Cosy Up in the Snow Huts This Winter at Hoshino Resorts KAI
17.November.2019 | SPOT
Hoshino Resorts is once again bringing its kamakura snow huts to two of its KAI hotelsーa brand of hot spring hotels. You’ll catch them at Hoshino Resorts KAI Tsugaru and Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps from February 1 to 29 next year.
KAI Tsugaru: Beautiful Koginzashi Stitched Lanterns Light Your Way
Koginzashi is a type of sashiko stitch work famous in the Tsugaru region. Japanese kogin designer Iemasa Yamahata has designed 50 beautiful Kogin lanterns for Hoshino Resorts’ KAI Tsugaru hot spring hotel, which is hidden away in the town of Owani in southern Tsugaru, Aomori.
When you arrive at KAI Tsugaru, follow the lanterns along the snow and you’ll arrive at the kamakuraーa type of Japanese igloo built in northern Japan for winter festivals. Multiple objects, big and small, have been designed with koginzashi, so guests can enjoy this beautiful art form.
Cosy up inside your secret snow hut and enjoy some tasty chocolate with cute koginzashi designs made by a local Japanese confectionery shop. Order a hot cocktail too made using apples grown in Aomoriーa prefecture famous across the country for its apples. There’s a non-alcoholic cocktail option too.
You’ll also find an original card game inside the huts created by the KAI Tsugaru staff. It’s called “Kogin Awase” and works like the card game Pairs. What could be better than sat warm inside an igloo, eating sweets and drinking while playing a card game?
KAI Alps: Enjoy Life as a Yukinko Snow Child
Turn back into a child and experience young life in the snow country of the Shinano Province (now Nagano Prefecture) with the Shinshū Kamakura Yukinko Experience.
In the harsh cold and knee-deep snow environment of Shinano, people would take anti-snow measures by wearing things like the straw raincoat known as a mino, a traditional winter coat called a hanten, and other things. Guests can do the same and dress up to become a child of the snow, known as a Yukinko. You’ll forget about the snow before you even realise it.
In old Japanese houses, friends and family would gather around an iroriーa sunken fireplace. You’ll find these dotted around the public space at KAI Alps too, where you can sit around and enjoy the crackling and warmth of the fire. There will also be hand warmers and shiruko sweet porridge too so you can rest assured you won’t go cold.
Experience life in the snow at Hoshino Resorts KAI this winter.
KAI Tsugaru – “Kogin Kamakura”
Running: February 1, 2020 – February 29, 2020 (Subject to change depending on snowfall)
Price: ¥1,500 per person (includes snow hut entry, confections, and 1 drink)
*Alcoholic/non-alcoholic cocktail options available
Reservations: Available from the front desk on the day
Address: Kamibotanmori-36-1 Ōwani, Ōwani-machi, Minamitsugaru District, Aomori Prefecture
KAI Alps – “Shinshū Kamakura Yukinko Experience”
Running: February 1, 2020 – February 29, 2020 (Subject to change depending on snowfall)
Time: Kamakura Light-Up 17:00-21:00 / Yukinko Dress-Up 15:00-21:00 / Winter Stroll Preparations 20:00-21:00
No. of People: 4
Reservations: Not required
Address: 2884-26 Taira, Ōmachi-shi, Nagano Prefecture
Hoshino Resorts KAI Official Website: https://www.hoshinoresorts.com/brand/kai/
Autumn in Aichi: Cherry Blossoms and Maples at Obara Shikizakura Matsuri & Korankei Maple Festival
15.November.2019 | SPOT
Early November marks the opening of the autumn cherry blossoms in Obaracho, Toyota. By the time mid-November rolls around, close to 10,000 shikizakura cherry blossoms bloom a pale pink until the end of the month.
The Yoshino cherry bears its pink petals in springtime, but the shikizakura blossoms twice a year: first in spring, then in autumn. They are considered one of the most beautiful flowers of autumn, especially when they bloom against the gorgeous and vibrant red maple leaves. The Obara Shikizakura Matsuri began on November 1, and right now, you can witness this spectacle for yourself.
