Travel Japan #10: Sending Japanese Souvenirs to My Dear Friend

29.March.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

My trip is almost at an end. My final destination is the huge supermarket next to the beach where I was able to feel like a real Okinawan local as I blended in with the crowd while pushing my cart.

 

Kanji, Katakana, Hiragana. The Japanese bubble writing was like hints to solving a puzzle. I peruse the products lined on the shelves to see what the symbols symbolize.

 

It’s time to go ahead and by a souvenir for my treasured friend who is waiting across the ocean for my return.

 

Snacks galore fill the shelves. I find myself lost on which to pick, but I use my senses to see which packaging I like the most and put something in my basket.

 

Part of the fun is looking forward to what flavour it will be after opening them. Let’s call it a Happy Bag.

The meat and fish aisle is overflowing with items. I see stickers along it with the names of products and their prices. There’s a mountain of ready-to-eat foods. It’s not like this is something uncommon to see, I have them in my country too, but it’s interesting to see the little differences.

There were fruits and vegetables I had never seen before too.

 

How do they taste?

How do you use them in cooking?

The supermarket breathes the lives of Japanese people.

I take some chopsticks with me too which I learned to use during my trip.

This vermilion colour is unique to Japan. Though vivid, it’s an elegant and refined red that sticks in my mind.

This country’s culture is packed tight into these chopsticks.

 

Their respect of dining, delicateness and humility. It would be great to share these feelings with someone.

When in Japan, an everyday scene in the country that’s different from what one usually does is almost like a dream to a foreigner like me.

Even though I am leaving the country, I will remember the sights I saw here clearly and vividly. I can wear this little bit of courage I gained from flying into a new culture with pride.

I really mean it when I say that what I have gathered on this trip will spill into my road ahead in life.

I push my cart and begin moving forward.

 

Model / Mala Morgan

 

Items to send to a precious friend found only in Okinawa, Japan

TOPVALU Brown Sugar Dough Cake Triple Friend in Rice Oil ¥98 (Before Tax) / ¥105.84 (Tax Included) –150g

This brown sugar dough cake is made using Okinawan brown cane sugar. Simply frying them three times in rice oil gives them a crunchy texture. They feel nice to chew, there’s a rhythm to it; I ended up buying several bags so I want to share them with my friend as an afternoon snack.

 

TOPVALU Full-Bodied Brown Sugar Toffees Made with Okinawan Brown Sugar ¥90 (Before Tax) / ¥97.20 (Tax Included) – 100g

I liked the look of the brown sugar snacks so I went ahead and grabbed another. These toffees are cooked on an open fire. They are a mix of sugar, brown sugar and starch syrup. They have two enjoyable textures―the inside and outside―and are delicious enough that your taste buds will never tire of them. I’m completely obsessed with Okinawa’s brown sugar.

 

HOME COORDY Dishwasher-Safe Brown Apitong Wood Chopsticks ¥398 (Before Tax) / ¥429.84 (Tax Included) –23cm

These chopsticks are relaxing to hold. They have a really nice wooden texture. On my trip food taught me about the delicateness of Japanese people as well as polite manners. I want to convey that same feeling by taking these chopsticks back as a souvenir.

 

AEON Mihama’s matchless stock of Okinawa’s amazing products

Whether it be daily necessities during your travels or souvenirs to take back home, AEON boasts a wide range of Japanese products at an affordable price. The Maihama branch is close to the beach and hotels too equaling convenience for quickly picking up what you need on your trip.

 

AEON Tyatan

Address: 8-3 Mihama, Chatan, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture

Opening Hours: Food 7:00-Midnight / Clothing & Living Goods 10:00-Midnight

*Business hours may differ for certain select stands and stores.

*The Clothing & Living Goods section is open from 9:00 to midnight on weekends and Thank You Day

TEL: 098-982-7575

 

*Tax-inclusive prices are displayed up to the second decimal point.

*In the case that multiple items are purchased, the fraction below the decimal point will also be added to calculate the consumption tax.

 

We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

5% Coupon:https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

RECOMMENDED ENTRIES

  • Travel Japan #1: An Organic Morning Welcomes Me to Kyoto

    16.January.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT / Uncategorized

    Passing over the crystal blue ocean and through the snowy white clouds, I finally arrived in the country I had longed to visit.

     

    The destination I chose is a town in located in the west of Japan, one steeped in history. The first morning to welcome me in Kyoto came through the steam of my mug which rose beautifully, almost transparent. It all appeared mysterious. Just what was I going to discover on this trip?

     

    This is the story of one girl who came to visit Japan from her home country.

    The morning coffee I will drink in my hotel room is like a good luck charm. It’s a requisite ritual of all my mornings, something that gives me a bit of courage.

     

    “I hope today is like no other.”

    Whispering this quietly to myself, I pour the hot water into the filter.

     

    As the water slowly drips I smell the rich notes of the coffee.

     

    The heat from the mug warms me up from the inside like a gentle caress.

    Right now, in this moment, I want to tear the view outside the window and put it in my coat pocket.

     

    I sip my coffee as I feel gratitude for the beautiful morning and anticipate the adventure that is about to begin.

    The light, the warmth and the smell. Just quietly admiring this scene – that’s my morning ritual.

     

    “I have to get going already,” I murmur. I look to myself in the future a little.

     

    I wear a small handbag with my mint coloured coat. Let’s put this morning scene in one of them, because it was a fitting and refreshing start to the start of my trip.

    I swing my eyes to the view outside the window once more and leave my room.

     

    “I feel that I’ll have become a different me when I return to this room.”

     

    Model: Mala Morgan

     

     

    These are the organic items for my morning in Japan.

    TOPVALU GURINAI – Organic Original Blend Drip Coffee:¥298 (Before Tax) /¥321 (Tax Included) 64g(8g×8count)

    The green items sold by AEON’s private brand TOPVALU are good for both me as well as the environment. Organic drinks are like good luck charms that make your body healthy and beautiful from the inside. This organic drip coffee has a full-bodied flavour, and it’s easy to make, making it perfect for mornings when travelling.

