Yearly Archive 2011

ByRay Proper
Oct 23, 2011

Making Gyudon at Home!

Live in a Japan for any longer than about a day and you will run smack into Yoshinoya, or some other variety of gyudon, probably best described as simmered beef served on top of steamed rice. Ifyou discount Curry Rice, it is probably the most popular fast food in Japan. I pretty much guarantee that if you make it at home it will be better, and it’s really not that hard.

4 servings


  • 4 cups steamed rice
  • 1 lb thin sliced beef, cut to 2 inches
  • 1 onion, thin sliced
  • 1 1/3 cup dashi (fish stock) soup
  • 5 Tbsp soy sauce
  •  3 Tbsp mirin
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sake
  • Benishoga, pickled red ginger, *optional- this is a topping

Put dashi, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sake in a large pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Add onion slices and simmer for a few minutes or until softened. Add beef in the pan and simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot steamed rice into individual deep rice bowls. Put simmered beef on top of the rice. Top with some benishoga if you would like.

Good luck, and happy dining!

ByRay Proper
Oct 17, 2011

Japan’s Largest Freshwater Aquarium – Aquatotto Gifu

Water Eco Park is Japan’s largest freshwater aquarium. The aquarium is a part of the Kiso River Water Park in Gifu, roughly a 40 minute drive north east of Nagoya. The Kiso River Water Park offers the opportunity to feel “real” nature. Admission is free to the park itself, and there are lots of things to see and do within it. Between the park and the aquarium you and your family could spend the entire day there!

The aquarium itself celebrates and compares the nature of Japan’s freshwater river ecosystems with other systems like the Mekong, Congo, and Amazon rivers. Through educational and interactive exhibits the aquarium help visitors explore relationships between people and the rivers. The aquarium boasts a large collection of animals that live in or near the Nagara River, one of three big rivers that cross the Nobi Plain here in the Tokai Region, Mekong, Congo, Amazon Rivers, and Lake Tanganyika. Some interesting things to see; the Giant Mekong Catfish, and an electric eel that became famous in Christmas of 2007 for lighting up a Christmas tree.

Read More 

Here is a video of the seal show; I thought seals were salt water animals!

Aquatotto Gifu
TEL 05-8689-8200

Directions – By public transport

  1. From Gifu Station, get on a city bus bound for Kawashima Matsukura 川島松倉.
  2. Get off at the KawashimaKasada川島笠田stop.
  3. The park is a 15 minute walk from that stop.

ByRay Proper
Oct 07, 2011

Yakitori – Grilled Chicken on a Stick. It’s good!

Yakitori in a nutshell: kill chicken, put on stick, grill over fire, and eat. The world at large suffers a serious lack of meat on a stick options, but Japan is a glorious exception to this rule. Here, you can get basically anything on a stick. Once while viewing the fall colors at Korankei, near Toyota City, I ate grilled sparrow. How could I say no to that? It was tasty. As expected.

Yakitori, literally translates as grilled chicken, and belongs to the family of Japanese foods called kushiyaki (串焼き), which simply means skewer grilled. It sounds simple, but a great chef with quality ingredients and seasonings can make it taste like a whole lot more.

More specifically, yakitori consists of between 3 and 10 small pieces of chicken (beef, pork, etc) meat or innards (properly, ofal) skewered on a bamboo stick, seasoned, and grilled; generally over charcoal. You will find most dishes offered in either salt or tare flavor. They will probably ask which you prefer when you order. Salt, or shio (塩-しお-シオ), is simply salted at grilling, but tare (たれ-タレ) is a sauce usually made with mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar- although really, how many Japanese foods are NOT made with those ingredients? Variety people; look into it! The tare is brushed on before and during grilling. Some places have set menus and do not offer a choice of flavors, but most do.

Yakitori (焼き鳥 -やきとり -ヤキトリ) can be written in pretty much any of the Japanese scripts, though in kanji seems to be the most common. Keep an eye out for a lantern thing with some of the script above on it and you will be golden for your meat on a stick fix. Here are some common varieties of yakitori that are readily available.

