June 2022 - Newsletter #15







NEWS from The Real Japan - June 2022

 
Read on to learn about : 


JAPAN SITUATION UPDATE


The long wait is finally over ! 

The Japanese Governement has announced the reopening of borders for Leisure Travelers from June 10, 2022, however, with a series of strict conditions, both before and during the trip. 

In this newsletter, we will try to explain (as clearly as possible) the different steps and requirements that our clients will have to follow, to ensure smooth travels, while adhering to the Government's guidelines. 

TLDR - a very short summary :

- Countries are divided in Red, Yellow (Quarantine required) and Blue (allowed to travel with below conditions). Currently our partner agents and clients are located in "Blue" countries, which include Europe and the Americas and allowed to travel (unless they visit a "Red"or "Yellow" country in the previous 14 days). The list can be found here.

- Travelers must use the services of a local DMC, who will provide with the necessary authorizations in order to get a visa.

- Pre-departure PCR Test and installing specific smartphone apps are mandatory, but not vaccination, nor quarantine.

- When traveling, clients must be accompanied by a guide at all times

- Travelers are expected to follow governemental guidelines, which include strictly adhering to the planned itinerary, wearing mask inside & outside, temperature checks, etc. Not doing so may result in travelers being asked to leave the country.

For further details, please visit the comprehensive checklist compiled by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)
 

                                                  * * * 

Now, before jumping into the details, we would also like to remind you that these conditions could change rapidly - easing or tightening - depending on the government response to the current sanitary situation in the country and the world. Therefore, please kindly always check with our team, before committing to your clients. 


Step #1 : Getting a Visa for Japan

As the visa waiver program is currently suspended, Travelers will need to get a visa from the Japanese embassy in their country. To do so, once their travel plan (itinerary) is confirmed, they will need to be registered by their Japanese DMC into the ERFS (Entrants, Returnees Follow-up System) and receive approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be submitted with their visa application. 


Step #2 : Before & Upon Arrival in Japan

Travelers should install Smartphone Apps for "smoother" Arrival Procedures (called "Airport Quarantine Procedures" on English-speaking Japanese official websites), which will guide them through the process from "red screen"(process not completed) to "blue screen" (process completed).

- MySOS app : requires filling up a detailed Questionnaire and uploading a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure, to be shown at "Airport Quarantine", upon arrival in Japan.

- Visit Japan Web : An app gathering all important documents and information, necessary for Immigration & Customs.

All travelers must purchase a travel insurance covering all medical expenses in Japan, including COVID treatment in case infected during their trip.


Step #3 : While traveling in Japan 

- Foreign visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times, in order to record their seating location and ensure adherance to the protocol. This means that gaps are not permitted under current conditions and currently confirmed itineraries including "days at leisure" will have to be revised.

- Respect the local rules of prevention. This includes:

  • Strictly following the planned itinerary (no impromptu visits - shopping is fine, though!).
  • Wear a mask at all times, indoor and outdoor - except when eating and in your own hotel/ryokan room
  • Report temperature checks to your guide, who will also record your seating location in trains, restaurants, etc.
  • Accept non-contact temperature checks and hand-sanitizing wherever required (includes most buildings including museums, shops and restaurants). 

- If tour participants do not follow the regulations, they may be asked to leave the country. 

- If a tour participant is infected with COVID19, this person will have to follow the guide's instructions, as per government guideline, which may include quarantine at a government-designated facilty or hospital. All expenses should be born by the traveler and there will be no refund for the unused services during the rest of the trip. 

Local DMC's are responsible for the compliance of their clients while traveling and are required all guests to sign a form indicating their understanding and agreement of the aforementioned points. You may download it here, should you like to forward it to your clients in advance.

We are well aware that these extremely strict conditions and restrictions may deter our clients with immediate travel plans to Japan and will understand if they decide to postpone, awaiting for more relaxed sightseeing conditions.

However, at the same time, travelers accepting these conditions will be rewarded with a very low number of other foreign travelers, resulting in lesser crowded sights, especially in cities that used to suffer from over-tourism. 

We hope this information will be useful to explain the conditions to your clients. Please do feel free to contact us for any clarification or concern.

For further details, please visit the comprehensive checklist compiled by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

The Real Japan Team 
Team Inbox : info@real-japan.com
Sales & Marketing : eric@real-japan.com

 

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION

We are proud to present our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific
centre of interest and can be fully customized
(duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
From the Streets to the Stars

A Japan Foodie Tour

Designed for food-lovers, this itinerary combines culinary exploration in & around Tokyo, Kanazawa, Kyoto and the sacred Mt Koya, giving you a deep glance of the richness and beauty of Japanese food, for all tastes, from the Streets to the Stars.

Here are some of the delicacies and finer things you may enjoy: 

Seafood, a bounty of the Sea: tiny squids & giant crabs.

Noodles all over : Udon, Soba, Ramen and even Cup Noodles.

Wagashi : delicate Japanese confectionery...

Refined Luxury : A 350-years old Ryokan with Private Hot-Spring bath and Gastronomic Kaiseki Dinner.

