Posts tagged with "Tokyo"

Food illustration by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Gucci Osteria Opens in Tokyo

Gucci announced the opening of the third Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Tokyo on 28th October 2021. Located on the top of the Gucci Namiki flagship store in Ginza, this will herald the contemporary Italian restaurant’s second global outpost outside of Italy, after Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, USA.  

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura are contemporary restaurants with the same values and principles under one Gucci Osteria umbrella. Adding creativity, elegance, playfulness and sensuality to traditional Italian cuisine, guests in Tokyo will enjoy a unique dining experience that will also incorporate the diversity and identity of its location.

Seating 48 guests in the main dining room and 12 on the terrace, the new restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and Italian aperitivo. The kitchen will be led by head chef Antonio Iacoviello, bringing the youthful energy and philosophy of the original Gucci Osteria in Florence to Tokyo.

The menus have been developed by internationally acclaimed chef Massimo Bottura (owner of 3 Michelin Starred Osteria Francescana, voted The World’s Best Restaurant in 2016 and 2018), Karime Lopez, head chef of Gucci Osteria in Florence, Italy (awarded its first star in the Michelin Guide Italy 2020) and head chef Antonio Iacoviello. 

The à la carte menu will include Gucci Osteria signature dishes such as the legendary Emilia burger and Tortellini with Parmigiano Reggiano cream. There will also be creative takes on Italian-centred dishes and new seasonal Japanese-inspired creations. These will include Parmigiana Ramen and Milanese Wagyu.

Massimo explains, “Like Italy, Japanese food and produce are so intertwined in its culture that it has rightly become one of the greatest global cuisines. Japan holds a special place in my heart, and I’m excited to be able to welcome everyone to our little piece of Tokyo.”

A wide variety of drinks will also be available, including a wine list of over 350 bins and a cocktail offering. Guests will also be able to enjoy champagne and light snacks as a traditional Italian aperitivo from 4-6 pm daily, served on the restaurant’s rooftop terrace. 

The carefully curated interiors at Gucci Osteria Tokyo take inspiration from the original Florence outpost, with references to the Italian Renaissance and the eclectic mix of aesthetics embraced by Gucci. At the private lift entrance on the ground floor, a mysterious enfilade sets the tone for the upstairs. Gucci Décor’s Tian wallpaper enriches the trellis woodworks, resembling the dream-like atmosphere of winter gardens. Once inside, a vibrant green palette defines the spaces through each room, where rich peacock velvet banquettes complement the pea-green panelling, marble dining tables, wicker chairs and the Gucci Décor tableware.

Unique elements that distinguish the Gucci Osteria Tokyo include its wood flooring, hand-painted with a pattern inspired by antiques collected by Creative Director Alessandro Michele. The recurring symbolism of the star appears both in the ceiling lights of the hall leading to the main room as well as in the mosaic floor in the terrace, adorned with traditional Japanese plants. In addition, hidden behind patio doors, is an ornate private dining room named Room of Mirrors, which hosts up to 8 guests, where antique European mirrors, ebonized boiserie, and the Radura wallpaper from the Gucci Décor collection provide a truly intimate and exclusive dining experience. The exterior glass façade of the entrance facing Namiki-dori street is designed to allow a fluid perspective–offering a view of the linden trees on the roadside, the symbol of Namiki-dori Street.

Finn Askew via Capitol Music Group for use by 360 Magazine

Finn Askew – Tokyo

Finn Askew will release his debut EP, Tokyo, on November 5 via Capitol Records. As the pre-order for the six-track set launched, the 20-year-old UK artist shared the title track. Delivered in his signature thumping trap-rock style, “Tokyo” tells the story of a high maintenance, emotionally distant woman. Download/stream HERE. Watch this visualizer HERE.

“Like many of my songs, I came up with the title ‘Tokyo’ before I’d even written it,” explains Finn Askew. “The main lyric being ‘she’s in tokyo again’ ߝ in reality, I’m talking about a girl who’s disconnected from the world, she’s out of touch.”

Askew, a VEVO DSCVR Artist to Watch 2021, will be touring the UK with Mimi Webb this fall. He’ll play his first headline show on November 10 at London’s Courtyard Theatre. Fans who pre-order his new EP will instantly receive “Tokyo” plus the blistering trio of singles he’s released in recent months: “Adidas,” “Paranoia” and “Cherry Bomb.” See below for track listing.

“This EP is really delving into who I am as an artist,” says Askew, whose songs have amassed over 142 million combined global streams to date. “I feel like with the first EP I wanted to show people that I can really do any genre! You can’t really go back once you cement your sound. So this EP is the start of Finn Askew.”

Praise for “Adidas”

Including “Adidas” as one of its “R&B/Hip-Hop Fresh Picks,” Billboard said, “Finn Askew’s new, guitar-anchored song is super catchy, and that’s how he likes it.”Rolling Stone AU noted, “‘Adidas’ is a slick undertaking of smart pop-rock, with powerful guitar riffs and a hook-heavy chorus highlighting his musical versatility.” Acid Stag observed, “Finn Askew continues to show why he’s considered one of the most promising artists going around with his ridiculously catchy new single ‘Adidas.'” View the official video for “Adidas” HERE.