     

    TOPVALU ORGANIC ORANGE 100 – 100% Straight Organic Orange Juice:¥298 (Before Tax) /¥321 (Tax Included) 750ml

    If my body craves fruit the moment I wake up, I sometimes go for orange juice. The refreshing sour taste of 100% organic orange juice makes me feel a little indulgent. Organic oranges that have been squeezed within 24 hours of picking are rich and very delicious.

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

     

    🎁 5% Coupon:
    https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

     

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

  • Travel Japan #2: A Peaceful Breakfast Basked in the Sun at Kyoto’s Kamo River

    01.February.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    I left my room, and what stood in front of me calling like some outside force was the riverbed of Kamo River, a symbol of Kyoto. My plan for the day is still a blank sheet. If I listen carefully I can hear the calm flow of the stream. Where I’m meant to go will become clear in my mind’s eye, I’m sure of it.

     

    I didn’t know the reason, but I felt that if I inhaled the morning air with all I had I would come to know.

     

    “Where should I go first?” Thinking that, I set off to begin the story of my trip with all the freedom in the world.

     

    The surface of the river is like a mirror, reflecting Kyoto’s changing seasons all year round. No matter the season, the world through that streaming looking glass is sure to be beautiful.

    Standing under the bridge was like being in a hiding place. It made me think of the first time I felt excitement when I was little.

    “I wonder what I’m searching for on this journey?”

     

    These are the words I thought this to myself while walking back and forth. This was a city that I instantly grew attached to.

     

    Is it something I want to find myself; or is it something I want somebody else to find for me? Someone I don’t know from in a city I don’t know in a country I don’t know.

     

    The answer can only be found by working up the courage to knock on the door. Hints are hidden amongst the people and scenery I have yet to encounter in Kyoto.

    I laid out my blanket at the riverside and gazed across the Kamo River.

     

    I took my breakfast out of my bag.

     

    Bread and milk: my morning meal whenever and wherever I am. It’s a very natural cycle just like the blue sky, white clouds and unchanging scene before me.

    I feel myself becoming hydrated at the silky taste of my almond milk.

     

    I stuff my cheeks slowly with bread and a Danish pastry while painting a picture of the day I will have today.

    It was the flowing river that laid it out to me as if singing me a sing.

     

    It said, “When you get going, still with that curiosity inside you, you’ll meet a you who you haven’t met before.”

     

    As if someone had gently flicked a switch in my mind, my half-asleep body began to move.

     

    I decide to set off after eating my breakfast. The map of my trip lies in my heart.

     

    Model/ Mala Morgan

     

     

    Incorporate beautifying foods into your breakfast.

    TOPVALU 35% Reduced Sugar Soy Flour Danish Panettone:¥128 (Before Tax) / ¥138 (Tax Included) *Includes 2

    TOPVALU Fluffy Onion Cheese Bread:¥98(Before Tax) / ¥105 (Tax Included) *Includes 1

     

    Food from ÆON’s TOPVALU range makes my breakfast tasty and refreshing. The danish pastry is fermented over a long period of time before being folded repeatedly to give it its moist texture.. The crunchy texture brings a satisfied smile to your face when chowing them down.

     

    This bread contains sliced onion and black peppered ham dressed with mayonnaise as well as a sprinkling of shredded and melted Gouda cheese. The fluffy bread is just heavenly.

     

    TOPVALU Almond Milk (Left):¥88円 (Before Tax) / ¥95(Tax Included) – 200ml 

    TOPVALU Sugar Free Almond Milk (Right):¥88円 (Before Tax) /¥95(Tax Included) – 200ml

     

    Packed with vitamin E, the highlight of this almond milk is its low calorie count. Its subtle sweetness and smooth texture complements the bread perfectly.

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

     

    🎁 5% Coupon:
    https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

     

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

  • Travel Japan #3: A Peaceful Mind and Time at Higashi Honganji Temple in Kyoto

    08.February.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    I began my walk through the streets of Kyoto which since long ago have been at the height of prosperity in Japanese history. I understand the marvel and easing of the heart from strolling around the numerous majestic temples.

     

    The fallen maidenhair tree leaves which had changed colour beautifully were spread across the ground like a carpet leading up to a sacred place. Each step felt precious and cleared my mind.

    And there I stood before it, overwhelmed at its magnificence.

    This is Higashi Honganji Temple. Inside is a portrait of Shinran, a Japanese Buddhist monk and founder of the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism. The temple grounds are home to historical architecture, every piece of which stirred my soul as somebody who does not know Japan.

    Despite it being my first time here I felt like I had returned once more. I wonder why?

    I gave a respectful bow to this temple and its long history while feeling the breath of the people who once lived here.

    My heart feels at peace when placing my hands together.

     

    The act of praying may be one that has you facing yourself.

    I drank my genmaicha tea and hydrated myself from the dry air while strolling through the temple grounds.

     

    Kyoto is a mysterious place. It has a tolerance to accept anything. It was like the old buildings were talking to me―like they knew me from long ago.

    In response and in a trance, I snapped a photo with my camera.

     

    I wanted to burn the beauty of this temple into my memory so I will never forget it.

    I was captivated by the sight of the falling leaves. I stood under the maidenhair and gazed as they fluttered. I wonder if somebody else from another time stood here and felt the same as I did as they looked on at Kyoto in fall.

    The just-right bitterness and gentle sweetness of my almond chocolate stirs my imagination. The yellow leaves of the maidenhair dyed the path a golden road.

     

    The grand temple and the maidenhair tree. My existence at this moment piles on top of Kyoto’s unimaginably long history as a single instant.

