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  • Noma returns to Kyoto this fall

    This fall, as Kyoto begins to showcase its stunning display of autumn colors, the city also prepares for the return of Noma, the culinary powerhouse led by Chef René Redzepi. From October 8 through December 18, 2024, the acclaimed Copenhagen-based restaurant will take up residence once again at the Ace Hotel Kyoto, merging Scandinavian culinary artistry with the rich, seasonal flavors of Japan. For those who revel in the world of high gastronomy, the announcement of Noma's return is thrilling news. René Redzepi’s team is set to craft a menu that celebrates Kyoto’s abundant autumn harvest, focusing on local specialties like game meats and crab. Imagine dining on meticulously prepared dishes that each tell a story of the region's diverse produce and traditions, making every course a discovery. The price tag—€840 (about $912 or ¥136,000) plus a 10% service charge—reflects the exclusivity and creativity of the experience, securing a seat at Noma Kyoto is akin to getting tickets to a top-tier event, as the five-time No. 1 winner on the World’s 50 Best restaurant list is one of the hardest tables to book on earth. The anticipation for this culinary event is palpable, especially since reservations, opening on May 14 via the Noma newsletter (sign up by May 7th!), are expected to be snapped up quickly. Last year's pop-up saw reservations disappear within minutes, underscoring the global allure of the Noma experience. Beyond the dinner plate, Noma’s presence in Kyoto taps into the city’s vibrant cultural scene. From art exhibits and traditional performances to the everyday beauty of its historic streets, Kyoto offers a complementary backdrop to Noma’s culinary adventures. Each visit to the city is an opportunity to immerse oneself in a place where modern life and rich history coexist beautifully. This year's Noma residency isn’t just a repeat of the past; it’s a deeper exploration into the seasonal rhythms of Kyoto. As Redzepi himself hinted, this season’s focus on game and wild foraged ingredients promises a menu full of new surprises and reinterpretations of local flavors. Noma’s return to Kyoto is not just about tasting food, but about experiencing the convergence of culinary mastery and the peak of autumn’s natural beauty. Whether you're a seasoned Noma diner or a newcomer to this level of dining, the upcoming residency in Kyoto is set to be an unforgettable highlight of the culinary calendar.

  • Town to block view of Mt. Fuji due to over-tourism

    The local government in Fujikawaguchiko, home to Japan's most renowned Lawson convenience store, has been compelled to take drastic action in response to the disruptive behavior of countless tourists. After exhausting numerous alternative measures, the authorities and residents feel they are left with no choice but to erect a large barrier that will obscure the view of Mount Fuji. This decision comes as a last resort to preserve the peace and order of the town, which has been significantly disturbed by the influx of visitors. “It appears it became famous about two years ago after a popular Thai actor mentioned it on social media. Initially, it attracted mostly Thai tourists, but due to its proximity to Kawaguchiko Station on the Fujikyuko Line, we have recently seen an increase in tourists from various Asian countries and the West,” says a local journalist. Previously, locales from anime and other pop culture references have attracted foreign visitors. For example, significant social issues arose when numerous fans disrupted traffic to photograph a railroad crossing near Kamakura High School Front Station of the Enoshima Electric Railway, a scene depicted in "SLAM DUNK." “This is a classic example of 'localized overtourism.' There's a dental clinic right in front of Lawson, and visitors blocking the entrance for photos or parking without permission have been a major nuisance,” the journalist adds. Furthermore, the area is plagued by litter and cigarette butts, prompting local residents to clean up repeatedly throughout the day. Initially, the community was supportive, hoping that increased tourism would benefit the town. However, the mood has shifted to frustration. To prevent traffic accidents, Kawaguchiko Town began employing security guards to manage traffic a year ago: “We allocate 7.6 million yen annually for guards to manage traffic. There's a police station nearby, so police officers and retired officers also stand by to assist. Even so, the crowds in the past three to four months have surpassed our expectations,” an official from Kawaguchiko Town Hall noted. Luckily, no traffic incidents requiring police intervention have occurred yet, but the town hall is taking further steps. They plan to install a 'privacy screen' to block the view of Mt. Fuji itself. “The screen will be a 2.5-meter-high, 20-meter-wide black mesh, reinforced with wires, and will be installed on the sidewalk near the dental clinic. Construction begins on April 30 and should be complete in two or three days. However, we are concerned that tourists might move onto the road to take photos, since they won’t be able to do so from the sidewalk,” the official explained. We urge all tourists to respect local customs and maintain decorum.