Track Listing

1.Tokyo

2.Adidas

3.Paranoia

4.Cherry Bomb

5.Grey

6.Daffodil

GMWB5000PB-6 image by Casio for use by 360 Magazine

G-SHOCK RELEASES TWO-TONED METAL TIMEPIECE INSPIRED BY TOKYO AT TWILIGHT

Latest Model Features Striking Purple and Blue-Gray Ion-Plating and Premium Metal Finish

Casio announces the latest addition to its G-SHOCK Full Metal 5000 collection with the introduction of the all-new GMWB5000PB-6. The new timepiece arrives in eye-catching purple and blue-gray ion plating and the origin case shape of the DW5000, reminiscent of the very first G-SHOCK, now in a metal case.

The two-toned IP finish, a new approach to G-SHOCK’s Color, Material, and Finish (CMF) design principles, is inspired by the beauty of Tokyo at twilight when light and darkness interplay. The bezel and band feature a brand-new purple IP hue, along with a deep and sophisticated blue-gray IP for a sleek and stylish look. The watch face is adorned with subtle splashes of orange, purple and light blue, reminiscent of Tokyo at twilight. The dial itself features a reverse LCD, while the bezel and band boast hairline and mirror-finishes which enhance the texture of the metal to create a timepiece that is truly unique.

The new GMWB5000PB-6 comes equipped with G-SHOCK’s premium technical features including smartphone pairing capabilities via Bluetooth®, Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping for self-adjusting and accurate hour / date display virtually anywhere on the globe, Tough Solar Technology, a phone finder function making for a functional yet fashionable timepiece as we head into fall.

Additional features of the GMWB5000PB-6 include shock resistance, 200M water resistance, super illuminator LED light, five daily alarms, and a STN-LCD digital display that makes the watch easy to read from any angle.

The GMWB5000PB-6 retails for $600 and will be available for purchase mid-September at select G-SHOCK retailers, the G-SHOCK Soho Store, and gshock.com

Tokyo via Tokyo Tourism for use by 360 Magazine

Reasons to Visit Tokyo this Summer

There are plenty of reasons to come to Tokyo this summer. Even during these hot and humid days, there are plenty of ways to appreciate and enjoy this season in Tokyo. If you decide to go, there are plenty of unique ways of immersing in and succumbing to this time of year.

Unagi Day

Doyo No Ushi No Hi, “the Ox Day during Doyo,” is a day in mid July, this year falling on July 28, dedicated to eating unagi or eel. This tradition began in the Edo period. At that time, it was believed that eating unagi during summer would boost stamina and relieve oneself from the oppressive heat and humidity. According to legend, there was an unagi restaurant owner whose business struggled due to his trouble selling unagi in the hot summer. The owner asked a friend, Hiraga Gennai (1728~1780), a well-known physician and pharmacologist, for help. Gennai advised him to place an advertisement in front of the restaurant stating, “Doyo No Ushi No Hi” or Eat Unagi Today, and You Will Never Suffer from Summer Heat.” The restaurant became successful, and soon other restaurants followed. This may be the first instance of commercial copywriting in Japan.

WATERS Takeshiba

In olden days, Tokyo was a city of crisscrossing waterways, often known as the “Venice of the East.” Water transportation became the norm, as warehouses and markets sprung up at each wharf. The surrounding area was soon crowded with workers and residents, as depicted in ubiquitous Ukiyoe woodblock prints of the time. Culturally, people also enjoyed waterside attractions, such as fireworks, which became a popular summertime evening pastime, watched from both the shore and boats. WATERS Takeshiba is the latest waterfront complex that is a modern interpretation of Tokyo’s waterside culture. Ferries and cruise ships depart from this wharf to waterfront neighborhoods. The adjacent buildings also house the fashionable new lifestyle hotel, the Mesm Tokyo, Autograph Collection, as well as restaurants, shops, and three dedicated theaters for the Shiki Theatre Company. WATERS Takeshiba is a not-to-be-missed new Tokyo experience.

Tokyo Tourist Information Centers Are Ready to Welcome Foreign Guests

Tourist information centers inside and outside the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics venues have worked long and hard to prepare for the event and are now welcoming foreign guests.

Village Plaza, a brand-new facility built to host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics athletes, opened on July 13 in Harumi, Tokyo. To support the life of the athletes and supporting staff during their stay, Village Plaza provides many services such as an internet lounge, café, and post office. Here also is Tokyo City Information, a tourist information center where the smiling staff, all of whom are expert guides of Tokyo tourism, welcome guests and introduce them to Tokyo.

