issue 16 â”‚ 2018 FREE
A spectacular destination of cultural wonder The land of majestic beauty
n a p Ja
Prologue & Foreword Gallery
8 Travel News 10 The 2019 Rugby World Cup Schedule 12 Event Calendar 2018
The Joys of Japanese Cuisine
20 From Japan's Lunch Box to The World's Bento 22 An Interview with Andre Bishop 24 Special Report: Going walkabout in the sake towns of Takehara and Saijo 26 Asahi Super Dry 28 Japan's Unique Tea Culture 30 The Secret of Japan’s Razor-edged Knives 31
SEIKO Watch Collection
TRAVEL 32 SHINJUKU Roaming the streets of Shinjuku with Shinji Tsuchimochi 38 YOSHIDAMACHI Nightlife in Yoshidamachi, Yokohama – recommended bar-hopping
39 HAKONE A day-trip from Tokyo to a land of mystery 46 KANAZAWA Experience the intricacies of Japanese culture in a town lined with antique samurai houses 50 WAKAYAMA A land encompassed by steep mountains and sweeping coastlines, home to legends and faith of old 53 EHIME The beautiful bridge and island scenery of the Shimanami Kaido 54 KUSATSU Treasured hideaways, hot spring and sking havens of Japan 56 Aizu Take a look at Aizu, a secluded ski paradise 64 TRAVEL - TIPS
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Cover: Shinji TsuchimochiNo.67 Shin Nakamise Shopping Street (Asakusa) 1-39-2, Asakusa, Taito-kuCreated on 10/2015
issue 16 │ 2018 │ FREE EDITORIAL EDITOR IN CHIEF Kazuya Baba EDITORS Yuriko Ishii, Ryoji Yamauchi, Haruko Fukuda, Kaori Kinoshita, Marie Sekiwa TRANSLATORS & WRITERS Ida Van, Andrew Dahms, Christopher Hall, Taro Moriya
DESIGN ART DIRECTOR & DESIGNER Kosaku Makino DESIGNERS Anyu Tsuchima ADVERTISING GENERAL MANAGER Kazuya Baba
70 Finding a place to stay in Japan
The charm of the kimono still admired today
80 Tokyo Films
SYDNEY SALES MANAGER Naoto Ijichi
SYDNEY SALES REPRESENTATIVES Seiichiro Kanno, Yukie Yamamoto, Ryo Shidara
82 The tradition of Japanese tattoos and their future
NICHIGO PRESS PUBLICATIONS PUBLISHER Ike Ikeguchi
EXPERIENCE JAPAN IN SYDNEY
GENERAL MANAGER Kazuya Baba
87 The Japan Foundation, Sydney, Bring Japan to You
EDITORIAL email@example.com DESIGN firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING email@example.com
88 Gojyuan, Cypress baths and an authentic Japanese ryokan in Sydney
jStyle is published by NICHIGO PRESS AUSTRALIA PTY. LTD. Level 3, 724-728 George St., Sydney NSW Australia
90 Tokyo Mart, For all your Japanese food and sake needs in Sydney
General Enquiries Tel: (02)9211-1155 Fax: (02)9211-1722 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Websites: j-style.com.au / nichigopress.jp / www.nichigo.com
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68 Understanding Japanese Expressions 73 Sakura House, You won’t want to leave
GOLD COAST BRANCH MANAGER Yukiko Yokomichi
DISCLAIMER: While we take every care in ensuring that material published in jstyle is accurate, data and information may change after the date of publication, 1 Dec 2017. Nichigo Press cannot take responsibility for the content of advertisements and contributions from external persons or entities. No material may be reproduced in part or in whole without written consent from the copyright holders. Nichigo Press Australia requires as part of its terms and conditions of contract that the content of advertisements do not infringe the rights of any third party and do not breach any provision of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) or the Fair Trading Act 1987 (NSW) or similar legislation enacted in other states of Australia (or other jurisdictions). Nichigo Press cannot be held responsible for advertisements that breach these conditions.
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apan is set to be the stage for major international events in the coming years with the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games just a couple of the items to mark down in your calendar. In conjunction with these events, the Japanese national government and local governments have bulked up their efforts to attract more foreign visitors and make Japan a prime tourist destination. The efforts have certainly been effective in luring more international tourists to the nation however, local municipal governments of Japan have been honing their efforts more recently on Asia and, in particular, Australia. Ski resorts like those of Niseko, Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen are especially popular amongst Australian visitors and we here at jStyle have contributed to the buzz by introducing a number of ski resorts ourselves. However, a new wave of visitors have begun to trickle through and there seems to be a trend towards travellers visiting Japan outside of the ski season and away from the ski resorts. This is why we have decided to make some changes to the content we publish in our annual jStyle magazine. In addition to jStyle, we have created a spin-off magazine called “jSnow”, which focuses on all things snow in Japan. With the introduction of jSnow, jStyle will now shift its focus towards bringing readers a deeper understanding about locations in Japan and the charm of Japanese culture. The current edition of jStyle will shine some light onto Japanese food, which has gained some attention lately as a healthy way of living. There are also features on sake and tea as well to complement the food. Shinjuku is one of the destinations we are focusing on, with the help of some beautiful illustrations, for those who are interested in learning more about this popular place to stay in Tokyo. We will then wrap up the destinations with articles on Yoshidamachi, Kanazawa, Wakayama, Ehime and Kusatsu. From the world of skiing, we have included a well-received feature on Aizu, which can also be found in the current edition of jSnow. On the culture side, some love will be given to topics including fashion, movies and tattoos. To top things off, we’ve put in a little taste of what we focus on at Nichigo Press – Japanese experiences you can have in Sydney. We hope you enjoy this bigger, better, revamped issue of jStyle and discover the wonders Japan has in store for you!
Prologue Foreword Gallery
jStyle issue 16 │ 5
No. 68 Japanese Style Bar Yuchan (Monzennakacho) 2-9-4, Monzennakacho, Koto-ku Created on 10/2015
6 â”‚ jStyle issue 16
COLLABORATION WITH SHINJI TSUCHIMOCHI
No. 83 The Suzunari (Shimokitazawa) 1-45-15, Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku Created on 02/2016
As you may have ascertained from the front cover, jStyle is collaborating with Japanese illustrator, Shinji Tsuchimochi for this year’s edition. He is the illustrative mastermind behind “100 Views of Tokyo” and has a gathering of fans for his nostalgic, retro pieces. The illustration on the front cover is a piece which features the renowned Tokyo Skytree in the backdrop. Tsuchimochi explains his thought process behind the piece as follows, “While the Tokyo Skytree often makes little cameos in many different places and has gradually become a familiar sight, I was particularly inspired to draw this piece because of how it looks in the distance behind the deeply-rooted Asakusa arcade streets. The juxtaposition between the future and the past makes for a wonderful scene.” Following this prologue will be a foreword gallery comprising of three pieces specially chosen by us here at jStyle. If you’re interested in seeing the pieces in the flesh, the locations where each of the works can be found on display have also been included. Our special feature on Shinjuku is also a collaborative effort with Tsuchimochi, so we hope his works help to give you a taste of Shinjuku’s charm.
Profile SHINJI TSUCHIMOCHI An illustrator based in Tokyo. Shinji Tsuchimoto studied Japanese-style painting at Tama Art University while he pursued his own love of art by drawing on inspiration from local illustrators of the 1980s. He has wielded his paintbrush to create pieces for various different forms of media No. 87 Rashomon (Shimbashi) 1-13-8, Shimbashi, Minato-ku Created on 03/2016
including album covers. “100 Views of Tokyo” (Shikaku Publishing) released in October 2016 in Tsuchimoto’s masterpiece work.
jStyle issue 16 │ 7
New flights connecting Japan and Australia
and for Sydney in the evening broadens the range of choices for all travellers in Japan, Australia, and Oceania as a whole. In July 2017, Qantas Airlines also announced a direct route between Sydney and Osaka. In addition to the existing Qantas Airlines direct route between Sydney and Haneda, Brisbane and Narita, Melbourne and Narita, and the Qantas Group, Jetstar Airways, direct route between Cairns and Osaka, this is the only direct route between Sydney and Osaka. The airline plans to operate three flights a week from 14 December, 2017. 2018 will see the 70th anniversary celebrations of flights between Japan and Australia.
for visitors to Japan
Tourist information you’ll want to know before planning your trip to Japan, and news on handy services for while you’re there. *The information in this article is current as of November 2017
Looking ahead to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
reparations are now well underway in Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The main stadium for the event, which is set to host a record number of 33 sports and 339 events, sprawls across the boundaries of the Shinjuku and Shibuya wards where the National Stadium in the outer gardens of the Meiji Jingu Gardens is being completely reformed into the New National Stadium. In addition to creating a new stadium with a maximum capacity of 80,000, selection of an official mascot, development of a schedule for the events, preparations for the opening and closing ceremonies and torch relay are all now fully underway, with work moving ahead on each of its venues. A policy to match a "hydrogen town" capable of providing power using hydrogen energy alongside the athletes village has also been drafted. The facilities are to be created in Harumi in Chuo ward, which is close to airports and allows easy access by bus or train. The steady increase in visitors to Japan from abroad in recent years is expected to boom in the coming years ahead of the event, and preparations to address the inbound market are also moving ahead rapidly.
eptember 2017 saw Japan Airlines open two new routes to Japan in response to high demand from Australia’s second largest metropolitan area, Melbourne, and Kona in Hawaii. Both routes are direct flights leaving Narita with one flight in either direction (one round trip) each day. Japan Airlines is said to have created these new routes in addition to its existing Narita-Sydney route to accommodate an anticipated increase in people travelling between Australia and Japan due to the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement that took effect in January 2015. This schedule of flights departing Narita for Melbourne in the morning
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Sales of the Japan Expressway Pass commence
ctober 2017 saw the start of sales of the Japan Expressway Pass, a ticket that allows foreign visitors to Japan to travel on all expressways in Japan for an entire week without limitation. Where some regional expressway companies have produced their own regional passes from time to time up until now, this is the first pass to cover the entire country. Because the expressway network connects every corner of Japan, the pass was created
DISCOVER A NEW SIDE OF JAPAN The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is an organisation that provides information on the attractions of Japan to those living in Australia and New Zealand. The JNTO homepage contains an exhaustive listing of handy information for those
with the objective of bringing tourists to and boosting regional destinations by helping draw as many tourists from abroad to travel to regions of Japan above and beyond the golden routes. Payment is made via ETC (Electronic Toll Collection), negating the need to stop at toll booths and make payments, allowing even those unfamiliar with the Japanese language to travel without needing to communicate. The price is 20,000 yen for 7 days, and 34,000 yen
for 14 days. As an example, the fare for a standard car to travel between Tokyo and Nagoya would be 7,090 yen, which shows just how lost the cost is for travellers from abroad. Those with a non-Japanese passport or Japanese persons with permanent residency in a country outside Japan can apply. You also need a drivers license that is valid in Japan. Taking the expressways will let you cut down your travel time and also experience the thrill of a drive across the country.
interested in traveling to Japan, from information on Japanese culture, art, food, skiing, shopping, hot springs, and other topics to travel agents and how to get about. The homepage is frequently updated with the latest details, and is worth a look before you plan your adventure.
The jStyle Facebook page is also a source of information on Japanese culture. Here you can find information that brings you face to face with
World Heritage Listing of Okinoshima and Related Relics
n July 2017, the Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Relics in the Munakata Region in Fukuoka Prefecture was registered as Japan’s 21st World Heritage Site (17th cultural heritage site). Okinoshima is an island floating out in the waters some 60km northwest of the Munakata Taisha on mainland Kyushu, and is a strategic point in the waterways leading to China and the Korean Peninsula. It was worshipped as a holy site in the 4th to 9th centuries AD, and is the site of approximately 80,000 relics, earning it the nickname of,
"the warehouse on the ocean". It is a holy site where no women are allowed to set foot even today, and only up to 200 men are permitted to visit once per year during a grand festival. Everyone can, however, visit the Munakata Taisha Nakatsugu, Munakata Taisha Okitsumiya, and Munakata Taisha Hetsumiya shrines, and the Shimbaru Nuyama Mounded Tombs that form part of the listing. Munakata Taisha Okitsumiya in particular is a place where you can worship Okinoshima from afar given that it is forbidden to visit the island itself. The listing
Japan, ranging from information on traditional Japanese sweets to historic castles and temples, summer fireworks festivals, beautiful outdoor spots, unique Japanese language expressions and more. You can also find the details of events where you can experience Japanese culture and pop culture right here in Australia such as SMASH!,
encompasses historic sites and cultural assets related to the head priests of the Munakata clan and the faith of the Munakata Taisha shrine, which worships the three goddesses of Munakata, and is known as a spot where a faith in and festivals based around worship of nature have been passed on since the 4th century – it is this that earned its listing as a World Heritage Site.
the coming of spring with cherry blossom festivals, and more. Grab your smartphone or computer and come in search of a new side of Japan!
jStyle issue 16 │ 9
The 2019 Rugby World Cup Schedule
POOL DRAW As of 11 Nov 2017
POOL A Ireland Scotland Japan Europe 1
he schedule and venues of all games of the next Rugby World Cup, which will take place in Japan in 2019, has been announced. The 9th instalment of the event will occur in Asia for the first time ever and feature 20 teams playing 48 matches across 12 venues. The tournament will kick off at Tokyo Stadium on September 20th and close with the grand final in Yokohama on November 2nd. The previous tournament’s runners up, the Australian
"Wallabies", who are currently ranked 3rd in the world, will take on Fiji the day after the opening game on September 21st at Sapporo Dome in Hokkaido then meet Wales at Tokyo Stadium on September 29th, the Americas 2 team (Canada or Uruguay) at Oita Stadium on October 5th and finish their Pool League stage with a clash against Georgia at Shizuoka Stadium on October 11th. In Pool B New Zealand, who are aiming to win the tournament for a historical third consecutive time,
will take on South Africa, a team which boasts 2 previous World Cup championships, in Yokohama on September 21st while Pool C features England, now coached by Eddie Jones who guided Japan in the last World Cup, battle with 3 time runners up France on October 12th in the same venue. Furthermore, it’s been decided that 2 preliminary league matches will be played in Kamaishi city in Iwate Prefecture, the epicentre of the devastating Great East Japan earthquake of 2011.
POOL B New Zealand South Africa Italy Africa 1 Repechage Winner
POOL C England France Argentina USA Tonga
POOL D Australia Wales Georgia Fiji Americas 2
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HOST CITY / VENUE HOST CITY / VENUE Toyota, Aichi Prefecture
Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture
City of Toyota Stadium
Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture
Hanazono Rugby Stadium
Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium
Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture
Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture
Kobe Misaki Stadium
Kumagaya Rugby Stadium
Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture
Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium
Kumamoto, Kumamoto Prefecture
Yokohoma, Kanagawa Prefecture
International Stadium Yokohama
Oita, Oita Prefecture
Fukuroi, Shizuoka Prefecture
Shizuoka Stadium ECOPA
KIDS RUGBY EVENT IN KAMAISHI FOR RUGBY WORLD CUP JAPAN 2019 Kamaishi is a steel
Words and Photography: Peter Gibson (Gullivers Sport Travel)
Australia’s support of Kamaishi. He
which set a new rugby crowd record
in the north, to Kumamoto in the south.
was there as a part of the Aussie Beef
of 43,000 and included exchange
This will be its first time in Asia and
Australia Japan Junior Rugby Festival
matches and clinics from ex-Wallabies
the first outside the traditional rugby
of the main island of Japan. It holds a
and held a couple of rugby clinics for
such as Stirling Mortlock and ex-Japan
nations, and for 6 weeks it will be an
special place in Japanese rugby history
the children of Kamaishi.
National team players.
experience not to be missed. “Japan
industry city of 35000 way up on the north-east coast
winning seven national championships
Ella was shown first-hand about
In 2019, the third biggest sporting
in a row back in the 70’s & 80’s.
the disaster of 2011 and the recovery
event in the world will be played across
just for the games but for the rest of
Kamaishi lost 1250 of its citizens and
efforts of Kamaishi but to recover in
12 prefectures of Japan from Hokkaido
the activities and experiences that
suffered severe damage when the
time for the Rugby World Cup.
earthquake and tsunami hit this area of Japan on March 11, 2011. There will hardly be a dry eye in
The junior rugby festival, supported
is buzzing with rugby excitement. Not
Japan offers," said Ella. “The phrase gets used widely but
by Aussie Beef, included Ella’s trip to
if you are a rugby fan or even just a
Kamaishi with another ex-Wallaby,
sports fan then this rugby world cup
the house when Kamaishi hosts its
Justin Harrison and also a junior rugby
is one that you really will not want to
first game of the Rugby World Cup at
exchange event held in Yokohama
miss," continues Ella.
2.15pm on Sept 25, 2019 at the newly
for over 300 kids including a team
built Recovery Memorial Stadium.
from Australia. The event was held
Rugby World Cup in Japan 2019
the day before the historic test match
please contact the writer on peter@
between the Wallabies and Japan
Rugby legend, Mark Ella, recently visited Kamaishi to show his and
If you are keen to attend the
jStyle issue 16 │ 11
Hinamatsuri MARCH 3 JAPAN
Also known as Girls’ Day, it is an annual celebration of the wellbeing of daughters in the household. It is a custom to decorate homes with ornate dolls on a special platform.
The Tokyo Marathon
Hatsumode JANUARY 1 JAPAN Hatsumode is the the first Shinto shrine visit of the Japanese New Year.
FEBRUARY 25 JAPAN The 2017 marathon begins at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building and finishes at Tokyo Station, Gyoko-dori. Some 35,000 runners took part in 2017. www.marathon.tokyo/en
Sapporo Snow Festival
An international festival now in its 68th year, it features enormous and breathtaking snow statues on display in Odori Park and Tsudome in Sapporo, Hokkaido.
FEBRUARY 1 – 12 JAPAN
Supanova Pop Culture Expo APRIL 20 – 22 (MELBOURNE) APRIL 27 – 29 (GOLD COAST) JUNE 15 – 17 (SYDNEY) JUNE 22 – 24 (PERTH) AUSTRALIA This is a celebration of pop culture in all its forms - TV, film, books, comics, toys, gaming, animation, cosplay and more! A number of high-profile personalities are scheduled to appear, including actors, comic book illustrators, authors and voice over artists. Check the website regularly for ticket release dates, prices and schedule amendments. www.supanova.com.au
Gion Festival JULY 1 - 31 JAPAN Lasting for an entire month, Kyoto’s Gion Festival is one of the three biggest festivals in Japan. The festival showcases many traditional events, foods, clothing and activities, but the centrepiece of this religious festival is a large float parade that takes place on July 17 and 24. gionfestival.org
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Japanese Film Festival
Aomori Nebuta Festival
OCTOBER - NOVEMBER AUSTRALIA
AUGUST JAPAN A parade of lanterns shaped like samurai warriors through the streets of the city of Aomori. Some can measure up to eight metres high and fifteen metres wide! This is the largest nebuta float festival in Japan, attracting a large number of tourists each year. Since 1980, this festival has been designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. www.nebuta.or.jp
Every year, Australia plays host to one of the largest Japanese film festivals worldwide. This event is presented by the Japan Foundation (Sydney) and will be travelling around the country to Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. A variety of films will be screened, showcasing both classics of Japanese cinema, as well as more modern offerings. www.japanesefilmfestival.net
Shichigosan NOVEMBER 15 JAPAN Shichigosan, or the seven-five-three festival, is a Japanese celebration for girls aged seven, boys aged five, and boys and girls aged three.
Matsuri in Sydney DECEMBER AUSTRALIA
Matsuri in Sydney, held annually, is one of the most exciting Japanese events in Australia. A wide range of Japanese dishes, beers and dance performances can be enjoyed here. You can also participate in a variety of workshops to experience traditional arts and crafts.
AUGUST JAPAN This festival is the largest dance festival in Japan, dating back over 400 years. Over 1.3 million tourists visit the city of Tokushima every year to see the traditional dancers performing.
Kishiwada Danjiri Festival SEPTEMBER 15 - 16 JAPAN Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri, a float festival, takes place in Kishiwada, Osaka. Thirty-four unique and intricately designed floats are carried through this castle town. www.city.kishiwada.osaka.jp/site/danjiri/english.html
jStyle issue 16 â”‚ 13
THE JOYS OF JAPANESE CUISINE 14 â”‚ jStyle issue 16
In 2013, traditional Japanese cuisine was registered on UNESCOâ€™s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The booming popularity of Japanese food in recent years has helped it spread across Australia and all throughout the world. Moreover, a World Health Organization (WHO) report found that of its 194 Member States, Japan led the world in terms of average life expectancy in 2016 at an average age of 83.7 for men and women, leading to further praise for the healthy nature of Japanese food and driving the spread of Japanese restaurants and supermarkets offering Japanese ingredients across Australia. Its popularity is such that numerous words from the culinary vocabulary of Japan such as umami, dashi, sake, and the names of other ingredients are recognised in the English language. To find what forms the very backbone of this culinary culture, you need look no further than fermented foods.
JAPAN IS ONE OF THE TOP PRODUCERS OF FERMENTED FOOD PRODUCTS IN THE WORLD WHAT IS FERMENTED FOOD?
