café in Harajuku!

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This café is exactly what Harajuku stands for: crazy – psychedelic – cute – strange – spooky!

The layout of the café resembles the belly of the chopstick monster. The belly symbolises Harajuku, it creates its own crazy culture by swallowing all the world’s fashion trends and turning it into Harajuku Fashion.
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The concept of the restaurant was made by the Diamond Dining group – owner of the Alice in Wonderland theme restaurants, and Sebastian Masuda – owner of the 6% Doki Doki boutique and creator of the layout for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu´s Number one hit “Pon Pon Pon”.

While entering the café you will walk down the tongue of Choppy the monster.

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The doors open and you are in front of the cake shaped Merry-go-round called “Sweets Go Round”.

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The café is divided into four differently designed areas – “Mushroom Disco”, “Milk Stand”, “Bar Experiment” and the “Mel-Tea Room”. We were welcomed by two cute “Monster Girls” in crazy outfits and were guided to our seats in the “Milk Stand” area.

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The “Milk Stand” area features huge neon animal heads and milk bottles hanging down from the ceiling.

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The “Mushroom Disco” is a forest of mushrooms and huge flowers, with private seat areas.

 

We received the summer lunch menu and decided to go for the Colorful Pop Burger.

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The menu includes a salad, a drink, the main dish and a mini-parfait. You can choose to upgrade your dessert or drink by paying some extra money.

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While waiting for the food, a 10-minute show by the Monster Girls started in front and on top of the merry-go-round!

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The Monster Girls are wearing specially made crazy costumes in all different styles. Their stage names were Candy, Dolly, Baby, Crazy and Nasty. All of them speak English, and Chinese and Korean services are available as well.

After leaving the café you will reach the merchandise area where you can purchase a lot of Kawaii Monster goods!

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It was an interesting experience to immerse yourself into this crazy and unique world of Harajuku.

Read also: Let’s Talk Subculture Vol. 9 for a more in-depth review of the subculture behind the cafe.

Information

Kawaii Monster Café

Hours:
Monday to Saturday Lunch Time 11:30am – 4:30pm (Last Order 4pm); Dinner Time 6pm – 10:30 (Last Order 10pm)
Sundays and Public Holidays Lunch Time 11am – 8pm (Last Order 7:30pm)
Entrance Fee: 500 yen per person
Address: YM Square Building 4F, 4-31-10, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: A 7-min walk from Harajuku Station (Omotesando Exit)
URL: http://kawaiimonster.jp/pc/

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

Godzilla in Shibuya

If Godzilla were to really appear in Shibuya, we at WAttention would definitely run for our lives (or maybe not, depending on our next publishing deadline).

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Thankfully, this one is pretty harmless, even though he appears to be wrecking havoc on Shibuya Parco.

In lieu of the new Japan-made Godzilla movie, “Shin Godzilla”, Parco Shibuya had this made on their wall prior to them temporarily closing for renovations in August.

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Our only question is: why the “R”? Is it more tasty-looking? Does Godzilla has something against the “R”s of the world? Perhaps we will never know… Watching the movie and standing next to this huge wall-relief of Godzilla ripping the R off of Parco’s wall is as close as we want to be to the famous yet terrifying monster.

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

Disappearing Treasures: Fujino-yu in Yoga

Fujino-yu Facade

Not to be confused with the popular cardio exercise or spiritual practice from India, Yoga is an upscale residential district in the Setagaya ward. Tucked away in the backstreets is the Fujino-yu bathhouse which has been in operation for over 50 years. Its old-fashioned exterior is more than enough reason to stop and take a look. Just in the few minutes I was waiting outside I saw curious couples, amused passersby, and inquisitive students who came over to take a closer look.

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Welcome to a one-of-a-kind wooden bathhouse
“Back when public bathhouses were experiencing a boom, many building owners built cookie-cutter public baths on the first floor. But I wanted to create something different, something unique” says the owner Mr. yamaguchi, who has a keen eye for art and design. He used to create woodblock art, some of which you can see on the walls of the bathhouse. It is because of his unique vision and sense of design, this one-of-a-kind wooden bathhouse came into existence.

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Unlike other polished tile bathhouses, Fujino-yu has a warm and nostalgic atmosphere. Everything from the front counter, shoe boxes, lockers, doors and lounge chairs are all made out of wood.

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The wood theme continues in the wet area, where a Cypress wood bath and a unique wood pavilion become the focal point of the bathhouse.

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Another notable interior decoration are the ceramic tiles with Iris paintings. A Japanese bathhouse typically has a grand painting of Mt. Fuji on the wall, but here, an elegant drawing of Irises welcomes you at the jet baths. On May 5th (Children’s day), many people take Shobu-yu, an Iris bath to wish for longevity and good health. At Fujino-yu, everyday is a Shobu-yu day!

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Mr. Yamaguchi says that though the number of people who frequent Sento bathhouses has significantly declined, more and more young families and students are trying out Sento and enjoying the experience.

However, with this shift in demographics came a new dilemma.

Sento is a place to learn how to share and respect
Since we live in the era of abundance and cheap disposable items, we rarely have an opportunity to share things with others. But at a Sento bathhouse, we not only share the facilities, but we also share the water and even the atmosphere. Visiting a Sento bathhouse is a prime opportunity to learn how to share and respect each other.

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“When it comes to sharing, a little foresight and empathy goes a long way,” says the owner. For example, you don’t want to disturb the water, let alone swim in the water, because people are here to relax. You don’t want to get the floor soapy because other people have to walk on it. What’s normal in your household might not be the norm in a public area. You are here to witness and respect subtle and often unspoken social rules at Sento.

With that said, don’t hesitate to fully enjoy the Sento experience. If you have a question ask the person behind the counter or one of the regulars. More often than not, they are willing to answer any questions you might have and strike up a friendly conversation. What better way to learn about Japanese customs and values than to share stories and quality time together.

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The owner’s art works are on display in the lounge area.
Owl decorations
There are many owl ornaments and decorations.

Our lifestyles have been modernized and our mindset has changed. But at Fujino-yu, things have remained the same for a long time. Inside those well maintained wooden baths sits the chance to teach great values and subtle etiquette to a new generation of Sento guests.

Information

IMG_2901_RFujino-yu
Address: Tamagawadai 2-1-16, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 7-min walk from Yoga Station (Tokyu Denentoshi Line)
Hours: 3:30pm – 11pm
Closed: Friday
Admission: 460 yen

Read Also:
Disappearing Treasures: Sento, a Public Bathhouse
Disappearing Treasures: Sento Etiquette, What Not To Do Around Naked Strangers
Disappearing Treasures: Tsukimi-yu in Shimotakaido

WISE OWL HOSTELS, a special nest for night owls

When it comes to traveling, choosing the right accommodation is very important. So how do you choose the perfect place out of the sea of luxurious hotels, traditional inns, capsule hotels and airbnb hosts?

There’s now a place in Hatchobori you should give a hoot about.

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Location: Close vacinity to Tokyo sightseeing spots
The newly opened “WISE OWL HOSTELS” is a perfect central hub for sightseeing around Tokyo. Ginza, a high-end shopping district, Nihonbashi, a business area with the Edo flair, and of course, Tsukiji, the renowned fish market are all within walking distance.

