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Michelin Starred Restaurants of Osaka

14 Dec

===Guest post starts from here===

Japan has the highest number of Michelin star restaurants, with 317 across the country, beating France, long regarded as the home of fine cuisine. Osaka is blessed with 88 one-star, 15 two-star and 5 three-star Michelin restaurants, which makes it the fifth most Michelin-restaurant populated city in the world. The bustling city is Japan’s third largest and is known as “Japan’s Kitchen”. You’re really spoiled for dining choices when visiting Osaka.

Let’s start with the three-star restaurants; Fujiya 1935 and Koryu were promoted in 2012. Fujiya 1935 is also ranked number one on Tripadvisor, so scientifically that has to be the best right? Well, by all accounts it is definitely a contender, however, it is worth noting that Fujiya has lost a star in the 2013 ratings. Fujiya is a small, intimate restaurant that was established in 1935 (hence the name). It only has a handful of tables, Fujiya is a Spanish-Asian fusion restaurant that serves technical masterpieces and all for a reasonable 13,500¥ (£100).
Fujiya 1935
Fujiya 1935 (トリップアドバイザー提供)

A warm welcome awaits at Koryu, where the chef is happy to give you an interactive experience and explains each dish if you sit at the open kitchen bar. Dishes include chilled yuzu and baby eel sorbet for the adventurous and sublime miyazaki beef. Booking at the 3 star Hajime restaurant can be a bit hit and miss and can only be taken over the phone (gird your loins for the long distance phone call charges). If you have the patience it will be worth it however. The 8 course tasting menu comes highly recommended.
北新地 弧柳
北新地 弧柳 (トリップアドバイザー提供)

Taian is a hidden 3 star gem, although you will need to trust your chef as the staff isn’t multi-lingual. Most dishes will be a mystery, but for the bold diner, this will be an exciting adventure. Kashiwaya is a Ryōtei restaurant that serves modern Japanese food and is located at the Relais & Châteaux hotel. With dishes like puffer roe boiled in sake in turnip soup, you can be guaranteed an authentic meal in a traditional setting.

Kahala is buried amongst an entire strip of restaurants, but this two-star restaurant is often cited as one of the best in Osaka, beating its three-star rivals. It is a Kappo restaurant, where the master chefs have around 15 years experience of cutting, boiling and seasoning fish rather than cutting for sushi. Kahala is expensive at 30,000¥ (£225) per person, but this cult restaurant is where food meets art. You can enjoy a potato paper-chain, carved from a single potato, as well as their speciality, 5 barely seared layers of Iga beef. Delectable!

For tempura, head to the two-star Yotara Honten which was established in 1921. The fourth generation chef creates tempura from onion (Negi) and Osaka shrimp (Shirasa Ebi). The house specialty is Taimeshi, a sea bream rice dish. The tempura, taimeshi and soup will set you back just 4,000¥ (£30). Gyuho is a two-star Kaiseki restaurant found in the Kitashinchi area of Osaka and is a must for meat lovers. Exotic dishes include sashimi heart, tongue and liver. Or the stew-like shabu-shabu – meaning swish-swish for the sound of the meat cooking in the pot. For a full-on meat feast here, expect to pay 25,000-30,000¥ (£190-225).

The one-star La Baie French restaurant has a coveted 5 ‘couvert’ spoon and fork symbols for decor, comfort and service. You’d expect such a level at a Ritz-Carlton restaurant though. The traditional European decor is all wood panelling, chandeliers and fine art. The twist here is that the modern French cuisine is created with local Japanese ingredients. Definitely worth a try.

To see the latest results for the 2013 Michelin Guide, click here.

If any of these restaurants are enticing enough to bring you to the bustling city of Osaka, then be sure to book a room at the five star Swissotel Nankai Osaka, situated in the heart of Namba.

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Kirin’s opinion:
It’s said Osaka is a city of “Kuidaore” that means people there are particular about foods. I also hear that a restaurant that serves so-so dishes may survive in Tokyo but never do in Osaka. Yet, I think there are also many restaurants in Tokyo that are highly rated in Michelin Guide. ^ ^

Ryotei or Kappou are the type of restaurants that are often used for client dinner and so it’s paid by company, and it’s not for ordinary people to just go eat a dinner easily. ^ ^;; (To me, I can’t afford 20,000 or 30,000yen or even 10,000yen for a meal per person! haha!!)

