Shibuya’s New Hotel sequence MIYASHITA PARK Connects the People to the City
01.August.2020 | SPOT
sequence MIYASHITA PARK is a new mixed-use hotel set to open inside MIYASHITA PARK on August 1, 2020.
sequence’s concept is to connect the people with the city. It offers a space for everyone whether they want a quiet time alone, whether they are sightseeing, having a work-do, celebrating a party or festival, and more. This is centred around the hotel’s three notions: “SMART,” “OPEN,” and “CULTURE.”
The hotel is inspired by the local concept of “PARK MIND” which offers guests a place to relax after a long, busy day, like in a park. It has collaborated with Tokyo-based designers and creators to bring this to life in room designs. Furniture and fittings are simple while still being of high quality.
The fourth floor entrance connects seamlessly to Miyashita Park and is home to a lobby lounge as well as the new VALLEY PARK STAND cafe and bar. Up on the fifth floor is the breakfast dining restaurant Dōngxī Restaurant & Sakaba. Up on the 18th floor, guests can enjoy a panoramic view of Shibuya, as well as dine at the entertainment restaurant SOAK whose design and concept mixes together history and the future, the West and the East. There is also art from artists coordinated by The Chain Museum.
sequence MIYASHITA PARK
Address: 6-20-10 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo
Official Website: https://www.sequencehotels.com/miyashita-park
KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory Themed Cafes to Open in Japan This Holiday Season
Japanese company LEGS has announced the opening of two limited-time cafes themed on the video game KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory which will run from December 11, 2020 to January 31, 2021.
KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory is a rhythm action game developed by Square Enix. Released on November 11 in Japan and November 13 everyone else, it is the latest instalment to Square Enix and Disney’s video game series Kingdom Hearts.
The cafe menu features a line-up of dishes, drinks, and desserts inspired by characters and worlds found throughout the internationally-beloved video game series. The items all adhere to Disney’s nutrient guidelines and so are low in salt and sugar, offering fans a healthier option. The cafe will also sell a range of original merchandise.
<Sora> Power of Waking Tomato Pasta | ¥1,599
A red tomato pasta inspired by Sora that comes with a potato salad shaped like King Mickey.
<Riku> Daybreak Chicken Burger | ¥1,599
A black chicken burger based on Riku becoming enveloped by the Power of Darkness. This dish also comes with a potato salad shaped like King Mickey.
<King Mickey> King’s Tuna Sandwich | ¥1,399, with plate +¥2,000
A tuna sandwich branded with a King Mickey symbol that comes with a side of fruit.
<Neverland> Island Seafood Curry | ¥1,699
A squid and shrimp seafood curry inspired by Peter Pan’s Neverland which you can travel to in Kingdom Hearts.
<Sora, Riku & Kairi> Fate’s Pineapple Herb Soda | ¥899, with acrylic coaster +¥1,000
A pineapple herb soda based on the Paopu Fruit from the series.
<Roxas, Xion, Axel> Sea Salt Ice Cream & Milk | ¥1,199, with acrylic coaster +¥1,000
Based on the sea salt ice cream that Roxas, Xion, and Axel all eat together. It’s served with hot milk that can be poured over the ice cream for a tasty treat.
<Hundred Acre Wood> Honey Latte | ¥799, with mug +¥1,650
A latte sweetened with Winnie the Pooh’s favourite thing in the world: honey.
Folder ¥500 / Acrylic Magnet ¥700
Tote Bags (3 Designs) | ¥3,500 Each (Timeless River/Keyblade A/Keyblade B)
Customers who book a table in advance (¥650 before tax) and order from the menu will receive one of two folders, and if they order a drink, one of four coasters. Available while supplies last.
© Disney. © Disney/Pixar.
*All prices listed are pre-tax
KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory Cafe
・Tokyo (Shibuya): SHIBUYA BOX cafe&space
Running: December 11, 2020 – January 31, 2021
Address: LOFT (Floor 2F), 21-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo
・Osaka (Umeda): UMEDA BOX cafe&space
Running: December 11, 2020 – January 31, 2021
Address: Umeda LOFT (Floor 1F), 16-7 Chayamachi, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
KINGDOM HEARTS Melody of Memory Cafe Official Website: https://khmom.ohmycafe.jp/
Aman Resorts Founder Adrian Zecha Launches New Ryokan Hotel Brand Azumi
01.December.2020 | SPOT
Adrian Zecha, the founder of Aman, together with Naru Developments, has announced the launch of their new ryokan hotel brand Azumi. The first Azumi property is set to open in the Seto Inland Sea area of Japan in Spring 2021.
