Kyoto’s Luxury Ryokan SOWAKA Offers New Private Kodaiji Temple Night Plan

25.January.2019 | SPOT

SOWAKA is a new luxury ryokan in Gion, Kyoto set to hold its grand opening on March 25, 2019. In the run up to this, the establishment has announced a private spring night visit to Kodaiji Temple for guests.

This small luxury hotel is has been renovated into 11 rooms. It was formerly a long-standing traditional restaurant with a history spanning 100 years. Added onto that are 12 brand new rooms which fuse traditional Japan from a modern perspective making for a total of 23 rooms. The hotel offers the kind of peace, tranquillity, comfort and hospitality associated with the Japanese style.

 

SOWAKA actually opened on November 23 last year but the new building of 12 rooms and restaurant will open as part of its  grand opening on March 25 this year.

The new plan announced invites guests on a springtime trip to Kodaiji Temple. The temple was established in 1606 by the nun Kōdai-in after the death of her husband Toyotomi Hideyoshi to memorialise him. It is famous for its nighttime cherry blossoms which guests will be able to enjoy. The temple bustles with visitors every year who go to see the cherry blossoms illuminated with lights. Guests can expect to take in the magical sight in the peace and quiet in a place laced with history and culture.

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  • MANGA ART HOTEL TOKYO: The Manga-Filled Hotel That Never Sleeps

    10.January.2019 | SPOT

    MANGA ART HOTEL, TOKYO is a new hostel opening in the Jinbōchō district of Chiyoda in February 2019. Its theme is “the hotel that never sleeps” and it will provide a real manga experience for fans of the reading genre.

    This project began in response to the increasing number of foreign visitors travelling to Japan in the run up to 2020 to get more people to learn and love Japan.

     

    The hotel focuses on the art side of manga and will boast an unending selection of books for guests to choose from. The manager will directly communicate with guests to create a culture and community of manga lovers.

    Walking past the bookshelves will be like stepping into another world. The 5,000+ manga books have been specially curated from an art perspective. Each title will have a recommendation comment alongside it written by the manager. There are many series waiting there to be discovered. There is of course English manga available too. All of the books can also be at the hotel.

     

    Jinbōchō is known as the “district of books.” Many book shops and publishers line its streets, so MANGA ART HOTEL, TOKYO will fit in perfectly.

    The hostel has also teamed up with popular pyjama brand Nells who are currently developing original manga pyjamas to sell at the hostel so guests can fully immerse themselves in the dream world of manga.

     

    If you’re visiting Tokyo this year and love manga then be sure to check it out.

  • Want to know what everyday Japanese culture is like? Stay at “SEKAI HOTEL Fuse!”

    14.January.2019 | SPOT

    On 9th September 2018, SEKAI HOTEL Fuse opened in Osaka! And what is so special about this place? It boasts just how “ordinary” it is! The hotel is decorated in an ordinary style and aims to show what “ordinary” Japanese culture is like. As a result, many locals and even foreigners are flocking over!

    SEKAI HOTEL provides a normal, everyday Japanese atmosphere that is nothing out of the norm for locals. However, although this cultural experience may be normal for some, it has incredible cultural value. The hotel boasts a realistic, normal Japanese living environment and is appealing to both the Japanese and non-Japanese. Their Instagram, Weibo and other SNS have been receiving many reactions and queries from foreigners. It’s become clear that daily Japanese lifestyle is packed with interesting and unique culture!

     

    Although travelling, sightseeing and package tours may stereotypically be the first pick for many, the demand for a taste of a real Japanese lifestyle is increasing. SEKAI HOTEL provides this “ordinary” culture for visitors to enjoy – the number of travellers stopping by is growing!

    To many visitors, the emphasis put onto Japanese products, restaurants and services is important for tourism. However, SEKAI HOTEL believes that the real essence of a town and its true value must also be fully appreciated for what it really is in order for it to develop successfully.

     

    SEKAI HOTEL Fuse plans on opening three new guest rooms by March 2019. Through sightseeing, accommodation and local industries, Osaka aims to propel its tourism industry forward.