  • KYOTOGRAPHIE 2024: 'SOURCE' - Kyoto Photography Festival

    As the cherry blossoms end their bloom in Kyoto, the city geared up for Kyotographie 2024, Japan's premier international photography festival. Running from April 13 to May 12, this festival isn’t just an exhibition; it’s an exploration of the intersection between Kyoto's rich heritage and contemporary global culture. Claudia Andujar, Collective house near the Catholic mission on the Catrimani River, Roraima state, 1976. Mineral pigment print, from infrared film. (68.5 x 102.5 cm). Instituto Moreira Salles Collection This year, Kyotographie celebrates its 12th anniversary under the theme "SOURCE," delving into beginnings, origins, and the creative processes that fuel both life and art. The festival will showcase the work of 13 artists from 10 countries, using the city itself as a backdrop. Visitors will travel from one venue to another, each chosen for its unique character and historical significance—from the tranquil Ryosokuin Zen Temple to the bustling streets of Demachi Masugata Shopping Street. Installation view ©︎ Takeshi Asano-KYOTOGRAPHIE 2023 The exhibitions are thoughtfully integrated with their venues, turning each space into a part of the narrative. Historic sites like Nijo Castle and the Museum of Kyoto Annex will host installations that reflect on their storied pasts, while more modern locations like DELTA serve as canvases for cutting-edge artistic expressions. Children Transform the Sheep for Eid al-Adha into a Playground in Casablanca. Photograph by Yassine Alaoui Ismail Access to the festival is ticketed, with several options available. A general passport, which grants one-time entry to each exhibition, is priced at ¥5,500 if booked in advance. For those looking to dive deeper, a ¥15,000 passport offers unlimited access and priority entry. Tickets can be purchased online (here), making it easy to plan your visit. For updates and glimpses behind the scenes, follow Kyotographie on social media. Engage with the festival community, share your experiences, and see how others are interacting with the art. It’s a great way to see the festival through others' eyes and add to the collective experience. Kyotographie 2024 is more than just a photography festival. It's a cultural journey that invites you to explore Kyoto through the lens of artists from around the world, blending the historical with the contemporary in a city known for its timeless beauty. Claudia Andujar, Susi Korihana thëri, Catrimani, 1972–1974. Mineral pigment print from infrared film. (68.5 x 102.5 cm). Instituto Moreira Salles Collection

  • SEAGREEN: The Japanese Fashion Brand Reconnecting Japan with Nature

    SEAGREEN is a Tokyo based clothing brand dedicated to reconnecting Japan to nature through fashion. The foliage, beaches and people of southern Japan is what inspired SEAGREEN to create its line of casual, yet elegant clothing line, all while promoting environmental stability. So much so, that even their pop-up shops feature repurposed ocean debris. The SEAGREEN pop up in Hibiya, Tokyo featuring repurposed ocean debris As the number of fisherman in Japan decreases, the leftover unused fishnets, buoys and other tools are left to be disposed of. SEAGREEN took the initiative of repurposing these materials and turning it into a functional display for their 2024 line of Summer and Spring clothing. Currently located in TATRAS (Hibiya, Tokyo) you can find these repurposed materials. SEAGREEN created this display in the hopes that those who purchase and wear their clothes will be inspired to be more environmentally cautious in their day to day life. Up close and personal with the craftsmanship that is behind SEAGREEN While some people may believe that sustainable clothing would result in a lower quality product, those familiar with SEAGREEN would understand that that is simply not true. Their new Spring and Summer line features shirts, hoodies and dresses with their "Big Waffle" patterned design showcasing the intricate time and craftsmanship that goes into each product. This "Big Waffle" design is not only made with soft and comfortable materials, but the pattern itself allows for a cool summer breeze to travel through the material, keeping the wearer cool. Additionally, even their flat clothes feature woven patterned outlines, adding a touch of Japanese craftsmanship to every piece. These items, along with the SEAGREEN sustainable display of repurposed ocean debris can be found at their TATRAS pop-up in Tokyo Midtown Hibiya until April 7th 2024, however all products can be found on the SEAGREEN website! TATRAS Popup Address: 201 1 Chome-1-2 Yurakucho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0006

