What does Japan’s new vacation rental law mean for travelers?

Posted by - June 11, 2018

AS Japan clamps down on private lodging services across the country, accommodation vendors such as Airbnb are acting quickly to avoid costly penalties.
From June 15, Japan will enforce a new law for minpaku (private lodging services). The law aims to provide the vacation rental industry with a clear legal framework.
#HOTELS
Take a look inside the Trump-Kim Summit hotel If rental companies do not adhere to the new rules, they could pay more than US$9,000 (JPY1 million) in fines.
The minpaku law will apply to every rental opportunity from single bedrooms to entier houses, most of which currently straddle a grey area of undefined rental law.
But the minpuka law is about to make this clear for all.
What does the new law state? A post shared by Edward Hsieh (@edamameedward) on May 23, 2018 at 9:23pm PDT
By June 16, all rental properties must be registered with the local government. In light of this looming regulation, one of the major players in the rental market, Airbnb recently unlisted 48,200 of its unregistered properties.
Additionally, landlords can only rent properties for a maximum 180 days per year, and local governments can enforce further restrictions, such as stipulating days or weeks of the year when owners can’t rent properties.
Also, every rental must display its registration number on the outside of the property and take measures to prevent noise, garbage, and fire problems.
Landlords must also make an effort to provide overseas tourists with information about facility access and emergency escape plans in foreign languages.
Lastly, the new law has done away with the minimum two-night stay rule but states a management company must be employed to look after the property if owners do not live onsite.
A post shared by arbol (@arbol_architect) on Jun 8, 2018 at 3:02am PDT
Earlier this month, Airbnb issued a warning to its Japanese property owners, stating it would not list rentals until they could prove their registration.
Minpuka law aims to protect neighborhoods and ensure guests are safe.
But until property owners are officially registered and adhere to all the aspects of the regulation, travelers might find themselves with limited options.
#HOTELS
Marriott has big plans for Sheraton brand However, as Japan sees a tourism boom ahead of the 2020 Olympics, the government is investing in accommodation infrastructure to cater for increased tourist numbers.
Earlier this year The Japan Times reported the Organization for Promoting Urban Development would be revising its financing rules to loan hotel developers up to 50 percent of hotel construction costs.
With brand new hotels and registered rentals on the horizon, travelers won’t have to wait long for secure and legal stays. But in the meantime, here are two accommodation booking platforms for those off to explore the Land of the Rising Sun.
Japan Experience A post shared by @japan_experience on Jan 24, 2016 at 2:51am PST
Japan Experience is a tour operator providing accommodation, tours, transport, and real information about the country from those who know it well.
It has traditional and contemporary properties in Kyoto, Tokyo, Kanazawa, and Takayama and offers “Tour Angels” to assist you when you arrive in a new city.
Whether it’s one night or a month-long stay, Japan Experience offer hard-to-beat rates in excellent locations.
Beyond resting your head, Japan Experience gives travelers in-depth tours, either self-guided or expert-led.
Just a glance at the website will reveal how well it knows the country and provide a wealth of information for traveling families, couples, friends and solos.
Rakuten Travel A post shared by 楽天トラベル (@rakutentravel) on Feb 15, 2018 at 12:45am PST
Booking with Rakuten Travel makes you part of something bigger than the accommodation industry.
Rakuten is an innovative e-commerce platform that knows a thing or two about offering competitive hotel rates.
It has 31,000 hotels and ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) on its books and constantly offers exciting deals.
The post What does Japan’s new vacation rental law mean for travelers? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

