Seven cool things set to happen in Japan during 2015

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that you should always wash your hands after going to the bathroom. If there’re two things we know, though, the second is that you’ll never get anywhere in life being fixated on the past. So while 2014 was a pretty good year for us, we’re already looking to the year ahead, which is already promising seven cool happenings for Japan in 2015.

1. Opening of the new Shinkansen line

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Japan may have a reasonably priced overnight bus network and well-maintained highways, but there’s no denying that the quickest and most convenient way to get around the country is the Shinkansen. Currently, you can travel by bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano, but the new Hokuriku Line will allow travelers to extend their Shinkansen trips from Nagano all the way to coastal Kanazawa. So starting March 14, you’ll be able to zip on over to the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture in record time to enjoy its historic Kenrokuen Garden, delicious seafood, and, provided you’ve still got some yen left over, golden handicrafts.

2. First flight of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet

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If tertiary travel is too tedious for your rarified tastes, there’s also the maiden voyage of the MRJ coming up in 2015. Jointly developed by Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Fuji Heavy Industries (parent company of automaker Subaru), the MRJ is scheduled to take to the air for the first time this spring. Airlines won’t be receiving their own until 2017, but nonetheless, the upcoming test flight is a major step towards Japan’s first domestically produced airliner since the financial failure of Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing’s YS-11, which was discontinued over four decades ago.

3. Osaka’s Dotonbori Canal becomes a pool

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If you’ve spent much time looking at photos of Japanese cityscapes, odds are you’ve seen Dotonbori, Osaka’s neon-lit entertainment district that straddles the Dotonbori Canal. After years of revelers diving into the water after victories by the local Hanshin Tigers baseball team, someone decided they may as well make part of the canal into an outdoor pool, which is just what’s scheduled to happen to a one-kilometer (0.62-mile) section of it for four weeks in August of 2015.

4. The next, and possibly final, Evangelion movie

Creator Hideaki Anno has never been particularly decisive about putting a period on his masterwork, as evidenced by how Eva’s cash-strapped TV finale has already been followed by a half-dozen movies. Signs point to a late 2015 release for the fourth Rebuild of Evangelion theatrical feature, though, which has been billed as the culmination of 20 years’ worth of groundbreaking animation (those of you who can’t wait until the end of the year can whet your appetite with a teaser-style Eva short film right here).

5. So long, SIM locks!

Like topknots and the feudal system, SIM locks are set to become a thing of the past in Japan starting this May.

6. The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II

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2015 is also a good time to stop and take a moment to appreciate that Japan can get excited about developments in consumer electronics because it’s a country at peace, as it has been for the last 70 years.

7. Prince William visiting Japan

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Another thing that wouldn’t have been happening during open war between the U.K. and Japan, Prince William is scheduled to visit the country as part of a trip through Asia in late February.

Japanese sake brewers revive interest by using Western fermentation processes to create “Champagne Sake”

Kawanakajima

RocketNews 24:

As imports of Western drinks increase, interest in Japan’s native alcoholic beverages has been declining. There have been efforts to bring drinkers back to traditional drinks such as sake and shochu, but they face tough competition from the likes of wine and champagne, which evoke fashionable, sophisticated images in the minds of Japanese drinkers.

One way to revive interest could be to apply Western fermentation techniques to Eastern beverages such as sake, Japan’s “rice wine”, to create unique twists on traditional drinks.Champagne sake” is an example of this done deliciously right.

Traditional or “real” champagne is sparkling wine made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France which, after the usual fermentation process, are fermented a second time in the bottle to produce the carbonation. In other words, it’s this special process of secondary fermentation that gives a glass of bubbly its bubbles. People all over the world, including Japan, like to crack open a bottle to celebrate special occasions. At other times, many Japanese people are partial to sake, or nihonshu as it’s known in its native land, a popular alcohol with a long history made from fermented rice.

