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Monday, January 16, 2017

Sesoko Island

瀬底島

Sesoko Island is a small island off the Motubu Peninsula near Nago on the west coast connected by bridge to Okinawa Honto.

Sesoko Island, Okinawa.


Sesoko has a few lovely white sand beaches and a number of guest houses and minsuku that attract budget travelers for snorkeling and relaxing throughout the year.

The most popular beach is on the west coast, the 800m-long Sesoko Beach, which has parking (1000 yen), life guards, umbrellas and loungers as well as food and drink for sale.

There's also a  smaller beach right at the bridge to the main island - Anchi-hama. The water at both beaches can be amazingly clear and the sea a beautiful turquoise color.

Sesoko Island, Okinawa.

A number of specialist marine sports shops offer jet skiing, parasailing, snorkeling and diving trips in summer.

A photo posted by JapanVisitor (@japanvisitor) on

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Japan News This Week 15 January 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Caroline Kennedy, an Ambassador Whose Role Transcended the Embassy
New York Times

Emperor Akihito: Japan considers moves to allow 2018 abdication - reports
BBC

Almost 75% of Japan's biggest coral reef has died from bleaching, says report
Guardian

China moves Japan war start date up to 1931 in textbooks to boost ‘patriotic education’
Japan Times

The Japanese State versus the People of Okinawa: Rolling Arrests and Prolonged and Punitive Detention
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

A recent survey of sixth graders across Japan asked them about their future dream job (the number in parenthesis is the result from the previous year).

For girls, the top five responses were:

1) Food service (chef, etc.) (1)
2) Day Care Worker (2)
3) School Teacher (5)
4) Doctor (4)
4) Nurse (3)

For boys, the top five responses were:

1) Professional Soccer Player (1)
2) Researcher/Professor (8)
3) Police Officer/Detective (3)
4) Professional Baseball Player (2)
5) Doctor (6)
5) Food service (chef, etc.) (7)

Source: Asahi Shinbun

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Chogakuji Temple & Takeda Shingen

長岳寺&武田信玄

Chogakuji Temple in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture is associated with the death of the legendary warlord Takeda Shingen (1521-1573).

Chogakuji Temple, Nagano Prefecture.


Takeda Shingen's death is shrouded in mystery. It is thought he died of pneumonia while returning to his base in Kofu from an attack on Noda Castle, north east of present-day Toyohashi. In Akira Kurosawa's film, Kagemusha ("Shadow Warrior"), Takeda Shingen, however, is shot at night by a Tokugawa sniper at the castle and fatally wounded.

Chogakuji Temple, Nagano Prefecture.


One version of the following events is that Takeda Shingen's body was cremated in the hills near Chogakuji Temple and his ashes are buried within the temple grounds. His followers tried to maintain Takeda was still alive to fool his enemies, hence the "Shadow Warrior" of Kurosawa's movie, a common thief with a remarkable resemblance to Takeda, who was forced into impersonating him.

A ten-story pagoda was erected in 1974 to mark the spot where Takeda's ashes are buried, paid for by subscriptions from residents of Takeda's home province of Yamanashi. A noticeboard references the popular 1988 NHK Taiga drama, Takeda Shingen and the history of the warrior's final days.

Chogakuji Temple, Nagano Prefecture.


Chogakuji Temple
Achi Village
569 Komaba, Shimoina-gun
Nagano Prefecture 395-0303
Tel: 0265 43 2967

Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 200 yen adults

Chogakuji Temple is located in the village of Achi midway between Iida and Nakatsugawa just off the Chuo Expressway. Chogakuji Temple is very close to the Hirugami Onsen resort.

Chogakuji Temple, Nagano Prefecture.


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Friday, January 13, 2017

Shin-Ochanomizu Station Mosaics

ガラスモザイク

Shin-Ochanomizu Station on the Chiyoda Line of the Tokyo metro in Ochanomizu has some lovely mosaics by glass artist Ikkou Itabashi representing the months of the year and including phrases from the old lunar calendar to describe the seasons, for example, 立秋 (risshuu), meaning the beginning of autumn.

