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

17.November.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Writer:Ellie(MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON)

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  • Kyoto Sightseeing | 4 Spots to Visit Before Autumn 2019 Ends

    03.November.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Autumn is a popular season in Japan, especially amongst tourists and travellers. While in spring you have the bright pink cherry blossoms, when autumntime rolls around, the trees turn into enchanting reds and yellows. People from around the world flock to see this incredible sight, with Kyoto being a very popular location.

     

    Of course, viewing the beautiful colours of the trees and their leaves is a must during the daytime, but seeing them in the evening has become popular in recent years too. It offers you an entirely different experience and atmosphere. So if you’re in the ancient capital for autumn this year, why not experience the season in an entirely new lightーat night?

     

    Jitokuin Temple

    Jitokuin Temple is located in the town of Yosano in Yosa District. Maple trees were planted almost 11 years ago with the help of locals and the chief priest to create local ties. Every autumn, the trees behind the mountain bloom in vivid hues, leading the temple to be nicknamed “Koyo-ji,” or “Temple of Autumn.” The locals work hard in the surrounding gardens day by day, so the sights change a little bit every year.

    The maple trees are planted in a way that it looks like they take an entire side of the mountain. They are a sight to be hold during the day, but for one week in November there will be illuminations in the evenings, creating a magical scene under the night sky.

     

    ▼Jitokuin Temple

    Light-Up Period: November 9, 2019 – November 16, 2019

    Light-Up Time: 17:00-20:00 (Temple is open 09:00-20:00)

    Autumn Foliage Peak Period: Early-Mid November

    Address: 2250 Akeshi, Yosano, Yoza-gun, Kyoto

    Support Fund: ¥300

    Official Website: http://jitokuin.com

     

     

    Nariaiji Temple

    Nariaiji Temple, located in Kyoto Prefecture’s city of Miyazu, is an ancient temple betwixt mountains overlooking Amanohashidate, one of Japan’s “Three Scenic Views.” It’s home to a grand 5-storey pagoda which is surrounded by hundreds of maple trees, offering an incredible, quintessentially Japanese view during autumn.

    During the day, you can snap some gorgeous photos with the Sea of Japan and Amanohashidate in the back. For two nights only, on Saturday November 9 and Sunday November 10, the entire area will be beautifully lit up with warm illuminations.

     

    ▼Nariaiji Temple

    Light-Up Period: November 9, 2019 – November 10, 2019

    Light-Up Time: Sunset – 21:00 (Temple is open 08:00-16:30)

    Autumn Foliage Peak Period: Early-Late November

    Address: 339 Nariaiji, Miyazu, Kyoto

    Price: ¥500

    Official Website: http://www.nariaiji.jp/

     

     

    Kasagiyama Prefectural Natural Park

    Kasagiyama Prefectural Natural Park: is located atop Mt. Kasagi and is also home to Kasagi-dera, a temple with a 1,300-year history. During autumn, one entire side of the park is dyed in autumnal colours.

    This November, the area will be lit up for a limited period, offering a gorgeous view from the mountain peak of the trees below as well as the flowing Kizugawa river.

     

    ▼Kasagiyama Prefectural Natural Park

    Light-Up Period: November 1, 2019 – November 30, 2019

    Light-Up Time: 17:00-21:00 (Temple is open 09:00-16:00)

    Autumn Foliage Peak Period: Early-Mid November

    Address: Mt. Kasagi, Kasagi, Soraku District, Kyoto

    Price: Illuminations – Free / Temple – Adults ¥300, Children ¥100

    Official Website: https://www.kasagidera.or.jp

     

     

    Yokokuji Temple

    Normally, the Joshoin at Yokokuji Templeーalso known as Yanagidani Kannonーonly opens on the 17th of every month. But for a special autumn event, it is now open every day up until December 1. The beauty of its autumn colours have come to be enjoyed by VIPs, dating back to the pre-war period when it was designated as a place of scenic beauty. For more details on this event, click here.