Azumi: A New Ryokan Brand
Adrian Zecha came across his first ryokan in Japan about 60 years ago and subsequently went on to launch multiple hotel brands, including Aman. Azumi is his latest project to take the hospitable nature of the Japanese-style inn, known as a ryokan, and its traditions while ensuring to pay respect to the region and people in the community in which each property will open.
During the 1950s, Zecha, who was a correspondent and reporter of Asia at the time, encountered ryokan for the very first time while in Japan. He was impressed by the hospitality bestowed to guests staying at the inn which for him felt homely. With that in mind, Azumi maintains an exclusive and sophisticated appearance while at the same time is adamant in understanding that the guest is what makes a ryokan as a person, and so offers a warm welcome and interaction that connects to the local community.
Azumi’s approach aims to respect the traditions and community of each region while at the same time building something that will be passed down through the generations. Shiro Miura of Rokukaku-ya, a shop which values living materials such as wood and stone through Sukiya architecture, has been on the Azumi team since the brand’s inception to create a space that can be enjoyed as a marvel of Japanese architecture while satisfying those travelling from abroad.
The brand’s name comes from the Azumi people, an ancient seafaring tribe who crossed the ocean and settled in Japan.
The first Azumi property will open on an island in the Seto Inland Sea which boasts clear blue waters and is known for its abundant natural environment which has made it a big player in Japan’s citrus fruit production as well as the fishing industry.
Azumi will open its doors in Spring 2021, filled with the ideas conceived by the one and only Adrian Zecha.
Ryokan Brand Azumi
Azumi Official Website: http://azumi.co/
IKEA Shinjuku will be conveniently located just a 5-minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station. It will feature a line-up of products to get people living more sustainably at an affordable price. It will also serve authentic Swedish food.
Helen Von Rice (IKEA CEO, Chief Sustainability Officer) | Comment
“We are so excited to continue our city-expansion journey with our third city shop meeting many more of the Tokyoites in the bustling Shinjuku district. We hope to inspire and solve home-furnishing needs at a time when the home has never been more important. Our Shinjuku shop will also continue to offer great plant-based food as well as sustainable products to reach our goal of being climate-neutral by 2030.”
Grand Opening: Spring 2021
Address: Keio Shinjuku B1F-3F, 3-1-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Official Website: https://www.ikea.com/jp/ja/
Karuizawa Shiraito Falls Midwinter Light Up Arrives For 2020-2021
29.November.2020 | SPOT
Shiraito Highland Way has announced that this year’s Karuizawa Shiraito Falls Midwinter Light Up will run from December 19, 2020 to February 14, 2021.
The illumination event will take place at Karuizawa Shiraito Falls, a 3-meter tall waterfall that spans 70-meters in length. The lights will add a warmth to the cool evening and glow under a starry night sky.
The event creates a different atmosphere from the summer light-up, allowing visitors to enjoy the enveloping nature in a way that they normally can’t and see beauty they may not have noticed in the area before. The waterfall is located in Jōshin’etsu-kōgen National Park, a protected area which means the lights will be set up in a way that’s considerate to the park.
If you’re in Japan this winter then don’t miss out on this year’s Karuizawa Shiraito Falls Midwinter Light Up which will be split into three sessions: the Christmas Session, New Year Session, and St. Valentine Session. More details below.
Karuizawa Shiraito Falls Midwinter Light Up
Location: Karuizawa Shiraito Falls
Running: December 19, 2020 – February 14, 2021
・Christmas Session: December 19th-20th, 24th-27th (17:00-19:00)
・New Year Session: January 2nd-3rd, 8th-11th (17:00-19:00)
・St.Valentine Session: February 11th-14th (17:30-19:30)
*Please see the website for the latest information
*Entry restrictions may be made depending on the number of visitors
Official Website: https://karuizawa-shw.com/
Tokyo’s Art Aquarium Museum in Nihonbashi Announces Christmas Event
29.November.2020 | SPOT
Having only held annual summertime events up to now, Art Aquarium Museum in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, is celebrating Christmas for the first time this year with a series of holiday season festivities.
The Aquarium’s first Christmas tree
Art Aquarium Museum will display its very first Christmas tree for the event indoors near the entrance. The tree artwork was created by Hidemoto Kimura using 550 colourful crystals that have been made to look like goldfish. Made from venetian glass, he had them shipped himself from Italy. They are strung in 10 different colours which glow and glisten to create a romantic atmosphere.
Artwork Name: Natale di Pesce D’oro
Running: December 1, 2020 – December 27, 2020
Location: Art Aquarium Museum entrance
Pair tickets for Christmas with alcohol
Pair Ticket (2 People) + 2 Drinks | ¥4,600 (Tax Included)
Those arriving in twos can buy Pair Tickets which come with two alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages so you can plunge into the magical underwater world of the aquarium while enjoying a drink.
