# Food & leisure

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04.15.2019

Onigiris, which have been a staple of outdoor meals since time immemorial, may represent Japan’s very firstfast food,with excellent preservabilityand portability. Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese: you name a cuisine, Tokyo has it. However, most restaurants become horribly crowded at lunchtime. In those moments, it is much easier to buy a rice ball and savour it in the quiet contemplation of nature. Onigiri shops have been flourishing recently, with particular emphasis on the rice and the ingredients. Some of the shops have an ample eat-in space, where you can enjoy a rice ball and a bowl of miso soup.Here is a shortlist. Yoyogi: Ohitsuzen TanboThe shop aims to always serve the best quality in season, hence the origin of the rice used for Tanbo’s onigiris varies according to the period of the year, from Uonuma to Niigata. But Tanbo’s most remarkable feature is the use of home-polished rice. The shop serves numerous dishes, but it is perhaps renowned for its freshly-pressed onigiri, coming in ten flavours, such as bonito and salmon  and nozawana, a Japanese vegetable, commonly served pickled. Tanpo is also present in Omotesandō. Tsukiji Outer Market: Onigiri MarutoyoIt is an undisputed fact that the Tsukiji Outer Market is a fortunate location for a shop whose strong point is fresh seafood, especially salmon roe and conger eel, which are sourced directly from the famous adjacent fish market. Onigiris are nice and bulky - at Marutoyo they certainly do not skimp on the filling. And foodies know that. Himonya: Iizuka SeimaitenLocated in a quiet residential area, Iizuka Seimaten utilises itsown special blend of rice and two types of pesticide-free riceKoshihikari from Niigata Prefecture. It is an extremely popular shop, opening at 7 in the morning and selling 400 pieces a day, with classic fillings like Japanese salted plum and salmon, as well as more daring ingredients such as Vienna sausage and tuna miso. Marunouchi: Honnori-ya Tokyo Main StoreIt is an extremely popular onigiri shop using home-polished Aizu Koshihikari rice from Fukushima, which is known for retaining its softness and sweetness even when it gets cold.In addition to the onigiris, which are stuffed with the season’s best ingredients, another jewel in the crown is Honnori-ya’s signature miso soup, made with red and white miso. Akasaka: Omusubi GonbeiIt is an onigiri chain with shops at Tokyo’s major stations, known for its plump, hand-salted rice balls, which are 1.5 times bigger than the average rice ball. You can enjoy them in the restaurant, with a bowl of miso soup on the side. Select seasonal ingredients include Hachinohe maeoki mackerel, mackerel miso, wild vegetables and ginkgo nuts. 

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03.19.2019

Aigamo is the name of a farming methodwhich utilises ducks, belonging to the Japanese Aigamo crossbreed, to keep the paddy fields clear of unwanted plants and parasites, without any herbicides or pesticides. Ducks were first introduced to Japan as poultry from Mainland China in the Heian period (794-1185). Toyotomi Hideyoshi is claimed to have been the person who encouraged the use of ducks as natural repellents for insects and birds in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1598). The technique became obsolete in the subsequent Edo period (1600-1867). The practice was re-established in the town of Fukuno, Toyama prefecture, in 1985, as an attempt to preserve the ecosystem of the rice paddies by means of natural farming. It did not take long before the Aigamo integrated rice-duck pesticide-free farming methodmade the headlines and began to be implemented nationwide. Ducklings are used first and foremost for weeding. Depending on the conditions of the paddy field, a 1,000m² area requires about 15 ducks. Furthermore, the omnivorous ducks feed on insects, worms and other sorts of vermin, keeping the paddy field clear of parasites. Another point that should not be overlookedis that ducks are instrumental in enriching the water with oxygen by constantly stirring up the soil in the ricepaddy while swimming. The duckshelp the rice seedlings grow by eating both insects and weeds that get in the way. The movement also keeps the water at an optimal temperature for rice growth. Additionally, the duck droppings provide the rice crops with nearly all the essential nutrients. The ducklingsare releasedintothe paddy field about one or two weeks after the seedlings have been planted. Ashelteris necessary forthe ducksto take refuge from rain. To warn offweasels, dogsand other predators, the fieldneeds toprotected by a fence around and atop. The quality and level of the water are monitored daily in order for the ducks to have sufficient swimming space and crushed rice is supplied for seventy days, until the rice ears come out. In spite of the numerous challenges,such as protecting the paddy fields and their dwellers from kites, crows and raccoon dogs, while making sure that the ducks do not escape, theAigamo methodis an effective, environment-friendly approach to weed and pest control in rice farming. 

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02.25.2019

Hotaru-ika, or firefly squid, is caught with anoff-shore fixed net before dawn. At that hour, thefirefly squid emits a blue luminescence which turns the Sea of Japan into a spectacular light show in the blink of an eye. While spending the majority of their lives in deeper waters, the firefly squid  females females rise to the surfaceand gather near the coast from March to May, to laytheir eggs. Toyama Bay and the city of Namerikawaare especially famous for hotaru-ika fishing. Although the developments and improvements in freezing techniques have made firefly squid available throughout the year, fresh hotaru-ika sashimi can only be savoured in spring. Fishermen use a special net for firefly squid, called fukubeami, which differ from the ones used for other species. The nets, generally made of straw, are cast out in the bay to capture the squid as they make their way towards the shore to spawn.When the squid come in contact with the nets, the stimulation causes them to emit light, creating a mysterious glow that spreads over the surface of the sea. Here are a few restaurants in Tokyo where you can have fresh firefly squid. Nihonbashi ToyamakanThis shop, which was created as an information centre for the city and prefecture of Toyama, receives a number of fresh local products from Toyama every day.https://toyamakan.jp Gotanda: Omatsuri HonpoAlso known for its selection of Japanese sake, this shop focusses on fresh fish, which changes seasonally. In the hotaru-ikaseason, you can enjoy firefly squid sashimi and shabu-shabuhotpot. Yanaka: Gyokai ZanmaiAkiraThe restaurant stands right next to the fishmonger’s. It is no wonder that here you can find only the best the season has to offer. It is also a pleasure to spend some alone time in the comforting ambience of traditional downtown Tokyo.A springtime special is hotaru-ikagrilled in hot pebbles. SangenjayaSuzushiroLocated at a 7-minute walk from Sangenjaya Station, it is a shop with only eight counter seats, specialised in soups and sake. Try the boiled firefly squid mixed with white rice and hamaguriclams aplenty. Shinsen: Sanchoku-ya TakaIt is an extremely popular restaurant, known for its perfect reservation system and for the freshness of its ingredients, fished every morning. Here, the meals are omakase, that is every course is chosen by the chef, who also pairs it with the most suited type of sake. Seasonal recommendations include of course hotaru-ika, served either raw in a sashimi fashion or steamed.  

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02.15.2019

Shirakawa-gō is a name for the Shōnai basin in the former Hida province, which corresponds to present-day Gifu prefecture. The village of Ogimachi in Shirakawa-gō is known of about a hundred traditional gasshō-zukuri houses. Due to its unique landscape, Shirakawa-gō was selected as one of the Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings1976 and was also inscribedinthe UNESCO World Heritage List, along with Gokayamain Toyama Prefecture, in 1995. Gasshō-zukuri is a unique architectural style in Japan characterised by a steeply slanting thatched roofmade of rice straw, devised to shed snow easily. The name gasshō stems from the steep angle of the roof, which resembles a pair of hands joined in prayer. In order to minimise wind damage and, at the same time, maximise sun exposure, gasshō-zukuri houses face north or south. Silk production used to be an important activity in Shirakawa in the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the early Meiji period (mid 19th century). For this reason, the space of the attic was generally divided into 2-4 layersand put to effective use in the rearing of silkworm. The expected durability of the roof is 50 to 80 years, and the structure requires regular maintenance. Because of their construction style, fire is a serious risk to the numerous gasshō-zukuri houses., and all activities involving fire, such as fireworks, are strictly regulated. The large-scale fire drills are performed early in November every year are something worth seeingOn selected Sundays between the months of January and February, the gasshō-zukuri houses are illuminated. The next and last event of the season will be on 17th February. Since the small size of a village does not allow large gatherings, it is paramount that you make a reservation in advance. In addition to the illuminations,you can enjoy a nice stroll through one of the most iconic places of Japan. The best attractions in Shirakawa-gō Wada HouseIt is the house of the Wada family, who served as officials at the guardhouse  for generations and traded in explosives and raw silk.It is the largest gasshō-zukuri house in Shirakawa-gō and it has been designated an important cultural assets of Japan. Myozen-ji Temple HallIt is an ancient temple of the Shingon sect. The main hall, the priest’s quarters and the bell tower are allcovered with a thatched roof. It is one of the rare examples of a gasshō-zukuri temples. The priest’s quarters were built in 1817. The space of the roof is divided into five layers. In the hall on the second floor ancient agricultural and silk farming tools are displayed. Shiroyama Observatory DecksThere are two observatory decks overlooking the marvellous gasshō-zukuri area of Ogimachi. Both stand next to the historic site of Shirakawa-gō and offer a complete view of the traditional premises. Recommendations for gourmetsSpecialities include salt-grilled freshwater fish, goheimochi (a ricecakecoated with a walnut sauce and grilled), as well the famous wagyū meats of Hida, which include the Matsusaka and Yonezawa beefs, served in the traditional hoba miso fashion, that is on a magnolia leafwith miso. Last but not least, a jar of pickled aka-kabura dish or a pack of Doburoku yōkan sweet bean jelly make a wonderful souvenir. Stay and accommodationIf you are in Shirakawa-gō, of course you can sleep in one of the gasshō-zukuri houses. Gasshōno Yado MagoemonBuilt approximately 280 years ago, it is an inn and one of the few properties in Shiragawa-gō with an irori, a traditional sunken hearth. Gasshō-zukurino Yado IssaLocated at the centre of the village, it is a large thatched house, renowned for its cuisine. Gasshō-zukuri Minshuku ShimizuThis inn is located at theless touristic east end of Shirakawa-gō, with a great atmosphere to bask in.  