     

    Yanagidani Kannon Autumn Colours Week

    Running: November 2, 2019 – December 1, 2019

    Time: 9:00-16:00 (Joshoin open 10:00-15:00)

    Location: Yanagidani Kannon, Yokokuji Temple (Dōnotani-2 Jōdodani, Nagaokakyo, Kyoto)

    Entry Price: ¥300

    Full Ticket: ¥1,100→¥1,100 (Includes entry to multiple areas)

    Official Website: http://yanagidani.jp/

     

     

    Take the time to enjoy an autumnal Kyoto this year at one of the city’s seasonal events.

  • 5 Must-Visit Spots in Kyoto For Autumn Scenery: Floor Reflections to Flowery Temple Water Basins

    10.November.2019 | SPOT

    Kyoto’s autumn hues have enchanted travellers, tourists and locals alike for untold years. Today, we are joined by Macchan, an Instagrammer who has provided us with their incredible photographs of Kyoto’s breathtaking autumnal scenery. Take note of these locations for your next trip!

     

    Wachu-an, Notre Dame Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School

    Wachu-an is a merchant and heritage home with a long history dating back to the early days of the Showa Period (1926–1989). It’s normally off-limits to the public, but opens during autumntime for everyone to visit. This year, it will be open from November 22 to December 1.

    Trickling away in the large gardens is a small river, and enveloped in the gorgeous greenery connected to a passage on the slant of the foothill is the reception hall and a western-style house. When autumn rolls around, visitors enjoy the beautifully polished veranda of the Japanese-style room together with the floor of the western-style building which reflects the surrounding sights beautifully.

     

    Wachu-an, Notre Dame Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School

    Autumn Opening: November 22, 2019 – December 1, 2019

    Time: 10:00-16:00

    Address: 110 Shishigatani Sakuradanicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto

    Price: ¥600 (Discount for groups of 15+) / Free for junior high school students and younger

    Access:

    ① 9 minutes on foot from the “Shinnyodomae” or “Kinrin Shako Mae” bus stops via the Kyoto City Bus 5 from Kyoto Station

    ② 7 minutes on foot from “Miyanomaecho” bus stop via the Kyoto City Bus 100 from Kyoto Station

    ③ 9 minutes on foot from the “Shinnyodomae” or “Kinrin Shako Mae” bus stops via the Kyoto City Bus 93 or 204 from Jingū-Marutamachi Station (Keihan Electric Railway)

    ④ 5 minutes on foot from the “Kami Miyanomaecho” bus stop via the Kyoto City Bus 32 from Kyoto-kawaramachi Station (Hankyu Railway)

    ⑤ 9 minutes on foot from the “Shinnyodomae” or “Kinrin Shako Mae” bus stops via the Kyoto City Bus 203 from Kyoto-kawaramachi Station (Hankyu Railway)

     

    Yokokuji Temple

    Yanagidani Kannon, also known as Yokokuji Temple, is holding the event “Yanagidani Kannon Autumn Colours Week” from November 2 to December 1. It includes special access to the Joshoin which is normally closed to the public, workshops, flower decorations at the temple’s purifying water basin, and more.

    Enjoy the beautiful natural landscape surrounding the temple, dyed in the red and yellow hues of autumn. For more details on this event, click here.

     

    Yanagidani Kannon Autumn Colours Week

    Running: November 2, 2019 – December 1, 2019

    Time: 9:00-16:00 (Joshoin open 10:00-15:00)

    Location: Yanagidani Kannon, Yokokuji Temple (Dōnotani-2 Jōdodani, Nagaokakyo, Kyoto)

    Entry Price: ¥300

    Full Ticket: ¥1,100→¥1,100 (Includes entry to multiple areas)

    Access: 15 minutes by taxi from Nagaokakyo Station (JR Line) / 10 minutes by taxi from Nishiyama Tennozan Station

    Official Website: http://yanagidani.jp/

     

    Shinnyo-dō Temple (Shinshōgokuraku-ji)

    Shinnyo-dō Temple is a famous sightseeing spot during autumn as tourists and locals flock to see autumn fall around the ancient structure. From mid-November, the maple and ginkgo trees blossom from their beautiful buds along the stone path leading up to the temple.

