Kick Off Summer At Sensoji The Ground Cherry Market

first_imgAround the beginning of summer every year, it seems that the crowds that gather at Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa change ever so slightly. In the hands of these crowds of people, you may find seedlings of an unusual plant being carried ever-so delicately about. These are hozuki, also known as ground cherries or Chinese lantern plants, which will sprout vivid, paper lantern-shaped fruit. Every year in early July, Senso-ji holds its Ground Cherry Market.What’s the Ground Cherry Market All About?The Ground Cherry Market is an event where ground cherries that have been blessed or purified by shrines and temples are sold. Visitors come to buy them in order to decorate their houses and ward off misfortune.There are so many ground cherries lined up, it’s fun even just to observe this Japanese tradition. People come to the ground cherry market, the rainy season opens up, and you can truly feel that summer is beginning.Genuine ground cherries are sold from summer to autumn. The lantern part of the ground cherry is in fact a part of its stem, and by popping it open you can see the round, red fruit inside. Long ago, young children would play by turning the ground cherry into a whistle.The Origin of the Ground Cherry MarketSince ancient times, red items have been considered a symbol of good or celebration and thought to ward off evil in Japan. Families would even hang red sorghum from their ceilings in order to protect against lightning strikes. This continued until the early Meiji period, when the sorghum industry suffered severe crop failure, and ground cherry plants became a substitute for the original.Hozuki-ichi at Senso-ji TempleGround cherry markets are found in various regions throughout Japan, but the opening of the market at Senso-ji Temple is especially famous. The market in Senso-ji, which is in the suburb of Asakusa, is held on July 9th and 10th every year. It used to be held only on the 10th, but the sheer number of visitors was rather problematic, so it was extended over two days. The amount of worshippers on these days is equivalent to the amount of visitors over a 46,000-day period, or about 126 years of normal days’ worship. If you were to count out 46,000, it would be roughly the amount of individual grains in 26 kilograms of rice.Every year, a staggering number of people will visit. Many of them will also seek special talismans or placards from the temple too.On the temple grounds, more than 100 ground cherry plants have been selected for display.Buying Ground Cherry to Take HomeThe seedlings of all the ground cherry bought in the Asakusa market sell equally for 2500 yen. The key is to look for healthy, full-bodied hozuki. Watching the ground cherry colors change helps one appreciate the changing of the seasons.If you do buy some seedlings, you might want to choose your favorite to turn into a wind chime. After it’s decorated, the chime will jingle peacefully in the wind. Since the majority of wind chimes are also red, it’s said these make fine amulets, and for that reason, they’re often sold together.For those people who can’t take the seeds home with them, there are also rose branches and fruit. These seeds are a different type, where each seedling is oversized.If you do bring these home, you can enjoy them as they are for a while.Costing less than 1000 yenYou choose the ground cherries you like, put them in a basket, and take the whole thing home with you.Costs up to 500 yen.They look good even left as is. There are also edible hozuki, but the ones in this market are purely ornamental.Some people go home with both hands overflowing with hozuki. The market is open until late, but the ground cherries get sold out so quickly that it’s better to give yourself some leeway if you want to buy some.InformationSenso-ji’s Ground Cherry MarketAddress: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-3-1Dates: July 9th-10thHours: 9:00-21:00 (or until all the ground cherries are sold out)Nearest Station: Asakusa Station (any line)Access: 5-10 minute walk from all Asakusa StationsPhone: +81(0)3-3842-0181Website: Ground Cherry Market (Japanese)last_img read more

Ever Noticed It The OwlThemed Police Box In Ikebukuro

first_imgDid you know that there are over 6000 koban, or police boxes, in Japan? These police boxes have officers stationed at them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in order to provide assistance and protect the public in Japan. The officers in these police boxes are very familiar with their patrol areas, so they are also capable of providing basic directions on their maps if you find yourself very lost and in need of help. If you ever find yourself in trouble or needing help, the police at your nearest koban are there to help you.As we mentioned, there are many of these police boxes across Japan, but did you know that one of the koban at the east exit of Ikebukuro Station is somewhat unique?Today let’s take a look at the Ikebukuro East Exit Koban – the owl police box. But First – Why Is it an Owl?Did you know that there is a relationship between Ikebukuro and owls? It comes from a play on words. In Japan, place names are often abbreviated; Ikebukuro becomes Bukuro in this case, while the word ‘fukuro’, which sounds similar, means ‘owl’. Before anyone realized it, the owl became the symbol of Ikebukuro.The Owl Police BoxPictured above is the Owl Police Box. Apparently when this police box was to be rebuilt, elementary and middle school students in Toshima ward submitted designs for it, and the current koban was built based on four of those designs. The intention behind building it was to create a police box that would not only have impact, but also be easy for anyone to spot.Where Is It?It’s quite easy to find once you know where to look. You’ll find the Owl Police Box at the East Exit of Ikebukuro Station, across the street from the entrance to the Seibu Department Store. When coming out of the east exit, you can see this koban across the large intersection from the station, on the corner of Green Dori and Meiji Dori.In ClosingGiven the number of police boxes in Japan, it goes without saying that there are plenty of other fun and unique police boxes to see wherever you go. For instance, there are koban in Asakusa that have roofs like old Japanese houses, or that in Shibuya’s Center Gai, there is a police box that follows a curved line, or others that are made out of old-fashioned red bricks? A fun goal to add to your vacation in Japan could be looking for unusual police boxes around the city or even the country!InformationIkebukuro Station East Exit Police BoxAddress: Tokyo, Toshima, Minami Ikebukuro, 1-27-7Hours: Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a yearOther Languages: -Nearest Station: JR Ikebukuro stationAccess: 1 minute walk from the East Exit of Ikebukuro Stationlast_img read more

Uenos Top 5 Places to Find Cute Panda Souvenirs

first_imgSpeaking of Ueno, who in Japan could ever forget the arrival, in 2005, of the two Giant Pandas Lili and ShinShin to Ueno Zoo?They are so popular that Ueno has turned into Panda City, with many panda-shaped goods being sold there.Since so many of them are high quality and very cute, even overseas travelers, with no knowledge of the two pandas may be interested in these goods.With that in mind, MATCHA has carefully selected the best shops selling panda goods in Ueno, and today we’d like to introduce them to you!1. Pan-dama/FunawaSweet potato and sugar are modelled together to create a small square of sweet potato jelly and azuki beans, or other sweets, kneaded together to form a bean jam ball (known as Anko *1). These traditional sweets are sold at Funewa, which is only in Ueno.The anko is modelled to look like the panda’s head. The jelly is then spread thinly over, and chock-full of anko. It looks so good, almost too cute to eat!The store is located in ecute, inside the gates of JR Ueno Station.*1 Anko is made with azuki beans, and it has a very smooth texture and a distinct sweetness.Also see: Ueno-Exclusive Sweets: Handmade Pandamas by FunawaInformationFunawa (in ecute)Address: 7 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo JR Ueno Station 3F (inside the ticket gate)Hours: Monday to Thursday and Saturday (8:00 to 22:00)Fridays: 8:00 to 22:30Sundays/Holidays: 8:00 to 21:00Access: JR Ueno Station 3F (inside the ticket gate)Tel: 03-5826-5663Website: ecute Ueno Miyage Kasen (Japanese)2) Pandas in doughnuts/ Shiretoko FactoryFor sale in Shiretoco Factory are these “Pandas in doughnuts”.Small, cute panda faces peep out from the holes in the doughnuts. Also due to the fact that each one is handmade, there is also a distinctive and unique expression on each face.The doughnuts also have a special, sweet fragrance. The secret to this is the honey that they knead into the dough. There are flavors such as Hokkaido milk, Hokkaido pumpkin, cocoa chocolate, choc-chip, salted caramel.This store is also located in Ueno Station’s ecute.InformationShiretoco Factory (in ecute)Hours: Monday-Thursday, Sat 8:00 to 22:00Friday 8:00 to 22:30Sunday/Public Holidays 8:00 to 21:00Nearest station: Ueno StationAccess: JR Ueno Station 3F (inside the ticket gate)Phone: 03-3843-2077Website: Shiretoko Factory (Japanese)3. Zoo buns/NamikoshikenThese buns are made into such cute animals, that it’s hard to look at them without feeling excited!A thin layer of mocha is spread over a thick helping of bean paste. For those who don’t like red bean paste, thePremium Zoo option is recommended, as it uses chocolate instead.Also see: Too Cute to Eat? Ueno’s Zoo-Themed Rice Buns!InformationAddress: 7-1-1 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo Ecute Ueno 3FPhone: 03-3841-3099Nearest station: Ueno StationAccess: JR Ueno Station 3F (inside the ticket gate)Hours: Monday to Thursday and Saturday: 8:00 to 22:00Friday: 8:00 to 22:30Sunday/Holidays 8:00 to 21:00Official Website: Namikoshiken4. Kitty Panda/Family MartHello Kitty, a character representative of Japan, has many different goods that you can only find here.This type of Kitty Panda is only available in Tokyo. It’s available at some Family Mart convenience stores, including in Ueno. Please check one out! (Availability varies from store to store)5. Panda picture frame/rezeptWhy not put a photo you took in Ueno, in a panda picture frame? Of course, it could also make the perfect gift for a friend who loves pandas!Also see: Find the Best Souvenirs at Ueno Station’s rezept design & storeInformationrezept (in ecute)Hours: 8:00 to 22:00 (Sunday/Holidays- 21:30)Nearest station: Ueno StationAccess: JR Ueno Station 3F (inside the ticket gate)Phone: 03-5826-5606Official Website: rezeptlast_img read more