  • Hotel Hankyu International Introduces Bride & Groom and Photo Opportunity for Foreign Guests

    10.December.2018 | SPOT

    Hotel Hankyu International is introducing a new accommodation plan for non-Japanese guests on December 10.

     

    The hotel has taken on board the change in consumption trends of inbound foreign visitors Japan in wanting to “do” rather than “buy.” The hotel will offer hair, makeup and styling services run by professionals have photos taken in the style of a Japanese wedding ceremony.

     

    Photos will be taken wearing traditional Japanese outfits. Hair and makeup will be carried out at the Shiseido salon in the hotel.

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  • Handmade Christmas Chocolate Santa and Snowman Released at ATELIER de GODIVA in Kyoto

    13.December.2019 | FOOD

    GODIVA Japan released two new chocolate products at the Daimaru Kyoto branch of ATELIER de GODIVA, a chocolate shop which combines GODIVA’s skilful craftsmanship with chocolate artistry. Named “ATELIER Christmas Showpiece Santa Claus” and “ATELIER Christmas Showpiece Snowman,” the two chocolate artworks were released on Wednesday and are available until December 25.

    Each and every one of these chocolate sculptures are handmade in-store by the shop’s chefs. They are exclusive to ATELIER de GODIVA Daimaru Kyoto and the perfect Christmas treat to adorn any Christmas party this holiday season.

    These cute Christmas-exclusives not only taste delicious, but are fun to look at. Santa is sat in a chimney ready to deliver the presents while the snowman is sat next to a Christmas tree looking warm with its scarf.

    Both of these are limited in stock and won’t be available ever again after they sell out, so don’t miss out.

  • Top Six Hotels on Booking.com for Nighttime Sceneries and Light Displays in Japan

    10.December.2019 | SPOT

    The diverse range and large number of accommodations and trip services found on Booking.com is phenomenal. As one of the world’s largest travel accommodation booking websites, this is the first port of call for many who want to guarantee seamless travel plans. Today we’re announcing Booking.com’s top accommodations for heart-warming light up events and nighttime views. For couples looking for a romantic getaway in Japan, let this article be your guide.

     

    Hotel La Suite Kobe Harborland (Kobe, Hyogo)

    Hotel La Suite Kobe Harborland is a five-star hotel located near Harborland Waterfront which enjoys an extraordinary view of the sea. The rooms are fitted with a spa bath and there is even a rooftop terrace with comfy sofas to relax. All guests are treated to a romantic view right from their window. The hotel is situated just a 20-minute walk from Kobe’s grandest winter illumination event called 2019 Kobe Luminarie. If you want to get up close to magnificent works of art, this hotel is for you.

    Review Rating: 9.5/10.

    Click here to view Hotel La Suite Kobe Harborland on Booking.com

     

    Yokohama Royal Park Hotel (Yokohama, Kanagawa)

    Yokohama Royal Park Hotel is situated on floor 52 and upwards in Yokohama Landmark Tower. Being located in the second tallest building in Japan surely has its perks. Soak in the beautiful cityscape and the best view of Yokohama Bay Bridge to your heart’s content. You can only imagine the breathtaking view available in every room. Facilities in the hotel include a fitness centre with an indoor pool, eight diverse restaurants and a massage facility (fee applies). A brand new shopping mall called Yokohama Hammerhead recently opened in close vicinity which is the perfect place to spend the afternoon or have a bite to eat.  

    Review Rating: 9.0/10.

