Find a Holy Mystery in your Tour to Japan

If you ever go to Japan you can experience all your money not really going away from you, which you spend shopping. It may sound ambiguous, but this is a belief that has its roots deep into the peoples’ mind in Japan. But, to witness such marvel, you have to visit Kamakura, and pay your respect to Goddess Benzai at the shrine of Zeniarai Bentzaiten Ugafuku Jinja, to turn the supernatural soliciting on your favour. Goddess Benzai is one of the seven Gods of good fortune, and revered as the goddess of art, beauty, music, knowledge and anything that is believed to flow.

Kamakura-Money-Washing-Shrine-Tunnel

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Flow of money tends more to get away from you than towards you. It is a common phenomenon we have always witnessed in life. But, the miracle of this place can prove the fact reversed. Performing some specific rituals, according to the systematic worshipping process of this place you are said to get all your money, spent on shopping, back to you by the holy blessing of Goddess Benzai. This belief secured its place in the legends of Japan with the tale of Minamito Yoritimo who received a visionary massage from the God of Ugajin to go a valley to the northwest where a spring is gushing out of the rocks. He was instructed to go there, and worship the god with the holy water to bring peace to the people there.

Natural Beauty of the Place

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Image Source: bit.ly/l4eT2

The panoramic view of this shrine is serene enough to invite one to immerse into a peaceful ambience of meditation. Located in a beautiful vale to be accessed through a short tunnel burrowed through the hills of Kamakura, the shrine has an entrance embellished with a large stone and tori. Out of the dim tunnel you will find slopes or rocky terrain standing gravely with verdurous growth and acoustic pleasure of water-flow around, perfecting the charm. You cannot resist yourself from wandering about, and there you will find the small alter inset in to the rocks, surrounded by still ponds and a small waterfall.

At the Holy Cave

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Image Source: bit.ly/l4eT2

On your way to the holy cave you receive a bamboo basket, a packet of incense and two candles against a donation of 100 Yen. After lighting the candles and the incense you are now to enter the main cave where the holy shrine is housed. An unusual coolness of the place will be wrapping you up, and you cannot stop witnessing the beauty of the cave. Golden gourds and origami cranes hanging from the ceiling upon a rocky ledge, resting row upon row of wooden tori, with the rocky walls reflecting the natural rays lit with paper lantern will be enough to transport you to a world of fantasy.

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Image Source: bit.ly/l4eT2

As the bubbling sound of water attracts your attention to be nearing towards it, you will find a beautiful wooden alter where you have to empty your wallet on the bamboo basket and scoop up some holy spring water to pour over your money and pray. The performance is expected to bring back the money you will be spending on your bills, miraculously again in your treasury. You will have to complete a 25 minute walk from Kamakura station (about 1 hour from Tokyo station by train) to arrive at Zeniarai Bentzaiten Ugafuku Jinja. You can explore the scenic beauty of this place with a rental bike ride after you perform your prayer to the holy shrine.

Kagurazaka Slope: One of the Greatest Tourist Attractions of Japan

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Picture Source: bit.ly/2lMS50

Are you planning to go to Japan anytime soon? If yes, then you might want to find out a little about the country before you visit. If you want to visit unique areas of Japan, then it is best to do an in-depth study of the place. There are various places where you can visit but if you want to go to a place that is not too crowded and something other than a castle or a colossal statue of Buddha, then you may consider taking a trip to Kagurazaka Slope. This place is in the middle of the Yamanote line in Tokyo. In this area, years ago, politicians, artists and Geishas used to mingle.

The word Kagurazaka is a combination of two words, kagura and saka. Kagura means ‘a shrine-dance to music’ and saka means ‘hill’. This area of Tokyo is very beautiful. Most of the area had to be rebuilt as it was burned during an air raid in 1920. However, even after restoration, it looks a lot like what it used to look like in the 17th century.