Japan Off The Beaten Path 1 To Heaven And Hell In Beppu

first_imgBeppu Onsen – Oita’s Amazing Hot Springs Close To Fukuoka And Oita! Getting To Hita City, Kyushu’s Travel Hub Oniishi Bozu JigokuI began my “hell tour” in the Kannawa district, where I walked from the bus stop to the first of the five Kannawa hells: Oniishi Bozu Jigoku, named for the rounded bubbles that emerge from its pools of boiling white clay and resemble the round, bald heads of Buddhist monks.After touring the hell, I stopped at an open-air restaurant just outside to sample a local specialty known as jigoku mushi (hell cuisine): food cooked in the boiling steam that rises from the famous hells. While several area restaurants give visitors the chance to cook their own jigoku mushi meals, I opted for a “hell bun” cooked by the staff outside Oniishi Bozu Jigoku. The tender, slightly sweet steamed bread was stuffed with tangy, savory chicken and vegetables.For dessert, I tried “jigoku purin” (hell-steamed pudding), a Beppu specialty consisting of eggs, sugar, and cream steamed in the vents of Beppu’s famous hells. Its taste and texture reminded me of flan, or caramel custard, and I easily could have eaten four or five—but since I wanted to save room to try some other local dishes, too, I stopped after only one. The Blue Pool of Kamado JigokuWith my hunger temporarily sated, I visited the brilliant blue-green Umi Jigoku (“Ocean Hell”), and Kamado Jigoku (“Cooking Pot Hell”) where I inhaled the healing steam and enjoyed a hard-boiled egg cooked in the water of the boiling pool, which emerges from the ground at 90 degrees Celsius (194° Fahrenheit). Minerals in the water gave the egg an unusually earthy taste, and turned the egg whites pale brown in color. View from the summit of Mt. TsurumiAt the end of the hike, I sat on a sun-warmed wooden bench and enjoyed the spectacular view of Beppu and the sea as I ate a bento lunch (and another hell-steamed pudding) that I’d carried up the mountain in my pack. The clean white snow spread out around me, adding to the sensation that I really had stopped for lunch at heaven’s gates.My time in Beppu went by quickly, but I savored every moment, from the delicious treats at Beppu’s hells to the glittering, pristine snow on Mt. Tsurumi—and now I can say that I’ve been to heaven, and to hell, in only two days’ time.Text and photos by Susan SpannSusan Spann is the author of the Hiro Hattori mystery novels. She lives in Tokyo, but frequently travels across Japan, climbing mountains and seeking adventures off the beaten path. You can find her online at www.susanspann.com Oniyama JigokuKannawa’s last two hells both featured animals: a crocodile breeding farm in the steaming waters of Oniyama Jigoku (“Crocodile Mountain Hell”) and freshwater aquariums at Shiraike Jigoku (“White Pond Hell”) heated by the volcanic spring and filled with giant piranha and pirarucu (another carnivorous fish from the Amazon). I didn’t find anything new to eat at either place—but I didn’t get eaten either, which I counted as a win.From there, I hopped a ten-minute taxi ride to Beppu’s Shibaseki district for a visit to the last two hells: blood-red, boiling Chinoike Jigoku (“Blood Pond Hell”) and Tatsumaki Jigoku (“Spouting Hell”), whose famous geyser erupted the moment I walked through the door. How’s that for timing?Tatsumaki Jigoku erupts several times an hour, with a rare regularity sometimes compared to “Old Faithful,” in the USA’s Yellowstone National Park.After a dinner of local dumplings and Beppu’s chicken tempura specialty known as toriten, I returned to my ryokan, filled the deep stone tub on my balcony, and watched the stars come out above Beppu Bay as I soaked my tired muscles in the steaming volcanic waters of Beppu Onsen.The following morning, I watched the glowing orange sun rise over the pale gray sea as fishermen rowed their boats in the waters just offshore. The temperature felt comfortable, but I packed an extra sweater, winter gloves, and a knitted hat in my backpack, and donned my down ski jacket, anticipating my visit to “heaven,” atop nearby Mt. Tsurumi, would be colder than yesterday’s trip to hell. Ichinomiya Gongen Shrine on the summit of Mt. TsurumiFrom the upper gondola station, visitors can hike the remaining 20-30 minutes to the summit or take a slightly longer pilgrimage around the mountain’s upper slopes to visit a series of shrines dedicated to the Seven Lucky Gods of wisdom and good fortune. The air smelled fresh and cool, and sunshine glittered on the snow. My boots crunched softly as I hiked first to the summit and then along the pilgrimage route to visit the lucky gods. Only a few other people braved the snow that day, though someone had left small yuki daruma (snowmen) as offerings on several of the shrines.center_img Umi Jigoku (“Ocean Hell”)Japan has many famous onsen (volcanic hot spring) towns, but when I heard that Beppu, on the northeast coast of Kyushu, gave visitors the chance to experience both heaven and hell in a two-day trip, I had to go and see it for myself.I arrived in the coastal city, which sits an hour by train from Kita-Kyushu, in Oita Prefecture, just before noon on a chilly but sunny Tuesday afternoon at the end of January. When possible, I visit popular tourist destinations during the week, to avoid the weekend crowds and find better rates at hotels and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns), like Beppu’s Umikaoruyado Hotel Newmatsumi, where I’d booked a room with a private onsen tub and an ocean view.After leaving my luggage at the ryokan, I walked two blocks to the bus depot and hopped the lunchtime bus to hell.Beppu’s famous “hells” (“jigoku” in Japanese) are seven volcanic hot springs, each with unique properties that make them unsuitable for bathing but spectacular to see. Read also As the gondola moved up the mountain, patches of snow appeared on the mountainside, and at the upper station I disembarked into a winter wonderland covered in sparkling snow. Cold winds blew across the mountain, making me glad I’d packed my hat and gloves. Ten minutes into the climb, I also stopped to strap a set of snow spikes on my hiking boots to prevent a dangerous slip on the icy slopes. With the spikes in place and my footing secure, I continued up the trail. Enjoy The Otherworldly Sights Of Beppu Onsen’s “Hell Tour” View from Beppu RopewayThe 9:35 a.m. bus to the Beppu Ropeway was much emptier than I expected.Apparently, as between heaven and hell, hell is a bigger tourist draw.Located on the eastern end of Aso-Kuju National Park, the Kintetsu Beppu Ropeway carries visitors about ¾ of the way to the top of sacred Mt. Tsurumi (1,374 m). Beppu Ropeway – Enjoy a Beautiful View of Beppu from the Mountains!last_img read more