“We know this is a very important time for athletes and other people who stay here,” said the staff, “so we will try to provide the best hospitality and do everything we can to make them feel at ease. And while its not possible for people to visit Tokyo freely at the moment, we will do our best to provide information about the charms and attractions of the city, so that when it becomes safe to travel again people might want to come back.”

Among the special projects to promote future travel to Tokyo is an origami in the shape of Mt. Fuji containing a collection of QR codes of websites that provide a variety of information about Tokyo. Along with the Tokyo City Information facility, they are distributed in two other temporary information centers in Tokyo. The hope is that people will take them home as a souvenir until the next time they visit Japan.

The five Tokyo Tourist Information centers operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government have completed their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

While the number of people visiting the facility has greatly decreased since the spreading of COVID-19, the staff continues to offer guidance and assistance to Japanese and foreign travelers. The staff is also offering online assistance through the multilingual service “Online Tourist Guide,” where people can use their device to speak with a tourist guide expert that will answer their questions. The Online Tourist Guide is currently available in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.

The information center is also mindful of accessible tourism, offering special guidance to people with hearing disabilities and providing information about accessibility in Tokyo.

With the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the priority of the Tokyo Tourist Information centers is to ensure that visitors have a safe stay by providing up-to-date information about places in Tokyo. In addition to this, dedicated spaces have been set up with Olympics-related materials and information.

“When the whole situation calms down and people will be able to travel again,” says a staff member, “we would love for them to experience all the different aspects of Tokyo. The traditional atmosphere of places like Asakusa, the modernity and nightlife of Roppongi, even the everyday experiences of punctual trains and peopleʼs good manners are all things that we want to help people discover when they come here.”

For the safety of visitors, all Tokyo Tourist Information centers are implementing measures to prevent the spreading of COVID-19, such as hand sanitizing, social distance, air ventilation and mask use. We appreciate your cooperation with these measures.

 

album artwork by RHYME SO for use by 360 Magazine

RHYME SO – POSEABLE

RHYME SO Drop Striking New Video POSEABLE, latest video from Japanese-Australian experimental dance-pop duo

RHYME SO – a Japanese-Australian experimental dance-pop duo – have released a wildly creative new music video POSEABLE via 88INFINITY. It’s their latest video since 2020’s Fashion Blogger, and a taste of what’s to come from one of music’s most fascinating enigmas.

The video, which was partly shot in a capsule hotel in Tokyo, pokes fun at society’s compulsive obsession with digital validity, hopping from one Instagram-worthy pose to another. The visual includes a cameo from Mari Natsuki, the beloved Japanese actress known for her maternal roles in Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away and the Japanese remake of Bewitched. Assuming the role of the tastemaking grandma, Mari embodies the song’s refrain “or grandma sends you home,” an ode to grandma’s unyielding sense of what’s good and what’s not.

“The message of POSEABLE is about going back to the roots and honoring Grandma’s sense and allowing her to be the tastemaker, as she knows what’s up when it comes to quality and the original recipe for success,” RHYME says.

At a time when the music industry is as saturated as ever, sometimes it’s not about chasing trends, but making yourself truly unique; something RHYME SO embraces to the utmost.

“We both got better at what we set out to do, and many things have happened that have re-assured us we are on the right track,” RHYME adds.

RHYME SO consists of OG Japanese dance producer Shinichi Osawa (aka SO, best known from his other artist project Mondo Grosso) and Australian-born rapper/poet/model RHYME. Shinichi and RHYME met at a party in Tokyo several years back and before long they became involved both musically and romantically. They’ve dubbed their music Blank Post Genre, a concept centered around creating a blank canvas in response to a digital age overflowing with information. It’s a way for a sonic refresh, allowing Osawa and RHYME to craft rumbling dance music complete with lyrics poking fun at modern life.

POSEABLE is RHYME SO’s latest release on 88INFINITY, a sub-label of 88rising, perhaps the preeminent Asian record label in the world. RHYME SO’s hypnotic debut single Just Used Music Again appeared on 88rising’s 2019 compilation “Head In The Clouds II”, which they followed up with Fashion Blogger, another iconic music video depicting a fictional figure skating contest, guest starring MILK from Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

POSEABLE is well suited for dancefloor mayhem and RHYME SO looks forward to bringing their refreshingly unique, cutting-edge brand of dance music stateside in the coming months.

Photo by Hannah Beck for use by 360 Magazine

RE-INC × BODEGA

By: Andrew Shibuya × Hannah Beck

This past weekend, 360 Magazine attended the release of re-inc’s collaborative collection with Los Angeles clothing store Bodega and interviewed one of re-inc’s founders and CEO, Christen Press. You can find our coverage of the event as well as the interview below.

re-inc was founded by four members of the United States Women’s National team, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, along with Press in 2019. The company’s mission revolves around sustainability, equality, and the creating of a global community, citing the reimagining and reinvention of the future as their primary tenets.

Their collaborator on this collection, Bodega LA, hosted the release of their “REUNITE” collection. Nestled between loading docks and former warehouses in the recently reopened ROW DTLA, Bodega is sequestered on the far end of the historic commercial complex turned upscale shopping mall. The store itself follows suit with its surrounding industrial environment, with many elements of the former factory preserved and combined with the namesake New York staple.

