Culture

Kobe Beef Yakiniku Restaurant Installs Personal Stalls To Appeal To Women And Self-Conscious Solo Diners

2018-02-23 04:02

Japan’s Abura Nikuhachi is sure to attract many visitors with its melt-in-your-mouth selection of A4-A5 ranked premium wagyu and Kobe Beef, as well as affordable lunch sets, but the yakiniku restaurant seems primed to reel in a new batch of customers, even if they have to come in one by one. In an attempt to appeal to those who want to eat alone, but simply feel socially awkward doing so, the restaurant has installed personal booth spaces for a solo-yakiniku experience that limits as much contact with others as possible. Source: At Press The practice may sound strange to some, but there’s precedent for it in Japan due to a…


Kyoto’s Sanjusangendo: Temple of 1001 Buddhist Statues is an Antidote to Instagram Travel Culture

2018-02-22 05:41

Due to its high concentration of historical and traditional places, Kyoto is the go-to town for tourists on the search for that cultural fix while in Japan. For those who have a particular interest in Buddhism and Buddhist art, the temple ‘Sanjusangendo’ is already a must visit. But the most refreshing and surprising part is that in a town full of tourists snapping away, no one is taking even one single photo of the beautiful sight within the main hall. Source: (C) Grape Japan This temple’s main hall is home to 1001 statues of the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Kannon. One gigantic seated statue is placed in the centre of…


30,000 Girls’ Day Dolls Displayed At Japan’s Original “Big Hinamatsuri” in Tokushima

2018-02-21 12:15

In the days leading up to March 3rd, known as Hinamatsuri ひな祭り, or Girls Day, many Japanese families display special ornamental dolls which have been passed down through generations. A tradition said to have existed since the Heian Period (794-1185), displaying these hina-ningyo dolls, representing the Emperor, Empress, and their attendants and musicians in traditional court dress, is meant to celebrate girls and express wishes for their happiness and healthy upbringing. Source: Sumire / © PIXA Although hina-ningyo displays at home are usually limited to seven tiers, there are public festivals throughout Japan where more impressive displays can be enjoyed. One of these is the “Big Hinamatsuri” event in Katsuura…


Japanese Artist’s Dark, Deep And True Illustrations Will Definitely Make You Think

2018-02-20 02:37

Japanese Twitter user and artist Avogado6 doesn’t offer much of a self description, saying only that “I’m an ordinary person who likes chemistry. I create video works,” in their Twitter profile. The nearly daily illustrations that Avogado6 posts have been resonating with people from around the word, however, and communicating such an avalanche of emotions and thoughts, that perhaps there isn’t really much needed to be said. Avogado6’s powerful illustrations are presented only with a title, and while many seem to share a common theme of dark satire, layered symbolism leaves their meaning open to interpretation. Avogado6 has published two collection books, available at their official website. Below are several…


Wonder Festival 2018 Winter: Garage Kit Highlights

2018-02-19 10:47

Wonder Festival is a semiannual event for mostly amateur figure modelers and sculptors to display and sell their latest “garage kit” creations, held at the Makuhari Messe convention center. Our grape Japan staff covered the Winter session last Sunday and selected a few highlights which we feel showcase some of the incredible variety and creativity of the works on display. Let’s take a look! . . Kirin Neko (Monster Hunter) by Heaven Monkey One of the special cats that can be unlocked by playing the Event Gacha during the Monster Hunter Collaboration Event in Battle Cats (Japan only). Source: (C) Grape Japan . “‘Cry of the Machine: CRAUDONICA’ Quadriped walker…


Green Tea Curry Udon and Other Creations by Traditional Kyoto Tea Shop Itohkyuemon

2018-02-19 06:19

The matcha craze sweeping overseas has made green tea incarnations of every type a success with tourists in Japan. Matcha Kit Kats, Matcha Frappucinos, we can’t get enough of these Japan-only products that expertly mix bitter green tea with sweet treats. But a tea house named Itohkyuemon, located in the historical city of Uji in Kyoto, is offering a green tea concoction which could be a bridge too far. Source At Press Specialising in Uji tea, which is mainly grown in that area, the historical teashop proports to give a Japanese tea culture experience. Who knew this would entail the intriguing combination of Uji green tea and Curry Udon. It…


Speak With An Anime Character’s Voice With The Astonishing Animegaphone!

2018-02-19 03:48

You may have seen toys, gadgets or smartphone apps that digitally alter your voice, changing your gender or age or making you sound like a robot. Essentially, they work by adding filters to your voice. However, yesterday, attendees in the cosplay area at the winter edition of Wonder Festival, a semiannual event showcasing “garage kit” sculptures, were astonished to hear what sounded like the well-known voice actors Hiroaki Hirata (One Piece, Space Brothers, Tiger & Bunny) and Kotori Koiwai (Non-non days, Ai-katsu) calling out. Source: © PR Times / © TBWA Hakuhodo Source: © PR Times / © TBWA Hakuhodo When our grape Japan staff arrived on the scene, a…


Twitter Thread Spells Out Small But Pleasant Surprise Conveniences Taken For Granted In Japan

2018-02-19 12:50

Japan is often lauded for its social custom of omotenashi, or sense of hospitality and concern towards customers. And while far from perfect (look no further than complaints about limitless bureaucracy and sometimes rigid manual-based formality), there’s no doubt that the Japanese service industry is rooted in efforts towards streamlined convenience and a maximum quality experience for customers, even to the point of perhaps occasionally going overboard. But rather than more pronounced differences, it is often the small manifestations of this hospitality that make the biggest impact on visitors from overseas. While many are small enough to go unnoticed, typographer and designer Marcin Wichary’s recent trip to Japan has resulted…