Shin-Ochanomizu Station Mosaics, Tokyo.

Shin-Ochanomizu Station also has the longest escalator on the Tokyo subway network. Another reason to visit.

Shin-Ochanomizu Station Mosaics Tokyo.

The mosaics were completed in 2002 and make use of recycled glass.

Shin-Ochanomizu Station Mosaics Tokyo.


www.ikkou-re-glass.com

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hotel Avanti Tokushima

ホテルアバァンティ

Hotel Avanti Tokushima in Tokushima city on Shikoku is 600 meters from Tokushima Station and only 100 meters from the ropeway going up Mt. Bizen and Awa Odori Kaikan.

Avanti Hotel, Tokushima, Shikoku.


The Hotel Avanti is very popular with backpackers, pilgrims and foreign visitors to Japan on a budget.

The Hotel Avanti has free wifi and is very foreigner-friendly. There is no kettle in the rooms but hot water is available in the lobby.

A small breakfast is provided on a tray in your room.

Avanti Hotel, Tokushima, Shikoku.

Hotel Avanti
Higashidaiku-machi 1-20
Tokushima
Tokushima Prefecture, 770-0905

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Edo Noren Ryogoku

江戸Noren

Edo Noren, a two story food and shopping center opened in November 2016 as part of the redevelopment of Ryogoku Station. Ryogoku is the heartland of Japanese sumo and Ryogoku Station is less than five minutes' walk from the Kokugikan sumo stadium and close to a number of sumo stables or heya - where sumo wrestlers live and train.

Edo Noren, Ryogoku, Tokyo.

Edo Noren has a sumo ring as part of its "Edo era" design and among the dozen or so restaurants in the complex is one specializing in the dish most associated with sumo wrestling: chankonabe (see the last image).

Other restaurants offer sushi, okonomiyaki, yakitori, noodles, tempura and other favorites of Japanese cuisine.

Edo Noren, Ryogoku, Tokyo, Japan.

There's lots to see and do in the Ryogoku area including the Edo-Tokyo Museum, the new Sumida Hokusai Museum, the Ryogoku Fireworks Museum and the Ruins of Kira Yoshinaka's House, Kira Yoshinaka being the man murdered by the 47 Ronin in the ultimate revenge attack way back in 1703.

Edo Noren, Ryogoku, Tokyo, Japan.

There are plenty of other places to try chankonabe and delicious sushi in the area, especially on the road running parallel to the railway tracks north of Ryogoku Station up towards Ryogoku subway station. Edo Noren, though, is a welcome addition to an already excellent culinary scene in the area.

Edo Noren, Ryogoku, Tokyo.


Edo Noren
1-3-20 Yokoami
Sumida-ku, Tokyo (JR Ryogoku Station West Exit)
Hours: 10am-11.30pm; closed January 1-2

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Man in the Moon Pub Kyoto Station

マンインザムーン京都駅店

Man in the Moon bars are a small chain of Irish-style pubs in Kyoto with pubs at Kyoto Station and others in Shijo Karasuma, Gion and Rokkaku. The chain also includes the Pig & Whistle on Sanjo which recently celebrated 30 years in business.

Man in the Moon Pub Kyoto Station.


Man in the Moon pubs offer draft Guinness, a variety of Irish and Scottish spirits plus perennial food favorites such as fish and chips all served up in cozy, wood-panelled interiors with live sports on TV.

All the Man in the Moon pubs have free Wifi.

Man in the Moon Pub Kyoto Station.


The pub at Kyoto Station is at the Hachijoguchi Exit near the Shinkansen tracks. Turn right (west) as you exit the station and walk about 500m.

The interior is tight for space at the Kyoto Station pub and can get pretty smoky...be warned.