     

     

    Model / Mala Morgan

     

     

    Add rich taste to your walk

    TOPVALU Almond Chocolate Bitter 70%: ¥198(Before Tax)  ¥213 (Tax Included) – 70g

    A box of ÆON’s private brand TOPVALU 70% almond dark chocolate is always hidden in my bag. The flavour is moderately sweet and has just the right amount of bitterness perfect for those times when I’m lost in thought. I feel that every time I taste the almond in this chocolate now I will remember the carpet of maidenhair leaves.

     

    TOPVALU Organic Genmaicha: ¥78(Before Tax) ¥84 (Tax Included) – 500ml

    This tea is made from 100% organic tea leaves grown in Kagoshima Prefecture. It is a refreshing blend of green tea and flavoursome rice. The healthy ingredients in this tea are good for the body and when they hit every nook and cranny inside me make me want to take a walk anywhere in Kyoto.

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

     

    5% Coupon:
    https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

     

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

  • Travel Japan #4: Magic Items to Heal My Tired Skin and Body

    21.February.2019 | FASHION / FEATURES

    After my stroll around Kyoto I head back to my hotel for a break and think back over my day. My curiosity is piqued – I want to know more about the history of this place.

     

    Laid sprawled across my bed I picture myself walking through the city, the seasons changing, giving a sideways look at an elegant temple. The vivid cherry blossoms of spring, the cool riverbeds in summer, the autumnal orange hues, and the snow-beds of winter. All of these moments provide a spectacle that cannot be overlooked.

     

    I feel that more wonderful things are still yet to occur. It’s nighttime, and my mind wanders at these thoughts, so I can’t sleep.

    I take out the Kyoto guidebook from my baggage. I trace the path I traveled today in my head which vividly brings the sights I saw to my mind’s eye.

    I let my body sink gently into the bed and absorb myself in reading, checking all the nooks and crannies of the book.

    This ancient city boasted by the island country of Japan, which I crossed the sky and sea to arrive at, is more wonderful than I expected. The orderly townscape makes me sit up and feel tense, in a good way.

     

    My mind becomes clear. It feels as if I have been looking far into the distance for a long time.

     

    “I feel the path I am heading for is beyond that beautiful landscape.”

     

    My heart beats fast at that hope.

    I walked a lot today, so I give myself a treat.

     

    I bask in the aromas of the cool sheets I place on my legs and heal my body to the core.

    I add to that a touch of permeating organic oil that’s both moist and gentle on the skin. When my skin is happy my heart too benefits.

    The night is still young. I enjoy some me-time with my makeup-less skin and heart. Resting like this is another important part of travel.

     

    I flick through the guidebook over and over again and visualise the routes of the places I want to visit. A magic-imbued miracle occurs and I feel this room directly connecting to the places I wish to go to.

    Afterwards I enjoy a late-night retro movie. I am sure my coming to love alone-time is thanks to this trip. I also feel I have become a little stronger than I was. I try praising myself as my heart throbs at my favourite scenes which I watch over and over.

     

     

    Model / Mala Morgan

     

     

    Give your tired body the luxury time it deserves

    TOPVALU Leg & Calf Adhesive Cooling Sheet
    ¥460 (Before Tax) / ¥496 (Tax Included) – 18 Sheets (14cm x 10cm)

     

    On days where my legs become swollen from walking I like to massage my legs in the bath. I then use ÆON TOPVALU’s calf sheets which refresh my legs with the power of their aroma and give them care for the next day. I step into a new world with this body.

     

    TOPVALU GURINAI Organic  geo organics Moisturizing Lotion
    ¥1,800 (Before Tax) / ¥1,944 (Tax Included) – 150ml

    TOPVALU GURINAI Organic geo organics Pure Oil Macadamia
    ¥1,800 (Before Tax) / ¥1,944 (Tax Included) – 27ml

     

    This Geo Organics certified skin location uses orange fruit extract as its base which moisturises and is astringent. It steadily permeates the skin and leaves it glowing. I use it together with the organic certified Pure Oil Macadamia. It maintains a balance of normal bacterial flora of the skin and contains lots of palmitoleic acid which is said to enhance barrier function. The power of the macadamia nuts also grants lively skin. I don’t want to mess up tending to my skin even when traveling.

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

     

    🎁 5% Coupon:https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

     

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

  • Travel Japan #5: Experiencing Everyday Life in Japan at a Supermarket in Kyoto

    25.February.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    After getting to know some Kyoto history I wanted to know more about today’s Kyoto. The enormous and modern terminal of Kyoto Station contrasts with the temples I’m so interested in. The two co-exist in harmony. I could see Kyoto Tower through the glass – it stood tall like it was watching over this ever-changing city. I will change my perspective today and walk the streets like the locals who live here in Kyoto.

    My destination is undecided. It’s nice to surrender yourself to the flow of the people once in a while and head towards your goal as in Amidakuji (Ghost Leg lottery). Because I’ve learnt on my trip that you can encounter wonderful things by chance on occasion.

    The glass walkway is like a tunnel into the future.

    I look at my reflection in the window and see I have become more of an adult.

    Stood there I gaze for a long time up at Kyoto Tower. As I stare I think about how the city changes, people change, the days transition, but how there are also things I want to stay the same.

    The next place I head to is Aeon Mall, a shopping centre close to Kyoto Station. This is a foreign supermarket to for me, so I get excited. It’s like sifting through a toy box.

     

    An ordinary day for the people living in this country is an extraordinary day for me.

    Each and every thing in there is something I’ve never laid eyes on before.

     

    I walk around, forgetting about the passage of time, and get a glimpse into the simple yet happy lifestyle of people.

    There’s a conveyor belt sushi restaurant in the mall, something I had been yearning for.

    I wonder if my friends would laugh if I told them that the sushi coming round on a conveyor belt is like something out of a Tim Burton movie?

    I feel like the protagonist of that film as I eat the sushi that rolls on by.

    I visited a general store where everything is sold for ¥100.

    I bought a letter set from here and wrote a letter to my precious friend.