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01.24.2019

Milan is not afraid to experiment, even when it comes to food. And while the city has certainly embraced each and every passing food trend, from ethnic hybridization to the brunch and gourmet fast food obsessions, it never really lost sight of its original vocation for great, timeless cuisine.  As a result, the Milanese restaurant scene never ceased being reliable and surprising at the same time, thanks to the coexistence of tradition, gourmet and innovation. The city’s fascination for the local food tradition looks back on the good old trattoriaconcept, slightly lightened up and revived with an additional touch of sophistication and research.  On the gourmet front, innovation and haute cuisine often blend to offer experiences where uniqueness, excellent ingredients and perfect techniques definitely earn the spotlight.  The Local Tradition RatanàVia Gaetano de Castillia 28 If you are willing to try the greatest Milanese classic, the risotto giallo con ossobuco (saffron risotto with marrowbone), look no further than Ratanà. Housed inside a beautiful Art Deco building in the Isola-Porta Nuova district, it is home to Cesare Battisti’s sublimely revisited traditional Milanese cuisine based on accurately selected local ingredients.   Osteria BrunelloCorso Garibaldi 117Welcome to the home of the authentic and awarded co(s)toletta alla Milanese (veal Milanese).Weighing approximately 230 grams (bone included) it is breaded in dried and grated sliced bread, fried in clarified butter and served with roast potatoes and eggplant caponata. A timeless delicacy excellently crafted by chef Federico ComiAntica Trattoria della PesaViale Pasubio 10This is actually one of the oldest restaurants in Milan, housed inside the former weighbridge building where the goods coming from outside of town used to be weighed for the payment of custom duties back in the 19thcentury. The owners, the Sassi familycarefully preserved the authenticity of the place even in terms of décor. Among the house specials we recommend trying the rognone trifolato con risotto al salto (saute veal kidneys and rice). Authentic Innovation 28 postiVia Corsico 1A cosy little place with barely 28 seats tucked away in a surprisingly quiet street in the Navigli district. But the real surprise is Marco Ambrosino, a chef by calling (he graduated from business school) with a remarkable resume (he worked at Noma in Copenhagen) and amazing skills. Marco challenges the bravest palates with visionary ideas and unusual taste pairings, as in the pollen gelato with fish roe, onion, and fermented fruits.   LumeVia Watt 37Talented Michelin-starred chef Luigi Taglienti considers Italy the most innovative place on the international restaurant scene. His tasting menu, Taglienti racconta Taglientitells the story and the evolution of a great chef and his love for Italy and Liguria, the region where he was born and raised. Classics from the national tradition blend with Taglienti’s signature recipes such as “Squid’s black and white”, “Water, oil, lemon, and liquorice” and “Mushroom cappuccino with pale liver pudding”. Uncompromising Gourmet BertonVia Mike Bongiorno 13In the heart of the hypermodern Varesine Porta Nuova district, this restaurant is the perfect reflection of starred chefAndrea Berton, a pupil of Marchesi: elegant, moderate and spectacular, but with no excesses. His cuisine is entertaining and very close to perfect: the Tutto Brodo (“all stock”) menu plays with the fluid component of the recipes to offer a futuristic gourmet experience.  ContrasteVia Meda 2At the home of culinary genius Matias Perdomo, the starred Uruguayan chef who previoulsy ruled the scene at Pont de Ferr in the Navigli district), the menu is (literally) a mirror reflecting your own image – a clever and provocative way to state that the client is at the center of the scene and gets to decide what to eat in that very moment. The tasting menu included nine courses that change with the seasons, little pulp masterpieces that will leave you totally impressed.  

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01.21.2019

Understanding sake requires a full immersion into one of the great little mysteries of Japanese culture. The mystery lies in the alchemy that allows the creation of koji rice, a variety obtained by inoculating a natural mold into the rice. From kojirice, sake is then obtained by fermentation. Its organoleptic properties vary considerably depending on the production area and the specific quality of the basic raw materials. The temperature at which sake should be served depends precisely on these elements, so that each quality of sake has its own serving temperature, which is why in the restaurants and on special occasions there is always an expert whose sole task is to determine and obtain the right temperature that will enhance the specific features of each sake. Because of its delicately sweet and savory flavor profile,sake perfectly matches with food without adding acidity to its taste: mild sake is a great complement to delicate dishes, whereas for structured foods the recommendation is to go for a sake with more thickness and body. Like many other aspects of the Japanese food culture, sake is a veritable ritual to be experienced in everyday life as well as on special celebrations. Izakayais the name of the classic sake bar that the Japanese traditionally head to after work to enjoy sake accompanied by snacks and small bites, but lately even restaurants have taken to reviving and deepening the ancient art of sake. Here’s where to enjoy the sake ritual in Tokyo in different styles.  Nihonshu Stand Moto (Shinjuku)5-17-11 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-kuClose to Shinjuku Golden Gai and Hanazono temple, plenty of sake qualities to try sitting at the huge U-shaped counter side by side with the many sumo wrestlers that love to come here. Shu-Shu (Kanda)Yano Building 1F, 5-5 Kanda Konyacho Chiyoda TokyoAmong electric equipment and anime stores, an unusual Spanish-style sake bar where a sake sommelier will help you choose the quality that suits you best.  Sake Hall Hibiya Bar (Ginza)Miyuki Bldg B1F, 5-6-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku Unique cocktails based on traditional sakes from all over the country to be enjoyed with a superb selection of small bites.  Sakeba (Shibuya)3 Chome-15-2 Shibuya, Shibuya-kuSake and sake cocktails along with delicacies from Kuramoto, Kyushu island, where the local water apparently adds a special taste to everything.  Bar Gats (Shinjuku)17-2 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku  Founded by the vocalist of a much-loved jazz, this is the right place for enjoying sake and otsumami(snacks) pairings in a laid-back atmosphere. Kozue (Shinjuku)3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-KuHere’s an amazing venue on the 40thfloor of the Park Hyatt building in Shinjuku where you can taste sakes from all over Japan paired with dedicated menus and a stunning view. 

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01.12.2019

Choosing a yoga resort for a regenerating break means finding quiet, nature, healthy food and exercise - but also embracing specific ethical and existential principles. Because yoga is a veritable lifestyle, including daily practice but also sharing a philosophy. Here are five unique places where to regenerate and discover that another world of well-being is possible. Silver Island Yoga Retreat (Grecia)There is only room for ten guests on this private island in the gulf of Volos, owned for over half a century by the Christie family and later turned into an enchanted and environmentally sustainable resort. The yoga classes take place in the patio overlooking the sea, the restaurant offers zero-mile organic food and the beautiful Greek sea fills the eyes of the guests. The Retreat (Costa Rica)The Retreat was created to "reset the guests’ internal balance" so that they will turn well-being and a healthy and harmonious lifestyle into a daily habit even at home. Among the cozy casitas are some truly nice spaces where to practice different types of yoga with international masters and enjoy massages and spa treatments. Diana Stobo, lifecoach and founder of The Retreat, is a former chef and this makes the resort's cuisine particularly creative and interesting. Borgo Pignano (Italia)Between Volterra and San Gimignano, in the heart of Tuscany, an entire medieval village has been turned into a beautiful resort which was designated "the best hotel for eco-sustainability in Europe and the Mediterranean"by Condé Nast Johansens international in 2019. During the day you can practice yoga among the olive groves and take private or group yoga, relaxation and meditation classes. Vana (India)Vana is the Sanskrit word for "forest". The name was chosen by the founder, Veer Singh, to celebrate the symbiosis between this place of spirituality and hospitality on the slopes of the Himalayas and the lush forest that surrounds it. Yoga, Ayurveda and healthy eating are at the center of the regeneration experience, enriched by art, music and the beauty of the place. Eco Yoga (Scozia, UK)In the Scottish Highlands, on the shores of Lake Awe, the wood and stone lodges of Eco Yoga welcome those who want to immerse themselves in nature and silence and experiment advanced dynamic yoga with group and individual classes. The resort is energetically sustainable and revolves around water as a natural element: the still water of the lake, the rushing water of the waterfalls the warm water in the indoor and outdoor wooden pools.  

