JAPAN issue 17 â”‚ 2019 FREE
A spectacular destination of cultural wonder The land of majestic beauty
CONTENTS 5 12 14
Prologue & Foreword Gallery Travel News Rugby World Cup 2019 Wallabies “Once in a Lifetime Journey”
Foreword Interview: “Masterchef” Sarah Tiong
What’s in your glass tonight – Sake or Wine?
Japanese Craft Gin
Asahi Super Dry
Improve the Body and Mind with Green Tea!
The Allure of Japanese Knives to a Western Chef
SETOUCHI An unknown area of fascination - travelling around Setouchi
ISE-SHIMA Riding the Kintetsu Railway Premium Express Shimakaze
KOYASAN A sacred region born through faith
NARA An ageless era beckons from the old capital
KUSATSU The ultimate experience in the one of Japan’s hot spring heavens
A Collection of Quirky Hotels
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Coverː Eiji Ohashi, Kutchan, Hokkaido, Apr.2017
issue 17 │ 2019 │ FREE EDITORIAL EDITOR IN CHIEF Kazuya Baba EDITORS & WRITERS Yuriko Ishii, Ryoji Yamauchi, Shinya Kosaka, Ida Van, Taro Moriya TRANSLATORS Ida Van, Christopher Hall
DESIGN ART DIRECTOR & DESIGNER Kosaku Makino DESIGNERS Yuki Matsuyama, Junko Wakimura
ADVERTISING GENERAL MANAGER Kazuya Baba SALES MANAGER Naoto Ijichi SALES REPRESENTATIVES Kumiko Tokita, Kanako Sugiya, Kanako Hirokawa, Ikki Sato, Reiko Hogan, Ai Kawaguchi NICHIGO PRESS PUBLICATIONS PUBLISHER Ike Ikeguchi
EXPERIENCE JAPAN IN SYDNEY
ARAI The birth of a luxury resort with total mountain runs
The Japan Foundation, Sydney - Bringing Japan to you
AIZU Making the most of the best powder snows in mainland Japan
Gojyuan - Experience Japanese “hospitality” through a variety of workshops
Japanese Bath House – An authentic Japanese hot spring inn just west of Sydney
Tokyo Mart – For all your Japanese food and sake needs in Sydney
impossibly beautiful manhole covers”
Workingholiday Connection - “Café in Harajuku”
Soothe Your Soul with Cats! - “Japanese cat café”
SEIKO PRESAGE Fine mechanical watchmaking, from Japan
GENERAL MANAGER Kazuya Baba EDITORIAL firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN email@example.com ADVERTISING firstname.lastname@example.org jStyle is published by NICHIGO PRESS AUSTRALIA PTY. LTD. Level 3, 724-728 George St., Sydney NSW Australia General Enquiries Tel: (02)9211-1155 Fax: (02)9211-1722 Email: email@example.com Websites: j-style.com.au / nichigopress.jp / www.nichigo.com
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 Nov 2018. 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.
Japan’s Proud Street Art - “The world of
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019 will see Japan host the Rugby World Cup, followed by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games the year after. While preparations for these major international events continue to progress, the year 2018 saw Japan lashed by a number of natural disasters. Water and structural damage from severe winds and rain; earthquakes in different regions and the coinciding landslides; it was as if all of these oncein-every-few-years type of disasters all occurred in the same year to test the country. As a result of this year, there has been commentary from some corners suggesting that Japan is unfit to host international events due to the high risk of danger from natural disasters. Japan is a country with a history spanning the ages. Over this long history the country has seen its fair share of unprecedented disasters and unpredictable circumstances, yet time and time again the country has found the courage to overcome each incident and strengthen its defences each time. In fact, Japan may be the most advanced country in the world when it comes to response during and after disasters, and response speed.
In September 2018, Kansai International Airport, which Australia flies direct to, experienced flooded runways due to a typhoon. A wayward tanker also collided with the only bridge leading to the airport, temporarily isolating the airport island. Despite receiving widespread criticism over the unfathomable situation, a select few services began operating a mere 3 days later, returning functionality to the airport. All previously cancelled train services began normal operation two weeks later. The response was incredibly fast (that is not to say that we condone any of the wrongdoings that were also incurred by the airport). While there may be room for debate over the probability of natural disasters occurring, it is complete and utter nonsense to try and predict when they will occur. There is absolutely nowhere in the world that has a zero possibility of falling victim to a dangerous event. Conversely, after taking into consideration the speed of response to natural disasters, and the risk of violence of terrorism, Japan could even be considered an extremely safe country. It is without a doubt that Japan will take all of the preparatory steps necessary to ensure the safety of visitors from around the world in the lead up to the major international events. We here at jStyle have covered many charming facets of Japan over the years. In our 17th issue, we will be shining the spotlight on the western region of Japan, where visitors will most likely be using Kansai International Airport to fly into. Our style of delivering information is simple â€“ go to the locale in question, find out everything there is to know about it, before putting it into words for everyone to read. We hope you enjoy all of the vast and wondrous information you wonâ€™t find anywhere else, but in this edition of jStyle.
Kazuya Baba jStyle issue 17 â”‚ 5
PICTURESQUE SHOTS FEATURING VENDING MACHINES
EIJI OHASHI 6 â”‚ jStyle issue 17
Imakane, Hokkaido Feb. 2018
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Vending machines are highly convenient, yet compared to Japan’s long and colourful history, they are still relatively new to the story
ending machines. Silent merchants. International visitors to Japan are sure to be shocked by the sheer number of them dotted around the streets. There were 2,474,600 vending machines in operation according to a Japan Vending System Manufacturers Association survey conducted in 2016 – the most in the world on a per capita basis. Oceania (including south-east Asia), on the other hand, has a total of approximately 120,000. The number in Japan is staggering, to say the least. Why exactly have vending machines become so widespread in Japan? While there are a range of possible reasons, such as how safe the streets of Japan are, and economic factors, I’ll save that debate for another time. It goes without saying that the number of vending machines in Japan is impressive, however, a special mention also needs to be given to the wide variety of products stocked in them. Coffee, black tea, green tea, soft drinks, all of the expected cold beverages can be found on sale; the more surprising members of the product line up are hot beverages that can be purchased from the same machine. Foods, such as Words: Kazuya Baba
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cream of corn soup, can also be found lurking inside of these metal contraptions. Tourists from around the world seem to enjoy spotting these quirks on their travels throughout Japan. Vending machines are highly convenient, yet compared to Japan’s long and colourful history, they are still relatively new to the story. Even so, there is something about these silent merchants that make them look right at home in the pristine Japanese landscape. It is almost as if they are all unique little characters exuding nostalgic auras. We here at jStyle have recently discovered a photographer that has received worldwide attention from media outlets such as the Japan Times, CNN, and BBC – Eiji Ohashi. Eiji has received high praise for the photos of vending machines he has released, from the bright colours leaping out of the desolate wilderness, to the beautiful monochrome glow and shadows in the quiet, snowy night scenery. This special feature will showcase photographs specially selected by us here at jStyle in a foreword gallery format. Perhaps you will get a taste of modern Japan through these scenes featuring vending machines.
Tsukisamu (Sapporo), Hokkaido Dec. 2016
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Kimino, Wakayama Jul. 2017
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Iwanai, Hokkaido Nov. 2015
Isahaya, Nagasaki Nov. 2015
Eiji OHASHI 大橋英児 1955 born in Hokkaido, Japan. 1984-2006 photographs his journeys to Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet, and Chinese western regions. 2010- begins work as a freelance commercial photographer; start of the “vending machines” series. Web: https://www.shashasha.co/en/artist/eiji-ohashi
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For visitors to Japan Tourist information you’ll want to know before planning your trip to Japan, and news on handy services while you’re there. *The information on these pages is current as of October 2018.
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More flights connecting Japan and Australia Qantas Airways has announced that it will be adding an extra service to their Sydney – Osaka route (in operation since December 2017), expanding their services from the initial 3 flights, to 4 flights a week starting 9 December 2018. This route was originally planned as a limited time offer, however, it was converted into a regular route following the overwhelming response to the original announcement. The latest announcement comes as a result of increased travel demand between Japan and Australia, as well as for the optimisation of the entire Qantas fleet operations. Qantas operates direct flights between Sydney – Haneda; Brisbane – Narita;
and Melbourne – Narita. Jetstar (part of the Qantas Group) operates direct flights between Cairns – Osaka. The addition of the Sydney – Osaka route makes Qantas the only airline to fly direct between the two cities. In September 2018, roads and train lines leading to and from Kansai International Airport were closed due to the damage inflicted by Typhoon #21 on the airport, leaving approximately 7,800 visitors stranded on the airport island. Despite losing all functionality, the airport was miraculously able to open 3 days later. Japan is always quick to respond during any unforeseen incidents or natural disasters. In the event of an emergency, make sure you gain access to the latest information for safe travels.
Photo by Tokyo 2020 / Shugo TAKEMI
Looking towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
Preparations in Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have kicked into gear. With less than 2 years until the Games begin, a “Screening Demonstration Experiment” was conducted over 27-28 September 2018 in the lead up to the opening. The trials involved baggage checks at the Pedestrian Screening Areas (PSA) and Vehicle Screening Areas (VSA) in scenarios that could arise on the day. Tests of the facial recognition system to be installed at Accreditation Checkpoints (ACP) for Games-accredited personnel were also carried out. The introduction of the facial recognition system at the ACP is a first for the Games as preparations to ensure the safety of all involved continue to advance smoothly.
Embark on an adventure to discover a new side of Japan The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) spreads the word about all things to love about Japan to residents of Australia and New Zealand. Their website is absolutely jampacked waith handy information on topics such as Japanese culture, art, food, skiing, shopping, and hot springs, as well as tips about travel agents and modes of travel, for travellers looking to visit Japan. All the latest information about Japan is constantly updated, so make sure to check out the website before you plan your next trip to the land of the rising sun. https://www.jnto.org.au
World Heritage recognition for hidden Christian sites in the Nagasaki and Amakusa regions Photo AFP
In July 2018, the 12 components making up the “Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region”, located in the prefectures of Nagasaki and Kumamoto became the 22nd Japanese site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List (it is the 18th Japanese cultural site). Christianity reached the shores of Japan during the Age of Discovery in the 16th century. Following its arrival, Christians continued to secretly practice their religion as “hidden Christians” due to the ban on
Christianity placed by the Edo bakufu (government run by the shogun). These sites are important remnants revealing the unique cultural traditions born through living with the coexistence of society and religion during the difficult circumstances in the Nagasaki and Amakusa regions. The components of the site include: hidden houses and cemeteries; a shrine to the Maria Kannon; and church halls constructed with Japanese and Western aspects following the lift on the ban.
The official jStyle Facebook Page also contains information about Japanese culture. Our page is overflowing with information about traditional Japanese sweets, historical castles and temples, summer firework festivals, beautiful scenery, unique Japanese phrases, and a variety of other Japanese experiences. We also feature posts about first hand experiences and prior information about Japanese cultural events held in Australia, such as the pop culture convention – SMASH!, and the Cherry Blossom Festival marking the start of spring. Grab your smartphone or hop onto your computer to discover a new side of Japan. https://www.facebook.com/nichigojstyle
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MATCH 1 VS
RUGBY WORLD CUP 2019
September 21st (SUN) Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido
Wallabies “Once in a Lifetime Journey” ©YASU
From September 20th until November 2nd 2019, Japan will stage the first ever Rugby World Cup to take place in Asia. For those considering coming to Japan to support the Australian Wallabies, we’d like to offer information on what weather to expect during the tournament, how to access the venues and also local sightseeing recommendations. This will not just be a ‘once in every 4 years’ kind of trip, this will be a ‘Once in a Lifetime Journey’ to cherish.
1. Sapporo Dome
4. Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa
3. Oita Stadium
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2. Tokyo Stadium
5. Yokohama International Stadium
ACCESS TO THE STADIUM
If you’re heading to the venue from downtown Sapporo, it’s best to take the subway. From JR Sapporo Station, it’s a 13 minute ride to Fukuzumi Station which is also the terminus. After alighting, take exit 3 and you’ll reach Sapporo Dome after a 10 minute walk. For those flying into Hokkaido on the day of the match, the Sapporo Toshin bus service will run to Sapporo Dome at 15 minute intervals throughout the day with the trip taking approximately 45 minutes.
RECOMMENDED SIGHTSEEING EXPERIENCES One of the most famous sports venues in Japan is the home of the Nippon Ham Fighters baseball club. It is worth a visit alone to Sapporo to watch the automatic transformation of the dome from baseball diamond to rectangular rugby field. Before and after the game Sapporo has so much to see and do. The night life and food in Susukino should not be missed and Sapporo is famous for its crab, beer and ramen. What a great combination. Don’t miss Nijo Ichiba for fresh seafood or for amazing ramen. No trip to Sapporo is complete without a visit to the Sapporo Beer museum and eat like a Mongol Warlord with a feast of Genghis Khan BBQ. Drop by Old Town Hokkaido to go back in time and for one of the best night views in Japan head up to Mt Moiwa. SPECIAL NOTE - Don’t forget you may want to visit Kamaishi on the east coast of the main island. Kamaishi is one of the cities destroyed on the earthquake and subsequent tsunami of 2011. Kamaishi is a beautiful town with wonderful people who will make you feel so welcome as the host of the Fiji vs Uruguay match on the 25th Sept at the newly built Unosumai Memorial Stadium.
WEATHER CONDITIONS TO EXPECT The tail end of September in Sapporo sees highs of under 20 degrees and lows of 14 degrees with a distinct feeling of autumn in the air. The high pressure systems in the Pacific start to weaken at this time of year causing changeable weather and the potential for a lot of rain.
MATCH 2 VS
URUGUAY * Note – the quarterfinals will also be held here on October 19th or 20th
September 29th (SUN) Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo
ACCESS TO THE STADIUM
The most convenient way to get to Tokyo Stadium is by train. During large scale events like this one, some of the rapid and semi-rapid trains make a special stop at Tobitakyu, which is the closest station to the stadium. This allows you to arrive within 20 minutes from Shinjuku Station on the Keio Line without requiring a transfer.
RECOMMENDED SIGHTSEEING EXPERIENCES As you take the train out on the Keio Line to Tobitakyu Station from the hectic and fast paced downtown area you will pass through some of the nicest suburbs in Tokyo. West Tokyo is famous for some of the busiest urban lanscapes with famous names such as Shibuya, Harajuku and Shinjuku, home to the station that sees 3 million people a day pass through it. In the midst of all this you can still find Japanese serenity in Shinjuku Gyoen Park or Meiji Shrine. Between Tokyo and the stadium is one of the recommended places in Japan, Kichijoji. A cool and funky suburb and home to Harmonica Yokocho. “Yokocho” literally means "side alley'' or "street" and are synonymous with Japan. A collection of all types of wonderful homestyle eating establishments where can have you own “culinary crawl” from shop to shop. Other highlights amongst just too many to list here are Golden Gai just near Kabukicho and Ebisu Yokocho, famous for being taken over by Masterchef Australia in 2017.
October 5th (SUN) Oita Stadium (Sports Park), Oita Prefecture
ACCESS TO THE STADIUM
Getting to the stadium in Oita Sports Park requires taking a bus then a short walk. From JR Oita Station, buses leave from platform 3 or platform 6 and run to ‘Oita Sport Park East’, the nearest bus stop. The trip should take between 35 to 45 minutes and there will also be shuttle buses operating from JR Beppu Station during the event.
RECOMMENDED SIGHTSEEING EXPERIENCES A lot of Aussies think of Japan as being the area between Tokyo and Osaka (the Golden Route) or a ski resort in Hokkaido. Japan is incredibly diverse and around every corner is a new adventure. Welcome to “Hot Springs Heaven – Oita”. A truly unique Japanese experience awaits you. Downtown Miyakomachi is a great place to start and grab some local dishes. Being off the beaten track people from Oita pride themselves on their hospitality and it is not just Kobe that you find good beef. Oita has some of the best. Enjoy the outdoor hot springs at Suginoi with magnificent views over Beppu Bay. One of the “only in Japan” experiences is Jigoku Mushi – beautiful seafood and vegetables steamed in the natural hot springs. Don't get caught out with staying away from Oita as you will be spending all your time travelling and not enjoying all that Oita has to offer. Trekking on the Kunisaki Peninsula and a very tasty Japanese BBQ at the newly opened Yakiniku Yokocho! Ask a local, they will love to help you.
WEATHER CONDITIONS TO EXPECT
WEATHER CONDITIONS TO EXPECT
September in Tokyo sees average temperatures of 22 degrees and lows of 19 degrees along with calm conditions. However, with humidity still running at 70%, the last remnants of summer can still be felt at times and it can be a little sticky. Precipitation is also heaviest at this time of year so it’s a good idea to have some wet weather gear ready for both match day and any sightseeing.
