【Tokyo Stroll】 Lost in a world of shrine arches and lucky sand! Head to Anamori Inari Shrine near Haneda airport!

31.May.2017 | FEATURES / SPOT

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Anamori Inari Shrine is located near Haneda Airport. Many visit Anamori Inari Shrine to pray for success in business, or for safe travels. This is one of the many places where one may honor Oinari-san (the god of wealth, harvests and fertility). The sand at the shrine is believed to bring good luck. Take some home and scatter it to bring good fortune in business or for good health. Many visitors return home from this Shrine with this sand. We took a walk to this shrine with Elly-chan to discover its long-lasting history and traditional culture.

 

Anamori Inari Shrine’s mascot – “Kon-chan”

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Anamori Inari Shrine is located approximately 2 kilometres away from Haneda Airport. The nearest station to the shrine is Anamori Inari station, which is a 3-minute ride on the Keihin Kyuko line (Keikyu line) from Haneda Airport International Terminal station. If you’re in Shibuya, change to the Keihin Kyuko airport line (Keikyu airport line) at Shinagawa station. The journey is approximately 20 minutes.

 

Exit Anamori Inari station and you will notice the cute fox mascot “Kon-chan” waiting for you. As the locals commute to work or school and as the tourists go by, Kon-chan watches over all of them, bringing them warmth. Throughout the seasons and on special occasions, the stone statue of Kon-chan is dressed in stylish clothes, which we’ve heard were made by the locals by hand.

 

The hall of worship protected by a large shrine archway and a fox

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Anamori Inari has a history dating back to the year 1818. The shrine was built to protect Haneda, which was once flooded. The shrine was once located within the premises of Haneda airport before ww2, but it was moved after the war to a nearby location, as many of the locals were forced to move. The large shrine archway we see at Haneda airport today originally belonged to the old Anamori Inari shrine. Even to this day, as if the shrine archway protects the surrounding area.

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There are foxes both on the left and right side of the hall of worship. These foxes greet the visitors. Look to the left and you will be greeted by a male fox. Look to the left and you will see a female fox embracing a baby. Looking closely at their faces reveals their impressive expressions.

 

Receive a cute fox stamp book

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We visited the Juyosho, which is the building that sells temple goods. Here, we bought a stamp book. The design was an orange undertone and cute image of a fox. The ceremony fee costs ¥1,500 and to receive a shrine stamp in your stamp book costs ¥300.

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The gorgeous stamp is a sign of worship. When you receive one, first join hands and pay your respects to the shrine.

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There are many items available for purchase at the Juyosho, such as fox “Tsukaihime” and “Anamamori”, which bring good fortune. There is also a small charm you can purchase which will provide you with a safe flight – a charm that holds historical value with Haneda Airport and can only be purchased here.

 

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  • teamLab Now Holding Digital Art Exhibition at World Heritage Site Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto

    31.August.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    With the increase in number of collaborations between contemporary digital art and traditional and historical Kyoto sites, teamLab is getting in on the action with its new digital art exhibition “Digitized Forest at the World Heritage Site of Shimogamo Shrine.”

     

    We are joined by Instagrammer Macchan who recently attended the exhibition and who has provided photos for us.

     

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    This marks the third run of teamLab’s “Digitized Forest” exhibition at Shimogamo Shrine, and this year’s exhibition has been made even bigger. It is running until September 2, 2019.

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    If you’re looking for more sightseeing recommendations for Kyoto then be sure to follow Macchan on Instagram!

     

    Photos by まっちゃん

  • A Date With Yutaro: Soaking Up the Japanese Summer Sun & Visiting the Art Aquarium | Tokyo Stroll

    16.August.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    It’s been a while since our last date with Yutaro. He’s been very busy with film shoots. He had some spare time today so we paid a visit to Nihonbashi for our next date. “ECO EDO Nihonbashi: Enjoy Cool Edo With All Five Senses” is an event held every year in the Nihonbashi area which takes the Edo period cultural idea of “coolness”―an in, to enjoy being cool during the summer-and puts a modern spin on it. There are many exciting things to look forward to, including the art aquarium which proves massively popular every year.

     

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    Wind-Chime Forest Path

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    “I hear each one of these Edo wind chimes are individually handmade by craftsmen.”

    When you hear the sound of the wind chimes it makes you feel cool like a gentle breeze of the wind.

     

    After strolling along the Wind-Chime Forest Path we make our way towards this year’s ECO EDO Art Aquarium event.

    The moment we step instead Yutaro is already dazzled by all the goldfish: “Wow! I knew about this place from what I’d seen online, but this my first time here! This art aquarium really is something!”

     

    The full title of the event is “ECO EDO Nihonbashi ART AQUARIUM 2019 ~Edo, Coolness of Kingyo~ & Night Aquarium.”  Goldfish were a huge part of the common culture in Nihonbashi during the Edo period. This event recreates that and brings that “coolness” aspect while combining it with contemporary art by having people observe the fish in lots of different artistic environments.

    Super Oiran

    “This is the biggest fish tank, apparently it has 3,000 fish swimming inside!”

    “Seeing the light reflect on the water from the illuminations lets you see the fish in a different light, doesn’t it?”

    Looks like Yutaro-kun is having a lot of fun taking photos.

    He’s equally interested in just about every fish tank!

    These other fish tanks have a different aesthetic to them. Their Japanese-style designs make for great photos.

    Kaleidorium 3D

    “This one’s beautiful, it’s like a kaleidoscope.”

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    Ceiling Kingyo

    “There’re goldfish swimming on the ceiling too. So cool! This aquarium is incredible. It brings together the great culture of Edo and contemporary art.”

     

    The Art Aquarium bustles every single year with visitors, but this year will mark its last run. It’s being held at Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall, so if you have the chance to go then please do.

