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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tokyo Taxi Fares Change

タクシー 運賃

Taxis in Tokyo.

Tokyo's taxis changed how they charge their fares yesterday. The old fare of 730 yen for the first 2 km, followed by ¥90 per 280 meters has been replaced by a new (and more difficult to calculate) fare of ¥410 for the first 1.052 km followed by ¥80 for every 237 meters. This makes short rides of up to 6.5 km about the same price, and rides of 6.5 km or more, more expensive than before. Traveling 2 km in a Tokyo taxi costs exactly the same under the new fare regime as under the old - 730 yen.

We did a few calculations to compare this new Tokyo taxi fares with those of other big cities.

The following foreign city calculations are based on daytime fares without giving a tip (no tipping is required in Tokyo) and converted to JPY at today's rate for the purposes of easy comparison.

A 5 km taxi ride in Tokyo now costs 1,688 yen (about USD 14.65)  as opposed to 1,694 yen under the old system - less than a 10 yen difference.

A 5 km taxi ride in New York costs about 1,181 yen

A 5 km taxi ride in Singapore costs about 485 yen

A 5 km taxi ride in Hong Kong costs about 690 yen

A 5 km taxi ride in Shanghai costs about 30 yen

A 5 km taxi ride in Sydney costs about 1,262 yen

The main rationale behind the Tokyo taxi nominal fare reduction is apparently to encourage more of the millions of tourists who now visit Japan's capital annually to take the taxi option for short distances. However, this fare calculation recalibration hardly seems worth it considering the difference with taxi fares in South-East Asia, in particular, which will still tend to put off travelers from those regions, and the fact that even compared with Sydney and New York, Tokyo is still substantially more expensive - although this depends on how much the passenger is willing to tip, especially in cities like New York where tipping is de rigeur.

The change in Tokyo taxi fares is not going to make anyone feel as if taking a taxi in Tokyo has become more affordable, and makes long-distance taxi rides more expensive than ever.

Read more about taxis in Japan 

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Tozai Megurin Bus Yanaka


The red and white retro-styled Tozai Megurin is a community bus service around Taito-ku in Tokyo.

Tozai Megurin Bus Yanaka, Tokyo, Japan.

One of the four routes is convenient for the popular tourist destination of Yanaka district in Taito-ku, Tokyo.

The four routes are: Kita Megurin (North), Minami Megurin (South), Tozai Megurin (East-West) and Gururi Megurin.

Tozai Megurin Bus Yanaka, Tokyo.

The Tozai Megurin runs in a loop of 38 stops from Taito-ku Ward Office via Ueno Station and Ueno Park, Tokyo National Museum, the Sogakudo Concert Hall, Tokyo University of the Arts, Kaneiji Temple, Shitamachi Museum Annex, the entrance to Yanaka Cemetery, Misaki Sakagami, Yanaka Ginza, Mori Ogai Memorial Plaque (in the Suigetsu Hotel Ogai-so) and then back to Taito-ku Ward Office.

The bus has a flat fare of 100 yen. Both Pasmo, Suica and other IC cards can be used. The buses run from 7.32am to 7.32pm daily.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Japan News This Week 29 January 2017


Japan News.
Japanese Panel Signals Support for One-Time Law to Let Emperor Abdicate
New York Times

Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years

US defence chief heads to Japan and South Korea to strengthen ties

Foreign workers in Japan hit the 1 million mark for the first time last autumn: ministry
Japan Times

Ecology and Japanese History: Reactionary Environmentalism’s Troubled Relationship with the Past
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


The number of criminal offenses in Japan was 996,204 in 2016.

That is the first time since the end of World War II that the total has dipped below one million.

All 47 prefectures witnessed a decline in crime.

Theft, which accounts for 70% of all offenses, fell to 723,189 - down from a peak of 2.37 million.

Source: Jiji Press

© JapanVisitor.com

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Yatai Mura Naha


Just off Kokusai Dori in Naha near Makishi Station on the Yui Line is the relatively new Yatai Mura, a series of 20 casual "yatai" (street stall-style) eateries arranged in two narrow lanes..