IMG_2750_RWhen you get out of Hatchobori station, you’ll see an abstract wall mural created by an up-and-coming painter, Jun Inoue, on the side of the building. This place used to be a dingy old office building, but with a few innovative ideas and fresh designs, it is now a hip and modern hostel complex.

 

 

 
Facility: A cozy little nook for a good night’s sleep
Inside is minimalistic yet well designed. Compared to other typical youth hostels, WISE OWL HOSTELS has a sophisticated and grown-up feel to it. Each bed is compartmentalized with wooden walls for privacy and Simmons mattresses are provided for comfort.

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What they emphasize is not the amount of sleep, but the quality of sleep guests get. Because we all know that when you are traveling abroad, time is precious and you want to make the most of it. Would you rather sleep or go out and experience an exciting nightlife? WISE OWL HOSTELS suggests the latter.

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For those who are planning on staying in Tokyo for longer than a month, there is a spacious and upscale service apartment on the 6th floor.

Food and Entertainment: Under one roof
There are two in-house facilities worth mentioning. Located on the first floor is a “Fukurou (Owl)” restaurant. They serve Yakitori (chicken on a skewer) and Oden (winter hot pot) as well as a variety of local Japanese sake. Sharing a lively conversation with a Japanese businessman over a cup of artisan sake is an experience you can only get in Japan.

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If you are a night owl and want to mingle with the local club goers, just head downstairs to the “Howl.” A unique sound system designed with custom made vacuum amplifiers and speakers make this place stand out from the rest. It’s sure to satisfy music aficionados.

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For better or for worse, your accommodation plays a key role in making your trip memorable. Everybody has different priorities and preferences when it comes to choosing where to stay. But if you are one of those short sleepers, why not try the WISE OWL HOSTELS. Afterall, the name alone suggests that it’s a wise choice for a night owl like you.

Information

WISE OWL HOSTELS
Access: 30-sec walk from Hatchobori Station
Tel: 03-5541-2960
URL: http://www.wiseowlhostels.com/

TOKYO MIDTOWN ♡ SUMMER

Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi opened its yearly summer event last week! You can enjoy and explore five summer themed areas until August 28th.

The highlight of the event is the Summer Light Garden, which opens between 6:30pm and 11pm and shows three 6-minute light shows within one hour. The illuminations are based on the three biggest and most popular fireworks from Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture (shown from August 1st until August 14th), Oomagari in Akita Prefecture (shown from July 15th until July 31st) and Tsuchiura in Ibaraki Prefecture (shown from August 15th until August 28th).

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The representative director of Tokyo Midtown, Mr. Yasuhiro Nakamura (the person wearing a Yukata on the left) announced that this year is the 10th anniversary of Tokyo Midtown. He also shared his vision for its 20th or 30th anniversary; he aspires to change Tokyo Midtown into an even more sparkling place with the grand firwork illumination!

Next to the Summer Light Garden is the Bacardi Midpark Café. You can enjoy several Mojito drinks made with Bacardi Rum, as well as different kinds of grilled food and salads.

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If you are here with friends, why not try the the “Mega Water Melon Mojito” (5,000 yen) or the “Mega Pineapple Mojito” (2,000 yen)?

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One of the recommended food items is the BBQ plate which comes with grilled chicken, spare ribs, smoked sausage and fries (2,400 yen).

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In the vicinity, there are a lot of areas to explore. The third spot features the Ashimizu area which literally means putting your feet into the little stream, and enjoy the evening breeze and relax. The fourth spot is inside the Galleria building, where you can see about 450 wind chimes in 15 different styles. This event is called Furin Saisai. The last event features the Roppongi sprinkling water event on July 22nd, where you pour water on the streets to cool down the city.

On this map you can see the different locations of the events:

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  1. Summer Light Garden
  2. Bacardi Midpark Café
  3. Ashimizu
  4. Furin Saisai – Wind chime area
  5. Roppongi sprinkling water event

Information

Summer Light Garden
Date: July 15th until August 28th
Hours: 7:30pm – 11pm (cancelled in case of rain)
Entrance fee: free

Bacardi Midpark Café
Date: July 15th until August 28th
Hours: 5pm – 10pm (L.O. 9:30pm) during weekdays; 12 – 10pm (L.O. 9:30om) during weekend and public holiday (closed in case of rain)
Price range: drinks 500 yen – 5,000 yen, food 800 yen – 2,400 yen
Seats: 100, reservation not possible

Ashimizu
Date: July 15th until August 28th
Hours: 2pm – 8pm (cancelled in case of rain)
Entrance fee: free (optional: towel 100 yen)
Seats: 60

Furin Saisai – Wind chime
Date: July 15th until August 28th
Hours: 11am – 9pm
Entrance fee: free

Roppongi sprinkling water event
Date: July 22th
Hours: reception 5:20pm; start 5:40pm
Entrance fee: free, please bring an empty 2l bottle

Tokyo Midtown
Access:
Direct access from Roppongi Station, Exit 8 (Toei Oedo Line); Exit 4a (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)
3-min walk from Nogizaka Station, Exit 3 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
10-min walk from Roppongi-itchome Station, Exit 1 ( Tokyo Metro Namboku Line)
Address: 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 107-0052 Tokyo
URL: http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/en/events_news/detail.php?id=697

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

Q-POT Café attracts guests with their new Sailor Moon themed menu

After the popular “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” exhibition which was held until June 19th in Mori Tower in Roppongi, Q-POT Café located in Omotesando follows the hype by creating a new menu featuring the different characters of the popular Anime and Manga series.

Q-POT is more known as a jewelry brand, producing jewelries and accessories in the shapes of cookies, chocolates, and other confectioneries. A majority of their fan-base are girls who are into Lolita Fashion. For those who don’t know, this fashion style is based on Victorian clothes, featuring a knee length skirt or dress with a petticoat underneath, a frilly blouse, knee high socks, and a headdress.

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Wattention staff visited the Café on Saturday, July 9th. For now, entering the café requires you to make a reservation online. Be prepared since during this reservation process you already need to decide what you would like to eat, as well as where you would like to sit. The payment needs to be made in advance as well.

We ordered the “Pink Sugar Heart Parfait” together with the “Gift of the Moon Fairies Tea”, which comes as a set for 2,500 yen (tax not included).

DSC_0607aaThe parfait consists of a star shaped sugar paste on the top, Chibi-Usa´s accessory made of a heart jewelry shaped strawberry jelly, strawberry sorbet, a heart-shaped cookie, fresh fruits, strawberry cream, fresh strawberry purée, peach jelly, cornflakes and custard sauce. You will also receive the special designed Chibi-Moon coaster as a present.

The Tea represents the colors of the three cats, Luna, Artemis and Diana who appear in the anime. The upper part of the drink filled with fresh cream and milk comes in shape of Artemis, the white cat. The ears and the moon sign are made of white chocolate. The blueberry and cassis purée in the lower part of the drink resembles the color of Luna. If you mix the two colored ingredients together, they turn into the same color as Diana, the daughter of Artemis and Luna. Now you can enjoy a delicious blueberry milk drink.

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Specially made Sailor Moon merchandise is also available in the store.