October in Oita sees cooler air flowing into the local area with average temperatures below 20 degrees. However, warm air can also cover the region at times pushing daytime highs above 30 degrees. The weather is generally stable with few rainy days, but as it’s also typhoon season, be aware that heavy rain can also hit the region.
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IF THEY PROGRESS TO THE KNOCK OUT MATCHES…
MATCH 4 VS
October 11th (FRI) Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka Prefecture
ACCESS TO THE STADIUM
For those who wish to access Ecopa Stadium using public transportation, JR Aino Station is the closest station and from there it’s a 15 minute walk to the venue. If you’re coming from Tokyo to Aino Station, get off at JR Kakegawa Station then take a Hamamatsu bound train on the Tokkaido main line and you’ll arrive in 5 minutes. If coming from Nagoya, at Hamamatsu Station change to the Okitsu bound train at on the main Tokkaido line and you’ll arrive at Aino Station in approximately 20 minutes.
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RECOMMENDED SIGHTSEEING EXPERIENCES Japan has 47 prefectures, each with their own individual highlights. Shizuoka is the spiritual home of one of Japan’s biggest exports – green tea. The meticulously manicured tea plantations sit at the base of Mt Fuji and make for one of those holiday photos you have to see to believe. Just over an hour by bullet train from Tokyo, Shizuoka sits between the coastline and Mt Fuji. Kakegawa is the station you want which is closest to the stadium and is famous as a green tea town. Do not miss Honjin Dori – a collection of little restaurants and bars just 8 mins walk north of the station. Shizuoka is famous for its oden, a mixture of different foods in a steaming broth. Other must do’s are the Kakegawa Bird Park and the Mishima Skywalk for incredible views of Mt Fuji.
WEATHER CONDITIONS TO EXPECT The weather in October in Shizuoka Prefecture sees average temperatures of 18 degrees and lows of 14 degrees and with little temperature variation between day and night, conditions are very comfortable. However, according to meteorological data taken from early October 2017, which corresponds to the same time of year the match will be played, days above 30 degrees are possible and measures to avoid heatstroke should be considered.
October 27th (SUN) & November 2nd (Sat) Yokohama International Stadium, Kanagawa Prefecture 5
ACCESS TO THE STADIUM
For those wishing to head to Yokohama International Stadium using public transportation, train is the best option. The 3 closest stations are JR Shin Yokohama, the Yokohama Municipal subway and JR Kozukue Station which require a further 14 minute, 12 minute or 7 minute walk respectively to the stadium. If coming from Tokyo to the venue, it takes 20 minutes on the bullet train to Shin Yokohama Station or, if travelling by regular train, take the JR Keihin Tohoku Line to Higashi Kanagawa Station (approximately 35 minutes) then transfer to a Hachioji bound train on the Yokohama Line and you’ll arrive in 10 minutes.
RECOMMENDED SIGHTSEEING EXPERIENCES Yokohama is truly a wonderful city with easy access, great food and excellent accommodation. In 1868 when Commodore Perry sailed into Yokohama Bay to open up the country after 100s of years of isolation it started the Meiji Revolution and the transformation of Japan. Parts of Yokohama have a distinctive western feel and if you are feeling nostalgic go and have a beer and a meal at the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club near Yamate Station. The oldest expat club in Japan and there is conjecture with Keio University that this is where rugby was born in Japan. If Australia finds itself playing in Yokohama on either of these weekends there is plenty for you to do and see. Here are a few examples for Yokohama. 1. Check out the unique experience of the Ramen Museum near Shin Yokohama Station. A tribute to the different types of the noodle dish from all over Japan set in a throwback to the 1950s and 60s. 2. Minato Mirai – harbour of the Future and the area around it. Great shopping and check out the view from the Landmark building. On a clear day you can see Mt Fuji.
WEATHER CONDITIONS TO EXPECT In Yokohama over the course of the semi finals and final, the average temperature will be 15 degrees with lows of 12 degrees and you can definitely feel the coolness of autumn. However, daytime temperatures usually rise to 18 or 19 degrees making it feel very comfortable.
A STAR DURING THE MASTERCHEF “JAPAN WEEK” SPECIAL
“Masterchef”, a reality TV show where amateur chefs battle it out to emerge as sole victors. In the season 9 iteration of the show aired in 2017, Sarah Tiong was one of the few select contestants to advance through to the “Japan Week” special and take part in the unfolding climax (aired July 2017). I decided to sit down with Sarah and find out what her experience in Japan was like and what her aspirations for the future are. Interview: Taro Moriya
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The full Masterchef Australia “Japan Week” special can be viewed at the following website: Web: www.tenplay.com.au/ channel-ten/masterchef
Q: When did you cook your first dish?
A: My mother was born in a small village in east Malaysia and came to Australia in her teens. She has always been a battler, working 7 days a week whilst also making sure she cooked for the family every day at home. I always watched her as a child and began to cook with her from a young age. She made traditional Chinese Malaysian dishes and it was through her that I learned, not only how to cook, but to respect food. I was probably around 14 or 15 when I actually started cooking properly. The cook who has influenced me most is definitely my mum. Q: What line of work were you in before you appeared on Masterchef?
A: I majored in law and actuarial studies at university. After graduating, I worked at places such as large financial firms as a risk specialist, amongst other roles. Only amateur chefs can apply to be on Masterchef. I’ve never even worked as a waitress at a restaurant, let alone in 18 │ jStyle issue 17
a kitchen and have only ever cooked at home with my mum, or cooked for other family and friends.
Q: You have a successful career as a corporate lawyer. Why did you decide to take the leap into the world of cooking?
A: Because I love challenges. I thought to myself, “I love food. Let’s see how far I can take this.” My friends around me also gave me their support. My boss at work was also supportive and told me, “If there’s something you want to do, then give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out then you’re always welcome to come back.” After filling out my application, I went through the cooking tests just like you see on TV, and auditions, before I was eventually chosen to be on the show. I left Sydney and spent 8 months in Melbourne where the studio was. My mum was against it at first since she’s rather protective, but once the show began to air, she told me, “This is a once in a lifetime chance,” and gave me her support.
On each episode of Masterchef, contestants compete to show off their cooking skills and ideas with a variety of different ingredients and restrictions. The premise of the show is simple, but ruthless – as the episodes progress, low scoring contestants are eliminated one by one, leaving the last person standing crowned champion. Sarah progressed through to the “Top 9” and took on “Japan Week” towards the end of the season. Q: What experience in Japan left the biggest impression on you?
A: I had only been to Japan once before appearing on the show. A few months before filming started, I went on a two week holiday to Tokyo and Osaka. All I did was eat the whole time (laughs). We filmed for 17 days on location, but when I had some time in between shoots, I got to eat a lot of delicious food with the other contestants. Many of the other contestants had never been to Japan before so they were quite excited. One place that really struck me was a tempura restaurant in Tokyo. We were just walking around and then randomly dropped by this place, but the tempura they served to us as we sat at the bar was absolutely delicious. The moment we took a bite into the crispy batter, the rich seafood umami just came bursting out. We were all at a loss for words. It was completely different to any tempura I had ever had in Australia.
Sharing a world of emotions through food SARAH TIONG The third episode of the Japan Week special was shot at a tea farm at the base of Mount Fuji (episode 48). In this episode, where contestants were given the difficult task of using tea as an ingredient, Sarah won the challenge by creating a modern interpretation of the traditional Malaysian soup, “bak kut teh”. She earned herself an “immunity pin”, which contestants can use to escape elimination just once. However, in the next episode she found herself in danger of being eliminated. In episode 50, the climax of the Japan special, Sarah decided against using the pin and put all her money on a modern Malaysian “steam boat”. She earned high praise from the judges and clawed her way back from the brink of elimination. Q: During Japan week you turned traditional Malaysian dishes passed down to you from your mother into new, modern dishes. Did you decide against using the immunity pin because you were confident you would win?
A: I felt as though my cooking skills jumped up a level during our time in Japan. My experience had reached a new high standard, so I figured I should cook my way out of elimination rather than try to run away from it. I used pork belly in both the bak kut teh and steam boat dishes. I stuck to the basics of these dishes that have
Tea braised pork belly with mushrooms, daikon, and bean curd inspired by traditional Malaysian cuisine
been passed through generations before reaching me, and tried to give them a new form. It was quite difficult since there is a small window to make the pork belly tender. If it’s not cooked long enough, or cooked for too long then it becomes tough. However, if it is cooked even longer then it falls apart. My mum knows the perfect time to cook it, but I couldn’t quite remember how long… It was all or nothing and I just happened to pull it off.
Q: “Modern Australian cuisine”, which has its roots in the saucefocused French cuisine SARAH TIONG – as a Lawyer with essences of other and Risk Specialist, she has spent most of her professional international cuisines, or life providing advice to “contemporary cuisine”, Australia’s biggest players in financial services and is the polar opposite of international businesses. simple Japanese cuisine. Sarah loves food and her passion is driven by sharing What influences have you delicious meals with others. taken on board from your She found herself as a finalist on MasterChef Australia experiences in Japan? Series 9 in 2017 and her life has dramatically changed since then. With a love of homecooking and traditional recipes inspired by her mother, Sarah takes traditional, childhood recipes and elevates them with elegance and technique. She runs a market stall called Pork Party offering porkbased family favourites, caters events, engages with brand promotion and strives to share her food learning experience. • Instagram: @fillmytummy • Facebook: SarahTiongAU • Twitter: S_Tiong • Website: sarahtiong.com
A: French-based original dishes are visually appealing on TV, however, they can become complicated because there are too many elements. On the other hand, Japanese cuisine focuses on the changing seasons and natural produce; on how to draw the best out of the ingredients themselves. While I was in Japan I came across lots of
beautiful and delicious foods in Japan and learned to respect Japanese cuisine. I try to incorporate the simple aspects of Japanese cooking in my own dishes.
Q: What appeals to you about cooking?
A: I feel like I am able to experience happiness myself when my cooking makes other people happy. Eating connects people together. We deepen our bonds with other people during happy and sad times by eating together. We are able to break down the barriers between one another and share in the love and joy.
Q: What are you up to these days and what are your aspirations for the future?
A: I run a pop-up market stall called “Pork Party”, which sells pork-based dishes, and I've done quite a few masterclasses and promotions with Westfield, Simon Johnson, and Australian Pork. On my official website, I’ve been uploading videos of recipes and food. Since I’m working part time as a lawyer, whilst doing food-related jobs, I don’t have any days off (laughs). I’d like to open up a restaurant specialising in pork one day. It would be great if I could create a TV show based on food and travel, where I could travel the world and cook with local ingredients at each destination. I’d love to become someone with my own successful line of products, like Jamie Oliver. Someone who can share their culture around the world. jStyle issue 17 │ 19
ake – a uniquely Japanese concoction made from rice, koji, and water. There is a movement in Australia to popularise this drink for the average Australian to enjoy at home. Andrew Cameron, owner of Deja Vu Wine Co. and husband to Yukino Ochiai, launched Deja Vu Sake Co. in order to dive into the sake market. Yukino herself is at the front and centre of this venture. After years of working for wine makers and dealing with numerous wines, Yukino began to wonder why there was not an established “Japanese sake” product category in the Australian market. She wanted more people to pick up a glass of sake much like they would a glass of wine. At the time of Deja Vu Sake Co.’s launch she took notice of two absolutely necessary aspects to tackle – education and marketing, which led to her obtaining her “Sake Educator” qualification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) allowing her to teach students for the WSET Level 1 and 3 Awards in Sake. In the world of hospitality, the title of
オサケ WHAT’S IN YOUR GLASS TONIGHT – SAKE or WINE? Deja Vu Wine Co. – wine importers based in Sydney and sellers of wine across Australia. In 2012, the sake offshoot of the company, Deja Vu Sake Co., made its first foray into the market. I sat down with Yukino Ochiai of Deja Vu Sake Co. to find out how sake is finding its feet in Australia. Interview: Shinya Kosaka Yukino Ochiai – director of Deja Vu Sake Co.. Came to Australian shores in 1987 and worked in the wine industry for over 10 years. Continues to strive towards expanding the volume of knowledge Australians have about sake.
“Master Sommelier” is presented to those who have successfully completed courses offered by the Court of Master Sommeliers. The court has an Oceania division and Deja Vu Sake Co. has been a gold sponsor of this organisation since 2013, providing them with sake. Yukino was the first woman in Australia to be awarded the title of “Sake Samurai” by the Japan Sake Brewers Association Junior Council. In regards to receiving the title, she was humbled, “This wasn’t something I could have done on my own. Deja Vu, the breweries, the sommeliers, all of the people who have helped us – this Sake Samurai title belongs to everyone.” Yukino continues to spread the word about sake to the Australian public through regular events, and courses, as well as providing useful and accurate information about the beverage. The Sake Samurai, Yukino, signed off with the following words, “There’s still so much to do and so much I still can do. I will continue striving to increase the number of people who reach for a glass of sake instead of wine on any given day of the week.”
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Japanese Gin GOURMET
JAPANESE CRAFT GIN
Piquing the curiosity of liquor connoisseurs with a new style of enjoyment Did you know that there is currently a new craze sweeping across, not only Australia, but the whole world? This craze just happens to be around the hip new drink - craft gin.
Photography: Naoto Ijichi
in is a distilled spirit made with juniper berries. It has two very distinct characteristics – one being that juniper berries are the only required base ingredient to qualify the spirit as a gin, and the other being that it does not need to be aged over a long period of time like whiskey or wine. Small scale production of highly original craft gins has seen an increase recently due to its propensity to instill unique qualities with ease, whilst also being a product that can be sold immediately after distillation leading to high profitability. In fact, there are even some wine makers in Australia riding the craft gin wave of production. Japan, of course, is no exception to this craze and is firmly within its grasp. Suntory, the makers of much-loved single malt whiskies loved all around the world such as Yamazaki, hopped onto the craft gin boom with the product, “ROKU” in July 2017 in their quest to create a quintessentially Japanese gin. The name, “ROKU”, refers to the number “6” in the Japanese language. As the name suggests, the product is made with 6 uniquely Japanese botanicals – sakura
flower, sakura leaf, sencha tea, gyokuro tea, sansho pepper, and yuzu. ROKU, now one of the craft gins synonymous with Japan, began sales in Australia in July 2018. A short 2 months after sales commenced, a product PR event was held from September 6 to 20 at “Tokyo Bird”, a Japanese restaurant in Sydney. Japanese craft gin has well and truly begun to carve out its own spot in the Australian market. Cameron Pirret, the ambassador for Beam Suntory Australia, which was involved in the running of the event, explained how to enjoy ROKU to its full potential: “I highly recommend mixing it with some tonic water and adding some freshly sliced ginger. You should make this drink for someone else first, rather than yourself, in order to completely enjoy the Japanese concept of omotenashi or ‘hospitality’. You’re sure to draw a great response wherever you go this way.” If you are looking to ride the latest craze wave, then drinking Japanese craft gin the Japanese way is a new style of nightcap that absolutely cannot be missed.