Buy Tickets: https://ticket.artaquarium.jp/en/
Running: November 24, 2020 – December 27, 2020
Validity Period: December 1, 2020 – December 27, 2020
[Alcohol] COEDO Beer / Marihana / Louis Raison Rouge Délice
[Non-Alcoholic] Sanpellegrino Pompelmo / Grapefruit
Christmas menu served up in the lounge and cafe
2-Person Hors d’oeuvre With 2 Drinks | Online Booking ¥4,200, Same-Day ¥5,000 (Tax Included) | Serving: December 18, 2020 – December 25, 2020
The aquarium’s lounge restaurant is serving an hors d’oeuvre for pairs of Japanese and western food together with two drinks.
2-Person Christmas Sweets Plate With 2 Drinks | Online Booking ¥3,300, Same-Day ¥3,850 (Tax Included) | Serving: December 1, 2020 – December 27, 2020
The cafe is serving up plate of assorted desserts, perfect for a post-aquarium date.
Christmas Special Cocktail | ¥2,200 (Tax Included) | Serving: December 1, 2020 – December 27, 2020
Both the restaurant and cafe are also serving a seasonal cocktail of chocolate, strawberries, cranberries, and champagne jelly for a sweet and refreshing mix.
Art Aquarium Museum Christmas Event
Address: 1-3 Nihonbashihoncho, Chuo Ward, Tokyo
Opening Hours: 10:00-21:00 (Until 20:00 in December)
No Fixed Holidays
General Admission: Adults (13 and over) ¥2,300 (Tax Included) / After Dark Ticket: Adults (13 and over) ¥2,000 (Tax Included)
*Free for 12 and under
Official Website: https://artaquarium.jp/en/
Starbucks Japan Opens Nishitokyo Branch by 300-Year-Old Camphor Tree
29.November.2020 | FOOD
Starbucks Coffee Japan opened a new branch on Thursday (November 25) in Nishitokyo, a western area of Tokyo, next to an ancient 300-year-old camphor tree. The coffee shop opens with a gorgeous wooden interior.
Starbucks Nishitokyo was built on top of a long-standing cafe called Kusunoki in Musashino, Tokyo that was loved by locals for 40 years before closing down. The Starbucks branch, with its striking warm wooden decor, takes inspiration from an old 300-year-old tree that stands 23-meters tall and 7 meters in circumference. The old round pillars that kept the previous cafe Kusunoki standing have been kept in place and built around, incorporating a tall new triangular roof, lights, and the walls, and more—all as an homage to the old cafe. This way, memories of the beloved can be passed on while making way for a new chapter in history.
Starbucks’s wooden decor
Starbucks Shinshu Zenkoji Nakamise-dori branch
Starbucks Shikishima Park branch
Starbucks Nishitokyo comes as the latest Starbucks branch to have entirely wooden decor, something which the company has been incorporating much of in Japan in recent years. The Shinshu Zenkoji Nakamise-dori branch is made using five different types of trees sourced in Nagano Prefecture. The Shikishima Park branch offers an incredible view of the park’s flowers and trees, including the cherry blossoms when they bloom in spring.
Starbucks Japan is opening another wooden branch in Spring 2021 at Ise Grand Shrine.
An initiative to use wood grown in Japan
Starbucks Shinjuku Gyoen branch
Starbucks LINKS UMEDA branch
The number of shops and cafes using local wood in Japan is on the rise in response to the issue of using domestic wood from places outside of a local area. Starbucks Shinjuku Gyoen, for example, has walls, a ceiling, and drinks counter made from wood sourced in Tama, Tokyo, while Starbucks LINKS UMEDA has pillars made of wood taken from trees in Umeda, Osaka.
Starbucks Coffee Nishitokyo
Address: 5-19-10 Shinmachi, Nishitokyo, Tokyo
Grand Opening: November 25, 2020
Opening Hours: 7:30-22:30
No Fixed Holidays
Official Website: https://www.starbucks.co.jp/
Enjoy the Beautiful Taste of Kyoto at Isetan Shinjuku in Tokyo
28.November.2020 | FOOD
Isetan Shinjuku has announced a special event dedicated to promoting the beautiful taste of Tokyo. Set to begin on December 2, the event will see both traditional and newer restaurants from Kyoto come together to serve up Kyoto-style cuisine to the people of Tokyo from oldies like sushi to dango to more modern dishes like okonomiyaki and katsu sandwiches. Visitors will also be able to watch real chefs from Kyoto at work.