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01.10.2019

In this severely cold season, oden helps warm the body from the inside out and offers a comforting cuddle for the stomach, fatigued by the customary New Year’s heavy meals and drinking parties. There is many a restaurant where one can have a bowl of the typical stewon one’s own, without feeling too awkward.  Oden originates from dengaku, bean curd baked and coated with miso, an ancient recipe of skewered ingredients grilled (yaki-dengaku) or boiled (nikomi-dengaku). Around the 17th century, odencame to designate the boiled type, whereas grilled skewers went on being referred to as dengaku. A street food speciality from Kantō (Tokyo area), it later spread to Kansai (Osaka area). Kansai’s oden differs greatly from Kantō’s oden in terms of ingredients and flavour. For example, the Kansai version is recognisable by its thin broth, whereas in the Kantō version the broth is thicker and darker. Kansai people call the Kantō version of oden Kantō-dakior Kantō-niOden is a highly digestible food, whose base is a soup made with bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and kelp. Stewing in it is a wide array of ingredients, including but not limited to satsuma-age(fried fishcakes), hanpen(surimi triangles), chikuwa(ring-shaped fishcakes), konjac, daikon radish, ganmokudoki(fried tofu mixed with chopped vegetables), hard-boiled eggs and kara-age(deep-fried chicken). As for Tokyo, you will be spoilt for choice. From long-established shops to more stylish options, here are a few recommendations. Azabujūban: FukushimayaThis historic shopsells kamaboko(a type of cured surimi) on the ground floor, whereas the first floor it has an eat-in space offering oden in either a shōyu (soy sauce)-based broth or a miso-based broth, the latter being prepared with Hatcho red miso from Aichi prefecture.  Yotsuya: Oden-yaRecognisableby a sign reading Atsu Atsu Oden (“piping hot oden”),  this exquisitely retro-style place has traditional food carts that can be reserved by groups to benefit from the 4,000 yen all-you-can-eat-and-drink formula. A highlight is dashi-wari, Japanese sake mixed with oden broth. Are you brave enough? Shinbashi: OtakōWhen the working day is done in Shibbashi, you can stop at Otakō foroden and a glass of sake, in an unpretentious settingwhich is ideal for some alone time. Also on the menu are sashimi, grilled meat and fish, deep-fried chicken and other delicacies. Ebisu: Nihonshu HanatareRenowned for its seafood umi oden, this cosy shop has a counter which accommodates up to 10 people. The seafood is sourced daily from Sashima Harbour and Yokohama’s Fish Market. Depending on the season, oden is to be enjoyed with a glass of warm or cold sake, chosen from a selection of twentyDaikan-yama: Ore no OdenSituated in a plush residential areathis place it has a completely different flair compared to any other oden shop, resembling a stylish bar or lounge. Here you can tasteKansai-styled oden until well into the night, paired with one of the 100 types of ume-shu(plum wine) on the list.  

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01.09.2019

A theropod dinosaur, the carnivorous ancestor of ostriches and penguins, left its mark on the still fragile dolomite rocks abouttwo hundred million years ago, while the Cellina stream was probably just beginning to dig canyons and crags into the layers of calcareous rock.  The Friulian Dolomites, a.k.a. the mountains rising between the Piave and Tagliamento rivers, are famous for the amazing colors of the rock they are made of and for their wild and fascinating character, epitomized by the Campanile di Val Montanaia, a steep rocky peak that can only be reached on foot. Ideal for those who love the mountains in their purest spirit, the Friulian Dolomites Natural Parkbetween the provinces of Pordenone and Udine, includes Valcellina, the upper Tagliamento valley and the Tramontina valley. The towns have exotic ancient names such as Andreis, Forni, Cimolais, Claut or, just outside the park and entering the Carnic Alps region, Sauris, Sappada, Tarvisio, Piancavallo.  The local hospitality has a long and rooted tradition, and the area also offers plenty of opportunities in terms of winter sports, from cross-country and downhill skiing to skating, snowshoeing and dog sledding along impressively beautiful routes. Every valley has its own peculiarities: there is room for relaxation as well as for breathtaking skiing challenges, and the wild woods allow for the occasional encounter with Alpine ibexes, experts looking for new descent trajectories and new challenges.  South of the Park, the Cellina Ravine Natural Reserve is a millenary ecosystem that developed around the deep cuts carved into the ground by the stream of the same name. The emerald pools that occasionally appear along the stream of the Meduna river, close to Tramonti di Sopra, are yet another small corner of natural paradise created by the water carving the white rocks – a great opportunity for a refreshing plunge in the summer.  Finally, the food reflects the history of the area, which has long been a crossroads of different peoples and tastes and an open gateway to central Europe.  Among the local delicacies is Sauris ham, named after its hometown, smoked in the fumes from local beech wood. Pitinais the essential Friulian sausage made from minced wild game meat seasoned with salt, pepper and fennel, to be enjoyed with Sauris’s own craft beer, Zahre. Where to stayOverlooking the ski slopes of Sauris, Chalet Rikhelan is a charming 10-room hotel housed inside a historic mansion, which is only accessible from the ski slopes or via a special snowmobile service all through the winter. A fine example of the renowned local hospitality, this cosy place has the perfect mix of traditions, beauty and premium amenities such as a nice fireplace, Finnish saunas and a stunning solarium where guests can enjoy the winter sun. 

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12.17.2018

It is undisputed truth that hot spring baths are exceptionally beneficial to the body, initiating the recovery of organ function and from fatigue, eliminating lactic acid and easing muscle pain and arthritis. By warming the body, they also contribute in activating metabolism and the calorie-burning process. Lastly, sulphur waters are natural cures for acne and blemishes on the skin. If you are in Tokyo, there are a few places that you easily access on a leisurely one-day or weekend trip. Hiratsuru (Atami, Shizuoka)Atami is known as a historical hot spring resort, but in particular, Hiratsuru is a hot spring inn worth of attention, because of its rōtenburofilled with naturally warm water sourced directly from 300m underground. The open-air bath is an infinity pool perfectly integrated in the environment of Sagami Bay, with a scenic view of Yugawara and Atami. After soaking in it, wear a yukataand indulge in the delicious fresh seafood from the bay. Shima Yamaguchikan (Gunma)Shima Onsen is a long-established hot-spring town, where the accumulation of rain water fallen over 60 years ago gushes out in a warm, plentiful stream, rich in minerals which are instrumental in treating gastrointestinal disorder, movement disorder, rheumatism and wounds in general. Shimameans “forty thousands”, referring to the number of ailments the hot spring water is said to heal. Shima Onsen is located in the Shima river valley, where you can enjoy the sound of gushing water and birds in the trees, in a mystical ambience. Yumori Tanakaya (Nasushiobara, Tochigi)Due to its being located in the Nikkō National Park, Shiobara Onsen offers a magnificent view of mountains and valleys It has been one of the most renowned hot spring sanatoriums since as far back in time as 1200, and its mineral-rich baths still enjoys extraordinary popularity. The water contains a great deal of calcium and is drinkable. There is hardly anything more soothing than a long soak with the backdrop of the dales and vales of Nikkō. Hottarakashi Onsen (Yamanashi, Yamanashi)Hottarakashi is a hot spring destination located not too far from Tokyo, which is famous for its open-air baths covered by a “ceiling of starry skies”. There are two outdoor baths, one calledKotchi no yuand overlooking Mount Fuji,and the other called Atchi no yu, which is double the size of the former and offers the remarkable scenery of both Mount Fuji and the Kofu basin. The slightly alkaline hot-spring water is gentle to the skin and provides an effective treatment for neuralgia, muscle pain, joint pain, frozen shoulder, motor paralysis, bruised, sprains, poorblood circulation,fatigue, chronic gastrointestinal disease and so on.With a180°panorama, you can contemplatethe sunrising over Mount Fujiin the morningand setting in the evening, as well as reputedly one of the three greatest night sceneries of Japan.  

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12.06.2018

Thisis the time of the year in which the new brew of sake is ready for consumption.When one thinks of a sake brewery, the first image that comes to mind is a place buried deep in the countryside. However, there is a number of historic saka-gurawhich can be easily accessed from Tokyo, where one can taste new sake accompanying a delicious meal. Sake breweriesare generally signalled by a sugidama, aball made from sprigs of Japanese cedar, traditionally hung in the eaves. Sake brewers used to be affluent families, thus considered as royalty in the different areas. Production of sake is carried out during October and November, using the rice harvested in the autumnThe new sake will be ready by December and a green sugidamawill be hung to announce it. The “Brewing Year” (acronym: BY), encompasses a twelve-month periodfrom 1st July to 30th Juneof the following year.The sake sold in December and January is called shiboritate, “freshly pressed”OzawaSake Brewery (Ōme, Tokyo)Ozawa Sake Brewery is located in Okutama, in the Western part of the Tokyo Metropolis, and it is renowned for its Sawanoi branded sake and tōfu. Sawanoicomes from Sawai-mura, the former name of the Okutama area, known for its clear area, lush greenery and excellent rice. In the restaurant “Mamagoto-ya”Mama”,directly managed by Sawanoi, you can enjoy the sake paired withflavourful tofu and yuba(tofu skin)dishes. IshikawaSake Brewery (Fussa, Tokyo)Ishikawa Sake Brewery isa historic sake brewery composedof six buildings designated asTangible Cultural Properties of Japan. Historical materials of sake brewingare displayed in the historical centre ofthe sake brewery.In addition to the famous labels Yaezakuraand Tamajiman, the company has brewed beer under the name Japanese Beer since 1888. Amongst the many premises, there is also a restaurant called Fussa no Beer Koya, where you can savour wood-fired pizza and seasonal dishes, while enjoying the dignified view of the brewery from your outdoor terrace seat or next-to-the-window table. Kumazawa Sake Brewery (Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture)Kumasawa Sake Brewery is considered the last remaining sake brewery in the Shōnan area. Established in 1872, the company continues to produce craft sake on a small scale, in accordance with Shonan’s climate. Brands include Tensei, Shokō, Kumazawa, Shōnan and Kamakura Shiori, as well as unfiltered beer made with water sourced from an aquifer that comes from the Tanzawa mountains. Refurbished in the style of the Taishō Era (1912-1926), Kuramoto Ryōri Tensei is a restaurant where you can enjoy a glass of newly-brewed sake with dishes based on a few core ingredients, namely rice, water, fish and vegetables. Yamanashi Meijo (Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture)Known for its supreme quality sake Shichiken, which has been made with the pure water of Hakushūsince 1750, the brewery is located in the Southern Alps, which were added to the UNESCO biosphere reserve list in 2014. Its restaurant Daiminserves seasonal menus with rice, vegetables and fruits of the Hakushu area. Popular dishes include salmon pickled in malted rice and wasabi pickled in soy sauce.  