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If you make a purchase over 15,000 yen at the Q-Pot store, you will receive one of these limited “Sailor Moon x Q-Pot” fans as a present, perfect for the hot and humid summer in Japan.

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You are welcome to take a picture together with Tuxedo Mask´s silhouette.

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The special designed mug featuring the lovely cat family can be purchased in the café. The tail of Artemis forms a Q which acts as the handle.

The Café consists of different rooms, each featuring a different theme.

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On the picture you can see the Whip Strawberry room and the Religieuse room.

Information

Q-POT Café – Sailor Moon Menu Period
Hours: 11:30am – 7:30pm (Last Order: 7pm), Closed during New Year
Tel: 03-6427-2626
Price: 1,950 yen to 3,900 yen (tax not included)
Access: A 3-min walk from Omotesando Station B2 Exit
Address: Kita Aoyama 3-10-2, Minato-ku, 107-0061 Tokyo
URL: https://www.q-pot.jp/shop/cafe/?eng=1

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

Edo Tokyo Soba no Kai : One-day soba making lesson

Become a Soba master

Love eating Soba (buckwheat) noodles? You’re not the only one, as these noodles have been a beloved specialty in Tokyo ever since the Edo period. Especially since soba is considered auspicious in Japan.

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If you’re wanting to do more than just eat soba, why not try making it? See if you’ve got what it takes to become a Soba master!
Edo Tokyo Soba no Kai is a soba making school in Tokyo that offers one-day lessons on making your own Soba by hand with English interpreters.

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Learn how to start from ground soba grains and shaping the dough to rolling and cutting. The instructors do a good job in walking you through the steps.

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And of course, afterwards you can enjoy the deliciously fresh soba noodles that you’ve made!

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Prior reservation is required. You can do that in English by sending an email to [email protected]

■Days: One-day classes are offered in English on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
■Hours: 11am–1:30pm; 3pm–5:30pm
■Address: Higashi Tateishi 3-248, Katsushika
■Access: 5-min walk from Keisei Tateishi Station (Keisei Oshigami Line)
■URL: http://www.edotokyosoba.com (Japanese)

Beautiful and Elegant: the Cut Glassware Shop Hanashyo

After 170 years, a century-old glass cutting method has been revived in Nihonbashi!

Edo Kiriko Store

Edo Kiriko, one of the finest glass cutting techniques in Japan, was established in 1834 by Kagaya Kyubei, who owned a glassware store in Edo (the city now known as Tokyo). He started adding intricate designs to glass products by using just an emery grinder. His designs were so elegant and beautiful that anybody who took a look at them were instantly captivated.

Edo Kiriko InsideThrough Edo Kiriko’s technique and its popularity quickly spread throughout Edo, unfortunately the manufacturing base moved to other locations and the Kiriko stores gradually disappeared from where it started.

But now, after 170 years since its inception, Edo Kiriko has finally returned to its original roots and opened its doors to many Kiriko admirers.

A newly opened Edo Kiriko store, Hanashyo, is not a typical glassware store. Its mission is to promote not only the products but also Japanese culture. Visitors can see how the Kiriko designs are engraved into glassware at an in-house studio or join a Sake tasting seminar using a Kiriko sake cup. Hanashyo aims to become the cultural hub for both Japanese and foreign tourists, where they can see, touch and experience this century-old Japanese craftsmanship.

Edo Kiriko

 

The pinnacle of Japanese elegance and craftsmanship, the Edo Kiriko products make a great gift for your friends at home!

Information

Hanashyo SignEdo Kiriko Hanashyo
Hours: 10:30am – 6pm (Tuesdays to Fridays), 11:30am – 5pm (Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays), closed on Mondays.
Access: 2-min walk from Shin-Nihombashi Station (JR Sobu LIne), a 3-min walk from Kodemmacho Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line), a 6-min walk from Mitsukoshimae Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line).

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

From breathtaking patterns in the sky to exhilarating festival parades, summer brings out the passion in Japan. And if our selection of top 3 Fireworks Festivals in Japan wasn’t enough for you, these 3 other selections are up to par!

Toyota Oiden Matsuri Fireworks Festival
Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture

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This up and coming festival features collaborations with the Japan Fireworks Artists Association, a synchronised “melody fireworks” show with cylinder fireworks, a wide starmine display and a 30 meter tall Niagara Falls programme.

Event information:

No. of fireworks: 13,000
No. of spectators: 360,000
Date: Jul. 31, 2016
Time: 7:10pm – 9pm
Address: Yahagi River, Shirahama Park area
Access: Take the Shinkansen to Nagoya, change to the JR Chuo Honsen line to Maetsuru, and take the Meitetsu to Toyota City Station. A 10-minute walk from the station.

Fukuroi Enshu Fireworks
Fukuroi, Shizuoka Prefecture

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A popular programme in this display is the “Japan’s Most Popular Melodies Starmine”, a fireworks display synchronised to popular tunes held by the lake. One of the few musical fireworks in Japan, it is also representative of the Tokai area (Shizuoka, Aichi, Gifu and Mie prefecture).

Event information:

No. of fireworks: 25,000
No. of spectators: 410,000
Date: Aug. 6, 2016
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Address: Haranoyagawa Water Park, 3164-1 Aino, Fukuroi City
Access: Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to the JR Tokaido Line Aino Station, and walk for 20 minutes to the venue.

Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition
Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture

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The Tsuchiura fireworks competition is said to be where the starmine firework technique began, making it the go-to place to catch the most advanced technical displays; impressing all viewers as they burst in a harmony of colours and shapes.

Event information:

No. of fireworks: 20,000
No. of spectators: 700,000
Date: Oct. 1, 2016
Time: 6pm-8:30pm
Address: Sakuragawa river banks (in the vicinity of Ohashi school)
Access: From Tokyo Station, take the JR Joban Line to the Tsuchiura West exit, and walk for 30 minutes, or take the shuttle bus from the station.

Disappearing Treasures: Tsukimi-yu in Shimotakaido

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It’s 3pm on a Sunday afternoon and the Tsukimi-yu bathhouse doesn’t open for another half an hour. Yet, there’s already a few people waiting outside to be the first ones into the hot fresh water tubs.

“This is quite typical. The regulars want to be the first ones in, especially on weekends.” The proprietor Mr. Kondo, a third generation Sento owner says as he opens the shutter door a little early. Even before stepping inside this bathhouse, I could tell that this is a place adored by the locals.

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Tucked away in a quiet residential area in Setagaya-ku, the Tsukimi-yu bathhouse has been welcoming the locals for more than 50 years. Despite its humble exterior, the bathhouse offers a wide range of baths: the onsen (hot spring), jet baths, a charcoal bath, water bath, standing showers, a sauna, and last but not least, the electricity bath.

2_shimotakaido_sento_008_RThe interior is clean and bright and the high ceiling lets in alot of air and light. Both the male and female locker areas have plenty of space to relax (there’s even an outdoor sitting area for the guys!). Not only that, they have a massage chair, coin operated hair dryer and refrigerators full of beverages. With all these amenities available for you to pamper yourself, it’s no wonder people line up outside before the doors open.

