Learn About Shimane Prefecture’s Oki Islands with Japanese Model Saki Shibata

15.March.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

On March 2, 2019 Japanese model Saki Shibata, along with nine others, carried out a research project entitled “Research Lab on the Charms of Oki” (隠岐のお気に入り研究所) to come up with a travel plan for the Oki Islands.

The Oki Islands are part of Shimane Prefecture. There are over 180 islands in total, sixteen of which are named, but only four of which are inhabited by humans. These can be visited via a ferry or high-speed boat.

 

The islands were formed almost 6 million years ago from volcanic activity. In September 2014, the islands were designated a UNESCO Global Geopark for their rich land and unique flora and fauna, history and culture. Visiting the islands offers the opportunity to experience unique nature you can’t anywhere else in Japan. It is a place to enjoy characteristic culture of a different locale.

 

If you flip over a map of Japan you will also see that the Sea of Japan side of the islands are in the centre of the country. The Oki Islands also used to bustle with people as the doorstep to Japanese trade.

Saki Shibata visited the Oki Islands for the first time last year. She saw the bright red and immense Matengai Cliffs formed by the volcanoes’ magma, the sea waves, felt the breeze in her hair and more. See her full nature-packed trip here.

 

An island local proposed her desire to show the wonder of the Oki Islands to the people of the world, and so the “Research Lab on the Charms of Oki” was formed. Saki, having already experienced those charms, was appointed Research Leader, and recruited other fellow members to join. She would convey her experiences and time spent on the islands for everybody to learn more about them so they could think up a travel plan together.

The event began with project leader Saki Shibata greeting everybody. She spoke about her memories of the Oki Islands and expressed enthusiasm to create a wonderful travel plan to the participants. Her talk was accompanied by slideshows with which she presented photos taken during her trip last year.

Saki played back through her mind how overwhelmed she was by the islands’ nature and how warm and welcoming the locals were. All the other research members were absorbed in her talk and listened intently.

After Saki said her piece, a member of the Oki Islands UNESCO Global Geopark Association―which seeks to promote the charms of Oki Islands―spoke about Oki.

 

A “geopark” is a location with valuable geological features and forms and promotes the well-being of people living there through education and tourism.

 

Japan has nine officially-designated UNESCO Global Geoparks, one of them being the Oki Islands. Check out the video above which includes drone footage showcasing the expanse of nature there. It makes you want to see it with your very own eyes.

The group subsequently went on to creating a travel plan for the Oki Islands. Each member wrote down where they wanted to visit in Oki amongst other things.

They asked questions to the Geopark associate such as whether you can fish squid there, do skydiving and so on. When the group were asked what they had written down, all 9 of them had said they wanted to try eating Okigyu, or “Oki Beef.” Local food is an absolute must to include on any travel plan.

Saki and her fellow research members’ original plan is complete, full of ways to feel the full power of Oki’s nature.

After learning about Oki, everybody got to try specialty products from the island. They lapped up the flavours of Oki while listening to Saki speak more about her time there.

Oki is famous for “Haruka,” a type of Iwagaki oyster. They are a brand of oyster raised in the beautiful waters of Nakanoshima in the town of Ama. They also tried other local delights such as turbo sazae rice balls, seaweed miso soup, sake lees crackers and kojouyu miso, fukugi tea and more.

Obsidian

Salted Polvorón Cookies (Oki Kisen Shoji) / Sake Lees Crackers (Oki Brewery) / Sake Lees Soap (jimono) / Fukugi Mist (jimono) / Fukugi Tea (Amacho Sakura no Ie)

At the end of the event, Saki and the members were given an obsidian key ring and batch of Oki souvenirs from the associate. Though the event took place in Tokyo, everybody was able to get their fill of Oki.

If you read this article and are interested in the Oki Islands, then we have some good news. All of the specialty products and souvenirs shown can be bought at Rito Kitchen Nihombashi who carried out this event. These aren’t easy to get your hands on unless you visit the islands, so if you’re in Tokyo, be sure to visit and enjoy the flavours of the Oki Islands.

