Travel tips

The Buckwheat Country, Buckwheat Noodles and Soba in Nagano

The Japanese people have loved buckwheat noodles for decades, and they are now well-known across the globe, as well as a perennial favorite food on tap in many traditional Chinese restaurants.

Nagano is known as the “Buckwheat Country,” because its Bamboo Boat Noodle and Soba Cuisine production facilities supply the majority of all brands of Soba throughout Japan and throughout Asia. Soba has even been incorporated into the Japanese educational curriculum.

Buckwheat Noodles in Nagano

Related content Visit Soba and History in Nagano | JAPAN TRAVEL WEB MAGAZINE

In Nagano, most shops sell buckwheat noodles as an upmarket drink for consumption with sake, but if the drinks are unmemorable, and the blini (rolled buckwheat noodle cakes) look exactly the same, go for the gyoza, also called buckwheat brown rice in Chinese, at some sake shops.

Buckwheat is also found in green curry, buns and baby pancakes. When you meet your buckwheat noodles near the lotus spring, a 25-year bed full of water where native buckwheat flower blooms, it’s the place to go. With hundreds of delicious rows, the lotus lotus spring is the site of one of the biggest, largest, and most well-known buckwheat farmer’s markets in Japan.

The traditional Soba dish from Nagano

Fresh buckwheat noodles from Nagano

Related content Visit Soba and History in Nagano | JAPAN TRAVEL WEB MAGAZINE

Gyoza in Nagano: yum!

Buckwheat Brown Rice Hot Pot

Take a walk in the Buckwheat Field with a soak and then take a stroll through the Naka Forest to taste Buckwheat Brown Rice Hot Pot, cooked in what looks like a huge, foot-deep well surrounded by fir trees, cork oak trees, cedars, and purple flowers.

Travel tips

Bring Your Friends to Hot Spots in Hayama!


Its kind of like a coastal village in Honolulu. A coastal village in Honolulu doesn’t have a lot to do if you’re not fishing or hunting or visiting the lively nightlife. This is a sleepy little town with a core of residents who love the shirting game and find a place to relax and visit with friends.

Photo: Yoshiaki Ariyoshi / JAPAN TRAVEL WEB MAGAZINE

The Hayama Excursion Ticket allows you to visit many fun hotspots that tourists usually only have access to:

Bukit Atami? – A Härnssenbank location in Hayama where you can purchase virtually anything through an instant foreign exchange based on local value. They also operate a fast cash transfer service on a daily basis where you can take advantage of up to one HUF per day.

Yakumo? – An oceanside center for fishing, crabbing, kayaking, and fishing among others. There are also many options for entertainment: Circus, diving, chess, and the like. There are activities every day from 11am to 4pm.

Park Of Iwaki – With an entrance fee of $3 for adults, the location includes three mountainside areas: Ice-Caved Treasure, Black Hills Observatory, and Freedom Trails. They have climbing courses, ropes, rock climbing, ice skating, snow climbing, and archery. You also have the option to get your teeth fixed for as little as $1 for adults, and as much as $300 for two adults to get your teeth fixed in the U.S. It can also be a great place to arrange meetings with fans and get introduced to other hunters and fishermen.

Bell Tower Grounds – You can get an even bigger discount and more flexibility if you come during the day. They have a completely mobile setup consisting of all kinds of activities: hiking, fishing, football, water skiing, and many more.

There is also a bunch of shopping and restaurants located close to the Bell Tower Grounds where you can eat, shop, and perhaps catch some waves or just relax and laugh with your friends. You should also inquire about a nightlight cruise. You will also gain access to the tasty, old-fashioned, and delicious Fukui food.

Due to current conservation regulations, the Hayama area contains an abundance of nature right in the middle of this fascinating town. There are a lot of hills, mountains, and groves to explore, so come on out and have some fun. If you’re lucky, you might find yourself getting inspired to make your own adventure.

Visit for more information.