Fermented food refers to food products that are created by intentionally adding microorganisms such as bacteria, mould, or yeast to wheat, legumes and other foodstuffs to break them down. While the products of the fermentation process largely depend on the exact combination of base ingredients and the microorganisms involved, the alcohol and organic acids increase the intensity of the flavour. Some fermented foods also aid in digestion and are high in nutritional value. Fermentation itself is a process where the rapid multiplication of these microorganisms is used to change the original composition of ingredients in a way that is beneficial to human beings. Enzymes naturally found in the bacteria in food ingredients break down starches and proteins to create amino acids, sugar, and a variety of other products, creating a new flavour and full aroma not found in the original ingredients and changing them into a fermented food high in nutritional value. It should also be noted that when the action of bacteria is beneficial to the human body, it is known as "fermentation", and when it is detrimental, it is known as "decay". By the same token, bacteria that cause a fermentation reaction in foods are called "good bacteria", while those that cause food to decay are called "harmful bacteria". Japan itself is one of the top producers of fermented food products in the world. In particular, fermented foods created using koji mould are said to have been a key factor in the
development of Japanâ€™s fermented food culture. Yet while the benefits of fermented foods have been gaining increased attention in recent years, many are still unfamiliar with the exact mechanism by which fermentation works and how it creates such full flavour. THE UNIQUE FERMENTED FOODS OF JAPAN
Fermented food products have appeared in countries across the globe as a form of preserved food since the times of old. Where the main varieties in the West were bread, yoghurt, cheese, salami, anchovies, beer, and wine, in the East, outside Japan, were kimchi, fish sauce, and fermented tofu. Some of the more common varieties of fermented foods in Japan include soy sauce, miso, vinegar, mirin, natto, katsuobushi, pickled vegetables, sake, shochu, and more. Soy sauce is made through a fermentation of soybeans and wheat using koji mould, yeast, and lactic-acid bacilli. The fermentation process increases the level of amino acids present, which boosts the umami flavour and imparts the sweetness of grape sugar, the acidity of lactic acid, and the bitterness of peptides that come together to produce the unique flavour of soy sauce. The key principles of cooking in Japan are said to be the amount of salt used, the dashi, and the level of heat applied, all of which are influenced by soy sauce. Soy sauce is the deciding factor in the level of salt in a dish, and also contains glutamic acid, which is a component of dashi. The smell of soy sauce caramelising is one that whets the appetite and is a moment where chefs can showcase their
cooking skills. This distinct aroma is one that only soy sauce can produce. To the Japanese, soy sauce is so broad in its application that it is hard to find a dish with which it would not pair well. Its colour, flavour, and aroma partners well with and complements meat, fish, vegetables, and all ingredients without being overly pronounced. Soy sauce is so natural a complement to sushi and sashimi that it is hard to imagine them without it, but there is a reason why it makes such a good match. While it does, of course, add to the flavour, soy sauce also has the ability to cancel out the raw smell of the fish. It is also mildly acidic in nature, and neutralises the trimethylamine that is the root cause of this smell. Soy sauce is also sterilising. There are also reports that the salt, alcohols, and organic acids halt the growth of and kill bacteria in the gut. Miso, a staple of the Japanese dining table, is known as the "meat of the fields" for the high level of protein it contains, and is made by fermenting soybeans to bring out a sweetness and umami and make it easier to consume. It warms the body, promotes good circulation and gut health, fights cancer, slows the effects of ageing, lowers cholesterol, and provides a range of other benefits. The health benefits of the high nutritional value it offers have even earned it the phrase "eat miso and say goodbye to the doctor". There are many types of miso such as rice miso, barley miso, and soybean miso each differentiated by their production methods and ingredients, and red, light yellow, and white miso based on colour.
jStyle issue 16 â”‚ 15
THE POWER OF KOJI
Condiments such as soy sauce and miso that form a core component of Japanese food would not be possible if not for koji, and it is no exaggeration to say that Japan’s unique culinary culture owes its existence to the powers of the koji that shaped it. Koji is a product of koji mould being applied to steamed cereals such as rice, wheat, and soybean and allowed to reproduce under the right heat and humidity.
KEY BACTERIA IN FERMENTED FOODS
In much the same way as there is a wide variety of fermented foods in the world, there is an equally wide variety of the bacteria used to create it. Let’s take a look at the five main types.
1. KOJI MOULD A type of mould that multiplies when heat is applied to cereals such as rice and soybeans. Two types of enzymes produce sugars and amino acids during the fermentation process, adding sweetness and umami to the flavour. Essential to the creation of miso and soy sauce. 2. YEAST A fungus that breaks down sugars to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol. Found everywhere from the air and in the ground to the surface of vegetables. Used to create alcoholic drinks, bread, miso, soy sauce, and more. 3. ACETOBACTER The collective name for a type of fungus that converts alcohol into acetic acid. Vinegar is alcohol
16 │ jStyle issue 16
passed through an acetic acid fermentation. From rice vinegar made from sake to wine vinegar made from wine, there are as many types of vinegar as there are types of alcohol. 4. LACTIC-ACID BACILLI A fungus that breaks down sugars to create lactic acid. Yoghurt and cheese are products of a lactic fermentation. Also involved in the process of creating miso, soy sauce, and sake. Highly acidic in nature, it is also able to kill other types of bacteria. 5. NATTO BACTERIA A bacteria found on rice stalks. Creates natto when natto bacteria is added to steamed soybean. Natto bacteria produces a special type of enzyme called, "nattokinase" that is good for gut health and promotes good blood flow.
Based on the principles of macrobiotics, fermented foods are a core foodstuff that should be proactively incorporated into one’s daily diet. They are both traditional in nature, and represent a tradition of techniques used to preserve local seasonal produce. Fermented foods also contain live bacteria known as probiotics that are beneficial to the human body. Consuming fermented food products, which are probiotics, adjusts the balance of intestinal flora and promotes good gut health. They offer many benefits, playing a role in invigorating enteric bacteria, promoting good passage, and leading to larger numbers of good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are also good for our mental wellbeing. It was recently scientifically proven that certain bacteria have the psychological benefit of reducing feelings of unease in the internal organs, and the bacteria commonly used in fermented foods common to Japanese cuisine are said to reduce anxiety and stress, and boost your sense of happiness.
FERMENTED FOODS OFFER THREE MAIN BENEFITS IMPROVING THE FLAVOUR OF FOOD
When bacteria come in contact with the base ingredients of food, they use enzymes to convert starches into a sweet component - sugar - and proteins into an umami component - amino acids. This gives fermented foods their well-rounded, deep flavour and softness, increases their nutrient makeup, and boosts their level of umami flavour. The enzymes produced by the bacteria have a great effect on the flavour and aroma of the food. IMPROVING THE PRESERVATION OF FOOD
The benefits of fermentation are not just in altering the flavour, aroma, and makeup of food. Fermented foods can often also be preserved over a long period of time, many of which were originally created with this quality in mind. For example, miso and natto last longer than soybeans, and cheese and yoghurt last longer than milk. One contributing factor to this is that fermented foods are often prepared using salt, but the main reason is that the bacteria that bring about fermentation prevent the multiplication of other bacteria. The good bacteria contained in fermented food counter bad bacteria that cause decay, and the components created during the fermentation process themselves sometimes have antibacterial capabilities, making them a powerful preservative. This action has the ability to halt the decaying effects of bad bacteria to an extent, allowing
foods to be preserved longer than in their fresh state and also increasing the umami flavour by maturing the food. HEALTH AND BEAUTY
Fermentation accelerates the process of decomposition, leaving food in a state where it is easier to take in the nutrients in comparison to other food, and making it perfect for receiving an immediate intake of nutrients. The enzymes and lactic-acid bacilli found in fermented foods also promote gut health and strengthen immunity. They contain a large amount of good bacteria that promote good gut health and boost immunity, and the increase in good bacteria in the gut lowers the level of bad bacteria, boosting immunity by allowing you to take in more nutrients; not to mention the antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotene, flavonoids, polyphenol and more, all of which fermentation makes easier to take into the body, removing free radicals (reactive oxygen) and increasing the efficiency of amino acid and enzyme intake required for beautiful skin, providing an anti-ageing effect. The enzymes included in fermented foods promote good digestion and make it easier to pass decayed enzymes that act as food for bad bacteria. The lactic-acid bacilli included in many fermented foods also promote good gut health and have a detoxing effect. Incorporating fermented Japanese foods into your diet will help both your body and mind stay happy and healthy.
jStyle issue 16 â”‚ 17
RECIPES USING KOJI (SOY SAUCE, MISO) Photos by: Miho Watanabe
Recipes provided by soramame, based in Australia, a promoter of healthy living based on the principles of macrobiotics.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SALAD INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4-5)
1/6 pumpkin, cut into 5mm
1. Place the pumpkin under a
slices and coat in a smalll amount of olive oil DRESSING 2 tsp soy sauce 1 tsp ama-koji
grill and roast both sides until golden. 2. Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and dress
KEIKO IKEDA PROFILE
on the pumpkin.
1.5 tbsp brown rice vinegar 30g roasted walnut 3-4 llettuce leaves for serving
Keiko is a fully trained macrobiotic instructor having
SEASONAL VEGETABLE MISO SOUP
obtained her *Pumpkin contains a natural sweetness. It helps to support the spleen and pancreas, and also has a calming effect. *Nuts contain protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, they also have lots of fat, so eat in moderation. *Miso and soy sauce are made through the process of fermenting soybeans and koji. Be sure to select products that have no artificial additives.
diploma from the Kushi Institute in Japan. She holds regular macrobiotic cooking classes in Sydney as well as miso making workshops. Keiko is also the founder of SoramameKoji House which produces delicious, healthy koji products. Supporting people's busy lifestyle with healthy, wholesome food is Keiko's passion.
18 │ jStyle issue 16
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4-5)
1. Place the stock
4g dried wakame
ingredients in a bowl for
approximately 15 minutes
VEGETABLES 1/2 carrot, finely sliced 1/2 onion, finely sliced 2 stickes parsley, finely chopped 1 shallot, finely sliced for garnish MISO 3-4 tbsp miso, dissolved in a bowl with small amount of soup
to soak. Drain to separate the liquid (stock) from the wakame. 2. Place the stock and carrots and onion into a pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 minutes. 3. Add the wakame and parsley. Once it comes back to the boil simmer for 1 minute. Slowly add dissolved miso, and remove from the heat.
All ingredients used in recipes can be found in Australia at locations such as your local supermarket, aboutlife (http://www.aboutlife.com. au), Tokyo Mart (http://www.junpacific.com/tokyomart/index.html), and soramame (http://www.soramame.com.au/en).
THE HISTORY OF FERMENTED FOODS IN JAPAN
Fermented foods have appeared across the world through the ages. Their history is a long one, and while it is unclear when they first came about exactly, estimates place it at 4,000 to 6,000 years ago. In other words, fermented foods have been loved by people across the world since before the times of recorded history. The oldest written record in Japan is of salt-pickled gourd described on a wooden tablet
during the Tenpyo era (729 - 749) of the Nara period. Japan’s warm, humid climate is well suited to fermentation, and fermented foods made using koji created by steaming rice, wheat, and soybeans have been common throughout the ages. The creation of koji mould was a key element in enabling the creation of various fermented food products that are pillars of Japan’s culinary culture such as soy sauce, miso, sake, and vinegar.
There were already makers of seed malt used in the production of koji in the Heian period, thought to be the first commercial traders in bacteria across the world. There was even a soy sauce producer in Kyoto around that time that could make soy sauce based on four types of base ingredients (cereals, fish, meat, and vegetables) using an incredible technique where ash was used to extract koji mould and nothing else.
jStyle issue 16 │ 19
FROM JAPAN'S LUNCH BOX TO THE WORLD'S BENTO
Japanese lunch boxes, with their collection of numerous small dishes and appealing presentation, have grown so far in popularity that they have come to be known simply by their Japanese name, "bento", even outside Japan. While Japanese food itself is popular for the healthy image it fosters, bento are coming under the spotlight thanks to the well-balanced meal they provide. From a more traditional style, to train station bento, and the almost art-like bento arranged in the shape of popular characters, you might be surprised at the sheer variety available. In this article, we dive into the world of bento today, and see what makes them so special.
The lunch boxes of the world vary so greatly in their style and contents that a peek at lunchtime fare offers you insight into the very culinary culture of a given country. Sandwiches squeezed into plastic containers are the norm in the West, with simple combinations such as peanut butter and jam making for a typical filling. Common side dishes include crackers, and vegetables and fruit carried in plastic containers and lunch bags to be eaten as is. In comparison, the Japanese lunch box - the bento - offers a well-balanced mix of main and side dishes that cover a broad range of nutritional needs. They are both appealing and unique in their appearance, and are highly regarded for being healthy. SO, WHAT ARE BENTO?
While the word "bento" is now widely understood across the world, exactly what is this piece of Japanâ€™s culinary culture? In Japan, "bento" refers to food that can be eaten while out and about, away from home that is stored and carried along in containers. Bento can be either a hand-made variety prepared in the home, or a commercial product bought in stores. Commonly consumed at lunch, bento often account for one of the three main meals of the day. As such, those with a good nutritional makeup that offer one third of the daily requirements are
20 â”‚ jStyle issue 16
popular. Good presentation is also considered an important aspect of enhancing their visual appeal. Because the dishes in a bento are combined together in limited space, they demand different considerations to standard plating of food. There must be little liquid left in the food prepared, and the taste and colour of the food must change very little, even after being refrigerated or left untouched for some time. Food that goes off easily is avoided, and ingredients that must be cooked before consumption must be well done. Food with a strong smell can fill the bento with their odour, giving off a strong smell when the bento is opened or even affecting the taste of other dishes, and is, therefore, often avoided as well. Rice can spoil if added while hot, and must be added after it has cooled. These and other techniques are crucial. A BENTO FOR EVERY OCCASION
Overseas in Australia and elsewhere, Japanese-style bento most commonly appear on the menu of Japanese restaurants. In Japan, however, the bento was originally
TYPES OF BENTO
designed to provide a meal for those out for the dayâ€™s labour and unable to return to home to eat. As such, bento are found in many different places. Not only are bento commonly brought to the office or school for lunch, they are also commonly taken along on excursion, such as picnics or flower-viewing parties. The bento is also often served as a type of boxed lunch combining both a main dish and side dishes during occasions, such as the celebration of a childâ€™s first seasonal festival, Buddhist ceremonies, and even meetings at the office.
There are many types of bento in Japan, from bento made at home and taken to the office or school for lunch, to those sold at stores specialising in bento such as Hotto Motto, bento called "ekiben" that are made for long train rides, convenience store bento, chef-made bento served at restaurants, and more. In particular, the "makunouchi" style of bento that combines rice formed into a rectangular shape with numerous side dishes has a long history. Designed as a meal served during the intermission to stage plays during the Edo period, this style of bento is one of the most common commercial bento today. There are many unique variations on the bento nowadays, ranging from those arranged in the shape of popular characters and introduced alongside photographs on Instagram and other social media and blogs, to the sushi sandwich style called "onigirazu". Bento are made not just to be eaten, but to be enjoyed and to give joy, and it is this sense of entertainment that marks the bento of today.
jStyle issue 16 â”‚ 21
GOURMET Sake THE ROAD TO BECOMING A SAKE PROFESSIONAL
AN INTERVIEW WITH SAKE MASTER, ANDRE BISHOP Interview: Ryoji Yamauchi
22 â”‚ jStyle issue 16
First, let me tell you a little about my background. As a sake professional, I have spent the past 20 years working to raise awareness about Japanese sake and other alcoholic drinks from Japan. In 2013, I received the prestigious title of Sake Samurai from the Japan Sake Brewers Association Junior Council in recognition for my work in promoting sake and Japanese culture in general. It was a surprise to receive an award like this, especially since the road that brought me here began with a passing interest in Japan; I never planned to be recognised as a sake professional. My connection to Japan originated at a young age with simply watching Japanese cartoons (anime) on TV. However, as I grew older the number of Japaninspired interests grew as if there was something that kept drawing me back to be emotionally invested in the country. When I was old enough to go out to dine it was a natural choice for me to start frequenting Japanese restaurants and in doing so gained an even greater understanding of the food, culture and this amazing drink, sake. My first experience of premium Japanese sake came in 1996 on my first trip to Japan. I travelled across the country over a period of 5 weeks, often eating in local izakaya featuring sake from the region. That was the moment when it truly struck home just how amazing Japanese sake is, and how good a partner it makes with a wide range of foods. I was also taken by the role of the izakaya as a meeting place, that brings people together in a friendly atmosphere where there was a comradery shared over sake. This was the beginning of my love affair with the rich world of Japanese food and sake, and my personal desire to build a stronger connection with the country led to my desire to share my interests in and passion for Japan with others. The journey that then began to learn more about sake tasting and food pairings led to me becoming a sake professional. SAKE AND WINE - SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
While sake and wine share a place as drinks that can be especially enjoyed with food, there are several distinct differences. I usually donâ€™t like to draw comparisons between the two as I feel it is important that they are seen as what they are, two very different
beverages. However, if pressed, I will say that from a purely scientific angle, sake, by way of its amino acid composition is in general a better match to food in most cases. There is a phrase in Japan that simply states, "sake does not fight with food." One common trait of sake is that it makes for a good partner to food. Whether high in salt, deep fried, or full bodied, sake has the ability to make a good partner to all dishes no matter what you serve. In particular, where wine makes a poor partner with foods that are high in salt, one of the key traits of sake is that it matches extremely well with foods that are very salty. When it comes to wine, you choose what to drink first, then look for a matching dish second. In other words, wine takes centre stage on the table because it makes you consider what to eat based on your selection of wine. You might even say that wine is the leader, and that food follows after. In that sense, sake and food both stand on an even setting. Sake is flexible in its pairing with food, and helps bring out the flavour of the food itself. Sake is a drink that combines a full aroma with the ability to perfectly match any food you put it with.
ANDRE BISHOP With 20 years of experience promoting Japanese beverages, Andre Bishop is recognised as Australiaâ€™s leading authority on sake. As a pioneer of the local sake scene he continues to provide consulting, education and promotional services to assist both the industry and the consumer. He shares his passion for sake with others in order to encourage more Australians to discover the joys of sake and Japanese culture in general. In August 2013, Andre was inaugurated as a Sake Samurai in Kyoto, Japan. This prestigious title has only been bestowed to a handful of non-Japanese sake experts around the world and is the highest honour awarded by the Japanese sake industry. Andre owns a number of award
CATEGORIES AND VARIETIES OF SAKE
The three main grades of sake are: daijinjo, ginjo, and honjozo. The principle difference between them is the degree to which the rice used is polished. Daiginjo is generally considered a highgrade sake where an extremely large proportion of the rice has been polished away, making it in most cases delicate in style. In highly milled grades, certain rice strains are commonly used such as Yamada Nishiki, since it is known for its smooth and translucent mouthfeel and, when partnered with the right yeast, can produce stunning floral or fruity notes. junmai styles signify sake where the alcohol is derived from fermentation alone, whereas non-junmai grades do contain the addition of a small amount of brewers alcohol By comparison, the ginjo and honjozo categories retain a stronger aroma of rice, and are fuller both in body and flavour. These varieties are comparable in style to a fuller-bodied wine. It is important to note that when we discuss these characteristics of grades, rice and styles we usually talk in general terms, however, there are always exceptions to the rule. This variety and variation
winning Japanese restaurants in Melbourne that showcase the depth and breadth of what sake has to offer. He is the Australian Brand Manager for the prestigious Dassai brewery and is one of the few non-Japanese to have been accepted into the often closed world of sake breweries and has worked as a sake brewer in Kyoto and Yamaguchi. (Web: www.sakemaster.com.au)
brought about by the many factors that can be manipulated during brewing and of course the skill and intent of the brewers, make sake such a fascinating journey of discovery. In addition to this categorisation based on the proportion of rice polishing, there are also many varieties of sake based on other factors as well. For example, the type of sake rice used in production. Yamada Nishiki is one of the most famous, and is used in high-quality sake while other types of sake rice are used in sake where the aroma of rice is more strongly pronounced. In addition to the sake rice itself as a component of sake, conditions such as differences in the distinct seasons in Japan and regional climates also give birth to variations. Sake brewers take into account a variety of conditions, such as the climate and the condition of local water in search of the right answer to the kind of sake rice to use and ideas about the kind of sake to create. This is also where sake brewers can show off their skill in brewing. Styles of drinking, from cold to room temperature and warm then have a further effect on the flavour of the finished sake, another of the points that highlights the depth and joy of sake. ENTERING THE WORLD OF JAPANESE SAKE
Over the years, I have introduced sake in a variety of ways, such as at large-scale dinners, sake classes that teach professional knowledge, at tasting events, and more. No matter the situation, I have always strived to introduce sake of good quality so that guests can discover the wonders of sake and hopefully that sparks an interest in learning more about it. I feel the best way to learn about sake is by enjoying it with food and in doing so, you will can understand what great partners they make. One of the easiest ways to appreciate sake is to try a variety of different sake at the same sitting. This gives you a chance to easily appreciate how styles can vary whether it be sweet, dry, full or light bodied and so on. Differences in sake can be subtle, but equipped with a little knowledge you will soon begin to appreciate its diverse offering. For those interested in learning more about sake, know that you have an enjoyable journey ahead. Relax and enjoy your trip out into the world of Japanese sake.