Lifetime Encounter : the unique refinement of a Kaiseki feast accompanied with graceful Geisha entertainment.

Shops, stalls & holes-in-the wall : 5 iconic Shopping Streets and 3 of the best Food Markets across the country.

Highlights

 

Food Streets & Markets : Tokyo (Ginza, Tsukiji Outer Market, Ameyoko), Kawagoe, Kanazawa, Kyoto & Osaka

Culinary Experiences & Cooking Classes (private):

  • Tea Ceremony
  • Sake Tasting & Snack Pairing with Sake Expert
  • Kaiseki Dinner & Encounter with Geisha
  • Shojin Ryori (Ceremonial Buddhist Food) at Zen Temple
  • Gastronomic Japanese Cuisine at Luxury Ryokan.
  • Sushi Class at privatized high-end Sushi restaurant
  • Soba Noodle Cooking Class
  • Miso paste making
  • Japanese sweets (Wagashi)
  • Custom-made Ramen Noodle Cup
Accommodation

May 2022 - Newsletter #14

NEWS from The Real Japan - May 2022

 
Read on to learn about : 


JAPAN SITUATION UPDATE


Many of you may have heard the news that Japan will be reopening its borders to travelers in June... However, unfortunately it doesn't mean that our clients will be able to travel as early as June. 

As reported in the Japanese press, in June, the entry cap will be raised to 20,000 per day for long-term residents and sponsored business travelers - not for leisure travelers.

Additionally, a limited number of "small group tours" with strictly monitored destinations and sightseeing may be authorized on a trial basis late May or early June. Based on the results, further easing to individual travelers may be decided for July/August, but again, no official announcement has been made yet

We still hope for a gradual reopening from July or August onward, with strict screening and testing, at least for the first few weeks after reopening. 

We fully remain available, should you have any question or enquiries.

The Real Japan Team 
Team Inbox : info@real-japan.com
Sales & Marketing : eric@real-japan.com


For further details & updates, please visit :

HOTEL FOCUS
Art Biotop Nasu

 

Bordering Tokyo to the North, the Tochigi Prefecture is mostly famous for the World Heritage Sites of Nikko and the mausoleum dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the beautiful Chusenji lake , with its impressive waterfall, one of the biggest in Japan. 

In an earlier newsletter edition, we announced the opening of The Ritz-Carlton Nikko, the perfect accommodation after visiting Nikko. 

This month, we are delighted to present an extension to Nasu, one hour north of Nikko, that will please art & nature loving travelers.

Welcome to Art Biotop Nasu !


Concept 


Concept : An Ecological biosphere and Nurturing Environment for Art

Initialy opened as an Arts & Crafts workshop and artist residence (2006) and further extended with the Mizuniwa Water Garden (2018), the project has now been completed with the opening of a luxury eco-resort in November 2020. 

 
Location

Location : Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture

By private chartered car, it takes about 1h10 min from Nikko, or 3h directly from Tokyo. Alternatively, it's also an easy one-hour bullet train ride to Nasu-Shiobara station, followed by a 30 min car transfer.

Mizuniwa / Water Garden 

The Mizuniwa (Water Garden in Japanese) is a unique man-made biotop, made of 108 trees that were relocated from the construction site to a nearby meadows, thus saving them from being cut down.

All trees are connected via a network of small ponds with water flowing through. Nature lovers will feel a special connection here, while photographers and painters will love the inspiration that the site offers. 

Art Workshop 

Set in an idyllic setting, that may remind you of the English countryside, the workshop is comprised of a Glass Blowing Studio, a Pottery Studio and an Idigo Studio. 

In the glass studio, guests can fully experience the charm of the glassmaking – glassblowing, sand casting, burner work, sandblasting, etc. 

In the pottery studio, guests can enjoy hand-kneading on a potter’s wheel and painting, to create an original work in accordance with their tastes and skill levels.

Finally, in the Indigo studio, guests can witness and continue the long-standing culture of indigo dye’s sustainable color in Japan. 


Art Biotop Villas
 

Designed by the famous Japanese Architect Shigeru BAN, the Suite Villas is comprised of the main building (front desk, lounge and restaurant) and 15 individual lodges connected by a small winding pathway.

All rooms have the same size (85 sqm including terrace) and the same design: Entrance, Open Bedroom (mezzanine style), a Living Room opening on a large Terrace as well as an amazing "convertible bathroom" with Wooden or Stone bath, opening onto a Private Garden.

Another villa is dedicated to the Spa, providing  Physiotherapy treatments, however, there's no Gym and no swimming pool...

Restaurant
"Mu" is the onsite restaurant, where the young local Chef, trained at the 2-Michelin star Florilege Tokyo, serves local and mostly organic ingredients in a Japanese Cuisine with French influences.

The Real Japan team was clearly impressed with the food served and we were delighted to see the team of young local cooks seemingly having a lot of fun in the open kitchen. 

For guests with special dietary requirements, the nearby "Kantan Café", located by the Art Workshop and Residence, offers vegan/vegetarian menus.  