The shikizakura trees planted in Obara have been there since Kansei era (1789-1801). With the helping hand of locals, the trees have become one of Japan’s most famous shikizakura spots. They were designated as Chiku (District) Trees in 1978 and can be seen throughout the entire district. Some of the trees are over 100 years old and as such registered as Natural Monuments of Aichi prefecture.
This is a spot we highly recommend visiting when travelling to Aichi.
▼Obara Shikizakura Cherry Blossoms
Peak Blossom Time: From Mid-November
441-1 Johei, Obaracho, Toyota, Aichi (Obara Fureai Park)
Senmichi, Toyota, Aichi (Senmi Shikizakura no Sato)
Access: Take the Toyota Oiden Bus bound for Kaminigi (上仁木行き) and get off at Obaraokusa (小原大草) or Kaminigi (上仁木)
▼Obara Shikizakura Matsuri
Running: November 1, 2019 – November 30, 2019
Locations: Senmi Shikizakura no Sato, Obara Fureai Park, and elsewhere in the region
Notes: The Kururin Bus can be boarded for free on weekends and public holidays while the festival is on
Official Website: https://www.aichi-now.jp/spots/detail/132/
The Korankei Maple Festival is also taking place this month where you can witness around 40,000 maple trees bearing their gorgeous autumn foliage.
The trees are being lit up every night for the month of November. Watch the sun set before the illuminations are turned on, creating an enchanting atmosphere with the warm, radiating lights against the night sky.
Peak Blossom Time: From Mid-November
Location: Iimori Asukecho, Toyota, Aichi
Access: Ride the Meitetsu Mikawa Line to Toyotashi Station, change onto Meitetsu Bus, and alight at Korankei (香嵐渓)
Official Website: http://asuke.info/korankei/
▼64th Korankei Maple Festival
Running: November 1, 2019 – November 30, 2019
Location: Around Iimori Asukecho, Toyota, Aichi
Light-Up: Sunset to 21:00
Access: 20 minutes from Sarugata Green Road Interchange / 20 minutes from Toyota-Kanpachi Interchange
Official Website: http://asuke.info/event/nov/entry-705.html
Witness two of Japan’s most celebrates treesーthe cherry blossom and the mapleーflower together in one place in Aichi.
See the Breathtaking Autumn Foliage of the Former Shizutani School in Okayama
14.November.2019 | SPOT
The Former Shizutani School, recognised as the oldest school existing for commoners in Japan, has reached its peak season for autumn foliage. Speficially, for the Chinese pistache tree, which is a symbol of the school.
Shizutani School first opened in 1670 during the Kambun era. In 2015, it was registered as an Educational Heritage Site from Early-Modern Japan. The majority of the site is listed as an Important Cultural Property, including the temple, Shizutani Shrine, as well as the auditorium which is considered a national treasure.
The school’s surrounding natural landscape enjoys the blooming of many different flowers throughout the entire year which people flock to see. It’s especially famous for autumn, a season during which the enchanting red and yellow hues boas their beautiful blossom.
The three colours reflect from the lacquered flooring of the auditorium, rippling like ocean waves.
The beautiful contrast between the reds and yellows of the pistaches can be enjoyed during autumn-time only. The best time to see them is from now until November 20, so if you’re travelling to Okayama, be sure to pay the Former Shizutani School a visit.
Former Shizutani School
Address: 784 Shizutani, Bizen, Okayama
Official Website: http://shizutani.jp/english/
Witness the Breathtaking Illuminations and Tokyo City Night Lights at Shinagawa Season Terrace Illumination 2019
10.November.2019 | SPOT
Shinagawa Season Terrace Illumination 2019 is set to run from December 1 to 25.
The event will take place at Shinagawa Season Terrace, a towering office building in Tokyo, where the rolling grass lawn will be lit up beautifully with enchanting blue lights. They offer a breathtaking view against the city nightscape of Tokyo’s skyscrapers. Last year’s event saw nearly 17,000 people in attendance.
