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Home of the cultured pearl, Toba in Ise-Shima has both history and living tradition

21 Apr

“To Bond,” Ian Fleming wrote in his 1964 novel, “You Only Live Twice,” “they all seemed beautiful in the soft evening light … the gleaming, muscled buttocks, cleft by the black cord, the powerful thong round the waist with its string of oval lead weights.” Fleming’s eroticized description of an ama-san, the pearl divers of […]

Festive cakes fete children

21 Apr

From April 29 to May 7, the Royal Park Hotel is selling six different types of cakes to celebrate Children’s Day on May 5. The six cakes include a whole cake topped with whipped cream, carp streamers and various animals (¥3,780), a roll cake decorated like a carp streamer (¥2,160) and individual rabbit, bear, chick […]

Among the monks: Dipping a toe in Zen at Shinshoji Temple

14 Apr

When was the last time you sat in silence, without fretting about the things you ought to be doing or gazing at a screen of any kind? When was the last time you didn’t think anything at all? If this is something you do regularly, you’re one of the growing legions who have discovered the […]

Springtime dining in the ‘garden of France’

13 Apr

La Tour d’Argent at The Hotel New Otani Tokyo has created a selection of food specialties inspired by the regional cuisine of France’s Loire Valley. Two dinner courses, priced at ¥18,000 and ¥25,000 (excluding drinks, tax and service charge), are available until April 25 (closed Mondays). The Loire Valley, or the “garden of France” as […]

Of hidden Christians and electric cars on the Goto Islands

7 Apr

I was promised that my journey to Fukue — the largest of the Goto Islands west of Kyushu — would be an uneventful one. My berth, a simple bunk with a matt screen for privacy, was comfortable, and the gentle rocking of the ferry as it crossed the Genkai Sea, combined with a midnight departure, […]

Celebration of spring events

6 Apr

The Imperial Hotel Tokyo is offering a limited spring plan through April 25 for guests to celebrate school entrances. The wide variety of sweets and picnic boxes available at Gargantua, the hotel bakery on the first floor, is also perfect for hanami cherry blossom viewing parties. For the plan, the bakery has introduced a number […]

Yoronto: A small island with unique culture where time and space expand

31 Mar

The sea is only as blue as the sky permits. Even in the deep southern islands of the Nansei-Shoto, an overcast day can turn the sub-tropics into a mirror image of some of the more relentlessly dreary resort towns of my own country, England. One thinks of the ingloriously named Minehead, the estuary wilderness of […]

New rooms mark anniversary

30 Mar

Hotel Rose Garden Shinjuku, in commemorating its 20th anniversary, opened a new wing with 40 rooms on March 22. A one-night stay in a stylish standard room with breakfast is available from ¥13,168 per person (tax and service charge included). After a hiatus following 12 successful years, the Kurikichi Japanese restaurant reopened on the first […]

Hakone: a paradise for the ‘onsen’ aficionado

25 Mar

Those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of Japan’s big cities will find what they are looking for in a hot-spring paradise hidden deep in a forest. Located about 90 kilometers west of Tokyo, Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture is a famous onsen (hot springs) resort area located on a mountain region bordering Mount Fuji […]

More than fare trade: backstreet by taxi

25 Mar

A combination of rain showers and tax prep in March signal Tokyo’s segue into spring. Cherry blossoms are nearly in bud, but cold, damp days of crunching fiscal figures can put people in dour moods. After wandering a wet backstreet, absorbing little more than precipitation, I throw in the towel and hail a green cab […]