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Luxury Travel JAPAN
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Experience true appeal and inspiration of Jpan
Experience true appeal and inspiration of Jpan

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EDAMAME
After the rainy season, hot and humid summer will come to Japan.
Rooftop beer gardens are open during summer period in cities and you can see a bowl of Edamame on every table as most popular food which goes best with beer in Japan’s summer.
 
Edamame was born in China 4000 years ago.
Edamame has been so common to me that I had never thought about Edamame’s benefit until Edamame became very popular in Western countries. I learnt Edamame was wonderful food and had a lot of benefits including vitamin B1 which promotes the alcohol metabolism and choline which improves the function of liver so that it is effective in preventing hangovers.
 
In addition to it, edamame helps gastrointestinal activity and fatigue recovery, so it is good for summer weariness. Edamame was already eaten in Nara period (710-714) in Japan as a nutritional support for summer. That means Ancient people already knew about the benefits of Edamame. I am really amazed at and respect ancestors for their wisdom.


Edamame is good for diet as Choline in Edamame increase fat burning and Lecithin in Edamame ease the removal of extra fat. Vegetable Fiber cures constipation and Saponin in Edamame blocks the absorption of fat.
 
I would like to introduce Edamame as effective means of dieting.

・Eat only Edamame at one of the three meal a day
・Include Edamame in your diet.
・Reduce amount of food eaten intake by eating Edamame before meals.
・Eat Edamame for a snack instead of high calorie snack.
 
If you are interested in, try it!
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YAKITORI
There is a butcher in the town I live and the owner of the shop grills chicken and makes Yakitori in front of the shop every day. The cloud of aromatic smoke waft off the grill is so good that I can’t resist buying some, whenever I pass by the shop. My favorites are “Negima (chicken and leek)” “Liver” “Hatsu (heart)”.
 
It is said that yakitori stall was born in the middle of Meiji period (1898-1912). It is also said that “Choya” which sparrows were purchased as feed for the falcons started Yakitori shop since there are too many sparrows.
The broiler chicken started to be raised throughout Japan in 1950’s and the price of the chicken became lower and popularization of Yakitori began.
 
From that time, one or two small Yakitori shop opened at every train station for after work businessmen stopping by. Usually, Yakitori shop themselves are far from fancy…often they consist of just a few stools pushed against a counter.
 
You can also find top-rate yakitori shops serve jidori which are heirloom native breeds of chicken or hybrids with at least fifty percent of their DNA from native breeds. Jidori birds are usually local to a particular part of Japan, and they're generally raised in free-range conditions, so the meat is more flavorful.
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OMIYA BONSAI VILLAGE TOUR
 
My father has been doing Bonsai for over 30 years. He also stared to do the pottery just after the Bonsai to make the pots for his Bonsai. After the retirement, he spends time in his garden almost all day long to look after his plants.
About 20 years ago I was with my family in a souvenir shop in Venice, Italy. A shop owner came to me and asked about “Akadama”. I had a no idea about Akadama. I asked my father if he knew about and he said “Oh, wow !” as he was amazed to hear this word in Venice and then explained to me that Akadama was the soil for Bonsai specially pine trees etc. The owner did some questions about his Bonsai to my father enthusiastically. I thought “how international Bonsai became” looking over my father and Italian man speaking about Bonsai.
 
Are you interested in Bonsai? If so, you must visit the famous Bonsai Village in Omiya, Saitama Prefecture. (Travel Time: 30 min from Tokyo by bullet train)
Omiya Bonsai Village was established in 1925.
A group of professional bonsai gardeners from Tokyo immigrated to this land after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, in search of spacious land, fresh air and suitable for making bonsai.
 
Upon its founding, the village had four residence requirements:
1. Possession of 10 or more bonsai
2. Agreeing to open their gardens to the public
3. No two-story houses
4. The use of hedges as live fencing
The calm scenery of Omiya Bonsai Village has been preserved since the time it was established.
 