     

    To my beloved friend,

     

    Japan is a really wonderful place.

    I’m determined to absorb everything I see and experience in the limited time I have here.

    I don’t know what I will discover on this trip, what I am heading towards.

    It’s hard to describe in words, but I will continue my travels.

     

    Model: Mala Morgan

     

     

    Aeon Mall Kyoto: A Japan-packed shopping mall 10 minutes on foot from Kyoto Station

    Aeon Mall Kyoto is just a 10-minute walk from Kyoto Station. Its shelves are lined with daily necessities, you can dine there, buy souvenirs and more. On Weekends and national holidays there are free shuttles bus that runs every 15 minutes from Kyoto Station’s Hachijoguchi Exit which is very convenient for travellers with heavy luggage.

     

    I really recommend visiting if ever you’re in Kyoto.

     

    Aeon Mall Kyoto

    Address: 1 Nishikujō Toriiguchichō, Minami Ward, Kyoto

    Business Hours: Different for each store. Please visit the mall’s website below to check opening hours.

    Website: http://kyoto-aeonmall.com/

     

    KOHYO (Aeon Mall Kyoto – Sakura Building Floor 1F)

    KOHYO is a supermarket that sells various Japanese goods. I get my hands on a range of daily necessities and ingredients as I feel with my own skin what it’s like to real live life in Japan.

     

    Business Hours: 9:00-22:00

    Website: http://www.kohyo.co.jp/

     

    Kaiten Sushi Uogashi (Aeon Mall Kyoto – Sakura Building Floor 4F)

    Kaiten Sushi Uogashi is a conveyor belt sushi restaurant that sells over 20 types of seafood everyday. The ingredients change each day. I reconfirm that I really am in Japan as I tuck into my delicious sushi.

     

    Business Hours: 10:00-22:00 (Last Orders 21:30)

    Website: http://www.maruchu-sushi.com/

     

    DAISO (Aeon Mall Kyoto – Kaede Building Floor 4F)

    DAISO stocks new products every single day. There are ¥100-type stores in every country, but the ones in Japan really are something special! They have so many items that make for perfect souvenirs. It’s an irresistible place for girls who love shopping so I’ve got to tell my friends about it.

     

    Business Hours: 10-00-21:00

    Website: http://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/

  • Travel Japan #7: A New Adventure Begins on the Southern Island of Okinawa

    11.March.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    I set off on the next part of my trip, crossing the ocean once more and heading in the direction of Okinawa. Okinawa is home to 150 islands, has a tropical climate and expansive beautiful blue beaches. I want to see another side of Japan completely different from Kyoto.

     

    I wonder what the Ryukyu Kingdom will show me, which established and prospered an independent culture. When I arrive at the airport, I can already feel the breeze of the southern islands. It’s a breeze that serves as a prologue to what feels like the start of a new story.

    With my pink suitcase in hand, I let my imagination run wild as I picture the sights outside the airport. The pink on my suitcase sways to and fro like a little pink boat, and I’m the captain and sole rower of that boat.

    I encountered a Shisa, a lion statue and god that protects Okinawa, so I locked eyes with it and expressed some words of gratitude.

     

    It feels like something good is going to happen.

    I don’t want to leave this place yet. When I gaze at the aeroplane taking off…

    …I get a feeling that I can do anything.

    The sound of the engine, the force of the airframe seen up close.

     

    My body still remembers the great speed at takeoff.

     

    People can soar the skies; they can go anywhere in this world. I can feel strong thinking about just that.

    As I look for the exit, I feel the calm flow of time here and it’s different from the mainland.

     

    I have plenty of time, so I don’t have to rush. I can begin searching for my destination with relaxed steps.

     

    The air of the islands in the south makes my heart feel calm so I notice how soft and gentle people’s voices and facial expressions are. It makes me remember how nature and people’s hearts are connected.

    I take a seat on the bench and stuff my face with the nut and banana chip mix which is a replacement for my breakfast. My somewhat hazy head starts to become clearer and I see the next place I need to go.

    There was a water tank next to the bench.

     

    I wonder if the fish inside the tank remember the ocean. The colourful tropical fish inside this water tank, surrounded by tourists, live freely and in an environment with no threats.

    “It’s wonderful so live small and comfortably, but I want to see the big wide world.”

     

    I wait for the departure as I look at the beautiful fish. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call them precious gems.

    I say my goodbyes to the fish and head outside with a kick in my step. A new journey is about to begin. The Okinawan sky is smiling at me.

     

    Model / Mala Morgan

     

     

    A healthy morning travel breakfast

    TOPVALU Smooth Zipper Carry Case M ¥9,800 (Before Tax) / ¥10,584 (Tax Included) – Pink

    This carry case is an eye-catching pink colour which makes it easy to spot at the airport when you’re claiming your baggage. It stands on excellent tyres that are quiet when the case is rolled. Its size also means it holds plenty of luggage. Because it has another fastener for expanding the case, you can rest easy that you won’t have to leave anything behind when your luggage inevitably builds up during your trip. I want to pack my memories of Okinawa into it and head to the next town.

     

    TOPVALU Nuts & Banana Chip Mix ¥158 (Before Tax) / ¥170.64 (Tax Included) – 31g

    My breakfast today was a nuts and banana chip mix. It’s healthy so I’m using them for support up to lunch and as a snack on my trip too. The combination of banana chips and the nuts, which are full of dietary fibres, is a more delicious mix than I had imagined. I’m getting addicted.

     

    *Tax-inclusive prices are displayed up to the second decimal point.
    *In the case that multiple items are purchased, the fraction below the decimal point will also be added to calculate the consumption tax.

     

    We are handing out coupons for the products mentioned here. Be sure to use them the next time you visit ÆON for great discounts.