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  • Explore the Beautiful Agriculture of Tokunoshima Island with Saki Shibata

    06.February.2019 | FASHION / SPOT

    Saki Shibata loves travel, both in her personal and work life. She was recently appointed ambassador of the Tokunoshima Island Gem Project.

    Her position runs until March 31, and during that time she is going to introduce to all of us the “gems,” or things made on the island, as well as its allures and charms.

    Saki receives her official ambassador certificate. “I will put my all into promoting the appeals of Tokunoshima. Let’s all work hard, together!” she says with enthusiasm and a smile.

     

    View this post on Instagram

     

    しばさき 柴田紗希さん(@shibasaaki)がシェアした投稿

    To know the products, Saki must first learn about the people making them and where. She gets her hands on a tourist guidebook of Tokunoshima and studies. The island is approximately 470km south of mainland Kagoshima. It takes about an hour to get from there to the island in a plane. It’s also famous for triathlons and bullfighting.

    The main produce farmed on Tokunoshima is sugarcane. You can see sugarcane growing all over the island, and there are lots of different products made from sugarcane in souvenir shops.

    There is a rare and unusual product made from the island’s sugarcane “Shima no Napoleon.” It’s a type of sugarcane shochu sold on the island, outside of which only Amami Ōshima has special approval to make it, a neighbouring island. Saki saw the alcohol in shops and restaurants on Tokunoshima.

    Sugarcane shochu demands delicate control and management in the production process. Multiple types of storage vessels are used to contain it. Saki felt even more so just how special Shima no Napoleon is when she saw the place it was being made.

    There are plenty more special products being made from the sugarcane too. This includes additive-free cookies. They are sold in various flavours and are made on Tokunoshima. The manager said that the cookies came about from a desire to stock more products in the island’s souvenir shops using things available on the island. Much trial and error was put into crafting the best possible cookies.

    You can get them in stylish pouches or high quality packaging for that proper souvenir feel. The box type is really cute!

    The manager also kindly showed us around the factory. He has a wonderful smile!

    Saki was healed by the harmonious and peaceful atmosphere of everybody working.

    The next place Saki headed to was Tomita, an industrial association in Tokunoshima where they make raw peanuts. Tokunoshima is a producer of peanuts which has earned them the name Jimame, or “land of legumes.”

    The reason they sell the peanuts raw is because they want people to eat them with the flavour of their choosing at home. They also come with some simple recipes. Also, when planted, the raw peanuts give rise to sprouts in just a few days. People planting their own peanuts is something they want to encourage too.

    Let’s take a look at some of the other wonderful products. The Papaya Spice, a product of Okayama, goes well sprinkled lightly on meat, helping to bring out the meat’s full flavour. It’s packed with papaya enzymes and is supposed to be good when dieting.

     

    The Buta Miso is an accompaniment to a meal and is made from Berkshire pig, ginger, peanuts and other ingredients.

    If you want to visit Tokunoshima but haven’t got time then we’ve got some good news for you! If you’re in Tokyo between February 9 and March 8 this year, all of the “gems” you’ve seen up to now and more can be bought at Rito Kitchen in Nihonbashi. These are available for a limited time only, so head on over ASAP and enjoy the flavours of Tokunoshima.

     

    ■Information

    Rito Kitchen Nihonbashi

    Address: YUITO Nihonbashi Muromachi Nomura Building Floor B1F, 2-4-3 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo Ward, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-6225-2095

     

    Here are the products that Saki was most interested in when visiting Tokunoshima.

     

    The first is Shima no Hachimitsu, or “Island Honey” made by Shigeaki Maeda. This raw honey contains no sugar or additives. It has a very organic flavour that lets you taste the nature of Tokunoshima.

    Mr. Maeda handles every part of the manual labour effort when creating his honey, from collecting bees to operating the centrifuge to packaging. He understands customers may become worried as the concentrated honey solidifies when it’s stored below 14℃ (though this does not affect its quality, he explains), so he sells it from springtime.

    Contact:Shigeaki Maeda #201 5553-8 Kamezu Tokunoshima-cho Oshimagun Kagoshina

     

    This is called a Great Green Turban. You often see them spanning 20cm on Amami Ōshima, and you can even prep and cook them. Saki made them herself during her stay and enjoyed pasta and curry.