    Click here to view Yokohama Royal Park Hotel on Booking.com

     

    The Prince Park Tower Tokyo, Minato, Tokyo

    With the iconic figure of Tokyo Tower glowing right outside your window, the Prince Park Tower Tokyo stands tall in Shiba Park. Prince Park Tower Tokyo enjoys spacious rooms, entertainment facilities such as bowling and karaoke, and relaxation facilities such as saunas, massage services and much more. Limited facilities include access to the fitness centre, onsen spas, indoor swimming pool and the lounge on floor 33. You can purchase a room with the view of Tokyo Tower on Booking.com 

    Review Rating: 8.9/10 

    Click here to view Prince Park Tower Tokyo on Booking.com 

     

    Garden Terrace Nagasaki Hotel & Resort (Fukuoka, Nagasaki)

    Located on Mount Inasa, this hotel offers a beautiful view of Nagasaki. There is a wide variety of facilities including an outdoor swimming pool (open depending on the season) and bars. Guests can enjoy the mystical and romantic nighttime scenery from the poolside. The hotel even offers a wedding plan, making it the perfect place for couples. 

    Review Rating: 8.9/10.

    Click here to view Garden Terrace Nagasaki Hotel & Resort on Booking.com

     

    mizuka Nakasu 3mizuka Nakasu 3 -unmanned hotel (Fukuoka)

    This hotel is located in Nakasu, Fukuoka just 500m away from Seiryu Park, the old municipal guest palace Kihinkan Hall and the historic monument Hakata Machiya Kishin Takatoro. Each room has two bunk beds and can fit up to four guests. Enjoy the hotel’s barbeque or takoyaki set with friends or family with the fantastic nighttime view of Fukuoka. 

    Review Rating: 8.8/10

    Click here to view mizuka Nakasu 3 -unmanned hotel on Booking.com

     

    Ryukyu Onsen Senagajima Hotel (Naha, Okinawa)

    Ryukyu Onsen Senagajima Hotel’s magnificent outdoor pools, onsen, massage services and buffet restaurant that overlooks the picturesque sea at night should be enough to get your attention. You can enjoy a SPA OSa beauty treatment and even water sports or golf in the area. This is a wonderful way to celebrate the first Christmas of the Reiwa Era with your friends or family.

    Review Rating: 8/7/10

    Click here to view Ryukyu Onsen Senagajima Hotel on Booking.com

     

    If you’re visiting Japan this Christmas, consider one of these relaxing hotels and their glorious views.

     

    *Review Ratings are based on reviews received in the past two years (from December 2017 to December 2019) on Booking.com and are calculated based on scores given in the following categories: cleanliness, comfort, location, facilities, staff and value for money.

  • Hotel Royal Classic Osaka: A Museum & Hotel Fusing Tradition and Innovation in an Art Museum-Style Space

    30.November.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Shin Kabuki-za is an old theatre in Osaka that has been loved by locals since it opened in 1926. The theatre is set to find new life as Hotel Royal Classic Osaka, a new hotel developed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma which is set to open on December 1, 2019. The MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON editorial team received exclusive access to view the hotel before it opens to report on it and showcase how it differs completely from other hotels with its characteristic charms.

     

    Its direct connect to Namba Station means super easy access

    Hotel Royal Classic Osaka is situated in the central part of Osaka Minami. Direct access to the hotel from the Osaka Metro section of Namba Station will be made available from March 2020, allowing for easy access and the reassurance that you won’t get lost wandering the streets trying to find your accommodation. Its location means easy access for tourists and travellers with a lot of luggage, working professionals who want to shorten the distance between commutes as much as possible, and pretty much any other scenario where accessibility is a priority.

     

    An iconic building exterior combining tradition and modern innovation

    Shin Kabuki-za is known by the locals who live in the area for its magnificent karahafu roof gables. The hotel will inherit this symbolic part of the theatre’s design and restore the lower part of the building. The upper part makes use of multiple layers of aluminium to create a dynamic and intricate design, resulting in a unique appearance that fuses both the traditional formation of the original theatre with a modern touch. Thanks to Kengo Kuma’s skillful architectural work, the building merges effortlessly with the surrounding buildings while retaining the local culture.

     

    It’s as much of an art museum as a hotel

    Olympic Girl 100m by Ay-O (Takao Iijima)

    The hotel also stands tall and proud as an art museum. As you walk down its corridors, your eyes will meet a plethora of gorgeous pieces of artwork which serve to lay guests into a sense of calmness and tranquility. These works are scattered throughout the hotel, both at the front desk, guest rooms, and elsewhere, making it feel like you have really stepped into a museum of art. High-class pieces also line the walls nonchalantly, so give yourself time to appreciate the many masterpieces you’ll find there.