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ASAHI SUPER DRY With the largest market share in the industry, Asahi Super Dry is loved by people of all ages across the globe. We here at jStyle will be sharing an otsumami recipe today to introduce you to the Japanese izakaya culture and enhance your beer drinking experience. LARGEST SHARE IN THE MARKET
The Japanese brewing company, Asahi Beer, marched to the top of the industry with their leading product – Asahi Super Dry, reigning over the market for 8 consecutive years since 2010. Asahi Super Dry made its debut in 1987 as Japan’s first ever dry beer. After rigorous market research, development began to realise the dream of creating, “a beer for the people”. The final product captured the needs of the market and became a huge success immediately after its release. 10 years later, Asahi Beer snatched the crown to acquire the largest annual share of beer. Over the past 20 years, it has become a beer synonymous with Japan. It also proudly boasts impressive sales figures outside of Japan thanks to its crisp flavour, refreshing drinkability, and praise as a beer that complements everything. Asahi Super Dry hit Australian shores in 1992 and continues to raise its stocks in the premium beer market. Australia is ranked between 20th~30th in world beer consumption, with the average amount consumed per person double that of Japan. The recent trend in Oceania has seen an expansion of the international premium beer market. Asahi Super Dry is limitlessly drinkable and complements any dish it happens to 22 │ jStyle issue 17
find itself next to. It happily accompanies a wide range of cuisines, including Japanese, Western-styled, and Chinese dishes with a first swig that just can’t be beat. VISITING AN IZAKAYA? START WITH A BEER
Many tourists flock to Japan for a foodfilled holiday. While sushi, ramen, and other Japanese cuisines are popular choices, there is another well-loved establishment amongst gourmands – izakayas. Izakayas are different to restaurants with their variety of different alcoholic beverages and simple dishes to suit them – almost akin to a Japanese pub. Unlike your average pub, the Japanese counterpart has more of a focus on enjoying the food, and not just the drinks. The most common way of enjoying an izakaya experience is to order lots of different dishes to share with a large group of people. It is customary in Japan to order a beer before getting started at an izakaya. While drinking something high in alcohol on an empty stomach can bring unneeded stress to the body and lead to hastened intoxication, a glass of Japanese beer is the perfect way to start an izakaya trip due to its low alcohol content of 4 to 5%. Beer is also said to increase one’s
appetite due to the stimulatory effects that the carbonation and bitterness of the hops has on the stomach. It is also the best thing to order when gathering a large group of people in for a toast since all of the beers come out almost instantly. Downing a glass of beer before settling in for a delicious meal is just one of the many facets of the Japanese izakaya culture. An essential element at an izakaya is “otsumami” – food to bring out the flavour of one’s drink. Otsumami is also known as “sakana” (side dish). The origins of the word sakana come from a combination of two characters which literally mean “side dishes for alcohol”. Differences in food culture are quite clear when comparing the different drinking snacks on offer in various countries. In Australia and the UK, chips and peanuts are common fare, whereas tapas can be found in Spain. In the case of Japan, the selection of otsumami menu items are vast with a wide range of ingredients used. Kenji Maenaka, the owner and head chef of Izakaya Fujiyama in Surry Hills is a chef offering classic Japanese izakaya dishes to suit Australian palates. Keep reading to find a recipe by chef Maenaka for an otsumami recipe easy to replicate at home.
CHEF: KENJI MAENAKA Profile From Hokkaido. A chef with 23 years of experience. Learned the basics of Japanese cuisine from his sushi chef father. Arrived in Australia in 2003 and worked as a chef in popular Sydney restaurants such as Porteno and Bodega. Opened Izakaya Fujiyama in Surry Hills, Sydney, in 2011. Has been awarded a one hat rating from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide for 4 years running since 2014.
STICKY BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN WINGS Sweet and spicy chicken wings is one of the mainstays of izakaya menus. The crispy skin and plump, juicy chicken meat makes for an addictive dish. While some methods call for tossing the wings in the sauce after deep frying them, this recipe uses a frying pan to caramelise the chicken before finishing it off with a special sauce. Make sure to season the chicken well to create a dish that keeps the beer flowing. Ingredients (Serves 4) Chicken wings Garlic Ginger Chilli Spring onion
400g (8 wings) 2 cloves 40g 1/2 a piece 1 stick
Tamari soy sauce Sugar Sake Mirin Black pepper
1/4 cup 20g 1/2 cup 1/4 cup 5g
COOKING TIPS Only fry one side of the wings Baste the wings continuously in the frying pan whilst stewing them
Instructions 1. Fry the wings in a well-heated frying pan with some oil. Flip the wings when they become golden brown and place them onto a plate together with the oil. 2. Add the tamari soy sauce, sugar, sake, and mirin to the same pan and bring to the boil on high heat. When the sauce comes to a boil, add the garlic (gently crushed by hand with the skin on), spring onion stick, chilli, and chopped ginger to the sauce.
3. Return the wings to the pan with the sauce, place them caramelised side up, and add a little more mirin. Stew the wings in the sauce, basting regularly with a ladle. 4. Sprinkle black pepper on the wings and simmer for a little longer. 5. Serve with flash-fried tomatoes and sliced asparagus (or vegetables of choice), and pour the sauce all over the wings.
Photography: ÂŠNaoto Ijichi
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GOURMET Tea Culture
ニホンチャ IMPROVE THE BODY AND MIND WITH GREEN TEA!
Green tea is now experiencing a surge in popularity both in Japan and overseas. It is a beverage that is a part of everyday Japanese life as an accompaniment to meals or as a break-time thirst quencher. Recent research has revealed a wide variety of health benefits linked to the consumption of green tea.
REDUCED RISK OF CANCER The catechin compound found in green tea is said to reduce the risk of cancer. • Men who drink 5 or more cups of green tea per day are approximately 50% less likely to develop progressive prostate cancer than men who drink less than a cup per day. • Women who drink 5 or more cups of green tea per day are 21% less likely to develop stomach cancer than women who drink less than a cup per day. • People who drink 5 or more cups of green tea per day significantly reduce their risk of developing liver cancer.
REDUCES STRESS Together with a range of other benefits, theanine is also said to help relieve stress.
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Catechin has been shown to possess antibacterial qualities against cavities, which is said to prevent and remedy cavities. It is effective against the bacteria which causes periodontal disease. Catechin can also help to improve bad breath by slowing the oxidisation of fats and oils. The fluoride contained in green tea also helps to strengthen teeth.
Theanine, an amino acid which gives green tea its umami flavour, is a calmative. Parasympathetic nervous system activity, which is activated during relaxation, also increases for 40 minutes following intake of theanine.
mg of caffeine
POTENTIAL TO REDUCE RISK OF TRAUMA FROM EPILEPSY | EFFECTIVE AGAINST PARKINSON’S DISEASE 100g of sencha contains approximately 20mg of caffeine – one third of the amount found in coffee. Daily intake of low concentration caffeine can potentially reduce the risk of trauma from epilepsy, and is also believed to be effective against Parkinson’s disease.
INHIBITS ABSORPTION OF CHOLESTEROL | TRIGLYCERIDES Catechin inhibits the absorption of cholesterol and triglycerides in the digestive tract. This reduces blood lipid (cholesterol and triglycerides) levels. Lowered blood lipid levels reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.
When traditional Japanese tea meets pure Australian environment, thatâ€™s when the story begins Ito En and Oi Ocha Japanese Green Tea grown in Australia In 2003, Ito En, the No.1 green tea company in Japan, started operating a tea factory in Wangaratta near the Alpine Region. In the past decade, traditional Japanese green tea has been produced from Australian grown tea leaves, with the Australian palate in mind.
In Victorian Alpine Region, a 3-hour drive from Melbourne, Australian farmers are growing Japanese style green tea. The pure water supply, that stems from the Alpine National Park along with the unique climate and fertile soil, provides an ideal growing environment for green tea.
In 1989, Oi Ocha ITO EN's flagship brand was launched in Japan. The brand name "Oi Ocha!" means "It's tea time!" or "Tea please!".
Just like the craft of a good wine, green tea obtains taste and aroma that is in harmony with the land it is grown on.
For Japanese people, almost every meal is accompanied by green tea; thatâ€™s one of their secrets to long healthy life. Even in a hot summer, it never lacks real-deal tea. A chilled bottle of unsweetened green tea is a godsend: crisp, clean, and refreshing, not too bitter or astringent, but has subtle Umami taste.
The domestic market demand for locally crafted tea has been increasing every year, as Australians welcome the green tea growing right in their own backyard. The Australian environment lacks tea related What is in one bottle of Oi Ocha? pests and diseases and thus fulfills a health-conscious demand of 100% Australian grown Australian customers.
green tea leaves
No added sugar Less calories than 1 medium
No added colours or flavours
Oi Ocha iced green tea is now formulated with 100% Australian grown green tea, in doing so delivers a healthier lifestyle, a peace of mind, and also joy through Japanese culture to the local consumers.
Q: What role do knives have in your line of work?
THE ALLURE OF JAPANESE KNIVES TO A WESTERN CHEF
apanese knives are revered all around the world for their exceptional quality leading to an increase of international exports. These knives are loved by chefs from all corners of the world. Federico Zanellato, the owner and head chef of LuMi Bar & Dining, is one of these chefs. We here at jStyle decided to pick his brains to discover why he finds Japanese knives so appealing.
A: I think that knives are absolutely the most important tools in the kitchen. The skills and attitude of a chef is reflected through their knife care ethic, so it is important to treat knives with proper respect.
Q: What do you find particularly fascinating or appealing about these knives?
A: It goes without saying that the quality of the blades, the sharpness, and longevity or durability of these knives are big draw cards for me. I am also really fascinated by the craftsmanship that goes into the forging of Japanese knives. Q: How do you use Japanese knives and Western knives differently in the kitchen?
create chunks. A good way to test out a new knife is to chop up some chives.
Q: Do you think that the type of knife used affects the taste of dishes?
A: Absolutely! I could even go as far as to say that cutting is cooking in itself. It affects the texture of the food and also the flavour, especially when it comes to cooking proteins such as seafood and meat.
Q: How do you choose good kitchen knives? Any particular preferences?
A: I choose brands that I have become comfortable with over the years of working in various kitchens. In saying that, I am always happy to try out new knives to see what they can offer. CHEF: FEDERICO ZANELLATO
A: I feel as though Japanese knives are usually better for slicing, where the knife is pulled across to make slices of the item you happen to be cutting. Western knives are better for chopping, where the knife is pushed or pressed against the ingredient to
Born in Italy. Before settling on Australian shores, he sharpened his culinary skills in leading European restaurants, as well as training at Nihonryori RyuGin in Tokyo. After a four year stint at Ormeggio at the Spit, Chef Zanellato launched LuMi Bar & Dining, an Italian and Japanese restaurant located in Pyrmont, Sydney, in 2014 as the owner and head chef.
Photography: ©Naoto Ijichi
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Knives and Stones Unit 2, 2 Bishop St St Peters, NSW 2044 02 8599 0898 firstname.lastname@example.org 8239KNIV
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瀬 戸 内 AN UNDISCOVERED AREA OF FASCINATION
SETOUCHI Words and Photography: Kazuya Baba
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Fukiya Okayama Kurashiki
Shimanami Kaido Imabari
Great Seto Bridge
LIVING WITH CATS IN A TOWN LOVED BY CYCLISTS – ONOMICHI
apan, a country that changes with the seasons. Up in the north is Hokkaido with its skiing heaven, whilst Okinawa occupies the south with its beautiful coral paradise. Let’s not also forget Tokyo and Osaka as frontrunners for the latest world trends, amongst a variety of other unforgettable cities. While Japan is a booming nation of tourism in itself, there is an area west of Osaka that has been gathering more attention of late – Setouchi. The Setouchi area refers to the central area of the Shikoku region that surrounds the Seto Inland Sea and is filled with beautiful cities and towns lining the coastline. Hiroshima is likely to be the most famous and longknown tourist hot spot in Setouchi due to its past as the location where the United States dropped the atomic bomb. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also known as the “Genbaku Dome”, is one of the many popular places to visit in Hiroshima. This feature, however, will take a step further into the area to showcase spots away from the more famous locations. Although I will be going introducing each location in the order I visited them, this should not stop anybody from travelling directly to them from Osaka using the variety of transport methods on offer as they are all fairly accessible.
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In October 2017, I accepted an invitation from an organisation promoting tourism for the Setouchi area and hopped on a plane from Sydney to Japan to experience the wonders waiting for me. From the gateway to west Japan, Kansai Airport, I transferred onto another plane to head towards Hiroshima. For the most part in Hiroshima I was on a tour that focused on sake. If you are after some further reading about the intricacies of the liquor, then please have a look at the “GOING WALKABOUT IN THE SAKE TOWNS OF TAKEHARA AND SAIJO” feature (page 24) in the 16th volume of jStyle released last year. This feature is a continuation of that trip. After delving into the fascinating world of sake in Takehara and Saijo in Hiroshima, we (a group comprised of media from Australia, the US, and other influential outlets invited to participate in this trip) visited the port town of Onomichi. Although it was my first trip to Onomichi, I was very familiar with the town as the backdrop of many movies and novels. With one look at the town I knew it as the place well loved by literary legends. My first port of call upon reaching Onomichi was Senko-ji, a temple built
over 1,200 years ago in the year 806. The temple grounds, built atop a hill, can be reached by ropeway from the city centre. While there is a trail from the ropeway station at the peak to Senko-ji, known as the “Bungaku no Komichi” (Trail of Literature), I decided to stop by the nearby observation tower first. The view from the temple is spectacular as it is, but due to the observation tower’s location higher up on a hill, it offers an even wider view of Onomichi. Everything that can be seen from this point encapsulates the beauty of the Setouchi area, from the town of Onomichi bustling below, to the Seto Inland Sea supplying water to the town, as well as Mukaishima further out. From the observation tower I trekked down the Bungaku no Komichi. This mountain trail is lined with 25 poem monuments featuring verses capturing the beauty of Onomichi as seen through the eyes of various writers and the hearts of those who live there. The poems on these monuments are all written in old prose or completely in kanji (Chinese characters), making some of them difficult for the average Japanese person to grasp, yet even so, it was very strange to
feel the intense passion emanating from each character written. As I soaked up this mysterious air on the walk down, I found myself at Senko-ji. Senko-ji boasts a long history filled with many different legendary tales, which also means it offers a lot to see, such as peculiar-shaped rocks, and beautiful sights. The sight of various temple halls lining the sheer, mountainous terrain creates an intensely unique atmosphere. Take a trip over to this temple to feel the old Onomichi culture filling the air. As you approach the city going down the narrow, yet elegant stretch of hillside from Senko-ji, you may find yourself lucky enough to spot a few cats. Onomichi is extremely fascinating for the cat-inspired ornaments placed around the area due to the large amount of cats lurking around the place. There are also cat cafés in the area, making it a must visit
location for cat lovers. Despite the compact size of the town, Onomichi is famous for its ramen, with many Onomichi-style ramen restaurants found dotted all around the place and people lining up to get inside. I highly recommend a leisurely stroll around the town to see all of the unique hot spots as the sea breeze gently flows through your hair. Onomichi is also known as the starting point of the “Setouchi Shimanami Kaido”. The Shimanami Kaido is a bridging route stretching approximately 60 kilometres from Onomichi to Imabari in Ehime Prefecture. There are 6 large islands connected together through this route, and the characteristic shapes of the bridges have earned this route the nickname, “the bridge museum”. A defining feature of this route is that it can be travelled by foot and by bicycle. It
was also included on CNN’s list of the “7 best bike routes in the world”, cementing its place as an internationally renowned cycling course. Onomichi is not simply just a well visited town, but also a town adored by cyclists from around the world. With rental services, ride-anddrop-off bikes, fully-serviced rest stops, and other cyclist-centric infrastructure makes this town a must for cyclists and enthusiasts alike. After enjoying Onomichi to its fullest, I set off for the beautiful town of Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture.
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A TOWN FROZEN 300 YEARS IN THE PAST; THE REAR QUARTERS OF KURASHIKI – YAKAGE
Although, I was unable to visit it myself on this trip, a representative from the organisation highly recommended I drop by a certain place when I got the chance to. The place in question was the town of Yakage, which is known as the rear quarters of Kurashiki owing to its well preserved old streets. Back in the Edo period when Yakage was a prosperous post town on the old Sanyo Highway, it accommodated the feudal lords travelling between their respective regions and Edo during the period of feudal lords working for the shogunate. The residences of the Old Yakage Honjin Ishii Family and the Old Yakage Waki Honjin Takakusa Family still stand to this day and are both recognised as Important Cultural Properties of Japan. Both of these residences are the only two Important Cultural Properties that still exist and both can only be found in Yakage. The luxuriously spacious houses spanning approximately 3,300 square metres are a reflection of the grand times in which they were built. Those who have a chance to visit this area should take advantage of the free guides on offer. The streets of Yakage are also filled with other old buildings from after the Edo period, so make sure you drop by for a time slip into a more nostalgic era. With its handy location on the way over to Kurashiki, why not take a trip over when you find yourself with some time on your hands?
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Kurashiki has preserved the feel of its old street landscape, and is a town known for taking advantage of the natural and history-rich environment of which forms the heart of the region. One step into this town will make you never want to leave this beautiful, other-worldly place. The area of Kurashiki centred around Kurashiki River has been reclaimed and is currently being developed into rice fields, whilst also maintaining its history as a main port city, ruled by the Matsuyama clan during the Edo period, where it served as a connecting point for goods heading north. Following this period, the region became an area of resources with the backing of protection from the bakufu and abundant produce in its surrounds. From this, the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter area then turned into the bustling location it is today. Stucco-finished houses and white-walled warehouses lined the streets around the Kurashiki River during the period where boats would carry cargo through the area during high tide. The sight of these old buildings can still be enjoyed by visitors to the area to this day. There are also a variety of programs for visitors to participate in, such as wearing kimonos or taking a ride on a boat which harks back to older times.