5 of Japan’s most bizarre beverages

Posted by - June 4, 2018

QUIRKY is certainly one word you could use to describe Japan.
Japan is the home of ancient traditions such as sumo wrestlers and samurai warriors. It also hosts some of the world’s most magnificent flora during its spring season.
#POP CULTURE
Hello Kitty fans, here’s your first look at the Hello Kitty Shinkansen Fashion is innovative, pioneering, and inspiring in Japan. The food is cheap, delicious and healthy, and the landscapes display unrivaled beauty.
Not to mention the anime and manga which has garnered a global cult following.
Through culture, history, and nature you could describe Japan in a thousand different ways.
But for now, let’s focus on another of Japan’s prides – it’s bizarre range of beverages.
Coca-Cola The 330ml canned drink will cost around US$1.40. Source: AFP
The new alcoholic beverage Coca-Cola has just released in Japan, its first alcoholic drink ever, is interesting.
Coco-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world and usually associated with a brown sweet stickiness.
However, the global leader in carbonated drinks recently introduced a Chu-Hi drink in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Chu-Hi is an abbreviation for shochu highball, a term used to categorize fruity alcoholic beverages in Japan.
While the rest of the world might remeber them as “alcopops” from the 80s and 90s, they remain popular in Japan, especially among females.
Currently, citrus flavors such as lemon and grapefruit rule the canned Chu-Hi business in Japan and Coca-Cola wants a sip of that market.
Morinaga Pancake Drink Morinaga Pancake Drink. Source: Pinterest
If you prefer licking the cake mixture off the spoon and bowl instead of actually eating the baked product, then this is for you.
The canned delight is marketed as a sippable pancake mixture and can be dispensed from plenty of vending machines around major cities.
According to those who have tried it, Morinaga has a distinct flapjack taste. Yum!
Wan Wan Sparkling Source: Japan Trend Shop
Why should the human adults have all the fun when it comes to peculiar drinks?
Wan Wan Sparking is wine for dogs and pet owners go crazy over it. The Japanese are known to be very loving toward their pets and want to make sure they feel like they’re part of the family.
Wan Wan is supposedly Chardonnay-flavored. But since dogs aren’t sommeliers, it’s hard to tell what they think of it.
Black Vinegar Source: Shutterstock
You’ll need to forget everything you know about juice bars when you visit Japan because vinegar is on the menu.
Japan has reinvented what is normally used to flavor fish and chips or used as a dip for Asian savories.
It’s drunk for its health benefits, including balancing pH levels, improving digestion and boosting energy levels.
#ADVENTURES
‘Let’s-a go’ join the Mario Kart tour, take Tokyo for a spin Kodomo no nomimono
Following the success of Tomomasu’s Kidsbeer, another Japanese company called Sangria brought out Kodomo no nomimono.
The range includes non-alcoholic champagne, cocktails, and beer, all packaged to mimic real alcohol, especially created for kids.
Oh, they grow up so fast.
The post 5 of Japan’s most bizarre beverages appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Japan bucket list: Peanuts-themed hotel

Posted by - May 16, 2018

SNOOPY is coming to town! By “town”, we mean if you’re anywhere in Japan or if you’re planning a trip to Japan.
Famed for being the “land of cute things”, the upcoming Peanuts comic strip-themed hotel will be yet another adorable addition to the country’s attractions.
#POP CULTURE
Here’s your first look at the magical ‘Ghibli Park’ Set to open in Hyogo prefecture near Sannomiya Station located in the heart of Kobe, the hotel spans six floors of rooms and facilities.
It embodies its motto, “It’s nice to have a home where your guests feel comfortable”.
Guests would be delighted to know that they will be getting a Peanuts Cafe (first floor), a Peanuts Diner (third floor), and three upper floors of guest rooms themed, “Imagine”, “Love”, and “Happy”.
A post shared by PEANUTS HOTEL / ピーナッツ ホテル (@peanutshotel) on May 13, 2018 at 8:14pm PDT
The hotel’s Peanuts Cafe offers the same menu as the Peanut Cafe in Tokyo’s Nakameguro neighborhood, filled to the brim with casual Snoopy-themed food and drinks that are totally Instagrammable.
Peanuts Diner, on the other hand, will serve a slightly more adult menu, complete with pasta and Japanese specialties such as Kobe beef.
And what’s a Peanuts hotel experience if there’s no merchandise?
Peanuts Cafe and Peanuts Diner will also sell Snoopy-themed goods such as T-shirts, tote bags, printed serviettes, and mugs, so you can take a piece of Peanuts hotel home with you.
A post shared by PEANUTS HOTEL / ピーナッツ ホテル (@peanutshotel) on Mar 21, 2018 at 10:01pm PDT
More importantly, be ready to be overwhelmed by the sheer cuteness of the guest rooms.
Each of the 18 rooms will boast its own design and decorations based on different comics from the Charles M. Schulz franchise.
So don’t forget to whip out your camera and snap away.
A post shared by PEANUTS HOTEL / ピーナッツ ホテル (@peanutshotel) on Apr 26, 2018 at 2:15am PDT
Interested? Reservations will start from 10am on July 9, 2018.
The Peanuts hotel will open in Kobe, Japan in August 2018.
Check out their website for more information.
The post Japan bucket list: Peanuts-themed hotel appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

What does Japan’s volcanic eruption mean for your trip?