    We of course checked out some local Nihonbashi treats too! We stopped by morozoff for some cheesecake after the aquarium.

    morozoff Kamadashi Cheesecake (Goldfish) – ¥270 Each (Tax Included)

    These cute cheesecakes with their goldfish designs are available for a limited time only. They’re filled with sweet red bean paste. They perfect with iced tea.

    “Got some! Let’s eat them while we head back.”

    Goldfish Lantern Walkway

    Our first date in Nihonbashi was so much fun. While on the date Yutaro-kun spoke about the new live-action film he’s in, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War.

     

    “It’s a romance film with mind games to try and make the other person confess their love. I play the character Tsubasa. His number one highlight scene is the kabedon scene. That was my first day shooting, so I was super nervous, but I got along well with the other actors, and the atmosphere on set was harmonious, so I was able to relax for the shoots. Tsubasa is a genuine guy who will believe things that have been said to him in earnest. You’ve definitely gotta check out all his scenes throughout the film!”

     

    “A lot of the cast are the same age as me, so we were all energetic together in the waiting room. There’s a scene at the end where all the cast get together. It took 3 days to shoot so we ended up getting along really well.”

     

    “This film has made me realise that love comes in many shapes, and that mind games happen in a variety of ways between guys and girls. There’s cute scenes that express that small bit of pride that teenagers have, the embarassment they feel, when they get butterflies, scenes that will warm your heart. The film has various elements to it so I thoroughly enjoyed watching it myself. I hope that couples in love in their teens and twenties watch it, and I also hope that married couples watch it and crack up laughing too.”

     

    “In the film it’s summer break, and they go and see fireworks and stuff. It’s definitely one to watch durnig the summer. You’re gonna come watch it too, right? Shall we go?”

     

    An offer we cannot refuse! We’ll definitely go and see it with you, Yutaro-kun! 

     

    Model: Yutaro

    Writer: Yuki Yokoo

    Photographer: Kayo Sekiguchi

    TALENT PROFILE

    Yutaro

    Yutaro was born in Hiroshima on June 3rd 1998. His modeling career has earned him lots of attention as a fashion icon of the new generation. The famous model also works as a “charisma” shop assistant. Yutaro has gained his reputation as a “mysterious and handsome guy” from his appearance on Japanese variety shows. His debut was made on the show “Gyoretsu no Dekiru Horitsu Sodanjo” and has since then appeared on numerous different TV shows. He challenged himself to appear on stage for the very first time in March this year and is gaining popularity by the day for his diverse work.

  • Tokyo Stroll: The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone #11 – ‘Hatoya’ in Asakusa

    16.August.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD

    In this edition of The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone, I visited Hatoya which is located in Asakusa Shin-Nakamise Arcade.

     

    The streets of Tokyo’s historical district of Asakusa are packed to end with cafés. You can be spoiled for choice, but Hatoya stood out to me in particular as it’s an especially old café. Business there began back in 1927 but the actual building was built back in the Taisho period, meaning its history spans more than 90 years ago!

     

    The outside appearance of the shop is smart and chic so it’s very easy to spot. I couldn’t tell by looking from the outside, but the inside is full of old decorations and odds and ends which make you feel the history of the café.

    One reason why I wanted to visit this place so much is because I was drawn to their logo. It’s really retro-kawaii so I just couldn’t resist!

    You should take some photos too if you visit.

    It was time to head inside. It’s really comfy and cozy in there; the atmosphere was nice and relaxed.

    Framed on the wall is a map of the Asakusa area during the Taisho era. Hatoya became famous back then because people could buy coffee for a mere 5 sen (a single sen is one-hundredth of a yen).

     

    When business first began at Hatoya, because the café was opposite the stage door of a theatre, all of the famous actors and actresses would pop in. Some include famous Japanese comedian Roppa Furukawa and film actor Kiyoshi Atsumi who played Tora-san in the film series Otoko wa Tsurai yo.

    I ordered the café’s popular hotcakes which cost ¥600. They have been making these same hotcakes since before the war.

    They were nice and fluffy and had a deliciously gorgeous brown colour. The flavour was out of this world when the butter melted from the heat of the hotcakes and mixed together with the syrup.

     

    The portion might look like a lot but they are fluffy and have a light flavour so can be finished with no problem.

    And is the café’s signature milkshake (¥500).

     

    It’s so refreshing that you can knock it back all in one go. It has a simple flavour but it tasted so good!

    I also ordered the ¥600 cream soda, my favourite beverage.

    I’ve been to many cafés, and have covered many in this series, but this is the first I have dined at with such a deep history. I found myself enthralled by the stories of the owner who has continued to treasure the café and maintained it all the same since it opened. I feel like I have learned about a world I never knew about. The next time I go to Hatoya with a friend I’ll be sure to let them in on its history. I encourage you to visit too!

     

    Writer/Model: Ema Tanioku
    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto
    Design: Yuko Abe (ASOBISYSTEM)

    TALENT PROFILE

    Ema Tanioku

    “Emaeri” is the nickname for models Ema and Eri Tanioku, who are Aomoji fashion model twins. Ema and Eri Tanioku specialise in twin fashion coordination. Over the years their fanbase has increased due to their cute looks. Ema Tanioku spreads Harajuku culture within Japan as well as overseas and works as a Harajuku Tourism Ambassador. Starting off as a model, Ema has broadened her talent range from fashion magazines to TV, and from playing the lead role in dramas to movies.

  • Explore The Hidden Beauty, Culture And Local Cuisine Of Hida Takayama In A Yukata

    18.July.2019 | SPOT

    Shimocho is one of the districts of Hida Takayama and is overflowing with traditional culture that you absolutely must experience. To make the most of your trip, there is a summer yukata-wearing programme running from July 20th which is the perfect opportunity to wear cooling and refreshing Japanese clothes while strolling and exploring the streets. 