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11.26.2018

Among the Art Deco buildings of the Porta Venezia district in Milan, hiding in a quiet courtyard, Stamberga is a special place that contains multitudes. Part tea room, part bookshop and part art gallery, Stamberga houses design, art, fashion and travel magazines and books and a permanent black & white photo exhibition called Spiritus featuring the work of Marco Beretta, a traveller and the founder of Stamberga, focusing on Tibetan monasteries. We met Marco to learn more about the journey that led him to create Stamberga. SJ: How do you choose the objects and books for Stamberga? MB: Every single title, object or detail is chosen, desired and conceived following a thin thread that links everything. Choice is a process, emotional at first and then rational. The search, instinctive and continuous, is always followed by a pause that makes the sensations settle. At Stamberga, form and meaning are are inseparable: the aesthetics anticipates the content, the content confirms the aesthetics. SJ: Stamberga is a space with an urban DNA whose definition goes beyond the classic genre boundaries, yet the idea of travel seems to be at the core of it. MB: When I look at Stamberga, I get the real meaning of the term ‘contamination’: a harmonious fusion of elements of different origins. And I guess this is rooted in travel: for 30 years, I have been travelling extensively and meeting the most diverse people, going from a Tibetan monastery to a concept store in New York, sleeping in a tent on the Himalayan plateau and in the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, travelling by train from Beijing to Ulanbataar and then on a Royal Enfield motorbike in India, visiting a museum in Santiago de Chile and an artisan shop in Burma or a gallery in Berlin, eating sashimi in Tokyo and snake soup in Hong Kong. And finally, one of my greatest passions: drinking tea, be it a cup of green tea in Shanghai or a mint black tea in Riyadh. SJ: Which cities or countries contributed the most to shaping your taste?MB: Burma and India. Paris and Tokyo. These are the places where I always want to go back. SJ: Auberge Thé Bleu, the tea served at Stambrga, is your creation: tell us about the orifin of this project.MB: I have learnt the pleasure and the art of tea in over 25 years spent traveling to Chinaas an international fashion manager. Once I ran out of the supplies accumulated throughout that period, I looked for small shops in Europe that could bring back that flavor and above all that spirit, so slow and far from mass consumption. Only in Paris did I find something similar, so I decided to make a dream of mine come true and become a tea merchantmyself. I contacted pure tea importers, became a tea sommelier, came up with a flavor list, made a selection of 25 types of tea and finally created a brand and a concept that reflected my ideas and experience. The Auberge Thé Bleu imagery is inspired by the colonial period, the atmospheres of French Indochina, the vessels of the East India Company and to out-of-time quiet of Tibetan monasteries SJ: Are tea rituals and aesthetics part of Auberge Thé Bleu's identity?MB: They are an essential and indispensable part of it. In the Far East, the gestures and the rituals are the essence of care and attention. Like Stamberga itself, Auberge Thé Bleuaims to evoke perceptions and to express ideas and intuitions.  

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11.15.2018

Kobe beef has attained the international status of delicacy meat, but what does its fame come from? “Kobe Beef,” “Kōbe-gyū,” are all registered trademarks in Japanfor the meat products obtained from the Tajima cattle breed. For a meat to be acknowledged as such, it must be compliant to stringent guidelines, concerning place of rearing, stock and quality.  Tajima is the name of acattlebreed born and reared in Hyōgo prefecture, whose bloodline has been maintained since the Edo Period(1603-1868). The excellent pedigree and the strictly controlled breeding environment result in an extremely tender meat, which can be easily recognised by its distinctive marbled pattern, given by the white parts of fat interspersed between layers of red meat, known as sashi. Wagyū defines a type of cattle, obtained during and after the Meiji period by crossbreeding Japanese cattle with stocks of foreign origin. However, the Japanese beef enjoying so much popularity worldwide is not necessarily produced in Japan. If you want to taste real Kobe beef, check out the following restaurants. Kobe TanryūThe restaurant uses counter seating, which allows the patrons to observe the chef cooking the meat teppanyakistyle, that is sliced and grilled on an iron plate. The restaurant has won the title of Champion Kobe Beef multiple times at the over 50 Kobe Beef contests held throughout the year, so you know the meat regularly served there is of unexcelled quality. Kobe KikusuiIt is a butcher’s shop and a restaurant, serving steaks and Japanese specialities, like sukiyaki and shabu-shabu, which exalt the fleshy flavour brought out by a skilful ageing of the meat. Kobe Steak Restaurant MōriyaWith a history of 130 years, Mōriya is a restaurant specialising in Kobe beef, obtained from pure-bred Tajima cattle reared on a contract farm located in the city of Yabu. Here you can taste excellent steaks at a reasonable price.  Kobe Beef Ramen YazawaIt is the company shop of Yazawa, which is famous for purchasing whole beefs. The house special is a sumptuous ramen, served in a soup which takes 16 hours to make, using Kobe beef bones and other select ingredients, such as vegetables, grown in the prefecture of Hyōgo, and chāshū (roast pork). Another recommendation that you cannot find anywhere else is Kobe beef tendons and egg over rice. A true delicacy.  

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11.09.2018

Those lucky enough to have visited Sri Lanka before the civil war, which has made this island off the southern tip of India basically unavailable to tourism for almost 30 years, will probably remember its still intact atmospheres, its delicate exotic taste, that feeling of being in a miniature India, more livable and kind, less chaotic. In an era in which intercontinental travels were a niche and the island was still mostly unknown to mass tourism, one was bound to be hosted by locals for very little money, be invited for ginseng tea in the jungle or escorted from beaches to tea plantations, temples and ancient ruins on a battered van, having surreal conversations in broken English. The feared Tamil tigers, which would soon trigger the war, were often evoked with terror or named under one’s breath, yet for a tourist it was still difficult to get an idea of how how serious the situation was getting. In 2009, the former British Ceylon, now the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, reopened its doors to visitors. Almost 10 years later, the landscape has definitely changed compared to the 1980s: Sri Lanka is not a niche tourism destination anymore, it has developed a proper hospitality industry with luxury hotels and spas that allow visitors to discover its charm without giving up the perks and the comforts. Here’s a bunch of good addresses to consider for your next trip to Sri Lanka. KK Beach (Habaraduwa)The minimalist design of this boutique hotel lets the colors and the beauty of the Indian Ocean, whose magic is portrayed in the works of local artists who decorate the suites, steal the scene. The long, champagne-colored beach and the tropical gardencomplete the view from this oasis in the south-western part of the island, which is also reasonably close the colonial city of Galle, a Unesco heritage site famous for its Dutch colonial style villas. Santani Wellness Resort (Kandy)Near Kandy, the town in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka which is home to the so-called Temple of the Tooth, Santani is a real sanctuary of wellnesssurrounded by nature, where you can practice Ayurvedic detox rituals and Yogato find your balance and peace. Ulpotha Yoga & Ayurveda RetreatUlphota is a mountain village in the north-western part of the island, near Kurunegala. The local economy revolves around rice but for six or seven months a year, from November to March and from June to August,the whole town turns into a Yoga and Ayurveda retreat where you can sleep for a bargain and attend seminars on yoga and traditional Ayurvedic therapies. Legend has it that Ulphota was founded by a group of pilgrims from the Himalayas in search for the traces of Shiva’s son, so this is the perfect place to breathe spirituality. Saman Villas (Bentota Beach)On a promontory stretching out into the Indian Ocean on the west coast of Sri Lanka, between Colombo and Galle, the 27 suites of this resort recall the design of the ancient local temples, each offering an unforgettable view. It is one of the most scenic and romantic places on the island, where privacy is sacred and the service is taken care of in every detail. Sen Wellness Sanctuary (Renawa Turtle Beach)Yoga and Ayurveda rule at this spa hotel designed to collect the energy of the Earth and give it to its guests. Near the long beaches of the lagoon of Renawa, it also offers osteopathic treatments and excellent food, in line with Ayurvedic medicine. Tri HotelSustainable luxury is at the heart of this exclusive resort on the shores of Lake Koggala, in the southern part of the island, between Galle and Madara,  co-owned by popular Yoga guru Lara Baumann. The 11 suites stretch along the promontory that makes its way between the waters of the lake.  