Man in the Moon
Kintetsu-meitengai Miyakomichi 31-1
Kamadonno-cho, Higashi-shiokoji, Shimogyo-ku
Kyoto 600-8215
Hours: Friday & Saturday: 11am - 4am
Sunday - Thursday: 11am - 2am
Happy Hour 11am to 7pm
All alcohol reduced by 100 yen


Man in the Moon Pub Kyoto Station.


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Monday, January 09, 2017

Orion Happy Park

オリオンビール

Orion is Okinawa's very own beer with an American-style mild taste and an alcohol content of 5%.

Orion Happy Park, Nago, Okinawa.

Orion Happy Park in Nago in the north east of Okinawa main island offers brewery tours and tastings. You can also visit Orion Happy Park just to eat and drink in an Okinawan beer hall environment.

Brewery tours can be booked online (see the link below) and include 2 drinks (non-alchoholic for drivers, minors and non-drinkers). There are 23 tours a day starting at 9.20am and finishing at 4.40pm with one every 20 minutes. Each tour lasts 35 minutes with 20 minutes sampling time.

Orion Happy Park also includes a store where you can buy Orion beer and souvenirs and a beer hall/restaurant.

Orion Happy Park, Nago, Okinawa.


Orion Happy Park
2-2-1 Agarie, Nago City
Okinawa 905-0021
Closed: December 31 - January 3

Orion Happy Park, Nago, Okinawa.


If driving leave the Okinawa Expressway at the Kyoda I.C. and then take highway 58 for about 10 minutes.

Other attractions nearby in the Nago area include Pineapple Park, the ruins of Nago Castle and the Nago Museum next door to the Town Hall.

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Orion Happy Park, Okinawa.


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Keywords
Okinawa
Orion beer
Orion
Beer
Japanese beer

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Japan News This Week 8 January 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
A Maverick Former Japanese Prime Minister Goes Antinuclear
New York Times

Is Japan’s culture of overwork finally changing?
BBC

How Japan weaves caring and sharing into all layers of society
Guardian

Experts warn Japan’s language schools are becoming a front for importing cheap labor
Japan Times

Trump's Threat to Charge Japan More for U.S. Forces: Taoka Shunji says “Let them leave.”
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

"While widely recognized for its peace constitution, Japan is one of the world’s top military spenders, ranking officially (in 2015) at No 8 (after the US, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, UK, India, France) but if the military subsidy it pays to the Pentagon (over $6 billion) is added to its own military budget, it probably passes India and France to become No 6.

It has supported and provided facilities for US wars from Korea and Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria more recently. Seven decades after being defeated in war and occupied by US forces, it insists that the US continue to occupy its territory, especially in Okinawa."

Source: Gavan McCormack, Japan Focus

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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Ryuku Sun Royal Hotel

琉球サンロイヤルホテル

The Ryukyu Sun Royal Hotel in downtown Naha on Okinawa is a moderately-priced business hotel close to Asahibashi Station on the Yui Line and the main shopping street of Kokusai Dori.

Ryuku Sun Royal Hotel, Naha, Okinawa.

The good points: the staff are unfailingly friendly, the buffet breakfasts were good and the rooms spacious with complimentary newspaper and bottled water every day.

Slight reservations: the carpets in the halls are becoming a bit frayed, the hotel charges 1,000 yen a night for parking (limited spaces available) and the Wifi was hit and miss outside the lobby and first floor toilet.

Ryuku Sun Royal Hotel, Naha, Okinawa.

The hotel is a short walk from the souvenir stores and restaurants of Kokusai Dori and the Palette Kumoji Department Store. There are a good number of restaurants close to the hotel without having to walk to Kokusai Dori and a convenience store just 50m away.

Ryuku Sun Royal Hotel, Naha, Okinawa.

Ryukyu Sun Royal Hotel
Higashimachi 6-20
Naha, Okinawa 900-0034

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