【TRAVEL Q&A】Enjoy Japanese firework festivals to the max with this must-know info!

21.July.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

From July to August, firework festivals spring up all over Japan. Firework festivals are one of the things that are heavily associated with Japanese summers. This article is here to provide useful information so you can make the most out of them. We’ll also provides ome tips on what to bring!

 

Things you should know about firework festivals in Japan

Toilets

The toilets surrounding the venue are usually congested – for males and females, so it’s best to go before getting there. If you make it to the venue and need to go, make sure you go before the display begins so you don’t miss anything!

Finding a good spot

For any fireworks event, it’s best to get there between one and two hours early so you can nab a good spot!

IC Card charging/ Purchasing travel tickets

After the event, the train stations closest to the event are always going to be crowded with people, so before setting off for the festival, make sure your IC card is fully charged, or that you already have all your tickets for the journey there and back.

 

What to bring

What should you bring to fully enjoy a pleasant evening of fireworks?

1.  Leisure sheet

You can purchase tickets for special seating to enjoy the show, but many decide to sit on the ground by reserving a spot with a leisure sheet. To ensure your clothes don’t get dirty, make sure you bring this sheet with you! We recommend buying one in advance from a 100 yen shop. It is possible to get these from a convenience store, but they may sell out on the day of the fireworks event so it’s best to get one in advance.

2. Wear long sleeves!

It is usually very humid on a typical Japanese summer’s day, but depending on the weather and the location, it can get rather chilly at night. There’s also a possibility that ash and remnants from the explosions above your head can fall from the sky and onto you. That is why we recommend long-sleeved clothing. You could also wear a Yukata or bring a blanket.

3. Bring insect repellant and itch relief medicine

At firework festivals, many insects lurk in the grass upon which you are sat or near water. Make sure you have your creams and medicines at the ready to prevent a mosquito attack and to soothe the aftermath. You can also purchase these at drugstores or convenience stores near train stations.

4. Food and alcohol

Indulging in food and alcohol whilst watching a fireworks display is one of the finest experiences you will ever have. Usually, there are food carts and stalls selling food and drinks that were prepared specifically for the occasion. We would recommend that you have a taste of these, howeverthey will be crowded. For those of you who hate queuing, it is best to buy your snacks and drinks in advance. Be aware that supermarkets and convenience stores close to the event will also be crowded.

So, what do you think? If you’re well prepared then you can really make the most out of your night – get to it! ♡

 

If you have any questions about Japan, send us a message on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/msmsnippon/

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  • Travel Q&A: 10 Rules & On-the-House Services at Japanese Restaurants

    19.April.2018 | FEATURES / FOOD

    Restaurants in Japan have a very different list of rules, on-the-house services and etiquette standards compared to other countries. If you enter a restaurant when in Japan without knowing some of these things you might make a mistake!

     

    We’ve put together a list of 10 important points to learn before dining out in Japan.

     

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    1.Don’t give tips

    The fact that you don’t need to give tips as restaurants in Japan can be bewildering to some foreign tourists. In Japan, there’s normally no service charge, unless it’s a high-end restaurant, in which case it’s possible that a service charge will be added. If you force a tip on the staff, they will get told off by their superiors later, so keep that in mind.

     

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    2.Watch out for ‘Otooshi’

    Otooshi, also known as tsukidashi, are small appetizers served at bars and establishments that sell alcohol, particularly izakaya. They will be served event if you didn’t order them, and you can be charged for them. There are numerous reasons they give for serving ootoshi, such as ‘proof that we have taken your first order’ and ‘something to eat while you wait for the first food to come out.’ Lots of tourists not accustomed to this practice have felt cheated.

     

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    3.Water is free

    When you sit down at a restaurant in Japan, you’ll be served water. Many tourists are surprised at the fact that cold water is served all year round the majority of the time in Japan. There are also establishments that serve free hot green tea instead of water.

     

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    4.The unexpected things are expensive (or cheap)

    It’s not rare for things like delivery pizza or Korean pork belly BBQ, which are extremely cheap and common foods in other countries, to be expensive in Japan. On the other hand, you can eat Japanese foods like sushi, tempura and ramen at a very cheap price.

     

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    5.You order alcohol first at an izakaya

    It’s not a set rule, but generally when you go to an izakaya, ordering a drink gives you plenty of time to read through the menu. Beer is often ordered before anything else. There’s even a set phrase for it, toriaezu biiru (‘[I’ll have] beer for now’). Try saying it in Japanese when you’re at an izakaya.

     

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    6.All-you-can services

    Restaurants in Japan often have all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink services. If you pay a set price, you can eat or drink as much as you like. Many places offer this service, including, but not limited to, izakaya, yakiniku restaurants, and sushi bars. We recommend this to people who want to pay a little to get a lot!

     

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    7.Oshibori are free

    Oshibori, or moistened towels, are given for free at Japanese restaurants. They are wet towels used to wipe your hands and face before a meal. Depending on the restaurant, you may be given a cold or hot towel. Staff at izakaya will also hand them to you. A lot of tourists praise this service as high quality.

     

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    8.Rules and menus are different at fast food restaurants

    International restaurant chains like McDonald’s and Subway are of course in Japan too. If you’re a tourist bored of Japanese food, you’ll probably want to eat something familiar like fast food. In those times, you’ll be baffled by the differences between a fast food joint in your own country and in Japan. For example, in the case of McDonald’s, the Japanese large-sized drinks are smaller than the medium-sized drinks in the US. There’s also no self-service. Instead, the staff will pour the drink for you.

