This Month on Maction Planet – April 2024

April 2024 saw us transition through the serene beauty of the Somei Yoshino and Yaezakura cherry blossoms to the festivities of Golden Week. We were busy! Our guests kept us on our feet as we explored the World’s Greatest Metropolis and ventured off the beaten track to discover the rich cultural heritage of Japan. I had the pleasure of guiding a diverse group of guests from around the world. It was a month filled with unforgettable experiences, new and old friendships, and phenomenal feedback. We continue…

Featured image: Attending Sumo morning training at Isenoumi Beya on 5 April was, as always, an unforgettable experience, and my lovely guests encouraged me to grab a photo with the wrestlers afterwards. Standing amidst these athletes, I felt a mix of awe and admiration for their dedication to this ancient sport. Their in-training focus and post-training smiles spoke volumes about the discipline and camaraderie that define the world of Sumo. I’m already looking forward to the next tournament – the May 2024 Basho at the Kokugikan in Ryogoku, Tokyo!

My month kicked off with two days spent with Rick and Heidi. As well as guiding, I planned their itinerary for their entire 18 days in Japan. “Both of us agree that after we decided to visit Japan, the next best choice we made was to work with you.” To receive this message as they were on their way to the airport was one of the highlights of the month: Thank you for choosing Maction Planet. It was an honour to be part of your holiday of a lifetime.

Beth emailed me on Wednesday, 3 May 2023! Finally, exactly 11 months later, we spent our day together, which included adventures in the arcades of Akihabara. She had clearly read my epic blog post, “Book early to avoid disappointment“.

Oh, and thank you for the Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum and Cadbury’s Creme Eggs!

6 April was a wonderful day. I spent it guiding Emily and Chad (who booked me back in, wait for it, March 2023!) with the World’s Greatest Metrpolopis bathing in the glow of the full bloom of Somei Yoshino Cherry Blossoms. How could this day improve? Answer: chatting with a Fukagawa Geisha!

Emily and Chad’s day got even better, as that evening I handed them over to Christopher Pelleginri for an evening of great shochu, local vibes, amazing food and general large. Chris has semi-retired from the world of guiding now that he is busy bringing shochu to the world at scale with Honkaku Spirits. On this occasion, I persuaded him back into Maction with the fact that Emily’s father was a mutual guest of ours in 2018, and the shochu tasting with Chris was one of the highlights of his trip! It ended up being one for these two honeymooners too!

As a tour guide, one of my greatest joys comes from forging meaningful connections with guests that extend beyond their visit. I experienced this heartwarming feeling when Matt and Michelle, two former multi-visit Maction Planet guests, finally savoured the sake I made that I had gifted them when they were last here.

Moments like these remind me why I love what I do – creating experiences that leave a lasting impact and turn guests into lifelong friends. Cheers to the power of travel and the bonds it builds!

If you want to find out how this bottle came into being, watch “Making Sake on Sado“, the most edutaining look at sake making ever produced!

Speaking of sake, it really brings people together. Here is an incredible group gathered in Tokyo at a sake tasting (hosted by me) for Barry’s birthday celebrations. An amazing extravagance which spanned two groups across seven days of guiding… and Maction Planet was honoured to host all of it, including an incredible night of 19 of us at karaoke! To be trusted to plan and guide a milestone event like this was such an honour, and the feedback we’ve received has made me blush!

Always a pleasure bumping into Nobuaki Moribe, the world’s most famous dog walker, on the streets of the World’s Greatest Metropolis, as I did with guests on 8 April!

Starbucks Japan kicked off the summer season on 10 April with its Gohobi Melon Frappuccino, marking the third consecutive year the coffee giant has introduced a melon-inspired Frappuccino to usher in the warmer months. This year’s “gohobi” (meaning “reward”) iteration is designed to be a well-deserved present to yourself that you can savour after a tough day. An orange melon pulp and jelly base, green melon juice and milk body, topped off with plain cream. Gotta say, they nailed it with this one. Kanpai!

Thank you to Lauren, Jay and family for choosing Maction Planet! Those smiles tell the story of the great day we had together better than I could!

On 12 April, I hosted Marcus, Kristin, and their families for a Tokyo Baseball Tour! Despite going to see the Yomiuri Giants (my beloved Tokyo Yakult Swallows were out of town), we had a fantastic time!

During their Tokyo visit, Monjayaki, the Tokyo Okonomiyaki variant, was a hit with Raghav and his family, my guests on 14 April. This speciality is cooked on a hotplate and filled with cabbage and whatever you like. The family enjoyed choosing their favourite ingredients, mixing the batter, and cooking their own monjayaki to perfection!