THE INNOVATIONS OF THE EDO PERIOD PRISTINELY PRESERVED IN THIS TOWN – KURASHIKI
We all went our separate ways to explore the town filled with elegant stores as far as the eye could see. There was even a shrine on a hill offering a view of the whole town. Not a moment of boredom was to be had as I strolled around the town. Of all the areas I visited, the area of Honmachi and Higashimachi to the east of the town centre was of particular interest to me. Walking around the streets here made me feel as though I had entered a time slip. All of the buildings still maintained the same charm as they had when they were first built before the area along the riverside. Cabinet makers, coopers, and other stores run by craftsmen continue to operate as they did long ago, making a walk through this area a highly recommended trip to the past. A large portion of this area has been designated for preservation, however, approximately 200 families still call the area home. The feeling of people going about their daily lives in this historic area was quite refreshing. Galleries, general stores, a jazz café, a café built in a refurbished tea house amongst a variety of other charming little shops can be found neatly dotted around the area. The harmony of old history and modernism found in Kurashiki is so quintessentially Japanese and definitely deserves to be experienced firsthand. Another highly unique tourist attraction near Kurashiki that deserves a mention is Kojima Jeans Street. The Kojima area of Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture is known as the birthplace of Japanese jeans. The 400 metre stretch of stores by local jeans makers and general goods shops known as “Jeans Street” was named so to boost local business and to help promote the area. A variety of style-centric clothing shops selling pieces unique to the area, such as indigo dyed shirts, line the streets and absolutely cannot be missed by anybody who has a penchant for fashion. jStyle issue 17 │ 31
A UNIQUE TOWN OF RED – FUKIYA
A large part of the itinerary involved going through the Great Seto Bridge to cross the Seto Inland Sea from Honshu to Shikoku, however, there was one place the organisation wanted to visit first – Fukiya in Okayama Prefecture. Located an hour and a half north of Kurashiki and Okayama City, it is a neat little place worth visiting. The town of Fukiya is a historical town and was originally established for copper mining. In 1707, it became the first place in Japan to produce the red colour pigment, “bengara” in Japan. Known for having high quality bengara that maintained its red vibrancy even when baked, demand for the product spread across the nation. The Fukiya region prospered through the production of bengara during the end of the Edo period. After a conversation between bengara sellers leading to the establishment of the town, it was recognised in 1977 by the Agency of Cultural Affairs as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings. Visitors to other areas of Japan 32 │ jStyle issue 17
may find that the sight of luxurious mansions built by wealthy folk are not as uncommon as one might think; what sets Fukiya apart from the rest is that each of the individual houses are not in fact draped in luxury, but instead, were built by calling upon carpenters to build a whole town in the same style. While the concept may have been rather advanced for its time, seeing the completed town as it stands is impressive, to say the least. No other place in Japan offers the sight of a neatly designed town comprised of copper-red Sesshu tiles and the bengara pigment. While the town itself may be small, quaint stores fill the streets, and visitors can also try their hand at some bengara dyeing crafts. For those taking public transport, there needs to be some juggling of trains and buses to get to the town, as it does require a little bit of leg work. Although it might be easier to hop onto a taxi or take a shuttle service from nearby accommodation facilities, this little town is definitely worth a visit for the unique experience it offers.
THE WORLD’S LONGEST MULTIPURPOSE BRIDGE – THE GREAT SETO BRIDGE
Once we left Fukiya it was finally time to cross the Great Seto Bridge connecting Honshu to Shikoku. The sight of islands connected by a great bridge in the peaceful blue sea is one that perfectly frames the area of Setouchi. The Great Seto Bridge was opened in 1988 and is a collective term referring to the 10 bridges connecting Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture in the Honshu region to Sakaide, Kagawa Prefecture in the Shikoku region. There is nothing quite like gazing over the islands floating in the calm Seto Inland Sea as you cross the great bridge. For those who want to soak up the views even further then a stop by the Yoshima Parking Area is highly recommended. This is the only parking area on the Great Seto Bridge and the Yoshima Plaza located in front of it is a tourist hot spot in itself with stores, a food court, and an observation deck with a great view of the area. It is also a great place to visit to pick up some typical Setouchi region foods as souvenirs.
瀬 戸 大 橋
CLIMBING UP 1,368 STEPS TO MEET A DEITY – KOTOHIRA
Crossing the Great Seto Bridge led us to our next gateway, Kagawa Prefecture. The organisation we were with referred to it as the “udon prefecture” due to its reputation as the most renowned prefecture for udon in all of Japan. For udon purists, one cannot look past “sanuki udon” from Kagawa Prefecture. With the popularity of Japanese cuisine gaining more traction over the past few years, the term “sanuki udon” is sure to be making the rounds. Not far from the gateway to Shikoku after hopping off the Great Seto Bridge is Kotohira, a town known for its worship of the sea deity since ancient times. The most famous shrine in Kotohira, Kotohira-gu (also known as “Sanuki Konpira-san”), can be found halfway up Mount Zozu and is said to have enticed pious followers from all around Japan to worship the deity of the sea for bountiful crops, large fish hauls, prosperous business, and other good fortunes. While many people visit this shrine for its blessings, it also has another major drawcard – the number of stairs it houses. There are 785 steps from the gateway towards the shrine to the main shrine
itself, and a further 1,368 stone steps to the rear shrine. The approach leading to the shrine is filled with historic sites and cultural treasures, while the rear approach has displays of cherry blossoms in the spring, azaleas in early summer, and gorgeous leaves in autumn. Strap on your hiking boots and experience the beautiful seasonal views and you find yourself in an atmosphere of eternity, or, if you’re game enough, climb all the way to the top (taking necessary breaks) for a great workout. Those who make it all the way to the top will be rewarded with a spectacular view. After a fulfilling visit to the temple the way back down is filled with a variety of shops to visit, making it a fun and relaxing way to leisurely quench your thirst on your trek home. Kotohira is also known for its hot springs and is filled with a variety of magnificent accommodation establishments with onsen facilities. Book a room at one of these establishments to enjoy the services they have to offer, but don’t forget to grab a bowl of sanuki udon while you’re at it! jStyle issue 17 │ 33
AWA DANCE AND ONE OF THE LARGEST WHIRLPOOLS IN THE WORLD – NARUTO
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The last stop on this trip was none other than Tokushima Prefecture. This prefecture is known as “the land of Awa” (the former name of Tokushima Prefecture) as it is the birthplace of the ancient Japanese dance – the Awa Dance. Awa dance involves chanting “yatto-saa, yatto-saa” while dancing in a group. It is a dance synonymous with Japan and has even spread overseas. In fact, its reach has also expanded to the point where large scale shows are held in cities such as Tokyo. While these shows may be big, nothing can surpass the scale of the authentic Awa Dance Festival in Tokushima, which involves children dancers and massive crowds. When the festival rolls in, people from all around flock to see this event, the largest of its kind in Japan. Since we weren’t lucky enough to visit Tokushima during the festival, we were treated to demonstrations of it instead and also got our own feet moving, too. At first glance, the dance may appear to be rather simple – involving sticking your right hand and foot out at the same time, however, it was actually rather fun learning about the intricacies of the dance and the differences between how men and women dance. After wearing out our dancing feet, we set off for our final destination – Naruto. Naruto is a tourist hot spot known for the tidal currents in its strait and is a must-see location for those who find themselves in Tokushima. While the islands of Japan are riddled with many complicated currents in and
around it, Naruto is said to boast the fastest currents in all of Japan with maximum spring tide speeds reaching approximately 20 kilometres per hour. These are said to be one of the largest tidal currents in Japan and are known for creating large whirlpools in the ocean surface. Tours operate during the times when these whirlpools occur, so visitors can get a close up look of them while on board these boats. These mysterious natural phenomena absolutely must be seen. Large whirlpools can span up to 20 metres in diameter and can be seen up close by boat. The currents create whirlpools that last from a few seconds up to a minute. As one whirlpool disappears, another is formed in its place, repeating this cycle over and over again. I was fortunate enough to see these artistic natural phenomena created by the gravitational pull of the moon, combined with the sea currents, with my very own eyes. Experiencing the power of nature was absolutely awe-inspiring. Naruto marked the end of the group tour. We all parted ways at Tokushima Awaodori Airport to fly out to Tokyo or Osaka, and finally head home. While our trip around the Setouchi area was quick and concise, I still very much got a chance to experience the wide and deep offerings the region had in store for me. Now that most smartphones come with capable GPS features to navigate around Japan in English, this might be the perfect chance to head on over for a fun road trip around Setouchi. Go ahead and slip the Setouchi area into your itinerary for your next trip to Japan.
al Area c i r o t s i ki H Kurashi n i r u o at T River Bo
Kakuza C a s t le (
Japanese-styled picnic under thousands of cherry blossoms Okayama, the Land of Sunshine
Okayama Prefecture For more information
Traditional Local Sushi and Sake
Riding the Kintetsu Railway Premium Express Shimakaze Known as the sacred land of Japanese history and culture is none other than Ise Jingu, located in Mie Prefecture. This prefecture happens to also be famous for the numerous facilities offering resort-like experiences centred around coastline cities such as Toba and Shima. Of these seaside towns, the beautiful Kashikojima is particularly worth a visit. Follow this feature for a lovely trip to Ise-Shima on the Kintetsu Railway Premium Express Shimakaze train Words and Photography: Yuriko Ishii
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ie Prefecture is located approximately 2 hours away from Osaka, the largest city in Japan after Tokyo, by car or train. It is well known for the spiritual hometown of Japanese people, Ise Jingu. The area is easily accessible from Nagoya, a city situated between Tokyo and Osaka, as well as Kyoto, and is just a stone’s throw away from the beautiful coastline of the Shima Peninsula.
A TRAIN OF LUXURIOUS RELAXATION
For those making the trip over to Mie Prefecture, a trip on the Shimakaze Sightseeing Express, which operates to Kashikojima Station in the Shima Peninsula from Kintetsu Osaka Namba Station, Kyoto Station, and Nagoya Station via Ise (where Ise Jingu is located), is highly recommended. There are a variety of facilities and services offered on board the train to make it a railway trip that is enjoyable in itself. The roomy premium seats are laid out in rows of three, and are made of genuine leather. These soft seats are also fitted with electronic reclining features. Beautiful views of the clear blue sky and natural greenery outside can be enjoyed through the large glass windows of this carriage. The horigotatsu-esque (table in a sunken area of the floor) Japanese-style private rooms; Western-
style private rooms designed like living areas; and the semi-compartmental salon seats fitted with large tables, give passengers a variety of choices to choose from to suit their needs. Groups can also travel in comfort by choosing one of the private rooms. The café car gives passengers an opportunity to enjoy the original dishes made specifically to feature famous foods along the railway. Hop aboard this train for the ultimate relaxing experience to Ise-Shima. VISITING ISE JINGU
Ise Jingu, known as the sacred land of Japanese history and culture, refers to a famous jinja (Shinto-shrine) in the Ise-Shima region comprised of 125 smaller jinja. The most famous of these jinja are Naiku (Kotaijingu) and Geku (Toyo’uke-daijingu). Naiku, one of the shogu (main sanctuary), is a particularly unique and beautiful building made entirely of Japanese cypress timber and constructed without using a single nail. It is said to have been built 2,000 years ago, with Toyo’uke-daijingu constructed 500 years later and enshrined with a kami (deity) to offer food to Amaterasu-Omikami. Naiku, Geku, and 14 other related jinja are a select few of the 125 jinja that are built in the exact same dimensions on adjacent lots every 20 years for sacred enshrining in a ritual known as Shikinen Sengu. This practice continues to this day.
While Ise Jingu, known as “the most sacred construction in Japan”, is a familiar journey into Shintoism for the average Japanese person, it continues to fascinate international tourists with its mystery upon every visit. Make sure to show proper etiquette and respect when visiting this jinja filled with the charming wonders of the mythical world. It is customary to visit Geku before Naiku when visiting Ise Jingu. Visitors to the jinja should dress appropriately and act accordingly so as to not disrespect the Shinto deities. The purified holy grounds span between the very first torii gate to the depths of the area, meaning visitors need to complete their “otemizu” (the act of washing your hands and rinsing your mouth with pure water) at the cleansing area at the front. In line with the placement of the cleansing area, traffic flows to the left at Geku, and to the right at Naiku. There are various customary rituals that should be followed, such as stopping and bowing before passing through the torii gate. Many layers of fencing surround the shogu and photography is strictly prohibited beyond the stone step of the outermost fence.
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Outside of Ise Jingu Naiku is a town with relocated and replicated period buildings lining the Edo to Meiji period-styled streets known as Okage Yokocho. Restaurants and souvenir shops dot the streets while the hustle and bustle of tourists fill up this 1.32 hectare town. Visitors can feast on local Ise foods such as Ise udon and tekonezushi (a type of sushi in a bowl), as well as enjoy a bit of shopping on the side. Make sure you drop by Okage Yokocho for lunch or for a quick breather on your next trip to Ise Jingu. THE ENCHANTING RESORT LIFE ON THE SHIMA PENINSULA
The Shima Peninsula, located in south-east Mie Prefecture, is known as one of Japan’s major resort areas and is home to a number of theme parks and accommodation facilities where visitors can soak up the Mediterranean atmosphere. The Toba Aquarium is a perfect place for families to drop by and houses approximately 1,200 different species of animals, making it one of the largest aquariums in Japan. Over at Mikimoto Pearl Island, where the first cultivated pearls in the world were harvested, visitors can join one of the information-packed exhibition tours. There is also shopping to be had, as well as opportunities to see female divers in their white suits dive for pearls in the same way it was done in the past. The Shima Peninsula is filled with many tourist hot spots where unique experiences can be had
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in addition to beautiful scenery lining the ria coastlines. While seafood such as Ise lobster, abalone, and oysters are obvious delicacies to enjoy, Ise is also blessed with fresh produce from the mountains, making it a highly recommended hot spot for gourmands. Floating in Ago Bay and famous for its cultivated pearls, is an island of approximately 100 people that must be visited – Kashikojima. The last station on both the Kintetsu Limited Express and Shimakaze Sightseeing Express from either Osaka or Nagoya is Kashikojima Station. On this little island is the Shima Kanko Hotel, which served as the venue for the Ise-Shima G7 Summit on May 2017 (an international meeting of world leaders from the G7 and EU). The hotel features 3 different buildings, “the Classic” featuring rooms with a cultural air; “the Baysuites” featuring suites in every room; and “the Club” which maintains remnants of the hotel’s early past. These rooms give patrons access to the highest form of relaxation and hospitality on Kashikojima. Guests of the hotel can enjoy the same fine French cuisine that was served to the world
leaders in attendance to the summit at the restaurant, La Mer, within the hotel grounds, as well as access the guest lounge to relax in. The hotel also has a variety of facilities, such as a gym, spa, Japanese tea room (for tea ceremony experiences), and an observation deck to gaze at the night sky and keep everyone busy. Additionally, there are a range of activities on offer at the hotel, including: sea kayaking and cruises on Ago Bay; guided cycling tours; and traditional craft experiences. Ise-Shima is a highly recommended locale for both children and adults to spend their days away from the grind of daily life and soak in the fresh air of the great outdoors. ■ Kintetsu Railway Premium Express Shimakaze https://www.kintetsu.co.jp/foreign/english/shimakaze
© Wakayama Prefecture
A Sacred Region Born through Faith Located in the depths of Mother Nature, in a vast world of holiness lies Koyasan – a settlement in Wakayama Prefecture approximately 85 kilometres south of Osaka and highly accessible by train or car. Known for the concentration of temples and historic landmarks within its 1.5 kilometre radius, as well as its prestigious listing as a World Heritage Site, Koyasan has been gaining momentum as a popular sightseeing spot in recent times. This feature will showcase the joys of visiting this location for 2 days and 1 night, departing from Osaka. Words: Yuriko Ishii
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All aboard for a wondrous train ride through mountainous greenery
© Wakayama Prefecture
My trip started on a direct flight, which can be boarded from either Sydney or Melbourne, destined for Kansai International Airport in Osaka, the second largest city in Japan after Tokyo. I then left Namba Station in central Osaka at 9am aboard a Nankai Electric Railway train for my 50 minute ride to Hashimoto Station (Wakayama). From Hashimoto Station, I jumped onto the “Tenku” sightseeing train towards the base of Koyasan – Gokurakubashi, which happens to connect to the cable car line. I marvelled at the beautiful sights of mountains and rivers thanks to the large windows fitted on the car as the train weaved through the steep and sharply curving tracks of the precarious mountain trail. The observatory deck on the train also allows for access to gorgeous sweeping views of the surrounds. Sights of rape flowers and rows of cherry blossom trees can also be enjoyed during the spring. Before I knew it, my 40 minute ride on the uniquely designed train was over. Once my train arrived at the distinctively vermillion coloured bridge of Gokurakubashi, I scuttled onto the cable car to ascend 328 metres up towards Koyasan Station. Upon reaching the station, I proceeded to take the Nankai Rinkan Bus into Koyasan.
