Japan Australia Pages

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Starbucks Japan Cherry Blossom Drinks 2019

Starbucks Japan Cherry Blossom Drinks 2019
Starbucks Japan have just released news of their 2019 limited-edition sakura cherry blossom drinks. This is news that we at Japan Australia look forward to every year as it is a sure tell sign that spring is on its way. The Japan only sakura drinks not only always taste great, but are a great prelude to the upcoming cherry blossom season in Japan.

You can follow all the latest news and updates about the cherry blossom forecast by following Japan Travel Advice, who recently published their annual 2019 Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Forecast for Japan. Check it out and start planning your hanami parties now.

This year, we can look forward to Starbucks Full Sakura Milk Latte and Full Sakura Frappuccino.

Starbucks Sakura Latte and Frappuccino 


This year Starbucks is combining two popular pink flavours, cherry blossom and strawberries with a theme “Sakura Mankai Moments – Full Blooming All Around You”. “Mankai” means “full bloom” in Japanese with inspiration for the drinks taken from the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

The Full Sakura Milk Latte is designed to represent that special moment in spring when a gentle wind blows through the trees and the soft cherry blossom petals slowly fall to the ground. The drink has a light sakura flavor and is topped with whipped cream and strawberry chocolate shavings and chocolate sakura flavoured petals. The Full Sakura Milk Latte is available from February 15th until March 19th, 2019.

The Full Sakura Frappuccino is designed to represent the cherry blossom petals in full bloom reflected on the water’s surface. Cherry blossoms along the river are a common sight in Japan during the spring. The Full Sakura Frappuccino base is a sakura and strawberry sauce with sakura jelly and strawberry jelly pieces all of which is topped with whipped cream and strawberry chocolate shavings and chocolate sakura flavoured petals. The Full Sakura Frappuccino is available from February 15th until February 27th, 2019

Starbucks Sakura Latte and Frappuccino


Starbucks Sakura Chocolate with Strawberry Jelly 


Available for a limited time only at convenience stores around Japan is the Sakura Chocolate with Strawberry Jelly drink. From February 12th you will be able to pick up one of these which has a sakura and white chocolate flavoured base mixed with tiny pieces of strawberry jelly. Its thick texture is similar to the Starbucks Frappuccino with the drink meant to be shaken before being drunk.

Starbucks Sakura Chocolate with Strawberry Jelly


Starbucks Sakura Goods 


Starbucks limited-edition range of seasonal drinkware including travel mugs, cups, glasses and tumblers are always a hot item in its spring line-up. This year we have two different collections to enjoy. The first series being released on February 15th in soft pink is based around a “cold” theme.

Starbucks Sakura Goods First Series


The second series will be available from February 25th with a more vivid strawberry red theme and is based around a “sunlight” theme.

Starbucks Sakura Goods Second Series


Starbucks Japan Website

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II Book Review

Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II
The second volume of John Einarsen’s delightful little picture book, Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II has recently been published by Kyoto Journal. The book came about from a hit photo series on Instagram which focused on the charm and visual richness of seemingly ordinary structures in Kyoto. This photo series led to the first edition, Small Buildings of Kyoto being published in 2017.

Kyoto Journal is an award-winning quarterly English magazine founded in Kyoto in 1987 with the goal of presenting cultural insights from Japanese and Asian culture.

The Book’s Content 


Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II is a great insight into the real buildings and architecture of Kyoto that usually don’t make it into the books and travel guides about this historic city.

Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital is famous for its masterpieces of Japanese architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Sites with many of its buildings listed as National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties.

While the buildings in this book might not have the stunning beauty of these national treasures, they do have their own charm and beauty through their quaint and quirky characteristics. Each building has its own story to tell, offering you a fascinating insight into the way Kyotoites live today.


Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II

My View 


Why I really like this book? It is compact and full of beautiful colour photos that highlight the enduring charm of Kyoto’s everyday architecture.

The colour photos in the book are not of the iconic postcard-worthy attractions of Kyoto such as Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion) and Kiyomizu-dera Temple, but the everyday buildings that make up the urban fabric of the city.

I love the range of buildings covered in this book that showcase a mix of influences with some dating from the pre-war Taisho era (1912-1926) and others an interesting hybrid of textures, materials and shapes.

Kyoto Coffee Pocket


One thing that I really admire about Japanese architecture is how they get the most out of working with limited space to create elegant and graceful structures.