    The three-storied pagoda is a sight to behold during this time of the year, as is the carpet of fallen leaves behind the main temple which symbolises the curtain call of autumn. On average, the autumn foliage can be observed until early December here every year.

     

    Shinnyo-dō Temple (Shinshōgokuraku-ji)

    Address: 82 Jōdoji Shinnyochō, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

    Opening Hours: 9:00-16:00 (Reception open until 15:45)

    *Restricted access to the garden and Shoin on November 10 and December  8

    Price: ¥1,000 (¥900 for elementary school children, free for those younger)

    Access:

    ①Take the Kyoto City Bus 5, 17 or 100 bound for Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺行き) from Kyoto Station and alight at Kinrin Shako Mae from which it is an 8 minute walk

    Official Website: https://shin-nyo-do.jp/

     

    Konzoji Temple

    This quiet little mountain temple sits tucked away halfway up the mountain known as Koshioyama. The temple as it is today was restored in the Edo Period. It’s a popular hiking spot amongst travellers as it offers a panoramic view of the Kyoto Basin (京都盆地), but it also attracts a lot of visitors during the autumn season.

    The reflection of the autumn foliage from the water is nothing short of breathtaking. The hike up is tiring, but worth it, so if you’ve the stamina we highly recommend putting this one on your list. You won’t be disappointed.

     

    Konzoji Temple

    Address: 1639 Ōharano Ishizukurichō, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

    Donation Fee: ¥200

    Access:

    ①Take the Hankyu Bus 65 from Mukōmachi Station (JR Tōkaidō Main Line) or Higashi-Mukō Station (Hankyu Railway) and get off at the last stop, Minamikasugacho (南春日町), after about 25 minutes. It’s then a 60-70 minute walk from there.

    ②Board the Keihan Kyoto Bus at the East Exit of Katsura Station that is bound for Oharano & Nagamine (大原野・長峰). Get off at the last stop, Nagamine, and it’s a 50-60 minute walk.

     

    Byodoin Temple

    Byodoin Temple, listed as a World Heritage Site, is also a popular spot in the fall. You can take some spectacular photos of the temple from across the lake. The height of the autumn foliage this year is late November to early December.

    There is more information on the foliage dates on the official website, so be sure to check it out before visiting at the link below.

     

    Byodoin Temple

    Address: Renge-116 Uji, Kyoto

    Price: General ¥600 / Junior High School Students ¥400 / Elementary School Students ¥300 (*Includes garden and Byodoin Museum access)

    Access:

    ①10 minutes on foot from Uji Station via the JR Nara Line from Kyoto Station

    ②10 minutes on foot from Uji Station via the Keihan Main Line from Gion-Shijo Station

    Foliage Info: https://www.byodoin.or.jp/flower/

    Official Website: https://www.byodoin.or.jp/

     

    If you want more information about Kyoto on the best spots to visit, be sure to follow Macchan on Instagram.

     

    Photos: Macchan

  • Kyoto Sightseeing | Yokokuji Temple’s Autumn Event Schedule Announced

    30.October.2019 | SPOT

    Yanagidani Kannon, also known as Yokokuji Temple, is located in Kyoto Prefecture’s city of Nagaokakyo and has been used as a place of prayer for many people with eye disease since the Heian Period. It is believed that praying at the temple will cure eye disease.

     

    For autumn-time this year, the temple is set to hold an event titled “Yanagidani Kannon Autumn Colours Week” from November 2 to December 1. With a seasonal schedule that includes illuminations in the gardens to a flower display at the temple water basin, if you’re looking for the must-visit locations in Kyoto this autumn, then you’ll want to add Yokokuji Temple to your list.

