Friday, 2 December 2022

6 of Japan’s quirkiest, wackiest and most delightful museums

Be it giant watermelons grown in the shapes of hearts and cubes; spas where you can soak your entire body in a large steaming vat of ramen noodles (complete with a fragrant pork-based broth); or game shows in which contestants attempt to eat spaghetti while getting spun around helter-skelter in a dryer, Japanese culture certainly has an affinity for the odder things in life.

When it comes to museums, the country boasts some equally weird and wonderful treasures dedicated to national cultural obsessions – from cup noodles and ninjas to kites and animated films. Here are a few to check out on your next trip to Japan.

1. Cup Noodle Museum, Yokohama

Fresh, frozen or instant – the Japanese certainly love their noodles, even when it comes packaged in a Styrofoam cup. Visitors to the Cup Noodle Museum in central Yokohama can find out about the history, manufacturing process and cultural significance of the humble dish via an array of analogue, digital and interactive exhibits. You can even try your hand at making noodles from scratch at the Chicken Ramen Factory; or assemble your own cup noodles – all the way down to the package design – to take home with you as a souvenir.

Find out more about all things noodles at the Cup Noodle Museum. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

2. Meguro Parasitological Museum, Tokyo

Fancy getting up close and personal with some unique creepy crawlies? Japan’s capital is home to the Meguro Parasitological Museum, a private museum dedicated to the science of parasitology that was founded in 1953. As one of the only museums in the world completely dedicated to parasites, the two-storey attraction has a whopping upwards of 60,000 specimens in its impressive collection, and displays around 300 of them for visitors. The must-see exhibit is one of the world’s longest tapeworms, measuring an impressive 8.8 metres in length.

An education in creepy crawlies awaits at the Meguro Parasitological Musuem

3. Ninja Museum of Igaryu, Mie Prefecture

While there have been many movies about Japanese ninjas, not much is known about the history of these ancient intelligence officers. Learn about ninjas and ninjutsu (the strategy and tactics practiced by ninjas) at the Ninja Museum of Igaryu. You can check out exhibits showcasing garments and written secret codes; peruse displays of over 400 tools; and catch an exciting live-action show where traditional weapons such as shuriken (a hidden hand blade), swords and kusarigama (which comprises a sickle and a weight) are used to demonstrate how ninjas used to do battle. The museum’s gift shop also purports to sell rare and original ninja goods that cannot be found anywhere else.

Get schooled at the Ninja Museum of Igaryu. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

4. Ghibli Museum, Tokyo

From Princess Mononoke (1997) and My Neighbour Totoro (1988) to Spirited Away (2001) and The Wind Rises (2014), Studio Ghibli has given the world much joy with their whimsical, heartfelt animated films. If you’re looking to dive into all things Ghibli, pencil in a visit to this one-of-a-kind attraction. Located in the Mitaka suburb of Tokyo, it’s here that you’ll find an immersive wonderland of film screenings, exhibits, animations, displays and even outdoor attractions dedicated to the magical universes dreamed up by the animation studio over the years. Be sure to snap a picture with the giant Totoro mascot at the entrance. Tickets are extremely limited and sell out well in advance, so do book as early as possible.

Ghibli Museum’s colourful wonders to explore. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

5. Sand Museum, Tottori

The world’s only indoor museum entirely devoted to sand sculptures, the Sand Museum in the coastal city of Tottori exhibits various works of art made from sand obtained from nearby dunes. Each year, the museum – which is helmed by award-winning sand sculptor Chaen Katsuhiko – bases its exhibits around a certain theme and invites world-class sand sculptors to create works that speak to the topic. Thereafter, the temporary exhibits are demolished, and the sand is returned back to its natural environment. If you’re planning to visit, do note that the museum closes every year between January and mid-April, to allow time for artists to demolish the previous exhibition and build new sculptures following the new theme selected.

