Learn About Shimane Prefecture’s Oki Islands with Japanese Model Saki Shibata
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.
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.
Explore the Beautiful Agriculture of Tokunoshima Island with Saki Shibata
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
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.
Rito Kitchen Nihonbashi
Address: YUITO Nihonbashi Muromachi Nomura Building Floor B1F, 2-4-3 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo Ward, Tokyo
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Shibasaki got right on the coffee tasting. As her preferences lean towards light flavours, she was recommended the Dominica Princess.
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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/)
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?
【Tokyo Stroll】Step into the Showa area at Uenosakuragi Atari, Yanesen. Introducing Kabaya Bakery & Yanaka Beer Hall.
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
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!
Fall Into Autumn With an Enchanting Boat Ride Through Arashiyama in Kyoto
08.August.2020 | SPOT
HOSHINOYA Kyoto has announced a special new serving for one group a day that lets them bask in the autumn colours of Arashiyama. The service, entitled “Asa no Momiji Bune” (Morning Autumn Colours Boat), will run from November 20 to December 6 this year.
A cosy autumn morning boat ride all to yourself
Sail down the tranquil Oi River, which runs right beside HOSHINOYA Kyoto, and bask in the surrounding sights of Arashiyama and Ogurayama as they burn aflame with autumnal colours. Wrapped in reds and yellows in every direction, this morning experience is a rare opportunity witness Japan’s fall season like never before as you gaze at the crisp leaves of the trees and their reflection from the water’s surface.
Sweet wagashi treats just for you
While on the boat, guests are treated to a cup of matcha and some seasonal Japanese wagashi confections, like hard candies shaped like HOSHINOYA Kyoto’s logo and other colourful sweets made to look like maple leaves, ginkgo leaves, and more. These confections are made exclusively for the boat ride by Kameya Yoshinaga, a Japanese sweets shop that has been around since 1803, while the matcha is provided by Rishouen Chasho, a tea shop in Uji, Kyoto who have picked out specially selected leaves just for HOSHINOYA Kyoto.
The roofed Kingfisher boat
The boat guests will ride is owned by HOSHINOYA Kyoto and is called “Hisui” (Kingfisher). A switch can change the rooftop colour from white to transparent so you can look up and see the gorgeous blue sky.
If you’re in Japan this autumn, and still need to find a hotel, why not treat yourself to a luxurious morning boat ride at HOSHINOYA Kyoto?
Asa no Momiji Bune / 朝のもみじ舟 (Morning Autumn Colours Boat)
Running: November 20, 2020 – December 5, 2020
Boarding/Return: HOSHINOYA Kyoto
Price: ¥31,000 per group (tax, service charge, and hotel fee not included in price)
Includes: Boat ride, Japanese confections, matcha
Participation: Exclusive to HOSHINOYA Kyoto guests
Capacity: 1 group of 1-4 people per day
Reservations Required: Book at https://hoshinoya.com/kyoto/
Note: The boat ride will be cancelled during stormy weather
Premium Hotel MGallery to Open New Kyoto Yura Hotel Nijo Castle This November
03.August.2020 | SPOT
MGallery, a collection of over 5,000 luxury boutique hotels in 110 countries worldwide, landed in Japan for the first time last year with the opening of the 5-star KYOTO YURA HOTEL MGallery in Kyoto. Now, the brand has announced the opening of the new “Kyoto Yura Hotel Nijo Castle MGallery” (Kyoto Yura Hotel Nijo-jo Bettei) which will open on November 28, 2020.
Situated just a short 1-minute stroll from Njio Castle Station, this small, 25 room hotel, aims to offer luxury at the highest level.
Kyoto Yura Hotel Nijo Castle MGallery was designed by Yukio Hashimoto, who has worked on countless hotels and facilities around the world. The hotel lobby and all guest rooms face a gorgeous Japanese-style garden where guests can enjoy its beautiful sights through all four seasons.