     

    5% Coupon:https://www.welcome-aeon.com/coupon/web_coupon.html

    ÆON Store Search: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/storesearch/index.html

RELATED ENTRIES

  • Hoshino Resorts KAI Poroto to Open in Hokkaido in January 2022

    21.October.2020 | SPOT

    Hoshino Resorts, Japan’s premiere hotel management company boasting over 40 properties both inside and outside Japan is set to its new onsen ryokan (hot spring Japanese style inn) Hoshino Resorts KAI Poroto in January 2022 following the completion of a partnership agreement with Shiraoi, Hokkaido on June 28, 2018.

     

    KAI Poroto comes as the 19th property for the KAI brand, following KAI Nagato (opened in March 2020), KAI Kirishima (scheduled to open in January 2021), and KAI Beppu (scheduled to open in summer 2021). It will also be the third KAI property to open in Hokkaido, following RISONARE Tomamu in Shimukappu and OMO7 Asahikawa in Asahikawa. The new property will be designed by Japanese architect Hiroshi Nakamura.

    (Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP)

    Guests will be able to enjoy Shiraoi onsen water at KAI Poroto. The water comes from a “moor spring” which contains organic minerals derived from plants. This type of water is rare throughout the world. KAI Poroto faces the shores of Lake Poroto and is surrounded by the natural forests of Hokkaido where many species of wild bird live. All guest rooms boast a lake view where changes in scenery throughout the seasons can be enjoyed.

     

    KAI Poroto will is cooperating with both the town of Shiraoi as well as “Upopoy”, the National Ainu Museum and Park, which has the aim of becoming a “symbolic space for ethnic harmony”. The facility will respect Ainu culture and provide a place of accommodation for guests to experience it.

     

    Upopoy: A symbolic space for ethnic harmony

    A symbolic space for ethnic harmony by the name of “Upopoy opened in Shiraoi, Hokkaido on July 12, 2020. This national centre serves as a base for the reconstruction and development of Ainu culture, which is in danger of survival. The main facilities are the National Ainu Museum and the National Ainu Park. The National Ainu Museum is the first national museum in Japan centred around indigenous Ainu people and the history and culture of the people as expressed through their perspective. This is expressed in a variety of different exhibits. The National Ainu Park is a field museum, where Ainu culture can be taught through a number of programs. Experiences on-site include the Ainu traditional dance, which is registered as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, wood carving, and embroidery workshops, as well as food and traditional performing arts experiences. “Upopoy” means “to sing (in large numbers)” in the language of Ainu.

     

    Designed by Hiroshi Nakamura

    Japanese architect Hiroshi Nakamura is behind the design of KAI Poroto. “Poroto” means a large lake in the Ainu language and KAI Poroto boldly draws this lake into its premise. In the lobby of the birch forest, guests will be greeted by a magnificent view of the lake, which leads to Mount Tarumae. Guests can also relax in the lounge while watching the flames in the fireplace, something which was at the centre of Ainu people’s lives. On the surface of the lake, a bathhouse called Kashi, which is built using traditional Ainu construction methods, stands like a village. The open-air bath makes one feel as if you are immersed in the lake. The design has been created in a way that is modern, inspired by the lifestyles, nature, and family of Ainu people.

  • World’s First Mario Cafe and Shop Opens at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka

    20.October.2020 | ANIME&GAME / SPOT

    Universal Studios Japan (USJ) announced earlier this month that its new Nintendo-themed area SUPER NINTENDO WORLD will open in spring 2021. While the grand opening of SUPER NINTENDO is still a while away yet, USJ has everyone covered, as the new and first of its kind Mario Cafe & Store officially opened inside the park’s Hollywood Area on October 16, 2020.

     

    The cafe and shop is dream come true for fans of the Mario bros as they enter into a world inspired by the video game series with Mario and Luigi and level decorations in every corner. It can be easily spotted thanks to the red and green “M” and “L” letters on the windows symbolising Mario and Luigi as well as the Mario and Luigi hats. Gamers can enjoy this exciting space while they wait for the official opening of SUPER NINTENDO WORLD.

     

    Themed food and merchandise line-up

    Decorations are instantly recognisable with Question Blocks and Pipes on the walls, Mario Mushroom-coloured tables, and more.

    The food line-up includes dishes, drinks, and desserts like pancake sandwiches made to look like Mario and Luigi’s hats, fruit dream soda inspired by the brothers’ moustaches, and a selection of original merchandise which reads “WHOSE CAP?” on it like T-shirts and more. You can see more of what’s on the menu here.

     

    © Nintendo.

  • Japan’s Elephant Zoo Ichihara Elephant Kingdom to Receive Revamp For Spring 2021

    20.October.2020 | SPOT

    Ichihara Elephant Kingdom is the home to the largest number of elephants in Japan. The zoo has announced major renovations set for completion next spring which will allow for the elephants to live an even more enjoyable life.

    Ichihara Elephant Kingdom is located in central Chiba and is home to 12 elephants. It’s also home to around 80 other species of animals like red pandas, beavers, capybaras, hippos, and more. The zoo also has a variety of attractions, like the Elephant Ride which sits behinds where the elephants live, and the Elephant Lift where you can ride up and down an elephant trunk. The Head of  Ichihara Elephant Kingdom, Sayuri Sakamoto, served as the writer for the 2005 Japanese drama film Shining Boy & Little Randy. One of the zoo’s Asian elephants, Randy, was also a model for the film.

    The renovations will introduce a new home for the elephants as the current one is seeing wear over time, as well as a new large-scale pond for the elephants to play in, a playground, and more. The zoo has always ensured a safe distance between visitors and the elephants so people can enjoy watching them will making sure the elephants stay happy. It is now creating new spaces to continue that service.

    The water pond the zoo is building for the elephants is called Elephant Splash, and they are launching a crowdfunder on October 27, 2020 to ask for people’s help with funding the project. It will allow a new space for the elephants to play which visitors are sure to enjoy too, like seeing the 1- and 2-year-old Ramu and Momoka splashing around.