jStyle issue 16 â”‚ 23
GOURMET Sake In early October 2017, I departed Sydney on an ANA flight headed for Japan. Early the next morning, I arrived at Haneda Airport and transferred onto a domestic flight. My destination? Hiroshima. As you are probably already aware, Hiroshima, along with Nagasaki, were the only tragic towns to fall victim to atomic bombings during World War II. This devastating past has led to the opening of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to honour the victims of the bombings, as well as the symbolic Atomic Bomb Dome, which stands in place to promote world peace and is a highly popular tourist attraction. However, the aim of my trip was not to visit those widely-known sites, but rather sake breweries with their roots in Hiroshima. In fact, Hiroshima is a rather prolific sake (Japanese rice wine) producing town and renowned for the sake event that is held there annually on the second Saturday of October. As of the 1st of October 2017, foreign tourists to Japan are now exempt from liquor taxes. This change is expected to spur on a highly increased demand for Japanese rice wines. The abolishment of liquor taxes is to encourage international tourists to visit sake breweries, distilleries and wineries, and, in turn, increase consumption in those regions whilst boosting the demand for Japanese alcoholic beverages around in the world. With that in mind, I decided to visit the breweries around Hiroshima and have a peek at the big festival myself. A BREWERY OF OLD IN THE PICTURESQUE TAKEHARA – FUJI SHUZOU
Situated an approximate 30 minute drive away from Hiroshima airport is a town called Takehara. The charming streets of Takehara have served as the backdrop for many a drama and anime because of how photogenic they are. Takahara has the Seto Inland Sea at its doorstep that helped to create its once booming salt industry and its stunning scenery earned it the nickname, “The Little Kyoto of Aki” (Aki was the former name for Hiroshima). Old wooden buildings still line the beautiful streets to this day, whilst the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, filled
24 │ jStyle issue 16
with their rich histories, continue to uphold the town’s olden-day atmosphere. One major characteristic of the town, which cannot be overlooked, is the district of buildings which has remained untouched in terms of historical appearance and usage. The streets of Takehara, which were completed during the early Edo period, are comprised of the main road in the centre of the town running from north to south and most street blocks branching out from there. I looked up and down the main street to see a sight dominated by predominantly merchant houses and warehouses – a snapshot of traditional Japan in the modern day. I walked through the historic streets and arrived at a long-standing sake brewery – Fuji Shuzou. Takehara is blessed with a cool and pure underground source of water which it draws upon for tap water. The founder of Fuji Shuzou Brewery pinpointed Takehara over 150 years ago as the perfect location to produce sake due to its high quality water. Sake, in the simplest of terms, can be described as wine made by filtering fermented rice. While it may sound simple when broken down into a one sentence description, it is an extremely complicated process. I was fortunate enough to observe this whole process at Fuji Shuzou on my visit there. The first process is to polish the rice to be used in making the sake. Polishing the rice involves removing its outer layer and the type of sake to be made will determine how much the rice is polished. It goes without saying that, the more the rice is polished, the smaller the grain of rice becomes and the higher the cost of brewing the sake will be. After the rice is polished, it is then washed and allowed to soak in water. When it comes to producing the top-line ginjo variety of rice wine, it becomes a precise process decided by mere seconds. The rice is then steamed to a very particular standard where the outside is slightly hard and the inside is slightly soft. Once the rice has been steamed, it is then cooled to varying temperatures depending on whether it will be used to make koji, yeast mash or unrefined sake. The steamed rice destined to become koji is sprinkled with koji mould and is allowed
GOING WALKABOUT IN THE SAKE TOWNS OF TAKEHARA AND SAIJO Words and photography: Kazuya Baba
to sit for 2 days under strictly controlled temperatures to ferment. This process causes the rice starch to turn into glucose, which is the source of sweetness and umami in sake. Next, the process to create unrefined sake begins by combining steamed rice, water, koji, yeast and lactic acid together. As the name suggests, unrefined sake is used to produce the sake we are all familiar with, and the process to create this vital product churns out what is known as “moromi”. Once the moromi has been mixed together, it is left to ferment and age for a month whilst being monitored and subjected to meticulous tweaks. The fermented moromi is strained to give us sake. Freshly strained sake still contains some sediment, so it is left to rest to allow the clear layer to float up and separate from the sediment. The clear sake is then filtered and heat treated to kill off any bacteria and stabilise the wine itself. Finally, it is stored away and diluted with prepared water to create the perfect flavour. After learning about the complicated processes behind producing sake, I tasted one of Fuji Shuzou’s creations – Ryusei. It was so delicious that it was impossible for me to stop at just one drink. I had to almost be dragged away as I tottered through the beautiful streets of Takehara with a cheerful sake glow on my way towards my next destination. KAMOTSURU SAKE BREWING AND THE SAIJO SAKE FESTIVAL
I left Takehara and headed towards the town of Saijo. Saijo is one of Japan’s most prominent sake towns and is the home to a number of sake breweries. The chimneys littered around the streets give the town its characteristic appearance as a brewing capital. As previously explained, rice must be steamed in order to make sake and while boilers are used nowadays, stoked fires were traditionally used, which is why the chimneys still stand today. Although the chimneys are no longer in use, they have been maintained as symbols of the town’s brewing culture. Of the many sake brewers who flocked to Saijo for its ideal sake-making weather
and water, I decided to visit Kamotsuru Sake Brewing for a tour. While each brewer essentially carries out the same process to make their wines, facilities differ from place to place. For those who are particularly interested, it might be worth taking tours of different breweries to discern the various differences. A fun little aspect of the tour at Kamotsuru is the ability to experience what it is like to mix up the ingredients to make sake yourself. The sake produced by Kamotsuru is said to be characteristically dry. They are harked to be the pioneers of producing the daiginjo style of sake. Kamotsuru are also known as the producers of the gold-leafed infused “Gold Kamotsuru” that Prime Minister Abe poured for the (then) President Obama to drink. Visitors can taste and compare the many different sake Kamotsuru has to offer whilst reading up on serving suggestions and flavour profiles. The day I visited Saijo was also the day of the Sake Matsuri (festival) which explained the sounds of taiko drums echoing about, shrines being carried around the streets and the town overflowing with people. The main event of the day took place at the Sake Hiroba. Purchasing a 2000 yen ticket to the event granted me access to a park filled with over 1000 different sake from all over Japan and the prerogative to drink all I wanted to. The grounds were opened from 10am to nighttime which allowed for a day full of enjoying sake with friends. While Japanese people are often seen as shy and reserved, they tend to let their hair down when it comes to festivals. The vibrant energy in the event area was somewhat chaotic, however, it was also another prime display of Japanese culture to soak up. There were also lots of snacks to complement the sake so it’s definitely an event for sake lovers. The festival is the perfect opportunity to dive into the sake culture of Japan and I highly recommend visitors to check it out on their next trip over there. The exemption on liquor tax only applies to sales from breweries and wineries that have been approved for the exemption. At this stage, general retailers are not exempt. Make sure you pick up a bottle or two of sake if you happen to find yourself at a brewery.
jStyle issue 16 │ 25
BEER THE ASAHI SUPER DRY STORY
A S A H I
S D U R P Y E R
It was in 1987 that Asahi Super Dry arrived on the scene as Japan’s first ever dry beer. Since then, its unique flavour has earned its place as a standard that continues to elevate the flavour and satisfaction of beer even to this day. In this article, we take a look at what made Asahi Super Dry win the hearts of young and old alike over the years, and a recipe for a type of otsumami - the star of the izakaya dining experience - and their match made in heaven that is Asahi Super Dry. Photography: Naoto Ijichi
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The date was 17 March, 1987. This was the day that Japan’s first ever dry beer, Asahi Super Dry, made its way into the world. The journey that led to its creation was one filled with firsts, each new day bringing its own new challenge. It all began with the search to make the perfect beer. From a survey of 5,000 respondents, the answer was clear - it had to be clearer and more refreshing, each glass make you wish you had just one more, and a great match for any dish. The survey uncovered a distinct shift in preferences from a heavier, more bitter taste to a smoother, clearer and more refreshing one. Taking onboard this paradigm shift in customer needs, thus was born the new flavour concept of a dry draught beer. The flavour of beer is determined almost entirely by the combination of yeast, base ingredients, and brewing process used. And it was here that the challenge to develop a recipe for a dry draught beer began, by searching through the endless possibilities of the type of yeast to use, the type and amount of base ingredients, and the method used to prepare and brew the beer. First came the search for the right yeast. Beer is created by taking the sugars from a wort made from malt, and using yeast to convert those sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Limiting the amount of residual sugars left in the end product is essential to achieving a clean taste. Of the several hundred yeast strains that Asahi uses, yeast strain No. 318 excelled in its fermentation capabilities. Its ability to completely consume sugars made it possible to achieve just the right clear, undiluted taste while also adding its own unique aroma. Next came the base ingredients and the production methods. What would be the optimal conditions to allow Asahi yeast strain No. 318 to perform at its best? The search for the right flavour led to a myriad of combinations being tested, with small adjustments being made with each one and a number of test samples being created. Keywords that defined the essence of a dry beer more clearly flowed - each glass makes you wish you had just one more, a good match for sashimi, and that doesn’t overpower food… More tests followed, pairing the samples with
sashimi and a variety of other Japanese, Chinese, and western dishes and otsumami. After this lengthy process, at long last the perfect flavour was discovered, and so the original recipe of Asahi Super Dry came to be. It was this painstaking attention to detail that gave this beer the refined, clear taste that makes it a match for food of all varieties and makes every sip feel like the very first. INTRODUCING IZAKAYA AND OTSUMAMI
The word izakaya refers to a Japanese style of restaurant that provides a menu of alcohol and simple, matching dishes. Said to have grown in popularity during the Edo period, the izakaya of the day were merchants who sold alcohol in bulk, then steadily began to allow patrons to drink their wares on the spot, and ended up serving simple food to match. The word ‘izakaya’ itself comes from a combination of the Japanese characters meaning ‘to stay and drink’ abbreviated into the sounds ‘izaka’, which was used to differentiate them from merchants who only sold alcohol. The much higher proportion of men in the Edo period compared to women, and thus the large number of single men living alone, also provided a catalyst to the rise of the izakaya, who offered a way to easily enjoy both food and drink at the same place. Of course, no talk of izakaya would be complete without discussing otsumami and the role they play in complementing drink. The word otsumami comes from the word for ‘snack’, and refers to food that can be easily picked up and eaten by hand. Common varieties include seafood and meat dishes, and even cheese and crackers depending on your drink of choice. All dishes are generally heavily seasoned to help bring out the flavour in the drinks they accompany. “Otsumami are à la carte dishes that are designed to complement your drink; not take centre stage.” So says Shota Sato, head chef of Osaka Trading co. in Tramsheds Harold Park, who earned the distinction of receiving one hat during his days as the head chef of Bar H Dining. See the opposite page for an original otsumami recipe from head chef Sato that can be easily made at home and acts as a great partner to Asahi Super Dry
TEMPURA CORN AND SCALLOPS WITH SOY BUTTER The sweetness of seasonal corn mixed with
some salt and soy sauce come together in a
mouthwatering balance. Add in the aroma
1. Remove the corn from the cob, and dice
and a hint of heat with shichimi spices, and
the scallops into a size roughly twice
you have a dish that makes the perfect partner for drinking beer. Try it with just
that of the pieces of corn. 2. Mix the plain flour and corn flour
some salt or mixed in with some soy sauce.
(A). Separately, mix the cold water and vinegar (B). Combine (B) into (A),
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2)
lightly mixing so that a slight floury
Corn 100g Scallops
3. Fill a frying pan halfway with the frying
oil and heat to 180 degrees. After
Shichimi spice 1 pinch
mixing 1. and the pinch of corn flour in a
bowl, add 2 tbsp of the tempura dipping
sauce and swiftly combine. 4. Scoop the mix using a large spoon
TEMPURA DIPPING SAUCE (as needed)
and place slowly into the oil, deep
frying both sides for approximately
15 seconds. 5. Sprinkle shichimi spices over the
tempura and dress with a sauce made by combining the butter, salt, and soy sauce.
SOY BUTTER WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Butter 10g Salt
Keep all ingredients cold before you cook to prevent them from collapsing! Don’t deep fry the corn for too long or it will burst!
CHEF: SHOTA SATO
Profile Specialises in a modern Japanese style that blends both Japanese and western influences. Fifteen years experience as a chef. Worked as a chef specialising in French cuisine at hotel-based restaurants in Hokkaido, Okinawa, Tokyo, and Chiba in Japan. Came to Australia in 2009, and after gaining further experience at multiple restaurants, earned the distinction of receiving one hat in 2015 working as the head chef at Bar H Dining, a title only awarded to restaurants selected by the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide. Involved in the launch of the Osaka Trading co. in September of 2016 where he now works as the head chef.
jStyle issue 16 │ 27
GOURMET Tea Culture THE JAPANESE IDEAL OF HOSPITALITY
A cup of tea offers an opportunity to relax and to enjoy a moment’s respite. The casual invitation, “Let’s have a cup of tea, shall we?” is both an attractive one, and exemplifies the essential role that tea plays in the Japanese ideal of hospitality. Tea first made its way over to Japan from China along with Buddhism. There, it developed into a unique style of its own focusing on hospitality that drew on influences of Zen philosophy. Taking great care to prepare for one’s guests and valuing the time spent together is both the basic stance and ultimate goal of hospitality. The way of tea is a cultural tradition of Japan based around matcha and later evolved into sencha tea ceremonies in the Edo period and beyond. The etiquette and attitude espoused by the tea ceremony also play a role in day-today life, and have made their way into Japanese society as a whole. A HISTORY OF TEA IN JAPAN
There are many varieties of the green tea that have come to epitomise Japanese tea, such as sencha, houjicha, and matcha. The history of tea itself is a long one said to have begun with its discovery by Shennong in 2700 BC as noted in an anecdote in the Chinese treatise on herbs known as "Shennong Bencao Jing". Green tea originated in Japan around the year 800 after the grand figures of Buddhism in Japan, monks Saicho and Kukai, were said to have planted seeds in Kyoto brought back from their travels to China. At this time, tea was a delicacy only available to generals and their immediate second in line in social standing - the monks. During the warring states period,
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茶 Japan’s Unique Tea Culture
In Japan, tea is enjoyed both alongside food or while relaxing on a full stomach after a meal, and also to quench the thirst. It is something that fills a very familiar place in the lives of the Japanese yet presents a world that is as deep as your will to explore it.
records of Portuguese visitors to Japan at the time showed that tea masters and generals alike spent an exorbitant amount of their resources on tea rooms and tea equipment. It was only later in the Edo period when tea finally spread and began to be consumed by the masses. THE ALLURE OF GREEN TEA
Matcha is one of the most popular varieties of green tea, and while it is also a product unique to Japan that first appeared in the 15th century, you can now find variants produced in China and elsewhere as well. Amidst the ongoing global trend towards health and fitness, research into the health benefits of drinking tea and the components of green tea, such as catechin, offers data that backs up long-held beliefs in the powers of tea. The spread of knowledge about these health benefits is in turn driving increased popularity. As matcha is a tea made by grinding tea leaves into a powder, you ingest all the active ingredients of the tea, providing more health benefits over other green teas where only the tea extract is ingested. Growing recognition of matcha as a super food has led to its growing popularity in Australia and elsewhere outside of Japan. It is more commonly found in menu items, as well as flavourings for various desserts in recent times due to the increased exposure. The dash of sweetness amidst a bitterness common to unfermented tea combines with a refreshing taste to make green tea an attractive choice. The flavour, the unique culture developed over the span of many years, and the customs and values that gave birth to Japanese philosophy and sensibilities come together as one to make green tea a much-loved drink the world over.
In Japan, this brand can be seen from the moment when you are at the airport arrival gate, when you are walking on the street, and when you are about to board on your return flight to Australia. ITO EN and Its Australian Business The company that counts the mega br a nd O i O cha a s it s signature brand is none other than ITO EN, which holds the largest share of the Japanese tea market in Japan and also has a subsidiary company in Australia. The History of ITO EN in Australia ITO EN Australia was established in 1994. Beginning to plant seedlings for Japanese tea from Japan in Victoriaâ€™s nor theast in the late 1990s,
I TO EN Aust ra l ia has been implementing the same c u lt iva t io n a n d p r o c e s si ng methods as those in Japan since the year 2000. The venture was first launched with the objective of providing sustainable tea to the Japanese market from Australia where the seasons were the opposite to those in Japan, but as the recent boom in matcha shows, the demand for Japanese tea in Australia is rising dramatically. This demand has in turn spurred the sale of Australian-grown Japanese tea with the objective of meeting local consumption. ITO ENâ€™s products can be found in the green tea flavoured tea bags containing Matcha green tea sold at supermarkets, and in matcha or Australian grown green tea-related items on the menus of cafes , restaurants and many other places, and their popularity is on the rise.
Where to Next? ITO EN understands that the demand for tea in Australia leans heavily towards consumption of tea bags. Yet, ITO EN has long created a finely crafted tea unique to Japan that is geared towards the Japanese market. Because we a re consider ing making the supply of tea bags the primary focus of our approach to the Australian market, there is no need to go to the lengths of making a very fine Japanese tea. Rather, we are looking to renew the machinery in our factory lines and add the capability to produce matcha and the tea bag ingredients for tea bags. In much the same way as local consumers display a preference for fresh fruit, meat, and marine produce that are local originated, we wou ld l i ke to provide a locally produced green tea that meets the expectations of the
Australian people for a safe and familiar product that they can also enjoy. T here is a g rowi ng nu mber of orga n isat ions suggesting introducing a sugar tax to the food market in Australia. One of our unique products is an u nswe etened g re en tea t hat contains no sweetening agents of any kind and is thus truly u n swe e t e n e d , u n l i k e z e r o sugar products that are made using natural and/or artificial sweeteners agents. This product is growing in popularity due to meeting the needs of these consumers. We plan to make Oi Ocha using 100% Australiangrown green tea in the future, and in doing so deliver peace of mind, a safe product, and also joy through Japanese culture to the local consumers who support ITO ENâ€™s Australian business.
Japan's No.1 Tea bag
t e r c e S e Th
JAPAN’S RAZOR-EDGED KNIVES
“A Japanese knife is like the blade of a samurai.” Gaining a reputation for their superb sharpness not just at home in Japan, but also abroad, the secret of their sharpness lies in the near machine-like precision of the craftsmen who make them, and the masterful techniques they apply to their craft.
The roots of Japanese knives can be found in Japanese swords and their same pursuit of high-quality steel in the search for the sharpest possible edge. As swords evolved into the kitchen blades of today, traditional Japanese knives offer traits seldom found in western knives, not just simply cutting ingredients, but also cutting beautifully and leaving the cells of the ingredients intact. Knives in Japan are made with a painstaking attention to detail, right down to the balance and feel when held. Where it is common in
the west to hold down ingredients to cut them, Japanese knives offer the finest cutting experience, allowing you to easily slice through ingredients without applying any pressure. The knife you use to cut your food also affects the taste. Using a sharp knife keeps the cells of the ingredients intact and leaves a beautiful surface that makes the ingredients shine, and has no negative effect on their taste. MASTER SKILLS OF THE KNIFE ARTISANS
Hand-crafted knives are unlike those
made by machine in that each one is a unique work. The end product is a reflection of the artisan that made it, from their approach to the craft, to their vision and even their individual character. More than anything else, what makes them special are the long years of intuition and experience that go into determining the conditions under which a blade is made, the temperature of the forge, the state of the steel, and more. Each of the many different types of knives demands different considerations from the artisans that make them. Blacksmith, Mr. Hayao Doi of Sakai Takayuki Edged Tool, which draws on more than 600 years of tradition in the Sakaiuchi style of craftsmanship, says, “When changing the size and the type of the metal (materials) to match the type and size of the knife you are making, there is the right temperature and the right time for each one. It is therefore crucial that the blacksmith is able to trust their instincts to find just the right temperature inside the forge.” Becoming a fully fledged knife artisan requires training and countless hours of experience. Training involves watching your
master closely and attempting to recreate their technique until you get it right. “It’s hard to say at what stage you become a fully fledged knife artisan, but I would say it generally takes around five to ten years to be called a proper craftsman,” says Mr. Doi. “Of course, it takes many more years of training and hard work to become recognised as a truly firstclass craftsman after that.” TREASURABLE BLADES MADE WITH CARE
You need to look no further than one store in Sydney to find knives painstakingly hand-crafted by artisans of the Sakai Takayuki Edged Tools brand. Selling knives and whetstones of the highest quality from Japan, Knives and Stones is the perfect place for those seeking professional wares, offering a wide range of Japanese knives and whetstones for professionals and home cooks alike. These high-quality Japanese knives are well loved by the chefs of popular restaurants in Sydney. Why not make a lifelong companion by making one of these priceless blades your very own?
// w w h t t p:
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Knives and Stones Unit 2, 2 Bishop St St Peters, NSW 2044 02 8599 0898 email@example.com 8239KNIV
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For centuries, the goal of every watchmaker has been to offer ever higher standards of precision and convenience, but only rarely does a real advance in these areas take place. With Astron GPS Solar, new standards of global precision, ease of use and convenience have been set. Astron GPS Solar is the most significant advance in watchmaking in a generation and, at last, brings international travellers the watch that they have long desired. IN 2012, THE ASTRON REVOLUTION CONTINUED, WITH GPS SOLAR
Down the centuries, watchmakers have met nearly every timekeeping challenge, but, until 2012, one problem remained intractable. Could a watch be made that remained accurate, without adjustment, as its wearer changed time zones? Thanks to Seiko’s mastery of GPS technology and its unrivalled skill in energy management, Astron GPS Solar met this last great watchmaking challenge. Using just the power of light, Astron connects to four or more GPS satellites, identifies the time zone and adjusts the hands on the dial to the local time, with a precision of one second per 100,000 years. Today, the Astron GPS collection is broader than ever. The Astron revolution continues.
slim, refined and perfectly crafted timepiece that is built to the highest possible standards to be a companion for life. Whether in steel or titanium, the watch profile is gently curved so that it sits comfortably on the wrist and several surfaces are polished, by hand, to a perfect mirror finish, using Seiko’s Zaratsu technique to ensure distortion-free results. The crystals are all made of sapphire and are treated with Seiko’s special coatings that ensure perfect visibility from any angle and in any light conditions, by eliminating 99% of all reflections. Astron GPS Solar combines high performance and watchmaking refinement as never before. FORM AND FUNCTION IN PERFECT UNISON
Astron GPS Solar combines high performance with a graceful elegance that is rare indeed in watches of such advanced technology. The first secret is energy management. To connect to satellites in orbit 20,000km above the surface of the earth requires a significant amount of energy. To do so using just the power of light requires skills in energy management that only Seiko possesses. To make Astron GPS Solar, Seiko developed a unique GPS module that achieves this, using only about 20% of the energy required by other GPS devices. Another secret
is the development of a reception antenna in the shape of a ring that lies just beneath the dial ring. This unique ring antenna, combined with the ceramic used for the bezel itself, optimises signal reception and gives every Astron the clean, elegant lines that are its signature. INTELLIGENCE, CONVENIENCE AND PRECISION
To make Astron GPS Solar as easy to wear as possible, Seiko invented an automatic time adjustment function that allows the watch to adjust automatically to the GPS time signal once a day. An invisible sensor analyses the level of light, and when it senses five seconds of bright sunshine, connects to a GPS satellite and receives a time update. If the watch does not detect such conditions, it remembers when it was last successful in receiving a time signal and automatically attempts to connect at that time. This intelligent sensor system operates regardless of whether the watch is concealed by clothing or whether the sun is hidden behind clouds. Astron’s time remains accurate to one second every 100,000 years and the wearer never has to worry.
SLIM, REFINED AND A DELIGHT TO WEAR
Every Astron GPS Solar is a technological marvel, but is also a joy to wear. Despite its high functionality, Astron is, above all else, a
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Shinjuku ROAMING THE STREETS OF SHINJUKU with Shinji Tsuchimochi A 32 â”‚ jStyle issue 16
The home of Kabukicho, Japan’s largest entertainment quarter; where department stores and electrical appliance stores are abound; a shopping precinct full of large scale book stores and other knick-knacks; a business district with skyscrapers towering over the city; the grounds of a national park with an abundance of greenery; a giant town with multiple faces – Shinjuku. With approximately 3.47 million people (as of 2016) rushing through the station every day, Shinjuku Station is not only the most trafficked station in Japan, but the entire world. The ward of Shinjuku, centred on this hub, is a microcosm of Japanese society in itself. It is a wonderfully chaotic place full of secrets waiting to be unlocked. My task in this feature article is to introduce to you a small snippet of Shinjuku with the help of drawings by Shinji Tsuchimochi, illustrator of “100 Views of Tokyo”.