2019 marks the 4th run of the event, and this year, the long staircase leading up to the lawn will also be lit up, welcoming visitors to see the illuminations from their first step upon arrival. The lights will flicker in 10 different patterns from the first floor (ground floor) up to the second.
Entry is free, and visitors will be able enjoy an unbroken view of the structural spectacle that is Tokyo Tower too. If you’re in Tokyo this December, be sure to mark Shinagawa Season Terrace Illumination 2019 in your calendar for the holiday season.
*Pictured photos are for illustrative purposes only
Shinagawa Season Terrace Illumination 2019
Running: December 1, 2019 – December 25, 2019
Location: Shinagawa Season Terrace (1-2-70 Konan, Minato Ward, Tokyo)
Access: 6 minutes on foot from Shinagawa Station’s Konan Exit (JR Line side)
Event Website: https://sst-am.com/
*The event will take place if there is light rainfall but will be suspended in the case of stormy weather
Hikari no Sumika Winter Illuminations 2020-2021 to Take Place at Gotemba Kogen Toki no Sumika
15.September.2020 | SPOT
Toki no Sumika is set to host its 19th annual winter illumination event “Hikari no Sumika” from September 19, 2020 to March 21, 2021.
Forest of Trees Illuminations
The Forest of Trees was created together with locals and wraps visitors in a magical fantasy land of lights underneath the shimmer of stardust. This trail of trees leads visitors to the next area, the Royal Palace on the Hill.
Royal Palace on the Hill
The “Versailles Lights” water laser show entertains onlookers with a rhythmic show. A new spot has also been developed this year called “It’s a colorful world” where cuter balls of light change colour to the sounds that play. There’s also one of the world’s biggest “Bells of Love” clad in colours galore to radiate the dark night, “Slow House Twinkle,” and “Super Searchlight.”
Tunnel of Lights
Spanning 370m along, the “Tunnel of Lights” changes colours as time passes, enveloping people in a sparkling galaxy of illuminations. There’ll be plenty of photo opportunities.
Twin Trees & First Dream Bridgeツインツリーと初夢の橋
The colour of the 120-year-old fir tree at the site this year will be white. The 20 meter-tall tree will be decorated simply and gently, with more LED lights than ever before, to enhance its beauty. The “First Dream Bridge” will give rise to the “Stardust Road” of countless illuminations that run along it.
Underwater Paradise Aquarium
Around 4,500 goldfish of 200 species, including rare kinds, from all around Japan are collected here. It continues to grow as Japan’s only goldfish aquarium both in name and reality. Enjoy seeing them swim while gorgeous lights light up the room.
Hikari no Sumika 2020-2021
Running: September 18, 2020 – March 21, 2021
Address: Gotemba Kogen Toki no Sumika, 719 KōyamaGotemba, Shizuoka
Illumination Times: 17:30-22:00
Car Park Spaces: 2,000
Enquiries: 0550-87-3700 (9:00-20:00)
Official Website: http://www.tokinosumika.com/illuminations2017/renewal/
The Best Place to Gaze On Japan’s Night Sky: Sky Paradise Sea of Clouds Harbor in Nagano
02.September.2020 | SPOT
This autumn, the Star Village Association in Achi, Nagano is hosting the special limited-time event “Sky Paradise Sea of Clouds Harbour” from October 25 to November 23 which offers one of the best views of Japan’s starry sky and the sea of clouds of the far-off southern alps.
The site is located at Ropeway Heavens Sonohara in Fujimidai Highland, surrounded by the bountiful nature of Nagano Prefecture. The 15-minute gondola ride is 2,500 meters long and takes you up to the observation deck 1,600m above sea level. Your prize is a view of the sea of clouds which stretches to the distant southern alps of Japan – truly is a sky paradise.
The other prize is the starry night sky. This spot placed first in the Ministry of the Environment’s list of the best places to see Japan’s night sky. From here, one can watch the sky of twinkling lights change to warm morning light. During October, the trees and verdure below are dyed in the colours of autumn, and when November rolls around you can spot the snow-capped peaks of the southern alps.
