Tokyo Stroll: Goshuin Collecting #9―Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku, an Oasis in Central Tokyo

17.October.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

In the Tokyo Stroll series, we take you on a trip to various locations around Japan’s capital. One of the frequent locations are shrines where our navigator Ellie adds to her goshuin collection.

 

Today, Ellie visits Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku which is famous as the place where the Tori no Ichi Festival is held, an open-air market that takes place every November.

 

 

The closest station to Hanazono Shrine is Shinjuku-Sanchome Station. The shrine is within mere seconds’ walking distance from the station’s E2 exit. An alternative route is from Shinjuku Station from which it is just a 7-minute walk. The shrine is smack in the middle of Shinjuku and near the Shinjuku City Office and Shinjuku Golden Gai.

 

 

Hanazono Shrine has been the tutelary shrine of Shinjuku since Tokugawa Ieyasu and the shogunate ushered in the Edo Period. It was originally located where Isetan Shinjuku stands today but was moved in the early years of the Edo Period to part of the garden belonging to the suburban residence of the daimyo of the Tokugawa Gosanke. It is there that many flowers bloomed into a beautiful flower garden which is where the shrine’s name originates – Hanazono Jinja (“Flower Garden Shrine”). Since then it became a place where many come to gather and worship the shrine as the protector and flourisher of Shinjuku.

 

 

Before heading to the main shrine to pray be sure to cleanse yourself beforehand at the chozuya (also known as temizuya). Firstly, take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up plenty of water, and rinse your left hand.

 

 

Next, switch hands. Hold the ladle with your left hand and rinse your right.

 

 

Then take the ladle with your right hand once more, pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth. Never bring the ladle directly to your mouth, and do not swallow the water or spit it back into the basin. There will be an area below the basin, like a bed of rocks, where you can spit the water out.

 

 

After rinsing your left hand one more time, use the pour remaining water to cleanse the handle of the ladle before returning it for the next person to use.

 

 

Uga-no-Mitama-no-kami, Yamato Takeru and Uke Mochi are those enshrined at Hanazono Shrine. Uga-no-Mitama-no-kami is associated with food and agriculture while Uke Mochi is the goddess of food. Yamato Takeru is associated with success, fortune, and family and company prosperity amongst other things. The famous Tori no Ichi Festival held at the shine every year takes place in November – the death anniversary of Yamato Takeru.

 

 

After placing a donation into the offertory, it’s time to pray. The rule is: two bows, two claps, one bow. Straighten your posture and begin by bowing twice.

 

 

Clap twice, pray, and bow one final time to finish.

 

 

You’ll also find the Geino Asama Shrine in the shrine grounds where Konohanasakuya-hime is enshrined. Since the Edo Period it has had deep ties with those in the entertainment industry such as actors and dancers so it is famous for receiving many offerings from those associated with the business including plays and songs. A tanka poem by Keiko Fuji, the mother of internationally acclaimed Japanese singer Hikaru Utada, is even placed beside the shrine.

 

 

There’s also another subordinate shrine called the Itoku Inari Shrine. It’s very popular with Japanese women for its associations with harmonious marriage, child-bearing and romantic realisation. There are red torii gates leading to the shrine which were given as an offering. When you walk through them feels like you’re stepping foot through the tunnel of the spirit world.

 

 

After praying Ellie went to collect her goshuin which cost just ¥300.

 

 

The goshuin is simple, reading the date on which Ellie visited and kanji reading “Shinjuku’s Tutelary Hanazono Shrine.” The plum blossom design is very typical of Hanazono Shrine. The Tori no Ichi goshuin also includes the Bird Day.

 

 

The Tori no Ichi Festival has continued since the Meiji Period and takes place of the days of the Rooster. This year it will take place on October 31, November 1, November 12, November 13, November 24 and November 25. The loud voices of thriving stalls at the market is a familiar and nostalgic sound of a town ready to welcome December. It’s a completely different atmosphere from the usual Hanazono Shrine. It flows with a mutual energy, so try visiting there yourself.

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  • Tokyo Stroll: Goshuin Collecting #8―Azabu Hikawa Shrine, the Sailor Moon Holy Ground

    25.July.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    In the Tokyo Stroll series, we take you on a trip to various locations around Japan’s capital. One of the frequent locations are shrines where our navigator Ellie adds to her goshuin collection.

     

    In this entry, Ellie visits Azabu Hikawa Shrine which is located in the district of Azabu-Juban known for being referenced many times in the Sailor Moon series.

    Azabu-Juban station is the closest station to the shrine. Naoko Takeuchi, the author of Sailor Moon, actually lived in Azabu-Juban when the series was being serialised in Nakayoshi from 1991 to 1997. The shrine was used as a model for Hikawa Shrine where Rei, or Sailor Mars, worked as a shrine maiden. The shrine can be found just a 10-minute walk from the station past the rich residential area where the embassy is. It’s enveloped in a bright green oasis of trees.

    The main shrine is a vivid vermilion. Enshrined there are the deities Susanoo-no-Mikoto―the young brother of Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun and the universe―and Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. The shrine is seen as lucky for many reasons. People pray there for increased luck, business prosperity, warding off evil, better fortune, success in life, wealth, safe childbirth, protection against misfortune, academic achievement, exam success, family safety, marriage, national security, and more. When Ellie visited the shrine was decorated for Sendai tanabata.