The hot spring bath is everybody’s first choice since it’s at 39 degrees (102.2℉), not too hot nor too cold, just a nice comfortable temperature. Regulars tend to congregate in this bath and chit-chat. But my favorite is the jet bath which has multiple jets aimed right at the common sore muscle areas: shoulders, backs and feets. Then there’s the mysterious and most shocking one of all,the electricity bath, with its low level of electric current running through the water. When you go in, you feel a little tingling on your skin. Some people might find it relaxing, I on the other hand, am not so sure about it…

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You can try an old-fashioned scale and hair-salon-style hair dryer.

2_shimotakaido_sento_019_RWith all the different pools, you can spend quite a long time in the bath. But the reason people keep coming back to Tsukimi-yu is not only the facilities, but also the sense of connection they get. Most of the early sento-goers are well over 70 years old. They talk, they care and they even wash each others backs. Back in the lobby, everybody gathers around a short table near an old TV like one big family.

It reminds me of the Japanese phrase “Hadaka no Tsukiai (socializing naked)” which literally means a relationship with nothing to hide. The sento culture embodies this sentiment and brings people closer together.

Even a new sento goer like myself was immediately welcomed and I felt right at home at the Tsukimi-yu bathhouse.

 

Information

shimotakaido_sento_002_RTsukimi-yu
Address: Akatsutsumi 5-36-16, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 6-min walk from Shimotakaido Station (Keio Line, Tokyu Setagaya Line)
Hours: 3:30pm – 12am
Closed: Tuesday
Admission: 460 yen

 

Read Also:
Disappearing Treasures: Sento, a Public Bathhouse
Disappearing Treasures: Sento Etiquette, What Not To Do Around Naked Strangers

Disappearing Treasures: Sento Etiquette, What Not To Do Around Naked Strangers

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In my previous article, I pointed out the struggles and hardships that Sento bathhouses face. Sadly, many of them cannot figure their way out of their predicament and are forced to close their decades-long business. There’s no quick fix to this problem, but I believe the best way to help them out is to simply go and enjoy the bath and be a good patron. So here is how to do it.

What to Bring
Though many bathhouses offer towels and shampoo for an extra charge, we all have our own favorite brands when it comes to washing ourselves. Bring along your toiletries, a wash cloth, a bath towel, change of clothes and enough money.

Check List
□ Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner and soap)
□ Wash cloth and bath towel
□ Hair tie (for long hair)
□ Plastic bag (for putting a wet towel and laundry in)
□ Money (460 yen plus little extra for refreshments)

Many of the Sento bathhouses open around 3 in the afternoon. I like to go there right after it opens so that I can be in fresh and clean water.

1 Keep Your Shoes at the Entrance
Just like in most Japanese houses, you take your shoes off at the entrance. Place your shoes in an open shoe box and lock it by pulling out the wooden key.

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2 Pay the Admission Fee
460 yen is the standard rate for Sento around Tokyo. Some bathhouses offer a steamy hot sauna service for an extra charge. Facilities are separated by gender, make sure to go to the appropriate side: 男 for Male and 女 for Female.

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3 Strip Down
After taking off your clothes, put them and other belongings in the locker. The locker key usually comes with a water resistant wristband so you can wear it while taking a bath. Now let’s go into the bath area.

4 Clean yourself
Grab a stool and a basin and find a spot where you want to wash yourself. Japanese people usually wash themselves while sitting on a stool. But if you prefer standing, some facilities offer shower rooms.

2_shimotakaido_sento_013_R5 Taking a Bath
Once you’re clean, rinse the stool and the basin well and put them back to where you found them. Check the water temperature before you go in, since it can be very hot sometimes. Keep your towel and hair out of the water to show that you wanna keep the water clean.

6. Warm Up and Unwind
From a jacuzzi to a water bath, some facilities offer a wide variety of baths. It’s fun to try them all, but be aware that taking a bath can be very exhausting. Don’t force yourself to stay in the water too long.

7. Get Dressed and Cool Off
When you’re ready to get out, wipe your body with your wash cloth so as not to get the locker room wet. Get dressed and cool off. Bathhouses usually have a lobby area where you can get drinks and icecream. Take your time and relax, even mingle with the locals.

 

So, it’s not that dissimilar to your normal shower, right? Aside from that there are bunch of naked strangers around, the only difference is that the bath is bigger and fancier. Once you try it you’ll get used to it, and perhaps, you will become fond of the Sento experience.

In the next article, I will introduce my local Sento, Tsukimi-yu.

Let’s Talk Subculture Vol. 17: Scenes From Wonder Festival 2016 Winter

[WAttention X FIELDS Research Institute] 
Explore the fascinating world of Japan’s subcultures with insights from the inside

An Otaku dream come true

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In most countries, figurines and plastic toys are for kids, but not in Japan, where it’s serious adult business.

On February 7, WAttention attended Wonder Festival 2016 Winter, an event at which both amateur and professional creators showcase their self-produced figurines. Eight halls of Makuhari Messe – Chiba’s largest convention center – were filled with figurines from Japanese anime, manga and video games, and for each model on display, at least 10 otaku could be seen examining these figurines so precious to them.

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Nowhere else in the world do you see this many adults queue for a manga or anime figurines, and that is what makes Japan fascinating and special. Even if figurines or plastic models aren’t quite your thing, a peak at this show will have you respect Japan’s dedication and love towards craftsmanship, a national trait that lives on today even if the focus is shifting from traditional crafts to otaku goods.

Without any further ado, let’s have a look around at this overwhelming event!

 

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This impressive Godzilla model takes over Wonder Festival…and your wallet if you plan to buy it!

 

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As you can see, Godzilla was not the only scary thing at Wonder Festival.
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Look, even the dealer at this booth…!

 

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OK, let’s get back to kawaii. How about these Japanese “idolls”?
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Anime figurines in flamboyant Chinese dresses

 

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Russian president in judo wear…also cute?

 

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Alice from Alice in Wonderland, but anime style. Of course, with a shotgun in her hands.

 

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Some figurines from video games you might know. From left to right: Kizuki Kokone from Phoenix Wright: Attorney Ace, Solaire of Astora from Dark Souls, and Megaman, or Rockman as he is known in Japan from the Megaman series.

 

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Let’s end this article with a cosplay girl buying a giant purple-haired head…

This article was written with the assistance of Fields Research Institute, which conducts research in entertainment.

2016 Tokyo Bay Summer Night Cruise Information

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Hop on board this definitive Tokyo summer experience!

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

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

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

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

Reservation

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

Cruise Information

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

Yukata Rental Information

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

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

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

(All rates including tax)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Information

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

The Kamakura Walking Course:

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

Disappearing Treasures: Sento, a Public Bathhouse

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

Sento, a local public bathhouse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little Mermaid themed Sweets Buffet at Keio Plaza Hotel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Round shaped rusk and Danish pastry with blueberry filling.

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

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

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

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

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

Information

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

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

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

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

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

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A romantic temple of flowers, rabbits and the moon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Information

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

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information

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

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

The Town of Sawara, Where Time Stands Still

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

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Picturesque scenery of Sawara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The shrine’s vermillion gate.

