Japanese cocktails and craft beer

Looking for an insider’s take on Japan’s drinking culture?

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Perhaps you’d like to delve into the world of Japanese cocktails in the city of Asahikawa, famed for its prize-winning mixologists. Or how about comparing craft beers from microbreweries along Tokyo’s Yamanote Line?

This summer, you can test both experiences thanks to special programs led by local guides at Hoshino Resorts’ OMO hotels. And, if you can’t make it this summer, staff can help you organize your own drinking-themed stay. There’s plenty to sample all year round!

Original beer cocktails

Asahikawa is the second biggest city on Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido. Most Japanese know it for its cold winters and warming culinary offerings, such as ramen and the grilled mutton speciality Jingisukan.

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The city’s other claim to fame is its drinks: several prized sakes are crafted here, the Taisetsu-ji Brewery makes highly drinkable pilsners and ales, and cocktail fans will find plenty to satiate their thirst.

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At Hoshino Resorts OMO7 Asahikawa, you’ll be ideally positioned to explore the city’s drinking scene. This contemporary-design hotel has urban attitude, a central location – and a bar serving a range of beers and cocktails.

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You can sample the classic Hokkaido Red Eye cocktail, a combination of local beer, tomato juice and vodka. Or how about a Calpico with sake, which mixes a milky soft drink with local Otokoyama sake.

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As a bonus, the hotel is adding a pop-up beer cocktail bar this summer. Seven original cocktails will be offered, including “Black & Black”, a dark soda drink made from guarana berries combined with Ryuhyo Draft, a dark Hokkaido beer brewed using iceberg water.

Japanese cocktail culture

Asahikawa is a great place to explore Japan’s cocktail scene at any time of the year. In winter, you can sample the nightlife while skiing in the day thanks to a special urban ski program at Hoshino Resorts OMO7 Asahikawa.

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In the morning, shuttle services take you directly to the slopes. At night, the hotel’s local guides, known as OMO Rangers, will show you the best bars in town.

If you’re a cocktail-lover, there’s plenty to explore. Japanese mixologists are reputed for their precision and perfection.

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Ice is often hand-shaved from a solid block, and you can expect all accessories, from mixing spoons and shakers to cocktail glasses, to be exceptional quality.

Which tipples should you try? Lemon Sour is a refreshing mix of shochu liquor, club soda and freshly-squeezed lemon. You’ll often see the lemon replaced by other homegrown citrus fruits such as yuzu and sudachi.

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How about a Ginza Mary, the local take on the Bloody Mary that includes sake? And for cold winter nights, the perfect remedy is Tamagozake, heated sake combined with raw egg yolks and sugar.

Tokyo’s craft beer scene

If you prefer craft beer over cocktails, the northern Tokyo district of Otsuka is an excellent place to start. The area is full of narrow streets lined with small izakaya drinking dens and specialist restaurants.

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And, at Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka, you’ll be shown the choice venues by the hotel’s OMO Rangers.

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One of the Ranger outings is a Craft Beer tour. In the last few years, Japan has become a vibrant market for ji-bīru (craft beer) and is now home to more than 200 microbreweries.

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Just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel, Smoke Beer Factory produces 5 of its own craft beers and also stocks an eclectic range of Japanese and international brews. Smoked food is a speciality here – and the technique even extends to the beer, with the bar’s iconic Namachan no Raoho using smoked malt to create a smooth, aromatic taste.

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The Smoke Beer Factory is one of 4 breweries participating in a special summer program at Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka. Until September, the hotel’s bar is hosting the Yamanote Craftbeer Festival – a chance to sample lagers, ales and IPAs from 4 microbreweries situated near stations on Tokyo’s Yamanote Line.

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The hotel itself is just a minute’s walk from the Otsuka stop.

During the festival, you’ll be able to test offerings from the Spring Valley Brewery, which produces Daydream, a white beer with unique Japanese ingredients such as sansho peppers and yuzu.

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You’ll sample brews from T.Y. Harbor, a specialist in pale ale, IPA and Imperial Stout.

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And you’ll be served creations from DevilCraft, a brewery famed for its dark, rich-flavoured Black Igneous.

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Can’t make it this summer? Not a problem. You can come anytime and hop on the Yamanote Line to order a beer from the breweries in person!