A Kagurazaka festival takes place on a yearly basis every July and is one of the greatest Japan tourist attractions. The festival includes a Hozuki Ichi which literally means ‘ground cherry pod festival’, and parades that feature folk dancers called Awa Odori. The area is great to explore during the time of the festival. As the events of the festival are scheduled in the evening, you can start early in the day to explore this beautiful area. This was the area where Geisha culture or Karyukai was born. Around 1910, around 600 Geisha made this area their home. In fact, till date, a few Geisha houses or Ryotei, still operate out of this area. You can also grab yourself a copy of a walking guide of this place, which will make things easier for you.

Awa Odori, the folk dance, on Kagurazaka Slope

This is the highlight of the entire festival. This local dance is performed by 15 dance troupes who parade down the Kagurazaka Dori.

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Picture Source: bit.ly/2lMS50

Hozuki Ichi

The Hozuki Ichi is hosted near the area around the temple Bishamonten Zenkokuji. You take a lovely stroll through the beer garden and enjoy the fair.

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Picture Source: bit.ly/11qXvYZ

This is truly a unique and wonderful place to visit on your next trip to Japan. Read up on it before you go, so that it is easier for you.

Shinjuku: A Place you should visit in Japan

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Picture Source : bit.ly/16vicrI

If you are going to Japan any time soon, first sit down and make an itinerary of the places you want to visit there. You can go online and check out a few blogs that will help you to decide which places are worth visiting.

Japan is not just a place for historical castles and spiritual temples. As it is the tech capital of the world, it is also a modernised place to visit. So, on your next trip to Japan, try visiting the modern side of the country. In Tokyo, the capital, try visiting Shinjuku, one of the busiest places on Earth. When you are in Shinjuku, try and make the best of it. Here are some places you must visit in Shinjuku.

Okadaya

This is a lovely store full of craft items like fabric, craft books, various supplies, craft kits, and so much more. If you are looking at a map, do not confuse it with Odakyu.

Tokyu Hands

In Times Square, Tokyo, this is a multi-floor division where you can find home ware, various kinds of stationary items, and a fantastic collection of novelty gifts.

Uniqlo

This is in Takashimaya and is not very big but decently sized. It has simple yet good quality clothes for both girls and guys.

Yuzawaya

This is also in Takashimaya and is a small division of a very famous craft store. The main and colossal branch is in Kichijoji and is much talked about. Here you’ll find a decent range of fabrics but not as much as the main branch.

Shinjuku Gyoen

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Picture Source: bit.ly/19zPe83

If you want to get away from all the chaos of Shinjuku, you can go to this beautiful garden for some serenity and greenery for just ¥200. By looking at the entry fee you can make out that this garden is well maintained and less crowded than other parks in the district that have no entry fee. This park has picaresque lakes and ponds and is quite big so you can either take a stroll or just simply relax.

So, before you travel to Japan, make a list of places you should visit with the help of travel guides and blogs online. This way, your trip will be more organised.

The Kyushu Seven Stars: Aiming to Rival the World’s Most Luxurious Train Journeys

Japan’s first all-new high-tech luxury sleeper train was launched recently. The Kyushu Seven Stars coasts through the beautiful landscapes of southern Japanese island of Kyushu.

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Picture Source : bit.ly/19DglMF

Aimed to rival the world’s best luxury train journeys like the Ghan and the Orient Express, the Kyushu Seven Stars has been built with precise perfection and aesthetics. The hand-crafted woodwork and fine art throughout the train give a luxurious and timeless feel to the passengers on board. The musician, magicians and train staffs have been given the pre-launch training for almost a year. Everything comes at a cost of three billion yen, around £20 million.

The Japanese national media lined up at the platform on the morning of departure to film the first journey of train and the fortunate foreigners on board. The luxury train does not accept the registration for the next six months, as it is completely booked. A bunch of European journalists also experienced the launch trip of the luxury train.

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Picture Source: bit.ly/1gNaOKi

The president of Kyushu Railway Company, Koji Karaike was quite enthusiastic over the launch trip and the features of trains. The train features ceramic sinks influenced from Satsuma porcelain, showers inspired by aromatic hinoki cypress wood, shoji and bamboo blinds and Japanese paper screens.