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As I hopped off the bus at Okunoin-mae and ventured further in from Naka no hashi towards Okuno-in, the first thing I saw was the slogan of Koyasan – “live your life to the fullest”. While the common teachings of Buddhism speak of entering Nirvana upon one’s death, the words of this slogan reflect the mantra of the Shingon School of Buddhism as preached by Kobo-Daishi
© Wakayama Prefecture
From Naka no hashi to Okuno-in
a.k.a. Kukai, where one can reach Buddhahood whilst still alive. The park cemetery here is lined with gravestones of not only commonfolk from within and outside of Japan, but also those of people from companies synonymous with Japan such as Nissan, Panasonic, and Sharp, as well as gravestones to honour the victims of disasters such as the Great Hanshin earthquake and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake
Enrich your five senses in the sacred atmosphere for an unforgettable experience A meditative experience at Ekoin
and tsunami. I crossed the park cemetery, entered the approach surrounded by greenery, and was met with a solemn air of awe. Okuno-in is dotted with the graves of famous historical figures and uniquely shaped graves and memorial towers. It is a place where all followers of Kukai can set up graves regardless of status, ranking, or denomination. Further along across the sacred “Gobyo no hashi” (bridge), and atop the stone steps stands the magnificent “Toro-do” (lantern hall). Inside of Okuno-in is a cave where Kukai is said to be meditating to this day, and the “KoboDaishi Mausoleum” where worshippers can go to pay their respects in the closest proximity they can get to the cave.
After strolling around Okuno-in, I had a walk through the forest, filled my belly up with lunch and then set off for Ekoin. It was here that I tried out a type of meditation known as “ajikan”. Ajikan is a form of meditation taught in Shingon Buddhism and was spread through Japan during the Heian period by Kukai. Although this form of meditation was originally to help calm the minds of monks, ajikan has become a form of meditation taken up by people from all walks of life as the ultimate form of relaxation due to its simplicity – all that is required of participants is that they sit with their hands and legs crossed. To start off, you must cleanse your body before entering the temple. The next step requires you to take a pinch of zuko (incense powder) with your dominant hand and rub it into your hands. Once this has been done, you then sit cross-legged on a zafu
(a cushion used for Zen meditation). After settling into the cushion, join your hands in prayer, creating a lotus bud shape with them, and bow. First-timers or even experienced meditators need not fret as there will be a monk to carefully guide you through the motions. With half-closed eyes, look at the Sanskrit “阿” (a) character on the hanging scroll as you join your hands together in front of your belly button and take steady breaths, picturing the fresh air entering your body with every breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. This process is then repeated. The “阿” character is supposed to represent the origins of everything in Shingon Buddhism – the Buddha known as “Dainichi Nyorai”. The character on the scroll appears as though it is placed on top of a flower and is said to represent “oneself” sitting on a lotus flower. The character not only represents the macrocosm, but also one’s own self. There is a notion in Shingon Buddhism that the Buddha and oneself are one in the same. I felt as though the fragrance of the sacred incense-filled air wafting around the temple had permeated every pore of my whole body through the deep breathing exercises. Experiences such as this meditative one and others, including sutra copying, can be found in many different temples in the Koyasan area. It is the perfect place to spend invaluable time to enrich your five senses.
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A night tour of Okuno-in
Living the life of a pilgrim An experience that absolutely must not be missed during a trip to Koyasan is a stay at a temple or “shukubo”. Shukubo refers to lodging for pilgrims or visitors to a temple. These guesthouses were originally provided for monks, or pilgrims looking to cleanse their minds and bodies, however, the number of temples welcoming tourists in for stays continues to increase along with improved facilities, services, and access to temple culture experiences. In the past, there were 2000 temples in Koyasan. Currently there are 117 temples in the area with half of them offering temple lodging. My place of choice this time around was Jyofukuin. From the antique furnishings 42 │ jStyle issue 17
to the Buddhist cuisine and the tatami mat rooms, it had everything you would come to expect from a typical Japanese inn. My dinner of Buddhist cuisine was particularly lavish despite only using vegetarian ingredients such as grains, beans, and vegetables. Whilst you get to experience the history of Koyasan and Japanese culture first hand, you also get a peek into the life of a monk by participating in experiences such as the morning service of the chief priest reading the sutra. With the opportunity to immerse yourself in the sacred atmosphere, it is not hard to see why both domestic and international tourists continue to visit this area.
After my dinner at the shukubo I took part in a tour leading up to the Okuno-in mausoleum guided by a monk. For 2km from Ichi no hashi to the old approach you get to hear insights from a trainee monk about topics including, legendary Koyasan Kukai tales; moral Buddhist teachings; and what it’s like to be a monk in training. The night-time tour exposes you to a mysterious and solemn atmosphere that cannot be had during the daytime and also happens to be offered in English as well. The part of the tour that stood out to me in particular was the explanation surrounding the memorial towers known as “gorinto” (five ring pagoda) found all around Okuno-in. The universe is said to be made of 5 elements in the teachings of Shingon Buddhism – earth, water, fire, wind, and void; which are what the 5 rings of the gorinto are modelled on. Along with this fascinating tidbit, the trainee monk guide will also elaborate on stories about the garden lamps with their moon phase motifs; Sugatami-no-ido (Well of Reflections), as well as the resting places of various historical figures. If any of this happens to pique your interest or you are looking to learn more about Koyasan on a deeper level, then I highly recommend this tour (Awesome Tours: https://awesome-tours.jp/en).
Must see spots from Dai-mon to Danjo Garan & Kongobu-ji The next day I went exploring from Dai-mon to Danjo Garan and Kongobu-ji. Dai-mon is the main gate of Koyasan and stands at 25.1m tall with kongo warrior statues standing guard on either side of the two-storey structure. This is where the konpon dojo (central training centre) of Shingon Buddhism was established and leads to Danjo Garan – the heart of Koyasan. Together with Okuno-in, Danjo Garan forms the great sacred area of Koyasan with the eye-catchingly beautiful, scarlet Konpon Daito Pagoda standing proudly at 45.8m tall in the centre. The pagoda is surrounded by 4 Buddha statues and houses the “Dainichi Nyorai Mandala”. Depicted on the 16 pillars of the pagoda are the “16 Bodhisattvas” and the “8 Patriarchs” on the 4 corners, while the pagoda itself is a three-dimensional mandala. Seeing the intricate detail of this beautiful pagoda is sure to leave you speechless. There is also a plethora of other sights to see including: Kon-do (Hall), which was once known as the “lecture hall” and was used as the main hall during the midHeian period; the Mie-do (Hall), which is a unique pyramidshaped building synonymous with Danjo Garan, standing at 15m in height and width; and Sanko no Matsu in between the two amongst other various hot spots. Another unique structure is the beautiful hexagonal shaped Rokkaku Kyuzo or “hexagonal depository of the scriptures” that is fitted with handles on the podium and can be rotated. One rotation of the building is said to have the same virtue of one read through the complete Buddhist scriptures. The opportunity to rotate a historic building with your own hands is a unique experience that should not be passed up. To top it all off is Kongobu-ji – the main temple of Shingon Buddhism located near the centre of the mountain sanctuary. When Kukai founded Koyasan, the whole area itself was known as Kongobu-ji, however, from the Meiji period to the present the name only refers to the one temple. This area is bursting with sights to see from Japanese architecture, to beautiful fusuma paintings and sculptures filled with history.
Kudoyama & Jison-in After leaving Kongobu-ji I made tracks towards Jison-in over in Kudoyama. Kukai established the konpon dojo of Shingon Buddhism approximately 1,200 years ago when he was bestowed the land of Koyasan by Emperor Saga, however, it wasn’t until the 5th year of the Meiji period (1872) that the strict restrictions against women visiting the area were finally lifted. Although Koyasan is now a popular tourist destination and listed World Heritage Site, remnants of restricted era can still be found, such as the “Nyonin-do” halls (halls for women) built at the entrances to Koyasan for female worshippers to visit and pray at. Located at a 30 minute train ride from Koyasan towards Osaka, Jison-in was established by Kukai as a “nyonin-koya” or a place where women can freely gather to pray. It is said that Kukai’s own mother could not even visit him during the period when women were forbidden from Koyasan. This formed the origins of Kukai’s routine of walking down “Choishi-michi” (mile stone route) 9 times a month to visit his mother and is
said to be the roots of the name “Kudoyama” or literally, “9 time mountain”. Choishi-michi (mile stone route) owes its name to the guide stones placed at every cho (approximately 109m) to lead the way towards Koyasan. While Jison-in was the last place I decided to drop by on my trip, many travellers start their trip at Jison-in and make their way to to Dai-mon in Koyasan on foot by following the Choishi-michi. Jison-in sees many female visitors offering breast-shaped ema (votive tablet) at the temple to pray for good fortune in areas such as fertility, safe birth, child rearing, breast-feeding, and life partners due to its designation as a nyonin-koya. Prayers for recovery from breast cancer have particularly increased in recent years, leading to demand from women all over the country for the pink charms synonymous with breast cancer eradication. All of the many “breast ema” offered in exchange for prayers are handmade. The dearest prayers of women are written on these breast ema including prayers for the good health of their family, and hopes for their children to growth up healthy. If you happen to find yourself in Koyasan, make sure to drop by these historically-rich locations. Approximately 1,200 years have passed since Kukai opened up the Shingon Buddhist dojo, yet it still retains its beautiful surrounds and traditional culture. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities and hone in your 5 senses in the solemn atmosphere for an unforgettable experience.
Facebook: Visit Wakayama
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奈 良 AN AGELESS ERA BECKONS FROM THE OLD CAPITAL
Capturing the beauty from behind the lens Words and Photography: Kazuya Baba
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ara – the capital of Japan preceding Kyoto and Tokyo; the old capital once known as Heijo-kyo and a prosperous castle town. The city has a long history and is home to numerous works of art and well known temples dating back 1,300 years to the 8th century. With a particularly long history of various buildings and aspects of culture, the allure of Nara runs deep, and is truly beautiful. Kasuga-taisha (Kasuga Grand Shrine) is located on the eastern side of Nara Park in the heart of the city. This shrine was established almost 1,300 years ago in 768, and is famous for the approximately 3,000 hanging lanterns found within it. The famous “Daibutsu of Nara” is a statue of the Buddha Vairocana towering at a massive 15 metres tall in the Todai-ji temple. This temple has a long history as once being the largest wooden structure in the world. Deer can be found all around the city centred around Nara Park, where temples and shrines including Todai-ji, Kasuga-taisha, and Kofuku-ji are enshrined. The deer found in Nara are said to be messengers to the gods, and as such, are considered deities themselves. Regular deer sightings are a part of everyday life in this city. The sight of deer strutting around the town is a unique experience that can only be had in Nara. Nara is also home to the stronghold of the Yagyu Clan, who are said to be the strongest samurai family in Japan. The tense and beautiful samurai culture can only be experienced in the Yagyu hometown. This feature will showcase the beautiful and mysterious wonder of Nara’s long history in a photo gallery format.
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SAMURAI The strongest samurai clan capable of splitting a rock in half with one slash – Yagyu
神 社 仏 閣
SHRINES AND TEMPLES Sacred beings are enshrined in these old, beautiful, giant, yet delicate structures
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THE STREETS Divine deer strut around the streets lined with beautifully historical houses
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NARA Level2 Kousei Bldg, 5 Taruicho, Nara-Shi, Nara Japan TEL:0742-23-6780 https://www.fuji-kimono.jp/ KYOTO KIYOMIZU Level1 506 Jihouinanmachi, Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto Japan TEL:075-525-5688 https://www.fuji-kimono.jp/ KYOTO KARASUMGOJYO Level6 Karasumagojyo-Bldg, 290 Daigocho, Shimogyo-Ku, Kyoto-Shi, Kyoto Japan TEL:075-353-7793 https://tokotoko-kyoto.com/ 8452FUJI
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AUTUMN LEAVES The multi-coloured ever-changing art of autumn leaves are said to be the most beautiful in the world
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GEISHA These professional entertainers bring life to banquets through performances of traditional art
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FACE TO THE MAIN STATION IN NARA -hostel & gallery G is good606-67,sanjo-cho,nara,japan / e-mail:email@example.com / http://hostelgisgood.com
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KUSATSU NOW RESORT HOTEL The ultimate experience in the one of Japan’s hot spring heavens Nestled next to Nagano Prefecture, the home to renowned ski resorts such as Hakuba and Nozawa, is Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture. It is an onsen (hot springs) resort very much loved due to its prestige as one of the most renowned hot spring regions in Japan. Kusatsu Onsen Ski Resort is also located nearby and has a long history spanning over 100 years, as well as the privilege of being the first place in Japan to install ski lifts. The area is bustling with visitors flocking to enjoy both the hot springs and the awesome ski runs on offer. The history of Kusatsu Onsen dates back to
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1472 where it has been long loved by Japanese visitors throughout the years. In more recent times, the wondrous atmosphere of the place has seen whispers of interest gradually grow into excited chatter leading to an increase of international visitors. The huge hot spring fields (facilities that transport the thermal waters from the earth’s surface through wooden pipes, extract minerals from and regulate the hot springs) are symbolic to the town of Kusatsu. These hot spring fields are illuminated at night to create fantastical glimmers for everyone to enjoy.
Numerous restaurants, souvenir shops, and other establishments line the streets of Kusatsu, expanding radially from the hot spring fields located in the heart of the town. The popular tourist spot of Sainokawara Park can also be found in this area. A stroll around the heart of the river bank will leave you in awe with 1,400 litres of thermal waters bubbling all around the area every minute to create a hot spring river. Heading upwards and a 10 minute walk in the park is the Sainokawara Open-air Bath, which boasts a gigantic total area of 500 square metres of outdoor hot spring goodness. This is an absolute must-visit area. A cultural experience in Kusatsu that should not be missed is the yumomi shows. Yumomi is the act of slowly stirring the thermal waters with a wooden paddle to lower the temperature whilst also softening the waters, and has been carried out in Kusatsu since the Edo period. It is the perfect chance to see a glimpse of this fascinating traditional task. The aspect that puts Kusatsu a head above all of the other onsen regions is the rich quality of the hot springs. The minerals, which produce the sulphurous fragrance of the Kusatsu thermal waters, are said be highly beneficial to people with a range of ailments, such as skin and nerve problems. The quality of the thermal waters is so rich that the iron in the area is particularly prone to rust.
A HOP AND A STEP AWAY BY BUS FROM TOKYO TO THE HOTEL
Many resorts with long histories of Japanese tourists streaming through their doors, such as Kusatsu, have a tendency to be very Japanese in terms of culture and can sometimes be lacking when it comes to catering to visitors from overseas. Those looking to sweep away inconveniences from their long-awaited holiday need to also find accommodation to suit their needs. If you are a looking for a place to stay, particularly as an international guest, then look no further than Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel. Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel is an alpine establishment located on the base of a mountain 1,200 metres about sea level. It is
within walking distance of the centre of the town where the hot spring fields are, and it also offers highly convenient regular shuttle buses to and from the hotel. The resort also runs shuttle services to and from the ski slopes a minute’s drive away during the ski season. One of the main attractions of this resort hotel is, without a doubt, the hot spring facilities. The thermal waters of Kusatsu can be enjoyed to your heart’s content through the large open-air bath and indoor baths. There are also private baths that can be reserved for those who want to have a soak in the hot springs, but are uncomfortable with the idea of sitting naked together with complete strangers in the public baths. The variety of private open-air baths on offer are sure to please people from FURTHER INFORMATION
all walks of life, from the fragrant baths using traditional Japanese cypress, to baths made of Shigaraki wares. With rooms attached to each of the private baths, guests can kick back and relax with their family and friends. The hotel has a sports facility containing pools, table tennis equipment, tennis courts, and a mini golf course; as well as a fullyequipped relaxation facility with a beauty salon and even massage spas. Variety can also be found in the four different types of restaurants operating within the resort grounds. Those looking for a relaxing night in the resort hotel can choose from restaurants such as the international buffet, French, Japanese, or Chinese establishments. The hotel offers accommodation plans including dinner at one of the restaurants, as well as plans that only include breakfast for those who want to dine at night in the hot spring town. There is also a wide selection of rooms to choose from, such as standard Western-style and Japanese-style rooms, suiterooms and the newly introduced Forest-view bath-twin rooms, to suit various needs. While Kusatsu is a destination overflowing with charm, there is one hurdle which might possibly trip up some international tourists – the task of needing to transfer between trains and buses for those travelling from Tokyo. Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel recommends guests hop onto the direct bus from Tokyo to the hotel – the Spa Resort Liner. The trip from Tokyo to Kusatsu Onsen takes 3.5 hours and makes life a breeze by shuttling guests straight to the doorstep of the hotel without any meddlesome transfers. Drop by the website to check out the Spa Resort Liner and accommodation packages on offer. If you are mulling over where to go on your next trip to Japan, how about a visit to the Kusatsu Now Resort Hotel?