Japan in bloom

Spring in Japan is synonymous with cherry blossom – and rightly so. No trip in March or April would be complete without visiting one of the country’s famous sakura hotspots. But Japan is also home to a wealth of spectacular spring flowers that are equally photogenic, yet well off the traditional tourist track.

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Head to Kyushu to walk through a carpet of bright pink azaleas on the slopes of Mt. Aso. Admire the vibrant purple-blues of over a million Japanese irises in Hamamatsu Flower Park.

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And discover the early-April Hana Matsuri (“flower festival”) all around the country!

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Every year on April 8, the Japanese mark the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha, with a fitting floral tribute. Held across the country, Hana Matsuri is a celebration of both religion and the coming of spring. If you’re in Japan for the cherry blossoms, make sure you check out these colourful flower festivities.

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During the event, temples feature a hana mido or flower temple, which is elaborately decorated with seasonal blooms and houses a small Buddha statue sprinkled with amacha sweet tea.

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Beyond the flowers, you can expect music, colourful kimonos and children dressed in traditional costumes.

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One of the most rewarding destinations for an alternative take on Japan’s spring flowers is the southern island of Kyushu. The rich volcanic hillsides of the Aso-Kuju National Park are an extremely fertile ground for all sorts of colourful blooms from March onwards. At

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this time, the landscape transforms from black wastelands, created by the grass-burning tradition of noyaki, to fresh green pastures dotted with swathes of ebullient Alpine flowers.

Hoshino Resorts KAI Aso is an ideal base for exploring the area during the period of spring reawakening.

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Nestled in the heart of the National Park, this luxury ryokan is composed of stylish private villas, each with its own outdoor hot spring bath, and stands just 3 miles from a major trailhead – the perfect springboard for exploring the stunning scenery of this beautifully-preserved wilderness.

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One of the most iconic images of Kyushu in the spring is the tapestry of fresh pink and purple flowers weaved into green hillsides. These are Kyushu azaleas, a unique variety of the shrub known as Miyama Kirishima in Japanese, meaning “azalea that blooms high in the mountains”.

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The northern foot of Mt. Aso is one of the best places to appreciate this seasonal phenomenon. The area, known as Sensuikyo, is a gorge created by lava flow during the volcano’s eruption. Every year from mid-May to early June, some 50,000 Kyushu azaleas cover the mountainside in a magnificent carpet of colour.

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Walking paths around here are relatively easy, offering superb vistas on the outer rim of the Aso crater. And if hiking is not your thing, staff at Hoshino Resorts KAI Aso can organize a horseback trip, even for novice riders.

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Another floral highlight 10 minutes by car from the ryokan is the Kuju Flower Park, a 49-acre site housing some 5 million flowers and 500 different varieties. Wide paths lead through vast fields of flowers, framed by the Kuju mountains. The ever-changing display of blooms begins mid-March with pansies, followed by tulips, poppies, roses, pink phlox moss, nemophila, lavender, salvia, lilies, hydrangeas and sunflowers.

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In the summer, you can even pick your own blueberries.

Hamamatsu Flower Festa

Just over 2 hours by train from Tokyo, Hoshino Resorts KAI Enshu is situated just minutes from the Hamamatsu Flower Park. The area is the heartland of Japanese green tea, and the lakeside ryokan is a great place to learn about both tea and Japan’s spring flowers.

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The ryokan offers a special program to coincide with the Lake Hamana Flower Festa, which runs in the Flower Park throughout most of spring.

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As a guest, you’ll get free entry to the festival and, if you’re there in early spring, you’ll be able to wander along the park’s mesmerizing mile-long stretch of cherry blossoms, lined with 30,000 tulips. From late April to early May, one of the highlights is a stroll under the 150-meter pergola of dangling wisteria flowers.

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By late spring, you should head to the hydrangea garden, which boasts some 500 different varieties, as well as the iris gardens – where around 1 million hanashobu flowers add a touch of colour to Japan’s rainy season.

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Tochigi: Japan’s crafts heartland

Head north from Tokyo and, when the urban sprawl ends and the mountains begin, you’ll find yourself in Tochigi Prefecture. This diverse region is famed for its shrines, remote onsen villages, and the grandeur of its natural landscapes.

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It’s also a hotbed for traditional Japanese crafts.