The best way to really get out and explore Kyoto is on foot by walking through the backstreets and tucked-away neighbourhoods that offer you the magic of the everyday charm of modern Kyoto.

This book is perfect for anyone looking to get some real insight on the everyday life of modern Kyoto. The quirky, humble and endearing buildings in the book reveal another side of Japan’s ancient capital city.

Ginka Coffee Shop


About the Writer 


The author, John Einarsen is a photographer and long-term resident of Kyoto. Originally from Colorado, he fell in love with Kyoto on his first trip there and settled down there in the early 1980s. He is the founder editor of Kyoto Journal and has served as an advisor to the Japan Times.

Small Buildings of Kyoto: Volume II is available now from the Kyoto Journal Website.



Sunday, December 16, 2018

Japan Visions Photobook

Japan Visions Photobook
Japan is a country of contrasts from the futuristic glowing neon of Tokyo to the historic temples and shrines of ancient Kyoto. You don’t even have to leave town to see the ultra-modern mixed in with the traditional.

One of the many things that I love about Japan is seeing this constant on a daily basis. I could be walking down the street in Gifu and see a high-tech vending machine on a corner which leads to an old street lined with lattice-walled houses from the Edo period (1603-1868).  

Japan Visions is the debut photographic book from Amélie Ravalec which highlights through images the colouful contrast that is the land of the rising sun.

The Book’s Content


Here’s what Amélie Ravalec says: “Japan Visions is an evocative and colourful journey through the streets of Japan, from Tokyo’s neon lights and underground culture to the ancient beauty of Kyoto’s temples and gardens. Amélie Ravalec debut photographic publication captures the country’s odd beauty: android robots, erotic wooden plaques, guillotined dolls and cyberpunk warehouses.”

Japan Visions Photobook Android Robots
Showa Period Robots

My View


Why I really like this book? It is the perfect size for picking up and flicking through to enjoy the many wonderful large and vibrant colour photos. I also really like how it has absolutely no text, but just lets the colour photos do the talking. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

Japan Visions Photobook Pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words

As a photographer, I really like the way that Amélie Ravalec captures the essence of daily life in Japan from ordinary street views to people just going about their regular life. The photos also show the underground side of Japan from weird and wonderful Showa period (1926-1989) robots and dolls to erotic ema plaques and neon-lit alleyways.

Japan Visions Photobook Everyday Life
Daily Life on the Streets of Japan

Japan Visions Photobook Neon Lights
Neon Light Life in Japan

About the Writer


The author, Amélie Ravalec is a London-based documentary filmmaker and photographer. She is the director of Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay (2015), Paris/Berlin: 20 Years of Underground Techno (2012) and the forthcoming documentary Art & Mind (2019).  

Japan Visions offers you a glimpse into the colourful contrast that makes Japan the special place that it is for many of us expats living in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Japan Visions is available now via Amélie’s website.

Japan Visions Photobook


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Exploring the North of Okayama Prefecture

Takahashi is an old castle town in Okayama Prefecture
In the final part of this three-part series on Okayama Prefecture we will explore the northern area of Okayama Prefecture which includes Takahashi, Hiruzen and Okutsu. If you missed the first two parts of the series, you can see our guide on Okayama City and Kurashiki in part 1, and southern Okayama Prefecture in part 2.

The northern part of Okayama Prefecture is famous for its amazing castles, old villages, hot springs and stunning mountain scenery.

Takahashi


Takahashi is an old castle town in Okayama Prefecture full of history, culture and nature, located about 60 minutes from Okayama City.

The most famous attraction in Takahashi is Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, one of only twelve original castles still remaining in Japan. Located atop a 430-meter mountain, it is the highest stronghold in Japan with an existing castle tower. On a cold and clear morning in autumn, a sea of clouds form around the castle, giving the illusion that the castle is floating in the sky. This has earned the castle the cool nickname, “The Castle in the Sky”. The best time to visit Bitchu Matsuyama Castle is very early morning in autumn for the amazing fall foliage and sea of clouds.

Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
Bitchu Matsuyama Castle floating in a sea of clouds in autumn

Located deep in the mountains of Takahashi, 550-meters above sea-level is Fukiya Furusato Village, a remote mountain village that is home to a beautiful street of houses with red roof tiles and walls. Here you can visit a one-of-a-kind street in Japan that is painted in traditional “Bengara” a vivid red colour pigment made from oxidized iron. The mountain village once flourished as a copper mining town and major producer of “Bengara” during the late Edo Period (1603-1868) through to the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Today, the uniform red colour of the buildings here hark back to the past as well as appealing to the eye with their aesthetically looking appearance. The red pigment helps preserve the buildings as well as repelling insects, which is definitely a good thing in my book.

The uniform red of the buildings of Fukiya Furusato has earned the village recognition as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings as well as being labeled as an Important Cultural Asset by the Japanese government. In order to save and preserve these beautiful and historic buildings, the local residents have turned many of them into charming shops selling local handicrafts and museums to inform about the culture and history of the village. Some of the buildings have even been turned into accommodation, where you can rent a house for a stay to soak up the authentic atmosphere further in this magical village.

Fukiya Furusato
Fukiya Furusato Village is painted in traditional Bengara red


Hiruzen Kogen Highlands


Hiruzen Kogen Highlands in the north of Okayama Prefecture reminds me a lot of the beautiful mountains here in Gifu. Located on a gently sloping plateau, this prominent resort area in Western Japan is famous for its rolling hills and Jersey cows. The best time to visit is spring for the fresh greenery, or autumn for the colourful fall foliage.

Hiruzen Winery is the perfect place to recharge the batteries with delicious western style food made with its famous wine grown from wild mountain grapes. The winery located on a hill overlooking some stunning mountain scenery has some exquisite wine to choose from which has won multiple awards at Japanese wine competitions.

Hiruzen Winery
Amazing views from Hiruzen Winery in the Hiruzen Kogen Highlands of Okayama


Hiruzen Jersey Land is where you can try some fresh local dairy products made from the milk of the local Jersey cows. The best way to sample some of this Jersey magic is via trying a Jersey milk soft-serve ice cream, or some cheese made from the milk of the area’s most famous residents, the Jersey cows.

The best way to explore the local area is by bike and the Hiruzen Cycling Club gives you the chance to see the beautiful nature of the area in a fun and healthy way. Follow the Hiruzen Kogen Cycle Road to enjoy the beauty nature of each season from the fresh green of spring to the blazing red leaves of autumn.

One of the best nature spots in the area is Shiogama Cold Spring, a natural cold spring located in a secluded valley at the foot of the Naka-Hiruzen Mountains 520 meters above sea level. The cold spring measures 12 meters from north to south, 5 meters from east to west, and is 1.9 meters at its deepest point. It is classified as one of Japan’s Top 100 Springs, and produces 300 liters of water every second.

Shiogama Cold Spring
Shiogama Cold Spring at the foot of the Naka-Hiruzen Mountains


Okutsu Onsen


The Okutsu Valley is a picturesque valley that is home to the largest formation of natural potholes in East Asia. The valley is alive with colour during fall with colourful autumn leaves. You can even enjoy a light-up event that offers you the chance to experience the colourful autumn leaves illuminated at night.

Okutsu Valley
Autumn leaves illuminated at night in the Okutsu Valley


Okutsu Onsen is a picturesque hot spring town nestled among mountains and mountain streams of Okayama. The water from Okutsu Onsen is said to purify the skin and make you more beautiful. The hot spring water is called “Bijin no Yu” in Japanese, meaning beautifying water.

Okutsu Onsen
Ashiyu foot baths at Okutsu Onsen

The best place to experience these beautifying waters is at Meisen Kagiyu Okutsuso, a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan) located at Okutsu Onsen. Here you can experience sleeping in a Japanese tatami room with futon and soaking in the natural hot spring baths at the inn. Just outside the inn is a river which has two different ashiyu (foot baths) on either side.

Meisen Kagiyu Okutsuso
Meisen Kagiyu Okutsuso traditional Japanese inn at Okutsu Onsen

There you have it, my extensive guide to Okayama Prefecture from the south to the north. After reading this series I think you’d agree that Okayama is full of amazing hidden gems, which make it in my opinion, one of the must-see destinations in Japan.

Fukiya Furusato Village
Fukiya Furusato Village in Takahashi

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Exploring the South of Okayama Prefecture

Seto Inland Sea
In the second part of this three-part series on Okayama Prefecture we will continue exploring the southern area of Okayama Prefecture which includes Okayama City, Kurashiki, Akaiwa, Bizen and Setouchi. If you missed it, you can catch part 1 of the series here, which focuses on Okayama City and Kurashiki.

