I would like to talk about the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The Tokyo Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo in 2020, many foreign tourists will visit Japan then. The main stadium is now being built, and when it has been completed, it will accommodate 80,000 people.
By the way, did you know that some of the Olympic Games will be held in places other than Tokyo? One of them is the soccer games at Miyagi stadium in Miyagi prefecture. Miyagi stadium is located in the north of Sendai city, and is the biggest sports stadium in Sendai, Miyagi. Then, why in Sendai?
It’s because Sendai was seriously damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, and the International Olympic Committee decided to choose such a disaster-stricken city as a venue for the Olympic Games. People in Sendai do appreciate their decision. Since the earthquake, people in Sendai and its coastal areas in Miyagi have tried hard to revive and restore our dear prefecture.
I very much hope that in this Olympic opportunity, many people from all over the world will come to Miyagi and enjoy Miyagi’s sightseeing spots, foods and drinks to their hearts’ content. As a licensed guide, I would like to help those foreign tourists with my sincere hospitality. Thank you.
I would like to talk about Washoku.
Washoku is Japanese cuisine, ranging from famous Japanese foods such as sushi, tempura, and sukiyaki, to traditional Japanese foods such as miso soup, frilled fish and tofu dishes. They are all collectively known as Washoku.
When you talk about Washoku, one keyword is “shun”. “Shun” means the peak season of a particular ingredient, when the gradient is the most delicious through a year. Since Japan has 4 distinct four seasons and Japanese people appreciate seasonal foods for each season, using shun foods is essential when you cook Washoku.
One of shun foods now is fish, “buri”, yellowtail in English. It’s because buri has plenty of fat and the most delicious in winter. I sometimes go fishing them in the sea, and feel very happy when I get them. You can eat them in various ways; sashimi, grilled, and boiled. In any way, you can enjoy their taste very much because it is “shun” now.
As I talked, the relationship between shun and Washoku is very important. I hope you will enjoy Washoku, appreciating shun foods. Thank you.
I would like to talk about Fushimiinari.
Fushimiinari is a vast shrine complex across Inari Mountain in Kyoto. One very attractive point in Fushimiinari is seemingly endless vermilion shrine gates. The countless shrine gates are called Senbon torii. Senbon means one thousand, and Torii means a shrine gate.
But actually there are not only one thousand, but more than ten thousand torii in the vast shrine complex. Long time ago, there were less torii gates, but when a person’s wish came true, the person donated one trii to the shrine, and as time passed, the number of donated torii increased greatly. So, now there are more than ten thousand torii.
That many torii gates look picturesque, so they were even used as a shooting spot for a foreign movie.
Another interesting spot in Fushimi inari is hundreds of stone foxes. Foxes are considered as the messengers of Inari, the god of cereals, and the stone foxes themselves are also called Inari. Thus, Japanese people traditionally see the fox as a sacred and mysterious figure.
Well, Fushimi inari is visited by so many foreign tourists now. Why don’t you get charmed by this mysterious shrine complex? Thank you.
I would like to talk about Shou Kyoto.
Shou Kyoto literally means “small Kyoto” or “little Kyoto”. That is a nickname given to a town which has a townscape or atmosphere similar to Kyoto. Most of the towns called Sho Kyoto were built around the Muromachi era, by the local lord who adored Kyoto as the center of politics, economy and culture.
There are many Sho Kyoto cities or towns throughout Japan. Today, I will recommend one Sho Kyoto, Murata town in Miyagi. It is a town that developed as a town of merchants around the 15th century.
Since then, the town has been famous for its miso, shoyu and Japanese sake. Among them, Japanese sake “Ken kon ichi” is well-known for its quality, and is awarded many times in sake competitions. In Murata, still now, you can see many Kura, storehouses with white plastered walls, which give Murata the very Sho Kyoto atmosphere. And interestingly, some of the old storehouses are now used for a café or a restaurant. So, you can enjoy tea or coffee, viewing some traditional buildings.
Like Murata, there are many great Sho Kyoto towns in Japan. Why don’t you visit one of them in the near future? Thank you.
I would like to talk about Shinkansen.
Shinkansen is the super express train nicknamed “The bullet train”. Shinkansen has 7 main lines, Tokaido, Sanyo, Tohoku, Joetsu, Hokuriku, Kyuushuu, Hokkaido, and 2 mini shinkansen, Yamagata and Akita Shinkansen.
The latest model of shinkansen is Hokkaido shinkansen, which started its operation in 2016, connecting Shin Aomori and Shin Hakodate Hokuto. So, now we can travel all through from Kyuushuu to Hokkaido by using those shinkansen lines.
This means that acrophobic people don’t need to worry about getting on a plane anymore!!
By the way, my favorite shinkansen is Tohoku shinkansen, since I live in Miyagi prefecture and use Tohoku shinkansen very often. Tohoku shinkansen is the fastest shinkansen among the 9 shinkansen lines. Actually, according to a data, Tohoku shinkansen is the fastest train in the world (rivaling with TGV in France).
When you travel in Japan, why don’t you use shinkansen to move around? I’m sure you will be able to enjoy your trip very smoothly.
I would like to talk about Mt. Fuji.
Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. The height is 3,776 meters, which is well-remembered by Japanese people. Mt. Fuji is an active volcano, located between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. This mountain is the symbol of Japanese beauty, and is often drawn in many art pieces.
One of the most famous art pieces of Mt. Fuji is called “Gaifu Kaisei” drawn by Katsushika Hokusai in the Edo era. Gaifu Kaisei is translated “Fine wind, clear morning”, and is one of “thirty six views of Mt. Fuji” (Fugaku Sanjuurokkei in Japanese). Gaifu Kaisei has a nickname of Red Fuji, since the painting shows the mountain shining with the red morning sunlight. The painting is so impressive that you cannot forget it. Another remarkable painting from the same series is Kanagawa-oki nami-ura. It is translated “The great waves off Kanagawa”. The impressive point of this picture is the contrast between the high waves swallowing a fishing boat in the ocean, and Mt. Fuji solemnly looking down on this scene.
Like these paintings, Mt. Fuji is loved by Japanese people. I hope that foreign tourists will love it, too. Thank you.
I would like to talk about Michino eki.
Michino eki is originally government designated rest areas on roads, but now some of them are run by local private companies. Michinoeki often has not only rest space, but also facilities such as restaurants and souvenir shops.
Now I would like to recommend one of the most popular michinoeki in Tohoku area. It’s Ara Datena michinoeki in Osaki city iwadeyama in Miyagi. It is in the west of Oosaki city, and is a popular drop-by spot between Oosaki city and Naruko Onsen area.
In this michinoeki, you can enjoy two great things. One is Royce chocolate shop. It was originally a very popular chocolate maker in Hokkaido, but now you can enjoy their exclusive chocolate in this Ara datena michinoeki, too.
The other thing is the buffet style restaurant. They serve you as many as 40 kinds of dishes, using local ingredients such as rice and vegetables. My favorite menu is their 4 kinds of curry and rice, because the kinds of curry change almost every day, depending on what they harvest.
Well, like Ara datena michino eki, there are many great michinoeki in Japan.
I hope you will enjoy such michinoeki during your stay in Japan.