Kyoto Starbucks’s elegant over-river seating might make it the country’s coolest coffeehouse

As with many places in Japan, you’ll find a surprising dichotomy in Kyoto. On the one hand, the country’s former capital remains one of its most refined centers of traditional culture. On the other, the local geography (Kyoto sits in an inland basin) makes the city swelteringly hot during the summer, even by Japan’s steamy standards.

But, as always, the people of Kyoto deal with this issue in an elegant way. During the warmer part of the year, riverside restaurants in Kyoto seat customers on what’s called a noryoyuka. Literally meaning “cooling floor,” noryoyuka are wooden platforms built out over the water, with a refreshing water-cooled breeze coming up from below.

The most popular cluster of noryoyuka can be found along the Kamogawa River, which borders the Sanjo neighborhood, Kyoto’s dining district. But while many of these restaurants are high-class establishments serving full-course meals, there’s an alternative that’s both casual and reasonably priced: the Sanjo Ohashi branch of Starbucks.

Seattle-based chain adapts to Kyoto style with summertime seats that offer a taste of traditional culture as you sip your coffee. (

People who don’t mind getting their hands dirty could do worse than visit one of the agricultural theme parks that have opened around the country in recent years. (

Japan’s huge tourism influx is greatly welcomed by politicians and select local service industries that are benefitting from the boom. (Japan Times)

On their travels across Japan, many people skip right by Nagoya, which is kind of a shame. Sure, the capital of Aichi Prefecture may not be able to match the limitless variety of Tokyo or the historical pedigree of Kyoto, but Nagoya has its own set of attractions, such as a beautiful castle and the best chicken wings in the country. (

The estimated number of visitors to Japan in April jumped 18.0 percent from a year earlier to 2,081,800, breaking the record high of 2,009,500 set in the previous month, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Wednesday. (

Japan’s Foreign Ministry plans to adopt a new design for its passport visa pages based on a series of centuries-old woodblock prints of Mount Fuji. (NHK)

A UNESCO advisory panel has recommended putting the main building of the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo and 16 other buildings designed by Le Corbusier on the world body’s list of cultural heritage sites, the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs said Tuesday. (Jiji Press)

People in Kyoto celebrated one of their city’s 3 main annual festivals on Sunday. (NHK)

Japan’s government plans to help revive tourism in southwestern areas of the country hit by last month’s powerful earthquakes. (NHK)

The government wants “love hotels,” which offer rooms to couples, converted into regular hotels to address an expected shortage of accommodations in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, a source said Saturday. (Japan Times)

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