Tokyo’s High-Tech Cemetery

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Tokyo is an extremely overcrowded place, the land is expensive and a grave site for a funeral urn can cost up to USD100,000 in Tokyo.
But the architect Kiyoshi Takeyama and the Toyota Group’s electronic division have found a clever solution: the Shinjuku Rurikoin Byakurengedo, a multi-story charnel house located in the heart of the famous Tokyo shopping district, Shinjuku with its bars, neon billboards, hostess clubs, salarymen crowds, love hotels, shiny skyscrapers, packed crossings – and now a temple.Shinjuku Rurikoin Byakurengedo
It uses advanced automated warehouse technology  to store and allow access to the remains of the deceased. The family of the deceased has access to an “electronic tombstone” with ID card. A door opens automatically to reveal an ersatz gravestone with the name and photograph of the deceased person.

We will not ask you if this system tempts you in case you leave this world …but you can just visit and pray.

http://www.byakurengedo.net/ (Japanese only)

With the Yamabushi from Yamagata

In the ancient province of Dewa, there are three sacred mountains that the Japanese pilgrims –Yamabushi (山伏)- have been pacing for centuries.
The yamabushi are traveling monks, traveling from village to village, following the pilgrimage paths leading them to their retreat in the mountains. They are both feared and respected for the magical powers acquired through their asceticism. Their role in the development of Buddhism in the countryside was extremely important because they conveyed a simplified form of it, diminished by the official clergy but had the merit of touching the daily concerns of people.
To honor the gods, they indulge in rituals of purification and bring novices to the mountain.

Daishobo, a pilgrim lodge in the foothills of the three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan is launching Yamabushido, a mountain training program for non-Japanese and international visitors this summer.

For more information please visit: http://yamabushi.jp/

Mount Fuji – Shibazakura Festival

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Japan spring flowers are an explosion of colors and for those who miss the chance to see the famous Sakura in the cherry season, don’t feel to sad about it!, the Shibazakura Festival -富士芝桜まつり- (Moss Phlox or Moss Pink) season is here, with a 1 ½ month long celebration that usually starts mid-April and finishes at the end of May.
Shibazakura in Japanese literally means “cherry lawn” which refers to the pink carpet created by blooming moss phlox. The plant, native to North America is now cultivated at many places in Japan.
There are plenty of well renowned Shibazakura Matsuri (festival) in Japan, but the most popular Shibazakura festival is held near Lake Motosu at the foot of Mount Fuji, called “Fuji Shibazakura Matsuri” which boasts a total of over 800,000 shibazakura flowers, filling a 2.4 hectare area and spreading out like a brilliant pink carpet, with Mount Fuji in the background.

You will never forget this scenery.

Contact us for more information.

Koyo viewing on Mount Takao

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“Koyo” is the Japanese word for leaves color change, during the Autumn. Trees, mainly Mapple trees and Ginko change their color from green to yellow, orange, red and make a spectacular view.
All forested mountains become tourists hot spots for autumn color viewing . It doesn’t happen everywhere at the same time though – it occurs over more than two months across Japan.
It starts usually in late September at high altitudes of mountain areas, where temperatures are cooler, and on the northern island of Hokkaido then descends down to the plain areas towards south of Japan.
Mount Takao (599m) is one of the closest natural recreation areas to central Tokyo and late November the mountain becomes one of Tokyo’s most popular koyo spot. Takaosan (Mount Takao) and the surrounding mountain areas also offer attractive hiking opportunities with many well marked hiking trails. It is also the home to an attractive Buddhist temple-Yakuoin.

Join us on a day tour. Contact us for info.

Japanese Food Theme Parks

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Japan is a food paradise  and Japanese food theme parks have spread out  all over the country and they will whet the appetites of the food-curious visitors.

The food theme parks specialize in one type of food and offer various versions of that particular dish and if you are in Japan you might want to check out the following:

At the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum you will learn about the history of ramen, strolling through a dozen ramen shops with regional flavors from different parts of Japan in a 1950s shitamachi (old style downtown) setting. Admission is 310 yen, then tickets for ramen are purchased from vending machine in front of the shops.
Info: http://www.raumen.co.jp/english/

Then the Namja Gyoza Stadium which is located in the very noisy Namja Town game center inside Ikebukuro Sunshine City. Admission to Namja Town is 500 yen, then you can stroll around a dozen famous gyoza shops from around the country. Adjacent to  is “Ice Parlor,” with fifty types of ice cream, some with weird flavors like freshwater eel (unagi) oyster ice cream, Indian curry…
Info: http://event.namco.co.jp/namja/en/

In Osaka, known as the Tenka no Daidokoro (the Nation’s Kitchen), famous for its inexpensive and tasty casual foods such as okonomiyaki and takoyaki, you will find the Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokocho, located inside the Tempozan Marketplace shopping mall. It showcases Osaka’s variety of native dishes and specialties, all set in a 1970s street scene. Admission is free.
Info: http://www.kaiyukan.com/language/eng/kuishinbo.html

And finally, the Osaka Takoyaki Museum,  a great place to strengthen your knowledge about what may be Osaka’s most famous contribution to Japan’s rich street-food culture. Located inside City Walk at Universal Studio complex, you will choose among 5-6 Takoyaki outlets from some of Osaka’s most famous makers of  takoyaki.
Info: http://ucw.jp/otm/