Valentine’s day in Japan

Here the tradition is that Japanese LADIES offer chocolate to their Valentine.

Men do nothing, just receive!

this turns into a massive commercial opportunity. look at the metro corridors in Ebisu this Tuesday evening, just before the big day, shops all along, ladies queuing and buying!

Okinawa – #2

One thing that is very visible in the island is the number of school trips from all around the country. Okinawa has a great image for the climate, the ocean, the nature and most of the highschool trips consider Okinawa

And again, I am so impressed by the discipline, the organisation. All students stand in line. all is cool.

At the airport, they simply sit in groups quietly on the floor waiting for their flight. Best practice we could use in Europe where we always end up with a noisy messy group

 

Tokyo lights

One thing to note is that all fairs are an opportunity in Japan. Mother’s day, baseball, Halloween, Christmas, New Year, you name it, anything works!

IN december, near Yoyogi park, adjoining the NHK buildings, there was this amazing blue alley, every day at 17h00, it would switch on along the 750m that lead up to Shibuya.

They used to have this in Meguro but moved it there 3 years ago. it is a fairy tale when all lightens, I was very impressed. If you are in town in December, dont miss out, it is worth the moment, try to be there at 16h50 to see the launch any evening of the week. You may also enjoy it in 6 others cities across the country – Nagoya, Sendai, Sapporo, Hiroshima, Osaka and Fukuoka.

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Okinawa – #1

Okinawa is the south part of Japan, it is actually closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, 45mn flight to Taipei, 2h30 to Tokyo!!

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ANA has a large share of the flights to Okinawa, followed by JAL. there are a few low cost carriers as well from Tokyo mostly. Of course, you may connect from anywhere in Japan to Okinawa but also from Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul etc. into Naha, the main city in the main island, Okinawa Island.

Okinawa is over 100 islands but not only have people living on them.

There is a strong and unique history as the island once was a kingdom and is the last addition to Japan, in the recent history, the island was taken over by the Kagoshima people and then became Japanese. However, in 1945, the US took control of the region and the land was only given back to Japan in 1974, which implies that infrastructures did not grow at the same pace as the rest of the country and so, with the 1st oil crisis in 1973, the timing was not great and you can definitely feel that Okinawa did not benefit from the same economic boom as the rest of the country.

Okinawa is also the island with the highest demographic growth, the lowest average income, the highest level of poverty and social challenges.

The islands mostly live from agriculture and tourism. Tourism expanded as of 1974. JAL and ANA launched flights, Japanese people wanted to explore and visit the natural beauty of Okinawa once the region was given back. Both airlines therefore built hotels to accomodate the travellers.

Nowadays, there is a new wave of expansion, with many hotel extensions, new hotels, luxury properties in Ishigaki due to the boom of inbound tourism and senior travellers growing at fast pace in Japan.

 

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I could only stay 2.5 days for work purposes but was overwhelmed by the many histories and differences with Japan. I learnt a lot in this little time and will investigate further

to be continued…

Japan school lunch

have a look – http://www.businessinsider.com/japans-amazing-school-lunch-program-2017-3/#lunchtime-in-japanese-primary-schools-is-almost-sacred-it-isnt-hurried-or-hasty-kids-get-the-time-just-to-sit-and-eat-1

 

this is a model to replicate – https://youtu.be/hL5mKE4e4uU

Nara

What a beautiful day, a beautiful city. Nara, so far, remains my favourite place to visit in Japan, always peaceful, calmer than Kyoto, walkable, compact.

This Sunday, I decided to go early morning and walk around. It is always good to pay a visit to the shrine in January. I got my fair share yesterday, so many shrines in one place!

Nara used to be Japan capital and has 3 world heritage sites, you may access via the Kintestu train lines, the station is very close to the park and the monuments. I took the JR line to Nara JR Station, 50mn in rapid train from Osaka. It is 15mn walk additional vs Kintestu but you go along the shopping street, that’s ok.

Special from Nara are of course the deers but I was very happy to see that it is also Tsukemono (pickle vegetable) just like in Kyoto. I love those (watch the photos) and Kudzu.  I just received kudzu as a gift on Saturday and saw different types and flavours at the train station shop, it is a powder that you pour hot water over, it becomes a sticky juice and tastes matcha, ginger, etc.. it looks a bit like jelly, very healthy and plenty of flavour

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Allow 1 day to enjoy the city. I would recommend you go in the morning to appreciate the peace and quiet before the tourist groups arrive for their rush visit. There are 4 main locations around the park with the Daibutsu being the main attraction. All have their enchantment.