Kyoto by the Sea: Amanohashidate and Funaya, Japan’s Most Beautiful Village

27.November.2018 | SPOT

The captivating hues of autumn are sweeping across Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan admired by both Japanese and foreign tourists alike.

 

The staff at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON took a trip to Kyoto to enjoy the sights. The theme of this new feature is “Discover your own Kyoto” where we introduce to our readers little-known good spots around the city.

 

Our third article in this series is titled Kyoto by the Sea. If you love being by the ocean and enjoy its sights and sounds then we’ve got several places to show you.

 

1: Funaya – The most beautiful village in Japan

Our first stop on our aquatic adventure is Ine no Funaya which is recognised as the most beautiful of all of Japan’s villages. It’s also officially listed as an “Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings.”

Funaya literally means “boat houses.” The first floor of the buildings are garages for the boats while the second floor are the residents’ living spaces. Around 230 funaya line the seashore of this hidden fishing village in Kyoto.

It’s possible to board a sightseeing boat there which takes you into the middle of Ine Bay to take in the sights and see what it’s like to live there. You will cruise along together with common gulls and black-tailed gulls who will hop on for the ride.

The tourist information centre also offers tours of the boat houses themselves which are carried out by locals, enabling a closer inspection of them. Above is a photo of what it looks like from inside the first floor garage.

There is also a free rental bike service in the area. Be sure to follow the rules above if you decide to borrow one.

While you’re in the local area, why not visit Mukai Brewery for some sake taste testing?

We recommend trying this one, it’s a very old brand. It tasted sweet and was an easy sake to drink.

Many travellers from outside Japan visit Funaya. Some of the boat houses can be stayed in but due to the limited number they are often bombarded with reservations. If you’re thinking of staying there don’t forget to secure a place in advance. You’re sure to enjoy scenery and tradition you won’t experience anywhere else but in Ine.

 

■Ine no Funaya

Address: 491 Hirata, Ine, Yosa District, Kyoto Prefecture

Access: “Amanohashidate” via Kyoto Tango Railway / 1-hour by bus (Tango Rosen Bus) from Miyazu Station

Enquiries: 0772-32-0277

Website: http://www.town.ine.kyoto.jp/

 

■Ine Bay Sightseeing Boats

Opening Hours: 9:00-16:00 (25-minute ride every 30 minutes on the hour and half-past)

Price: Adults ¥680 / Children ¥340

Enquiries: 0772-42-0323

Website: https://www.inewan.com/02yuransen.html

 

■Mukai Brewery

Address: 67 Hirata, Ine, Yosa District, Kyoto Prefecture

No Fixed Holidays.

Enquiries: 0772-32-0003

Website: http://kuramoto-mukai.jp/

 

 

2: Amanohashidate – See one of Japan’s ‘three scenic views’ from Kasamatsu Park

Amanohashidate is known as one of Japan’s ‘three scenic views.’ This beautiful sandbar covered with close to 8,000 pine trees gets its name from how its bridge, when viewed from the mountains at either side of the bay, looks like it stretches across the heavens.

We took the chair lift up to Kasamatsu Park where you can enjoy an unbroken view of Amanohashidate. The cable cars and chair lifts can be used from March to November.

As well as enjoying a panoramic peek at the entire sandbar there’s also a terrace where you can enjoy a light meal and a shrine from which you can see Kanmurijima Island and the volcanic island of Kutsujima.

In the place where you ride the chair lift there is a map where you can pin what country you are from. People from all around the world had visited on the day we went.

When riding back down you can sit back, relax and take in the breathtaking scenery of Amanohashidate. Your journey there promises amazing sights from start to finish.

 

■Amanohashidate Kasamatsu Park

Address: 75 Ōgaki, Miyazu, Kyoto Prefecture

Cable Car/Chair Lift Price: Adult Return ¥660 (Single ¥330) / Child Return ¥330 (Single ¥170)

Access: 25-minutes by bus from Amanohashidate Station via the Kyoto Tango Railway (get off the bus at Kasamatsu Cable)

Enquiries: 0772-27-0032

Website: https://www.amano-hashidate.com/030kasamatu.html

 

3: Tsuruya Shokudo – Enjoy fresh fish caught in Kyoto

Tsuruya Shokudo is a restaurant located along the path to Kono Shrine near the Kasamatsu Park cable cars. They use vegetables farmed in the local region and all the fish is caught from the waters of Tango! One of the meals you can eat there is the “Tango Otakaradon” which is served with seafood.

Tango Otakaradon (丹後のお宝丼): ¥1,650 (Tax Included)

 

This dish is served with Japanese Babylon sea snail, bigfin reef squid and Japanese amberjack. In the small bowl is akamoku seaweed which you mix until it becomes sticky before being put in the rice dish. If you aren’t a fan of raw egg you can ask the staff to remove it.

 

Taste all the flavours of the local region by ordering the Tango Otakaradon.

 

Tsuruya Shokudo

Address: 848 Nakano, Miyazu, Kyoto Prefecture

Opening Hours: 08:30-17:00

No Fixed Holidays.

Enquiries: 0772-27-0114

Website: http://www.amanohashidate.jp/food/turuyasyokudou/

 

 

Did you enjoy our new “Discover your own Kyoto” feature? Experience Kyoto by the sea with your very own eyes during your trip.

 

■Writer 

Sayuri Mizuno / MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON Chief Editor

Instagram: @sayuri.mizuno

 

■Translator

Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

Twitter: @anokomorebi

RECOMMENDED ENTRIES

  • 3 Little-Known Places to Experience Tea Culture in Kyoto

    16.November.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    The colours of autumn are now hitting Kyoto, Japan’s ancient city steeped in history, culture and tradition and one visited by countless tourists―both Japanese and foreign―every year.

