Okayama is a city located 30mn away from Kobe and 45mn from Osaka to the south. It is said to be the city of eternal spring, beautiful weather at all time.
After spending a week end there, I can say it is a quiet place worth 2 days and 1 night. We stayed at the ANA Crowne Plaza and loved it, very friendly team, very good breakfast, the hotel is directly connected to the station so very convenient.
What I liked about the city
- Okayama castle, just another castle to me, but this one is all black and very elegant
- Korakuen which is one of the 3 most beautiful gardens of Japan, it is smaller than the one in Kanazawa but also worth a visit, it took me 2 hours to explore, it is very peaceful, I got to see the tea plantation, but also red head cranes, beautiful and there were prayers in the temple which I loved, it added to the peace
- Food is good although nothing really special outside of the yellow chives and of course the peach/momo (with the story of Momotaro)
- People are friendly, easy going, you feel no stress
- One thing that surprised me and I did not know is that the region produces blue jeans, called Momotaro Jeans, and you can see them everywhere, did you know?
When Okinawa became Japanese in full again, in 1974, it was the economic boom, airlines were growing fast, so as mentioned in a previous post, ANA and JAL picked up great locations and built up hotels on the island, launching the boom of domestic tourism to the islands.
I stayed at the ANA InterContinental on Manza Beach, wonderful location, 31 ha of activities, gardens, swimming pools, a private beach, boats, sailing, it is a unique resort.
The Ginza area is a hot spot if you want to show off, go shopping and buy luxury goods, a lot of department stores are regrouped there, there is even a metro stop called after one of them (Mitsukoshi mae).
Just like the Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, it took a massive fire at the end of the XIX century for an architect to redesign the area. gradually it became the place to be seen for the Tokyoites until the great earthquake in 1923. The area, guess what, was rebuilt one more time and again regained its fame for nice buildings, high end shopping.
After the war, the reputation came back and nowadays, Ginza is packed with Chinese tourists coming for luxury goods, so much so that restrictions are in place in most shops that the Japanese themselves can get access and stock of those, should they want to buy any.
Nightlife is trendy there, although very expensive. however, if you go down the avenue towards Shimbashi, then, it becomes food paradise, plenty of izakaya, all types of bars and cafes. Ginza Corridor for brasseries, oyster bars, etc.
While the word “teppanyaki” may bring to mind knife-wielding chefs performing flashy feats before a sizzling grill, Conrad Tokyo’s Kazahana stylishly revamps the Japanese-style steakhouse into an evening of refinement. Perched on the 28th floor of the high-rise hotel, Kazahana boasts sweeping views of the Shiodome skyline overlooking Tokyo Bay,…
Thursday was business trip for me to Nagoya.
As this is the beginning of the Obon week, you can imagine that train stations and airports were packed. Even though JR has planned shinkansen in the Tokaido line every 4mn (how do we do in France that they cannot manage to get one train every 90mn to arrive on time, it always intrigues me), I had to let a large number of trains go until I could get a seat!
I approached this trip with a pure business focus in mind and hardly any expectation on Nagoya. I have been there years ago and had not found anything special to it. I knew I would have an interesting afternoon as we had to review a specific segment of clientele where we need some work done.
Let me tell, what I found was extraordinary. Although the hotel does not enjoy the best location out of all luxury business hotels in town, it is a gem!! Fully renovated, beautiful restaurants and what a team!! So far, all I heard was that Nagoya people are “different” and they don’t like to spend. Instead, it was a friendly and outgoing bunch of people, all extremely competent and professional, smiling, attached to service, client oriented.
First surprise happened upon arrival. there was a meeting to taste the winter menu, each chef for each of the 6 restaurants was describing his new menu, the recipe, the preparation, the presentation, the ingredients. All the newcomers (young people just out of university) were religiously taking notes, at the end of the session, all could taste. When I asked whether it would be too early to try the December menu in August, all looked at me astonished, they explained this is why they do it, all have notes and have time to review, learn, ask questions and the chef to prepare orders, suppliers, produce etc.
We then moved to our meeting. After that, I was lucky enough to be here for the welcome celebration party for the new General Manager and again what I found was amazing – a great atmosphere, a buffet that some of our clients would envy, fantastic team, the owner present and mingling with his teams, the GM very open and approachable, the employees smiling and coming naturally to me asking questions, so refreshing
Nagoya indeed has not got much too offer in terms of heritage and monuments BUT you could consider it as a stop on the way to Kyoto (only 30mn train), to enjoy the Nagoya Meshi, great cuisine, based on red miso, eel, deepfried meat, chicken wings. and enjoy the people!! thank you ANA Crowne Plaza Nagoya for this experience.
The Boston Museum is linked to the hotel, nice place, there is a shrine, the port to visit and the Toyota site of course.
Cannot wait to the 1st world-class onsen resort, ANA InterContinental Beppu Resort & Spa (opening 2019) http://bit.ly/2sDCRaI