     

    Jodoen Garden Illuminations

    Last year’s popular light-up event is making a return for 2019, with gorgeous illuminations developed by light designer Yuuki Kogawa which will brighten the area with an enchanting and mystifying aura different from a usual visit to the garden.

     

    Dates: November 8th, 15th, 22nd-23rd

    Time: 17:30-18:30  (Reception open from 17:00)

    Price: ¥2,500 (Includes limited edition goshuin stamp)

    No. of People: 20 (Bookings Only)

    Bookings: https://yanagidani.jp/contact/

     

    Special Opening of the Joshoin

    Normally, the Joshoin only opens on the 17th of every month, but for this autumn week event, it will be open every day. It’s an area normally limited to officials and those in the imperial family. The beauty of its autumn colours have come to be enjoyed by VIPs, dating back to the pre-war period when it was designated as a place of scenic beauty.

     

    Hanachomizu Flower Water Basin

    At every temple and shrine in Japan there is a water basin which you are to use to cleanse yourself before entering. The Hanachomizu has become hugely popular on social media since the name first appeared 3 years ago, where leaves and flowers are placed into the basin. It has become adopted at temples across the country, with the one at Yokokuji Temple starting the trend. When it was first posted onto social media, it received reactions from over 80,000 people both in Japan and overseas. The flowers used change with the seasons, from hydrangeas to maple leaves.

     

    Limited Edition Goshuin Stamp Book Designs – Garasha Matsuri & More

    Visitors will be able to pick up limited-edition goshuin stamp books which never fail to sell out whenever they are released. Goshuin are collectable stamps/seals at temples around Japan. They are ¥500 each and limited in stock.

    This is just a small peek into what’s to come during Yanagidani Kannon Autumn Colours Week. If you’re in Kyoto, make sure you pay a visit to Yokokuji Temple.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • THE AOYAMA GRAND HOTEL to Open on the Former Aoyama Bell Commons Grounds This Summer

    10.July.2020 | SPOT

    THE AOYAMA GRAND HOTEL in Aoyama, Tokyo will officially open on August 5, 2020. Set to be a new landmark of Tokyo as “a hotel where you have fun,” the establishment will house 42 rooms and a restaurant which serves everything from food around the world to authentic Japanese cuisine. Table bookings for the restaurant opened on July 1, 2020.

     

    THE AOYAMA GRAND HOTEL is opening on the former Aoyama Bells Commons building which is just a 3-minute walk from Gaiemmae Station. The hotel is managed by Plan・Do・See who also manage 6th by ORIENTAL HOTEL (Yurakucho), ORIENTAL HOTEL (Kobe)< WITH THE STYLE (Fukuoka), THE LUIGANS (Fukuoka), and more.

     

    Gaiemmae in Aoyama is a hub for fashion and culture in Japan which is visited by people all over the world. THE AOYAMA GRAND HOTEL will slot nicely into place in the area, serving a timeless experience with its polished and relaxing atmosphere and incredible restaurant.

     

    ROOM

    All guest rooms are fitted with a unique mid-century modern style design that maintains both the welcoming vibe of the region and brings a contemporary feel. Rooms are made to offer an experience akin to living there, where guests can look forward to indulging all their senses.

     

    The bathroom amenities offered are provided by Oltana, making this the first hotel in Japan to stock the company’s products. The items were developed specially for THE AOYAMA GRAND HOTEL and blend essential oils with Japanese fermentation methods. Everything from the raw materials to the finish product is made in Japan, and all are made sustainably and ethically.

     

    RESTAURANT

    Welcoming guests at the hotel entrance is THE BELCOMO on the fourth floor which offers a delicious casual dining experience whether it be for lunch, dinner, coffee, or an evening drink.

    On the same floor is SHIKAKU, a counter-style restaurant serving authentic and seasonal Japanese food that is prepared before guests’ eyes with fresh ingredients.

    And hidden on the 19th floor where the guest rooms are located is Aoyama Sushi Kanesaka, a sushi bar that serves exquisite sushi courses made with artisanal care and the utmost care.