     

    The staff at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON took a trip to Kyoto to gather information. The theme of the research is “Discover your own Kyoto.” We will introduce you to 3 little-known places in Japan’s former Imperial capital that are not yet known by many people.

     

    This is the first article in a series where we look at the tea of Kyoto. Here are our recommendations if you want to experience Kyoto Infused with Tea culture.

     

    1: “How to Properly Pour Tea” –  Learning the proper methods at Fukujuen

    The first place we want to recommend is Fukujuen Uji Tea Workshop. The closest station to it is Uji Station which you can get to in one stop from Kyoto Station via the JR Line.

     

    Fukujuen Uji Tea Workshop was established after seeing the amount of people sitting comfortably at home pouring tea from a teapot on the decrease in favour of bottled tea. In response to this, they decided to set up a facility for people to relearn the culture of the traditional Japanese kyūsu teapot and the history of tea. They currently hold over 20 courses for people to get involved with.

    Learning to Pour Tea Course (Gyokuro Tea): ¥1,188 (Tax Included)

    We took the tea-pouring course which uses gyokuro green tea. Gyokuro has a sweeter taste to it compared to sencha. It’s also different from sencha in that it is grown under the shade, outside of sunlight. This means it has more theanine in it, giving the tea a more delicious taste.

     

    The necessary tools and confection needed to pour the tea are laid out for you when you sit down. You must then follow the directions of the staff while pouring the tea.

    This was the first gyokuro tea we poured. The first cup has gyokuro extract in it which tastes rich. The tea tastes sweet and smooth. We could really feel its full, ambrosial taste.

    The first 1-2 cups you drink are to fully appreciate the taste of the tea. From the third cup you can start eating the houjicha sweet bean jelly confection provided. The sweet taste of the jelly goes perfectly with the tea. The tea leaves used in this course last for 6 cups so relax, take your time and enjoy.

    The tea-pouring course has instructions in both English and Chinese, so foreign visitors can enjoy themselves without worry.

    Other courses include tea leaf picking in the tea gardens which is available during certain seasons only. There’s also a reference library to learn all about the history of tea.

     

    If you love tea and want to learn all there is to know about tea culture in Japan, then head to Fukujuen Uji Tea Workshop to enjoy the tea of Kyoto to your heart’s content.

     

    ■Information

    Fukujuen Uji Tea Workshop

    Address: Yamada-10 Uji, Uji-shi, Kyoto Prefecture

    Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Last orders at Fukuju Saryo – 16:00)

    Closed: Mondays (or Tuesdays if the Monday falls on a national holiday)

    Access: 8-minutes on foot from Uji Station via Keihan Line / 15-minutes on foot from Uji Station via JR Nara Line

    TEL: 0774-20-1100

    Website: http://www.ujikoubou.com/

     

    2: “Eating Tea” – A matcha-filled meal at Tatsumiya

    After learning all about tea, we headed to Tatsumiya to eat food dotted with all kinds of tea. To get there, head across the bridge opposite Fukujuen Uji Tea Workshop and walk for about 10 minutes. See the sign and entrance above.

    We ordered the matcha course (抹茶料理) which cost ¥4,500 (tax included, service charge separate). Lots of different matcha-incorporated food came out the kitchen one by one.

    Everything on the trays used matcha. The tempura is eaten with matcha salt, there was matcha rice porridge – the list goes on.

    Of course the final dessert had matcha in it too♡

    We recommend trying this matcha course for yourself, it’s something you don’t really see. Plus, you can enjoy a gorgeous view of the Uji River.

     

    ■Information

    Tatsumiya

    Address: Tōgawa-3-7 Uji, Uji-shi, Kyoto Prefecture

    Opening Hours: 11:00-15:30 (Last Orders 14:30 / 16:30-22:00 (Last Orders 19:30)

    No Fixed Holidays.

    TEL: 0774-21-3131

    Website: https://uji-tatsumiya.co.jp/menu/macha.html

     

    3: “Ikkyuji Temple”  – Where Ikkyū spent his last years

    The final place we’d like to recommend is Shuonan Ikkyujin Temple where the famous witty Buddhist monk Ikkyū spent his final years. The temple grounds are home to maple trees which are best seen from mid-November to late November.

    The red and yellow leaves had already begun blooming when we arrived. The temple is one famous for its autumn colours, but its real highlight is that it’s the place where Ikkyū spent his time.

    Zenzai (with Ikkyuji Temple Natto): ¥700 (Tax Included)

    Zenzai is a red bean soup made with adzuki beans eaten during wintertime in Japan. Did you know that it was Ikkyū himself who named this dish? Apparently it was his favourite thing to eat. At the temple you can enjoy zenzai, Ikkyuji Temple natto and tea altogether.

    “Ikkyū’s wit looks at things from both sides,” explained Tanabe, the temple’s chief priest.

     

    Are we thankful to ourselves and those around us, or do we envy others? The choice is ours, but Tanabe kindly taught me the former. You may enjoy having a relaxing conversation with yourself too while looking out at Shuonan’s Japanese-style gardens.

     

    ■Information

    Shuonan (Ikkyujin Temple)

    Address: 102 Takigisatonouchi, Kyōtanabe-shi, Kyoto Prefecture

    Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00 (Sanctuary 9:30-16:30)

    Price: General ¥500 (13+ years) / 12 years and below ¥250

    Access: 5-minutes by taxi from Shin-Tanabe Station via Kintetsu Line / 5-minutes by taxi from Kyōtanabe Station via JR Line

     

    Did you enjoy our 3 picks for Kyoto Infused with Tea? These aren’t the only places either – Kyoto is home to lots of hidden gem locations.”Discover your own Kyoto” too, one that only you know about.