     

    This year will be the 7th time the programme has been run. The Hida Takayama de Nippon no Natsu Yasumi programme allows visitors to dress in a comfortable and cooling yukata, stroll, explore, try different foods and enjoy the culture of the area. This year’s theme is “romance and yukatas” and gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy programme-limited desserts and the rich culture of the district.  

     

    Discover Hidden Beauty with the Stroll Map

    Visitors will be given a map packed with wonderful spots of the area. The map will also include the destinations of 31 shops where you can enjoy special experiences, meals and desserts that are limited to those who take part in the yukata programme. Recommended spots to visit are also drawn on the map in a very cute handwriting-like style, so you can stop by these places easily while enjoying your walk. There are even many places on the map that only a local would know about. 

     

    Some of the special benefits of the programme allow you to enjoy the best regional cuisine that Hida has to offer, including the wonderful experience of restaurants that have been loved by the locals for generations, a beef delicacy restaurant, and much more. Besides food, the programme also gives you the opportunity to witness the beautiful festival floats used during the Takayama festival at the Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan. You can also enjoy experiencing baking your own senbei crackers and gold panning.  

     

    The programme includes a wide range of experiences for you to enjoy from local shops to food to culture to some new experiences. 

     An old-style café called Sabou Usagi is particularly popular with the locals. Here, the coffee is made using a vacuum coffee maker. With the summer programme, you can enjoy the delicious heart Tiramisù served here.

     

    The stroll map includes a variety of locations such as the Takayama Tourist Information Centre, Hida Takayama Tourism Convention Association, Hida Takayama Travel Hotel Association and much more. The map also includes some of the accommodations available around Takayama, some important train stations and much more. You can easily download this map from the official website. (Japanese only )  

     

    Stroll the Streets in an Elegant Yukata

    Change into a traditional Yukata that matches the beautiful surrounding townscape. There are four shops Yukata rental shops available to pick up your favourite Yukata, so there is no need to worry if you did not come prepared. There are also some accommodations that allow for yukata rental. 

    If you decide to join the Hida Takayama Nippon Natsu Yasumi programme, make sure to share your beautiful memories on Instagram with the hashtag #Hidasummer 

  • Tokyo Stroll: Shopping & Sightseeing with Mozuku-kun the Dog #5 – Uzumako Ceramic Art School

    12.July.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    It’s been a minute since we last ventured out with Japanese model Yuna Yabe and her beloved pet pup Mozuku. If you’re new to this feature, Yuna Yabe takes her trusty partner Mozuku to various hot spots in Japan that you can enjoy with your pet dog. Their relationship continues to deepen in this priceless experience.

    Today, Yuna and Mozuku head to Uzumako Ceramic Art School which is close to Shiba Park. You can get a good view of TokyoTower from this famous park.

    What’s unique about this art school is that visitors are allowed to take their pets with them. So this means you can take your dog with you to do some ceramics!

     

    Yuna has always had an interest in ceramics. And what better way to experience creating something than with her partner in crime Mozuku! With him tottering beside her, she headed through the entrance curtain with a spring in her step.

    When you enter the classroom, there are lots of examples of pottery ware lining the shelves. The room has that smell of craftsmanship which lingers as you begin the class with a demonstration by the teacher. Once you have your apron on and are fired up to begin, it’s time to start.

     

    The work begins with kneading the clay to make its firmness uniform. This step helps prevent air bubbles from forming.

     

    Yuna asked the teacher many different questions as she enjoyed kneading her clay. “Where does ceramic work originate from?” “What kind of things to other dog owners make when they come here?”

    “What’s Yuna up to?” Mozuku’s puzzled face seemed to imply as he listened to Yuna and the teacher talk.

    Yuna turned to Mozuku and said to him, “I’m going to make you a food bowl!” It seemed like the message got through as his face read, “Looks like my owner is making something just for me.”

     

    Yuna wet her hands with some water and began forming a hole in the centre of her clay bundle. The hole forms and gets bigger as the pottery wheel spins.

    Next, she used both of her hands to ensure the thickness of the bowl was even all the way around.

    “Amazing! The shape of the clay changes in an instant!”

    By adding a little bit of pressure the pile of clay can change shape rapidly. It’s like a living thing.

    “It’s like the clay is my own child. I wanna wrap it up!”

    Once the shape is formed, Yuna cut around the edges. She is a skilled individual, she got the hang of it straight away.

    Mozuku sat right beside Yuna, quiet and curious.

    “Is it my turn yet?”

    He seemed itching to have a go at making something himself too.

    He watched over Yuna’s work from atop the table.

    “I wanna try spinning the wheel too!”

    Mozuku in fact had the most important job of all. Yuna popped a wooden mould onto his paw and stamped a paw print into thebottom of the bowl.

    “There we go!” said Yuna

    Mozuku mustered all of his strength to make his mark, his facial expression unusually serious as he carried out his big task.

    Time to check if the print was done properly!

    Here’s the final product―Mozuku did a great job!

     

    Their teamwork paid off as they were able to create a really cute dog bowl. The tiny footprint is packed with pet love. The art school actually sells a lot of different cute and stylish pet items but the owner making their own makes it unique―the only one in the world.

     

    If that love is able to get through to your pup, the food they eat from the bowl is sure to be even more delicious.

     

    Thanks for your help, Mozuku.

    “I can’t wait to fire it!” Yuna’s excitement was peak from start to finish. She was very satisfied after the class finished.

     

    After two weeks of waiting, the bowl was completely finished.

    Why not try creating something unique special for your own pet―together with them?

     

    Model: Yuna Yabe/Mozuku @yunaaay1030

    Text: Ai Watanabe

    Photographer: Kayo Sekiguchi

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Yuna Yabe

    Yuna Yabe won the grand prix prize at the “Zipper×ASOBISYSTEM Model Auditions” at the age of 15. She is an expert not only in fashion but make-up and video editing too. She’s an influential figure to the people in her generation. Recently, her work has expanded greatly, such as appearing in music videos. Her activity continues to grow and looks to be very promising indeed.