Posted by - April 23, 2018

LAST Thursday, Japan witnessed the eruption of Mount Io in the southernmost main island of Kyushu.
The volcano had remained dormant for over 250 years until it spewed a potentially deadly plume of thick grey ash last week.
#AIRLINES
Asia’s most dangerous airports The ash cloud prompted officials to shut the usually walkable peak and monitor the situation to ensure the zero death and injury count remains the same.
“There is a possibility that (Mount Io) will become more active,” Makoto Saito, an official from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), cautioned in a report by AFP.
A post shared by Rachel W. (@rachelc.tw) on Mar 2, 2018 at 6:56am PST
The warning level was raised to three over the weekend, with the maximum on Japan’s scale being five.
While the volcano itself does not pose much of a threat to anyone unless they are close by, falling rocks emerging from the thick ash clouds could potentially cause serious harm to anyone unfortunate enough to be in the way.
#ENVIRONMENT
Savannas to rainforests – these are Asia’s newest Geoparks In a later televised interview, Saito urged residents not to go anywhere near the spewing mountain, also establishing a no-go zone around the area.
This is a temporary rule hikers will have to follow too.
While no airline has announced route closures to the island, holidaymakers looking to explore the mountain peaks will have to rethink their itineraries.
A post shared by Amanda Msf (@amanda_msf) on Jan 12, 2018 at 3:09am PST
The volcano is set within the Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park, famous for its hiking trails which snake through baron wasteland, thick forests and rocky paths.
However, there are hundreds of other peaks to climb on Kyushu Island.
Mount Sobo offers hikers a challenging and steep climb with rewarding views of the lush landscape and the sweet scent of beautiful blossoming flowers on the way up.
A post shared by Johan Carlsson (@j0hancarlsson) on Apr 24, 2017 at 5:55am PDT
Alternatively, another brilliant hike can be found on the southern tip of the island at Mount Kaimon.
This particular trail takes hikers around the circumference of the dormant volcano, through woodlands up to the rocky summit.
It’s a fantastic trail climb for adventurous families all year round.
So, any plans to visit the southern prefecture don’t need to be changed, just rejigged.
The post What does Japan’s volcanic eruption mean for your trip? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

5 of Asia’s top 20 restaurants are in Japan

Posted by - April 16, 2018

AS the “Oscars of the Asian gastronomic world” draws to a close for 2018, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants have been chosen and announced to the world for culinary pleasure.
For any foodie who knows Asia’s gastronomy scene, it probably comes as little surprise Gaggan in Bangkok took the top spot once again.
The Bangkok restaurant is run by the wildly imaginative Gaggan Anand along with a team of multi-national culinary alchemists.
#BEACHES
Scuba right into Malaysia’s must-dive destinations Over 300 voters crowned this boundary-pushing restaurant winner but just because it’s at the top, it doesn’t mean it’s the only restaurant on the list worth visiting.
Each featured eatery has made it onto the prestigious list for its unique flavors, distinct dining experience, and progressive cooking methods.
Japan saw 10 restaurants make it onto the list, with five of them coming among the top 20.
Given that Asia is the biggest continent on Earth, this is quite the accolade but unsurprising as the tastes and experiences on offer at the joints are exceptional.
Take a sneak peek at Japan’s hottest restaurants and decide which one you’re going to try first.
Den A post shared by ajira (@ajirathecritic) on Nov 27, 2017 at 11:55pm PST
Coming in just behind Gaggan, Den in Tokyo was opened by Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa with the simple philosophy of making people happy.
“Homemade food is food prepared while thinking about others being happy,” Zaiya wrote on the website.
“Every day, I think about the people who come to the restaurant and cook with the ingredients that arrive each day. For a homemade dish that brings a smile.”
A post shared by Chad (@chad_the_scientist) on Jan 11, 2018 at 9:27am PST
