Travelers can go back to school at cool Japanese hotel converted from rural schoolhouse

Come for the retro architecture, stay for the bath and swimming pool filled with onsen hot spring water!

Japan’s birth rate has been in decline for decades, and during that time people have been overwhelmingly moving to big cities and suburbs for more diverse economic, educational, and cultural opportunities. One result of those demographic shifts is that some schools in rural communities suddenly find themselves with hardly any local kids to teach, which leads to consolidations and closures.

One such educational institution was Osori Elementary School, located on the Izu peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture. Founded in 1892, enrollment peaked at 241 students in 1942, but by 1973, just 45 pupils were split between the school’s six grades, and Osori was shut down.

▼ Osori Elementary in 1945

However, this was not to be the end for the schoolhouse, which was built in 1907 and has since been expanded and renovated. In 1976, the Osori Elementary School building was reopened as the hotel Yamabikoso, with its classrooms converted into hotel rooms offering simple yet charmingly rustic accommodation.

The rooms are Japanese-style, with tatami reed floor mats laid atop the hardwood floors. But while the study desks and textbooks are gone, the building retains many of its elementary school design elements, such as hallway markers for each classroom.

There’s only so much repurposing that you can do, though, so Yamabikoso doesn’t offer all of the creature comforts of a standard hotel. Guestrooms don’t have private bathrooms or showers, for example. On the other hand, as luck would have it, there’s a hot spring that bubbles up from beneath the former schoolhouse, so there’s a shared onsen bath to soak in.

That same natural water source is also used to fill the facility’s outdoor pool.

Back indoors, there’s a row of sinks where guests can wash their faces and brush their teeth, and also a communal seating area with comfy sofas and a drink vending machine.

And while the rural location may have spelled the end of Osori Elementary School, it also means guests of Yamabikoso have easy access to mountainous hiking trails and a nearby river. Even the ocean is just 15 minutes away by car.

▼ Yamabikiso, following its most recent renovations in 2011

Reservations for adults, without meals, are 3,456 yen (US$31) per person per night. Considering that the school was closed down for not having enough people in the surrounding area, it’s somewhat ironic that reservations must be made for at least two travelers, but if you and a friend are looking for a very unique hotel experience while traveling in Japan, reservation information can be found here.

Hotel information
Yamabikoso / やまびこ荘
Address: Shizuoka-ken, Kamomura-gun, Nishi Izu-cho, Osori 150
静岡県賀茂郡西伊豆町大沢里150
Website

Source: Twicolle
Featured image: Yamabikoso (edited by SoraNews24)
Top image: Yamabikoso
Insert images: Yamabikoso (1, 2, 3, 4) (edited by SoraNews24)



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2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will Blow. You. Away.

Japan hasn’t hosted the Summer Olympics since 1964; three years from now marks their big chance to impress everyone on the world stage.

The number one goal behind hosting the Summer Olympics is to showcase a spectacle. Japan wants to impress the world and, if predictions are true, it definitely will.

These are the three coolest things Tokyo is doing to get ready for 2020.

1. The Stadium

At first, the Japanese government set aside around 3 billion dollars to fund the changes they wanted to make to their stadium and the various infrastructure construction they would need. Now the predicted budget is expected to soar past nearly six times that number. The expectations are that tourists and visitors will be able to swipe a pass, verify their identity with a facial scan, and then be led around the stadium by an app that can speak to them in ten different languages. They are also working on a new technology that will project a fake meteor shower in the skies all across Tokyo. It would be a mass series of micro-satellites that they would launch into the lower atmosphere above Tokyo. It could replace fireworks as outdoor entertainment.

2. Self-Driving Mass Transit

They are currently working on new legislation and regulations that will govern the use of self-driving cars. Back in the 1964 Summer Olympics, Japan debuted a bullet train that was above and beyond any sort of mass transit the rest of the world had seen. It set them apart as a rising technological power in the world. These self-driving cars are supposedly going to make the same sort of gesture to the world that Japan is still an enterprising and forward thinking tech giant. They’re currently working on 3-D mapping the entire country’s roadways and refitting already existing automobiles to become driverless. That is supposed to keep the costs down. If they can pull it off, it will mean that Tokyo will become the first major city to establish its own self-driving fleet.

3. The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project

Japan is planning something else that is unprecedented. They plan to build the Olympic medals out of recycled materials, which has been done before, but now Japan is asking its citizens to get involved in collecting all the necessary scrap gold and parts. They are aiming at a 100% recyclable rate of content. This might seem like a small thing, but really it is a big step in a direction towards a better future of environmental conservation. Many Asian countries are somewhat notorious for their lax stance on environmental concerns or global warming. Today China is moving towards expanding solar power faster than the U.S. is and Tokyo is pushing for a cigarette ban. Using the Summer Olympics as a stage to speak for sustainable practices when it comes to the production of goods and services could make a big wave for Japan in 2020.

Featured image: Tokyo 2020 

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Pokémon Sun and Moon Meets Parkour in Real Life 【Video】

Pikachu runs and leaps over obstacles as he chases after Team Rocket in this epic Alola Island adventure.

We’ve seen some amazing parkour videos in the past, with Mario and Luigi barreling over obstacles in the real world, and people taking on the world’s largest parkour course in China, but now it’s time to journey to a different setting for another display of parkour prowess, this time in Hawaii, the real-world inspiration for the Alola region from the hugely popular video games Pokémon Sun and Moon.

While the setting is breathtaking in its beauty, it’s the action that goes on in this parkour clip that has Pokémon fans everywhere paying attention. Starring crowd favourite Pikachu, the electric Pokémon can be seen  leaping over walls and jumping from rooftops as he chases after Team Rocket on this epic parkour adventure.