  • Kyoto is renowned for its historical architecture and richness in traditional Japanese culture, but did you know it’s also home to some extremely cute and delicious desserts? Their sweets and desserts are actually pretty popular, some of which contain motifs and little nods to the city.

     

    Today, Instagrammer meme takes us on a tour in Kyoto to try out 4 popular desserts.

     

    JEREMY&JEMIMAH

    JEREMY&JEMIMAH is a shop selling cute and colourful cotton candy. Their staple Wata-Hako cotton candy comes in 10 different flavours! In the photo we have yuzu, rose and matcha flavours. Of the two branches of the store, there is one along Furukawacho Shopping Street where you order your cotton candy for takeout, and another in Yasaka that serves cotton candy on long sticks.

    We picked up a few different ones since there are so many flavours and designs. It was fun lining them up to take a picture.

     

    We took them home to eat and they stayed nice and fluffy the whole way back. The yuzu one tasted a little herbal, like it was healthy for you.

     

    ▼JEREMY&JEMIMAH (Furukawacho Shopping Street Branch)

    Address: Furukawacho Shopping Street, 444-3 Hachikenchō, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto

    Opening Hours: 11:00-17:00

    Official Website: http://www.jeremyjemimah.com/

     

     

    ROCCA & FRIENDS TRUCK

    At ROCCA & FRIENDS TRUCK, you can order these iced dessert matcha and houjicha lattes which are topped with yatsuhashi―a confection sold in Kyoto―shaped into various sights across the city including Kyoto Tower, Hōkanji Temple, Daimonji, a Torii gate, and more.

     

    I ordered the matcha latte. The drink itself isn’t sweet at all so you can enjoy the full original rich and bitter flavour of the matcha. The fresh cream however is quite sweet so you can mix it into the drink as much as you want to get your desired flavour.

    There are lots of great spots in the area such as the Hōkanji Temple pagoda and Yasaka Shrine so  you can snap some great sightseeing photos♡

     

    ▼ROCCA & FRIENDS TRUCK

    Address: 370 Yasaka Kamimachi, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

    Opening Hours: 9:00-18:00

    Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rocca.truck/

     

     

    Jumondo

    We also visited Jumondo which sells Kyoto-style dango, or “sweet dumplings.” We shared three different orders amongst three people: Danraku (団楽) which comes as a set with a drink, Dandan (だんだん) which comes with matcha, and Zenzai to Aburi Kuri Kinton (ぜんざいと炙り栗きんとん).

     

    Once you order, the dango are made fresh so are served hot and chewy. Each dumpling is on the small side so are nice and easy to eat.

     

    The Danraku comes with five different dumplings including sweet soy glaze, mashed sweet bean paste, soy sauce and black sesame seed, fried, and white miso. The Dandan comes with three types of your choice and a wafer filled with mashed sweet bean paste. The Zenzai to Aburi Kuri Kinton with mashed sweet potatoes with sweetened chestnut dango. The final one comes with matcha which can be served hot or cold.

     

    Everything was tasty but my personal favourite was the yuzu flavoured white miso dumpling.

    The one that everybody raved about was the Zenzai which is a thick soup that the dango are placed into. These dumplings are bigger, not too sweet and light. The soup went really well with the dango, it was super tasty.

     

    ▼Jumondo

    Address: 76 Tamamizuchō, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto

    TEL: 075-525-3733

    Official Website: http://jumondo.jp/index.html

     

     

    Kyo Yasaka Pudding

    Yasaka is a particularly popular tourist spot in Kyoto, and that’s where the cute purin shop Kyo Yasaka Pudding is located.

    Purin is a type of custard purring sold in Japan. The first pudding we picked up was the store’s recommended option named after the store itself, the Kyo Yasaka Pudding. It contains a transparent lemon and honey flavoured jelly inside which there are small and colourful agar agar balls and mango jelly balls.

     

    It has an enjoyable texture and a refreshing sweetness that I’ve never experienced before with other purin. It’s very tasty!

     

    There are five flavours to choose from, the others being hard, smooth, matcha and black soy bean, and houjicha black soy bean. All are served in tiny cute jars. Not only do they look great, they taste amazing too. Each is made with ingredients sourced in Kyoto including the milk, Uji matcha, houjicha, and black soy beans.

    They also sell soft serve ice cream topped with candy balls, very Kyoto-like! You can choose from vanilla, matcha, or a mix of both. I think it’ll be really fun if you can snap a photo of your ice cream with one of Yasaka’s stylish locations in the background! Speaking of which, there was a cute illustration on the wall of the store so we took our photo there.

     

    Be sure to pay a visit to Kyo Yasaka Pudding to pick up your own pudding whether as a souvenir or for yourself.

     

    ▼Kyo Yasaka Pudding

    Address: 87-4 Hoshinochō, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

    TEL: 075-533-8338

    Official Website: https://kyo-yasaka-pudding.co.jp/

     

     

    Kyoto is full of shops selling desserts and sweets perfect to walk around and munch on while you walk its ancient streets, or to take home as a souvenir. Enjoy all the tasty things you can during your visit to this beautiful city♡

     

    Photos/Text: meme

    Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Tokyo Stroll: Walking Through Akasaka Palace, a European-Style Splendor

    29.May.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Akasaka Palace―a building that has welcomed emperors, presidents and prime ministers across the world into its architectural wonders. While it is mainly used for official purposes, did you know that it also offers a public viewing, one that doesn’t hinder on business affairs?

     

    The palace is considered a national treasure of Japan. I paid a visit to this gorgeous edifice that looks just like a European-style palace. Photography is strictly forbidden when visiting, but I was able to receive special permission to cover the inner secrets of this exclusive wonder.

