20 December, 2010

New Year's Celebration in Japan

For this week’s blog, I want to introduce the way people celebrate New Year’s in Japan.

  Let me start off by talking about Hatsumode. Hatsumode, literally translated means a first visit, and is where people visit the shrine for the first time in the new year to pray for good fortune. Some shrines offer amazake, a sweet Japanese sake, and drinking it is said to protect you from the bad luck.
At the temple, priests ring a large bell called joya-no-kane on the night of New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day. The bell is rung 108 times because it is believed to help release the 108 Bonno, a Buddhist word for negative thoughts or pain that clouds one’s mind.
Although people in Japan don’t wear kimono on a regular basis, this is one of the few events where many people wear them and celebrate the start of a new year. 

          Torii (A traditional Japanese Gate)              Japanese Shrine

10 December, 2010

The movie “Norwegian Wood” and Tonomine Highlands

  Norwegian Wood, a best-selling book written by Haruki Murakami, was made into a movie. The film will be released on December 11 (Saturday) in Japan.  As filming locations for this highly anticipated film, Hyogo prefecture’s Mineyama and Tonomine Highlands in Kamikawa-cho were chosen..
Mineyama Highland                    Tonomine Highland

30 November, 2010

We Created a Video of Kobe, Hyogo

  Recently, the New York Times started a section on their website called “Show Us Your City.” Viewers can grab a camera, make a video of them giving a tour of their hometown, submit it to the New York Times, and they post it up on their website.

  We figured it would be a great way to introduce our prefecture to a wider audience. We also didn’t have a video for Sannomiya, so we said why not, and decided to give it a shot! We had a few locations to choose from, but we decided to go with Sannomiya. It’s the busiest area in Hyogo, and it’s also close to our office, in case we have to retake some footage since we’re total beginners. I think it ended up being a good call.

20 November, 2010

Kobe Luminarie Lights Up Kobe’s Winter

  This year marks the 16th anniversary of the Kobe Luminarie. The festival is held between December 2nd to December 12th at the Old Foreign Settlement and Higashi-Yuenchi in Chuo-ku, Kobe.
  The festival began in December of 1995 in memory of the lives that were lost during the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake, but now, this popular winter festival represents the hopes and bright futures of the people of Kobe.

 Illuminating Arches

10 November, 2010

Restaurants and Hotels Guide Book “Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe 2011”

   Have you ever heard of the Michelin Guide? It’s a guide book for exceptional restaurants and hotels, created by the French tire company, Michelin. It was originally created as a guide distributed free of charge to motorists to make their travels easier and more enjoyable. For the first time in history, restaurants in Kobe were published on this world-famous gourmet guide book.

Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe 2011

29 October, 2010

San’in Kaigan Geopark Officially Accepted!

     On Sunday, October 3, 2010, San’in Kaigan Geopark was accepted as an official member of the Global UNESCO Network of Geoparks.

  There are already three other official geoparks in Japan; Toya Lake-Usu Mountain Geopark, Itoi River Geopark, and Shimabara Peninsula Geopark making San’in Kaigan Geopark the fourth official member in the country.

18 October, 2010

South Awaji Tour

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to South Awaji with Hyogo volunteer guides on a training tour. About 60 people came on this overnight tour, and it was a huge success.

On the first day, we climbed Mt. Mikuma and visited Onokoro Shrine, but the highlight of the day was going to Miyako-bijin sake brewery to learn about and taste their sake, as well as to see the Umibotaru for the first time.

                                      Mikuma Mountain tour with the volunteer guide members

06 October, 2010

Learning the History of Sake in Nishinomiya

Hello everyone! The other day I visited the city of Nishinomiya, which is located in the southeastern part of Hyogo prefecture, and it is conveniently located about 15 minutes by train from Kobe and Osaka.
Nishinomiya is famous for its’ sake breweries, and Imazu Brewery and Nishinomiya Brewery, are two of the five famous breweries in Japan.
                                                                 Nishinomiya Shrine

27 September, 2010

The Oldest Hot Springs in Japan: Arima Hot Springs

Arima Hot Springs in Kobe is the oldest hot springs in Japan. During the Edo period, it was given the title "Nishiozeki," the highest rank given to the best hot springs in Japan.

                                         One of the main hot springs in Arima: Tenjin hot spring

15 September, 2010

Fall in Tamba—The Season of Art and Delicacies

In Tamba’s mountainous region, chestnuts, Matsutake mushrooms, and black beans are some of the popular seasonal delicacies.
There’s an old saying, “Ten-takaku-uma-koeru-aki” which means, fall is a season when the sky is clear and the horses grow large. So food has always been a very big part of fall in Japan.