     

    The crowdfunding project has nine different tiers including tickets to an evening cherry blossom party at the park, a chance to ride the elephants, and more. The campaign will end on January 15, 2021, the same date as Ramu’s birthday.

  • Fujikawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival 2020 Begins This November

    19.October.2020 | SPOT

    The Fujikawaguchiko Tourism Association will host this year’s Fujikawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival, which will be the 22nd run, to help support the tourism industry in the northern region of Fuji which has seen a great impact as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

    With much less people travelling to Japan during the pandemic, and the virus having continued for a long time, the Fujikawaguchiko Tourism Association is instead focusing on travellers within the country by hosting various events that can be enjoyed at Fujikawaguchiko.

     

    All the necessary precautions will be taken at this year’s festival, including taking people’s temperature upon arrival, the mandatory wearing of face masks, alcohol gel being available at the site, and more. This will protects not only the locals but sightseers too, and so cooperation is being asked of everyone visiting.

    At this year’s festival, visitors can look forward to the popular Momiji Tunnel of maple trees which will be lit up at sunset until 10:00pm. The beautiful autumn colours can be enjoyed with Mount Fuji in the background. There will also be food, souvenirs, and a variety of activities to be enjoyed.

    The Momiji Tunnel is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Yamanashi during autumn and is nothing less than Instagram-worthy.

  • Tokyo Midtown Announces Winter Event ‘MIDTOWN WINTER MOMENTS’

    18.October.2020 | SPOT

    Tokyo Midtown has announced that its winter event ‘MIDTOWN WINTER MOMENTS’ will run from November 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021.

     

    “ANOTHER WORLD” is the concept for this year’s rendition of the annual event, which will see new winter illuminations, Christmas decorations, the opening of an ice rink, and plenty of other fun experiences for people to enjoy throughout the entire day, right into the evening.

     

    MIDTOWN WINTER LIGHTS

    A highlight of the event will be the “MIDTOWN WINTER LIGHTS,” warm illuminations to light fires in hearts during the cold winter season that will create a dazzling spectacle the likes of which cannot be missed.

     

    Path of Light – An Illuminated World

    The pedestrian walkway will welcome a strip of gorgeous golden lights affixed to towering trees to guide your way. More golden lights than ever before are being prepared this year to pull visitors into a romantic and dreamy world.

     

    SNOW LIGHT GLOBE – A World of Snow

    The SNOW LIGHT GLOBE is a giant 3-meter tall and 4.5-meter wide snow globe inside which glistens sparkling snow, crystals, and aurora. The lights are ever-changing throughout the day, presenting itself differently every time you look at it.

     

    STEP LIGHT – A Colourful World

    STEP LIGHT is a fun and interactive illumination display with lights that light up when you step on them, creating a colourful walkway.

     

    Running: November 19, 2020 – February 28, 2021

    Time: 17:00-23:00 (Until 24:00 around the plaza)

    Location: Midtown Garden

     

    MIDTOWN ICE RINK – A World of Ice

    MIDTOWN ICE RINK is something people in Tokyo look forward to every winter. This year, the rink is opening in November. It’s one of the biggest ice rinks in Tokyo and provides real ice for people to skate on, welcoming everyone from children and beginners to pros. The rink will be open into the evening too when it will be lit up so people can enjoy a little night skating session.

     

    Running: November 19, 2020 – February 28, 2021
    Time: 11:00-21:00 (Last Entries 20:00)

    *Opens at 17:00 on November 19 and is closed on January 1

    *Opening hours subject to change depending on weather
    Location: Tokyo Midtown
    Prices:

    General (High School Students and older) – Weekdays ¥2,000 / Weekends & Public Holidays ¥2,500

    Children (Junior High School Students and younger) Weekdays ¥1,500 / Weekends & Public Holidays ¥2,000

     

    Midtown Christmas Trees

    Various Christmas trees will be set up in the Tokyo Midtown garden area, indoors, and elsewhere to set in the holiday season mood.

    Running: November 19, 2020 – December 25, 2020

     

    Present Christmas Tree – A World of Fantasy

    The Tokyo Midtown garden will welcome a mysterious kind of Christmas tree for the first time every this year—one which sprouts presents. 25 presents will be grown, and in December one will be given out each day.

     

    Time: 17:00-23:00
    Location: Midtown Garden

     

    Santa Tree – A Miniature World


    Around 1,800 individual Santa Claus ornaments will make up the 4-meter tall Santa Tree inside the Tokyo Midtown Galleria

     

    Time: 11:00-Midtown
    Location: Galleria 1F Tree Shower

     

    Choose! Choose! AR Tree – An Original World

    Tokyo Midtown also has something for people to enjoy at home. They can use an app that makes use of AR tech so that a Christmas tree can appear when you go to take a photo which you can decorate with an assortment of ornaments. There’s over 1,000 possible combinations. More details about this will be posted on the event website in early November.

  • Gaze at the Starry Sky in a Hot Swimming Pool This Winter at HOSHINOYA Okinawa

    17.October.2020 | SPOT

    HOSHINOYA Okinawa has announced its new “Hoshizora Hot Pool” experience where guests will be able to stay warm in the hotel’s warmed-up swimming pool while gazing up at the winter night sky. It will run from December 1, 2020 to February 28, 2020.

     

    Okinawa enjoys a mild winter each year; it’s uncommon for the temperature to dip below 15℃. Winter is a time where all of us enjoy being in the warmth of indoors, but in Okinawa you can enjoy being outside even during the cold season. And that’s where Hoshizora Hot Pool comes in as the end of the year approaches, a time when there are many events and celebrations to be had.

     

    The outdoor pool at HOSHINOYA Okinawa can be heated and so is perfect during the winter season. Guests are invited to soak in the infinity pool, where you can hear the sounds of the waves, and where it looks like the sea and sky become one. Almost all 88 of the constellations can be seen in Okinawa, and since the sky is clear during the winter nights, it’s the opportune time to be turning your gaze skyward.