The event itself was based around the opportunity to shop the new collection in the Bodega store, as well as the opportunity to meet re-inc founders Heath and Press. Outside the store was a separate outdoors area where the festivities mainly took place, comprised of a DJ booth, a fruit stand, and a shaved iced stand. In addition, there was a small tent set up under which founders Heath and Press autographed posters and took pictures with fans.

The founders of re-inc will be playing at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo this summer, something many of the fans present at the event were excited about. The US Women’s National Team is once more expected to be one of the dominant teams in the tournament. In 2016 in Brazil, Team USA was narrowly defeated in the quarterfinals round in a match against Sweden, though in 2019, the women won the FIFA World Cup in France.

For Heath, Press, Klingenberg, and Rapinoe, their identities as global athletes seem to be inextricable from re-inc’s mission and this latest Reunite Capsule. This collection is centered around not only a reopening of the world as vaccination numbers rise and coronavirus cases fall, but also, of course, their global competition this summer.

And so, in correspondence with this vast crowd of eager soccer fans and the desire to build a community around re-inc, one of the centerpieces of the event was a board where fans were encouraged to respond to the prompt “How will you boldly re-imagine the status quo?”. This feature of the event gestures to re-inc’s mission and core belief of “relentless and continuous reinvention”.

It seems as though re-inc likewise have intended to honor their mission through various production and charitable ventures. The clothes themselves are all said to have been made in woman-owned factories of recycled and organic materials. In addition, 1% of sales from the Reunited Capsule are to be given to the Partners in Health charity, who are striving for a more equitable distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. It is also worth noting that the collection was manufactured in factories on the East Coast of the United States.

The collection, which will be available at 9pm EST June 29th on their website, is comprised of a variety of colorful clothing with various accompanying graphics, seemingly paying homage to the trending resurgence of psychedelia. The garments range from sweats to hats and are in primarily earth tones. This event and the collaboration were similarly re-inc’s first foray into in-store retail. You can find the new collection HERE.

360 Magazine was able to speak briefly to Press about the inspiration behind the newest collection as well as plans for re-inc’s future. Read the interview below:

What were some of the main sources of inspiration for re-inc’s newest collection?

It was the Olympics, of course, and there’s a little psychedelia in it, alluding to our next collection, the Field of Flowers collection, coming out this summer. And it’s really inspired by that happy high and about reimagining what your health and prosperity is, and of course, coming together in a new reimagined way. 

What was most important to you in the designing of this collection?

I think with every collection we design we want to get past just the surface and go really into emotions and humanity. I think that there is a tension in that because it is hard to convey something deep down, and I think we’ve done a really great job with that.

ABOUT re—inc

re—inc is a purpose-driven clothing company that was founded by world champions Christen Press, Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe, and Meghan Klingenberg in 2019. The company features gender-fluid designs that are ethically sourced and produced. re—inc’s founders encourage their fans to boldly reimagine the status quo and become change makers. Over the last two years, re—inc has partnered with over fifteen grassroots organizations to amplify their work and have donated over $90,000 to their causes.

ABOUT Bodega

Founded in 2006, Bodega has been a refuge and tool for a clandestine group of artists through the ideation and execution of creative endeavors examining the intersection of fashion, counterculture, community, and the arts.

fitness-01 via 360 Magazine for use by 360 Magazine

Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte Sets New Personal Records with X1-PRO Device

Despite his age and setbacks due to the pandemic, 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte is setting new personal records as he prepares to solidify his legacy in the water at Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year.

To gain a competitive edge, Lochte teamed up with David McCagg, a 7-time gold medalist and former world record holding swimmer, who was working on a revolutionary training device for swimmers. McCagg developed the world’s first resistance trainer that travels the entire pool length with the swimmer. It is called the X1-PRO by GMX7, and Lochte, who holds the current world records in the short and long course individual medley, began training with it in 2019.

“The gains I have been seeing by using the X1-PRO are absolutely unbelievable,” said Lochte. “It’s undoubtedly helping me achieve the best times in my career, which at my age, are rather unprecedented.

The X1-PRO is a small, 6-inch-long, resistance training device that weighs less than 4 pounds and clips into the end-point connections for a pool’s lane lines. It can then be connected to the swimmer via a leash and travels on a line back and forth up to 50 meters in length at the adjustable resistance the swimmer desires.

“The versatility and functionality of the X1-PRO has proven to be the difference maker,” said Lochte. “It really has helped our entire team prepare for the global stage in Tokyo.”

Lochte, who is now married and a proud father of two, has been training near their home in Gainesville. This is where he met McCagg in 2018 and where the X1-PRO was originally tested. 