Mashiko-yaki pottery and Yuki-tsumugi silk are two of the area’s most prized art forms, but there are many more, handed down from generation to generation.

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At Hoshino Resorts’ KAI properties, you can experience Tochigi crafts first-hand. Each ryokan works with local artisans to create an original décor built around traditional crafts – in the rooms, in the restaurant, and all around the ryokan. Even the menu can be a product of traditional washi papermaking!

Nikko: Japanese-style joinery

With its lakeside setting beneath the mighty Mt. Nantai volcano, Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko makes an ideal base for exploring the Nikko National Park. Inside, the ryokan’s décor is classic Japanese, with tatami mats, aromatic cedar baths and shoji sliding screens. There’s also a distinctive style of wood latticework, known as kanuma kumiko.

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Kumiko is a technique that allows elements of wood to be joined together without using nails. The regional kanuma-kumiko is thought to have originated during the construction of the opulent 17th-century Nikko Toshogu Shrine, a 30-minute bus ride from the ryokan. It relies on high-quality local wood such as Kiso cypress, Akita cedar and Nikko cedar.

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At Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko, you’ll see the distinctive hexagonal form of kanuma-kumiko decorations on the room partitions, shoji sliding doors and other interior features.

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To design these unique furnishings, the ryokan worked with artisan Mori Yukio, who has been practicing kanuma-kumiko for over 20 years. It’s a highly intricate art that involves shaving strips of wood down to as little as 0.5mm in width. Precision is essential, as even a 0.1mm difference means different parts of wood will not join correctly.

If you want to release your inner artists, you can try your hand at kanuma-kumiko during your stay. Complementary starter kits are provided to all guests so you create your own latticework while admiring the view of Lake Chuzenji.

Kawaji: hands-on papermaking

Washi is an age-old form of Japanese paper, known for its exceptional strength and resistance. Thanks to these properties, it’s used in shoji screens, lampshades and book covers, kites and origami – and even wallpaper. In Tochigi Prefecture, the local variety known as Karasuyama washi has been handmade for over 1200 years – and you can learn the method yourself at Hoshino Resorts KAI Kawaji.

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Karasuyama washi is particularly prized for its water resistance and was historically used in the Imperial court. The raw material usually comes from the kozo, a type of mulberry bush. After the bark is removed, branches are boiled and pounded to loosen the individual fibres. Next, a large quantity of water is added, along with glue made from the roots of sunset hibiscus. To form a sheet of washi paper, you scoop up this solution on a sieve frame and carefully drain it, leaving it to dry overnight.

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Thanks to a partnership with local papermaking company Fukuda Seishi, Hoshino Resorts KAI Kawaji will guide you to create your own washi postcard. It’s all part of the experience of staying in this hot spring ryokan in the small mountain village of Kawaji.

Kinugawa: deep blue décor

At Hoshino Resorts KAI Kinugawa, touches of deep blue indigo add streaks of striking colour throughout the ryokan.  The local art of indigo dyeing known as Kurobane aizome uses a labour-intensive method called “stencil dyeing”.

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The craftsman behind the ryokan’s indigo bed linen and wall decorations is Yuta Onuma, the eighth generation of a family business founded over 200 years ago.

The process involves mixing fermented leaves from the Tadeai plant with bran, quicklime, sake and other ingredients. These are put in a jar, which is buried underground and left to ferment using natural bacteria. After a week or so, the dye is ready. To obtain different shades of indigo, the craftsman carefully varies how long the fabric is immersed.

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While Kurobane aizome is traditionally used for linen and kitchen towels, Yuta Onuma’s company has branched out to offer indigo sneakers, t-shirts, paper bags and more. If you’re inspired by the ryokan’s deep blue décor, why not treat yourself to an original gift from his store in nearby Otawara City?

Message from Hoshino Resorts

The outbreak of COVID-19 has an ongoing global affect on all of us. It is during these times that we need to cooperate as much as possible, understanding each other’s challenges and treating everyone with respect and integrity. We need to create enough strength and power to combat the impact of coronavirus.

We are making every possible effort to ensure our guests have a safe and secure stay at our hotels. Such efforts include:
– Addition of heightened disinfection procedures to cleaning of rooms and public areas
– Availability of alcohol-based disinfectants at multiple locations around each property
– Management of health and hygiene of staff members at all of our properties

We will continue to update our actions against the virus and will of course be alert to additional precautionary measures, as necessary.

