Japanese beer company Sapporo releases special-edition can to support Kumamoto Castle recovery
Be sure to spend the drinking funds for your cherry blossom viewing party on these beautiful cans.
Between April 14 and April 16, 2016, several powerful earthquakes shook Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures, killing at least 50 people and injuring 3,000 others. Merely five years from 2011, it was another stark reminder that Japan lies on an active fault line and that major earthquakes are always possible.
The two prefectures suffered damage to a number of significant cultural properties, including Aso Shrine and Kumamoto Castle. Aso Shrine is one of Japan’s oldest shrines, and Kumamoto Castle can often be found listed among the most popular castles in Japan.
With the anniversary of the earthquake quickly approaching, along with the beginning of cherry blossom season, Sapporo has found a crisp, refreshing way to continue supporting recovery with one of the best parts of sakura viewing: drinking beer.
teamLab Opens 8th Annual Art Exhibition at Mifuneyama Rakuen in Saga Prefecture
From July 15 until November 6, 2022, the ‘teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live’ exhibition at Mifuneyama Rakuen, an ancient forest at the Takeo Hot Springs in Saga Prefecture. The massive event is held each summer and fall and was named CNN World’s ‘Best Outdoor Art Exhibition to Visit’ in 2021 and one of the Top 10 Art Installations in the world by DesignboomMagazine in 2017.
Works on Display
Universe of Water Particles on a Sacred Rock, 2017
Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and Boats – Mifuneyama Rakuen Pond, 2015
Ever Blossoming Life Rock, 2017
Life is Continuous Light – Azalea Valley, 2017
Rock Wall Spatial Calligraphy, Continuous Life – Five Hundred Arhats, 2017
Split Rock and Enso, 2017
Resonating Forest – Cherry Blossoms and Maple, 2017
Megaliths in the Bath House Ruins, 2019
Graffiti Nature – Living in the Ruins of a Bathhouse, Red List, 2017-
Resonating Forest in the Ravine, 2019
Abstract and Concrete – Forest Entrance, 2018
Flowers Bloom in an Infinite Universe inside a Teacup, 2016
Forest and Spiral of Resonating Lamps in the Forest – One Stroke, Summer Forest, 2018
Mifuneyama is said to have risen from the Ariake Sea 3 million years ago. The 500,000 square meter Mifuneyama Rakuen Park was created in 1845, at the end of the Edo period. The park is home to megaliths, caves, and forests that have been slowly shaped over thousands of years. teamLab believes that the shapes and textures of these objects are important, serving as traces of ancient people and natural changes over time. The concept of the project is that non-material digital technology can turn nature into art without harming it.
The creative team will be holding a number of other high-profile exhibitions this year, including installations in Paris, Tallinn, Shanghai, and Geneva. Their sauna collaboration with TikTok for teamLab Reconnect in Roppongi made huge waves in 2021–guests would take alternating hot and cold baths to experience intense physical sensations while surrounded by digital art.
teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live
Running: July 15 – November 6, 2022
Location: Mifuneyama Rakuen (4100 Takeo, Takeocho Oaza Takeo, Takeo City, Saga)
Official Site: https://www.teamlab.art/jp/e/mifuneyamarakuen/
Tea-focused Starbucks Scheduled to Open at AMU Plaza Hakata City
Starbucks will open the first Starbucks Tea & Cafe location in Kyushu at AMU Plaza Hakata on April 27, 2022. This spin-off shop specializes in colorful, aromatic tea-based beverages, and has locations in Tokyo, Toyama, and Osaka.
Starbucks Coffee AMU Plaza Hakata, the first Starbucks Tea & Cafe to open in the Kyushu area, is a new store on the second floor of Amu Plaza Hakata directly connected to JR Hakata Station.
Yuzu & Citrus Lavender Sage Tea / Japanese Chai Tea Latte / Strawberry & Passion Tea Frappucino®
Starbucks Tea & Cafe will offer a lineup of 13 types of tea-based beverages, including tea lattes and tea frappuccinos made with seasonal ingredients. The Japanese Chai Tea Latte is new this season and includes hojicha with spices like yuzu peel, ginger, Japanese pepper, and cinnamon.
Come enjoy this cozy space and enjoy a warm cup of tea at this unique Starbucks where tea is the main attraction!