“Ryan approached me, asked what it was and offered to give it a try,” said McCagg, co-founder of GMX7. “Since then, we can’t keep him away from it. Between his work ethic, and mental fortitude, it’s really no surprise that Ryan is the second-most decorated swimmer in Olympic history. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s going to do something special at trials and in the games this summer.” 

Lochte isn’t the only Olympian training on the X1-PRO. Currently, more than 75 anticipated Olympians from 15 countries across the world are training on the X1-PRO in hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics with more to come.

The X1-PRO is assembled in the USA by GMX7, and has quickly become a necessity for all levels of competitive swim, especially those collegiate swimmers working so hard to get to the very top of their sport.

Development of the X1-PRO began in 2018, and it was tested extensively at the University of Florida prior to becoming available to the general public earlier last year.

About GMX7

Founded in 2018, GMX7 is based in St. Petersburg, Florida and is dedicated to changing the world of swimming by empowering competitive swimmers with the best aquatic resistance training devices ever created. GMX7 was founded by David McCagg, a 7-time gold medalist, former world record holder and winner of multiple national championships. The first device on the market by GMX7 is the X1-PRO. 

Designed by ROBRADY Engineering, the X1-PRO has already been the recipient of five international awards including the 2020 International Design Excellence Award, 2020 Red Dot Award, the 2020 Good Design Award, IDA Design Award and most recently the MUSE Design award in 2021.

TRI.BE illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

TRI.BE × CONMIGO

UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP KOREA’S FIRST K-POP IDOL GROUP TRI.BE RELEASE SECOND SINGLE ALBUM CONMIGO TODAY
 
FEATURING SINGLES “RUB-A-DUM” AND “LORO”
 
LISTEN HERE

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR “RUB-A-DUM” HERE

Accelerating a rapid rise to the forefront of international culture, Universal Music Group Korea’s first K-POP idol group TRI.BE unveil their second single album, CONMIGO, today via Republic Records. It features the title track “RUB-A-DUM” and accompanying anthem “LORO.

Listen to CONMIGO HERE and watch the video for “RUB-A-DUM” HERE.

With CONMIGO, these fiery and fierce women only amplify their signature Girl Swag, radiating contagious levels of self-confidence in the process. As a high-energy call-to-arms, “RUB-A-DUM” nods to the timeless tale of the Pied Piper and invites fans to follow with the clarion call, “Everybody come play with TRI.BE, making it irresistible not to. On “LORO” –– Spanish for “Parrot” –– the girls preach about finding confidence in your true self. They might just urge you to mirror TRI.BE’s magnetic moves, much like a parrot. Musically, the multinational group fuses a young and refreshing mix of Dancehall and Reggaeton beats like never before.

Reflective of the title, CONMIGOor “With Me” in Spanish—the group welcomes an alliance from all who want to come and dance. “RUB-A-DUM” and “LORO” elevate TRI.BE’s eclectic charisma as they continue their boundary-breaking rise.

The first-of-its-kind quadrilingual group, TRI.BE consists of seven members—SONGSUN, JINHA, HYUNBIN, and SOEUN hailing from Seoul, KELLY and JIA from Taipei, and MIRE from Tokyo—and speaks and sings in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Earlier this year, they teamed up with two of the most famous K-POP producers in the world, S.Tiger [BEAST, IU, 4Minute, MOMOLAND, EXID, T-ARA, Apink, HyunA] and none other than TRI.BE’s supportive big sister EXID’s ELLY, for the two tracks on TRI.BE Da Loca, generating 5 million-plus streams right out of the gate. The two have come together yet again with TRI.BE to create another masterpiece, CONMIGO.

TRI.BE’s name comes from the combination of the words “triangle,” which signifies the most perfect shape, and “being,” leading to the slogan, “We are perfect as we are. The group conveys the message of self-love and confidence by unapologetically flaunting their key concept of Girl Swag.

Girl Swag goes global in 2021 thanks to TRI.BE.

TRI.BE SOCIALS

YouTube
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
TikTok

Photo by JNTO for use by 360 Magazine

Japan’s Sightseeing and Museums

Japan, A Culture Expressed Through Art and Nature. 

For more information on JNTO visit their website here. Be sure to also check out all of the attractions listed here.

Although it is globally renowned for technological innovation, Japan’s history, traditions and cultures have always been intrinsically linked to the country’s rich and varied natural landscapes.

From the best places to observe springtime Shibazakura, pink moss, and where to embrace the art of Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing, to exhibitions and glamping which celebrate the strength, beauty and versatility of natural materials. Japan’s wealth of natural treasures, including one of the best stargazing spots in the Northern Hemisphere, is a must-do, must-see on any itinerary.

We invite you to travel outside of the city limits of Tokyo to the glorious regions beyond, all of which have their insider secrets. Here we have rounded up eight of the exciting cultural and outdoor experiences for you to enjoy. We promise that our time apart will make travel experiences all the more exciting when cross-border travel is resumed. We are looking forward to seeing you in Japan.