KUSATSU NOW RESORT HOTEL 750 Shirane, Kusatsu, Agatsuma, Gunma, 377-1711 No. of Rooms: 154; Accommodation Capacity: 528 people Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel Tel: +81 (0) 279 88 5111 Web: https://www.kusatsu-now.co.jp/
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TRAVEL Unique Hotels HENN-NA HOTEL
BECOME A MASTER’S APPRENTICE AT THIS HOTEL BED AND CRAFT is located in one of the most prominent wood carving towns in Japan and isn’t merely a place for weary travellers to rest. This hotel gives guests the opportunity to become apprentices to artisan wood carvers and lacquer artists by participating in one of the workshops. A quick trip into town reveals cafés and izakayas (Japanese pubs) to stop by, as well as other tourists, and locals to mingle with. Drop on by to experience a hotel that has taken over a whole region.
●Locations: Hennna Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay, Nishikasai, Ginza, Hamamatsucho, Asakusabashi, Haneda, Asakusa
BED AND CRAFT
MEMORIES MADE OF DREAMS “The receptionist is a robot?!” – Henn-na Hotel promises to continue changing with the times and is recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the first robot-staffed hotel” with its multi-lingual robot. The hotel offers a comfortable place to stay using various different types of the latest technology. You’re guaranteed to have an everchanging experience weighted around the time of your stay and your particular needs.
UNIQUE STYLES OF HOSPITALITY A collection of quirky hotels BED AND CRAFT ●Address: 1896-1 Inami, Nanto-shi, Toyama ●Web: www.bedandcraft.com ●Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a quite a few “interesting” hotels in Japan – from the good, old-fashioned traditional ones passed down through generations, to those with visions of the not-too-distant future racing ahead of the pack. Might I suggest you make your next trip to Japan all about staying at (and experiencing) these “unique” hotels?
THE PERFECT STAY
KEIO PLAZA HOTEL TOKYO ●Address: 2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo ●Web: www.keioplaza.com
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KEIO PLAZA HOTEL TOKYO
Electric reclining beds? Electric-powered chairs? Look no further than the “Universal Designed Room” offered by the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo, which aims to provide guests with “adjustability” and “adaptability” customisations to suit their needs. Other room types, such as the Japanesestyled tatami rooms, and “Luxury Fourth” rooms with 4 beds and 2 shower rooms, can also be found amongst a variety of others at this hotel.
THE FUTURE OF LODGING Do you want to stay somewhere homely? Play for work? Travel while you work? Do these modern lifestyles appeal to you? The work spaces, kitchen, and other common facilities that can be used 24 hours a day make up 20% of this hotel. Sleep is only a small portion of this whole experience. The true value in a stay at this hotel is in the lifestyle it offers.
THE MILLENNIALS KYOTO / THE MILLENNIALS SHIBUYA ●Address: [Kyoto] 235 Yamazakicho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyotoshi, Kyoto [Shibuya] 1-20-13 Jinnan, Shibuyaku, Tokyo ●Web: www.themillennials.jp/enhome
SLEEP IN A MASTERPIECE
BOOK A ROOM TO MEET GODZILLA
©TM & ©TOHO CO., LTD.
HOTEL GRACERY SHINJUKU HOTEL GRACERY SHINJUKU ●Address: 1-19-1, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo ●Web: shinjuku.gracery.com
There is only one hotel in the entire world where guests can get up close and personal with the one and only Godzilla – the HOTEL GRACERY SHINJUKU in Tokyo. This hotel features a “Godzilla Room” for a kaiju world experience, and another room with a Godzilla head poking outside. Zip over to Tokyo to see Godzilla for yourself!
A hotel where you can sleep in an artist’s creation. The concept behind the BnA HOTEL Koenji is “a hotel which incorporates the whole of Koenji with art rooms around the town” and the hotel is currently doing just that in a world first. The theme of the BnA STUDIO Akihabara is, “living with art, a next-generation Tokyo urban lifestyle”. Guests can stay in one of these rooms surrounded by the art of spirited artists.
BnA HOTEL KOENJI / BnA STUDIO AKIHABARA
BnA HOTEL KOENJI / BnA STUDIO AKIHABARA ●Address: [Koenji] 2-4-7 Koenjikita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo [Akihabara] 6-3-3 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo ●Web: www.bna-hotel.com ●Email: email@example.com
©TM & ©TOHO CO., LTD.
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THE BIRTH OF A LUXURY RESORT WITH TOTAL MOUNTAIN RUNS Words and Photography: Kazuya Baba
Lotte Arai Re 56 â”‚ jStyle issue 17
otte Arai Resort is a fully-serviced resort that was originally opened in 1993, trading under the name ARAI Mountain Spa. Located at the base of Mount Okenashi (next to Mount Myoko), it was known for allowing snow-sport lovers access to its huge powder-snow areas through lifts and gondolas – unprecedented at the time. Unfortunately, the waning popularity of skiing and deteriorating economic environment saw a number of ski areas and hotels close, rendering the resort to a fate of fodder for nostalgic tales of the past. As previously mentioned, ARAI’s greatest selling point was its huge, non-compacted snow courses, however, this also served to be its weakness as it offered few compacted-snow courses. The trend amongst Japanese skiers, at the time, was towards hard, compacted snow as they enjoyed carving turns. In other words, there were few skiers who enjoyed backcountry skiing, unlike now. I personally believe that ARAI was trying to hit a market that didn’t exist in Japan during that era. The resort was too ahead of its time. Nowadays, skiers from overseas, namely European, American and Australian skiers, flock to Japan for a taste of powder snow in quantities unmatched by any other country in the world. Similarly, the number of Japanese skiers looking to try out areas away from compacted snow continues to rise. In May 2017, ARAI was reborn under the major Korean-owned hotel brand Lotte as Lotte Arai Resort. As the trend continues to evolve, I have no doubt that Arai will now grow to become a renowned Japanese ski resort of luxury. Keep reading to find out more about the new and improved ski areas, activities and facilities on offer at Lotte Arai Resort!
One of few resorts in Japan with large non-compacted snow zones, a legendary ski area that makes backcountry lovers and powder-snow junkies tremble with excitement the day after heavy snowfall – Arai has returned. This was the biggest news on the Japanese ski scene last season.
THE BIGGEST NON-COMPACTED SKI SLOPE IN JAPAN
Arai is located next to Mount Myoko at the base of Mount Okenashi in one of the most prominent snow-rich regions in the world. There are many ways to access Lotte Arai Resort, for example: it is 8 kilometres or a 10 minute drive away from the Joshin-etsu Expressway Arai Interchange (Smart IC); a 30 minute free shuttle bus ride from Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) Joetsumyoko Station; or from internationally renowned Myoko Kogen, it is a 30 minute trip away as well. The ski area’s convenient location on the eastern slope of Mount Okenashi also happens to contribute to the slow-melting quality of the snow. To speed things up, take a quick look at the map to aid in familiarising yourself with the main features of the courses on offer. Pay particularly close attention to the purple areas. On a normal ski slope, these areas would be classified as off-piste, but at Arai they are free to be carved up. These areas are, of course, non-compacted so you will be able to enjoy
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top quality powder snow. One look at the map should give you an idea of how open and freeing the courses are. That’s not all. The map featured here was released when the resort reopened in December 2017. Since then, even more areas have been opened up for access. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to label this the largest non-compacted snow area in Japan. The 4 courses from the peak of the mountain can be approached by hiking up towards them from the lift station. Resort staff carry out checks on the slopes before they are open for hiking, meaning that opening times differ from day to day. Courses will be closed on days where conditions are too dangerous for access. Your best bet is to ask a member of staff stationed at the starting point about the day’s conditions. A WONDROUS STROLL IN THE SKY – JAPAN’S LONGEST ZIP-LINE
Of the numerous new attractions added to coincide with the reopening of the resort, the 58 │ jStyle issue 17
zip-line should not be missed. This zip-line of huge proportions sits at the mountain peak, stretching 1,501 metres in length from the mountain-top gondola station with a total elevation difference of approximately 240 metres. As of January 2018, it is the longest of its kind in all of Asia. It is extremely safe and utilises the same emergency escape mechanism found on NASA space shuttle launch pads. The first half of the ride is a thrilling, highspeed experience, followed by a more relaxed second half that allows you to enjoy the sights of Hokushinetsu Mountains around and the Takada Plains below. The included snapshots will give you a taste of how big it really is. Many visitors are prompted to book a ride on the zip-line during the ski season after catching a startling glimpse of someone flying above them. It is an attraction I highly recommend to anyone who happens to find themselves at the resort. The Zip Tour also includes 1 ride down the 192 metre long tubing slope, another thrilling experience for those with a need for speed.
THE HOTEL DEFINING THE EPITOME OF DECADENCE
One other aspect that draws visitors to Arai is the gorgeous hotel. The hotel features a total of 257 rooms, divided into 3 classes: Superior, Deluxe and Suite. It has been designed around the concept of mountain villas or retreats. The hotel is marketed as an upperclass establishment, meaning that even the Superior-class rooms are spacious and pristine. There is an air about this hotel that places it head and shoulders above your average hotel. The specially produced bedding has been particularly well received for its outstanding comfort. If you are after an even more luxurious
experience, how about giving the Deluxe or Suite rooms a shot? Headlines were made over the reopening of the resort for another reason – the drawing of hot spring waters. While the original resort had excellent spa facilities, it used heated water, rather than drawing from natural hot springs. With the revamp, steps were taken to dig up and locate hot spring sources. The efforts of the
resort paid off and it now boasts a large public onsen bath. The Myoko region is known for its hot springs, so it would a trip to the area would not be complete without an onsen experience. This is a great coup for would-be visitors. Inside of the resort is a wide range of other facilities including: a library café filled with a huge range of books, bouldering walls, a pool, gym, and even a spa to keep you on your toes. There are also a number of top quality restaurants and cafés scattered around. I was particularly impressed by the Italian restaurant, Arcobaleno. Dinner courses start at 13,000 yen per person and while you may not think this is a bargain, you’ll be reaching for your wallets when you see what dishes are on the menu. Selections include top quality char-grilled Wagyu beef, unique pasta dishes made with the finest local Niigata-sourced ingredients, and even soup. Every dish is made with the utmost care and is absolutely scrumptious. The restaurant is marketed as a fusion of modern and classic Italian cuisine, but I personally found it to be a fine dining experience of Japanese-inspired Italian fare. While it is perfectly fine to stay somewhere nearby and visit the ski slopes, I highly recommended you experience everything this first-class resort has to offer on your next trip to Lotte Arai Resort.
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Two-Day Photo Shoot in Aizu
MAKING THE MOST OF THE BEST POWDER SNOWS IN MAINLAND JAPAN Words and Photography: Kazuya Baba
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Now is the perfect chance to have this powder snow heaven all to yourself.
n February 2018, I went from the middle of summer in Sydney, to the middle of winter in Japan. My destination was the Aizu region of Fukushima Prefecture. Situated in the Tohoku region at the northernmost reaches of Japan’s main island, Aizu might conjure up images of being far away from the gateway to Japan that is the metropolis of Tokyo, but Fukushima Prefecture itself is the gateway to the Tohoku region as seen from Tokyo, and in a location that is both close and easy to access. The flight from Sydney to Haneda Airport arrives early in the morning, and you can get to Aizu itself by as early as 9:00 am that day via the bullet train. Not only easy to access, the inland position of Aizu means the humidity there is low, making for fluffy, excellent powder snows that
have earned the area a reputation as a hidden powder snow heaven among Japanese skiers. Something I should mention up front is the matter of radiation that might come to mind when the name Fukushima is mentioned. It is because of this concern that the number of people visiting Fukushima Prefecture has greatly declined in the time since the Great East Japan Earthquake, but the level of radiation is being closely monitored, and your safety is assured. Fukushima is also the third largest prefecture in Japan, and while Aizu might be in the same prefecture where the incident occurred, it is far away from the affected areas, so there is no need for concern. Since overseas skiers have yet to realise this, now is the perfect chance to have this powder snow heaven all to yourself. I decided to take a taxi from Haneda Airport
to Tokyo Station, instead of braving the potential difficulties of the standard railway lines, because of all the photographic gear and other luggage we had in addition to our skiing gear. The cost came to around 5,000 yen, but it’s a reasonable price if you’re travelling in a group. Changing over to the bullet train from Tokyo Station, we arrived in Koriyama City, the largest city in Fukushima Prefecture, in an hour and forty minutes. Changing back to the standard railway lines once again from there, we then travelled on to Inawashiro Station, the gateway to Aizu itself, and arrived at around 9:00 am. It was a strange sensation to leave Sydney not only the night before to find myself in a world of snow by 9:00 am the next morning, but this only served to reinforce the idea of how easy it is to get there. Aizu is home to 22 skiing areas all up, but with only two days to see the sights, we would need to head on to our next spot the following evening, this time by rental car. With a goal of visiting as many skiing spots across the country as possible in a few short weeks, such a tight schedule was impossible to avoid. At Inawashiro, we met up with snowboarder and guide Kei, an expert on the local area and one of the subjects for our photo shoot. With the help of Kei’s advice, we put together a plan that would allow us to make the most of our limited two-day schedule while getting the best possible shots. On the first day, it was Nekoma we decided upon as the place to enjoy some of the best and lightest powder in the area. jStyle issue 17 │ 61
The sheer size of this resort offers a great many places to enjoy.
NEKOMA, HIDDEN SKI RESORT WITH FIRST-RATE POWDER
It was a trip of thirty minutes from Inawashiro Station to Nekoma in Kei’s car. Here, we met up with another skier who would be a subject for us, and took the lifts right away to the tops of the mountains. Since Nekoma is situated deep in the very heart of the Aizu area, it takes a little longer to access, and the skiing area itself is not so large at 6 lifts in 62 │ jStyle issue 17
total, so it sees fewer skiers coming to visit. It would be no exaggeration to say the area is almost completely unknown overseas. The only visitors that come to this spot are locals who know it well already, and hardcore skiers from overseas who simply happened to hear something about it. Nekoma is said to have some of the highest quality snow in Aizu. The reason for this is because of the thick and frequent snowfalls it experiences, the northern-facing aspect that
THE MASSIVE SKIING AREA OF ALTS BANDAI
keeps the snow out of direct sunlight and makes it hard to melt, and the long period that fresh snows remain. While the quality of snow in other areas might gradually deteriorate, it is quite often that Nekoma alone remains fresh. The weather when we went was, again, snowy. Not the best conditions for taking photos, but the best possible conditions for fresh snow to continue building up while you’re hitting the slopes. The easy nature of the land makes Nekoma home to many readily enjoyable sidecountry
areas, and it is for this reason that it has earned the position of a much-loved spot among hardcore skiers. This was no exception, we took the best advantage of the sidecountry areas as possible, coming across natural jumps and tunnels created by the forms of fallen trees and taking shots of skiing and snowboarding side by side. The snows only grew heavier as the afternoon arrived, putting an end to our photographic endeavours in a matter of hours, but we were still able to get a number of good shots.
Still fresh from the excitement of Nekoma the day before, the next morning, Kei came to pick us up at the hotel where we were staying. That day, Kei was dressed in a bright yellow, newly acquired getup given the previous day’s difficulty in showing up on camera. Our destination for the day was the largest skiing area in all of Aizu, Alts Bandai, whose main attraction is the cat ski tour held only on weekends. Inaccessible via the lifts on weekdays, this tour allows a small number of people to access an area via snowmobile (cat) on the weekends. Getting to ski down this course where you can enjoy snows built up all through the week is quite the experience. While our schedule didn’t fall on a weekend this time, we were able to get some shots out in the sidecountry areas and skiing fields thanks to recommendations from our local expert, Kei. The sheer size of this resort offers a great many places to enjoy. We were able to get some great shots in addition to the ones we captured at Nekoma the day before, and I hope they convey a sense of the sheer potential of the snows that Aizu has on offer. Finishing up our two short, but full days of shooting, I took the wheel as we drove onwards. There are a great many wonderful skiing areas in Japan, but those that match the quality of Aizu are few and far between. In addition to the skiing resorts of Hokkaido and Nagano that are already popular among overseas skiers, why not add Aizu to the list of areas to visit this coming season? jStyle issue 17 │ 63
CULTURE Manhole 1. SAPPORO CITY, HOKKAIDO
Photography: Sapporo City
4. AKITA CITY, AKITA PREFECTURE This features the motif of Akita Kantou festival, the leading festival of Akita City and one of the three main festivals of the Tohoku region. In the festival, people use their skills and compete by trying to balance lanterns (which are regarded as bags of rice) on their hips and shoulders and praying to Inaho, the God of rice, for a good harvest.