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

Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Historical Importance and Natural Beauty

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

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

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


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

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

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

Information

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

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

Eat Vegan and Gluten-free in Shibuya

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

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

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

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

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

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Kiya

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Designed by Mandai Architects

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

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

Shop Info

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

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Ninben

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

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

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

Nihonbashi Dashi Bar Hanare
Experience real “UMAMI”

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

Shop Info

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

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

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Nishikawa

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Not Resting On Laurels

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

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

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

Shop Info

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

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Nihonbashi Saruya

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

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

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

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Shop Info

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

Omotenashi Nihonbashi

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

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Time to Geisha

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


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Kimono Rental & Dressing

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


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The Way of Tea

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


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Best of Japan Gourmet Tour

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


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Culture Experience Tour & Lunch

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


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Origami Workshop

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


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Design Your Own Hanko!

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

Info

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

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Kuroeya

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

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

Shop Info

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

Bunmeido Nihombashi Café – Fit For Royal Tea –

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

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

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

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Bunmeido Premium Castella: 880 yen (tax included)

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

Shop Info

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

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Haibara

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

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Chiyogami Paper Box 864 yen (tax included)

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

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Haibara Notebook: 1,512 yen (tax included)

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Shop Info

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

Mikado Coffee – Pioneering Coffee Connoisseur –

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

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

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

Nihombashi Walkabout

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

Navigating Nihombashi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nihonbashi or Nihombashi? Why we used two different spellings

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

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

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

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

Articles using the spelling Nihombashi include:

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

Articles using the spelling Nihonbashi include:

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

Sailor Moon Exhibition at Roppongi Hills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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

Firefly Night in Shibuya

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

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

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

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

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Wind Chime Festival : Enmusubi Furin

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

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

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

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

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

Access

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

July 2016 Fireworks Festivals Schedule – In & Around Tokyo

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

Read also: The Matsuri Manual : Festival Style Guide

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

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

Tokyo

The 39th Sumida River Fireworks Festival

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

50th Katsushika Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

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

The 38th Adachi Fireworks Festival

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

Hachioji Fireworks Festival

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

Tachikawa Festival – Showa Memorial Park Fireworks Festival

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

Kanagawa

Yokohama Sparkling Twilight 2016

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


2016 Kurihama Perry Festival and Fireworks Festival

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

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

68th Kamakura Fireworks Display

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

51st Hayama Beach Fireworks Display

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

Chiba

Funabashi Festival – Funabashi Port Water Park Fireworks Display

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

38th Urayasu Fireworks Display

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

Sanmu City Summer Carnival

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

Saitama

68th Ogawa Tanabata Festival Fireworks Display

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


21st Ageo Fireworks Festival

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

2016 Saitama Fireworks Festival “Odawa Park”

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

Ninja ID: nene16


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

Morning Glory Festival

 

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

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

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

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

Access

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

Chichibu Soul Food & Shrine Tour

Just 90 minutes by train from Tokyo lies the bucolic town of Chichibu, that with its abundant nature consisting of mountains and rivers, makes for a pleasant day trip to escape the hustle and bustle of life in the metropolis.

One of the best ways to get to know a city is by its local cuisine. In Chichibu, Miso Potatoes are the soul food of the locals.

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Miso potato, a Chichibu soul food.

Potatoes are dipped in tempura batter and fried, then dressed with a sweet and salty miso sauce. Locals eat this around once a week, either buying them from the supermarket or making them at home.

Chichibu townsfolk love their miso, and are also famous for their miso marinated pork. Misoyaki butadon, or grilled miso marinated pork slices on rice, is a must-try while there.

As Chichibu is not a rice-growing region, it is famous for its soba, and there are many soba shops in town. At some soba shops you can even find the yakimiso butadon on the menu, so you can try both local specialties in one sitting.

If you are lucky, you may find stalls selling wild honey – with a bee or two soaked in the honey jar! These honey combs are harvested from the forests of Chichibu, and eating the bees is said to boost your body’s vitality!

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Honey bees in honey, a Chichibu specialty.

Chichubu Town is very walkable, so it is recommended to walk off your lunch by heading to the historical “powerspot”, the Chichibu Shrine, which was established hundreds of years ago and is one of the oldest shrines in the Kanto region.

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The many carvings on the shrine pavilion recall the World Heritage Site of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi Prefecture.

The shrine pavilion was reconstructed under the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of the Edo era. And a famous sculptor at the time, Hidari Jingoro, who worked on the Nikko Toshogu Shrine also worked on this shrine, incorporating the same techniques and style – even parodying the famous “See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil” monkeys with a trio that are depicted with their eyes, ears and mouth wide open!

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Dakota, Lisa, Daniel and Emily in Marunouchi & Harajuku

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

We received a guide request from four university students, Dakota, Lisa, Daniel and Emily from Edmonton, Canada. They wanted to enjoy biking around the Imperial Palace and visit somewhere locals like. It was their first time to come to Japan, so we, Shota Asaka and myself, Yuka Takada, took them to some exciting places in Japan! We first met up with them at Yurakucho Station.
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First, we went to Tokyo International Forum, which stands between Tokyo Station and Yurakucho Station, and is a multipurpose exhibition center. When we got there, we found out that a flea market was being held, so we strolled around for a bit before heading for the Forum Art Shop. Not only does it sell souvenirs of Japan, it also sells so many kinds of goods from all over the world! Then, we headed to the museum of Aida Mitsuo, a famous Japanese poet, which was located in the same building. All of his poems were translated into English. They all seemed to be interested in them and read them closely. There was also a place to experience calligraphy, and they tried to write some of their favorite characters with a brush. I wonder if they were able to create precious memories there.
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Next, we headed for Tokyo Station to have Soba for lunch. They all had never tried Soba before, so they looked at the menu thoroughly. We all ordered either cold or hot Soba, and some of us ordered it with a mini Tendon. Before we started to eat, Shota and I taught them a little about Japanese manners. We taught them the words “Itadaki-masu,” and “gochisou-sama”, polite phrases that Japanese say before and after eating, that is said with our hands put together to express our gratitude for the meal. I think one of the good points of traveling with locals is that you are able to learn things regular tour guides probably don’t tell during their tours.
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After having lunch, we walked towards the Imperial Palace to go biking. The weather was pleasant and the wind felt so good.
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Lastly, we went to Monster Café in Harajuku. It is really popular even among tourists from other countries these days. The ornate and unique inside of the café surprised all of them! We ordered a big parfait with five colored whip cream and ice cream. They all looked like they enjoyed Japanese “Kawaii” culture a lot there!
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After taking one last picture together, we hugged, shook hands with each other, and said goodbye.
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This is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide. We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!

Restaurant Review : Penguin Bar

Near Ikebukuro’s West Exit is a bar with some very special dining guests, penguins. The Penguin Bar offers you the experience to enjoy a drink and eat some food while watching penguins frolick in the water. Wattention staff went to check out this unusual Penguin Bar.

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The bar itself is not that spectacular, but it’s the penguins who are the main attraction. There is the option to only have a drink, eat from the menu or take one of the bar’s course plans. These plans start at 3,000 yen per person for students and include a 4-course meal with free drinks for two hours. That’s a great deal for a fancy bar in Tokyo!