The southern part of Okayama Prefecture is famous for its traditional pottery, legendary Japanese samurai swords, olive gardens, spectacular sunsets and Mediterranean Sea like coast.

Akaiwa


Akaiwa is a city in Okayama Prefecture that is one of the three remaining places in Japan that produces the bamboo stalk for fude (ink brushes). It is also famous for its top quality Omachi rice, which can mean only one thing, top-notch sake.

The Muromachi Shuzo Sake Brewery was founded in 1688, making it the oldest existing sake brewery in Okayama Prefecture with a history of over 320 years. The sake brewery takes great pride in its products with its traditional techniques handed down from generation to generation. The award-winning sake is made using Omachi cold spring water (one of the Top 100 Great Springs of Japan) and Omachi rice, the only pure strain of rice left in Japan, which is produced locally in Akaiwa.

Muromachi Shuzo Sake Brewery
Gold medal sake at Muromachi Shuzo Sake Brewery in Akaiwa


Inbe


About 20 kms from Akaiwa is Inbe, a town in Bizen City, which is the home of Bizen-yaki Pottery, the oldest and most revered form of pottery in all of Japan. During the Kamakura Period (1185-1338) Bizen came to prominence as one of the six pottery producing centers in Japan.

Today, Bizen Pottery is renowned for its strength and beauty throughout Japan. Bizen Pottery with its unique unglazed natural reddish or brownish colour was rougher and fired at higher temperatures to produce a more durable type of pottery. Bizen Pottery is said to be so strong that even if you throw it, it will not break easily. It also said that the water preserving qualities of the pottery allow flowers to last longer in Bizen vases and beer to stay colder with a creamer head in Bizen cups.

Inbe Minami Ogama Ato is where the South Large Kiln for making Bizen Pottery was placed. It was used as a communal kiln during the golden age of Bizen ware in the Momoyama (1568-1600) and Edo period (1600-1868). Today the hill is covered with broken pieces of Bizen-yaki that were thrown there after breaking during the firing process. It is an interesting place to visit giving you a glimpse of the history of Bizen ware and a great view of the city from the top of the hill.

Inbe Minami Oogama Ato
View over Inbe from Inbe Minami Ogama Ato

Bizen-yaki Dento Sangyo Kaikan is both a tourist information center and a café where you can enjoy a cup of coffee in traditional Bizen ware cups, or head upstairs and enjoy the gallery for Bizen-yaki artists, where you can purchase many kinds of Bizen ware pieces.

Bizen-yaki Dento Sangyo Kaikan
Bizen-yaki on display at the Bizen-yaki Dento Sangyo Kaikan

If you are feeling the creative juices flowing and want to give this unique art form a try, check out the Bizen-yaki Tokichi pottery experience to create Bizen ware that will be fired and posted out to you when complete.

Bizen-yaki Tokichi
Bizen-yaki Tokichi Pottery Experience

Amatsu Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Bizen Pottery. The shrine founded in 1411 enshrines the patron god of the birthplace of Bizen Yaki. Bizen Pottery can be found everywhere here from the Guardian shrine dogs that stand at the entrance of the shrine and the shrine’s roof tiles to the path approaching the shrine, which is lined with tiles contributed by local Bizen Pottery artists. Different bits and pieces of Bizen Pottery can be found all over the shrine precincts such as Bizen ware talisman and the Seven Lucky Gods of Fortune.

Amatsu Shrine
Amatsu Shrine in Inbe

Feeling hungry? Stop by Kokorozushi for fresh sushi served on Bizen ware plates. This place serves some of the best sushi I’ve had in Japan which tastes even better when served on a beautiful Bizen-yaki plate made by local artists.

Kokorozushi
Fresh sushi served on a Bizen-yaki plate at Kokorozushi in Inbe


Osafune


Osafune is a town in Setouchi City, which one flourished as a major producer of Japanese swords.

The Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum in Osafune is the home of the Japanese sword and is perfect place if you are a samurai fan like myself. The Bizen area was one of five major sword making areas in Japan during the age of the samurai, so has a long history and reputation for producing top-quality swords. There are three essential elements to producing quality swords: their use (ability to cut), their beauty (appearance) and their spirit (passed from the flames by the master sword-smith). Around half of the existing swords designated as National Treasures of Japan were made in Bizen.