Sky Paradise Sea of Clouds Harbor (Japanese Name: 天空の楽園 雲海Harbor)
Running: October 25, 2020 – November 23, 2020
Gondola: Ascension 5:30-7:00 / Descent until 16:30
Observation Deck Lift Operating Times: 5:45-16:00
Location: Ropeway Heavens Sonohara in Fujimidai Highland
Address: 3731-4 Chisato, Achi, Shimoina-gun, Nagano
Price: Adults ¥3,600 / Children ¥1,800 / Infants – Free
Official Website: http://sva.jp
Ra Casta Natural Healing Garden: Heal Your Mind, Body and Soul in Nagano While Staying Safe From COVID-19
27.August.2020 | SPOT
Ra Casta Natural Healing Garden in Omachi, Nagano, is open for business throughout Japan’s Obon season and is taking mandatory bookings to ensure visitors’ protection from COVID-19 while following precautions against the Three Cs as laid out by the World Health Organization—crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces.
Ra Casta Natural Healing Garden is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a place that embraces beauty and healing while incorporating La CASTA’s brand concept of “the life force of plants and healing.” Guests are invited to use all five of their senses to relish the natural wonder of the garden, with its abundance of plants and trees and natural waterfall which flows from the northern alps.
The garden has its own “Healing Cafe” too which is an open-style cafe, allowing diners to enjoy the gift of nature throughout the seasons while enjoying a drink or dessert. A must-try during summer is their “Herb Cordial Lime & Lemongrass,” a refreshing herb soda that enjoy the sour citrus flavour of lime and the taste of lemongrass. There’s also the “Chamomile Milk” gelato ice cream.
The garden also has its own aromatherapy workshop inside the La CASTA Factory where visitors can make their own blends of oils using different products and scents.
What better way to de-stress during these turbulent times than getting close with nature in a safe, protected environment?
Ra Casta Natural Healing Garden
Address: 9729-2 Tokiwa, Omachi, Nagano
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Until 16:00 in October and November)
Official site: http://www.alpenrose.co.jp/garden
Enjoy Tokyo: Hoshinoya Tokyo Rolls Out Activities For Guests to Experience Japan’s Capital
21.August.2020 | SPOT
Hoshinoya Tokyo began rolling out a new series of activities on August 6, 2020, for people to enjoy Tokyo from a different perspective. Let’s take a look at some of the upcoming activities on offer.
Oedo Master: Experience traditional Edo in modern Tokyo | From August 20
“Oedo Master” is a chance for guests to learn more about Nihonbashi, Kanda, and Ningyocho—three areas in Tokyo which still have a traditional Edo vibe to them, a unique juxtaposition against modern day Tokyo. As an example, guests can have the opportunity to use Japanese washi paper provided by Ozu Shoten to make small paper items. They can also enjoy a private tour of Nihombashi Mitsukoshi which first opened as a dry-goods store in 1673, learn the proper etiquette and manners of praying at Kanda Shrine, and more.
Night Bus Cruise: Travel through nighttime Tokyo on an open-top bus | From August 20
The Night Bus Cruise is a one-hour ride through Tokyo at night on a double decker bus, which is a chance to see Tokyo from a completely different perspective. To ensure social distancing measures, the bus will accommodate up to 20 people at a time. Guests will depart at sunset from Otemachi and they’ll get to see the Imperial Palace, the Kasumigaseki district where the National Diet Building is located, Toranomon, and Tokyo Tower. The bus still stop for about 10 minutes at Tokyo Tower so guests can get up close to the illuminated tower.
Deep Breathing Exercises: Control your breathing while gazing out across Tokyo | From August 6
In the early hours of the morning, guests will be able to stand atop a 160 meter tall building in Otemachi—located in central Tokyo—and look out over Tokyo’s cityscape while engaging in some deep breath exercises. Being so close to the blue sky while in the skyscraper-tall city of Tokyo is a refreshing experience, and all the while guests will be able to spot plenty of the capital’s iconic buildings like Tokyo Skytree. This too will be limited to 6 people a day to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Oedo Pleasure Boat: Witness Tokyo’s night view aboard a boat | From August 20
Guests will depart from Nihonbashi Tourist Pier and travel from Nihonbashi River by way of Sumida River on a 90-minute night cruise. They will tuck into a bento meal prepared by Nihonbashi Benmatsu Souhonten in Nihonbashi, sip on sake from Toshimaya in Kanda, and enjoy some sweet treats from famous shops in Ningyocho—ningyo-yaki by SHIGEMORI EISHINDO and dorayaki by Hikokurou. Partway along the trip, the boat will stop by Hamarikyu Gardens where guests can enjoy their food and drinks. 2-4 people of the same group are allowed on the boat at once.