    Opening on the hotel’s top floor this autumn too is TRATTORIA ANDREA ROSSI, a classic Italian restaurant which will serve simple yet delicious dishes, wines, and desserts prepared in front of customers. On the same floor, a rooftop bar called THE TOP will also open where you can enjoy seasonal original cocktails, specially-selected wines, champagnes, and more.

  • RELAX FUJINO: The New Glamping Guest House Opening in Kanagawa

    09.July.2020 | SPOT

    Hibiya-Kandan is set to open a new glamping guest house by the name of “RELAX FUJINO” on August 21, 2020.

    Just an hour and a half’s journey from the city, RELAX FUJINO is opening in Kanagawa Prefecture’s town of Fujino, a place known for its abundant nature and traditional arts. It aims to be a place where both “the heart and body can be happy.”

    The guest house promises to serve guests the ultimate relaxation experience, have them feeling positive about themselves, and opening their eyes to new discoveries. They will be able to enjoy the region’s culture and nature while indulging in the kind of luxurious experience that Hibiya-Kandan is known for offering.

    The glamping site is home to two separate sites: the Japanese-style “RURI” and the Western-style “ECRU,” both of which have decks offering a panoramic view of the mountain range. Each site also has its own dome-shaped tent which span 28 square meters in length. There are counter tables which offer a panoramic view of the sights, garden tables, and even BBQ spaces. This mix of indoors and outdoors makes guests feel like part of Fujino’s gorgeous natural environment. There are communal showers and toilets inside too, as well as a nearby hot spring facility.

    The food served is made with plenty of organic vegetables grown in Fujino. A stay at the site means you get a free dinner and breakfast too.

    There are plenty of both indoor and outdoors activities to get involved in, like yoga, coffee roasting, crafts, blueberry picking, and more.

     

    Bookings open on August 1, 2020. If you’re in Japan this summer, then why not get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a relaxing time out in nature?

  • NIPPONIA HOTEL Ozu Castle Stay: Ehime Prefecture’s New Tenshu Hotel

    08.July.2020 | SPOT

    Value Management, a company in Japan which carries out work in bringing new life to historical Japanese buildings, hotels, restaurants, and more, is opening a new hotel in Ehime Prefecutre called NIPPONIA HOTEL Ozu Castle Stay on July 23, 2020. The hotel will be the first in Japan where guests can stay inside wooden tenshu, which are traditionally the highest towers in a Japanese castle.

    The city of Ozu is home to many examples of historical architecture, from its central castle town to Ozu Castle itself and more. It has become a location for tourism which focuses on historical houses and buildings. That’s where NIPPONIA HOTEL Ozu Castle Stay comes in. The surrounding townhouses have been renovated so that both the town and castle make up the entirety of the hotel complex.

    Ozu Castle is a symbol of Ozu and was built by Tōdō Takatora and Wakisaka Yasuharu. It is officially recognised as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. Its tenshu were demolished during the Meiji Period, but thanks to the existence of pictures and models, they were rebuilt for the first time ever after the war in 2004. NIPPONIA HOTEL Ozu Castle Stay is the first facility in Japan to offer a castle stay experience like this, so it’s a must-include on anyone’s bucket list when visiting Japan.

  • Hotel New Otani Tokyo to Open Night Pool & Stay Plan

    06.July.2020 | SPOT

    Hotel New Otani Tokyo is launching its “Night Pool & Stay” hotel plan on July 1, 2020 which gives guests exclusive access to the night pool during their stay.

    Hotel New Otani Tokyo’s night pool was first opened in 1998 with the concept of building a luxury pool that you won’t get sunburned in. Over 20 years on, the pool continues to beckon people during summertime for its unique pool experience under the moonlight and hotel lights and music produced by Japanese DJs who are popular in the country’s club scene. This year’s “Night Pool & Stay” plan will open with all of the necessary measures in place against COVID-19, with thorough cleaning and bacteria elimination at the top of the hotel’s list to ensure safety for its guests.