     

     

    ■Writer 

    Sayuri Mizuno / MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON Chief Editor

    Instagram: @sayuri.mizuno

     

    ■Translator

    Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    Twitter: @anokomorebi

    WRITER PROFILE

    MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON Chief Editor/ASOBISYSTEM Instagram:@sayuri.mizuno Twitter:@SayuriMizuno125

  • Kyoto Travel: Enjoy Food, Discover Art in a Traditional Japanese Building & More

    23.November.2018 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    The colours of autumn are now hitting Kyoto, Japan’s ancient city steeped in history, culture and tradition and one visited by countless tourists―both Japanese and foreign―every year.

     

    The staff at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON took a trip to Kyoto to gather information. The theme of the research is “Discover own your Kyoto,” where we introduce little-known places to you in Japan’s former Imperial capital that are not yet known by many people.

     

    This is the second article in the series where we consider a trip to Tokyo for adults. We have a list of recommended spots where adults can go to enjoy a quiet and peaceful time while strolling through traditional places.

     

    1: “Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art” – Appreciate Claude Monet in a traditional western-style building

    The Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art is a western-style house that was built around the Taisho and early Showa periods and was turned into a museum. It was formerly used as a villa.

    On either side of the museum sits the Underground Jewelry Box―an underground building built to turn the villa into a museum, and the Dream Box―a gallery, both built by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Both buildings house permanent art exhibitions as well as periodic exhibitions. The second floor of the museum also has a café. We received special permission to tour the site but it is normally off-limits.

    The inside of the building has a retro style to it. The doors, lamps and stained glass windows create an otherworldly atmosphere. The stained glass window pictured above has been there since the building was first built.

    Inside the Underground Jewelry Box, paintings such as those from Claude Monet’s lauded Water Lilies series line the undressed concrete walls. These are housed here permanently but the pieces may be switched for certain events.

     

    When we visited there was an event happening titled “Viewing the Kimono in Junichiro TANIZAKI’s Literary Works.” The exhibition looks at how Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki depicted women and their fashion and examines the way they dress. On display are kimono recreated from his works. The exhibition is ongoing until December 2, 2018.

    The designs revive those used in the time. Dot patterns are used as is lace. The outfits are also finished with baskets and boots too. Every kimono there will have you thinking just how stylish the women of that time were. You can really get a sense of the fashion back then.

    The second floor café has a terrace where you can enjoy an unbroken view of the cityscape. When you’ve had your fill of art, head up and indulge in some tea and cake while enjoying the scenery.

     

     

    ■Information

    Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art

    Address: Zenihara-5-3 Oyamazaki, Otokuni District, Kyoto Prefecture

    Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Last Entries 16:30)

    Closed: Mondays (or Tuesdays if it is a national holiday. Also closed on November 19, 26 and New Year’s)

    Entry Price: Adults ¥900 / University & High School Students ¥500 / Middle School Students and under – Free

    TEL: 075-957-3123

    Access: 10-minutes on foot from Yamazaki Station via the JR Kyoto Line or from Ōyamazaki Station via the Hankyu Kyoto Main Line

    Website: https://www.asahibeer-oyamazaki.com/english/

     

     

    2: “Yanagimachi” – A restaurant renovated from a townhouse

    Next on the list is Yanagimachi, a restaurant located in Fukuchiyama. The surrounding area of the city is rich in agricultural produce and livelihood is still surrounded by the grace of the forest today.

    Situated within this “Forest of Kyoto” is Yanagimachi, a restaurant that was renovated from a traditional townhouse built in the Meiji period. Despite being in the middle of Fukuchiyama it’s located in a place that still has that old fashioned Japanese castle town atmosphere. The entrance can be found on the side as you walk across the stone paving.

    When you walk in, it doesn’t feel like a building from the Meiji period at all – it’s so modern!

    We ate food made using vegetables harvested locally, amazing chicken and fish. The sashimi included pickled mackerel, greater amberjack, porgy and young Pacific bluefin tuna. Their huge portions of karaage fried food are also one of their specialties.

    This photo above is another one of the restaurant’s famous foods: kamosuki. The fat of the duck is smooth and melts in your mouth. The locally harvested Kujo green onions are sweet and went perfectly with the duck.

     

    Discover the taste of Kyoto by trying this food yourself – food you can’t find anywhere else, served in a restaurant hidden and tucked away from the world.

     

    ■Information

    Yanagimachi

    Address: Shimoyanagimachi Shimoyanagi, Fukuchiyama, Kyoto Prefecture

    Restaurant Opening Hours: 11:30-14:30 (Last Orders 14:00) / 18:00-23:00 (Last Orders 22:00)

    *On Sundays and national holidays, restaurant hours at 18:00-22:00 (Last Orders 21:00)日祝は18:00〜22:00(L.O21:00)

    Café Bar Opening Hours: 11:00-01:00 (Last Orders 00:30)

    Closed: December 31, 2018 – January 4, 2019

    TEL: 0773-22-1809

    Access: 15-minutes on foot from Fukuchiyama Station via the JR Line and Kitakinki Tango Railway

    Website: http://yanagimachi.kyoto.jp/

     

    Did you enjoy this “adult” trip to Kyoto? Kyoto is home many hidden gem locations. Try finding your own “Discover own your Kyoto” too and discover new things to enjoy in the city.

     

    ■Writer 

    Sayuri Mizuno / MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON Chief Editor

    Instagram: @sayuri.mizuno

     

    ■Translator

    Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    Twitter: @anokomorebi

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  • Kabuki Cat Mascot Claws Its Way into koe donuts kyoto Collaboration Set

    29.November.2019 | FOOD / SPOT

    From old shrines and temples to cuisine, Kyoto enjoys a rich arts and culture scene. The former capital is also famed for preserving Japan’s traditional stage drama known as KabukiEvery year, Minamiza Theatre located on Shijō Street in Kyoto holds a grand Kabuki performance called THE FESTIVE KAOMISE PRODUCTION to commemorate its debut. This year, the performance will run from November 30 – December 26.