Plan Your Sakura-Viewing in Japan With This Blooming Forecast

2018-02-16 01:59

If you’re planning to visit Japan in Spring to enjoy the cherry blossoms, you’ll surely be interested in knowing where and when the best conditions will be. Thankfully, the Japan Meteorological Corporation updates a “Cherry Blossom Forecast” listing the dates when cherry blossoms will start to flower and then, when they will reach full bloom. The best time to enjoy sakura, the period usually lasts for about a week in each location. According to their most recent update on February 15th, the cherry blossoms are expected to begin flowering (abbreviated as “BF” below) on March 26th and reach full bloom (abbreviated as “FB” below) on April 3rd in Kyoto, on…


Stay Warm And Entertained In Winter Aboard The Yomeishu Kotatsu Train

2018-02-15 05:02

The Sanriku Kaigan is a beautiful coastline extending along the Pacific Ocean from southern Aomori prefecture, through Iwate prefecture and northern Miyagi prefecture. Popular for scenic spots, seafood, diving and hiking trails, it unfortunately suffered heavily from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, like many other places in the Tohoku Area. Mamusi Taka [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons The Sanriku Railway, the lifeline of the coast for residents as well as tourists, was badly hit, with over 5.8 kilometers of tracks washed away. However, with the exception of one segment between the towns of Miyako and Kamaishi expected to reopen later this year, service…


Revolutionary Anti-“Love Capitalism” Squad Marches To Vaporize Valentine’s Day

2018-02-15 05:15

On February 12th, a very unusual kind of demonstration wound its way through the busy neighborhood of Shibuya in Tokyo. The participants, holding slogans, and some wearing masks to hide their identities, were not affiliated with any major political organization and were not protesting government policy. Instead, the main banner hoisted by the marchers at the front of the line said “Pulverize Valentine’s Day”. Source: © grape Japan In Japan, girls in school and women in adult society traditionally buy chocolates to give boys or office co-workers on February 14th for Valentine’s Day. In Japanese schools, giving chocolates is entirely voluntary. However, at the office, the practice of giri-choco, women…


Japanese Plastic Food Displays Look So Delicious

2018-02-15 12:02

If you’ve ever visited Japan without a grasp of the language, you’ve likely had a dining experience or two saved by the incredibly realistic food samples that line the windows of many shops around the country. Behind the convenience of visually aiding a menu, artificial food samples in Japan have somewhat of a cultural significance. Japanese culinary culture has long put a strong preference on harmonizing great taste with beautiful aesthetics, so many seem to believe that the popularity of food samples is tied to a sense of relief and assurance that Japanese people get from first sampling the food with their eyes. In the video below, the Great Big…


This Full-Sized Unicorn Gundam Statue Is A Must-See Tokyo Attraction

2018-02-14 01:08

By now, many visitors to Tokyo and anime fans have heard of the full-sized Gundam statue in the Odaiba area of Tokyo. While the previous RX-78-2 Gundam was already impressive, it was replaced last September by an even bigger and better Unicorn Gundam with special transformation abilities. Standing at 19.7 meters tall in front of the Diver City shopping complex, this RX-0 Unicorn Gundam is built on a one-to-one scale, features a movable head, and transforms between Unicorn Mode and Destroy Mode (complete with flashing lights and epic anime soundtrack) throughout the day at scheduled times. Source: © grape Japan Source: © grape Japan The statue is equally impressive seen…


Watching This Japanese Sign-Maker’s Perfect Handwritten Work In Action Is Just Too Soothing

2018-02-12 11:34

Along with providing a chance to observe fascinating beauty, traditional art forms in action can sometimes have a hypnotizing and soothing quality to them, as evidenced by the satisfaction of watching this Japanese artist painting a dragon in one stroke. It’s @signsshu, a calligraphy artist running a sign shop, who is mesmerizing Japanese Twitter users with a video of him perfectly writing a store sign free-handedly that is being called “too satisfying”. 本日のボーナス映像朝一から黒板書きを二枚程やったので、その模様をタイムラプスで。シビアな物件ではないので、殴り書きですが、スピード感みたいなものは伝わるかと思います。後半、老眼鏡をかけた白髪頭が映り込みます。申し訳ございません。このように小さな文字は、手を付いて書きます。 pic.twitter.com/WQ6Rc1oaff — サインズシュウ (@signsshu) February 10, 2018 @signsshu provided a time-lapse video of himself working on a blackboard-style sign, writes that although it’s just some “hasty scribbling”, the video should convey a sense of speed with which…


Sip Cocktails and Achieve Enlightenment at Tokyo’s Buddhist Monk Bar

2018-02-09 05:30

If you want to know more about Buddhism in Japan, your first instinct may be to visit a temple. But a group of monks in Tokyo have brought their religion to a more casual setting. Source: (C) Grape Japan Fittingly, Vowz Bar is tucked away in an unassuming side street of Yotsuya, Tokyo. As I walked around conspicuously with a camera, a restaurant owner asked me if I was going to Vowz Bar. When I asked how he knew, he informed me it’s world famous. The reason for its fame is not their original cocktails (which are great too), but the fact that the bar is owned and ran by…


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