Visit the Bonsai Gardens in the Village
There are various kinds of plants in the gardens, such as coniferous trees, deciduous trees and accessory plants, which are used for bonsai.
Different bonsai are created through the skillful work and the aesthetic sense of the bonsai master engaged in the creation of those bonsai. There are five bonsai gardens in Omiya Bonsai Village, and you can enjoy various bonsai created based on each owner’s feelings.
 
Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
An excellent addition to the village in 2010 was the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, which educates visitors about the various aspects of bonsai. English audio guides and well written English descriptions explain clearly how to appreciate the art form and highlight key points to take note of. The museum also exhibits the various styles of bonsai and accompanying elements such as pots and stones. It will also entail the systematic collection and publishing of documents related to the history and folklore of Bonsai.
Omiya Bonsai Festival
The Omiya Bonsai Festival is held on May 3-5 every year, when it bustles with the many bonsai lovers who gather there from throughout the country. It is also visited by many bonsai lovers from overseas as the worldwide mecca of bonsai.
 
The Bonsai Convention April (Thu) 27 – 30 (Sun) 2017
The 1st World Bonsai Convention was held in Saitama City, Omiya in April 1989. At those time, international Bonsai convention had been held enthusiastically, but it was first that opened in far eastern and also called on the world to participate. The number of 1200 audiences (700 from overseas) that participated in the convention was the largest ever. The convention is held once every four years, and it has taken on a role spread of bonsai culture and international exchange.
 
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NIGIRI × MAKI × INARI
NIGIRI
Sushi is a Japanese food consisting of cooked rice with vinegar (su-meshi) combined with other ingredients (neta), seafood, such as eel, tuna, shad, haddock, shrimp or octopus and vegetables. Ingredients and forms of sushi presentation vary widely, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is rice (also referred to as shari).
Nigiri-zushi is prepared using two main ingredients, fresh fish and sushi rice (su-meshi). The su-meshi is formed into a small clump by using the hands. The fish is then sliced and pressed on the rice. Depending on the type of fish used on the sushi, it may be served in slices of raw, fried or grilled fish. Since the fish will be served raw and will be on display, the cooks have to select the highest quality fish. This is to ensure that the sushi is healthy and aesthetically pleasing.
 
Originally, sushi was supposed to be eaten with a hand. It is still acceptable to use your hand while eating it. Since you are supposed to dip a piece of the fish in the soy sauce, it would be difficult to achieve with the chopsticks.
 
MAKI (maki-zushi or nori-maki)
Maki-zushi refers to the fact that the sushi is rolled, where "maki", means "to roll". Japanese sushi roll filled with various fillings. Maki-zushi is also referred to "nori-maki", because the su-meshi and fillings are all wrapped up in a sheet of dried seaweed "nori". Maki-zushi can also refer to larger or fatter sushi rolls, such as futomaki and on the other hand, thin sushi rolls are referred to as "hosomaki".
Some classic and popular versions of thin maki-zushi sushi include: Tekka-maki (raw tuna sashimi rolls) Kappa-maki (cucumber rolls) Shinko-maki (takuan, yellow pickled daikon rolls).
INARI (inari-zushi or o-inari-san)
When you visit shrines, you will often see fox statues there. The fox is the messenger of the Goddess of Cereals and Farm Products, Uga-no-Mitama-no-Kami. The shrines which are dedicated to the Goddess, all have the fox as a messenger. We call the shrine O-inari-San shrine. The biggest and oldest one is the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. It was built in 711. Vermilion is the color most commonly found at the O-Inari-San shrines. It is one of the oldest colors in Japan, and the Torii, at all the shrines, will usually be vermilion.
 
The fox is very fond of fried tofu, and a common type of sushi, made with sushi rice wrapped up in fried tofu, is called Inari. Fried tofu is often given to the shrine as a food offering. The flavor of inari-zushi is essentially the flavor of the sushi rice, although this version includes sesame seeds and others also include vegetables such as carrots with the rice.
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KAKIGORI
Kakigori is a Japanese summer sweet made of shaved ice, served with various syrups, and sometimes with assorted toppings which was already existed in 11 century.
The traditional way of making Kakigori uses a hand cranked machine to spin a block of ice over an ice shaving blade. Even though electric ice shavers are most often used, street vendors can still be seen hand-shaving ice blocks in the summer.
 