    Blue Shell, a Great Green Turban workshop, uses their mother-of-pearls to create beautiful stamps. Each and every one is handmade by the owner Umeyama, so all of them have their own unique forms and shapes.

     

    You can’t miss out on products made with oranges native to Tokunoshima either. The Dressing Candy, a brand of ponzu, is made with orange juice and fine powder and uses absolutely no agrochemicals. It’s a product that’s hard to get your hands on anywhere else.

     

    The 100% orange juice too is full of nutritional value and has even been called a “high power food.”

    Tokunoshima Airport is nicknamed Kodakara Kuukou, or “the airport treasured with children.” This comes from the high birth rate up and down the island. When you exit the airport you see women dubbed Nesugatayama as they look like the mountains when laying down. The airport is supposed to give you very good luck!

    Try discovering the beautiful charms of Tokunoshima yourself too like Saki, the ambassador of the Tokunoshima Island Gem Project, and be sure to visit Rito Kitchen too to enjoy the natural flavours of the island if you can’t make the trip.

  • 【Tokyo Stroll】Head to Vegetable Corporation in Motoasakusa for Coffee, music, and something for all five of your senses

    26.January.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Having appeared in many magazines such as “mer”, popular model Shibasaki is here today to start her “MY BOOM” pick-up plan. Since returning from her exchange in Korea, Shibasaki has been enlightened by delicious coffee. On this very day, she stepped foot into coffee bean and beer specialist shop “Vegetable Corporation”, which also provides music.

     

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    The shop is easily accessible. It is only a 5-minute walk from Inarichō station (Tokyo Metro Ginza line) and Shin-okachimachi Station (Toei Ōedo line). It can be reached within a 10-minute walk from Tawaramachi Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza line), Kuramae Station (Toei Ōedo Line) and Ueno station (JR Yamanote line).

     

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    Shop owners Ryota Mikami and Syotaro Hayashi also own the music label Vegetable Record. Straying from an original format, the dream of entertaining many people with their music was the foundation for their new business. This is where the latest technology is fused with analogue, and coffee beans are sold with download codes alongside craft beer.

     

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    You can purchase coffee beans with an album download code or create your own personalized pack. The package label is decorated with their album artwork, creating a product that stimulates all five of your senses. Of course, there is the option of purchasing just the beans on their own.

     

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    You can also buy roaster coffee beans from Fukui prefecture that were specially selected by COZY COFFEE. You can enjoy the changing flavour of coffee that has been freshly brewed and when it cools. The deeply roasted coffee beans come in six varieties. You can taste the coffee before making a purchase whilst simultaneously enjoying the wonderful music – there’s no rush here. Relax and enjoy carefully choosing your dream beans at your own pace.

     

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    Shibasaki got right on the coffee tasting. As her preferences lean towards light flavours, she was recommended the Dominica Princess.

     

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     “The flavour spread through my entire mouth. The scent of rum was amazing! The aftertaste was refreshing like black tea. Non coffee-lovers would be alright with this!” said Shibasaki, affixing her seal of approval.

     

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    Next, Shibasaki experienced the changing flavour of coffee by trying it at different temperatures. It was time to try a freshly brewed coffee. Not only can you purchase coffee beans here, but also drip coffee (tax included price: ¥500). You can take out the drip coffee, so we recommend you enjoy a nice stroll around the area with a cup of coffee in one hand.

     

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    This is one of the popular items on the menu – the walnut and honey toastie (kurumi to hachimitsu no hottosando). The price including tax is ¥600. If you’re feeling rather peckish, you could try this dessert-like toastie.

     

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    The toastie is filled with juicy honey and the texture is like apple pie. It was so tasty that Shibasaki couldn’t help but exclaim “yum!” after just her first mouthful. By the way, this menu goes great with coffee and beer!

     

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    In addition, the signboard menu’s craft beer includes VERTERE craft beer, which is the best beer out of the 23 from Okutama’s breweries.

    These are different to ordinary beers – the fruity dessert beer is particularly popular. Shibasaki took advantage of it being midday and drank a glass.