Enjoy Fukuoka Beneath the Open Sky 1 Board the Fukuoka Open Top

first_imgThe tour conductor, called the “basu-ana” or “bus announcer,” will note the places which can be seen from the bus and provide their historical background for the benefit of first-time tourists. If you can’t understand the guide, use one of the audio guides (available in English, Chinese and Korean) which introduce the major sightseeing areas. However, supplies are limited, so check to make sure one is available when you get your ticket. The blue bus travels alongside the sea to places like Fukuoka Tower. Photo provided by: Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co., Ltd.To Ride The Bus, You’ll Need A Reservation Or Ticket From City Hall Photo provided by: Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co., Ltd.Fukuoka has few tall buildings, and as you ride on the open bus, you will feel as close to the sky as you’ve ever felt. On particularly clear days, the exhilirating sense of freedom as you race along the seaside is the best! If there’s a little rain or snow, ponchos will be distributed for the ride. This will also certainly become a precious memory of your trip.Point 2: Conscientious Tour Guides The best thing about the Open Top Bus ticket is that you can use it as a day pass on the Nishi-Tetsu buses which operate in Fukuoka. Even if you’re doing the bus night tour, grab your ticket from the ticket counter in the morning for a convenient way to go sightseeing on the regular city buses.What To Know Before You Get On The BusRemember these points to be able to fully enjoy the Open Top Bus tour. We’ll introduce some common questions.1: No Restrooms On The BusThe bus tour is approximately one hour, but there are no restrooms on the bus, so take care of any restroom business beforehand.2: No Eating And Drinking (Except For Bottles)There is no eating and smoking allowed on the bus, and drinks must be stored in sealed bottles.3: Luggage Can Only Be Stored Aboard The BusThere is space on the bus to store large articles, but the ticket counter cannot store passenger items.To Be Continued In Part 2! From left: Akseli, Elina, NitaOn this day, we had the pleasure of riding along with Nita, a Finn living in Fukuoka, and her friends Elina and Akseli.The anticipation of being able to enjoy the Fukuoka cityscape from the bus only gets stronger after you board the bus.What Is The Fukuoka Open Top Bus? There are also English-speaking staff, so ask here at the counter if there’s anything you don’t understand about the tour.There are many boarding locations for the buses, but for first-time visitors, we recommend that you get on at the “Tenjin Shiyakusho-Mae” stop, which is easy to find. Phone reservations are accepted up to a month in advance, until an hour before departure.Other bus stops include Fukuoka Tower, Ohori Park, Kushida Shrine and other representative Fukuoka tourist spots.The Three Most Appealing Things About The Fukuoka Open Top BusPoint 1: A Sense Of Freedom You Can Only Get Here For First-Time Visitors To Fukuoka, We Recommend The Sightseeing BusesMany international visitors to Japan come to Kyushu to visit Fukuoka, the biggest city in the region.This time, we’d like to do a two-part introduction to the Fukuoka Open Top Bus, which we recommend to anyone who’s visiting the city for the first time. In this first part, we’ll discuss the basics of the bus tour. The red bus visits spots in the heart of Fukuoka, like Kushida Shrine. Photo provided by: Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co., Ltd.There are bus tours in the daytime, where you can enjoy sightseeing and the beautiful sea, as well as tours where you can admire the city’s views at night. The tour is not reservation-only, so you can get a ticket on the day of the tour if there are open seats. To buy a ticket for your desired tour, find the ticket counter at the Fukuoka City Hall.The bus ticket counter is colorfully decorated, so you should be able to spot it right away! If you apply for an audio guide at the ticket counter, a staff member will lend you one when you get on the bus.Point 3: The Passenger Ticket Can Also Be Used For Unlimited Bus Rides In The City CenterTo get a ticket to ride the Open Top Bus, choose your route and pay the 1,540 yen fare (770 yen for children). You can get on and off the bus as many times as you like, so you can enjoy every stop along the route. Photo provided by: Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co., Ltd.Launched in March 2013, the Fukuoka Open Top Bus takes riders around Fukuoka to the city’s most famous tourist spots. The frames of the buses themselves are the first of their kind, order-made and produced in Japan. There are red and blue buses, and each variety runs a different route. This time we took a look at what makes the bus tour appealing, and some points to note. Inpart 2, we’ll report how our own tour went, as we rode the bus with some first-timers to Fukuoka. 福岡オープントップバス View Informationtravel_agencyAlso read:How To Get Around Fukuoka City! 4 Means of Transportation +1Ways to Travel From Tokyo To Fukuoka! A Thorough ComparisonHow To Travel From Osaka To FukuokaEnjoy Sightseeing and Delicious Food In Fukuoka! A Two-Day Itinerarylast_img read more

A Luxury Hotel Surrounded By Nature Sankara Hotel And Spa Yakushima

first_imgYakushima in Kagoshima prefecture is a recognized World Heritage site, home not only to stunning natural landscapes and sights like the Yakushima cedar and the Taiko Iwa, but also to premium resorts where visitors can relax in style.Today we would like to introduce you to Yakushima’s luxurious hotel, the Sankara Hotel And Spa Yakushima. The bathroom and bath are also both spacious and gorgeous, and come with the full amenities you would expect of such a hotel. Original Sankara cleansing gels and other face care products made from water and natural plants from Yakushima are exclusively available here.They are completely free from artificial colors and fragrances, which means that they are exceptionally safe products for all guests. Black tea and herbal teas in eight varieties in total are available in each room. There are also free drinks in each room refrigerator; Yakushima mineral water, teas from Kagoshima and local soft drinks are all readily available.Each room also comes equipped with TV, a landline, and Wi-fi.DiningThere are two restaurants in this hotel: Ayana and Okas. Sankara, an unusual word that many may not have heard before, is Sanskrit, and means “blessings from Heaven”. This hotel chose this name in line with its concept of allowing its guests to fully enjoy all of the blessings that the Heavens over Yakushima can offer.Commanding views of the picturesque ocean, subtropical mountains surrounding it to the rear, and the sounds of the ocean and birds calling in the air, this is an excellent place to come to relax.The Rooms There are four types of rooms in total: Sankara Suite, Sankara Junior Suite, Sankara Villa Suite and Samudra Villa. In this article, we will be introducing the standard Samudra Villa rooms.As the names indicate, the rooms at the Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima are organized with the villas on the second floor separated into twelve buildings (24 rooms in total). Ayana is a casual dining restaurant, where you can enjoy delicious breakfasts. Okas is a luxurious restaurant where guests can enjoy exquisitely prepared meals made using ingredients from Yakushima.center_img Breakfast service begins when the sun rises over the horizon, and guests can enjoy views of the sunrise spreading over the ocean and island as they feast on a Western style Continental breakfast buffet. The rooms are about 53m square, which is quite spacious, and as they contain a great deal of natural wood, have a warmth that makes it easy to relax in them. The beds are also quite spacious.There are also beds in the living rooms, and beds where you can take a rest in the rooms as well. You are sure to enjoy relaxing in these rooms inspired by the vast greenery of Yakushima. Read also: Japanese Nature Sites You Must See Once In Your Lifetime Yakushima – Trekking To The Ancient Cedar Tree (Part 1) Yakushima – Trekking To The Ancient Cedar Tree (Part 2) The freshly made breads and rolls are made with Yakushima water and are a must-eat item in this hotel. The waters of Yakushima are exceptionally soft and perfectly suited to making bread.The breads served at Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima are also made using original yeasts developed through a strict process of trial and error; this gives them a fluffy, airy texture that can only be found in this hotel.Feel the Timeless Nature of Yakushima in this HotelSankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima is a luxurious resort hotel dedicated to providing the utmost in hospitality while enabling their guests to feel the pure natural wonders of Yakushima.With the vast oceans, swathes of thick forest, trees that have lived for thousands of years and more encircling it, you cannot help but feel the power of nature while staying in this hotel. Sankara Hotel and Spa Yakushima View Informationlodging Sponsored by Kagoshima Tourism FederationYou May Also Like Japanese Nature Sites You Must See Once In Your LifetimeTrekking In Yakushima – Explore The Course Virtually! Yakushima – Trekking To The Ancient Cedar Tree (Part 1) Yakushima – Trekking To The Ancient Cedar Tree (Part 2)last_img read more