Works of art at the Sand Musuem in Tottori. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

6. Kite Museum, Tokyo

Despite being one of the smaller museum in Japan, this attraction is a worth a visit to check out the colourful collection of kites sourced from all over the world. The Kite Museum was initially created in 1977 by enthusiast Shingo Modegi and, despite his passing, the museum lives on as a tribute to his quirky obsession. You’ll find roughly 300 different kites from various eras (some date all the way back to the Edo period) displayed along the walls, hanging from the ceiling and placed in packed display cabinets. There are reportedly another 3,500 kites held in storage.

Check out Japanese kites from across the centuries at the Kite Museum. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking and seating requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.

To learn more about Singapore Airlines flights, visit singaporeair.com.

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from SilverKris

The unspoiled charm of onsen town Jozankei, Japan

“Something quite strange yet magical happens when you arrive in Jozankei,” whispers Sayaka Hamano, the okami (landlord) of Kasho Gyoen, a ryokan overlooking the Shikotsu-Toya National Park situated on the edges of Jozankei town. “It is hard to explain, but time seems to slow here. It almost seems to stop.”

Legend has it that the town, 30km from Sapporo, was founded in 1866, the year that Japanese monk Miizumi Jozan first discovered the hot, healing waters that simmer beneath the earth’s surface here. The story goes that he was being guided by an indigenous Ainu person, through dense pine forests along the Toyohira River, when the water hit a series of cascades and broke off into a web of streams and pools. Jozan realised the pools were being fed by hot springs, with geothermally heated, mineral-rich groundwater rising from the earth’s crust through cracks in the riverbed. The monk cleared the forest and developed an open-air bathing facility, called an onsen, and invited the ailing to visit.

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Gorgeous winter scenes at Lake Jozan at Shikotsu Toya National Park

Over the years, the number of onsens and ryokans (traditional inns often attached to onsens) blossomed, and the area – which was eventually christened Jozankei after the monk – became known as one of the country’s finest hot spring spas. And while much of the rest of Hokkaido is world-famous for its ski resorts and its legendary “Japow” (Japanese powder snow), Jozankei boasts dozens of hot springs, luring in more than 1.6 million tourists each year, all yearning to be transported far away from the hubbub of everyday life by this healing haven and its traditional hostelries.

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Sayaka Hamano, the okami (landlord) of Kasho Gyoen ryokan

The 39-year-old Sayaka comes from a long line of okamis and grew up in Jozankei before spells working in Tokyo and Beijing. She doesn’t look her age, and I ask whether the timelessness she’s just described also helps reverse the effects of ageing. She laughs, but tells me the Hibestu spring that bubbles away underneath the 23-room Kasho Gyoen ryokan is rich in skin-drenching minerals such as calcium, sodium bicarbonate and sulphur. “People comment on how their skin feels soft like velvet after bathing in our water. Our springs are pure and straight from the source… not mixed with any water or filtered in any way,” she says. “We Japanese say it cures the lethargy of life.”

While she found living in the city thrilling, Sayaka pined for Hokkaido’s pristine countryside. So when her father asked her to come back to inject some new life into a design-driven ryokan he planned to open, she jumped at the opportunity. “Hokkaido’s winters can be severe, but because of this the land is quite unspoiled. There is a lonely beauty that exists here and I find it very special,” she says, gesturing out the window of one of the ryokan’s sitting rooms at a grove of leafless beech trees.

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A small shrine in the woods around Jozankei

Ryokans were first built more than a millennium ago as accommodation for travelling merchants, offering baths, simple futon beds and a Japanese breakfast. They have been an intrinsic part of Japan’s cultural identity ever since, tied to a profound respect for omotenashi (hospitality). In many ways, they embody the Japanese ideals of living close to nature, and in harmony with the four seasons.

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A close-up of an antique kimono

But Kasho Gyoen, like other new-wave inns across Japan right now, is tapping into a wider trend of weaving in innovation and design together with the old tenets. I follow Sayaka as she glides down the property’s hushed hallways to show me to my room. She points out the traditional features that have been kept: floors lined with tatami mats, leafy views, minimalist furniture, washi screen doors and tokonoma (alcoves). Even her exquisite silk kimono has been passed down through generations. However, she also notes the more contemporary elements she feels are essential to bring in more diverse, younger guests: espresso machines, luxury bath amenities and cloud-soft beds instead of futons.