Yatai Mura, Naha, Okinawa.

Seating at maximum about 20 customers each place serves Okinawan delicacies washed down with Orion beer and awamori.

The atmosphere is relaxed and fun and Yatai Mura is a good place to try Okinawan cuisine or other food done Okinawan-style: taco rice, goya champuru, Ryukyu oden, galbi, gyoza, sushi, soba, yakinikku, pizza even.

Yatai Mura also stages a number of promotional events. (Check out Yatai Mura's Facebook page for an idea of what to expect).

Yatai Mura, Naha, Okinawa.

Okinawa Yatai
Makishi 3-11-16
Naha, Okinawa 900-0013

Most of the stores are open from 11am-to 11pm or midnight.

Yatai Mura, Naha, Okinawa.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Asahi-yu Public Bath Yanaka Tokyo


Asahi-yu in the Yanaka (Yanesen) district of Tokyo is one of Tokyo's last few traditional public baths or sento.

Asahi-yu Public Bath Yanaka Tokyo.

The Yanaka area was home to a number of sento but they have been closing over the years or converted into other uses such as SCAI the Bathhouse that opened as a contemporary art gallery in 1993. Hatune-yu near the Annex Katsutaro Hotel has also closed fairly recently.

So if you want to experience a real neighborhood Tokyo public bath, Asahi-yu is a good place to start. The opening hours are long with some early morning opening too. This is fairly unusual in Japan with most sento opening around 5pm in the afternoon. Look out for the tile work on the walls inside which is a feature of Tokyo sento.

Asahi-yu Public Bath Yanaka Tokyo.

You can rent towels, soap and shampoo here and relax in some (very hot) baths. There is also a small sauna which is charged extra (200 yen) and an oxygen capsule. Next door is a coin laundry.

2-18-7, Yanaka, Taito-ku
Tokyo 110-0001
Tel: 03 3821 5849

Hours: weekdays 2pm-10pm; weekends 10am-10pm
Admission: Adults 460 yen; junior high school students 180 yen; infants 80 yen

Asahi-yu is a short walk from Sendagi metro station on the Chiyoda Line.

Asahi-yu Public Bath Yanaka Tokyo.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Kyoto City Bus 206


Kyoto city bus #206 runs from Kitaoji Bus Terminal (Subway Kitaoji Station) to Kyoto Station and then back to Karasuma Kitaoji and Kitaoji Bus Terminal. The #206 bus runs in a loop in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. Clockwise #206 buses leave from bus stand B4 and anti-clockwise #206 buses depart from bus stand A2.  The #206 bus passes a number of Kyoto's attractions and can be a very useful bus for visitors to the city to get around.

Kyoto City Bus 206, Kyoto.

The anti-clockwise bus #206 starts from Kitaoji Bus Terminal (Subway Kitaoji Station), then passes Kitaoji Shinmachi, Kitaoji Horikawa, Daitokuji-mae (Daitokuji Temple), Kenkun Jinja-mae (Kenkun-jinja Shrine), Funaokayama, Senbon Kitaoji, Lighthouse-mae, Senbon Kuramaguchi, Kenryuko-mae, Senbon Kamidachiuri, Senbon Imadegawa, Senbon Nakadachiuri, Senbon Demizu, Senbon Nakadachiuri, Senbon Marutamachi, Nijo Station, Senbon Sanjo, Suzaku Ritsumeikan-mae, Mibu Soshajo-mae, Shijo-Omiya, Omiya Gojo, Shimabara-guchi, Nanajo Horikawa, Kyoto Station, Karasuma Nanajo, Nanajo Kawaramachi, Nanajo Keihan-mae, Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae (for Sanjusangendo Temple), Higashiyama Nanajo, Umamachi, Gojozaka, Kiyomizu-michi, Higashiyama Yasui, Gion, Chionin-mae (Chionin Temple), Higashiyama Sanjo (Subway Higashiyama Station), Higashiyama Niomon, Okazaki Koen-guchi, Kumano Jinja-mae (Kumano-jinja Shrine), Konoedori, Kyodai Seimon-mae (Kyoto University), Hyakumanben, Asukaicho, Eiden Mototanaka, Takano, Takagicho, Rakuhoku Koko-mae, Furitsu Daigaku-mae (Kyoto Prefectural University), Shokubutsuen-mae (Botanical Garden) and Karasuma Kitaoji. The clockwise bus follows the route in reverse.