    There are many Inari shrines in Japan which are erected to worship the god Inari. There is one here too as pictured above. It was originally located at a nearby daimyo residence for the Sendai domaign Date clan during the Edo Period but was relocated to Azabu Hikawa Shrine at the beginning of the Showa Period.

    For this reason it has strong ties with Sendai, hence the tanabata decorations, which will be there until August 8.

    It was time for Ellie to head to the chozuya (also known as temizuya) to cleanse herself before praying which is part of shrine etiquette. Take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up plenty of water, and rinse your left hand first.

    Next, switch hands. Hold the ladle with your left hand and rinse your right.

    Then take the ladle with your right hand once more, pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth. Never bring the ladle directly to your mouth, and do not swallow the water or spit it back into the basin. There will be an area below the basin, like a bed of rocks, where you can spit the water out.

    After rinsing your left hand one more time, pour out any remaining water into the rocks (never back into the basin), and return the ladle.

    Having cleansed herself, Ellie headed to the main shrine.

    When praying, remember this: two bows, two claps, one bow. Straighten your posture and begin with two bows.

    Clap twice, pray, and bow one final time to finish.

    It’s time for the main event. Getting that goshuin! It costs just ¥300.

    This goshuin includes a stamp of Azabu Hikawa Shrine as well as blue and pink Sendai tanabata decorations. It’s a very colourful goshuin and is only available for a limited period of time.

    Not only is Azabu Hikawa Shrine loved by locals as a place of worship, but because of its Sailor Moon references. Fans flock to the shrine, as do the staff of the ongoing Sailor Moon musical.

     

    The number of people visiting the shrine from Japan and overseas is increasing. If you’re in Tokyo, make a trip to this iconic spot.

     

    ■Information

    Azabu Hikawa Shrine

    Address: 1-4-23 Motoazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
    Time: Shop 9:00am-5:00pm / Shrine 9:00am-4:30pm

    TEL: 03-3446-8796

    Access: 8-minutes on foot from Azabu-Juban Station via the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line or Toei Oedo Line

    Website: http://www.azabuhikawa.or.jp

     

    Outfit

    HEART HIT HAT:¥8,000 One-piece Dress:¥16,000

    *all prices include tax (Aymmy in the batty girls)

  • Tokyo Stroll: Goshuin Collecting #7―Increasing Romantic Luck at Imado Shrine in Asakusa

    06.June.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    In the Tokyo Stroll series, we take you on a trip to various locations around Japan’s capital. One of the frequent locations are shrines. In this entry, navigator Ellie takes a stroll to Imado Shrine in the Imado area of Asakusa where the first maneki-neko, or waving cat was created during the Edo Period. The shine is said to be the birthplace of the maneki-neko.

    浅草 今戸神社 鳥居 東京さんぽ

    The closest station to Imado Shrine is Asakusa Station. It’s about a 15 minute walk from there, but you can reach it quicker on the Megurin Bus for just ¥100.

    浅草 今戸神社 外観 東京さんぽ

    Emperor Ōjin is enshrined at Imado Shrine, as is Izanagi and Izanami, who are the central deities in Japan’s creation myth and the country’s first husband and wife deities. As such, the shrine is popular as a ‘power spot’ for successful marriage. The god of wealth and longevity and one of Asakusa’s Seven Lucky Gods, Fukurokuju, is also enshrined here. The shrine is also recognised as one of Tokyo’s 8 Shitamachi shrines that people make a pilgrimage to.

    浅草 今戸神社 手水舎 東京さんぽ

    As always, when arriving at a shrine, wash your hands at the chozuya water purification basin before heading to the main shrine. Take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up plenty of water, and rinse your left hand first.

    浅草 今戸神社 手水舎 東京さんぽ 2

    Next, switch hands. Hold the ladle with your left hand and rinse your right.

    浅草 今戸神社 手水舎 東京さんぽ 口を清める

    Then take the ladle with your right hand once more, pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth. Never bring the ladle directly to your mouth, and do not swallow the water or spit it back into the basin. There will be an area below the basin, like a bed of rocks, where you can spit the water out.

    浅草 今戸神社 手水舎 東京さんぽ 柄杓

    After rinsing your left hand one more time, pour out any remaining water into the rocks like the motion pictured above, and return the ladle.

    浅草 今戸神社 参拝 東京さんぽ 2

    Once you’ve finished purifying yourself at the chomizuya, it’s time to head to the main shrine. When praying, remember this: two bows, two claps, one bow. Straighten your posture and begin with two bows.

    浅草 今戸神社 参拝 東京さんぽ

    Clap twice and bow one final time.

    浅草 今戸神社 招き猫

    Decorating the main shrine are waving cats the size of children! Their names are Nagi-chan and Nami-chan, a reference to Izanagi and Izanami. The patterned cat on the left is Nagi-chan, the male, and on the right Nami-chan, the female.

    浅草 今戸神社  石のなで猫 東京さんぽ

    There are also stone cats sat by the shrine. There’s a rumour that if you set a photo of these cats to your phone’s wallpaper you’ll find a good matching partner for yourself! Generally, it’s said that waving cats with their right paw raised are for good financial luck while cats with their left paw in the air are beckoning humans. Nagi-chan and Nami-chan have their right paws raised. At Imado Shrine, it’s thought that it’s easier to call someone over with your dominant hand, and that people and money are interlinked, so even though they have their right paws up these waving cats are good for finding a match.