But what do you get when you apply the fermentation process used to make champagne to sake? Well, you get an effect similar to champagne, but with that special rice wine flavor!

Because of the in-bottle fermentation process, as with champagne, you get the fizz of fine bubbles jumping out at you when you open the cap. It’s different to “sparkling sake“, which has recently seen a boom in popularity, which is simply sake with added carbonation and is more like an alco-pop with around 5% alcohol content. When using the champagne secondary fermentation process, the resultant drink has a fruity flavor and is around 12% proof. It’s very easy to get carried away drinking too much of it but, since it’s made from only rice and natural water, if you’re going to drink alcohol then this is probably a reasonably healthy choice! Apparently it goes well not only with Japanese food, but with Chinese and Western cuisine, too.

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Shusen Kurano is the oldest sake brewer in Nagano and the seventh oldest in all of Japan, and they are extremely proud of their “champagne sake”, called Kawanakajima-Fuwarin, which is different to all the traditional sake they produce. Founded in 1540, Shusen Kurano has over 470 years of history and it’s even said that the famous daimyo Takeda Shingen drank their sake at the Battles of Kawanakajima. While champagne sake may not have been around at the time, if it had been he surely would have enjoyed cracking open a bottle after a win on the battlefield.

Kawanakajima-Fuwarin retails on the brewery’s website at 450 yen (US$3.70) for 180 ml, 750 yen ($6.20) for 300ml, and 1,250 yen ($10.30) for 500ml. If you do pick any up, be sure to let us know what you think.

How the Shinkansen bullet train made Tokyo into the monster it is today

Shinkansen bullet trains at a depot in Fukuoka in 1975.

 

The Guardian:

 

At 10am on 1 October 1964, with less than a week and a half to go before the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the two inaugural Hikari Super Express Shinkansen, or “bullet trains,” arrived at their destinations, Tokyo and Osaka. They were precisely on time. Hundreds of people had waited overnight in each terminal to witness this historic event, which, like the Olympics, heralded not just Japan’s recovery from the destruction of the second world war, but the beginning of what would be Japan’s stratospheric rise as an economic superpower. The journey between Japan’s two biggest cities by train had previously taken close to seven hours. The Shinkansen had made the trip in four.

The world’s first high-speed commercial train line, which celebrates its 50th anniversary on Wednesday, was built along the Tokaido, one of the five routes that connected the Japanese hinterland to Edo, the city that in the mid-1800s became Tokyo. Though train lines crisscrossed the country, they were inadequate to postwar Japan’s newborn ambitions. The term “shinkansen” literally means “new trunk line”: symbolically, it lay at the very centre of the huge reconstruction effort. All previous railways were designed to serve regions. The purpose of the Tokaido Shinkansen, true to its name, was to bring people to the capital.

 

A couple say goodbye as he leaves on the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo.

A couple say goodbye as he leaves on the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo.

After the war Tokyo was in ruins, but its rebuilding progressed without any master plan. As industries gravitated to the city, young people flocked to Tokyo to work; and as they started families they were encouraged to buy homes. The only land they could afford, however, was outside the already densely populated city. Property prices skyrocketed in the 1970s, and even more during the “bubble era” of the 1980s, forcing newer families even further from the city centre. Tokyo swelled to elephantine proportions. The Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area, composed of four prefectures, became the world’s pre-eminent megalopolis – some 35 million people by 2010, or 27% of Japan’s total population. It isn’t unusual for commuters to spend two hours getting to work every day on trains that exceed 150% of capacity.

This “rush hour hell” has been made famous worldwide by images of station employees stuffing stragglers into packed train cars – potent symbols of the superhuman forbearance of the Japanese worker, but also the dogged efficiency of Japan’s railways. All foreign visitors to Japan invariably ride the trains and come away with the same impression: Japan’s public transportation is the cleanest, most courteous in the world, run by uniformed, be-gloved men and women who still epitomise a hallowed Japanese work ethic that most companies struggle to maintain in an economy that has remained sluggish for two decades.