    You can taste vanilla beans and orange in the brunch cream (price including tax: ¥700). It is more bittersweet than bitter to make a glass you can enjoy. Shibasaki’s verdict: “You can taste the fruity flavour so much that you won’t even think it is beer! It was so easy to drink! Even those who do not like beer will be able to easily gulp it all down”.

    She was very impressed.

     

    ※The brunch cream is currently sold out and therefore further sales are being postponed. For the latest updates, please check the store’s Instgram account. (https://www.instagram.com/vegetablecorporation/)

     

    カセット真顔差し替え

    Not only can you purchase their music through coffee beans and craft beer, but also CDs and cassette tapes. From the analogue generation to the digital native generation, Vegetable Cooperation is devoted to music and cannot stop loving it. How about spending a moment of supreme bliss at Vegetable Corporation yourself?

     

    ■Information

    Vegetable Corporation

    Address: 1st floor Matsushima Building, 1-14-7, Motoasakusa, Taitō ward, Tokyo

    Opening hours:11:00 〜 23:00 (Saturdays, Sundays & national holidays: 10:00 〜 23:00)

    Fixed holidays: None

    Access:A 5-minute walk from Inarichō station (Tokyo Metro Ginza line) and Shin-okachimachi Station (Toei Ōedo Line). A 10-minute walk from Tawaramachi Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza line), Kuramae Station (Toei Ōedo Line) and Ueno station (JR Yamanote line)

    URL:http://www.vegetablerecord.com

     

    Model: Saki Shibata @shibasaaki

    モデル下

    Through her nickname “Shibasaki”, the much loved, multitalented model Saki Shibata has reached out to girls and women of all ages. Born an Aichi girl, Shibasaki grew to become a fashion model, featuring on the front cover of magazine “mer”. Her activity extends to broadcasting on the local radio and on Internet TV. Although time passes and trends change, you can always count on our Shibasaki to stay by your side. This is why many, many girls support her.

     

    Writer:Ryoichi Komaba

    Photographer :Kayo Sekiguchi

    Translator: Samantha Fernandes

  • 【Tokyo Stroll】Step into the Showa area at Uenosakuragi Atari, Yanesen. Introducing Kabaya Bakery & Yanaka Beer Hall.

    30.August.2017 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    The essence of the Showa era lingers in the district of Yanesen. In the nearby residential area called “Uenosakuragi”, a new tourist spot by the name of “Uenosakuragi Atari” has been born. Model Saki Shibata pays a visit and expresses her love for the area, as the real authentic essence of Japan can be felt here. Today, we’re joining Saki-chan as she takes a stroll around the elegant and old Japanese-style neighbourhood.

     

    A living space you can share

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    After a short walk from Yanesen, we stumbled upon the residential area “Uenosakuragi Atari”, where a residential complex that was built 80 years ago had been refurbished. Many institutions sit snug in the complex, including a beer hall, bakery, salt and olive stores, rental spaces and much more.

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    Uenosakuragi Atari is only a 10-minute walk from JR Nippori station, JR Ueno station, Tokyo Metro Nezu station and Sendagi station. You can also get there quickly from Shibuya station and Harajuku station!

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    These three buildings were once used as a place of residence and was built in the 13th year of the Showa era. Whilst the outside retains its authentic appearance from the past, the inside has been renovated. Looking at the outside of the building, you would see a building from long ago. As you inspect the shops, each step you take reveals the extent of its beauty.

     

    When the council stumbled upon the old building, they pondered over whether it should be turned into a new car park, or whether it should serve as a new apartment complex. At that moment, the idea of renovating it came to mind. This is how the renovation came to be.

     

    From children to the elderly, people join together here to enjoy the neighbourhood. Uenosakuragi was created as a place where one can live in harmony with others.

     

    The bakery locals love

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    The love for Kayaba Bakery spreads not just amongst the tourists, but also the locals. This is the bakery of the famous coffee shop Yanaka Coffee.

     

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    The wheat used to make the bread is grown in Japan. Enjoy the soft and springy texture of this cutely-shaped bread – all of them look so delicious! The variety looked so good that Saki-chan took ages to decide which one to buy!