    浅草 今戸神社 東京さんぽ

    There are cats scattered all over the shrine grounds, so you’re sure to feel your heart warmed and healed simply by walking around.

    浅草 今戸神社 絵馬 招き猫 東京さんぽ浅草 今戸神社 招き猫 絵馬 東京さんぽ

    The ema wooden plaques are an eye-catching sight around the grounds, packed together tightly around the sacred tree and around the chomizuya. Round-shaped ema aren’t seen very often, they are normally a square shape with a tip at the top. Ema are used for writing on your prayers and wishes. ‘Round’ in Japanese is en (円) which is a homophone also meaning ‘destiny’ (縁). The round-shaped ema originate from the idea of a sense of harmony and peace in life with nothing sticking out, i.e. a circle has no edges. To ensure your destiny, when you pray, write on the ema with a red string illustration around it, and when your prayer is fulfilled, write on the one with the kimono.

    浅草 今戸神社 社務所 東京さんぽ

    Once your prayers are all done, it’s time to head to the confer area. They have many things on display, including ema, waving cats, lucky charms and more.

    浅草 今戸神社 御朱印 東京さんぽ

    Ellie gets herself a goshuin stamp for ¥300.

    浅草 今戸神社 御朱印 エリー 東京さんぽ浅草 今戸神社 御朱印帳 東京さんぽ

    The goshuin stamp at Imado Shrine is waving cats and Fukurokuju.

    浅草 今戸神社 御朱印帳 招き猫 東京さんぽ

    They sell original goshuincho stamp books at the shrine with waving cat designs. There’s pink, blue and navy and they’re all very cute. If you’re thinking of starting to collect goshuin at shrines and temples around Japan then you should definitely visit Imado Shrine first.

    浅草 今戸神社 お守り 東京さんぽ

    There’s several different omamori charms too, including the regular designs as well as round designs. Just like the ema, the round designs are made to represent no ‘edges’ in your life, just harmony. They’re all ¥800 and each have the same effect. The pink one is limited-edition and has hearts embroidered on the front and back♡ The limited-edition designs change on a whim which many people look forward to.

    浅草 今戸神社 沖田総司 東京さんぽ

    Imado Shrine is also said to be the place where sword master Souji Okita met his fate, so if you’re a history buff be sure to check out the gravestone.

     

    Imado Shrine is a must-visit while sightseeing in Asakusa. It has a happy aura to it thanks to the clowder of waving cats around. You can also see Tokyo Skytree from the grounds.

     

    ■Information

    Imado Shrine

    Address: 1-5-22 Imado, Taito, Tokyo

    Opening Hours: 9am-5pm

    TEL: 03-3872-2703
    Access: 15-minutes on foot from Asakusa Station / 5-minutes on foot from Asakusa 7-Chome bus stop (浅草七丁目) via Toei Bus / 1-minute on foot from ‘Riverside Sports Center’ bus stop (リバーサイドスポーツセンター前) via Kita Megurin Bus in Taito

    Website: http://imadojinja1063.crayonsite.net

     

    Outfit

    SODA SMILE T-shirt:¥8,000 FOUNTAIN  SERVICE Cap:¥4,000

    POP COLOR Skirt:¥12,500

    *all prices include tax (Aymmy in the batty girls)

     

    Model: Ellie

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Writer: Sayoko Ishii

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Tokyo Stroll: Learn the Manners & Etiquette of Worshipping at Onden Shrine – The Site of Marriage & Beauty Blessings

    14.March.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    In this featured series, we introduce you to ‘power spots’ and goshuin at shrines on the outskirts of Tokyo. Today, we’ll take a look at Onden Shrine, one of the locations where “MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 in SHIBUYA” will take place, Japan’s biggest inbound event set to hit Shibuya and Harajuku on March 24th and 25th. Ellie visited the shrine to learn about the manners and etiquette behind praying at shrines in Japan.

     

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    The Waterwheel at Onden (Katsushika Hokusai, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, Reproduction)

     

    Onden Shrine is located just a 10-minute walk from both Shibuya Station and Harajuku Station via the JR Yamanote Line or 7-minutes from Meiji-Jingumae Station via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. It has been enshrined in Harajuku for more than 400 years where it has watched over the area. The area around Onden has a long history. In the Edo Period, the flowing Onden River was used for rice cultivation. This historical background is depicted together with Mount Fuji in Katsushika Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Deities enshrined at Onden Shrine include Omodaru no Kami and Ayakashikone no Kami. These deities give blessings for marriage ties between husband and wife, as well as in blessing and improved skill in art. The picture above is of Mutsuko Funada who lectured Ellie on the manners and etiquette of worship. You too can use this opportunity to learn together with Ellie.

