A SOOTHING TREAT ON THE EYES AND SAKÉ TREATS FOR THE PALATE
Explore the sites that make up the history and culture of Hawaii while you peek into one of its most iconic palaces
KURASHIKI BIKAN HISTORICAL QUARTER
Your search for the bucolic, rustic scenes of olden Japan will probably hit its peak when visiting the
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter located in the Okayama Prefecture of Chugoku. Despite being one of the largest industrial towns in Western Japan, the town’s historical sites have resisted development remarkably well with 17th to 20th-century structures standing strong against the vicissitudes of time. With white earthen-walled warehouses, serene flowing rivers and weeping willows floating gently above still waters, one cannot help but feel transported back to a time where women in kimonos flooded the streets and daimyos (lord) ruled over towns.
While visiting the town, why not spend time at Japan’s first museum of Western art, the Ohara
Museum which features many of the classic paintings of Monet, Matisse, Gauguin and Renoir.
OKAYAMA KORAKUEN GARDEN
While modern executives and masters of the universe may enjoy their wine and dine at Club Med or the latest Starwood Hotels, influential daimyos in 17th century Japan did so in private retreats such as their own parks.
While many sprung up in Japan during the 17th century, few if any matched the splendor and beauty of the Okayama Korakuen Gardens. Given the top rank by the Michelin Green Guide and known as one of Japan’s three great gardens, the Korakuen Gardens is one of the few gardens that has retained its original appearance from the Edo Period up to the present day. The garden was constructed in 1700 by Tsuda Nagatada, retainer to the daimyo Ikeda Tsunamasa. In the past, the garden was used as a place to entertain important guests and also as a retreat for the daimyo.
The garden has gained a special place in the heart of the Japanese people as it was designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty in 1952 and is managed as a historical cultural asset.
Dating back to the 14th century, the Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castles in all of Japan. Considered one of Japan’s three premier castles alongside Matsumoto and Kumamoto castle, it is also considered one of Japan’s most iconic castles due to its imposing structures and well-preserved castle grounds. Interestingly, the castle has never been destroyed by war, earthquake or any other natural disasters and stands as one of Japan’s twelve original castles. A hallmark of Japanese castles is the ornamental fish-shaped roofs that are believed to protect the castle from fire. A popular time for visitors to visit the castle is during April during the Cherry Blossom season, Golden week and the summer holidays.
KOBE SHUSHINKAN BREWERY
Situated in the Nada Region of Kobe, the Kobe Shushinkan Brewery is blessed with extreme swings in temperature which provide an ideal environment for growing sake rice. The basic ingredients supplied through a combination of cold winds which slow down the fermentation process and local mountain streams which provide mineral rich pure water have stayed the same for nearly 3 centuries. The brewery is responsible for producing the legendary Fujuku brand of sake which have won numerous awards at international sake challenges. The name Fujuku is derived from one of the seven lucky gods in Japanese mythology, ‘Fukurokuju’, which bears the meaning of happiness, wealth and longevity.
The brewery houses a brewing facility and a Japanese restaurant focusing on fine cuisine complemented by its very own fine sake for those who wish to enjoy the fare.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN
Opened on March 31, 2001, Universal Studios
Japan is the world’s fastest amusement park to have achieved the milestone of 10 million visitors. Averaging about 8 million visitors a year, the amusement park welcomes a diverse group of visitors mainly from Asian countries. Recent news reports have suggested that Nintendo would be collaborating with Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan in 2020 to form the Super Nintendo World and will feature many Nintendo titled based attractions. In addition, the theme park has also announced plans for another popular game series by Square Enix Co called ‘Dragon Quest’. Thus far, Universal Studio’s most impressive attraction to-date is “The Wizarding World of Harry
Potter” which opened back in 2014. Among the key features of the attraction are the Hogwarts Castle Walk, a roller coaster ride named Flight of the Hippogriff and Harry Potter’s Forbidden Journey in 4K3D. Remember also to try its iconic
Butterbeer, a sweet non-alcoholic beverage tasting of shortbread and butterscotch.
Be a part of history when you visit western Japan’s largest multi-use entertainment complex. At 172,000 square metres with eight large-scale entertainment facilities and 305 shops, Expocity is set to fulfil the interests of shoppers, gamers, theme-park enthusiasts and movie-goers. Shoppers will have their pockets feeling much lighter after a visit to the Lalaport Expocity which features many international and Japanese brands such as Loft, ZARA, Adidas, Uniqlo and so on. Gamers should not miss the opportunity to visit Orbi Osaka, an entertainment area produced by Sega. The Expocity also features Japan’s tallest Ferris Wheel. Prayer facilities are also available in the mall for Muslim visitors and individuals of other faiths to conduct their prayers within the premises.