Tuesday, October 17, 2017

5 Things to do in Hakone While Visiting Mount Fuji

Hakone (箱根) is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than one hundred kilometers from Tokyo. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view across Lake Ashinoko of nearby Mount Fuji, Hakone is one of the most popular destinations among Japanese and international tourists looking for a break from Tokyo.

1. Hakone Hot Springs

Hakone Yumoto

Hakone has been one of Japan's most popular hot spring resorts for centuries. Nowadays, more than a dozen springs provide hot spring water to the many bath houses and ryokan in the Hakone region.

Yumoto, at the entrance to the Hakone area near Odawara, is Hakone's most famous hot spring with a particularly long history, high quality water and numerous baths and inns. Many more hot spring facilities are found across the hills and valleys of Hakone and along the shores of Lake Ashi.

2. Lake Ashinoko

Lake Ashinoko (芦ノ湖) was formed in the caldera of Mount Hakone after the volcano's last eruption 3000 years ago. Today, the lake with Mount Fuji in the background is the symbol of Hakone. The lake's shores are mostly undeveloped except for small towns in the east and north and a couple of lakeside resort hotels.

The best views of the lake in combination with Mount Fuji can be enjoyed from Moto-Hakone (a few steps south from the sightseeing boat pier), from the Hakone Detached Palace Garden and from the sightseeing boats cruising the lake.

3. Hakone Shrine

Hakone Shrine (箱根神社) stands at the foot of Mount Hakone along the shores of Lake Ashi. The shrine buildings are hidden in the dense forest, but are well advertised by its huge torii gates, one standing prominently in the lake and two others over the main street of Moto-Hakone.

A path leads from the torii gate in Lake Ashi up a series of steps flanked by lanterns through the forest to the main building of the shrine, which sits peacefully among the tall trees. The shrine is beautiful throughout the year, and is particularly breathtaking when shrouded in mist.

4. Hakone Ropeway

The Hakone Ropeway (箱根ロ-プウエイ) is part of the Hakone Round Course, a popular way to visit Hakone. It connects Sounzan Station (at the terminus of the Hakone Tozan Cablecar) with Togendai Station (at the shore of Lake Ashinoko) and stops at Owakudani and Ubako stations on the way. The ropeway is fully covered by the Hakone Free Pass.

The ropeway's gondolas depart every minute and fit around ten people each. Traveling the full length of the ropeway takes around 30 minutes. Along the journey, passengers can enjoy views of the active, sulfuric hot spring sources of the Owakudani Valley between Sounzan and Owakudani and of Lake Ashinoko and Mount Fuji between Owakudani and Togendai if visibility allows. A transfer of gondolas is necessary at Owakudani, but no transfer is needed at Ubako.

5. Hakone Tozan Railway

A ride on the Hakone Tozan Railway (箱根登山電車), Japan's oldest mountain railway, is a treat for more than just railway fans. The small trains wind themselves through a narrow, densely wooded valley over many bridges and tunnels, stopping at small stations along the way and changing directions at three switchbacks.

The Hakone Tozan Line consists of two sections. The lower section from Odawara to Hakone-Yumoto is used by Odakyu trains from central Tokyo and is not particularly noteworthy. Far more spectacular is the upper section from Hakone-Yumoto to Gora, which is served by the small mountain trains. At Gora, many travelers transfer to the cablecar for Lake Ashi.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

National Bunraku Theater (国立文楽劇場)

Osaka has been the capital for bunraku, traditional Japanese puppet theater, for many centuries. The popularity of the theater form had grown in the city during the Edo Period when bunraku (like kabuki) was a rare kind of art entertainment for the common public rather than the nobility.

The National Bunraku Theater (国立文楽劇場) in Osaka is one of the few places to view the fascinating art form today. English programs and earphones are available. Performances are usually held in three week runs in January, April, June, July/August and November.
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Nagoya Port (名古屋港)

Nagoya Port (名古屋港), south of Nagoya's city center, is one of Japan's largest ports. One part of the port, the Garden Pier, has been redeveloped in recent years as a leisure district and offers an aquarium, shopping mall, amusement park, museums and green space.

The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium is one of Japan's larger and better aquaria. Spread across two buildings are exhibits featuring marine mammals including dolphins, orca and beluga whales, and other marine creatures from five aquatic regions between Japan and the Antarctic Ocean. In addition to feeding and training shows, there are also three scheduled dolphin shows per day that are very popular with visitors.

Moored in the harbor is the Fuji Icebreaker, the ship Japan used to explore the Antarctic Ocean from the 1960s to the 1980s. It is now accessible to the public as the Antarctic Museum. Directly in front of the bridge to the aquarium is the Nagoya Port Building, which houses a 53 meter high observatory and the Nagoya Maritime Museum. For the young at heart, there is Nagoya Port Sea Train Land, an amusement park with the biggest ferris wheel in the Chubu Region, north of the aquarium.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Lunchtime: Ramen, Karaage, and Takoyaki!

