Thursday, 26 May 2016

Music Festivals: Issue #2

Festivals in Japan: Summer Festivals: Music Festivals: Issue #2: Loudpark, The Labyrinth and Sukiyaki Meets The World


Previously: Unique Japan Tours: Music Festivals: Issue #1 ...
Whether you want to rock out, rave on or relax on a yoga mat, there is a music festival for you.  These festivals are annual events and it is never too early to plan, but do note that some of the more elusive or yet unscheduled festivals are subject to confirmation each year.


   LOUD PARK FESTIVAL 

The Festival:  One of the biggest music festivals held annually in Japan is one for the metalheads.  This two-day festival has fans returning year after year, making it more predicatable an event than other festivals in the genre such as Knotfest Japan or Ozzfest Japan.  It has therefore rightfully earned the title of Japan’s biggest metal festival!



The Area:  It is held annually in Saitama City or alternatively in Chiba City, Japan.  Both locations are convenient to Tokyo.

Our Recommendations for your Unique Japan Tours Itinerary: 

Saitama - This city is less than 30km from the Tokyo metropolis and can easily be visited as a day or overnight trip.  While in Saitama, music lovers should visit the John Lennon Museum.  In fact, Saitama has more than a fair share of interestingly themed museums which warrant spending a day or two in the vicinity.




How to Book Your Festival-Based Tour:  
Go to http://www.uniquejapantours.com/Plan-My-Japan-Trip and mention ‘Loud Park’ in the comments section.

MINDGAMES PRESENTS: THE LABYRINTH FESTIVAL

The Festival:  Japan’s annual Labyrinth Festival,  is very elusive and a little bit exclusive, but has grown considerably over the last couple of years. Festival-goers from Japan and afar travel for electronic, trance and techno beats in a forested retreat at the end of the Japanese Summer.  It has yet to be confirmed for Septmeber 2016 in Yuzawa Japan, so stay tuned (pun intended)…




The Area:   Yuzawa is a little more than an hour by bullet train from Tokyo, yet it feels like another world entirely.  Some 200km away from the metropolis, Yuzawa is nestled in the fresh air of the verdant Japan Alps.  In the winter, Yuzawa transforms into a ski and snowboard paradise and the home to many intrernational visitors.  All year round, Yuzawa enjoys natural hot springs for bathing.

Our Recommendations for your Unique Japan Tours Itinerary:  

Niigata & Sado Island -  Famous as the source of Japan's purest water, Niigata's rice and sake (rice wine) are widely regarded as the best in the country. Here you will visit a local sake brewery and samurai house bringing you back to Japan's feudal days. Spend a night in Niigata enjoying a more rural city night life at a local izakaya. Just a few hours by ferry will take you to Sado Island - Japan's sixth largest island. Spend three nights here meeting the locals, exploring the sights, and taking part in local workshops like Taiko drumming.



Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route - From Sado, you will return to a different port on the mainland and make your way to Tateyama where you will spend your first night along the Kurobe Alpine Route in a mountain lodge. Located in Japan's Northern Alps, between Toyama and Nagano (Omachi Town), this route is traversed by various means of transportation including mountain buses, cable cars, and ropeways. Along this adventure you will see not only Japan's most incredible views of wildlife and landscape, but also the world's highest and most impressive dam, the Kurobe Dam, which stands at 186 meters tall.



How to Book Your Festival-Based Tour: 
Go to http://www.uniquejapantours.com/Plan-My-Japan-Trip and mention ‘Labyrinth Festival’ in the comments section.

♪Self-guided, guided, or semi-guided options available!


SUKIYAKI MEETS THE WORLD FESTIVAL


The Festival:  Japan's biggest World Music festival takes place over 3 days in Nanto, Toyama in late August.  The 'SUKIYAKI Meets The World' Festival was started in 1991 with the aim to introduce music from Asia, Africa, or Central and South America to the area.  Now, the festival welcomes a diverse crowd of performers, exhibiting artists, and music fans.  Workshops, film screenings and a World Food Market go on all weekend and renowned Japanese musicians usually play out on the final night.