To conclude

Located in a slightly remote part of the Tochigi Prefecture, we believe our Art & Architecture oriented clients will love this peaceful, cosy & arty retreat set in a beautiful countryside landscape. 

Our team of Travel Consultants will be happy to give you additional options for sightseeing along the way, including the Nasu Ashino Stone Museum, designed by Kengo KUMA, or N's Yard, Yoshitomo Nara’s own private museum. 

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION

While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific
centre of interest and can be fully customized
(duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
More Than Clay - Japanese Ceramic Tour 
Ceramics in Japan dates back from the Jomon indigenous people, more than 10,000 years ago and is considered the oldest in the world. It is no wonder that pottery has permeated so many facets of society, from table to tea ceremony, from flower vases to religious objects. 

Suitable for adults and older children with a real passion for clay, this itinerary is a deep dive into the world of Japanese ceramics. 

Travel through the Southern part of Honshu and the North of Kyushu, discovering each region's own specificity and learning the craft, through guided visits of kilns & museums as well as selected private hands-on experiences
 

Highlights

 
8 Prefectures, including:
  • Tokyo and nearby Tochigi (Mashiko)
  • Nagoya, Kyoto and Shiga 
  • Fukuoka, Saga and Oita (Kyushu Island)

10 different styles & schools of Japanese pottery

7 kilns, still in operation and considered the most important in Japan.

4 Private Hands-On workshops in different styles, including: 
  • Mashiko-yaki
  • Raku-yaki,
  • Arita-yaki
  • Usuki-yaki.
Accommodation
Copyright © 2022 - The Real Japan - All rights reserved.


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April 2022 - Newsletter #13

NEWS from The Real Japan - April 2022

 
Read on to learn about : 
Ogaki Funamachi © SHori (Licensed under CC BY 4.0)


JAPAN SITUATION UPDATE


The sanitary situation in Japan is stable compared to last month, whith new infections remaining around 50,000 per day for the whole country. However, as a sign of improvement, the state of quasi-emergency has been lifted in all Prefectures.

The entry cap has also been increased to 10,000 new entrants daily, however reserved to students, long-term & business visas.

The Japanese Government has announced it has no immediate plans to reopen its borders to foreign tourists, however we are still hopeful for a reopening in time for the summer

We look forward to bringing better news next month and meanwhile, fully remain available, should you have any question or enquiries to Japan.

The Real Japan Team 
Team Inbox : info@real-japan.com
Sales & Marketing : eric@real-japan.com


For further details & updates, please visit :

HOTEL FOCUS
mesm Tokyo

 

Tokyo is an ever evolving city, as is its hotel scene with new properties constantly springing up and one of them is mesm Tokyo, a Mariott property, under the Autograph Collection brand.

mesmerize your five senses...  Branding itself as a new Lifestyle icon, mesm Tokyo aims to provide its guests with the pulse of today's Tokyo in fashion, art, technology and lifestyle. Fusing tradition with innovation, traditional Japanese crafts are used to create contemporary art pieces, which you can see all over the hotel.  


Location 
 
Location: Those familiar with Tokyo may remember the Hamarikyu Garden, a vast traditional Japanese flanked by buildings on the North (including Conrad Tokyo) and opening onto the Sumida River and the Tokyo Bay, on the East. The Southern "Takeshiba" Bay area has been redeveloped and features a new complex called Waters Takeshiba, including a luxury hotel : mesm.

Although not in the immediate center of Tokyo, mesm has the advantage of space and views over the Hamarikyu Garden and the Sumida River... A 6 minute walk will take you to the Yamanote (loop) line and connects to the rest of Tokyo.  

Rooms

mesm Tokyo has 265 rooms in four categories - called "Chapters 1-4" - and corresponding to Standard/Deluxe (1 & 2) and Suite levels (3 & 4). 

Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 (respectively 40 and 44 sqm) are located across almost all floors (17 to 26) and offer a practical space with subdued design, to relax after a day of sightseeing. Some rooms feature a balcony and afford stunning views on the Hamarikyu Garden. 

Chapter 3 (95 sqm) rooms are located on floors 18-24 and all come with private balconies overlooking the garden and river.

Chapter 4 (180 sqm) on the top 26th floor boasts an impressive 180 sqm of luxurious interior with separate living & dining and a 60 sqm balcony with spectacular, one-of-kind view of Tokyo. 

Room amenities have been selected with care, most of them being (exclusive) collaboration with artisans redefining the Japanese love for all things craft (coffee, copper pot, cosmetics...). 

And last but not least, especially for musicians... all rooms are equipped with an electronic piano - a unique feature in Japan - and maybe in the world?  
Restaurant
The Chef's Theatre is a stylish restaurant where fine Japanese ingredients are prepared in a crossover of Parisan Bistronomy and Japanese flavors.

There's only one restaurant at mesm Tokyo, howver, there are several other (casual or more slightly formal) options within the Takeshiba Waters complex and many more awaiting in Tokyo...

