Harry Potter Works His Magic To Light Up Christmas In Tokyo

Global British icons don’t come much bigger than Harry Potter do they? Hogwarts! Platform 9 3/4! Quidditch! Hagrid! The Leaky Cauldron, and erm magic! Oh who am I kidding! That’s all I know of the wizard boy as I have only seen the first film and I remember very little about that! Everyone else seems to love him but I’ve just never had too much interest in it all.

A couple of years ago, the Marunouchi area of Tokyo had a Star Wars Bright Christmas event of sorts as part of the promotional campaign for the release of ‘The Rise Of Skywalker‘ (2019). Some of the exhibits were pretty cool so when I saw that there was a Continue reading

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Japan’s Award-Winning Ramen, A Rare Night Out, A Dog Statue, A Cake-Flavoured Drink & Yet Another Castle!

It’s been a long, long time since I went to a new prefecture in Japan but Wakayama-ken now takes me one closer to the total of 47. Admittedly, it was something of a short visit but they all count and this one did involve staying for the night as well as a night out itself. I should add that I am not desperately trying to visit all 47 of Japan’s prefectures but I guess it is something that I’d like to achieve eventually.

The aforementioned accommodation was called Smile Hotel; a great location right next to Continue reading

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Foxed In The Head: Cycling To All Inari Shrines In Tokyo’s 23 Wards – #18 Ota

#18. Ota

Cycling may be something that I love to do but I’m not really one who goes for a ride without some kind of aim whether it be to a restaurant, a sight or just my workplace. With that in mind, and desperate to get out on my new bike, I decided to cycle round ALL the Inari Shrines in Tokyo taking each of the 23 wards one at a time.

Inspired by recent interest in tiny shrines, this idea seemed like a good way of Continue reading

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Interesting Japanese Playground Structures #36 – Octopus Square

Many of the parks and children’s playgrounds in Japan, particularly in Tokyo, are quite poor compared to other countries in terms of space, surroundings and a lack of grass. However, a handful of them do tend to possess extremely creative structures and they will be explored in this series.

Nickname: Octopus Square

Location: 1-12 Continue reading

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Tokyo Daytripper: A Unique Frog Shrine & A Park Featuring A Few Pre-Historic Dwellings

The thousands and thousands of shrines in Japan often have the likes of foxes, lions, lion-dogs but there are a few exceptions like wolves, elephants or horses. Never did I know there was a frog shrine though, and it was found by accident not too far from the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre.

What is more surprising is that I came across this place completely by accident as my wife and I were only in the area to visit the nearby park to see the Autumn leaves, Jōmon-era dwellings and basically just enjoy visiting a part of Saitama unknown to us. A short train journey up the Tobu Toju Line to Mizuhodai Station saw us stumble upon this quirky but toad-ally awesome Continue reading

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Unstaffed Stations Of Japan #6 – Miyamae

Think of train stations in Japan and the mighty Shinjuku station is sure to come to mind for many people. That is the world’s busiest train station, and Japan monopolises the top 50 list with only five of them not in this country. However, at the other end of the scale are some tiny stations which are usually unstaffed and used by very few commuters.

Station: Miyamae

Prefecture: Continue reading

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Dining Out: The Ramen Considered To Be The Best In Japan

At the start of this year I went the short distance from the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre to Nakiryu in Toshima-ku which is one of the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurants. That was great but the noodles often rated as Japan’s most delicious are at a little family-run place about 450 kilometres away.

I’d love to say that I made a pilgrimage to the spiritual heartland of Japan’s ramen world but the fact is that I was Continue reading

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The Japanese Castle Which Can Rival Himeji-jo For Appearing In Movies

When it comes to Japanese castles featuring in movies, Himeji-jo in Hyōgo Prefecture is the most obvious one which comes to mind. It appeared quite extensively in the fifth James Bond movie ‘You Only Live Twice‘ (1967) as well as two Japanese films by legendary director Akira Kurosawa who used it in both ‘Kagemusha (1980) and ‘Ran’ (1985). Himeji is quite rightly considered to be Japan’s most spectacular castle due to its imposing size and beauty. The 007 connection helps to make it important for some film fans too. However, there is a lesser castle in Japan which has also had a fair amount of time on the big screen.

Lying on the east coast of Lake Biwa in the prefecture of Shiga is a small city called Continue reading

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Don’t Just Pass Through This City In Gifu But Stop Off & See Some Interesting Local Sights

Ogaki is one of those stations I’ve passed through a fair few times when travelling by train between Nagoya and Osaka. Admittedly, I had never had any real desire to stop there but it was realistically as far as I could go (en-route to Wakayama where I needed to be the following evening) after watching Kashiwa Reysol win against Shimizu S-Pulse in Shizuoka Prefecture. I then decided to look around the area on Google Maps and perhaps surprisingly came across a fair few places of interest that I wanted to see, and so it proved to be a good decision to stop there for the night.

After arriving at Ogaki Station at about 10 pm I immediately checked into my pre-booked accommodation just a stone’s throw away. I was absolutely exhausted after a long day and was even tempted to Continue reading

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Going Back & Forth To Visit All The Stations Of Kawasaki`s Industrial Line

With it being located between Tokyo and Yokohama, Kawasaki can often be overlooked or bypassed by people going between Japan’s biggest two cities but it’s not without its own charms. Smelly and noisy industrial works really don’t sound like a sight of sorts but in recent years this zone has gained a niche legion of fans who like to photograph them, particularly when they’re lit up at night. It has a strange, dystopian beauty to it and even boat cruises of the area are available.

The Tsurumi Line in the southeast of Kawasaki was originally Continue reading

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