Each dish is playfully presented without compromising taste or technique. The style of cuisine is a modern take on kaiseki, involving a series of small intricate dishes.
Zaiya takes influences from something as simple as a garden salad and jazzing it up with over 20 vegetables.
Considering Den only entered the awards list in 2016 at a well-deserved number 37, it’s now close to being the best in Asia.
Signature dish: Aged fish for sashimi. Address: 2-3-18 Jingumae Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Average spend: US$170 without wine. Florilege A post shared by hansa.foodjourney (@hansa.foodjourney) on Apr 12, 2018 at 7:25am PDT
Coming in at number three, Florilege is headed by chef Hiroyasu Kawate and dishes up imaginative modern French cooking.
The concept of the beautiful restaurant is focused around respect and passion which can be seen as the chefs deliver the dishes to tables and talk to eager diners through the history of the ingredients and the heritage of the dish.
A post shared by Meg (@mmidorikawa) on Apr 6, 2018 at 6:38am PDT
Each dish almost looks too good to eat with vibrant ingredients served on an array of incredible plates and bowls displaying the skill and techniques gone into every bite.
From the green tiger prawns to the manju dumplings stuffed with pigeon and simmered in port wine, every dish on the menu could be considered a delicacy in that moment.
Signature dish: “Sustainability”. Address: Seizan Gaienmae B1F, 2-5-4 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Average spend: US$90 without wine. Narisawa A post shared by NARISAWA (@narisawapress) on Apr 14, 2017 at 11:13am PDT
Once again, Tokyo is home to another divine restaurant run by world-renowned Yoshihiro Narisawa, who’s considered a pioneer in Japanese cuisine.
Each menu correlates to the season and chef Narisawa prides his restaurant in cooking with a conscious and approaches his restaurant with the ethos, “beneficial and sustainable gastronomy”.
A post shared by NARISAWA (@narisawapress) on Jan 15, 2017 at 8:21am PST
The restaurant aims to take its guests through a sensory voyage incorporating sound, sight, aroma, texture, and taste.
Signature dish: Satoyama scenery. Address: Minami Ayoyama 2-6-15, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062. Average spend US$202 without wine. Nihonryori Ryugin A post shared by Love to Eat, Travel & Shop (@foodaddictmag) on Mar 30, 2018 at 6:44pm PDT
Aptly named Nihonryori Ryugin, meaning “Japanese cuisine” and RyuGin meaning “dragon voice”, Nihonryori Ryugin focuses on traditional Japanese dishes with contemporary methods of making them.
Head chef and owner Seiji Yamamoto changes the menu to reflect the season but goes beyond just using seasonal ingredients.
A post shared by FoodinLife World (@foodinlifeworld) on Jan 8, 2018 at 12:44am PST
Currently, the menu themes revolve around the prodigality of Japanese nature, incorporating the finest ingredients Japanese nature has to offer.
Past menus have incorporated ingredients such as bamboo shoots and wild herbs in spring, sweetfish in summer and the wild mushroom of fall.
Nihonryori Ryugin emphasizes that although it’s a Japanese restaurant, it does so much more than just crab or fugu (blowfish).
Signature dish: Fugu and matsubagani. Address: Ground Floor, 7-17-24 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-0032. Average spend: US$250 per person without wine or sake pairing. La Cime A post shared by LA CIME OSAKA (@lacime_japan) on Apr 9, 2018 at 7:23pm PDT
The only one on this list not found in Tokyo is La Cime.
The restaurant is run by Japanese chef Yusuke Takada with inspiration taken from France where he worked at Taillevent and Le Meurice before bringing his excellent culinary skills to Osaka.
The constantly changing menu has a theme which consists of three amuse-bouche, three plates of hors dʼoeuvres, meat dish, pre-dessert, dessert, mignardises and coffee.
A post shared by LA CIME OSAKA (@lacime_japan) on Feb 4, 2018 at 6:52pm PST
Another constant on the menu, however, is the boudin dog, which Takada’s take on a hotdog
Signature dish: Boudin dog. Address: 3-2-15 1F Kawaramachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 5410048. Average spend: US$170 per person without wine. The post 5 of Asia’s top 20 restaurants are in Japan appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Surviving Asia’s 5 most expensive destinations for business travel