Travel tips

Luxury air-hotels in Japan

JAPAN is great for holidaymakers with its famous white beaches, beautiful temples and delicious culinary delights. But with autumn (November to February) having arrived, there is an end in sight, which can make it difficult to plan for the next big trip.

That’s where air-hotels come in – because they give you not just the accommodation, but also access to the area to keep checking up on for the duration of your trip. This time of year, the big draws are hot springs with their natural hot water (koza), as well as hot springs at scenic pachinko parlours – available at a swathe of Tokyo’s inter-city shopping and entertainment centres (bungki: arcade-style arcades where you lose coins on coloured tokens, that eventually you have to buy and spend with real money).

If nothing else, it is worth remembering to take your mind off the lengthening day; your mind is pretty much made up when you first get there. The air is at its driest in January, which means you’ll be cooking your food first thing. But so long as you are careful, you will be set.


•Bukkyo, Ryuta-cho, Asakusa-ku, Tokyo, Nikkei: Bankokana 8th floor, M1 carpark hall (first floor is a bank)

•Smugglers Cove, Shimokitazawa-cho, Higashi-ku, Tokyo

•L. Fusine, 1-7-2-1-3-15 Kiso-shi 6th floor, JDM carpark 1st floor

•Vinamisu (posters at Hamada Plaza)


•Castaneda Ginza 2nd floor, M1 carpark hall (second floor is Ginza Shopping Mall)

•Esuzuro-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

•Mtsitronidou-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

•If you have a friend who lives in Sashimi, go to their house in a cold wind and buy them a bundle of hot, toasty pancakes to eat together.


•Mio, Chanmakura-ku, Tokyo

•Miso-koza, Yatetsu-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

•Hot Spring is a relaxing, bright retreat in which you are enveloped in warmness; easygoing and hygienic. It provides perfect activities for those who need something during the day, if they are just so badly cold or in need of a good rubdown after having spent too much time in the hot-spots.


•Winter tea parties at Salk-dai Satsuma (top tea house in Tamagawa)


•Masyadai (six-course Christmas meal)

•Snow softener skin treatment at Peek-a-peek beauty salon on J1 back road


•Breakfast of prepared ramen and ramen noodles prepared at Kino nabe LEX


•Aikido school courses at Konkonoji Kofu Goshinon where the students can learn basic Aikido discipline on the way, and receive a professional grade in the end. It can take a whole day to get through the sessions.

•Peek-a-peek, Roppongi-ku, Tokyo


•The piano in the Kofu kimono sits right in the middle of the lively bar. It just doesn’t get more cute than that. The piano masters have been practicing for years, and sing some of the most moving classical music the country can offer.

(Content produced by the Japan Travel News and the Matcha Magazine using matcha sponsors from Drink &, one of the world’s leading travel and culture sites and the .travel Facebook groups.)

Travel tips

Spring in Tokyo – Travel 2018

by Katie Enright, Todd Logyker, Kate Yanos, Sean Woods, Sharon Tagomi, and Anton Stadler

February 2019: Spring – Tokyo

While a fairly quiet month in Japan, the weather is always partly cloudy with hints of green in winter when contrasted with the grey-grayness of winter. While sometimes there’s a short window of rain that makes a difference from one day to the next, we find Tokyo’s weather to be unpredictable and changing constantly with different day-to-day conditions. Therefore, deciding on our travel destination for the following month is a bit of a gamble. If you like something specific, good luck. We’ve been here before so know what to look for, but a bit of effort isn’t required to find the right spot for your next vacation. Spring is a great time for a trip to Tokyo, which is the heart of the “Land of the Rising Sun.”