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A contemporary fireplace at Kasho Gyoen

Despite these moves to modernity, one of the most important rituals at a ryokan remains a soak in the facility’s communal onsen. Bathing stems back to an important Shinto purification rite that’s thousands of years old – and it comes as second nature to the Japanese. However it’s a tradition that is loaded with strict rules: colour-coded curtains separate men and women; no tattoos; no loud noises; you must bathe naked; and you must not submerge your head. Sayaka says that while preserving an ancient culture, these rules had also excluded people: “There are people that like to travel and go to the onsen with their children, and people that require privacy due to medical conditions. There are also more young Japanese with tattoos.”

The land is quite unspoiled. There is a lonely beauty that exists here and I find it very special

If you’re one of the above, or just shy, the highlight of each Kasho Gyoen room is its private onsen: a deep, square-shaped stone tub with sublime views overlooking the national park. Sayaka insists I have a soak right away (“Multiple onsens a day is best!”) and whooshes out of the room, closing the door quietly behind her. I unwrap my yukata (gown), remove my geta (sandals) and wade in. Steam envelops the room and the 37°C water miraculously soothes my aches and pains. I feel better than I have in months.

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A dish of Hokkaido Wagyu at the Italian-inspired restaurant at Kasho Gyoen

After my bath, it’s off to another ceremonial ryokan treat: the nightly kaiseki-ryori, a multi-course meal revolving around foraged, seasonal ingredients. At Kasho Gyoen’s restaurant, chefs harness Hokkaido’s bounty in an array of modern Italian-inspired dishes. We feast on fresh sashimi with white asparagus and caviar; linguini with Hokkaido hairy crab, urchin and chives; and silky and creamy panna cotta.

After my meal, I discover another of Kasho Gyoen’s nifty “innovations” – a secret speakeasy behind a hidden sliding door. The bar is helmed by a polished, suited bartender. Like the onsen in my room, it overlooks the snowy forest, and at night, it’s a winter wonderland lit up in dreamy blue lights. “I’ve seen bears roaming around in there,” the bartender, Ikkei Honma, tells me with wide eyes as he builds a perfectly balanced martini. Far from perturbed, though, I long for another soak in my private onsen and to curl up to sleep in my luxurious bed.

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A staff at Kasho Gyoen’s restaurant

The next morning, as I sit down to a breakfast of grilled mackerel, miso with clams and other delightful morsels sitting in pretty ceramic vessels, Sayaka greets me with a cheerful “Ohayo gozaimasu!” before suggesting I pay a visit to the nearby Hoheikyo – Hokkaido’s largest and perhaps most popular outdoor ryokan.

I decide instead to check out the winding streets of Jozankei. Dotted all around the town, I find free public water features: reflexology footbaths (for “longevity and health”), hand baths and even baths to boil eggs in (the latter forming part of the Jozankei Gensen Park, a tribute to the monk Jozan). I trek down to the Toyohira River, lined by weeping willows and plum trees, and cross a bridge before scaling the bank down to the river’s edge. With water so crystal clear it looks like gin, it’s not hard to see why monk Jozan became so enchanted with the place he never left.

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A public onsen at Kuriya Suizan

Later on, I visit another design-forward ryokan, the striking Kuriya Suizan, a sister property to the larger Jozankei Daiichi Hotel Suizantei in the centre of town. The Daiichi group now runs seven ryokans across Hokkaido, including some female-only inns and one with an adjoining ceramics studio. Tapping into three original hot springs, they take their spring water seriously, employing several engineers to measure even the smallest variation in temperature or quality of minerals.

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A private outdoor onsen in one of the rooms at Kuriya Suizan

Kuriya Suizan has 14 guest rooms that exude Japanese minimalism and a restaurant focused on cutting-edge culinary experiences: its centrepiece is a huge open kitchen, helmed by the same chef Natsume Tomohiro, who I met for lunch by the lake earlier in the day. “Ryokans across Japan are changing,” says Oshima, the PR manager for the group. “I think it’s because there is a new generation of managers in their thirties and forties who are open to new ideas and realise the need to target millennials – one of our new ryokans will focus on top-quality sake and produce, but it will be self-service and a third of the price of more traditional ryokans.”