The hotel takes inspiration from Nijo Castle, a structure which has seen both the end of the shogun as well as the start of modern Japan. As you enter the hotel, from the front door through and through the main entrance, guests will find themselves in their own private domain before they reach the breathtaking Japanese garden in front of them. All 25 of the guest rooms are crafted with high quality, sophisticated interiors.
On the first floor of the hotel, guests will find a restaurant and bar. The restaurant cooks up creative French dishes made delicately with seasonal ingredients while the bar serves up MGallery’s iconic “mixology” cocktails.
Kyoto Yura Hotel Nijo Castle MGallery also offers a range of activities which can’t be experienced anywhere else, including private trips to local shrines and temples that the hotel has connections with.
Kyoto Yura Hotel Nijo Castle MGallery (Japanese: 京都悠洛ホテル⼆条城別邸)
Grand Opening: November 28, 2020
Address: 180 Ichinochō, Nakagyō-ku, Kyoto
Shibuya’s New Hotel sequence MIYASHITA PARK Connects the People to the City
01.August.2020 | SPOT
sequence MIYASHITA PARK is a new mixed-use hotel set to open inside MIYASHITA PARK on August 1, 2020.
sequence’s concept is to connect the people with the city. It offers a space for everyone whether they want a quiet time alone, whether they are sightseeing, having a work-do, celebrating a party or festival, and more. This is centred around the hotel’s three notions: “SMART,” “OPEN,” and “CULTURE.”
The hotel is inspired by the local concept of “PARK MIND” which offers guests a place to relax after a long, busy day, like in a park. It has collaborated with Tokyo-based designers and creators to bring this to life in room designs. Furniture and fittings are simple while still being of high quality.
The fourth floor entrance connects seamlessly to Miyashita Park and is home to a lobby lounge as well as the new VALLEY PARK STAND cafe and bar. Up on the fifth floor is the breakfast dining restaurant Dōngxī Restaurant & Sakaba. Up on the 18th floor, guests can enjoy a panoramic view of Shibuya, as well as dine at the entertainment restaurant SOAK whose design and concept mixes together history and the future, the West and the East. There is also art from artists coordinated by The Chain Museum.
sequence MIYASHITA PARK
Address: 6-20-10 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo
Official Website: https://www.sequencehotels.com/miyashita-park
Chawanmushi Recipe: Savoury Dessert Made With Carrots, Cream Cheese & Mirin
Together with soy sauce and miso, mirin is a fundamental condiment in the Japanese kitchen and for many recipes for Japanese food. It’s a sweet rice wine that has lower alcohol content and higher sugar content when compared to sake, adding a sweet flavour to dishes.
Today, we’re taking a look at a recipe that uses “Mikawa Mirin,” a brand of mirin made from high quality rice, to make carrot and cream cheese chawanmushi. Chawanmushi is a savoury egg custard dessert eaten in Japan.
Carrot & Cream Cheese Chawanmushi
Chawanmushi is made using mirin and has a smooth texture to it as well as a subtly sweet flavour. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a hot summer’s day.
Ingredients (Serves 1)
20ml soy sauce
120ml Mikawa Mirin
18g cream cheese
3ml Mikawa Mirin
We will start by making the chawanmushi.
1. Slice the carrots and boil them until they become soft.
2. Add the soy sauce, sugar, and lots of mirin and cook through the dashi.
3. Cook for approximately 20 minutes on a medium heat, then cool with ice. Add the cooled carrots, cream cheese, and 20ml of the dashi into a blender and bend.
4. Add the egg to the mix and steam the mix for 12 minutes on a medium heat.
While the chawanmushi is cooling, we’ll make the okra-an.
5. Mix together the okra-an dashi, mirin, and salt together. Add watered potato starch and thinly sliced okra. Leave to cool in the refrigerator.
6. Add the okra-an to the cooled chawanmushi and tuck into your cute two-layered dessert.
Carrot & Cream Cheese Chawanmushi
The dessert is an enjoyable mix of the sticky texture from the okra-an and smooth chawanmushi. It’s great to have not only at lunch or dinner, but at home parties with friends too.