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The napkins are folded in penguin shapes, which added some cuteness to the whole penguin theme. TV-screens on the ceiling play documentaries about penguins on loop. Don’t worry about coming to this bar if you can’t speak Japanese, the staff can provide an English menu. After ordering your food you are free to go look at the penguins and take photos.

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The portions were smaller than expected but the food tasted very good. Even after leaving the bar I still had a nice taste in my mouth.

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The penguin bar is a nice novelty bar in central Tokyo for the true penguin lovers out there. They offer reasonable dining courses for dates, friend’s night out and parties. Seats at the Bar are limited, so come on time if you want to have an amazing evening with penguins.

Access

Cosmy 1 1st floor, 2-38-2 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo

Opening Hours : 18:00 – 04:00

Admission fee : 800 yen + one drink per person

Notice: the bar does not serve special dinner plans during Golden Week and other public holidays.

Website: http://www.penginbar.jp/en/

Visiting the crow gods of Mt. Takao

50 Minutes from Central Tokyo is a beautiful mountain called Takao. It is said to be the home of crow-gods called Tengu and has many temples scattered on the hiking trails up to the top.

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The main trail takes about 90 minutes to get to the top but you can half this time by taking either a cable car or chairlift to the first temple stop. I recommend walking the whole way because you get to admire the scenery at your own pace and you come across some interesting good luck rituals. Not to say that the cable car and chairlift have an average waiting time of 40 minutes on busy days, the exact same time it takes you to walk the distance they cover. The paths are all paved and even beginners can take on this climb.

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Change the kanji on the wheel to the body part you want healed

The most important temple on Mt. Takao is Yakuoin. This Shinto-Buddhist temple is protected by Tengu and just like the mountain trail it features various rituals for good luck, health and wealth. Yakuoin is believed to have been built in 744 during the Nara period on the orders of Emperor Shomu as a base for Buddhism in Eastern Japan. Over the years Mt. Takao got known as a sacred mountain, but is most famous for being the home of Tengu, long-nosed beings with crow features. They serve as messengers of the deities to ward off evil and protect the good. Their fan sweeps away misfortune and brings good luck.

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rituals

On your way further to the top you will encounter a monkey park, various food stalls and more shrines and temples. Once you reach the top you have a beautiful view of the area. If you have time, visit the visitor center at the top to learn about the wildlife living on the mountain. During the winter period you have the chance to see the famous “diamond Fuji” if you arrive on the mountaintop in the early morning.

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If you’re more adventurous, you can take a different trail back down. The signboards are very easy to follow so you can change routes whenever you see a fork in the road. One of these routes takes you deeper into the mountain forest, along narrow pathways and a suspension bridge.

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After your long hike, congratulate yourself with a meal of Tororo Soba, the local specialty. Tororo is grated mountain yam and it is delicious in combination with the soba and raw egg.

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Access:

From Shinjuku station : 50 min with the Keio Line to Takaosanguchi station, 390 yen

The foot of the mountain is a 10 minute walk from the station and the route is marked with signposts.

 

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

Hellish Hot Pot @ The Lockup

This winter, prison themed restaurant The Lockup offers a new super spicy nabe (hot pot) menu from hell for their fearless guests. Are you brave enough to try its burning hot soup with so much chili it looks like a bloodbath?

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Meticulously decorated like the setting of a horror movie, not only the food, but also the staff are waiting to torture and suffocate you, so be prepared!

 

The Lockup Shibuya Outlet

Address: Utagawa-cho 33-1-B2 Shibuya

Hours: 5pm-1am (5pm – 4am on Fridays, 4pm – 4am on Saturdays and the day before public holidays, 4pm – 4am on Sundays and public holidays)

Souvenir Vending Machine

Need a last-minute Japanese souvenir but the stores are all closed? Japan has the answer! Just like there are many different vending machines in Japan such as for drinks, snacks and even vegetables there is now a Japanese Souvenir Vending Machine. Located in a side street of Shibuya, this vending machine sells products such as origami earrings and decorative kimono cloth. If you’re a late-night shopper in Shibuya and someone’s birthday is coming up, this vending machine might just be a lifesaver.4 5

 

Express Sushi in Shibuya

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Today WAttention headed to Sushi-Nova, a new sushi eatery that opened just this September by the United Nations University on Aoyama-dori Street. Though considered a kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) store, this high-tech restaurant delivers your sushi express upon ordering on the touch screen panel.

Lunch Set D, 1,000 yen
Lunch Set D, 1,000 yen

Not only is the sushi very fresh and tasty for a kaiten sushi restaurant, the lunch sets are also very reasonably priced, ranging from 800 – 1,500 yen. Anago (eel) lovers will want to be sure to try the lengthy cuts here.

Large anago (eel), 360 yen
Large anago (eel), 360 yen

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Sushi-Nova Aoyama Oval Bldg Store
Hours: 11am – 11pm, Last Order 10:30pm
Address: Jingumae 5-52-2, Shibuya

Secret Spot – Meguro Sky Garden

This secret garden in the middle of Tokyo is the perfect hideout during Golden Week.
Enjoy the view over Tokyo in a relaxed atmosphere above the busy city-life.
Meguro Sky Garden is located in Ohashi, Meguro-district, just one train stop away from Shibuya station.

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The garden opened in 2013 and won the Good Design Award because of its special shape. It is built on the roof of the Ohashi-Junction, which connects the express highways Central Circular Route C2 and the Shibuya Route 3. Even though the park is located directly on the top of the highway, you cannot hear any sounds of traffic at all!

The garden is divided into different areas that you can enjoy, such as the garden of four seasons, the community space, the amusement area or the chill-out area.

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The loop-shaped garden area is about 7000m² wide and 400m long, while the elevation differs from 11 to 35 meters above the ground.

Here you can see the view of modern and traditional Japanese elements which are set up next to each other.

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You can also enjoy viewing beautiful flowers, trees and plants all year round.

Thanks to the big number of benches and green areas, you can help yourself to a nice picnic or view the cherry blossoms during spring time.

On a clear, sunny day you can catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, as well as Tokyo Tower from the top of the park.
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Garden details:
Address: Meguro Sky Garden
1 Chome-9-2 Ohashi,
Meguro, Tokyo 153-0044, Japan
Opening hours: 7:00 ~ 21:00
Entrance: Free
Access: It is a 3min walk from Ikejiri Ohashi Station on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line.

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

Detective Conan Café in Shibuya

Detective Conan celebrates his 20th anniversary as an Anime in 2016!

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Detective Conan follows the story of a talented and renowned high school detective named Shinichi Kudo. He got in the way of a criminal syndicate, known only as the “Black Organization” who attack him and force him to swallow a drug called “APTX4869”, that transforms him back into a child. He assumes a fake name: Conan Edogawa and while keeping his true identity hidden, he continues to solve cases.

To celebrate the new movie, Detective Conan: The Pure Black Nightmare (released on April 16th), Detective Conan Cafés were opened in various locations throughout Japan (Nagoya・Hiroshima・Tokyo・Yamagata (until May 8th) , Osaka (until June 19th)).

WAttention staff visited the one in Shibuya, Tokyo.

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You should plan some extra time for lining up, especially during lunch and dinner time because it might be crowded.P1020514

The front of the Café is features the main characters of the Anime.