The symbol of Sapporo, the Clock Tower along with the city tree, the lilac, feature along with imagery of salmon returning to the Toyohira River after maintenance work on the sewer system cleaned up the river.
The world of impossibly beautiful manhole covers
2. AOMORI CITY, AOMORI PREFECTURE
JAPAN’S PROUD STREET ART
The manholes depict the power and vitality of Japan’s leading fire festival known as the Aomori Nebuta festival, an important intangible cultural asset of the country. This is held every year from August 2nd to 7th.
Throughout all regions of Japan, there exists a wide range of meticulously designed manhole covers. It’s not just their beautiful appearance that is striking, this artform also tells stories about the setting of the local area in which they feature. In this special feature, we introduce 35 carefully selected manhole covers from Hokkaido through to Okinawa. When you next make your way to Japan, why not glance down at these street level works of art?
3. KAMAISHI CITY, IWATE PREFECTURE
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To assist with the rebuilding after the Great East Japan earthquake, the embassy of the Netherlands and copyright management company Dick Bruna Japan cooperated to open Miffy Café Kamaishi in 2015. This café is the main feature on the manhole covers.
5. HIGASHI MATSUSHIMA CITY, MIYAGI PREFECTURE
JAPAN’S PROUD STREET ART
9. GUNMA PREFECTURE In the background are 3 mountains of Gumna – Mt Akagi, Mt Haruna and Mt Myogi along with a figure of an ‘Ayu’ fish swimming in the Tone river. Around this, the cover is also decorated with an azalea flower, a Yamadori bird a black pine tree which are all symbols of the prefecture.
7. FUKUSHIMA CITY, FUKUSHIMA PREFECTURE
6 6. TENDO CITY, YAMAGATA PREFECTURE The crest of Tendo City is arranged in the centre and drawn around it is the city’s tree, a “momiji” (maple) and a shogi chess piece. The majority of Shogi pieces produced in Japan come from Tendo City.
The manhole cover commemorates 50 years since the start of the city’s treated water system. The Utsunomiya City water department mascot character ‘Waterworks’ features in the centre while the background is decorated with a design of the city's Icho tree (gingko biloba). Surrounding this are illustrations of some of the other famous products of the city which include gyoza, cocktails, jazz music and bicycles.
11. CHIBA CITY, CHIBA PREFECTURE The Chiba City logo is positioned in the middle and is surrounded by a large expanse of water and ripples along with the city tree, a zelkova and the city bird, a little tern. Arranged along the border is the city flower ‘ogahasu’ or large chestnut lotus, which is also a designated national treasure of Chiba Prefecture.
The manhole depicts an image of the ‘Jumping Silver Carp’ which can be seen in the Tone River that flows through Saitama Prefecture. This freshwater variety of carp swims upstream in the river between May and July to lay its eggs. In Kuki city in the northeastern part of the prefecture, you can see dozens of fish doing incredible jumps simultaneously.
The design features the Fukushima Waraji festival which takes place every year in August. The origin of the festival dates back to ancient times where people prayed for those who were on the road travelling and offered a large piece of straw to the shrine. In the festival, up to 100 men carry the straw which has a length of 12m, a thickness of 1.4 metres and weighs approximately 2 tonnes. 7
8. UTSUNOMIYA CITY, TOCHIGI PREFECTURE
10. SAITAMA PREFECTURE
The design features the city’s characters ‘Ito-kun’ and ‘Iina-chan’ surrounded by cherry blossom petals. The heart-shaped characters’ ears are there to express “a city where hearts meet” along with the desire for the city to have a nature-rich future.
12. YOKOHAMA CITY, KANAGAWA PREFECTURE The design was decided by a vote from the city’s inhabitants and the first manhole was installed in October 1997. The central image is the symbol of Yokohama, the ‘Bay Bridge’ and around this, the design features the steering wheel of a ship which represents the harbour and the future.
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13. NIIGATA CITY, NIIGATA PREFECTURE The manhole cover commemorates the 40th anniversary of the city’s treated water works. The symbol of Niigata City, the Bandai Bridge, is the main image and the area where the upper and lower parts of the bridge intersect feature the initial ‘N’ from the city’s name.
14. KAHOKU CITY, ISHIKAWA PREFECTURE The manhole cover features Kohoku City's mascot character ‘Nyantarou’. Kohoku’s leading philosopher, the great Kitarou Nishida, was a cat lover and the city’s sister city, Messkirch in Germany, also has a festival where cats are used. With these two factors in mind, the cat character of Nyantarou was born. 13
JAPAN’S PROUD STREET ART
15. KATSUYAMA CITY, FUKUI PREFECTURE Katsuyama City is known for producing the most dinosaur fossils in Japan and many scientifically important fossils have been discovered to date. The manhole design features the first fully reconstructed skeleton of the carnivorous dinosaur, the Fukui Raptor.
16. IIYAMA CITY, NAGANO CITY
17 17. NAKATSUGAWA CITY, GIFU PREFECTURE
Iiyama City in Nagano Prefecture, the birthplace of skiing, is an area with some of the heaviest snowfall in Japan. The manholes feature an image of children enjoying the days of skiing in the area on single skis along with a beech, the city tree. 16
Iga City is the birthplace of the Iga ninja. The manhole covers were created in order to spread the appeal of the Iga ninjas and feature three of them which are decorated with the city’s flower, the ‘sasayuri’, the city’s tree, the red pine and a pheasant, the city bird.
An extraordinary Ukiyo-e artist, Hiroshige Utagawa’s ‘Inside the 53rd stage of the inland sea road in Kusatsu’ work has been replicated on the manhole covers. It depicts the view of crossing the Kusatsu River as seen from the Edo side (the east side) in the late Edo period.
21. YAMATOKORIYAMA CITY, NARA PREFECTURE
18. NAGOYA CITY, AICHI PREFECTURE
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19 19. IGA CITY, MIE PREFECTURE
The motif is based on a ‘refined dance’ performed in the ‘Oiden festival’ which takes place every year on August 13th in Nakatsugawa City. The dance has its origins in praying for a good harvest or bountiful rain.
The manhole covers were created in 2012 to commemorate 100 years since the start of Nagoya’s public waste water system. The motif in the design is based on the ‘Naya bridge’ which crosses the Horikawa, the river which flows through the middle of downtown Nagoya.
20. KUSATSU CITY, SHIGA PREFECTURE
The image of a goldfish swimming vigorously in a gold fish bowl has been depicted as gold fish cultivation represents the main industry of Yamatokoriyama City. The design on these manholes has been used since 1989 to symbolise the beauty of the water environment.
22. KYOTO PREFECTURE
23. OSAKA CITY, OSAKA PREFECTURE
’Amanohashidate’ or ‘bridge in heaven’ is depicted. It is a special scenic spot and one of Japan’s three most famous views. Located in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, around 2 million people a year visit this area for sightseeing. The design also incorporates Kyoto’s famous bird ‘omizunagidori’ or ‘streaked shearwater’ along with the prefecture’s logo. 23 25. TOTTORI CITY, TOTTORI PREFECTURE The design features the umbrellas used in the Tottori ‘Shan Shan’ festival, Japan’s leading umbrella dance festival held in front of Tottori train station every year in the middle of August. In the festival, over 4,000 dancers with bells attached to their umbrellas dance together simultaneously.
26. OKAYAMA CITY, OKAYAMA PREFECTURE The manhole cover design is based on one of Japan’s most well-known fairytales, Momotaro. Okayama City is where the story and legend of Momotaro was born and to locals, it still exists today as a symbol of the city. 26
MANHOLE CARDS, THE MANHOLE COVER MOVEMENT SPREADING ACROSS JAPAN Throughout the country, the multitude of manhole cover designs is finding increasing appeal and the movement is gaining more attention by way of coverage in the press. ‘Manhole cards’ were created to be collected and as a wastewater PR mechanism in the form of a brochure. Volume one was first distributed in April 2016 and as of August 11th, 2018 when the 8th volume was published, there have been 418 different varieties from 364 local city councils. As of September 2018, around 2.3 million cards have been issued. Manhole cards are produced and issued by an organisation known as the “Waste Water Public Relationship Platform” (GKP) in cooperation with local governments. In conjunction with the private sector, education and research institutes, plus government agencies, activities are being developed to communicate the value of waste water with the goal of increasing the public’s understanding of it and boosting its overall presence. Until manhole cards were issued, there were many negative images regarding wastewater and it was commonly referred to as being ‘dirty’, 'smelly', and ‘unsanitary’. In order to change this imagery, the GKP came up with the idea of making these cards to deepen local residents’ understanding of waste water due to the fact that manhole covers are the public’s only familiar connection to these facilities.
Cards are all made using the same standard and no matter where you go across the country, you can obtain cards of a similar size and paper quality. The cards are distributed in waste water offices, tourist information centres and the counters of local ward offices in all municipalities where manholes covers have been installed. Cards are distributed free of charge, but as personal delivery of each card is the overriding principle, it’s necessary to make your way to one of the distribution points in order to collect the cards. Regarding the details of the card, the front of the card features a photo of the manhole, the coordinates of where the manhole has been installed and a pictogram design classification while on the back, the origin of the design is written. In addition, the classifications of city blocks, prefectures and pictograms have been devised with a serial number and written down. The reason behind including these features was to emphasise everything from a collector’s viewpoint. The cards have been designed so that collectors can collect them based on their own favourite designs and regions with the aim of making the whole process fun. Of course the manhole covers introduced on the cards are all in working use so it’s not only about collecting the cards; there are many enthusiastic collectors who like to visit their actual locations. Light is starting to shine on these local manhole covers as shown through the increasing appeal of manhole cards. If you’re interested in Japanese manhole covers, why not try starting a collection?
The design incorporates Osaka Castle, the cherry blossom which is the city’s flower and the flow of water. The model for the city’s current underground water system is based on the development of Osaka Castle as well as the surrounding castle town by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
24. WAKAYAMA CITY, WAKAYAMA PREFECTURE The design on the manhole covers is based on the traditional craft of 'kishu temari’ (woven hand balls). In the Edo period, it is said these balls were created so that the castle women could compete against one another in terms of their design and were especially loved by the princesses of Wakayama Castle. 24
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CULTURE Manhole 28
29. TAKAMATSU CITY, KAGAWA PREFECTURE
In the upper area of the design, the Onaruto Bridge connecting Naruto City in Shikoku and Awaji Island is depicted, and in the lower area, a picture proudly showing the Naruto whirlpools, the largest in the world, along with the Naruto strait which ships regularly pass through. The centre is decorated with the local region’s speciality, the nashi pear and next to that, a Naruto tai (sea beam) which is well known as being of very high quality.
27 27. YAMAGUCHI CITY, YAMAGUCHI PREFECTURE The manhole cover design features the SL ‘Yamaguchi route’. In August 1979, the Japanese state-owned railway (the current JR group) in a country first, brought the decommissioned steam locomotive on the Yamaguchi line back to life. The background is decorated with Yamaguchi City's designated national treasure, the ogoori cherry blossom.
28. NARUTO CITY, TOKUSHIMA PREFECTURE
The design features waves from the Pacfic Ocean’s Kurishio current, which flows off the coast of Kochi, along with migrating whales in Tosa Bay. The Nitari variety of whale, which has the highest chance of being seen, is also depicted.
30. MATSUYAMA CITY, EHIME PREFECTURE Loved by the people of Matsuyama City since ancient times, the city flower ‘tsubaki’ was chosen as the design. The flower is decorated on the periphery with an Iyo Kasuri bell pattern, one of Japan’s big three dyed fabric designs.
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Kohoku town’s image character is ‘Bikki’. ‘Bikki’ is the word for frog in the local Saga dialect and it has been given a belly button to symbolise the town’s location in the geographic centre of Saga along with it being a key transport hub.
JAPAN’S PROUD STREET ART
31. KOCHI CITY, KOCHI PREFECTURE
33. KOHOKU TOWN, SAGA PREFECTURE
In the battle of Yashima, one of the Genpei battles that occurred towards the end of the Heian period, a samurai on the Genji clan side brilliantly shot through a fan which had been raised on a ship belonging to the Taira clan. This ‘fan bullseye', which is a famous scene in ‘Heike Monogatari’ (the tale of Heike), is depicted on the manhole covers.
32. KURUME CITY, FUKUOKA PREFECTURE
34. NAGASAKI CITY, NAGASAKI PREFECTURE The Nagasaki manhole covers were designed to commemorate 100 years of the municipality and feature a motif of a hydrangea, the city flower. The Nagasaki Hydrangea festival is held every year from the end of May where the beginning of June and over 4,000 flowers adorn various parts of the city.
These manholes have been designed to show the Chikugo River, which flows from east to west through the city and is the longest in Kyushu, the wide expanses of the surrounding Tsukushi plain, the Minou mountain range in the south eastern part of the city, and the Kurume Azalea, the city flower.
35. CHATAN TOWN, OKINAWA PREFECTURE
Chatan’s first colour manhole was installed in January 2018. The town’s flower ‘Firishinka’ is depicted dancing while the town’s character ‘Chiitan’ is surfing.
motesando in Shibuya is one of the most well-renowned 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.
Café in Harajuku
All eyes on this café in Harajuku – the birthplace of “kawaii culture” Photography: Kazuya Baba
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 hand-picked 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.
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
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 firsthand 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 Sun – Thurs: 11am – 8pm (last orders at 7pm) Fri –Sat: 11am – 9pm (last orders at 8pm)
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CULTURE Cat Cafés
SOOTHE YOUR SOUL WITH
Drop by a Japanese cat café during your travels around the country A place to go where cats will soothe your soul? Well, sounds like you’re looking for a “neko café” (cat café). More and more places are popping up that allow you to pet and play with cats, whilst also letting you sit back with a cup of tea or coffee as you watch the cats strut on by. Some places also act as cat shelters seeking potential foster parents. This feature will give you a glimpse into the vast world of Japanese cat cafés. With your trusty copy of jStyle in one hand, go cat café hopping to experience the different types on offer.
Neko no Jikan
This spacious establishment houses 20 cats and is split up into a Japanese-styled tatami mat space and a café with a view of the park. The cats range from 3 to 11 years of age, each with their own unique personalities and love attention, making it easy for patrons to play with them. There are also 3 staff members
with experience as pet groomers, ensuring that the cats are well taken care of in the grooming and health department.
NEKO NO JIKAN ●Address: 5-16, Kurosaki-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka ●Web: www. nekonojikan.com ●Trading Hours: Mon 11AM - 7PM, Tue-Sat 11AM 9PM, Sun/Public Holidays 10AM - 7PM *Entry permitted for guests over 6 years of age
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Cat Shelter Seeking Foster Parents x Old Japanese-styled House Café – Cafe Gatto
CAFE GATTO ●Address: 526 Shinbaru, Koga-shi, Fukuoka ●Web: www.nekocafe-gatto.com ●Trading Hours: Tue/Wed/Fri 1PM - 6PM, Sat/Sun 12PM 6PM, Mon/Thu closed *Entry permitted for guests over 13 years of age
This cat café, styled as a shelter, does everything in its power to find forever homes for its homeless cats. This old Japanesestyled house, built 90 years ago, houses approximately 25 cats waiting to meet new friends. Visitors can play with the cats, or enjoy some homemade cakes at the café space (open on weekends only). There are a range of different cat accessories sold at this establishment with proceeds going towards the care of the shelter cats.
Cat Cafe Temari no Ouchi
Fancy spending your tea time in the “mysterious cat forest”? For a set fee you can spend as long as you like in this relaxing space, filled with cats, pulled straight out of a picture book, surrounded by little paw-shaped shrines and tiny doors. This café also offers over 100 homemade food and drink menu items, making every visit a treat.
Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, this café opened in 2008 as the first ever cat café in Yokohama. The cat room and café area are completely separated to keep the dining area spick and span. Over in the
50 square metre cat room there are usually 30 or so different cats to play with. This café currently has 5 other locations in Tokyo and Kanagawa and also assists with finding foster parents for cats without homes.