Nature: Flower Trip Across Japan

Sunflowers, wisteria, tulips, hydrangeas, violets, camellias. The nation’s famed cherry blossom is not the only flower worth travelling to Japan to see. The nation celebrates a range of scene-stealing flowers in different locations throughout the year.

For a burst of sunshine, head to Hokkaido’s Hokuryu Sunflower Village, home to an epic sweep of 2 million sunflowers which burst into bloom beneath blue skies every summer. Whereas in Tonami Tulip Park in central Japan (Toyama Prefecture), red, white and purple tulips take center stage at every spring; while ajisai hydrangeas, marking the arrival of the rainy scene early summer, are celebrated at countless nationwide festivals (Bunkyo Ajisai Festival at Tokyo’s Hakusan Shrine is a highlight).

Another unmissable bloom is the nation’s treasured pink moss, known as Shibazakura, which comes alive on mountain slopes during spring as seen in the above photograph taken in front of Mount Fuji, Yamanashi Prefecture.

One event worth timing a visit to Japan for is the Fuji Shibazakura Festival (normally from mid-April to mid-May, Yamanashi Prefecture) with as many as 520,000 pink moss spanning the base of Mount Fuji, whose snow-capped triangular peak looms tall above the blooms.

Shibazakura Takinoue Park in the northernmost Hokkaido region is also worth visiting because the park transforms every spring (from early May to early June) into an otherworldly 100,000 square-meter expanse of gradated shades of pink, accompanied by a string of local festivities and food markets.

Another of Japan’s most scenic Shibazakura spots is the Chausuyama Highlands in Aichi Prefecture, a two-hour drive from Nagoya, a popular snow-covered ski destination during the winter months, with ski lifts carrying springtime visitors above hillside fields of 400,000-plus pink moss flowers (from early May to early June).

Tradition: Pottery developed by Nature

Japan has long been famed for its ceramic heritage, shaped through the centuries by the nation’s deep ties with nature. From organically finished earthenware to the smooth sheen of white porcelain, a spectrum of ceramic styles has been nurtured in Japan. The above photograph shows Arita ceramics crafted by Sakaida Kakiemon, Inoue Manji and Imaizumi Imaemon.

Highlights include the works of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns, including Bizen-yaki, from Bizen in Okayama Prefecture, famed for its glaze-free abstractions, fired at intensely high temperatures.

Among Japan’s oldest pottery hubs is Shigaraki in Shiga Prefecture, a one-and-a-half-hour train ride from Kyoto, long esteemed for its quality stoneware, in particular large vessels crafted from strong local clay.

Mashiko in Tochigi Prefecture, reachable from Tokyo by train in as little as two-and-a-half-hours, is another mecca for pottery lovers, with more than 250 studios and 50 ceramics shops (it’s also home to the serene former home and studio of deeply influential Shoji Hamada, designated as a Living National Treasure and a member of Japan’s mingei crafts movement).

Arita, Saga Prefecture, is the place to head in southern Japan and it is only a one-and-a-half hour train or bus ride from Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Saga airports. The word Arita means one thing in Japan: white porcelain. The small town in Kyushu is renowned for more than four centuries of exquisite porcelain heritage and admirers of Japanese crafts and ceramics would do well to plan ahead for a visit to Arita Ceramics Fair between the last week of April and the first week of May. One of Japan’s largest ceramics markets, a network of around 500 stalls typically stretches from the main station and through the center of the town, showcasing an eclectic range of ceramics from top local kilns.

Innovative contemporary projects have also placed Arita firmly on the global creative map in recent years. The projects that have done this range from the respected series of Arita Collection 1616 / arita japan brand, by designer Teruhiro Yanagihara (who recently opened a sleekly designed showroom in Arita) to the Creative Residency Arita program which attracts artists and designers from across the globe.

Nature: Stargazing in Kozushima

One good place to take in starry spectacles is in the Northern Hemisphere, in areas with as little light pollution as possible. That could now include Kozushima Island that is a pine-painted volcanic island orbited by white sand beaches in the Izu Islands, a one-hour flight or four-hour jet-ferry ride from Tokyo.

After removing more than 400 streetlights in the summer of 2020, the island was made an official Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association on December 1, 2020, the second in the country following Iriomote-Ishigaki Island in the southern Okinawa Prefecture.

Kozushima Island’s top observation points might include the summit of Mount Tenjo or the gentle sands of Nagahama beach, with its picnic spots, barbecue pits and natural hot springs, but anywhere outside of the main town should do the trick.

The main annual event is the Perseid meteor shower in the middle of August each year. This is when planet Earth passes through the sparkly tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet, producing up to 60 shooting stars an hour as small meteors burn up, skimming the upper atmosphere.

For more information on JNTO visit their website here. Be sure to also check out all of the attractions listed here

Nature: Treeful Treehouses Sustainable Resort

Hidden in the wilds of sub-tropical Okinawa, on a bend in the Genka River, is Treeful, a collection of four fantastical treehouses to be opened in June. Comfortably situated in nature, all have floor-to-ceiling windows, air-conditioning and wooden decks with beautiful views across a forest of banyan trees and ficus. At dusk, sit on your suspended terrace surrounded by rare wildflowers.