 

Prince Hiro on board a Shinkansen bullet train  in 1968.

Crown prince Naruhito on board a Shinkansen bullet train in 1968.

But the most vital aspect of this efficiency is that trains run on time, all the time. This is not just a point of pride. It is a necessity, given the huge number of people that have to be moved. Transfers are timed to the split second, and the slightest delay has the butterfly effect of delaying connections. The Shinkansen is no exception, as exemplified by the “angels”: teams of pink-attired women who descend on a train as soon as it arrives at its terminal and in five minutes leave it spotless for the return trip.

The first Shinkansen skirted the Pacific coast through the huge industrial corridor that links the capital with Osaka. This is a nearly unbroken stretch of urbanisation: it has few parallels on the planet. By the early 1950s the conventional train that ran on this route was crammed. Taking a hint from the private Odakyu Electric Railway, which launched a train that could reach speeds of 145km/hr, Japan National Railways (JNR) decided to develop an even faster train, and in April 1959 construction of the Tokaido Shinkansen commenced with an initial budget of ¥200bn (£1.1bn), though the eventual cost would be double that.

The high-speed network now reaches all the way west to the island of Kyushu and north to Akita, at the northern tip of the main island, Honshu. Next March, the Hokuriku Shinkansen will be extended to Kanazawa near the Japan Sea; there are plans to build a new line connecting Honshu to the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Each line is under the authority of one of four JR (Japan Railways) companies that formed when JNR was privatised in 1987. But the central government has overseen the construction of all new Shinkansen lines, usually covering 35% of the cost (JR companies pay 50% and local governments 15%). That means the construction ministry makes the relevant decisions about where lines go, or which cities get stations.

 

 

In an interview in the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper last week, Takashi Hara, a political scholar and expert on Japanese railroads, said the policy of extending the Shinkansen was promulgated by Kakuei Tanaka, Japan’s prime minister from 1972 to 1974. “The purpose was to connect regional areas to Tokyo,” Hara said. “And that led to the current situation of a national Shinkansen network, which completely changed the face of Japan. Travel times were shortened and vibration was alleviated, making it possible for more convenient business and pleasure trips, but I have to say that the project just made all the [connecting] cities part of Tokyo.”

And where the Shinkansen’s long tentacles go, other services shrivel. Local governments in Japan rely heavily on the central government for funds and public works – it’s how the central government keeps them in line. Politicians actively court high-speed railways since they believe they attract money, jobs and tourists. In the early 1990s, a new Shinkansen was built to connect Tokyo to Nagano, host of the 1998 Winter Olympics. The train ran along a similar route as the Shinetsu Honsen, one of the most romanticised railroads in Japan, beloved of train buffs the world over for its amazing scenery – but also considered redundant by operators JR East because, as with almost all rural train lines in Japan, it lost money. There were only two profitable stations on the line – Nagano and the resort community of Karuizawa – and both would be served by the new Shinkansen. A large portion of the Shinetsu Honsen closed down; local residents who relied on it had to use cars or buses.

Meanwhile, the bullet train has sucked the country’s workforce into Tokyo, rendering an increasingly huge part of the country little more than a bedroom community for the capital. One reason for this is a quirk of Japan’s famously paternalistic corporations: namely, employers pay their workers’ commuting costs. Tax authorities don’t consider it income if it’s less than ¥100,000 a month – so Shinkansen commutes of up to two hours don’t sound so bad. New housing subdivisions filled with Tokyo salarymen subsequently sprang up along the Nagano Shinkansen route and established Shinkansen lines, bringing more people from further away into the capital.

 

A Marunouchi Shinkansen bullet train passes through central Tokyo.
A Shinkansen bullet train passes through central Tokyo.