In addition, as a trusted hotel company with a long-standing history in hospitality, we have several special packages available for guests still wishing to travel.

Work and play at RISONARE

RISONARE is a resort hotel brand for families of all ages that offers refined design and various opportunities to gain experience and knowledge through hands-on activities. Put your city-life on hold by going out into the heart of Japan’s countryside, staying in areas with plentiful fresh air and nature.

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Whilst the children are occupied with activities, parents can focus on their work, as well as enjoy time off from everyday life.

Cleanse via hot spring healing at KAI

KAI is a brand that offers a traditional ryokan style of accommodation with a modern twist by considering the area’s local culture.

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Although belief in hot spring healing is less common these days, it has always been a part of Japanese culture – soaking in the naturally mineral-rich baths offers healing and cleansing properties.

Fuji in spring

What better setting than Mt. Fuji to experience Japan’s celebrated spring colours? Early season, you’ll wander through rows of flowering cherry blossom trees, with Lake Kawaguchi and Mt. Fuji as your backdrop.

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Late season, carpets of bright moss phlox bring new colour to the lakeside setting. And, at HOSHINOYA Fuji, you’ll be treated to seasonal cuisine using ingredients freshly gathered from the surrounding forests.

You’ll also be able to sign up for a helicopter ride offering a bird’s eye view of the region.

Cherry blossom promenade

At HOSHINOYA Fuji, you’re guaranteed a picture-postcard view of Mt. Fuji reflected in Lake Kawaguchi. Each of the resort’s private glamping cabins is designed to maximize the panorama thanks to huge windows and a sofa-lined balcony facing the mountain.

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A few minutes’ walk downhill from the resort, you’ll arrive at the promenade along the lake’s northern shore. This is the setting for the Fuji Kawaguchiko Cherry Blossom Festival, held 4 to 12 April, 2020. Here, the banks of Lake Kawaguchi are lined with some 300 Yoshino cherry trees spread over a kilometre.

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With pink blossoms framing Mt. Fuji on the horizon, there can be few more iconic images of Japan in the springtime.

Throughout the festival, stalls proffer tempting local food and a range of handicrafts. Come back after dark to see the blossoms illuminated, with lights from the town shimmering on the lake’s surface.

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If you’re staying at HOSHINOYA Fuji later in the spring, the Fuji Shibazakura Festival is a must. Known as moss phlox in English, shibazakura literally translates as “lawn of cherry blossoms”. This ground cover plant transforms anywhere it grows into a blanket of colour in the spring.

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Hillsides and fields become vibrant carpets of flowers – and no more so than at the festival, where some 800,000 stalks of shibazakura are displayed against the backdrop of Mt. Fuji.

Held near Lake Motosuko, April 18 to May 31, 2020, the festival is a short bus ride from HOSHINOYA Fuji and features five varieties of moss phlox. You can walk along entire fields of pink, white and purple moss phlox. On a clear day, the sight of Mt. Fuji rising above a sea of deep pink flowers is a photographer’s dream.

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When you’re worn out of walking, head to the panoramic foot bath to give your feet a well-earned soak. Or take a ride on a hot-air balloon to enjoy the view from 20 meters up.

The site simultaneously hosts Mt. Fuji Delicious Food Festival, so you can also sample plenty of local delicacies. Look out for Koshu Fujizakura pork miso soup or Yoshida Udon noodles, known for their firm springiness.

Al fresco dining

For a gourmet take on the area’s spring cuisine, book an outdoor table at HOSHINOYA Fuji.

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The Forest Kitchen offers a Spring Gibier Dinner in the full spirit of glamping: you’ll be cooking your own meal in a wooded area at 900m altitude but with personal assistance from one of the resort’s “glamping masters” and with the comfort of a table, chairs, and heated blankets if it’s cold. Even if you’re a novice glamper, you’ll eat in style!

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The menu features game and vegetables found in the local forests and lakes. You’ll start with the likes of masu salmon quick-smoked with cherry chips. For the main course, you can expect wild boar accompanied by the gentle flavours of spring: cherry blossoms, Japanese pepper, and bamboo shoots.

