▼ “The most magical place on Earth…sans your favorite sweets.”
Thankfully, the confectionery crisis is finally about to end when the parks resume selling all manner of snacks, sweets, and other food items in limited locations beginning on January 17. Staff have confirmed that there should be enough items in stock to avoid another deficit.
The specific shopfronts that will resume selling munchable souvenirs are the following:
Tokyo Disneyland: World Bazaar Confectionery, Pastry Palace
Tokyo DisneySea: Valentina’s Sweets, Merchant of Venice Confections
▼ World Bazaar Confectionery, the largest candy store in Tokyo Disneyland
In addition, park visitors can continue to place purchases for edible souvenirs via the Tokyo Disney Resort app while on park premises. Beginning on 17 January, the previous restriction limiting one customer to one of each item will also be lifted.
If you’ll be visiting Tokyo Disney Resort in the near future, keep your eyes peeled for the 2022 Disney New Year goods, themed around the Year of Tiger, for more extra special souvenirs to take home.
The revision comes following research that the highly infectious omicron variant of COVID-19 has a shorter incubation period than other variants. The first phase of self-isolation is still spent at a government-designated hotel for three, six or ten days, depending on where you departed. For those that need to complete the rest of the isolation period elsewhere, the remainder can be completed on a trust basis, either at home or in alternative self-funded accommodation. The date of arrival is day zero.
Below is a quick rundown of what you can expect from a foreign resident who recently experienced returning to Japan.
Before departure to Japan
Returnees are expected to take a COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before departure. This is crucial as proof of a negative result is required to board the plane. It’s advisable to present your negative test result in the valid format Japanese officials prefer.
Installation of the following necessary apps is also required:
As you might know, Japan has introduced some pretty draconic rules for re-entry to Japan.
Depending on what country you’re coming in from, you might have to spend some time in a quarantine facility. I recently returned from the UK, and because of Omicron being rampant there, I was required to spend 6 days in a quarantine hotel. So let me tell you what my experience of this has been like and some suggestions for you if you are coming back to Japan anytime soon.
Bring the gov’t Covid test sheet with you when you get your “fit to fly” test
Bring or buy food for quarantine, what they give you is nowhere near enough for an adult
Make a plan on how to use the time, or you’ll just end up watching Netflix the whole quarantine.
Resistance bands were great exercise during my hotel quarantine. If you have some, bring them.
An update from January 15th, the quarantine period total has been reduced to 10 days, but as far as we know countries with high numbers of omicron cases are still mostly required to spend either 3 or 6 days in hotel isolation.
Arriving at the airport and bureaucracy
I waited for several hours in this room at Haneda.
I took a direct flight from London Heathrow and arrived at Haneda at 3pm in the afternoon. The process to get through immigration requires quite a few specific documents, and if you don’t have them I presume there will be some trouble. The details can be found on the MOFA site but when I went they needed:
The government approved Covid testing form signed by the doctor who administered my test.
A written pledge promising that I won’t violate the quarantine rules
A QR code received from filling in the governments questionnaire
Luxury spa facility is in the top 10 most booked wellness experiences in the world but not a lot of people know there’s a way you can spend the night there.
The other day, our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma got off work early so he decided it was the perfect time to stop by a public bathhouse near the office. He’d heard great things about this facility, so he was keen to check it out, especially on this freezing cold evening in Tokyo.
As one of the largest natural hot spring spa facilities in Tokyo, Thermae-Yu is conveniently located smack-bang in the middle of Kabukicho in Shinjuku. It’s also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which makes it a great place to hang out and unwind if you miss your last train out of the city, and a good place to wait out the busy rush hour trains after work.
▼ Thermae-Yu offers lounges and massage chairs for guests to relax in.
Just as ancient Roman soldiers healed their wounds in thermae bath complexes back in the day, modern-day workers in Shinjuku can heal their scars from the day at Thermae-Yu. Masanuki sure felt like a tired warrior who’d stepped in from the cold when he arrived at the six-storey facility, and the first thing he did was take off his shoes and step into some slippers, leaving his shoes in one of the lockers at the entrance.
Today, we will get off the beaten track with the visit of the city of Aizu Wakamatsu. It’s located in Fukushima prefecture and it’s part of the Tohoku area in Japan. Tohoku is a very authentic region which is really underrated and should attract a lot more visitors from my point of view.
When mass tourism may spoil a bit the travel experience in Japan, Aizu Wakamatsu is still a hidden gem where old traditions can be seen everywhere! Let’s spend a day in this beautiful city and see what are the places you should not miss out!