–How’s the taste?
Misa Kimura: “It works really well with the mirin. The chawanmushi is like a sweet treat. It’s super easy to make too, so I think I’ll be making it at home!”
Mirin is indispensable to any Japanese cupboard and can be used in many ways, whether it be a classic Japanese dish or a dessert like this one.
Mikawa Mirin 700ml: ¥1,122 (Tax Included)
This authentic brand of mirin is made using a traditional method of Japanese brewing which blends in the delicious taste of rice. It’s so delicious that you just want to drink the whole bottle. A high quality mirin, it has a distinct sweetness, colour, and texture. It has a rich flavour, and the taste of the rice elevates the flavours of its ingredients.
Mikawa Mirin Official Website: http://www.mikawamirin.jp/
Official Online Store: http://mikawamirin.jp/product/product_step1.php?m=n
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mikawamirin
This recipe was conceived by ITEMAE, a famous restaurant serving Japanese cuisine that is listed in the Michelin Guide.
Model: Misa Kimura
Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto
Address: 10-14 Kamiyamachō, Shibuya, Tokyo
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30-15:00 (Weekdays Only) / Dinner 18:00-23:30
Closed: Sundays / New Year’s Holiday
Glamp Dome Kobe Tenku: Go Glamping With Hot Springs and Kobe’s Night Sky
25.July.2020 | SPOT
The new glamping facility Glamp Dome Kobe Tenku is set to open inside Minotani Green Sports Hotel in Kobe, Hyogo on August 7, 2020.
Located in the lush green abyss of Kobe’s Minotani area, Glamp Dome is just 20-minutes from Kobe-Sannomiya. Guests can look forward to a glamorous camping experience inside on of the huge dome tents set up on site from which they can enjoy Kobe’s sunset and subsequent night sky. The facility promises a luxury camping experience like no other.
Your dome tent and a private BBQ space
The half-dome tents are 7 meters in circumference. They are fitted with air conditioning and can be used throughout all four seasons. Each one has its own private BBQ space too so you can enjoy a close-knit meal together with friends and family without having to interact with other guests.
The Ginga Hot Spring’s water is directly from the water source
Ginga Hot Spring’s water spurts out from 1,200 meters underground. The facility offers a variety of bathing experiences, from the open-air hot spring to utaseyu where water falls onto your back, and more, as well as a resting area, sauna, and so on.
It is said that if water pH levels are over 7.5 then it is good for your skin. The water at Ginga Hot spring is 8.5, making the water quality very high.
The unique foot bath bar
At Glamp Dome Kobe Tenku, guests can enjoy a bar experience with pouring their own drinks while getting a foot bath from the facility’s hot spring water sauce. Open from 19:00-21:00, there’s also campfires, fire pits for private domes, and other services.
Glamp Dome Kobe Tenku also offers high quality ingredients for a gourmet camping BBQ experience, from premium Japanese black wagyu steak to seafood and more.
・Japanese black wagyu steak
・Domestic smoked beef
・Skillet of the day日
Glamp Dome Kobe Tenku also offers hotel-style amenities like towels, toothbrushes, hair dryers, gowns, and more. All domes are also fitted with Wi-Fi and plug sockets.
When Glamp Dome Kobe Tenku opens, it will also be bookable on Resort Glamping, a booking website for glamping facilities and resort villas across Japan. If you’re ever travelling to Kobe, why not stay there in style with this very special glamping experience?
teamLab’s Interactive Digital Art Exhibition to Open at Takeo Hot Springs in Kyushu This July
21.July.2020 | SPOT
teamLab’s annual digital art exhibition teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live, which is held every year from summer to autumn at Mifuneyama Rakuen’s Takeo Hot Springs, is collaborating with Rakan no Yu, a new sauna facility which opened at the Kyushu-based hot spring facility and won first place in Sauna Chelan 2019.