    Check-in to the hotel’s “Night Pool & Stay” plan opens at 17:00. Guests don’t have to worry about using the locker room – they can get ready in their rooms before heading to the Garden Pool. After a luxurious dip in the pool, guests can retire to their sophisticated rooms, whether standard or suite, for some relaxation time. Check-out is 10:00, so they can enjoy their rooms throughout the early morning.

    Located next to the Garden Pool is OUTRIGGER, a poolside restaurant open during the summer only that you can enter in your swimsuit. The restaurant serves popular dishes served at Hotel New Otani as well as Garden Pool exclusives. Tuck into a soybean hamburger, fresh green salad, nutritional smoothies, and more.

  • Yukai Resort Premium Toba Saichoraku: The New Hot Spring Resort Hotel in Mie Prefecture

    28.June.2020 | SPOT

    Yukai Resort, a company in Japan which manages lots of famous hot spring resorts across the country, opened Yukai Resort Premium Toba Saichoraku in Toba, Mie on June 5, 2020.

     

    Yukai Resort manages 29 well-established hot spring resort hotels and ryokan throughout Japan, including hotels where you can get one night with dinner and breakfast from just ¥7,500 (before tax) to ryokan where you can enjoy kaiseki meal courses, and more. All their luxury establishments feature hot springs surrounded in lush environments.

     

    Yukai Resort Premium Toba Saichoraku opened on June 5, 2020 and is taking all of the necessary precautions against COVID-19 to protect guests and so that guests can enjoy a comfortable stay.

     

    Yukai Resort Premium Toba Saichoraku is 10 minutes by car from Toba Aquarium and 30 minutes from Ise Grand Shrine, making it a great location to enjoy the sightseeing spots of Ise and Shima. The hotel’s concept is centred on being an “active resort” where you can get the full Toba experience with history, the sea, and activities.

    The large open-air communal baths look out onto Toba Bay. The baths are designed like infinity pools, giving the effect that they are connected to the sea. Guests can enjoy a dip in the day or evening so they can enjoy both a blue sky or starry sky. There are also saunas.

    There is also an indoor swimming pool with warm water, as well as foot baths, a kids play park, karaoke room, and many more fun features.

    Yukai Resort Premium Toba Saichoraku also houses Yukai Resort’s first ever indoor glamping guest rooms with large tents decked with beds, sofa, carpet, cushions, and other amenities for a glamorous camping experience. There are glamping rooms with their own open-air baths that look out onto Toba Bay too, as well as both Japanese-style and Western-style rooms.

    As a precaution against COVID-19, the restaurant is serving its food for takeout only until August 31, 2020. Guests can enjoy their meal in their rooms or in one of the many communal spaces. There’s plenty of health Japanese food to enjoy including sushi, Matsuzaka roast beef, eel, tuna, and more.

  • 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.

    Chulato

    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.

     

    Food Menu


    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.

  • Kyoto’s New Hotel Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Kawaramachi Jokyoji Fuses With a Temple

    23.June.2020 | SPOT

    Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Kawaramachi Jokyoji, a new hotel by major real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan and Mitsui Fudosan Hotel Management, opened bookings for the new hotel last Friday. The hotel is set to officially open on September 28, 2020.

    The hotel was developed to integrate into Jokyoji, a temple in Kyoto with a history spanning over 500 years. Even in Japan, where it is common for temples to undergo reconstruction, this is a rare project. The hotel aims to be a model case for breathing new life into temples.

     

    The hotel is just a 1-minute walk from Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station and within walking distance from the bustling retail area of Shijō Kawaramachi, the Hanamachi district Ponto-chō, and Kyoto’s geisha district Gion. Guests are wrapped in the serene atmosphere of Jokyoji Temple where they can enjoy its historically maintained art, get involved in morning activities, and more.