     

    Glowing lanterns make for a romantic atmosphere

    When the sun sets, lanterns are lit by the poolside and breathe a warmth light to the cool evenings. The lights sway back and forth, reflecting off the water to create a magical atmosphere.

     

    Hot cocktails by the pool

    Guests will also be able to order from the bar once the lanterns are lit from the evening with a selection of refreshing drinks made with fresh fruits to hot cocktails to warm the body.

     

    Float beneath the starry sky to the sounds of the waves

    Guests can enjoy floating in the pool as an endless tapestry of stars unravels itself overhead. The Hoshino Resorts Banta Cafe will be open for business in the evening too. Guests can order some fruity desserts, rent lanterns, and more.

  • Ibaraki Prefecture Announces Official Tours of Mount Tsukuba and Lake Kasumigaura

    17.October.2020 | SPOT

    Ibaraki Prefecture has been promoting the areas of Mount Tsukuba and Lake Kasumigaura with a variety of events and programs since 2018. For 2020, one of the programs the prefecture has announced is ‘Mount Tsukuba PLAY 2020’ which invites people on a trial tour around Mount Tsukuba and Lake Kasumigaura.

     

    About Mount Tsukuba

    Mount Tsukuba is the doorstep to tourism in Ibaraki Prefecture, known for its iconic double peaks which has it listed officially as one of the “100 Most Beautiful Mountains in Japan.” The mountain offers 10 different courses for climbers, all of which boast gorgeous views and scenery throughout all four seasons. It also has a famous shrine halfway up the mountain known as Tsukubasan Shrine which is considered the physical enshrinement of the mountain itself. The shrine has long been a place of worship for people.

     

    About Lake Kasumigaura

    Lake Kasumigaura is the second-largest lake in Japan after Shiga Prefecture’s Lake Biwa. It is loved by locals and tourists for its beautiful natural environment and the expanse of its breathtaking view. It also has its own cycling route, Tsukuba Kasumigaura Ring Ring Road, which is an official National Cycling Route that has become a popular route with cyclists in recent years.

     

    During the autumn season on weekends, the area offers a special long-ride cycling tour as an opportunity for people to soak up the local area, as well as kids programs, concerts for parents and their children, and other activity programs and guide tours. Bookings are now available online.

     

    A Look at Mount Tsukuba PLAY 2020

    Mount Tsukuba and Lake Kasumigaura – 2 Day 1 Night Sports Experience Tour

    Mount Tsukuba PLAY 2020 is offering a special sports tour for elementary school kids where a guide will take them to climb Mount Tsukuba and canoe around Lake Kasumigaura, amongst other activities.

     

    A Photogenic Tour in the Small Town by the Lake Shore

    atacamaki, a ‘slow photographer’ and resident of Kasumigaura, will be taking photographers on a two day trip around the lake and surrounding area with rental bicycles to teach them how to shoot photos like a pro.

     

    Concert in Tsukuba Forest

    A concert will be held for children in the forest where they can lay down on the grass and be at one with nature as they enjoy the performance. The performance will be played by Akashi Yamada, the forest instructor and a singer-songwriter.

     

    Cycling Along the Kokai River and Near Chikusei With Tsukuba Mounta in the Background

    A local guide will give parents and children a tour of Tsukuba and all the must-see spots. The 37km cycling tour will offer plenty for people to see and encourages beginners to cycling.

     

    A Long Cycling Tour Around Lake Kasumigaura, Kitaura, and Tsukuba

    The program also offers a two-day long distance cycling tour of 100km.

  • Get Lucky in Marriage and Matchmaking This October in Shimane’s City of Matsue

    15.October.2020 | SPOT

    Japan’s city of Matsue in Shimane Prefecture is wanting to create a new kind of sightseeing and tourist experience that encourages people to stay for a time in the city, and so it has launched the “Re Happy! Campaign.”

     

    In the old Japanese calendar, October is known as Kamiarizuki, or ‘the month when deities are around.’ The Izumo region of the country is known as a place where deities from all across Japan gather, and so October here has been called the one true Kamiarizuki. There are many different kinds of deities, but today we’ll be looking at those associated with matchmaking and marriage, and mapping out a route you can take around Matsue to up your luck when it comes to these things.

    Shop Name: Ohori to Hakucho

    We begin at Ohori to Hakucho, a confectionery shop that sells cute sweet treats and local delicacies, some of which are themed on increasing your luck with marriage ties.

    Kounkaku inside Matsu Castle

    There are many old and traditional Japanese houses around Matsue Castle which make for Instagram-worthy photos, so find the right spot as you walk around and snap some pictures.

     

    Heart-Shaped ema board

    Ema are small wooden plaques strung up at shrines on which people write their wishes. Write one yourself so that the deities can receive your desires.

    Tamatsukuri Onsen

    After a long stroll of sightseeing, head to the Tamatsukuri Onsen hot spring for a relaxing bathe. It’s said that sitting in an onsen hot spring beautifies your skin. Sit back and enjoy the fireworks on the screen while sipping on some high-grade sake.

     

    Matsue is a great place to visit whether on your own or as a couple, with plenty of spots to up your luck with matchmaking and marriage.

  • Snow Fireworks to Light Up the Winter Skies of Miyazaki at Phoenix Seagaia Resort

    14.October.2020 | SPOT

    Phoenix Seagaia Resort, a resort located in Miyazaki Prefecture whose brand slogan claims them as the most beautiful in all of Japan, has announced a heart-warming new experience for the winter season.

     

    Seagaia’s Snow Fireworks

    Miyazaki doesn’t see a lot of snowfall, but this winter, the prefecture is welcoming an all-new fireworks festival which will launch fireworks into the sky that falls like pure white snow. Phoenix Seagaia Resort is also offering a guest plan which combines a stay at the resort with front row seats to the fireworks.

