This Week in Tokyo – 9 May 2023: 5th anniversary celebration!

It’s the 5th anniversary of ‘This Week in Tokyo’!

That’s right; it’s been five years since we first began a weekly roundup of the Maction Planet week that was and our look ahead to what’s coming up in and beyond the World’s Greatest Metropolis. 

We like celebrating anniversaries at Maction Planet. In this week’s edition, I wanted to take a look back at some ‘This Week in Tokyo’ milestones: the top five most-read posts of the last five years! You’ll notice a pattern – four of the five most popular ‘This Week in’s were not in Tokyo!

5 – Sado Island: The fifth most read ‘This Week in’ of all time comes from July 2021, and documents my time on magical Sado Island. Sado Island covers an area of 854.76 km2 and is the largest island off the coast of Honshu, the main island of Japan.

 The Toki (Japanese Crested Ibis) goes by the scientific name Nipponia nippon. In the past, this magnificent bird could be seen all across Japan, but due to overhunting and environmental pollution, their numbers plummeted until only a few remained. In 1952 the species was designated a Special Natural Monument, and in 1960 it was listed as an internationally protected species. Thanks to the work of places like the Toki no Mori, where this picture was taken, there are now 451 Toki, and the bird is a symbol of Sado Island.

    I was there to make Japanese sake at the Gakkogura Brewery School. You can follow that adventure in ‘Making Sake on Sado’ – the most in-depth documentary series about sake making ever produced.

    4 – Sasebo: In November 2021 I headed to Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture. I was there on a travel consulting mission, to help improve the tourism offering in the area. Sasebo (佐世保) is the second-largest city in Nagasaki Prefecture. Once a humble fishing village controlled by the Hirado Domain, things changed after the start of the Meiji period (1868-1912). Around this time Heihachiro Togo, Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy, founded Sasebo Navy District in 1886. Sasebo City as we know it today was founded on 1 April 1902.

    It was on neighbouring Kuroshima where I met Yuki, the incredible owner of Cafe Misaki. As well as running the cafe, she also bottles Kuroshima Mineral Water on-site from an underground well source 100m deep… water used to make Imo (Sweet Potato) Shochu which is only sold in her shop. The sweet potatoes used are grown on Kuroshima. She sells five different bottles of Shochu: 2 x 20% ABV, 2 x 25% ABV and 1 x 37% ABV. My love of shochu and supporting small businesses intersected, compounded by yesterday being Honkaku Shochu and Awamori Day. I bought the 37% bottle, called Bikou.

    3- Ishigaki, Iriomote and Taketomi Islands: One year earlier than my Sasebo adventure, I was even further south in Okinawa.

    The Yaeyama Islands are both the southernmost and westernmost inhabited islands of Japan. Together with the Miyako Islands and the Okinawa Islands, they make up the three main island chains of Okinawa Prefecture. Of the Yaeyama Islands, Ishigaki Island is the most populated and serves as the region’s transportation hub. Ishigaki is renowned for having the best diving in Japan. Amazing coral, diverse schools of fish and, most famous of all, the manta rays. This shot remains one of my favourite photos of me: in awe of a majestic manta ray gracefully swimming past.

    2- Tokyo: I happy that one of the top 5 most-read editions of ‘This Week in Tokyo’, as it was originally conceived, actually takes place in Tokyo itself! The star power of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek and author, model and Bond girl Daphne Deckers brought readers flocking to this post, which featured firefighting training, a priest parade, a packed train and a man walking a pig… a typical week in the World’s Greatest Metropolis!

    1- Yoshino: The most read edition of ‘This Week in’, by some margin, showcased my adventures in Yoshino in April 2022. Yoshino is a town in Japan’s Kii Mountains, east of Osaka. It’s the gateway to Mount Yoshino, best known for its 30,000+ cherry trees which colour the mountain and surrounding area pink. One of the best places to understand just how sweeping the pictured vista is from Hanayagura Observatory.

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