    Akasaka Palace is open throughout the year. There is a daytime reception that lets you enter without having to book a spot in advance (though you’ll have to book if you want to visit the Japanese Style Annex). Visitation is restricted when international state officials are present, so when planning your trip be sure to check the palace’s schedule on the official website. Visitation through the daytime reception begins at the West Gate.

    Originally built in 1909 as the Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince, the building is the only example of neo-Baroque architecture in Japan. It was built by Japanese imperial court architect Katayama Tōkuma. When planning the design for the building, he referenced various palaces across Europe which is why people liken it to Palace of Versailles in France.

     

    Hagoromo no Ma – A reception hall for visitation welcomings

    The first room you come to on the public viewing is “Hagoromo no Ma.” It was originally called a ball room which is why it houses orchestra boxes. Aperitifs dance around the room for invitees who may be there for send-offs, dinner parties or even musical performances.

    Overhead is a gorgeous chandelier which is made up of almost 7,000 separate parts, most of which is crystal. It is the biggest chandelier in the entire palace. The inner part of the mezzanine floor, which looks like a balcony, is used as an orchestra box when the room is used for orchestral concerts.

    The intricate design of the chandelier includes masks inspired by a ball while the walls too are littered with relevant motifs such as instruments. The whole room is decorated in all things musical.

     

    Asahi no Ma – The most high-class room of the palace

    The next room you step into is “Asahi no Ma” which is used for courtesy calls of officials and important people as well as summit meetings. It is the most high-class room in all of Akasaka Palace and is where the state guests say their goodbyes to the Emperor and Empress. The room began reconstruction two years ago and reopened in April this year.

    The room gets its name Asahi (“morning sun”) from the painting of Aurora, the Roman Goddess of dawn, that overlooks the room.

    It is said that in the Meiji Period, when the palace was built, people painted pictures of helmets to symbolize the army and boats to symbolize the navy as the country declared the political measure known as Fukoku kyōhei, which meant to “Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Armed Forces.”

     

    Shoumen Genkan/Large Hall – Welcoming guests of honour

    The “Shoumen Genkan,” or front entrance is where international guests of honour are welcomed. When visiting during public opening hours you don’t enter from this entrance but you are allowed inside. The large hall, which is located up the stairs from the hall that continues through the entrance room, has a striking and vivid deep crimson carpet. Together with the eight towering marble pillars, this hall makes for an overwhelming viewing. The room directly opposite down the stairs is Asahi no Ma.

     

    Sairan no Ma – Where treaties are signed

    The next most high-class room from Asahi no Ma is “Sairan no Ma” which is primarily used for signing ceremonies of treaties. When Asahi no Ma was undergoing renovations, this room was used for informal talks carried out by the emperor and prime minister with foreign rulers.

    The entire room takes on the Empire style which was popular during the rule of Napoleon I. Scattered throughout the room are gold leaf designs of armour, helmets, swords and so on.

     

    Kacho no Ma – Dinner parties with guests of honour

    Kacho no Ma is used for dinner banquets with important official from countries around the world. The room has a more relaxed feeling from the others due to its interior wooden design. It’s also often used for press conferences so those who watch Japanese news may recognise it.

    The room, with its mellow deep wooden design, houses 30 oval cloisonné medallions, depicting four seasons’ flowers and birds. The ceiling art, too, depicts images of birds and wildlife killed by hunting.

    It also has the heaviest chandelier in the palace inside which is a globular speaker.

     

    Yushintei – Japanese-style hospitality in the Japanese Style Annex

    The Yushintei is located in the Japanese Style Annex on the west side of Akasaka Palace. It was built in 1974. Akasaka Palace carries out events and receptions in a western style but the Yushintei welcomes international guests of honour with Japanese-style hospitality. Those who wish to enter must book in advance. The booking comes with a tour.

    As you step through the entrance and into the inner garden through the passage, you will see moso bamboo. This area has a garden with shirakawa gravel and kibune stone from Kyoto.

    In the main Japanese-style room where guests are served Japanese food one can observe the pond from the window. You might recognise it as the place where Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump fed the fish.

    The tea room comes with chairs for foreign visitors who are unable to sit in the traditional Japanese seiza position. Tea is prepared on the upper step which is inspired by Noh theatre.

     

    Afternoon tea in the extraordinary front garden

    20 afternoon tea sets are prepared each day to be enjoyed in the front garden of Akasaka Palace. These cannot be reserved in advance so be sure to arrive early if you’d like to order one. As you enjoy your afternoon tea while gazing around you are filled with a gorgeous feeling you can’t experience anywhere else.

    The general public viewing offers a chance to see numerous parts of the palace. We asked Rinko Murata, who’s pictured in the photos on the viewing, for her thoughts.

     

    “With the first step you take in a gorgeous space unfolds before you. Its grand design made me feel as if I had been summoned to the palace. It was like visiting a foreign country. When you look closely there are lots of decorations that symbolize Japan. It was a fresh experience where you can feel both the Japanese spirit and culture of another country. I feel moved that Japan has such a place as beautiful as this. You all need to visit too.”

     

    There is no requirement to book this viewing in advance, but during busy times (20+ people) those who do book online prior to visiting will be prioritized. Foreign visitors won’t miss out on anything either as they can purchase a voice guide machine for ¥200. These guides come in Japanese, English, Chinese, French and Spanish. A visit to the Japanese Style Annex Yushintei however requires booking prior to your visit. When doing so you can choose between either a Japanese or English-speaking guide. In the case of a sudden official reception, all scheduled public viewings for that day are cancelled, so be sure to check the calendar on the official website before heading there.

     

    Model:Rinko Murata

    Writer:Sayoko Ishi

    Photographer:Kayo Sekiguchi

    Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Rinko Murata

    Rinko Murata works in fashion and is active on radio and TV. Sales of her first style book were so successful that it required extra printing during its first week. She also has a rapidly growing following on her social media. As well as modelling at big fashion events, she has her own column online at “She magazine,” and receives much attention for her work in the areas of culture and lifestyle.

