This Month on Maction Planet – January 2024

I am predicting that 2024 will be the most visited year for Japan in human history. How did we begin this historic period in the land of the rising fun? Let’s find out! SPOILER ALERT: It was our busiest January ever!

Featured Image: The Mori Art Museum is holding ‘Our Ecology: Toward a Planetary Living’, an exhibit that runs until 31 March 2024. Daring creativity meets critical global discourse at this thought-provoking exhibition. Julian Charrière’s ‘Controlled Burn’ ignites the conversation with an arresting journey across aeons. From the primal spark that birthed the cosmos 13 billion years ago to the fiery engines powering our current epoch, Charrière’s work leads us through the flames of history. His installation unfurls a visual narrative of humanity’s monumental and often disruptive touch on Earth — mines invade geological calm, oil rigs puncture the ocean’s depths, and coal plants etch their smoky signature on the sky. This is an expression with a purpose: a mirror reflecting the smouldering uncertainties of tomorrow. As I stood before the expansive installation, captured masterfully in a photo by Yayu Wang, I was reminded of the power of art as a beacon in these turbulent times. The image is more than just a display; it’s a call to reflection. Immersed in Charrière’s chronicle, we confront a poignant question: What future are we kindling with today’s flames?

Here’s me, just after midnight on New Year’s Day, partaking in the age-old tradition of Hatsumode – the first shrine or temple visit of the year – at Ebisu Shrine. Amidst an orderly line of happy, hopeful faces I offered prayers for world peace and prosperity for all. I left feeling invigorated, ready to embrace the year’s promise. May the universe bestow its favour on us all. Happy New Year – and here’s to the adventures awaiting on Maction Planet!

I wasn’t the only one doing Hatsumode. Here’s the scene at Sensoji on 3 January at 17:00!

Remember these legends? Our time together ended on 3 January after ten days of incredible adventures. Cannot wait for their return to Japan!

I caught wind of a comedy treat – Ron Funches was in town and set to light up Tokyo Comedy Bar on 5 January! With a few precious seats left, I managed to swing by post-guiding to catch the star from Comedy Central, Trolls, Black-ish and Curb Your Enthusiasm live. The support was awesome too. A devastatingly good time was had by all!

5 January was a great day: Godzilla has roared into an unexpected alliance with McDonald’s, unleashing the “Godzilla Burgers.” This inaugural mash-up presents a trio of themed burgers—the fiery Thick Beef & Chunky Potatoes Burger, the Smoky Pepper Chicken Burger, and the terrible Cheese Double Teriyaki Burger. Unique packaging adorned with Godzilla’s formidable visage wraps up these monstrous “culinary” offerings. Best part – seeing the Metro Hat at Roppongi Hills adorned with a giant Godzilla!

15 January was designated at Coming of Age Day in 1945, and since 2000 it has been celebrated on the second Monday of January. Meiji Jingu laid on a unique ceremony shrouded in tradition which my guest Ivy enjoyed – one morning only! I love adding these ‘limited edition’ moments into our tours.

Ivy was my guest on 7 and 8 January. She was in Tokyo for two days, entrusted them to Maction Planet, and came away seeing more than she would have done in a week alone… never rushed, never hurried and always having fun. Her words, not mine. It was an absolute honour to be a part of her Tokyo experience.

Tama’s Chocolate Orange Porter, one of Sakamichi Brewing’s most popular seasonal beers, was back in its fourth Sakamichi incarnation! Long-term Maction Planet and Kanpai Planet fans know that I am a huge fan of this brew and eagerly await its return every year. Chocolate orange is a traditional taste of Christmas in the UK, from which this beer takes its inspiration. English chocolate malt provides the base and two big additions of fresh orange zest add a festive twist. 6% ABV. 35 IBU. Devastatingly good, and well worth the journey to Tachikawa!

Speaking of the year… it’s the Year of the Dragon! I guided in Kyoto for three days from 15-17 January and went dragon hunting with my guests!

This particular painting, ‘Twin Dragons’ by Junsaku Koizumi, commemorates the 800-year anniversary of the founding of the Kenninji Temple. It was installed in April 2002 and measures 11.4m by 15.7m. It was created in the gymnasium of an elementary school in Hokkaido and took the artist just under two years to complete!

On Saturday 20 Janaury, Aloha Whisky Rising held their Thank You Nomihoudai – available to everyone who had taken part in one of their events. Much love to Stefan Van Eycken and David Tsujimoto for everything they do for the Japan Whisky community… and beyond. Kanpai!

I spent two days with Leah and Eddie as part of their honeymoon. So much fun. Here is a mere moment in our adventures together – enjoying the freshest sushi at the Tsukiji Outer Market!

The Kanpai Planet x Venture Whisky x Chichibu Tourism collaboration Chichibu Tour was a huge success!

On 25 and 26 January, our guests in a luxurious hotel jumped on a privately hired train, went bar hopping around Chichibu, and visited the normally closed-to-the-public Chichibu Distillery. We also included a free bottle of highly coveted Ichiro’s Malt whisky on the house!

There are still spaces on our 7-9 February tour: Visit the Chichibu Distillery and explore Chichibu in-depth, including a Nagatoro River Cruise, drinks coaster making, BBQ lunch, sake brewery tour and tasting, stunning icicle landscapes, wonderful meals… and much more! PLUS – you get a bottle of the devastatingly good 2022 52 Seats of Happiness Single Malt Japanese Whisky.

Reserve your spots here!

Mary and family were back in Japan. We spent 2.5 days together touring in 2023, and they have already booked their 2025 trip and Maction Planet will once again be a part of it. Thank you to all your repeat guests for their continuous support!

And finally, I’m back… on Kanpai Planet that is! Join me on a visit to Maoi, an innovative whisky distillery in the tranquil Hokkaido plains, embracing its winemaking roots to create unique Japanese craft whiskies. Maoi pushes the envelope of whisky-making with sake yeast strains and homegrown ingredients. CEO Tetsu Murata shares their pioneering methods, including an ageing process in a fallout shelter that ensures exceptional quality with minimal loss. We’ll sample Maoi’s impressive spirits, discuss their philosophy of prioritizing quality through long-aged whiskies, and reveal how they’re pioneering with unusual cask types, from IPA to potentially sake barrels. Experience Maoi’s story, commitment to excellence, and stunning views on Kanpai Planet. Cheers to innovation and taste—Kanpai!

Maction Planet runs bespoke Private Tours and Experiences in Tokyo, and beyond. To book yours, or to purchase a gift card, contact us at info@mactionplanet.com

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