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5 Reasons why I love shopping in Harajuku

24 Nov

This article is a contributed guest post by Jam of icoSnap.com; a cute travel blog around the world in search for cute places, food, events and more.

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5 Reasons why I love shopping in Harajuku:

If you’re like me, Japanese pop culture obsessed then, there’s no reason that Harajuku is probably on your top places to go for shopping or maybe even visit. I have been in Harajuku probably 5 times since 2007. It is like the dreamland for all things Kawaii and there’s no doubt that it is the leading place for fashion in the future.

1. Clothes and accessories are unique. From the tulle dress skirts to polka-dot sarouel pants, when you buy clothes in Harajuku, most likely you’ll never see it anywhere else in the world (well, except if you wear it in Harajuku too).

2. Apparel and shoes are also cheap. Most items that you see other than the brand name stores like Liz Lisa, h.NAOTO, Angelic Pretty, etc. Side street shops are quite cheap you can get tops from 500 Yen and shoes from 1000 Yen – the quality is quite good too.

3. They have a huge Daiso – a 100 Yen (similar to Dollar store but better). They offer a wide variety of home goods, stationary, clothing, food, etc. A great place to buy souvenirs and gifts to your friends back at home.

4. The location is in the heart of Tokyo – it can be accessed easily in the Yamanote green line, its in between Shibuya and Yoyogi.

5. The fashion scene – youngsters dress in Lolita, Gyaru, Mori, Gothic, Punk, etc., in a way that expresses their personality. It brings out the spirit of shopping for uniqueness and individuality.

Have you been to Harajuku before? Let us know your experience.
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Kirin’s opinion:
Thank you Jam for your guest post. 🙂 As for myself, it’s been a long time since I visited Harajuku last time. Yeah, I guess I can get something nice there, although I’m not dressing Gothic Lolita or punk or whatever unique. Actually I’ve been looking for some winter clothing but nothing looks intriguing to me. I checked out some shopping malls but nothing really looked appealing to me. I guess I could check out Harajuku. (Will post about it if I get something there!)^^

***If you are interested in writing a guest post, please feel free to contact Kirin. I’ll be open for the opportunity again. (Sorry I declined many offers during hiatus, because I wanted to avoid TKE being full of guest posts without my own posts.) The post must be unique, the theme must be related with Japan or Japanese culture, and it must be contributed to TKE for free in exchange for 1 back link to your website.***

What is Wabi-Sabi? – A Westerner's Interpretation

10 Sep

This article is a guest post by Liam, on behalf of Housetrip.com; take in the culture in style with apartment rentals in Barcelona, New York and around the world.

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CC Via Flickr

If most westerners were asked the question:
“What is wabi-sabi?”
Most of the time they would simply reply:
“Isn’t it the really hot green Japanese mustard you put on your sushi?”
Nice try, Westerner. However, that green spicy horseradish named ‘Wasabi’ (which when eaten can feel like a small ninja has kicked you in the nose) is completely different to the Japanese concept of ‘Wabi-Sabi’. Wabi-Sabi is the Japanese view of the world based around the concepts of transience and imperfection. Key to Wabi-sabi is the idea of aesthetic, which is derived from ancient Buddhist teachings – that beauty is not always perfection; it can be far from it.

Wabi & Sabi
As a Westerner trying to get to grips with wabi-sabi, it’s important you understand where the words come from. The words wabi & sabi were not always linked. In Japan, certain individuals think that the two words should have their own space, separately wabi and sabi, which is down to both words having their very own distinct identities:

Wabi
Derives from the word ‘wa’. In Japenese, ‘wa’ connotes thoughts of harmony peace & balance. Originally the word ‘wabi’ meant sad, desolate and lonely; but in more coming-of-age poetic & artistic terms the words now means simple, free, at one with nature & purposely humbled. A phrase that sums up wabi is:


CC Via Flickr

“The joy of the little monk in his wind-torn robe”
Someone who is wabi would be embodying the Zen concept; to be happy with little to nothing, to not be tied down to materialistic objects’ allowing to be freed from gluttony, sloth and anger.

Sabi


CC Via Flickr

The word sabi on its own directly translates as ‘the bloom of time’. Fundamentally what this is means is that beauty is a fleeting concept – something which now sparkles will indeed grow rust in time. sabi cannot be bought or be given as a present; it is simply the gift which time brings. So, understanding now the history behind the words – when is an object wabi-sabi? Simple, when an object’s use and beauty are the are the only things attached to it; when an objective is enjoyable to use and that you have a deep respect for also.