The list of things to do in Tokyo is endless, but if you’re staying there this summer, why not take a look at Hoshinoya Tokyo’s options?
Address: 1-9-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Check In 15:00 / Check Out 12:00
Price: From ¥84,000 per night (doesn’t include tax, service charge, or meals)
Official Website: https://hoshinoya.com/
Experience a Crisp Japanese Autumn While Ice Skating in Karuizawa
15.August.2020 | SPOT
This autumn, Karuizawa Hoshino Area is opening up the Kera-Ike Skate Rink for a limited time from October 16 where visitors can skate around the ice while soaking up the reds and yellows of the surrounding forest.
Karuizawa Hoshino Area is a resort managed by Hoshino Resorts. The middle of October is when Karuizawa’s red maple trees blossom, while the beginning of November marks the incoming yellow karamatsu Japanese larches.
An ice skating rink enveloped in a forest
Kera-Ike Skate Rink is a frozen lake in the middle of a forest in Karuizawa. It’s located ride by Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary, so Hoshino Resorts had the idea to turn it into an ice rink so that people can enjoy the local wildlife while skating. For this year’s opening of the ice rink, Hoshino Resorts has a range of art content related to Japanese autumn for people to enjoy too.
Reds, Yellows, and White
Karuizawa sits 1,000 meters above sea level, and so the autumn leaves begin showing from the middle of October. This is when the urushi Japanese lacquer trees and momiji maples dye the forest a bright-red. Following shortly after are the karamatsu Japanese larches which add a bright yellow to the red hues. Visitors can soak up the kaleidoscope of colours while skating across the pure white ice rink.
Beautiful autumn leaf themed content
The ice skating chairs are a popular item at Kera-Ike Skate Rink and are a great way for beginners and children to enjoy being on the ice. This year, the chairs have been pained in the same colours at the autumnal leaves.
Autumn leaf decorations on the windows
The rink-side cafe has six giant glass windows spanning 2.5 meters across. Each window has its own unique autumn leaf design on it.
Autumn Leaf Latte
The cafe will serve the perfect autumn-time beverage, a latte topped with momiji and kaede maple leaves designs made from pumpkin powder—a fitting flavour for the season.
Kera-Ike Skate Rink
Running: October 16, 2020 – November 10, 2020
*Run period subject to change depending on the autumn leaves.
*The 2020-21 skate rink opening period runs until March 7, 2021. Closed November 26, 2020 and January 19-21, 2021.
Opening Hours: 10:00-16:00
Official Website: http://www.hoshino-area.jp/archives/area/skate
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
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/
Hoshinoya Tokyo Ranks Number One On ‘World’s Best Awards 2020 Top Hotels in Tokyo’
11.July.2020 | SPOT
Travel + Leisure published their “World’s Best Awards 2020 Top Hotels in Tokyo” list on July 8, 2020 on which Hoshinoya Tokyo, managed by Hoshino Resorts, placed No. 1.
“World’s Best Awards” is a list of the top hotels as ranked by travel magazine Travel + Leisure’s user ratings. The hotel category takes into account the facilities, location, service, food, and more offered at each hotel.
Established in Otemachi, Tokyo in July 2016, Hoshinoya Tokyo is a ryokan-style hotel which has two basement floors and 17 upper floors. It has a traditional Japanese ryokan vibe to it with its tatami mats, sliding doors, bamboo materials, and more, plus guests must take their shoes off at the entrance. And while it has traditional elements, it caters to the modern lifestyle, combining the best of both worlds. It offers guests a chance to easily experience Japanese culture and what it’s like to stay in a ryokan.