Hi-Lite Shokudo’s “Hi-Lite Katsu Sandwich” | ¥850
Since first opening in 1960, Hi-Lite Shokudo has continued to treasure the taste of home cooking and has continued to evolve that taste over the years to cater to each generation. Its famous katsu sandwich is made with a secret sauce that has kept it unbeaten against other popular eateries in Kyoto, and they’ve upped the taste for this event.
Kotoka’s “Mitarashi-dango” | ¥864 (6 Sticks)
These dango are made fresh in front of customers and are doused in a rich secret sauce. Their chewy texture is irresistible.
Izuu’s Mackerel and Tilefish Assortment | ¥4,455 (3 of each per person)
Izuu is an iconic sushi restaurant in Kyoto that was first established in 1781. This assortment is made with chub mackerel from coastal waters, esumai rice from Shiga Prefecture, and kombu from Hokkaido.。
Yumeya’s Fuwafuwa Okonomiyaki | ¥801 (1 portion)
Many people living outside of Kyoto search for the okonomiyaki flavour served by Yumeya. It’s made fresh, fluffy, and is topped with lots of ingredients.
Daitokuji Saiki-ya’s “Dashimaki Tamago” | ¥648 (1 portion)
Daitokuji Saiki-ya is a specialty store in Kyoto catered food in business for 1933 years. It serves Kyoto-style dashimaki tamago as well as lots of other delicious food that captures the taste of Kyoto.
Kyoto Food Fair (Japanese: 美味満喫 冬の京都特集)
Running: December 2, 2020 – December 8, 2020
Location: Isetan Shinjuku Floor 1F
Official Website: https://www.isetan.mistore.jp.e.az.hp.transer.com/shinjuku/shops/foods/foodcollection/shopnews_list/shopnews010.html
Sendai Stroll: Taking a Walk Around Japan’s City of Trees With Chinese Influencer Etsuna
Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture and the largest city in Japan’s Tohoku region, is a two-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo. The city has earned the nickname Mori no Miyako, or ‘City of Trees,’ due to the abundant rows of zelkova trees lining many of its streets. It bustles with charm and is enjoyed by locals and tourists for its history, sights, and events, such as its associations with the Japanese regional ruler Date Masamune, the famous Sendai Tanabata Festival, and more. However, there are many other incredible locations that Sendai has to offer that aren’t as well known as the popular sites, so today we are joined by Etsuna who is giving us the latest in what can be found in the city.
Along The Coast
The coast of Sendai was struck by a tsunami when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck back on in March 2011. Today, the area is continuing its re-development efforts. New facilities have and are being built, including plenty of new spots the area never had before. Sendai is home to a memorial hall for remembering those affected during the disaster which is a must-visit if travelling to Sendai.
Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium
Feel the sea breeze and ocean water of Tohoku against your skin
Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium opened in 2015 as the larrgest aquarium in the Tohoku region. The first floor is themed on the waters of Tohoku where many rare aquatic species from the Sanriku Coast are housed. The second floor is centred on sea creatures found in the oceans around the world such as tropical fish, jellyfish, marine mammals, and other familiar faces.
Visitors can even meet ascidians there which are famous in the Sanriku Coast.
The large fish tanks let in a lot of natural light, recreating the beauty of the Sanriku sea.
There’s also a special spot where you can get up close to some of the fish!
The aquarium offers an optional program where visitors can feed the penguins.
“It’s a pretty big aquarium,” said Etsuna. “It was great to see all of the different things they have on display. I had a lot of fun feeding the penguins too!”
Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium
Address: 4-6 Nakano, Miyagino-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (May change depending ont he season)
No Fixed Holidays
Access: 10-minutes by shuttle bus (free ride) from JR Nakanosakae Station
Price: Adults ¥2,200 / Seniors, High School and Junior High School Children ¥1,600 / Elementary School Children ¥1,100 / Infants ¥600 (All Tax-Inclusive)
Official Website: http://www.uminomori.jp/umino/
Sendai Chuooroshiuri Market
Fresh fish at an affordable price
Sendai Chuooroshiuri Market is like the kitchen of Sendai. The food shops there were opened by locals. Visitors will find many different bites to eat when visiting. Etsuna visited Sushi Yoshi, a restaurant in the area so popular that there’s always a line.
The restaurant’s name, Sushi Yoshi, suggests that it’s a sushi restaurant, but they actually serve common delicacies like rice bowls and set meals.
Maguro Sanshudon | ¥1,500
This rice bowl contains three kinds of maguro tuna, so much in fact that you can’t even see the rice!
“You can enjoy delicious fresh fish at a reasonable price. You might have to wait in line, but it’s totally worth it!”