  • The ZEKKEI Fireworks @Mt.Fuji 2024

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE Saturday, April 20th, 2024 Location: Fujiten Snow Resort (map) Event times : Venue Opens at 4pm (Parking available from 3pm schedule). Event Starts: 6:30pm schedule Event Organizers: The Zekkei Fireworks Executive Committee Sponsorship Yamanashi Prefecture,Yamanashi Tourism Organization,Narusawa Village special cooperation Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun,YBS Yamanashi Broadcasting 1. A Unique Venue The only place in Japan to experience Mt. Fuji, fireworks, and cherry blossoms You can view both the iconic symbol of Japan and beautiful cherry blossoms 2. A Unique Landscape Our goal is to give everyone an unforgettable fireworks experience!As such we have gone all out to prepare special seating specifically for the event. A venue that has a 10,000-person capacity will be limited to only 2,700 visitors 3. A Unique Experience(An event that will gauge all of your senses) (1) Sight: A multitude of visual spectacles ranging from the snow-capped peak of Mt. Fuji to the colorful cherry blossoms and fireworks. (2) Sound: The sound of fireworks reverberating off Mt. Fuji is something that you can only experience at this event. (3) Smell: Enjoy the natural aroma of the cherry blossoms, as well as the distinct scent of fireworks. (4) Touch: There are no barriers between the launch area and the seats, allowing you to truly feel shockwave from each firework launched. (5) Taste: Indulge yourself with high quality sushi and gourmet items provided by our event staff. We plan to have an event that will stimulate all 5 of your senses! The third edition of "The ZEKKEI Fireworks" is set to be held on Saturday, April 20, 2024. In October 2020, Japan hosted its first-ever fireworks display within the World Heritage Site of Mount Fuji. Although the event was called off in 2021 due to the impacts of COVID-19, it made a historic return on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at the Fujiten Resort (within the first station of Mount Fuji), captivating the nation with "The ZEKKEI Fireworks Mt.Fuji," a display that stands among the world's finest in the history of Japanese fireworks. On Saturday, April 22, 2023, the second installment of The ZEKKEI Fireworks Mt.Fuji took place, surpassing the scale of its inaugural event. This fireworks display, combining Japan's iconic Mount Fuji, the national flower cherry blossoms, and the world-class Japanese fireworks, created a symphony of dreams. Set against the backdrop of the sacred mountain's clear air and vibrant energy, this event showcased the pinnacle of pyrotechnic artistry by Japan's top fireworks masters, offering an unparalleled experience reminiscent of a dreamlike representation of Japan. With the next event scheduled for Saturday, April 20, 2024, this dreamlike fireworks display, a symbol of Japan and widely covered by numerous media, is poised for further evolution in its third year. Aiming not to rest on the laurels of previous successes but to deliver an even more spectacular display, this event seeks to satisfy not just audiences in Japan but around the world. Area Map Tickets Information 【Seating Type】 VIP Seats (Reserved seat) : 80,000 yen A special seat set up in the VIP area.With VIP lounge.VIP seat exclusive gourmet service included. (Please see here for the detail)If you are coming by car, be sure to purchase a parking ticket. Premium Area (Single) : 45,000 yen Premium Area (Pair)(2 tickets) : 85,000 yen Premium Area (Family)(4 tickes) : 160,000 yen Premium Seats are located in the center of the venue. (Center House)Gourmet service limited to premium area seats (Please see here for the detail)If you are coming by car, be sure to purchase a parking ticket. Green Area (Single) : 30,000 yen Green Area (Pair)(2 tickets) : 55,000 yen Green Area (Family)(4 tickes) : 110,000 yen Special bleachers installed in wanpaku square.Depending on the launch location and production, the seats will be the seats where you can feel the fireworks most closely, but in some cases it may be difficult to see the fireworks production.P5 parking lot (separate purchase of parking ticket required)※Gourmet food service will not be provided. Accessing the Venue