B SHINJUKU – THE URBAN SUBCENTRE As you make your way out of the west exit of Shinjuku Station, you are greeted with a bus terminal and a Yodobashi Camera, alongside various other well established electronic goods stores and restaurants. Looking beyond the immediate view reveals a background of high-rising skyscrapers, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Shinjuku-Nishiguchi, along with Umeda over in Osaka, is known for its bustling business district filled with clusters of tall buildings. Hotels such as the Shinjuku Washington Hotel and the Keio Plaza Hotel are also concentrated in this area for business travellers and international tourists to set up base. Many of the high-rise buildings, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and the Shinjuku Center Building, have free observation decks with open spaces that offer great views of Tokyo. The seemingly endless city skyline of Tokyo is sure to impress with its sheer enormity. I highly recommend the Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Building as it offers a 360 degree view on its observation deck. Image A is Tsumochi’s depiction of the night skyline as seen from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. He originally drew the skyline for use as an album cover by the Japanese rock band, Koochewsen. Tsuchimochi spoke about the piece and remarked, “I get a retrofuturistic sense from the cluster of skyscrapers at Shinjuku-Nishiguchi.” Shinjuku-Nishiguchi is also where you can find department stores operated by railway companies such as the Keio Department Store and Odakyu Department Store, which makes the area a vibrant place for those who live around Shinjuku, however, due to its strong image as a business district, it seems slightly more subdued compared to the east side. In fact, some people prefer to stroll around the western side precisely because it is less chaotic. Just beyond all of the high-rise buildings is the impressive Shinjuku Central Park – the perfect place to relax
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TRAVEL Shinjuku with a book or watch as people walk on by. One spot around Shinjuku-Nishiguchi Station, which absolutely cannot be missed, is Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho (image B), which Tsuchimochi describes as, “A place which maintains the unique air of the Shinjuku that started off as a post-war black market city, to what it is now in the present day.” It is a hidden treasure that has preserved the essence of old Japanese drinking establishments; a gem of post-war history. “Gazing upon all of the izakaya lining the back alleyway as I walked through it made me feel as though I'd stumbled upon a mysterious world.” (Tsuchimochi)
FROM THE SHINJUKU EAST EXIT TO SHINJUKU-SANCHOME The Shinjuku East Exit is the heart of shopping in Shinjuku with a plethora of various stores lining the streets of the area. Upon exiting the east exit of Shinjuku Station, you are greeted
with the district’s main road – Shinjuku Dori. In the 500 metres along both sides of this main road towards Shinjuku-sanchome are all kinds of different stores. For example, Kinokuniya Books, a well-established Japanese book store which has branches worldwide, including Sydney, can be found in this vicinity. On the ground floor of this particular branch is an “inbound corner”, targeted at the ever growing number of visitors flocking to Japan from overseas. There is also a section for international books on a floor above, so it might be worth dropping by for a browse. Alongside Kinokuniya Books on this street are stores such as, Bicqlo, a collaborative store by the large-scale home appliances chain, Bic Camera, and the international clothing brand, Uniqlo; and the American luxury department store chain, Barneys New York. The variety and reach of the stores found along this street is impressive, to say the least. Further down Shinjuku Dori, on the left-hand side, is Isetan – a Japanese department store founded all the way back in 1886. The large intersection where Isetan sits is Shinjuku-sanchome.
While Shinjuku-sanchome is home to a number of stores, such as the fashion department store, Marui with the huge Shinjuku Wald 9 cinema on the top floor, there are also lots of little restaurants full of character nestled in the back streets. “As I walked around Shinjuku-sanchome, I came across a restaurant with walls covered in vines and ivy. The contrast of reds and greens caught my eye and upon entering the restaurant, I found it to be a fun little hideaway. The renowned author, Yukio Mishima, and the legendary director, Akira Kurosawa, apparently used to be regulars of this joint.” (Tsuchimochi, image C) On the southern side of Shinjuku-sanchome is Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, a respected historical park and garden. If you’re looking for a quick escape from the city, then this park is the place to relax as you gaze upon the towering high rises in the background. It gets particularly busy during the cherry blossom season, so if you happen to be there when they’re in spectacular full-bloom, then make sure you partake in the Japanese tradition of hanami (cherry blossom viewing).
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HOTEL GRACERY SHINJUKU 1-19-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku - Tokyo, Japan Phone +81-(0)3-6833-1111
SHINJUKU WASHINGTON HOTEL 3-2-9, Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku - Tokyo, Japan Phone +81-(0)3-3343-3111 8355FUJI
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KABUKICHO, THE TOWN THAT NEVER SLEEPS It is not an exaggeration to say that Kabukicho is the main attraction for the many tourists who visit Shinjuku. Kabukicho is the largest entertainment district in Japan and has been depicted in various different movies and games as the grounds for yakuza rivalries. As its entertainment district badge suggests, the streets are full of bright neon lights and the slight sleazy air about it makes it a truly unique place. While it is worth a visit for the flashy atmosphere, it is very important to be on guard as there are a fair few brothels as well as shady establishments aiming to rid you of all your money, and then some. An innocent stroll through the area to soak up the atmosphere won’t get you into any trouble at all, but just be careful of walking into suspicious establishments. A recommended spot just outside of Kabukicho is a historically important Shinto shrine – the Hanazono Shrine. Also, right next to Hanazono Shrine, is the Shinjuku Golden Gai, which is a tiny area occupying approximately only 6,600 square metres jam-packed with rows of over 200 quaint, low-rise wooden restaurants. Literary bars and other quirky little places can be found everywhere you turn with writers, editors, directors, actors and other cultural intellects regulars to these establishments. The influence of these patrons and the eccentricity of the area has turned this place into a sub-culture of Tokyo and a home for grassroots underground art. A walk through this area is certainly an enriching experience.
THE TREASURE OF SHINJUKU-NISHIGUCHI THE KEIO PLAZA HOTEL Welcoming guests with the finest stay around at the Premier Grand
Tsuchimochi described his work (image D) as follows - “This is the view of the cramped alleyway with all of the different signs bearing the unique names of the bars around. It happened to be raining that day and I almost felt a sense of sorrow from the sight of all the people walking around with their umbrellas. I feel like the sight of Hanazono Shrine in the distance behind all of this is very Japanese.” The picture drawn by Shinji Tsuchimochi depicts the mysterious charm of the area in a way that no photo seems to be able to capture. I would highly recommended a stroll around the area to experience this atmosphere for yourself. While I’ve only given you a taste of Shinjuku, I can assure you that Shinjuku is very much a huge place of so many different charms and wonders. Now that you are familiar with the treats the area around Shinjuku Station has to offer, perhaps I can delve even further to the other places to see around Shinjuku next time.
The Keio Plaza Hotel – the pioneer to all of the skyscrapers in Shinjuku and the first highrise hotel in Japan. Comprised of 1438 rooms in total, the gargantuan hotel is a convenient 5 minute walk from ShinjukuNishiguchi. Inside of the hotel are a number of fine dining restaurants, as well as a beauty salon, a tea room for traditional tea ceremonies and even kimono fitting services, just to name a few of the perks. However, all of these luxuries pale in comparison to the unveiling of the Premier Grand in December 2016, which is a club and lounge floor of unmatched opulence garnering a significant amount of attention. Designed by the leading London-based interior and architectural design firm, G.A Design International, the carefully planned out space and the experience of gazing out towards the view from the spacious bathroom of one of the high rise rooms, combined with the feeling of truly relaxing in the natural, yet luxurious room, is absolutely first class. Another feature that cannot be missed is the Premier Grand exclusive Club Lounge that looks after any needs you may have during your stay. The Club
Lounge is an open space to relax in 160m above the city streets and is exclusively for patrons staying in Premier Grand or Premier Grand Suite rooms. The specially-made breakfast is also served in the Lounge. From dinner reservations, to meeting arrangements, your dedicated concierge will take care of everything you need. For those who are after the best hotel experience in Shinjuku, look no further than the Premier Grand at the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo. INFORMATION Premier Grand Club Lounge Hours: 7:00am – 10:00pm (breakfast, tea time and bar time) Capacity: 154 seats (no smoking, free Wi-Fi available) Facilities: reception, lounge zone, library area, meeting room, dining area KEIO PLAZA HOTEL TOKYO 2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Tel: 81-3-3344-0111 Web: www.keioplaza.com
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NIGHTLIFE IN YOSHIDAMACHI, YOKOHAMA – RECOMMENDED BAR-HOPPING
Yokohama represents the essence of a Japanese port city. Located along the seaside, "Minato Mirai" is a beautiful and modern area, which is a popular spot for both domestic and international tourists. However, for those really want to enjoy the night life, in contrast to Minato Mirai, it’s recommended to spend some time in Yoshidamachi in Shitamachi. Yoshida machi is well known both in Yokohama and throughout Japan for its dense collection of bars. It is by no means a big area, but it houses a collection of drinking establishments filled with lots of character. You might hear the laughter of a drunk person drifting out of one of
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the bars and if you open the door, you could easily immerse yourself in the rich night life of the area before having a meal. Perhaps start your exploration of the area with a visit to Toraya, a long-standing Japanese restaurant in Yokohama market which has the best selection of seafood to choose from in the area. Filling your stomach with fresh sashimi and crispy tempura fried in sesame oil makes for a great way to kick off the night. The restaurant has many regular patrons, but is also very hospitable to tourists. With a full belly, it’s now time to get ready to drink. If it’s still early in the evening and you’d like to relax, how about trying the craft beer bar
– BAY BREWING? The rich flavours of their original recipe pilsner beers have little bitterness and go down a treat. If you’re still thirsty for more beer, nearby is Antenna America, which always has at least 10 different types of American craft beer on tap. If you then want to push on and get a little bit tipsy, Japanese sake is your best bet. Wadachi is a sake bar with a sommelier who will listen to the kind of flavors and scents that suit your palate then suggest the perfect drop to match. The owner is known for being both warm and polite and it’s the kind of place where you can stop by to learn about the history, culture and background of sake and leave feeling a lot more knowledgeable. Well, as you’ve now been to 2 or 3 places, the evening is moving along nicely and from here it’s about to properly kick in. There are more and more locals out and many interesting encounters can be had at the area’s bars. With the help of the cheerful, friendly and eccentric bar owners of Yoshidamachi, in the blink of an eye you may suddenly realise you’ve made friends with the bar’s patrons. It’s definitely a good idea to continue bar hopping with your new-found friends or, alternatively, have a relaxing drink by yourself and there are many more bars recommend to suit your mood. You should visit here at least once to enjoy the beauty of Yoshida to your heart's content. It would be a real shame to miss experiencing everything the area has to offer before finishing your trip in Japan.
A DAY-TRIP FROM TOKYO TO A LAND OF MYSTERY Words and Photography: Kazuya Baba
Hakone, an onsen (hot spring) town located in Kanagawa, a prefecture adjacent to Tokyo, is a well-established tourist destination in Japan renowned for the steamy, volcanic valleys of Owakudani and the magnificent Lake Ashi amongst a myriad of other sightseeing hot spots. While it boasts its own share of accommodation options, many travellers opt to take day-trips to Hakone from Tokyo because of how easily accessible it is. This feature article documents my own day-trip experience to Hakone.
Chokoku-no-Mori (Hakone Open-Air Museum)
Shinjuku Sta. Moto-Hakone Hakone-Yumoto Amazake-Chaya Hakone-Machi
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ENJOYING HAKONE’S HOT SPRING SCENERY I hopped onto the Odakyu Romancecar at Shinjuku and departed for my adventure. As the train raced along the tracks, the view outside my window gradually changed from blocks of generic buildings to luscious green scenery. After an 85 minute ride, I reached the hot spring paradise – Hakone. Of the many different ways to reach Hakone, the Odakyu Romancecar, departing from Shinjuku Station, is the most convenient and comfortable of them all. The Romancecar can be accessed through conventional train lines by paying an additional fee and the enhanced holidaying experience provided through the "saloon seats" makes the Limited Express train trip popular amongst many travellers. Shinjuku Station on the Odakyu Line also has a counter for international visitors that offers assistance in a variety of languages. The "Hakone Freepass" allows for unlimited travel on different modes of transport for 2-3 days and comes highly recommended. The mountainous location of Hakone means that different forms of transport have been set up to traverse the town, such as: the Hakone Tozan Railway, the Cable Cars which climb up precarious slopes, The Hakone Ropeway stretching between mountains and the cruise ships sailing around the lake. Not only can you experience the different
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sights Hakone has to offer by taking a ride on the various modes of transport, but you can do so without the hassle of buying individual tickets by taking advantage of “The Hakone Freepass”. Onboard the Romancecar, vendors walk through the train-carriage aisles with drinks, lunchboxes and even alcohol available for purchase. Being able to sit back with a drink in hand as you watch the scenery go by from the comfort of your seat is the Japanese way to travel by train. After relaxing in the Romancecar for the short 85 minutes, the train came to a stop at the entrance of Hakone – Hakone-Yumoto Station. From there, my plan was to transfer over to the Hakone Tozan Railway and head over to the Hakone Open-Air Museum, which is famous for its sculptures displayed outdoors amongst the majestic mountains, however, I decided to take a stroll around the town surrounding the station first. Numerous shops line the streets in front of the station. The shops are jam-packed with local delicacies, snacks and souvenirs. As the main thoroughfare for day-trippers to and from the hot springs, it is always a bustling hot spot. Taking a step behind the hustle and bustle treats you to a view of a grand river flowing between the mountains. The ability to find little captivating treasures in unexpected places is one of the joys of exploring Hakone.
VISITING THE NATURE-FILLED OUTDOOR MUSEUM – HAKONE OPEN-AIR MUSEUM
From Hakone-Yumoto Station, I took a trip on the Hakone Tozan Railway. At an altitude of 340 metres above sea-level, the train zig-zagged along the 6km long railroad, weaving through the mountains. After about half an hour of enjoying the view whilst being gently rocked by the train, I arrived at my destination – the Hakone OpenAir Museum. The Hakone Open-Air Museum embraced the natural beauty of Hakone and opened its doors in 1969 as Japan’s first ever outdoor museum. It spans across approximately 70,000 square metres in area and the nature-abundant garden houses 120 impressive sculptures on display. A leisurely stroll through the great outdoors reveals the many different faces of the grand sculptures. The sight of the mysteriously profound objects towering over everything outside left me with an indescribable feeling of awe. As I walked down the promenade and delved into the grounds, I came across the Picasso Pavilion displaying a collection of works by the one and only, Pablo Picasso. Operating in conjunction with the gallery are a café and an onsen footbath, where I found groups of families and couples taking breathers after their stroll. The ability to leisurely stroll through the openair museum, with scenery that changes along with the seasons, was a truly unique and exciting experience. This is definitely a spot to drop by when visiting Hakone.
EATING LONGEVITY-BOOSTING BLACK EGGS AT OWAKUDANI I left Chokoku-no-Mori Station (Open-Air Museum Station) and got off at the next stop, Gora Station, to take the Hakone Tozan Cable Car to Sounzan Station, which acts as the hub to transfer onto the Hakone Ropeway to Owakudani – my next destination. Caught up in the thrill of ascending the steep slopes in the cable car, I arrived a Sounzan Station in no time at all. From there, I transferred over to The Hakone Ropeway. With services operating at one minute intervals, I did not have to wait very long to hop onto my transfer. As I gazed upon the beautiful scenery below, an astonishing sight took my breath away. A station away from Sounzan is Owakudani. Owakudani (literally, “Grand Boiling Valley”) was formed approximately 3000 years ago from an eruption of steam causing a landslide, coupled with a small scale pyroclastic surge approximately 2900 years ago that brought about a large deposit of volcanic sediment. The mineral rich hot
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TRAVEL Hakone springs create a dreary atmosphere as plumes of white smoke fill the air with the force of volcanic activity still ever present. Until the Edo period, it was known by locals as the “Valley of Hell” and now, despite the fear it once garnered, it is a top tourist attraction in Hakone for the unique scenery it offers. With the awe-inspiring sight suddenly appearing before my very eyes, I was speechless. The smoky scenery can be experienced upclose upon arrival at Owakudani and, on clear days, Mount Fuji can also be seen framed by the colours of the changing seasons. While it was once possible to hike to the source of the rising smoke, it is now prohibited due to the increased volcanic activity. One experience that absolutely cannot be missed, is the eating of kuro tamago (black eggs), which are said to add 7 years to your life. The act of boiling uncooked eggs in Owakudani causes iron (a prominent hot spring mineral) to permeate through the porous egg shell. Hydrogen sulphide then reacts with the iron, turning it into black-coloured iron sulphide, resulting in black boiled eggs. As time went by, the health benefits from the hot spring minerals somehow translated into increased longevity through the ingestion of the eggs. The highly unique black boiled eggs are definitely worth a try.
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ALL ABOARD THE SIGHTSEEING CRUISE FROM TOGENDAI After enjoying the magnificent view and delicious black eggs at Owakudani, I hopped back onto the ropeway for my next destination – Togendai Port. Togendai is situated on the northern bank of Lake Ashi and is a highly trafficked hub for different modes of transport including the ropeway, buses and tour boats. The perfect way to see all the great sights around would be to set up base at Togendai and head further north to see the Hakone Venetian Glass Museum or The Little Prince Museum (opened in 1999 to honour the author’s, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 100th birthday). Alas, with only a day to spend exploring Hakone, I decided to take the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise to the northern Hakone-machi Port and then make my way back to Hakone-Yumoto from there. Paying an additional fee of 500 yen on top of the basic fare, grants you access to the luxurious first-class cabins on the ship. While the basic fare seating areas are often full, access to the first-class cabins allows for a relaxed experience seated at the front of the ship. In addition to the spacious seats, first-class ticket holders can also head out to the exclusive viewing deck to soak up the beautiful lake scenery in peace. The trip from Togendai Port to Hakone-machi Port takes approximately 30 minutes. Grand, mountainous scenery envelopes the ship and as it nears its destination, torii gates start to come into view and almost appear as though they are floating in the lake itself. On clear days, this mysterious sight is also coupled with a beautiful view of Mount Fuji in the background. While I was unlucky to be met with clouds on the day of my trip, it was still very pleasant, nonetheless.
HAKONE TOKAIDO CHECKPOINT AND HAKONE SHRINE The Hakone Tokaido Checkpoint greets me as I sail into to Hakone-machi Port. Upon the commencement of the Edo period in 1603, various checkpoints were placed at various major roads as observation posts by the Tokugawa shogunate. The checkpoint at Hakone played a vital role during the Edo period in monitoring the Tokaido Road (the most important of the Five Routes in Edo Japan) in much the same way border security patrols country borders today. Nowadays, tourists are able to explore the fully restored historical checkpoint after 5 years of hard work put into excavational digs and restoring old furnishings. Make sure to include the Hakone Tokaido Checkpoint on your list of places to visit! Located at a 10 minute ride on the Sightseeing Cruise or a short 30 minute walk from Motohakone Port, is the gorgeous Hakone Shrine which can be seen beyond the torii gates on the lake. This is another great spot steeped in history for a deeply spiritual, cultural experience.
A FAVOURITE OF EDO PERIOD FEUDAL LORD PROCESSIONS – AMAZAKE-CHAYA After getting my art fix at the Hakone Open-Air Museum; walking in mid-air on the ropeway; eating unique black eggs whilst gazing upon an intrepid view; and soaking up the sights of Hakone on a lake cruise, I was ready to wash my exhaustion away with a relaxing dip in a hot spring, however, there was one more place I wanted to drop by on my way back to Hakone Yumoto. I hopped onto the Hakone Tozan Bus from Motohakone Port and took a little break at Amazake-chaya. Amazake-chaya is situated precariously on the Tokaido Road halfway up Mount Hakone. The teahouse, which boasts a 400 year history, famously served the feudal lord procession travelling along the route to and from Edo (now Tokyo) for many years. Today, it is a much-loved refuge for hikers traversing Hakone. The current owner is a 13th generation ancestor of the original owner some centuries ago. Even to this day, their
recipe and brewing methods for amazake have not changed since the Edo period, with local Uruchi rice and rice malt the only two ingredients used in their organic concoction. Amazake is a type of traditional, sweet drink and is known for its characteristically cloudy appearance. While the character for word for wine – sake – is contained in the name, it contains an almost negligible amount of alcohol, making it more of a sweet beverage. As expected of a Japanese purveyor of amazake, you can also enjoy delicious Japanese sweets and marvel at the impressive thatched roof while you sit around the indoor hearth. To able to sit back and feast your eyes on the unchanged Edo period furnishings in the tea house before setting off for the hot springs is a seasoned traveller’s dream.
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THE PERFECT WAY TO END MY DAY-TRIP AT HAKONE YURYO
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After leaving Amazake-chaya, I returned to Hakone-Yumoto by the Hakone Tozan Bus. My trip on so many different forms of transport around various historical tourist destinations in Hakone went without a hitch thanks to the well-mapped out routes, and the convenience of the Hakone Freepass ridding me of the need to purchase individual tickets for each trip. By the time I had returned to Hakone-Yumoto, it was 5:30pm, approximately 6 and a half hours since I had first arrived. The setting sun still lit up the area around me, but darkness was fast approaching. It was the perfect time to soak in the hot springs and soothe my tired body under the starry sky. There were many other onsen I could have chosen to drop by had I centred my whole trip around Hakone, however, I decided to hop on the free shuttle bus (operating every 15 minutes) for a quick 3 minute trip from Hakone-Yumoto Station to the highly accessible, Hakone Yuryo. Hakone Yuryo has 19 private open-air baths which can be reserved for groups of 2-4 people, making it highly popular amongst international tourists who are uncomfortable with taking a dip alongside others in the communal baths. There are 6 large communal baths, separated for both men and women, to choose from each with sauna facilities and include a bath with a gorgeous view of the surrounding forest and ones which make use of traditional Shiragaki wares. The joy of being able to soak in the thermal waters of Hakone whilst enjoying the vast variety is an absolute treat. The overflowing, alkaline simple hot springs are known as “The Lustrous Skin Springs” and are particularly popular amongst women for the beautifying qualities of the soft water.
Over in the sauna rooms, you can be treated to a traditionally Finnish experience known as "löyly". Löyly involves pouring aromatic water onto the sauna stones to produce steam that is then wafted over by towel to the sauna patrons. The fragrance and relaxing hot air helps to promote perspiration and, in turn, detoxes the body by cleansing fatigued bodies, flushing out dirty pores and releasing built up impurities from the sweat glands. There was an endless stream of patrons yelping with glee as they exited the saunas – clearly unaccustomed to the intensely heated air in the rooms. There is a sadistic element of fun to see how long you can endure the heat inside of the sauna. A highly recommended experience, that’s for sure! Inside of Hakone Yuryo is a traditional Japanese-style restaurant, complete with its own hearth where you can sit around and enjoy baked fish or wagyu beef skewers straight from the fire. The best way make the most of your stay is to order an icy cold beer or glass of sake after a dip in the onsen while you munch on some Japanese food. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, then there are also numerous restaurants dotted around Hakone-Yumoto Station to more than adequately satisfy your hunger. Having spent a wonderfully fulfilling day out in Hakone, I hopped back onto the Romancecar and was back in dazzling Shinjuku before I knew it as the train gently rocked me to sleep. Although staying a night or two at Hakone would be delightful all the same, a day-trip to Hakone from Tokyo, like what I have just detailed, is another way to make the most of your stay. I am excited to learn about all the countless other routes Hakone has to offer! Why not choose Hakone for your next day-trip from the city to a land of mystery?
A Convenient, Value-priced Excursion Ticket
Hakone is one of Japan’s best-known tourist areas, where visions can enjoy history, culture and the beauty of nature throughout the year.
Hakone Freepass allows you to use all Hakone-area transport station identified by this mark.
For more information, refer to the brochure “箱根 Hakone” available at all stations on the Odakyu Line.