     

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    9.You cannot take food into restaurants (though there are exceptions)

    One rule that puzzles a lot of people from Asia that come to Japan is the rule that states you cannot enter a place with food or drink. However, select establishments, such as food courts in large shopping malls, will permit you to do so. Be sure to do some research beforehand.

     

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    10.Take your shoes off on tatami

    At izakaya and traditional Japanese restaurants, they implement customary Japanese style seating and tatami flooring. If you’re dining at a place with tatami mats, you must take your shoes off before stepping on it. The table seats and tatami are split into different areas even if it’s the same restaurant, so even if it’s OK to wear your shoes at table seats, you’ll need to take off your shoes when using tatami in most cases.

     

     

    Did you learn something new? Sit alongside the locals when you come to Japan and enjoy some delicious Japanese cuisine!

     

    If you have any questions you want answering about Japan, then please be sure to get in touch with us on the MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON Facebook page!

    https://www.facebook.com/msmsnippon/

  • 【TRAVEL Q&A】From Shinjuku to Hakone Hot Spring via Odakyu “Romancecar” Line!

    14.February.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Hakone, Kanagawa is one of the most popular “onsen” (hot spring) towns in Japan. The area is popular among both Japanese people and tourists from foreign countries since it is close to Tokyo and has many sightseeing spots such as Ahinoko (lake), Owakudani (valley) and Hakone Chokoku no Mori Museum.

     

    There are several ways to go to Hakone but I recommend using the “Odakyu Romancecar” (limited express train) run by Odakyu Dentestu which departs from Tokyo. It takes about an hour and 40 minutes and you can go to Hakone direct. In this article, I will inform you of how to ride on the “Odakyu Romancecar” to go to Hakone.

     

    1: How to ride Odakyu Romancecar?

    Let’s get tickets first. The tickets you must buy are “Joshaken (normal fare)” and “tokkyuken (limited express surcharge).” The “Joshaken” is an Odakyu Dentetsu limited ticket and the fare differs according to the station that you will get off at. “Tokkyuken” is a ticket you must buy when riding on a limited express train which means you must buy this ticket in addition to the “joshaken.” There are three ways to buy these tickets.

     

    1) Making a reservation/purchasing the ticket via the Internet

    2) Making a reservation/purchasing the ticket at a ticket counter/ticket vending machine

    3) Making a reservation on the telephone.

     

    Making a reservation by telephone is not recommendable for those of you from foreign countries since English-speaking staff are not available.

     

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    2: How to but a ticket via the Internet?

    Using e-Romancecar is recommended when using the Internet to buy a ticket. As a matter of course, you can use a credit card on this web site. You can ride the Romancecar by just by handing out the printed sheet or showing the screen of your smart phone to the staff at the ticket counter. If you are planning to just make a reservation (not paying the fare) on the web site, you must pay the fare by using the ticket vending machine or at the ticket counter before getting on the Romancecar. It is recommended that you buy your ticket beforehand if the date that you are going to Hakone is decided.

     

     

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    3: How to buy a ticket/make a reservation via the ticket counter at the station?

    The ticket counter is normally open from 6:30 to 21:00. The ticket vending machines can be used any time (except for when the trains are not running) but credit cards cannot be used. You can purchase tickets for up to 8 persons at once using the vending machine. So, those of you who are planning to go to Hakone with a group of more than 9 people you must purchase your tickets at the ticket counter.

     

     

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    4: Let’s get on to the Romancecar!

    Now let’s learn how to get on a Romancecar. There are several types of Romancecars available – MES (Type 6000), VSE (Type 50000), EXE (Type 30000) and LSE (Type 7000). The fares for all types are the same. You can eat a limited-“bento” (box lunch) if you make a reservation 3 days (AM) before you ride the Romancecar.

     

    Why not experience a ride on the “Romancecar” and enjoy the hot springs in Hakone. Wishing you a pleasant trip! MMN will introduce to you many kinds of “Q&As in Japan.”

     

    If you have any questions, feel free to send a message to MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON’s FB account!

    https://www.facebook.com/msmsnippon/

  • Travel Q&A: What’s The Cheapest Way to Get to Central Tokyo From Narita Airport?

    10.February.2018 | SPOT

    Airports in Japan are typically quite a distance from the heart of Tokyo metropolis. There are various ways of getting to the center of the capital including by train, bus and taxi.

     

    But which is the cheapest?

     

    We compared various methods of transportation, taking into account their prices and time taken to get to central Tokyo. Let’s take a look.
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    1: By Train
    JR Narita Express (N’EX) – 54 minutes
    Narita Airport→Tokyo Station (¥1,320〜¥3,020)
    The JR Narita Express, also known as N’EX, conveniently connects Narita International Airport with major urban areas in Tokyo including Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Yokohama. All seats are reserved, but if you purchase a ticket to ride in the Ordinary Cars (not the first class Green Cars), you can ride at a cheap price.

     

    Website: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex/ (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean)

     

    Keisei Skyliner – 40 minutes
    Narita airport→Nippori Station (¥2,465)
    To board the Keisei Skyliner, purchase a ticket from the ticket office or automatic ticket machine by the ticket gates at Narita International Airport. All seats are reserved, so you are guaranteed a seat. From Nippori Station, you can board the Yamanote Line and head to central Tokyo, Ueno, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and other major urban areas in the city.

     

    Website: http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/skyliner/ (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean)

     

    Limited Express via Keisei Main Line – 1 hour 16 minutes
    Narita Airport→Nippori Station (¥1,025)
    This method of transportation takes the longest amount of time, but it’s also the cheapest. There are no station changes on the way. Before you reach Nippori Station you will stop at Oshiage Station, where you could get off to stop by Tokyo Skytree and Asakusa.