Address: 4-3-1 Oroshimachi, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 6:30-13:30
Closed: Wednesdays and Sundays
Access: 20-minutes by bus from Sendai Station
Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center
Learn the story of the disaster
Inside Arai Station, which is the last stop on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, you can find the Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center where visitors can learn all about how the Great East Japan Earthquake affected Sendai through the exhibition rooms and in the communal space.
The first floor features a panel with a 3D map of how the tsunami inundated the region as a result of the earthquake.
Up on the second floor is a permanent exhibition showcasing the restoration and restoration efforts of the community as well as real photos from around the time of the disaster.
There are also staff members there who survived the disaster and can describe their experiences as well as current issues facing Sendai.
“I got teary when the speaker told me about the hardships they faced at that time,” explains Etsuna. “The people of Sendai are living their lives looking forward, and I have a lot of respect for them.”
Sendai 3/11 Memorial Community Center
Address: Kutsugata-85 Arai, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00
Closed: Mondays (or Tuesday if the Monday falls on a public holiday) / Day after public holiday / New Year Holidays
Access: Arai Station
Official Website: http://sendai311-memorial.jp
Sendai Arahama Elementary School
The school that still stands after the earthquake disaster
On the day of the Tohoku earthquake, many local residents fled to Sendai Arahama Elementary School where 320 people were trapped including the evacuees, children, and teachers, before managing to escape safely to the roof. The school is now open as a memorial to preserve the memories of those who survived.
The tsunami that struck after the earthquake made it to the second floor of the school. These first two floors have been kept untouched and are as they were on the day.
There are photos as well as video footage exhibited on the fourth floor where the tsunami didn’t reach.
From the school building’s roof you can gaze at the peaceful coastline.
“Seeing the place that was hit by the tsunami up close has really changed my outlook on life. There is green in the surrounding area. I felt life budding all around.”
Sendai Arahama Elementary School
Address: Shinborihata-32-1 Arahama, Wakabayashi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 9:30-16:00
Closed: Mondays / Every 4th Thursday of the month / New Year Holidays
Access: 15-minutes by bus from Arai Station
Akiu Onsen is a spa town known to locals as the ‘living room’ of Sendai. It’s a 30-50 minute bus ride from Sendai Station. It has been nicknamed one of Japan’s Three Baths alongside Bessho Onsen and Nozawa Onsen, both in Nagano Prefecture. It’s another place that Date Masamune frequented many times.
A stroll along the gorge path
Rairaikyo Gorge gets its name from the abundance of enormous rocks that have been eroded by the Natori River and given them strange shapes. The Kanji ‘rai’ used in the gorge’s name literally means ‘many rocks.’ The gorge is home to a 1-km path that people can walk along and soak up the incredible natural environment that offers sights to behold throughout the year. From late October to mid November, when the autumn leaves are in bloom, the area is also lit up in the evenings.
The heart-shaped hollow in the rocks as pictured above is considered a sacred place for couples.
Taking a stroll along the path one sees maple trees aplenty. Visiting during the height of autumn graces you with a colourful scene you wouldn’t want to miss.
“I feel healed having gotten to take a leisurely stroll through nature,” explained Etsuna. “The rocks of Akiu have some interesting shapes.”
Address: Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
Access: Approx. 40 minutes by bus from Sendai Station
A stylish, old fashioned cafe in the hot spring town
When taking a trip to Akiu Onsen, one hot spot that’s a must-visit is Akiu-sha, a restaurant that was renovated from an old private farm house from the Edo Period. During the day it serves lunch food and drinks while in the evenings it’s used for events like private parties.
There’s an open garden at the site which is sometimes used for weddings. At the back are vegetable plots tended to by the restaurant.
Akiu-sha Lunch | ¥1,280 (Before Tax)
The Akiu-sha Lunch is made with fresh vegetables grown in both their own plot as well as from around Akiu.
Akiu Saiseki Chocolate | ¥850 (Before Tax)
A white chocolate dessert inspired by the unique rocks of Akiu. Customers can use the little wooden hammer to break apart the dessert to create a rubble of chocolate.
The inside of the restaurant is spacious with towering beams holding it up.
“The vegetables are so fresh, I couldn’t believe how tasty they were! This flavour is unique to this place.”
Address: Nozoki-9-4 Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 11:00-17:00 (Last Food Orders 14:30 / Cafe Last Orders 16:00)
TEL: 022-724-7767 (Bookings not possible)
Access: 50-minutes by bus from Sendai Station
Official Website: http://akiuwinery.co.jp
Taste and compare different original wines
Akiu Winery in Akiu Onsen was the first winery to open in Sendai. It’s home to an enormous grape field, and inside is the brewery itself as well as a dining area and shop. They serve an array of original wines.