     

    To celebrate, koe donuts kyoto will be selling collaboration doughnuts themed around the official Kabuki character “Kabuki Nyantaro” during the same period.

    Kabuki Nyantaro’s adorable face decorates some of the doughnuts and can even be seen on the packaging too. This set is exclusive to koe donuts Kyoto.

     

    Enjoy a traditional Kabuki performance with some delicious Kabuki Nyantaro doughnuts to complete your Kyoto experience.

     

    ©2017, 2019 SANRIO/SHOCHIKU APPROVAL NO. G603142  著作(株)サンリオ

  • Top 4 Places to Visit in Kyoto This Winter: Snow, Gourmet Food, Hot Springs & More

    26.November.2019 | SPOT

    Kyoto is known as the ancient capital of Japan. It is said to be the place where quintessential Japanese culture started, and has charmed the world over with its incredibly rich 1,200-year history. Today, we take a look at some of the best places to visit in Kyoto this winter as covered by the November 2019 issue of Japanese magazine Mou Hitotsu no Kyoto (“The Other Kyoto”).

     

    From gourmet food to sightseeing spots, the arts and moreーif you’re in Kyoto this year, you have plenty of reasons to leave your hotel room or house.

     

    Yuki Tourou: See the snowy thatched-roof huts

    Miyama Kayabuki no Sato is located in Miyamachokita, Nantan. It is home to 39 houses with thatched roofs and is a popular sightseeing spot due to its gorgeous natural scenery throughout the entire year. It was listed in Japan’s Groups of Traditional Buildings in 1993.

    In the New Year, snow falls on the huts, which looks beautiful when they light up the “Yuki Tourou”ーor snow lanternsーin late January every year. There are stalls that serve hot food in this little town, and they also host an event where you can make your own snow lantern.

     

    Running: January 25, 2020 – February 1, 2020

    Official Website: http://www.yukitouro.jp/

     

     

    Amanohashidate: One of Japan’s “Three Scenic Views”

    Amanohashidate is a sandbank located in Miyazu Bay that separates the north and south inlet of the Asoumi Sea. It formed as a result of pebbles being carried by the ocean current for thousands of years. Its name comes from the way it looks like a bridge spanning across the sky. It is known as one of Japan’s “Three Scenic Views”

    Amanohashidate is a sight to behold at any point throughout the year, but if you can travel there in the winter, you’re in for a surprise, as the entire sandbank is littered with pure white snow. On very cold days in the morning the snow even covers the tops of the pine trees, but when the sun rises and the temperature warms up the snow on the frost-tipped trees melts. This has led to it being called an “illusionary sight” due to its rarity. Make a point of getting up super early so you don’t miss it!

     

    Address: Tango-Amanohashidate-Ōeyama Quasi-National Park, Miyazu, Kyoto

    Official Website: https://www.amanohashidate.jp/lang/en/

     

     

    Fukuchiyama Castle: The magnificent castle of snow

    Fukuchiyama Castle sits atop a tall hill in the city of Fukuchiyama. The castle was established as the new Tanba province by Akechi Mitsuhide in 1579 following the province’s capture in 1576. The castle was demolished once during the Meiji Period but was restored again in 1986. It is now the only castle that remains today built by Mitsuhide.

    The castle architecture has a lot of personality, and during the winter months takes on a gorgeous white as a result of the snow. Gazing across the castle land from the watchtower is an absolute must when visiting. Also, if you’re visiting next year, the new Fukuchiyama Mitsuhide Museum is set to open on January 11, so be sure to check that out too.

     

    Address: 5 Chome Naiki, Fukuchiyama, Kyoto

    Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00 (Last Entries 16:30)

    Closed: December 28-31, 2019 / January 4-6, 2020

    Entry Price: General ¥330 / Elementary & Junior High School Students ¥110
    Official Website: https://dokkoise.com/en/temple_shrine/index.html

     

     

    Monjusou Shourotei: Feast on crab fondue while gazing at Amanohashidate

    Monjusou Shourotei is a ryokanーa Japanese-style innーlocated along Amanohashidate, one of Japan’s Three Scenic Views which we mentioned earlier on this list. All guests staying at the inn are given a window view of Amanohashidate from their rooms.

     

    The inn offers an original salted snow crab fondue. Snow crab is particularly enjoyed for its degree of freshness. It’s served with vegetables and the boiled crab itself, making for a delicious combination of flavours.

    The hot springs at Amanohashidate are famous and praised as “the baths of the gods.” They are also said to leave your skin looking beautiful after a dip. The inn also offers open-air baths lined with stones from Shikoku and wild grass from the mountains, offering a truly indulging experience.

     

    Address: Amanohashidate Monjudomisaki, Miyazu, Kyoto

    Official Website: https://shourotei.com/

     

     

    These are just some of the incredible places you can enjoy in wintertime Kyoto. You can find more information on Kyoto Side or from one of our many articles on Kyoto.

  • Andy Warhol Exhibition in Kyoto: Select Major Artworks Revealed

    20.November.2019 | SPOT

    An exhibition centred around Andy Warhol, the American artist who was at the forefront of the pop art movement, is set to roll up to the Kyocera Museum of Art in Kyoto from September 19, 2020. Around 200 pieces of art will be showcasedーover 100 of which have never been displayed in Japan beforeーas well as 15 video art pieces.

    Three Marilyns (1962), Andy Warhol. The Andy Warhol Museum. *First showcasing in Japan

    All of the pieces to be shown at the exhibition are the property of The Andy Warhol Museum, which is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the US, where Warhol was born.