Other Facilities
  • Spa : There is no Spa at mesm Tokyo 
  • Fitness : available only for guests (no outside membership) and well equipped with the latest technogym machines.

To conclude

Although the location, facilities and service surely aren't the same as the luxury hotels on the higher end, we feel that mesm Tokyo could be a good (more reasonable) option for younger guests looking for an urban lifestyle hotel, yet with decent-sized rooms, stunning views and slightly off the hyper-active centre.  

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION :
Studio Ghibli / Hayao Miyazaki Itinerary

While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific
centre of interest and can be fully customized
(duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
Spirited Away in Japan 


Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, has taken Japanese Animation movies to another level with masterpieces such as "Spirited Away" (Best Animated Feature - Academy Award®), "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Princess Mononoke", which magical worlds talk straight to the heart and soul of the viewer, regardless of age.


This unique customizable itinerary was specifically designed for Hayao Miyazaki's fans, combining best sightseeing highlights, with locations that have inspired or resemble the most famous movies of Studio Ghibli.

From the urban settings of Tokyo & Kyoto to the cliffs over the Seto Sea and the deep forests of Yakushima island, discover Japan through the magical lens of Hayao Miyazaki.

Studio Ghibli Related Visits

Tokyo

  • Ghibli Museum, Mikata (designed by Hayao Miyazaki himself)
  • Hotel Tokyo Gajoen (Spirited Away) 
  • Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (Spirited Away),
  • Seiseki Sakuragaoka (Whisper of the Heart) 
  • Totoro's Forest (My Neighbor Totoro)

Kyoto 

  • Donguri (Official Ghibli shop)
  • Tomogashima (Castle in the Sky)

Other Destinations

  • Tomonoura (Ponyo on the Cliff)
  • Dogo Onsen (Spirited Away)
  • Yakushima Island (Princess Mononoke)

Sightseeing Highlights

 
  • Tokyo : Meiji Jingu Shrine, Harajuku Fashion, Roppongi Hills, Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum
     
  • Kyoto : Kiyomizu-dera Temple & Sannenzaka, Gion Geisha District, Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion, Ryoan-ji Rock Garden, Fushimi Inari Shrine
     
  • Nara : Nara Deer Park, Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Shrine, Naramachi Merchant District
     
  • Matsuyama : Matsuyama Castle, Dogo Onsen, 
     
  • Onomichi : Stroll this quaint city on a hill overlooking the sea.
Accommodation
Copyright © 2022 - The Real Japan - All rights reserved.

March 2022 - Newsletter #12

NEWS from The Real Japan - March 2022

 
Read on to learn about : 


JAPAN SITUATION UPDATE


The sanitary situation in Japan is improving and the omicron wave slowly receiding, while new infections remain around 50,000 per day for the whole country.

The Japanese government is now eyeing at a combination of self-restraint (extension of the state of quasi-emergency into March for early bar & restaurant closure) and the gradual reopening of borders.

The entry cap has now been increased from 5,000 to 7,000 daily, focusing in priority on long-term visas and students. It is estimated that around 400,000 long-term visa holders, including 150,000 students are waiting to enter the country, since borders closed two years ago.

No announcement has been made about Leisure Travel and we are unfortunately unable to provide accurate information at this stage. We do still hope for a reopening before summer and currently accept enquiries for May onward. 

Should you have any question or requests for Japan, please feel free to contact us directly at info@real-japan.com. As well, should you like to renew or update your itineraries with new destinations, please contact Eric Demay - Director of Sales & Marketing at eric@real-japan.com.

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you again soon,

The Real Japan Team  
 

For details & updates, please visit :

HOTEL FOCUS
FUFU KAWAGUCHIKO

 

The Prefecture of Yamanashi, just West of Tokyo, has always been a favorite of The Real Japan, offering a wide range of experiences and encounters, in a natural, off-the-beaten path destination.

Last month, we introduced Hotel Keyforest, our hidden gem on the foothills of the Japanese Alps, where (y)our clients will enjoy Japanese and International Contemporary Art, Architecture, as well as Nature, Golf and much more, including Winery & Whisky distillery visits.

This time, let's take a look at the more famous side of Yamanashi : the region of Kawaguchiko Five Lakes

Closer to Tokyo and yet, even more spectacular, the scenery is dominated by the elusive Mt Fuji and the gorgeous lakes dotting the region. There, surrounded by nature, lies a luxury property offering immersive views in a luxurious cocoon.

With a modern take on natural Japanese design and hospitality, FUFU Kawaguchiko blends and bends the borders between hotel and ryokan... 


Access & Concept
 
Access : Hotel FUFU Kawaguchiko is located about 2h from Tokyo by private chartered vehicle, comibined with a full-day of sightseeing near Mt Fuji along the way. Continuing their journey onward, clients can easily reach Hakone or Shizuoka on the way to Kyoto and beyond.
 
Concept : Relaxed Luxury in Nature...  Fufu Kawaguchiko caters to those looking for a cosy yet hip and dynamic stay, with stunning views of nature. It combines the relaxing feel and attentive hospitality of a ryokan, with a liberating "modern-smart" twist.