     

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    Shrines are sacred places. Upon visiting one, be sure to bow once at the torii gate. Keep in mind that the center of the path up to a shrine is where the gods walk, so it’s  best to walk at the edge of the path rather than directly down the middle.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Next, you must cleanse yourself at the temizuya, or “water purification basin.” Take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up some water, and rinse your left hand.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Do the same again but this time switch hands – hold the ladle with your left and rinse your right hand.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Take the ladle again in your right hand, pour some water in your left hand and rinse your mouth. It’s best not to show your mouth as you do this.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Lastly, tip the ladle to drain the water. Don’t scoop water from the basin multiple times – use just one scoop of water for the entire cleansing.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    手水舎で身を清めたら、いよいよ参拝です。社殿の前で軽く一礼しましょう。お賽銭を入れて鈴を鳴らして、神様にお参りに来たことをご奉告します。そして、社殿に向かって二礼、二拍手、一礼をします。

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

     

     

     

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Red and white plum blossoms dotted the surroundings of the shrine. We recommend taking photos in a photogenic area like this for your social media.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    It’s common at shrines to see komainu. They take on the form of an imaginary lion-dog-like animal, and it’s said that the shape of their mouth makes express the sacred ‘om’ sound. The one with its mouth opened is called Agyou and the one with its mouth closed is called Ungyou. Be sure to check them out when you visit a shrine.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    There is also an Inari shrine at the grounds which is home to the deity of agriculture, industrial manufacturing and commerce, so be sure to pray to them all collectively.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Today’s main mission was also a success – Ellie managed to collect her ‘goshuin’ shrine stamps! She received one for each shrine – the Inari shrine stamp is on the left and the Onden Shrine stamp is on the right. Both cost \300.

     

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    Onden Shrine is a site for blessings in things like marriage and beauty. It offers a lot of keywords particularly favoured by girls, so it’s definitely one to visit. There’s a range of good-luck charms for sale at the shrine, including one for marriage that’s inspired by the blooming plum blossoms in the shrine grounds, one for beauty and more, so if you’re interested you should definitely check them out. We will be holding an event called “MOSHI MOSHI ENNICHI” at “MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 in SHIBUYA.” You can look forward all sorts of stalls like you’d see at a Japanese festival lined with lots of food, activities like yo-yo fishing and more! There will also be a stage where you can witness a Japanese ‘taiko’ drum performance, and there will also be a character DJ festival where DJs will dress up and perform. The bustling atmosphere of a Japanese festival is perfect to enjoy on dates, please be sure to drop by.

     

    ■Information

    Onden Shrine

    Address: 5-26-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-3407-7036

    Access: 10-minutes on foot from “Shibuya Station” or “Harajuku Station” via the JR Yamanote Line / 7-minutes on foot from “Meiji-Jingumae Station” via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line

    URL:http://www.ohmiya-hachimangu.or.jp/

     

    Outfit: Aymmy in the batty girls

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  • Escape From Godzilla at TOKYO MYSTERY CIRCUS Escape Game Theme Park

    11.September.2019 | MOVIE / SPOT

    TOKYO MYSTERY CIRCUS’s catalogue of games just keeps on growing. The puzzle and escape game theme park has just announced the return of its escape game Escape From Shin Godzilla which is being held in collaboration with the 2016 film Shin Godzilla.

    The event was previously held last April where it ran until October, enjoying huge popularity with over 40,000 escape game-goers. Players took the role of a member of the Kyosaitai―the anti-Godzilla task force―based in Kabukicho, Shinjuku where you will be tasked with solving puzzles to defeat the colossal giant.

    The thrilling event returns once more with original visuals created to make it look like Godzilla has really invaded Kabukicho. Tickets are now on sale, and you can pick up exclusive merchandise and themed food at the venue too. Can you defeat Godzilla?

     

    TM&©TOHO CO., LTD. ©SCRAP

  • Kyoto’s Capsule Hotel Anshin-Oyado Now Offering Plan to Take Guests to Sacred Sword Locations

    10.September.2019 | SPOT

    Capsule hotel Anshin-Oyado Premiere Kyoto Shijo Karasuma introduced a new plan on September 6 which gives guests the chance to go and see sacred places across Kyoto associated with Japanese swords.

     

    October 4th is known as “Japanese Sword Day” in Japan. In Kyoto alone, the number of people visiting from distant places to see sacred sword places, as well as collect goshuin stamps from shrines and temples, is on the increase-as is the number of people staying at Anshin-Oyado Premiere Kyoto Shijo Karasuma. That’s where this new guest plan comes into play.

    The plan will take guests around different parts of Kyoto, so the hotel as prepared three options to cater to all guests’ needs: one that offers a rental bicycle, a ticket to use the subway or bus, or the normal plan. You will receive a map which shows you the most efficient way to get around all the locations. There is also a QR code on the map which not only shows where you can park your bicycle if you go for that option, but also where to collect goshuin stamps.

     

    Moreover, to really slash home those sword memories, guests will be lent a free selfie-stick which also acts as a tripod. There is also a separate powder room for guests wanting to dress up in full sword cosplay gear too which can be used until checkout.

    Guests can also rent a portable power bank for their phone so they don’t have to worry about their battery running out when snapping photos amongst other amenities, and have free use of the massage chairs, foot baths, open-air baths, and more to rest up after their long pilgrimage around Kyoto seeing the different swords.

  • Japan’s Keio Line Releases ‘Goshuin’ Stamp Book For Tourists

    29.August.2019 | SPOT

    In response to the rapidly increasing number of foreign tourists to Japan in recent years, Keio Corporation has designed an original Keio Line goshuin stamp book which will be released at the “Central Honshu Information Plaza in Keio Shinjuku” at Shinjuku Station on September 1.

     

    A Goshuincho is a book for collecting goshuin, which are stamps or seals given at shrines and temples across Japan. Every shrine and temple has its own unique goshuin which are stamped alongside calligraphy handwritten by the staff there and then who write the date and the name of the temple or shrine.

     

    When purchasing Keio’s book, you are given a pamphlet―available in English only―featuring lots of different sites you can receive goshuin up and down the train line.