The iron-rich mountains around Bizen provided the quality raw materials necessary to produce legendary Japanese swords that are now regarded as works of art. Here you can witness traditional sword forging techniques and view some of the many masterpieces that are on display.

The Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum in Osafune
The Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum in Osafune


Setouchi


Ushimado in Setouchi City is a seaside resort town that overlooks the many beautiful islands that dot the Setonaikai (Seto Inland Sea). It is the perfect place to admire the Seto Inland Sea, which is called the “Aegean Sea of Japan”. Here you can enjoy the beautiful island scenery of the Setonaikai while admiring the stunning sunset, which is regarded as one of the “Best 100 Sunsets in Japan”. Take a stroll or leisurely ride up to the Ushimado Olive Garden for some breathtaking views of the blue sea and Seto Islands mixed in with the green of the olive groves.

Ushimado Olive Garden
View of the Seto Inland Sea from the Ushimado Olive Garden

The Hotel Limani & Spa in Ushimado is a resort hotel inspired by the Greek Islands. If the scenery, architecture, blue and white colours don’t get you then the authentic Greek food prepared by the head chef, a Greek-Australian will definitely make you feel like you are in Greece. The dry-aged Okayama beef is to die for but if you are after something truly special give the chicken & lamb Gyros a try.

The Hotel Limani & Spa in Ushimado
The Hotel Limani & Spa in Ushimado

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about some of the great attractions that southern Okayama Prefecture has to offer the keen traveler. Please stay tuned for part 3 where we will explore the northern area of Okayama Prefecture.

Seto Inland Sea
The Seto Inland Sea from The Hotel Limani & Spa in Ushimado

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Okayama: Get Off the Beaten Track in The Land of Sunshine

Okayama Castle
Spend a relaxing time without all the crowds in Okayama Prefecture, also known as “The Land of Sunshine”, due to its status as the sunniest place in all of Japan.

Okayama is often overlooked as just a stop on the Shinkansen when heading to Hiroshima from either Kyoto or Tokyo, but what people don’t know is that Okayama is an amazing tourist destination in its own right, and the perfect gateway for exploring the region.

Located in the western part of Japan’s main island of Honshu, Okayama is midway between the major cities of Osaka and Hiroshima. You can reach Osaka from Okayama via Shinkansen in about 45-minutes and Hiroshima in about 35-minutes. Shikoku and Shimane are also easily accessible via direct train line from Okayama City.

Your most likely starting point in Okayama Prefecture is the capital, Okayama City, famous for Korakuen, one of Japan’s Top 3 Gardens and Okayama Castle known as “The Golden Crow Castle” due to its black exterior and golden tile decorations.

In the first part of this three-part series on Okayama Prefecture we will be exploring the southern area of Okayama Prefecture focusing on Okayama City and Kurashiki.

Okayama City 


With Okayama Castle as its core, Okayama City has prospered for centuries as a castle town and cultural center for the Chugoku region of Japan.

Okayama Castle was first built by Hideie Ukita in 1597 and is famous for its majestic black-lacquered exterior and golden tile decorations, giving it the nickname Kin-ujo, “The Golden Crow Castle”. This magnificent castle brought many merchants and craftsmen to the area and established Okayama City as a true castle town.

Okayama Castle
Okayama Castle

Next door to Okayama Castle is Korakuen Garden, one of the top 3 landscape gardens in Japan along with Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa and Kairakuen Garden in Mito. Lord Tsunamasa of the Ikeda clan (head of Okayama domain) took more than 10 years to complete this amazing garden, which is known for its serene beauty.

Korakuen Garden
Korakuen Garden

Located close to Okayama Station and key tourist attractions, Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden is Sake Kobo Doppokan, a sake brewery that produces sake, shochu, craft beer, whiskey and gin. The brewery started its business in 1915 and prides itself in producing high quality Japanese sake and alcohol. Take a tour of the brewing facilities or simply enjoy the modern-looking restaurant with craft beer on tap and delicious Japanese food with unique local dishes made to pair with the fine alcohol of the brewery.