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11.07.2018

This autumn, visit a museum. Revel in the art on display, then linger in the café. Just sit and spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city in a design setting, with a titbit and a spectacular garden laid out before you. Mitsubishi Ichigōkan Museum: Café 1894Inaugurated in 1894,not long after the commencement of Japan’s diplomatic relations with the foreign world, the original building, faithfully recreated in 1968, was designed by British architect Josiah Conder in the Queen Anne style, which was revived and was all the rage at the turn of the twentieth century. The permanent collection revolves around works by Western artists of the late nineteenth century, such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Odilon Redon and Félix Vallotton. After seeing the collection, you can relax in the classic ambience of the café. Open from 11am to 11pm, it is perfect for lunch, tea or dinner. Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum: Café TeienBuilt in 1933as the residence of the Paris-educated Prince and Princess Asaka, it was opened to the public as an art museum in 1983. The interiors, from the wall decorations to the furniture and the lighting fittings, are some of the finest examples of Art Deco. The entrance, the grand drawing room, the great hall and the study room boast decorations by master artists such as René Lalique and Henri Rapin. Art Deco aside, the palace is also famous for its lush garden - teienin Japanese - with a quiet café overlooking the greenery, which will make it hard for you to believe you are in the city centre. The National Art Centre: Salon de Thé “Rond”The centre was inaugurated in 2007, with a design by Kishō Kurokawa, one of Japan’s most representative and prolific architects. Notwithstanding its lack of a permanent collection, it is a lively art centre and the country’s largest exhibition space. There are one restaurant and three cafés, each with a different style but a common characteristic, that is providing a relaxing space in a magnificent setting. Le Salon de The Rond is a tearoom sitting atop a gigantic inverted cone, named after the round shape of its elegant location, where visitors can enjoy the delicacies on the menu in an art-drenched atmosphere. Nezu Museum: Nezu CaféRight at the heart of the fashion district, at a short walk from Omotesandō, is Nezu Museum,which accommodatesthe private collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art of Kaichirō Nezu, a businessman who served as the president of Tōbu Railway. The lush garden makes full use of the natural undulation of the soil, creating a scenic landscape of hills and denes. There are four tea houses in the park, which are also used for tea ceremonies.  The newly-built Nezu Café provides a magnificent shelter from the madding crowd, with blend coffee, meat pies, matcha and sweets, both traditional and Western-fashioned.  Hara Museum: Café d’ArtStyled as a 1930s Western mansionby Jin Watanabe, also known for his design of the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park and Ginza Wakō Building, Hara Museum opened in 1979, when it was one of the few institutions in Japan focusing on modern art. It is regarded as one of the symbols of modernism in Japan, with a garden delineated by smoothly curving lines and the relaxing Café d’Art within. 

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10.26.2018

One cannot really expect to enjoy the autumnal scenery in Kyoto away from the hordes of tourists. Still, the former Imperial capital of Japan is a trove of secluded gardens where the enchanting colours of momiji can be thoroughly appreciated in utter tranquility. Among them is the garden at Daikin-zan Hōgon-in, a subtemple of the Rinzai Zen head temple Tenryū-ji. It was built during the Muromachi period (1336-1573) with the support of the estate of Yoriyuki Hosokawa, a deputy of the Ashikaga shogunate. The true gem of the temple is its landscape garden, first conceived by Sakugen Shūryō, a prominent Zen Buddhist priest who lived in the Muromachi period.  The garden incorporates the scenery of Arashiyama and is famous for its giant rocks, including one that is lion-shaped. It was featured in Miyako Rinsen Meisho Zue(“Illustrated Guide to the Famous Gardens and Sites of the Capital”) that was published during the Edo period (1603-1868). The garden employs the natural beauty of the Arashiyama area, with moss, plants and rocks. Also known as the Lion’s Roar Garden, it contains a dry-stone structure, representing the Dragon Gate Falls on the upper Yellow River in China. A Chinese legend has it that a carp capable of swimming up these falls will transform into a dragon. In Zen Buddhism, the waterfall-climbing carp has come to symbolise a person attaining enlightenment and becoming a Buddha. The train ride to Hōgon Temple on the Keihoku Electric Railroad Arashiyama Line will offer you further views of the spectacular autumn foliage. At the peak of the leaf viewing season, the Lion’s Roar Garden will be open also in the evening, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, from November 9 to December 2, offering visitors a most rare opportunity to contemplate the overwhelming scenery of Arashiyama, in utter silence, a precious time away from the hustle and bustle of the city crowds. 

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10.18.2018

Sugamo: Japanese Soba Noodles TsutaStanding tall in the Tokyo fine dining scene, Tsuta is a Michelin-starred restaurant renowned for the superior quality of its ingredients. In a bowl of shōyu soba you can thoroughly savour thenoodles dipped in a warm, wholesome broth, blending three types of shōyu taresauce, Nagoya’s cochinand shamorokkuchicken, seafood and vegetables. The bowl is finished off by an original topping consisting of pork slices marinated with herbs and red wine flavoured bamboo shoots. Other recommendations include shio sobaand miso soba. Ginza: Kamonka“Abalanced diet leads to a healthy body”: this is the principle behind the restaurant’s wide selection of noodles, prepared with organic vegetables and other healthy ingredients. The restaurant is famous for its soupless tantanramen, topped with mabo-dofu, where you can taste the two most representatives dishes of Sichuan’s spicy cuisine. At lunch time, it comes with white rice or kayurice porridge. Other specialities, which will warm you up with their spiciness, includetantan ramen with steamed chicken and mala sauce or Sangen pork and lettuce. Shinbashi: Taiwan MensenMensen is sōmen (thin noodles) boiled in a thick soup. A staple of the Taiwanese cuisine, usually sold at food stands, whose ingredients vary seasonally and geographically from Taipei to Kaohsiung, becoming middle and milder as one goes southwards. Shinbashi’s Taiwan Mensen was the first restaurant to open in Japan. Since 2014, it has been catering noodles directly shipped from Taiwan and served in a delicious soup, garnished with pork giblets and seasoned with coriander. Ōtemachi: Beimen Shokudo by ComphoBeimen, rice noodles, is the base for a number of recipes, which blend ethnic ingredients with a Japanese-style soup. One of the most popular dishes istom yum, prepared with luscious prawns and seasoned with herbs and spices. In the evenings, you can taste not only the noodles, but also a variety of healthy, vegetable-based dishes. Ōtsuka: NakiryūIn Nakiryū’s tantan ramen, which won the restaurant a Michelin star, the noodles are served in a soup, where the flavours of the minced meat, the onion and the sesameare perfectly balanced.Even people who are not really partial tothe spiciness oftantan ramenwill love this Michelin-starred version of itand will want to return to the restaurant over and over again. 

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10.09.2018

Everyone should have the opportunity to experience true quality. Chef Nicola Dinato believes this and turns his idea into haute cuisine every time he opens the door of Feva, the restaurant he opened with his wife Elodie Duboisson and which earned a Michelin star in 2014. Feva is located a stone's throw from the walls of Castelfranco Veneto, the birthplace of Dinato in the heart of the Treviso region. This is where he left from at the age of twenty, in 2001, to learn from some of the greatest masters of international cuisine - Ducasse, Roux and Ferran Adrià. Nicola worked at El Bulli, Adrià’s legendary Costa Brava restaurant, for a season; it was the golden era of molecular cuisine, so close to science in terms of techniques and precision and therefore extremely influenced by the peculiarities of each ingredient. Nicola managed to make this conceptual haute cuisine more understandablewithout giving up precision and research. The prices are deliberately affordable, the open kitchen allows guests to see what’s happening and the tastes respect the character of each ingredient. This is what he calls ​​"mother cuisine", a concept that is based on respecting the essence of each ingredient and returning it in the form of an experience in terms of taste and emotion. Feva is like a family, a community of people who share the same space - the fertile land of the upper Veneto with its raw materials and its traditions - and the same goals. The name itself, Feva, evokes the concept of “family” in the local idiom. Dynamism and creativity are the means by which the past lives again in the kitchen of Feva: without indulging in nostalgia and with the freedom and the expertise to create variations of traditional local dishes. The result is a sensory experience that often plays with appearances, offering presentations that mimick ingredients of a completely different nature than the actual ones. "Like Peppered Mussels", for instance, is a dish of ravioli looking exactly like mussel shells. Apparently, nothing is what it seems in this remote corner of the Venetian province that surprisingly manages to offer a cutting-edge gastronomic experience by transforming simple ingredients into complex and refined dishes. 

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09.27.2018

Since the highball boom, whisky consumption in Japan has skyrocketed from75 millionin 2008 to 135 million in 2015. Similarly, in 2017 the sales of Japanese whisky abroad hit a record high of 5.49 million liters, more than five times the amount of ten years ago. At the same time, the shortage ofmalt whiskybecame a problem. Of course, other cereals can be malted, such as maize, wheat or rye, and the resulting product is known as grain whisky. However, what is popular today is single malt whisky, obtained from malted barley. Due todifferencesin the manufacturing method, distilleriestends to fall short of single malt whisky, compared to grain whiskywhichcan be mass producedinstead. A recipient of numerous prizes at the International Spirits Challenge, with its brandsYamazaki, Hibiki, and Hakushu,Suntory’s single malt whiskyhas risen to international fame.Suntory Yamasaki Distillery isJapans oldest malt whisky distillery,located in the southwest of Kyoto, at the foot of Tennozan. The history of Japanese whisky making beganin Yamazaki in 1923. The neighbourhood of Yamazaki Distillery is known for theRikyūno Mizu(“water of the imperial villa), a natural spring wellhead mentioned in the Song of Man’yōand selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of the 100 Exquisite and Well-Conserved Waters.This water serves as the preparation water for whisky. In addition to the spring water, the area is blessed with the tree intersecting waters of the Katsura, Uji and Kizu rivers and the perfect degree of humidity for the ageing of whisky. Suntory Yamazaki Distillery offers guided tours of the production plants and the Yamazaki Whisky Museum, with explanations and exhibits about the history of Single Malt Yamazaki whisky, from the foundation of the companyto the present day, a tasting counter and a shop. Also, the Whisky Library on the first floor iswonderful collection gatheringthousands of whiskies. Last but not least, at Yamazaki Distillery visitors can experience the different flavors and fragrances of the rarest vintage whiskies. Since tours are generally full, early reservation is necessary. 