Couples and Honeymooners will enjoy a amazingly romantic scenery from the balcony and the private hot-spring bath, while families can reunite after a day full of activities, in the large suites, accommodating up to 4 guests. 
 

Rooms

FUFU Kawaguchiko offers a cosy & intimiate atmosphere, with only 32 exclusive Suites, all with floor-to-ceiling bay windows opening onto a large balcony, fully equipped with private volcanic stone natural hot-spring bath and a bioethanol fireplace.
 

Room categories (based on location & size):
  • 5x Stylish Suite :      1st Floor - 60 m²
  • 16x Comfort Suite : 2nd & 3rd Floors - 60-65 m²
  • 6x Precious Suite :   Corner of 4th Floor - 60-65 m² 
  • 3x Premium Suite :  Corner of 1st, 2nd & 3rd Floors - 85 m² 
  • 1x Luxury Suite :     4th Floor - 100 m² up to 4 pax
  • 1x Luxury Premium Suite : Corner of 4th Floor - 136 m² up to 4 pax  

We felt that all rooms can be recommendable for our clients, depending on their budget and the views / size required. First and Second Floor rooms are more reasonably priced but still afford beautiful views to Mt Fuji and the lake, while the panoramas from higher floors become even more spectacular as you go up...

The Luxury Suite can be  be divided into separate rooms by closing the sliding doors, which will be perfect for families with children or teenagers. 
Restaurant
There's only one restaurant at FUFU Kawaguchiko, offering a rejuvenated take on traditional Japanese Kaiseki Dinner, using locally produced, seasonal ingredients, prepared using wood fire and volcanic stone.

The Real Japan team thought it could be defined as "refined rustic cuisine" and enjoyed it a lot. 

Being located in Japan's most famous wine growing region, all menus can be paired with Japanese Wine or Sake.

Breakfast is Japanese-style and features rice cooked with a wood-burning stove, hearty vegetable soups, gratin made with locally produced natto (fermented soy beans) and will provide for a unique sensory experience.

For food-sensitive clients, Western breakast or Vegetarian options, can be requested in advance.
 

Lobby Lounge, Bar & Terrace

All facing Mt Fuji, the lobby lounge, the bar and the outdoor terrace running across the hotel provide many opportunities to marvel at the spectacular scenery at different times of the day... or the night. 
In winter, guests will love cosying up by the chimney and in summer, gaze at the stars from the many nooks & cannies dotting the terrace and garden. 
 

Spa & Hot-Spring

In addition to their own private hotspring bath on the large balcony, guests can enjoy the communal baths (in-house guests only), featuring a Finnish-style dry sauna (men's bath) and mist sauna (women's bath).

To conclude

For our team, FUFU Kawaguchiko ticked all the boxes: understated and eco-conscious luxury, natural hot-spring bliss, excellent creative-traditional gastronomy using local ingredients, all with an intimate, thougful sense of hospitality, we are glad to have another luxury option in the region.

In addition to the many activities that The Real Japan can organize, we also recommend taking time to enjoy the hotel itself and relax after a busy stay in Tokyo or at the end of your of your trip.
 

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION :
A PHOTOGENIC JOURNEY

While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific
centre of interest and can be fully customized
(duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
Japan Through The Lens

Filled with man-made and natural wonders, Japan offers countless photographic opportunities to the averted eye.

From Tokyo and its contrast of steel & glass with peaceful gardens to the majestic Mt Fuji and its striking reversed cone-shaped museum, from the ancient Nakasendo road to the seaside towns of Ine & Amanoashidate, from city temples in Kyoto to mountain temples in Yamagata, hundreds of subjects for excellent photography await...

Embark on a photographic journey to discover the many facets of Japan, all of which competes for the title of most photogenic spot in your memories...


Itinerary at a glance


Day 1-2          Tokyo: Past, Present & Future, All in One Frame

Day 3-4          Kawaguchiko Five Lakes with Mt Fuji’s backdrop, 
                       Shizuoka's Nature & Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre

Day 5-6          Kiso Valley, peaceful Hikes in Nature & Ancient History

Day 7-8          Amanohashidate, one of Japan’s Most Famous View
                       Ine's Fishing Village & Terraced Rice Fields. 

Day 9-11        Kyoto & Nara, Photogenic Streets, Temples & Gardens

Day 12-13      Yamagata's undiscovered Nature and Art

Day 14-15     Tokyo, final Photo chances & Departure.


Accommodation
From Fine Dining & Urban Nightscapes to Paddy Fields, from a Traditional  seaside Ryokan to star-studded mountain skies, this itinerary offers a wide variety of hospitality experiences along the journey. 

While accommodation options in remote areas are limited, hotels in Tokyo & Kyoto can be customized according to clients' needs & preferences. 
 
Thank you for reading this newsletter until the end and please feel free to contact us at info@real-japan.com or eric@real-japan.com, if there's anything you need. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you.
 