NEKO-CAFE LEON ●Address: 2F Sekiyama building, 1-3-2, Matsukage-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa ●Web: www.nekocafe-leon.com/shop-list/ leon ●Trading Hours: 11AM - 10PM (Open 365 days a year, no bookings required) *Children under 5 years of age require adult supervision
CAT CAFE TEMARI NO OUCHI ●Address: 2-13-14, Kichijojihoncho, Musashino-shi, Tokyo ●Web: www. temarinoouchi.com ●Trading Hours: 10AM - 9PM (Last orders at 8:30PM) *Entry permitted for guests over 10 years of age
Neko no Iru Kyuukeijo 299 Seventeen free-spirited cats call this café home, which places more of a focus on “relaxing with the cats” rather than “playing with the cats”. First-time cat café visitors can casually drop by this café with prices starting at 200 yen for 10 minutes. There are also drinks, free Wi-Fi, and electricity
Cat Cafe Monta outlets / chargers available for use. This is the perfect place to stop by for not only a cat café experience, but for a quick break during your travels.
NEKO NO IRU KYUUKEIJO 299 ●Address: 5F Kindai BLD. 10, 1-23-9, Higashiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo ●Web: www.nya-n.jp/299/index.html ●Trading Hours: 11AM - 10PM (open 7 days a week) *Entry permitted for guests over 13 years of age
Cafe Monta, located in Asakusa, Tokyo, is a stylish, high class café on a different level. The calm and relaxing space is filled with purebred cats such as Munchkins and Russian Blues for guests to play with. A selection of teas, coffee, and desserts are served here, so drop on by to sit back and relax. CAT CAFE MONTA ●Address: 8F Sateraitofuji building, 1-5-2, Hanakawado, Taito-ku, Tokyo ●Web: www.nekocafe-monta.jp ●Trading Hours: Mon, Wed-Sat 11AM - 9PM, Sun/Public Holidays 11AM - 8PM, Tue closed *Entry permitted for guests over 10 years of age
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JAPAN IN SYDNEY
EXPERIENCE JAPAN in SYDNEY You can learn about Japanese culture and language in Sydney and its surrounds. There are also many shops that stock an eye-boggling selection of Japanese goods, as well as Japanese-style hot spring ryokans. Experience a taste of Japan in Australia.
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The Japan Foundation, Sydney Bringing Japan to You INFORMATION Level 4, Central Park, 28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008 Tel: (02)8239-0055 Web: jpf.org.au
estled 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 of Central Park Mall, you are welcomed by friendly reception and library staff ready to assist. You are encouraged to explore the shelves of over 18,000 novels, manga, textbooks and multimedia, and can stay to relax or study with floor to ceiling views of Chippendale Green stretched down below. The library is now open regularly on Saturdays. Special events such as Japanese seasonal celebrations and storytelling for children make for culturally rich and enjoyable weekend outings for families and friends. (Check the library schedule: jpf.org.au/library) Down the hall, classrooms brim
JAPAN IN SYDNEY 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 Japanrelated works from traditional through to contemporary pieces. You can also satisfy your thirst for knowledge of all things Japanese by attending cultural workshops, lectures and public talk events held from time to time. 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: japanesefilmfestival.net) which showcases and immense variety of cinematic delights from 35 mm film classics, to newly released critically acclaimed titles. After celebrating their 40th anniversary in Australia and 30 years in Sydney in 2018, The Japan Foundation, Sydney will continue to bring Japan to you into the future.
JAPANESE LANGUAGE COURSES BEGINNER TO ADVANCED LEVEL DO YOU WANT TO: • SPEAK WITH LOCALS ON YOUR NEXT TRIP? • LEARN MORE ABOUT JAPANESE CULTURE? • ENJOY ANIME AND DRAMAS WITHOUT SUBTITLES?
COME AND JOIN US AT THE JAPAN FOUNDATION, SYDNEY.
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JAPAN IN SYDNEY
Gojyuan Experience Japanese “hospitality” through a variety of workshops
n Sydney sits a Japanese inn that looks almost as if it has been plucked straight out of Japan – Gojyuan. The Australian owner, Linda Evans, and her husband, Steve, renovated their whole house and opened the doors to their establishment in October 2013. What makes this inn particularly unique is that it doesn’t merely offer accommodation. Guests and visitors can learn and experience various different aspects of Japanese culture through the workshops offered there. Gojyuan has been offering Japanese-related workshops
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from 2 years before it started its operations as an accommodation facility. Linda continues her efforts to provide even more workshops purely out of her own fascination and passion. She hopes that many people come to experience the “showcase of hospitality” and learn about Japan through their visits to Gojyuan. This feature will focus on the particularly popular “food” related workshops of “tsukemono” (Japanese pickles), “shojin ryori” (Buddhist cuisine), and “wagashi” (Japanese sweets).
Tsukemono refers to the process of pickling various foodstuffs (mostly vegetables) in mediums such as salt or vinegar with the aim of preserving them for storage purposes. The instructor of the tsukemono workshop is Keiko Ikeda from the “Soramame Cooking School”.
The types of foodstuffs pickled in the workshop differ according to the seasons. After the instructor explains the different types of tsukemono such as asazuke, bettarazuke, lemon-zuke, and nukazuke, participants then get to try their hand at making their own asazuke and nukazuke. Participants get to take the container filled with the prepared creation home with them after the workshop. Next up in the workshop is the
preparing of the salted bran used for pickling, or “nukadoko”. Rice bran is mixed together with a brine to make the nuka before it is placed in a container. Vegetables such as carrots and celery are then placed into the nukadoko. A little bit of the nuka can then be taken home by the participants. After the workshop comes the tasting of the tsukemono with brown rice balls. The recipes and instructions are given to participants to take home.
Shojin ryori is a type of traditional Japanese cuisine made using only vegetarian ingredients such as rice, bean products (including tofu), seaweed, and mushrooms. The workshop, run by Sumi Saikawa, begins with explanations about various aspects of the cuisine such as the ideas behind shojin ryori. This is then followed up with an explanation of the types of tableware used and the proper way to set up a table. Rice, soup, tsukemono, 1 main dish, and 2 side dishes make up the 6 meal components that are provided in the workshop. Participants can look forward to different menu items to suit the time of the year the workshop happens to be held. Participants are all given a copy of the recipes. After Sumi explains all of the cooking tips, participants can choose which of the 3 dishes (main or one of the sides) they wish to make. Once the dishes have all been
prepared, they are laid out on the table for everyone to taste. WAGASHI
This workshop allows participants to try their hand at making nerikiri. Nerikiri is a type of wagashi that uses refined rice flour or glutinous rice flour to make the gyuhi (mochi dough) and white beans to make the sweet bean paste. The workshop starts with the instructor, Yukiko Hirano, explaining what nerikiri is before she makes the gyuhi and shiroan (sweet white bean paste). The nerikiri is made by combining the gyuhi and shiroan together. Participants wrap the red bean paste in the nerikiri, before red dye or matcha powder is mixed into some water and used to decorate the creation. The 3 essential shapes for wagashi making – the pink coloured cherry blossom petals, yellow chrysanthemum, and green leaves – are used to make the designs. The workshop finishes with students tasting their creations.
208 Darling Street Balmain NSW 2041 Tel: (02) 9810 3219
w w w.r yok angojy ua n.com
Authentic Ryokan Experience 8254GOJY
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JAPAN IN SYDNEY
s a country home to 7% of the world’s active volcanoes, Japan is also an onsen mecca. Many people spend much of their spare time traversing all of the onsens to be experienced in Japan due to the unique characteristics, locales, and water properties to be found all over the country. It would be safe to say that there are probably many jStyle readers who have experienced the joys of Japanese hot springs themselves first hand. Conversely, there may be some Japanese fanatics out there who are deploring the fact that there are few hot springs here in Australia. To the disappointed onsen appreciators out there – are you aware that there is an establishment just outside of Sydney that replicates the Japanese onsen ryokan experience? This inn is none other than the Japanese Bath House in the Blue Mountains (formerly “Sparadise” and “竜神湯” in Japanese). The Japanese Bath House is owned by a Japanese doctor who lives in Kyoto and was originally built to privately entertain his guests during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Following the Olympics, the owner opened up the hot spring inn to the public 3 days a week in order for
Australians to learn more about the onsen culture. The bath house continues to operate in this fashion to this day. There are a total of 7 baths with temperatures of 38 and 40 degrees Celsius to choose from, including the 3 open-air baths, a large indoor bath with a shower area, the cave bath, as well as a herbal steam bath filled with fragrant aromatics. The cave bath comes highly recommended for the unique and extremely relaxing experience on offer. There is nothing quite like a good soak in the thermal waters of a dimly lit cavern. The herbal steam bath is another luxurious experience of sitting back and taking in the calming fragrances wafting around in the moistened air. A dip in the hot springs dug out from 300 metres underground is said to be beneficial for arthritis and gout due to the rich calcium and iron concentration of the waters. The grounds of the establishment itself can be split up into 3 buildings – the main building housing the hot spring facilities, and the 2 accommodation facilities. Each of the accommodation buildings have their own unique style; the Cabin is, as the name suggests, a cabin-style building, whereas the Tudor House is a Tudor-style
Blue Mountains – Japanese Bath House An authentic Japanese hot spring inn just west of Sydney 76 │ jStyle issue 17
building with luxurious Japanese rooms nestled within it. Bathing suits must be worn for dips in the mixed public baths, however, for those looking for a more authentic Japanese experience, there are private bath rooms on offer that can be reserved for dips completely unrobed. The private bath rooms come complete with a beautifully woven bamboo sofa, 2 massage tables, and a cauldron-shaped bathtub. Wonderfully aromatic fragrances fill the air with the background melodies of healing music to soothe the soul as guests
can be treated to a 1 hour massage after a dip in bath in their private room. For a truly luxurious experience, the private bath rooms simply cannot be passed up. Within the bath house grounds is a restaurant serving Japanese cuisine with a gorgeous indoor stone garden inside of it. It is an absolute treat to feast upon the authentic Japanese cuisine dished up by the Japanese chef. The
Japanese Bath House also dabbles in tea growing, so there are a variety of different teas available for purchase as well. Relaxing with a herbal tea after a long soak in the thermal waters sure does hit the spot. The grounds of the Japanese Bath House are strictly alcohol free due to the risk of fainting after a soak in the hot springs. For those looking for a quick drink, the town of Lithgow is a short 10 to 15 minute drive away. Expansion of the bath house is on the cards at the moment, with construction of a cavern-styled bath inside of a garden maze lined up for the near future. Check out the Japanese Bath House’s official Facebook page to stay up to date with their latest posts.
Japanese Bath House – Blue Mountains Sparadise Escape from your busy lifestyle ... Come and indulge your senses
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JAPAN IN SYDNEY
EXPERIENCE THE TASTES OF JAPAN
Tokyo Mart For all your Japanese food and sake needs in Sydney
or 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 Japaneseoperated bakery. With over 20 types of dashi alone, a core ingredient in authentic Japanese cooking, you are sure to find what you need. Their Japanese staff are also on hand to answer questions.
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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Asahikawa Sapporo Niseko
Shin Chitose Airport
Travelling around Japan with ease
JAPAN'S MAJOR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS
Yamagata Niigata Noto
Kanazawa Komatsu Airport Hiroshima Airport
Fukushima Echigo-Yuzawa Nagano
Hakuba Takayama Mt. Fuji Gifu
Narita International Airport
The flight schedule is correct as of November 1, 2018 and is subject to change. ▪ANA: www.ana.co.jp/en/jp/international ▪JAL: www.jal.com/index.html ▪Jetstar: www.jetstar.com/au/en/home ▪Qantas Airways: www.qantas.com/au/en.html
Nanki-Shirahama Airport Kansai International Airport
Matsuyama Airport Kagoshima
Takamatsu Tokushima Kochi Beppu
JAPAN TO AUSTRALIA
AUSTRALIA TO JAPAN From
To Tokyo (Narita)
Cairns Osaka (KIX)
Tokyo (Narita) Airlines Jetstar
Flight No. Departure JQ25
Tokyo (Haneda) Sydney
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Brisbane Tokyo (Narita)
Gold Coast Sydney
Flight No. Departure
DOMESTIC FLIGHTS FROM TOKYO (BY JAL OR ANA) To
TRAVELLING TO TOKYO FROM THE AIRPORTS (NARITA AND HANEDA) FROM NARITA
Narita Airport has two key rail connections operating between central Tokyo Station and the Narita Airport Terminal 2 station. The Skyliner is the fastest option (44min / 2,470yen) for travel to Ueno. JR EAST’s Narita Express (N’EX) connects Narita Airport to Tokyo Station (51min / 3,020yen).
There are two types of trains connecting Haneda Airport to central Tokyo. The first of which is the Tokyo Monorail, which connects Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station (13min rapid service from the airport / 410yen per adult). The second involves taking a train on the Keikyu Line from Haneda Airport International Terminal Station to Shinagawa Station (approx. 20min / 410yen). Tokyo Station can be reached by a single trip on the JR Line from both Hamamatsucho and Shinagawa stations.
BUSES The Tokyo Shuttle is the cheapest way to get to Tokyo by bus, connecting Narita Airport to Tokyo Station (approx. 60min / 900yen). THE ACCESS NARITA also connects Narita Airport to Tokyo Station (approx. 60min / 1,000yen).
BUSES There is also the Airport Limousine Bus connecting Haneda Airport directly to Tokyo Station (approx. 40min / 930yen per adult *1,860yen early morning / late at night).
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REAL JAPANESE CRAFTSMANSHIP WITH HERITAGE DESIGN
Presage combines a Japanese aesthetic sense with traditional craftsmanship and Seiko’s mechanical watchmaking skills to produce an original collection that offers Japanese beauty, quality, and long-lasting performance. Inspiration for the unique mechanical watches of Presage is found in diverse areas, from culture to engineering craftsmanship, and from fine art to industrial art. Seiko seeks collaboration with craftsmen and women in different fields and integrates classic designs, artisans’ craftsmanship, and advanced technology to create a unique collection of fine mechanical watches. ISLAND BLUE
Fine mechanical watchmaking, from Japan
The new Presage Shippo Enamel limited editions feature a deep blue Shippo Enamel dial, which mirrors the colour of the ocean. Japan is an archipelago with a great affinity to the oceans across which ideas, industry, materials, culture, food and art, including Shippo Enamel, have travelled to its shores over the centuries. These outside influences and elements have been absorbed into Japanese culture and developed in a uniquely Japanese manner. Enamel craftsmanship is a perfect example of this, having arrived from across the ocean then evolving in a very special way. The glass is a dual-curved sapphire, and the tips of the minute and second hands are shaped by hand providing increased legibility. The beautifully engraved oscillating weight is clearly visible through the sapphire case back. The dial markings of both models, multi-hands 6R27 and automatic 6R15, are based on the 1895 Time Keeper. THE ART OF DELICATE DIALS
The Presage Shippo Enamel dial is made by Ando Cloisonné, a specialist manufacturer in Nagoya with over 100 years’ history. Manufacturing Shippo Enamel dials is a complex process requiring sophisticated techniques and experience. First, Ando craftsman Wataru Totani hand paints the surface of the dial with a special lead-free glaze specially developed for these watches to ensure that the dials comply with Seiko’s high ecological and safety standards. Careful skill is needed at this stage as the glaze is fragile and easily damaged. Next, the dial is fired at 800 degrees Celsius with fine adjustments being made based on each day’s temperature and humidity. Finally, the dial is polished to a thickness of 0.8mm, some ten times thinner than the Shippo enamel that is often used in jewellery such as brooches. THE BEAUTY OF ENAMEL, A JAPANESE TRADITION
The Presage collection includes several exquisite creations featuring enamel dials made in Japan. Enamel is an ideal material for watch dials as the beautiful rich whiteness, texture and smoothness remain unchanged through the years. Great skill is required for enamel preparation, temperature and humidity control and stage adjustments resulting in each dial being one of a kind with its own intrinsic beauty. 82 │ jStyle issue 17
・Approx. 850 offices in All of Japan ・One-way rentals Available ・Multilingual Navigation Sysytem (GPS) Available in English, Chinese, and Korean ・Fleet of new cars, not older than 3 years ・Wide Variety of Vehicles (TOYOTA, HONDA, NISSAN, SUBARU, MAZDA, SUZUKI, DAIHATSU, etc...) ・ETC card rental option
Search here for booking!
https:// www.nrgroup-global.com/en/ ※English/Chinese/Korean/Thai Available 8407NIPP
fine mechanical watchmaking, from japan.
Trimatic symbolises three Seiko inventions that ensure the highest levels of reliability and durability in its mechanical watches.
Published by NichigoPress, Japanese newspaper in Australia since 1977. In this magazine, You will find out a lot of tips that shows where to...
Published on Nov 1, 2018
Published by NichigoPress, Japanese newspaper in Australia since 1977. In this magazine, You will find out a lot of tips that shows where to...