Kyoto City Bus 206 near Daitokuji, Kyoto.

The anticlockwise Kyoto #206 bus service for Kyoto Station begins at 5.30am daily from Kitaoji Bus Terminal and the last bus is 11.14pm. The clockwise Kyoto #206 bus service for Kyoto Station via Kiyomizudera Temple begins at 5.30am daily from Kitaoji Bus Terminal and the last bus is 11.07pm.

Kyoto City Bus 206.

From Kyoto Station the first anticlockwise Kyoto #206 bus is at 5.33am daily and the last bus is at 11.06pm. The clockwise Kyoto #206 bus service from Kyoto Station begins at 5.36am daily and the last bus is 11.08pm. There are 1-9 buses an hour.

Kyoto City Bus 206 at Kyoto Station.

Find out more about buses in Kyoto.

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Chikamachi Lounge Nagoya Station


Chikamachi Lounge is a group of European-inspired and Asian eateries in a passageway linking the Midland Square building with the Winc Aichi conference center in the Meieki (Nagoya Station) district of Nagoya.

Beer Bar La Maison, Nagoya Station area.

Chikamachi Lounge links another passageway in the Marukei Kanko Building and the basement of Winc Aichi to offer a variety of places to eat and relax in a pleasant environment after a day's shopping or time in the office.

Vintae, Chikamachi Lounge, Meieki, Nagoya.

These restaurant-lined walkways have an Italian restaurant, il Bamboccio, a Spanish-style bar, Vintae, serving omrice lunch sets, along with raw ham, tapas and pintxos, a "British-style" pub, called Strawberry Pudding and Beer Bar La Maison, serving western-style Japanese food (yoshoku) including some rich and healthy-looking beef and vegetable stews washed down with beer or wine.

Strawberry Pudding

Other eateries in the passageways offer Chinese, soba, yakitori fried chicken and ramen.

There is seating "outside" (though you are underground), some stylish black and white coin lockers (in Winc Aichi) to store your luggage if you are catching a train from Nagoya Station and an enclosed smoking area.

Ramen Restaurant, Winc Aichi, Nagoya, Aichi.

Chikamachi Lounge
Meieki 4- 4-10
Nagoya-shi 450-0002
Hours: 11am-11pm

Coin lockers, Winc Aichi, Nagoya.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Japan News This Week 22 January 2017


Japan News.
Japan Becomes a Rising Star for the Swiss Watch Industry
New York Times

Japan's hi-tech toilets to get standardised symbols

Japan hotel chain angers China over book's denial of Nanjing massacre

Seven Cambodian women rescued from sex slavery in Gunma Prefecture restaurant
Japan Times

Disaster Poetry from Ōfunato
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


"This year Japan is paying 556.6 billion yen (4.8 billion dollars) for the stationing of US forces here, 165.8 billion yen (1.5 billion dollars) for land-leases, and, according to last year's figures, 8.8 billion yen (77 million dollars) to subsidize the bases. About all the US pays for are the troops' salaries. If our costs go any higher, we should consider treating the US military as a mercenary force under the command of Japan's Self Defense Forces."

Source: Japan Focus

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hotel Chuo Selene


The area around Dobutsuen-Mae Station on Osaka's Midosuji Subway Station and Shin Imamiya Station on the JR Osaka Loop Line is home to numerous hotels catering to the foreign visitor on a budget.

Hotel Chuo Selene, Nishinari-ku, Osaka.

Centrally located with easy access to other parts of Osaka and Kansai Airport via a wide variety of train, subway, & tram lines, within sight of the Abeno Harukas development, and on the edge of the entertainment district around the Tsutenkaku Tower, Hotel Chuo Selene is not the cheapest - there are plenty of establishments offering trimmed down, simpler accommodation - but if you want en-suite and decent free wifi, its a good option.