Kanosuke held THE MELLOW EXPERIENCE on 17 April in Tokyo to celebrate the launch of Double Distillery, their new not-single Single Blended Japanese Whisky. This bottle rounds out their Core Range Tryptich. Long-time Kanpai Planet fans know I’m a supporter of Kanosuke. It’s easy to be one when they keep putting out quality product AND they do it with integrity and transparency. However, our relationship is based on open communication. Even today, I was able to have an honest conversation with several team members about taste, branding and strategy. This dialogue benefits them and us tipplers. Not many distilleries in Japan actively seek this kind of feedback and dialogue. Expect BIG things from them over the rest of the decade! I’m calling it – Kanosuke will be the face of Japanese New Wave Craft Whisky. My thanks to CEO and Master Blender Yoshitsugu Komasa (pictured) and the team for a fantastic event. More to come. In the meantime, check out the Kanpai Planet Kanosuke playlist here!

This was a special photo – 4 years in the making! Liz and Kristen are former tour guests of mine who finally returned to Japan for another dose of Maction. During the pandemic, they joined all but one of the online cooking classes I ran with Nahoko from ‘At home with Nahoko’. The only session they missed was Okonomiyaki! So, as part of their 15-hour Maction extravaganza, we recreated that class for them, with some special exclusive extras too!

Liz wrote a review of our time together – so humbling!

We needed some of the city’s best beer to wash down that Okonomiyaki, and where better than nearby Sakamichi Brewing in Tachikawa? Bonus: Head Brewer Mathrew gave a tour of their brewing facility! I love the work they are doing at Sakamichi, and so did Liz, Kristen and Nahoko!

Wagyumafia The Buthcher’s Kitchen – members only – with guests Ian, Steve and Matt. Three evenings together – dinner and whisky tasting, dinner and sake tasting and now this. ‘Nuff said.

What an absolute honour to spend 14 hours with Rachel and Mike exploring the World’s Greatest Metropolis together. We all had a great time. How do I know? Check out Rachel’s review here, in which she describes our day together as the ‘highlight of their trip’!

Easy to be having fun with the azaleas in bloom at the historic Nezu Shrine. I have taken several of my guests here during April to enjoy incredible scenes like these.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire was released in Japan on Friday 26 April. I had a rare morning off guiding, so I attended the first IMAX showing at the Toho Cinema in Kabuckiho – very appropriate as it is the cinema which is part of the ‘Godzilla Hotel’ complex, where I filmed my review of the first Godzilla Energy drink.

After the movie, my cinema companion and massive Godzilla nerd Yu went to the Godzilla Store in Shinjuku and snapped this photo with the ‘Godzilla Minus One’ Godzilla. Skreeonk!

I’m thrilled to share that I was featured in Nikkei Asia’s latest article on high-end travel to Japan. Titled “Gastronomy Becomes Key Draw for High-End Travelers to Japan,” and written by the inimitable Phoebe Amoroso, the piece highlights the growing importance of culinary experiences for travellers. I’m honoured to have contributed my insights to this fascinating discussion. Check out the article here.

I woke up on the morning of 29 April to the following message from actress, author, model and former Maction Planet tour guest Daphne Deckers: “Hi! Can you imagine there was an article in a Dutch newspaper this weekend, and THIS was the photo that came with it. It’s YOU, is it not?”

Daphne is correct! It is me, Mac, at the 5 February 2024 press day for the ‘new’ TeamLab Borderless! I was taking a selfie when I was snapped by an Associated Press photographer and now I’ve ended up as the frontpiece for a fascinating article in NRC about our societal obsession with the hyperpersonal! We continue…

Steven, Debbie, and Morgan were my guests on 29 April. Their 10-hour tour included a mix of on- and off-the-beaten-track sights. Given that we headed to Sensoji, we had to keep up the Maction Planet Kaminarimon tradition!

The latest video on Kanpai Planet dives deep into Chichibu Red Wine Cask 2023, the latest (relatively) widespread Single Malt release from the Chichibu Distillery. 11800 bottles of this liquid were released on 1 September 2023. I was super excited to try this whisky, and finally got round to reviewing it in the snow in Chichibu! How is it? Watch to find out!

Jerad, Staci and Saxon were my guests on 30 April. And absolute honour to show them the city I love. What a way to end one of the most epic months, and epic issues of

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