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Suizantei Club Jyozankei

But Oshima tells me that before I go, I really should spend a night at one of Daiichi’s oldest ryokans, Club Jozankei, to get a sense of a more traditional Japanese inn. Upon check-in, I’m led to my room, where futons are rolled out and facilities explained: the in-room cypress wood onsen and steam room; MIKIMOTO amenities; a complimentary cocktail bar that opens at 8pm; and a restaurant serving sumptuous kaiseki meals.

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The outdoor Hoheikyo Onsen

On my last day, I finally find the courage to visit Hoheikyo. Sayaka is right – it’s a charming onsen: a barn-like, old-world building surrounded by manicured Zen gardens of fir and birch trees and perfectly arranged stones. The facility features a network of indoor and outdoor baths connected by creaking hallways, and it’s large enough to accommodate a whopping 200 bathers. “Elderly people come here, and when they leave, they are often feeling so great that they forget their walking sticks,” Junpei Baba, the energetic manager of the onsen exclaims as we walk past the facility’s restaurant.

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Stained rocks at Hoheikyo Onsen

Like Kasho Gyoen, what makes the springs here so special is that they’re not temperature controlled or filtered in any way, and rather than being stored in a tank, their waters flow straight from the source. The PH-neutral waters, rich in calcium and sodium chloride, have even eroded the rocks into incredible floral patterns and textures. I arrive right at opening time and, lucky for me, I have the place completely to myself.

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A snowy scene at Shikotsu- Toya National Park

Sinking into the huge, steamy outdoor onsen, I soak in the panoramic views of the undulating mountains and close my eyes. Before I know it, almost half an hour has passed – yet it seems like it’s been mere minutes – and other bathers start to arrive. Liquid-limbed, I climb out of the bath and head back inside. Delicate, soft snowflakes drift from the sky, landing on the heated rocks and gently melting into shimmering puddles. Perhaps I’ve immersed myself in hot water for too long and am lightheaded, or maybe time really does slow down in Jozankei.

Stay active on your trip – be it summer or winter – with these three activities

Skiing

Located about an hour away from Jozankei, the town of Niseko boasts four interlinked resorts and is known for its consistent quality of powder, tree runs and open powder bowls. The particularly long ski season lasts from November to April.

Horse riding

From December through to March, travellers can try horse riding at Wild Mustang’s ranch, taking in the snowy scenery beneath Mount Hakkenzan. The ranch has beautiful Dosanko horses, a sturdy breed with thick coats that is indigenous to Hokkaido.

Rafting

The Toyohira River is a popular water sport destination in the spring and summer. Gliding down its upper streams, you can see gushing hot springs on either side of the river, and the waterway hits a valley so deep that it can’t be accessed by road.

Singapore Airlines will operate seasonal flights to Sapporo from December 2019 to January 2020. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com

This article was originally published in the October 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine

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from SilverKris

10 of the best burgers in Singapore

There’s absolutely no shortage of restaurants serving fantastic burgers in Singapore – from fast food conglomerates and Western hawker stalls to home-grown burger specialists and cult-favourite American franchises. Whether you’re looking for a saucy smashburger or more keen to go with the thick steakhouse style, we’ve got you covered with this list of Singapore’s ten best burgers.

1. Social Smoker

While better known for their American-style barbecue offerings, Social Smoker’s burger certainly deserves its spot on the menu, alongside smokehouse requisites like brisket, pulled pork and tender fall-off-the-bone smoked pork ribs. The burgers here are deceptively simple, but it’s the attention to detail that makes them an essay in perfection. The Signature Smashburgers are crafted with a special blend of beef that’s ground in-house and smashed while on the grill to maximise the patties’ lacey, crispy edges. Topped with crunchy homemade pickles, the burger is served in a pillowy potato brioche bun that’s been tailored to the restaurant’s specifications. The side of pickled onions and jalapeños also allows you to add a little more complexity to your burger if desired.

