This Month on Maction Planet – November 2023

After the excitement of the Rugby World Cup 2023, which I attended in September and October in France, in was straight back into it for a packed November. How packed? Guiding every day for at least 12 hours per day! Here’s my attempt to distil the fun, energy and adventure into one blog post!

Featured image: Many of my guests are Godzilla fans – perhaps some self-selection at play given my well-documented love of the King of the Monsters. Few are able to coincide their trip with a new Godzilla movie theatrical release! Godzilla Minus One comes highly recommended by us all.

Postwar Japan has lost everything – a zero state of unprecedented despair. Godzilla turns up and plunges the country into negative territory. The compelling narrative paid homage to the classic Godzilla lore while giving a fresh take on the mythology. The real magic, though, was sharing the intrigue and excitement of this experience with my guests.

Under the watchful gaze of the god Ebisu, an iconic fixture at Ebisu Station, I began the month guiding Tanya and Nils. Fast-forward from their first tour with me in April 2018, we continued our deep dive into the distinctive nightlife of Tokyo. From one vibrant venue to another, each location offered a unique slice of Japan’s eclectic after-dark culture – from funky pubs to pulsing bars. Their thirst for adventure made this whirlwind night tour a true night to remember!

Kanpai Planet has always been as much about the stories associated with Japan’s drinks as it has been about the liquid itself.

In that vein… it was an honour to meet Tracey Niimi, one of Hawaii’s top photographers and creator of the Aloha Whisky Single Cask Tsunuki label. I loved chatting with him about the photo, photography, whisky, and more. Until next time, Kanpai!

What an incredible 2023 Online Scotch Whisky Awards Ceremony! It was a true honour to once again be part of the OSWAs – created by the whisky community for the whisky community. Watch to find out who won, and see if you can spot my guest appearance vignette along the way!

I had the immense pleasure of hosting Mark, Paul, and Tara for an epic 16-day journey across Japan. While the majority of my bookings typically range between 2-4 days focused on the pulsating heart of Tokyo, there’s something undoubtedly special about these expansive pan-Japan tours. Guiding visitors through the diverse splendor of the entire country, from the World’s Greatest Metropolis to the serene landscapes of rural Japan, is a truly enriching experience. It’s an incredible joy to share the rich tapestry of cultural, historical, and natural attractions that Japan has to offer.

Journeying with my guests over an extended period allows us to dive deeper, exploring off-the-beaten-path treasures and immersing ourselves into the local flavors of each region we visit. It’s amazing how much more profound our shared understanding and bond with Japan’s heritage becomes on this journey. These pan-Japan tours aren’t just about sightseeing – they’re about experiencing life throughout Japan, its people, its traditions, its food, one unforgettable day at a time.

An enriching experience that truly exemplifies the spirit of our pan-Japan tours unfolded at the renowned Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo. It was an evening soaked in tradition and camaraderie, shared with Paul, a former judoka himself.

The hallowed halls of Kodokan, often referred to as the spiritual home of Judo, buzzed with an infectious energy. Watching beginner and experienced Judokas on the mat, their movements a mesmerizing balance of strength and fluidity, was an awe-inspiring sight. But, the spark in Paul’s eyes – a testament to his passion for this martial art – truly made the evening exceptional.

As we delved deeper into understanding Judo’s philosophy and techniques, I was reminded of the profound experiences that our tours provide. Moments like these make the job incredibly rewarding – connecting with guests on a personal level and diving headfirst into the core of Japan’s vibrant culture.

From Tokyo we headed to Kanazawa – famous for Kenrokuen, known as one of Japan’s “three most beautiful landscape gardens”. As we meandered through the meticulously designed paths, each turn revealed a new scenery palette – tranquil water features, centuries-old trees, graceful stone bridges, and elegant teahouses. It was vividly apparent why Kenrokuen is celebrated as the quintessence of Japanese garden design. Experiencing the serene magic of Kenrokuen with Mark, Paul and Tara was indeed a highlight of the tour. Regardless of where our journey took us, we found shared joy in exploring Japan’s diverse charm.

We do love wordplay in Japan. The “Lady Kaga” campaign, born on 10 October 2011 ingeniously captures attention leveraging the global popularity of music icon Lady Gaga.

As whimsical as it is, it’s not just about wordplay. “Lady Kaga” is a fabulous encapsulation of the region’s vibrant energy and its commitment to cultural preservation. It showcases the region’s unique arts, rich history, and stellar local cuisine, much like how Lady Gaga herself embodies a multifaceted and inspiring charisma.

This was my favourite photo from our day in Nara. ‘Nuff said!

Kosanji was founded by the Shingon monk and scholar Myoe in 1206. Through his frolicking with the high and mighty, he accumulated numerous artefacts that are now National Treasures, including the famous Choju-jinbutsu-giga (“Animal-Person Caricatures”) picture scroll, considered to be Japan’s oldest manga.

Great to see them homaged by Kyoto Beer Lab, one of my favourite haunts in Japan’s former capital.

Oh, and that Hojicha Stout is *INSERT CHEF’S KISS EMOJI HERE*

Miyajima was looking especially beautiful on the day we visited, which meant I could snap this ‘keeper’ shot of Tara and Paul with the floating torii behind them!

Embodying both natural grandeur and cultural significance, Mt. Fuji is a Japanese icon. However, despite standing at 3,776 metres tall, catching a clear glimpse of this majestic peak is a game of luck, making it, quite frankly, a tour guide’s nightmare.

BUT… when you see Mt. Fuji in all its grandeur it is a moment of serendipity that perfectly captures the capture Japan’s inherent balance between beauty and mystery.

So it was very fitting that we caught this view as everyone was heading to the airport, having failed to see the Fuji from the train to Odawara the previous day due to very strong winds.

Thank you to Mark, Paul and Tara for choosing Maction Planet.

The day after I said goodbye to Mark, Pau and Tara I was straight back into it. Andrea and Ira booked an 8-hour tour with Maction Planet on the final day of their trip in Japan, and it was an honour to share with them my love for Tokyo….

Then, on 21 November, I went back to Kyoto to meet Renata and Jaime. Two-time Maction Planet guests – we previously toured together in November 2018 and November 2019 – but this was our first time together outside Greater Tokyo. This time they invited their good friends David and Simone along for this year’s two week ride across the country!

Here we are paying our respects to the god of sake at Matsunoo Taisha!

When a photographer as talented as Renata offers to take your photo in the world-famous Arashimaya Bamboo Forest, you do not refuse!

November was full of serendipity, and here is one example. Lisagail, Karen, Sam and Ted engaged me to consult on their time in Japan. I was already personally fully booked during the period they were in Japan, but we managed to meet for 30 minutes in Kyoto – one of the highlights of the last month. It was so motivating to hear about the great time they had had across the country. If you want us to do the same for you, check out our Japan Travel Planning options and then get in touch.

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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