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Japan’s arty-pelago: Naoshima and beyond

Japan’s arty-pelago: Naoshima and beyond Among shrines, rice fields and abandoned buildings, contemporary art has transformed 12 rural islands into a creative paradise – the setting for the 2019 Setouchi Triennale I’m sitting on a concrete floor watching water droplets as they skitter across the smooth surface. Around me, other people seem equally transfixed. They stand in silent contemplation staring at beads of water bubbling up from tiny holes in the floor, or lie gazing at the vast domed roof, where two oval openings let natural light flood in. The slightest movement echoes around the space. I take a pen out to make some notes and a member of staff suddenly appears at my side and indicates that I…

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A local’s guide to Tokyo: 10 top tips

A local’s guide to Tokyo: 10 top tips Tokyo hums with brilliant restaurants, manga haunts and sake bars, but there are peaceful gardens and temples, too Tea is indispensable in Japanese life. One of my favourite cafes is Kosoan, set in a traditional house built over a century ago – the antique furniture adds to the refined decor. Busy Tokyo feels a world away as you gaze at the lovely Japanese garden. It’s a soothing stop for a bowl of matcha. Also try Cha Cha No Ma in Harajuku, where tea “sommelier” Yoshi Watada serves teas from all over Japan, accompanied by homemade sweets (chachanoma.com). If you want to buy sweets, visit Mizuho in the same area; it sells…

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A foodie tour of Osaka, Japan

A foodie tour of Osaka, Japan In Japan’s second city, a night out means ‘scoffing until you drop’ – so our writer asks a couple of local experts for help exploring the stalls, cafes and bars The woman on the early morning train from Osaka station made swift work of a large noodle-stuffed omelette, and just as I was thinking that was a substantial breakfast for a far from substantial person, it was out with the chopsticks again as she set about a generous bento box, its nine compartments filled with rice, fish, veg and pickled bits and bobs. But that’s Osakans for you: prodigious appetites for food and, in marked contrast to Tokyoites, also for drinking and general…

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San Francisco’s Japantown: vibrant, on-trend and fighting for its future

San Francisco’s Japantown: vibrant, on-trend and fighting for its future Japanese people started moving to J-Town after the city’s 1906 earthquake and the area still reflects its roots with festivals, food stops and arty stores but its small businesses face a battle against a real-estate boom An elderly Japanese-American man is pruning the tiny pines in concrete planters on a pedestrianised section of the outdoor Buchanan Street Mall, ignoring the teens hunting invisible Pokémon around him and the drone buzzing overhead. San Francisco’s storied Japantown is where aspects of Japanese culture have taken root in America but it’s also, in this tech-mad, trendy city, a neighbourhood that not only keeps up with the latest trends but sometimes sets them….

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