2 Jalan Leban. Buses: 163, 167, 169, 855, 980

2. Three Buns, Potato Head Singapore

The first international outpost of the Indonesian franchise, Three Buns at Potato Head Singapore in Chinatown – opened in 2014 – lives up to the acclaimed Balinese beach club’s reputation with its whimsical façade, tropical cocktails and hearty burgers. Three Buns, the brand’s burger concept, occupies two levels of the building, and also operates a stand-alone restaurant in Robertson Quay which opened in 2018. Vegetarians aren’t without options here – try the plant-based burgers like the Impossible Dream and The Impossible Chedda which feature a char-grilled medium-rare Impossible patty between a toasted brioche bun. Guests can opt to enjoy their meals at the rooftop bar.

36 Keong Saik Road. Nearest MRT: Outram Park

Three Buns Potato Head Singapore burger SilverKris
Can You Dig It, The Impossible Dream, and Impossible Chedda are three of Three Bun, Potato Head Singapore’s most popular burgers. Photo credit: Potato Head

3. Burger Labo

Burger Labo made a name for itself after coming out tops in a 2019 blind taste test by The Straits Times, against 11 other burgers in Singapore. The restaurant opened in 2015 with just a single item on the menu, a “Basic” Burger that was anything but. It comprised of a single or double patty made with a blend of 100% grass-fed Aberdeen Angus and Kuroge Washu grilled a la plancha (on a steel griddle), topped with red onions pickled in IPA, American cheese, Wagyu fat, a homemade special sauce and gherkins – all sandwiched between a buttered and toasted potato bun. While the Basic Burger is a signature that’s still available today, you can now try additional menu items like the blue cod fillet burger, chicken burger and even a Connecticut-style lobster roll.

41 Malan Road. Nearest MRT: Labrador Park

4. 2280

Sister establishment to Burger Labo, 2280 features an even more pared down menu that distils their burger crafting know-how into just three burgers: a single and double beef burger and a cod burger. The beef burgers here are priced more affordably and have smaller 100g patties (as opposed to Burger Labo’s 150g patties) that are infused with beef garum (a fermented beef extract) and topped with American cheese, pickled red onions and the same house-made sauce as Burger Labo.

213 Henderson Road, #01-10 Henderson Industrial Park. Buses: 57, 145, 145A, 175, 176, 272, 273

5. Shake Shack

The famed New York burger joint Shake Shack opened its first Southeast Asian outpost at Jewel Changi Airport with much fanfare (and snaking queues) in 2019. Signature menu items like the ShackBurger – a grilled Angus beef patty topped with American cheese and served between pillowy potato buns – and the vegetarian ‘Shroom Burger, with crispy fried portobello mushrooms and a tangy blend of melted Colby cheddar, Monterey Jack and Tilsit cheese as its patty, are a must-try. The Jewel outlet is Shake Shack’s flagship in Asia but you can now grab their burgers at nine outlets across Singapore.

Various locations

Shake Shack burger Singapore SilverKris
Shake Shack recommends the Shack Burger for first-timers. Photo credit: Shack Shack

6. Five Guys

Hot on the heels of Shack Shack, Five Guys opened their first Singapore outlet in December 2019 where they sold over a thousand burgers on opening day. Like Shake Shack, Five Guys has a devoted following of burger aficionados that include former US President Barack Obama. Burgers here come with two 100g patties (or a single one if you opt for the “little” burgers) and you’ll have the option to add free toppings like onions, jalapeños, hot sauce and sautéed mushrooms. The burger menu here is kept restrained, offering regular and little burgers, with or without bacon and cheese, along with Cajun spiced fries, all-beef hot dogs and a decadent selection of milkshakes.

Various locations

7. Burger Bar New York

With only a neon-lit sign betraying its location, this secret burger shack found in a back alley of Gemmill Lane is a little hard to spot. Venture past the heavy metal doors and thick velvet drapes and you’ll find a casual American-style diner within. The venue is styled after its original outpost in New York’s Parker Meridien Hotel. Burger Bar New York’s menu is scrawled on torn cardboard boxes features a selection of burgers along with sides like crispy shoestring fries. For drinks, there’s craft beer on tap as well as an array of milkshakes. What makes this one of the best burgers in Singapore is the freshness of the meat, which is flown in from Nebraska. For an introduction to their offerings, opt for the bacon cheeseburgerwhich comes with a five-ounce medium-rare patty topped with melted cheddar, crispy bacon, ketchup, mayo and mustard served on a toasted bun. Be sure to order “the works” for toppings such as pickles and onions, at no additional charge.