The exhibition will open in the 500,000 square meter Mifuneyama Rakuen Park on July 22, 2020 to both guests and non-guests of Mifuneyama Rakuen Hotel, Onyado Chikurintei, and other surrounding accommodations. Set tickets to enjoy both Rakan no Yu and the teamLab exhibition went on sale on July 20 and are limited to 40 people per day.
Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and Boats – Mifuneyama Rakuen Pond
teamLab, 2015, Interactive Digitized Nature, 13min 24sec, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi
The water of Rakan no Yu is pure, low-alkali hot spring water with no colour, smell, or taste. It’s known for its superior moisturising effect, leaving the skin nice and smooth. Rakan no Yu won first place in Sauna Chelan 2019. Sauna Chelan is considered the “Michelin” ranker of the sauna world.
In June 2020, a dry sauna and new baths were added to Rakan no Yu’s women’s open air baths. Guests can enjoy the meditation sauna, indoor and outdoor baths, hot springs, and more in both the men’s and women’s sections.
Ever Blossoming Life Rock
teamLab, 2017, Digitized Nature, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi
Universe of Water Particles on a Sacred Rock
teamLab, 2017, Digitized Nature
This year marks teamLab’s sixth collaboration with Mifuneyama Rakuen. Their teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live is held every year at the site, and this year they have 22 art pieces to showcase. Takeo Hot Springs opened in 1845 and is registered as a national monument.
Life is Continuous Light – Azalea Valley
teamLab, 2017, Interactive Digitized Nature, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi
Floating Resonating Lamps – One Stroke, Fire
teamLab, 2019, Interactive Installation, Murano Glass, LED, Endless, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi
teamLab’s incredible interactive digital art will react to people’s presence and movement throughout the 500,000 square meter space.
teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live
Running: Jul 22 – Nov 08, 2020
Jul 22 – Sep 13, 2020 19:00 – 22:30
Sep 14 – Oct 11, 2020 18:00 – 22:30
Oct 12 – Nov 8, 2020 17:00 – 22:30
*Enter from Entrance 1. Entrance 2 is only available 60 min after the opening.
* Last entry is 22:00.
Official Website: https://www.teamlab.art/e/mifuneyamarakuen/
Japan’s Best Hot Springs and Spas For 2020 Ranked by Tripadvisor
19.July.2020 | SPOT
Tripadvisor® has posted its list for this year’s most popular hot springs and spas in Japan for day trips as ranked by its users over the past year.
This is the 9th run of this particular list, which is normally announced each winter, but due to the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, travellers have been looking to find somewhere to relax, and so the website decided to release the list earlier this time. Tripadvisor® also ranked the best hot spring regions as well as foot baths.
This year’s list has a diverse line-up of locations, from huge new facilities to old ones with history. Half of the places in the list are situated in the Kanto region of Japan—more than the previous lists. Those in the ranking are listed not only for the hot springs, but for the services on offer like massage, dining, rest, and more, all of which adds to them being great for day trips.
Hot Springs & Spas Popular With Japanese People For Day Trips – 2020 Edition
1st Place: Busshozan Onsen (Takamatsu, Kagawa)
2nd Place: Miharashi no Yu (Hashijo-machi, Tokyo)
3rd Place: Hōheikyō Hot Spring (Sapporo, Hokkaido)
4th Place: Shika no Yu (Nasu, Tochigi)
5th Place: Tenzan Tohji-kyo (Hakone-machi, Kanagawa)
6th Place: Hoshino Onsen Tombo-no-yu (Karuizawa, Nagano)
7th Place: Lamune Onsen (Taketa, Oita)
8th Place: Spadium Japon (Higashikurume, Tokyo)
9th Place: Maenohara Onsen Sayano Yudokoro (Itabashi, Tokyo)
10th Place: Miyazawako Onsen Kirari Bettei (Hanno, Saitama)
8th Place: Spadium Japon (Higashikurume, Tokyo)
Spadium Japon is a large-scale public bath facility with 15 different types of baths and saunas. It has transparent onsen, which is rare in the Kanto region, and the water is known for its sodium salt. Tripadvisor® users praise the facility for offering all-day services and how big it is, likening it to a theme park.