Sake Kobo Doppokan
Sake Kobo Doppokan

A short 20-minutes from downtown Okayama City is Sogenji Temple, a working monastery that welcomes foreigners from around the world seeking to learn about the Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism. The temple was founded over 300 years ago by Ikeda clan as the family temple of the clan. Today about 20 people from all around the world study Zen meditation there seeking enlightenment. The temple offers visitors the chance to enjoy the Buddhist practice of zazen (Zen meditation). The hands-on experience in the tranquil surroundings of the temple will take you away from the troubles of this world into a place of peace and relaxation.

Sogenji Temple
Sogenji Temple

Kurashiki 


Kurashiki is a beautiful place with historic buildings and a canal area giving it the nickname, “The Venice of Japan”. It is only a short 17-minute train ride from Okayama City.

The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter is one of the most picturesque old merchant towns in all of Japan. Walk the narrow streets lined with traditional 17th century kura storehouses and merchant homes. The beautiful buildings with their thick black and white patterned walls and shiny black roof tiles contrast magnificently with the green of the willow-lined canal. One of the best ways to enjoy the old-time atmosphere of this historic area is to don a kimono or yukata and leisurely stroll the streets. You can hire a variety of traditional Japanese kimono from Kurashiki Kimono Komachi.

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter

The Ohara House with its distinct windows and latticework is a classic example of a Kurashiki Merchant houses that still survives to this day in its original form. The Ohara family were a wealthy family of merchants with its most famous member being, Magosaburo Ohara, a businessman and philanthropist who founded the Ohara Museum of Art and the Kuraray Chemical Company.

Ohara House
Ohara House

The Ohara Museum of Art is a must-see gallery with works of art from European masters such as Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Matisse and El Greco. This magnificent collection of art is housed in an eye-catching building styled after a classic Greek temple. The museum was the first privately operated museum of Western art in Japan and was funded entirely by the wealthy Ohara family.

The Ohara Museum of Art
The Ohara Museum of Art

Ryokan Kurashiki is located at the foot of the Nakabashi Bridge in the center of the Bikan Historic Quarter. The home of a successful sugar merchant is now a traditional Japanese inn and restaurant that serves seasonal food made from local ingredients and fresh seafood from the Seto Inland Sea.

Lunch at Ryokan Kurashiki
Lunch at Ryokan Kurashiki

Kurashiki Ivy Square is the birthplace of the Kurashiki Spinning Works Cotton Mill which was owned by the Ohara family. The picturesque ivy-covered red brick buildings with saw-toothed pattern roofs, red brick walls and semi-circular windows, make you feel like you are no longer in Japan, but in Victorian England. The impressive complex is now host to several cafes, restaurants and shops with a tranquil piazza at its center. Take the experience further by staying the night at the hotel in Kurashiki Ivy Square, which gives you the chance to enjoy Kurashiki at night, or get up early and explore the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter without all the crowds in the morning.

Kurashiki Ivy Square
Kurashiki Ivy Square

If you are hungry check out Yakitori Kurashiki Takataya, the best yakitori in town. This tasty establishment offers you an authentic Japanese izakaya or pub-style experience at reasonable prices.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about some of the great attractions that Okayama has to offer the keen traveler. Please stay tuned for part 2 where we will continue to explore the southern area of Okayama Prefecture.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Shirakawago Light Up Event

Shirakawago
Shirakawago has a special place in my heart with its beautiful scenery and traditional old farmhouses. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Gifu Prefecture’s must-see travel destinations and is famous for its collection of thatched roof houses built in the gassho-zukuri style.

The historic village is home to 112 of these gassho-style houses with the traditional thatched roofs resembling the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. Some of these historic houses are more than 250 years old with the unique architectural style developed over generations to withstand the heavy snow fall during winter of this remote region of Japan.

The small village is home to only about 1,700 people but around 1,700,000 visitors come every year, especially around the time of the beautiful light-up event in January and February. This magical illumination event turns the village into a winter wonderland straight out of a fairy tale.

The Shirakawago Tourist Association has partnered with Japankuru Funding, a crowdfunding service to create a community made guidebook for the Shirakawago Light Up Event, which runs every weekend from January 19th, 2019 to February 17th, 2019.

The guidebook will help people attending the event have a better time and enjoy the experience further by providing tourists with key information such as where to eat, what to see, what to do and how to best enjoy Shirakawago.

If you are interested in helping the project, visit the Shirakawago Light Up Event Guidebook page and help the community create this useful resource.

Shirakawago
Image from the Shirakawago Tourist Association

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