The Area:  Nanto in Toyama prefecture is in the centre of Japan on the west coast and is a gateway of the Sea of Japan. Nestled on three sides by steep mountains and on the fourth by the sea, this area is famous for preserving an old way of life through its cultural activities, crafts, architecture and food.  It is easily visited from Kanazawa and Takayama as part of a northern trail itinerary.


Our Recommendations for your Unique Japan Tours Itinerary: 

Gokayama - Nestled away in the deep gorge of the Sho River Valley, thirty-three gassho zukuri (thatched farm houses) are protected as national treasures in the historic village of Gokayama. Lush in summer, vibrant in autumn, blanketed in snow during winter and beautifully coloured by cherry blossom trees in spring, these villages have maintained all of their four hundred year old charm. WIth our local guide to accompany you, you will go on a cultural journey like no other. Spend the morning making soba noodles - a local specialty - to be tried and tested over lunch. Stop off at a local washi paper making factory and try your hand at this ancient craft. All of this, plus a traditional dance by a local Toyama farmer, whilst you drink hot tea and listen to takes of a time gone by.



How to Book Your Festival-Based Tour: 
Go to http://www.uniquejapantours.com/Plan-My-Japan-Trip and mention ‘Sukiyaki Meets The World Festival’ in the comments section.

♪Self-guided, guided, or semi-guided options available!

Issue #3 coming soon…

[Photo Credits: Official Event Websites & JNTO]

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Music Festivals: Issue #1

Festivals in Japan: Summer Festivals: Music Festivals: Issue #1: Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic and Greenroom



Festivals are synonymous with summer in Japan, often involving traditional dancing or spectacular fireworks and other wondrous festivities!

In the last ten plus years, Japan has been also hosting and creating amazing summer music festivals to rival the best of ‘em.
So what’s going on there?
Something for everyone, in every scene.
And why would you travel for it?

Well, for all the million of reasons for travelling to Japan in general! (And that keep us going back time and time again)...

PLUS all the popular favourite things international visitors mention about live music shows and festivals in Japan…

  •        Festival goers tend to be outwardly friendly (so you will make new bonus Japanese friends easily)
  •        Shows are super-organised and well run (without being too regimented)
  •        People tend to respect your personal space in a crowd (even when they really getting into the music, they probably won’t elbow you in the face)
  •        Concert goers seem to show politeness and restraint with cameras and phones  (so you won’t be stuck behind someone and forced to watch your favourite band through their smartphone screen)
  •        Festivals are often child and family friendly and have clean campgrounds and facilities.
  •        There are seriously great bands lining up to play in Japan (so read on…)

Whether you want to rock out, rave on or relax on a yoga mat, there is a music festival for you.  These festivals are annual events and it is never too early to plan, but do note that some of the more elusive or yet unscheduled festivals are subject to confirmation each year.


FUJI ROCK



The Festival:  Held late July, this is the big one you’ve probably heard of.  Fuji Rock coigned its name from the first event which was held in 1997 at the base of Mount Fuji. Since 1999, however, the festival has been held at the Naeba Ski Resort in the beautiful Yuzawa area of Niigata.  It is often referred to as ‘The Cleanest Music Festival in the World’, and that extends to the campgrounds and public toilet facilities!

The Area:   Yuzawa is a little more than an hour by bullet train from Tokyo, yet it feels like another world entirely.  Some 200km away from the metropolis, Yuzawa is nestled in the fresh air of the verdent Japan Alps.  In the winter, Yuzawa transforms into a ski and snowboard paradise and the home to many intrernational visitors.  All year round, Yuzawa enjoys natural hot springs for bathing.


Our Recommendations for your Unique Japan Tours Itinerary:  

Niigata & Sado Island - Famous as the source of Japan's purest water, Niigata's rice and sake (rice wine) are widely regarded as the best in the country. Here you will visit a local sake brewery and samurai house bringing you back to Japan's feudal days. Spend a night in Niigata enjoying a more rural city night life at a local izakaya. Just a few hours by ferry will take you to Sado Island - Japan's sixth largest island. Spend three nights here meeting the locals, exploring the sights, and taking part in local workshops like Taiko drumming.





Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route - From Sado, you will return to a different port on the mainland and make your way to Tateyama where you will spend your first night along the Kurobe Alpine Route in a mountain lodge. Located in Japan's Northern Alps, between Toyama and Nagano (Omachi Town), this route is traversed by various means of transportation including mountain buses, cable cars, and ropeways. Along this adventure you will see not only Japan's most incredible views of wildlife and landscape, but also the world's highest and most impressive dam, the Kurobe Dam, which stands at 186 meters tall.





↘ 2016 will be the 20th anniversary and has the lineup to celebrate!

[Update: WILCO has been added to the 2016 lineup!!!]

How to Book Your Festival-Based Tour: 
Go to http://www.uniquejapantours.com/Plan-My-Japan-Trip and mention ‘Fuji Rock’ in the comments section.

♪Self-guided, guided, or semi-guided options available!

SUMMER SONIC

The Festival:  Held in late August, this is the big one you may not have heard of!  It is held over two days simultaneously in Osaka (south of Kyoto) and in Chiba (north of Tokyo), with the headline bands switching from one site on one day to the opposite site on the other day!




The Area:  The Osaka site is on a small island in the bay, conveniently close to the city centre as well as Universal Studios Japan Theme Park!  The Tokyo (Chiba) site is also a seaside location conveniently close to the metropolis as well as to the Disney Resort!





Our Recommendations for your Unique Japan Tours Itinerary: 

Osaka: Japan's second city and an extremely vibrant and lively place to stay. There may not be any real 'tourist' sights but it is just the life on the streets that makes Osaka such a fascinating city to visit. Osaka people work hard and play hard and it really shows with the vast number of restaurants, bars and all round entertainment available. The city aquarium is world class and you cannot stay in Osaka without taking a ride on one of the city's several giant big wheels, perhaps the most dramatic of which is perched on top of the Hep 5 department store in the Umeda district of the city - just don't look down if you are afraid of heights! Osaka Castle is well worth a visit despite being a reconstruction as the original was burnt down during the firebombing at the end of World War Two and you will find a variety of very interesting museums scattered throughout the city. After dark Osaka really comes alive, and a walk through the bright lights of the Namba district is a great way to take in the atmosphere, with some great people-watching opportunities. With literally thousands of restaurants, bars and entertainment spots to choose from, Osaka is perfect for a big night out, some hearty local food and the chance to let your hair down. Osaka really is one of Japan's truly all action cities and a stay here is a chance to experience what life in modern day urban Japan is really like.





Tokyo: One quarter of all Japanese live in Tokyo or the near vicinity and with a population of over 12 million inhabitants, Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world. With its huge skyscrapers, underpasses, overpasses and crowds of pedestrians, Tokyo may not seem the most attractive city on the surface, but the city has a vibrant charm all of its own. The street level detail is what makes Tokyo such an incredibly interesting place to explore and at every turn you will be met with an array of sights, sounds and smells to enliven the senses. The city has many major sights to visit such as Senso-ji Temple in the old downtown area of Asakusa or the fashion hub of Shibuya from where all new trends are said to emanate. All in all a stay in Tokyo is to experience one of the world's most vibrant and interesting cities; a capital hurtling headlong into the future whilst maintaining its links with the traditions of ancient Japan.



How to Book Your Festival-Based Tour: 

Go to http://www.uniquejapantours.com/Plan-My-Japan-Trip and mention ‘Summer Sonic‘ in the comments section.

♪Self-guided, guided, or semi-guided options available!


Greenroom Festival

The Festival:  Held in late May, this festival combines music, art, film, yoga, surfing, culture and the environment.  Also: a kids disco!




The Area:  In a historical building and by the sea, this festival is in the cool location of Yokohama’s bayside.  A short and convenient train journey from Tokyo and other main hubs.



Our Recommendations for your Unique Japan Tours Itinerary: 

Yokohama - Famous for its seafaring and trade links, this city is also home to a bustling Chinatown.  Enjoy a day or two in Yokohama before riding the rails between…  

Tokyo - Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Odaiba, Rainbow Bridge, Meiji Jingu, Asakusa Kannnon Temple, Tsukiji Fish Market, Museums, contemporary art and infrastructure.  

Mt Fuji / Hakone - Spectacular views of Mt Fuji, Owakudani, Sounzan, Hakone Yumoto Town, Hot Springs at your ryokan.