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09.14.2018

The summer heat and the air conditioning can be very taxing to your physical and emotional health, and you really need to recover before tackling all your autumn projects. What you can do is take a relaxing bath at a spa and have a healthy meal there. If you are in Tokyo, you will just be spoilt for choice. Odaiba: Hilton HotelAt An Spa Tokyo, you can relax while enjoying the view of the Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge. In addition to the indoor pools, whirlpools and facilities incorporating elements of nature, it also offers a variety of treatments and fitness activities.  Shinjuku: Thermae YuIdeal for body recovery after a hard day’s work or a night out drinking, this spa includes anopen-air bath named Jindai no Yu, with natural hot spring waterwhich is carried every day from Izu and has soothing effects on neuralgia, muscle pain, bruises, sprains, cold and fatigue. There is also an indoor bath, with high-concentration carbon dioxide, where you can soak and relieve your fatigue. Ryōgoku: EdoyuEdoyu is a Japanese-style modern spa where you can enjoy the atmosphere of Edo, with a mural featuring two of Hokusai’s ukiyo-e paintings, Fine Wind, Clear Morningand Red Fuji both part of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fujiseries. The facility features artificial hot springs, a a high-temperature Finnish sauna, a medium-temperature Loess soil sauna, cold baths, mist shower, massages and strigil treatments.  Sugamo: Tokyo Somei Onsen SakuraThe moment you cross the threshold, the Japanese-style garden will make you forget the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Here you will find luxurious facilities of eleven types of baths and three types of saunas, including natural hot springs rich in natural minerals, cypress indoor baths and open-air baths. Furthermore, in the bedrock bath, with natural stone the far infrared rays and negative ions enhance metabolism and have a soothing, relaxing and detoxifying effect.  Ogikubo: Nagomi no YuOnly a minute walk from Ogikubo Station, at Nagomi no yu, you can enjoy different types of natural hot springs seasonally along with the popular and rich in natural sodium chloride hot spring water sourced directly from Musashino, a rare occurrence within the city limits. There is also a healing spa with Finnish-style bedrock and hot-air saunas, a carbonated bath and a mist and minus ion sauna. 

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09.13.2018

In Spain, among the century-old oak forests of Navarre, there is a tree hotel where you can sleep among the branches in maximum comfort and literally immersed in nature. This is what the guys at Basoa Suitescall "barefoot luxury", something that is very easy to achieve at this tree boutique hotel featuring six hand-crafted wooden suites designed to preserve the beauty of the ecosystem that surrounds them, a veritable source of well-being for each guest. The Basoa Suites are located in Lizaso, between Pamplona and San Sebastian, in the heart of the Amati Oak Forest(Ultzama valley, Spain), a protected natural gem. The suites are all different and accurately designed in every single technical and aesthetic detail to minimize the impact and maximize the creation of a virtuous circle of beauty and well-being between man and nature.  The wood is processed with traditional, strictly artisan techniques: each wooden element at Basoa Suites, from the structures to the objects, is handmade. The Japanese shou sugi bantechnique, for instance, closes the pores of the wood through a careful burning of the surface that prevents water from penetrating and gives the wood a particular burnished color and an exceptional resistance to time and rain. The Italian shingle technique is a special cutting method turning the wood into thin slats.  Everything has been conceived combine refinement, comfort and sustainability: a dry toilet system to avoid the installation of pipes and drains into the forest, and there are elevated wooden walkways to prevent soil compaction, direct the traffic of people to the paths and ensure that the soil and plants do not suffer the impact of our presence. As for breakfast and dinner, they are delivered to your suite in a basket that you can pull up with a rope.  What's even more interesting, the goal of the founders is to bring the Basoa Suites experience to Italy. The project is called Tree Suitesand has been developed by Mikel Leyun Perez, a technician and craftsman in construction and woodworking, Claudia Marchesotti, an architect of Milan’s Polytechnic, Inaki Iroz Zalba, current manager of Basoa Suites, and geologist Leire Iribarren. Like Basoa, Tree Suites was born from the desire to offer the pleasure of being immersed in nature through the use of innovative design and natural materials. Home automation will also come into the picture to minimize energy consumption through a specially developed open source system. Everything will be built in collaboration with local artisans and companies sharing the same values ​​and goals of the project.  

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09.03.2018

In the Vinazze vineyard at Tenuta San Michele, a few kilometers from Syracuse, Sicily, sits a milestone reminiscent of a date and a fact that have changed history: the armistice between the Kingdom of Italy and the Allied army on 3 September 1943, following the landing of the Allies in Sicily. On that date, Sicily once again turned into the heart of the Mediterranean and of Italian history, and it all happened in the mansion of the Grande family, where aristocracy, taste and openness to the world have come together for generations. This summer buen retiro for intellectuals, nobility and notables from nearby Syracuse, Noto, and Modica had a special hostess: Coraly Grande Sinatra, a brilliant woman who lived through the twentieth century travelling and devoting herself to art and women’s rights.Her name and her story, imbued with style, elegance and intelligence are all reflected in the Donna Coraly resort, brought back to its rustic and aristocratic splendour by the niece of Coraly Grande Sinatra, Lucia Pascarelli. The five suites, enriched by majolica tiles, lava stone, antique furniture and modern and contemporary art, are all housed in the villa set in an ancient farmhouse dating back to the fifteenth century, protected by a moat and walls as was once typical of the local rural architecture. Each room has direct access to the bio-pond, the swimming pool and the botanical garden.In perfect harmony with the surrounding nature, the huge garden houses a large variety of Mediterranean plants dotted with exotic and tropical species. A large carob tree indicates the road to the Hortus Conclusus where aromatic plants, vegetables and fruits grow.The surroundings offer endless opportunities to discover some of the island’s most unique places, from the marine protected areas of Cavagrande, Plemmirio and Vindicari to the beaches of Fontane Bianche and San Lorenzo. The baroque gems of Noto, Ortigia and Syracuse with its art and the magnificence of the Greek Theater are just some of the possible destinations just over 15 minutes from the resort that will allow you to experience the many nuances of Sicily through its rich history, warm hospitality, and powerful nature. 

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08.24.2018

This is not a restaurant.It takes Magritte's surrealism to describe Vespertine, the new idea of ​​Jordan Kahn, “best new chef of 2017” according to Food & Wine. A dinner at Vespertine overcomes the trite definition of “experience” and verges towards that of an event which takes place in a space and a time that are utterly unforgettable.  As for the space, Vespertine is housed inside a building without walls, a corrugated glass enclosure covered with a steel grid that earned it the nickname of “The Waffle”. It was designed by Eric Owen Moss, the architect behind the most innovative and futuristic buildings of Culver City, the LA suburb where Vespertine is located. Moss first came to Culver City when it was a ghost towndue to the relocation of the film studios, including Metro Goldwin Mayers which had had  its main production center here since the 1920s, in the 1970s and 1980s.  Starting from the 1990s, the city began to attract a new pioneering population of artists, creative professionals and start-uppers, including Moss himself, who created a series of hot spots. Following this wave, Jordan Kahn launched Destroyer, a unique bistro with a sci-fi aesthetics designed by Kahn, and later Vespertine (2014), a space which is a veritable swirl of inspirations and references: from the sculptures hanging in the large foyer to the elevator and the steel tables with a transparent acrylic top in the 22-seat dining room.Music is also a crucial element in Jordan Kahn's staging: it marks time and changes according to the space. For instance, strange and disharmonic sounds accompany patrons accessing the foyer, so that once inside they will have an immediate feeling of relief, landing in a pleasant elsewhere. The elevator is the only silent place, being the transit space that leads first to the roof, where guests are invited to enjoy snacks, and then to the restaurant hall.  Dinner is a very structured 18-course ritual, with dishes that are hard to identify at first glance, with unpredictable but sharp flavors. Everything contributes to taking guests to another dimension, where everything feels alien, including the waiters dressed in uniforms designed by Brooklyn, NY based designer, Jona Sees. Because choosing Vespertine means losing one’s bearings and getting away from the usual trendsto indulge in a sequence of gestures that activate all five senses. In the world of Jordan Kahn, food becomes the leitmotif of a story experienced individually in another world: could there be anything more appropriate for a restaurant in the city of Angels and cinema? 

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08.16.2018

Salad, avocado, eggs, coffee and Vegemite, not necessarily in this order: if this is what you’re about to eat, then you can be sure that this is an Aussie breakfast, basically ‘the new brunch’, a combo of healthy, tasty and beautifulfood that is delicious as well as perfectly instagrammable. After all, breakfast is essential for an authentic Australian lifestyle: in the land of kangaroos people get up early and eat light and nutritious food that will help them do some physical exercise. Nature is the context, the source, the inspiration of a cuisine that betrays the complex and hybridized character of its own roots: eggs from the British breakfast, local fish, veggies and avocados and flavors and spices from Asia and the Pacific Ocean and of Asia, with the occasional Mediterranean influence. Avocado is king: served in the form of a sauce, sliced, diced, in a salad or on toasted bread, it is ubiquitous. Eggs are also a must, mostly poached or scrambled. Seasonal fruits and vegetables(ideally fresh and locally-sourced) are the ingredients of colorful, luxurious salads mixed with quinoa or cereals. Corn pancakesare the quintessential Australian dish, a homely taste that often accompanies Aussie breakfast even in New York and London, to intrigue newbies and feed the nostalgia of the expats. Vegemite, a salt-based spreadable yeast cream whose taste is hardly describable, serves the same purpose. Finally, coffee is preferably 'flat white', i.e. black with milk foam. Australian bistros and cafés around the world often recreate the warm relaxed feel of Ocean beach life, offering breakfast at any time of the day. 