It was on the insistence of Eiji Mitooka, the designer of train, that such details were given to the train to make each coach seem different. Mr Mitooka was present on the platform while the Seven Stars pulled out.

The Seven Stars features with two luxury suites and 12 en-suite rooms. The occupancy of the suites was decided amid the tense moments through a lottery.

While on the journey on board, travellers were stunned with the sight of splendid green light of rice paddy fields, the volcanic landscape from the ornately-carved bed with Japanese maple.

Kyushu is an exotic place to excite you and if you are on the train’s itinerary, there is a lot packed in. The Seven Stars cover two different routes, the short and the long one. You are offered numerous outings on both the trips. In one of the outings, you are offered a walk on the largest volcanic caldera in the world near the green and fertile terrain of Aso.

Picture Source: bit.ly/17vkW35

Picture Source: bit.ly/17vkW35

On the longer route, you are offered to spend a night in a traditional Japanese inn or ryokan. The real magic of Kyushu comes alive at the ryokan. The stone paths leading to the wooden houses have a humble vibe. Inside the ryokan, floor is covered with traditional tatami mats and yukata cotton robe offered to all.

The foods in Kyushu are dainty and often decorated with flowers and twigs of maple. Besides taste, texture and appearance are equally elegant. One can taste the some of the best beef and fish at this place.

Overall, the experience at Kyushu Seven Stars is wonderful. The island of Kyushu is itself a wonderful place with abundant volcanoes and bubbling with greeneries.

Delicious Foods Compel You to Fall in Love with Japan

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Image Source : bit.ly/H1a99R

Japanese cuisines were once known worldwide in the form of “sukiyaki” or the more exotic “sushi,” but have become much more popular all across the world, in recent years. Visitors to Japan enjoy a wide variety of foods and appreciate the flavour of raw fish or batter-fried shrimp. However, only a few first-time visitors to the country are familiar with the variety and sumptuousness of traditional Japanese food. Dining in Japan is an over-the-top experience to be savoured for rest of the life.

A wide range of delicious foods compel the visitors to fall in love with Japan. As there are four different seasons in the country, Japan has lots of variations of foods. The winter season is round the corner and first-time visitors need to know about winter-special Japanese dishes. Winter dishes are delicious, mouth-watering and can keep your body warm in the middle of snowy season.

The Chestnut Rice – A Delicious Meal in the Winter

The chestnut rice is a delicious Japanese treat which you can enjoy if you are there in the country during autumn. One can accompany the home-grown and highly nutritious chestnut with Pacific saury, another autumn delicacy.

To prepare the yummy delight for two servings, you will need 360cc of sticky rice, 12 pieces of chestnut, 1 tablespoon each of sake and mirin, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 small cut of kelp.

Once the ingredients are well on the place, wash the sticky rice and leave it for around 30 minutes to dry. Meanwhile, add the chestnut along with boiling water in a pan. Continue the boiling for a few more minutes. Take away the pan from heat and let the chestnut cool down in the cold water. Now, peel off the outer skin from bottom to the top. Peel off another layer of chestnuts as well and put them in water quickly.

Now, put the dried rice in the cooker and add cut kelp, sake, mirin and salt. In the cooker, mix 330 ml of water and add the chestnuts. Switch on the cooker. Then, top the cooked rice with grated black sesame seeds and salt. In the meantime, grill the Pacific saury.

Image Source : bit.ly/17FMge6

Image Source : bit.ly/17FMge6

Enjoy the heavenly dinner with your loved ones. There are many other winter-special Japanese foods that you can enjoy during your stay in Japan. Visit blog from Japan to know more about seasonal Japanese delicacies.

Visit Sapporo in Winter to Witness Snow Wonders

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Picture Source : bit.ly/YCRMMe

Wondering what to do this winter to escape the gloom? Why don’t you plan a trip to an exciting yet beautiful country? If you’re still wondering where to go, then why don’t you try visiting the picturesque country of Japan? Japan is one of the most beautiful countries to visit in winter and spring. Also, if you like snow, then there is no place like Japan. Japan has a spectacular, eye-pleasing treat to offer tourists in winter.