Address: 1-9-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Check In @ 15:00 / Check Out @ 12:00
Access: 10-minutes on foot from Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi North Exit / 2-minutes on foot from Otemachi Station’s A1 and C2 exits (via Tokyo Metro)
Official Website: https://hoshinoya.com/en/
Local Shaved Ice Recipes Whipped Up at Hoshino Resorts KAI This Summer
28.June.2020 | FOOD
Hoshino Resorts has brought back its annual local shaved ice festival for the summer which will be served at branches of Hoshino Resorts KAI, a hot spring ryokan brand. It has been held every year since 2017 and gives people the chance to enjoy shaved ice with a variety of syrups and toppings inspired by local regions in which branches of KAI are dotted around.
Strawberry Shaved Ice | Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko (Chuzenji Onsen, Tochigi Prefecture)
Tochigi Prefecture has enjoy est the largest harvest of strawberries in Japan for the last 50 years. This shaved ice is doused in a sweet strawberry syrup and a bitter matcha sauce. It can be enjoyed while gazing out to Nikko’s beautiful scenery where you can see Chuzenji Lake and Mount Nantai from 1,300 meters above sea level in Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko.
Hydrangea Shaved Ice | Hoshino Resorts KAI Hakone (Hakone Yumoto Onsen, Kanagawa Prefecture)
The Hakone area enjoys long blooming periods of hydrangeas. During their full bloom, the Hakone Tozan Line mountain railway gets nicknamed the “Hydrangea Line” and becomes a popular route for sightseeing. This refreshing shaved ice has hydrangea flavoured jelly and syrup.
Art Shaved Ice | Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara (Sengokuhara Onsen, Kanagawa Prefecture)
Hoshino Resorts KAI Sengokuhara is surrounded by many art museums, so what better way to keep with the them than with an art-inspired shaved ice dessert? Show your art skills by using strawberry red, orange-flavoured orange, and other colourful syrups to create your own unique design on your fluffy white canvas of shaved ice.
Apple Shaved Ice | Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps (Omachi Onsen, Nagano Prefecture)
Nagano Prefecture is famous in Japan for its apples. There are two types of syrup poured over this shaved ice, including one that tastes like mashed apples, and another made from Bramley apples.
Ginger Shaved Ice | Hoshino Resorts KAI Izumo (Tamatsukuri Onsen, Shimane Prefecture)
The ginger adds a sharp bite to the sweetness of this refreshing shaved ice and is perfect for overcoming the summer heat.
Tomato Shaved Ice | Hoshino Resorts KAI Aso (Sen no Moto Onsen, Oita Prefecture)
Made from tomatoes harvested in summertime, this sweet and sour shaved ice takes on a gorgeous red colour. Tomatoes are low in calories and have many nutritional ingredients, and are a good source of vitamin C and D, making this a healthier option.
And there are lots of other flavours to come from Hoshino Resorts KAI this summer too.
Hoshino Resorts KAI Local Shaved Ice 2020 (Japanese Name: 界のご当地かき氷 2020)
Running: July 11, 2020 – August 31, 2020
Available: At 15 Hoshino Resorts KAI branches
Official Website: https://kai-ryokan.jp/features/kakigori/
Notes: Reservations not required
Hoshino Resorts KAI Official Website: https://kai-ryokan.jp/
A Cafe With a View: Okinawa’s New Seaside Cafe ‘Hoshino Resorts Banta Cafe’ Opens This July
27.June.2020 | SPOT
Hoshino Resorts’s new cafe Hoshino Resorts Banta Cafe will open in the village of Yomitan in Okinawa on July 1, 2020, offering a spectacular view.
The cafe is split into four distinct areas which overlook the the beach from atop a cliff. Customers are invited to take in the breathtaking scenery with a delicious dessert made from ingredients like mangoes, pineapple, and sugar—or a tasty meal.