Today, we’re going to introduce the northern part of Hyogo. Located right beside Kyoto prefecture, The Tamba region offers a variety of events to celebrate this wonderful season.

06 September, 2010

Hyogo and The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake

The view of Kobe Port

City of Kobe is the busiest city in Hyogo prefecture. It only takes about 20 minutes on the Special Rapid train from Osaka, and it’s got everything you need, from shopping and dinning to relaxing. Known as one of the most stylish cities in Japan, if you’re into art and fashion, this is the right place for you. Kobe is also ranked as one of Japan's best cities to live in.

27 August, 2010

Rare Plants from Around the World! –The Plants Museum of Miracle Planet- (Kiseki-no-hoshi-no-shokubutsukan)

Have you ever heard of “The Plants Museum of Miracle Planet” at Awaji Yumebutai in Awaji city? It was designed by the world famous architect, Tadao Ando, A Pritzker Architecture Prize recipient. It opened in 2000 as the largest green house in Japan. Ando actually designed most of the buildings in Awaji Yumebutai. It’s a unique botanical garden where you can enjoy both natural and artistic beauty.

                                             Inside the The Plants Museum of Miracle Planet

10 August, 2010

Evening Summer Events in Japan

In Japan, schools go on holiday in July. That’s when exciting summer events are held throughout Japan.
One of them is the ever popular firework festival.

These festivals were originally held as a kind of a memorial service for the deceased. But now it has become the major summer time event in Japan.

There are 2 types of fireworks used in the festival. One of them is called uchiage-hanabi, and it means lauching fireworks. Another one is called shikake-hanabi, which means trick firework. So this type of firework forms pictures, messages, or has unique effects. Fireworks in Japan are made by special craftsmen so their technique and amazing work are highly acknowledged throughout the world. Please come and see these beautiful and exciting artworks lighting up the summer night sky.

30 July, 2010

City Filled with Traditional Japanese Culture

The other day, I had the chance to visit Tajima region in nothern Hyogo prefecture.
It was about a three hour drive from Sannomiya (Kobe), but the beautiful scenery made the trip feel very short.

First we visited the Hyogo Prefectural Tajima Ranch Park. There, we had the chance to learn the history of  Tajima beef as well as their management strategies. Tajima beef is known to be one of the best beef in the country, so their quality management is extremely strict. It was very interesting to hear the amount of effort they put into protecting the quality of their beef and their cattle. In fact, the best part of the Tajima beef that meet all the requirements is called the “Kobe beef” which is loved by many people around the world.

Hyogo Prefectural Tajima Ranch Park

20 July, 2010

Visiting Fukusaki Town (Part 2 of 2)

After we enjoyed our delicious lunch, we then visited Gin-no-bashadou, which means “carriage road for silver” in English. Built in the early Meiji era, it was the first major industrial road in Japan. Connecting Ikuno Silver Mine and Himeji, this 49km road was busy with carriage transporting silver. It is used as a public road now, but there are many buildings along the side of the road that are present from that time period.

09 July, 2010

Visiting Fukusaki Town (Part 1 of 2)

Last month, I visited the town of Fukusaki!

Located in the southwestern part of Hyogo prefecture, it’s about an hour and a half by train from Kobe.

The town is known for being the hometown of Kunio Yanagita, the first person to extensively study Japanese folklore, and also for the beautiful Nagusa Waterfall. The town is also famous for its mochi-mugi, a popular type of wheat used for a variety of dishes in this town.

01 July, 2010

TID Blog: Welcome to GO! GO! Hyogo!

Hello everyone! We’re the Hyogo Tourism Association!

Today we’re celebrating the launch of our official blog: GO! GO! HYOGO!

The bloggers are all members of the Tourist Information Desk, or the TID. Their job is to promote tourism in Hyogo and support tourists coming to Hyogo. There are three members of the TID, Ping, Soo, and Shark. They are all bilingual, so the TID can cover not only the local tourists but the visitors from around the world.
As for me, I'm Hana, and I'm in charge of this blog as well as the Hyogo Tourism Association's website.

In GO! GO! HYOGO, we’re going to introduce everything there is to know about Hyogo. From interesting places to delicious food, exciting activities, and many more!

Hyogo is now in tsuyu, or the rainy season.

When Japanese people think of the rainy season, we often associate it with the flower Hydrangea. The colorful flowers of Hydrangea stand out beautifully in a dark, rainy, day. Here are some pictures of Hydrangea.

Starting from the next issue, one of the TID members will update this blog. We’ll post tons of interesting topics and information so we truly hope you’ll enjoy it. See you on the next TID Blog!

Hana (Hyogo Tourism Association)