Category Archives: Japan

Top Spots to Explore in Kyoto, Japan

A visit to Japan’s most beautiful city, Kyoto is full of splendid experiences! It astonishes with the best of Japan’s culture and traditions. From colourful shrines and serene temples to scenic gardens, there’s a lot to explore in Kyoto. Here are some of the beautiful wonders of Kyoto that demand the attention of visitors from all around.

Kinkaku-ji: The Golden Pavilion

Kinkaku-ji-The-Golden-Pavilion

A picturesque haven, Kinkaku-ji is a Zen temple in Northern Kyoto with its two top floors covered by gold leaf. One of the famous temples in Japan, Kinkaku-ji overlooks the glassy surface of Mirror Lake and seems to float over the mirror pond. Officially known as Rokuon-ji, this Zen Buddhist temple is visited by a large number of travellers to find solace and to marvel at an architectural masterpiece. A National Special Landscape and a National Special Historic Site, this temple remains a must-visit in the city.

Nijo Castle

Nijo-Castle

Another scenic delight of the city, Nijo Castle is a flatland castle which displays the power that the Shotguns wielded over the emperors during the Edo period. Comprising the Normaru Palace, two concentric rings of fortifications, the ruins of the Honmaru Palace and a number of support buildings and gardens, it is an ideal place for the history buffs to explore. Also, like many other historical monuments of the city, it has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Philosopher’s Walk

Attracting nature lovers from all over the world, the Philosopher’s Walk is a roughly mile-long pedestrian path along the lake Biwa Canal in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. Lined by thousands of cherry trees, the canal here is a true delight. It is the path the Japanese philosopher, Nishida Kitaro used to take while commuting to Kyoto University in the early 20th century. Beginning around at Ginkakuji and ending in the neighbourhood of Nanzenji, this 2km long path can certainly be explored.

Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine

Situated in Fushimi Ward in Kyoto, Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine is a prominent Shinto Shrine in Southern Kyoto. Sitting at the base of Inari Mountain, this shrine overlooks the entire city, inviting scores of people who visit every year to take delight in its incredible beauty and find peace.

Kyoto Tower

The tallest building of the city, Kyoto Tower stands 131 metre tall, just across the Kyoto Station, impressing visitors with its iconic appearance. This steel observation tower stands atop a 9-storey building which is home to a 3-star hotel and many stores. The 360 degree panoramic view of the city from the top of this tower presents an exciting experience for the travellers. Besides, dining at its restaurants or a glass panelled lounge is an amazing experience.

Holidays to Hong Kong – Top Experiences to Unravel In the City

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Ancient architectural wonders, rich wildlife, great hospitality, modern temptations, and a vibrant culture – Hong Kong has every element that makes for a great holiday experience. Read on to learn about some of the city’s most appealing experiences that present a wonderful time to the travellers.

Sightseeing

Be it soaring skyscrapers, colonial forts, ancient temples, or terrific theme parks, Hong Kong has the best of it all, treating its guests with the finest of touristy wonders. Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island, Peak Tram, Clock Tower and Hong Kong Museum of History are some of the most well known attractions in the city, ones which you certainly must visit. If you wish to visit a Buddhist temple, head to Tian Tan Buddha, also known as Big Buddha, one of the noted Buddhist temples in the region.

Beaches

A great place to enjoy the best of sun and sand as well as a range of thrilling water sports, Hong Kong beaches promise an unforgettable time to the visitors. Ham Tin Wan, Clearwater Bay, Kwun Yam Wan, Cheung Sha, Big Wave Bay, Turtle Cove and Pui O, Hap Mun and Repulse Bay are among the most frequented beaches here. Besides sunbathing and swimming, snorkelling, diving and kayaking are the popular activities among the travellers visiting these beaches. Live music shows, food festivals and beach parties are held regularly at most of these beaches. Moreover, whales, turtles and other marine animals can be spotted at some of these beaches.

Food

Hong Kong has a fabulous food scene with the city being home to several outstanding restaurants. If we talk about traditional delicacies that remain must try for tourists in Hong Kong, the likes of wontons (dumplings) roast goose, wind sand chicken, fake shark fin soup, shrimp and chicken balls, phoenix talons (chicken feet), steamed shrimp dumplings, fish balls and sweet sour pork come to mind. Apart from enjoying food at the upscale restaurants or causal cafes, you can enjoy the local fare at street side eateries.