On the one hand, Tokyo’s rush hour can be a bit difficult to navigate. Traffic congestion can be like flowing-heat, beating down from all directions. On the other hand, there are other challenges in Tokyo as well: snarled-traffic is accompanied by hot-and-sour-weather, frequent typhoons, and intense heat waves. However, in Tokyo we like to remind ourselves to just take it easy, enjoy the weather and soak in the culture. And of course, we love eating…

When April rolls around and we start to leave Tokyo for some of the mountains or islands, it’s time to head back to the chic and art-directed scene of Tokyo. We aim to document the highlights of the main sights during spring; Tokyo has so many great places that there’s no way to cover them all!

Where to Stay in Tokyo: Which Park is Best?

In the city, where we’ve stayed many times, we like to choose a place that makes us feel at home. Since Tokyo is so different from what we’re used to, we find Tokyo’s hotels to be the perfect place to “live” in Tokyo. There’s a consistent type of hotel to choose from in Tokyo; the hotel you stay in is either trendy and contemporary (Hotel Novelis), trendy and futuristic (Motomachi Hotel), traditional and elegant (Hotel Hakone), and affordable (Kirinhotel). The places that we like to stay are located within walking distance of Tokyo’s major areas, and are within a couple of blocks of all the great things that we like to do.

Where to Eat: Eating in Tokyo

The food in Tokyo is a bit different from what we’re used to. There are stores that sell all sorts of exotic cuisines and obscure pastries, but these are often sold in small, inexpensive boutique-style shops. The Japanese food that we prefer is far more elaborate and different; it’s not the same as what we’re used to eating in America or Europe. Japanese food is very much more complex than the simple and straightforward recipes most of us remember from childhood. Japanese food needs a lot of time and energy to be perfected, but Tokyo is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, whether it’s Tsukiji Fish Market, Cafe Marzu, or one of the great teppanyaki restaurants like Yumei. For a taste of Tokyo, there are restaurants that offer a wide range of authentic Japanese cuisine.

Travel tips

Tsuzoe Yuen Hori Restaurant

~Tsuzoe Yuen Hori | Japanese Buckwheat Noodle Restaurant, 4-5-6-2663

This traditional Japanese restaurant presents good value value, a nice and cheerful ambience, fine quality food and the necessary low-cost needs with the hours of operating hours (9 am – 10 pm):

A traditional restaurant since 20 years, Tsuzoe Yuen Hori restaurant in Nagano sports traditional Japanese dining equipment such as paper tatami mats and traditional dishes with twists. The establishment offers authentic items on budget including buckwheat ramen. The business start up was largely organic and the concept must be considered classic agriculture with unique individual brand philosophy.

In addition, this cozy restaurant has original wooden music called Teikizoku that is used every week as Japanese classical music tradition. The restaurant offers various food items like ramen, noodles, teriyaki dishes and free non-alcoholic drinks along with value-priced menus at reasonable prices.

The restaurant is open from 9 am to 10 pm.

Happy Dishes To Try at Tsuzoe Yuen Hori include:

Seafood ramen – $9.30

Vegetable ramen – $8.30

Buckwheat ramen – $8.30

Soya soup soup – $8.30

Shrimp tempura – $8.30

Hand bread – $8.50

Chicken noodle soup – $8.70

Sheep head with garlic – $10.80

Sweet rice and chicken soup – $7.50

Bouillabaisse with shumai – $10.90

Shedibu soup – $8.90

Ginzaage (style popular with foreigners) – $9.60

Hot hot daikon soup – $8.80

Travel tips

Tokyo’s Autonomous Wanderings

“Now a little known fact in Tokyo is that the geography of the city is largely a pre-industrial invention. You’d be hard-pressed to find large stretches of Tokyo that are not heavily colonized. But if you want to explore, you’ll likely want to focus your efforts not on commercial streets, but on the two or three officially “civilized” routes, in each of the four districts of the capital. There’s not really a timetable, so just don’t worry about timing as they are as fast as you’re interested.”

“In search of uncommon places, sometimes the best path is a circuitous one. To explore a city like Tokyo, you have to leave the safety of your hotel and even your daily commute if you want to make it to all the places you like to see.”