Kagurazaka Follow Charming Streets Beloved By Locals And Cats Alike

first_imgThere is a rabbit warren of roads here, some that are so narrow only a single (sometimes compact) car can safely travel along them – this is what the streets of old Japan were like. These traditional neighborhoods and the many lives and lifestyles that have existed in them tint the very streets themselves, which gives the entirety of Kagurazaka and Akagizaka an atmosphere you just can’t experience anywhere else.While walking around you’ll see plenty of cats all over the place too.The Kagurazaka area is full of city cats – so much so that the Japanese author of this article said they’d like to be reincarnated as a cat and live on the streets here so they could play in the back alleys.This is Kagurazaka, an area where you explore at a leisurely pace and make new discoveries no matter how many times you visit it. And if you get tired from your adventures, you can pop into one of the many chic cafes here for a break too. Come for a stroll in Kagurazaka and see the Edo and modern mix of this neighborhood for yourself.InformationKagurazakaAddress: Tokyo, Shinjuku, Yarai and areaNearest Station(s): Tokyo Metro Kagurazaka Station or JR Iidabashi StationOfficial Site: http://www.kagurazaka.in/ (Japanese) This is Kagurazaka, an area in Tokyo that, despite having modern urbanized parts to it, still maintains its original Edo period charm. In fact, one of the major draws of this neighborhood is the continued and harmonious coexistence of the past and present.What Is Kagurazaka?The slope that leads from JR Iidabashi Station, which is where the outer moat of the former Edo castle was located, to Okubo Street – this is the Kagurazaka area. Okubo Street is called Kagurazakaue (the ‘top of Kagurazaka’). Just step into any side street here, and you’ll find traces of the Edo period, such as stone paved alleys and traditional Japanese restaurants called ryotei, still remain.However, the charms of Kagurazaka don’t completely end on the other side of the hill. If you continue even further along Kagurazakaue, you’ll find Kagurazaka Station, on the Tokyo Metro line, which also has an old Japanese downtown-like atmosphere to it. Let’s wander the streets around Kagurazaka Station and see what it’s like!Kominka Homes and a Glass Shinto ShrineFrom the top of the hill, let’s walk towards Kagurazaka Station.The tone of the area here also matches that of the station. There are many small shops built in very similar styles here; these shops are modeled after or built in kominka, a type of traditional old home. Each shop is unique in its own way, and offers a comfortable warmth that will surely make you want to spend time leisurely shopping in this area. This is a good place to go if you’re looking for souvenirs or just want to take a break from walking about.This cafe pictured above is also quite attractive – you might be tempted to stop here, even if you’ve just left another cafe! The comfortable atmosphere of this area is something that you might not even find on the main part of Kagurazaka.As you get closer to Kagurazaka Station, you will come to Akagi Shrine. The main building of this Shinto shrine, has a very modern feeling to it, as it is made almost entirely out of glass. In fact, Akagi Shrine was completely redesigned by famed Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma. Despite the number of shops that operate along Kagurazaka, the stylish exterior of Akagi Shrine is sure to catch your attention.In fact, right next to this shrine stands a very modern and chic apartment building. This designer apartment complex also fits exceptionally well into the atmosphere of the area – you can truly appreciate the combination of the past and present in Kagurazaka!Not only that, there’s also a cafe at this shrine. This unique collaboration of having a cafe at a shrine is something that could only exist in Kagurazaka. You can feel the draw of this shrine and its connection to everyday life here very clearly.Back Alleys of Kagurazaka – Streets Only Known to CatsNow let’s take a stroll into the residential area near Akagi Shrine. While you won’t find the stone paved alleys and restaurants of Kagurazaka here, you will still find traces of an Edo period downtown in this area too.Pictured above is a gentle hill known as Akagizaka. When descending this hill the atmosphere of the area changes yet again; it stretches out and becomes a residential neighborhood brimming with life right in front of you.last_img read more