  • Tokyo Stroll: The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone #10 – ‘Donguriya’ in Nishi-Ogikubo

    10.May.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    In this edition of The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone, I visited Donguriya.

     

    To get there I plodded along from the North Exit of JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, and after about 3-minutes I saw it!

     

    Various shops lined the street, but nature had almost reclaimed this single building which was wrapped in foliage. There’s no doubt that the people who pass by this way stop to take a look. Its inviting appearance elicits a peek as you’re left wondering what kind of place it is. I feel like a wonderful story is about to unfold!

    A sign sits at the front of the cafe with its mascot character waiting to greet you.


    He’s cute in a way that I can’t describe♬

    Time to head inside.

     

    Most of the interior is made of wood, a perfect accompaniment to the cafe’s name Donguriya (“Acorn Hut”).


    All of the signs as well as the menu on the wall are handwritten by the owner himself. It’s heartwarming just to look at♬

     

    Sipping coffee while enjoying the jazz music coming from the record player is nothing short of a luxury!

    I ordered pizza toast (drink + pizza toast set is ¥800), a Donguri cookie and coffee (drink + Donguri cookie set is ¥650).

    The toast is sliced thickly; the crusts are crunchy and the middle is soft. It was really tasty and had an old-fashioned taste to it.
    Donguri’s cookies are made by someone who has been a fan of the cafe  since long ago. They have a simple sweetness and go perfectly with the coffee!

     

    Since the cookies are made by a regular who has always loved Donguri they are the perfect cookies for Donguriya! If you pay a visit then you should definitely order one.

    The blend coffee is full-bodied and has a rich aroma. There is a slightly bitter aftertaste too. The coffee beans are also roasted in-house! It was really tasty and easy to drink even for someone like me who doesn’t know a lot about coffee.

     

    The owner and his older brother went to numerous cafes with their friends to try various different coffees before coming up with their own blend. It’s the real deal.

     

    It really felt as if I had been sucked into the world of a story with the warm light filtering through the windows and illuminating the tableware and furniture.

    Finally, a photo with the owner himself!

     

    He told me wonderful stories about the coffee and food at Donguriya which made me fall in love with the cafe even more.

     

    I want to bring my friends here next time♬

     

    Writer: Ema Tanioku
    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto
    Design: Yuko Abe (ASOBISYSTEM)

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Ema Tanioku

    “Emaeri” is the nickname for models Ema and Eri Tanioku, who are Aomoji fashion model twins. Ema and Eri Tanioku specialise in twin fashion coordination. Over the years their fanbase has increased due to their cute looks. Ema Tanioku spreads Harajuku culture within Japan as well as overseas and works as a Harajuku Tourism Ambassador. Starting off as a model, Ema has broadened her talent range from fashion magazines to TV, and from playing the lead role in dramas to movies.

  • Tokyo Stroll: The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone #9 – ‘Cafe Ace’ in Kanda

    27.February.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    In this edition of The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone, I visited Cafe Ace in Kanda.

     

    Being a cafe specialising in coffee it’s no surprise they have 40 different varieties of coffee! They even have 15 kinds of tea. Being able to pick out your favourite coffee before the morning rush every morning is really wonderful.

    Cafe Ace is one of the places I’ve wanted to cover for a long time in this series. I was excited to get inside!

     

    Its striped roof gives it quite a retro atmosphere. The warm colour scheme of the decor inside is that from old times – it’s very relaxed. It hasn’t changed since it opened way back when. It has continued to maintain its ways in spite of times changing. I think that’s wonderful.

     

    The cafe carries all kinds of magazines that have been published over the years. They range from 3 to 40 years old. The owner showed me his collection as we spoke about the cafe and conveyed his sentiment for Ace. I feel I have learnt much about its history!

    The menu plaques attached to the wall are all handwritten by the owner (he even wrote on the camel artwork above!)

     

    Simply amazing. His handwritten work spreads across the entire wall of Ace.

    I have come here on my before but I had no idea he had written all of this out so in learning more about it I have come to love Cafe Ace even more.


    His love and warmth can be felt throughout the whole room.

    And this―this is Cafe Ace’s famous seaweed toast! It’s made with seaweed, butter and soy sauce.


    The ingredients are simple but the flavour of the seaweed complements the butter perfectly. It’s super delicious, I want to eat it everyday! And it only costs ¥170.

     

    In the morning you can have it with blend coffee for ¥500 (+¥20 for iced coffee). You even get free refills on the blend coffee up until noon!

    American doughnuts, too. You can enjoy these at the small price of ¥230. They are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and serve with a knob of butter in the ring. The heat of the doughnuts helps the butter to melt so you can lather it all over.

    Finally, a photo of the owner himself. Even in the photo I feel like his smile gives his customers strength. Seeing his lively energy gave me energy too.

     

    He holds his valuable feelings close, doing what he loves in the place he loves. I want to keep on seeing his radiating smile.

  • Tokyo Stroll: An izakaya date with Yutaro at Sai in Shibuya

    22.February.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    Shibuya―Tokyo’s central hub for youth culture and fashion trends. This commercial and business centre is one that never sleeps: it is always bustling with people enjoying themselves whether that be shopping with friends, going on dates with their special someone, and pretty much anything you can think of a young person doing in one of the most popular parts of a city like Tokyo.

     

    This is where Yutaro-kun is taking me on our next long-awaited next date. It’s little more of a grown-up date than usual this time as we’re going to an izakaya. Yutaro-kun is crazy about umeshu, or “plum wine,” so he’s taking me to a place that stocks a wide variety of tasty drinks. This is our first time drinking together. My heart is pounding.