“By searching for non-traffic crossings, you can take your time, or find interesting spots that might not be on the official tourist map.”

“Because flights from Tokyo are so expensive, picking up the train here is a way to do just that, discovering backstreets that you’d never seen before.”

“There are no paths in the city. Instead, depending on where you’re headed, you’ll come upon the same sort of lanes that you always pass, and strangely enough, no one seems to notice anymore. The surrounding national district is a vast forest and urban jungle of highly-confined paths.”

“For those travelers who miss the urban buzz of city life, while traveling to remote Tokyo regions gives you access to an ocean of wildlife in stark isolation, it’s often more advantageous to visit long-isolated places. In Tokyo, that means going out into the countryside, and not merely hopping off the subway.”

“Tokyo’s postwar geography has created something of a circular system. To try and explore as much of it as possible, some folks have constructed their own circuits, following single designated routes. You’re likely to stumble upon some unexpected places along the way, such as some surprises tucked away in parts of Nagoya that are commonly overlooked.”

“Yes, there’s plenty to see in Tokyo’s main areas (don’t get discouraged, there’s still plenty to explore when you leave it). But if you can find your way to something more unique, give it a shot. Some of Tokyo’s more unique places have an unusual and unworldly atmosphere.”

“Sometimes what you think is a well-trafficked intersection really isn’t—it could be a hiker’s trail or a haptic installation, for example. Talk to local tourists to discover nearby gems that we normally wouldn’t have even considered exploring on our own.”

“It isn’t any one item that keeps me coming back to Tokyo. I visit the city because it’s Japan. It’s the infinite variety of places that makes Tokyo, Tokyo. Find your own favorite spot, no matter how it’s found, and take in the best of the land.”

“Which is more important: the streets you drive on as a tourist, or the ones you walk on as an enthusiast? To some, the pure entertainment value may be more important than the journey to or through that city. But I think it’s important to really understand the history behind this place and live up to that name in the months and years to come.”

Travel tips

Skiing Tips from Japan for Next Winter

According to Insight travel there is up start in Kagawa prefecture heading towards Kyoto next Winter. To be added to my ski collections for next year I will be making a trip to Kagawa by way of a prefecture by way of a ski resort.

Now that one can experience skiing and snowboarding and add snowmobiling and ice skating that Japan will allow, and once again snow will be less of a problem as compared to this past season. What else to add for a Japanese winter vacation in the Kawasaki and Kagawa prefectures? By way of a ski trip to Kagawa I am looking forward to making a visit to the Kannabe Ski Resort. With 45 km of trails to enjoy you need to be careful while you skiing especially to the right as falling off a ski slope will likely cause injury if your skiing wrong.

Here’s an overview of Kannabe Ski Resort and features they offer.

Located next to Moshita Ski Resort/Old country Japan with snow making equipment, and both free and paid parking for visitors to Kannabe Ski Resort.

More on the website at

Kannabe Ski Resort will offer well rounded programs for all ages and experience levels.

Also have facilities for snow tubing, skiing, cross country skiing, sailing, boating, skating and even bowling. Also within the 15-minute drive to Yokohama Mt and a short drive to Fukuoka Mt as well.

Learn more about Kannabe Ski Resort.

Fresh Air Japan has up list of ski resorts near Kyoto to add to your trip. Of course I will be adding Kannabe Ski Resort to my ski collection for next year.

Fit And Healthy Your Body: Join MATCHA throughout the year for fitness support.

Eat Healthy: Become part of a Family Focused Favourite Cafe that serves a variety of healthy and gluten free dishes.

Exercise: MATCHA has classes for all ages including Yoga and Zumba.

Help End Malaria: Get notified about the latest malaria statistics in the Kagawa prefecture.

Travel tips

MATCHA’s Top 5 Most Hopeful Events for 2019 in Japan

No one wishes that the current situation in Japan would worsen, but it may. Here are the five events we would love to have in Tokyo and our bold prediction is that one of them will happen.