Wildlife

With over two-thirds of the city’s territory comprising of wetland reserves, protected parks and natural habitats, Hong Kong is home to many species of birds and animals including a few native and endangered ones. You can spot monkeys, bats, wild bears, pink dolphins, black faced spoonbill, masked palm civet, red lacewing butterflies, ring tailed lemur, purple heron, rufous burrowing snake, green turtle and water buffalo here in Hong Kong. Aberdeen Country Park, Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, Mai Po Nature Reserve, Sai Kung East Country Park and Kowloon Park are among the noted wildlife conservation parks here.

Shopping

Be it unique souvenirs, Chinese artworks, silk products, antique jewellery or artefacts, you can find a lot of stuff at Hong Kong markets. Kowloon Street, Temple Street Night Market, Jade Market and Jade Street, Stanley Market and Ladies Market are some of the areas where you can shop for all kinds of interesting and unique stuff. If you are looking for luxury labels and brands, visit popular malls such as Elements Shopping Mall, IFC Mall and Pacific Place.

Festivals

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Offering a glimpse into the rich and vibrant culture of Hong Kong, the festivals hosted by the city are massively popular among the tourists. Chinese New Year, Spring Lantern Festival, Ching Ming Festival, Tin Hau, Cheung Chau Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Buddha’s Birthday and Hungry Ghost Festival offer travellers a wonderful opportunity to revel in the region’s splendid cultural flair.

Nightlife

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Home to beautiful night markets, illuminating harbours, pristine beaches, and exciting bars and clubs, Hong Kong assures revellers of a great time. Popular party spots in the city include Lan Kwai Fong and Soho, Wan Chai, Volar, Ce La Vi Hong Kong,   Play Club, Dragon-i, Drop, Fly Hong Kong, Magnum and Tasmania Ballroom. Also, the world’s largest light and sound show, Symphony of Lights in Hong Kong is a must experience.

Culture

Culture

A beautiful fusion of diverse religious groups and nationalities such as Cantonese, British, Indians and Shanghainese, Hong Kong culture, understandably, is quite diverse. Best reflected in the architecture, temples, festivals, events, sports, languages and food, this fascinating city is surely a cultural delight! In fact, Cantonese Opera is a classic example of the prevalent Cantonese customs and practices.

Top Activities to Enjoy in Hong Kong in January

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With the New Year marching in, our calendars are filled with a whole new set of festivals, events, and holiday packages. If you are hunting for a holiday destination, we suggest that you visit Hong Kong in January. It is the driest month of the year in Hong Kong and you will have a whale of a time visiting the local attractions. Also, here are the top activities to indulge in during the winter season in Hong Kong.

Enjoy Winter Food

Food is common to mankind. Just the ingredients and dishes differ from one region to the other. Hong Kong has cuisines and dishes for each season. The famous Hong Kong style barbecue, the exotic snake soup, and clay pot rice are best enjoyed during the winter season. Restaurants offer authentic delicacies across the length and breadth of the city for you to experience the best of everything while on a holiday.

Winter Festivals

An important traditional festival is the Chinese New Year, which involves a series of cultural activities including temple fairs, dragon dances, and lion dances. Be prepared to cut the winter chill with a whole lot of bright and colourful events during winters in Hong Kong. For your next holiday, make sure you witness these events and festivals for an ultimate traditional experience.

Ice-skating in the Snow

The age old ice-skating festival is one of the best ways to enjoy the winter chill in Hong Kong. Numerous artificially snow covered skating rinks are created in different parts of the destination for the residents and tourists to enjoy skating and other water sports. Jump into the frozen ice rink and enjoy some trilling rides under the winter sun. In a city that does not get snowfall, these ice-skating rinks sure do appear surreal.

Local Sightseeing

Be it any season; holidays are incomplete without local sightseeing. Blessed with numerous attractions, the idea of sightseeing in the beautiful city holds utmost importance. For a complete understanding of the destination, you simply have to explore the popular structures and monuments. Just one of the most popular tourist attractions is the Museum of History.

Explore Lantau Island

The largest island in Hong Kong, Lantau Island has numerous parklands and theme parks. Besides regular sightseeing, visitors can enjoy several outdoor adventures. Popular attractions here include the famous Disneyland, Po Lin Monastery, Tai O, and Ngong Ping 360. Also, pay homage to Hong Kong’s best known film stars at the popular Avenue of stars.

The Fun-Packed Chinese Festivals in Hong Kong

Hong Kong can be termed as ‘The Land of Contradictions’. Natural beauty is somehow complemented by bustling city life. Similarly, Chinese traditions and western culture co-exist peacefully here.