The Real Japan Team  
*
Copyright © 2022 - The Real Japan - All rights reserved.


February 2022 - Newsletter #11







NEWS from The Real Japan - February 2022

 
Read on to learn about : 

JAPAN SITUATION UPDATE


As reported in our previous newsletter, the Omicron variant has spread around Japan's 47 prefectures, of which 31 prefectures have issued a "Quasi-State of Emergency" - effectively meaning that bars & restaurants can't serve alcohol and must close by 8 or 9 pm. No other restrictions, such as vaccine passes or mandates has been put in place but borders remain closed to leisure travel and inter-regional travel is also discouraged.

That said, all is not bleak and expert scientists consider that the peak of the wave is now over, with 7-day rolling averages showing a clear decrease in new infections.

As a result, news reports indicate that the government is considering to ease its cap on the number of daily new entrants from overseas (from 3,500 to 5,000 per day) and mandatory quarantine for triple-vaccinated travelers who can provide a negative COVID-19 test result. 

However, priority may be given to long-term staying non-residents (such as students etc) as well as Business travelers, as was the case for previous "travel bubbles", while Leisure travel may be allowed at a later stage, yet to be announced

An official Press Conference by Prime Minister Kishida is expected in the next few days and we will inform our readers of any meaningful changes in border controls to Japan in our next newsletter. 
 

For details & updates, please visit :

HOTEL FOCUS : HOTEL KEYFOREST HOKUTO

 

Nested in the foothills of the majestic Japanese Alps, on the border of Yamanashi and Nagano Prefecture, lies a beautiful hidden gem, that will delight architecture, archeology and nature lovers alike. 

Let's take a look at one of our favorite luxury boutique accommodation: Hotel Keyforest Hokuto.


About Kobuchizawa Art Village

  • Location : Hotel Keyforest Hokuto is located in the village  of Kobuchizawa in Yamanashi prefecture. Although it only takes 2 hours by direct train from Shinjuku Station (Tokyo), we recommend using a private chartered vehicle for sightseeing along the way and on the spot. 
     
  • Concept : Envisioned by pharmaceutical entrepreneur Kazuo NAKAMURA, the Hotel Keyforest Hokuto is the central piece of a small "art, sport & wellness" resort, encompassing a small luxury design boutique hotel, a private museum, a horse-riding centre, a Golf and a Restaurant.

    The inspiration for this unique project comes from the reunion of two apparently dissociated passions from Nakamura-san: the archeological findings of the Jomon tribe - early settlers who populated the area several thousand years ago and the works by Keith Haring, the New-York "Pop artist" who took the 1980's art scene by storm.


Hotel Keyforest

  • Layout: From the outside, the hotel's particular architecture lies in its complex geometry and sharp form of its openings. Upon entering in the lobby, a larger-than-life statue by Keith Haring greets the visitor. Passing by, a corridor lined with rare whisky bottles from the owner's collection leads you to the Nakamura Whisky Bar (with more rare whiskies from Japan and abroad) and the lounge, where breakfast and evening drinks are served.

 

  • Rooms : There are only 6 rooms  (3 per floor) of approximately 50 sqm, each named after a natural element, in the ancient Jomon language.

    Whether you stay in Kase (Wind), Mitsu (Water) or Ime (Earth), you will find the same natural elegance of understated luxury, with an emphasis on wood, stone and light cotton tones

All rooms offer ample space, with beautiful bathrooms, most of which open onto a wide balcony overlooking the forested park behind the hotel.
  • Restaurant : Although Breakfast is served at the Hotel, there is no restaurant inside the hotel, but several options are available in the neighborhood, including a "Country restaurant" offering Yamanashi’s farm-to-table menu and delicious steaks, a 2 minute walk and also part of the complex.
     
  • Onsen & Spa: One of the highlights of staying at Hotel Keyforest is the private use (90 min per day per room) of the large private open-air bath, overflowing with Kobuchizawa’s natural hot spring... A real treat after a day of hiking or sightseeing.  

    The "relaxation salon" next to the hot-spring bath, offers several kinds of massages upon reservation.

Nakamura Keith Haring Collection

 

While the Hotel Keyforest is a haven for relaxation, there are many things to be done around the hotel, including hiking (see our Hiking Itinerary below), sightseeing, art villages & museums, whisky distillery, golf, horse-riding etc., and yet, one of the highlights, the Nakamura Keith Haring Collection, is actually right behind the hotel, on the other side of a beautifully forested park.

Along with Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring is considered to be one of the leading artists of the 80’s American modern art. Haring became internationally renowned through his art exhibitions and various projects throughout the decade and died of AIDS at the age of 31, in 1990.

 

Established in 2007, the Nakamura Keith Haring Collection is the largest private collection and only museum dedicated to Keith Haring, with about 200 of his works, including early drawings and blueprints, as well as large-sized paintings and impressive sculptures from the end of Haring's life. 

The museum is not only a testament to Haring's work and creativity, it is also a bold architectural statement, with unique geometrical shapes and colors, that will delight arts & architecture lovers. 