    Our destination is Sai, an izakaya with private booths and charcoal fires for cooking yakitori. It’s a 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station’s Hachiko Exit. It’s on the third floor of the building directly in front of the Udagawa Kōban police station. The bar has around 100 varieties of umeshu as well as food and meals made using them. The wall is lined with wine bottles as far as the eye can see. I’m already getting excited.

    The menu lists where each wine is produced by prefecture along with descriptions of each drink. I’m interested in trying the umeshu from the region I was born in, but there’s lots of other delicious sound ones too so I’m spoiled for choice.

    “What shall we do? Want to compare different drinks?”

    Yutaro-kun is quick to jump on board the idea. He’s so manly!

    Umeshu Taste-Comparing Set (3 Drinks): ¥1,000

    This taste-comparing set comes with three types of umeshu. It’s an ‘introductory-level’ set that rings true as all three varieties are very easy to drink and each of their flavours are completely different. The Akatan Umeshu produced in Nara Prefecture is made with unripened plums farmed from Nara. It has a refreshing taste and the flavour of the plums is very rich. The Kishu no Yuzu Umeshu from Wakayama is made with plums from Wakayama Prefecture and the fresh juice of yuzu fruits from Tokushima Prefecture. It’s sweet and sour with a refreshing flavour complemented by the citrus fruits. The Hotei Fuku Ume Nigori Umeshu from Osaka is made from highly valuable plum wine that has been aged over a long period of time. It’s mixed with plum jam and pieces of fresh plum to give it a sweet and thick texture.

    As well as this introductory-level set there’s the mid-level set that focuses on shochu, an upper-level set with a wide variety of drinks, and an extra set that features fruit sake.

    “Mm, this one’s delicious! It has a real citrus-y feel. Ah, but the Hotei Fuku is good too.”

    Yutaro-kun looks like he’s really enjoying drinking and comparing the different varieties of umeshu.

    My heart beats fast seeing his adult side drinking sake. Huh, am I drunk already?

     

    Zeppin Caesar Salad: ¥780

    The Caesar salad comes with a specially-made egg salad dressing made from soft-boiled eggs. It’s fun mixing the dressing. After mixing it enough we pour it over and tuck in!

    “Do you eat tomatoes?”

    I’m happy how considerate he is in portioning out the salad.

    Seafood Carpaccio: ¥720

    We both enjoy a carpaccio together made with fresh fish bought on the day and a jelly made with Kishu Akai Umeshu. Today’s fish ingredient was fatty salmon!

    The amazing flavour of the salmon comes through the centre of the refreshing umeshu jelly.

    Pork Spare Ribs: ¥820

    Kishu Umeshu is this izakaya’s No. 1 recommendation. These spare ribs are cooked slowly in it, giving them a rich and intense flavour as well as a subtle sweetness.

    They’re too delicious I could eat as many as they’d give me!

    “So tender! So delicious! This is true happiness!”

     

    Yutaro-kun never changes, he’s always so energetic when eating something tasty.

    “Thank you for the meal.”

     

    The umeshu and umeshu food was amazing, but what makes me happy more than anything is that I got to drink with Yutaro-kun. I wonder where our next date will take us?

  • 5 Must-Visit Shrines Close to Central Tokyo

    31.December.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Japan is home to a lot of shrines. We have picked out 5 shrines you have to visit when travelling to Tokyo. All of them are close to the city centre, and not only are they easy to get to, each of them is also very famous.

     

    Shinjuku: Hanazono Shrine, an oasis in central Tokyo

    Hanazono Shrine is associated with food and agriculture, success, fortune, and family and company prosperity amongst other things. The closest station to it is Shinjuku-Sanchome Station where it is within mere seconds’ walking distance from the station’s E2 exit. An alternative route is from Shinjuku Station from which is just a 7-minute walk. The shrine is smack in the middle of Shinjuku and near the Shinjuku City Office and Shinjuku Golden Gai.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/134888

     

    ■Information

    Hanazono Shrine

    Address: 5-17-3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

    Shrine Office Times: 8:00-20:00

    Praying Times: 9:30-16:30

    TEL: 03-3209-5265

    Access: Seconds from E2 Exit of Shinjuku-Sanchome Station via Tokyo Metro Line / 7-minutes on foot from East Exit of Shinjuku Station via JR, Odakyu and Keio Lines

    Website: http://www.hanazono-jinja.or.jp

     

    Harajuku: Onsen Shrine, home to the Shinto god of Harajuku and tied to beauty and marriage prosperity

    Onden Shrine is located just a 10-minute walk from both Shibuya Station and Harajuku Station via the JR Yamanote Line or 7-minutes from Meiji-Jingumae Station via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. It has been enshrined in Harajuku for more than 400 years where it has watched over the area.

     

    Onden Shrine is a site for blessings in things like marriage and beauty. It offers a lot of keywords particularly favoured by girls, so it’s definitely one to visit.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/96403

     

    ■Information

    Onden Shrine

    Address: 5-26-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-3407-7036

    Access: 10-minutes on foot from “Shibuya Station” or “Harajuku Station” via the JR Yamanote Line / 7-minutes on foot from “Meiji-Jingumae Station” via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line

    URL:http://www.ohmiya-hachimangu.or.jp/

     

    Azabu-Jūban: Azabu Hikawa Shrine, the Sailor Moon holy ground

    Azabu Hikawa Shrine which is located in the district of Azabu-Juban known for being referenced many times in the Sailor Moon series. The closest station is Azabu-Juban Station. Naoko Takeuchi, the author of Sailor Moon, actually lived in Azabu-Juban when the series was being serialised in Nakayoshi from 1991 to 1997. The shrine was used as a model for Hikawa Shrine where Rei, or Sailor Mars, worked as a shrine maiden.