Hotel Chuo Selene, Osaka, Japan.

The rooms are minimalistic and modern: light wooden floors, walls without ugly pictures, simple desk etc and the effect is a light and airy atmosphere. Anything not in the room, like kettle etc can be gotten from the front desk where 24 hour free coffee and tea is available. The staff speak some English, Chinese, & Thai, and large rental lockers are available to store luggage.

Shinsekai at night, Osaka, Japan.

Hotel Chuo Selene
1-1-11 Taishi
Osaka 557-0002

Hotel Chuo Selene is 2 minutes on foot from Dobutsuen-Mae Station and right opposite Spa World.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Kyooji Temple Yanaka


Kyooji Temple is a small Nichiren temple off the Yanaka Ginza shopping lane in the Yanaka (Yanesen) district of Tokyo.

Kyooji Temple, Yanaka, Tokyo.

The temple dates from the Edo Period and contains a statue of Daitokuten, one of the Seven Lucky Gods (shichifukujin). The statue is said to have been carved by Nichiren (1222-1282) himself though this is, probably, unlikely.

The main gate still has bullet holes from the Battle of Ueno in 1868 during the Boshin War when supporters of the Tokugawa shogunate were driven out of Edo by imperial troops.

Kyooji Temple, Yanaka, Tokyo.

Kyooji Temple
3-2-6 Nishinippor
Tokyo 116-0013
Tel: 03 3821 5241

Kyooji Temple is a short walk from Nippori Station on the Yamanote Line, Toneri Liner and other lines.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Kyoto City Bus 1


Kyoto city bus #1 runs from Nishigamo Shako-mae close to Kamigamo Shrine in the north of Kyoto to Demachiyanagi Station and then back.

Kyoto City Bus 1.

Bus #1 passes Jinkoin, Omiya Somonguchi-cho, Yamanomaecho, Gentaku-shita, Murasakino Sendocho, Asahigaoka, Bukkyo Daigaku-mae, Senbon Kitaoji, Funaokayama, Kenkun Jinja-mae, Daitokuji-mae (for Daitokuji Temple), Kitaoji Horikawa, Kitaoji Shinmachi, (Kitaoji Bus Terminal (Subway Kitaoji Station), Karasuma Kitaoji, Shokubutsuen-mae (Kyoto Botanical Garden), Furitsu Daigaku-mae (Kyoto Prefectural University), Rakuhoku Koko-mae, Ipponmatsu, Shimogamo Jinja-mae (Shimogamo Shrine), Tadasunomori, Shin-Aoibashi, Aoibashi Nishizume, Kawaramachi Imadegawa and Demachiyanagi Station.

Kyoto City Bus 1.

The Kyoto #1 bus service begins at 5.47am daily from Nishigamo Shako-mae and the last bus is 10.24pm.

From Demachiyanagi Station the first bus is at 6.19am daily and the last bus is at 10.56pm. There are 3-6 buses an hour.

Find out more about buses in Kyoto.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Sesoko Island


Sesoko Island is a small island off the Motubu Peninsula near Nago on the west coast connected by bridge to Okinawa Honto.

Sesoko Island, Okinawa.

Sesoko has a few lovely white sand beaches and a number of guest houses and minsuku that attract budget travelers for snorkeling and relaxing throughout the year.

The most popular beach is on the west coast, the 800m-long Sesoko Beach, which has parking (1000 yen), life guards, umbrellas and loungers as well as food and drink for sale.

There's also a  smaller beach right at the bridge to the main island - Anchi-hama. The water at both beaches can be amazingly clear and the sea a beautiful turquoise color.

Sesoko Island, Okinawa.

A number of specialist marine sports shops offer jet skiing, parasailing, snorkeling and diving trips in summer.