    The Last Supper (1986), Andy Warhol. *First showcasing in Japan

    Tunafish Disaster (1963), Andy Warhol. *First showcasing in Japan

    Peacock (1957), Andy Warhol. *First showcasing in Japan

    The line-up displays Warhol’s diverse works, including his highly treasured Three Marilyns, as well as Tunafish Disaster from his Death and Disaster series, the enormous The Last Supper piece, Peacock which makes use of the Japanese style of gold leaf art, and more.

    Kyoto (Kiyomizu-dera) (1956), Andy Warhol.

    The exhibition will also turn its attention to Warhol’s connections to Kyoto which haven’t been discussed before. It will feature Warhol’s sketch of Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto which he drew during his trip around the world.

     

    *All pieces are property of The Andy Warhol Museum

    © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

  • The Perfect Souvenir: Kyoto’s Famous OTABE Confections in Velvety Matcha Chocolate

    17.November.2019 | FOOD

    If you’re in Kyoto looking for a delicious elegant souvenir for your people back home then BijuuCo.,ltd. is your port of call. Their irresistible desserts vary from their well known sweet bean paste-filled Yatsuhashi to their Kyo-Baum. They will be releasing the mouthwatering Matcha Chocolate OTABE from November 20, 2019.

    The rich aroma of the matcha chocolate will be the first thing to entice you. The matcha Yatsuhashi is made from specially selected water and Koshihikari rice, which is famed as Japan’s best rice. The soft and chewy texture of the Yatsuhashi dough gently embraces a velvety, melt-in-the-mouth matcha chocolate ganache filling. These OTABE confections are bursting with the flavours of Kyoto and are only available to purchase for a limited period.

    OTABE combined with Kyoto’s famous matcha chocolate is matcha match made in heaven. If you’re ever in Kyoto, you must try it.

  • Autumn in Aichi: Cherry Blossoms and Maples at Obara Shikizakura Matsuri & Korankei Maple Festival

    15.November.2019 | SPOT

    Early November marks the opening of the autumn cherry blossoms in Obaracho, Toyota. By the time mid-November rolls around, close to 10,000 shikizakura cherry blossoms bloom a pale pink until the end of the month.

    The Yoshino cherry bears its pink petals in springtime, but the shikizakura blossoms twice a year: first in spring, then in autumn. They are considered one of the most beautiful flowers of autumn, especially when they bloom against the gorgeous and vibrant red maple leaves. The Obara Shikizakura Matsuri began on November 1, and right now, you can witness this spectacle for yourself.

    The shikizakura trees planted in Obara have been there since Kansei era (1789-1801). With the helping hand of locals, the trees have become one of Japan’s most famous shikizakura spots. They were designated as Chiku (District) Trees in 1978 and can be seen throughout the entire district. Some of the trees are over 100 years old and as such registered as Natural Monuments of Aichi prefecture.

     

    This is a spot we highly recommend visiting when travelling to Aichi.

     

    ▼Obara Shikizakura Cherry Blossoms

    Peak Blossom Time: From Mid-November

    Locations:

    441-1 Johei, Obaracho, Toyota, Aichi (Obara Fureai Park)

    Senmichi, Toyota, Aichi (Senmi Shikizakura no Sato)

    Access: Take the Toyota Oiden Bus bound for Kaminigi (上仁木行き) and get off at Obaraokusa (小原大草) or Kaminigi (上仁木)

    Details:  http://www.kankou-obara.toyota.aichi.jp/

     

    ▼Obara Shikizakura Matsuri

    Running: November 1, 2019 – November 30, 2019

    Locations: Senmi Shikizakura no Sato, Obara Fureai Park, and elsewhere in the region

    Notes: The Kururin Bus can be boarded for free on weekends and public holidays while the festival is on

    Official Website: https://www.aichi-now.jp/spots/detail/132/

     

    The Korankei Maple Festival is also taking place this month where you can witness around 40,000 maple trees bearing their gorgeous autumn foliage.

    The trees are being lit up every night for the month of November. Watch the sun set before the illuminations are turned on, creating an enchanting atmosphere with the warm, radiating lights against the night sky.

     

    ▼Maple Trees

    Peak Blossom Time: From Mid-November

    Location:  Iimori Asukecho, Toyota, Aichi

    Access: Ride the Meitetsu Mikawa Line to Toyotashi Station, change onto Meitetsu Bus, and alight at Korankei (香嵐渓)

    Official Website:  http://asuke.info/korankei/

     

    ▼64th Korankei Maple Festival

    Running: November 1, 2019 – November 30, 2019

    Location: Around Iimori Asukecho, Toyota, Aichi

    Light-Up: Sunset to 21:00

    Access: 20 minutes from Sarugata Green Road Interchange / 20 minutes from Toyota-Kanpachi Interchange

    Official Website: http://asuke.info/event/nov/entry-705.html

     

    Witness two of Japan’s most celebrates treesーthe cherry blossom and the mapleーflower together in one place in Aichi.

  • See the Breathtaking Autumn Foliage of the Former Shizutani School in Okayama

    14.November.2019 | SPOT

    The Former Shizutani School, recognised as the oldest school existing for commoners in Japan, has reached its peak season for autumn foliage. Speficially, for the Chinese pistache tree, which is a symbol of the school.

    Shizutani School first opened in 1670 during the Kambun era. In 2015, it was registered as an Educational Heritage Site from Early-Modern Japan. The majority of the site is listed as an Important Cultural Property, including the temple, Shizutani Shrine, as well as the auditorium which is considered a national treasure.

     

    The school’s surrounding natural landscape enjoys the blooming of many different flowers throughout the entire year which people flock to see. It’s especially famous for autumn, a season during which the enchanting red and yellow hues boas their beautiful blossom.

    The three colours reflect from the lacquered flooring of the auditorium, rippling like ocean waves.

    The beautiful contrast between the reds and yellows of the pistaches can be enjoyed during autumn-time only. The best time to see them is from now until November 20, so if you’re travelling to Okayama, be sure to pay the Former Shizutani School a visit.

