Japan Australia Pages

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cherry Blossoms at Inaba Shrine Gifu

Inaba Jinja Shrine (伊奈波神社) is a Shinto shrine located at the foot of Mount Kinka in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture. The shrine is one of the three major Shinto shrines of Gifu City, and is the biggest and most famous. It is a popular spot for hatsumode (first shrine visit of the New Year) and Shichi-Go-San. The shrine has a history of over 1,900 years and was first built in the year 85 AD when Emperor Keiko dedicated the land for a shrine. The god Inishiki-Irihiko-no-Mikoto is enshrined and worshipped here. The shrine was moved to its present location by the samurai warlord, Saito Dosan in 1539. Saito Dosan is widely credited with creating Gifu City as we know it today, and has his own festival on the first Saturday of April, that honours his brave feats. I hope to blog about the festival in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Inaba Jinja Shrine in Gifu

Inaba Shrine is also a popular spot in spring for the cherry blossoms. The road leading up to the shrine (Inaba-dori) is lined on both sides by weeping cherry blossoms (shidare-zakura), which are spectacular and reach their full bloom just after the regular blossoms here in Gifu. There are also a lot of food vendors near the entrance of the shrine, selling all kinds of festival food including favourites like yakisoba and taiyaki around the time of the Dosan Festival..

Cherry Blossoms line Inaba-dori in Gifu

The main shrine torii gate is great spot for a photo or two and is very picturesque.

Inaba Jinja Shrine Main Torii Gate

Another shot of the torii gate with lanterns and cherry blossoms

Inaba Shrine is only a short bus ride from Gifu Station. Get off at Inaba-dori bus stop and the shrine is only a 5 minute walk.

Address: 1 Chome – 1 Inaba-dori, Gifu-shi, Gifu-ken 500-8043

Here are a few more pictures for you to enjoy

Another shot of the beautiful Inaba-dori Street

The approach to Inaba Jinja Shrine

Shidare-zakura Cherry Blossoms
More beautiful cherry blossoms
Inaba Jinja Shrine with Cherry Blossoms
A look back down Inaba-dori from Inaba Jinja Shrine

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Japan and China Friendship Garden Gifu

The Japan and China Friendship Garden (日中友好庭園) is located right across the road from Gifu Park (岐阜公園) in Gifu City. The garden was created to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the friendship and affiliation between Gifu City in Japan and Hangzhou in China. It was also created to further improve the sometimes fragile relationship between these two nations.

Inside the garden is a small version of the West Lake of Hangzhou and some interesting Chinese style architecture including a Hangzhou gate and a pair of guardian lions. The pond and garden has been created to reflect the scenery of the four seasons.

The Hangzhou gate and guardian lion

The garden is known as one of the best cherry blossom viewing spots in Gifu City and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. There are around 480 cherry trees around the garden, Gifu Park and surrounding area. At this time of the year in early April the garden is beautifully coloured with white, pink and red blossoms. It can be enjoyed during both the day and the evening/night. During the hanami season it is a popular spot for hanami parties and can be very crowded. It is a great spot for photos with the Chinese architecture blending in spectacular with the cherry blossoms.

Cherry Blossoms at the Japan and China Friendship Garden

The Hangzhou Pond with Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms close up and personal 

Cherry Blossoms and Lantern

Right next to the Japan and China Friendship Garden is Gokoku Shrine (護國神社). The Shinto shrine is located at the base of Mount Kinka and is dedicated to the residence of Gifu Prefecture, who have died in wars since the Meiji Restoration. The grounds of the shrine contain a very famous cherry tree called Ukai-zakura (鵜飼桜). The tree was planted over 100 years ago and is one of the first to bloom in the city. It was given the name “ukai-zakura” because its blossoms are said to predict the amount of ayu (sweet fish) caught during the upcoming cormorant fishing season (ukai) on the Nagara River in Gifu.

Cherry Blossoms at Gokoku Shrine in Gifu

The famous Ukai-zakura

A short walk from the Japan and China Friendship Garden is the banks of the famous Nagara River. This is yet another great spot for the cherry blossoms and a popular spot for hanami in spring. Crowds flock to this area to view the cherry blossoms both day and night.

