Every year for ten days in August in Nara about 3,000 lanterns are placed around Kasuga-Taisha Shrine and along the pathways leading to the shrine. The effect is magical – if you’re in town on these dates, you can’t miss it !!!
This event is called Tokae Lantern festival which has continued for 800 years and most of the lanterns have been donated by ordinary citizens of Nara city. The main days of this event are on 14th and 15th of August.
Lanterns are believed to guide the souls of the deceased back to their families. The wishes and prayers of the living are conveyed to the gods and the spirit world by writing them on the lanterns, giving them the greatest chance of being fulfilled. In order to share that tradition of fire Nara created the Tokae Lantern festival, a 10-day long lantern festival.
One of the best events is the Night Visit to Todaiji’s Great Buddha on the 13th and 14th. The most interesting feature of this event is that the small window at the front of Todaiji is opened and the giant Buddha statue’s face can be seen peeking out, glowing due to the candles’ illumination.
All pictures taken by me;
Kintetsu Line – Kintetsu Nara Station is the closest station to the main festival grounds. It is also the terminus of all Nara bound Kintetsu Line trains from Kintetsu Kyoto (￥620), and Osaka-Namba (￥560) Stations. Getting a bus from there to the Daibustudenmae Bus Stop (￥210) is the fastest way to get to the main Tokae Festival grounds. Walking from there grants the opportunity to see the displays at the Prefectural Office or Kofukuji Temple
JR Lines – Yamatoji Rapid and Direct Rapid service trains depart from Osaka Station 4 times an hour and terminate at Nara (or pass through it on their way to Kamo,￥800). From Kyoto Miyakoji Rapid service trains depart for Nara twice an hour (￥710). From JR Nara Station go out the east entrance and get a bus from platform 2 (￥210) to Daibutsudenmae. Getting off at Kenchomae allows one to take in the displays at the Prefectural Office and Kofukuji Temple before continuing to the main site.
Once the curtain of darkness has fallen, Osaka transforms itself into a showy, neon lit city teeming with exciting and fun places to visit.
There are so many options available for entertainment and dining that it is hard to know where to begin. Sampling Osaka’s nightlife is something that you must do, if you ever find yourself in this wonderful city.
A logical place to start is Dotonbori.
This is the most well known street in the Shinsaibashi drinking district. When you stand on Ebisu Bridge overlooking Dotonbori Canal, you will be able to see the famous Glico runner crossing the finishing line with his arms raised. This billboard is one of the most photographed and iconic images of Osaka.
In addition to having hundreds of bars, this area is also a gastronomist’s heaven as it is filled with many affordable restaurants. They all serve mouth-wateringly delicious Japanese cuisine, too.
I wouldn’t be myself if didn’t recommend that you check out some of the little side streets as well. After all, some of the best places are usually the ones that are just off the main track.
As you walk along Dotonbori Street away from the Ebisu Bridge and Glico Man you will come to an arcade, turn left at its corner and walk for about 3 minutes then turn right. You will come to a place where few tourists venture even though it is close to a main street.
This magical street has a local vibe and was recommended to me by my good friend (thanks Miaka!). Getting lost in the small bars in this area is where I have had some of my best experiences ever.
Brace yourself for some serious bar hopping and remember that you should be able to get good deals on Suntory Whisky.
Finally, don’t forget, what happens in Osaka stays in Osaka! 😛
You can find small bars filled with different kinds of sake from all corners of Japan, truly a heaven for sake lovers!
“Showa Bar” -cozy and inredibly small shot bar with friendly bartender
In Japan , it’s forbidden to take pictures of places and strange people almost at every occasion so you can guess what was this poor waiter saying
“Boys of the night” who entertain female customers in famous hosts bars in Japan
All pics above are taken by me.
Picture taken by Kumanosuke Photography
In 2014 A single-malt from Japan has been named the best whisky in the world for the first time. Let’s take a closer look at this phenomenon.
Do you remember Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation movie where Bill Murray’s character went to Japan to film Suntory’s whisky commercials and his popular tagline “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.” ?
Well that was the first time I’ve heard about Japanese Whisky.
Don’t get me wrong, but I’ve never been too keen on this spirit for a long time. When I came to Japan for the first time and tried the quintessential drink known as sake nihonshu (日本酒) I immediately fell in love with this special liquor made from distilled rice and was able to understand why it was most popular drink amongst the Samurai.
But let’s get back to the topic of whisky. The moment that I started to started to grow an interest in Japanese whisky occurred while I was watching the TV drama series called Massan . It was from that series that I learnt about Masataka Taketsuru who is also known as “Father of Japanese Whisky”. Masataka went to Scotland to study the manufacturing process of Western liquors and there he fell in love with whisky and the art of distilling. He was lucky to meet his greatest inspiration- a Scottish woman Rita Cowan, soon after they met, they get married and then she accompanied him back to Japan.