      

    High ceilings create spaceーspace which is nothing less than relaxing

    There are 150 guest rooms in total, consisting of Standard Rooms, Premium Rooms, and Suite Rooms. Not only does each and every room boast a beautiful and panoramic window view of Osaka’s nightscape, they also enjoy high ceilings, creating a sense of space and freedom.

    Wood is the base of all the rooms, giving them a natural and relaxed feeling. The furniture is simple which gives the rooms a minimalist design, again adding to the space and sense of luxury. We stayed in one of the Standard Rooms. Don’t let going for Standard make you feel inferior, however, as we felt the room was incredibly spacious with plenty of space to store luggage.

    Room lighting is controlled with a tablet located next to the bed. The tablets are compatible in four languages. Each icon on them also has universally easy-to-recognise pictures for easy use.

    Also, the bathtubs in Standard Rooms have a little window that looks into the main bedroom. If you’re with someone you’re on good terms with, whether friends, family or a loved one, you can communicate back and forth while you take a soak. (There is of course a sliding door so you can close it off too!)

    We were also shown around one of the Suite Rooms which are fitted with a living room and spacious washroom. It really is penthouse-level extraordinary.

    The bathrooms have a window that looks out across the city nightscape, allowing for an indulging soak with a breathtaking view. It’s not one we could afford every single time we book a hotel, on a special occasion one time it’s an absolute definite.

     

    Amenities galore to pamper your hair and body

    The rooms come with a long line-up of fantastic amenities, like comfy cotton PJs, fluffy slippers, and our personal favourite: a compressed bag for your clothing. 

    The amenities in the washroom were bountiful too, from shampoo to conditioner, shower gel and body gelーall of which, by the way, are by the Thai organic brand Panpuri. They all smelled incredible and filled the bathroom with their gorgeous scent.

    They have all your ordinary must-haves too like a hair comb, cotton buds, toothbrush, and so on.

     

    KUMO KUMO: The bar and lounge with comfy sofas

    The hotel building has a total of twenty floors. After enjoying our time in the hotel portion, we headed up to the bar and lounge KUMO KUMO on the 20th floor. Inside the elevator, piano music plays while you gaze at the several pieces of art fitted inside. There was even a piece by Yayoi Kusama, so be sure to take a look.

    When entering KUMO KUMO, there’s not only seats at the counter, but lots of sofas too with a window view.

    Jazz music flowed through the bar and lounge, which is best enjoyed with a cup of delicious sake while staring out over nighttime Osaka.

     

    HAFU is a restaurant for guests only that serves breakfast.

    Their menu consists of lots of healthy options, from fruits to salads.

    The chef will also prepare fresh hotel-grade egg and meat dishes too, amongst other delicious delights. There’s also a range of slim-friendly menu items made with foreign guests in mind. The assortment was truly incredible, we can’t recommend this place enough.

    Of course, there’s yogurt, mini sweets and other dessert-like morning treats to indulge in too. It was a breakfast for the gods.

     

    YURAYURA: A restaurant that combines Japanese and Western cuisine

    The team enjoyed lunch at YURAYURA too, a buffet-style restaurant that also seats non-guests. Their menu is an amalgamation of the Japanese and Western palate, serving carefully-selected ingredients from countries around the world.

    They had various foods from around Asia too like nasi goreng from Indonesia, as well as Korean japchae, and more.

    Other things we spotted were pincho and small-cut sweets too.

    For Japanese food there were things like freshly-fried tempura, and large cuts of roast beef which were cut there and then by the chef.

     

    What I was personally happy about was their cafe menu, with things like cafe latte and other hot drinks. It was a satisfying 90-minutes spent, wolfing down food and then enjoying some sweets with a cafe latte.

     

    5 spaces that can be used for weddings, parties & more

    The hotel building even houses two chapels, as well as banquet halls, which can be used for weddings, parties and more. The chapels have large windows that let in plenty of natural sunlight. The use of natural wood also gives the room a warm feeling to it.