• toriniku, white meat, usually breast meat
• tebasaki (手羽先), are chicken wings (remember that dance?)
• tsukune (つくね), are chicken meatballs (I am keen on these)
• (tori)kawa ((とり)かわ)is chicken skin, grilled crispy ( love this with salt)
• negima (ねぎま) are pieces of chicken alternating with pieces of green onion (ネギ)
• bonjiri (ぼんじり), are chicken tails (love these too)
• nankotsu (なんこつ), are chicken cartilage (interesting, this one)
• rebā (レバー), is liver (these are best just a bit raw in the middle!)
• hatsu (ハツ) or kokoro (こころ), are chicken hearts
• sunagimo (砂肝), or zuri (ずり) are chicken gizzards
• shiro (シロ), are a chicken’s small intestines (don’t think, just eat it!)

For a list of good places in Nagoya to try some yakitori, see the full text of this article at If you have questions about Japan why not ask at @japaninfoswap, or post on the wall at facebook/japaninfoswap

How To Make Chicken Yakitori — Video Recipe: Make delicious yakitori skewers. 

ByRay Proper
Sep 26, 2011

Autumn’s Treat – Matsutake Mushrooms

Just about everyone has seen these mushrooms in the supermarket; these are not the grown on top of a bottle en masse 100 yen variety, these are THOSE mushrooms that leave the unitiated wondering what kind of mushroom could possibly be worth 2000 yen or more? Next time you see them, I suggest you pick them up and smell them. They are very, very fragrant, and are often equated to truffles in their ability to add a distinct and delicious flavor to dishes prepared with them.

Matsutake Mushrooms - Wikipedia
Like Truffles, these are not produced on farms; they grow natrually in the forest, and while easy to pick, they are hard to find. In Japan, the mushroom is generally associated with the Japanese Red Pine, and the name in fact means Pine Tree Mushroom. The price of matsutake mushrooms varies tremendously. As domestic supply routinely outstrips demand, you can also find much cheaper imported varieties that could come from nearby China, or as far away as the United States region known as the Pacific Northwest; where I am from. While still not cheap, they pale in comparison to high grade locally harvested varieties that can run as much as 25,000 yen each, over $200. I am not sure they are worth THAT much, but people pay it, so I guess they are.

If you are interested in trying this autumn treat, I found a nice recipe for Matsutake Risotto that should do the trick for you. It does not require a lot of mushrooms, and would make a lovely appetizer to a great meal.

Matsutake Mushroom Risotto
serves 4 as an appetizer

4 cups kombu dashi
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tbs minced shallots
6 ounces fresh matsutake mushrooms thoroughly cleaned
1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon unsalted cultured butter
1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cups sake
5 oz Carnaroli rice
2 tablespoons panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 ounce parmigiano reggiano, grated
1 tablespoon unsalted cultured butter

Prepartion: Soak an 8″x 2″ piece of dashi kombu (dashi kelp) in cold water overnight or reconstitute powdered dashi in water according to the package directions to make 4 cups of kombu dashi. Put the dashi and salt into a saucepan and heat until steam rises from the surface. Cut the stem from the cap of the mushrooms. Julienne the stems into matchsticks. Slice the caps into 1/8″ thick pieces.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil until hot. Add the shallots and julienned matsutake stems until the butter is browned and the mushrooms take on a light brown color. Add the rice and fry for a minute, stiring to coat each grain of rice.

Add the sake and stir until it has evaporated, then add two ladles of dashi and stir constantly until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding dashi 1 ladle at a time, stirring constantly until the rice has reached a texture you’re happy with. Stop at about 3 1/2 cups for al dente risotto.

While the risotto is cooking, heat a second pan and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the matsutake caps until they are browned and season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushroom to a plate, then add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the panko and toast the breadcrumbs in the butter, stirring constantly until they are golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

When the risotto is done, add the cheese and butter and stir until they are incorporated. Taste for salt and more if necessary. Plate the risotto and top with the sauteed matsutake caps and toasted bread crumbs.

Link to original recipe on the [No Recipe] Blog

ByRay Proper
Sep 13, 2011

Kanazawa Castle Park in Ishikawa Prefecture

Kanazawa Castle

Kanazawa Castle is a large castle in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan that has been lovingly restored. Located adjacent to the celebrated Kenroku-en Garden, which once formed the castle’s private outer garden, Kanazawa Castle and Kenroku Garden are popular tourist destinations in Kanazawa; highly recommended for people interested in Japanese gardens.