  • Edo Kiriko: Ohako x Japan Design Store

    Edo-kiriko is a distinguished form of Japanese cut glass art, renowned for its intricate patterns and vibrant use of color. Originating in the Edo period, this craft combines delicate glasswork with detailed etching, producing pieces that are not only decorative but deeply symbolic, reflecting wishes for prosperity, longevity, and happiness. The history of Edo-kiriko dates back to the 19th century, evolving from simple glassware to an esteemed art form adorned with elaborate designs. Initially inspired by the introduction of glass-making techniques from the West, Japanese artisans infused their own aesthetic, creating a unique cultural hallmark that has been cherished and passed down through generations. Since discovering the art of Edo-kiriko, we’ve gotten the opportunity to team up with Japan Design Store to produce a collaboration Edo Kirko glass. They are made with esteemed glass maker Tajima Glass, who are instrumental in both preserving and innovating Edo-kiriko. Founded in Tokyo, the heart of Edo-kiriko's origins, Tajima Glass stands as a testament to the art's enduring appeal. Through dedication to craftsmanship and an unwavering commitment to quality, Tajima Glass has become synonymous with Edo-kiriko, fostering its growth and appreciation both in Japan and internationally. We co-designed a cup with a young Japanese craftswoman, who has embarked on preserving the 200-year-old craft of Edo-kiriko. She has mastered the intricate art of carving original designs into glass, a task requiring precision and patience. This partnership celebrates her first project from start to finish that she brings to life, painstakingly carving each one by hand. The hand carved design features two types of Sakura blossoms and the Mount Fuji in the base that beautifully reflects the color of the drinks you pour in. We invite you to experience the beauty and craftsmanship of a piece that bridges generations, a true embodiment of the spirit and skill inherent in this magnificent Japanese art form. To check out our listing with Japan Design Store:

  • Japan Cherry Blossom Forecast 2024!

    Cherry Blossom season in Japan is one of the most vibrant experiences that the country has to offer. Marking the season of change and new beginnings, however with an average bloom of only two weeks it can be shortlived. That being said... If you want to catch the cherry blossoms, where in Japan should you go and when? The blossoming time varies from year to year and by region. For 2024, the expected to peak blossom for the major cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka is from late March to early April. Typically you can find early blossoms in southern Japan and later blossoms in the north. Tokyo The cherry blossoms estimated to begin blooming on March 23 and reach full bloom one week later on March 30. Kyoto The first blossoms in the old capital are estimated to begin on March 23 and reach their peak a little later than Tokyo, around April 1st. Osaka Osaka is expected to see the first bloom a little later than both Kyoto and Tokyo on March 25. However, its peak bloom is expected to be on par with Kyoto on April 1. Sapporo, Hokkaido For one of Japan's most northern cities, Sapporo the bloom is expected to be much later. The first bloom is estimated to be on May 2nd with peak bloom on May 6. Sendai Sendai, another northern city just south of Hokkaido is expected to see its first blossoms on April 6 with peak bloom around April 11. Kanazawa Kanazawa is expected to see its first blossoms on March 31 with peak bloom around April 6. Nagoya Nagoya is expected to see its first blossoms on March 20 with peak bloom around March 30 Hiroshima Hiroshima is expected to see its first blossoms on March 22 with peak bloom around April 1 Fukuoka Fukuoka is expected to see its first blossoms March 22 with peak bloom around March 31

  • Meet the Men Keeping Small Businesses Alive in Japan!