JTB Tour 2Day Tour of Yunishigawa Kamakura Festival and Nikko Tōshōgū

first_imgKamakura Festival at Yunishigawa OnsenThe famous Kamakura Festival is held every year at Yunishigawa Onsen located in Tochigi Prefecture. You can participate in tobogganing or enjoy a special moment barbecuing within one of the numerous kamakura (reservation required, additional charges apply). The kamakura remain lit from 5:30pm to 9:00pm, and from Friday to Wednesday you get to see a magical scenery of mini-kamakura. This breathtaking spectacle is also nominated as a “Japan Heritage Night View”.In this JTB tour, you will be able to see snowmen during the day, and wear snowshoes to trek through the snow (additional charges apply). Returning to the hotel for dinner, the bus will set out for the popular Kamakura Festival where you can view the beautifully lit up kamakura.Parking space is limited and given the popularity of this festival, we highly recommend going with a tour group.Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival Official WebsiteYunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival tour pricing and details here.Visiting World Heritage Site Tōshō-gū on the First DayOn the first day you will visit registered UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tōshō-gū. Out of all the World Heritage Sites of Japan, Tōshō-gū is perhaps the most famous. This is mainly due to Nikko Tōshō-gū being dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu (※1).Many of its buildings in the present day were mostly reconstructed in 1636 by Tokugawa Iemitsu (※2), the third Shōgun, in what was called the “The Great Reconstruction of the Kan’ei era”. The compound holds eight structures regarded as national treasures, with another 34 designated as important cultural properties, amounting to a total of 55 buildings. It owes its magnificence to its detailed ornament decoration and grand design. The ornaments number more than an astounding 5,000.Accomplished craftsmen from all over Japan lacquered and painted the structure in brilliant colors, and decorating its pillars with intricate carvings.※1…Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康): A military commander and daimyo from the Warring States Period (1467 to 1590 A.D.) to the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573 to 1603 A.D.).※2…Tokugawa Iemitsu (徳川家光): The third Shōgun (※3) of the Edo Shogunate (an administration established in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu).※3…Shōgun (しょうぐん): A title given to a commander of a large army.Featured in the picture above the famous carvings of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”, officially termed the “three monkeys”. This is carved into the side of “God’s Stables”, a stable where the sacred horses serving god rest. The monkeys are said to heal the horses of illnesses, to protect and take care of them.The front gate of Tōshō-gū is flanked by niōzō (※4), and is also called the Deva Gate. One can see the niōzō at the temple situated in the front, then view the stone guardian lion-dogs at the Shinto shrine at the back. Tōshō-gū was built with the union of Shinto and Buddhism in mind, something that is rather rare in Japan.※4…Niōzō (におうぞう): Two Deva Kings, one with its mouth open and the other one closed. Their fierce appearance is said to ward off evil spirits, as well as signifying life and death.Reference Article: Highlights of World Heritage Site Nikko Tōshō-gū! (Japanese)Stay the Night at Kinugawa Plaza HotelAfter thoroughly experiencing what kamakura festival has to offer, Kinugawa Plaza Hotel can fulfill your accommodation needs. Kinugawa Onsen’s water, also known as “treasure water”, originates from Taki Onsen; its gentle alkaline hot spring is said to be good for the skin, as well as being an effective remedy for nerve pain and rheumatism. Light filters gently through the paper sliding doors of the room, allowing you to soak in the breathtaking sight of Kinugawa River. This brightly decorated Japanese-style room is just perfect to relax and spend your time in.Hotels at Yunishigawa OnsenThere are also ryokan and hotels in Yunishigawa Onsen where you can spend the night. One of them is Honke Bankyu, established back in 1666.All its rooms face the Yunishigawa River, with its furnishings and interior made with well-aged wood. Every room is designed different from the rest.There are rooms with attached baths as shown in the photos, where you can have a private moment in an onsen while surrounded by vibrant nature.Both the men’s and women’s bath face the Yunishigawa River; listening to the sound of the flowing river in the comfort of an onsen feels luxurious indeed.Dinner with fresh seasonal ingredients is served around an irori (sunken hearth). Surrounding the warm hearth while slowly savoring the blessings of the river and mountain, will certainly leave a memory that will remain with you for years to come.Purchase Wonderful Souvenirs at the Candy CastleOn the second day you will be able to purchase souvenirs at the Candy Castle. Right beside this store is a candy factory, allowing you to buy freshly-made confectionery. Such candies are not sold anywhere else, so these make really delicious souvenirs for your loved ones.A ranking board showing the popularity of various confectionery has been put up here, which may help in your decision-making.The most popular confectionery is the Chou Rusk. Choux crème is baked into a rusk, giving it a sweet and crunchy texture.Another popular confectionery is the “Kinugawa Moon” (鬼怒の月), a delicious sweet bun that’s a favorite with customers.Harvest StrawberriesAfter getting your souvenir purchasing done, next up is strawberry picking in the Nikko Strawberry Park. Apart from standard ones, there are houses at Nikko Strawberry Park which allow you to pick those red jewels while remaining seated in a stroller or wheelchair. Japan’s winter is a season for enjoying nabe (hotpot), toasting yourself in a warm kotatsu (table heater) while eating mandarins, participating in mochi pounding, as well as savoring delicacies unique to winter. In regions where snow falls, activities such as skiing, snowboarding or ice-skating can be enjoyed, along with kamakura※.※・・・Kamakura (かまくら): Derived from the word kamikura (神座, meaning “the seat of a deity”), kamakura is traditionally a term describing a small igloo-like structure made from snow, built around a tiny shrine. These days, snow caves are also referred to as kamakura.Kamakura is one of the things that remind Japanese people of winter, and at Yunishigawa Onsen (湯西川温泉) in Tochigi Prefecture, wondrous breathtaking scenery of kamakura can be seen only in winter. The kamakura festival of Yunishigawa Onsen has also been designated as a “Japan Heritage Night View”.Should you go on this JTB tour, you will also be able to see UNESCO World Heritage Site Nikko Tōshō-gū (日光東照宮). In this article we bring you this special tour where you get to visit Yunishigawa Onsen, Nikko Tōshō-gū and get to pick fresh strawberries.Kamakura Festival, onsen, strawberry picking 2-day trip by bus (Japanese)center_img A new variety of strawberry has been discovered in 2015, called the “Skyberry”, which is larger and sweeter than the standard strawberry.Apart from strawberry harvesting (all-you-can-eat), a store selling strawberries is also set up. Jams, processed strawberry products and even horse chestnuts can be bought as souvenirs here.The Final Stop: Shopping at Sano Premium OutletThe last stop in the itinerary is Sano City located in Tochigi Prefecture, where you can enjoy shopping at a Sano Premium Outlet. There are over 175 branches of Sano Premium Outlets, stocking brands such as GUCCI, PRADA, Ferragamo, FURLA, NIKE, Adidas as well as those popular with the younger crowd like GAP, UNITED ARROWS and SHIPS.One of the features of this outlet is that all of them have only one floor, so there’s no need to climb up or down.In ClosingWhat do you think? One of the most popular winter festival is the Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival, where one can see an almost magical scenery. Its beauty is so astonishing that even locals take a trip down to see it every year. One step into the World Heritage Site Tōshō-gū and you will be swept away by its historical ambiance. Viewing the carvings of each and every one of the buildings while immersing yourself in traditional culture created by great beings of bygones past, is something you will not forget anytime soon.While it can be fun to drive around in a car, it is a totally different experience to go around visiting sightseeing spots in a bus, together with other like-minded tourists. How about taking this chance to hop onto this JTB tour?Kamakura Festival, onsen, strawberry picking 2-day trip by bus (Japanese)Official Website: JAPANiCAN.COMlast_img read more

Basic Phrases You Can Use When Visiting Japan Audio Version Included

first_imgSingapore – Shingapōru This is the phrase to use when apologizing for a mistake or for a misunderstanding. When you are at fault for an error or for an accident, you should try to express your regret using this phrase.Other Useful ExpressionsWhen dining, please be sure to remember and use the following phrases:Itadakimasu.  (the phrase you say before starting to eat) For other country names and their pronunciation in Japanese, please refer to this website.Expressing Gratitude and ApologiesArigatō gozaimasu.  “Thank you.” Brasil – Burajiru Great Britain – Igirisu Russia – Roshia Konnichiwa. “Hello.” Hearing you express your gratitude in Japanese will make anyone happy, be it your host, the hotel or restaurant staff or the people who help you during your stay in Japan. If there is one Japanese phrase that you would want to remember, by all means let it be this one. The Japanese are famous for their hospitality and they will do their best to be of help to their foreign visitors, so there is no doubt you will have the chance to use this phrase several times during your trip.Sumimasen.  “Excuse me.” Italy – Itaria China – Chūgoku One of the most exciting things about traveling is the chance to meet people from the area you’re visiting. Be it in a foreign language or in an improvised sign language, the Japanese will always try to communicate with the ones who visit their place.We have compiled a list of basic Japanese phrases which, when used, leave a good impression and help break the ice when communicating with the people you meet at your destination. Some of the phrases gathered here might come in handy in difficult situations, so please take a look!Image from: TOMODACHI GUIDE – Enjoy Japan With A Personal Guide Like A FriendGreeting ExpressionsOhayō gozaimasu. “Good morning.” When parting with your friends or hosts at the end of the day, you can use “Shitsurei shimasu”, which in this situation means “I’m leaving”. This phrase is actually very convenient, as it can be used when coming in late to a meeting, in which case it means “Forgive me for being rude.”Please use “Sayōnara” only when you know that you won’t meet your Japanese friends for a longer time. “Sayōnara” is a word that contains the hope of meeting the other again sometime. Germany – Doitsu Try greeting your host or the hotel staff with “Ohayō gozaimasu” in the morning. Their warm smiles will make your day into a perfect one.”Konnichiwa” can be used at any moment of the day and in almost every situation, while “Konbanwa” should be used only after it gets dark outside.Self Introduction PhrasesIf you have the chance to make friends with people you meet at your destination, you will have to introduce yourself. Try to do it in Japanese – it will impress your new acquaintances.Hajimemashite. Watashi wa [your name] desu. [your country] kara kimashita. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu. Image from “RAKERU” in Shibuya – a new challenge on omurice (Japanese)Nihongo ga wakarimasen. “I don’t understand Japanese.” Oishii desu.  “It’s delicious.” Gochisōsama deshita.  “Thank you for the lunch/dinner.” (the phrase you say when you’ve finished eating)center_img The United States of America – Amerika Mexico – Mekishiko “Hajimemashite” means something along the lines “We are meeting for the first time, so let me introduce myself.” It is polite to start with this phrase before saying your name.”Watashi wa [your name] desu” means literally “I am [your name]” and is the phrase where you introduce your name. Be sure to pronounce your name loud and clear for your counterparts to be able to use it when calling you.”Yoroshiku onegai shimasu” is a phrase that has no direct correspondent in English. It is a request for the other to be responsive to your needs and it shows modesty, a quality deeply valued in the Japanese culture. “Onegai shimasu” is the equivalent of “please”, so be sure to add this phrase when asking for something. Spain – Supein Image source: Strange? or Mysterious? 9 Distinctive Japanese Gestures and Styles”[Your country] kara kimashita” means “I come from [your country]”. This phrase gives you the chance to let your new friends know your country of origin. You can of course skip it, but one’s country of origin can spark a lively conversation. Among the people you’ve just met might be persons who have traveled to your country in the past or might speak your language, so we warmly recommend you use this phrase. In fact, “Where do you come from?” will be the first question your new acquaintances will ask you after the first greeting exchange.Here is a list of country names with their Japanese pronunciation. Mongolia – Mongoru It may often be the case that the menu in the restaurant you’re dining will be written in Japanese. Please use the above expressions to ask for a menu in English.Image source: How To Escape The JR Shinjuku Station Yamanote Line Platform![Place] wa dochira desu ka?  “where is [place]?”This phrase is useful when you want to ask for directions. Here is a list of places you might be looking for:Toilet – toireStation – ekiHospital – byōinHotel – hoteruWhen LeavingShitsurei shimasu. (A phrase meaning “I’m leaving.”) Australia – Ōsutoraria France – Furansu Eigo no meniu arimasu ka? “Do you have a menu in English language?” Konbanwa. “Good evening.” Please use “Sumimasen” before asking someone for help, for information or to do something for you.Gomennasai.  “I’m sorry.” “Itadakimasu” shows both modesty and gratitude toward the persons who prepared the food you are about to eat. If you appreciate the taste, please say that the food is “oishii” (“delicious”). It will surely please the cook.When you finish eating, be sure to say “Gochisōsama deshita” as a sign of appreciation. Sayōnara.  “Goodbye.” Image source: Ways To Travel From Tokyo To Nagoya! A Thorough ComparisonBeing able to say these basic phrase in Japanese will leave a good impression on your Japanese friends and might be the incentive for exciting conversations, as well as for learning new words. Even after your trip, you will always be able to remember these expressions. At the same time, the situations when you have used them will become precious memories that will make you fall in love with Japan again and again.last_img read more