     

    Running: December 4, 2020 – February 27, 2021 (Fridays and Saturdays only + January 10, 2021)
    Time: 20:00 (Approx 3 minutes)
    Bookings: https://bit.ly/3lurZWK

     

    Starlight Winter Illuminations

    THE LIVING GARDEN is the garden area of Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort exclusive to guests. This winter, the garden will be lit up with 30,000 LED lights and lanterns to create a magical, starry sky-like atmosphere by both of the garden’s pools.

     

    Running: November 1, 2020 – February 28, 2021
    Location: THE LIVING GARDEN, Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort
    Illumination Times: Sunset to 23:00

    Price: Free (Exclusive to Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort guests)

     

    A Cosy Menu For a Warm Stay

    Gazebos by the waterside at THE LIVING GARDEN

    S’mores

    Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort will also serve s’mores, hot cocktails, and other treats at THE LIVING GARDEN with gazebos and fire pits. Enjoy fluffy marshmallow s’mores served with nuts and salted chocolate.

     

    Running: November 6, 2020 – February 28, 2021 (Excluding Wednesdays & Thursdays)

    Times: 19:30-23:00 (Last Orders 22:30)

    Location: KUROBAR, THE LIVING GARDEN, Sheraton Grande Ocean Resort

  • Ashikaga Flower Park Turns On the Lights For ‘The Garden of Illuminated Flowers’

    13.October.2020 | SPOT

    Ashikaga Flower Park in Ashikaga, Tochigi, has announced an illumination event for the autumn and winter seasons called “The Garden of Illuminated Flowers ~Flower Fantasy 2020~” which will run from October 17, 2020 to February 7, 2021.

     

    The annual event is being held a week later than usual in order to implement the necessary precautions against COVID-19 and to ensure visitors are divided from one another so that they can enjoy the event as always safely. Masks will need to be worn and visitors must sanitise their hands as well as have their temperature checked with the on-site thermal camera before entering the park.

    Held for the 19th time this year, the event was ranked among the Top 3 biggest light-up events in Japan in 2017 alongside Sapporo White Illuminations and Huis Ten Bosch Illuminations. It was also ranked top by night view critics in Japan as best the illumination event for four consecutive years.

     

    So, why is this event adored so much?


    The Miraculous Great Wisteria

    Due to COVID-19, people were unable to enjoy the blossoming wisteria during this year’s spring season, but now they can be enjoyed in autumn and winter in the form of illuminations.

    Illuminated Water Lilies

    Water lilies are enjoyed from summer through autumn. These water lily lights by the waterside are like little individual flower spirits.

    Illuminated Rose Garden

    A panoramic spectacle of vivid red rose lights. A special blue light-up will also take place to give gratitude to frontline workers who will be busy this season.


    A Flower Story of Illuminated Wisteria

    The multicoloured wisteria that bloom from mid-April to mid-May at the park are also being represented as dazzling illuminations which will reflect off the water surface to create a magical atmosphere.

    Snow World

    Santa Claus will be at the park from late November to late December to hand out presents to children.

     

    Enter a romantic world of Japanese illuminations at Ashikaga Flower Park.

  • Halloween Food Served Up at Meiji Jingu Shrine’s Constitution Memorial Hall

    10.October.2020 | FOOD / SPOT

    Meiji Kinenkan, also known as Constitution Memorial Hall, has announced that its beer terrace Sekirei will open up for October to serve up a Halloween themed menu.

     

    Meiji Kinenkan is a unique and premium venue at Meiji Jingu Shrine that serves as a host to many different kinds of gatherings. It was designated as an important cultural property of Tokyo for its architecture in March of this year.

     

    Sekirei normally opens during the summertime each year, but this year they’ve decided to open up for business for the autumn season too. Guests can enjoy a line-up of over 40 different food items in the beautiful autumn-kissed gardens along with beer and a selection of other beverage.

     

    Halloween Menu

    The Halloween menu arrived on Monday and features a colour arrangement of tasty bites, with an original line-up of foods and desserts conceived by Meiji Kinenkan’s chef who specialises in French cuisine at the site.

     

    Other Autumn Options

    Autumn is a very pleasant season in terms of weather, and so as well as the Halloween menu, Sekirei has cooked up a separate seasonal assortment too including Japanese roast beef with vegetables, fried masutake mushroom and salmon, and more.

     

    Sekirei has a special indoor all-you-can-drink plan as well in case it rains, so guests don’t have to worry about the weather and can keep warm indoors if the occasion calls for it.

  • Learn Japanese History at Kyoto’s Nijo Castle Festival With the NAKED SAMURAI App

    09.October.2020 | SPOT

    NAKED, INC. has announced the launch of a new project called ‘NAKED SAMURAI’ that will debut at Nijo Castle Festival 2020 which begins on October 14, 2020.

    NAKED has fused technology with reality for many different projects, such as CITY LIGHT FANTASIA—an evening projection mapping exhibit—which has been showcased in the observation deck halls of government buildings and towers, the Night Walk event in Hokkaido and Aomori, and more.

     

    With the effects of COVID-19 changing the way we live our lives, so too does NAKED have to change the way it blends tech with real life. And that’s where NAKED SAMURAI comes in which the company is taking to Nijo Castle, one of Japan’s many tourist hot spots as well as a World Heritage Site.

     

    See historical architecture while learning Japanese history

    NAKED SAMURAI is an app used for smartphones that has a samurai as your guide with fully-recoded lines. The samurai will tell users the history and stories behind the various spots at Nijo Castle from his perspective. When putting your phone up to certain places, certain sites that are normally locked at Nijo Castle will open up onto the app, giving you a rare look into what’s inside.

     

    Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyori, and other historical figures make an appearance

    Your guides include Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate who ordered the building of Nijo Castle, and Toyotomi Hideyori, the general responsible for uniting Japan. They can both give you different insights into Nijo Castle.

     

    Using the app lets you see how Nijo Castle looked back in these historical figures’ days during the Edo Period, as well as former castle tower before it was destroyed in 1750, and much more.

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