Kanazawa Castle was founded in 1583 by the Maeda klan, who came to Kanazawa to establish the Kaga Domain. Due to damage from earthquakes, fires, battles, and other calamites the structure has been rebuilt many times since its completion. The Castle was almost completely destroyed in 1881 in a fire. Some portions of the structure, including the 1788 Ishikawa Gate, 1858 Sanjukken Nagaya (primarily a warehouse for weapons and ammunition), and the Tsurumaru Storehouse survived to become a part of Kanazawa Castle Park in 1997.

The Hishi Yagura turret, Gojikken Nagaya warehouse, and Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura turret were restored in 2001 using traditional construction methods to their 1809 form. The modern recreation of the pillars uses Japanese Hinoki Cypress timber with American cypress ceiling beams. The structure is so large that in the late 18th century it was known as “the palace of 1,000 tatami”.

One of the castle’s most distinctive features are the roof tiles. The whitish color of the tiles, which makes winter photographs of the structure so common, are mead of lead. Using lead not only fireproofed the roof, but also provided a ready source of material to be melted down and cast into bullets during sieges.

Kenrokuen Garden Kenroku-en, along with Kairaku-en and Koraku-en, is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan.

Kenroku Garden, or kenrokuen, is located next to Kanazawa Castle, and is one of the 3 finest Japanese gardens in Japan. Kenroku-en`s development began in the 1620s and lasted until the 1840s by the Maeda clan of Kanazawa Castle. It originally formed the outer garden of the castle, and covers 114,436.65 m², or more than 25 acres.

The garden as well suffered occasional destruction along with the castle, and through improvements and reconstructions the modern garden gradually began to deomonstrate distinctive characteristics like the Emerald Waterfall (Midori-taki), the teahouse (Yugao-tei),Winding streams the Kasumi Pond, filled with water drawn from the Tatsumi Waterway that make up the modern attraction. The garden was opened to the public on May 7, 1874.

The garden’s name, kenroku, literally “Garden of the Six Sublimities,” was derived from a famous Chinese poet, and symbolizes the six attributes of a perfect landscape: spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, waterways, and panoramas. It implies that this is in fact, the perfect garden, and having been designated in the top three in Japan, it seems pretty close!
The gardens grounds also play host to the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art (IPMA).

Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle Park Illumination Schedule

Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle Park are “illuminated,” or decorated in lights, 7 times per year. The illumination really chantes the atmosphere available during the day, or even on a regular evening in the park, and is well worth a visit to experience it.

• 2011 April 9th – April 17th  18:00 – 21:30

• 2011 June 4th – June 5th 19:00 – 21:00

• 2011 September 16th – September 18th 18:00 – 21:00
• 2011 November 18th – November 20th 18:00 – 21:00
• 2011 November 26th – November 27th   17:30 – 21:00

• 2012  February 3th – February 5th 17:30 – 21:00
• 2012 February 10th – Febrary 12th 17:30 – 21:00

Follow these links for more information 

ByRay Proper
Aug 29, 2011

Utsumi Beach on the Chita Peninsula Near Nagoya

UtsumiBeach1They say Utsumi Beach has the finest sand in the world, but probably only the Japanese say that. It is a great beach though, is well known throughout the Tokai region for its beauty.

Its 1.6km length is a nice bow shape, and you can rent parasols and buy beer, drinks, and food just off the sand. I have been a few times when DJs were playing, and there was no shortage of people enjoying the music. The beach is crowded, but well worth the trip. What are you doing this weekend??

August is the best time to visit this beach, and people flock to see the fireworks and other events that are held at that time; beware though!  September is Jelly Fish season!  You do NOT want to get stung!

  • By Train –  Meitetsu Chita Shinsen Line from either Nagoya Station or Kanayama – about 1 hour. It is a 20 minute walk from Utsumi Station to the beach.  A taxi will cost less than 1000 yen.
  • By Car 7 minutes by car from Minamichita IC on the Chita Peninsula Expressway.