     

    Entrance Lobby

    Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Kawaramachi Jokyoji’s design concept is “Hotel Temple.” Nikken Space Design crafted the hotel’s interior design, which makes use of Jokyoji Temple’s preserved wood, gold leaf-covered folding screens and other features, while adding a modern white and black colour scheme throughout, giving a sense of comfort and high quality. From the lobby, guests can glimpse the main area of the temple and feel one with it.

     

    Spacious rooms and baths

      

    Guest rooms, even the standard room types, are a spacious 24m². All rooms can accommodate 2+ people, and there are even triple rooms which can house 3 people. Every room also comes with separate toilets and showers. Up on the second floor are the baths where guests can wind down after a day of travelling and sightseeing.

     

    Restaurant

    The 2nd floor restaurant, Sanga Ono Kyoto Jokyoji, was developed by ONO GROUP which has built many restaurants in Fukuoka Prefecture. This is the company’s first restaurant to be built outside Fukuoka. Guests can enjoy delicious Japanese rice, Kyoto vegetables, tai-chazuke (green tea poured over sea bream), Kyoto-style grilled fish, and more. The restaurant will also serve Japanese buckwheat noodles overseen by Akamachaya Asago, a restaurant listed in the Michelin Guide.

     

    Experience Jokyoji Temple

    Jokyoji Temple was founded in 1171 by Taira no Shigemori. In 1591, the temple was moved to Teramachi-dori where it has stayed to this day. When the hotel opens its doors, it will offer various activities to guests. Those who take part in the morning activity will receive a goshuin stamp from the chief priest.

     

    Experience a hotel and a temple like never before as both are fused together at Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Kawaramachi Jokyoji.

  • FUNATSURU Kyoto Kamogawa Resort Opens Rooftop ‘KAMOGAWA Tenku Terrace’

    21.June.2020 | SPOT

    FUNATSURU Kyoto Kamogawa Resort, the administrative building of VMG HOTELS & UNIQUE VENUES, has opened its 4th floor rooftop terrace ‘KAMOGAWA Tenku Terrace’ for a limited time. It will remain open until August 31, 2020.

    VMG HOTELS & UNIQUE VENUES uses historical buildings to open new brands, like hotels and unique venues, while offering historical and cultural experiences of the buildings’ local areas.

     

    FUNATSURU Kyoto Kamogawa Resort originally opened as a traditional inn priding itself on its cuisine back in 1870. It was renovated and reopened as FUNATSURU Kyoto Kamogawa Resort in 2008. Its historical and artistic value has been highly acclaimed as a time-honoured work of architecture and was registered as a tangible cultural property of architecture by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. It has banquet and ceremony spaces, and in the summer you can enjoy its restaurant on the riverbed. The building is also used for parties and wedding ceremonies.

     

    Like all businesses, FUNATSURU Kyoto Kamogawa Resort too has suffered at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the facility wants people to enjoy the summer nighttime skies of Kyoto and so while observing the necessary coronavirus precautions it has opened its rooftop terrace which can be used as a bar.

  • KAIKA TOKYO by THE SHARE HOTELS: Asakusa’s New Artist Lounge and Hotel Fusion

    20.June.2020 | SPOT

    KAIKA TOKYO by THE SHARE HOTELS is set to open on July 15, 2020 as the 8th branch of THE SHARE HOTELS, a chain of renovated hotels which aim to find and share new beauty of the local area.

     

    KAIKA TOKYO is renovated from a 7-floor 1966 warehouse building and is comprised of an artist lounge and a hotel. It aims to become a new hub for contemporary art in Japan.

     

    The name “KAIKA” is derived from several Japanese words, all of which are read as kaika: “開架” which means open-access i.e. giving open access to the warehouse, “開化” which means enlightenment i.e. to spread and make known Japan’s art culture, and “開花” which means blossom, i.e. to bring out the talent of future artists.

