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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Osaka’s Hirakata Park Announces After-Hours Horror Event

    09.July.2020 | SPOT

    Hirakata Park has announced the horror-themed event “Yamibiraki no Yoru” which will be held at the Osaka amusement park during the night from August 26 to September 13.

     

    Two Japanese horror entertainment companies are coming together to set up spooky spots around the park for the event. For the event, visitors will need to clear a mission to reach the goal which will involve the use of a smartphone or tablet.

     

    Yamibiraki no Yoru – Synopsis

    “There is a rumour that once a year, Hirakata Park opens up during the middle of the night. And though it’s open in the middle of the night, the only staff that can be spotted around are those with vacant looks in their eyes. What’s more is that there aren’t any visitors around. At some point, this rumour came to be called Yamibiraki no Yoru, ‘Open in Darkness.’ And this summer, an event is being held, on the same day that rumour was named, and with the same name…”

     

    Scary School Stories VR x Real Scary Experience

    Hirakata Park is also holding a haunted house event during the daytime from July 17, 2020. Themed on Kokkuri-san, a Japanese supernatural game, the event will combine the use of VR technology and real interactive scares.

  • Kyoto’s World Heritage Site Nijo Castle Announces Summer Evening Illumination Event

    09.July.2020 | SPOT

    NAKED, INC. has announced that it is holding a special summertime light-up event at Nijo Castle, a World Heritage Site in Kyoto, from August 8 to August 30. The company has also released its first ever 3DCG VR experience NAKED NINJA -Nijo-jo Castle- on the official NAKED, INC. online store.

    Enjoy art entertainment in person or at home

    NAKED, INC. has collaborated with many World Heritage Sites, Cultural Properties, tourism centres, leisure spots, and more over the years. Right now, the company is grappling with the question of what the shape of tourism, as well as art and entertainment, looks like during the COVID-19 outbreak—and what shape it will take post-pandemic. Nijo Castle is no exception, a place that enjoys tourism from both Japanese people and people overseas. In considering these issues, NAKED has conceived two different ways Nijo Castle can still entertain tourism now and in the near future.

     

    The first is holding an event in person at Nijo Castle in the form of an outdoor light-up event that will have people wandering around as opposed to being stationary. In spring of 2017, NAKED held “Nijo Castle Cherry Blossom Festival 2017” where they hosted a variety of performances and events in line with the season. In fact, one such event was planned to take place at Nijo Castle this summer, but it had to be reconsidered as a result of COVID-19. Those involved still wanted to come up with a way that people who live close by could still enjoy some leisure time this summer, which is what led to this light-up event from NAKED.

     

    Visitors will be able to enjoy the light-up safely by staying a set distance from one another while walking around Nijo Castle. The number of people inside at once will also be restricted. As well as this, people will need to wear masks, temperature will be regulated, and alcohol gel will be provided—all to ensure that visitors are kept safe.

     

    The second way that NAKED has devised for people to still enjoy Nijo Castle is with the release of NAKED NINJA -Nijo-jo Castle-, the company’s first ever full 3DCG VR experience that lets people enjoy Nijo Castle online in a virtual space. This is so that people who cannot visit Nijo Castle can still enjoy its sights. NAKED plans to launch even more real and virtual, offline and online experiences in the future too in order to promote tourism in a new way during COVID-19.

  • 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.

  • Kyoto’s Famous Kifune Shrine Celebrates Tanabata With Bamboo Lamp Light-Up

    07.July.2020 | SPOT

    Kifune Shrine, which is dedicated to the god of water Takaokami no Kami, is currently holding evening illuminations with Tanabata bamboo lamps until August 15, 2020.

     

    About Kifune Shrine

    Kifune Shrine is one of Kyoto’s foremost historical shrines. Records show that the shrine was already built in 677 during the reign of Emperor Tenmu. It is located near the source of Kamo River and is dedicated to the god of water who is said protect Kyoto’s water sources. The area is also known for kawadoko which is where Kibune’s restaurants build platforms over the river where visitors can enjoy their meal as the water flows beneath them.

     

    Kifune Shrine and Tanabata

    Tanabata is said to originate from the Suijinsai Festival (Water God Festival), with the stars themselves as the god of water. At Kifune Shrine, which is dedicate to Takaokami no Kami—the god of water—people not only pay their respects to the blessing of water, but hold Tanabata events as well as the Kifune Water Festival.

