Friday, February 14, 2020

EVENT HAPPENING RIGHT NOW! Speeding Over to Ibaraki on the Tsukuba Express & Checking Out Makabe's Hinamatsuri Festival!

The JAPANKURU team loves a little off-the-beaten-path excursion, and when it's a day trip just outside Tokyo, that's even better! Which is why we hopped on a Tsukuba Express train in Akihabara this week to head over to the Makabe area of Sakuragawa City in Ibaraki, still composed mostly of old-fashioned buildings, all in the foothills of nearby Mt. Tsukuba. While the hundreds of historic buildings and dozens of national tangible cultural properties are beautiful year-round, Makabe turns from a sleepy village into a bustle of activity for Hinamatsuri Festival every year, so we went to check it out!

From Tokyo to Festival-Filled Ibaraki with Tsukuba Express

Friday, February 7, 2020

Feel the Culture and See the Treasures of Kyoto without Leaving Your Hotel - at Oriental Hotel Kyoto Gallery!

For travelers looking to stay in a bright, cheerful hotel, and simultaneously immerse themselves in the mystique of Kyoto, this hotel on a historic main road is the place to go. Oriental Hotel Kyoto Gallery not only has (as its name implies) a small gallery in the lobby that displays Kyoto cultural items and art, the building's architecture incorporates points from traditional Kyoto Machida houses and local design, making for a full Kyoto experience. Plus, the rooms are new, clean, and simply designed, the breakfasts are familiar and tasty with unique Kyoto touches, and location-wise, the hotel's steps from a Kiyomizu Gojo subway station and within walking distance of famous Kyoto temple Kiyomizudera!

Head to Shiga-chiku (the Shiga Area of Matsumoto City) to Stay the Night in a Kominka House with Traditional Japanese Architecture, and Immerse Yourself in Rural Nagano

Whether you've seen them in Ghibli films or in paintings by Katsushika Hokusai, the gorgeous old-fashioned Japanese folk houses found around Japan are called kominka, and they're symbols of Japanese architecture. Rooms with tatami mat floors and thatched or tiled roofs and long, sturdy ceiling beams that run the length of the house, kominka are iconic, and they're wonderful examples of Japanese cultural history. In a country constantly hurtling between the traditional and the modern, these days most Japanese citizens tend to build new houses with modern architecture, and as kominka have fallen out of fashion, their numbers have dwindled. Here at JAPANKURU we think it's a shame that the beautiful old buildings aren't used and maintained, which is why we were especially excited to travel to Nagano's Matsumoto City in the fall. Matsumoto City is home to some interesting agritourism, friendly locals, and a project looking to bring old kominka back to life, based in the city's Shiga area. These houses are being restored and returned to everyday use, and we couldn't wait to see.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Japanese Uniform-Style Shoes Made Stylish with Made-in-Japan Quality, Haruta

It's no secret that Japanese school uniforms have a certain style to them that's popular all over the world. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that uniform-style leather loafers have become the in-thing in recent years, an iconic fashion item necessary to complete that Tokyo look. And for some loafers and oxfords with a little history, you can pick up a pair of Haruta's shoes in Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku or Omotesando.

Get Out of Tokyo and Over to the Sights, Treats, Lodgings, and Views of Kawasaki

A great city for shopping, snacking, and visiting temples, instead many Japanese people know Kawasaki for its mysteriously beautiful factory-filled night views. A city with lots to offer, you'll have no trouble filling up a fun day's itinerary in Kawasaki.

First, Get Yourself to Kawasaki:
Tokyo Station → Kawasaki Station / JR Keihin Tohoku Line / Travel Time: 25 minutes