     

    Sumida is a city popular amongst local and foreign tourists for its many art and cultural facilities. It is a promoter of art and culture in many ways, and KAIKA Tokyo aims to be a part of that process. One way in which it will do this will be with the new “KAIKA TOKYO AWARD.” The judge for awarding the prize is Yūji Akimoto—the director of and lecturer at Tokyo University of the Arts—and Japanese artist Noritaka Tatehana. The prize itself will be having your art piece displayed inside KAIKA TOKYO. To commemorate the grand opening, an exhibition by Noritaka Tatehana himself entitled FORM AND COLOR will be displayed until August 16, 2020.

    The downstairs lounge which is accessible to guests will include the art storage area as well as the KAIKA TOKYO AWARD winning pieces. There are also appliances and amenities for guests to freely use too, like kettles, microwaves, plates, cutlery, washing machine, and a vending machine.

    Rooms have a relaxed vibe to them thanks to the colours and materials used. There are 73 rooms in total split across 10 different types which can cater to 2, 4, and even 6 people.

    The 1st floor bar lounge is open to non-guests during the evenings where they sell Japanese tea cocktails, coffee, Japanese finger food, and more. The coffee served uses single-origin beans from a local cafe in Sumida, Tokyo. The bar is open 19:00 to midnight, with last orders ringing in at 23:30.

  • Nazuna Kyoto Tsubaki: A Luxury Ryokan Renovated From a Traditional Townhouse Alleyway

    18.June.2020 | SPOT

    Nazuna Kyoto Tsubaki St. is a new inn that recently opened in Kyoto which is made up of 23 machiya (townhouses) and two restaurants. It was co-developed by Nazuna and Kiraku and offers an accommodation experience like no other.

    Nazuna Kyoto Tsubaki St. is renovated from an entire 110-year-old L-shaped alleyway of machiya spanning 1,400 square meters. The reception building sits on an unassuming streetand  serves as both an entrance to welcome guests, as well as a passage from the outside world into Tsubaki St. On the other side, guests are greeted by a world reminiscent of the historical geisha districts of Kyoto known as Hanamachi. In the evening, guests can experience the luster of Tsubaki St. as the Japanese paper lanterns and paper lamps illuminate the stone-cobbled path.

     

    All guest rooms enjoy private semi open-air baths

    All 23 guest rooms are named and decorated based on the elements of nature that have long been enjoyed in the ancient city of Kyoto: TAKE (bamboo), MIZU (water), IWA (stone), HANA (flower), and HA (leaf). And since each guest room is its own building, guests can enjoy the entire space to themselves. There is also a large open area between the reception and guest rooms to reduce the chance of running into other guests, offering a more private experience.

     

    Chisao Shigemori’s modern rock garden greets guests at the reception

    The first floor of the reception building features a rock garden created by landscape architect Chisao Shigemori which fuses the traditional and the modern. His grandfather was Mirei Shigemori, a famous Japanese landscape architect who is known for having designed the Tofukuji Hojo Temple gardens in Kyoto, amongst other projects. Chisao himself has produced numerous works both inside and outside Japan, such as at Matsuo-Taisha Shrine.

     

    The reception building’s second floor is a lounge space where guests can enjoy tea and confections made by d:matcha after checking in. It’s a chance to try Kyoto’s famous Uji matcha. At nighttime, this are is free for people to use where they can enjoy friendly soft drinks and alcohol.

     

    Unforgettable food at two different restaurants

    Behind a secret door located somewhere inside Tsubaki is “q,” a six-seated chef’s table produced by Hiroshi Sasaki, who is the owner of the Michelin three-star restaurant Gion Sasaki, and TOROMO PRODUCE. A roster of chefs will rotate for service, with Hiroshi Sasaki in the line-up. The restaurant will open officially on July 2, 2020 and is now taking enquiries via mail@toromi.co.jp. Group and family bookings are available. The restaurant will serve special courses the likes of which cannot be experienced anywhere else.

    The other restaurant, “Wagyu Ryotei bungo” will serve courses made with specially-selected high quality Japanese wagyu beef. There are counter seats as well as 7 private and semi-private rooms which house 2-8 people.

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