    Sites include the Buddhist temple Yakuou-in (Hachioji, Tokyo), Takahata Fudoson Kongo-ji Temple (Hino, Tokyo), Ōkunitama Shrine (Chofu, Tokyo), Jindaiji Temple (Chofu, Tokyo), and Ohmiya-Hachimangu (Suginami, Tokyo). The pamphlet also explains how to obtain a stamp as well as the correct way to worship at these locations. It also details information about train ticket discounts on the Keio Line for foreign travellers which were introduced in February this year.

    The book will also be available to purchase at Keio Rail-Land from October 14.

  • Scorch your Senses at the Spicy as Hell and Tasty as Well 2019 Food Festival Round 2 in Shinjuku

    17.August.2019 | FOOD / SPOT

    Spicy as Hell and Tasty as Well 2019 will be holding round 2 on August 16, 2019 at Okubo Park, Kabukicho in Shinjuku. This will be the event’s biggest gekikara gourmet saiten (super spicy festival) Japan has ever seen. 

    Food services that represent the spicy foods of the world have all joined forces at Kabukicho in Shinjuku; Asia’s largest entertainment district to tinge it with a luminescent spicy red colour. So far, around 0.7 million people with a burning passion for spice have made their way to the spice central to test their tolerance to the range of gourmet spicy dishes. From beginner to mania, the event caters to all levels of spice-lovers. From a tiny touch of spice to spicy as hell, there is a wide range of spice levels to choose from. The dishes served and participating shops are changed each week, so you can enjoy a new spicy experience each week. 

     

    At the 1st Round, spice fans had their fill of Ciao em Cafe’s Bún bò Huế. This café, which originates from the outskirts of Tokyo in Hana-Koganei, took part in the event for the first time. One of their signature dishes is the Vietnamese soup, which captured the hearts of many women for its perfectly balanced sweet yet spicy flavour.  Despite being Menya Mazeharu’s first time serving at the event, their queues stretched out into the sunset from morning to evening each day .

    Round 2 will see Cheese to Gibier Curry Naru Ichizoku and Tokyo spice curry Aka to Kuro spicing up the event for the first time. This is the perfect opportunity to experience Awajishima Curry made with the world’s most sense-scorching spices including ghost pepper, trinidad scorpion pepper, and the carolina reaper. Tokyo spice curry serves up red curry dishes made with ingredients traditionally used in natural Chinese food therapy. Their black curries are Kashmiri curries that will leave you feeling satisfied. 

     

    These are just a selection of the vast number of noteworthy spicy dishes. You are bound to find the perfect curry to spice up your life at this event, so please check it out.

  • A Date With Yutaro: Soaking Up the Japanese Summer Sun & Visiting the Art Aquarium | Tokyo Stroll

    16.August.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    It’s been a while since our last date with Yutaro. He’s been very busy with film shoots. He had some spare time today so we paid a visit to Nihonbashi for our next date. “ECO EDO Nihonbashi: Enjoy Cool Edo With All Five Senses” is an event held every year in the Nihonbashi area which takes the Edo period cultural idea of “coolness”―an in, to enjoy being cool during the summer-and puts a modern spin on it. There are many exciting things to look forward to, including the art aquarium which proves massively popular every year.

     

    We gave ourselves more time to arrive at the meeting place to be in the safe side, but it seems Yutaro-kun was already there waiting for us!

    Nihonbashi Information Center | IPPIN CAFÉ “Sparkling Herb Tea” – ¥518 (Tax Included)

    “Here, you must be boiling.” Yutaro-kun kindly offers a cup of IPPIN CAFE’s limited-edition sparkling herb tea. It’s a delicious mix of fizzy soda and lemon, a perfect refreshment for the summer. Since he ordered takeout the drink came with a goldfish straw. Goldfish are a staple sight during Japanese summer festivals so it’s very fitting for the occasion! 

     

    With our drinks in hand, it’s time to head to Nihonbashi for our Edo summer date!

    Wind-Chime Forest Path

    Lining the path between Fukutoku Shrine and Fukutoku Garden is the Wind-Chime Forest Path where around 200 Edo-style wind chimes dangled. This year, during the evenings, the path is illuminated with beautiful lighting. 

    When the breeze rolls past the wind chimes ring one by one-a cool and refreshing sound.

    “I hear each one of these Edo wind chimes are individually handmade by craftsmen.”

    When you hear the sound of the wind chimes it makes you feel cool like a gentle breeze of the wind.

     

    After strolling along the Wind-Chime Forest Path we make our way towards this year’s ECO EDO Art Aquarium event.

    The moment we step instead Yutaro is already dazzled by all the goldfish: “Wow! I knew about this place from what I’d seen online, but this my first time here! This art aquarium really is something!”

     

    The full title of the event is “ECO EDO Nihonbashi ART AQUARIUM 2019 ~Edo, Coolness of Kingyo~ & Night Aquarium.”  Goldfish were a huge part of the common culture in Nihonbashi during the Edo period. This event recreates that and brings that “coolness” aspect while combining it with contemporary art by having people observe the fish in lots of different artistic environments.

    Super Oiran

    “This is the biggest fish tank, apparently it has 3,000 fish swimming inside!”

    “Seeing the light reflect on the water from the illuminations lets you see the fish in a different light, doesn’t it?”

    Looks like Yutaro-kun is having a lot of fun taking photos.

    He’s equally interested in just about every fish tank!

