- On 19th February 2019
- In This Week in Tokyo
This Week in Tokyo – 19 February 2019
The latest edition of This Week in Tokyo – a review of the Maction Planet week that was and a look ahead to what’s coming up in and beyond the city. Check out photos from our tours and read insights into our explorations as we get under the skin of the World’s Greatest Metropolis, and beyond. This week’s edition is hosted by Mac, our Founder and Lead Guide. This week: Henn-na Hotel Receptionists; Chivas Regal Mizunara; The Four Seasons of Edo; Screw Cap Kinnikuman and “CHIYODA – Yes, We love.”!
Henn-na Hotel receptionists: H.I.S hospitality group have been steadily growing their Henn-na (weird) Hotel chain. This photo is of the Ginza branch. The hotel opened on 1 February 2018 and was the first of its kind in central Tokyo. It is a typical modern Japanese business hotel with 98 functional rooms. However, as well as the robot staff, the Henn-na Hotel rooms come with a few futuristic features such as smartphone operation for air-conditioning, lights, television and room entry and a robotic steam press for removing wrinkles and odours from clothes. I have picked up several groups of guests from the Henn-na Hotel and I find it a bizarre mix of fun, disconcerting and awe-inspiring. Whatever your feelings about our new robot overlords, it is very Tokyo!
Chivas Regal Mizunara: In October 2014 Chivas Regal released the world’s first Scotch whisky to be selectively finished in Japanese Mizunara oak casks. The 12-year aged whisky was released exclusively for the Japanese market. That remains the case, but a ‘no age statement’ version is now available in some select markets elsewhere. The gari (ginger) Master Belnder Colin Scott tried at a sushi bar in Ginza during a trip to Japan was allegedly the inspiration for this whisky. Mizunara is a type of oak native to Hokkaido and known for its high moisture content (the name is a portmanteau of mizu (water) and nara (oak).It is rich in vanillin, an organic compound that forms vanilla. Due to its rarity, Mizunara oak-aged releases cost more on a like-for-like basis, as a mizunara puncheon costs around ¥500,000 and is extremely difficult to source (even here in Japan) compared to other typical oak casks used in whisky maturation. This is further compounded by the fact that tradition dictates that Mizunara can only be made into casks if the oak itself is at least 200 years old! The Chivas Regal distillery is located in Keith, Moray in Speyside, Scotland and claims to be the oldest operating Highland distillery, founded in 1786. The whisky itself is a blend of malt and grain whiskies. So, how does it taste? Exquisite. Generally, the flavours you should be looking for from mizunara are sandalwood, coconut, and a type of oriental incense named kara. These all come through, along with pear and orange notes, honey and traces of hazelnuts. A long finish with an unmistakable touch of subtle Mizunara spice awaits you. Kanpai!
The Four Seasons of Edo: This incredible ceramic relief, 3.3m high x 14m long, was designed by prominent Nihonga painter Tamako Kataoka (1905-2008). It was created in 1978 to celebrate the opening of Sunshine City. At that time, the relief was placed at the underground main entrance to the main building. When the building was renovated it was moved to ground level and placed outside the west entrance to the building. An unveiling ceremony for the work was held on 15 January 2016. The title “Four Seasons in Edo” came first – it was decided that this would be a suitable title for a work to celebrate this new Tokyo landmark. Kataoka was then given the title and given free reign. She is most well known for her series of paintings of Mount Fuji and other mountains, so it seems fitting that Mt Fuji, which she describes as “the guardian god of Tokyo”, featured in this incredible work which was created when she was 73 years old! I love taking guests there whether our focus is the otaku culture, art or the trademark Maction Planet mix of everything
Screw Cap Kinnikuman: You have until 27 February 2019 to complete the current Kinnikuman JR East Stamp Rally. Kinnikuman (キン肉マン) is a manga created by the Yoshinori Nakai and Takashi Shimada, a duo known known as Yudetamago. Originally published in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1979 to 1987, it was adapted by Toei Animation into a 137-episode anime. Since then it has spawned spin-off manga and anime series, video games and an arsenal of merchandise. 7 stations of stamp rallying will get an exclusive sheet of stickets. Visiting all 63 Greater Tokyo JR East stations which are participating will get a “Complete Box” of 4 Kinnikuman figures. Make sure Ebisu Station is one of your stops – this screw cap Kinnikuman is the scene that greets you there!
“CHIYODA – Yes, We love.”: In Tokyo you have to look down, as well as up, to catch those small details that make this the World’s Greatest Metropolis. In this case it is the posts in Chiyoda-ku by the train tracks to Yurakucho that caught my guest Diane’s eagle eye!