An incredible beach cafe overlooking the sea
Banta Cafe runs along the western coast of Yomitan, a village in central Okinawa which is about an hour’s drive from Naha Airport. The cafe gets its name from iyumibanta which in Okinawan dialect refers to the cliffs you climb to spot the shadows of fish in the water, and is also the name they give to enormous rocks. The cafe is located atop one of these iyumibanta, or cliffs, making Banta Cafe a fitting name. From the cliff, customers can enjoy a panoramic view of the horizon which stretches across infinity. According to Hoshino Resorts, Banta Cafe sits as the largest beach cafe in Japan, spanning 1600㎡.
4 Unique Areas to Pick From
Having four distinct areas to choose from means you can select where you want to go depending on your mood on the day. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Rooftop Deck: A panoramic view welcomes you
Beyond the entrance is the Rooftop Deck which offers an unbroken view of the horizon. With the comfortable shadow cast by the eaves of the roof, and the sound of the rolling waves and wind, it feels like you’re sitting on the deck of a boat.
Beach Terrace: Kick back and enjoy the sea breeze
The Beach Terrace is located along a footpath that leads from the top of the cliff down to the beach. This spacious area sits nice and close to the sea. The Okinawan Ryukyu-tatami flooring has cushions for you to sit on as well as cabanas, so you can sit and chat with people while enjoying the view of the ocean, offering the real Okinawan experience.
Rocky Terrace: Lose yourself in the green wild of nature
The Rocky Terrace is enveloped in plants and vegetation that has grown naturally—it’s like a hideaway created by nature. The area has a wooden deck and rocking chairs for people to kick back and relax in, and there are tables with towering rocks that offer shade too.
Goro Goro Lounge: Lay down on a sofa and look out to the sea
The final area is the Goro Goro Lounge where an entire wall is made up of open windows. Here, you can relax and lay down nice and comfy on the sofas. There are long tables by the sofas too, perfect for pulling out a map or guidebook and planning the rest of your trip.
A true Okinawan cafe experience
Bubbly Jelly Soda
The cafe’s “Bully Jelly Soda” is inspired from a traditional bubbly Okinawan tea called bukubuku cha. It’s flavoured with lemongrass and mint and contains different jellies like mango and hibiscus.
This gelato ice cream gets its name from the Okinawan word for delicious which is chura. Choose from a variety of classic Okinawan flavours like pineapple and guava and top your ice cream with purple yam and bitter melon chips, chinsuko, and more.
The food lineup is to die for, with tasty bites like pizza toast topped with bitter melon, pork and egg rice ball which is a soul food of Okinawa, hot dogs filled with juicy sausages, shrimp fritters served with mango sauce, fried chicken, and plenty of other finger food.
Witness the magnificent sunset during business hours
Banta Cafe is home to a gorgeous beach with coral. The sea is cobalt blue as far as the eyes can see, there are strangely shaped rocks worn by the waves, and in the evenings is an incredible view of the sunset which can be enjoyed with a cocktail in hand.
Hoshino Resorts Olu Grill
Banta Cafe will also have its own separate grilled food restaurant called Olu Grill. Olu is another Okinawan word which means “blue,” in this case referring to the blue ocean. From fried steak served with an original sauce made from Okinawan awamori liquor and kurozu black vinegar to seafood and juicy burgers, there’s plenty to fill you up.
Hoshino Resorts Banta Cafe / Olu Grill
Grand Opening: July 1, 2020
Address: 560 Gima, Yomitan, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture
Access: 60-minutes by car from Naha Airport / 90-minutes by limousine bus from Naha Airport
Hoshino Resorts Banta Cafe
Opening Hours: 10:00 until sunset
Official Website: https://banta-cafe.com/
*Breakfast service available from mid-July 2020. Serving hours will be 7:00-9:30
Hoshino ResortsOlu Grill
Opening Hours: [Dinner] 17:00-21:00 (Last Orders 20:30)
Official Website: https://banta-cafe.com/olu-grill/
*Reservations required. Lunch service available from mid-July 2020. Serving hours will be 11:00-15:00.