A photo posted by JapanVisitor (@japanvisitor) on

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Japan News This Week 15 January 2017


Japan News.
Caroline Kennedy, an Ambassador Whose Role Transcended the Embassy
New York Times

Emperor Akihito: Japan considers moves to allow 2018 abdication - reports

Almost 75% of Japan's biggest coral reef has died from bleaching, says report

China moves Japan war start date up to 1931 in textbooks to boost ‘patriotic education’
Japan Times

The Japanese State versus the People of Okinawa: Rolling Arrests and Prolonged and Punitive Detention
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


A recent survey of sixth graders across Japan asked them about their future dream job (the number in parenthesis is the result from the previous year).

For girls, the top five responses were:

1) Food service (chef, etc.) (1)
2) Day Care Worker (2)
3) School Teacher (5)
4) Doctor (4)
4) Nurse (3)

For boys, the top five responses were:

1) Professional Soccer Player (1)
2) Researcher/Professor (8)
3) Police Officer/Detective (3)
4) Professional Baseball Player (2)
5) Doctor (6)
5) Food service (chef, etc.) (7)

Source: Asahi Shinbun

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Chogakuji Temple & Takeda Shingen


Chogakuji Temple in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture is associated with the death of the legendary warlord Takeda Shingen (1521-1573).

Chogakuji Temple, Nagano Prefecture.

Takeda Shingen's death is shrouded in mystery. It is thought he died of pneumonia while returning to his base in Kofu from an attack on Noda Castle, north east of present-day Toyohashi. In Akira Kurosawa's film, Kagemusha ("Shadow Warrior"), Takeda Shingen, however, is shot at night by a Tokugawa sniper at the castle and fatally wounded.

Chogakuji Temple, Nagano Prefecture.

One version of the following events is that Takeda Shingen's body was cremated in the hills near Chogakuji Temple and his ashes are buried within the temple grounds. His followers tried to maintain Takeda was still alive to fool his enemies, hence the "Shadow Warrior" of Kurosawa's movie, a common thief with a remarkable resemblance to Takeda, who was forced into impersonating him.

A ten-story pagoda was erected in 1974 to mark the spot where Takeda's ashes are buried, paid for by subscriptions from residents of Takeda's home province of Yamanashi. A noticeboard references the popular 1988 NHK Taiga drama, Takeda Shingen and the history of the warrior's final days.

Chogakuji Temple, Nagano Prefecture.

Chogakuji Temple
Achi Village
569 Komaba, Shimoina-gun
Nagano Prefecture 395-0303
Tel: 0265 43 2967

Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 200 yen adults

Chogakuji Temple is located in the village of Achi midway between Iida and Nakatsugawa just off the Chuo Expressway. Chogakuji Temple is very close to the Hirugami Onsen resort.

Chogakuji Temple, Nagano Prefecture.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Shin-Ochanomizu Station Mosaics


Shin-Ochanomizu Station on the Chiyoda Line of the Tokyo metro in Ochanomizu has some lovely mosaics by glass artist Ikkou Itabashi representing the months of the year and including phrases from the old lunar calendar to describe the seasons, for example, 立秋 (risshuu), meaning the beginning of autumn.

Shin-Ochanomizu Station Mosaics, Tokyo.

Shin-Ochanomizu Station also has the longest escalator on the Tokyo subway network. Another reason to visit.

Shin-Ochanomizu Station Mosaics Tokyo.

The mosaics were completed in 2002 and make use of recycled glass.

Shin-Ochanomizu Station Mosaics Tokyo.


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hotel Avanti Tokushima


Hotel Avanti Tokushima in Tokushima city on Shikoku is 600 meters from Tokushima Station and only 100 meters from the ropeway going up Mt. Bizen and Awa Odori Kaikan.

Avanti Hotel, Tokushima, Shikoku.

The Hotel Avanti is very popular with backpackers, pilgrims and foreign visitors to Japan on a budget.

The Hotel Avanti has free wifi and is very foreigner-friendly. There is no kettle in the rooms but hot water is available in the lobby.

A small breakfast is provided on a tray in your room.

Avanti Hotel, Tokushima, Shikoku.