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08.13.2018

Legend has it that summer in the city is not an option, especially when the sea is just too far away to allow for a day trip to escape the heat and the boredom of an empty town. But is it really like that? Since smart working has become a thing, summer in the city in more a trend than a taboo, and above all an occasion to experience another face of the city, a milder, quieter one, enjoying new spaces such as urban beaches on lake and riverbanks. Here is a tentative list of some of the most intriguing European urban beaches. Paris Plages, ParisFrom 2002, every summer for a whole month a real beach appears along the Seine.On the Rive Droite, between the Louvre and Pont de Sully, between July and August Parisians can walk barefoot on the sand, catch a tan, relax, enjoy a drink or an ice-cream and plenty of summer night events. AFK Canary Wharf, LondonWith such a harsh weather all year long, the British definitely know how to take advantage of every single ray of sunshine. In East London, in the shade of the skyscrapers that have changed the skyline of the British capital at the turn of the millennium, a sandy beach with volleyball fields appears every summer to offer kids and adults the opportunity to play summer sports. Nearby Kerb Food Market is yet another perk: drop by at lunch break or for street food snacks at any time. HamburgEurope’ second major port has some truly remarkable beaches along river Elbe. With the first sunny days of spring, tons of sand are carried to the banks to create an artificial sandy shore dotted with deck chairs where you can relax and have a drink. There is a beach for every taste: from the laid-back Strand Paulito the sophisticated Hamburg City Beach Club. WarsawThere are almost 300 kilometers between Warsaw and the sea, but luckily river Vistula, which crosses the heart of the city, has plenty of natural bays that have gradually been turned into beaches. Here, the nights are all about music and DJ sets, whereas daytime it is for sunbathing (when sunny) in the company of deer, elks and wild boarsliving in the woods that border the beach and the river. Vienna Part of the river flood control system, the Donauinselis a 21-kilometer artificial island created on the urban stretch of the Danube that has become the ideal destination for those who want to escape from the city and relax in nature. Pebble and sandy beaches, long cycle paths and barbecue areasare available to citizens only a few minutes ride from their offices. PragueThere are three artificial beaches in Prague. Vltava Beachis the closest to the center: famous for hosting swans and ducks, it is a great place for swimming or going for a boat ride along the river with a view of St. Charles Bridge, one of the symbols of the city. Smìchov Beachis located on the Vltava river: 700 tons of sand provide ample space to relax and enjoy every single ray of sunshine, taking advantage of the volleyball, basketball and badminton courts during the day and of the many events scheduled for the evening. Artificiallake Lhotais an oasis of nature and quiet just a few kilometers away from the city. Blijburg Aan Zee, AmsterdamBIiijburg, in the south-east of the city, is one of the latest neighborhoods created in Amsterdam, where the houses sit on artificial islands. The young and bohemian feel of this place is the same that you can breathe on the sandy beach created to offer its inhabitants a vibrant summery place of leisure, open to everyone. Vicenza (Italy)In this small gem of a city designed in the 16th century by notorious architect Andrea Palladio, Bacchiglione river makes its way between ancient palaces and bridges with a Venetian flavour. One of its larger bends houses a small sandy beach equipped with deckchairs, a bar and a children’s playground, for a unique cocktail of seaside relaxation and urban beauty. Arena Badeschiff, BerlinEvery summer, a large platform of over 1,400 square meters moored on the Spree becomes Berlin's favorite beach, with heated swimming pools, a solarium, bars and small restaurants. The view includes the Oberbaum bridge (1724), once the longest bridge in Berlin, which connects Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, and the famous television tower. Geneva (Switzerland)Even the most informal space in Geneva has an elegant allure. This is the case of the famous Bains de Paquis, on the banks of the lake: a historic urban bathing establishment created in 1872 and renovated in Art Deco style in the 1930s, which now houses a leisure and refreshment area at affordable prices.  

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08.06.2018

It was just a matter of time. Hawaiian poké, a dish based on raw marinated fish, was destined to become just another food trend and to turn from traditional and daily food from the Pacific archipelago into an object of desire for foodies worldwide. Let's start from the beginning, though: poké stands for poh-kay, or diced, and it refers to raw fish, which used to be eaten this way long before Westerners landed in Hawaii. The first poké was in fact simple raw fish freshly caught, diced and marinated in sesame oil and shoyu (soy sauce), under the influence of Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine, witnessing the constant cultural exchanges on that side of the Pacific. Its next version, ahi shoyu poké, is the perfect expression of the encounter between the Western tradition and the local culture that took place at the end of the 18th century. Thanks to the new naval fleets, Hawaiians were able to catch yellow fin tuna (ahi) in the deepest seas, far from the coast. They mixed it with onions, chillies, seaweeds and toasted inmonawalnuts, rich in mineral salts and oils and originating from the Moluccas archipelago, Philippines. The contemporary evolution of poké arises from the contact with the taste of urban tribes from around the world: from Los Angeles to Paris, from Milan to London, there is no lifestyle capital where poké bowls do not proliferate with their unique mix of taste, freshness and healthiness. The variations are endless, both concerning fish, marinades, and the additional rice and seasonal vegetables which turned poké into a perfect one-course meal.  The trend originated from James King's Sons of Thunderin New York, with its special marinades, and SweetFin Pokéin Los Angeles, where the bowls include additional ingredients from all over the Pacific area. In Milan, poké bowls can be tasted at Pokeiawhere chef Vincenzo Mignuolo offers his own variations coupled mixologist Flavio Angiolillo’s cocktails. AhiPoké Londonhas now spread throughout the city, bringing the Hawaiian bowl from Fitzrovia to Spitafields and Victoria.In Paris, Nativesis a great address in the emerging neighborhood around Canal St. Martin, with five available set menus including freshly pressed juices.  Yet if you were to ask the Hawaiians, they would definitely say that the only place in the world where to taste the authentic poké are their own islands, where it can be found anywhere from  convenience stores to tiny kiosks, as history teaches us: as a matter of fact, its global rise to success started from the Tamashiro supermarket in Honolulu back in the 1970s. 

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08.03.2018

The Clifton is a charming hotel housed inside a complex of 18th century villas set in an old 100 acre estate just a few minutes from Charlottesville, Virginia, where you can breathe the history of the United States, especially that of its third president Thomas Jefferson, philosopher and author of the Declaration of Independence. The Clifton is actually housed inside the villa that was built for the President’s daughter, Martha Jefferson, and her husband Thomas Mann Randolph in 1799, and other 4 villas built between the end of the 18thand the beginning of the 19thcentury. Each of its 20 private room has its own character, but they all share a harmonious combination of antique furniture and modern decorations, punctuated by a careful selection of contemporary works of art. The antique grand chandelier in the foyer welcomes the hotel’s guests to the majestic living room dotted with Chesterfield sofas and Bergéres armchairs, with its retro and relaxed elegance, and to the lounge. The copper cladding of the oak shelves is the distinctive element of the bar area, together with the large mirrors that enhance the light and make the velvet upholsteries vibrate, recalling the atmosphere a 1930s speakeasy. A large patio with glass windows running from the ceiling to the floor allows you to enjoy the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian range that runs from Pennsylvania to Georgia, with its typically sharp peaks. Michelin-starredchef Matthew Bousquet takes care of the ‘1799’ with his creative seasonal cuisine, served in different spaces according to the time of the day, so as to allow guests to enjoy every room with the best light. Bosquet offers his own interpretation of local dishes based on seasonal products mostly sourced from the restaurant’s own vegetable garden, accompanied by an excellent wine list and amazing cocktails. And as you sip on your drink at the large copper-covered oak bar counter, you will feel like you are travelling in time to the most refined and sophisticated soul of the US

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08.03.2018

Awa Odori, the Awa Dance Festival, originated approximately 400 years ago. Awa is the former name of Tokushima, in Shikoku.There is no single accepted theory about the origin of the festival, but at least three. Some maintain that the Awa Dance was first performed to celebrate the completion of Tokushima Castle.  Others argue it is a local variation of Bon-odori, the dance performed during O-bon, the Japanese Buddhist festival honouring the spirits of one’s ancestors. Finally, the third theory suggests that Awa Odori has roots in fūryūdance, which is also believed to be the source of Noh theatre. In the Edo period, the Tokushima clan feudal administration issued edicts that prohibited dancing due to public order concerns. Samurai were particularly forbidden to attend public celebrations, in order to prevent them from bringing shame on themselves with drunken skirmishes and misbehaviour. Hachisuka Ichigaku was imprisoned for participating in the Awa Dance Festival. However, prohibition could not kill the enthusiasm of the people of Awa for the festival. Awa Odori was patronised by wealthy merchants who became key players in the cultural exchange between Awa and the rest of the country, contributing to the rhythm of the Awa Dance with songs and dances from elsewhere. There are two styles of Awa Odori: otoko-odori(male dancing), which is dynamic and ludicrous, and onna-odori(female dancing), which is seductive and elegant. The dancers form teams called renand compete against one another. Awa Odori begins in the evening, when men,women and children take to the streets and fill the venue with music, dances and excitement, to the rhythm of the songAwa Yoshikono, played on shamisenand taikodrums.The main spectacle takes place every evening from 6 to 10. Daytime performances will be held in different stage areas around the city centre. On 11th August, the Asty Tokushima Indoor Arena will host a pre-festival show with the most celebrated dancing teams. There is an entrance fee for the performances, with free and reserved seats. Additionally, a dance hall will be set up, where tourists will be offered the opportunity to learn the basics of Awa Odori.A video of the 2017 edition is viewable here.   