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As Hong Kong is a multi-cultural destination, many different festivals are celebrated in this legendary land. Here, we have focused upon some of the colourful Chinese festivals.

Dragon and Lion Dance Festival

The name says it all! The Dragon and Lion Dance Festival showcases hundreds of artificial and eye-catching dragons, lions and celestial guardians, marching and dancing through the streets to commemorate the approaching new year. Already well-known in the region, the Dragon and Lion Dance Festival is celebrated every year on 1st January. In 2011, this festival created a Guinness World Record by displaying 1,111 dragons and lions.

Chinese New Year

Celebrated on the first moon of the Lunar Calendar, the Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays for the Chinese. People clean their houses and put up traditional New Year decorations. Family members have dinner together. They may watch conventional Chinese shows and launch fireworks later. Individuals wear red clothes and give children ‘lucky money’ in red envelopes. Red represents fire, which is believed to drive bad luck away.

Spring Lantern Festival

This festival is truly a treat to the eyes! Held on the 15th day of the first lunar month, the Spring Lantern Festival features innumerable colourful lanterns, which beautify markets, restaurants and hotels. The main celebration is held in Tsim Sha Tsui at the Hong Kong Cultural Central Piazza, which is open to the public for free. The theme of the festival changes annually, with lanterns assuming the shape of a particular animal. The lantern carnival is a must-watch! It presents folk songs, traditional dances and instrumental performances.

Dragon Boat Festival

Also called the ‘Tueng Ng Festival’, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th Lunar month. There are dragon boat races in which international teams of paddlers compete against each other in long narrow boats. To make this fiesta more lively and spirited, drums are played and beer is offered. As per a popular legend, the Dragon Boat Festival came into existence due to an old man named ‘Qu Yuan’. He was so saddened with his nation’s government that he drowned himself in the river.

Well-Wishing Festival

There’s not a better way to interact with locals than by participating in the ‘Well Wishing Festival’. In this fiesta, participants share a meal with locals. Post this, they write their wish on a piece of paper and tie it with a string. On one end of the string is an orange. Participants toss them upwards, aiming for a sturdy branch (wishing tree). These wishing trees are situated in the village of Lam Tsuen in the New Territories.

A Guide to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Disneyland, synonymous with fun, amusement and recreation and attracts tourists from across the world. It’s a place for kids to witness their favourite television characters in real life and a chance for adults to revisit their childhood.

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Disneyland is not just any another amusement park- it is an experience in its own right. This article is an attempt to familiarise you with the wonders and attractions of the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

Disneyland Park

Featuring seven themed areas- Main Street, Fantasyland, Adventure land, Tomorrowland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point and Toy Story Land, the park is considered to be the lifeline of the resort. With such an impressive array of theme parks, your kids will be spoilt for choice. Castles, cartoon characters, live shows, joy rides, sleds and souvenir shops at this park will definitely steal your attention. Experience the natural and magical life in the Adventure land, complete with forests and cabins where fairies, dwarves and other fairy tale characters come to life.

Frontierland, an imitation of the American Old West, complete with mountains, cowboys, saloons and “uncharted wilderness” offers the perfect outdoor experience.

A visit to Tomorrowland takes one to a futuristic world full of spaceships, submarines, railroads and other attractions. Star Wars movie enthusiasts will rejoice over the fact that there are dedicated sections where you can meet stormtroopers, undergo Jedi training and do a lot more.

Disneyland Hotel

The Disneyland hotel, located in the heart of the resort, is perfect for staying in the midst of an entertaining atmosphere. You can choose from over 400 rooms which offer stunning views of the sea and the garden area. For more comfort and luxury, opt for the Kingdom Club suites that offer great views and excellent amenities. The hotel also has several ballrooms and convention centres.

Disneyland Hollywood Hotel

This hotel is a tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood, complete with sophisticated styling, latest amenities, tasteful decorations and a piano shaped swimming pool (complete with black and white keys). Here, you will have none other than Mickey Mouse as your waiter, who will amuse you with his antics and at the same time dish out various Asian and seafood delicacies, followed by a range of fine wines.

The Colourful Cheung Chau Bun Festival Hong Kong

The spring season in Hong Kong is full of festivities. One of the most exciting and intriguing festivals celebrated is Cheung Chau Bun Festival.

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Travel to stunning Hong Kong to witness the amazing days of celebration from 12th May, 2016 to 14th May, 2016.