Starbucks Coffee AMU Plaza Hakata 2F
Address: JR Hakata City 2F (1-1 Hakataekichuogai, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka)
Opening April 27, 2022
Official Site: https://www.starbucks.co.jp/
Three Japanese Tourism Instagram Accounts to Follow for Travel Inspiration
07.March.2022 | SPOT
The pandemic has changed our lives forever. People have spent the last two years missing travel as they spend more and more time at home, and while many are ready to travel again, it can be difficult to know if it’s the right time to return to normalcy. To make the situation a little easier, many local tourism associations in Japan are posting images on Instagram to inspire people to give traveling another try. These three Instagram accounts are our personal favorites, and once Japan opens to tourists again, you won’t want to miss visiting these areas!
[Official Kumamoto Tourism Association] Motto, motto, Kumamoto!
Discover the charms of Kumamoto on this local Instagram account featuring photos from four unique local photographers. Many will know the area as the home of the character Kumamon. The images capture the daily lives of Kumamoto residents and include local food and gorgeous scenery. The postings also include the location of the photo and comments from the photographers, making things feel more personal.
[Official Hokkaido Tourism Association] GoodDay Hokkaido
Hokkaido is an area rich in gourmet seafood and dairy, but its spectacular landscapes are reason enough to visit. GoodDay Hokkaido shows off both the common and uncommon elements of Hokkaido life, often introducing little-known areas. Each photo is vividly colored, and followers can see different seasons at every time of day as they scroll through the feed. See the best images from Japan’s northernmost island each and every day on your smartphone!
[Ome / Okutama] Umetama
Umetama is an account that introduces places of interest in Ome and Okutama, two of Tokyo’s most scenic towns. Each can be reached in about an hour by train from Shinjuku Station. Visitors can enjoy a gorgeous day trip from the Tokyo center, with the area featuring plenty of campsites and hiking trails. There are tons of stargazing spots, and visitors are often surprised that such incredible nature is so close to Japan’s hectic capital. Those with kids will find plenty to do here, so start taking notes while you scroll through the Umetama page!
More and more young people are finding the appeal of Ome and Okutama, and the area has become the perfect relaxation spot for those seeking refuge from their busy lives. In addition, the craft beer bar Ome Beer, located near Ome Station, sells local alcohol, including Okutama’s popular craft beer ‘Vertere.’ See the lesser-known side of Tokyo on this picturesque account.
Remember how wonderful it is to travel? Hopefully, Japan opens for tourism again soon, and you can visit all of these gorgeous locales.
DANDELION PROJECT Celebrating Autumn at Kumamoto Castle for a Limited Time
15.November.2021 | Uncategorized
Creative company NAKED is bringing their popular DANDELION PROJECT to Kumamoto Castle from November 19 until December 5, 2021, just in time to celebrate the Autumn Festival Castle Lighting event!
The DANDELION PROJECT is inspired by the idea of world peace and hopes to help transcend barriers and connect people in an increasingly divided world. This networked initiative wants to bring this change about by planting (or installing) dandelion-inspired art around the world, while it invites people visiting these dandelion exhibits to send their prayers for peace as a digital flower in real-time.
To celebrate the recent restoration of Kumamoto Castle’s tower, the DANDELION PROJECT will ask visitors to give their prays for peace and safety as they enjoy the autumn lights. After the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake, the castle has slowly recovered, and this is the final step. Currently, DANDELION installations are popping up around Japan and internationally, with locations in Tokyo Tower, Saga Prefectural Exhibition Hall, and plenty of other places.
NAKED’s popular attractions–the NAKED Distanced Lanterns and NAKED Flower Cleansing–will also be available to participate in during the event. Each is perfect for social distancing, and each will get a special Kumamoto Castle version. Interactive projection mapping will cause flowers to bloom beneath visitors’ feet as they explore. After the event period, the works will be moved to Josaien, where they can be enjoyed until January 15, 2022.
DANDELION @ Kumamoto Castle Autumn Festival Castle Lighting
Address: Kumamoto Castle (1-1 Honmaru, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto)
AR: Kumamoto Castle (Special Walkway)
DANDELION: Ninomaru Plaza
NAKED Distanced Lanterns and NAKED Flower Cleansing: Ninomaru Plaza
Running: November 19, 2021 – December 5, 2021
DANDELION PROJECT/NAKED Distanced Lanterns/NAKED Flower Cleansing
Permanent Installation to Start November 19, 2021
AR ‘KUMAMOTO CASTLE FANTASY OF LIGHTS’
Running: Daily from 17:00-21:00 (Last Entry at 20:30)
Admission to Ninomaru Plaza: Free
Admission to Kumamoto Castle: Adults ¥800, Children ¥300
*Visitors will need to download the NAKED INC PLAY! smartphone app.