  • Chat and Eat Japanese Sweets With a Real Maiko at Hoshinoya Kyoto

    07.November.2019 | FOOD / SPOT

    Hoshinoya Kyotoーa Japanese inn in Arashiyama where all rooms offer a river viewーhas announced a new event titled “Maiko Salon” which will run next year from February 4 to March 4 which offers female guests the chance to chat with a maiko (an apprentice geisha).

    Maiko Salon is a women-only get-together that offers female guests to chat casually with a real maiko. The clothes that a maiko wears, including the kanzashi ornate hairpin, kimono, obi sash, obidome sash clip, okobo footwearーeverything, from head to toeーis carefully crafted by an expert artisan. This is why maiko have been called “walking pieces of traditional craftsmanship.” At the Maiko Salon, you have the opportunity to wear such craft made in Kyoto and enjoy a sophisticated womanly party.

    For example, the table runners are made with Nishijin-ori, a type of fabric made in Kyoto’s district of Nishijin that has a history spanning over 1,000 years. The walls will also be decorated with obi cloth art panels with Maiko motifs.

    Learn all about the Hanamachi geisha district through womanly conversation

    Being entertained by geisha, known in Japanese as Ozashiki Asobi, is associated with maiko and geisha serving and entertaining men, and as being very private and inaccessible without being introduced by someone else. But since 2018, Hoshinoya Kyoto has been holding this women-only occasion for women to learn more about the culture in a casual environment. It’s a chance to learn more about maiko and their lifestyle through womanly topics like skincare, makeup and so on. There will also be a dance performance, after which attendees can ask about the practises of a maiko, what they think of their work, and so on.

    Edible Kanzashi Ornate Hairpins

    An original Japanese confection made to look like kanzashi ornate hairpins has been whipped up in 5 flavours by Kameya Yoshinaga, a long-standing Japanese confectionery maker which first opened almost 200 years ago. Enjoy together with sparkling wine during your time with the maiko.

  • Starbucks to Release Two Anniversary Drinks in Kyoto and Hyogo for Only 10 Days

    06.November.2019 | FOOD

    Starbucks Coffee Japan is commemorating 20-years since opening their Kyoto and Hyogo Prefecture branches with a 10-day-limited anniversary project which will run from November 12 to November 21. The barristers of both prefectures rose to the challenge to come up with three anniversary drinks and a vote took place to decide on a winning drink for each prefecture. The winners were announced as the Kyoto Erai Matcha Matcha Frappuccino® and the Hyogo Bari Choco Haittou Frappuccino®.  

    *  Update: Starbucks Coffee Japan has just announced that the 20-year commemoration drink sales period has been postponed. The new drink launch date and limited period is yet to be announced. For more information, please follow this link (Japanese only) : https://www.starbucks.co.jp/press_release/pr2020-3224.php 

    One sip of the Kyoto anniversary drink will send your taste buds on a journey to Kyoto. The ideas for the drink originated from the Kyoto Porta West branch. The barristers of Kyoto took it in their hands to interpret the culture of Kyoto in the form of a Starbucks drink by infusing the essence of Kyoto’s historical temples and elegant flavours. The taste of Starbucks’ popular Matcha Cream Frappuccino® can be tasted in the drink. Just seeing the green colour is enough to trigger memories of the Zen Buddhist temple Saiho-ji, which is famous for its moss garden to the extent that it is even called “Koke-dera”, meaning “moss temple”.

     

    The whipped cream creates a contrast with the green matcha which will definitely spark memories of Ryoan-ji Zen temple in some keen Kyoto travellers. The drink is dusted with matcha and dark mocha powder, creating the image of green and brown leaves. The milk base fully enhances the matcha flavour. A creamy cloud of whipped cream and dusting of bitter matcha are layered to create a wonderful flavour adventure which is bound to take your taste buds on a journey off the beaten track.

    Stretching from the north to the south of the Japan, Hyogo Prefecture is the largest prefecture in the Kinki region and is home to many towns which are bursting with originality. Hyogo’s barristers created their drink based on the concept of increasing love for Hyogo Prefecture’s unique towns. The idea for the Hyogo Bari Choco Haittou Frappuccino® came from the barristers of the Himeji Minami branch. 

     

    The Port of Kobe opened in 1868 and has since flourished as the gateway to the world. Foreign culture including western confectionary has since spread across Japan with Kobe as its starting point. Considering Kobe’s history with western culture and the cold winter days that lie ahead, chocolate was chosen as the main flavour. Chocolate chips, chocolate sauce and chocolate whipped cream decorate the drink in diversity. The drink is even topped with chocolate sauce and dark mocha powder, making the perfect luxury Frappuccino® to tempt all chocoholics. After just one sip, you will immediately fall in love with the top-class chocolatey flavour. 

     

    If you’re in Kyoto or Hyogo, make sure to stop by a Starbucks to get your fill of cultural flavours.

  • Kyoto Sightseeing | 4 Spots to Visit Before Autumn 2019 Ends

    03.November.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Autumn is a popular season in Japan, especially amongst tourists and travellers. While in spring you have the bright pink cherry blossoms, when autumntime rolls around, the trees turn into enchanting reds and yellows. People from around the world flock to see this incredible sight, with Kyoto being a very popular location.

     

    Of course, viewing the beautiful colours of the trees and their leaves is a must during the daytime, but seeing them in the evening has become popular in recent years too. It offers you an entirely different experience and atmosphere. So if you’re in the ancient capital for autumn this year, why not experience the season in an entirely new lightーat night?

     

    Jitokuin Temple

    Jitokuin Temple is located in the town of Yosano in Yosa District. Maple trees were planted almost 11 years ago with the help of locals and the chief priest to create local ties. Every autumn, the trees behind the mountain bloom in vivid hues, leading the temple to be nicknamed “Koyo-ji,” or “Temple of Autumn.” The locals work hard in the surrounding gardens day by day, so the sights change a little bit every year.

