reflection on how to adapt the glory of Omotenashi to 2020 lifestyle

When visiting Japan, how many of our foreign visitors enjoy the experience and learn?

Could the hotels gain popularity, guest reviews and build memories by simply providing a simple explanation of what a Japanese breakfast is?
In the last 2 days, I tried with Belgian and Mexican families, and guess what? In both instances they were happy someone would present and they tried it out!
Another option could be to close restaurants a bit later than 21.00 in key cities like Yokohama Hiroshima for example!!! That seriously puts off latin clients let me tell you.
Hotels may also put forward that they remain open later with cool options like ramen/beer. Udon/beer etc. Easy cool nice revenue and happy clients who will surely consume and share the tip on social media.
Let’s bring omotenashi to life again adapted to 2020 tourism boom!

Kanazawa easy to visit

Kanazawa is becoming very accessible with the Shinkansen in 2h40 from Tokyo. Also, Cathay Pacific will start operating in April to Kanazawa so our neighbors will discover this jewel

please check Kanazawa but also Food in Kanazawa and Kanazawa market. Highly recommend to visit Kenrokuen, one of the 3 most beautiful gardens of Japan

 

My favourite chic Soba

Soba are buckwheat noodles, very common in Japan, they date back from the Edo period where it was discovered that this wealthy dish, unlike white rice eaten by wealthy citizens, was not developing a disease at the time

there were at least a couple of soba places in every village in Japan. Nowadays, they are everywhere almost, from very basic to very sophisticated. Here is my favourite one, Honmura An.

Located just off the Roppongi crossing in Tokyo, it is very easy to find although in a tiny quiet street. the style is minimalist, modern, light wood, concrete because the owner was inspired by his New York times when he reviewed the place.

This is a family business, when the parents grew old, they asked their son to come back and run the place, which he did. Until then, he was running his own Honmura An in New York and it seems everyone knows that one rather than the Tokyo one.

it is always friendly, excellent service, food is amazing, fresh produce in season, prepared simply to enjoy the taste. I had the best Matsuyama potatoes for example. Every time I have been, it has been a delight! Yukiko San, thank you for introducing me to the best soba

Before that, I was not too keen on soba that I found sticky, tasteless, nothing fancy really. Now, I can tell you I became a fan BUT with high standards

 

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Wakkanai

That’s it!! I can now say that I explored Japan from North to South, from Wakkanai to Ishigaki!!

We spent 3 days at the end of November in Wakkanai, and visited the northernmost point there.

CLIMATE

VERY cold and snowy already

 

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AMBIANCE

SOOOO unique… it felt like there were no inhabitants, very special, hardly any cars, hardly any people outside in the streets, very old fashioned shops. Most of them have signposts in Russian since we are so close.

There was a very limited choice of restaurants in town, so much so that we had to plan our 3 days around that list and booked them, stick to their working hours, etc

it is also the last train station up north, 2 trains a day to Sapporo, first time that we go to a station where you watch the train coming to you through the window as the rail does not go beyond (see above photo)

 

FOOD

amazingly fresh, simple, fish based, excellent, every meal was of very good quality

we had one lunch above the fish market, that was cute, 2 senior ladies run the place, tatami rooms, set lunch with excellent sashimi

we also had a very good dinner in a sashimi/sushi place

 

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overall, great if you like fish

We realised it had been so many years since we could tell the closest restaurant chain was over 3h drive away (no starbucks, no mc donald, no TGI etc,), there were actually no chains at all and it was even difficult to find a Kombini!! On the Sunday, I needed cash and could not find any ATM, go prepared

PEOPLE

really nice and smiling, curious, happy and proud to see us visiting, willing to share

 

HIGHLIGHTS

fish market – a small place but fantastic products, the fishmongers really tried hard to show us, explain, and even took us in the back office to see the crabs

Northermost point – so windy and cold but wild and beautiful, this is a 40mn bus drive from the train station, very easy, there is a bus every 20mn, they dont take suica or pasmo, you have to buy the ticket at the counter in the station or in the bus if you have change. Once there, apart from the monument itself, there is a hill with a windmill, a shrine and a breathtaking view over Russia and the sea, but my god, was it cold and windy that day!!

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this is a great place for a quiet week end – hiking and walking in the summer must be beautiful – in the winter, meditation, peace,

on day 2, at breakfast, there were deers in the garden behind the hotel. on day 3, we saw more of them wandering in the streets. a different Japan all together, we will go again! loved it after all

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Food and more Food – this country is about food

Japan has so much to offer when it comes to food. I have 2 friends visiting currently for 2 weeks and both of them never eat raw food nor seafood. I thought this might be a challenge but we are reaching the end of the 2 weeks and we have not finished yet our wishlist. this is endless and always so delicious, oisshiii!!

I took them for lunch on a couple of occasions, restaurants are a commodity here and you can get a set lunch for JPY750 to JPY900 easily and that will always include a bowl of rice, pickles, a bowl of miso soup and the main dish, sometimes a fruit portion, it is excellent value, almost always good and healthy at all times

 

Karaoke

fancy a karaoke night? here is a view

you come, you pay, you choose your package that includes size of room and duration required, percussions,  and off you go. you can rent costumes if you wish to

Drinks include all sorts of tapioca drinks, very fun and unusual for me.

 

 

Once in the room, you choose from the tablet the kind of music, and it displays on the screen. it is fun and easy going

seafood – fish & co

really yummy place in Roppongi – right next to Midtown shopping mall, the place is called Uoshin Nogizaka. the atmosphere is like an izakaya and they provide a lot of different fishes and seafood in a great atmosphere

2nd floor is smoking area. prices are ok, menu is in Japanese, there is a limited simple English version but the fun is to choose randomly

excellent address – make sure you book in advance as it is packed Monday to Sunday steadily