    Floor 8’s HANAEMI

    There are five banquet halls in total each on a different floor and each with their own concept. Those on floors 7, 8 and 9 even have terraces for parties too. Whether you’re having a party, a wedding, or a conference, there is a room for you.

    Hotel Royal Classic Osaka’s speciality is its inclusion of leaving a part of traditional Japan in there while still letting you feel the Japan of today. Whether you’re travelling to Osaka for some sightseeing and fun, or you’re in the business scene and need a regular-use hotel, look no further. We felt connected to Osaka in our experience there, so if you’re planning a trip to Osaka, be sure to book with Namba’s newest landmark.

  • 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.

  • Tokyo’s My Hero Academia Themed Hotel Rooms Unveil Designs | Tokyo Prince Hotel

    24.November.2019 | ANIME&GAME / SPOT

    Tokyo Prince Hotel has announced a collaboration with the upcoming anime film My Hero Academia: Heroes: Rising which is set for release on December 20, 2019. Bookings are now open for their My Hero Academia themed hotel rooms, which will be available to stay in from December 7 this year until February 29, 2020.

    The room designs and hotel plans were revealed today. There are two plans available: the “Concept Room Plan” where guests can stay in a room that recreates the world of the movie and comes with free merchandise and a themed drink, and the “Regular Room Plan,” which features a regular hotel room decked out with lots of My Hero Academia decorations, and also comes with the merch and drink.

    The concept room is split into two rooms: the first recreating the room in which the students of class 1-A meet the protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, and the second on Midoriya’s bedroom.

    Expect to see illustrations of the students as well as the Villains in the rooms too. Bookings are first-come, first-served, so don’t miss out!

     

    ©️2019 “My Hero Academia THE MOVIE” Production Committee ©️Kohei Horikoshi/Shueisha

  • 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

  • This Relaxing Onsen Hotel with Picturesque Nature and Luxurious Local Cuisine is the Perfect Getaway

    17.November.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    Japan is full of picturesque locations where you can be at one with nature and soak the tiredness of your body away in the onsen baths. If you are looking for an escape from busy working life, then you’re in luck: Today we’ll be introducing you to a modern onsen hotel which is perfect for families, lovers, and even solo travellers. 

    Escape from Tokyo on the bullet train, ride the Zairai line and finally, catch a bus. After your two-hour journey, you will arrive at onsen hot spot Uonuma city in Niigata Prefecture. Today, we’ll be heading to Tomoya Hotel. The picturesque scenery of paddy fields and mountains will unfold before your very eyes and put your mind at ease.    

    Sunlight pours over the reception desk from the giant window. It was time to check in. After being informed on meal times and private onsen rentals, I quickly headed to my room.

    I was given room 305. The warm wooden structure made the room feel lavishly large. Whether you’re snuggling up with a lover, chilling out with friends or relaxing with family, the atmosphere and size of the room allows for flexible usage.

    The Sanashi river was right outside my window. I could watch the soothing clear water flow out to the horizon for hours. 

    The room was prepared with loungewear, bath towels, toothbrushes, socks and many other amenities. It was even fitted with a fridge and water heater. 

    From the lamps lighting the stairway and hallway sofas to the displayed artwork, every item in Tomoya Hotel is a carefully selected item of special design. 

    There was even a DJ area next to the lobby which contained a surprising stash of records, CDs and DVDs which was uncountably large. Being able to discover new music and films is another admirable feature of the hotel. 

    The front lobby is filled with a fresh and liberating atmosphere. There are plenty of spots to sit and read to yourself as the melodies of records weave through the air.

    The shop sells specially selected products including locally produced juice, snacks and much more. You can even purchase Tomoya Hotel’s original skincare goods. Reading the cheerful and thoughtful comments written on the goods by the manager made it clear that every single item in the shop was chosen with the utmost care. 