Picture Source : bit.ly/YCRMMe

Picture Source : bit.ly/YCRMMe

The land native to culture and tradition has loads to offer travellers other than wonders related to the ‘old world’. If you visit Japan during winter, then you must visit Sapporo to check out the Sapporo Snow Festival or Sapporo Yuki Matsuri. This festival exhibits colossal snow and ice sculptures. These sculptures are put on show along 12 blocks in the centre of the beautiful city, in Odori Park. Large teams work in an organised manner to erect massive sculpture by mixing hundreds of trucks full of ice and snow. Machinery is used to create the basis or the foundation of the structure but skilled hand work is used to craft the wonderful structures. The snow structures vary in height but most are a number of stories high. Often a stage is set up in front of the structures, where people perform dance shows.

Picture Source : bit.ly/YCRMMe

Picture Source : bit.ly/YCRMMe

In the year 2014, the festival will be held from February 5 all the way to February 11. You can also go to Sapporo a little before so that you can check out how the structures are built. The large structures are usually complete well before time but you will be able to check out the construction of the smaller structures. One of the popular themes of these structures is manga or Anime characters. Another site where these ice structures are exhibited is Sapporo’s entertainment district, Susukino. Therefore, if you want to see something new and spectacular this winter a visit to Sapporo is definitely a good idea.

How to Prepare Delicious Japanese Food, Chestnut Rice with Pacific Saury?

Japanese people are sometimes called “90-day people” because of the importance of four distinct seasons into their life. Each of these four seasons is three months long. With a change in the season, climate of the country, fashion trends and even the food culture change.

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Autumn is almost there in Japan and leaves have started turning to the beautiful shades of orange, red and yellow. Lots of holiday events are taking place and stews and other hot dishes are being served to keep you warm, as the temperature go down.

Autumn is the ideal season to celebrate the glories of Japan and oftentimes referred to as the “season of healthy appetites.” As this is the season of harvest, plenty of healthy and home-grown vegetable dishes can be found in the restaurants across the country. So, if you are planning a holidays in Japan around the winter season, enjoy the delicious Japanese food in autumn and do not miss to view the flowers change their colours.

Chestnut

Chestnut

Various autumn delicacies have already started being found in the shops. If you are looking for the delicacies prepared with home-grown ingredients, you can go for chestnut rice with home-grown chestnuts as primary ingredient. You can accompany the delicious chestnut rice with another yummy autumn delicacy, Pacific Saury.

Now, take a look at the recipe for preparing chestnut rice, at first,

Ingredients

  • 360cc of sticky rice
  • 12 chestnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 table spoon of mirin
  • 1 small cut of kelp

Preparation Method

  • Firstly, wash the rice and allow it to dry for around 30 minutes. Use sticky rice, not the normal white rice.
  • Meanwhile, take a pan and boil the water into it. Add the chestnuts and bring them to boil again. Continue the boiling process for a few minutes.
  • Now, take away the pan from heat and place the chestnuts into cold water.
  • When the chestnuts are cool enough to handle with ease, use a knife to peel off their outer skin from the bottom to top.
  • You will find another layer of skin underneath the chestnuts, peel this as well.
  • As they easily get discoloured, place them in water soon after peeling off their skin.
  • You can use a rice cooker and put dried rice in the cooker and add cut kelp, sake, salt and mirin.
  • Add 330 ml water and place the chestnuts into the cooker. Switch on the rice cooker.
  • It will take a few minutes for chestnut rice to cook properly. When it is done, add mixed grated black sesame seeds and salt on top of rice.
  • While the rice is cooking, utilise the time in grilling the Pacific saury.
  • Enjoy the chestnut rice with grilled Pacific saury.
Chestnut-Rice

Chestnut-Rice

So, do not forget to munch on this delicious dish while staying in Japan. You can also try other seasonal dishes made of home-grown ingredients.