The Shinkansen’s focus on Tokyo, and the subsequent emphasis on profitability over service, has also accelerated flight from the countryside. It’s often easier to get from a regional capital to Tokyo than to the nearest neighbouring city. Except for sections of the Tohoku Shinkansen, which serves northeastern Japan, local train lines don’t always accommodate Shinkansen rolling stock, so there are often no direct transfer points between local lines and Shinkansen lines. The Tokaido Shinkansen alone now operates 323 trains a day, taking 140 million fares a year, dwarfing local lines. This has had a crucial effect on the physical shape of the city. As a result of this funnelling, Tokyo is becoming even denser and more vertical – not just upward, but downward. With more Shinkansen passengers coming into the capital, JR East has to dig ever deeper under Tokyo Station to create more platforms.

Deepest of all is the new Tokyo terminal for the latest incarnation of the bullet train – the maglev, or Chuo (“central”) Shinkansen, which is supposed to connect Tokyo to Nagoya by 2027 and is being built 40m underground. The maglev is the next technological stage in the evolution of high-speed rail travel. It is meant to be a morale booster for Japan’s railway industry, which no longer boasts the fastest trains or the biggest ridership in the world, distinctions that now belong to Japan’s huge neighbour to the west.

 

A passenger in traditional dress on board a Japanese hikari shinkansen bullet train in 1965.

A passenger in traditional dress on board a Japanese Hikari Shinkansen bullet train in 1965. 

 

It is being built by JR Tokai, the company that runs the original super-profitable Tokaido Shinkansen, though experts assume the central government will eventually have to contribute money due to snowballing costs. The Chuo Shinkansen will cut the time it takes to get to Nagoya to 40 minutes, theoretically putting the central Japanese capital within commuting distance of Tokyo – in much the same way that the proposed HS2 will make Birmingham a bedroom community of London. “The Chuo Shinkansen will make Nagoya feel like a suburb of Tokyo,” said Hara.

If you have any doubt about that, consider that the maglev – short for “magnetic-levitation”, and known in Japanese as “linear motor car” – has to move in as straight and as level a line as possible in order to reach the speeds that will make it the fastest train on Earth. But since Japan’s topography is mostly mountainous, 86% of the journey will be underground. (The technology probably makes more sense on a flat, open terrain, and JR Tokai is trying to sell it abroad.) In other words, the maglev will essentially be a very long subway ride. Certainly few tourists will find it appealing.

Plans are to extend the maglev to Osaka by 2045, by which time potential ridership will have declined by a third, due to Japan’s shrinking population and more efficient air travel due to new regional airports. The Shinkansen is expensive; with the rise of low-cost carriers, any train trip that takes more than two hours from Tokyo is less cost-effective than flying. The development of the Shinkansen can’t be separated from geography. China’s faster, vaster high-speed rail service isn’t all focused on Beijing, because the country itself is huge; in Japan, however, until recently the Shinkansen was the best way to get to Tokyo from almost anywhere. Like the first Shinkansen, the maglev is a national project, even if the central government hasn’t spent any money on it (yet), but national priorities aren’t as clear as they were in the 1950s. Tokyo can’t get any bigger. Other areas of Japan are barely hanging on. Japan’s high-speed rail system may end up being the victim of its own success.

31 dead near peak of erupted volcano in Japan

Rescue workers at a cabin near the peak of Mount Ontake in Japan on Sunday.

New York Times:

Thirty-one hikers were found unconscious and apparently dead near the peak of a volcano in central Japan on Sunday, a day after it suddenly erupted, a police spokesman said. The danger of another eruption and of a release of toxic gases made it impossible to bring most of them down and confirm their deaths, he said.

The spokesman, Naofumi Miyairi, said that a perfunctory check by rescuers on the mountain indicated that their hearts and lungs appeared to have stopped, making it all but certain that they were dead. Mr. Miyairi said rescuers had found the fallen hikers near the top of Mount Ontake, a 10,062-foot volcano that erupted in a spectacular geyser of ash on Saturday, when the mountain was busy with climbers who had gone to see the first signs of autumn.