As well as originals, Akiu Winery also stocks famous wines from Sendai.
Merlot Red Wine 2018 (Sample) | Koshu Sur Lie 2019 (750ml) ¥2,300 | Steuben Rosé 2019 (750ml) ¥2,000 (All Before Tax)
Akiu Winery’s line-up of wines are famous in Sendai.
At the back of the winery is the expansive grape field.
Craft Grill | ¥1,330
At the outdoor terrace you can enjoy a BBQ grill together with a glass of wine.
“The sight of the grape field made me feel like I was in France. You can enjoy a BBQ too so I definitely want people to come here!”
Address: Biwaharanishi-6, Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
Official Website: http://akiuwinery.co.jp
Akiu Great Falls
The Three Great Waterfalls of Japan
Akiu Great Falls is considered one of Japan’s three most famous waterfalls alongside Kegon Falls in Tochigi Prefecture and Nachi Falls in Wakayama Prefecture. It’s about 15-minutes by car downstream from Akiu Onsen and is also accessible by bus.
They have a retro shop at the entrance of the waterfall.
Also located next to the waterfall is Akiu-Otaki Fudoson, a temple surrounded by dense green foliage and enormous gingko trees.
“Being in nature really relaxed me and took away the day’s stress! It’s quite a walk to the waterfall basin so you get plenty of exercise too.”
Akiu Great Falls
Address: Otaki Akiumachi Baba, Taihaku Ward, Sendai, Miyagi
TEL: 022-398-2323 (Akiu Onsen Tourist Information Center)
Access: 50-minutes by bus from Sendai Station (Running on weekends and public holidays only)
Around Sendai Station
Sendai Station can be considered as the doorstep of Japan’s Tohoku region. It of course runs JR East’s Tohoku Shinkansen bullet trains as well as operates Sendai Subway services and buses. The area around the station is great for finding tasty local delicacies, shopping, and souvenir-buying.
Seri-nabe is Sendai’s new specialty food
If you’re asked to give an example of a famous speciality food product from Sendai, chances are people will jump straight to the city’s gyutan beef tongue, but what has been the talk of the town recently is seri-nabe. Seri-nabe is a type of hotpot cooked with Japanese parsley (‘seri’) – one of Japan’s seven spring flowers. Miyagi Prefecture boasts as a top class producer of Japanese parsley. The hotpot is served in a simple duck broth which allows the fragrance of the parsley to come through.
“I can’t get enough of the crunchy texture of the [parsley] roots! It was delicious, I had a refreshing soy sauce soup finished with ramen.”
Address: 2-5-15 Ichibanchō, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 17:00-Midnight
No Fixed Holidays
Bar crawl deep into the back streets
The side streets of the Sunmall Ichibancho arcade have a retro Japanese vibe to them, packed full of shops that make one feel nostalgic.
The long, winding alleys feature plenty of Instagram-worthy spots.
“This is a great spot for enjoying a bar crawl, just having a light drink and then moving onto the next place. Even if you don’t drink there’s tasty food to enjoy too!”
Address: 2-3-28 Ichibancho, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
A fashion mall connected to the station
S-PAL is a fashion mall directly connected to Sendai Station, home to apparel stores, restaurants, souvenir shops, sundry sellers, and more. Here are some sundry stores selling a variety of miscellaneous items perfect as souvenir purchases.
This is an old-time chain that has been around for 300 years. Specialising in lifestyle goods, this S-PAL branch is the only one in all of Tohoku.
Its interior design has a retro feel to it with shelves and tables piled with cute bits and bobs.
Kaya-ori Tea Towel | ¥440 (Tax Included)
A specialty product of Tohoku, this tea towel is made using the traditional weaving technique of kaya-ori. Exclusive to Tohoku.
IORI is another shop you’ll only find in the Tohoku area. They sell imabari towels which are perfect as gifts to yourself or another.
Handkerchiefs | ¥600 Each (Tax Included)〜
These handkerchiefs are only sold in Sendai and feature a variety of embroidered motifs like the windsocks of the Sendai Tanabata Festival, kokeshi dolls, the helmet of Date Masamune, and more.
KANEIRI STANDARD STORE
A select shop stocking stationery and other trinkets that promote the culture and craftsmanship of Tohoku. This store is right next to Sendai Station and has plenty of souvenir-worthy items, so it’s absolutely worth a visit.
As well as lifestyle goods, the store also sells items made in Miyagi, like kokeshi dolls.
Matsukawa Daruma | ¥1,300 (Before Tax)
These Matsukawa Daruma are super cute, especially the blue one which is inspired by the Sendai Domain, also known as the Date Domain.