The entire Treeful Treehouse Sustainable Resort has been designed to be as sustainable as possible; the team are rebuilding a 19th-century water mill at nearby Shizogumui waterfall and helping to save rare Ryukyu mountain turtles.

Everything is solar-powered, and the resort is also wheelchair accessible, including the communal Aerohouse which connects to the rooms via a series of floating walkways.

Inside the Aerohouse there are relaxation spaces, a kitchen and dining area, as well as toilets and showers (ecologically designed but not in an obvious way). Wake up early and head out onto your balcony to watch the sunrise over the jungle canopy.

Later, you can try yoga, stand-up paddle board at a golden beach or kayak to a nearby island for a piña colada. Nights should be dedicated to stargazing. Look out for Ryukyu flying foxes and puppy-faced fruit bats.

The best place to take in starry spectacles is in the Northern Hemisphere, in areas with as little light pollution as possible. That now includes Kozushima Island, which is a pine-painted volcanic isle orbited by white sand beaches a one-hour flight from Tokyo.

Relaxation: Hot Spring Bathing

It’s hard to keep your clothes on when travelling around Japan’s famed onsen hubs, and there are many of them.

One example is Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture, where guests can walk along old streets in cotton yukata gowns before soaking in a string of public onsen baths, including the famously restorative steaming Yubatake hot water fields. Because the water temperature in Yubatake is too hot for bathing, staff stir the hot water with a wooden paddle in a traditional cooling practice known as Yumomi. You can see a Yumomi show or even try it out for yourself at the Netsunoyu bathhouse. 

Meanwhile, Nozawa Onsen in Nagano Prefecture, a popular ski hub with a bathing heritage dating back more than 1,000 years, offers the best possible après-ski activity, a free soak in 13 public onsen facilities scattered across the town.

Beppu in Oita Prefecture is a southern city wrapped in volcanic mountains on one side and a bay on the other, home to a network of more than 2,000 hot spring onsen baths of ten-plus various spring qualities, which are all celebrated annually in the springtime Beppu Hatto Onsen Festival.It’s worth noting April as a good time to visit the region, when it will stage the five-day festival which kicks off on onsen thanksgiving day.

The decades-old event’s dramatic scene stealer is Ogiyama Fire Festival which involves setting fire to a large swathe of Mount Ogi behind Beppu to alert (not very subtly) the onsen gods to the end of winter and start of spring. Hot spring soaking also takes center stage with the Beppu Bath Marathon encouraging visitors to take a dip in 42 onsen baths in the space of five days, while those who manage 88 baths are hailed as onsen masters.  Those who are less ambitious can simply enjoy a soak in the restorative hot waters of their choice at around 100 local onsen, which are open for free during the festival.

The main highlight for many, however, is the climax of the event: the iconic Yu-Bukkake Matsuri festival procession, with traditional dancing and portable mikoshi shrines paraded down streets before being sprayed with, you’ve guessed it, onsen water.

Art: Culture Gateway to Japan

A string of bold new artworks will greet future visitors when they arrive at airports across Japan, as part of Culture Gate to Japan, a cultural program organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan.

The works of 29 creatives from across the spectrum, from contemporary installations to manga, are exhibited at seven airports and one cruise terminal. Exhibits are called names such as Memory, Patterns and Motion. They include a color-drenched exhibit in southern Okinawa, exploring the region’s unique heritage; a showcase of eight works by manga artists at Kansai International Airport; an exhibit in Fukuoka, tapping into its rich ceramics and textile heritage; and contemporary works at Chubu Centrair International Airport in Aichi Prefecture, inspired by samurai and ninja warriors.

One standout highlight is Vision Gate, an exhibition of works by eight artists. It is curated by Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Guests arriving from faraway countries will be welcome into a new way of thinking and making, influenced by ancient wisdom and projected towards the future, explains Antonelli.

Exhibits include an innovative installation transforming vision to sound by artist Yuri Suzuki and Miyu Hosoi at Haneda, comprising a distillation of the hiragana phonetics alphabet.

Other artworks include a series of six video installations, by six different artists, broadcast in synchronized sequence along an arrival gate pathway, including Mariko Mori, Jun Inoue and Sachiko Kodama. Vision Gate can be seen across Tokyo’s two main airports Haneda in Tokyo and Narita in Chiba Prefecture.

Nature: A Land of Forests

Inhale and exhale. Japan’s magical world of forest bathing, known as shinrin-yoku, has perhaps never felt more alluring in the current global climate. The therapeutic benefits of full nature immersion, breathing in the scent of trees while placing one foot in front of the other, are well documented, from boosting moods and alleviating stress to improving physical ailments. Spring, when temperatures rise and early flowers bloom, is one of the most popular times of year to head into the forest. Japan has long embraced this concept.