Take a look at the video below:

The beautifully shot video really makes it look like Pikachu and Team Rocket are racing around Alola Island.

 

The adventure begins when a couple of members from Team Rocket come across a Pokémon egg, quickly bagging it up and stealing it as…

Pikachu arrives on the scene, furrowing his brows in anger, and racing after the duo.

The role of Pikachu is perfectly played by Calen Chan, who embodies the spirit and energy of the electric Pokémon as he bounds through Alola Island, hurling himself through trees and over rooftops. Chan made one epic stumble in the video, which they kept in the storyline, and despite the intensity of the fall, thankfully Chan was uninjured, only winding himself in the process.

Take a look at the fall in the behind-the-scenes video below:

Shot by filmmaker Devin Graham, a self-proclaimed Pokémon fan, the video brings combines action, suspense and adventure in a fun way that brings the world of Pokémon Sun and Moon to life in the real world. We can’t wait to see what they get up to next, but in the meantime,

Source, images: YouTube/devinsupertramp



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This buffet offers over 100 matcha-infused choices for the ultimate matcha experience in Kyoto

That includes nearly 30 different matcha sweets and 50 kinds of ice cream!

Kyoto is famous for its matcha – or powdered green tea, for those of you not in the know – as Uji City, located in southern Kyoto Prefecture, was one of the first places in Japan to cultivate the green tea leaves centuries ago when it was imported from China. Matcha is a very versatile ingredient and has been worked into just about every food and beverage you can think of. No trip to Kyoto would be complete without sampling some of the delicious green tea treats that can be found, but it’s hard to know where to start.

Well, you could start at the MATCHA Sweets Garden buffet, at Kyoto Century Hotel in central Kyoto City. The buffet has been open only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in the month of June, but from Saturday July 1 until Monday July 30 the buffet will be open daily, featuring more matcha-infused food, sweets, ice cream (50 kinds!) and drinks than anyone could possibly eat! The sweets will be patisserie-made, and will use matcha powder from long-standing Uji tea specialty shop Gion Tsujiri. There will be almost 30 different kinds of pastries and treats to choose from, and the line-up looks divine.

▼ Chestnut and matcha shortcake

▼ Matcha Mont Blanc (chestnut and cream dessert)

▼ Layered matcha opera cake

▼ Petit matcha fondue

▼ Matcha ganache and matcha macaron bars

One guest per day will receive a surprise fruit compote brought to their table, with fresh and cool muscat grapes, kiwi, papaya, and more.

There are also 15 different drinks to choose from, like this fun, non-alcoholic cocktail with a base of tigernut milk (tigernuts being small root vegetables originating from Africa, just in case you thought they were something else!), and small test tubes with matcha powder and powdered red or white koshian bean paste which you can mix into your drink yourself.

To balance out all of that sweetness, the buffet will have hors d’oeuvres like the “Spanish omelette with matcha potato salad” and “duck breast and mini tomato brochette with matcha cream garnish”. The buffet will also feature dishes from the restaurant Rantei, which specializes in refined Kyoto cuisine, serving things like “matcha dashi-maki egg sandwiches”.

▼ A sampling of the hors d’oeuvres

If you have an insatiable craving for everything matcha, this may just be your place. Adult price for the buffet is 3,900 yen (US$34.80), 2,000 yen for kids seven to 12, and 1,000 yen for kids four to six. Like many things in Japan, this buffet will only be around for a limited time, so get in and get your fill while you can!

Restaurant information 
All Day Dining Jyho (Kyoto Century Hotel) / オールデイダイニング ラジョウ(京都センチュリーホテル)
Address: Kyoto-fu Kyoto-shi Shimogyo-ku Higashi Shiokoji-cho 680
京都府京都市下京区東塩小路町680
Open: 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Website

Source: @Press via Travel.jp 
Images: @Press



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Ramen restaurant’s new branch has had continuous line of waiting customers for 250 hours

Fukuoka chain Ichiran expands to new country, immediately wins over the locals.

Popular Japanese restaurant chain Ichiran, which was founded in Fukuoka, is loved for its delicious tonkotsu (pork stock) ramen. However, Ichiran is also known for its unique seating system, in which customers sit in individual booths with tall side walls and are served their food through a reed blind.

The philosophy is that removing the distractions of interpersonal interactions and glances allows you to better focus on the flavor of the food, but a side-effect is that eating at Ichiran can feel a little lonely. The irony is that since the chain is so popular, before you can actually get into an Ichiran location you’re probably going to have to wait in a long line together with many fellow ramen fans, which brings us to the restaurant’s newest branch in Taipei.

Located in the Xinyi neighborhood, the Taipei branch is Ichiran’s first in Taiwan, and follows previous overseas expansions into Hong Kong and the U.S. Seats filled up as soon as the Taipei restaurant opened its doors for the first time on June 15, with as many as 200 people standing in the queue. With such a long line, ordinarily you’d have to worry about whether or not you’d be able to get in before closing time, but the Taipei Ichiran is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The combination of seemingly limitless demand and no time-based cutoff of supply has meant that while the line became longer or shorter depending on the exact time, it never completely disappeared. On the night of June 25 – 10 days and 250 hours after the grand opening – there were still some 70 people waiting for a seat.

Making this even more shocking is that Taipei has had daytime high temperatures around 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit) for the past week, which comes during some of the highest humidity of the year. Still, it hasn’t dissuaded crowds from coming to stand in the heat for their chance at some piping hot ramen.

Related: Ichiran Taipei branch
Source: Livedoor News/Techinsight via Jin
Images: Ichiran (1 , 2)



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