     

    For this year’s Tanabata event, bamboo lamps will be lit up with wishes written on them by people.

     

    Tanabata Shinto Rituals and the Kifune Water Festival

    Tanabata Shinto rituals and the Kifune Water Festival will be held on July 7 where people will express their gratitude to the god who watches over Kifune’s waters as well as pray for water’s blessing throughout the year.

  • 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.

  • Chocolate-Piled Shaved Ice & Other Summer Season Delights at BEL AMER Kyoto Villa

    04.July.2020 | FOOD

    Kyoto-based chocolate bar BEL AMER Kyoto Villa is serving up the perfect line of new chocolatey bites for summer 2020.


    The entire line-up is a delight to look at, from a mountain of chocolate piled on top of shaved ice, a summertime mango and melon dessert, and more.

    Chocolate Noir Shaved Ice x Matcha: ¥1,540 (Tax Included)

    Shaved ice is the quintessential summertime dessert in Japan, and since this one is being served at a shop specialising in chocolate, what better way to serve it than drizzled in a mountain of the stuff? The shaved ice is covered in rich chocolate cream and chocolate sauce and is topped with chocolate nibs. It’s also served with a side of matcha sauce which you can pour over yourself, creating a delicious harmony of flavours.


    Mille-Feuille au Chocolat Exotic With 196℃ Chocolate Ice Cream: ¥1,650 (Tax Included)

    This summertime dessert is made with lots of mango and melon. In the centre of it all is even more mango, as well as pineapple and coconuts, for a flavourful layered experience. Served on the side is ice cream made from BEL AMER Kyoto Villa’s own original couverture chocolate.

    Summer Pavlova: ¥1,320 (Tax Included)

    This piece of art of a dessert is a must for lovers of matcha and melon. It’s made from fluffy meringue topped with white chocolate, matcha mousse, and chocolate cream, which itself is then topped with refreshing melon and grapes for a refreshing kick.


    Chocolate Croquette Sandwich: ¥990 (Tax Included)

    BEL AMER Kyoto Villa is also serving up a very unique dish indeed which mixes together chocolate and croquette—a flavour that actually works, combining sweetness and bitterness. The croquette is made from potatoes. The brioche sandwich also contains cheese and bacon.

     

    These are just some of the delights on show at BEL AMER Kyoto Villa this summer. If ever you’re in Kyoto, be sure to stop by, especially in the summer.

  • 4 Refreshing Matcha Shaved Ice Flavours Released at Itohkyuemon in Kyoto

    30.June.2020 | FOOD

    Kyoto’s famous tea shop Itohkyuemon began serving four new Uji matcha and shaved ice mixed desserts on its menu yesterday (June 29). Itohkyuemon was founded in 1832 in the latter period of Edo. Ujitawara, the place in Kyoto where the shop is located, is famous for the tea served by Itohkyuemon which has been harvested by the Ito family for years.

    Uji Matcha Parfait Ice: ¥1,490 (Tax Included) | Serving: Until Late September 2020 | Avaialble: Itohkyuemon JR Uji Station/Itohkyuemon Gionshijo

    The Uji Matcha Parfait Ice uses a blend of matcha and milk-infused ice as its base. It’s then topped with sweet treats like rice flour dumplings, red bean paste, ice cream, matcha jelly, and more to turn it into a parfait.

    Uji Matcha Daifuku Ice: ¥1,290 (Tax Included) | Serving: Until Late September 2020 | Avaialble: Itohkyuemon JR Uji Station/Itohkyuemon Gionshijo

    This Uji Matcha Daifuku Ice is an upgrade of the one Itohkyuemon served last year. It has a creamy custard base with matcha daifuku hidden in the shaved ice.

    Fluffy Uji Kindokei Vanilla Ice Cream: ¥990, Matcha Ice Cream ¥1,090 (Tax Included) | Serving: Until Late September 2020 | Avaialble: Itohkyuemon JR Uji Station/Itohkyuemon Gionshijo


    Fluffy Uji Kindokei Rice Flour Dumpling: ¥850, Rice Flour Dumpling & Vanilla Ice Cream ¥970, Rice Flour Dumpling Matcha Ice Cream ¥1,090 Serving: Until Late September 2020 | Avaialble: Itohkyuemon Uji Main Branch

    These two “Kindokei” (Gold Watch) servings use more ice. At the main branch of Itohkyuemon they’re more crunchy, while at the JR Uji Station and Gionshijo branches they’re more fluffy.

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