Posted by - April 3, 2018

WITH bleisure (a business and leisure travel combo) becoming a phenomenon, more and more business travelers are extending work travel for leisure.
However, extending your stay can be quite costly, especially if additional expenses for the trip has to come out of your own personal budget. This equals accommodation, meals, transport, on top of currency exchange, for the entirety of the extension.
The best way to go about this is to know firsthand which cities are expensive for travel.
#BUSINESS TRAVEL
These Asian countries are most welcoming for expats If you’re coming to Asia, keep in mind that despite the US dollar being the most powerful currency in the world, the cost of living in the region greatly varies and not all Asian countries are affordable.
In a survey released last December, market research company ECA International said 26 of the world’s top 50 most expensive cities to live in are in Asia, with 14 cities in China alone.
“This compares with just four EU cities and three US making it into the top 50,” the firm wrote.
It’s helpful to have a picture of how much life will cost as an expatriate or a business traveler in some of these locations, so here are Asia’s five most expensive destinations for business travel and the average daily expense you’d likely be making.
Tokyo Cost of living in Japan is generally high, with expatriates pegging the average monthly cost at around JPY100,000 (US$945). But it really depends on which Japanese city you’re going to.
For example, Tokyo is cheaper than both London and New York, but really expensive compared to Thailand or the Philippines, and a large chunk of your daily expenses will go to paying for your accommodation. Eating out at a restaurant, drinking at a bar, and going to the theater is also costlier than most Asian countries as they’re seen as more upscale activities.
There’s nearly nothing that you can’t find in Japan’s combinis. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$536 (JPY56,742).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the Tokyo Metro (Japan subway) and stock up on simple, money-saving meals from Japan’s popular combinis (convenience stores).
Hong Kong Although Hong Kong is no longer the most expensive city for business travel, it’s still one of the most expensive in Asia, and it certainly has the potential to empty out your bank account.
Four-star hotel prices in the land-starved country cost about US$284 per day. And due to the high price of goods, meals and drinks can cost up to US$186 per day. If you’re going to eat Western meals every day and dine out at nice restaurants all the time, then be prepared to cough up quite a bit of dough.
It’s not impossible to find affordable eats in Hong Kong. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$508 (HKD3,987).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the MTR (Hong Kong subway) and make cheap food places (market food, neighborhood noodle joints) your daily destination.
Seoul In 2015, The Economist‘s Worldwide Cost of Living report classified Seoul as the most expensive city in the world for buying everyday food items. For example, an average price for a loaf of bread (one kilogram) in Singapore costs US$3.54 while in Seoul it costs US$13.91.
And like the above well developed East Asian countries, staying in this South Korean capital can be expensive and business travelers should expect to fork out US$252 per day on a four-star hotel. That being said, subways, buses, taxis, eating out, and buying basic clothing is cheaper in South Korea than Toronto.
Remember to clink your soju glass and say, “Geonbae!” Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$490 (KRW518,625).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the Seoul Metropolitan Subway and seek out bars like Ssada! Maekju! or Makgeolli Salon in Hongdae where you can get free refills for draft beers (KRW7,295/person), soju (KRW4,863/person), and makgeolli (KRW5,269/person).
Singapore For the fifth year running, the Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Singapore the world’s most expensive city to live. That goes hand-in-hand with it being one of the world’s most expensive cities for business travel as well.
Business travelers can expect to spend an average of US$251 on four-star hotels per day and about US$186 on food and drinks. You’ll never have a dull moment on the island because Singapore is home to various attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo, Underwater World, Madame Tussauds, and more.
But they come with a price, of course.
The world’s most expensive city to live is also one of the world’s most expensive cities for business travel. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$472 (SGD618).
Tip for surviving the trip: Take the MRT (Singapore subway) and check out all these free things that you can do.
Dhaka Are you surprised to find that Dhaka, the capital and largest city of Bangladesh, is on the list too? According to The Daily Star, the cost of living in Dhaka is as high as the Canadian city of Montreal although the living amenities and conditions in these two cities are worlds apart. In fact, it’s considered more expensive to live and work in Dhaka than nearby capitals like New Delhi and Islamabad, and cities like Kolkata.
The living cost rose by 8.44 percent in Dhaka in 2017 because of hikes in prices of rice, vegetables, house rents, electricity, gas as well as other services. Hence, you should expect to spend about US$155 on meals and drinks. And as a business traveler, most of your expenses will go to your accommodation as it costs about US$277 on average for a four-star hotel.
Built in 1872 and standing on the Buriganga River, Ahsan Manzil is one of the most attractive historical sites in Dhaka. Source: Shutterstock.
Per day, you should expect to spend: US$456 (BDT37,921).
Tip for surviving the trip: Public transportation is not an option there, and traffic and pollution are exceptionally bad so plan your travels well and mask up if need be.
The post Surviving Asia’s 5 most expensive destinations for business travel appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