Round-trip travel on the Odakyu Line + unlimited use of 8 Hakone-area transportation modes < 8 different types of transportation > 1) Hakone Tozan Line 2) Hakone Tozan Bus 3) ”KANKO SHISETSU-MEGURI” Bus (Tourist Attraction Sightseeing Bus / Hakone Tozan Bus) 4) Hakone Tozan Cable Car
5) Hakone Ropeway 6) Hakone Sightseeing Cruise 7) Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus 8) Tokai Bus Orange Shuttle
Valid for 2 days
Odawara / Gotemba 4,000 yen 1,000 yen
5,140 yen 1,500 yen
Unlimited use of 2, 7 and 8 only within designated zones. Showing your Hakone Free pass entitles you to discounts or other bonuses at about 50 Hakone-areas facilities.
Experience a comfortable, enjoyable train journey on the Odakyu Line!
Inquire about or purchase Hakone Freepass or Romancecar limited express tickets at any Odakyu Line station, Odakyu Travel office, or the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center, Shinjuku.
Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center, Shinjuku *Odakyu Sightseeing Center also at Odawara station.
OPEN 8:00~18:00 TEL 03-5321-7887 FAX 03-5321-7886 (Licensed Travel Agent No.2-2053)
Hakone Travel and Transportstation Information Website
EXPERIENCE THE INTRICACIES OF JAPANESE CULTURE IN A TOWN LINED WITH ANTIQUE SAMURAI HOUSES Words and Photography: Kazuya Baba
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During the Edo period, under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, Kanazawa thrived as a castle town under the exceedingly influential Kaga Domain. It was the most populated city after the three large cities of that era (Edo, Osaka and Kyoto) alongside Nagoya. The streets of Kanazawa still largely maintain their historic feel as they were fortunately spared from any American air strikes during World War II. Despite the many attractions Kanazawa has to offer, its location on the Sea of Japan side of the country meant that international visitors seldom visited the city since many travellers tended to start their adventures from Tokyo or Osaka, on the opposite side. However, the situation has changed, with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen in March 2015, improving access to all the major cities along the Sea of Japan side of the country. With the convenience of the city being located only an hour away from Nagano Station – the entry point to holiday resort destinations popular amongst skigoers such as Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen and Shiga Highlands – Australian skiers, and other foreigners alike, have started to flock to Kanazawa for short trips during their extended stays over in Nagano. The wonder of Kanazawa can be described in a single sentence; it has all the beauty of historical Japan concentrated into one single place. It is a city with multiple facets of beauty – a samurai town structured around the centrally located castle; a lively town of merchants; and a town of temples to protect the area. Just merely walking through the streets of Kanazawa will give you a sense of how gorgeous the city is. Alongside Asano River and Saigawa River, which flow through the city, are 3 historical places with well-preserved streets of old known as the Chaya Districts (tea house district). Chaya districts used to refer to redlight districts where geisha and courtesans gathered, however, nowadays it merely notates an area comprising of establishments where geisha experiences can be had. Of the
three Chaya Districts, the largest and most glamorous of them all is Higashi Chaya District (East Chaya District). Delicate, lattice-roofed tea houses beautifully line the streets of the district. When night falls, it shows its other enchanting side as the lamps illuminate the streets to bring about a mysterious allure. With an array of stylish cafés and accessory shops scattered around, it can be easy to spend a whole day leisurely shopping and seeing the many sights. Some places also offer geisha experiences aimed at international tourists, which are definitely worth looking into at tourist information centres. The sight of water flowing freely through the city is another distinctive characteristic of Kanazawa. Water is taken from the upstream flow of Saigawa River and brought down before using the inverted siphon method to funnel it up to the castle. This technology was said to be the highly advanced during its time.
Mud walls and cobblestone streets take you on a trip back in time over at Naga-machi Buke Yashiki District, where middle-class samurai of the Kaga Domain once called home. The district allows you to see how the samurai of the time once lived. A walk down through the samurai town also wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the Tera-machi Temple Area, one of the many temple areas in Kanazawa. As a defensive strategy against farmers rebelling against the ruler of the time, temples were erected in the areas surrounding Saigawa River – giving rise to the birth of Tera-machi Temple Area. In a similar fashion, Utatsuyama Temple Area on the eastern side of Kanazawa Castle, and Kodatsuno Temple Area to the southeast at Kodatsuno were also constructed. Myoryuji Temple, a ninja temple famous for its numerous ninja traps, headlines the list of almost 70 temples in the Tera-machi Temple Area.
Reliable and gracious service providing dignified yet warm hospitality
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HANDS-ON WITH GOLD LEAF AND KIMONO
KENROKUEN-EN – ONE OF THE THREE GREAT GARDENS OF JAPAN Standing proudly alongside Kairaku-en in Mito and Kouraku-en in Okayama, is Kanazawa’s Kenroku-en to make up the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Kenroku-en has rich history as a renowned daimyo tei-en (feudal lord garden) and was constructed throughout many generations of Kaga feudal lords. Located in central Kanazawa, visitors from within and outside of Japan converge on the garden to enjoy the beautiful seasonal scenery. Kenroku-en is not a “compact style” garden like the ones which are viewable and to be enjoyed from the abbot’s quarters or temples or drawing rooms of castles. Instead, it takes full advantage of the vast area it occupies with a large pond dug into the grounds, tsukiyama (man-made hill), as well as mansions and tea houses dotted around the place. You are able to stroll around to these various attractions in this “go-around-style” garden. Although the garden was constructed throughout many generations of feudal lords over an extended period of time, the basic vision for the garden stayed consistent all through the years. This was known as the Shinsen Shiso, or the “Taoist Immortal Vision”. It is the idea to construct a pond to emulate an ocean with an island inside of it to symbolise the immortal island of Taoist belief. The feudal lords were said to have constructed the garden to promote longevity and timelessness. More details about the origins of Kenroku-en can be found in English on their official website, so it is highly recommended to read up on the history before seeing it in all its glory. The carefully though-out, man-made garden offers a unique sense of charm contrasting with the beauty of Mother Nature’s creations.
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The increase of international visitors to Kanazawa in recent times has led to the expansion of various programs for tourists to have cultural experiences relevant to historical Japan. Whilst there are various experiences to be had all over Japan, there are some that are unique to Kanazawa. Noh experiences are one of the more unique ones. The Noh style of Kanazawa was developed from the ceremonial song and dance of the samurai Maeda clan in the Kaga Domain. The style was protected, nurtured and encouraged amongst the masses, leading to the establishment of the Kaga Hosho style. This is why Kanazawa came to be known as, “the town where Noh chants rain from the sky”.
This vast history led to the construction of the Kanazawa Noh Museum to house and display the precious Kaga Hosho Noh masks and costumes. Visitors to the museum can also partake in the actual wearing of a Noh mask during their visit. Kanazawa is also well renowned for its Kaga Yuzen (Kaga-style dyed textiles) and gold leaf. In fact, almost all of the country’s gold leaf is produced in Kanazawa. Experiences that allow you to don kimono made of dyed fabrics and make your own chopsticks using gold leaf are highly popular. Try out the unique experiences for yourself and take home memories to cherish. Another spot not to be missed, is the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. It is one of the few leading contemporary art museums in Japan and is located right next to the Kanazawa Noh Museum, so there really is no reason not to go!
THE RABBIT HOLE OF KANAZAWA FOOD CULTURE
Last, but certainly not least, is the deep food culture of Kanazawa. Along with the plethora of Kaga grown vegetables (Kaga yasai), Kanazawa is also known for how distinct its food culture is from the rest of Japan. The seafood found around the area is especially worth bringing to the spotlight. The location of the city on the Sea of Japan side of Japan means that it has access to a variety of seafood which cannot be obtained from the Pacific Ocean side of the country, this also leads to a unique foodie experience to be had. Of the unique produce found in Kanazawa,
nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch) is particularly sought after by Japanese and international tourists alike. It is a white fish with generous fatty deposits, making it utterly delectable. Nodoguro, along with various other delicious types of seafood, can be found by visiting Omicho market in central Kanazawa. Locals visit the market for their grocery needs, however, a large number of tourists also drop by in order to experience life as a local and see all the marine produce on offer. The epicure in you will want to jot down this locale as a spot to check out. You can also taste local produce at one of the many izakaya (Japanese-style pub) located all around the city. Drop by the reception desk of your hotel and ask the concierge for recommendations about which izakaya to visit. It goes without saying that Nagano provides a great central base to visit Kanazawa, however, now that the city is accessible from both Tokyo and Osaka with a single trip on the shinkansen, why not have a little visit over to Kanazawa on your next stay in one of the major cities of Japan?
Over 40 Hotels throughout Japan
Shibuya Kyoto www.tokyuhotelsjapan.com
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To Osaka & Kyoto
OSAKA Pref. Kansai International Airport
Koyasan Wakayama City
Yuasa Important Preservation District for Group of Traditional Buildings
A LAND ENCOMPASSED BY STEEP MOUNTAINS AND SWEEPING COASTLINES, HOME TO LEGENDS AND FAITH OF OLD...
Yuasa Arida Hidaka Ryujin Onsen
Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine
Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine
Shirarahama Beach Nanki Shirahama Airport
Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine
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SIX KEY AREAS
Located approximately 70 km south of Osaka in the Kinki region of Japan lies, Wakayama Prefecture, a land of beautiful ocean and mountain scenery. Here you can not only enjoy all that the local sights, hot springs, and local cuisine have to offer, you can also find a land that offers a hint a mystery in the shrines and Buddhist temples and the principles of enlightenment they espouse passed on through the ages. Stretched out over a long oblong-shaped piece of land from North to South, Wakayama Prefecture is home to six key areas - Wakayama City, Mount Koya, the Kii Peninsula, Kumano, Shirahama and Kushimoto. Wakayama City is host to a range of historic sites such as Wakayama Castle, and to the Waka-no-Ura Bay, one of the picturesque sites extolled in Japan’s oldest collection of poems, the "Manyoshu". The port towns facing the Kii Channel, entryway to the Seto Inland Sea, are also famous spots for surf fishing, swimming beaches and other marine resorts, and also offer a taste of fresh seafood. Mount Koya is a holy city and World Heritage Site set atop the mountains that is home to temples and historic sites densely packed into an area of an approximately 1.5 km radius. Its solemn atmosphere and beautiful natural surroundings make for an unforgettable experience. Making your way along the pilgrim trail, the Mount Koya Stone Marker Path, from the towns at the foothills of the mountains to the peaks and the 117 temples on top is a true highlight. Half of those temples also offer the shukubo style of temple accommodation, where a stay offers a glimpse of traditional Japanese architecture and lets you experience the history and culture of not just Mount Koya itself, but Japan as a whole. The tatami rooms, beautiful paintings on traditional sliding doors, ancient furnishings, and the traditional vegetarian temple food eaten by monks known as shojin ryori all build a sacred atmosphere that draws visitors from inside and outside Japan all year long. The Kii Peninsula is the largest peninsula in
Japan, and an area that perfectly expresses the mix of ocean and mountains in Wakayama with its ample fishing grounds and beautiful coastline matched with incredible views that peek out through the mountain ranges. There are many famous spots such as the Shirasaki Coast, which is known as the Aegean Sea of the Orient for its contrast of azure ocean that stretches out to the horizon with white limestone. The Kii Peninsula was also selected as one of the top 10 regions to visit in 2018 by the guidebook Lonely Planet, used by travellers the world over.
Hayatama Taisha, Hongu Taisha, and Nachi Taisha, offers a variety of terrain depending on the route you take, capturing the imaginations of visitors even to this day. The Nakahechi Route in particular is said to have been walked by retired emperors and other nobles, making it the most significant in terms of Japanese history. Accommodation can also be found along this route, together with famous hot springs such as the Kawayu, Yumine, Wataze, and Katsuura. Shirahama is home to one of Japan’s three largest hot springs and a location long known as a site for hot springs, Shirahama Onsen, and Adventure World, a theme park based on the concept of bringing together people, animals, and nature that is loved by young and old alike. In Kushimoto, the town at the southernmost point of Japan’s main island, the coast has been registered and designated as a marine park under the Ramsar Convention for its great coral communities. It is also popular for incredible sights such as Engetsu Island and the Sandanbeki Doukutsu Cave, and the vast rias-style coastline. WATER, THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS
Kumano in the southern part of the Kii Peninsula has long been considered a holy site and home to the gods, revered for its stunning and mysterious natural surrounds. The Kumano Kodo trail, designated a World Heritage Site in 2004 along with Mount Koya, is a holy trail that has existed since the ancient Heian Era as a pilgrimage trail to those of faith in the three grand Kumano shrines, and is well worn by the footsteps of those in search of prayer for over 1,000 years. Here you can go trekking amidst this ancient backdrop, and this trail, which ties together the three grand shrines of the
It is precisely because Wakayama has long been known as a land of great forests since ancient times that it is also a region of bountiful, clear waters conditioned by those very same forests. The water of Wakayama, long revered for its magnificent environment, is said to hold a mysterious power. It was the heavy rainfall over the Kii Mountain Ranges that gave birth to the forests in the depths of the mountains, and the water conditioned by those forests that then turned into grand rivers and waterfalls that have been deified since times of old. The world of Mount Koya and Kumano, both a part of the World Heritage Site listing, is a special one created by the sheer power of this water over the years, and is home to holy waters that bind together the grand natural surrounds with people, and people with their faith. A quiet walk on one of these ancient trails steeped in nature and faith is sure to be quite the experience.
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Even simply enjoying the sights of the water that cleanses the Kii Peninsula and the natural sites its unique topography produces is sure to bring clarity to your mind. From the hot springs that burst forth from the ground, to the rivers that weave their way through the mountains, a trip to see the products of Wakayamaâ€™s bountiful water resources cannot be missed. DEVELOPMENT OF A CYCLING PARADISE
Wakayama is a prefecture that actively promotes tourism via bicycle, which allows
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tourists to travel to spots that large busses and trains cannot reach. There are many wonderful places you can visit that cater to beginners and the needs of the more advanced alike, from pottering through beautiful scenery and tourist sites, to hill climbs that promise incredible views at the tops of mountain roads. Development of cycling roads (blue line) over some 800km is proceeding throughout all of Wakayama Prefecture, and is due for completion during the Japanese 2017 financial year. In addition to these roads, a number of other facilities such as bike racks and benches, toilet access, and cycle stations that allow cyclists to take a break or perform maintenance on their bikes, are also being created. Great care to detail has been made, with loans of air pumps and tools to make temporary repairs on offer, all with the aim of turning Wakayama into a region that can be called a new paradise for cyclists. Accommodation catering to the needs of cyclists is said to increase along the cycling roads as well. What better way could there be to see Wakayama than going on a bike trip through the prefecture where you can come in close contact with the natural surroundings and the local culture, whilst sometimes taking a break to reward yourself with a spectacular view, and enjoying the local cuisine and seasonal produce?
Setouchi Shimanami Kaido International Cycling Event Cycling Shimanami 2018
THE BEAUTIFUL BRIDGE AND ISLAND SCENERY OF THE SHIMANAMI KAIDO
Experience the charm of Japan’s Inland Sea by bicycle The Inland Sea’s Shimanami Kaido or ,"Shimanami Sea Road", is a route that links Onomichi city in Hiroshima prefecture, Honshu and Imabari city in Ehime prefecture, Shikoku, through approximately 60 Kilometres of bridges. There are 3 ways to enjoy the beauty of this link between Honshu and Shikoku – by bicycle, via a pedestrian walkway and by motorbike (providing the engine is under 125cc). The route, which features 7 bridges connecting 6 islands of the Inland Sea, has won fame for hosting cycling tournaments and is now considered one of the best cycling courses in the world. However it’s not just aimed at competitive cyclists – tourists can also enjoy the bicycle route as part of a trip through Japan. In order to make the route more enjoyable for cyclists, there are cycling rental shops set up
where you can hire a variety of types of bikes. For example, if starting from the Shikoku side at Imabari, inside Imabari station the Taiwanese international bike maker, Giant, operates their "Giant Imbari" store. Here you can rent genuine road bikes, hybrid bikes, children’s bikes and electric bikes. To further assist beginners who may just be starting out, along the length of the cycling course is a blue line which lists the distance to the next destination, as well as the direction, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. The Shimanami Kaido is not only about the picturesque scenery of interweaving islands and bridges; the area also offers incredible gourmet cuisine featuring local ingredients which should definitely be sampled. So why not take your time exploring the islands by bicycle to truly enjoy the beauty of the Inland Sea?
October 27-28, 2018 (TBC) (27: BIKE EXPO, 28: CYCLING) Non-competitive public cycling event The international cycling event, "Cycling Shimanami 2018," will take place on the "Cyclist's Sanctuary," on the Shimanami Kaido Sea Road Ehime, Japan. Come enjoy the beautiful ocean view as you travel across the islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
Welcome to Ehime! Let “Mican” show you around. 8362EHIM
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THE BEST HOT SPRINGS IN JAPAN
Located approximately 3 hours away from Tokyo by car, is Gunma – a prefecture adjacent to Nagano, which is home to a number of world-renowned ski resorts including Hakuba and Nozawa. Gunma is most famous for its brilliant hot springs – Kusatsu Onsen, as well as serving as the location for the first ski lifts in Japan at Kusatsu International Ski Resort, which boasts over a hundred years of history. The two attractions combined make Gunma a holiday resort paradise, yet it still remains relatively unknown to the Western world. What makes Kusatsu Onsen so iconic, is its impressive hot spring fields. The thermal waters trickle through the earth’s surface or flow through wooden pipes, gathering and dissolving mineral salts along the way to become mineral rich hot springs through these fields. The onsen (hot springs) are then cooled to a more comfortable temperature before being piped around. The hot spring fields of Kusatsu are renowned for being the largest in all of Japan. The giant hot spring fields are illuminated at night, bringing about a wondrous atmosphere. These illuminations have gained more attention recently due to their revamp in December 2016. The new illuminative attractions were created by lighting designer, Kaoru Mende, who is famous for his bright projects on the buildings of Roppongi Hills. The latest technology LED lights cycle through various colours including shades of purple, blue and white as they light up the water flowing down the hot spring pipes and the steam wafting up from them. The gorgeous colours absorbed by the white curtains of steam make for a spectacular sight. Sainokawara Park, a short walk away from the hot spring fields, will also be filled with illuminations from the end of March 2017. The park is popular for leisurely strolls as it is located in a central location by the riverside. 1400 litres of hot water flow around the river every minute, making it a bubbling river of thermal waters. A 10 minute walk through the fantastically lit-up park brings you to a giant, open-air hot spring bathing area of over 500 square metres inside of the park itself. There is no other place where you can gaze at the stars above, as you soak in the soothing springs, surrounded by magical lights. The history of Kusatsu Onsen is said to date back to mythological times, however, the first
TREASURED HIDEAWAYS: HOT SPRING AND SKIING HAVENS OF JAPAN
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recorded mention of the locale was in 1472. Even during that era, the hot springs were already renowned across the country for the high quality of the water itself. The pungent aroma of sulphur at Kusatsu is indicative of the mineral rich waters, which are said to help with various skin ailments and nerve problems. There are, in fact, 6 different wellsprings, each of which differ in terms of mineral composition. It is a joy in itself to take a dip in all of the different hot springs in the area to reap all of the various health benefits. A number of restaurants and souvenir shops surround the hot spring fields for those who are after a cultural or gourmet encounter unique to the locale. Visitors can also watch or take part in yumomi experiences - the traditional act of cooling the hot thermal waters using wooden paddles originating in the Edo period. For more information about the hot springs, visit the Kusatsu Onsen website at http:// onsen-kusatsu.com/ and follow the link for a downloadable English pamphlet. A MUST-STAY HOTEL – KUSATSU NOW RESORT
With the rise in tourists visiting Japan from overseas, various spots in Japan have started to become more foreigner-friendly through improvements in language skills and adjustments to infrastructure. However, for older resorts that receive more domestic visitors, the trend towards international accessibility is still in its early stages. For overseas visitors who are looking for a fulfilling stay without the stress of various barriers, look no further than the Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel. The alpine resort hotel is located at the base of a mountain 1200 metres above sea level. Inside of
the hotel is the Big Bath, a public hot spring area comprising of a large open air bath and an indoor bathing area for visitors to enjoy the finest waters Kusatsu has to offer. There are also private baths, which can be reserved, for those who prefer to soak in privacy. Each of the private outdoor baths are made from a variety traditional Japanese materials such as cypress or Shigaraki wares, creating an elegant atmosphere to relax in. There are four restaurants located inside of the hotel: an international buffet, French, Japanese and Chinese establishments – all of which serve exquisite food. The hotel offers packages which include dinner, as well as packages with only breakfast included for those who prefer to dine out in town. There is also a wide selection of rooms to choose from, such as standard Westernstyle and Japanese-style rooms, suite-rooms and the newly introduced forest-view-bath twin rooms, to suit the needs of people from all walks of life. While the hotel is walking distance away from the centre of the hot spring fields, the regular shuttle bus service it offers is still highly convenient. During the ski season, it also takes passengers to and from the ski fields a minute’s drive away. The hotel also provides an endless source of recreational facilities including a pool, table tennis, tennis courts, karaoke rooms, a bar and even a beauty spa – everything all under one roof. The direct bus from Tokyo to the hotel makes it convenient for visitors centring their trip around Tokyo to visit hassle-free. Check out the website for more information and make your first trip to Kusatsu unforgettable with a stay at the Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel.