     

    For other routes, visit the Narita Airport website below where you can search how to get from Narita Airport to  your destination.
    http://access.narita-airport.jp/en/index.html (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean)

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    2: By Taxi (¥29,050 approx.)
    Narita Airport→Tokyo Station – 2 hours 34 minutes approx.
    Compared to other methods, the price of commuting via taxi is expensive, but you don’t have to worry about having to buy a ticket and there are also no waiting times. You can also stop off somewhere you like on the way and enjoy yourself until you reach your hotel or accommodation.

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    3: By Limousine Bus (¥2,800)
    Narita Airport Terminal 2→Tokyo Station Yaesu Central Exit – 1 hour 35 minutes approx.
    The limousine buses arrive every 20 minutes or so at Tokyo Station and Narita Airport. You can book a seat in advance or on the day. The bus also goes through many popular tourist spots such as Ginza, Shibuya and Asakusa. It takes longer than the train, but you’ll arrive at your destination without worry of getting lost or getting off at the wrong stop.

     

    Website: http://www.limousinebus.co.jp/route/index.html (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean)

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    Was this information helpful? If you’re commuting from Narita Airport, then be sure to use it as reference.

     

    MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON will continue to answer frequently asked questions about Japan. If you have any questions about Japan, then be sure to send us a message via the official MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON Facebook page!
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  • Japan Q&A: Get the most from your Tokyo sightseeing with a 1-Day Travel Pass

    09.February.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    When you’re in Tokyo, the main method of transportation for getting around the city’s 23 wards is via the subway – specifically, via JR, Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway. Each of these services offer their own affordable 1-day travel tickets that can be used across all lines, making them a useful tool to have. Let’s take a look at some of the questions regarding 1-day passes.

     

    5 Must-Haves For Tokyo Sightseeing!

    To make the most of your Tokyo trip, we recommend one of the following five 1-day passes for efficient travelling. You and board and get off as many times as you like, so there’s no need to worry about extra fees – you can tour all of the sightseeing spots at your own leisure.

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    • JR East Japan – Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass (“Tokunai Pass”)

    The “Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass” is a day ticket that allows unlimited rides on local and rapid JR East trains around the 23 special wards of Tokyo. You are free to sit in any seats excluding reserved seating, and can even board the shinkansen within the designated area. The Tokyo Metropolitan District Pass can be purchased inside JR East Japan stations, ticket windows, the Travel Service Center (View Plaza), and travel agencies. It’s ¥750 for adults and ¥370 for children.

     

    • Tokyo Metro 24-hour Ticket

    This ticket enables unlimited rides on all Tokyo Metro lines. Costing just ¥600 for adults and ¥300 for children, tickets can be bought in advance or on the day at ticket vendors located in all stations. Not only can you visit Tokyo’s 23 special wards, but the ticket also covers the commuting distance of Saitama and Chiba too, making it convenient for amusement and business. With this in hand, you can travel to any of the major areas.

     

    • Toei One-Day Pass (“Toei Marugoto Kippu”)

    A Toei One-Day Pass gives you unlimited access to the Toei Subway, Toei buses, Toei Streetcar (Toden), and Nippori-Toneri Liner. It’s ¥700 for adult and ¥350 for children. An additional fee is required for night buses to make up the difference – ¥210 for adults (¥206 with IC Card) and ¥100 for children (¥103 with IC Card). Tickets can be bought in advance or on the day at a ticket vendor located inside all stations.

     

    • Common One-Day Ticket for Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro

    The Common One-Day Ticket allows unlimited use of the Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro Subway Lines for an entire day. It costs ¥900 for adults and ¥450 for children. Tickets are available to purchase from automatic ticket vending machines at all Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro Subway stations, as well as Narita Airport and Haneda Airport. This ticket allows free travel from Narita Airport and Haneda Airport to Tokyo’s 23 special wards and the commuting distance of Saitama and Chiba. This one’s a real bargain!

     

    • Tokyo 1-Day Ticket

    As well as the Toei Subway, Toei buses, Toei Streetcar (Toden), Nippori-Toneri Liner, and all Tokyo Metro lines, the Tokyo 1-Day Ticket can also be used on the JR Lines around Tokyo. You can ride and get off at all the major locations in Tokyo for one whole day. At just ¥1,590 for adults and ¥800 for children, this ticket is very affordable. Available at automatic ticket machines at all stations. We recommend this one for people looking to travel across a wide distance.

     

    Tokyo Sightseeing With Private Railways? Take These 2 With You!

    Private railway free passes are a super handy tool to have if you’re heading somewhere JR and subway tickets don’t cover. They’re convenient for access from the inner city to the Shitamachi areas, and are pefect for exploring those hidden, tucked-away gems.

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    • Tokyo Exploratory Ticket (Tokyo Tansaku Kippu)

    Not only does this ticket give discounts on round-trip ticket fares from Keio Line, Inokashira Line, Tobu Isesaki Line and Tsukuba Express to the inner city, it also offers unlimited rides with Toei all day. That includes Toei buses,  Toei Streetcars (Toden), Nippori-Toneri Liner, and of course the Toei Subway. If you hold a Tokyo Exploratory Ticket, you can also receive discounts and gifts from facilities along each Toei line. These services are located at all manned stations on all lines. Please be aware that prices and the system changes depending on which station you purchase the ticket from.

     

    • Tokyo 1DAY Kippu

    This ticket comes as a set: a round-trip ticket from all stations on the Keikyū Main Line to Shinagawa, and unlimited rides with Toei. If you hold a Tokyo 1DAY Kippu, prepare to receive discounts and gifts at popular facilities and spots around Tokyo. This ticket can be purchased at all stations on the Keikyū Main Line barring Sengakuji Station and costs ¥900 from Shinagawa, ¥1,130 from Yokohama, and ¥1,700 from Yokosuka-Chūō.