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07.26.2018

Yoron Island: YurigahamaYurigahama is a beautiful beach floating lightly about 1.5km off the coast of Ōganeku, in the town of Yoron, Ōshima district, Kagoshima prefecture. Yurigahama has been nicknamed “the ghost beach”, since it is a long, white sandbank only appearing at low tide in spring and summer. It is a mesmerising earthly paradise, with pure white sand and emerald green waters, glittering in the sunlight. Legend has it you will have good luck and happiness for as many years as the star-shaped sand grains you collect. Shikine Island: Tomari BeachTomari Beach can be easily reached by a three-hour speed boat ride from Tokyo. Tomari Beach, which is a five-minute walk from Nobushi port, is a cove where rocks surround the white beach emphasising the blue of the clear, shallow water, where fish are also visible. Shikine Islandis very well known for its hot springs and there are three outdoor baths open 24 hours a day, free of charge. One of the most representative hot springs of the island is Jinata Onsen, which is a highly regarded for internal medicine, due to its efficacy in the treatment of neuralgia and poor circulation. Ashitsuki Onsen has a reputation for its healing efficacy on cuts, scrapes and other wounds. Finally, Matsugashita Miyabiyu makes a nice soak regardless of the tide. Shizuoka: the beaches of ShimodaShimoda is a town located on the Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka prefecture, at a three-hour train ride from Tokyo. Shimoda is famous for its nine beautiful beaches, especially for the beautiful white sand of ShirahamaNagata Beach is a small and quiet beach protected by stone breakwaters, extending in Shirahama Chūō, along the National Route 135 running southwards in the Izu Peninsula from Odawara to Shimoda. On Nagata Beach barbecues are also allowed. If you are looking for clear waters, gentle waves and tranquillity, Sotoura is the place to goKujuppama is a little known beach. Hidden by the hills, which prevent cars from entering the quite area, Kujuppama has a pleasantly private feeling to it. Nabetahama Beachis the closest beach to Shimoda, frequented by locals, especially children, since it lies in the arm of the bay and the waves are consequently calm. Tatado Beach is famous for surfing. Also a popular destination for surfers throughout the year, Iritahama has the appearance of a tropical beach, with sago palm trees lining up along the shore. Other enchanting beaches in Shimoda include Kisami Ohama and Tōji. Kōchi: KatsurahamaKatsurahama is an arch-shaped beach extending between the Ryozu Cape and the Ryuo Cape. It is one of the best scenic spots in Kōchi prefecture, with green pines, deep blue skies and colourful pebbles. It is also a wonderful moon viewing spot. A famous statue of samurai Sakamoto Ryōma stands near the beach. The area around the beach is part of the Katsurahama Park, with the Katsurahama Aquarium and The Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum. Hateruma: NishinohamaNishinohama is located onthe southernmost tip of Japan, at about a one-hour speed boat ride from Ishigaki Island, Okinawa prefecture. Its perfect beauty almost seems computer-generated. It is not hard to believe, therefore, that it Nishinohama has been elected the best beach in the world, with white sand beach stretching for 1 km and emerald green water. On the inside of the reef, the sea is calm and very pleasant to swim in. Outside, you can go snorkelling and enjoy the spectacle of the aquatic life, with corals and fishes of all colours. The beach is covered in soft sand, where you can walk without hurting your feet.If you are not partial to swimming, snorkelling or walking, you can just lie on the sand in total idleness. Nishinohama is ideal for that purpose, too. 

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07.25.2018

Tiziana Alamprese's love for Tokyo was born well before she decided to move permanently to the Japanese capital twelve years ago, when she took on the role of Marketing Director at Fiat Auto Japan.Born in Potenza, Italy, and currently the Marketing Director of Fiat Chrysler Japan, Tiziana told us that she has been fascinated by Japanese Zen culture since high school, when she first read Heidegger's dialogue with a Japanese disciple from the collection of philosophical essays On The Way To Language. She later graduated at Naples’ University of Oriental Languages specializing in Japanese history, language, economy and law, earned a master's degree in economics at Kyushu University, in Fukuoka, and decided she would someday go back to Japan. As a European woman manager, how do you feel you are perceived in the Japanese work environment?TA: Just like in Italy, the work environment in Japan can sometimes be hostile to women, especially to a "foreigner”. Emancipation requires creativity, professionalism, a clarity of vision and mission, knowledge of the local culture and language, and ideally a shoulder to cry on, someone as “foreign” as yourself to encourage you. Although I had to face many difficulties and challenges through my 13-year-long path, I think I managed to make my own difference a strong pointat workDo you ever find yourself in trouble juggling with the complex rules of Japanese etiquette either at work or in social contexts?TA: My solid knowledge of the local culture and language makes it easier for me to follow the rules and convivial rituals of Japan, but occasionally I do make mistakes too! Truth be told, the Japanese forgive easilyand they even have fun watching us clumsy Westerners. I actually believe it’s a shame that they pretend they not to notice our shortcomings, because being told would help us learn from mistakes. Anyway, the best strategy is to apologize with a deep bow and to join in the hopefully benevolent laughter that your mistake aroused. In case your Japanese interlocutor looks offended and does not smile, escape is the only option! Why, in your opinion, do the Japanese love Italy so much?TA: I have my own personal theory about it: I believe the Japanese are "inherently Italian". You can see it for yourself by entering any place where friends, colleagues or strangers gather to sing, laugh, hug and dance without inhibitions. Alcohol is only the “conductive medium” of this expansiveness, which the Japanese love to attribute to the Italians but which is actually also inherent in their DNA! In short, the true reason of their love for Italy is not to be found only in their profound appreciation for our food, fashion, style, design, art and beauty (all of which also abound in Japan), nor does it reside solely in the obvious similarities between our territories (the volcanoes, the earthquakes, the four seasons), but it lies mostly in the same "joie de vivre"that we Italians express freely and the Japanese tend to keep more controlled to comply with the local rules of social behavior. What do you particularly like about Japanese culture and the national character?TA: Their curiosity and the ability to be amazedlike little children by any new discovery, even the smallest one, expressing this amazement without shame, at any age and in every context, even in front of complete strangers. Another thing that always strikes me is how they can always tell those little details that reveal true beauty, which sometimes we Italians completely miss. Can you outline your sentimental map of the city?TA: The neighborhood of Hiroo, which is the area where I saw my daughter grow up from six to eighteen. Our walks in Arisugawa park, which is beautiful in every season, and of our beloved sushi restaurant. Sunday mornings in Harajuku along the famous Takeshita street, shopping for clothes or accessories inspired by metropolitan subcultures with my teenage daughter, and always ending up finding something for me too! The outstanding contemporary art exhibits at Mori Museum, on the 52nd floor of the Roppongi Hills complex, combined with a breathtaking view of Tokyo that never fails to amaze. The occasional visits to the beautiful Nezu museum of ancient art in Minami Aoyama, and the contemplation of the changing seasons in its magical garden.Celebrating the new year at the impressive Meiji Shinto templeor at the magnificent Zojo-ji Buddhist temple. Spending gloomy winter Sundays at one of the fantastic city spaswith thermal water pools and restaurants. And finally, my Tokyo nights in Shinjuku, the city’s most exciting neighborhood, vibrating with excesses and contradictions, neon lights, and a unique mix of transgression, kitsch, beauty and ugliness, perfectly bended like its massively consumed cocktails. A perfect evening in Shinjuku always ends with a walk in the Golden Gai, a maze of alleys and tiny clubs where you can drink a sake offered in a small bar by a mama-sanand feel at home in the company of perfect strangers. Which non-touristy places should we absolutely visit when in Tokyo?TA: I love the Yamanote, the legendary 35-kilometer railway line that runs through all the 23 Tokyo districts in a circular path around the untouchable and sacred space of the Imperial Gardens. A proper tour of Tokyo tour should include all of its 23 "cities in the city". In the shade of the glittering skyscrapers that continue to rise and bring the city closer to the sky, every neighborhood has preserved its identityin the alleys, in the old houses and cafes run by old ladies, in the markets and in the temples, in the amazing gardens, in the traditional food and sake culture. Walking from one district to another is also a very pleasant experience. I recommend strolling from Ueno Park to Nippori through the ancient district of Yanaka, which looks very much like Kyoto! To see the city from a different point of view, I suggest boarding the boat that connects Asakusa to Odaiba, the modern district literally built on reclaimed land, and stopping at Hamarikyu gardens, a green oasis on the backdrop of the Shiodome skyscrapers, for a cup of matchain the old tea house. Is the excitement for the 2020 Olympics tangible? Do you think it will be a good opportunity for the city?TA:There has already been a very positive effect on all business areas, but I think it will be even more interesting to see how the event impacts society. This is a great opportunity for Japan, as it could foster the adoption of more advanced policies in terms of equal opportunities and same-sex marriage. After all, diversity is the theme of the 2020 Olympics! Tell us a bit about your relationship with Japanese cuisine.TA:Even after 12 years of living here and intensely exploring the city, Tokyo continues to amaze me and has me caught in a spell of continuous discoveries of every kind, but above all gastronomic ones! I simply love Japanese cuisine, which I consider the best one in the world along with the Italian one. I recommend trying everything - sushi, soba, teppanyaki, tempura, yakitori, robatayaki, kushiaki, and of course the vegetarian cuisine of the Zen temples.  
 
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