Trying to find something to eat for lunch? Well look no further because we've got the perfect idea. When watching your favorite anime, you may have noticed some delicious dishes that you may not know the origins of and I'm here to give you guys some info.


Image result for naruto eating ramen gif

We'll start with Ramen, one of Japan's well known dishes along with Sushi. A Ramen bowl consists of Chinese style noodles served in meat based broth flavored with either soy sauce or miso. Toppings such as sliced pork, dried seaweed, bamboo shoots, and green onions are quite common.

In Japan, almost every region/prefectures has their own variation of Ramen from the broth to the toppings. The Ramen you see above was ordered from a local Ramen shop chain and it's known as the Tokyo style Ramen which consists of curly noodles in a soy sauce based chicken broth. Toppings here include sliced chicken, spinach, green onion, and fried onion. 


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On to the next dish, Takoyaki, one of Osaka's soul food. Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a flour-based batter and cooked in a special cast iron pan. Fillings often consists of diced octopus which is why is called Takoyaki because tako is octopus. The Takoyaki is then topped with a sauce similar to Worcestershire sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, thin green dried seaweed, and dried bonito shavings. 

If you don't like the idea of eating octopus, a great option Okonomiyaki, another soul food from Osaka. It's essentially the same but it is shaped as a pancake and the base is made out of cabbage not diced octopus. It has the same toppings so you'll still get the same great flavor. 


Image result for karaage shokugeki no soma

One thing I'm sure everyone will love is Karaage, which essentially is Japanese style fried chicken. Karaage itself is just the technique in which the meat, usually chicken but can be fish and other meat as well, is dipped in light batter and fried in light oil. It is similar to how tempura is fried. Karaage can be served in different ways such as a wrap or on it's own with a slice of lemon and salad as shown below. 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Blog Semi-Hiatus

Hello everyone, I've been pretty busy with university and this semester I have to be ever more focused so I decided to take a semi-hiatus. That just means there will be less articles coming out each month. For example, instead of the usual 4 article per month, it will go down to 1-2 articles. I'll get back to normal uploads in December-January. I also write for so you can check me there for new articles about J-pop/Anime.

Image result for anime gifs
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (館山黒部アルペンルート)

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (館山黒部アルペンルート) is a unique and spectacular route through the Northern Japan Alps which is traversed by various means of transportation including cablecars, trolley buses and a ropeway. Completed in 1971, the route connects Toyama City in Toyama Prefecture with Omachi Town in Nagano Prefecture. The section between Tateyama Station and Ogizawa is closed to private vehicles. It is completely inaccessible from December to mid April.

The main attraction of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is the magnificent scenery of the Tateyama Mountain Range, part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. Visitors can enjoy varying vistas during different seasons of the year. In spring, accumulated snow, especially around the upper sections of Midagahara and Murodo, form a majestic snow corridor whose snow walls reach up to 20 meters high. A section of the snow corridor around Murodo is open to pedestrians usually from mid April to mid June.

Summer and autumn attract visitors with beautiful landscapes, alpine flowers (especially around June through August) and autumn leaves. The fall colors typically reach their best around Murodo and Daikanbo from late September to early October, and they gradually descend the mountain slopes, arriving at the lower elevations from late October to early November.

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Matsumae (松前)

 Matsumae (松前) is a former castle town just west of Cape Shirakami, the southernmost point of Hokkaido. Only 20 kilometers across the Tsugaru Strait from Aomori, Matsumae was the northern limit of Japan during the Edo Period and the sole feudal fief on the otherwise wild, untamed frontier of Hokkaido. The prosperous town attracted merchants engaged in the shipping trade, and was protected by a garrison at Matsumae Castle, the only Japanese style castle to have been built on Hokkaido.

Built on a hillside vantage point, Matsumae Castle (also known as Fukushima Castle) cemented a foothold on Hokkaido from where to tap the island's abundant natural resources. Toward the end of the Edo Period, the castle was outfitted with cannon to counter the threat of foreign ships. As with many Japanese castles, Matsumae Castle's original keep was destroyed several times over the centuries. The current three story high structure is a modern concrete reconstruction from the early 1960s which houses a local history museum displaying a selection of artifacts of the local Matsumae clan, including some items related to the Ainu.
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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Kinkakuji (金閣寺)

Kinkakuji (金閣寺) is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408. Kinkakuji was the inspiration for the similarly named Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), built by Yoshimitsu's grandson, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, on the other side of the city a few decades later.

Kinkakuji 2004-09-21.jpg

Kinkakuji is an impressive structure built overlooking a large pond, and is the only building left of Yoshimitsu's former retirement complex. It has burned down numerous times throughout its history including twice during the Onin War, a civil war that destroyed much of Kyoto; and once again more recently in 1950 when it was set on fire by a fanatic monk. The present structure was rebuilt in 1955.

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