Japanese officials are often reluctant to declare people deceased until their death can be confirmed by a doctor. However, four of the hikers were later declared dead by doctors after their bodies were carried down, according to NHK News, Japan’s national broadcaster.

 

Television images showed that ash had blanketed the mountain’s upper slopes, turning them into a gray, lifeless moonscape. Mr. Miyairi said that many of the hikers were also found covered in ash. He said rescuers carried four of the fallen climbers down the mountain, but the rest had to be left behind, as the mountain continued to spew smoke on Sunday.

Local news reports said the top of the mountain was wrapped in a pungent odor of sulfur, raising fears of poison gases and new eruptions.

The volcano, which straddles the prefectures of Nagano and Gifu, two mountainous regions northwest of Tokyo, has erupted before, most recently in 1991. There had been weeks of minor earthquakes leading up to the larger eruption on Saturday, but nothing that seismologists had interpreted as a warning that a major event was on the way.

Mr. Miyairi, who is a spokesman for the Nagano prefectural police, said rescuers might have placed many of the bodies inside huts on the mountainside that had served as shelters for hikers, though he would not have full information until the rescuers returned from the mountain.

Rescue workers carried a victim from a cabin, left, near the peak of Mount Ontake after the volcanic eruption in Japan. 

The rescuers included soldiers, police officers and firefighters, local news reports said.

Earlier on Sunday, military helicopters were able to reach the volcano for the first time, after being blocked by the thick ash in the air. Television footage showed one helicopter that had rescued three hikers, who appeared to be conscious.

The Nagano prefectural government’s emergency response center said that many hikers had descended on their own, though others appeared to be trapped in shelters awaiting rescue. It said 30 of the hikers who had left the mountain were being treated for injuries, some serious. An additional 10 hikers who were injured were being treated in Gifu, according to local news reports.

The reports said that at least 250 hikers could have been on the mountain when it erupted.

Nagano’s response center could not confirm local news reports that about 45 hikers were still missing on Mount Ontake. Those reports also said a dozen hikers remained stranded in shelters on the volcano’s slopes, trapped by the eruption and possibly injured or unable to breathe properly because of the ash.

Link

Use your passport to get free Wi-Fi across Japan

 

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Mashable/Adario Strange:

 

Although Japan is renowned for having some of the best customer service on the planet, for various reasons, including language and cultural hurdles, it isn’t known as the most tourist-friendly destination.

Some of those hurdles also extend into the tech arena, namely, Wi-Fi. Although sidling up to a café in Europe or North America and grabbing a bit of free Wi-Fi for your mobile device is common, finding such wireless access in tech-centric Japan’s major cities remains notoriously difficult. But that’s about to change.

A new program launched by NTT (Japan’s largest telecom), is designed to serve foreign tourists on the hunt for Wi-Fi. For those who haven’t traveled to Japan, the program might seem behind the times, but for anyone familiar with attempting to find Wi-Fi in Japan, this is huge news.

Now, when a traveler arrives at a Japanese airport, they can present their passport and register for a Wi-Fi card that offers free Wi-Fi coverage via 45,000 hot spots in the eastern Japan area including Tokyo, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, Yokohama, Nagano, Nikko, Kusatsu, Tohoku, Hokkaido and Fukushima.

 

Wi-Fi Japan

 

Additionally, a traveler outside of the country preparing to visit Japan can download the iOS or Android version of the NAVITIME for Japan Travel app and obtain an ID and password beforehand. The app also offers an augmented reality mode that shows you a Street View-style image of the location where an available Wi-Fi hotspot is located.

However, the access only lasts for 14 days (or 336 hours), just enough to get you used to the free access, but not long enough to be truly useful for anyone planning an extended stay in Japan.

According to the Nikkei, the program is also being directed by the Japanese government, which plans to use the initiative to get more buildings in the country to offer Wi-Fi access.