Tripadvisor® also listed some special mentions of popular hot spring “chiku,” or districts, where you can walk around and try out lots of different types of hot springs, as well as foot baths. The foot baths in Oita Airport and Kagoshima Airport are free to use, making them a great way to kill some time while waiting for departure.
Top 5 Hot Spring Chiku Popular With Japanese People
1st Place: Kinosaki Onsen (Toyooka, Hyogo)
2nd Place: Yu no Mine Onsen (Tanabe, Wakayama)
3rd Place: Kurokawa Onsen (Minamioguni, Kumamoto)
4th Place: Ginzan Onsen (Obanazawa, Yamagata)
5th Place Gero Onsen (Gero, Gifu)
Top 3 Foot Baths Popular With Japanese People
1st Place: Oita Airport Foot Bath (Kunisaki, Oita)
2nd Place: Lake Kussharo Sunayu (Teshikaga, Hokkaido)
3rd Place: Kagoshima Airport Foot Bath (Kirishima, Kagoshima)
Tripadvisor Ranking: https://tg.tripadvisor.jp/news/ranking/best-public-bathes/
HIKES IN JAPAN Releases Information Page For Foreign Travellers Climbing Japan’s Mountains
18.July.2020 | SPOT
Yama-kei Publishers, a Japanese media company which reports on nature in Japan, has posted an information page over on the English version of “HIKES IN JAPAN” for foreigners to read if they’re thinking of climbing mountains in Japan. It has also added 11 new courses to its mountain climbing and hiking guide, bringing the number of courses up to 100.
Before the Hike: Trip Plan and Travel Accident Insurance
The website offers a trip plan that’s required when hiking in the Japanese mountains and gives information on travel accident insurance you should sign up for in case of emergency.
Manners and Precautions While Hiking
There are rules and proper manners that need to be followed when climbing mountains in Japan. Read and follow these 11 simple steps, including some that might be different to mountain climbing in your own country.
Dangers on the Trail and Emergency Measures
Hiking is a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous. There may also be dangers unique to Japan that you won’t be able to anticipate from home. This section summaries the dangers of hiking in Japan that you need to be aware of, as well as what to do in case of an emergency.
100 Mountain Climbing & Hiking Courses
HIKES IN JAPAN lists specially selected courses for hikers and mountain climbers with necessary information including when to travel, distances, how difficult a climb is, and so on.
If you’re thinking of tackling Japan’s mountains, then HIKES IN JAPAN will prove indispensable in your trip planning.
HIKES IN JAPAN
Official Website: https://hikesinjapan.yamakei-online.com/
teamLab’s Acorn Forest Exhibition to Open in Saitama’s Higashi-Tokorozawa Park
17.July.2020 | SPOT
teamLab’s upcoming new digital art exhibition teamLab: Resonating Life in Acorn Forest is set to open in Higashi-Tokorozawa Park in Saitama on August 1, 2020. The interactive display will react to and change from the presence of people.
The Kadokawa Culture Museum calls the collection of oaks and other deciduous broadleaf trees of Musashino the “Musashino Woods.” These Musashino Woods transition through the greens of spring and summer, display beautiful autumnal leaves from fall until early winter, and are home to ripe acorns in autumn.
Deciduous broadleaf forests were widespread in Japan during the Jomon Period. These forests were home to acorn-bearing trees, and acorns were a major food source for the Jomon people. During the Jomon Period, many people existed alongside the acorn forests, living easily with this abundant food source.
teamLab’s Digitized Nature art project uses non-material digital technology to transform nature into art without having a physical impact on it.
teamLab: Resonating Life in the Acorn Forest will transform the acorn forests of Musashino into an interactive art space which changes due to the presence of people.
Autonomous Resonating Life – Liquified Light Color, Sunrise and Sunset / teamLab, 2020, Interactive Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi
With sunrise, the ovoids begin to reflect the world around them. When pushed down by a person or blown by the wind, the ovoids fall back and then rise releasing a resonating tone. The ovoids around it also respond one after another, continuing to resonate with the same tone.