    While Japanese cuisine is famous worldwide, traditional elements such as cultural practices, techniques, locally sourced produce, and ingredients have begun to fade. So, these four men came together to create a marketplace in Japan's busiest airport that celebrates local businesses. In an age of convenient "simple and instant" consumption, these four men have dedicated themselves to preserving these traditional elements that make Japanese cuisine so unique. Through their "Japan Tero World" marketplace in Haneda airport they are helping showcase and educate visitors about traditional practices and small businesses all throughout Japan! Tadayuki Iwasaki-san / Head of the Product Department / Food General Buyer Meet Tadayuki Iwasaki-san, during his time in university he studied nutrition and food where discovered a passion for the rich culture attached to Japanese cuisine and a desire to share that culture with the world. He currently visits local sites and the explores the production areas of primary producers nationwide. Here, he develops an understanding of the farmland, local culture and explores ways to collaborate with the small businesses and producers in a way that celebrates the local area and its traditions. Masaki Tanii-san / F&F System Co, Managing Director Masaki Tanii-san is dedicated to delivering fresh produce and collaborating with small farmers all across Japan. As the Managing Director for F&F Systems Co, he dedicates his time to ensuring a natural means of produce production, making sure that he delivers fresh and safe produce to his customers. In order to support local businesses and farmers, Tanii-san only sources raw materials domestically, and if domestic options are not available, F&F outsources to organic overseas producers. The agricultural products F&F search for, are grown without using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. When it comes to Mr. Tanii's relationship with farmers, he skips the middleman and contracts directly with local farmers. This ensures that the farmers are supported directly by F&F and that the flavor of the produce remains as fresh as possible and that the farmer's traditional farming practices are maintained. Takamasa Oono-san / President of Daiju Co. When it comes to finding a way to adapt in a world of fast-paced and convenience oriented consumerism, there is no better expert than Oono-san. Oono-san runs several "Oonoya" supermarkets that are committed to delivering healthy options directly to consumers. Unlike other supermarkets, in addition to prioritizing convenience, Oonoya prioritizes safety, freshness, health and flavor. He follows a philosophy known as "Rakushoku," which directly translated means "easy meal." This implies that the customer will have no concerns regarding the safety, freshness and convenience of their meal. Through this philosophy Oono-san was motivated to help create the the "Japan Tero World" marketplace. Yohichi Yugeta-san / Fourth Generation Soy Sauce Maker / Yugeta Shoyu As a fourth generation Japanese soy sauce maker at Yugeta Shoyu, Yohichi Yugeta is a preservationist of tradition. For over a hundred years they have been crafting their traditional soy sauce using a process maintained over generations. Here at Ohako, we got to see firsthand how they carefully craft their soy sauce, utilizing wooden barrels called "kioke." These giant kioke barrels are made using local Nishikawa cedar. Sourcing the lumber locally allows for the mold used in soy sauce to grow more easily. This is because the mold and cedar come from the same climate. Yugeta Shoyu has been making soy sauce since their inception, with some of their barrels in use dating all the way back to the Meiji Period (1868 - 1912). Until the Edo period, foundational seasonings for Japanese cuisine such as soy sauce, miso, vinegar, mirin, and sake were made in these "kioke" wooden barrels. However, in today's modern age, in order to cut costs, barrel-brewed seasonings have declined significantly. Within the soy sauce industry less than one percent of manufactures use kioke barrels, making Yugeta Shoyu one of the last remaining kioke soy sauce producers. Ohako's ShotasPOV and Yugeta-san stirring the fermenting Soy Sauce. This stage in the soy sauce making process has little involvement from the craftsmen of Yugeta Shoyu. The microorganisms take care of the "soy sauce making" here! Natural Ingredients Other Soy Sauce manufacturers outsource ingredients from other countries. However, Yugeta Shoyu sources all of their ingredients locally using rare produce such as organic JAS authorization soybeans and wheat which only account for around 0.018% and 0.009% of Japan's domestic consumption. All flavors within their soy sauce are natural, meaning no extra chemical seasonings, such as amino acids, are added. Perhaps the most simple, yet most shocking factor about Yugeta Shoyu's dedication to maintaining tradition is the fact that even the water, yes the water, is drawn from an 80m deep well from the Chichubu Mountain range. Even in the age of fast paced convenience, their dedication to tradition and authenticity is incredibly admirable. Come Learn About Traditional Culinary Practices at Japan Tero World! Located on the second floor of Haneda Airport Terminal one, come learn more about what these four incredible men are doing at Japan Tero World and taste the authenticity of traditional Japanese craftsmanship firsthand! There are over thirty unique small business showcased here, each with their own history and traditions! The marketplace is open from September 2023 to January 2024.

  • Top 5 Best Ski Resorts in Japan!