Snuggle Up In A Warm Kotatsu At Cafe Stay Happy Shimokitazawa

first_imgThe shop’s interior is decorated with wooden furniture and brightly colored cushions, and is accented with tastefully arranged driftwood. Inside the cafe, music with a hint of exoticism wafts through the air, making it almost feel like you’re not in Japan. In one corner of the cafe, your eye is drawn to a wall adorned with bottle caps and labels from specialty beers the owner drank during their travels. Speaking of beer, we’ve been told that there can be as many as 50 kinds available on the cafe menu. The kotatsu service is a special treat reserved for the winter season.In the beginning, the intention was to simply offer customers a relaxing space, and with the kotatsu, also give them an opportunity to experience a bit of Japanese culture, but the owner had no idea that this would become such a big hit. Cafes with kotatsu are rare. When many people actually get inside the kotatsu it’s so comfortable that they end up staying for a while, and then enjoy themselves by exchanging information and stories with the other customers.If you’d like to have this warm and relaxing space all to yourself, then we recommend coming here on weekday afternoons shortly after the cafe first opens!Our Recommended Menu Items Ever since a university student, the owner of cafe stay happy has been hooked on traveling. Even after graduating from school, this passion for travel never waned and thirty years ago decided to go on a round-the-world trip. After three of these whirlwind trips, the owner has visited a staggering 86 countries!The idea of starting a cafe first came to mind after returning home from one of these trips. The owner thought that a cafe would make it possible to serve a variety of dishes and also make it easy to interact with customers, so this served as the catalyst for going into business. Putting round-the-world trip experiences to good use, cafe stay happy is now a place where visitors can get travel information, and also exchange tips and share experiences with other customers.Traveling Can Change Your Sense Of Values Upon returning home to Japan after traveling the globe, the owner says that their sense of values changed, and began to realize that there is no such thing as obvious and natural things.For example, the owner was often influenced by others and had a habit of trying to allign their own thoughts and opinions with those around them. But this has now disappeared, and in its place is a stronger, more independent style of thinking. Also, after witnessing the countless struggles and problems people had in many other countries, the owner’s own personal worries paled in comparison, and out of this, a desire to help society and the world gradually began to emerge.What Kind Of Customers Frequent This Cafe? Though you can often see a kotatsu in an animated movie or TV drama, in everyday Japanese life there are fewer opportunities to encounter them.Cafe stay happy with its distinct travel theme is located in Tokyo’s trendy Shimokitazawa, and when winter arrives customers can relax and enjoy themselves under a kotatsu. This cafe sounds almost too good to be true, so shall we head over there, slip our legs into a kotatsu and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee?Why Did The Owner Decide To Open This Cafe? Items on the menu focus on organic produce and natural growing methods, and they try to minimize the use of chemical additives and frozen ingredients. In addition there are many vegan choices available. The menu is also written in English so our guests from abroad can relax and order worry-free. Every day guests from abroad drop into cafe stay happy. This includes travelers and also visitors currently residing here in Japan. Due to its location in Tokyo’s stylish Shimokitazawa, the cafe’s clientele includes many musicians, publishers and designers among others.The one thing that all of these customers share in common is their love of traveling. Inside the shop, travel guidebooks from various countries are available for perusing, and photos of places the owner has visited are on display. We also hear that some customers actually make and finalize their travel plans here on the shop’s premises.The Cafe’s Atmosphere We recommend the brown sugar matcha latte (650 yen including tax). This beverage contains kinako* which matches the foam of either the milk or soymilk perfectly. It has a really smooth texture and after you take one sip, the flavor of the kinako and matcha create an unforgettable taste sensation in your mouth!*Kinako is produced by taking roasted soybeans, removing their skin and then grinding the beans into a fine powder. Every day the shop lists the exchange rate for various currencies for out of country visitors.Let’s Sit Around The Warm Kotatsu Together! All dessert items on the menu are made from scratch. The cheesecake (400 yen including tax) is moist, with a light and crispy bottom crust and a delightful caramel aroma.In ClosingWhen you go to cafe stay happy for a coffee, it’s the owner’s hope that you also experience some Japanese culture.At this cafe you can exchange travel information on just about any country and you’re sure to make some new friends who also love to travel. So the next time you head for Shimokitazawa don’t spend all your time at the vintage clothing and music/record stores, but also pop into cafe stay happy where you might very well catch the travel bug and start making plans for your own travel adventure! Cafe Stay Happy View Informationcafelast_img read more


first_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Twitter Normally when Drake’s in Toronto, you can find him sitting courtside at a Raptors game. But last weekend he traded sports for the stage and headed to Soul Pepper Theatre.Drake took to instagram saying, “go see my brother in a play called The Brothers Size… it’s brilliant,” in a story to his 57 million followers.Many Twitter users were shocked to see Drake at the play’s Canadian premier.Drake came to see a show about Black masculinity, queerness and brotherhood, gave it a standing ovation, met the cast backstage, stuck around to celebrate the entire team at the reception, posted about Toronto theatre to 57M followers — and I just have A LOT of respect for that. pic.twitter.com/ySkOm1NkXb— Jason Carlos (@jaarlos) May 11, 2019 Facebook Advertisement The Brothers Size is a play by Tarrell Alvin McCraney, who’s best known for writing the Academy Award winning film, Moonlight.Did not expect my first IRL Drake sighting to be at a play, but I guess this is the new era of @weynimengesha at @Soulpepper. #spBrothersSize— Carly Maga (@RadioMaga) May 11, 2019Set in the Deep South, The Brothers Size weaves together music and mythology and focuses on issues surrounding Black masculinity, queerness and brotherhood.Wow! Thanks for joining us at the opening night of #spBrothersSize @Drake and for helping us celebrate this moving production! pic.twitter.com/XDotPCN8zR— Soulpepper Theatre Company (@Soulpepper) May 11, 2019Not sure if it’s the positive reviews the play has been receiving or Drake’s surprise appearance, but tickets are selling fast. Be sure to snag your seats before The Brothers Size closes on May 26.By Jordan Steinhauer ~ BlogTOPLAYBILL Advertisement Login/Register With:last_img read more