115 Amoy Street (entrance on Gemmill Lane). Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer

Burger Joint Singapore SilverKris
Pop by Burger Bar New York for their mouth-watering Jalapeño Bacon Cheeseburger. Photo credit: Burger Bar New York

8. 25 Degrees Singapore

The Singapore branch of the swish Los Angeles burger and wine bar is named after the temperature difference between a raw and well-done burger. 25 Degrees Singapore’s main menu is a tight one, featuring just six burgers. A must-try is the signature Number One, which has a 200g USA Angus beef patty and strips of smoky bacon, topped with creamy Crescenza cheese and Thousand Island dressing. Number Two and Number Three contain beef patties with a variety of toppings like burrata or Monterey Jack cheese, while the Number Four consists of seared yellowfin tuna topped with fresh lettuce, fried onions and spicy aioli. Its original Hollywood location has also developed a reputation as a hotspot for A-list celebrities.

200 Middle Road, Hotel G. Nearest MRT: Rochor, Bencoolen

25 Degrees Singapore SilverKris
25 Degrees Singapore’s signature Number One burger. Photo credit: 25 Degrees Singapore

9. Meatsmith Telok Ayer

The meat mavens at the longstanding “full metal” smokehouse Meatsmith are savvy with more than just briskets and pulled pork. The Meatsmith Cheeseburger is a hefty proposition with two beef patties, American cheese and pickles sandwiched between a soft brioche bun. Come by between 11.30am and 2.30pm and you can enjoy their lunchtime offer which includes crinkle cut fries, slaw and a tap beer of your choice for $30. Other burger-adjacent offerings include the Nashville fried chicken, pulled pork, brisket and eggplant sandwiches.

167-169 Telok Ayer Street. Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer

10. Wolf Burgers

From humble beginnings as a gourmet food stall, Wolf Burgers has since made a name for itself and expanded to seven locations across Singapore. The chain offers quality burgers at an affordable price point. There’s also a menu for kids as well as family bundles with sliders as an option. If you’re particularly hungry, sink your teeth into the Alpha, a double beef patty burger stacked with cheddar, pickled onions and their specialty WOLF sauce sandwiched between brioche buns. If you’re a fan of mushrooms in a burger, the Forager is another great pick which features a single beef patty smothered in sautéed onions, shoyu mayo, Provolone cheese and white button mushrooms.

Various locations

Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking and seating requirements before visiting. Remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.

This article was originally published in the June 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine and updated on 30 November 2022.

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from SilverKris

Thursday, 1 December 2022

10 best things to do and see in Narita, Japan

Despite what you may see at first glance, the Narita is full of attractions and entertainment options, since it is also a major hub for airline crew in search of activities. Whether you are on a 24-hour stopover or intend to add Narita as part of your Japanese itinerary, we uncover why this Japanese city is worthy of your vacation time.

1. Naritasan Omotesando Street

This store-lined street in front of Narita Station stretches over a kilometre and offers fantastic options for shopping, dining and drinking. There’s a wide variety of shops selling traditional crafts, souvenirs and clothing, so it’s a great place to pick up gifts. There is a range of eateries, but be sure to try the local freshwater eel (unagi). Or if you have a sweet tooth, give the fluffy Japanese pancakes a go. Some of the buildings date back to the Edo period, creating a gorgeous shopping experience among old Japanese architecture.

2. Naritasan Temple

This beautiful Buddhist temple is an insight into historic Japan. Built over 1,000 years ago, Naritasan Shinshoji Temple surrounds its main sacred object of worship, a statue of the Buddhist Fudo Myo-o deity. Despite the low-key location, it is actually the second most visited shrine or temple in Japan after the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo – its striking beauty no doubt the reason behind its popularity. A variety of temple buildings are also scattered around the peaceful gardens that incorporate both traditional Japanese and European influences.