Kyoto - World heritage temples & shrines, geisha walking tour, tea ceremony, zen gardens, quaint streets, tea houses and traditional atmosphere.

Miyajima Island & Hiroshima - World Heritage site Itsukushima Shrine (floating shrine), Hiroshima A-Bomb dome & Peace Park.



How to Book Your Festival-Based Tour: 
Go to http://www.uniquejapantours.com/Plan-My-Japan-Trip and mention ‘Greenroom Festival’ in the comments section.

♪Self-guided, guided, or semi-guided options available!



Issue #2 coming soon…

[Photo Credits: Official Event Websites & JNTO]

Thursday, 5 November 2015

JNTO FamTrip 2015: Himeji Castle

In late September and early October, Unique Japan Tours joined a familiarization trip organised by the Japan National Tourist Organisation. The purpose of these trips is to introduce new, unique places in Japan to promote trips there. The familiarization trip (or "famtrip") we joined took us from Okayama and Kurashiki, down into Tokushima, to Shodoshima and finally to Himeji.

Of course, we knew most of these places already, and we've sent many of our clients to these places to. But we always want to learn more, look deeper and see what's new and exciting. Today we wrap up our series of blog posts where we're explored the areas we visited, introduced them to you, and shared some of our pictures. Today is part four, where we visit Himeji Castle.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

JNTO FamTrip 2015: Shodoshima

In late September and early October, Unique Japan Tours joined a familiarization trip organised by the Japan National Tourist Organisation. The purpose of these trips is to introduce new, unique places in Japan to promote trips there. The familiarization trip (or "famtrip") we joined took us from Okayama and Kurashiki, down into Tokushima, to Shodoshima and finally to Himeji.

Of course, we knew most of these places already, and we've sent many of our clients to these places to. But we always want to learn more, look deeper and see what's new and exciting. Over the next few blog posts, we're going to explore the areas we visited, introduce them to you, and share some of our pictures.
Today is part three, where we spent the day on Shodoshima Island.

Friday, 16 October 2015

JNTO FamTrip 2015: Iya Valley & Tokushima

In late September and early October, Unique Japan Tours joined a familiarization trip organised by the Japan National Tourist Organisation. The purpose of these trips is to introduce new, unique places in Japan to promote trips there. The familiarization trip (or "famtrip") we joined took us from Okayama and Kurashiki, down into Tokushima, to Shodoshima and finally to Himeji.

Of course, we knew most of these places already, and we've sent many of our clients to these places to. But we always want to learn more, look deeper and see what's new and exciting. Over the next few blog posts, we're going to explore the areas we visited, introduce them to you, and share some of our pictures.

Today is part two, where we’ll talk about the Iya Valley and Tokushima.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

JNTO FamTrip 2015: Okayama & Kurashiki

In late September and early October, Unique Japan Tours joined a familiarization trip organised by the Japan National Tourist Organisation. The purpose of these trips is to introduce new, unique places in Japan to promote trips there. The familiarization trip (or "famtrip") we joined took us from Okayama and Kurashiki, down into Tokushima, to Shodoshima and finally to Himeji.

Of course, we knew most of these places already, and we've sent many of our clients to these places to. But we always want to learn more, look deeper and see what's new and exciting. Over the next few blog posts, we're going to explore the areas we visited, introduce them to you, and share some of our pictures.

First up, Okayama and Kurashiki.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

JNTO Familiarization Trip 2015

In late September and early October, Unique Japan Tours joined a familiarization trip organised by the Japan National Tourist Organisation. The purpose of these trips is to introduce new, unique places in Japan to promote trips there. The familiarization trip (or "famtrip") we joined took us from Okayama and Kurashiki, down into Tokushima, to Shodoshima and finally to Himeji. 

Of course, we knew most of these places already, and we've sent many of our clients to these places to. But we always want to learn more, look deeper and see what's new and exciting. Over the next few blog posts, we're going to explore the areas we visited, introduce them to you, and share our pictures.

Today, we're just going to give a brief overview of the tour. First off, we'd like to extend our sincerest thanks to the JNTO for organizing and inviting us on this FamTrip. It was a lovely trip, we enjoyed it, and most importantly, we learned a lot and can't wait to incorporate it into our tours!