     

    The shrine is seen as lucky for many reasons. People pray there for increased luck, business prosperity, warding off evil, better fortune, success in life, wealth, safe childbirth, protection against misfortune, academic achievement, exam success, family safety, marriage, national security, and more.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/118472

     

    ■Information

    Azabu Hikawa Shrine

    Address: 1-4-23 Motoazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
    Time: Shop 9:00am-5:00pm / Shrine 9:00am-4:30pm

    TEL: 03-3446-8796

    Access: 8-minutes on foot from Azabu-Juban Station via the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line or Toei Oedo Line

    Website: http://www.azabuhikawa.or.jp

     

    Kamiyachō: Atago Shrine, climb the stone steps for success in life

    You can reach Atago Shrine in 5 minutes by foot from Kamiyacho Station via the Hibiya Line or 8 minutes by foot from either Toranomon Station via the Ginza Line or Onarimon Station via the Toei Mita Line.

     

    The fire god Homusubi no Mikoto is the main deity enshrined at Atago Shrine who not only offers protection against fire and fire-related disasters, but brings good fortune to businesses and marriages too.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/80038

     

    ■Information

    Atago Shrine

    Address: 1-5-3 Atago, Minato, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-3431-0327

    Access: 5 minutes by foot from Kamiyacho Station via the Hibiya Line / 8 minutes by foot from either  Toranomon Station via the Ginza Line or Onarimon Station via the Toei Mita Line / 20 minutes by foot from JR Shimbashi Station

    Homepage: http://www.atago-jinja.com

     

    Asakusa: Imado Shrine, the birthplace of the ‘maneki-neko’ waving cat

    The closest station to Imado Shrine is Asakusa Station. It’s about a 15 minute walk from there, but you can reach it quicker on the Megurin Bus for just ¥100. The shrine is popular power spot for successful marriage. The god of wealth and longevity and one of Asakusa’s Seven Lucky Gods, Fukurokuju, is also enshrined here. The shrine is also recognised as one of Tokyo’s 8 Shitamachi shrines that people make a pilgrimage to.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/111527

     

    ■Information

    Imado Shrine

    Address: 1-5-22 Imado, Taito, Tokyo

    Opening Hours: 9am-5pm

    TEL: 03-3872-2703
    Access: 15-minutes on foot from Asakusa Station / 5-minutes on foot from Asakusa 7-Chome bus stop (浅草七丁目) via Toei Bus / 1-minute on foot from ‘Riverside Sports Center’ bus stop (リバーサイドスポーツセンター前) via Kita Megurin Bus in Taito

    Website: http://imadojinja1063.crayonsite.net

     

    Did you enjoy our list? Remember, all of them are super easy to access from central Tokyo and from tourist hot spots, so be sure to make your own pilgrimage around each of them while in Tokyo.

  • Tokyo Stroll: Indulge at Harajuku’s Conveyor Belt Dessert Cafe ‘MAISON ABLE Cafe Ron Ron’

    29.November.2018 | FEATURES / FOOD

    MAISON ABLE Cafe Ron Ron is a new hot spot in Harajuku that has been popping up all over Japanese social media. It’s so popular that it’s common to see lines of people waiting outside to get in, and that’s due to the fact that this is the world’s first-ever all-you-can-eat conveyor belt dessert cafe!

     

    MMN decided to visit the cafe to see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, it was raining on the day, but that didn’t stop the smiles on girls’ faces waiting outside for it to open which gleamed like a clear summer’s day.

     

    We visited the cafe with Japanese model Rinko Murata who has a weakness for sweet things and whose anticipation for this place was growing.

    Upon entering the cafe you must first buy a ticket from the ticket machine. It costs ¥1,800 (tax included) for all-you-can-eat desserts and a drink.

    This is the drink shelf. You can choose your favourite from a selection of colourful beverages that come in original bottles.

    Rinko-chan picked out a photogenic-looking drink too!

    If you stand against the pastel pink walls you can snap a cute photo from any angle!

     

    Rinko-chan was quick in wanting to snap one. There are messages written over the walls too. It makes you want to take your dessert in hand and take lots of pictures.

    The dessert lane stretches a sweet 38 meters. There are over 25 delights to choose from which appetisingly pass by one by one. They arrive crowning pastel coloured plates looking like precious gems and jewels. There’s even light savoury food in addition to the sweet stuff.

     

    You’re allowed 40 minutes. Heaven begins as you sit down: pick, take a photo, tuck in and repeat.

    Is this one an ice cream? It actually isn’t – underneath the cone hides potato salad! This is one of the non-dessert light foods and is perfect for cleansing your palate. There’s a meat ball burger, nikuman meat bun, popcorn and others too. (And keep in mind that items change depending on the season!)

    All the sweets are bite-sized meaning you can enjoy lots of different kinds one after the other.

    “Eating something this cute feels such a waste!” commented Rinko-chan.

     

    Piling up the plates after you’ve finished is kinda fun too!

    The shortcake dessert with the black cat wafer is the most popular. Only 10 of them come by in an hour. Rinko-chan was lucky enough to get her hands on one.

    The cat has an iconic presence in the cafe. In fact, the “Ron Ron” in the cafe’s name comes from French and refers to the purring sound a cat makes when it’s happy.

    There’s a super cute girly powder room up on the second floor.

    They have hair straighteners, makeup and other bits and bobs that customers are free to use. Use of the powder room isn’t included within the time restriction of the all-you-can-eat service, so once you’ve filled your belly with treats you can hit it up, touch up your makeup and head out shopping.

    If you’re in Harajuku why not enjoy lots of desserts and a girly time over at MAISON ABLE Cafe Ron Ron?

     

    MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON Social Media Campaign

    Running: November 29, 2018 – December 4, 2018

    We are giving away chekki photographs of Rinko Murata randomly to 2 lucky people who follow us on either our Instagram, Twitter or Weibo pages and share this article (or hit ‘Like’ on Instagram). Anyone from around the world can participate in this campaign, so get involved!

     

    Writer: Ai Watanabe

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

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