    Japan is known for breathtaking nature and wondrous mountain ranges, making it ideal for winter sports. After two winter Olympics and over 500 plus ski resorts it can be hard to figure out which of these spots are worth visiting. So here are our recommendations for the best ski spots in Japan for every type of Winter enthusiast! 1. Niseko, Hokkaido Located in Japan's most northern prefecture Niseko is perhaps the most famous of all the ski areas in Japan. More often than not this area is covered in fresh powder with amazing views and includes slopes for all levels. In addition to its great conditions, the area is extremely English friendly and has a lively nightlife scene for nights out. Featuring horseback riding, onsens and more, with how popular the area is, transportation options also make the area easy to navigate, which cannot be said about other ski resorts. Perhaps the only downside to Niseko is that it does fall on the pricier side. 2. Rusutsu Nozawa Onsen, Hokkaido Much like Niseko, Rusutsu is known for its fresh powder and some of the deepest snow you'll find at Japanese ski resorts. It also includes slopes for all levels with much smaller crowds when compared to Niseko. However, this area favors those only interested in skiing as it lacks a nightlife scene and can only be accessed by car and bus. 3. Hakuba Valley, Nagano If you're looking for a family oriented area to ski, as well as Nagano's biggest terrain park and don't want to make the trip up north to Hokkaido, Hakuba is a great area to check out! Located about 4 hours outside of Tokyo by car Hakuba is an English friendly area that also features hot springs for post-ski decompressing. However, it lacks a little bit of a nightlife scene for partygoers. 4. Appi Kogen, Iwate If you're looking for the largest resort in Tohoku with powder for miles, then Appi Kogen is the place for you. The area is english friendly with a wide variety of entertainment areas for post-slope adventures but it hasn't quite hit the radar for most tourists yet making it a great place to go if you want to explore a more lowkey area of Japan! 5. Naeba Niigata Variety is Naeba's specialty, making it a great place to explore. The area features over 20 ski resorts with slopes for all levels including a terrain park for those trying to show off a few tricks! Not to mention it also features Japan's longest gondola lift called the "dragondola."

  • How to Celebrate New Years in Japan 2024!

    Looking for good spots to spend your New Years in Japan? Looking to learn more about unfamiliar Japanese New Year traditions? Ohako has you covered! New Years in Japan New Year's is perhaps the biggest holiday in Japan, so while in other countries it is common for it to be a party heavy holiday, the Japanese New Year revolves around family. This holiday period is so important that it extends itself into the first few days of the year. So How Do They Celebrate? Nengajo Similar to Christmas cards, in Japan people will send New Year's Cards called "nengajo (年賀状)" to friends, family and coworkers. These cards should be delivered by January 1st and are meant to convey a sense of thankfulness to the reciever for all that they have done for you in the past year. If you've recieved a nengajo from someone who has not recieved one from you, send one back quick! With nengajo there is a cultural "send one, recieve one" rule! Decorations There are several traditional New Years decorations that are placed around Japanese homes to bring in the New Year. Kagami mochi: The most common decoration that can be found in a Japanese home is this particular offering to the gods. It features two stacked mochi balls topped with an orange and is positioned on the household Shintō altar. Kadomatsu: This display contains three bamboo shoots, all a different length which represents prosperity. In also includes pine which represents longevity as well as plum branches which represents fidelity. It is believed that during this period of time that they contain visiting gods who will bring good fortune to the home. Shimekazari: These objects are meant to invite and welcome gods of good fortune and to ward off evil spirits. They can be found above entryways and are made of of shimenawa (a sacred straw rope) as well as other objects. Hamaya: These are arrows that are meant to destroys evil spirits. While some can be found hanging before the New Year, it is not uncommon to purchase new ones during the first few days of the new year. Osechi Ryōri Osechi Ryōri is the traditional Japanese food served on New Years day in Japan. This meal consists of a wide variety of different kinds of foods and are often placed in special containers called "jubako." With so many different foods, preperation for this meal tends to take quite some time. Some foods include Toshikoshi soba (year-crossing noodles), ozoni (a mochi soup), datemaki (sweet rolled omelet) and much more! Hatsumode Japanese people will make a "Hastumode" trip on one of the first three days of the year. This refers to their first visit of the year to a Buddhist tmeple or Shinto Shrine. Here, people pray for the New Year ahead and purchase traditional items such as amulets called "omamori." Fukubukuro Perhaps the only western equivalent to Fukubukuro is "Black Friday," though the comparision is still slightly off. Fukubukuro is a Japanese New Year tradition for businesses in which they prepare bags filled with random items for customers. These bags will be priced extremely low in comparison to the contents within so while the business may lose money, this practice is meant to welcome customers for the New Year. Events: Looking for places in Tokyo for the New Year? 1. Countdown at Tokyo's Citizens' Square' If you're looking for a free Tokyo countdown, be sure to check out the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Plaza in Nishi-Shinjuku on New Years Eve! Starting at 6:20 PM the event launches with a spectacular projection mapping light show which is scheduled to have appearances from singer-songwriter Pikotaro and Sanrio characters, including Hello Kitty! The event builds up to a countdown lantern release. Participation in the lantern release is no longer available but the designated viewing area is open! 2. Zojo-ji Temple New Year’s Countdown If you're looking for a tradtional way to experience New Years in Japan, Zojo-ji Temple is located right under the bright lights of Tokyo Tower! Here, you can experience the monks ring the "Joya no Kane," a bell rung 108 times around midnight to usher in the New Year. Each hit of the bell marks the removal of 108 temptations, so that those at the temple can start the New Year pure. Other temples will have slightly different traditions but some other great temples include Sensoji Temple, Gohyakyrakan-ji Temple and Araiyakushi Baishoin! 3. Clubbing If you're looking for a loud and proud place to bring in the New Year Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi's clubs are known to have a plethora of New Year's events! However, Shibuya has been cracking down on public drinking during big holidays and this New Year's Eve is no exception, with the area banning public drinking. Be safe and be responsible! 4. Countdown Cruise If you're looking for a unqiue countdown expereince, scenic countdown cruises are the way to go. These cruises will typically depar around 10:50 pm for a two and a half hour journey around Tokyo bay. These curises feature bands, a 20 dish buffet and all you an drink bar. However, these tickets do come at a high cost of 18,000 yen per seat. 5. Watch the first Sunrise in Tokyo If you're an early riser (or an all-nighter) type of person then you might want to check out Tokyo's best viewpoints to watch the first sunrise of the year! Tokyo Tower opens at 6 am and offers a commemorative coin to the first people up the Tower, but line up fast because there's sure to be a lot of people there! Osanbashi in Yokohama is a free attendance area where you can watch the sunrise over the ocean Mt Takao is a great spot to go if you're a hiker. Located on the edge of Tokyo you'll also get the chance to visit Yakuoin Temple for your hatsumode! Kasai Rinkai Park is along the coastline and is only 15 minutes from Tokyo Station. Here you;ll have and endless horizon to view the sunrise! 6. 73rd Kōhaku Uta Gassen If you're a homebody and want to experience a night in the Japanese way then tune your TV to watch the 73rd Kōhaku Uta Gassen! Kōhaku Uta Gassen is yearly New Year's eve "song battle" in which a Red and White team consisting of the year's most popular artists compete for the judges and audiences votes! The show ends just before midnight and is a lot of fun to watch, especially if you're a music fan!