1. Intercultural Encounters – March 15-16

This event will provide an opportunity for everyone, regardless of language, family background, cultural background, job status, nationality, religious belief, to come together and experience a true Intercultural Encounter. On the first day, from 11am to 12:30pm, participants can perform individual “inter-cultural collaboration” games and activities in a practical setting. At 12:30pm, another group will conduct a “inter-cultural exchange” game and at 1:30pm the first group will be invited to share its expertise with the second group. The final activity will be that group which is associated with different race will help those involved in Intercultural Exchange to enjoy a “working bar” for a little while.

At 1:30pm, following a bilingual event, the two groups will have an opportunity to exchange views and opinions by conducting individual or small groups discussion at the same time.

-More information

2. Mamakuro Japan’s Dim Sum Festival 2019 – March 31

There is no better celebration in which to enjoy China’s soft power than Japan’s traditional food. Japan’s delicious dim sum has made the city a global tourist attraction. As every December 4th is the biggest mamakuro (business) day, the celebration will be held on March 31, the next Sunday after the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will open their doors to the world, bringing in more tourists. The dim sum festival is going to take place on the outskirts of Tokyo. It is sure to be a great place to relax and admire the scenery of the city.

-More information

3. Shibuya Traditional Festival – May 1 and May 2

Shibuya (Tokyo’s hot-spot) is famous for its hot-spot life – you can either live it, eat it, smoke it, pass it, dance to it,, pose to it, have it speak to you – but none of those activities come without cost. Shibuya Cantilevers Bike Walk is a yearly event of over a hundred, mainly famous among young hipster years, that challenges two to three hundred cyclists to ride for more than thirty minutes in Shibuya. They are dressed to the nines and they look great, but the joy of Shibuya is gained from this very physical activity. Shibuya Cantilevers Bike Walk is going to take place on the last Saturday in May and the first Saturday in June.

-More information

4. Shibuya Night Cruise – June 15

An old Tokyo tradition to renew old acquaintances and is coming back in the Summer of 2019. (FYI, a sincere apology for missing March’s Shibuya Cantilevers Bike Walk.) On the 16th, the Shibuya Boat of the Buddhist believers will cruise into the harbour. It will be joined by another boat with lovers for night cruises. The cruise is not going to end until the early hours of the next morning and the happy married couples can also enjoy the cruise with their “room” mates or roommates. A candlelight cocktail after the cruise and time for sleeping is on a feast of offer. It will be an exceptional event to experience right in this hot-spot of Japan.

-More information

5. Traditional Tea Festival 2019

Although it is not coming up right now, the organisers of this year’s tea ceremony show are planning to have an excellent and tasty tea ceremony event to share the cultural food and well-being experience of tea ceremonies. The dates for the tea ceremony will be announced later, so stay tuned!

This article was originally published in December 2018. It is republished here with permission.

The author is in charge of

MATCHA (Metropolitan Okinawa Tourism Association)

Travel tips

MATCHA offers special Christmas gift station

An intimate oasis where products share unique places of local Japanese beauty and function, Japanese specialist products retailer MATCHA will offer a special gift station on Christmas Day.

Recently opened at Tokyo Station, MATCHA is the world’s largest destination for luxury Japanese beauty, bath and body products, selected from the brand’s extensive product portfolio and representing some of the most exclusive Japanese producers and designers.

To celebrate this exclusive store, MATCHA’s landmark gifts area will be offering limited merchandise items and elaborate home made gifts.

Expect delicate bamboo ebonies and melamine meejasukan showers in every type of skin and body color. A range of organic products will also be available to enhance the senses.

Under the cover of dark wood veneers, carved benches will provide an intimate environment for customers to develop lifelong memories with gifts that are unique.

A hint of luxury might be provided by select craftsmanship goods on display and a variety of lucky prizes awarded.