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION :
SELECTED JAPAN HIKING

While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific
centre of interest and can be fully customized
(duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
Selected Walks across Japan

Although the popular image of Japan is that of mega-cities, the majority of Japan (over 70%) is covered in mountains. With a wide variety of landscapes, from beach to mountains, the countryside is abounding with forests and well preserved nature.

Start your trip exploring around Tokyo before quickly reaching the foothills of Mt Fuji, Hakone and the beautiful Kawaguchi Lake.

Then dive deeper into the Japanese Alps in Kobuchizawa, followed by the ancient routes of the Kiso Valley and the preserved rural villages of Hida & Takayama.

Come back to the city for the most important sights of Kyoto, including a behind the-scene walk of the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, before flying off-the-beaten track to Kunisaki Peninsula on Kyushu Island, for a spiritual walk following the footsteps of mountain ascètes & pilgrims.

Finally, take a well-deserved rest on pristine Yakushima island before heading off to Osaka for departure.

Highlights

 
  • 9 Hikes in 9 different Prefectures:
    • Tokyo :              Mt Takako
    • Mt. Fuji :            Aokigahara Forest
    • Kobuchizawa :   Mt Hinata
    • Kiso Valley :       Nakasendo Trail
    • Japanese Alps :  Kamikochi
    • HidaTakayama : Goshikigahara Forest
    • Kyoto :               Fushimi Inari Pilgrimage Round
    • Kunisaki :           Forest & Mountain Pilgrim Trail
    • Yakushima :       Primeval Forest
       
  • Essential Sightseeing in Kyoto & Takayama
     
  • A variety of carefully selected luxury accommodation : Nature Hotel,
    Art & Architecture Boutique, Traditional Ryokans and the best 5* Hotels in Tokyo, Kyoto & Beppu
Copyright © 2022 - The Real Japan - All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:

The Real Japan (Magellan Resorts and Trust Inc.)

3-1-10 Ekinishishinmachi /  NEWS Building 4F

Kanazawa city /  920-0027

Ishikawa / JAPAN 


January 2022 - Newsletter #10

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NEWS from The Real Japan - January 2022

 

Welcome to the 10th edition of The Real Japan's Newsletter
 
Read on to learn about :
  • Japan Situation Update    Omicron keeps borders closed until end of February
     
  • Hotel of The Month         Araya Totoan - a Traditional Luxury Ryokan
     
  • Follow Your Passion        Traditional Crafts of Japan
     

Japan Situation Update 




 
Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa - January 2022

 
The Real Japan Team wishes you, a Happy (and Better) New Year, with the hope of Japanese borders opening soon. 

In the meantime, Japan hasn't been spared by the Omicron variant and is now seeing a wave surging across the country, with over 4,000 daily new cases in Tokyo, the highest number since last August. Due to the situation in Japan and abroad, the Japanese government has decided to further extend the entry ban on non-resident foreigners until the end of February. 

We (tentatively) expect the ban to be extended until the end of March 2022 and are currently postponing our clients' March arrivals. We are still accepting enquiries and bookings from June 2022 onward and happy to report a steady stream of requests for late Summer and Autumn already. 

Of course, should you have any question or wish to update your Japan itineraries, please feel free to get in touch with Eric Demay, Director of Sales :  eric@real-japan.com

For any trip request, our Travel Consultants will be delighted to assist you create a completely tailor-made itinerary : info@real-japan.com

We look forward to hearing from you and working with you on 2022 and 2023 ! 

HOTEL FOCUS : ARAYA TOTOAN

The property we've chosen to highlight this month, isn't newly opened. It is also not located in Tokyo nor Kyoto...
In fact, deep in the countryside of the Ishikawa Prefecture, near Kanazawa, this month' property has been in operation for over 350 years, carefully tended by eighteen dedicated generations of the same family.

Once passed the delicate "noren", the curtain separating the entrance from the street, you will be transported to another time, where centuries of heartfelt hospitality have created a haven of calm and harmony... 

Welcome to Araya Totoan.


Quick Facts
 
  • Location : Araya Totoan is located in the centre of the quaint village of Yamashiro Onsen (Springs), about 1 hour from Kanazawa city. The area, formerly called Kaga during the feudal era, is known for its craftsmanship, including prized lacquerwares and ceramics. 
     
  • History: Legend has it, that the thermal hot springs of Yamashiro were discovered by a priest, who noticed a three legged bird healing its wounds in a puddle of hot water. The village of Yamashiro developed around the spring and the Araya Totoan Inn was designated as the bathing place for Lord Maeda after his warring campaigns. Since then, 18th generations of the same family have been taking care of this Ryokan and its guests. 

    Among the most prominent figures, feature Rosanjin, a famous Japanese calligraphy artist, ceramics artist, painter, restaurateur and food connoisseur from the Edo Period. The ryokan supported him for about one year and a small but exquisite Rosanjin museum is located a few steps away from the ryokan. The Imperial Family also visited Yamashiro Onsen about a century ago and the remaining purposely-built wooden annex is now used as a cosy night bar. 