Ichiban Kuji to Open Fourth Official Shop in Kyushu, First in the Region
Offered by BANDAI SPIRITS, Ichiban Kuji is a popular brand of lottery in Japan, in which players are guaranteed to win a piece of merchandise. This no-lose game is often seen in collaboration with popular anime and game series, and a number of dedicated BANDAI SPIRITS Ichiban Kuji stores are starting to pop up around Japan. Now, the fourth of these shops is opening in Fukuoka on September 9, making it the first in Kyushu.
Ichiban Kuji – Disney’s Twisted Wonderland, Vol. 4
Release Date: September 10, 2021
Ichiban Kuji – Monogatari Series
Release Date: September 18, 2021
Ichiban Kuji – Kirby Series KIRBY’S BURGER
Release Date: September 24, 2021
Ichiban Kuji – Mobile Suit Gundam Gunpla 2021
Release Date: September 25, 2021
Prior to opening brick-and-mortar stores, Ichiban Kuji took place at convenience stores, bookstores, and game centers across Japan. In December 2020, the first dedicated shop opened in Umeda, Osaka, with the following two opening in Ikebukuro in Tokyo and Yokohama in Kanagawa in March 2021. Popularity is only increasing, as fans continue to enjoy the unique collection of products.
The new Fukuoka location is the largest of any Ichiban Kuji shops to date, and also features the Ichiban Coffret, a lineup of high-quality pop culture-inspired cosmetics for purchase.
Ichiban Kuji Official Shop – Hakata Bus Terminal
Address: Hakata Bus Terminal 7F (2-1 Hakataekichuogai, Hakata Ward, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture)
Open Date: September 9, 2021
*Hours subject to change in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Crayon-Shin Chan Nohara Family Get Appointed as Official Restoration Supporters of Kumamoto
26.July.2021 | Uncategorized
In an effort to help support of the restoration efforts in Kumamoto after the 2016 earthquake devastated the prefecture, the Nohara family from the popular manga and anime series Crayon Shin-chan have been appointed official Kumamoto Restoration Supporters. This begins with a PR campaign to help promote tourism in Kumamoto’s city of Aso. To celebrate, Shin-chan himself visited the Kumamoto Prefectural Government on July 15.
Shin-chan’s mother, Misae, was born and raised in Aso, Kumamoto, while himself and his father Hiroshi were both born in Akira Prefecture. Shin-chan considers Aso his second home, and all of this the reason behind the family’s appointment as supporters. The manga series has raised money for Kumamoto numerous times in the past, including for the Crayon Shin-chan 25th Anniversary Exhibition which saw money raised for charity products donated towards relief efforts of the earthquake disaster. This year, the series joins hands with the prefecture once more.
The 2021 summer campaign is being carried with the slogan “I’m fine! ASO.” The Nohara family will serve as PR characters to spread the word about Aso. This will include a digital stamp rally that will have people travelling around the prefecture on their smartphones. The app will be released in August, followed by campaign posters, pamphlets, and other promotional material rolling out.
When Shin-chan visited the local government office for his appointment as a supporter, he played the Nintendo Switch game Crayon Shin-chan: Ora to Hakase no Natsuyasumi – Owaranai Nanokakan no Tabi with officials, which also released on the same day. In the game you can visit lots of spots around Kumamoto such as Kumamoto Station, Kusasenri Observatory, Tsujun Bridge, Aso Station, and more.
Nintendo Switchのロゴ・Nintendo Switchは任天堂の商標です。
I’m fine! ASO Campaign
Official Website: https://kumamoto.guide/aso2020/
Kumamon Promotes Strawberry and Whipped Cream Pastry For Pasco Kumamoto Project
The Pasco Kumamoto Prefecture Project is a collaboration between the Japanese pastry company Pasco and Kumamoto Prefecture which has appointed Kumamon, the mascot of Kumamoto, as its head to promote local foods.
The project was started as a reconstruction and restoration effort to help support Kumamoto after the devastating earthquake that struck in 2016 and the 2018 Japan floods. For every select product sold, 0.5 yen is donated to the relief effort to aid victims of the disasters.