The trial program, which began earlier this year, will last until September 2014.

 

Check out this link:

 

Use your passport to get free Wi-Fi across Japan

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Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

It’s time once again for travel website Trip Advisor’s list of the best places in Japan, as chosen by overseas visitors to the country. One of the things that makes Japan such a fascinated place to travel is its extreme mix of historical and modern attractions, both of which are represented in the top 30 which includes shrines, sharks, and super-sized robots.

 

30. Shinsaibashi – Osaka

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Starting things off, Osaka’s Shinsaibashi shopping district has something for just about everyone (as you can see by this photo that shows what appears to be everyone in the city browsing along its covered pedestrian walkway).

 

29. Nishiki Market – Kyoto

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Also known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” you might not find much in the way of souvenirs here, but it’s a great place to pick up ingredients for dinner or soak up the local atmosphere.

 

28. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology – Aichi

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We suppose they could have just called it the “Toyota Museum,” but then people might think the focus is just on cars, and not the broader theme of technology and innovation in general.

 

27. Video Game Bar Space Station – Osaka

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There’s a certain simple, pure fun to hanging out with some friends, sitting on your couch, and knocking back a couple of cold ones as you play some old school games. Unless your couch is old and lumpy, you sold off your old consoles, or you’re out of beer. Thankfully, this Osaka bar is here to help.

 

26. Kaiyukan – Osaka

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Rather not kill time in Osaka by killing zombies? The local aquarium, the Kaiyukan, is an awesome way to spend an afternoon. Don’t miss feeding time for the facility’s massive yet tranquil whale shark.

 

25. Sensoji – Tokyo

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Tokyo’s most famous temple, located in the Asakusa neighborhood, remains one of the best ways to see Japan’s traditional side while staying in the capital.

 

24. Centar Gai – Tokyo

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Sensoji too sedate for you? The collection of shops and restaurants known as Center Gai, right across the street from the famous Shibuya Scramble intersection, is a chance to experience Tokyo’s cacophony at its most colorful.

 

23. Dotonbori – Osaka

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Osaka’s foremost entertainment district is at its most dazzling after dark, where the light from the towering walls of neon signage reflect off the canal and enwraps you in its glow from all angles.

 

22. Nara Park – Nara

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The spacious Nara Park is one of two places in Japan where visitors can mingle with freely roaming packs of deer (the other being Hiroshima Prefecture’s Miyajima Island).

 

21. Jigokudani Yean Park – Nagano

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It’s important to read things all the way through. For example, Jigokudani (Hell Valley) sounds like a terrible place to visit. Tack Yaen (wild monkey) on the end though, and you’ve got Trip Advisor’s 21st most popular destination.

 

20. Meiji Shrine – Tokyo

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The Shinto counterpart to Buddhist Sensoji, the structure itself may not be the most impressive shrine in Japan, but the gorgeous forest path that leads up to it will make you forget just how close you are to the heart of the busiest city in the world.

 

19. Mori Art Museum – Tokyo

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Even if you’re got only a passing interest in high art, the vires from the attached observation deck, high above the Roppongi Hills entertainment complex, is a great way to get a grasp of the massive scale of Tokyo.

 

18. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum – Nagasaki

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As the second city to be devastated by a nuclear bomb, Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Museum is a grim reminder of the horrors of war.

 

17. Nijo Castle – Kyoto

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Instead of for protection, this Kyoto landmark was created to show the wealth and power of the shogun, and as such has a lower structure and more expansive gardens than other castles in Japan.

 

16. Robot Restaurant – Tokyo

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Modern decadence, on the other hand, is perhaps best encapsulated at this Shinjuku eatery where food is delivered to your table by bikini-clad waitresses piloting bikini-clad giant robots.

 

15. Kenrokuen Garden – Ishikawa

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Decidedly more refined is Kenrokuen, long considered one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan.