Local Contact

Minamichita Tourism Association
Tel : 0569-65-0711
Fax : 0569-65-0694
Website :

〒470-3321 Aichi Prefecture, Chita District, Minamichita, Utsumi, Hamaokabe

ByRay Proper
Aug 10, 2011

Kiso Three Rivers Park in Ichinomiya City

Kiso Three Rivers Park in Ichinomiya was an old favorite of mine when I used to live in Konan City. I am not sure if the whole complex counts as being part of the park, but there were spots to play sports, and all kinds of things to do there. The 138 Park Tower has some nice views, and the surrounding flower garden is a great place to walk.  The name ‘Ichino-mi-ya’ can be read as the number ‘138’ in Japanese. You might not know this about the Japanese people, but they love that kind of thing, and so the number pops up regularly locally.

The Ichinomiya Twin Arch 138 is the tallest arch-style tower in Asia at 138m. The tower sports and observation deck at 100 meters with a 360-degree view of the Nobi Plain, including the course of the Kiso River. You can also see the peaks of the Japan Alps, Ise Bay, and if you look carefully, Nagoya Station’s JR Central Towers in the distance. There is what is described as an “elegant buffet,” but I remember more as a kind of cafeteria up there, and I actually did enjoy drinking my coffee in it. Great view; much different than my usual view from some Starbucks or another in Nagoya. Interesting sites: a village constructed entirely on an island in the Kiso River, and a description of a battle that occurred in the area back in the way back days.

The surrounding area is largely parkland, and the garden is especially nice to visit during Cherry Blossom Season (!). Spring and summer are a pleasant time to visit the Rose Stream, a garden comprised of more than 4000 roses. It is a nice place to stroll, with half the walk passing through the flowers and trees, including many decorative plants cut into animal shapes, and the other half along the river side. There are many places to sit, and at certain times of year the whole area is lit up in “illumination,” or what I refer to as Christmas lights.

Why not take a trip out to Ichinomiya this weekend and hang out at Kiso Three Rivers Park?

The park grounds are free to wanderer!
To go up Ichinomiya Twin Arch 138 it is 500 yen for adults (15+) 500yen, kids (6 -14) 200yen , Preschoolers (4 – 5) 100yen, and 65 or older 250yen.
On certain days you can climb the staircase for 100 yen.

9:30-17:00 (Weekdays)
9:30-21:00 (Saturday, Sunday, holiday, August1-31 and November 23- December25)

The park is closed the 2nd Monday of each month except for August and December.
(Closed on Tuesday if Monday falls on a national holiday.), and December 26 – 30

21-3, Aza Urazaki, Oaza Komyoji, Ichinomiya C. Aichi Pref.

From Meitetsu Ichinomiya Sta. on the Meitetsu Line or Owari-Ichinomiya Sta. on the JR Line take the Meitetsu bus bound for Sango Nishi. Get off at the Komyoji stop, which takes about 20 minutes. From there it is a 5-min. walk.

Take the Ichnomiya-Kisogawa exit on the Meishin Expressway and drive northbound on route 22 for approximately 20 minutes. Look for the tower eh?

View Larger Map

ByFirst Admin
Jun 20, 2011

Driving in Japan

Car photoJapan is a fantastically convenient country for public transport, and it is very possible to survive your whole life without a car or a driver’s license. However, when you want to venture out in to the countryside, or if you have kids that need driving to the pediatrician, a car will make your life much easier!

Some starter facts for beginner drivers in Japan:

  • Drive on the LEFT side of the road (you probably already knew this, right?)
  • The use of seat belts for driver and passenger seats are mandatory
  • It is compulsory to use a child-seat for children under elementary school age
  • The legal blood alcohol limit in Japan is ZERO
  • You can use an international drivers license for up to one year after your arrival in Japan, after this you must apply for a Japanese driver’s license.
  • Signs for destinations are blue for regular roads, and green for highways (see this picture for an example of a sign which indicates some regular roads, as well as one highway on-ramp). If you are ever looking for an on-ramp, just look for the green signs, and take some cash with you as the highways are quite expensive!
  • For those who travel on the highway a lot, there is an ETC (Electronic Toll Collection) system that when installed in your car and used in conjunction with a special credit card allows cars to pass seamlessly through a special gate, saving valuable commuting time. Using the ETC system also makes you eligible for any discounts available (eg. late night discount).
  • To buy a car in Japan, you must be able to prove that you have a parking space reserved for that car. The exception to this rule in some towns is the kei-car, or light automobile, which are indicated by a yellow license plate.
  • If you are in Japan for a limited time, then leasing a car might be a cost-friendly alternative with no large upfront payment. This option also skirts around all the hassle of having to register the car, the car-inspection (shaken), arrangement of voluntary insurance, proof of parking spot, and selling the car when you go home. Not only this, but the car is maintained for you by the lease company so literally, you are just adding gas!
  • Japanese drivers are both polite and aggressive. By this we mean that there are so many drivers on the road that it is seen as necessary to sometimes be a little pushy in order to get where you are going. However, when you do cut in front of someone, it is customary to bow your head slightly at them and raise your hand to indicate that this is what you would like to do. Then, having been given permission to cut in, flash your hazard lights as a way of saying thank you!
  • In a Japanese car park, try to reverse park except in situations where all other cars are parked forward for some reason. The reason for this is that Japanese car parks are quite a lot tighter than those in other countries, and sometimes you will find yourself stuck and unable to back out of a space you’ve parked in. If this is a problem for you, it’s better to plan to park in a relatively deserted part of the car park to give yourself less chance of being parked in.

Converting Your License from a Foreign License

(Information from

This allows you to obtain a Japanese license and drive the same kind of vehicles that you are permitted to drive in you own home country. You may or may not need to take a written and practical test depending on the origin of your license. People with licenses issued from the following countries are not required to take a written or road test to convert their home country issued license into a Japanese licenses: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Korea.

Conversely, people whose license was issued in the U.S., South Africa, China and Brazil are required to take both a written and road test, as are those whose license was issued in Africa, Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and Russia.

The conversion procedure (once you have all the correct paperwork in your hand) takes about half a day if you do not have to take the driving test (note: if you do need to take the test it takes a minimum of a day and a half with the application day and driving test day separated by a few weeks), and is conducted entirely in Japanese, so if you are unsure of your Japanese ability, bring a very patient Japanese speaking friend! The conversion process also requires a certain amount of forward planning and preparation of necessary documents, including an official translation of your license by the Japan Automobile Federation, especially since there rules and regulations as to what kind of paperwork you need to prove a minimum amount of driving time in your home country. For more advice (or better yet, for someone to hold your hand through the entire process!) please see

Generally speaking, Japanese driving licences are valid for three years, but with good behavior it is possible to get a “gold” license from the second renewal which will last for five. Every time you incur a traffic offense (even parking), to get your license renewed the next time you will have to attend a safety class, and you won’t be offered the gold license!

Road Rules – Swatting for your test if you have one!

If you have a written test as part of your license conversion process (or even if you don’t), you’ll need to know the rules of the Road. has a list of road signs and their meanings in English, and other rules of the road can be found in a comprehensive JAF guidebook published in five languages (English, Spanish, Portugese, Chinese, Hangul). If you are taking the road test as well, this may not be enough to pass you the first time as you may be failed on minor technicalities that have little to do with your actual driving ability. For a full lowdown on what to expect, offers a wide range of services to help you pass that test the first time!

One word of warning about the tests, both the written and the practical. Be aware that if you fail to prepare for the test, you are preparing to fail the test, at least once if not more times. Even if you are a good driver, there are minor points that can trip you up if you don’t know about them ahead of time. Each time you fail the test you need to make an appointment to take the test again, so be advised to apply early! Give yourself lots of time before your international license runs out, because driving in Japan without a proper license is a serious crime. In the end, when you take into account the time you have to take off work to re-take the test, it is better to have someone train you properly to pass the first time. Many people fail to take the test seriously, and have a long list of failed tests to prove it.

Learning to Drive and Obtaining a License in Japan

More than 90% of Japanese driver’s license holders are graduates of designated driving schools. If you do not possess a valid license and would like to obtain a full Japanese driver’s license then this is way to go.

A driving school (jidohsha gakko) will take you through everything you need to know about motoring in Japan: the rules of the road, first aid, basic car maintenance, highway driving, map navigation, and of course safety driving. Instruction is divided into, for example, 26 lectures and 30-34 driving skills lessons. Lectures are in Japanese only, but an English translation of the text book may be available.