The Pasco Kumamoto Prefecture Project is set to run until end end of September this year. It released two items on April 1 as part of the project. It is now releasing two new products: the “Strawberry Jam & Milk Whipped Cream” pastry and “Pancake Omelette Custard & Milk Whipped Cream.” The milk, strawberries, and eggs used for these confections are all sourced from Kumamoto
The pastry recipe creates whipped cream from milk and layers it with a strawberry jam made from yuubeni, a popular brand of strawberry grown in Kumamoto, before baking. The pancake omelette is a combination of Jersey milk, eggs, and custard cream to create a fluffy dessert.
Pasco carefully selects ingredients as part of Kumamon’s promotional products
The ingredients used in the recipes for these food products are all carefully selected to go deliciously well with Pasco’s bread. This includes milk, eggs, and yuubeni strawberries. Pasco plans to used Kumamoto-grown rice for a new product in August.
Scan the code on the packaging and meet Kumamon!
A special Kumamon AR service has also been created as part of the project. If you scan the code on the packaging of these products using a smart device, you can take a photo together with Kumamon as pictured above. He has the same design as on the packets.
Pasco Kumamoto Prefecture Project – 2nd Release
Running: June 1, 2021 – July 31, 2021
Available: Supermarkets and shops in Japan
Pasco Official Website: https://www.pasconet.co.jp/
Kirin Announces Restoration Project With Gogo no Kocha Milk Tea
01.June.2021 | FOOD
Kirin Beverage launched the Gogo Tea Happiness Project on June 1, 2021. The project will donate the proceeds made from select products to locations in Japan that require support in restoration efforts. The first product to launch is the ‘Gogo no Kocha for HAPPINESS Kumamoto Strawberry Tea’ which released in limited quantities in Japan on Tuesday.
Kirin Group launched a similar project in 2011 called the ‘Kirin Bond Project.’ in 2016, they began efforts to support the people of Kumamoto after the earthquake that struck there that year – to ‘bind’ them to the future. From then until 2018, they also shot commercials for their Gogo no Kocha milk tea brand at Miharashidai Station, Shirakawa River, and other places around Kumamoto, as well as promoted the village of Minamiaso to showcase its beautiful natural environment.
The Gogo Tea Happiness Project takes Kirin back to Kumamoto to continue helping to support restoration efforts, something the company has been doing since July 2011 after the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. For every bottle of Gogo no Kocha for HAPPINESS Kumamoto Strawberry Tea sold, not only does 3.9 yen of the proceeds go towards supporting Kumamoto, it also gives people around Japan the chance to try a type of strawberry grown in Kumamoto called yuubeni. The project also ties in with the 35th anniversary of Kirin’s Gogo no Kocha tea.
Gogo no Kocha for HAPPINESS Kumamoto Strawberry Tea
Japanese Product Name: キリン 午後の紅茶 for HAPPINESS 熊本県産いちごティー
Released: June 1, 2021
Price: ¥140 (Before Tax)
Official Website: https://www.kirin.co.jp/
niko and … Collaborates With Kumamoto Painter to Promote New Store Opening
28.April.2021 | FASHION
Style editorial brand “niko and …” opened pre-orders for a new collection with Kumamoto resident oil painter Takeshi Matsunaga at its new AMU PLAZA KUMAMOTO branch on April 23. The line-up is set to be subsequently released via the online webstore “st.” as well as five branches of niko and … on April 29, including their Tokyo store.
MATSUNAGA TAKESHI MEETS niko and … KUMAMOTO
The line-up is a collection of everyday items from tote bags and mugs to key rings, pencil cases, iPhone cases, t-shirts, caps, and more. Each item features a design inspired by Rakunou Gyunyu, a brand of milk that’s hugely popular in Kumamoto. Matsunaga adds his delicate touch to the oil-painted series. Part of the proceeds generated from the sales of these items will be donated to the city of Kumamoto in support of restoration efforts from the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes.
niko and’s new Kumamoto store also has a cafe attached to it, “niko and … COFFEE,” where a milk smoothie will be sold for a limited time until September 30. Each will come with a milk-flavoured wafer featuring Matsunaga Takeshi’s art on it.
niko and … x Matsunaga Takeshi
Pre-Sales: April 23, 2021
Where: niko and … AMU PLAZA KUMAMOTO
General Sales: April 29, 2021
Where: .st / niko and … TOKYO/ Five branches of AMU PLAZA in Kyushu (Oita, Kokura, Hakata, Kagoshima, Nagasaki)
Appreciate Kumamoto’s Culture at New Tokyu Hands Store in Amu Plaza Kumamoto
Tokyu Hands is opened a new lifestyle shop called Hands Be inside Amu Plaza Kumamoto in front of JR Kumamoto Station April 23. The shop will sell a range of everyday products from beauty to stationery, seasonal, and more, that showcase Kumamoto’s culture and craftsmanship. Whether it be for yourself or a gift for someone else, there’s something for everybody.