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    Was this article helpful? Be sure to get the most out of your Tokyo trip by getting the right ticket for you.

     

    MMN will continue to answer your questions about Japan in our “Japan Q&A” series. If you have any questions regarding Japan, then please be sure to get in touch with us on Facebook♪

    https://www.facebook.com/msmsnippon/

  • 【Travel Q&A】Step-By-Step Guide to Praying Etiquette at Japanese Shrines & Temples

    31.December.2017 | SPOT

    Visiting shrines and temples is one of the must-do activities when visiting Japan to really experience the traditional culture. But did you know there are certain rules to follow when praying at a shrine? But do not worry, it’s actually quite simple. We will walk you through the process step by step so you know exactly what to do when you arrive at a shrine or temple during your trip to Japan.

     

    1:Shrines? Temples? What’s the difference?

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    First of all, let’s clear up the difference between a shrine and a temple. Temples came from countries such as China and India to spread Buddhism. They are places to worship Buddha and are installed with statues of Buddha. Buddhist monks live to spread the teachings of Buddhism. Inside the temples are bhikkhu (monks), bhikkhuni (female monks), temple masters and more who enshrine the image of Buddha.

     

    Related article:【Tokyo Stroll】Strolling around Asakusa for half of the day finding the stereo typical sightseeing spots and new spots.

     

     

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    On the other hand, shrines originated from primitive, scared altars such as “iwakura” (sacred rocks) and other places where the gods are said to live – places where people cannot enter. They were temporarily erected during special occasions. Shrines that you see today were not originally a permanent structure. Their origin is different from those of temples that came from abroad. Shrines originated in Japan and their history there goes back further than Buddhism, making them much different from temples.

    Related article:Visit Temples and Shrines, and Collect Goshu-in!

     

     

    2:So, how do I pray?

    There are several steps to follow when praying at a temple or shrine in Japan. These steps may also differ from temple to shrine, so be sure to check properly before starting.

     

    Shrines & Temples

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    Praying

    The general starting point is to throw some money into the offertory box. Most people throw in a ¥5 coin. This is because “5 yen” in Japanese is pronounced “go-en,” which is a homophone with the word for “good luck” (ご縁).

     

    Bell

    If there’s a bell positioned above the offertory box, then be sure to ring it by shaking it back and forth. This is done to call the gods to the shrine.

     

    Can I take photos

    Many places will not allow you to take photos. Be sure to check thoroughly whether there is a warning sign or not. Even if you see people taking photos, make sure to check for yourself.

     

    Related article:【Tokyo Stroll 】A power spot at the heart of Tokyo? Half a day at Meiji Shrine!

     

    Shrines & Temples

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    “Temizuya”

    The first thing you’ll find when arriving at a shrine and many temples is the “temizuya” (water purification basin). This is where you wash your hands and rinse your mouth to cleanse yourself before praying.

     

    There are several steps to follow:

    1) Hold the ladle with your right hand and wash your left hand – then do the opposite.

    2) Take the ladle with your right hand and scoop some water. Pour the water into your left hand and rinse your mouth with it. Make sure to never bring the ladle to your mouth. Spit the water next to the fountain, never directly back into it.

    3) With the ladle still in your right hand, rinse your left hand one last time. Done.

     

    Praying at a shrine – bowing and clapping

    1. Come before the shrine, perform a light bow and ring the bell.
    2. Toss your money into the offertory box.
    3. Perform 2 deeper bows (30°-45° angle), bring your hands to the front of your chest, pray, then clap twice.
    4. Finally, bow deeply one last time, and you’re done!

     

    Temples

    Praying at a temple – bowing

    1. Perform a light bow, throw your money into the offertory box and ring the bell.
    2. Bring your hands to the front of your chest, pray, and perform a final light bow.

     

    What’s the best way to tell if you’ve come to a shrine or temple, I hear you asking? If you passed under a “tori” on your way in, you’re at a shrine. They’re usually red and look like big gates with two main pillars. If you passed under a “sanmon,” you’re at a temple. These are often complete with a roof and look like mini-temples in their own right. The praying process at shrines and temples are much different so be sure to check where you are first!

     

    Temples

    Incense

    Some temples have an incense holder stationed outside, where you can purchase your own bundle of “osenko” (incense) to burn. If you’re lighting your own incense, be sure to put out the fire by hand and never blow it out. But before you do, make sure you wave some of that incense smoke onto you as it’s said to have healing powers! If there’s a weak part of your body, too, then be sure to try it out.

     

     

    3:What’s a “Goshuin”?

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    Goshuin

    The must-do popular thing right now is collecting “goshuin” (red seal stamps). These stamps are given at shrines and temples to show that you have visited those places. In addition to the shrines’ and temples’ unique seals, specially trained writers will write the name of the shrine or temple, the date at which you visited and sometimes other information, all in calligraphic writing. One of the reasons for the goshuin popularity is for the artistry behind it all as the penmanship and designs are different depending on which place you visit. Whether you visit the same place twice or just the date is being written for you, each and every goshuin entry has its own unique characteristics and feeling put into the characters depending on the person writing for you, meaning your entry will be the only one of its kind in the world. You will require a goshuin stamp book to receive a stamp entry. They are sold at many of the popular shrines and temples.

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    We have an article about collecting cute goshuin on the MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON website so be sure to check it out!

     

    Related Article: 【Tokyo Stroll】 Lost in a world of shrine arches and lucky sand! Head to Anamori Inari Shrine near Haneda airport!

     

    Was our guide useful? We hope you use it for reference when visiting shrines and temples in Japan.