FURTHER INFORMATION Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel Shirane 750, Kusatsu, Agatsuma, Gunma 377-1711 No. of Rooms: 154 Accommodation Capacity: 528 people Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel (excluding the communal and private bathing areas) Tel: 0279-88-5111 Web: https://www.kusatsu-now.co.jp
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BEST-KEPT SKI SECRET OF JAPAN'S MAIN ISLAND
TAKE A LOOK AT AIZU, A SECLUDED SKI PARADISE Words and Photography: Kazuya Baba
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When you think of the ski areas most popular amongst foreigners on Japan’s main island, you would first think of places in Nagano and Niigata such as Hakuba, Nozawa, Shiga or Myoko. Otherwise, it’s the Tohoku area resorts, such as Appi or Hachimantai that come to mind. There is, however, a ski area that westerners are just beginning to discover. It’s the slopes of Aizu, at the gateway of Tohoku, the main island’s northernmost region. Because of Aizu’s inland location, humidity is low, and snow quality is as high as it gets. Its fine, dry powder is comparable to the powder snow of Hokkaido at Japan’s northernmost tip, with its reputation as the world’s number one powder paradise. The very reason that makes Aizu’s fresh powder slopes so thrilling is, ironically, the absence of crowds. Despite being 100 kilometres north of the Daiichi nuclear accident, Aizu lies on the outer edge of the Fukushima district. Although Aizu itself is basically untouched by radiation, the very word "Fukushima" is synonymous with the word "disaster" to many people, Japanese and foreigners alike. Many people choose to stay away, avoiding to look at the actual data themselves. For people willing to do their own research, this makes a ski holiday in Aizu a prize catch. Not only can you get freshly-fallen powder all to yourself, the whole ski industry is bending over backwards to woo skiers back with all kinds of special deals, such as free lift passes for people aged 19 - 24. Fortunately, the data shows that the Aizu and Bandai areas saw little effect from the accident. This is due not only to distance, but also to being upwind of the accident,
and having two protective mountain ranges between Aizu and the stricken power plant. Nevertheless, local government watches the situation closely. In addition, the citizen group, Safecast, provides reliable independent radiation monitoring with easy to use smartphone apps and online maps as an alternative source of information. A visit to Aizu is about much more than extremely inviting snow. The treasure of the north is the samurai town of Aizu Wakamatsu, built around the spectacular castle to which all wealth and culture flowed. Like the television dramas that it inspired, Wakamatsu town is full of tales of intrigue and heroism that played out all those years ago. These stories continue to inspire the people of Japan, and even a foreign movie star or two; the Tom Cruise film, The Last Samurai, tells of the real-life events that took place in these mountains and streets. Yes, the "bushido" or "samurai spirit" is strong in the people of the north. So too is their attachment to their traditional cuisine. In a world where everything starts to be the same everywhere you go, we tasted wonderful dishes that are exclusive to this area, springing from its natural features and traditions, which I would love to share with you. There are a total of 22 ski resorts in the area that all slope down to the open plain. The district that flows down from the north is known as Aizu, while the south-western area goes by the name Minami Aizu. In this trip my 9 companions and I focused on three places in the northern district: the main ski resorts of Aizu, the samurai town of Aizu Wakamatsu City, and the romantic historical village of Higashiyama Onsen (hot springs), just nearby. Here is the story of my experience of Aizu, and the must-see places in each of the areas.
AIZU'S BIGGEST RESORT, WITH EXCLUSIVE SNOWCAT BACKCOUNTRY SKIING My trip began the minute I touched down at Narita airport. I met my party, and the ten of us all bundled into a bus, heading straight for the snowfields. It was a four hour bus trip, so after the long flight from summery Sydney, we fell into a slumber. Awakening, the world outside the window had turned white. We were in snow country. We all tumbled out of the bus at ALTS, the nickname for the Hoshino Resorts’ Alts Bandai. After a quick lunch, we turned our heads towards the slopes, and off we went to explore. It turned out to be a preview trip only, checking out the trails, as the slopes were hit by furious snowfall. Were we pleased about this? Of course! The snow was spectacularly light, fine powder, just feeding our anticipation of the skiing that lay ahead the next morning. ALTS, the largest ski resort in the Aizu area, is run by Hoshino Resorts, a chain with luxury resorts all over Japan. ALTS sits on the slopes of towering Mt. Bandai, a volcanic mountain included in the illustrious, Hyakumeizan, a list of the 100 favourite mountains of a famed Japanese
alpinist. The list now has a life of its own, as dedicated mountaineers attempt to climb all one hundred. 29 ski courses is a lot for just one resort. ALTS is the kind of resort that doesn’t do things by half-measures. The ski area is roughly divided into two parts, the front and the back. Nekoma Bowl is the bowl-shaped slope at the back. Because it faces north, away from the sun, it has the super-high quality powder. The undulations of the non-compacted snow give this run a high degree of difficulty, making it popular amongst hardcore skiers. The fact that you can also find relatively friendly slopes on Nekoma bowl is probably a big part of its allure – a group of friends with differing skiing experience and abilities can all have a great day together, experiencing the a quality of powder snow that’s unsurpassed, anywhere on the planet.
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FOR THE BEST OF THE BEST SNOW IN AIZU, MAKE YOUR WAY OVER TO NEKOMA
EXCLUSIVE CAT SKIING SLOPES
We awoke the next day to a full-blown blizzard, with super-low temperatures predicted. Did that discourage hard-core skiers, like the ones in our group? Of course not! The more punishing the storm, the greater the thrill and joy of skiing through an entire night’s worth of freshly fallen snow. We had to be careful about what we wished for, though. If the storm blew too hard, then the slopes would be closed, and we’d watch all that beautiful snow go to waste. The view from the window was especially nail-biting for us, as today was the long-anticipated "cat skiing" day. From Monday to Friday, the slope, which ALTS once managed as a regular slope full of skiers, is closed. Snow falls quietly all week, completely undisturbed. Then come the weekend, the snowmobiles, known as "Snowcats", track their way up to the top of the slope, and let the warm skiers out of their cozy cabins to tear through a whole week’s worth of beautiful, untouched powder. As it turned out, today was our lucky day. Unlike ascending in a ski lift, you can feel the terrain beneath you as the Cat clambers up the mountain, which is a treat in itself. The Cat drops us off, we ski down the beautiful powder,
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while it follows along behind us, back to the foot of the slope. Then, we continue to repeat the whole delightful episode, all day long. This particular slope is by appointment only. Today we were the privileged ones, with this luxurious expanse all to ourselves. It’s a wonderful feeling, hooting and whooping our glee to each other as we raced down, not another soul in sight. After many ups and downs in the freezing storm, the ladies of the group, Melissa and Libby from Australia, got the idea of hot springs in their heads. The rest of us didn’t take much persuasion. This area has been famous for its many hot springs long before skiing was invented. To steam and soak in the waters known for their curative properties, and to gormandise on the local cuisine is a perfectly valid way to make the most of your time in this special place. We loved the "ski in, ski out", location of our accommodation at the Hoshino Resorts Bandai Onsen Hotel, just a few steps from the ski lifts. You’ve got hot springs, rentals and shops - a huge range of everything you could need, all in one place. It really is a perfect base from which you can come and go, visiting surrounding slopes and attractions. ALTS Bandai should be your first stop when planning a trip to the wilds of Aizu.
Aizu attracts the hardcore skiers hunting down the best snow in Japan. Of all the resorts in Aizu, the one that wins the prize for most magical snow is Nekoma. The funnel-shape of its north slope, as it narrows in at the base, is the reason the slopes avoid icing up for most of the season. But the big attraction is the premium powder the Japanese call "micro-fine snow", created by the super-low temperatures of Nekoma, at around minus 15 degrees Celsius. For some reason, most of the skiers here are Japanese, and there aren’t that many of them either. It’s just not a place foreigners think to come. It’s possible to get to the top of the Nekoma slopes by simply hiking over the summit from ALTS, which is just over the other side of the mountain. If you are skilled enough to take responsibility for your own safety, go for it.
But as the peak is unpatrolled and the risks are many, this time we all decided to leave ALTS and head for the slopes of Nekoma by shuttle bus. It went around the mountain, and took us 40 minutes. The was no charge for the shuttle, and no need to buy more lift tickets, as both ALTS and Nekoma are operated by Hoshino Resorts. Nice. We had a day of indecisive weather, with the sun peeking out, then snowfall, followed by more fleeting sunshine, all day long. The slopes were a patchwork of skied upon snow and then big stretches of pristine, untouched powder. When you hit the freshly laid powder, it was like gliding. You really can’t experience it anywhere else in life, this weightless feeling of almost flying. I’ve experienced a lot of good snow, but this really was one of the best I have come
across in all of Japan. Being high season, and in the depths of winter, it couldn’t have been any colder, but the freshly falling snow just had us feeling that things couldn’t be better. It’s not a massive resort, with its ten courses. But they range from beginner to advanced. If you are in the Aizu area, don’t miss the secluded charms of inland Nekoma - intense cold, and that distinctive Nekoma terrain, and the finest power imaginable. There are rumours that the ALTS and Nekoma areas might soon be connected at the summit, since they are both operated by the same resort. If that happens, the days of solitude at Nekoma are numbered. But for some reason, an interconnected snow playground seems an alluring daydream for me. I’m looking forward to the day it becomes a reality.
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© Owain Price
FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY Further north of ALTS and Nekoma lies GRANDECO, our final visit of the Aizu ski areas. GRANDECO is not the easiest to get to of the Aizu resorts, but despite the drawbacks of its location, it is still immensely popular. It is not a big resort, with a total of five gondolas and chairlifts, and seven courses. GRANDECO is a long, narrow ski area, which is its main attraction. Skiers spend their time on lengthy, uninterrupted runs down slopes, rather than getting on and off lifts all day. Its defining characteristic is an environment that is friendly to families and people wanting to have a fun connection with their friends. The range of slopes is suitable for all levels of expertise, but the majority are gentle slopes suitable for beginner and intermediate level skiers. There are few places in the world where you can enjoy both the best quality powder snow, and so many cruisy, easy, long-distance slopes. It is super cold. But at an elevation of 1,000 metres above sea level, that’s what you would generally expect. At GRANDECO they are careful to protect guests from the downsides of the powder-creating temperatures, by providing quad lifts protected with hoods which are filled with comfortable and happy families. Also, it’s
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rare that Japanese families can go on a ski trip for the Golden Week holiday in early May. Here, it’s possible, with the long, luscious snow season when you are this far north, and this high up. During the high season the quality of the snow is good enough to give Nekoma and the other Aizu resorts a run for their money. It’s not only an approachable place for regular people to enjoy the snow, but also it also has plenty of challenging runs to keep advanced skiers fully engaged. We had a great time going through tree runs, and scaring ourselves with the tough steep slopes. The best hotel of the whole area is said to be the hotel adjacent to GRANDECO, so there is one more plus to add to the collection. Family time can truly be enjoyed in this highly pleasant place, with unsurpassable snow, good service, and easy, approachable skiing just out the door. GRANDECO has just about everything a family could wish for to create a lovely time in each other’s company.
Aizu Wakamatsu City THE CULTIVATED CITY OF WARRIORS, AND HOME OF THE LEGENDARY LAST SAMURAI Today was our ski-free day, a day for exploring Aizu Wakamatsu city. Known as the city of warriors, it goes down in history as a place of heroism and tragedy. The last stand of the warrior known as ‘"Japan's Last Samurai" took place here, which makes it a poignant place in Japan’s history. To be immersed in that chapter from the past is a perfectly good reason to come and stay here. But more prosaically, it’s just a 30 minute drive from here to Alts Bandai, and an hour to Nekoma. So even if you only have skiing on your mind, it’s a pretty irresistible base. As a sightseer, you will probably start off with Tsuruga Castle. The original castle was constructed 630 years ago, and lasted until its bombardment in the civil war during the latter half of the Edo period, the last time wars were fought by samurai. Although finally defeated, the castle and its warriors earned a glorious kind of immortality
through their final brave attacks. They withstood an entire month under siege, facing weapons of immense destructive power, never before seen by these ancient warriors. Now, the replica castle holds all sorts of displays and documents, that bring to life the story of what happened here, floor after floor, until you reach the apex. From the very top of the tower, we caught our breath and viewed the city of Aizu spread out below us. It’s not quite skiing, but a wonderful feeling, high above the world. After this glorious place, we then wandered down to the modest thatched tea ceremony hut, built centuries ago by the son of Sen no Rikyu, the renowned master and initiator of the Japanese tea ceremony. Here, we partook of matcha green tea, served in the ritual way, with traditional Japanese sweets. The ladies were especially appreciative of those sweets, all elaborate, pretty and sugarysweet. Melissa seemed so taken by the
whole experience that she purchased a set of the special tea ceremony equipment – a pottery bowl, bamboo whisk, and so on – so she could bring this special feeling back with her to her life in Sydney. There aren’t usually what you would call cities around ski areas in this country, so that limits how you can keep entertained and occupied once you’re done skiing for the day. But if you stay in Aizu Wakamatsu, you really won’t run out of attractions and distractions. The city of Aizu was built up on what was once ancient swampland. Draining the wetlands and setting the nutrient-rich soil aside created extremely fertile farmlands, which is why the rice grown here so delicious. The difference between this juicy, flavourful rice and ordinary rice is so distinctive that you will immediately realise when you take your first bite. The snow that piles up in the
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TRAVEL Aizu surrounding mountains also has an impact on making things here delicious. It seeps into the ground as meltwater, gets purified as it filters through the rock, then lies in the ground as clear, cold spring water. This pure water and lush rice go together to make astonishingly good Japanese sake. The town is full of traditional izakayas, quaint eatery-bars, as well as modern bars and restaurants of all sorts. After hearing stories of the marvels of the sake of this area, we went over to the long-established sake brewery, Suehiro Shuzo, to see if the legends were true. They showed us the careful process of making perfect sake, not dramatically different from centuries ago. At the tasting corner we refined our powers of discrimination, and finally chose some favourites to buy and take home. On the wall were photographs and calligraphy by the world-renowned doctor and humanist, Hideyo Noguchi. Dr Noguchi had visited this place early last century, and the ladies of our group entertained themselves by photographing each other in the same hall, same angle and pose as that of Dr Noguchi. In lands with pure water, good sake, and spectacular scenery in all seasons, food always tastes good. As Aizu is an isolated mountain city, deeply inland, the unique local
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cuisine has dishes that have been passed down with their special Aizu character intact. Herring pickled in Japanese pepper, stewed dried cod, and kozuyu, a clear broth served on auspicious occasions are exclusive to Aizu. Wappameshi, is a dish of steamed rice scattered with other tasty morsels and seasonings, also unique to this region. Aizu is famous for its handmade buckwheat noodles, or soba. Connoisseurs of soba flock to the many specialty restaurants of this seemingly simple dish, and marvel at its subtlety. It was really hard to tear ourselves away from the charms of Aizu Wakamatsu. The night of eating local food and the amazing sake just stretched out longer and longer, as we watched the snow pile up outside and watched everything become indescribably lovely as the sake took effect. There are many more ski areas in Aizu than the ones we have introduced here, all special in their own way. Get yourselves a base in lovely Aizu Wakamatsu, and go explore them all.
Higashiyama Onsen A SPA TOWN OF OLD JAPAN, TUCKED AWAY IN THE MOUNTAINS
A ten minute drive from Aizu Wakamatsu central, yet hundreds of years away, is the historical hot spring village of Higashiyama Onsen. Although there are several other historical hot spring towns in the mountains of Japan, it’s unheard of for them to be just around the corner from a busy city. Higashiyama Onsen is special in that sense. Higashiyama Onsen is proud of its long history, founded by the itinerant monk, Gyoki, 1300 years ago. This intrepid fellow travelled the country instigating public works to benefit the people of Japan, waterworks included. It is known for being a favourite place of respite and recreation of historical figures. One such personage is the samurai leader Toshizo Hijikata, leader of the Shinsen-gumi special forces, active during the last days of the Samurai. Japan’s very first prime minister, Hirobumi Ito was another great person of history who frequented the bathhouses of this village. And then there was us, making it our final destination of our Aizu tour. The onsen is a mineral-rich sulfate spring. It is said to have a therapeutic effect on disorders such as rheumatism, high blood pressure, and menopausal symptoms in women. We were lucky enough to stay at the Ashina, a truly grand ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn. The Ashina is a 120 year old reconstructed farmhouse, dismantled and rebuilt in the village as a luxury accommodation. There are only seven guest rooms. As we walked in, we found that one of these rooms was where the creator of the animation Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka, happened to stay. The room has
now been decorated to give the impression you are staying in the great man’s own workroom. Inspiring! At the Ashina, the hot water rises up to the baths directly from its source in the earth. There were indoor baths, and outdoor baths, and we just couldn’t decide on which was better, so we bathed and bathed until we couldn’t be any more relaxed and glowing. “Look at our lovely, dewy complexions!” the girls marvelled. It turned out that our party of 10 had the entire place to ourselves that night. Usually, elaborate meals are served privately in each of the seven rooms. But tonight we all gathered around the open hearth, used for kaiseki cuisine, in the main tatami room. It really felt like a time slip to the Japan of old, as delicious morsels of food sizzled gently over our charcoal fire, our faces lively in its flickering light. Food found only in this place, this season. How did they coax such deliciousness from such simple ingredients? There was a point in the night when the food, the atmosphere, the glow from the baths and the sake had gotten our spirits as merry as they were going to get. That was the moment the geisha made their entrance. Three genuine geisha, in full regalia. The night was just getting started, as it turned out. It was a night of shamisen, dance, and the witty banter and attentiveness that geisha have honed to an art form. There was also taiko drumming, and nagauta – a unique experience of traditional singing. An evening’s entertainment with real geisha is something so rare, you never expect it will happen to you. Even Japanese people don’t expect to have such an experience. So this night, in this secluded mountain village, blanketed in thick snow, felt like some kind of dream. It was true, in a sense. It’s the only place in the whole of Tohoku with so many geisha, twenty, and we were lucky enough to be there to be a part of it. Do whatever you can to complete a trip to Aizu with a stay at Higashiyama Onsen. The time you spend here will sparkle in your memory like starlight on snow.
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Shin Chitose Airport
A quick guide to domestic flights and train travel
JAPAN'S MAJOR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS
Kanazawa Komatsu Airport Hiroshima Airport
Nagasaki Kyushu Shinkansen Line
Takamatsu Tokushima Kochi Beppu
Echigo-Yuzawa Nagano Karuizawa
Hakuba Takayama Mt. Fuji Gifu
Narita International Airport
Nagoya Chubu Airport
DOMESTIC FLIGHTS FROM TOKYO (BY JAL OR ANA)
The easy way to get to Japan From
Shin Chitose (Hokkaido)
1 hr 30 min.
1 hr 20 min.
1 hr 5 min.
*The flight schedule is correct as of Nov 1, 2017 and is subject to change. ▪Qantas Airways: www.qantas.com ▪ANA: www.anaskyweb.com ▪JAL: www.jal.com.au
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Travelling to and from Tokyo TRAINS
Kansai International Airport
NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Nanki-Shirahama (Wakayama) 1 hr 15 min. Hiroshima
1 hr 20 min.
1 hr 30 min.
1 hr 55 min.
1 hr 55 min.
2 hr 45 min.
Narita Airport has two key rail connections operating between central Tokyo Station and the Narita Airport terminals. JR East’s Narita Express (N’EX) is the fastest option (60 min., ¥3020). The Keisei Sky Liner is the best choice for travel to Ueno (44 min., ¥2465). BUSES
Airport Limousine buses stop at most major hotels and certain landmarks on the way to central Tokyo (75 - 125 min., ¥3100). TAXIS
Taxis can be expensive depending on your destination. Travelling to central Tokyo costs approx. ¥20000 to ¥24000 by taxi. A few domestic flights do leave from Narita, but most domestic flights leave from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (70 min. from Narita by the Airport Limousine bus).
USING THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM Japan has an extremely efficient public transport system. Trains and buses service a large network, especially in metropolitan areas and between cities, and are clean and punctual.
ESTIMATED SHINKANSEN TRAVEL TIMES
Most trains and train lines in Japan are owned by Japan Railways (JR). However, others are owned by a number of private companies, often sharing mutual tracks. The urban train systems comprise of shinkansen (bullet trains), limited express, express, rapid and local trains. Many are owned by separate companies, so it can be a little confusing. It’s a good idea to carry a route map (rosenzu) with you at all times. You can pick one up from most train stations. All individual tickets (including shinkansen, private railways and subways) can be purchased from vending machines or ticket offices. Individual ticket costs will be shown on the railway line map next to your destination station. Once you have checked the price, you can buy your ticket from one of the nearby vending machines. Children aged 6 to 11 pay half price and children under 6 travel free. Trains owned by different companies require different fares, so prepaid integratedcircuit (IC) cards such as Pasmo and Suica, are a useful way to simplify the system (see box). Passengers tend to form queues while waiting for the next train.
SUICA AND PASMO
Suica and Pasmo are rechargeable, prepaid integrated-circuit cards that can be used for all buses and trains (except shinkansen), regardless of the operating company. Suica or Pasmo cards can be purchased and recharged at rail vending machines and ticket counters in Tokyo. The initial cost consists of a small refundable deposit plus an initial loading of ¥1500 (for Suica) or between
JR Shinkansen (minutes from Tokyo) 128 TOYAMA
166 HACHINOHE AKITA SHINJO
JR TOKYO STATION NAGOYA KYOTO
94 JR Kyushu Shinkansen 129
144 SHIN-OSAKA HAKATA
¥500 and ¥10500 (for Pasmo). When riding the train, touch the card to the card reader when you pass through the station’s ticket barrier. The applicable fare will be automatically deducted at the ticket gate at your destination. When riding the bus, touch the card to the reader when you board. If you are required to pay when alighting, make sure you touch your card to the reader when you get on and again when you get off for the appropriate fare to be deducted.
BUSES Many bus routes link train stations and residential areas. Each stop is announced and displayed on an electric signboard on approach. Push the button to alert the bus driver when you wish to alight. Tickets are purchased upon entering the bus, or when getting off, depending on the bus company and the bus route. Fares can be pre-paid or you can use cash or integratedcircuit cards (Suica or Pasmo) on the bus. *It is considered bad manners to talk on a mobile phone in trains and buses, so they are best left switched off or muted.
THE JAPAN RAIL (JR) PASS
The JR pass allows for unlimited travel on JR-owned trains, buses and ferries for periods of 7, 14 or 21 days. JR passes are available outside of Japan (either online or through your travel agent) before your visit. See www.japanrailpass. net for more information.
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TRAVEL TIPS Handy tips and useful information to know before travelling to Japan
Visitors to Japan from Australia do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Under Japan's New Immigration Procedures, all visitors must present their passport upon arrival and agree to be fingerprinted and photographed. Immigration may also ask a few quick questions. See www.immi-moj.go.jp/ english for more information.
Currently, 3G models and 4G LTE work in Japan that use the 2100 MHz band. With some global roaming plans from Australian service providers you can use your own phone to send and receive calls and texts and to access broadband internet. Alternatively, you can rent a SIM card if it works in Japan to use with your own phone, or a pre-paid phone from such service providers as Softbank and Mobal Narita at Narita Airport Terminal 1. Renting a portable Wi-Fi router in Australia to use in Japan is also an option worth considering. Portable Wi-Fi is a device that allows multiple machines including laptops, tablets and smartphones to gain internet access wherever you are within the carrier service area.
MONEY AND COSTS The Japanese currency unit is the Yen (¥). Coins are available in units of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen. Notes are available in 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 yen. ATMs that accept Cirrus, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, PLUS and JCB can be found at post offices, major convenience stores and many banks. You can also withdraw Japanese Yen at Seven Bank (inside 7-Eleven convenience stores). Cash payments are still more popular than credit cards, especially in smaller stores. www.sevenbank.co.jp/intlcard
PUBLIC PHONES Green or grey public phones can be found everywhere in Japan. They accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins, and telephone cards that can be purchased from kiosks and news agencies. You can make international calls from grey phones displaying the "International" sign.
TO CALL AUSTRALIA Japan has three international call providers. Dial one of their access numbers (0033, 001, or 0061) + 010 + country code (61) + area code (without the zero) + personal number.