Dagashiya Zousan sells old-time Japanese sweets and confections, stocked with many popular treats from Tohoku adored by both kids and adults alike.
The traditional sweets are all packed together along the shelves and up the walls.
The popular souvenir shops of Sendai
You can’t go home after a fun trip without picking up a souvenir, so here’s s line-up of shops that have been surging in popularity recently in Sendai, all of which sell Sendai-specific items.
Drinkable zunda at Agurienomori Mitte
Drinkable Zunda | ¥370 (Before Tax)
Zunda are mashed green soybeans boiled and turned into a sweet paste. They are also a local delicacy. Zunda mochi are very famous, but zunda beverages are popular too. This shop sells a variety of zunda treats to pick from.
Bamboo grass kamaboko at Kanezaki-ya
There are many makers of sasa-kamaboko, or bamboo grass fish paste, but what makes Kanezaki-ya’s so great is how it retains the original umami flavour and plump texture of the fish.
Zaou cheese at Tohoku Meguri Irotoiro
Zaou Cream Cheese, Vanilla Cream Spread | ¥557 Each (Before Tax)
A food select shop selling a range of different ingredients. Their kaou cheese with sweet vanilla is their most popular item.
“It’s a fashion mall so of course they sell clothes, but they had a bunch of other stuff too, everything from traditional Japanese daruma to food. I really recommend S-PAL Sendai if you’re searching for souvenirs!”
Address: 1-1-1 Chuo, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Opening Hours: 10:00-20:00 (Restaurant wing open 11:00-22:00)
No Fixed Holidays
Access: Connected directly to Sendai Station
Official Website: https://www.s-pal.jp/sendai/
“Sendai looking and progressing into the future as it overcomes the effects of the disaster. It’s a place with amazing food, fun shops, and is teeming with nature. If you’ve never been to Sendai before, then be sure to visit and have fun!”
TOHOKU PASIFIC COAST：http://tohoku-pacific-coast.com/
“TOHOKU Pacific Coast” refers to the eastern coastal area of Tohoku, Japan. The area was extensively damaged due to the tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. However, it has overcome this adversity and is once again gaining attention as a sightseeing spot that once attracted tourists from all over due to its flourishing wildlife and delicious seafood.
Gifts Galore as Roppongi Hills Welcomes the Christmas Market Again For 2020
27.November.2020 | SPOT
Christmas has sleighed into Roppongi Hills again this year, beginning with the Keyakizaka-dori Illuminations on November 13. The Christmas Market is also set to return to Oyane Plaza on November 28.
2020 marks the 14th run of the Roppongi Hills Christmas market which is inspired by the the famous Stuttgart Christmas Market in Germany. Visitors can sift through around 1,500 miscellaneous Christmas goods, enjoy German mulled wine and sausages, and more.
At the West Walk, visitors will also find an enormous 6.5m tall Christmas tree to complement the warm, cosy, festive atmosphere of the holiday season event.
Roppongi Hills Christmas 2020
Running: November 13, 2020 – December 25, 2020
Location: Roppongi Hills (Keyakizaka-dori, West Walk Floor 2F, Oyane Plaza, and elsewhere)
Christmas Market 2020
Running: November 28, 2020 – December 25, 2020
Location: Oyane Plaza
Roppongi Hills Official Website: https://www.roppongihills.com/en/
sequence SUIDOBASHI: Tokyo’s Next-Generation Hotel Opens November 25
26.November.2020 | SPOT
Major real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan and Mitsui Fudosan Hotel Management will open “sequence SUIDOBASHI,” the third branch of their “sequence” hotel chain, in Chiyoda, Tokyo, on November 25, 2020.
A convenient stay in Tokyo
sequence SUIDOBASHI is just a 1-minute walk from Suidōbashi Station’s JR Line and a 6-minute walk from its Toei Subway-Mita Line. Its convenient location puts it near the Tokyo Dome City entertainment complex where you can enjoy sports events, concerts, an amusement park, and more. It also means easy access to other places like Akihabara, Kagurazaka, and Otemachi.
Suidobashi is home to many office buildings, and so to blend in with its environment, sequence SUIDOBASHI features monotone colouring with chic and sophisticated design.
An easy check-in with facial recognition technology
At the hotel entrance is the facial recognition check-in counter. Guests use an app to register in advance and can use facial recognition or a QR code to self check-in easily. The hotel lobby also has a counter table and DJ booth as well as a cafe counter.
One checked-in, guests can enter the hotel to find their rooms or other facilities throughout the building. sequence SUIDOBASHI is the second branch to incorporate facial recognition, which lets the hotel do everything for you from checking-in to entering your room, following sequence KYOTO GOJO. The hotel chain is also the first in Tokyo to incorporate it.