     

    MMN will continue to answer questions related to Japan and Japanese culture. If you have any questions about Japan then be sure to hit us up on our Facebook page!

    https://www.facebook.com/msmsnippon/

  • 【TRAVEL Q&A】What is Hatsumode? Q&A regarding Japanese year’s end and New Year’s holiday customs

    30.December.2017 | FEATURES / SPOT

    The year’s end and New Year’s holiday of 2017/2018 for most people will be from the 29th of December to the 3rd of January. In this article, I will introduce to you some year’s end/new year’s holiday customs in Japan.

     

    What do you have to be aware of when traveling during the year’s end/New Year’s holiday?

    Many stores and facilities are closed during this season. Make sure to check out the websites of the places that you want to visit beforehand.

     

     

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    What is hatsumode?

    “Hatsumode” is a New Year’s custom where people visit shrines and temples to wish for a good year. After offering prayers at temples/shrines, many people buy paper fortunes or amulets. To offer a prayer, visit shrines or temples. Each shrine/temple is considered to have different “powers” such as prosperity in business and success in academic learning so make sure to check out which shrine/temple suits your wishes. It is also fun to buy food/goods at stalls and it is recommended to eat some food like yakitori (grilled chicken), yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) and cotton candy. Don’t forget to wear warm clothes when visiting a shrine/temple.

     

    Detailed information RE how to offer a prayer:https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/68492

     

     

    Some customs during New Year’s holidays

    There are some traditional decoration items for the New Year’s holidays.

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    ・Kadomatsu

    Kadomatsu is a New Year’s decoration made of bamboo and pine tree branches and it is often decorated at the entrance of the house. Kadomatsu is thought to be an earmark decoration at the entrance of a house so that the Gods can come to one’s house directly.

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    ・Kagamimochi

    Many Japanese believe that the Gods visit one’s house on New Year’s Day and kagamimochi is an item to welcome the gods. It is said that kagamimochi should be prepared before the 28th of December. The Gods will come to your house when the sun rises on the New Year’s Day so make sure to prepare it before the 28th. Kagamimochi must continue to be decorated until the 11th of January.

     

     

     

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    Shinkansen bullet trains are very cworded!

    Since many Japanese people meet with their family members during New Year’s holidays, shinkansen bullet trains can become very crowded. Therefore, it is recommended that you make a reservation in good time.

     

     

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    What are hatsuuri and fukubukuro?

    The word “hatsuuri” means the first sales in the New Year. Many stores sell fukubukuros (lucky bags with random products). By purchasing such a bag  one can try their luck. Usually, you cannot see what is inside the fukubukuro but some fukubukuros includes expensive items which means you have a chance to buy something expensive at a very low price.

     

     

    What do Japanese people eat during year’s end and during the New Year’s holidays?

    そば

    ・Toshikoshi Soba (buckwheat noodles)

    “Toshikoshi soba” is a food which Japanese people eat on New Year’s Eve for good luck. The origin of this custom is unknown, but some people say this custom has the meaning of “severing bad luck by eating easy to break buckwheat noodles” or “wishing for longevity by eating long noodles.” You can eat these buckwheat noodles warm as in “kakesoba” or cold as in “zarusoba.” However, make sure to finish your noodle dish before New Year’s Eve ends because it is said that eating toshikoshi soba after crossing over into the New Year brings bad luck.

     C789_ebitoosechiryouri_TP_V

    ・Osechi

    Osechi is a multitiered box filled with food which brings good luck. Each food/ingredient brings a different kind of luck such as a rich harvest, perpetual youth and longevity and prosperity of descendants.

     

    ・Ozoni

    Ozoni is a shoyu/miso flavored soup with mochi (rice cakes) inside. The shape of the mochi and ingredients differ depending on the house or the local area.

     

     

     

    How did you like this introduction to New Years customs? Let’s have a wonderful trip during this coming holiday season.

RELATED ENTRIES

  • Japan Coronavirus: Room for Rescue Project Provides Free Accommodation to Foreigners Who Can’t Get Home

    01.May.2020 | SPOT

    With flights cancelled around the world, it is becoming increasingly harder for foreigners to return home from Japan, resulting in them being forced to change their plans, extend their stay, and live every day in stress and uncertainty. To lend a helping hand to foreign travellers in this stressful time, three accommodation companies Slacktide Co., Ltd, Shared Value Co.,Ltd. and Life Bonds, LLC, who manage Kaname Inn Tatemachi, Sakura Cross Hotel and BONDS HOUSE respectively, have launched a joint accommodation project called “Room for Rescue” which provides free accommodation to international visitors who cannot return home as a result of the current travel restrictions.

    This collaborative project was launched to ensure that foreign travellers don’t feel like their trip to Japan was a bad experience, which could be a reason to avoid visiting Japan again in the future and heavily impact the tourism industry.

    Tokyo:BONDS HOUSE

    Tokyo:Sakura Cross Hotel

    Kanazawa: KANAME INN

    Currently, three accommodations in Tokyo and one in Kanazawa have opened their doors to stranded foreigners.

     

    Room for Rescue: Request a Room

    https://kaname-inn.com/room-for-rescue/

     

    To apply for a room, you need a valid visa and a cancelled flight ticket which meets Room for Rescue’s criteria. For more information, please refer to the application page. The Room for Rescue project is also looking for more accommodations to join the fight against coronavirus and open their doors to stranded foreigners. If you own an accommodation in Japan and want to help foreign travellers, please apply using the link below.

     

    Become Part of Room for Rescue (for accommodation owners)
    https://kaname-inn.com/room-for-rescue/contact/

     

    If you are an individual who wants to support this project, please consider donating via their crowdfunding page mentioned in the information section below.