As the sun sets, the ovoids shine by themselves. When an ovoid is pushed by a person or blown by the wind it falls down and then rises, a sound resonates out, and it emits a light color specific to the sound.
Resonating Trees / teamLab, 2014, Interactive Digitized Nature, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi
The trees shine brightly. The light of each tree is autonomous, slowly blinking.
The light transmitted from Autonomous Resonating Life – Liquified Light Color, Sunrise and Sunset causes the trees’ lights to change color, and a tone specific to that color resonates out. The light of a tree is transmitted to the surrounding trees one by one, as the sound is continuously emitted.
When a light resonates from the trees in the distance, it signifies the presence of people. Perhaps people will become more aware of the existence of others in the same space.
teamLab: Resonating Life in the Acorn Forest
Running: August 1, 2020 – Permanent
Address: Musashino Woods Park in Higashi-Tokorozawa Park (3-9, Higashi-Tokorozawa, Tokorozawa, Saitama)
12:00 – 22:00
Daytime: 12:00 – 17:00 / Nighttime: 18:00 – 22:00
*Hours of exhibition varies depending on the season
Jan, Feb, Mar: 12:00 – 17:00 / 18:00 – 22:00
Apr, May, Jun: 12:00 – 18:00 / 19:00 – 22:00
Jul, Aug, Sep: 12:00 – 17:00 / 18:00 – 22:00
Oct, Nov, Dec: 12:00 – 16:00 / 17:00 – 22:00
*Last entry at 21:30
Tickets: On sale from July 22, 2020
*Also available to buy at the exhibition
Official Website: http://acornforest.teamlab.art
Gaze at Japan’s Setting Sun Over the Horizon at Oedo Onsen Monogatari Shiomiso
13.July.2020 | SPOT
Oedo Onsen Monogatari Hotels & Resorts reopened “Oedo Onsen Monogatari Shiomiso” on July 10, 2020 after the hot spring hotel underwent some revamps.
To commemorate the reopening, the hotel is now holding a dinner buffet and all-you-can-drink plan until August 31, 2020.
Take a dip in the famous Senami Onsen
Oedo Onsen Monogatari Shiomiso is home to Senami Onsen, a hot spring which first opened back in 1904 after the area was excavated for oil and the hot water shot out from the ground. Also known by the name “Netsu no Yu” (Hot Water), the hot spring has continued to offer rich quantities of water for over 100 years. Japanese poet and pioneering feminist Yosano Akiko wrote a poem about the place in 1937.
The water is thick and transparent, and also has chloride in it, which helps prevent sweat from evaporating, leading to moisturised skin. You also don’t feel cold after leaving the water, and the water has sterilising properties. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing experience while gazing out across the Japanese sea at the evening setting sun.
Choose the right room for your trip
There are a number of different rooms to pick from that cater to all kinds of travels, such as the ocean view Japanese-style rooms which accommodate 2-5 people, rooms with a terrace, Japanese-style rooms with open-air baths, and more.
All-you-can-drink summer drinks and a gourmet buffet
The new restaurant serves up a menu by legendary Japanese chef Takaharu Takashina, with seasonal ingredients sourced in Niigata Prefecture. The restaurant serves a Japanese and Western fusion buffet, a diverse breakfast assortment, and more. There’s sushi, fried foods, fish from the Japan sea, exquisite rice, and much more to enjoy.
Affordable summer all-you-can-drink
The all-you-can-drink plan comes with evening buffet as a set and is running until August 31, priced at just ¥1,500. Cool down from the summer heat with a refreshing beer, highball, or other beverage to enjoy with your meal.
Running: Until August 31, 2020
Time: 60-minutes max in the evenings
Menu: Beer, Shochu, Highball, Sours, and more.