Hotel Avanti
Higashidaiku-machi 1-20
Tokushima Prefecture, 770-0905

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Edo Noren Ryogoku


Edo Noren, a two story food and shopping center opened in November 2016 as part of the redevelopment of Ryogoku Station. Ryogoku is the heartland of Japanese sumo and Ryogoku Station is less than five minutes' walk from the Kokugikan sumo stadium and close to a number of sumo stables or heya - where sumo wrestlers live and train.

Edo Noren, Ryogoku, Tokyo.

Edo Noren has a sumo ring as part of its "Edo era" design and among the dozen or so restaurants in the complex is one specializing in the dish most associated with sumo wrestling: chankonabe (see the last image).

Other restaurants offer sushi, okonomiyaki, yakitori, noodles, tempura and other favorites of Japanese cuisine.

Edo Noren, Ryogoku, Tokyo, Japan.

There's lots to see and do in the Ryogoku area including the Edo-Tokyo Museum, the new Sumida Hokusai Museum, the Ryogoku Fireworks Museum and the Ruins of Kira Yoshinaka's House, Kira Yoshinaka being the man murdered by the 47 Ronin in the ultimate revenge attack way back in 1703.

Edo Noren, Ryogoku, Tokyo, Japan.

There are plenty of other places to try chankonabe and delicious sushi in the area, especially on the road running parallel to the railway tracks north of Ryogoku Station up towards Ryogoku subway station. Edo Noren, though, is a welcome addition to an already excellent culinary scene in the area.

Edo Noren, Ryogoku, Tokyo.

Edo Noren
1-3-20 Yokoami
Sumida-ku, Tokyo (JR Ryogoku Station West Exit)
Hours: 10am-11.30pm; closed January 1-2

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Man in the Moon Pub Kyoto Station


Man in the Moon bars are a small chain of Irish-style pubs in Kyoto with pubs at Kyoto Station and others in Shijo Karasuma, Gion and Rokkaku. The chain also includes the Pig & Whistle on Sanjo which recently celebrated 30 years in business.

Man in the Moon Pub Kyoto Station.

Man in the Moon pubs offer draft Guinness, a variety of Irish and Scottish spirits plus perennial food favorites such as fish and chips all served up in cozy, wood-panelled interiors with live sports on TV.

All the Man in the Moon pubs have free Wifi.

Man in the Moon Pub Kyoto Station.

The pub at Kyoto Station is at the Hachijoguchi Exit near the Shinkansen tracks. Turn right (west) as you exit the station and walk about 500m.

The interior is tight for space at the Kyoto Station pub and can get pretty smoky...be warned.

Man in the Moon
Kintetsu-meitengai Miyakomichi 31-1
Kamadonno-cho, Higashi-shiokoji, Shimogyo-ku
Kyoto 600-8215
Hours: Friday & Saturday: 11am - 4am
Sunday - Thursday: 11am - 2am
Happy Hour 11am to 7pm
All alcohol reduced by 100 yen

Man in the Moon Pub Kyoto Station.

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Monday, January 09, 2017

Orion Happy Park


Orion is Okinawa's very own beer with an American-style mild taste and an alcohol content of 5%.

Orion Happy Park, Nago, Okinawa.

Orion Happy Park in Nago in the north east of Okinawa main island offers brewery tours and tastings. You can also visit Orion Happy Park just to eat and drink in an Okinawan beer hall environment.

Brewery tours can be booked online (see the link below) and include 2 drinks (non-alchoholic for drivers, minors and non-drinkers). There are 23 tours a day starting at 9.20am and finishing at 4.40pm with one every 20 minutes. Each tour lasts 35 minutes with 20 minutes sampling time.

Orion Happy Park also includes a store where you can buy Orion beer and souvenirs and a beer hall/restaurant.

Orion Happy Park, Nago, Okinawa.

Orion Happy Park
2-2-1 Agarie, Nago City
Okinawa 905-0021
Closed: December 31 - January 3

Orion Happy Park, Nago, Okinawa.

If driving leave the Okinawa Expressway at the Kyoda I.C. and then take highway 58 for about 10 minutes.

Other attractions nearby in the Nago area include Nago Pineapple Park, the ruins of Nago Castle and the Nago Museum next door to the Town Hall.

Orion Happy Park, Okinawa.

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