A good example of wabi-sabi would be an old handmade heirloom which has been handed down through multiple generations which you would still use on occasion. A beautifully intricate handmade pocket watch would be a great example, as it has been built with immense detail from scratch completely from hand; resonating with the heart and hands of the watchmaker.

CC Via Flickr

Loved ancient family photos would have an essence of wabi-sabi about them. The reason for this is that with an old family photo, the deep historical connection you have with it transcends the physical.

Rules of Wabi-Sabi
Even though an object may appeared old & weathered, but unless it is possesses cleanliness it is not wabi-sabi. The Japanese have a thing for cleanliness; it is a mark of respect – wherever you are. If a beautiful object has decayed and is inhabited by rot and insects; it is not deemed within wabi-sabi. However, if an ancient artefact which has been used frequently and has survived the test of time – it is indeed wabi-sabi.

For westerners it is hard to abide by the ways of wabi-sabi; we are constantly the subject of advertising barrages instructing us that we need a new Porsche, sofa or a set of sparkly white teeth. Yes in a Western world it is difficult to avoid all the ‘evils’ which are pushed upon us, so if trying to find wabi-sabi we must simply find a way to escape it; to find a sanctuary from all life’s distractions. Whether that is a looking at a picture of your great grandmother, taking a walk round place you used to play as a child – or even putting your four year old’s macaroni artwork from class on the fridge.

Wabi-Sabi is all around you, you just need to slow your life right down to see it.
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Kirin’s opinion:
Wow! Wabi-Sabi is definitely a difficult concept even for us Japanese. That’s because it’s an idea that Japanese people used to have long time ago and nowadays most of us have forgotten it. It’s not only westerners that are pushed to buy things. Many of us in Japan live a similar life style to westerners nowadays. With Wabi-Sabi thought, living minimal should be OK. But look at our life today. Most of us are having hard time throwing things away among too many unnecessary goods and information around all the time. lol

I think Wabi is from Wabishii (adjective, meaning poor or desolate) and Sabi is from Sabishii (adjective, meaning sad). But Google “Wabi-Sabi example” in Japanese and you’ll find many Japanese people asking what Wabi-Sabi actually means with specific examples. It shows how that concept is not common nowadays in Japan. Thus, please don’t be appalled at me when I have to say I can’t add any insightful comment to this post from a Japanese point of view. lol

Thank you Liam for your great challenge trying to explain such a difficult concept and sorry for my poor knowledge and understandings to it. Being Japanese doesn’t help anything! lol 😀 hahaha!!

Adventurous Family Holidays Abroad – Whether To Europe Or Japan!

7 Sep

This article is a guest post by Shannen Doherty who writes regularly on family holidays abroad for a range of travel websites and blogs.

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This article looks at the holiday possibilities available for adventurous families and groups looking to travel to new overseas locations. We look at the rise in popularity of ‘offroad’ and adventurous travel and suggest some destinations to explore!

Why Adventure Holidays Abroad For Families?
Just because you have children, doesn’t mean you have to compromise on your holidays! In fact, more families than ever are exploring exciting and adventurous new options for vacations overseas, that match their interests, allow them to learn and develop new skills, as well as bonding together as a family through shared experiences and memories. With well chosen destinations, the right travel company and plenty of planning (not to mention a sense of humour!) it is entirely possible nowadays to take the entire family around the world and come back with memories to last a lifetime!

Destinations In Europe Or How About Japan?
The diversity of Europe makes it ideal for family holidays abroad. You can learn about new cultures, discover fresh landscapes, meet local people and even try new sports. With the right travel company, the hard work is taken out of your hands and you can focus on spending time with your children and relaxing together. All family trips run by organised operators will state a minimum age and you will find a range of options that cater for all ages, from tiny toddlers to demanding teens! There are also holidays devised particularly for the teenage market, as well as mixed options for families with children of different ages.

Popular options include Italy and the Bay of Naples for culture and relaxation, Barcelona for culture and the city beach, Greece for its beautiful coast and excellent family resorts, Ireland for horseriding holidays, France for canoeing, walking and food vacations and Germany for the beautiful countryside and picturesque villages of the Rhineland. Morocco is also fanstatic fun with its camel rides, desert jeep rides, bustling markets and beautiful hammams.