    These other fish tanks have a different aesthetic to them. Their Japanese-style designs make for great photos.

    Kaleidorium 3D

    “This one’s beautiful, it’s like a kaleidoscope.”

    It really does look like one. When you take a peek instead you can glimpse all kinds of colourful fish gently swimming around.

    Ceiling Kingyo

    “There’re goldfish swimming on the ceiling too. So cool! This aquarium is incredible. It brings together the great culture of Edo and contemporary art.”

     

    The Art Aquarium bustles every single year with visitors, but this year will mark its last run. It’s being held at Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall, so if you have the chance to go then please do.

    We of course checked out some local Nihonbashi treats too! We stopped by morozoff for some cheesecake after the aquarium.

    morozoff Kamadashi Cheesecake (Goldfish) – ¥270 Each (Tax Included)

    These cute cheesecakes with their goldfish designs are available for a limited time only. They’re filled with sweet red bean paste. They perfect with iced tea.

    “Got some! Let’s eat them while we head back.”

    Goldfish Lantern Walkway

    Our first date in Nihonbashi was so much fun. While on the date Yutaro-kun spoke about the new live-action film he’s in, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War.

     

    “It’s a romance film with mind games to try and make the other person confess their love. I play the character Tsubasa. His number one highlight scene is the kabedon scene. That was my first day shooting, so I was super nervous, but I got along well with the other actors, and the atmosphere on set was harmonious, so I was able to relax for the shoots. Tsubasa is a genuine guy who will believe things that have been said to him in earnest. You’ve definitely gotta check out all his scenes throughout the film!”

     

    “A lot of the cast are the same age as me, so we were all energetic together in the waiting room. There’s a scene at the end where all the cast get together. It took 3 days to shoot so we ended up getting along really well.”

     

    “This film has made me realise that love comes in many shapes, and that mind games happen in a variety of ways between guys and girls. There’s cute scenes that express that small bit of pride that teenagers have, the embarassment they feel, when they get butterflies, scenes that will warm your heart. The film has various elements to it so I thoroughly enjoyed watching it myself. I hope that couples in love in their teens and twenties watch it, and I also hope that married couples watch it and crack up laughing too.”

     

    “In the film it’s summer break, and they go and see fireworks and stuff. It’s definitely one to watch durnig the summer. You’re gonna come watch it too, right? Shall we go?”

     

    An offer we cannot refuse! We’ll definitely go and see it with you, Yutaro-kun! 

     

    Model: Yutaro

    Writer: Yuki Yokoo

    Photographer: Kayo Sekiguchi

    TALENT PROFILE

    Yutaro

    Yutaro was born in Hiroshima on June 3rd 1998. His modeling career has earned him lots of attention as a fashion icon of the new generation. The famous model also works as a “charisma” shop assistant. Yutaro has gained his reputation as a “mysterious and handsome guy” from his appearance on Japanese variety shows. His debut was made on the show “Gyoretsu no Dekiru Horitsu Sodanjo” and has since then appeared on numerous different TV shows. He challenged himself to appear on stage for the very first time in March this year and is gaining popularity by the day for his diverse work.

  • Tokyo Stroll: The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone #11 – ‘Hatoya’ in Asakusa

    16.August.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD

    In this edition of The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone, I visited Hatoya which is located in Asakusa Shin-Nakamise Arcade.

     

    The streets of Tokyo’s historical district of Asakusa are packed to end with cafés. You can be spoiled for choice, but Hatoya stood out to me in particular as it’s an especially old café. Business there began back in 1927 but the actual building was built back in the Taisho period, meaning its history spans more than 90 years ago!

     

    The outside appearance of the shop is smart and chic so it’s very easy to spot. I couldn’t tell by looking from the outside, but the inside is full of old decorations and odds and ends which make you feel the history of the café.

    One reason why I wanted to visit this place so much is because I was drawn to their logo. It’s really retro-kawaii so I just couldn’t resist!

    You should take some photos too if you visit.

    It was time to head inside. It’s really comfy and cozy in there; the atmosphere was nice and relaxed.

    Framed on the wall is a map of the Asakusa area during the Taisho era. Hatoya became famous back then because people could buy coffee for a mere 5 sen (a single sen is one-hundredth of a yen).

     

    When business first began at Hatoya, because the café was opposite the stage door of a theatre, all of the famous actors and actresses would pop in. Some include famous Japanese comedian Roppa Furukawa and film actor Kiyoshi Atsumi who played Tora-san in the film series Otoko wa Tsurai yo.

    I ordered the café’s popular hotcakes which cost ¥600. They have been making these same hotcakes since before the war.

    They were nice and fluffy and had a deliciously gorgeous brown colour. The flavour was out of this world when the butter melted from the heat of the hotcakes and mixed together with the syrup.

     

    The portion might look like a lot but they are fluffy and have a light flavour so can be finished with no problem.

    And is the café’s signature milkshake (¥500).

     

    It’s so refreshing that you can knock it back all in one go. It has a simple flavour but it tasted so good!

    I also ordered the ¥600 cream soda, my favourite beverage.

    I’ve been to many cafés, and have covered many in this series, but this is the first I have dined at with such a deep history. I found myself enthralled by the stories of the owner who has continued to treasure the café and maintained it all the same since it opened. I feel like I have learned about a world I never knew about. The next time I go to Hatoya with a friend I’ll be sure to let them in on its history. I encourage you to visit too!