  • Kyo no Ondokoro Marutamachi: Rent An Entire Kyoto Townhouse to Yourself

    01.April.2020 | SPOT

    Kyo no Ondokoro Marutamachi is set to open in the Goshominami area of Kyoto on April 25, 2020. The single-accommodation hotel is a complete renovation of a traditional Kyoto-style townhouse.

    Kyo no Ondokoro Marutamachi comes as the 7th branch of hotels from Kyo no Ondokoro. It’s a single building to rent for up to 4 people, who can enjoy taking a soak in the man-made carbonated spring bath which is kind to the skin and hair, using the soft water shower, and getting ready in the spacious makeup corner. It’s the perfect getaway for girl groups travelling together.

    The hotel is in a convenient location for sightseeing in the ancient capital of Kyoto. The building has been completely renovated to adapt to modern lifestyle while still retaining those traditional elements of a Kyoto townhouse that was built during the Meiji Periodーand in an area that’s rich in traditional scenery.

    The lounge space sofa seats are inspired by Japanese rock gardens

    The lounge space, which connects the second-floor bedrooms and the washitsu Japanese-style room, are furnished with unique round sofas. All the rooms open up to each other so guests can enjoy the company of each other during their travel stay.

    Hinoki cypress artificial carbonated spring bath

    Amenities

    The round bath is made from hinoki cypress, and the carbonated water lets you stay glowing and nice and warm after you step out of it. The bathroom is also stocked full of amenities like shampoo courtesy of popular brand THREE.

    Up to four people can apply their makeup together in the makeup corner

    The makeup corner is big enough to sit four people so they can get ready for their day or night out together while chatting.

    Colourful art pieces also adorn the walls of the makeup room, Japanese-style room and elsewhere to add a touch of beauty to them.

     

    If you’re planning a trip to Kyoto with the girls then why not book at Kyo no Ondokoro Marutamachi when it opens on April 25?

  • Pan Am to Release Travel Inspired Clothing Collection in Collaboration with MIZUNO

    22.March.2020 | FASHION

    Japanese sportswear brand Mizuno is collaborating with Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) to release a clothing collection called “52 Collaboration with PAN AM” in their “Go to by mizuno” series of lifestyle attire for active adults at the end of March. It will be available in Mizuno stores, Mizuno’s official online shop, and pop-up shops in Japan.

    Travel is the theme of the collection, and is the first co-developed line-up from “Go to by mizuno.” It incorporates the functionality of sportswear while promoting the fun and excitement of travel.

     

    What is Pan Am?

    Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was at the forefront of the airline industry during its 64-year run. It was the first company to adopt the Boeing 707 when it ordered 20 of them for commercial use in 1955. It became the world leading airline in both name and reality in the 1960s. In 1972, Idlewild Airport (now John F. Kennedy International Airport) became a hub for Pan Am, and they also set up a company building in Manhattan. The airline is still fondly remembered today, and is sure to be a name mentioned by those who have travelled around the world.

     

    Collaboration Items

    The clothing line-up of 38 itemsーspanning T-shirts, caps, socks, travel bags, and moreーfeatures the Pan Am logo and is made from waterproof and stretchy sports clothing that can be used for everyday wear.

  • World’s Largest Athletic Tower Banpaku BEAST to Open at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park in Osaka

    14.March.2020 | SPOT

    Banpaku BEAST is set to open as the largest athletic tower in the world at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park on March 15, 2020, standing 24 meters tall.

    The hexagonal tower was created by German-based amusement park attraction developers KristallTurm. It has four floors, each of which is its own “athletic area,” as well as an observation deck. It is a comprehensive workout tower, offering 120 different kinds of athletic activities such as climbing and slacklining, meaning the fun will never end in a single day, and will have you wanting to go back for more.

    The tower makes use of its full height; expect to use your entire body during your ascension, ride barrels, bikes, and more. Safety is guaranteed while still offering a heart-racing experience for those thrill-seekers. The facility can be used by both kids and adults alike who want to test themselves and feel refreshed after a good workout.


    See Banpaku BEAST in action in the official video above.

  • MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS Opens Sentō Bathhouse and Sumō-Themed Fusion Accommodation Called ‘DOSUKOI’

    09.March.2020 | SPOT

    MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS is located in the heart of Harajuku’s tourism welcomes travellers from all over the world to immerse in Japanese culture in a way they’ve never experienced before. The cherry blossom-themed accommodation SAKURA is a blooming success throughout the year and ORIGAMI’s mesmerizing and clever designs never fail to make tourists crease their necks in amusement. 

     

    The third Japanese culture accommodation has stomped into MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS as a fusion of sumō wrestling and sentō bathhouse culture called ‘DOSUKOI’. The word dosukoi is phrase that sumo wrestlers shout out to get hyped up – perfectly summing up your excitement as you explore this spectacular fusion world from corner to corner. From a giant sumō hand to a historical sentō bathtub with a magnificent mural artwork scenery, the entrance, living room and sentō-style bathing area is overflowing with originality.

     

    Living Room

    The entrance to the living room is themed around a sentō bath. The tiled roof and traditional entranceway noren fabric dividers will be the first thing to welcome tired travellers. 

    A giant sumō hand overshadows the light on the ceiling, representing the tsuppari striking technique used by sumō wrestlers. The furniture, including the soft sofa, rug and chairs, is white and beige to represent the colour of the sumō ring. 

    The relaxing room is punctuated with powerful illustrations of sumō wrestlers that cover the wallpaper. 