Oedo Onsen Monogatari Shiomiso
Address: 2-9-36 Senamionsen, Murakami, Niigata
Price: From ¥8,980 (1 night for 2 people with buffet / consumption tax charged separately)
TEL: 0570-032268 (9:00-19:00)
Official Website: https://shiomiso.ooedoonsen.jp/
Take a Summer Trip to Karuizawa in Style at Hoshino Resorts BEB Karuizawa
12.July.2020 | SPOT
“BEB” is a brand of hotel established by Hoshino Resorts which aims to support young people travelling by being cost-effective as well as make travelling more fun for the younger generation. This year, BEB5 Karuizawa is promoting a spending a fun and stylish summertime.
Enjoy the outdoors in a wide, open space
The indoor “Yagura Room” is fitted with spacious sofas and bed spaces where people can chat together, read a book, and enjoy their free time. There’s also “TAMARIBA,” a 24-hour public space with a garden, lounge, cafe, and library. A cool breeze sweeps through the tall windows, letting in cool air on a hot summer’s day. Guests can kick back and enjoy some relaxation. The cafe even sells wine so guests can treat themselves to an evening drink or have a little drinking get-together with friends.
Summer resort rental items
Guests can experience the true thrill of summertime in Karuizawa with a selection of rental items including straw hats, a bug catching net, portable speakers, electric fans, and more. These can be rented from July 13, 2020 to August 31, 2020.
The lush green outdoors surrounds the hotel
BEB5 Karuizawa is located in one corner of the Karuizawa Hoshino Area which is home to a bright green forest. Located laong the bath is Harunire Terrace which is home to 16 unique shops, and there’s even a hot spring which flows directly from the water source.
Hoshino Onsen Tonbo no Yu
There are plenty of things for guests to do outside, including participating in a nature tour hosted by wild flora and fauna specialists Picchio, having a picnic at the benches by the flowing water, and more.
Karuizawa is one of Japan’s best places for a summer retreat. Just a one hour bullet train ride from Tokyo, it’s an easy place to access from the country’s capital.
Hoshino Resorts BEB5 Karuizawa
Address: Hoshino, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano
TEL: 0570-073-022 (Hoshino Resorts Booking Centre)
Rooms: 73 (Check In 15:00 / Check Out 11:00)
Price: From ¥9,000 per night (1 room for 2 people, service charge and meal charged separately)
Official Website: https://hoshinoresorts.com/ja/hotels/beb5karuizawa/
Wine and Dine at Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto’s Luxurious New ‘Champagne Garden’
11.July.2020 | SPOT
Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto opened its limited-time “Champagne Garden” on July 3 at its first floor outdoor terrace restaurant Brasserie. Running until September 6, customers can enjoy free-flow French Bollinger champagne and cocktails.
Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto opened back in October 2016 as a luxury hotel, home to the famous Sekisuien Gardens which have a history spanning back 800 years and are mentioned in the The Tale of the Heike epic. The hotel’s first floor restaurant Brasserie has towering 9-meter tall windows that look out onto these gardens, while inside customers can enjoy dining in a stylish environment.
The champagne served in the Champagne Garden is produced by the French Champagne house Bolligner, a company that started by Jacques Bollinger in 1829. Fermented in oak barrels, the champagne has sophisticated and complex flavours. In 1884, Bolligner received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria.
At the Champagne Garden, guests can enjoy four different types of canapé made by the restaurant’s head chef Koga together with a glass of Bolligner. They can also order rosé wine, cocktails, or soft drinks too, all of which are free-flow. And since the restaurant faces the garden, guests can enjoy the view of the greenery throughout all four seasons, in central Kyoto.
Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto reopened on July 1 after closing temporarily due to COVID-19. The hotel has launched its “Lead With Care” program which ensures guests and staff are at the top of the priority list for safety against the coronavirus.
Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto – Champagne Garden
Running: July 3, 2020 – September 6, 2020
Location: Brasserie, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto Floor 1F
Address: 445-3 Myōhōin Maekawachō, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Price: ¥8,800 per person (90 minute window)
*15% service charge and 10% consumption tax charged separately
*Booking in advance recommended
Official Website: https://www.fourseasons.com/jp/kyoto/