When I was a child about 40 years ago, Japanese family privately own this simple "Kakigori" machine to enjoy at homes. However since then I hadn’t had Kakigori for a long long time until Kakigori made a strong comeback recently.
Kakigori shops have started popping up all over Japan. Especially in Tokyo you can see attracting queues for Kakigori laughably. As Kakigori is also becoming a year-round treat.
Popular flavors of Kakigori include mango, orange, strawberry, cherry, lemon, green tea, grape, melon, "Blue Hawaii," sweet plum, and colorless syrup. Some shops provide colorful varieties by using two or more different syrups.
Especially, many people love "Uji-Kintoki". It comes with sweetened green tea syrup and assorted Azuki (red beans), sometimes accompanied by white Mochi (rice cake) balls. Uji is a famous town for top quality green tea production, and Kintoki is a byname of Azuki.
"Kakigori" will definitely give you coolness to overcome the hot and humid Japanese summer! Look for a sign that says 「氷」(Ice) just outside of the shops, cafés or restaurants!
 
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HOW TO ENJOY IMPERIAL PALACE IN TOKYO
KOKYO RUN!
Kokyo is Imperial Palace in Japanese and we call Kokyo-running to jog around the palace. Kokyo is a nice place to stroll around, however, Kokyo is also popular and attracts a wide range of joggers. I have jogged around Koyo many times. There are 3 reasons why I want to suggest jogging around Imperial palace.

 
1. It is just 5 km around the palace with no vehicles or with no traffic lights at all, so it is safe and easy to know how long you are jogging.

2. Adding to it, there are 3 police boxes around the route and police officers are coming around, so, it is quite safe to jog in the night.

3. But not only these reasons but also the scenery around the Palace is beautiful and you can enjoy flowers and trees every season.

 
There are too many joggers on weekend, so probably it would be better to avoid on Saturdays, Sundays and Japanese national holidays. It is the best place to run in the city.

 
PALACE CYCLING
Every Sunday (Closed on rainy days, and days when special events are held.), 150 free bicycles are provided for use along about 3 km model cycling course between Iwaida Bridge and Hirakawa Gate. It is a great Sunday activity for you to ride halfway around the Palace Surrounded by castle moats and 2000 pine trees. The course is free of motorized vehicle on Sundays.
 

There are Japanese style bicycle, which you can ride on kids who cannot ride bicycle themselves.

Fee: Free of Charge.

The reception desk: Beside the police box near Exit 2 of Nijubashi Station on the Chiyoda Line Subway

 
KOKYO HIGASHI GYOEN GARDEN (IMPERIAL PALACE EAST GARDEN)

Imperial Palace East Garden is a beautiful garden where you can walk and enjoy nature which was opened to the public in 1968. Formerly it was a part of the grounds of Edo Castle. The castle does not exist anymore, however, you can see it was there since the ruin of the old Edo Castle including the moats, walls, entrance gates and several guardhouses are remaining. This is a real hidden gem in heart of Tokyo. Bringing your Obento for your lunch would be nice. It is closed on Mondays and Fridays.
 

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
The National Museum of Modern Art isn’t a particularly large collection but tiny, boutique and the pieces are great quality. You will no doubt visit it if you are an art lover. This is located on right across the street from the Imperial Palace.


You can also enjoy a very fine lunch in the restaurant on the second floor providing contemporary cuisine. There is also café so you can take a break anytime.

 
The museum is closed on Mondays.
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ARITA
Arita is internationally known as a town of porcelain, Arita porcelain, located in the southern part of Saga prefecture in Kyushu. A potter from Korea, Re Sampei discovered a fine-quality white porcelain mineral in Mt. Arita-Izumi 400 years ago and began produced porcelain for the first time in Japan.
 