     

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    Small breads and small prices – that’s why we recommend you to buy lots and try lots! Look at Saki-chan, sat on a bench outside, stuffing her cheeks with the store’s popular “Jyagapan” (potato bread). The scent of rosemary from the bread wafting through the air will definitely catch you off guard.

     

    Breakfast, lunch or a quick snack – if you’re peckish and looking for a petit treat, this sweat bread is perfect!

     

     

    ▼ Store information

    Kayaba Bakery

    Address:Atari 2-1F, 2-15-6, Uenosakuragi, Taito, Tokyo

    Opening hours: 9:00〜19:00

    Closed: Mondays

    Telephone number: 03-5809-0789

    http://www.kayaba-bakery.com

     

     

    >>next page

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  • 200 Varieties of Japanese Iris to Bloom at Odawara Flower Garden

    10.January.2021 | SPOT

    The plum blossoms of Odawara Flower Garden, which is located in Odawara, Kanagawa, are at the height of their blossom right now. The park’s Keiryu no Baien (“Mountain Stream Plum Garden”) area boasts the largest collection of plum blossoms in Japan’s Kanto region, with 480 trees spanning 200 species.

    480 individual Japanese ayame plum blossoms of 200 varieties will adorn the garden once again this year. The event has a different theme each year, with this year’s focusing on the interweaving of red and white coloured flowers on each tree branch.

    Visitors will be able to see the beautiful colour combination from many different iris varieties such as the murui-shibori which sometimes sees red safflowers come to life, the wachigai which witnesses wonderful variegated flowering, the impeccably beautiful maki-tateyama, and more.

     

    2021 Keiryu no Baien
    Running: January 23, 2021 – March 7, 2021
    Location: Odawara Flower Garden
    Address: 3798-5 Kuno, Odawara, Kanagawa
    Entry: Free
    Parking: Free
    Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00

    *No holidays for the duration of the event – open every day

     

    Keiryu no Baien Guide Tour

    Takayuki Otsubo, the president of the garden, is also an advisor on the management of its plants. He will be offering a detailed tour for the event.

     

    Date: February 21, 2021
    Times: 10:30 / 13:30 (1 hour each)
    Participation: Free
    Capacity: 30 per slot (first-come, first-served)

    *Tour will be held seated indoors if it rains

     

    Keiryu no Baien Flowers and Kimono Girls

    A kimono rental and fitting service will be available at the event so visitors can take photo next to the gorgeous flowers while adorned in traditional Japanese dress.

     

    Date: February 13, 2021
    Time: 9:30-16:00 (Bookable slots)
    Price: ¥3,000 (Tax/Rental/Fitting included)
    No. of People: 15 (Booking required)
    Bookings: By phone call by February 7, 2021
    TEL: 0465-34-2814

    *Must be at least 140m tall
    *Visitors are asked to do their own makeup
    *Male kimono are available in limited quantities

     

    Plum Menu

    The Odawara Flower Garden cafe, Cafe Hibiscus, is serving a selection of plum blossom themed meals and drinks for the festival. This includes the above-pictured new soba noodle dish, which is topped with plum pulp grown in Odawara as well as kamaboko fish cake, shrimp fritters, and spring onion. The broth in particular is worth of note which the staff went to great lengths to create. There’s also plum blossom ice cream too made with nanko plums, as well as other delicious bites.

     

    Plum Blossom Festival Soba Noodles – ¥600 (Tax Included) / With Drink ¥700 (Tax Included)

    Plum Ice Cream – ¥380 (Tax Included)

    Location: Cafe Hibiscus
    Opening Hours: 10:00-16:00 (Last Orders 15:30)
    *No holidays for the duration of the event – open every day

     

    Plum Blossom Souvenirs


    A selection of plum blossom-themed souvenirs will be available like umeboshi dried plum, plum jelly, and more.

     

    Available: From early January 2021
    Location: Entrance souvenir corner
    Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00

  • Super Nintendo World Releases Virtual Tour of Entire Theme Park Area

    07.January.2021 | ANIME&GAME / SPOT

    Universal Studios Japan (USJ) announced last month that its highly-anticipated new Super Nintendo World area will open on February 4, 2021, which also happens to fall on the day of USJ’s 20th anniversary.