In the mood for Sakura: Blooming delicious seasonal eats in Japan

Posted by - March 26, 2018

SPRING has arrived in Japan, which means that the highly anticipated sakura (cherry blossom) season is finally here. And the Japanese take the celebration very seriously.
In Tokyo, rows upon rows of sakura trees bloomed on March 24, and it’s expected to last about two weeks.
#EXPERIENCES
5 best but underrated destinations in Japan to view cherry blossoms The celebration of the sakura blooming is such a big deal that travel and tour companies, F&B corporations, cosmetics and skincare brands, convenience stores, and retail outlets, all cash in on the annual occasion.
While locals and tourists alike are buckling up and quickly flocking to flower-viewing venues to picnic under the beautiful pink blossoms, a practice that’s known as hanami, companies are gearing up to push seasonal flavored food and products in line with the tradition. This is likely the only time of year that stores will be filled with sakura-themed goodies.
From stationery to greeting cards, to tumblers and drinks, here are some seasonal and limited edition sakura-themed items that you can’t leave Japan without trying/buying.
FamilyMart Popular Japanese convenience store franchise chain FamilyMart is celebrating the blooms by selling a sakura roll cake.
The soft dough is filled with fluffy whipped cream and topped with red beans, and big enough to share with your hanami buddy.
A post shared by てぃこ太郎 (@wakapanp) on Mar 20, 2018 at 12:34am PDT
Lawson Lawson, the other popular Japanese convenience store franchise chain, has also filled their stores with everything pretty-in-pink.
They’ve got mouthwatering-ly good sakuramochi (rice cake wrapped in a salted sakura tree leaf), “Pururun” water jelly (a raindrop cake enhanced with sakura extract), sakura and matcha cake roll, and more.
It’d be hard to not go crazy shopping in there.
A post shared by ヴァイオレット (@teruaihappy) on Mar 23, 2018 at 2:40am PDT
Haagen-Dazs While you’re at either one of the above convenience stores, be sure to grab a tub of Haagen-Dazs on your way out.
This year, the ice cream brand is promoting its Mochi Sakura, a flavor with a triple helping of cherry blossom deliciousness: sakura ice cream, mochi topped with a sweety salty sakura and red bean paste, and finally drizzled with sakura sauce.
It can’t get any more sakura-crazy than that.
A post shared by 前田玲奈(アイスフェアリー) (@maedarena) on Mar 7, 2018 at 8:29pm PST
Asahi While some of you may be picking up sakura-flavored shakes and teas, Japanese beer company Asahi has other ideas.
Asahi has rolled out a repackaging of its Super Dry beer in pink cans and bottles featuring a flowery motif.
On top of that, the company has also added their new fruity beer, Sakura no Utage (cherry blossom banquet) to its Clear Asahi line.
A post shared by siyeon 러브시연 (@siyeon0220) on Mar 25, 2018 at 4:09pm PDT
McDonald’s In 2014, McDonald’s Japan released its limited edition Sakura Teritama burger, a creation comprised of a teriyaki-glazed patty, egg, lettuce, a mayonnaise-based sakura pickle sauce, and pink buns
Although the burger didn’t make a grand return this year, the fast-food restaurant is still very much in line with the celebrations.
Head on over to a McDonald’s near you to sample some french fries seasoned with sakura salt.
Source: McDonald’s Japan.
Starbucks The world-famous coffee chain is also contributing to the festivities with three sakura-themed drinks: the Sakura Strawberry Pink Mochi Frappuccino (with bits of sakura-flavored mochi and strawberry chocolate chips), the Sakura Strawberry Pink Milk Latte (with bits of sakura leaf and sake lees), and the Sakura Strawberry Pink Tea (Starbucks’ first sakura-flavored tea).
This is on top of the pretty, cheery merchandise that’s for sale.
A post shared by スターバックス公式 (@starbucks_j) on Feb 14, 2018 at 2:26pm PST
Lipton From January to March last year, Lipton released its sakura tea exclusively on its online store for the first time.
The fragrant tea, which gets its flavor from sakuramochi, was an instant hit, cinching the number one position in online sales.
Now, back by popular demand, Lipton’s sakura tea is available on Rakuten and Yahoo! Japan for a limited time.
A post shared by choi_gh78 (@choi_gh78) on Feb 11, 2018 at 8:31pm PST
Pocky Japan’s homegrown snack food brand, Glico, is not one to be left behind this spring.
The brand’s snack food, Pocky (flavor-coated baked pretzel sticks), just added Sakura Pocky to its range – though for a limited time only.
Each box has 24 sticks (dusted with both sugar and salt) in total in four small sealed pouches, available at 7-Eleven convenience stores and supermarkets York Mart and Ito Yokado.
A post shared by Bell, Character Food Artist (@bellchan_cooking_bento) on Mar 24, 2018 at 9:53pm PDT
KitKat Pocky’s competitor, Nestle’s KitKat, has also jumped the bandwagon this sakura season with the repackaging of three of its flavors in flower-themed wrapping: milk, dark, and iyokan (citrus).
Its specialty boutique, the KitKat Chocolatory, will also be offering a strawberry sakura flavor in a tall cylinder decorated with the pretty pink blooms, as well as a sakura-shaped charm made of cherry blossom wood.
Source: Nestle Japan.
The post In the mood for Sakura: Blooming delicious seasonal eats in Japan appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Say hello to the new private island Hyatt Beach Resort in Japan

Posted by - March 21, 2018

HYATT, one of the world’s top hospitality companies, is getting ready to open its first ever beach resort in Japan and it looks to be stunning.
Up until a few years ago, the location of the newest Hyatt Regency Resort was just another bit of the East China Sea that swelled around the Japanese prefecture island of Okinawa.
#BEACHES
Nobody likes a soggy beach: The best times to go to Asia’s top 11 beaches But fortunately, Hyatt had the foresight to see the potential of this little bit of coast and the adjoining island as it is now getting ready to open the 344-room luxury hotel on Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island in Onna-son, Okinawa.
Onna-son is known as one of the best beach locations on Okinawa island and guests at the new resort will be able to enjoy private beaches all to themselves.
A post shared by okinawalocal_navi 沖縄ローカルナビ (@okinawalocal_navi) on Mar 20, 2018 at 6:11pm PDT
The hotel is surrounded by azure blue warm waters that can be seen from the guest rooms.
Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa hopes to energize its guests through experiences and connect them with what and who matters to them most.
This can be done through a myriad of health-focused activities on offer, from beach yoga to invigorating spa treatments.
Of the 344 rooms on offer at the resort, 320 of them will be housed in a seven-story building on the private island, while the remaining 24 rooms can be found in the three-story beach house on the Okinawa Island side.
#SINGAPORE
Save money in Singapore with these free activities Each room has a balcony and complimentary WiFi, so you can upload your stunning sea view pictures straight onto Instagram.
The food on offer here is a reason in itself to book a stay. Satisfy all your Japanese food cravings in one of the six restaurants at the resort which all offer fresh produce, including the catch of the day.
A post shared by Hyatt Regency Naha Okinawa (@hyattregencynahaokinawa) on Apr 17, 2017 at 3:21am PDT
You may even decide that this is the place you want to say your vows and enter into holy matrimony, and if it is, we don’t blame you. It is truly stunning here.
The onsite Seragaki Island Chapel can seat up to 40 guests and will hold a 10-meter aisle so all your adorning guests and lucky partner can watch you as you glide, or groove toward married life.
The hotel is now taking reservations for September 1 onwards. We’ll see you there for a spot of paradise living.
The post Say hello to the new private island Hyatt Beach Resort in Japan appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Discover rich history, culinary excellence and fantastic shopping in Osaka