  • December 2023: What to do in Tokyo!

    Looking for things to do in Tokyo this December? From holiday celebrations, winter illuminations and traditional Japanese festivals, we got you covered! Chichibu Night Festival Saturday December 2nd - Sunday December 3rd Hitsujiyama Park Photo Courtesy of The Chichibu Night Festival is one of three major float festivals in Japan, otherwise known as "hikiyama" festivals! Here, you can see handmade floats parade through the area, decorated with traditional Japanese craftsmanship, flowers and lanterns! This festival will take place over two days, Saturday December 2nd and Sunday December 3rd. On Saturday you can find the floats being showcased around the streets from 12pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm in addition to a direworks display from 7pm to 10 pm! On Sunday, the "Grand Festival" will take place from 9 am to 10pm with the peak of the festival occurring from 7pm to 10pm. There will also be a fireworks display on Sunday from 7:30 to 10pm! Akibasan Fire Festival Wednesday December 6th Akibasan Shrine, Odawara City Photo Courtesy of This event is about 2 hours outside of Tokyo but definitely worth the trip! The Akibasan Fire Festival is a "fire protection festival" that has origins reaching as far back as the 16th century. However, contrary to what you might think these activities can come off as more of a celebration of fire. Some displays that you can witness involve writing Kanji in the air with fire, and shooting flame arrows into a larger flame as well as other traditional dances. These fire events will begin at 7 pm with the festival itself taking place from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Tokyo Comic Con 2023 Friday, December 8th - Sunday, December 10th Makuhari Messe Photo Courtesy of Comic Con is well known all across the world but Tokyo's Comic Con is always something special. This year will even feature the following celebrities with more coming! Tom Felton (Harry Potter) Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) Evangeline Lilly (Lost and The Hobbit Trilogy) Mads Mikkelsen (Indiana Jones, Casino Royale) Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) Tom Hiddleston (Loki) Ewan McGregor (Obi-wan Kenobi) Temuera Morrison (Boba Fett) There is however a fee of typically over 20,000 yen to meet these celebrities. Additionally, if you're looking to cosplay at this event you will need to pay an additional fee. Tickets for the event can be found here! Tokyo Skytree Dream Christmas 2023 November 9th - December 25th Tokyo Skytree At the bottom of Tokyo's most prominent building will be a vibrant Christmas market that features an 8 meter tall Christmas tree and shops selling everything from beer, sweets and other foods! The venue is filled with an insurmountable amount of decorations making it ideal for photo opportunities. From December 15th to the 25th a projection mapping will also be featured. Photo Courtesy of Photo by ©TOKYO-SKYTREETOWN STAR DANCE: Japan Anime and Character Drone Show December 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, and 31 Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise Photo Courtesy of The Japan Anime and Character Drone show in Yokohama will feature 1,000 drones that will create displays of famous Japanese fictional characters from the likes of Demon Slayer, Ultraman and Evangelion. The drone show itself will start at 5 pm and take place for 15 minutes with an hour interval in between. Each show will feature different characters so it makes for a good opportunity to explore the area! Tickets for this event start at 4,300 JPY. Midtown Ice Rink November 16th - February 25th, 2024 Tokyo Midtown Photo Courtesy of If being active is more your speed, Tokyo Midtown will have an outdoor ice skating rink not dissimilar to one you may find in New York! The ice rink is featured right next to the Midtown Winter Light displays so this area is perfect for photos but can get a little crowded. The rink is open from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Yomiuriland October 19th - April 7th, 2024 Yomiuriland The Yomiuriland amusement park will be COVERED in millions of LED lights for a truly stunning display this winter season! The amusement park itself features rollercoasters, a ferris wheel as well as other activities throughout, making it perfect for families, friends and dates. The park opens from 4:00pm and closes at 8:30 pm. There is a variety of different ticket options which can be found here.