    The maple trees are planted in a way that it looks like they take an entire side of the mountain. They are a sight to be hold during the day, but for one week in November there will be illuminations in the evenings, creating a magical scene under the night sky.

     

    ▼Jitokuin Temple

    Light-Up Period: November 9, 2019 – November 16, 2019

    Light-Up Time: 17:00-20:00 (Temple is open 09:00-20:00)

    Autumn Foliage Peak Period: Early-Mid November

    Address: 2250 Akeshi, Yosano, Yoza-gun, Kyoto

    Support Fund: ¥300

    Official Website: http://jitokuin.com

     

     

    Nariaiji Temple

    Nariaiji Temple, located in Kyoto Prefecture’s city of Miyazu, is an ancient temple betwixt mountains overlooking Amanohashidate, one of Japan’s “Three Scenic Views.” It’s home to a grand 5-storey pagoda which is surrounded by hundreds of maple trees, offering an incredible, quintessentially Japanese view during autumn.

    During the day, you can snap some gorgeous photos with the Sea of Japan and Amanohashidate in the back. For two nights only, on Saturday November 9 and Sunday November 10, the entire area will be beautifully lit up with warm illuminations.

     

    ▼Nariaiji Temple

    Light-Up Period: November 9, 2019 – November 10, 2019

    Light-Up Time: Sunset – 21:00 (Temple is open 08:00-16:30)

    Autumn Foliage Peak Period: Early-Late November

    Address: 339 Nariaiji, Miyazu, Kyoto

    Price: ¥500

    Official Website: http://www.nariaiji.jp/

     

     

    Kasagiyama Prefectural Natural Park

    Kasagiyama Prefectural Natural Park: is located atop Mt. Kasagi and is also home to Kasagi-dera, a temple with a 1,300-year history. During autumn, one entire side of the park is dyed in autumnal colours.

    This November, the area will be lit up for a limited period, offering a gorgeous view from the mountain peak of the trees below as well as the flowing Kizugawa river.

     

    ▼Kasagiyama Prefectural Natural Park

    Light-Up Period: November 1, 2019 – November 30, 2019

    Light-Up Time: 17:00-21:00 (Temple is open 09:00-16:00)

    Autumn Foliage Peak Period: Early-Mid November

    Address: Mt. Kasagi, Kasagi, Soraku District, Kyoto

    Price: Illuminations – Free / Temple – Adults ¥300, Children ¥100

    Official Website: https://www.kasagidera.or.jp

     

     

    Yokokuji Temple

    Normally, the Joshoin at Yokokuji Templeーalso known as Yanagidani Kannonーonly opens on the 17th of every month. But for a special autumn event, it is now open every day up until December 1. The beauty of its autumn colours have come to be enjoyed by VIPs, dating back to the pre-war period when it was designated as a place of scenic beauty. For more details on this event, click here.

     

    Yanagidani Kannon Autumn Colours Week

    Running: November 2, 2019 – December 1, 2019

    Time: 9:00-16:00 (Joshoin open 10:00-15:00)

    Location: Yanagidani Kannon, Yokokuji Temple (Dōnotani-2 Jōdodani, Nagaokakyo, Kyoto)

    Entry Price: ¥300

    Full Ticket: ¥1,100→¥1,100 (Includes entry to multiple areas)

    Official Website: http://yanagidani.jp/

     

     

    Take the time to enjoy an autumnal Kyoto this year at one of the city’s seasonal events.

  • Kyoto Sightseeing | Yokokuji Temple’s Autumn Event Schedule Announced

    30.October.2019 | SPOT

    Yanagidani Kannon, also known as Yokokuji Temple, is located in Kyoto Prefecture’s city of Nagaokakyo and has been used as a place of prayer for many people with eye disease since the Heian Period. It is believed that praying at the temple will cure eye disease.

     

    For autumn-time this year, the temple is set to hold an event titled “Yanagidani Kannon Autumn Colours Week” from November 2 to December 1. With a seasonal schedule that includes illuminations in the gardens to a flower display at the temple water basin, if you’re looking for the must-visit locations in Kyoto this autumn, then you’ll want to add Yokokuji Temple to your list.

     

    Jodoen Garden Illuminations

    Last year’s popular light-up event is making a return for 2019, with gorgeous illuminations developed by light designer Yuuki Kogawa which will brighten the area with an enchanting and mystifying aura different from a usual visit to the garden.

     

    Dates: November 8th, 15th, 22nd-23rd

    Time: 17:30-18:30  (Reception open from 17:00)

    Price: ¥2,500 (Includes limited edition goshuin stamp)

    No. of People: 20 (Bookings Only)

    Bookings: https://yanagidani.jp/contact/

     

    Special Opening of the Joshoin

    Normally, the Joshoin only opens on the 17th of every month, but for this autumn week event, it will be open every day. It’s an area normally limited to officials and those in the imperial family. The beauty of its autumn colours have come to be enjoyed by VIPs, dating back to the pre-war period when it was designated as a place of scenic beauty.

     

    Hanachomizu Flower Water Basin

    At every temple and shrine in Japan there is a water basin which you are to use to cleanse yourself before entering. The Hanachomizu has become hugely popular on social media since the name first appeared 3 years ago, where leaves and flowers are placed into the basin. It has become adopted at temples across the country, with the one at Yokokuji Temple starting the trend. When it was first posted onto social media, it received reactions from over 80,000 people both in Japan and overseas. The flowers used change with the seasons, from hydrangeas to maple leaves.

     

    Limited Edition Goshuin Stamp Book Designs – Garasha Matsuri & More

    Visitors will be able to pick up limited-edition goshuin stamp books which never fail to sell out whenever they are released. Goshuin are collectable stamps/seals at temples around Japan. They are ¥500 each and limited in stock.

