This Week in Tokyo and Kobuchizawa – 2 August 2022
Welcome to ‘This Week in Tokyo’, a review of the Maction Planet week that was and a look ahead to what’s coming up in the city. Hosted by Mac, our Founder and Lead Guide, you can check out photos from our tours and read insights into our explorations as we get under the skin of the World’s Greatest Metropolis, and beyond! This week: 3D Hachiko; Nama hojicha kakigori; Shingo Gokan at Ash; Back in my happy Hakushu place and Japan Travel in TW.
Featured image – 3D Hachiko: Remember the giant 3D cat in Shinjuku that I featured in This Week in Tokyo in January? Well, this giant Akita dog is now trying to go one better in Shibuya. Hachiko, the embodiment of loyalty and adored mascot of Shibuya, was an Akita, making this a very on-brand collaboration. The puppy first appeared on 29 July across eight billboards in the area of Shibuya Crossing and the Miyamasuzaka Intersection. On the hour every hour, the Akita dog pops up from out of a karakuri clock, plays frisbee, and even jumps from one billboard to another!
Nama hojicha kakigori: Maction Planet tour guests and long-term readers of this blog know that I love kakigori – shaved ice – and I love hojicha – roasted green tea. When you combine the two, I’m in heaven. For this particular execution, I was also more physically in Rizlabo, a lovely cafe in the backstreets of Jingumae. The powder you see on the ice is the real deal – raw hojicha. Luckily the two items in white porcelain on the right contained syrup and condensed milk to sweeten the deal. Absolutely delightful!
Shingo Gokan at Ash: Shingo Gokan is a genius at what he does, and what he does is very tasty. The cocktail maestro is slowly taking over a corner of Jinnan in Shibuya. His latest project to open is æ (pronounced ‘ash’), the SG Group’s first Zero-Waste Cafe & Bar. Champion barista Taka Ishitani oversees their coffee offering, and the cocktail list consists of two parts: Coffee Cocktails and Zero-Waste Classics. As they say, “Come for a latte, stay for an espresso martini.” That’s what I did, with the added bonus that on my visit, the cocktails were made by the legend Shingo Gokan himself!
Back in my happy Hakushu place: It’s been a while, but I finally made it back to my favourite distillery. Suntory built Hakushu in the forest, deep in Mt. Kaikomagatake. It’s such a great place to visit and produces some of my favourite whisky. A great day out!
So far, I’ve only reviewed one Hakushu on Kanpai Planet – Hakushu Spanish Oak 2021. That will be changing soon!
Japan Travel in TW: Maction Planet and Kanpai Planet were featured in an article about the slow return of tourism to Japan. It made a reference to the fact that recently I guided my first non-resident tour guests in 28 months.
While entry to Japan remains possible but not straightforward in 2022, we are receiving an overwhelming level of inquiries for 2023, and cannot wait to host future guests in the World’s Greatest Metropolis, and beyond. We continue…