  • Kusatsu Onsen: Japan's Must Visit Hot Spring Destination!!!

    If you're looking to explore Japan's hot-springs theres no better location than Kusatsu Onsen. Located about three hours outside of Tokyo in the Gunma Prefecture, Kusatsu Onsen has what's regarded as the purest hot-spring water, believed to cure a number of diseases. With the largest volume of flowing hot spring water in Japan, the more acidic waters kill bacteria and microorganisms that might otherwise be lingering. The area features rich culture and history paired with a number of Japanese ryokans so that you can fully immerse yourself in the refreshing and relaxing experiences that the area has to offer. Kusatsu Traditions "Yumomi" at Nestu no yu bathouse Yumomi is a traditional technique that features long wooden planks used to cool the bathwater. At a high temperature of 65 (149 Fahrenheit), the water is unbathable when left alone. After Yumomi, the water temperature is brought down to 45 degrees celsius (115 Fahrenheit) making it a more comfortable bathing temperature. To see this practice first-hand stop by Nestu no yu bathouse! Which Hot springs should I visit? Here are Ohako's Top 3 Recommendations when it comes to which hot springs to check out! 1.Nestu no yu bathouse This is perhaps Kusatsu's most famous Onsen since you can see "Yumomi" in practice! If you're looking to experience Kusatsu to its fullest be sure to stop by here! 2.Sainokawara Rotenburo If you prefer an outdoor experience, Sainokawara is Kusatsu largest outdoor bath. Here you can breathe in the crisp mountain air without having to worry about being crammed too close to other visitors! 3.Otakinoyu If variety is what you're looking for, Otakinoyu features a plethora of different indoor and outdoor baths that each contain different water temperatures. Its recommended that you practice "Awase-yu," the action of moving from the coolest bath and slowly progressing your way to the hottest, which is closest to the hot spring source. Otakinoyu comes with modern amenities if you're also looking for a more luxurious experience stop by here! What To Experience Yubatake (Hot Spring Field) Yubatake is the centerpiece of Kusatsu which features a whopping 4000 liters of water running through it every minute. The hot spring field showcases the volume as well as the culture of Kusatsu as its surrounded by a wide variety of traditional shops and restaurants. The field lights up at night which in combination with the steam produces a beautiful display of colors. Sainokawara Park This park features decorative hot spring water pools as well as a few foot baths. At night the park features a beautiful light displays that makes for an other worldly experience. However, it is rumored that a demon lives here and makes appearances if one gets too loud... so speak at your own discretion! Shirane Shrine Shirane Shrine is dedicated to the god who discovered Kusatsu Onsen, Yudaki Dori. Its located at the top of a hill that overlooks the surrounding area, creating a separation between the shrine and Kusatsu itself. Its a great spot take in the area! For more information check out the official website at:

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