Rooms
 
Araya Totoan is an intimate and cosy Japanese Inns, with only 18 rooms, of which 9 rooms include a private ensuite hot-spring bath and are the recommended rooms for our guests.

The rooms follow traditional sukiya" architecture, delicately tatami-matted corridor leading to your " living room", with low table and chairs. From here, you can reach to the bedroom - beds are traditional Japanese Futons on top of a foam mattresses. Low setting but very comfortable... 
 

On the other side of the room, await a traditional Japanese style bathroom - with stool, shower and bucket for washing, and then, the masterpiece : a large wooden cypress bathtub, overflowing with piping hot Spring Water. This is where you will indulge in well-deserved bliss, after a day of sightseeing and before (or after) a sumptuous feast.
 

Onsen / Hot Spring Baths
 
The hot spring water of Yamashiro springs out from a source that lies only a few dozen meters below the ground and gushes about a hundred thousand liters of steaming-hot water every day. The superior quality of the spring water has won international acclaim and include Sodium and calcium sulfate chloride, claimed to have therapeutic benefits for low back pain, neuralgia, female illnesses, skin care, etc.

Our recommended rooms all feature a private semi-open air hot-spring bath , which means that your wooden bathtub is located on a balcony, open-air but protected from the elements. 
 

In addition, Araya Totoan has three gender-separated communal hot-spring baths, one of which is a soothing "relaxation bath", in the dark. 
 

Gastronomy
 
In addition to the relaxing properties of hot-springs, one of the highlights of staying at a Ryokan, is to indulge in a traditional Kaiseki Dinner, meaning a gastronomic feast of local delicacies, carefully prepared and artistically served on beautiful ceramic or laquer vessels.

You can expect to sample an assortment of many a fine dishes, including fresh, grilled and broiled fish, Seafood from the nearby Sea Of Japan, Beef, Duck or Pork from Kaga or the Noto Peninsula as well as locally foraged "mountain vegetables". Winter is the season for "special Crab Kaiseki"and attract loyal repeat customers from all over the country, year after year. 

Note: As Kaiseki meals are formal and complex assortments governed by many rules (order and ingredients) and  cooked for all guests staying that night, traditional Ryokans are usually not able to accommodate severe food restrictions and usually don't substitute but just remove the ingredient or dish altogether.

In the evening, enjoy a drink at the very cosy bar built in the wooden annex built for the Imperial Family stay, about a century ago. Dimly lit and intimate, it will be the perfect place for a night cap, before a last soak in your own private onsen bath... 

ARAYA TOTOAN

Yamashiro Onsen Yunogawa,
Kaga City, Ishikawa 922-0242


http://www.araya-totoan.com/en/



Follow Your Passion : Theme-focused Itineraries
 
While we are waiting for borders to re-open, we are proud to present
our new "Follow Your Passion" concept.

Each Theme Itinerary is focused on a specific centre of interest 
and can be fully customized (duration, pace, contents), just for your clients.  
 Traditional Crafts of Japan
 
With a long history of art-protecting rulers, a love of aesthetics & attention to finer details, Japan has elevated its traditional crafts to the rank of Art.

From Laquer hand-polished for months, to micron-thin Gold Leaf or Hand-made Swords, this itinerary will take you to the ateliers of Japanese Craftsmen & women, who perpetuate centuries-old techniques, inherited from their ancestors

Enjoy privileged private hands-on learning encounters combined with visits of the most iconic sights related to fine arts & crafts. In short,  a fully customizable journey depending on your own interests & passions. 
 

            Traditional Crafts of Japan

Tokyo (1)

Aman Tokyo

4 nights

Hakone

Gora Kadan

1 night

Kyoto

The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

2 nights

Ishikawa

Hyatt Centric Kanazawa

3 nights

Miyagi/Sendai

The Westin Sendai

2 nights

Tokyo (2)

Aman Tokyo

1 night


Highlights of your Trip
 
  • “Must-go“ destinations : Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Kanazawa
     
  • Lesser-known areas around Tokyo (Saitama, Mashiko) and Sendai in the North. 
     
  • Wide Variety of Unique Japanese Traditional Crafts:
    • Paper : Washi Paper making, Origami art (paper folding),
    • Textile : Indigo dyeing, Silk weaving, Japanese Kimono painting
    • Wood : Lacquer, Wood sculptures, Wood mosaic, Woodblock printing
    • Metal : Gold Leaf, Brass & Bronze ritual objects, Cast iron, Japanese Sword,
    • Glass & Clay: Glass Wind chimes & Glass Art, Pottery & Ceramics…
       
  • Private Encounters & Hands-on activities:
    • Make Japanese Washi Paper
    • Model your own Pottery,
    • Carve a Woodblock print,
    • Don a Japanese Kimono, the traditional way
    • Learn the rules and manners of the Tea Ceremony.
       
  • Personalized High-end Crafts Shops selection in most destinations. 
Copyright © 2021 - The Real Japan - All rights reserved.


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December 2021 - Newsletter #9

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