The Festival

Celebrated in the lunar month, Cheung Chau Bun Festival is welcomed with the preparation of costumes, papier-mâché sculptures of deities and baking of lucky buns. Celebrated since a century, the festival draws people from across the world.
The colourful festival is delineated as an inherent element of Hong Kong’s culture and tradition. Just a short ferry ride from Central Pier 5 of city, tourists can heartily enjoy the vibrant and unique festival.

Pak Tai Temple

The oldest and apparently the most famous temple in Chueng Chau, Pak Tai Temple has a lot for tourists. Visit to experience a religious aura during the festival. Enjoy the majestic ambiance enhanced by fragrances of incenses that are set up around the temple.

Events and Rituals

The vivacious Cheung Chau includes an array of interesting activities and competitions such as climbing carnival, lion and unicorn dances, Piu Sik Parade, Chinese Opera Performances and kung fu performances. The mystifying merriment and customs ends with the ceremony of sending back the deities to their temples at Pak Tai Temple Plaza.

Apart from all this, the showstopper is the Bun Scrambling Competition, to be held on 14th May, 2016. The participants get on the bun tower to grab as many lucky buns as possible under the belief that they will get lucky throughout the year.

Bun and Bun Tower

The lucky buns are prepared with flour, water, and sugar as the main ingredients and strictly without animal products. Enjoy three distinct flavours of buns; lotus, sesame and red bean paste. Traditionally, the Chinese character stamped on the bun stands for ‘peace’.
The huge bun tower is covered with artificial plastic buns to avoid wastage of food during the festival. Experience the thrill as the locals scramble to collect the maximum number of buns. These few excitement packed minutes have attracted people for ages now.

Indulge in a World of Flavours at Gourmet Japan 2016

Treat your taste buds to a plethora of cuisines and delicacies that will leave you asking for more. The renowned celebration of Japanese culture and cuisines will soon welcome you to witness its fifth edition.

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Get ready to lose yourself amidst the mesmerising aromas at the venue and taste distinct cuisines prepared by renowned chefs. Scheduled to be held in Singapore, Gourmet Japan 2016 will be held from 20th April to 31st May, 2016. Food lovers from across the globe vie to book tickets in advance to experience this interesting culinary event. Hop on to know more.

Top Chefs in Action

The popular Gourmet Japan will be graced by International Guest Chefs, Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai, Celebrity Chef Hal Yamashita and Iron Chef Chen Kenichi. Numerous other celebrated and renonwed chefs including Chef Leok Yong Shyang, Chef Koichiro Oshino, Chef Kenji Okumura and Chef Akihiro Maetomo will be amongst the attendees. Also meet the three masters of beverages; Hidehiko Matsumoto, Mike Miyamoto and Kan Otsuka during the event.

The Schedule

The spectacular event will exhibit a range of flavours, creativity and techniques from the culinary world of Japan. The month long food festivity from 20th April to 31st May, 2016 will have two phases. People from across the world will attend the event to explore Japanese cuisines and culture.

The first phase will be held from 14th to 17th May, 2016 with promotions by Iron Chef Chen Kenichi and Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai at Me@OUE.

The second phase will last from 16th to 21st May, 2016 where guests can meet Celebrity Chef Hal Yamashita at Syun, Resort Worlds Sentosa.

Exciting Workshops

The event will include workshops to teach guests about contemporary and regional cuisines, whilst interacting with experienced chefs. Participate in workshops such as Cooking Workshop and The Art of Japanese Cuisine Workshops to explore culinary arts and signature Japanese influenced delicacies.

What’s more?

There will be special menus by International Guest Chefs Chen Kenichi, Hiroyuki Sakai and Hal Yamashita. So, enjoy month long festivities bringing popular personalities, chefs and food lovers under one roof to celebrate a world of food and flavours.

Five Spectacular Skyscrapers in Hong Kong

Recently, Hong Kong’s skyline was ranked the best in the world by a renowned infrastructure data company, Emporis. The city is dotted with many towering buildings, which indeed make for a sight to behold. Here are five of the most prominent of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers.

Central Plaza

Completed in 1992, Central Plaza soars 347m high over the beautiful Victoria Harbour. It has a unique exterior shape and a triangular floor plan that gives most of the offices and restaurants, inside the building, gorgeous harbour views. On the top of the building is a bright neon pole that changes colour every 15 minutes after sunset. Visitors have free admission to its 46th floor gallery which offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.