TIPPING Tipping and bartering are not customary in Japan.
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POSTAL SERVICE International mail can be classified into letter post (letters, aerogrammes and postcards); parcel post; and EMS (Express Mail Service). EMS takes two to four days to reach Australia. Airmail or letter post and parcel post takes three to six days and sea mail takes one to three months. Parcels must be under 20 kg. Most post offices are open 9am to 5pm on weekdays. www.post.japanpost.jp/index_ en.html
INTERNET Internet cafes are readily accessible in Japan, especially in the cities. Although big-name chain stores like Global Gossip are prevalent, the most popular internet cafes in Japan are manga cafes, which also provide comics, magazines and video games. You pay time increments in either a private booth or a communal seating area. Special time-packages are available and there is even the option of an overnight stay on a reclining seat in a private booth.
POSTAGE Domestic Mail to Mail Australia
PEAK TRAVEL SEASONS EMS
Standard Letter up to 25g
Standard Letter up to 50g
Number of delivery days
EMERGENCIES For police assistance call 110 (free call from public phones if you press the red button) or look for the nearest koban, or police kiosk, marked with a red pentagonal light. For the fire department or an ambulance call 119.
Train, bus and flight timetables may change during the following peak travel seasons: New Year (December 27 to January 3 and adjacent weekends), Golden Week (April 29 to May 5 and adjacent weekends), Bon Festival (the week surrounding August 15).
WATER All tap water in Japan is safe to drink.
INFORMATION CENTRES The Visit Japan Information Network consists of 324 information services across the country. Usually located near major train stations and town centres, they will provide information on local tourist sites.
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Source: Japan Meteorological Agency, www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html
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ITADAKIMASU / GOCHISOUSAMA いただきます／ごちそうさま
“Itadakimasu” (i-ta-da-ki-mas) is one of the first words you’ll hear when enjoying a meal with a Japanese person. It’s the Japanese equivalent to saying grace before starting to eat. Japanese people also place their hands together when they say, “ itadakimasu”. This is to show respect and gratitude for both the food and person who made the meal. You may have also heard the word “gochisousama” (go-chi-so-sa-ma), which means, “thank you for the delicious meal”. Japanese people say this word whenever they have a meal, regardless of their age or where they are eating. Customers usually like to say, “gochisousama”, to the chef and staff at a restaurant when paying the bill to express their satisfaction. Next time when you have a meal, you can show your appreciation and satisfaction to others by saying, “gochisousama”.
TADAIMA / OKAERI ただいま／おかえり
You have probably heard the word “tadaima” in Japanese movies or anime. “Tadaima”(ta-da-i-ma) is used for when someone comes back home. In English it means, “I’m home”. Another word you may be familiar with is, “okaeri”(o-ka-e-ri), which means, “welcome home”. “Okaeri” is used by the person who is already at home to welcome the person coming home. “Tadaima” and “okaeri” are very common words that you will often hear in a traditional Japanese household. For example, Japanese mothers say, “okaeri”, to their children when they come home from school and the children respond with, “tadaima”. You can use “tadaima” on your own if you are single and if you have a family you can say, “okaeri”, to another family member when they return home.
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Traditional Japanese Phrases
Understanding Japanese Expressions Let’s look at some indispensable words for your stay in Japan.
伝統的な日本語 Words: Shunichi Ikeda, Miona Ikeda
“Otsukaresama” (o-tsu-ka-re-sa-ma) is a term often used at work to express a job well done to colleagues leaving the office or coming back from a business errand. “Otsukaresama” is frequently misinterpreted as, "tsukareru", which means, "to get tired" in English because of the similarity in pronunciation. However, the term “otsukaresama” is simply used to pay tribute to or show care for the person who has completed a certain task. In younger generations or people in close relationships, this word can be shortened to “otsukare”. Also, when someone leaves an office, they say, “Otsukaresamadesita”, which tells colleagues that they are leaving for home.
Wasei Eigo KONSENTO
Japanese terms adopted from
Socket or Plug
“Konsento” means electrical socket or plug in Japan. The word originally comes from, “concentric plug”. The word “socket” or “plug” are not used in Japan. Also, there are no columnar-shaped plugs or 3-pin plugs utilised in Japan, instead a 2-flat-pin plug is used. Therefore, if you travel to Japan, you may need to buy a power plug adapter beforehand.
Buffet In Japan, the word for buffet is “ baikingu” from the English word “viking”. In 1957, a Japanese cook encountered a Danish smorgasbord and thought to bring this idea to Japan. However,
GASORIN SUTANDO ガソリンスタンド
Petrol Station A gasorin stando is a petrol station in Japan. There are 2 types of gasorin stando, one is self
as the word “smorgasbord” is hard to pronounce in Japanese, these buffet-style meals were renamed “ baikingu”.
service where you can pump the gas by yourself and the other is the old-fashioned gas stand where staff will pump the gas for you and also provide after service such as window wiping and ash tray cleaning.
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Living in Japan
Finding a place to stay in Japan Words: Dennis Bott BUDGET ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS
Whether you’re staying long or short-term, finding somewhere to stay in Japan can be a daunting challenge especially if you don’t speak the language and have just arrived. Although I haven’t tried it myself, Airbnb, where people rent out their rooms and apartments, seems to be a popular choice nowadays. It’s usually cheaper than most hotels and depending on the option you choose, you could have an entire apartment where you can cook, use wireless internet and perhaps even get some travel advice from your hosts. Another website called couchsurfing.com connects you with hosts around the world on the condition that you also offer your place to other couchsurfers. This can be a great way to connect with other travellers and
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organise trips together and basically allows you to stay for free, anywhere. THE PROS AND CONS OF HOSTEL LIFE
Then, of course, there are hostels. Hostels also offer the ability to cook, but can often be noisy and sometimes rough or dirty. You also have to be careful about having your things stolen if you’re staying in a room with several strangers. On the positive side, they’re also a great place to meet people and can be really memorable experiences. I once stayed in a really ratty hostel in Kyoto with about eight people in one room. People came in at all hours of the night and we all had to sleep in bunk beds. But I’ve also stayed in some really nice ones as well, so make sure you do your research and read the reviews.
BEST OPTION FOR LONG TERM STAYS
For those looking at a long-term stay, a guesthouse is probably the best option. There are several companies in Japan with English-speaking staff and websites where you can book a room by the month ahead of your arrival. There’s a deposit of 20,000 to 30,000 yen, but you get most of it back when you leave, as long as you don’t trash the room. The rooms are usually furnished with a bed with new sheets and a desk. The kitchen and bathrooms are shared with your housemates. I’ve actually lived in a guesthouse for the past two years. It’s convenient and it’s fun to meet the people from all over who come and go. Another advantage is that a lot of guesthouses are conveniently located near big train stations so you can live relatively cheaply in a convenient area where rent would typically be very expensive. Paying rent is also easy because all the utilities are included in one price. TRY A HOMESTAY FOR AN AUTHENTIC LOCAL EXPERIENCE
Another viable option is doing a homestay. I spent my first two months in Tokyo doing a homestay with a young couple who had two spare rooms. At first it was great having someone to talk to and dinner on the table every night. It was a great chance to see how Japanese people live and they organised a lot of activities every weekend. I would say that for a two-week stay, a homestay would be perfect. Any longer than that, in my experience, seems to be wearing out your welcome. It became uncomfortable trying to be home on time for dinner and I always felt like I had to be careful about making noise or using the shower. Homestays can also be quite expensive in the long term, but I would say it was a great experience for someone arriving in Japan for the first time. OTHER ALTERNATIVES – RENT YOUR OWN APARTMENT
Finding your own apartment presents its own set of pitfalls and challenges. First of all, you’ll need a bank account. But in order to get a bank account, you need an identification card and, of course, to stay in Japan you need some type of visa. Even if you have a job lined up before you come, getting everything in order takes time, so I recommend staying in a guesthouse for a month or two so you can take your time to find a good apartment. Most apartments in Japan require at least a two-year contract as well as up to the equivalent of one or two month's rent or so in deposits and fees. Choosing the right apartment in Tokyo is usually a compromise between price,
size or location. Rarely will you find a place that is ideal in all three. You have to decide what’s more important for you depending on your own budget. For me, living in a central convenient location, close to a station and my job is important, but I also don’t want to pay a lot for rent. So I decided to sacrifice on space and privacy by just staying in my guesthouse. Basically, the further the apartment is away from a train station, (i.e. less convenient) the more spacious or cheaper it will be. Some people decide to live outside of Tokyo altogether and commute into the city to save money on rent. For me though, not having to ride the crowded morning trains and being able to ride my bike to work is worth the extra cost of living in the city. I’m also able to stop home for lunch or go back if I forget something and I don’t have to worry about catching the last train at night on the weekends.
THERE ARE TONS OF OPTIONS, AND WITH A LITTLE PLANNING AND RESEARCH, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A HEADACHE. A LITTLE PATIENCE AND PLANNING WILL PAY OFF
Hopefully, someone from your company or a friend will help you with the process at the realtor’s office. You might be shocked to hear that some or many of the landlords will reject you right off the bat simply because you’re a foreigner. The most common reason is that they don’t want to deal with the language barrier. Also, they're worried you will have poor Japanese etiquette such as making too much noise or not disposing of your trash properly. Some foreigners also leave Japan suddenly without paying all of their last bills. Whatever the reason, this is one of the most frustrating parts about finding an apartment in Japan. However, they do seem to be more open if you tell them you can speak some Japanese. Another thing to keep in mind is that you won’t have internet for the first two or three weeks after you move into an apartment, while the telecommunications company changes the phone lines to your name. With proper research and planning, you may be able to shorten the waiting time by telling them ahead of time to get started on the process. Make sure you budget ample time and money in your search for a place to stay. There are tons of options, and with a little planning and research, it doesn’t have to be a headache.
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BEWARE OF WARIKAN
A good policy is to always check the 100-yen shop before buying something from a regular store. They carry an amazing variety of items and are ideal places to stock up your apartment with dishes, silverware, and other essentials to survive when you first arrive.
Obviously, you should try to cook at home as often as possible if you’re living on a budget. And you should also try to pack a lunch everyday if you can. But sometimes you get invited out and want to have fun. In Japan, it’s pretty normal for a group of friends to share all the food and it’s often (but not always) customary to split the bill at the end of the night (called warikan). The problem is that you end up having to help pay for the five bottles of expensive wine someone decided to order. If your friends are considerate they will pitch in more if they had a lot, but don’t count on it! Your best bet is to go to a place with nomi-hodai or all-you-can-drink (usually for two hours) with a set individual price or to go to a Westernstyle pub where you pay separately as you order, (called betsu-betsu). You can also just buy snacks and drinks at a convenience store but be careful because it’s bad etiquette to eat and drink while walking around.
USE 100-YEN SHOPS
BUY IN BULK
Not everything is a bargain at the 100-yen shop, especially toiletries and other things that you’ll use everyday. It’s better to buy essential consumable supplies like tissues, detergent or body soap in bulk from stores like Costco. There are several around Tokyo and if you can find a friend with a membership, tag along with them every once in a while and stock up. It’s also a good idea to buy lots of frozen veggies and fruits, as these can be absurdly expensive when sold fresh in the supermarkets. If you can’t make it to Costco, try finding a local wholesale food store such as “Niku no Hanamasa” (there are several around Tokyo) which caters to restaurants and sells meat and seafood at big discounts. To manage bulk amounts of food, I bought a cheap box of 200 plastic bags which I then use to separate and freeze a few weeks worth of meat and fish.
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Living in Japan
Shopping online using Amazon or Rakuten is easy and convenient in Japan. You can even have your package sent to a local convenience store for pick up and often can get next day delivery. You can use a barcode reader on your phone to find better deals online while you’re shopping at stores, too. I usually use Amazon to buy big boxes of oatmeal or my favourite cereal that I know I’ll eat and that last for a long time.
INTERNET ONLY PHONE
Mobile phone plans can cost up to 8000 yen a month or more and require you to sign a 2-year contract. Opt for an internet-only plan (with no calls included) and use free apps to communicate like Skype or LINE, which are really popular in Japan. Or, you could buy a portable Wi-Fi router that you can use at home and then carry in your pocket when you’re out to use with your smartphone. Either option will only cost you about 3000 yen a month.
Five Ways to Live on a Budget in Tokyo
STAY IN JAPAN LIKE A
FOR INDIVIDUALS AND
Since opening in 1992, Sakura House and the Sakura Hotel and Hostel Tokyo have welcomed guests from over 100 countries. Based primarily in Tokyo, Sakura House and the Sakura Hotel and Hostel Tokyo offer numerous apartments and share houses in addition to dormitories, including share houses catering to Muslims. All are located close to shopping malls, stations, and other areas that are easy to access. Multilingual staff are available to answer any questions you may have during your stay, making it a safe option for first-time visitors to Japan. Guests can also experience Japanese culture through calligraphy and kimonowearing events held throughout the year. Locations such as the Sakura Hotel Nippori and others that can accommodate more than 100 guests make this the perfect choice for short stays and longer stays alike, not just for small groups such as families and friends, but also for larger groups such as students, sports teams, and even businesses.
t n a w t ’ n o w You to leave
Sakura House also has a rental vacation house in Kyoto in the traditional machiya style where you can stay from one night and longer. Vacation rental accommodation can be found both in Tokyo and Kyoto, and in addition to having no check in or check out and other time limits common to hotels, there is no need to pay for advance securities such as key money or deposits, seek out guarantors, or pay other types of processing fees. English-language onsite support is also available and, if there is a vacancy, you can begin your stay on the same day you make your booking. All listings come with furniture and bedding, and everything you need during your stay. Simply turn up, suitcase in hand, and start your life in Japan. Sakura House and the Sakura Hotel and Hostel Tokyo allow you to enjoy a stay in Japan where you feel like a true resident. Come for a special experience that you won’t want to leave.
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The charm of the kimono, still admired today
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Kimono were worn by people as everyday clothing. The refined design of the garment is still popular with many Japanese people, as well as people from all over the world to this day. Let’s unravel its history and take a look at how the style of the kimono has changed and discover why it is loved by so many people in today’s Japan. Compiled by Kaori Kinoshita
HISTORY OF THE KIMONO
The archetype of today’s kimono has its roots in kosode, a type of kimono that had its sleeves sewn up to just below the wrist. Nobles used to wear this garment underneath a twelve-layered robe, commonly known as, " juni hitoe", while commoners, from time to time, wore the narrow-sleeved kimono alone for going out. However, as the samurai class emerged during the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and a greater emphasis was placed on movement in clothing, the fashion style of the upper class blended with that of the lower classes and kosode became a common garment worn when going out. Since then, through the Edo period (1603-1868) to the Meiji period (18681912), the design has evolved to today’s style of kimono.
KIMONO FASHION BY ERA THE AZUCHI-MOMOYAMA
period. The susomoyo also remained
(1573-1603) TO THE EARLY EDO
prominent in the first half of this era.
PERIOD (STARTING 1603)
In the second half of the era, kimono
After the end of the warring state
dyed vivid colours with chemical dye
period, an extravagant culture that
started to appear.
reflected the taste of the samurai
Most garments we see today were woven after the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600). A lot of the garments made before that era have not kept their shape and only parts of the fabric remain. Some garments worn between the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods still exist today, however they are mostly ones that once belonged to wealthier citizens, such as people from the aristocratic or samurai classes, or rich merchants. This is because commoners in the era would repurpose their old, damaged clothes that were no longer wearable to make everyday household items such as bedclothes or smaller kimono for their children. When these also got worn out, they would use the fabric as a rag or nappy until it fell apart. Also, yukata are universally loved due to their ease of wear and low price. Originally, the word referred to a plain linen garment worn when going to take a bath and to absorb sweat afterwards. During the Edo period, cotton replaced linen as the fabric of choice due to its superior absorbency, smooth feel and lower price. Yukata were originally worn at night, or as protection against rain and dust, and as casual summer outfits. However, since the mid-Meiji period, it has been quite common for people to wear them when going out, much like they do now.
classes emerged, where gold and
THE TAISHO PERIOD (1912-1926)
silver was used in abundance. Even
In the Taisho period, the economy
though single-colour weaving patterns
was booming and this gave rise to
had been mainstream until then, the
a wealthier, less restrictive culture.
colours and patterns used diversified.
The colours used in kimono became
As a result, the more dynamic styles of
significantly brighter, using motifs
momoyama kosode and keicho kosode
with a western influence, such as oil
paintings, art nouveau and art deco.
THE EARLY EDO PERIOD
THE EARLY SHOWA PERIOD
As the shogunate system of the Edo
In the early Showa period, the western
period stabilised and the economy
style that gained popularity in the
developed, the common classes
Taisho period and the traditional style
became the new bearers of culture in
combined, producing a bold colour
place of the samurai class. The fashion
variation with a modern design. This
of actors and prostitutes led to the
style became prolific during that era.
birth of kanbun kosode, which had an unconventional dyed pattern from
THE MID SHOWA PERIOD
shoulder to hem. The kosode became
– THE HEISEI PERIOD
more sophisticated, which led to the
emergence of genroku kosode.
After World War II, in the lead up to the bubble economy of the late
MID-TO-LATE EDO PERIOD
1980s, Japan experienced accelerated
(EDO PERIOD: 1603-1868) TO
economic growth. In this era, western
THE MEIJI PERIOD (1868-1912)
clothing steadily became more
Due to a ban on luxury initiated by the
commonplace and more luxurious
Edo shogunate, plain fashion, such as
kimono were being produced. However,
striped patterns, became the trend
many new trends came and went during
during this period. Regardless of their
this period. One example of such a
age or gender, people often wore
trend is the use of lamé fabrics.
kosode with a dark coloured outer
By the Heisei period, the trend had
layer, usually brown, navy blue or
moved towards a more conservative
grey. In addition to that, komon, small
and elegant style. Later on, driven by
patterns drawn on the whole garment,
a rise in popularity of antique kimono
and susomoyo, patterning on the skirt,
and colourful yukata, particularly with
became popular. In the Meiji period,
young people known to be rule-
most people mainly wore traditional
breakers, the style began to trend
Japanese clothing, in keeping with
towards a more free and unique way
the plain colour trend from the Edo
of combining pieces.
BY THE HEISEI PERIOD, THE NEW KIMONO STYLE BEGAN TO TREND TOWARDS A MORE FREE AND UNIQUE WAY OF COMBINING PIECES.
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CONTEMPORARY KIMONO AND YUKATA FASHION
KIMONOstylingHANA Photo: Yoshiko Honda Styling: Rie Yoshitake
Yoshiko Honda, a professional photographer, saw Japanese beauty as epitomised by an actress wearing kimono. “KIMONOstylingHANA” is a project she has been working on, showing Japanese beauty through the garments. She hopes that this project will encourage more people to wear kimono in a smart and stylish way, and that they can come to enjoy it in their everyday lives.
YOSHIKO HONDA Profile: Yoshiko graduated from Aoyama Gakuin Women's Junior College before working for an airline. Later, after having children, she focused all her effort to become a professional photographer, working in the bridal market for almost 10 years. Now, she has a photographic studio in Tetsugakudo in Tokyo’s Shinjuku, where she has been doing portraits as well as pregnancy photo-shoots in her own unique style. She has also been working as a photographer for the websites of various companies, magazines and celebrity collections. Web: yoshikohonda.com
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KIMONO DE ROCKON PROJECT
KIMONO DE ROCKON Project Producer: Kureha Takaishi Styling: Koji Fukumoto Hair & Make-up: Ai Shimizu Photo: Ayato Ozawa
Profile: In this project, a group of people, dressed in traditional kimono in a stylish and cute way, walk proudly around the city of Tokyo. The photos can be found on Facebook and Instagram. Their eye-opening kimono style should not be missed. Facebook: www.facebook.com/ kimonoderockon Instagram: @kimonoderockon
The “KIMONO DE ROCKON Project” presents a hybrid way of wearing kimono, pairing contemporary clothes and kitsuke (the traditional way to wear kimono) which has been passed down through generations. By contrasting the classic and contemporary styles, they aim to present the idea of an image and shade in a mirror, which is the original concept of the theme, ‘Re-flection’, while hoping that Japanese culture can be revitalised through kimono and yukata.
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AKIRA TIMES Photobook ‘KIMONO times’ Images: AKIRA TIMES
AKIRA TIMES is an artist from Yamagata, in the northeast of Japan, who has been creating new and surprising images of kimono. He has gone viral online, posting images since 2008. By teaching himself a range of skills, including photography, computer graphics, design, kitsuke, styling and make-up, he has shaped his own unique view of the world. He has dedicated almost 10 years to creating these works, eschewing the strict, traditional rules of the kimono. His complete works are available in the photo collection, “KIMONO times”.
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AKIRA TIMES Profile: Akira was born in 1980 in Yamagata prefecture, Japan. After graduating from junior high school, he worked on his family’s fruit farm before suddenly developing a panic disorder, which drastically changed his life. He found himself drawn to photography and computer graphics, and has been producing his works ever since. He still lives in Yamagata and continues with his work, showcasing the beauty of kimono for the whole world to enjoy. Facebook: www.facebook.com/akira.times Web: akiratimes.exblog.jp
AKIRA TIMES PHOTOBOOK ‘KIMONO TIMES’ 5,500 yen + tax │ 297×210 │ 144 pages Softcover Author: Akira Times Contributor: Sheila Cliffe Web: www.libroarte.jp/akiratimes.html
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TOKYO FILMS Introducing 6 different films set in Tokyo. How about watching these movies and then visiting the locations they were set in?
LOST IN TRANSLATION (RELEASED IN 2003)
BABEL (RELEASED IN 2006)
PINK AND GRAY (RELEASED IN 2016)
Location: Shinjuku (Park Hyatt Hotel Tokyo)
Location: Shibuya, Shinjuku
A Hollywood veteran actor named Bob (played by Bill Murray) comes to Japan to shoot a whisky commercial and meets Charlotte (played by Scarlett Johansson), a young wife who is there accompanying her husband, a celebrity photographer, on a work trip. After their first encounter at a hotel bar, the movie follows their respective reasons for loneliness as they gradually develop feelings for one another while facing the realities of being in a foreign land. Director Sophia Coppola is able to portray the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku through beautiful imagery.
Popular actor, Rengo Shiraki, commits suicide leaving behind 6 wills. The first person to discover him is a good friend from his childhood – Daiki Kawada. Guided by Rengo’s pre-prepared wills, Daiki suddenly announces that he will be the author of a biography on Rengo’s short life, however, he gradually loses sight of himself as he deals with his sense of loss and the lies surrounding Rengo’s fame. What truth lies behind Rengo’s death? The movies focuses your attention on the deception which changes his world from pink to gray.