At the takeout stand you can buy éclairs wrapped and shaped in the image of the “APTX4869”, the drug which transformed Shinichi into a younger version of himself.

After entering the Café you can take a commemoration picture at the photo spot with Conan and his rival Kaito Kid.

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The windows at the back of the Café have “Mori Detective Agency” 毛利探偵事務所 (Mori Tantei Jimusho) written on them, just like in the Anime.
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The whole theme of the Café is inspired by London, the home town of Sherlock Holmes, another famous detective character created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Detective Conan chose the same name as the author of the detective whom he admires so much.

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The walls are covered with pictures of the characters.

The time limit for staying at the Café is about one hour.
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The menu is divided into savory dishes, sweet desserts and drinks. Every dish is connected to the Anime.

We decided to order “Danny’s Special Chicken Curry” together with “Haibara & Ayumi´s homemade Black Curry”.

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Every savory dish comes with a 2.5 dimensional figure which you can collect and also purchase in the merchandise store in front of the Café.

For dessert, we ordered the “Tropical Strawberry Parfait”….

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…and the “Conan Caffè Cappuccino”, which is designed with either Conan´s or Kaito Kid´s silhouette.

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As a present you will receive a specially designed coaster.

After eating, you can buy limited merchandise at the official “Conan Café Shop”.

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There is a variety of goods that you can choose from. Your purchase will be then put into a limited paper bag with the new movie’s commercial image and the logo of the Café.

 

Café details:
Café Manduka (Detective Conan Café + Detective Conan Official Shop)
Lumine Man Shibuya 1st floor
Jinnan 1-22-11, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo 150-0041
Opening period: April 8th ~ May 8th
Opening hours: Café 11:00 ~ 24:00 (last order 22:30)
Shop 11:00 ~ 21:00
Access: 2min walk from JR Shibuya Station – Hachiko Exit.
Website: http://www.conancafe.jp/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

Meisen – The Funky Kimono

The “Meisen” style silk kimono was the most popular garment during the 1920’s and 1930’s when people still wore kimono daily. It is very different from all the other kimonos which always had a “classy” feel to them. Meisen kimonos were worn as every day wear at home and to do daily tasks. The main characteristic of Meisen is its pattern, made by pre-dyed threads. As the fabric is woven the surface decoration appears as a shimmering, soft-edged pattern. Because of the events such as World War I and the Kanto earthquake of 1923 the price of silk fell heavily and the production and popularity of meisen kimono was at its height. Meisen kimono were affordable, durable, smart attire for everyday wear. Their crazy patterns are very similar to current modern art paintings.

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Chichibu Meisen

In Chichibu city, Saitama prefecture, there is a special type of Meisen weaving called Chichibu Meisen. This technique involves first weaving the main color and then loosening the fabric to weave the pattern on top. They even have a museum dedicated to the craft where you can try your hands at this special weaving technique (http://www.meisenkan.com/). Because the fabric has same patterns and same looks on both sides, it can be turned inside out when one side becomes dirty.

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Wattention staff had the chance to try on real Meisen haori (kimono jacket) from the collection of Kimura Kazue, a cheery lady living in Chichibu city. Parts of her collection have been on display around the world and she has appeared in some kimono magazines. If you want to learn more about kimono and all the rules involved, Wattention has a handy five-part starter’s guide to kimono.

Access to Chichibu Station from Tokyo

80 minutes from Ikebukuro station with the Limited Express train to Chichibu station.

 

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

Farmer’s Market @ UNU

One of the best ways to enjoy traveling abroad is to engage with the local culture; live like the locals and eat like the locals. By doing so you can experience the real, unfiltered lives of local people. What they say is unrehearsed, what they wear is everyday clothes, not high fashion or traditional costumes but outfits they feel comfortable in. The stories they tell you will be about their own lives and families. They might even share their sorrows and concerns.

When you engage with the locals, you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for that culture. The destination you visited and the souvenirs you purchased become more meaningful and important because they remind you of the people you met and experiences you gained.

While there a many fascinating tourist spots you can visit in Tokyo, there are also numerous local favorites as well. One of them is the Farmer’s Market @ UNU which is held almost every weekend. Stalls of fresh produce and regional delicacies crowd the open area in front of the United Nations University. Farmers, crafters, and food vendors from all over Japan gather here to sell their specialties.

Farmer's Market is held every weekend at UN university.
Farmer’s Market is held every weekend at UN university.

Many locals come here to get regional goods. They are fresher and perhaps cheaper (depending on what you buy) than those at the local supermarkets. You can even sample some of the food before purchasing.

A variety of tomatoes are out for anybody to try.
A variety of tomatoes are out for anybody to try.
Colorful display of fresh fruit right from the farm.
Colorful display of fresh fruit right from the farm.

Asking questions is always a nice icebreaker as most of the vendors are happy to answer any product related questions. They might not be able to answer you in perfect English, but their earnestness and sincerity always translates their good intentions.

 Adjacent to the Farmers Market is the Antique Market where you might be able to find century-old treasures and rare items. The Antique Market is held every weekend as well.
Adjacent to the Farmers Market is the Antique Market where you might be able to find century-old treasures and rare items. The Antique Market is held every weekend as well.

For those who are staying at a hotel in Tokyo, I recommend some fresh fruit or ready to eat vegetables to try out. I have nothing against restaurant-prepared food, but what better way to appreciate local delicacies than tasting fresh produce harvested that morning.

Tokyo offers many things. Temples, which give you a glimpse into a long gone history, fashion that can show you the current and emerging trends, but a local marketplace filled with regional cuisine invites you to experience the real, here and now everyday life of normal people and a few curious tourists.

Farmers Market @ UNU is open every Sat. and Sun. from 10am to 4pm.
For more information visit http://farmersmarkets.jp/

The White Heron Dance

In Japan, the white heron is seen as a special bird because it can move between three elements: air, earth, and water. The bird can also be seen as a sign of good luck and a bringer of good harvest.

Shirasagi-no Mai, which translates to “White Heron Dance,” is an ancient Japanese dance that almost died until its resurrection in November 1968 by the Asakusa Tourist Federation. They did this to celebrate Tokyo’s 100th year anniversary as the capital of Japan. (The previous capital being Kyoto.) The dancers make slow, graceful movements that reproduce the elegance of Heian manners (late 8th to 12th century Japan).

Shirasagi-no Mai is performed twice annually at Senso-ji, in Asakusa, on the 2nd Sunday of April and on November 3rd. The dance is usually performed twice. Once around 10:30am and a second time around 2pm.

The procession is made up of six dancers dressed as white herons, one baton twirler, one bird feeder, and one parasol carrier.


The dance starts really slow with short and strong movements. The music describes the movements and the dancer’s timing is impeccable, it is not difficult to imagine them as birds. During the dance, the bird feeder moves around and throws confetti at the dancers.

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After the dance. The audience hurries to the confetti to pick them up as good luck charms. Then the procession starts again and leaves the stage.