Nisshin-kan – The School of Samurai
The Samurai tradition in Aizu is very important and the best place to witness it is in Nisshin-kan. It’s a school of Samurai that has been established in 1803 for the purpose of training young kids to become successful Samurai warriors.
The kids used to join the school at 10 years old and their education includes academic studies and physical training. The goal was to create powerful warriors that are strong mentally and physically.
An important part of the education was based on Confucius teachings and you can actually find a shrine dedicated to the worship of Confucius in the school.
Kurokawa Onsen was one of Kyushu’s best kept secrets, but we reckon time’s up for this humble and authentic onsen town to stop flying under the radar. Kurokawa is immensely popular amongst domestic tourists, but westerners are more likely to never have heard of this onsen town. In saying that, the number of people drawn to this onsen town is no joke.
And you’d think that, because of its growing popularity, there would be continuous high-rise hotels and guesthouse accommodation popping up left, right and centre answering to the number of tourists – but there isn’t (and this is a good thing).
One of the unique characteristics about Kurokawa Onsen is that the entire local community have made a sound effort to maintain the traditional look, feel, and ambience of the original town itself, so despite the number of visitors you see on the streets, you can look up and around, and all you’ll see are the original forms of the onsens dating back many years ago, built with wooden materials, earthen walls, cobblestone stairs, and curved roofs.
No commercialized hotels, no colourful signs, no skyrise buildings – pure and simple Japanese aesthetics, surrounded by luscious forests and mountains with a calming river running through the town.
Pro tip: general rule of thumb is that if you’re after a bit of space and uninterrupted views, book a ryokan outside of town, possibly alongside the mountain, but if you’re after rustic goodness with touches of culture and history, book the …continue reading
Japanese musician, photographer and Twitter user あゆ Ayu (@auki999) posted a beautiful photo they took in Ginzan Onsen 銀山温泉, a hot spring resort nested in the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture and famous for its charming, retro decor.
Take a look at this photo of the town at night carpeted in white under gently falling snow.
Shimabara is located at the eastern tip of the peninsula of the same name, in Nagasaki prefecture. This peninsula was formed following the eruptions of the Unzen volcano at the center of it. Shimabara is the most important city on the peninsula and a unique place I loved visiting!
One of its main characteristics is the amazing quality of its water springs. Shimabara’s spring water is so clean that Japanese carp can live in the city’s pipes! That’s why people call it Koi fish town by the way.
Let’s first find out how to get to Shimabara and where you can stay. We’ll talk more about the city’s cuisine and must-visit attractions later.
How To Go To Shimabara
To go to Shimabara from Nagasaki, the most convenient way is the train. You should first take the JR Nagasaki Line to Isahaya Station, then transfer to the Shimabara Railway and stop at Shimabara Station. The trip takes about 2 hours and costs 1940 yen.
From Fukuoka, it will be easier to take the Highway bus which goes directly to Shimabara in 3 hours, from the Hakata terminal. A one-way ticket costs 3040 yen and the round trip costs 4820 yen.
Where To Stay In Shimabara
If you’re planning to spend a few days in Shimabara, I recommend you book at the Nampuro hotel! It’s a seaside hotel where you can enjoy beautiful views from your room and the onsen.
The onsen of this hotel are a sight to behold! There are different types with indoor and outdoor baths (rotemburo) and a view of …continue reading
A journey of 1,000 kilometers begins with a single log-in.
The Shikoku Pilgrimage, known as Shikoku Henro in Japanese, is famous both for its rich history and sprawling size. This 1,200 kilometer (746 mile) circular route goes around the four prefectures that make up the island of Shikoku, passing through 88 temples and other special sites connected to Japanese Buddhism.
▼ Shikoku Island
Although the journey was originally taken on foot, nowadays it’s very common to take a bus tour and even break the 88 sites up into separate trips, visiting only a few temples at a time. In many ways it’s more of a scenic tour than actual religious ritual, and it’s a big boost to the economy of this relatively rural area.
And now it’s about to get a whole lot easier, because a new service is letting people experience the entire journey from the comfort of their homes in Online Henro. This program allows people to follow along sections or the entire route via Zoom.
This is intended for anyone who may not be able to participate in the real pilgrimage due to physical, financial, time, or distance issues. Previously, virtual pilgrimages have been done before by video, but this is the first time that people will be able to go along remotely in real-time, and even be able to recite sutras and mantras at the temples with their own voice.
They can also interact with the tour guide who will teach them about the customs and procedures along the way while also teaching about the history of the route and locations of interest. In addition, the organizers got the …continue reading