The concept of “MOMENT”
The hotel is built around the concept of a moment, offering a range of spaces for guests to enjoy different moments like the theatre and the lounge, all of which can be experienced with proper COVID-19 precautionary measures in place.
Bar and dining at KANPAI TERRACE
The hotel’s bar and dining restaurant KANPAI TERRACE has a spacious open terrace where guests can enjoy a selection of sandwiches, French toast, mains and sides for breakfast and lunch. During bar time, pick from a range of alcohols and pair them with various Japanese, Western, and Chinese foods.
Up on the 2nd floor is the guest-only “SHUNKAN LOUNGE,” a 40m² mini theatres with an enormous 120-inch screen where guests can enjoy sports, entertainment, and more. They can also take food and drink they bought from KANPAI TERRACE in there.
SHUNKAN LOUNGE also has its own art gallery showcasing art themed on the concept of “MOMENT” from young, up-and-coming artists.
There are eight types of rooms to choose from, all of which can accommodate 2+ people. Rooms are compact and functional whether it be for guests’ morning routines or for desk work. The hotel has selected black as the base colour for the backstage area while the bed area uses white which softly illuminates with the light to create a chic contrast in the room design. There are also speckles of orange throughout the room which is the brand’s colour and adds accent to the overall design.
Floors 3-6 and 12 feature bunk bed rooms perfect for friends and families travelling together. The rooms are compact with everything guests need in there including the washrooms with showers and toilets. There’s also a concept room called “Bunk Bed 4 LIVE” which features a projector and BOSE speakers for guests looking for more of a party room.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Tokyo, why not check out the “next-generation” lifestyle hotel sequence SUIDOBASHI?
Address: 2-22-17, Kanda-misakicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Grand Opening: November 25, 2020
Official Website (English): https://www.sequencehotels.com/suidobashi/eng/
Gucci’s Shibuya Store Collaborates With Cassette Tape Shop waltz
To celebrate one year since opening, the Shibuya PARCO branch of Gucci in Tokyo is collaborating with the Nakameguro-based cassette tape shop waltz from November 20 to December 6.
waltz is a vintage-style boutique with shelves lined with old music and VHS tapes, cassette players, books, vinyl records, fashion and design magazines, stereo equipment, and more. Self-described as the “ultimate destination for retro multi media,” the shop is a real nostalgia trip nostalgia, and is one of 13 Gucci Places alongside places like Chatsworth House in the UK and LACMA in Los Angeles.
Gucci Shibuya PARCO features its own booth where people can listen to old cassette tapes from waltz’s Secret Room. The song selection includes tracks from the 1970’s, which Gucci’s Epilogue collection is inspired by, a playlist created by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, and more.
Gucci Shibuya PARCO incorporates Shibuya’s creative and innovative spirit while lacing it with Gucci’s contemporary and eclectic perspective.
Gucci Shibuya PARCO x waltz Special Collaboration
Running: November 20, 2020 – December 6, 2020
Location: Gucci Shibuya PARCO
Gucci Japan Official Website: https://www.gucci.com/jp/ja/
Japan’s First Icefall Open-Air Bath to Open at Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel in Aomori
26.November.2020 | SPOT
Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel has announced the limited-time opening of its new Hyobaku open-air icefall bath which guests can enjoy this winter from December 18, 2020 to March 22, 2021. The bath overlooks a gorgeous mountain stream, offering an exclusive wintertime view.
Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel
Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel stands alone near the the picturesque Oirase Keiryu mountain stream which lets guests immerse themselves in the undisturbed serenity of nature. The hotel lobby features a grand fireplace created by Japanese artist Taro Okamoto.
The Icefall Bath
Icefalls are created when glaciers flow over a steep drop. The 14km Oirase Keiryu mountain stream is made up of 14 waterfalls which give rise to icecalls of various shapes and sizes. When light shines through them they turn a striking ice blue, something only visible during winter. The hotel has been offering the icefall bath service since 2017 to allow guests to see the icefall themselves, in the comfort of a warm bath, when the waterfalls freeze.
The Icefall Created Over Time
The waterfalls begin to freeze in early December which gradually gives rise to the icefall. The harsh cold allows the water to freeze and layer bit by bit overtime which. By mid January, the frozen waterfalls stand 3.5m high and 16cm accross. The icefall is ever-changing as its shape changes depending on the temperature, wind, and light shining through.
Experience an outdoor hot spring experience like never before in Japan during winter at Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel.
Running: December 18, 2020 – March 22, 2021
Times: 6:00-11:30 / 14:30-24:00
Location: Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel
Address: Tochikubo-231 Okuse, Towada, Aomori
Official Website: https://www.oirase-keiryuu.jp