Posted by - March 14, 2018

When considering where to travel to in Japan, Osaka should most definitely be at the top of your list.
Found on the curve of Osaka Bay, Osaka is Japan’s third most populous city, where a whole world of fascinating culture, cuisine, history, unique experiences and some of Japan’s best shopping awaits you.
If you’re looking to take a break in a destination that can combine the culinary excellence and bustling vibrancy of Tokyo with the cultural curiosities and historical relics of Kyoto, then Osaka is the place for you.
And where better to stay than the perfectly located Swissôtel Nankai Osaka? The deluxe hotel is conveniently placed directly above the Nankai Railway Station, which offers easy transportation to every corner of the sprawling metropolis, direct access to Kansai International Airport and trains to Japan’s other beautiful cities – but we suspect you’ll want to stay put in Osaka, as it has everything you could wish for.

The hotel reflects the cosmopolitan and innovative city which surrounds it. Towering 36 storeys into the sky, the hotel has 546 comfortable rooms, including 42 Executive Floor rooms and 28 suites with upgraded amenities such as Swiss Executive Club Lounge.
Each room has been designed to create a super stylish setting, with luxury bed linen and oodles of natural lighting, waking you up gently for the fun-packed day ahead.
Osaka has a rich 1,400-year-old history which is seamlessly combined with all the modern credentials tourists, residents and business travellers require to make their lives easier, including fantastic transport links, awe-inspiring shopping and exciting entertainment all laid out over the city.
Osaka has a more of cosy feel to it than Tokyo which makes it easily navigable via the perfectly placed metro system underneath Swissôtel Nankai.
Take a leisurely tour around Umeda neighborhood to experience how Osaka has managed to blend cosmopolitan hipness with country charm and create an area full of fantastic department stores, shopping cascades and extensive underground malls, perfect for whiling away a day or two and picking up a brilliant barging.

If you’re looking for that one-of-a-kind item or a rare find, then head over to Osaka’s specialized shopping district of Amerikamura which is full of hundreds of inexpensive, quirky boutiques.
If you’re feeling as if you need to balance your shopping spree with some cultural excursions, then head to Hattori Ryokuchi Park and take a step back in time at the Open-Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses from the Edo-era.
Catch a traditional puppet show and see incredibly crafted puppets come to life through skilled puppeteers. After all, Bunraku – the centuries-old art of Japanese puppet theater – was created in Osaka, so where better to watch a show than in its birthplace?
However, this is only a snippet of what’s on offer in Osaka, and you can check out Swissôtel Nankai’s website to stay updated with upcoming local events.
If a day of exploring has taken its toll on your body, you can look forward to taking full advantage of Swissôtel Nankai’s full spa and fitness facilities. The Pürovel Spa and Sports offers a selection of indulgent and relaxing treatments, from pampering massages to invigorating facials. Take a dip in the Jacuzzi, before detoxifying in the steamy sauna.

After some well-earned rest, head down to one of Swissôtel Nankai’s seven onsite restaurants and choose from signature dishes at Tavola36, or head over to Empress Room Chinese Restaurant for scrumptious delights.
If you’re more swayed toward trying local cuisine, then grab a table at Minami for the finest Teppanyaki beef and seafood you’ve ever tasted, or book a table at Hana-Goyomi to experience culinary craftsmanship in the most delicious Japanese dishes.
Swissôtel has recently been acquired by the Accor Hotels Group, which means booking a luxury stay at Swissôtel Nankai, Osaka allows you to earn points straight away from July 2nd 2018 and then spend them across a wide range of properties in the Accor group, or on bonus spa treatments or special dinners.
Swissôtel takes pride in every part of creating a welcoming atmosphere and exceptional hospitality; from providing arguably the world’s most comfortable beds, to ensuring Swiss sustainability standards are adhered to in all their properties the world over.
Enjoy your stay and watch as Osaka becomes your new most-loved Japanese city.
The post Discover rich history, culinary excellence and fantastic shopping in Osaka appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Enjoy my Japan: Laser focus on Western visitors for Tokyo 2020 goals