     

    Bathroom

    The round bathtub is made from Japanese cypress wood and is large enough to fit 3-4 people – perfect to soak off your tiredness with friends and family. A large wall painting (mural)  of a grand ocean view dominated by Mount. Fuji stretches across the wall. A purple curtain is suspended above the circular bath, representing the mizuhikimaku curtain which hangs above a sumō ring. 

    The dressing area is equipped with a fridge and chair like a traditional bathhouse. DOSUKOI guests will also find complimentary bath salts which are a gift.

    The grand mural is an original piece by Kiyoto Maruyama – one of Japan’s three remaining sentō mural artists. This graceful painting was created using a large and smaller brush. As you admire the bold colours and fine details of this rare art, which is fading away as society progresses, you will be sent on a journey back through time. 

     

    Bedroom

    The spacious sleeping area consists of two levels, each of which has enough room for two people to sleep. The room also has another bed in storage, meaning that up to five guests can stay. 

     

    Sink and Toilet

    The separate sink area is equipped with a hair dryer. There is also a Japanese Washlet toilet with multiple functions. 

     

    Amenities and Extras

    The kitchen is fully equipped with cooking utensils, a microwave, refrigerator and all the daily essentials. 

    After a long, relaxing hot soak, put on a light yokozuna yukata robe and you’ll feel just like a sumō champion. There are also many amenities and items that fit with the DOSUKOI theme. 

    MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS isn’t just a hotel but is also the perfect party space for you and your friends to get together. As the cold days are still with us, how about warming up in a toasty sentō-style bathtub with your friends?

  • Kyoto Aquarium to House 20 Types of Jellyfish With New ‘Jellyfish Wonder’ Area

    29.February.2020 | SPOT

    Kyoto Aquarium is currently undergoing a large-scale renovation and is set to reopen on April 29, 2020.

    When it reopens, visitors will be able to visit the new jellyfish area, called “Kurage Wonder” (Jellyfish Wonder), which will span 350㎡ in width and 40 meters in length. It will house the largest number of different species in western Japanーup to 20ーwith around 5,000 individual jellyfish to see, like the northern sea nettle and pacific sea nettle.

    The area begins at 10 individual water tanks where you can see how moon jellyfish change and grow. It then moves onto the 6.5 meter circumference “GURURI” panorama tank which offers a 360° view of 1,500 moon jellyfish.

    This tank is entered through an arch, which once you pass through leads you under the tank where your vision is filled with the sight of countless moon jellyfish.

    The new “Kyoto Jellyfish Research Lab” has also been built where guests can observe the staff breeding and researching jellyfish on a day-to-day basis. Enjoy hearing how the jellyfish are cared for behind the scenes while chatting together with the staff. Various other activities you can participate in will be introduced in the future too.

     

    Discover the wonderful world of jellyfish at the newly-renovated Kyoto Aquarium.

  • Tokyo Tokyo Official Souvenir Shop Opens in Haneda Airport

    27.February.2020 | SPOT

    Tokyo Toyko, a website that provides information on things to do in Japan’s capital, opened its own souvenir shop, called Tokyo Tokyo Official Souvenir Shop, in EDO KOJI on February 22, 2020, which is located on the fourth floor of Haneda Airport International Passenger Terminal.

    As part of an effort to promote the appeals of Tokyo to the world, Tokyo Metropolis is carrying our PR work and branding with the catchphrase “Tokyo Tokyo Old meets New.”

    Happy Daruma / Mamehapi

    Edo Kimekomi Waving Cat

    The “Tokyo Omiyage Seisaku Project” aims to develop products in collaboration with Tokyo Metropolis and local businesses with the “Tokyo Tokyo” brand. To date, 50 products (excluding colour variations) have been produced, from traditional crafts to stationery, food, and moreーall embodying the spirit of Tokyo.

    The shop design features illustrations of Asakusa and Shibuya, two a symbols of Tokyo that have been around since the Edo Period and are and hub of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture respectively. The shop is also planning to hold workshops, where you can learn to make your own daruma and origami.

     

    If you’re travelling to or from Haneda Airport, then be sure to pay a visit to Tokyo Tokyo Official Souvenir Shop where you can pick up souvenirs that combine traditional and contemporary culture.

  • Raise Your Own Sky Lantern at New Greenpia Tsunan in Niigata

    25.February.2020 | SPOT

    New Greenpia Tsunan, a resort facility in Tsunan, Niigata, is holding an exciting sky lantern event every day until March 31, 2020.

     

    The sky lantern event is held every winter at New Greenpia Tsunan, and has returned again for 2020. It began in 2012 as a means of showing respect for and praying for the revival of disaster-stricken areas, such as the areas affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the Nagano and Niigata earthquake, and so on. Every year, couples and families come together to put their prayers and wishes into the lanterns before letting them go into the night sky. The countless lanterns raised at once soar up high and light up the black cloak of the night like burning stars.

    For 2020, the event will also sell lantern t-shirts, handkerchiefs, hand towels, cookies, and other themed items.

     

    If you’re travelling in or around Niigata in Japan this year, then don’t miss New Greenpia Tsunan’s very special winter event.

  • ART LAB KYOTO: The New Shop Opening at Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art

    14.February.2020 | SPOT

    ART LAB KYOTO is the new museum shop set to open at Kyocera Museum of Art on March 21, 2020 in line with the revamp currently undergoing at the museum, with design work being co-created by Japanese architects Jun Aoki and Tezzo Nishizawa.

    Kyoto is known as a hub of Japanese culture, managing to maintain traditions while constantly evolving. ART LAB KYOTO will embody everything about this idea when it opens after the museum’s revamp. The spacious shop will not only sell merchandise related to the exhibitions, but books and goods related to art from Kyoto both traditional and contemporary, items in collaboration with external artists, original and exclusive sweets, and more. ART LAB KYOTO will also host events promoting the diversity of art and culture in Kyoto.