International Commerce Centre

International Commerce Centre stands at 484m, making it the tallest building in Hong Kong and seventh tallest in the world. As the name suggests, the building is home to some of the biggest business brands in the city. Some notable tenants include Accenture, Morgan Stanley, and ABN-AMRO.

Bank of China Tower

Also called BOC Tower, it is located at 1 Garden Road, and is renowned for its unique exterior

Bank of China Tower

design resembling bamboo shoots. The building was designed by the award-wining Chinese American architect I.M.Pei and soars up to a height of 300m. It is the fourth tallest building in Hong Kong and a prominent part of the city’s skyline.

Two International Finance Centre

At 416.8 m, Two International Finance Centre (2IFC) is the second tallest tower in Hong Kong. The architecture is relatively simple; it is a square-shaped glassy skyscraper. The skyscraper is designed to accommodate business institutions. It is one of the few buildings in Hong Kong that feature double-deck elevators.

HSBC Building

Built in 2003, HSBC Building is acclaimed as one of the world’s most expensively constructed properties. The construction of the building incurred an expenditure of HK$5.2 billion. The glittering skyscraper was designed by the famous architect Lord Norman Faster and is located on the southern side of Statue Square. During weekends and holidays, the area is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike.

International Arts Carnival 2015 – Enjoy Hong Kong Summers with Your Family

July-August is a good time to be in Hong Kong as the city hosts the International Arts Carnival during the period. A variety of cultural activities and stage performances by renowned international

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groups are organised at the annual carnival. There is much to enjoy, experience and learn during this more-than-a-month long event, scheduled from 10th July to 16th August, 2015. Check out a few highlights of the International Arts Carnival.

Legend of the Silk Route

This acrobatic show is the first event of the International Arts carnival. The colourful show by Shaanxi Acrobatic Troupe comprises more than 20 acrobatic feats and energetic dance performances. Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre will host this entertaining amalgamation of history and culture from 10th to 12th July. Entry is not permitted to kids under three.

National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America

Also known as NYO-USA, this event features a team of 110 young musicians from the USA, performing under the supervision of notable pianist YUNDI and conductor Charles. Visit the Hong Kong Culture Centre Concert Hall on 26th July to enjoy the symphonies of Beethoven and the compositions of Berlioz.

Too Many Penguins?

Considered an apt show for kids aged between one and four, it illustrates the funny story of a lone but happy polar bear which has to deal with too many penguins in his neighbourhood. Watch penguins of various sizes arriving on the stage by boat, car and balloon. This unique story of tolerance and friendship is narrated by Frozen Charlotte, a UK-based artist.  Kwai Tsing Theatre Black Box Theatre will host this show from 16th to 19th July.

Franz & Friends’ Voyage Undersea

This 3D musical show is perhaps the most diversified event at the International Arts Carnival. Its highlights range from animation to drama and puppetry. The show is created by  Image in Motion Theater of Taiwan. Tuen Mun Town Hall Auditorium is the venue for this show that’s scheduled on 25th and 26th July.

London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival 2015: A Chinese Connection in the UK

Visit the London Regatta Centre on 28th June, 2015 to feel the thrill of the 20th edition of the London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. Often considered the most prestigious dragon boat festival across Europe, it has become an integral part of the cultural calendar of London. Here are a few notable highlights of this festival.

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Participate as a Competitor

You can compete in this event as part of a team. Take your pick from Corporate Package or Non-Corporate Package. Entry forms for both packages are available on the official website of the festival.

Entertainment

Besides boat races, the London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is packed with an array of attractions and activities as diverse as DJ shows, live musical performances, and martial arts.

Jeffrey Alexander School of Martial Arts: At the boat race festival, participants from Jeffrey Alexander School of Martial Arts will showcase unique self-defence moves of various disciplines such as Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Shaolin, and Chi Kung.

Kieran Lai: The semi-finalist at Britain’s Got Talent 2014, Kieran Lai is going to display his jaw-dropping dance moves at the London Regatta Centre on 28th June. This talented dancer also acted in the British movie, All Stars.

Crash Island: If you are fond of rock music, Crash Island is sure to catch your attention. This four-piece London-based band includes artists from South Africa, Spain, and France, and has performed in various European countries including Germany, Switzerland, and France.

Luciee Marie Closier: The young singer shot to fame with BBC’s The Voice UK 2014. Now, Closier sings all over the UK and has supported numerous popular bands and artists such as Shola Arna, Scouting for Girls, and Ms Dynamite.