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Photo credit: Drufisher/Flickr

3. Narita Airport

Love airports? They actually don’t get much better than Narita, so arrive early and explore what it has to offer. At Terminal 1, there is the NAA Art Gallery featuring works from talented local artists. Aviation enthusiasts can also watch planes take off and land from the observation decks of Terminals 1 and 2. Or if you’d rather wait for your flight in style, then check into one of the comfy traveller’s lounges and watch the planes with a beverage and newspaper instead.

4. Naritasan Park

Located behind the famous Naritasan Temple, the park is a huge traditional landscape of plants, flowering trees and ponds with goldfish circling around. It is beautiful during all seasons, but especially so in spring, during cherry blossom season in March and April, and autumn (October), when the leaves change to warm brown, yellow and orange colours. There are two waterfalls that feed the park’s stream, and if you’re lucky, you can catch one of many music performances held in front of the Great Peace Pagoda on weekends in spring and autumn.

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Photo credit: かがみ~/Flickr

5. The Museum of Aeronautical Sciences

The Museum of Aeronautical Sciences is a super-fun, hands-on museum all about the wonderful world of aviation. There are full-scale replicas of historic aircraft, a garden of smaller planes and helicopters, and you can even try piloting your own plane in the life-sized flight simulators. As the museum is located next to Narita Airport on the south end of the runway, there is an impressive observation area offering great views of all the action. The design of the deck is modelled after a flight control tower.

6. Narita Gion Festival

This festival has been taking place annually for over 300 years and signals the beginning of summer in Japan. It is huge – so popular with locals that they start preparing for the next one the day after it’s over. The whole of Narita becomes a vibrant whirlwind of colour, with floats, chanting and dancing. Come and join in the celebrations and witness some amazing sights and sounds. The festival is held each year on the three days closest to July 7, 8 and 9, heading into the weekend.

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Photo credit: Hetarllen Mumriken/Flickr

7. Nabedana Kouzaki Brewery

Nabedana has brewed sake (Japanese rice wine) for more than 350 years and the company has been in the family for 19 generations. Here, you can learn about the process of sake making and sample some of the freshly brewed bottles in the shop, including signature brands Jinyu and Fudoh. The shop has many kinds, sizes and prices of sake, from single bottles to gift sets, and there are cute little ceramic sake cups available for purchase. Reservations for the tours are required at least a week in advance (these are in Japanese but include English videos) via the website.

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Photo credit: Nabedana/Facebook

8. Kimono Try-On Service

The kimono is a traditional Japanese outfit, most often worn for special occasions such as festivals or formal family celebrations. At Kimono Try-On, men, women and children can sport one of these stunning garments and go for a stroll around the local area to take photos in them. Staff will help you put one on, and if you get really attached, you can even purchase a kimono in the shop afterwards. In summer, they also rent yukata, a garment made of lighter, thinner material than the standard kimono.

9. Sushi Edokko

If you love big portions, you’ll love Sushi Edokko. The pieces are all way above average in size, taste delicious and reasonably priced – visitors can expect to have a massive feast for lunch or dinner. The restaurant has a quaint and comfy atmosphere, so pull up a chair and get lost in a world of amazing sushi.

10. Narita Dream Dairy Farm

Since 1887, Narita Dream Dairy Farm has produced the freshest and most delicious milk for the people of Japan. This large 300,000 sq m farm produces its own ice cream and yogurt as well, and visitors can discover the processes of creating fine Narita Dream dairy products as well as savour the flavours in its restaurant and cafe. There is even a chance to milk a cow, twice a day at 11.30am and 2.30pm, and kids will love the pony riding stables and seeing the adorable rabbits.

This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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from SilverKris

Friday, 25 November 2022

Restaurant Lafleur

This restaurant has been deemed worthy of not one but two Michelin stars. Set inside Palmengarten, one of Frankfurt’s botanical gardens, Lafleur offers multi-course Mediterranean-influenced feasts, as well as a vegan tasting menu.

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