Shikoku

Japan has an awesome river that looks just like a dragon

Body of water even has a connection to the creatures’ traditional role in Japanese mythology.

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Japanese girls combine traditional costumes with tap dancing in impressive videos

From graceful Awa Odori dance movements to routines in kimono at a New York subway, these girls are turning heads everywhere they go.

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Japanese ad campaign shows how to stop babies crying – by slurping udon noodles

These crying babies are immediately calmed by the sound of slurping, which is said to sound similar to noises heard in the womb.

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The weird and wonderful things people leave behind on Japanese trains

Japan Rail has just released a list of the most rare and frequently lost items found on their trains, and when they’re most likely to find them.

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Crazy comparison shows why Tokyo’s massive train network even freaks out some Japanese people

The capital’s gigantic public transportation system can be a shock to the system for new arrivals.

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Hotel offers guests the chance to experience the 1,000-year-old lifestyle of the Heian Period

Japanese history can be a lot of fun to explore, from the Sengoku era to the modernization of Japan in the Meiji Period. We’re sure everyone has their own favorite time period, but one that doesn’t always get the respect it deserves is the Heian Period. Lasting roughly from 794 to 1185, the period was a relatively peaceful time in Japan that saw a blossoming of culture in everything from literature to music.

Unfortunately, we can’t just hop on a plane and go back in time to see everything for ourselves. But there is a hotel in Shikoku where you can experience a bit of the Heian life for yourself complete with period costumes, games, and architecture! So whether you’re a history buff or just need a major change of scenery, you’ll want to check out Gosho Yashiro no Mori!
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What does the giraffe say? Video captures baby giraffe’s surprising cry

Giraffes are some of the most awesome animals on the planet, if you ask us. With their long necks, not-quite-horse-not-quite-cow-like faces and beautiful long eyelashes, they’re the sort of creature you’d expect to find in the pages of a Walt Disney sketchbook after the artist “accidentally” ingested a few magic mushrooms. And yet there they are, as real as  any of us, and have existed for thousands upon thousands of years.

But one thing that some might not believe is real is the cry of a giraffe. Think about it: have you ever heard the sounds a giraffe makes? Well, we suppose you may have, but many have not, in Japan or otherwise. And that’s why this video of a baby giraffe calling out has attracted so much attention online.

If you’ve never heard a giraffe’s voice, you’ll want to check this out!

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Valley of the (creepy) dolls: Nagoro has hundreds of scarecrows but almost no people

On a recent trip to Shikoku, we heard about a small town tucked away in the Iya Valley called Nagoro. Like many small rural towns in Japan, the human population has dwindled to almost nothing in recent years. Unlike other towns, though, Nagoro doesn’t look empty. That’s because it’s populated by hundreds of scarecrows.

Of course we had to go check it out.

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“Pop” daruma dolls so popular you’ll have to wait three years to get one

Daruma are a kind of roly-poly wishing doll in Japanese Buddhism. You draw one eye in while making a wish, and then fill in the other when your wish comes true. Given their sweet purpose and blob-like shape, traditional daruma are already pretty charming, but a woodcarving shop in Kagawa Prefecture has found a pop makeover makes them even more attractive, so much so that there is a 3-year waiting list to get one!

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Beautiful hotel on the Shikoku coast will make you feel like you’ve warped from Japan to Greece

Japan is an island nation. That means that wherever you go, you’re never all that far from good seafood, but also that you can’t get to any other countries without hopping on a plane or ocean liner.

So you might find yourself doing a double take when, while driving down the road in Kochi Prefecture, you come across a hotel that looks more like it belongs on the coast of Greece than Japan.

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Bath noodles — Do you know about this strange Japanese bathing custom?

As soon as my husband started building an iwaburo rock bath in our house, curious neighbors poked their heads in and asked, “When are we going to eat udon?” This is local parlance for: “When will the bath be finished?”

Japanese is said to be a vague language and thus difficult for foreigners to understand, but this was rather extraordinary. Why such a strange way to ask when a bath will be completed?!

This unusual pairing, I soon learned, can be traced all the way back to Shikoku, one of Japan’s four main islands, and an island famous for its udon noodles. Kagawa Prefecture, known as udonken (the udon prefecture) is particularly well-known for its delicious thick, starchy noodles. And we can thank Kagawa for a very strange custom: that of eating udon while sitting in a new bathtub!

Now, you probably want to know why they would do such a thing. And why udon? Wouldn’t beer and peanuts be more logical? Or, if you’re going to celebrate a new bathtub, why not go all out and have a pig roast in there? Our intrepid bathing reporter tells you why and oh, so much more about Japanese baths.

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Tsushima no Miya Station: The Japanese train station open only two days a year

Without a doubt, one of the things Japan is best known for is trains. And it’s not just marketing hype either–public transportation is apparently good enough to accommodate the decreasing number of Japanese youth getting driver’s licenses. But while most trains can be counted on to run from 5 am to 1 am every day of the week in the cities, that’s not always the case in rural areas.

Take Tsushima no Miya station in Kagawa Prefecture, for example, where the train has the most limited schedule in the country: It’s only open two days out of the year!

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Orange-flavored rice balls: Japan’s newest way to fuse vitamin C and carbs

Ehime Prefecture on the western coast of Shikoku is known all through Japan for its tasty mikan, or satsuma oranges. Although the fruit is delicious enough on its own, the people of Ehime love to think up new ways to enjoy the fresh taste of a local orange. In the past, we have seen funny-shaped oranges and even citrus-flavored fish, but now there’s a new way to get some vitamin C in your life: orange-flavored rice balls.

We dropped by a shop near the hot springs that inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away which sells the rice balls. But these little delicacies are only available for a limited time, so click below to find out more about this surprisingly delicious culinary creation!

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Shocking noodles: One company turns udon into electricity

Today, ladies and gentlemen, we have for you the future of electricity production. No more mining, no more worries about radiation, no more oil. And it’s as simple as throwing your leftover noodles in a giant pot!

Wait, noodles?

That’s right! Your tasty, leftover udon may soon be producing enough electricity for fifty households!

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Why 7-Eleven Quite Literally Dominates, and Why You Won’t Find One in Shikoku… Yet

Although it’s sometimes forgotten about, Shikoku, one of the four large islands that make up mainland Japan, is as much a part of the country as Hokkaidō in the north and Kyūshū to the south. People eat rāmen, do karaoke and play pachinko, exactly like everywhere else. Take a drive around the island and, just like every other part of the country, you’ll find literally hundreds of convenience stores. Lawson, Family Mart, Mini Stop, Coco Store; they’re all here.

All, that is, except 7-Eleven…. Read More