Cherry Blossoms along the Nagara River

The Cherry Blossoms at full bloom with Nagara River in background

Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Gifu

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival 2014

JAFA’s Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival is the biggest Japan festival in Adelaide, South Australia with a 19-year history. The day is filled with Japan-related performances, exhibitions, activities, stalls and plenty of Japanese food.

The event has won a number of prestigious community awards including:

• 2013 WINNER - The City of West Torrens Community Event of the Year Award
• 2013 WINNER - The Australia Day Council of South Australia Community Event of the Year Award

Come along for a fun day for the whole family at this unique community event.

Event Information 

When:      Sunday, 4th May 2014 11 am to 4 pm
Where:    Cowandilla Primary School
Address:  21 Jenkins St, Cowandilla, SA, Australia
Cost:        $2 per person, $5 per family
Access:    Free parking is available
Other:      Come in a Japanese costume to add to the fun

Google Map

View Larger Map

Volunteers, stallholders, performers and display holders are needed. To apply or to find out more about the festival, visit the website below.

Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival Website

Here are some pictures from last year's event

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sausage vs The World

Today, I’d like to tell you a little about a new design company called Sausage vs. The World. The company based in Kobe, Japan consists of two Aussies and one Japanese. They focus on delivering quirky designs that you just simply fall in love with. After living in Japan for quite a few years they like to incorporate Japan’s charming and cute culture into their unique designs. Sausage isn't as cute as the standard Japanese character but is aware of this and exudes his own unique charm. The two Aussies haven’t forgotten their roots and also like to work a little Aussie charm of their own into the design as well with a big celebration of the absurd that us Aussies really like.

Here is a little more about the company.

The company originally started as a series of off the cuff doodles, which appeared online and quickly established a fan base. The first designs were original sausage shirts that proved to be really popular. The company launched with three original designs and have gained a lot of support from the ex-pat community here in Japan, especially in the Kansai region. They recently completed their first collaboration with a small independent pub in Osaka as a way of celebrating St Patrick’s Day.

I am already a big fan of their whimsical T-shirts and you can check them out for yourself at their website listed below.

Sausage vs The World

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Flavors of Spring in Japan

Spring is finally here in Japan and if you can’t tell, I’m very excited about it! It has been a long cold winter here in Japan and spring brings with it the promise of warmer weather and the beautiful cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms usually make their appearance here in Gifu in late March and early April. You can read my post about the must see Cherry Blossom Spots in Gifu.

This time of year also sees a lot of interesting and delicious spring or cherry blossom inspired food and drinks in Japan. A few of my favourites so far have been:

Sakura Cream Doughnut from Krispy Kreme 

The Sakura Cream Doughnut from Krispy Kreme Japan featured Sakura (Cherry Blossom) icing with Sakura cream inside the doughnut.

Sakura Cream Doughnut

Haagen Dazs Sakura Ice Cream 

Haagen Dazs Sakura Ice Cream was released to celebrate Haagen Dazs’s 30th anniversary in Japan. It was really tasty and featured powdered cherry blossom petals with the ice cream topped with a sour cherry sauce.

Haagen-Dazs Sakura Ice Cream

Starbucks Sakura White Chocolate Latte 

Starbucks Sakura White Chocolate Latte made its comeback in early spring. This favourite of Japan Australia’s features white chocolate and includes real sakura petals and leaves. This year it also came with a strawberry flavoured topping along with pink strawberry infused whipped cream.

Starbucks Sakura White Chocolate Latte

McDonald’s Sakura Teritama Burger 

The Sakura Teritama Burger also affectionately known as the “Cherry Blossom Burger” was a cherry blossom version of the popular spring seasonal burger the “Teritama”. The new burger featured a fried egg, ginger teriyaki pork patty, lettuce, and sakura daikon radish mayonnaise sauce, all inside pink cherry blossom buns.

Sakura Teritama Burger

Sakura & Sakuranbo Chuhi 

The Sakura & Sakuranbo (Cherry) Chuhi is a favourite spring drink here at Japan Australia. Chuhi is a popular acholohic drink in Japan made from shochu and carbonated water. This one is flavoured with Sakura (Cherry Blossom) and Sakuranbo (Cherry).

Sakura and Sakuranbo Chuhi

Haru Ichigo Chuhi 

Another spring favourite Chuhi that features Haru or Spring Ichigo (Strawberry).