KILL BILL (RELEASED IN 2003)
THE WOLVERINE (RELEASED IN 2013)
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (RELEASED IN 2011)
Location: Nishi-Azabu (Gonpachi yakitori restaurant)
Location: Shiba Park (Zojo-ji Temple), Akihabara, Shinjuku
Location: Ginza (Sukiyabashi Jiro), Tsukiji
Just as the title reads, the protagonist is a former professional assassin (played by Uma Thurman), who falls into an abyss of despair after waking from a coma and realising she has lost her unborn child. She seeks revenge by trying to kill the ringleader, Bill, who masterminded the whole sitatuation and all of his subordinates in this violent action movie. Gonpachi yakitori restaurant in Nishi-Azabu was used as the main reference point when creating the setting for the large scale action scenes which take place in the second half of the film. However, because they could not shoot in the actual restaurant, a movie set based on director Tarantino’s photos of the venue was assembled instead.
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An incident occurs when American couple Richard (played by Brad Pitt) and Susan (played by Cate Blanchett) are suddenly shot by an unknown person while travelling through Morocco. Due to this chance event, the movie then intertwines the stories of people located far apart in Morocco, Mexico, the United States and Japan. In the movie, places such as night clubs, which act as the heart of Tokyo youth culture, are depicted with a magical touch.
Hugh Jackman takes on the role of popular character Wolverine, the hero in this second instalment of the science fiction action spinoff from the X-MEN comic series. Set again in a foreign land, Wolverine visits Japan and has a fateful encounter with a person that then leads to a series of fierce battles. While the filming actually took place on location in Japan, various scenes unique to Tokyo such as a pachinko parlour in Akihabara and the tourist attraction of Zojo-ji Temple, were cut from the final release.
A documentary which follows master sushi maker and shop owner, Jiro Ono, and his famous sushi shop in Ginza, Tokyo - Sukiyabashi Jiro. Despite being over 80 years old, his continued service to preparing sushi has garnered him high praise on the international stage with his restaurant receiving 3 Michelin stars for 5 consecutive years. American film director, David Gerb, was mesmerised by his style and spent 3 months closely covering his approach as a sushi artisan, as well as the teacher/student relationship he maintained with his son.
DELIGHTFUL PANCAKES MADE BY A BILLS OLDBOY
The signature menu item at Workingholiday Connection is the pancakes. The “ORIGINAL MANLY PANCAKE” is a fluffy, creamy creation made using ricotta cheese imported from Australia. The Japanese chef who came up with this tasty treat upon returning home was trained in Japanese-style cuisine in Japan before jetting off to Australia on a working holiday and becoming the head chef at the famous pancake café – Bills, in Sydney. Free-range eggs are generously mixed into these pancakes to add a hint of egginess akin to French toast. The berry bombastic “VERY VERY BERRY PANCAKES” are also a popular choice amongst restaurant-goers. A PLACE TO CONNECT WITH THE WORLD
All eyes on this café in Harajuku – the birthplace of “kawaii culture” Photography: Kazuya Baba
Omotesando in Shibuya is one of the most wellrenowned shopping streets in all of Japan, famous for being the home of Omotesando Hills – a large shopping complex filled with a plethora of brands from all over the world, including the Australian brands “Ugg” and “Helen Kaminski”. While it is also known for its up-and-coming boutique stores, notable salons as well as its appeal from people of high society to trend-conscious youth of today, it also crosses through Harajuku – the birthplace of kawaii (cute) culture. Harajuku is where the trendy café, “Workingholiday Connection”, who borrows its name from a popular way holidaymakers make their way to the shores of Australia, has set up base.
COFFEE BEANS ROASTED BY THE “BEST BARISTA” IN AUSTRALIA
The first thing which must be ordered at this café is the coffee. The coffee beans procured to brew this coffee are roasted by Japanese barista, Shoji Sasa, who was awarded as the Best Barista in the 2012 Sydney Morning Herald Good Café Guide Awards and later went on to become a Barista Association judge. The coffee beans are handpicked from different countries depending on the season and the strict brewing methods adhered to at the café to maximise both the flavour and characteristic notes of the coffee, making for a truly Australian cup of coffee. Drop by this café if you’re hankering for a little taste of home in Japan.
As the name of the café suggests, it is run by the Japanese Association for Working Holiday Makers and all members of staff have working holiday experience. Staff members are either Japanese people who have returned from overseas experiences in Australia and other various countries, or foreigners who have come to Japan on a working holiday. There are virtually no language barriers at the café thanks to this diverse makeup of staff. The café itself aims to help people realise how going overseas to study abroad or go a working holiday can help to broaden one’s horizons, which is the main purpose for employing youthful staff members with experience from all over the globe. It’s a great place for people to gather first-hand insights about working holidays. For people out there looking for one of the best trendy café experiences in the country, drop by Workingholiday Connection the next time you’re in Tokyo. INFORMATION WORKINGHOLIDAY CONNECTION Harajuku/Omotesando Level 2 YM Square 4-31-10 Jingumae Shibuya, Tokyo Tel: 03-6434-0359
An Aussieinspired café. Come and relax for a while! Yuichi Hirota, Manager
Sun – Thurs: 11am – 8pm (last orders at 7pm)
Fri –Sat: 11am – 9pm (last orders at 8pm)
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THE TRADITION OF JAPANESE TATTOOS AND THEIR FUTURE In Japan, Irezumi (tattoos) are strongly associated with the Yakuza. However, outside of Japan, they are highly regarded as pieces of fine art in photo exhibitions for example. How has the tattoo developed in this way and what has caused this negative image? Furthermore, what does the future hold for tattoos? Photography: Naoto Ijichi
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THE DEEP RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN UKIYO-E
a very strong impression in the minds of everyday folk. Illegality was another reason why tattoos remained hidden. Even after they became legal, the media continued through movies to portray them in a sinister way and this may have contributed a lot to the notion of "irezumi = Yakuza"’ which still exists in Japan today.
(WOOD BLOCK PRINTS) AND IREZUMI
What are the main differences between Western tattoos and Japanese tattoos? In contrast with Western tattoos, where one symbol or image acts as the main focal point, Japanese tattoos can cover the back, the entire arm and sometimes even the whole body. The style of covering the whole body is deeply intertwined with Ukiyo-e, the traditional art which Japan proudly introduced to the world. In the Edo period in the middle of the 19th century, Ukiyo-e painter Kuniyoshi Utagawa released a series of Ukiyo-e prints based on the themes in the Chinese novel, "Water Margin", which became popular in Tokyo. As this tale was already well-liked, Kuniyoshi Utagawa’s dynamic method of creating these prints was enthusiastically accepted by the people of Edo just like a famous contemporary movie would be today. Many of the characters in these Ukiyo-e prints had tattoos and one of the most popular characters featured a tattoo of 9 dragons on their back. People who loved the "Water Margin" ukiyo-e prints and other works by Kuniyoshi then used these characters and paintings as a base when getting their own tattoos drawn. It should also be noted that it wasn’t the Yakuza who originally liked tattoos, it was the regular citizens of Edo, such as firefighters and couriers who would remove their clothes during the course of their work. Due to this, Irezumi and Ukiyo-e flourished as part of the day to day culture and life of Edo’s town folk. However, it was not Japan that first saw Irezumi as a work of art but the West. In fact, amongst the foreigners who came to Japan at the end of the Edo period or after the Meiji restoration, there were a number of royal officials who were attracted by the beauty of Irezumi and got them drawn as a memory of their visit, as well as Britons who studied the art and then became famous tattooists upon their return home. Like ukiyo-e, the tattoos were seen in the eyes of foreigners as an exotic part of Japan’s beauty.
THE FUTURE OF IREZUMI
WHY ARE IREZUMI CONSIDERED TABOO?
How did something which was a mainstay of the people of Edo’s culture become seen as a symbol of the Yakuza and taboo in Japan? One of the reasons was that the Meiji government put a ban on the art. After the country opened up by way of the Meiji Restoration, the government of the day wanted Japan to be a civilised country in line with European countries and the United States. Some foreigners regarded irezumi as barbaric so legal restrictions were imposed on tattoo engravers and their customers. That regulation continued for more than 60 years until Japan was defeated in World War II and the newly enacted Japanese Constitution came into existence. On the other hand, there were still people who wanted tattoos despite the regulations in place. As a result of this, tattoo engravers secretly continued working and, from that underground setting, the image of tattoos being thought of as "illegal" and "anti-establishment" was born. Then in the 1960’s, a large number of Yakuza movies started to be produced and this gave real impetus to further develop the idea of "Yakuza = irezumi" as an overt image. In fact, in the 30 years which spanned from 1963 to 1993 there were 1,057 Yakuza movies produced in Japan and the majority of the main characters had tattoos. It was not only the movies, but also their publicity posters which featured the inseparable images of Yakuza and tattoos and it’s thought this also left
Following that, from the 1990’s until present day the styles and shapes of western tattoos began to permeate Tokyo and these tattoos became a part of youth culture. Yet in public bathhouses and in new places like beaches and pools, widespread pressure to enforce regulations and forbid tattoos continues to build. The existence of the Yakuza has also become threatened due to the influence of the AntiOrganized Crime law and the custom of paying a high amount of money for new tattoos is decreasing rapidly. Even if we start to break from the status quo, the image of irezumi being associated with the Yakuza and evil remains firmly rooted in people’s consciousness. Conversely, the concept of irezumi being acknowledged as art is gaining strength in many developed nations outside of Japan. In the United States, for example, there are travelling roadshows which showcase this while in Australia, there are exhibitions which focus on the art of tattoo photography. Even though the art was born in Japan, the perspective of recognising it as something associated with wrongdoers instead of considering the artistic value is unique to the country. In 2020, the Olympics will be held in Japan. As one can imagine, there will be a lot of athletes with tattoos coming to Japan as well as tourists visiting from foreign countries. The Japanese government is trying to welcome these people, but at present in public bathhouses for example, measures requiring all tattoos to be covered by a patch still remain in place. Despite the differences of opinion regarding the appreciation of tattoos as art between Japan and other countries, will the view of them as a "Yakuza symbol" one day diminish and will they ever be accepted as a form of art in Japan?
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Starting out as a tattoo artist in his home country of
books on wabori, and just studied as hard as I could.
drew him into the world of Japanese tattoos until,
Resources like the Internet weren’t around back then,
after many long years of practice, he was awarded an
so it was hard to find information, but I think this only
honorary name as a traditional Japanese tattoo artist.
served to deepen my curiosity.”
Kian now runs a tattoo shop in Sydney where he passes on the ancient art of wabori right here in Australia. The location is Surry Hills, one of Sydney’s inner-city
world. Kian first travelled to Japan in the 90s, coming back once every few months thereafter to learn more
building can be found Kian’s tattoo shop - Authentink
about wabori while building relationships with Japanese
Studio. As you open the door, you are ushered into a
tattoo artists. tattoo name “Horisumi” in recognition of his 20
to create colourful art on the backs, arms, and You
years experience as a tattoo artist at the time. It is an
will find no seedy atmosphere in this studio with its
extremely rare honour for non-Japanese to be awarded
high ceiling and clean facilities. Rather, it looks almost
with such a title.
with their full body tattoos tells of Kian’s roots.
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It was in 2013 that Kian was awarded the honorary
like simple beds host nine to ten artists working quietly
photographs of tough-looking Japanese men baring all
THE TRADITION OF JAPAN CAN ALL BE FOUND CONDENSED IN FULL BODYSUITS.
started working as a tattoo artist while travelling the
houses. Here, in the room of a large multi-tenant
like a high-end massage parlour at first glance, but the
Interview: Taro Moriya
After training and homing his skills in Canada, Kian moved to Europe where he set up base in Spain and
neighbourhoods lined with traditional, Victorian-style
world of its own where a row of workstations set up
Kian Forreal, Tattoo Artist
I travelled to Japan and bought all these thick, heavy
Canada, Kian’s passion for Japanese culture steadily
But what is it about wabori that attracts Kian the most? “The traditions of Japan in nature, legends, and
“It all started with punk rock.”
the four seasons can all be found condensed in full
Kian spent his impressionable teen years growing
up in Toronto, Canada in the early 1980s. Like many
Kian is now based in Sydney where he has been
teenagers of the time, Kian was baptised in the
running a tattoo shop for four years. Paying the utmost
aggressive, monotone sounds of punk rock with its
care to the details of traditional Japanese art and
anti-establishment lyrics. The mohawks, the ripped slim
techniques, Kian uses only tools and supplies such as
jeans and worn leather jackets all led to an interest in
needles, ink, and pigments that are all of the highest
tattoos as an aspect of punk fashion.
quality from Japan.
The path to becoming a tattoo artist was a natural one. While beginning in the western style, Kian’s passion for Japanese culture steadily drew him towards the traditional Japanese wabori style of tattoos. “Japan was a land of great mystery to me at the time.
For self-professed craftsman Kian, there is no end goal in sight. “I want to keep going on to create more and more full bodysuits, gain even more experience, and keep getting better right up until the day I die.”
Check out the official jStyle website and Facebook page!
j-style.com.au www.facebook.com/nichigojstyle Photo: Naoto Ijichi
EXPERIENCE JAPAN IN SYDNEY
Experience Japan in Sydney Sydney is home to establishments where you can learn about Japanese cultural traditions and language; a Japanese-style hot spring ryokan (inn); as well as shops which stock an eyeboggling selection of Japanese goods. Experience a taste of Japan 8000km away in your own backyard in Australia.
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THE JAPAN FOUNDATION, SYDNEY
© Brett Boardman
Bringing Japan to You
sense of the enthusiasm and pride of the staff and volunteers at the Japan Foundation, Sydney. If there was one Japanese-related event to put in your calendar for the year, it would have to be the Japanese Film Festival (web: http:// japanesefilmfestival.net) which showcases an immense variety of cinematic delights from 35mm film classics, to newly released critically acclaimed titles. Over the past 20 years the festival has grown to be one of the largest celebrations of Japanese film in the world, immersing audiences across Australia in uniquely Japanese settings while offering fresh perspectives on universal themes. Perhaps you have always dreamed of visiting Japan one day, or just can’t seem to get there enough. Regardless of your situation, the Japan Foundation with its vast resources, events and language courses is pleased to bring Japan here to you in Sydney.
TOURS NATIONALLY EVERY OCTOBER TO DECEMBER JAPANESEFILMFESTIVAL.NET
© The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Nestled within the leafy green Central Park building in the creative neighbourhood of Chippendale, lies a welcoming oasis for Japanese language and culture enthusiasts. Here is the home of the Japan Foundation, Sydney – your little piece of Japan in Australia! As you walk through the glass doors on the fourth floor you are welcomed by friendly reception and library staff ready to assist. You are encouraged to explore the shelves of over 17,000 novels, manga, textbooks and multimedia, and can stay to relax or study with floor to ceiling views of Chippendale Green stretched down below. The popular Tadoku Reading Nights held at the library are a fun and engaging way to practice your Japan reading skills while surrounded and supported by like-minded people. Down the hall, classrooms brim with energetic Japanese language teachers and J-Course students (Japanese language classes for adults) from beginner to advanced levels while the gallery offers a contemplative space for members of the public to soak up the latest exhibition of Japan-related works from traditional through to contemporary pieces. Whether you have come for an exhibition opening reception; a panel discussion with leading Japanese fashion icons; or to participate in an anime design workshop, you will get an immediate
JAPANESE FILM FESTIVAL
PRESENTED BY THE JAPAN FOUNDATION, SYDNEY
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EXPERIENCE JAPAN IN SYDNEY
Cypress baths and an authentic Japanese ryokan in Sydney Ryokan Gojyuan is an authentic, purely Japanese-style ryokan nestled amongst the rows of houses and cafes in the heart of Sydney’s Balmain. Known not just for providing accommodation, but also a taste of Japanese culture through workshops such as flower arrangement, Japanese calligraphy and more, Ryokan Gojyuan’s greatest attraction is its cypress bath. Owner, Linda Evans, has paid meticulous attention to every detail of Ryokan Gojyuan, but nowhere more than the use of real Japanese cypress. Join us as we go on a quick journey through the history of Japan’s bathing culture, and find out what makes this cypress bath so special. Photography: Naoto Ijichi
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Situated on a small peninsula jutting out from Sydney’s bay area is Balmain. There, on a corner of a housing district lined with townhouses from Sydney’s colonial days, stands an authentic, Japanese-style ryokan Ryokan Gojyuan, opened three years ago after Australian-born owner, Linda Evans, and her husband undertook a complete transformation of their traditional sandstone home. One question that challenged the couple in their days before opening was that of marketing. Who would want to stay in a purely Japanesestyle ryokan in Sydney? It’s safe to say that question has now been answered, with 80% of guests coming from inside Australia and 20% from overseas, ranging from Australians who have never set foot in Japan to guests from Asia with a rich history of visiting ryokan in Japan. The Ryokan Gojyuan of today is now much loved by a core group of local regulars. In addition to their initial goal of providing a high level of hospitality that would match that in Japan, their aim was also to recreate the details of Edo period Japan as much as possible, employing
the kaizen technique, often used in Japan’s manufacturing industry, to implement ongoing improvements to their service and facilities. Ryokan Gojyuan offers not just accommodation, but regularly invites Japanese teachers to hold workshops and introduce aspects of Japanese culture, such as: tea ceremony, flower arrangement, Japanese calligraphy, how to fold and tie furoshiki and gifts, origami, Japanese sweets, thread balls, and more. ABOUT FURO CULTURE
Bathing in furo (traditional baths) is a daily ritual for the Japanese, and an essential tool for washing away the worries of the day. Bathing is also a form of relaxation. The several thousand hot springs across the country and facilities that combine cypress baths, cascading water baths, hot stone baths and more, are wildly popular in Japan. Guests engage in conversation with friends and family as they hop in to take a bath, sometimes having a drink, but always having fun. As the body is cleansed when it enters the world with its first bath in a tub, so, too, it is after
THE FURO OFFERS A WINDOW INTO A TRULY JAPANESE EXPERIENCE THAT OFFERS NOT JUST RELAXATION, BUT A SENSE OF HARMONY AND APPRECIATION FOR ALL THINGS
passing on when it is washed before burial. The nobles of the ancient Heian period and onwards would also take baths after moving residence, getting married, after recovering from illness, and to welcome the new year. The significance of bathing, both religious and cultural, is of great importance to the Japanese. The oldest baths in Japan are the stone baths found dotted around the Seto Inland Sea where natural rock formations created vapour baths. After the arrival of Buddhism in Japan, temples, such as Todai Temple, constructed bathing halls, baths and steam baths, where water was boiled in large iron pots, began to appear. Monks and laypeople alike took baths to cleanse their minds and bodies, sometimes even for medicinal purposes. Baths later became a commercial trade, and baths where water was poured over heated rocks to create steam grew in popularity. The amount of water grew as time passed, and the style changed so that people would enter the lower half of their body into the water while their upper half was exposed to steam, giving way to a type of bath that was enjoyed from the Muromachi period all the way through to the middle of the Edo period by monks, nobles, and warriors alike. WHY HINOKI?
The house that forms the base of Ryokan Gojyuan is a historical construction with over 150 years of history that was built in 1855. Its
construction is a sandstone style common to buildings during the early colonial era. While the sandstone frame and outer walls were left as a legacy of its former past, everything else was transformed into a welcome hall and two guest rooms, with a detached cypress bath and hallway made from mortar and dark timber in a purely Japanese style. A large amount of earth was also moved outside to create a Japanese-style garden complete with a carp pond. Cypress (hinoki) has the power to refresh and relax. When we go for a walk in the forest and are soothed by our natural surroundings, it is the alpha waves that run through our brains at work. These alpha waves help you to relax, and stabilise the autonomous nerve. The smell of cypress has the ability to dull tempers and soften strung out nerves. It also promotes good circulation, helps you recover from physical tiredness, warms your body, heals atopy, improves physical abilities, and more. While traditional Japanese baths themselves are quite expensive to build, Linda understood the importance of cypress to the Japanese and the crucial role it plays in the bathing experience. Yet, while cedar can be found in Australia, cypress cannot, and the most important aspect of cypress is its unique aroma. With a carpenter for a father, Linda knew all too well the importance of using the right timber. High-quality cypress is also beautiful in appearance and smooth to the touch. Come to Ryokan Gojyuan and try it for yourself.
208 Darling Street Balmain NSW 2041 Tel: (02) 9810 3219
w w w.r yok angojy ua n.com
Authentic Ryokan Experience 8254GOJY
jStyle issue 16 â”‚ 89
EXPERIENCE JAPAN IN SYDNEY
ingredient in authentic Japanese cooking, you are sure to find what you need. Their Japanese staff are also on hand to answer questions. EXPERIENCE THE TASTES OF JAPAN
For all your Japanese food and sake needs in Sydney
For those who make Japanese food at home, knowing where to buy ingredients is crucial. While stores selling Japanese foodstuffs can be found across Australia, Tokyo Mart in Northbridge Plaza on the north side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a key spot to Japanese expatriates and Australians alike. Known for having possibly the greatest range of any Japanese supermarket in Sydney, the sheer variation on offer is a sight for first-time visitors, ranging from high-quality Japanese rice to condiments, sweets, dried goods, fresh food, and a Japanese-operated bakery. With over 20 types of dashi alone, a core
In addition to its sale of goods, Tokyo Mart periodically holds events where you can try Japanese food and sake. The chance to experience and take home a taste of Japan is a true highlight of Tokyo Mart. Check out the Tokyo Mart Facebook page where information on events is advertised approximately one month in advance. Tokyo Mart also holds monthly 20% discount sales on items of a given category, offering new bargains no matter how many times you visit. Fresh vegetables used in Japanese cooking are also stocked in-store. Come to Tokyo Mart in Sydney for a Japanese food adventure today!
quality Great range of high s, Japanese grocerie price all at a reasonable l One of the biggest Jap anese supermarkets in Aus tralia l From Japanese sake and beers to seafoods, diverse variaty of products l Freshness, quality and value guranteed on all pro ducts
Sydney: Shop 27, Northbridge Plaza, Northbridge (02)9958-6860
Mon-Wed,Fri Thu Sat Sun Public Holidays
9AM〜5PM 9AM〜6PM 9AM〜5:30PM 10AM〜4PM Closed
Gold Coast: Southport Park Shopping Centre, Cnr Ferry & Benowa Rd, Southport / (07)5591-6211 Brisbane: Shop 5, Buranda Village, 264 Ipswich Rd, Woolloongabba / (07)3172-7021 Melbourne: 34A Elizabeth St, south Yarra / (03)9826-5839 Perth: Shop 13-14, 29 Station St, Subiaco / (08)6162-8608 0221TOKY
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Go beyond the surface Japan is ďŹ lled with endless discoveries. Behind every icon is a whole other side waiting to be explored. Think you know Japan? Think again. jnto.org.au
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Published on Dec 14, 2017
Published on Dec 14, 2017
Published by NichigoPress, Japanese newspaper in Australia since 1977. In this magazine, You will find out a lot of tips that shows where to...