Don’t forget winter holidays either. Slovakia is ideal for winter tours, offering dog sledding, sleighing and skiing and the Alps is popular for activity weeks all year round. In winter you can luge, toboggan, board and ski and in summer you can hike, walk, cycle and even paraglide, in the most beautiful of environments. There are also plenty of spas available for parents who wish to relax!

Or why not head further afield than family adventure holidays in Europe and consider a cultural holiday in Japan? See the incredible buzz and pace of Tokyo, visit ancient temples in Osaka, see the Hiroshima Peace Park, ride the famous bullet train and experience the wonder of Kyoto. You will find welcoming people, ancient cultures, delicious food and incredible history and landscapes to experience in this hugely diverse country.

In conclusion, there are plenty of options for families to look at, for tailored and unique holidays that match their requirements, regardless of destination. Broaden your minds when considering destinations, but opt for providers with good feedback from other travellers and accreditations in the travel industry. You will also find that the best prices tend to be reserved away from the main school seasons, but you can still get good deals by booking well in advance, negotiating with your travel agent or being flexible about departures and accommodation.

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Kirin’s opinion:
I’d suggest more and more people visit Japan! Our country is very small but it’s got a lot of diversity to offer. Each region has its specialty food and cuisine, which are generally good. You can explore skiing in Hokkaido while you can enjoy a tropical weather and scuba diving in Okinawa. Even in a big city like Tokyo, you can see skyscrapers and a temple so close each other. The good news for foreign tourists is that they can purchase Japan Rail Pass and travel throughout Japan by bullet train very reasonably. (This rail pass is only available for foreign tourists and not for Japanese residents like me!)

Only if there’s a problem, it’s that signs are not always written in English. Important announcement such as to notify delay or change in a train is not served in English. Most of Japanese people are too shy or unwilling to communicate in English. (But we are very happy to help those who try to make themselves understood in some basic Japanese.) I hope Japanese government makes more effort to enhance the service for foreign tourists. ^ ^;;

Interview with Carmina

1 Jul

If you love Japanese street fashion and especially Gothic/Lolita, you may already know La Carmina. I had a chance to interview her and write about her in TKE blog. (The interview part is after the video below.) 🙂

I was previously sharing some sample episodes from Tokyo Kawaii TV in this blog and at some point she also appeared on one of the episodes. (BTW, for a moment I don’t plan to share any new episodes from Tokyo Kawaii TV because videos are not available and it takes way too much time for me to write up a summary for the whole episode by translating from Japanese to English. I wanted to share those sample episodes so you can basically find what’s going on in the streets and etc. in Tokyo. I believe you can also watch it on NHK satellite broadcasting service provided in your country. 😉 )

Rough translation (summary) for the Japanese part:
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Lolita Dresses -You Will Fall in Deep Love with Them Since Today!

28 Apr

The article is submitted by Katherine, on behalf of Miccostumes.com – a site sharing you costume ideas for adults, teens and kids.

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Most people hold the opinion that once a girl puts on a black-and-white shirt and a checkedskirt, she has already been a Lolita girl. Also, there are some people think Lolitadoes not only refer to a kind of costume style, but also a sort of spirit. Generallyspeaking, the concept of Lolita originates in the palaces of Europe. Princessesare fond of doll-styled clothes. And then, this clothing style spread to Japanand was carried forward there. Finally, it became a fashion style!

Three Main Streams in the Lolita Dress Industry
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Cosplay: A Beginners Guide!

29 Feb

This article is a guest post by Ally, on behalf of HotelClub.com; the perfect place to book hotels in Asia.

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Cosplay summit 2009

Image Source

Copslay; or ‘Costume Play’ is a type of performance art of which the participants wear a costume to represent a character or simply an idea. Despite this being very popular in Japan it did not originate from here but from the world of science-fiction in America. When Nov Takahashi visited the sci-fi convention in LA; he became so enchanted with the costume masquerade and impressed with the idea of this new ‘art form’ he wrote about it in Japanese Sci-Fi magazines. He referred to it as ‘cosplay’ or ‘Kosupure’ in Japanese. The ‘art form’ has grown in popularity and spread throughout the globe with many cultures embracing it, from France to Mexico and Brazil.

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