Haru Ichigo Chuhi

Do you have a favourite Spring seasonal food or drink in Japan?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Gifu

We are lucky here in Gifu to have so many great spots for viewing the beautiful cherry blossoms. This year they are expected to start blooming close to their average schedule with the estimated start date of around March 25 in Gifu. The peak is estimated for around April 3-10.

A popular past-time during the sakura or cherry blossom season in Japan is “hanami”. Hanami (花見) literally means “flower viewing” and cherry blossom viewing is a traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms.

Below are some of my favourite spots for cherry blossom viewing in Gifu.

Sunomata Castle 

Sunomata Castle (墨俣城) is located just outside of Ogaki City in Gifu Prefecture on the banks of the Sai and Nagara Rivers. The area features around 1000 cherry trees. The castle is a modern-day reconstruction based on that of nearby Ogaki Castle rather than the famous original, which according to legend is said to have been built in one night. The castle is sometimes also called Ichiya-jo (一夜城) or “one-night castle”. The area around the castle is illuminated at night and is very spectacular.

Best time to visit is from late March to early April.

Cherry Blossoms at Sunomata Castle

Food Vendors at Sunomata Castle

Shinsakai River

The Shinsakai River is located in Kagamigahara City near Shimin Koen Park. This is one of the best spots in Gifu Prefecture and features in Japan's top 100 Best Sakura locations. The banks of the river have around 1200 cherry trees and there are many food vendors making this a fantastic hanami location. I recommend a visit during the early evening to soak up the amazing atmosphere of this place.

Best time to visit is from late March to early April.

Cherry Blossoms along the Shinsakai River in Kagamigahara City

Cherry Blossoms in Kagamigahara City

Gifu Park 

Gifu Park (岐阜公園) is located in Gifu City at the foot of Mount Kinka and Gifu Castle. The park and surrounding area features around 480 cherry trees. The Japan-China Friendship Garden right next to Gifu Park is the best spot and is a popular hanami location during the sakura season. Gifu Park is regarded as one of the best spots for cherry blossom viewing in Gifu City. This spot can be enjoyed during both the daytime and the evening/night.

Best time to visit is from late March to early April.

Cherry Blossoms at the Japan-China Friendship Garden 

Cherry Blossoms at Gifu Park

Usuzumi Zakura 

Usuzumi Zakura is located in Neo Village in Motosu City, Gifu Prefecture. Usuzumi Zakura is one of the oldest cherry trees in Japan at over 1,500 years old, and is considered to be one of Japan's Three Great Cherry Blossom Trees. The tree has been officialy designated a National Nature Treasure of Japan. This unique cherry blossom tree initially sprouts pale pink flowers, which become white in full bloom. Usuzumi Park features around 50 cherry trees.

Best time to visit is from early April to late April.

Usuzumi Zakura is one of Japan's Three Great Cherry Blossom Trees

Take a look at the Cherry Blossom Forecast 2014 from Japan Travel Advice

Where are you planning to see the Cherry Blossoms this year?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sakura Teritama Burger

The Sakura Teritama Burger also affectionately known as the “Cherry Blossom Burger” is just about to hit McDonald’s Japan stores across the country. Spring in Japan is the time for the beautiful Sakura or Cherry Blossoms, which usually start to bloom in late March in Central Japan. This time of the year also sees lots of spring or cherry blossom inspired food and drinks in Japan. One of my favorites so far has been the tasty Sakura Cherry Blossom Ice Cream from Haagen Dazs. To fit in with the season, McDonald’s Japan will release a spring inspired burger complete with sakura pink-colored buns and a sakura mayonnaise sauce.

The new burger is called the “Sakura Teritama Burger” and takes its cue from the popular seasonal burger in Japan, the “Teritama”, which is short for Teriyaki Tamago. The new burger which is a cherry blossom version features a fried egg, ginger teriyaki pork patty, lettuce and sakura daikon radish mayonnaise sauce, all inside pink buns!

Sakura Teritama ~ Cherry Blossom Burger

The Sakura Teritama Burger will go on sale across Japan on March 21 and will be available for a limited time of only three days. The regular Teritama Burger is currently on the menu and will be available until mid-April.

McDonald’s Japan is also selling a Sakura Cherry Float and has decorated their stores with cherry blossoms. Get a little taste of spring now at your local McDonald’s in Japan.

Sakura Cherry Float

Take a look at my video on the Sakura Teritama Burger below

McDonald’s Japan Website

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