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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

【TOKYU HANDS × WAttention】Top 5 Puzzle and Toys

TOKYU HANDS is “THE ONE-STOP SHOP” chock-full of all kind of goods such as kitchen utensils, beauty goods, stationery, bags and tools, joined by fun discoveries and surprises. Visit TOKYU HANDS and gain a better understanding of today’s Japan.
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In this article, we bring you TOKYU HANDS’ Top 5 Puzzle and Toys!

rankNo. 1: nanoblock® “Tokyo Tower”

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Take home a piece of Tokyo! Or make that 390 odd nano-sized pieces of Tokyo Tower – perfect to remember your trip by!

Price: 1,998 yen (including tax)
Category: Block
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Great for those with dextrous hands! The minute size of this toy belies the enormous sense of achievement after completing it.”

 


 

rankNo. 2: Fridgeezoo HOGEN

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©創通・サンライズ

Are you one of those people who open the fridge and then forget what you were looking for? Or had no idea why you opened the fridge in the first place? These little fellas live in your fridge and start talking at you once they sense the fridge door is ajar – be it from telling you to shut the door quickly, or a warm greeting to perk you up (you can choose from different characters and Japanese dialects!), you’ll never go home to a quiet fridge again.

Price: 2,036 yen (including tax)
Category: Toy
WAttention Editor’s comment: “You’ll find yourself talking back to these little fridge friends and their wisecracks!”

 


 

rankNo. 3:Meta Nano “Gundam Gold”

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Be amazed at the laser-cut precision of the pieces in this premium gold metal that click in place to form a perfectly-detailed Gundam figurine. A perfect gift for those who love Gundam and assembling their own toys. When using an exclusive LED light up stage, a fantastic scene can be produced.

Price: 3,240 yen (including tax)
Category: Figure
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Own a lightweight version of this heavyweight figure in the anime world with this great souvenir!”

 


 

rankNo. 4: fuchico

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©タナカカツキ/KITAN CLUB

With over 10 million figurines sold, fuchico is a big hit in Japan. This miniature office lady will do her best to hang on to your cup and keep you entertained with her cuteness. If you are lucky enough to get a fuchico doing an acrobatic move, you can marvel at her skills.

Price: 216 yen (including tax)
Category: Toy
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “The phrase ‘hang in there’ when work gets tough just got a new meaning.”

 


 

rankNo. 5: Wooden Art “KIGUMI”

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“Kigumi” literally means “assembled out of wood”, and that’s exactly what this wooden 3D puzzle is. Fun to build, easy to assemble and fascinating to look at, put the wind back in your sails with this wooden sailing ship model!

Price: 4,104 yen (including tax). The other models are priced at 1,404 to 8,640 yen each.
Category: Toy
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Makes for a great talking piece for the office or home!”

 


 

TOKYU HANDS -Shinjuku Store-

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

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

スクリーンショット 2016-02-17 9.32.40

Five things to do at Fuji Five Lakes

Mt. Fuji is closer to Tokyo than you think, and on a sunny and clear day you can even see its top from certain viewpoints in the capital. Take a bus from Shinjuku and you will see Mt. Fuji in about two hours. But what do you do around Mt. Fuji besides admiring its beautiful blue color? WAttention gives you Five things to do at Fuji Five Lakes!

1) Flower Viewing

Spring is the perfect season to visit Mt Fuji. You can’t climb the mountain during this period but you can visit the many flower festivals that generally run from mid-April until the end of May. The three best flower viewing spots are:

  • The Fuji Shibazakura Festival (04/16- 05/29)
  • Grinpa Tulips Festival (04/16 – 05/29)
  • Oshino Ninja Village (04/23 – 05/08)

WAttention staff had the chance to visit the Fuji Shibazakura Festival to see the beautiful pink flowers and the equally beautiful pink desserts. The flowers weren’t in full bloom yet, but this year the image created in the flowers is a dragon.

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Besides flower viewing you can enjoy delicious Mt. Fuji-exclusive food or a relaxing foot bath.

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Access: Take the Mt. Fuji Explorer bus from Kawaguchiko station to visit all the flower viewing areas. They have regular stops.

2) Go Cave Diving

The Fuji Five Lakes area has many national forests you can explore by yourself or with a guide. A unique location is the cavernous area near Aokigahara forest. The most visited caves are the Wind Cave, Ice Cave and Bat Cave (no, sadly we did not see any traces of Batman). The Wind Cave was used as a natural refrigerator in the old days and also stored silkworms. The cave has a year-round temperature of 0 to 3 degrees C making permanent ice a common sight.

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After a visit to the caves you can stop by the nearby tourist shop and eat some corn ice cream. This sweet treat has a unique flavor and is a must try if you’re into strange flavors. Once you’re all rested up, feel free to explore the surrounding forests which have been untouched for many years. The bus station near the caves has a Tourist Information Center providing maps with ideal hiking routes and viewpoints.

Access: Take a bus from Kawaguchiko Station in the direction of Lake Motosuko and Shin-Fuji Station. For the Ice Cave get off at Hyoketsu and for the Wind Cave at Fuketsu bus stop. The ride takes about 15 minutes one way.

3) Ride a Hippo

Yes, you heard that right. There is a hippo near Mt. Fuji, more specifically at Lake Yamanaka. Actually, it’s not a real hippo. It’s an amphibian bus named after a hippo, but still very amazing nonetheless! The bus first takes you for a short ride in the area and the bus guide will give you some quiz questions about the area, Mt. Fuji and fun facts. Don’t worry if you don’t speak Japanese, the questions are also provided in English, Chinese and Korean.

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The bus drives all the way into the lake giving you a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji. This is a truly unique photo opportunity. The most exciting part of the ride is when the bus drives into the lake, creating a big splash!

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Access: 30 minutes on the Fujikyu Yamanashi bus from Fujikyuko Kawaguchiko Line Fujisan Station bound for Asahi-oka.

4) Enjoy Roller Coasters and Sweets

Next to Mt. Fuji is an amusement park full of Guinness World Record holding rollercoasters. Fuji Q Highland has the 5th longest rollercoaster in the world, the rollercoaster with the world’s fastest acceleration time, one of only two “4th dimension” rollercoasters in the world and the rollercoaster with the steepest freefall in the world. If that hasn’t convinced you to go nothing will. Next to the park is a natural hot spring (Onsen) and a little town that replicates Paris with amazing sweets shops. Artisans from Japan and France have created delicious sweets combinations for you to enjoy.

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Paris

 

Access: There is a special 7,300 yen Fuji Q Pack with a free return bus trip, park entrance fee and a Free Pass for all the rides in the park. Buses leave from Shibuya, Tokyo, Yokohama and Shinjuku station. Depending on where you leave it takes between 100 and 150 minutes to reach Fuji Q Highland.

5) Scenic Train Ride

Last but not least is a brand new Scenic Train that rides around the Mt. Fuji area. The Fujisan View Express takes about an hour to go from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko and makes stops at Mt. Fuji and Fuji Q Highland. Riding this train all the way is definitely worth it. The interior gives a nice old-timey feeling and the windows are big enough to see the surrounding nature – and Mt. Fuji – clearly. If you book the “Sweets Plan” for 4,000 yen you can ride first class while enjoying a specially designed “sweets only” Mt. Fuji bento box. There is a bar on the train with drinks that all passengers can visit.

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Access: Main stations for this train are Otsuki and Kawaguchiko. The train makes three rides every day.