China UN labour agency launch new partnership to improve workers rights

In China on his first official visit as Director-General of the ILO, Juan Somavia told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that he greatly valued the “open and constructive discussions” that led to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to launch a programme of cooperation. “We look forward to a qualitatively new level of discourse and engagement between the ILO and China,” Mr. Somavia said.According to the ILO chief, China’s achievements in the fight against poverty and deprivation are “historic and widely recognized,” including recent action to set up a national structure of law and social policy. New types of labour management relations are being explored, and the foundations are being laid for the development of collective bargaining. The Memorandum targets many key problems of reform and adjustment faced by China today, including the need for an evolving structure of law for the world of work and the establishment of industrial relations systems and dispute settlement mechanisms which can ensure orderly and stable change. The programme needs to be supported through national action in a variety of areas, including awareness raising, legislative action, appropriate policies and institution building, Mr. Somavia said. He stressed that the programme would involve partnerships within China as well as with the UN system, the Bretton Woods organizations and other financial institutions. “It is our hope that such partnerships will lead – not merely to a mobilization of resources – but to a sharing of international experience for mutual benefit, both for China and for the international community,” Mr. Somavia said. read more

Sudan UN humanitarian snapshot shows insecurity still plagues Darfur

Sudan Humanitarian Overview, released today by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), reported an increase in attacks on aid workers’ vehicles, from hijackings and ambushes to acts of looting.“The atmosphere of fear and insecurity” inside IDP camps is also deepening, the overview said, with armed men at many sites – especially in the evenings when there is no international presence – and several assaults reported.As many as 2 million people are displaced within Darfur, a remote and impoverished region in western Sudan that has been beset by brutal fighting between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militias and rebel groups since 2003. An estimated 200,000 others have been killed during that period.Today’s report highlighted the problems caused by the fragmentation of the region’s rebel forces since May, when only some groups and factions signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). Fighting has intensified since that agreement was struck.“Humanitarian access has become a daily challenge for aid workers as territory is changing hands frequently. Risk of being caught in the crossfire of ongoing aerial bombings has forced some humanitarian organizations to suspend all activities near frontlines,” the report stated.Aid workers’ access to IDPs improved in September, the overview noted, only because the situation in July and August had been considered the worst in two years.Meanwhile, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has received reports that armed men shot at two cars belonging to a non-governmental organization (NGO) in the South Darfur town of Goussa Shark yesterday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.Mr. Dujarric said the Mission has also received reports of sporadic shooting between soldiers in the North Darfur state capital of El Fasher. read more

Price of wheat flour increased

The price of wheat flour has been increased from midnight yesterday.Accordingly the price of wheat flour has been increased by Rs 8.00 per kilo.

Sri Lanka to tap full potential of diaspora in Australia

He further added that ‘our diaspora representing all ethnic and religious communities of Sri Lanka will be our partners to ensure a brain gain for Sri Lanka.  Let us look innovatively to tap the full potential’.High Commissioner – designate, J.C. Weliamuna, President’s Counsel holds a Master of Laws Degree (LLM) from the University of Colombo with numerous professional achievements in the areas of Constitutional, Human Rights and International Law. His assumption of duties was marked by a simple ceremony organized by the staff of the High Commission in keeping with Sri Lankan traditions. Addressing the staff, the High Commissioner-designate emphasized the need to continue with further strengthening the bilateral political agenda and reinvigoration of trade and business links between the two countries for economic gains.  Sri Lanka will look to tap the full potential of the Sri Lankan diaspora in Australia.The newly appointed High Commissioner-designate of Sri Lanka to the Commonwealth of Australia, J.C. Weliamuna assumed duties at the Sri Lanka High Commission in Canberra. read more

President calls for unity among religions to achieve peace

This year’s conference is being held in Sri Lanka with the participation of over 21,000 Bohra Muslims from 40 countries.It is estimated that Sri Lanka has earned US $ 31 million in foreign exchange as a result of the conference. The annual Dawoodi Bohra conference is being held in Colombo. The President visited the conference hall today and extended his greetings. President Sirisena further said that it was an honour for Sri Lanka to hold the conference as the Dawoodi Bohra community is committed to ensure peace. President Maithripala Sirisena today called for unity without religious and ethnic differences to achieve peace while eliminating poverty.The President, extending his greetings to the World Annual Dawoodi Bohra Conference in Colombo, said that the teachings of the Great Muhammad also contain the same message. read more

Supreme Court dismisses petition against Elpitiya polls

They sought the intervention of the court to prevent the elections from taking place until a new nominations list is prepared. The petition was filed by three residents in Elpitiya. An Extraordinary Gazette notification was issued to hold the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha elections on October 11, 2019.The Supreme Court had ordered the Elections Commission to hold the elections of the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha after accepting nominations by the Democratic United National Front (DUNF) which had earlier been rejected. The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition filed against holding the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha elections.A Fundamental Rights (FR) petition was filed in the Supreme Court recently against holding the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha elections. read more

Vape product concerns weigh on Canadian cannabis companies looking for sales boost