Every year, Arita holds a town wide ceramics fair for one week from end of April to beginning of May. Stores throughout the town sell ceramics during the fair and more than 850,000 people visit the small town. Products range from rice bowls priced at \100 a piece to painted plates that cost tens of thousands of yen. The best part about visiting the fair is bargaining with the vendors. In Japan when buying products at places like department stores, customers normally pay what is marked on the price tag. At the fair, though, most customers ask vendors for a discount and buy a product only when the price has come down to an agreeable level.
 
I remember first time I visited the fair with my mother and sister 20 years ago. We looked around hundreds of products from one store to another with fascination. I felt myself becoming a little more discerning after looking so many of them.
 
Not only during the ceramics fair, but also you can enjoy Arita through the year.
The Arita Ceramic Art Museum in town has exquisite pottery and porcelain pieces. You can also experience making your own special ceramic dish or piece of art, painting your own design on a plate, cup or bowl and create a unique piece of art, visiting potteries and seeing superior techniques by expert craftsman and their careful work with your own eyes, and visiting porcelain studio for shopping.
 
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AIRPORT JAPAN
Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands. The four largest islands, accounting for 97% of the land area, are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku.
 
To ensure that the country in well-connected within and with the world, Japan has 110 airports and 22 heliports, of these, 4 major international airports.
 
Narita International Airport (NRT) and Tokyo (Haneda) International Airport (HND) are the two major airports in Tokyo region while Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka (Itami) International Airport (ITM) are other two important airports serving the Osaka region of Japan. Especially, Tokyo’s Narita and Osaka’s Kansai airports are the two main international airports of Japan.
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HIROSHIMA
Hiroshima is located Chugoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It is best known as first city in history to be targeted by a nuclear weapon and an atomic bomb was dropped on at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, near the end of World War II.
 
The area around Hiroshima was formerly divided into Bingo Province and Aki Province. This location has been a center of trade and culture since the beginning of Japan’s recorded history. Hiroshima is a traditional center of the Chugoku region.
 
Hiroshima is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, The Atomic Dome and the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima, famed for filling with water and appearing to float during high tide.
 
Hiroshima’s local cuisine:
 
Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki (Pancakes but not sweet)
Don’t leave Hiroshima without having Hiroshima Okonomiyaki. The difference of Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki from regular types Okonomiyaki is including fried noodle inside. It is said that there are more than 2,000 Okonomiyaki restaurants in Hiroshima. The specialty is prepared by spreading a mixture of flour and water onto a griddle. Bean sprouts, sliced cabbage, meat, egg, and noodles are added to the thin pancake.
 
Oysters
Taking up 70 percent of Japan's share, Hiroshima is famous for its oysters. Marinated in vinegar and soy sauce, cooked in a pot, deep fried, grilled or fresh out of the shell, the so-called Milk of the Seas is enjoyed in many different ways.
 
Onomichi Ramen
Onomichi Ramen origins in Onomichi-city, is famous of soup with soy sauce and back fat of pork. Around the Hiroshima-city, Hiroshima style Tsukemen is loved by Hiroshima citizen. Tsukemen is cold noodle served with boiled cabbage, boiled egg, some other boiled vegetables and also is served with spicy hot soup which is made of hot pepper, chili oil and sesame. There are also some other ramen restaurants that serve ramen cooked with seafood soup, made of small dried young sardines, dried bonito and soup stock made from kombu.
 
There are famous festivals and events:
 
The Kangensai Festival held in 1st August in Itsukushima shrine.
The festival originating during the Heian period (794-1185) is the largest annual festival observed at Itsukushima Shrine and one of Japan’s three major boat rituals.
 
Miyajima Under-water Firework Festival is held on August, 14,
 
Saijo Sake Festival in October
Saijo district is famous as a leading sake brewing town, and the area around JR Saijo station is lined with many old and well-established breweries. You are free to walk around from brewery to brewery sampling various types of sake at each one.
 
The festival features a Shinto ritual ceremony, which is performed in the center of the festival grounds to celebrate the bounty of that year’s batch of sake. Not limited to famous Hiroshima brands, the Japanese sake sampling also includes well-known regional brands from all over Japan, tempting visitors to try this one and that one and then the next one.
 
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