    One by one, several lavish courses arrived at my door for dinner that evening. The locally-sourced ingredients and seasonal vegetables were served with Niigata prefecture’s uonuma koshihikari rice, which is famed as Japan’s best rice. 

    Nameko mushroom hotpot, salt-fried East Asian trout, tofu mixed with lotus root, and sashimi were just some of the hotel’s many original dishes that were brought to my door. As the rice was harvested from the first crop of the year, it was very sweet and so delicious that I helped myself to multiple servings without realising. The food was flavoured and seasoned very lightly to ensure that guests could fully enjoy the true flavours of the fresh harvest from the mountains and the sea. The luxurious dinner was highly enjoyable. 

    I enjoyed sipping a small glass of Tomoya’s chilled Reishu sake with my meal. This is an original recipe sake created by Tomoya Hotel and local sake brewery Tamagawa Shuzo. It was so refreshing, easy to drink and perfectly complimented every dish. The hotel provided a rich variety of alcoholic dinks including refreshing beer, carefully-selected wines, rare local sake, homemade fruit liqueurs, and more.

    The onsen is home to rich history dating back to the year 1300 when it first opened its doors to the public. There are two types of private rental onsen and large public onsen indoors. Some square-shaped baths sit right beside a small stream which branches off from the Sanashi river. Treat yourself to a soothing soak in a historical onsen while absorbing the beautiful scenery. 

    After finishing your relaxing soak, head to floor 1 of the main building to spend some time relaxing. This space is for guests to use freely and how they please. There are bookshelves lined with books and games available.

    The first floor of the hotel annexe was my favourite place. Music from a variety of genres is played here. A disco ball hangs high, splashing light across the spacious room. There is a ping-pong table, a pool table, massage chair, piano, an old Nintendo game, manga and much more. It may seem like a relaxing place at first glance, but my heart was racing with excitement as I got hooked on the games.

    The following morning, breakfast was delivered right to my room again. Seeing the tray filled with a luxurious mix of both western and Japanese-style cuisine was very pleasing to see. I indulged in yaki-fu: baked wheat gluten which is a specialty of Niigata, fried fish, rolled Japanese-style omelette, homemade cheesecake and much more. All the meals served at the hotel are made with the utmost care and precision. 

    If I were to introduce all the wonderful services and features of Tomoya hotel then there would be no end to this article. The main highlights were the delicious meals made with locally sourced ingredients, the soothing onsen, the music, films and experience of art culture, and of course, the opportunity to get in touch with nature, watching the water trickle down the mountain streams as your mind discovers peace. 

     

    If you are looking to heal your body, mind and soul whilst discovering nature and art, then Tomoya Hotel is perfect for you. 

     

    Writer:Ellie(MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON)

  • 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.

  • Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo to Hold Christmas Evening Party at Le Jardin Restaurant

    11.November.2019 | FOOD

    Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo has announced that it will hold a special Christmastime “Evening Party” from December 20-25 at Le Jardin, the hotel’s stylish cafe/restaurant that offers a gorgeous view of the hotel’s quiet garden landscape.

    The Evening Party will take place just a little later than afternoon tea time where customers can tuck into some succulent meat and fish. The hotel has held it for the past 14 years, and anyone that has experienced it will tell you that you’ll want to go back after trying it once.

    At the party, seasonal food is served on an extravagant 3-tier hors d’oeuvres stand together with champagne. You will never forget the taste of the chef’s specially-prepared thick cut roast beef, as well as your own choice of dessert, tea, coffee and more.

     

    The roast beef in particular is hugely popular, with repeat customers flocking to get a taste of its delicious flavour. It’s seasoned with salt, fennel, rosemary and juniper berries, and garlic before being browned in the frying pan and subsequently cooked in an airtight pack together with a mirepoix made from carrots, onions, celery and other ingredients on a low heat at 63°C for 3 hours. This is the secret to the meat’s popularity, resulting in soft and succulent heaven.

    Menu items will be served in Christmas colours, including some made to look like Christmas trees, and there is also a meal plan that includes a present.

    Enjoy a wonderful dinner time this Christmas in Tokyo at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo.

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