     

    Writer/Model: Ema Tanioku
    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto
    Design: Yuko Abe (ASOBISYSTEM)

    TALENT PROFILE

    Ema Tanioku

    “Emaeri” is the nickname for models Ema and Eri Tanioku, who are Aomoji fashion model twins. Ema and Eri Tanioku specialise in twin fashion coordination. Over the years their fanbase has increased due to their cute looks. Ema Tanioku spreads Harajuku culture within Japan as well as overseas and works as a Harajuku Tourism Ambassador. Starting off as a model, Ema has broadened her talent range from fashion magazines to TV, and from playing the lead role in dramas to movies.

  • Pop Team Epic Pop-Up Shop Makes its Way to Shinjuku This Month

    14.August.2019 | ANIME&GAME / SPOT

    The Pop Team Epic pop-up shop is set to take to make a return this month. It will open on the sixth floor of Shinjuku Marui Annex and run from August 23 to September 16.

     

    Themed on the the popular manga and anime series, the pop-up shop first appeared in December 2016 and has since popped up many times around Japan over the years. Having been held in various places around Tokyo as well as Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sapporo and Osaka, it is finally making its way to Shinjuku for the first time.

     

    The shop’s main visual was drawn by series creator Bkub Okawa. Its design will feature on many exclusive pieces of merchandise at the shop.

    Fans of the series have lots to look forward to at the shop, with plenty of cute and hilarious decorations of Popuko and Pipimi and plenty of photo opportunities. Those who spend over ¥3,000 (tax included) at the shop will even receive an original sticker. Only one will be given per person.

     

    More details about the event can be found over at the official Twitter page.

  • Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo Offers Luxurious Accommodation Plan & Tea Ceremony Experience For Families

    05.August.2019 | SPOT

    Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo, a highly prestigious and magnificent 4-star hotel located in Shinjuku, is now serving an all-new “luxurious” family package which includes a tea ceremony experience and much more. It is currently running from July 20 to September 1.

    The rooms offered in the accommodation plan are the hotel’s popular Wide Twin Rooms located on the Premier Grand club floor. Use of the Club Lounge is included in the package. The Wide Twin Rooms include two roomy queen-size beds which span 1.53 meters wide which allow parents to sleep comfortably with their children. Rooms also feature their own bathroom facilities.

     

    The package also includes a check-in simulation for children aged 6-12 years where they can get a feel for what it’s like to check-in. They will fill in their own check-in cards with parents and receive a ticket for the tea ceremony experience. They will be able to take their card home with them and take a commemorative photo.

    The tea ceremony experience will be held on the hotel’s 10th floor in the “Shofuan,” an authentic tearoom that has been in the hotel since it opened in 1971. Parents and children will receive proper instruction from the tea ceremony teacher before pouring their own tea, allowing them to learn about traditional Japanese culture and etiquette. They will receive a special certificate of completion at the end.

     

    If you’re travelling to Japan as a family this summer then enjoy it in luxury at Hotel Keio Plaza Tokyo.

  • Once Every 33 Years a Secret Door at Tenjō-ji Temple in Kobe is Opened

    04.August.2019 | SPOT

    The Buddhist temple Tenjō-ji is located on Mount Maya at the heart of the mountainous area of Mount Rokko. This month, something very special is happening at the temple. An elusive door housed there is opened only once every 33 years, and this month from August 1 to 15, it is open.

    Tenjō-ji is the only temple in Japan that has a building dedicated to Maya-bunin, the mother of Buddha. Its long history begins with Hōdō Sennin, an Indian high priest who build the temple at the behest of Emperor Kōtoku. In Japan, Maya-bunin is worshipped as as symbol of easy childbirth and child-rearing. Mount Maya, the mountain on which Tenjō-ji sits, is named after her.

    Mount Maya, located in Kobe’s Nada ward, is a 702 meter tall mountain and one of the major peaks of Rokkō Mountains. It is close to the town areas of Kobe, and from the mountain peak one can see Kobe, Osaka, the Kii Peninsula, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge and more, making it a popular tourist destination. It’s also frequented by Kobe locals who visit with their families to eat bento, as well as couples looking to catch a glimpse at the gorgeous nightscape atop the mountain apex.

    Inside the secret door now open at the temple until August 15 are three hidden Buddhist idols: the Eleven-Faced Avalokitesvara, Acala, and Vaiśravaṇa. This is very much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if you’re lucky enough to be in Japan right now, you won’t want to miss this extremely special occasion. If you do, you’ll have to wait another 33 years!

     

    While it is open there will be talks and faith healing by the priests three times a day (10:30/12:00/14:00), exclusive celebratory merchandise, limited-time goshuin stamps, and more.

  • Tokyo Stroll: Shopping & Sightseeing with Mozuku-kun the Dog #5 – Uzumako Ceramic Art School

    12.July.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    It’s been a minute since we last ventured out with Japanese model Yuna Yabe and her beloved pet pup Mozuku. If you’re new to this feature, Yuna Yabe takes her trusty partner Mozuku to various hot spots in Japan that you can enjoy with your pet dog. Their relationship continues to deepen in this priceless experience.

    Today, Yuna and Mozuku head to Uzumako Ceramic Art School which is close to Shiba Park. You can get a good view of TokyoTower from this famous park.

    What’s unique about this art school is that visitors are allowed to take their pets with them. So this means you can take your dog with you to do some ceramics!