Open in the T Line’s branch of Tokyo Station (J10-Nen), MATCHA’s Shibuya unit (N30-S1) and Omezomi (7-6F) location, it becomes a heady combination of social and cultural celebration with products richly valued by local residents.

For gifts and wishful thinking from friends and family, additional gifts can be purchased at-home and in-store.

Reservations can be made online at .

From December 18-22, the Shibuya gift station will be accessible to non-members.

Travel tips

5 Special Tips for a Winter Vacation

Tokyo – Looking to get away and spend some time in the wonderland of winter? Very few destinations in the world offer this sense of warm-weather escape to those still settling into their winter break. Take The Hoshino Resorts, for example.

With several long- and short-term accommodations across the islands, these resorts offer a wide array of activities and can offer an unforgettable holiday experience to everyone. Depending on your schedule, maybe there is something in particular you want to check out while abroad? Have you always wanted to experience some of the country’s best winter sports?

Here are five suggestions to make sure you enjoy your short-term getaway in style.

· The Hoshino Mountain SnowSports Resort: Located in a four-mile-long and half-mile-high mountain, this snow sports center not only delivers breathtaking views but also immerses you in its natural activities with a slope of downhill, ski, snowboard, and chairlift options.

The facility is truly breathtaking at anytime of the year, especially in winter when it is covered with snow and snowy trails. Winter is a good time to visit and take advantage of the new slope setup.

Between the jazzy evening entertainment and authentic Japanese food, this provides a special treat during the long winter vacation.

· Taneko Jiroki Noboru Snow Resort: Located in Taneko, this resort offers a whole range of snow sport activities from snow golf to skimboarding.

The resort features the Big Sky Golf Center, which houses two Nordic ski areas, the gigantic scale, and carving snow.

Whether you want to go for a solo or a group of friends, it is an ideal place for winter-related activities.

· Hoshino Jiroki Choya Village: To experience pure, traditional Japanese culture, visit this snow-capped resort in downtown Okinawa.

This place is set in an isolated jungle-like area that is devoid of materials. Though it is bleak, it also has a warm feeling of comfort and adventure that will inspire you to experience life in your own way.

Inside the village you will meet traditional Okinawan food and people to enjoy the village’s arts and crafts.

There is nothing like being close to nature, and it is a pleasant and pleasant place to stay over the long holiday!

· Hoshino Aquarium: There is nothing like being in the underwater world and there is nothing more fulfilling than being surrounded by eels, fish, and other aquatic creatures in a beautiful aquarium with 3D technology and water exhibits.

You will be enthralled by the underwater odyssey, led by one of the world’s most impressive aquarium experts at the time, Russell Shenton.

Going underwater is never dull and to appreciate the wonder and beauty of the aquatic world, visit Hoshino Aquarium. This fascinating aquarium provides a great demonstration of fresh water ecology and fish biology.

· Roppongi Hills: This is another Japanese resort that offers nature at its core. Once a part of the rice fields, today’s is built on top of a flat lake surrounded by nature and created by Tokyo’s largest greenhouse construction at the time, which significantly increases solar energy efficiency by eliminating unnecessary greenhouse waste.

The entire complex is approximately 800,000 square meters in area and provides a beautiful serenity. Truly a small portion of Tokyo is given over to nature, at this beautiful resort and you can enjoy its facilities while also witnessing pure nature.

Special discounts to visit these resorts:

· Snow Sports Festival: During the three-day snowy festival, check out the snow activities such as cross-country skiing, snow sledding, snowboarding, and mini cross-country skiing.

· Toshi-in Festival: Visit the festival that brings out some of the Japan’s unique Korean dishes. This is a distinctive festival with the hospitality of “winter”. You can taste moo goo gai pan, Wi-si, hanky, Baeji, Euupgee, and Euupgee myde.

· Snowboard Festival: Celebrate the snowboard festival by getting some snowboarding related activities like cross-country skiing, snow tubing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.