     

    Super Nintendo World comes as the world’s first theme park area to be based around Nintendo’s characters and games, combining innovative ideas with cutting-edge technology.

     

    With just one month left until the grand opening, USJ has launched a special website for Super Nintendo World which offers a virtual tour through each part of the new theme park area. Mario fanatics are sure to be delighted by the adornments from Bowser’s Castle to Pipes, Mushrooms, Question blocks, and more, as well as familiar faces like Goombas, Thwomps, Yoshi—the list goes on.

     

    Accessing the site will bring you to an overview of the map. As you scroll down the website takes you on a virtual journey to each of its iconic attractions, all of which are designed to make you feel like you’re really in the world of Super Mario.

  • teamLab Reconnect Project Combines Art With the Sauna Experience in Roppongi

    06.January.2021 | SPOT

    Art collective teamLab has announced the opening of teamLab Reconnect: Art with Rinkan Sauna Roppongi which will run for half a year starting this March in Roppngi, Tokyo.

     

    Since 2019, teamLab has been combining saunas with digital art to create wholly new and unique sauna experiences never before seen.

    teamLab Reconnect’s aim is not to offer a luxury and high-end venue for seeing artwork, but to put visitors into a luxurious state to experience the art. Through contrast bath therapy, where visitors are placed in a hot sauna followed by cold water and then relaxation, they can open their minds and senses to a variety of artworks and in essence become part of the art itself. teamLab hopes this will enable visitors to realise their own existence―their mind, body, and environment―and in turn ‘reconnect’ with the world and time.

    Levitation
    teamLab, 2021, Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi

    teamLab Reconnect will welcome a variety of new artworks based on teamLab’s new art project ‘Supernature Phenomenon’ which captures different natural phenomena in nature.

    Proliferating Immense Life – A Whole Year per Year
    teamLab, 2020, Interactive Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi

    This artwork captures the life cycle of flowers. It is not a pre-recorded image that is played back; it is created by a computer program that continuously renders the work in real time. The interaction between people and the installation causes continuous change in the artwork, meaning previous visual states can never be replicated, and will never reoccur.

     

    Since opening their sauna in Mifuneyama Rakuen in Kyushu back in 2019, which won the SAUNACHELIN two years in a row in 2019 and 2020, teamLab has gone on to create new works of sauna art such as teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live and teamLab Ruins and Heritage: Rinkan Spa & Tea Ceremony.

  • hotel androoms Announces Opening of New Kyoto Shijo Branch in March

    06.January.2021 | SPOT

    Solare Hotels and Resorts has announced that a new branch of hotels androoms will open in Kyoto Shijo on March 6, 2021. In the run up to its grand opening, the company has opened a website where guests can book hotels with Solare Hotels and Resorts at the cheapest possible price. The website will begin rolling out more information about each hotel on the site through the year.

     

    Access

    hotel androoms Kyoto Shijo is located a convenient 5-minute walk from Kyoto Station’s Karasuma Line section and 7 minutes from the Central Exit in the JR section, placing it within close distance to many of Kyoto’s sightseeing spots.

     

    The hotel offers seven different room types from standard to double to premium twin. One room can house a maximum of three people, accommodating groups and families. It also promises to be packed with a variety of exclusive services you won’t find at other hotels.

     

    Specialty coffee by Unir Kyoto

    hotel androoms Kyoto Shijo will welcome the opening of a new branch of Unir inside the hotel which serves coffee made from specially-selected coffee beans. The coffee is hand-roasted on site with baristas pouring their love and skill into every cup.

     

    Breakfast delivered right to your room

    The morning time is your time and should be used as you please without you having to rush around, so says the hotel, and so it offers a breakfast delivery service which must be booked in advance.

     

    Relax and unwind in the modern-style baths

    Those looking for a little relaxation can look forward to pushing all their stresses aside in a modern bathing area which is inspired by a cave. It’s open from 3pm-2am and again from 6am-10am.

     

    If you’re planning a trip to Kyoto and want a hotel with easy access to all the hot spots then be sure to consider hotel androoms Kyoto Shijo.

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