 

14. Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama – Kyoto

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We’re not sure why Iwatayama ranked higher than Jigokudani Yaen, but we’re guessing it might have something to do with its closer proximity to the already attractive tourist destination of Japan’s previous capital. Whatever the reason, though, can you ever really have too many monkey parks?

 

13. Sanjusangendo Temple – Kyoto

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Too hyped up from the monkey park? This temple, with its one thousand statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, ought to calm you down.

 

12. Matsumoto Castle – Nagano

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One of Japan’s most impressive original wooden fortresses, Matsumoto Castle’s location in the middle of Matsumoto City makes it an easy visit for those also looking to hike in the mountains of nearby Kamikochi.

 

11. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium – Okinawa

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More whale sharks also means more votes for tropical Okinawa’s showcase of aquatic life.

 

10. Shinshoji Temple / Naritasan – Chiba

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We’re happy to see Naritsan make the list, since we’re big fans ourselves.

 

9. Hakone Open-Air Museum – Kanagawa

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This outdoor collection of sculpture also happens to be near some of Japan’s finest hot springs and most beautiful views of Mt. Fuji.

 

8. Shinjuku Gyoen Park – Tokyo

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One more reason why you shouldn’t believe people who tell you, “There’s no greenery in central Tokyo!”

 

7. Kiyomizu Temple – Kyoto

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Some people complain about this hillside temple being crowded. It is, but that’s only because of how incredibly beautiful and awesome it is.

 

6. Mt. Takao / Okunoin Temple – Tokyo

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With hiking courses, beautiful foliage, and tales of tengu raven spirits, Mt. Takao is worth a visit for anyone into fitness, nature, or folklore.

 

5. Todaiji Temple – Nara

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In contrast to the cute deer running around outside in Nara Park, Todaiji houses the solemn 15-meter (49-foot) Great Buddha.

 

4. Kinkakuji – Kyoto

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Kyoto’s famous Golden Pavilion continues to attract visitors year-round.

 

3. Miyajima Island / Itsukushima Shrine – Hiroshima

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Miyajima’s torii gate rising out of the sea is something you’ll only see in Japan, and is the reason why it’s been gracing the covers of travel guides for decades. Add in the appeal of the deer that wander around town, the hiking trails that lead to the top of the island’s Mt. Misen, and the amazing views one you get there, and you’ve got Trip Advisor’s number-three choice.

 

2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum / Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

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Less than an hour away from Miyajima, Peace Memorial Park includes the A-Bomb Dome, Children’s Peace Monument, and the Peace Flame.

 

1. Fushimi Inari Shrine – Kyoto

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The top spot went to Fushimi Inari Shrine, and the seemingly endless tunnels of torii gates that cover the hillside it’s built on. Long overlooked due to its distance from other Kyoto attractions it’s still just a short train ride away from Kyoto Station, and one of the most unique experiences travelers can have in Japan.

 

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Source: Trip AdvisorIT Media

 

Check out this link:

 Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

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Marshmallow Shop Yawahada (Japan) creates cat-inspired marshmallows

 

How sweet is this? Imagine looking down at your cup of hot chocolate and seeing this! Nagano, Japan-based marshmallow shop Yawahada is the creator of CafeCat, an adorable package of floating marshmallow cats!

For 860 yen (that’s about $8 US dollars), you get two cats and four cat paw prints, two in chocolate and two in vanilla flavor. Not only are they cute, they’re supposedly delicious. The dissolving marshmallow cats can be put in hot soy milk, milk tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

Despite the overwhelming demand, international orders are currently not being taken. The company states on their website that they’re working on a system right now. However, if you plan on visiting Japan sometime soon, you can buy these while you’re there. Just remember to place your order at least three weeks in advance.

Check out this link:

 Marshmallow Shop Yawahada (Japan) creates cat-inspired marshmallows




Marshmallow Shop Yawahada’s website and Facebook page