  • Kyoto Brighton Hotel Offers 5 New Hotel Plans For Springtime, Cherry Blossom & Temple Experiences

    26.January.2020 | SPOT

    Kyoto Brighton Hotel is now selling reservations for its new “Haru no Asobi Plan” (Springtime Fun Plan) which is taking place between March and May this year and offers guests the opportunity to enjoy Kyoto in the spring and its cherry blossoms.

     

    Spring in Kyoto is the most popular season for tourists and travellers who flock from not only across Japan but from around the world. The Haru no Asobi Plan is made up of 5 exciting plans to see the ancient capital’s breathtaking cherry blossoms, vibrant green maples, and other offerings.

     

    “Asakatsu” – An early morning temple visit and stroll

    Get away from the crowded streets and enjoy the rare opportunity to experience incredible early morning sights you don’t normally get to see. Spend a quiet morning in a gorgeous environment in this plan. Several temples and gardens are in place for the experience: Kōdaiji Temple, Bishamon-do Temple, Taizō-in, Haradanien, and Tenryū-ji.

     

    Kiyomizu-dera Temple special night viewing

    One of the must-visit spots when travelling to Kyoto is Kiyomizu-dera, officially a World Heritage Site. This plan rents out the temple for you to experience it at nighttime. The main building is currently undergoing large-scale renovation to secure the roof as well as the inner construction of the temple. Seeing the temple is truly a sight to behold.

    You are guaranteed a view of the famous “Stage of Kiyomizu,” an enormous veranda attached to the main hall. The surrounding trees will be lit with enchanting lights, and you’ll be able to gaze at the distant city nightscape. Experience Kyoto like never before as the warm lights illuminate the Niōmon (Deva Gate), 3-storey pagoda, and purified water which runs from the Otowa Waterfall.

     

    Discover the world of Kyoto embroidery

    The traditional practice of Kyounui, or Kyoto-style embroidery, has continued since the Heian Period and is even garnering attention overseas. It’s a delicate and refined style of embroidery unique to Kyoto.

    After your embroidery session which will take place in a Kyoto town house nearby the cherry blossom-filled Hirano Shrine, you’ll look at kimono and yukata so beautiful they’ll look like they should be in an art museum, before heading to eat together with the creator.

     

    See the green maple trees of Hōgon-in on a private train

    Board the private 1-2 carriage Randen train on the Keifuku Electric Railroad, which runs from Shijō-Ōmiya to Arashiyama. This cute retro train will take you Arashiyama where the green maples are breathtakingly beautiful.

    You’ll also get to stroll through the quaint gardens of Hōgon-in Temple, view artwork painted by Noriko Tamura, and more.

     

    Sky Bus

    Enjoy a panoramic view on a private ride of the Sky Bus, a double-decker bus which is gaining huge popularity right now. You will ride through the city of Kyoto and see the rows of pink cherry blossoms. In April, they will also do an evening tour of the cherry blossoms so you can see them at night, and in May they’ll do a green maple tree tour.

     

    Discover the beauty of Kyoto in this very special hotel plan at Kyoto Brighton Hotel.

  • You Can Take Your Pets to These Hotels and Accommodations in Japan

    20.January.2020 | SPOT

    Online travel booking website Rakuten Travel has released this year’s list for the most popular hotels and accommodations you can stay at with pets in Japan. The list is based off travellers’ reviews taken from the website. This list has been updated and published every year since 2014, making this its 6th run.

    Placing number one on the list for the first time is Yutsura, a ryokan Japanese-style inn which opened in Shizuoka in April 2018 and can be rented by one person or group for one night. Up to six people in a single group can stay there along with up to 5 small dogs weighing 5kg or less. It’s highly favoured amongst travellers who want to take their dogs on the road due to the extent the inn caters for pets. Guests can enjoy having the dogs in their rooms as well as feed their pets there, all without being a bother to other guests.

    Nipponia Sawara Merchant Town Hotel in Chiba Prefecture came in second place. You can feel the history of this hotel accommodation which is renovated from a traditional storehouse and townhouse. It allows up to three pets in a room which collectively weigh 25kg. There are three types of rooms to choose from, including one with a dog park. It also offers various services, including a free night for one dog, snacks and amenities for dogs, and more.

    In third place is Dog Pension R65 in Shizuoka Prefecture which allows not only big and small dogs, but cats and other pets too. It offers large footbaths for dogs to use, dog parks, and many other services that cater to pets. The hotel also offers cottage-type accommodation rooms separate from the main building too if you’re looking to spend some peaceful time away with your beloved companion.

     

    If you’re looking to travel around Japan with your pet, be sure to check if a hotel allows animals. Check the link below for the full Top 10 list.

  • Bunjee Jump From the Top of Kyoto Tower With Their New VR Experience

    17.January.2020 | SPOT

    Have you ever wondered what the thrill of bungee jumping would be like, but are too afraid of heights to even consider putting it on your bucket list? Have no fear, because Kyoto Tower is bringing a new VR bungee jumping experience to the top of the building which will be available to experience from February 1 for a limited time.

    This VR experience was first brought to the tower in the fall of 2018, and this year it is making its grand return. After the event originally ended, there was huge demand for it to be held again.

    Those brave enough to have a go at this VR bungee jump (or bungy, depending where you are from), will go above and beyond the 100 meter observation deck to the highest accessible point of Kyoto Towerーup 120.9 metersーwhich is normally closed off to the public, to the special VR deck which has been prepared.

    The experience will offer you not only the thrill of jumping from Kyoto’s tallest structure, but the chance to gaze upon a panoramic view of the beautiful city too.

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