Posted by - February 22, 2018

JAPAN may have succeeded in exponentially growing inbound tourism from Asia in recent years, but there’s still a huge imbalance in the numbers.
Last year, the country saw a record-breaking surge in inbound tourism, welcoming 28.7 million foreign visitors, an increase of 19.3 percent from 2016. But only 11 percent of Japan’s inbound tourism consists of long-haul markets including Europe, North America and Australia.
#CHINESE NEW YEAR
The most popular Chinese New Year destinations for Asian travelers Asians make up for a large percentage of international travelers, and it’s easy to weigh out the logic.
In 2014, the Japanese government declared that visitors from Malaysia and Thailand no longer needed a visa to visit Japan. A year later, it was announced that Chinese citizens above a certain income level can obtain five-year visas with no restrictions on where they can visit. On top of the easy math of logistics and proximity as compared to Western countries, the relaxed visa restrictions contributed to the increase in tourists from Asia.
However, leading up to 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo aka Tokyo 2020, Japan has to reduce the imbalance significantly to become a “tourism-oriented country”. Japan has also set a target to grow inbound tourism from 28.7 million in 2017 to 40 million in 2020. The question is, how?
Enter, “Enjoy my Japan“.

“Enjoy my Japan” is the Japan National Tourism Organization’s (JNTO) new multilingual promotional campaign that highlights the country’s lesser-known attractions and its rich nature and culture that exist off the beaten tourist path.
The global-scale campaign is being supplemented by strategically targeted digital advertisements and television commercials to be aired in multiple markets – especially Europe, North America, and Australia.
It’s a major addition to efforts made in recent years by both public and private sectors in Japan to attract more visitors from overseas.
#2020 SUMMER OLYMPICS
Lost in Tokyo? Seek out the city’s volunteer guides According to McKinsey’s The Future of Japan’s Tourism: Path for Sustainable Growth towards 2020 report, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka get the bulk of international tourism, and the accommodations and infrastructure of those major Japanese cities are already stretched thin.
To add on, demand simulations for 2020 indicate that the country may face up to a 50 percent shortage in accommodation in those cities and up to 30 percent overflow in air capacity for Tokyo’s ultra-busy Haneda and Narita airports.
In the interest of lessening capacity constraints, the campaign aims to attract visitors to locations outside of the aforementioned cities and promote crowd distribution, which in turn will revitalize Japan’s less-populous regions.
A post shared by Visit Japan International (@visitjapanjp) on Feb 3, 2018 at 12:03am PST
In constructing and honing the focus of the campaign, avid travelers were surveyed to identify the things they find most alluring when choosing a destination abroad.
Survey results revealed a series of commonly recurring “passion points” that make up a satisfying trip. In turn, these were categorized and compiled into a list of locations and experiences designed to fulfill a traveler’s passions – cuisine, tradition, nature, city, relaxation, art, and outdoor.
And a series of brief video clips were produced to bring them all to life.
Mount Fuji at Shimoyoshida Japan. Source: Shutterstock
“One’s personal engagement with Japan starts at the website,” JNTO president Ryoichi Matsuyama said.
“It continues with enriching experiences like summer and winter adventure sports, spring and autumn mountain treks and steam train rides, and seaside cycling excursions. Any time of year, Japan offers fine dining and mouthwatering street fare, vibrant nightlife in safe and spectacular cities, virtually unlimited shopping and entertainment options, exposure to ancient traditions that still exist side-by-side with emerging pop cultural trends, and physical and spiritual rejuvenation at remote hot springs, spas, and Zen Buddhist retreats.”
Website visitors can create their own “virtual tour” of Japan by answering a few questions about their interests (“Would you rather see tradition or feel it?”, “Would you prefer gourmet food or local fare?”) which will generate a “personalized movie” with scenes that show what types of sites and experiences Japan has to offer.
Visitors will then be given the option of downloading their movie or sharing it with friends and followers on social media – or both.
#CULTURE
Arriving in Japan: What we can learn from the Logan Paul controversy “Enjoy my Japan” also includes components of interactions between international travelers and the Japanese people themselves, thus motivating the country’s citizens to welcome tourists from abroad with open arms.
JNTO is supporting the unveiling of the “Enjoy my Japan” website with campaign events in Tokyo as well as in key global cities such as London, Berlin, Paris, Sydney and New York.
The post Enjoy my Japan: Laser focus on Western visitors for Tokyo 2020 goals appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.