This Month on Maction Planet – July 2023
Welcome back to ‘This Month on Maction Planet’. I’m thrilled to share our latest Tokyo and beyond escapades with all of you. In the heart of Tokyo’s midsummer magic, the city pulsates with energy, wonder, traditional festivals, fireworks displays and yes, the heat!
Featured image: You can’t escape your roots, even if you travel to the English Garden in Yokohama.
The pun is intended. ‘Nuff said.
July got off to a bustling start at the Toyosu Fish Market. Access to explore the Intermediate Wholesale area is restricted… and that’s where we come in. Amidst the organized chaos of fishmongers and auctioneers, we introduced our guests to a mesmerizing array of fresh catches from the deep sea. The market’s electric energy is contagious, witnessing the interplay of tradition and modernity in the fish trade. Oh, and we held some insanely long knives too!
Royce Leong, Resident DJ of Maction Planet, was back at it at the Trunk Hotel on 6 July. He delivered a devastatingly good set of summer tunes from all over the world to an appreciative audience – myself included! Simulating a globetrotting summer vacation from the lobby of one of Tokyo’s premier boutique hotels, I sipped delicious cocktails while listening to tracks by artists from Brazil, Mexico, the US, France, the UK, Korea, Australia, and of course, Japan. Looking forward to the next one!
The Iriya Morning Glory Festival, or Asagao Matsuri, is held from 6 to 8 July each year and is Japan’s largest festival dedicated to morning glories. With 40 stalls managed by morning glory specialists and food vendors, the festival draws over 400,000 visitors to Kototoi Dori and Iriya Kishimojin Temple.
Named after the Buddhist deity linked to safe childbirth and child protection, Kishimojin (pictured), also known as Shingenji Temple, serves as the festival’s centrepiece.
The morning glories gained fame during the late Edo period (1603-1867) and evolved through deliberate cross-pollination by Iriya’s skilled gardeners. Despite a disappearance during the Taisho era (1912-1926), the festival was revived after World War II, thanks to the efforts of local residents and the Shitaya Tourism Association.
On 7 July – the day of the Tanabata Festival – Date Seven Season 2 Episode II was unveiled, marking the continuation of this fascinating sake brewing project that began in 2015.
Seven breweries in Miyagi Prefecture – Yamawa Shuzoten and Hagino Shuzo (this year’s leaders) along with Suminoe Shuzo, Katsuyama Shuzo, Niizawa Jozo, Saura Shuzo, and Kawakei Shoten – collaborate to brew sake together. Different breweries lead the annual project, with the leading breweries providing the brewing location and deciding the sake’s style. The first season ran from 2015-2021, and after a brief hiatus, the project was revived for a second season in 2022. This year marks episode 2 of the second season.
The two sake produced have identical specifications (Junmai Daiginjo, 47% polishing ratio, one pasteurization, 16% ABV) and are made from the same rice variety, Yamada Nishiki. However, the yeast used is different, with Yamawa brewed using Miyagi A yeast and Haginotsuru (pictured) brewed using Miyagi B yeast. This results in two entirely different sakes. I was incredibly honoured to be invited to try these exquisite sakes on the day of their release. More pictures here. Kanpai!
On 8 July, I hosted an evening food and drinks tour for Jeffrey and Luz, and it was an absolute blast! From the moment we set out on our culinary adventure, laughter filled the air. We explored four hidden gems, and my guests’ infectious enthusiasm made the entire experience absolutely wonderful. We sipped on expertly crafted cocktails and shared stories that bonded us like old friends. The couple had engaged me to help plan their holiday, and this tour was at the end of their time in Japan so it was great to hear about how they had executed the itinerary! Thank you for choosing Maction Planet, and all the best.
The Tokyo Whisky and Spirits Competition (TWSC) Megatasting 2023 was held on 9 July in Ebisu. Whisky and spirit enthusiasts gathered to indulge in an extensive selection of award-winning premium libations. The atmosphere was filled with camaraderie among the attendees, all sharing their love for fine beverages… such as me and my friend Shigeyuki Kuramochi, the world-renowned Whisky Comedian and owner of equally legendary Bat Shanty Shack in Yokohama.
As July 2023 draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the incredible Japan adventure I’ve had this month with TJ, Rupa and family, who I guided for 18 days around the land of the rising sun.
TJ and his daughters toured with me in January 2018, and TJ was kind enough to write a review of our time together, which he ended with the prescient line, “Looking forward to returning to Japan and spending more time with Mac in the future!”
Above is the first photo we all took together, at Sensoji.
Our adventures took us to Nagoya, and top seats at the July 2023 Grand Sumo Tournament.
We visited Kyoto, Nara and Osaka. It was great to return to Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, the subject of the most-watched video on the Maction Planet YouTube channel, which has raked in close to 1 million views! And yes, I am trolling Mario with my Sonic T-shirt!
We also visited Naoshima, where the ‘I Love Yu’ (DYSWTDT?) bathhouse is a true gem that combines art, culture, and relaxation in the most enchanting way. Designed by the renowned artist Shinro Ohtake, the bathhouse is an art installation in itself, with its colourful and eclectic mosaic walls adorned with various iconography from all around the world.
We headed down to Hiroshima and Miyajima, and I was reunited with the floating torii of Miyajima, and it felt so good!
This was our final photo together, taken a couple of hours ago!
TJ, Rupa, Aria, Jia, Jaan and Taj – It has been an absolute joy and honour to share my love of Japan with all of you. Respect to the Watermelon Popsicle Bros, and We Continue…