Kurikawa Uchiwa Shoten
Kurikawa Shoten is a specialist in Japanese uchiwa fans that first opened in 1889. Kumamoto is the third biggest producer of uchiwa fans together with Kyoto and Marugame and is the only place passing down the traditional kutani craft of fans. Their fans are durable and long-lasting, enjoyed as gifts at children’s birthday parties, weddings, as well as at company commemorations and elsewhere. To celebrate Hands Be’s opening, the Kurikawa Shoten is providing fans with original colours exclusive to the new store.
Coffee Arrow is a coffee shop that opened in Hanabatacho in the central ward of Kumamoto back in 1964. Customers can get their hands on a range of original coffee beans, merchandise, and more.
Coming together during these times
BLUE SEED BAG
“HOLD hands be Happy” is the message written on the recyclable, eco-friendly BLUE SEED BAG which is made using washed blue sheets that were actually used as part of the restoration efforts after the Kumamoto Earthquake struck in 2016. The bags are a reminder that even though many of us can’t hold hands with us during the pandemic, we are still connected by our hearts.
Javasparrow is a manufacturer and service focused on creating products around “familiarity” and “connection.” The Wesign is a set of two lights that connect to Wi-Fi. These unique lights can be used by lovers or family members who live apart or long-distance, so that you know when the other is on or offline, helping everyone feel connected.
Original bandana available for the grand opening
Hands Be is also offering a free bandana for the opening to anyone who spend over ¥3,000 (tax included).
Hands Be Amu Plaza Kumamoto
Opening Date: April 23, 2021
Where: Amu Plaza Kumamoto Floor 3F, Kasuga, Nishi-ku, Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto
Official Website: https://hands.net/
Experience Okinawa From Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station at Tokai Kiosk’s Fair
28.February.2021 | FOOD
Tokai Kiosk Company has announced a Kyushu and Okinawa themed fair which will run at all branches of Tokai Kiosk from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station starting on March 2. Customers will be able to enjoy a range of local foods and products from Kyushu and Okinawa.
Kyushu Okinawa Fair Poster
A Look at Some of the Available Products
Salted Shiroi Tabekko Doubutsu
Sugar Butter Sand Tree – Amaou Strawberry Butter
Okinawa Bireley’s Ishigaki Island Pineapple
Sausage & Egg Yuzu Kosho Sandwich
This is just a peek of what will be available to try from Kyushu and Okinawa this spring. If you’re travelling in Japan this March, then don’t miss out.
Kyushu Okinawa Fair
Japanese Event Title: 旅行気分で「うまい！」を楽しもう！九州・沖縄フェア
Running: March 2, 2021 – March 22, 2021
Where: Bellmart Kiosks, Grand Kiosks, Gift Kiosks, and Kiosks from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station
Official Website: https://www.kiosk.co.jp
Iconic Japanese Mascot Kumamon Takes Annual Festival Online to Thank Fans
14.February.2021 | SPOT
Kumamon is a Japanese mascot many are sure to have seen. It was created in 2010 as a way to promote Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan.
Each year, Kumamon brings fans together at an event called “Kumamon Fan Gratitude Festival in TOKYO.” This year, for the safety of fans, it will be held digitally—from Tokyo rather than in Tokyo—with an online stream via Kumamon’s official YouTube channel Kumamon TV on February 12 at 20:00 (JST). Kumamon is currently in the last stages of preparing what is sure to be an equally fun event for fans.
You can follow Kumamon on social media at the links below. Be sure to tune in for the stream this Friday.
Kumamon Fan Gratitude Festival 2021 from TOKYO
Japanese Event Title: くまモンファン感謝祭2021 from TOKYO 特別映像だモン！
When: February 12, 2021 @ 20:00 (JST)
Kumamon Official YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/KumamonTV
Kumamon in Tokyo Blog: http://www.kumamon-tokyo.com/
Kumamon Tokyo Staff Official Twitter: @KumamonStaff
Kumamon Official Website: https://kumamon-official.jp/