A woman vapes at the Cannabis World Congress Expo on June 19, 2015, in New York City. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that an investigation into 805 cases of vaping-related respiratory illnesses suggests products containing THC likely played a role. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)A U.S. recommendation that consumers avoid vaping products containing the active ingredient in marijuana ahead of their legalization in Canada next month could be a blow to Canadian cannabis companies’ hopes that the higher-margin products will help propel them to profitability. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday that an investigation into 805 confirmed or probable cases of vaping-related respiratory illnesses suggested that products containing THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis, likely played a role. The heightened health concerns come at a time when Canadian cannabis companies, whose share prices have tumbled over disappointing sales and supply and quality hiccups, are investing millions of dollars into marijuana derivatives, including vape products. Vapes are among a series of new products — including edibles, beverages and extracts — that will be for sale legally in Canada in mid-December. While keeping a wary eye on U.S. developments, cannabis companies are betting that already-strict Canadian regulations will ensure the safety of their products. The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF has dropped 54 per cent since its peak last year on Oct. 16, the day before adult recreational use of cannabis flower and THC and CBD oils were legalized. CBD does not contain the compound that gets people high. Stay away from e-cigarettes, doctor warns as vaping-related illness sweeps the U.S. The vaping concerns have contributed to recent declines and will continue to hurt shares, said Bruce Campbell, portfolio manager at Stonecastle Investment Management, which invests in cannabis stocks. “It’s a case of ‘shoot first, ask questions later,'” he said. “[Investors] probably do some quick back-of-the-envelope math and say, ‘We’re not going to see the sales we expected, so we’re out.'” Analysts estimate that in some established U.S. markets, vape sales are down as much as 30 per cent, with many marijuana consumers reverting to use of less profitable flower and oil products. Vape pods containing CBD are on display at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition in Los Angeles on Sept. 26, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters) While a shift away from Canada’s illicit cannabis vape market into legal dried flower is positive from a public health standpoint, prolonged uncertainty could hurt legal vape sales. “These illnesses … occurred using non-regulated products,” said Jason Zandberg, research analyst at investment dealer PI Financial. Investigators have pointed to vaping products containing THC or vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent often mixed with THC oil in the illicit market, as possible causes of the rash of serious lung problems. “In theory, it should promote the legal market,” Zandberg said. “But if you don’t have very aggressive education behind these products, a good portion of the population doesn’t see the difference.” Health Canada monitoring the situation The regulations that take effect on Oct. 17 take into account the emerging health risks associated with cannabis vaping. They prohibit additives including vitamins and colouring agents, Health Canada, which regulates cannabis producers, said in an email. The health agency added that it is monitoring the situation and will take additional action if needed. “The Canadian government should come out as soon as possible one way or other and either double down on vape products or remove them from the derivatives market. You have to give the industry clarity,” said Brett Hundley, a cannabis analyst at Seaport Global. Cannabis product not the culprit in Ontario teen’s vaping-related illness, health official saysQuebec resident confirmed as first Canadian case of vaping-related illness If the government suddenly removes vape products from the roster of expanded legal cannabis offerings, including edibles and extracts, “that’s going to reverberate back through the supply chain and it’s going to lead to a whole host of near-term issues” for these companies, Hundley said. Cannabis companies trust that adhering to Health Canada’s rules will provide reassurance for investors and consumers. A spokesperson for Canopy Growth Corp, Canada’s biggest cannabis producer pointed to the importance of the regulatory frameworks for cannabis vape products that Canada has in place. Hexo Corp, another Canadian company with a variety of cannabis products, said it is focused on ensuring it is compliant with Health Canada’s regulations. Hexo is double testing its vape products, James McMillan, vice president of business development, said in a phone interview. read more

Football Ohio State takes extended time to make decision amid backlash

Ohio State President Michael Drake, Athletic Director Gene Smith and head football coach Urban Meyer field questions during the press conference in which both Meyer and Smith received suspensions. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorChuck Culpepper of the Washington Post arrived at 8:15 a.m. for what he expected to be an early-afternoon press conference.Twelve hours later, he was still waiting.After addressing the media briefly to begin its 9 a.m. meeting, the Board of Trustees quickly reconvened in executive session, which is private and closed to the media. The meeting lasted nearly 12 hours, with Meyer first appearing at the Longaberger Alumni House around 9:40 a.m., followed by his wife, Shelley, a few hours later and athletic director Gene Smith a few hours after that.Coming into the meeting on Wednesday without any expectations for a result, Culpepper’s view changed drastically.“When I arrived this morning, I didn’t expect any wrap-up at all today,” Culpepper said. “Then when they started putting the chairs and when Meyer got here, I thought there might be a fast wrap-up. And then it’s all been guessing since then.”Despite the few moments of major figures walking in and out of the alumni house, the waiting continued, with even a few fans sitting in the parking lot, trying to get an idea of what would happen.Even with the amount of time that passed, Sporting News writer Bill Bender said the board needed time to deliberate and agree on what they believe is the correct decision regarding Meyer’s fate.“They have to get this right, because it’s not just a decision for Ohio State’s football program or the school,” Bender said. “I think this is a trendsetter for other athletic departments and other big-time schools that are going to go through this in the social media age.”With all the allegations surrounding Ohio State this summer, from former Ohio State physician Richard Strauss’ sexual assault allegations to the university’s sexual civility and empowerment unit shutting down, university president Michael Drake and the rest of the board needed to make sure the right decision was made regarding Meyer.Still, Bender said that Ohio State’s busy summer shouldn’t be a major factor in the board’s minds.“They have to get it right regardless,” Bender said. “Ohio State was bigger than Woody Hayes when he was fired, it was bigger than Jim Tressel when he resigned … this is obviously about more than that.”Even with a private meeting that took place on Monday and a two-week investigation that concluded on Sunday, the Wednesday executive session dragged on for hours, all with the idea that patience is needed in order to get this decision right.Still, from the outside, there was much left to be desired with how Ohio State handled Wednesday’s meeting, with no communication being relayed on a timetable for an answer.Drake and the board used as much time as they needed to get an answer, regardless of the pressures that the media and fans put on them throughout the day. read more

Football Ohio States running game remains a problem

Ohio State sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins (2) looks down the field from the bench in the second half of the game against Purdue on Oct. 20. Ohio State lost 49-20. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorIn Ohio State’s loss to Iowa last season, the run game was a major issue.But it was because the team abandoned it when it was a major strength of the offense.Then-freshman running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for 8.5 yards per carry on only six attempts, while then-redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber finished with five carries for 27 yards.Quarterback J.T. Barrett ended up taking more carries than both of the backs combined, finishing with 14 rushes for 63 yards and throwing 34 passes for 208 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.On Saturday, Ohio State’s loss to Purdue was in part due to the lack of run game, but not because the team abandoned it. It was because the running game faltered and stalled for four quarters against a Boilermaker run defense that came in at No. 53 in the nation.Dobbins and Weber combined for 69 yards on 20 carries, with zero touchdowns. In the first half, the Ohio State running game recorded 34 yards on 15 carries.The lack of production from the “two-headed monster,” as offensive coordinator Ryan Day once said, forced redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins to attempt an Ohio State-record 73 passes.Head coach Urban Meyer said the team will “obviously not” work at its full capacity being dependent on Haskins in the future.The Buckeyes ran for 76 yards, the second straight game in which backs ran for fewer than 100 yards. The last time Ohio State ran for under 100 yards was the 31-0 rout against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal two seasons ago.“I look up at the board and I see the rushing yardage again and we’re just gonna, you know we just gotta get something going,” Meyer said. “You can’t just throw for 400 yards and then, you know that’s worked a few times but, down the stretch here we gotta get some run game.”Dobbins has 120 carries for 521 yards and four touchdowns this season, totaling 4.3 yards per carry. He had 113 carries for 863 yards and five touchdowns in the first eight games of his freshman season, good for 7.6 yards per rush.The sophomore running back only has one 100-yard rushing game this season and has not averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry in four weeks.The decline of Dobbins has made a clear impact on the team’s run game as a whole, with Ohio State averaging fewer yards per carry in every game since the opening Oregon State matchup, before moving up to three yards per rush against the Boilermakers.Haskins said the blame cannot go on any specific player for the lack of production in the run game.“I never thought I would have to throw 72 times to win the game,” Haskins said. “I wouldn’t say it has nothing to do with Mike or J.K. or the O-line. Just got to do better, making some bigger holes, making some defenders miss and it will all come together.”Ohio State ranks in the bottom half of the NCAA in rush offense following the loss to Purdue, coming in at No. 69 with 171.8 yards per game. The Buckeyes finished No. 17 in rushing yards last season.As much as the Buckeyes are becoming a pass-first offense through Haskins, and as much as they have a quarterback breaking records with each game he’s played, the run game has failed to give him anything that resembles support.Saturday’s defeat at Purdue reminded everyone that Haskins, being forced to throw 47 passes in the second half, made an effort to carry his team to the finish line.It didn’t work. Now, the Buckeyes have a week off before facing Nebraska, which holds the No. 49 worst rush defense in the nation.Whether it is Dobbins and Weber not finding space or the offensive line not giving them the opportunity, Haskins is going to do what he’s done all season long: figure out how to win by himself.“I’m going to keep getting better. I’m nowhere near where I can be. I’m still at the beginning,” Haskins said. “Right now, we are 7-1. Not what we thought we were going to do against Purdue, but I’m excited for the opportunity to go and win more games. We are going to make the most of it.” read more