Tateshina Bamboo Grass Garden Opens 20,000m² Sasarikyu Garden For Free
11.June.2020 | SPOT
Tateshina Bamboo Grass Garden has is opening the Sasarikyu area of its gardens for free from June 5 to October 31 this year. The area spans almost 20,000m² and is home to an arbour and over 120 varieties of bamboo grass.
Opening the gardens in June means that visitors will get to see the bamboo grass at its most beautiful. Tateshina Bamboo Grass Garden wants more people to enjoy the gorgeous scenery, and so decided to make it a free experience for visitors.
It’s an opportunity to see the vivid green leaves of the bamboo free which, on a clear day, glistens brightly at the shine of the early summer sun. On a rainy day during the rainy season, it offers a completely different spectacle: the twinkle of the leaves as a result of the dew. In addition to the bamboo grass, rows of hydrangeas also blossom in the garden at the start of summer, and in autumn, the area takes on gorgeous red and yellow hues.
Another charm of Sasarikyu is the tea ceremony arbour that sits amongst the verdure. This arbour, which was designed by Japanese architect Kiyoshi Yasui, continues the tradition of sukiya style of building known as sukiya-zukuri which was first established in Kyoto.
The Tateshina Plateau sits enveloped by the Yatsugatake, a collection of towering inactive volcanoes. In this expanse lies Sasarikyu, a botanical garden of kuma bamboo grass with over 120 varieties from both Japan and overseas. It is the only bamboo grass garden of its kind in the world and aims to contribute to the region’s culture by drawing out the unknown when it comes to bamboo grass.
Bamboo grass area (13,200m²)
Sasarikyu is not just a botanical garden. It is also home to the world’s largest tsukubai basin called Zuigetsusen, as well as an azekura-zukuri style statue of the god of wealth, Hashiri Daigoku. It also has Jōmonka, a style of building from the middle of the Jōmon period in Japanese history which has bamboo grass-thatched roofs.
Sukiya Arbour Garden Area (6,600m²)
The sukiya arbour was designed by Kiyoshi Yasui who helped carry out major renovations to the Katsura Imperial Villa, as well as helped dismantle and reconstruct two national treasures of Japan: the Joan and Taian tea houses.
Another highlight of the gardens is an area where medicinal herbs area grown. The herbs there are ones mostly seen in Nagano Prefecture. It not only serves as an area with specimens of such herbs, but also offers gorgeous scenery too when the flowers bloom through the seasons.
Sasarikyu Free Opening
Running: June 5, 2020 – October 31, 2020 (Subject to change depending on season and weather)
Address: 1017-11400 Tamakawa Azaharayama, Chino, Nagano (Japanese Address: 場所：笹離宮 長野県茅野市玉川字原山11400番地1017)
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Last Entries 16:00)
①15 minutes by car from Suwa-minami Interchange
②30 minutes by car from Suwa Interchange
③20 minutes by car from Chino Station
Official Website: https://tateshina-sasa.com/sasarikyu/
Grapes For Wine Now Being Picked at Shiojiri Station’s Platforms
Shiojiri is a city in central Nagano with a population of 67,000 (as of April 2020). As a tourist destination, it’s a place that goes under the radar, but it’s actually home to the best quality grapes for wine in Japan, and also boasts 17 wineries (as of April 2020).
Shiojiri is a place with many tourist attractions, such as the historical town of Narai-juku whose streets still echo the Edo Period, Kiso-Hirasawa lacquerware, the Hiraide ruins which are one of Japan’s three biggest ruins, Takabotchiyama which has become known for appearing in anime and Japanese drama series in recent years, the local dish “sanzokuyaki” (large fried chicken), and more.
In 1988, the city of Shiojiri began growing grapes at Shiojiri Station to promote the city’s grapes and wine. It has gone on to become famous as the only station in Japan with grape production. They grow Merlot and Niagara grapes.
The station encourages volunteers to help pick the grapes. The first picks of this year’s season began on May 29, and the efforts are being posted about on the city’s official social media accounts and website. The Merlot wine made from the grapes picked in August last year is also ready and will be posted about soon too.
Platforms 3 & 4
Shiojiri Tourism Association Official Website: https://tokimeguri.jp/