    This is just a small peek into what’s to come during Yanagidani Kannon Autumn Colours Week. If you’re in Kyoto, make sure you pay a visit to Yokokuji Temple.

  • Limited Booking For Sebastian Masuda’s Artistic Kawaii Room Opens Soon

    29.October.2019 | SPOT

    Booking.com is one of the world’s largest accommodation booking websites that connects people from all over the world with many unique places to stay. For the first time ever, Booking.com has announced a very special stay at ‘KAWAII Japanese Room – Addicted to Tokyo.’ Designed in collaboration with no other than art director and icon of Japan’s kawaii pop culture Sebastian Masuda. The stay is available exclusively through Booking.com with only a handful of  booking dates available which are: November 13-14, 14-15 and 15-16. 

     

    One significant pattern which can be seen in the room is that of a traditional jūnihitoe, which is a set of formal kimono garments worn by court-ladies in Japan. The designs and patterns have been fused with a vivid pop colour scheme and created in a modern graphics style for a new form of experimental art. The main concept of the room is “Addicted to TOKYO”. Once you step into the room, you will be immersed in a world of vivid colours and patterns where abstract wonder is fused with traditional features. A stay here is bound to be stay you will never forget. The room is located at the MIMARU TOKYO AKASAKA apartment hotel and was remodeled specifically for this purpose. Reservations will open worldwide at 7pm JST (11am in Amsterdam). Only three reservations – one for each night – will be accepted and it is first-come, first-served.  

    The room is filled with Japanese-style room features such as tatami flooring, sliding doors, zabuton floor cushions, and a raised tatami-floored seating area. There are two beds and a large open space in the room. Once you enter, you will be immersed in a world of patterns.  Using Japanese celebratory culture as a starting point, Masuda has created a space which reflects the atmosphere of an exciting Japanese celebration. Although there are many traditional features to the room, there are also animal patterns and patterns that make the word “TOKYO”, creating a room full of impact. One of the most iconic decorations in the room is the bear which rests on the pink tatami flooring. The bear’s unique design resembles origami, reflecting the cute yet edgy culture of Tokyo fashion. 

    In the room you’ll find KAWAII Japanese Room-limited design yukata. These unisex yukata are designed with a range of patterns and colours that can be seen around the room. You can use them as pyjamas and can even take them back home with you.

     

    You cannot leave the accommodation without checking out the giant mushroom display located on the MIMARU TOKYO AKASAKA roof. Those staying in any room at MIMARU TOKYO AKASAKA during the limited period as well as those staying in the KAWAII Japanese room both have access to see this glorious masterpiece

     

    If you are not one of the lucky few who get a chance to stay at the KAWAII Japanese Room- Addicted to TOKYO, you could book another room in the hotel during the same period to witness Masuda’s iconic mushroom masterpiece. This is the perfect place to experience a full-on kawaii experience right in the centre of Tokyo. The first 100 people to visit the rooftop between 3pm and 9pm on each day between November 13 and 15 will receive an original hand towel. 

     

    Be sure to check it out.

  • Hoshino Resorts to Open New Facilities in Okinawa, Hawaii & 3 More Places

    28.October.2019 | SPOT

    Hoshino Resorts opened HOSHINOYA Guguan in Taiwan in June and Iriomotejima Hotel in Okinawa in October this year. It will also open Risonare Nasu in November. The hotel chain has now just announced that it will open 5 more new facilities in 2020, pushing the number of locations they manage up to 45 next year.

    Iriomotejima Hotel

    Risonare Nasu

    Hoshino Resorts prides itself on offering a hotel experience that makes use of local regions as well as offering unique experiences. With their catalogue of facilities now set to increase, the company has a released a video detailing the five new hotels.

    The five new hotels will open in Hawaii, Nagato in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Tsuchira in Ibaraki Prefecture, Kohama Island in Okinawa Prefecture, and mainland Okinawa.

    The Hawaii hotel, named Hoshino Resorts Surf Jack Hawaii, describes itself as an “ohana-friendly retro boutique hotel with a satisfying Waikiki experience.”

    Nagato, Yamaguchi will give rise to the 16th hotel in Hoshino Resorts’ brand of KAI hotels, named KAI Nagato. It will open in the Yumoto Hot Spring area and be inspired by Yamaguchi’s traditional tea houses as well as buke samurai culture. Look forward to bathing in the hot springs of this traditional Japanese inn, steeped in history and culture.

    Over in Ibaraki Prefecture, Hoshino Resorts will open Japan’s biggest cycling resort, named Hoshino Resort BEB5 Tsuchiura, which we covered earlier this month. It will act as a “base camp” to enjoy cycling, with its core concept being “more an izakaya and less travel-focused where you can enjoy a laid-back time with friends.” It hopes to put a new spin on travel by combining the worlds of cycling and accommodation.

    Okinawa is getting three new hotels. Hoshino Resorts Risonare Kohama will feature 60 rooms each their own private villas. Its concept is “a private beach resort on a remote island swimming with the manta rays” and will offer a beach and resort-like experience to guests with views of the white sand and blue ocean.

    HOSHINOYA Okinawa will be inspired by gusuku which refers to castles in the Ryukyu Islands that feature stone walls, with the hotel itself being enveloped in one. The hotel will be surrounded by the gorgeous ocean and coast, offering that quintessential Okinawan resort experience.

     

    The tables at Hoshino Resorts Banta Cafe will offer a breathtaking view of Okinawa’s grand seas, with a menu serving food and drink made with Okinawan ingredients.

     

    2020 is looking to be a big year for Hoshino Resorts as it begins expansion. If you’re travelling to Japan, why not check if one of their hotels is near where you’re looking to stay?

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