     

    Yuna has always had an interest in ceramics. And what better way to experience creating something than with her partner in crime Mozuku! With him tottering beside her, she headed through the entrance curtain with a spring in her step.

    When you enter the classroom, there are lots of examples of pottery ware lining the shelves. The room has that smell of craftsmanship which lingers as you begin the class with a demonstration by the teacher. Once you have your apron on and are fired up to begin, it’s time to start.

     

    The work begins with kneading the clay to make its firmness uniform. This step helps prevent air bubbles from forming.

     

    Yuna asked the teacher many different questions as she enjoyed kneading her clay. “Where does ceramic work originate from?” “What kind of things to other dog owners make when they come here?”

    “What’s Yuna up to?” Mozuku’s puzzled face seemed to imply as he listened to Yuna and the teacher talk.

    Yuna turned to Mozuku and said to him, “I’m going to make you a food bowl!” It seemed like the message got through as his face read, “Looks like my owner is making something just for me.”

     

    Yuna wet her hands with some water and began forming a hole in the centre of her clay bundle. The hole forms and gets bigger as the pottery wheel spins.

    Next, she used both of her hands to ensure the thickness of the bowl was even all the way around.

    “Amazing! The shape of the clay changes in an instant!”

    By adding a little bit of pressure the pile of clay can change shape rapidly. It’s like a living thing.

    “It’s like the clay is my own child. I wanna wrap it up!”

    Once the shape is formed, Yuna cut around the edges. She is a skilled individual, she got the hang of it straight away.

    Mozuku sat right beside Yuna, quiet and curious.

    “Is it my turn yet?”

    He seemed itching to have a go at making something himself too.

    He watched over Yuna’s work from atop the table.

    “I wanna try spinning the wheel too!”

    Mozuku in fact had the most important job of all. Yuna popped a wooden mould onto his paw and stamped a paw print into thebottom of the bowl.

    “There we go!” said Yuna

    Mozuku mustered all of his strength to make his mark, his facial expression unusually serious as he carried out his big task.

    Time to check if the print was done properly!

    Here’s the final product―Mozuku did a great job!

     

    Their teamwork paid off as they were able to create a really cute dog bowl. The tiny footprint is packed with pet love. The art school actually sells a lot of different cute and stylish pet items but the owner making their own makes it unique―the only one in the world.

     

    If that love is able to get through to your pup, the food they eat from the bowl is sure to be even more delicious.

     

    Thanks for your help, Mozuku.

    “I can’t wait to fire it!” Yuna’s excitement was peak from start to finish. She was very satisfied after the class finished.

     

    After two weeks of waiting, the bowl was completely finished.

    Why not try creating something unique special for your own pet―together with them?

     

    Model: Yuna Yabe/Mozuku @yunaaay1030

    Text: Ai Watanabe

    Photographer: Kayo Sekiguchi

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Yuna Yabe

    Yuna Yabe won the grand prix prize at the “Zipper×ASOBISYSTEM Model Auditions” at the age of 15. She is an expert not only in fashion but make-up and video editing too. She’s an influential figure to the people in her generation. Recently, her work has expanded greatly, such as appearing in music videos. Her activity continues to grow and looks to be very promising indeed.

  • Osamu Watanabe’s Mouthwatering Museum of Sweets Showcases Giant Candy Unicorn & More

    11.July.2019 | FOOD / SPOT

    Have you heard of Osamu Watanabe? You won’t forget his name by the end of this article. He is an installation and contemporary artist that draws his inspiration from the world of sweets and confections. He has drawn much attention not just in Japan but overseas too in countries like the US, Italy, Turkey, Indonesia and China with his various exhibitions.

    Watanabe is set to take his “Museum of Sweets” exhibition to Shinjuku where it will open at the Odakyu Department Store on July 31.

    The candy creations will be split throughout 9 different areas such as the titular room Museum of Sweets as well as the Forest of Sweets, Banquet of Sweets, Sweets Aquarium and more, all of which are sure to tickle the taste buds of sweet tooth visitors.

    What’s more is that you are permitted to take photos, opening the door for countless photo opportunities for Instagram.

     

    Osamu Watanabe will also be present to host a workshop on 4 separate days so you can craft your own cookie charm using materials Watanabe actually uses in his creations.

     

    Enter a fantastic candy land cooked up by the one and only Osamu Watanabe.

  • Sanrio Announces Character Themed Cafe at EGG & SPUMA in Shinjuku

    04.July.2019 | FOOD

    Sanrio has announced that it will open its third-ever limited-time cafe themed on their magazine Ichigo Shimbun at EGG & SPUMA located on the 8th floor of Shinjuku Lumine EST from July 11 to September 30.

     

    Ichigo Shimbun is a monthly magazine published by Sanrio which includes information about the latest character merchandise, the Sanrio Character Awards, and more. Many of Sanrio’s characters appear in the magazine and are set to appear at the cafe in the form of food. The theme of the cafe will be “Vacation.”

    The menu special is the special party combo box for two. Served in an original box, it contains Pochacco and Cinnamoroll burgers, fries, cute Kiki & Lala desserts, two drinks, and more.

    EGG & SPUMA are known for their pancakes, so for the Sanrio collaboration, they will serve a special plate of pancakes themed on a beach with Pompompurin sunbathing on top. You can also order refreshing summery soda drinks too.

    There will be two different menus served at different periods for the duration of the collaboration, meaning a repeat visit is a must. We hope you get to try everything!

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