Today Japan is home to 62 official Forest Therapy Bases, selected by the Forest Therapy Society, a certified NPO supported by many local government organizations. Devoted to the art of forest bathing, the network is selected on the basis of scientific research by forest experts and is as expansive as it is geographically diverse.

Forest-bathing hotspots include the magical primal forests, streams and wildlife of Tsubetsu-cho on northernmost island Hokkaido; Ueno Village in Gunma Prefecture, located two to three hours from Tokyo by train or car, with its peaceful Japanese beech and oak forests; and the giant trees and dense valleys of Okutama (the only official forest-bathing spot included in the Tokyo region). Another must-see spot is Oguni town, wedged between mountains in southwestern Yamagata Prefecture. Accessible by a one-hour bus ride from Yamagata Airport.

Outdoor: Glamping on Whale Island

Keen to get back to nature? Head to Kujira-jima in the Seto Inland Sea, which has been transformed into 21st-century camping nirvana. Kujira means whale in Japanese and is so named by locals due to its distinct forested silhouette, which brings to mind the shape of a whale.

Today, the entire, uninhabited island, about 30 minutes by boat from Uno Port in Okayama Prefecture, itself a two-hour train ride from Osaka, is a camp with visitors able to choose different sleeping options, ranging from a simple canvas tent on a wooden deck facing the sea, to a stylishly-decked out Glamping tent, complete with indoor plants and design pieces. Another option is bedding down in one of their chic cottages, complete with wood-burning stove.

Activities are as plentiful as the experience is deeply tied to nature. In addition to exploring its empty beaches and forests, guests can take part in a string of activities, such as kayaking, SUP, beach-tent saunas, fishing, night star gazing, sunset cruising and sitting by campfires, among others. Food is another highlight, with visitors able to relax a notch and buy DIY barbecue beef sets as well as breakfast spreads, while an in-house chef can also rustle up a raft of Japanese-style treats

For more information on JNTO visit their website here. Be sure to also look at all of the attractions listed here.

travel illustration by Gabrielle Marchan for 360 Magazine

Beijing’s Tourism Revenue Drop

Beijing’s Tourism Revenue Dropped by 53% in 2020 – Loss of Over ¥330B 

The tourism industry was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the city of Beijing saw the momentum of the industry halted in 2020. Beijing had become an increasingly popular tourist destination prior to the pandemic with revenue from inbound tourism recorded at $5.16B in 2019. According to data presented by TradingPlatforms, Beijing’s total revenue from tourism decreased by over 53% in 2020 for a staggering loss of ¥330B, or $50B.

Beijing Revenue From Tourism Dropped By Over $50B After Years Of Growth

China has long moved on from its isolationist policies and has encouraged the mainland as a travel destination for tourists. Revenue from China’s tourism sector grew at a strong 13.8% CAGR from 2010-2019 to ¥5.7T, or almost $880B. In 2019, China was the fourth most visited country by foreign tourists with 65.7M arrivals for the year.

Beijing is one of the leading tourist destinations in China, and the city has been enjoying the growth of the tourism sector until the pandemic of 2020 hit. From 2016-2019, Beijing’s tourism revenue experienced a 5.53% CAGR, rising to a value of ¥622.7B in 2019. However, COVID-19 shut borders around the world, crippling global mobility and disrupting the momentum built up by Beijing’s tourism industry. Beijing’s revenue from tourism dropped over 53% in 2020 to just over ¥291.

Beijing suffered a staggering loss in revenue, specifically in inbound tourism, where revenue dropped from $5.16B in 2019 to just $480M in 2020.

COVID-19 Hit China Early – Caused Massive Disruption in H1 of 2020

China felt the effects of COVID-19 before much of the rest of the world did. A clear example of this is in the drop in weekly Airbnb bookings from the period between January 5th to March 7th. This drop occurred when the coronavirus was just becoming news to the rest of the world of what was happening in various parts of China. Beijing experienced a dizzying 96% drop in weekly Airbnb bookings compared to just 46% in Seoul and 29% in Tokyo in this time period.

The number of domestic tourists is estimated to have dropped by as much as 62% in the first half of 2020 compared to the year prior, with revenues dropping by as much as 77%. By the end of the year, China had experienced a 43% drop in domestic tourists and a 52% drop in revenue from domestic tourism.

Tourism in China Projected To Completely Recover Within 5 Years

In 2019, the absolute economic contribution of tourism in China was estimated at $1.67T. This fell sharply to just $745.5B in 2020-a decrease of more than 55%, but still the largest in Asia and the second-largest overall, after the USA. However, projections have the figure bouncing back up by over 40.5% in 2021 to $1.04T. The figure is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels for the first time in 2023, when the absolute economic contribution of tourism is projected to be at $1.75T.

Despite the turmoil of 2020, China’s absolute economic contribution from tourism is projected to have an impressive CAGR of 20.75% from 2021-2025, reaching more than $2.67T by the end of the forecast period.

You can read more about the story with more statistics and information on TradingPlatforms’ website.