An ONLY IN JAPAN event! 400 Mascots from cities and towns and even products parade down the runway on the grounds of Saitama Aquarium at this popular annual event in Hanyu. This year they even have mascots participating from different countries around the world including Germany, Taiwan and America. Over 40 mascots from overseas are scheduled to attend this Guinness World RecordHolding event. This will be the biggest number of participants from overseas to date. The festival is also known for its gourmet.
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For more fun and interesting things to do in Saitama, please click on “all events” to be taken to a calendar of events for Saitama. You can find some really unique “only in Japan” events coming up in Saitama. Most of the content I provide is translated from official websites that have no English page. My only aim is to help non-Japanese speaking foreigners living in Saitama (and those commutable from Saitama in places such as Tokyo and Gunma) get the most out of all the great things Saitama has to offer.
I was living in the Kawagoe area many years before I stumbled upon a curious little shop off the beaten track, which has intrigued and enthralled me ever since. The name of the shop is as ambiguous as the products and services they offer. The kanji over the door 浪漫 can be called “Roman“, the Japanese version of Romantic, but nowhere on their webpages is this name used. So I call it Kasumi, which is the most common name I can find associated to the shop.
Kasumi (or Kasumi Flower) seems to have originally been set up as a management shop for some of the rickshaws in the area. However, one of the many signs over its door says its a “stone grill” restaurant. This indeed seems to be one of their better trades, serving hungry customers, but here’s the curious bit, its stone grilled… curry?? Just another conundrum of this unique and mysterious shop near the tourist area of Kawagoe.
One of their key products is honey and I have to say its about the best I’ve ever tasted. The beekeeper seems to be the owner of the shop, he is certainly the key character there. He is a formidable and charismatic man, albeit slightly egocentric, but he reminds me of the Moore Street traders. He delights in talking and prides himself on his produce. He has excellent English so he can explain quite a lot about beekeeping and the killer hornets he displays in jars at the front of the shop. He is also the owner of the famous healing dog Priya.
Priya is said to have healing and magical powers. In exactly what way I do not know. The signs above and outside the shop brag of the Goddess Dog of Good Luck Priya. Inside the shop, cum restaurant cum rickshaw depot, they sell Priya goods and amulets. If you buy lunch or purchase honey you get to have your photo taken with Priya. There are a number of photos of Priya with famous people and she has been on the TV and in the media a number of times. All I can say for sure is that she is a very lovely and placid dog. I can’t attest to her powers. She does fascinate me though, they way she sits up in the chair almost regally, perfectly poised and ready for a souvenir photo.
All in all, Kasumi (aka Roman Ishiyaki aka Kawagoe Jiryokuya) is worth a visit if you enjoy bantering with shopkeepers, like something a bit quirky, want to try stone grilled curry or delicious honey, are fascinated by killer hornets and/or want to meet a (maybe) magical dog!
KASUMI / ROMAN ISHIYAKI / KAWAGOE JIRYOKUYA
HOURS: 11am to 5pm. Please note that while they don’t have an official day off, they tend to take days here and there. Especially after a busy weekend. There are quite a lot of shops like that in Kawagoe.
This August the special Takara Tomica event is back by popular demand. It is being held at Pacifico Yokohama again. Not only can you see how the factory operates, but the kids can make cars and play with plarail.
Dates: August 11th to 21st.
Cost: Tickets bought on the day cost 1000 yen for junior high school age children and adults, 800 yen for kids. Children under 2 are free. As part of a special summer campaign “Minato Yokohama Yukata festival “, if you are dressed in Yukata you receive a 100yen discount on the price.
Time: You can enter anytime between 10am and 4pm.
Place and access in English – http://www.pacifico.co.jp/english/index.html
(Last year there was a 100yen discount for tickets bought in advance. The PHONE # for booking was: 03-5435-0604. MOnday to Friday. Its not open yet for this year. I will update when it is. )
Mooka Railway offer an incredible and very seasonal journey on a Steam Locomotive (SL) Train between the prefectures of Ibaraki and Tochigi. For many of us, a steam train is an important part of our Christmas decorations, with prime position chugging around the base of the Christmas tree. Taking a real life steam locomotive trip around Christmas time is even more magical, but add to that the presence of SANTA CLAUS and it makes it a trip to remember for all time. PLUS not only will Santa ride on the train with passengers, but he will give out a present AND there are also games, activities, photo opportunities and other events planned for the stations and on the train with Santa. For example, you can get a commerative photo with Santa with the Steam Locomotive train behind you at Motegi station.
This special event is only available for 2 days on December 19th and 20th. The outbound train leaves from Shimodate Station in Ibaraki at 10.35 arriving in Motegi in Tochigi at 12.06. It returns later that day, leaving Motegi at 14.26 arriving to Mooka (not Shimodate)Station at 15.19. It costs for an adult 1030 yen ONE WAY for the event, plus 500 yen for the steam locomotive fare. Children cost 520 yen for the event and 250 yen for the train fare. Preschool children are free. Tickets for the steam locomotive are already on sale at Midori-no-madoguchi (Reservation Ticket Office), View Plaza (Travel Service Center) at Mooka Station in Tochigi.
Queries to the Mooka Line SL Unkou Kyougikai at 0285-82-9151. On the web: http://hagakouiki.jp/app-def/S-102/new/?events=santa-train-2015%e9%96%8b%e5%82%ac. Both are Japanese only.
A quick post from me today, for post #12 of NaBloPoMo on Tokyo Thursday.
Recently when I was in Tokyo, I used the public facilities. Much to my entertainment I discovered that the toilet paper had a message on it. At first, I thought it was an appeal for people to stop stepping on the toilet paper, but on reading the Japanese I was startled, if not a little impressed, that it is actually an appeal for people to stop using their smart phones while walking in the street.
Only in Japan, but I wish this one would be promoted elsewhere too!
This August for 9 days from the 8th to the 16th there is a special Takara Tomica event being held at Pacifico Yokohama. Not only can you see how the factory operates, but the kids can make cars and play with plarail.
Cost: Tickets bought in advance cost 900 yen for school age children and adults, 700 yen for age 2 to 6. Tickets bought on the day cost 1000 yen for school age children and adults, 800 yen for kids. Children under 2 are free.
Time: You can enter anytime between 10am and 4pm.
Place: In English – http://www.pacifico.co.jp/english/index.html
PHONE # for booking: 03-5435-0604. MOnday to Friday. It doesn’t specify they have English speakers, but its worth ringing to see.
Access and further details (Japanese only): http://www.takaratomy.co.jp/event/eventlist2/tomica2015-yokohama.html
Today is White Day in Japan; Valentine’s dayfor girls. My daughters got a really lovely present with a REALLY unfortunate name. These delightful character chocolates and macaroons come to you from the Royal Gastro Club. Where I’m from gastro is short for gastroenteritis, which is basically the stomach flu! Thankfully these culinary delights did not cause any stomach upset, although if truth be told they were a bit too sweet even for me.
They came in a cute paper house package, with the characters peeping out the window. The girls delighted in opening the door.
Inside there were macaroons in the shape and design of animal faces. And chocolate cats. There was a selection of different types of cats, but my kids ate most of them before I could snap them!
When I first came to Japan in 2000 there was nothing in the shops for Easter. I have watched the selection of Easter goodies grow over the years. Marketers are cashing in on the commercialism of the holiday, if nothing else. I’m not complaining; the choice of seasonal “Easter” cakes are one of the many perks of Japan’s new(ish) interest in Easter. These GinzaCosy Corner bite size cakestaste as good as they look!