Category Archives: TRAVEL

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort: Hot Springs and Snow

Source: Tokyo Cheapo

Discovered by a monk (as legend has it), Nozawa Onsen is the hot spring town crossed with a ski resort you’ve been dreaming of …
In the northern part of Nagano Prefecture is a skiing/hot spring paradise called Nozawa Onsen. Combining the two best Japanese winter pastimes—snowy skiing and warming hot springs—the town is a popular destination as soon as the seasons change. Whether you love one or both of these activities, the place has a small-town, local feel which makes it the perfect getaway from Tokyo.
Relaxing hot spring options in Nozawa Onsen
Local legend says a monk discovered the hot springs (onsen) in the eighth century, and the town has been famous for them since the Edo period. The offerings inclu

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Discover Hamamatsu (Before Everyone Else Does)

Source: Tokyo Cheapo

On the south coast of Shizuoka Prefecture, Hamamatsu isn’t necessarily an obvious choice for tourists. But if you’re up for getting in touch with the kind of rural heritage Japan was founded on, Hamamatsu might be just the place.
What to do in Hamamatsu
The area around Hamamatsu sees mostly domestic tourism, with residents of Japan coming to enjoy the wide range of nearby cultural and natural attractions. If you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone, there are some uniquely Japanese experiences that you’d have a hard time finding elsewhere in the country.
What’s more, you’re unlikely to find people pouring off a tour bus to wander into your photos or interrupt your moments of introspection, as it can still ho

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Exposing Travelers To Japan’s Hidden Treasures With Niki Micklem of Heartland Japan

Spending summers with her maternal grandparents in Fukushima Prefecture as a child, UK-born Niki Micklem gained a deep understanding of Japan’s regions. Her British–Japanese heritage also fostered her desire to help bridge Japan and the world. In April 2018, she found the means to do so: a sales and marketing role at Heartland Japan.

A new firm, Heartland Japan creates and provides tours that showcase the hidden treasures of Japan’s rural areas via outdoor pursuits, cultural activities and interactions with local people. For Micklem, it is a hugely worthwhile project, given its potential to expose international tourists to more of what Japan has to offer and to rejuvenate regions across the country through tourism.

Niki Micklem on a tour in Shimane Prefecture, Japan

Savvy Tokyo met her to find out about her work, the challenges she faces and what motivates her to continue.

What brought you to Japan?

Spending two months in Japan each summer never quite felt enough. I also never had any formal study of Japanese growing up, so I went to Kyoto after university to study Japanese for six months. My plan was then to return to the UK, but six months wasn’t enough time, so I enrolled in a longer course and then realized that I wanted to work here, to connect Japan with the foreign community. I have an interest in food, so at first, entered the restaurant business, introducing Japanese tea to international travelers at a café.

What attracted you to Heartland Japan?

I realized that I wanted to do work with more variety. And, after the earthquake in March 2011, I saw that there was a lot of fear about visiting the areas affected. I wanted to do something that could help the region, as well as other rural areas in Japan. I had been …continue reading


An In-between Day on Kyoto’s Ainomachi

Source: deep kyoto

This month our friend, Edward J. Taylor, continues his exploration of Kyoto’s modern and historical streets with a walk along Ainomachi.

A traditional inn

“Do you Kyoto?” is a slogan seen frequently throughout the city, one puzzling both to its residents, who may not grasp the English, and its foreign guests, who are not quite sure of the vague sentiment. It becomes a point of derision to many, including this writer. What it refers to of course is the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, prodding us all in a nanny-like way about what we are doing to meet the agreement’s CO2 goals.

In a similar spirit, I think that the name of one of the city’s streets, Ainomachi, would make a good tourist slogan, if only the character for ‘Ai’ read ‘Love,’ ala “I Red Heart on Apple iOS 12.1 NY”. Sadly, kanji is oft times a spoiler, and the characters instead read “The neighborhood between,” causing us once again to throw up our hands and cry “Between what?”

Toyotomi Hideyoshi has the answer, for it was he who insisted on a street being built between Takakura Street and Higashinotōin Street. Both these adjacent streets had their roots in the Heian period, as the sites of former estates of famous nobility. The latter, belonging to Fujiwara Michinaga, is said to have eventually evolved into the Imperial Palace itself.

But for my own purposes today, Ainomachi’s southern end stands between a carpark and a carpark. That is to say, the entire half block below Shichijō has been paved over into a parking lot now, an act so recent that Google Maps has yet to make the correction.

I wander away from its fenced in enclosure, to quickly find another reference to wheeled vehicles. The kurumaishi were grooves cut into stone that allowed …continue reading


Tokyo Events This Week: Solemn Samurai and Market Madness

Source: Tokyo Cheapo

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Looking to do something different this New Year’s Eve? Consider a countdown cruise around Tokyo Bay. It includes fireworks, live music, champagne and more.
Tokyo events for Monday, December 10 to Sunday, December 16, 2018
Recharge with Nature Vol. 2
Join in on a hike in lovely Kanagawa, followed by a meditation session, a lunch stop and a hot-spring footbath.

Recharge with Nature vol. 2Dates:13th Dec, 2018

Adults:Advance sales: ¥500On the door: ¥500

Children:Advance sales: ¥500On the door: ¥500

Students:Advance sales: ¥500On the door: ¥500

Over 65s:Advance sales: ¥500On t

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