Many driving schools boast extensive shuttle bus services and child care facilities. The driving skills exam is administered by the school and only a written test is administered by the driving test center. The whole package costs around 300,000 Yen. Free trial lessons are usually available as well.

There are several large driving schools that offer a variety of courses and free shuttle bus services to neighbouring districts. To find out the availability of English language instruction or text books, please e-mail, or have a Japanese friend phone ahead for you.

Koyama Driving School, who have 4 branches around the Kanto region, Setagaya-ku, Nerima-ku and Higashimurayama City in Tokyo as well as Kohoku-ku in Yokohama.

In the Event of an Accident

If you are involved in a traffic accident, you should call the police immediately, as well as an ambulance if anyone is injured. As in your home country, you should take down:

  1. the registration number
  2. the driver’s license number
  3. the other driver’s details (name, age, address and telephone number)

Emergency Numbers are below:

Always have with you the phone number of a Japanese friend or colleague,  or your 24 Hour Helpline consultant (if you are a client of the H&R Group and subscribe to this service) to help you in the case you have an accident. Even small incidents are very distressing in a country where you don’t understand the language, so don’t add to your stress by not having the right help.

Car Insurance

When you buy a car (new or used) part of the cost covers mandatory insurance (kyosei hoken ryo). However, this insurance does not provide full coverage in the case of an accident and it is recommended to purchase additional car insurance as well. Optional car insurance is a tricky question – even Japanese people often just go with the easiest option that is recommended to them by the car dealer (this makes a good case for leasing your car and not buying it in the first place!)

Lease Japan can offer English language car insurance assistance.

Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF)

JAF membership is a great idea for anyone in Japan with a car. You can call their roadside service any hour of the day if you have a flat tyre, flat battery or even if you’ve just locked your keys in the car. There is a registration fee of 2000 yen and a yearly fee of 4000 yen. They also have for sale, a comprehensive guidebook in English (as well as four other languages) on Traffic Rules and Regulations in Japan.

Navigation Systems

Getting where you are going is a lot easier when you have a good map, and what better map than an up-to-date navigation system that drives along with you. They come already built in to the car, or as an added-on option. There is an English system also available. If you have a Japanese navigation system already installed in the car, then the easiest way to program it is by telephone number. Many home phone numbers will not be listed, but one trick is to use the phone number of a nearby business in order to guide you (or to guide friends with a navigation system to your house).

To Lease or to Buy – That is the Question

Depending on how long you will be in Japan and what kind of car you want to drive, it can prove to be economical to lease. Leasing negates the need to try to sell the car when you go home, it also means that a lot of the fine details like insurance, registration and maintenance are taken care of.

Lease Japan is a car lease company for ex-pats and is part of a large group of companies with over 20 years experience with the ex-pat community. No guarantor or deposit is required. Leases are available for any term of 6 months or longer for virtually any kind of new or used car on the market.

All leases include full insurance (with no excess on claims), free maintenance checks, registration, free road-side assistance, 24 hour English Help line support, ETC and English or Japanese GPS Navigation systems. They can also supply ETC cards (without the need for a credit card application, which is a major part of the usual ETC process).

Lease Japan can also help you to purchase or sell a car if that’s the way you want to go, and they also help with short-term car rental as well.



ByRay Proper
May 26, 2011

Grand Festival of Hanazono Shrine in Tokyo

Hanazono Jinja Shrine is located in the Shinjuku business district of Tokyo. Shinjuku is probably the most famous town name in Tokyo, and the Hanazono Jinja has been used in Shinto worship since at least 1603; though the building is a of course not the same!

The Grand Festival of Hanazono Jinja is held on the closest weekend to May 28 every year. This year, the festival was supposed to consist of mikoshi (floats carried by groups of people) are gathered from eight towns are paraded around the shrine, but due to the Great East Japan Earthquake it has been toned down. There should still be something interesting to see, and some good vendor stall food to eat so if you are looking for something to do this weekend, why not drop in and check it out?

Saturday, May 28 through Monday May 30, 2011
Hanazono Jinja Shrine and other locations, 5-17-3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
3-minute walk from Marunouchi Line or Shinjuku Line Shinjuku-sanchome Station
7-minute walk from the JR Line’s (and others) East Exit of Shinjuku Station