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After your meal, head up to the resort’s Cloud Terrace for a half-hour concert of live music around a bonfire. And maybe a glass of Japanese whisky from the popup bar?

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Explore by air, water and land

Spring brings a new post-snow landscape to the Fuji area – and there are plenty of ways to explore the outdoors. How about discovering the nearby Aokigahara Forest by helicopter?

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This legendary forest was formed on land scorched by lava from Mt. Fuji and is dubbed the “Sea of Trees” because the trees are all similar heights and look like waves in the ocean when they sway in the wind.

You’ll be taken for a 15-minute helicopter ride to appreciate the forest from the sky – with Mt. Fuji in full view. Afterwards, you’ll explore the sea of trees from a canoe on Lake Saiko, with a guide paddling alongside to serve drinks and snacks.

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And you’ll finish with a short walk in the forest, accompanied by a local nature expert.

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The ultimate tour of Fuji’s most famous forest in all its spring splendour.

Exclusive cherry blossom experiences

Every year, the arrival of Japan’s celebrated cherry blossom attracts visitors from all over the world. Top sakura spots, such as Ueno Park in Tokyo or the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto, can get extremely busy – although it’s well worth joining the masses for the mesmeric views.

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But what if you could also appreciate the quintessential experience of hanami (flower-viewing) far from the crowds?

A private sakura session with seasonal food and drink. A moment of calm to truly contemplate the transient beauty of Japanese cherry blossom.

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What about dining and breakfasting on your own cherry-blossom terrace in a riverside ryokan in Kyoto? Getting a unique perspective on Tokyo’s blooms from a private boat? Or celebrating in the birthplace of the iconic Somei-Yoshino cherry trees?

There’s more than one way to experience sakura season.

Private viewing and dining in Kyoto

If you’re in Kyoto at peak cherry blossom time, there are few better places to escape the crowds than HOSHINOYA Kyoto. After a day admiring the city’s top sights, you’ll be immersed in a world of calm thanks to the ryokan’s riverside setting in the rolling hills of Arashiyama.

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What’s more, you can have your meals served on an exclusive outdoor terrace among pink-flowering cherry trees.

At the end of March and beginning of April, the ryokan erects a special cherry blossom terrace – which you can reserve exclusively for your use. With 29m² of wooden decking and 77m² of tatami mat, the terrace has plenty of space – and it’s built around two striking sakura trees, which are in full blossom at this period.

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For dinner, you’ll be served a shokado-bento box under illuminated cherry trees. Expect seasonal treats such as Spanish mackerel, and scrambled eggs and dried mullet roe sprinkled over rapeseeds. To round off the evening, how about a cherry-coloured cocktail made from strawberries and sparkling sake?

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The next day, you’ll participate in a private open-air tea ceremony on the tatami mats of your terrace. Whisk your own matcha tea and sip it on the generous sofa, as the sun lights up the pink flowers on the terrace.

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Then lie down on the tatami mats under the trees to make the most of this exclusive sakura moment.

Trace the origins of cherry trees in Tokyo

If you prefer your hanami urban-style, head to Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka for the OMO Everything Sakura Festival. This northern area of the country’s capital is the birthplace of the Somei-Yoshino cherry trees – the most iconic type of sakura in Japan – and the hotel’s festival celebrates this historic link in style!

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As a guest, you’ll be able to take an exclusive cherry tree tram tour, taste sakura-themed treats in the OMO Cafe, and get expert insights into the country’s cherry tree traditions. To add to the atmosphere, the hotel’s lobby lounge is bedecked with cherry blossom decorations during the festival.

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The concept of OMO hotels is to give guests an insider experience thanks to OMO Rangers, the hotel’s neighbourhood experts who guide you to the most authentic places to eat, drink – and, during sakura season, to view cherry blossoms.

Follow the Ranger onto the local tram, one of only two lines remaining in Tokyo, to discover Otsuka’s finest blossoms.

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Around 200 years ago, it was here in the ward of Toshima that the horticulturists of Edo Castle are said to have created the Somei-Yoshino tree through selective breeding. Today, the area is filled with the five-petaled flowers of this most revered of cherry trees – and you’ll be shown the best viewing spots by your guide, including Asukayama park.

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After the tour, why not head back to the hotel for a Hanami Sweets Set, composed of cherry blossom mille-feuille and cherry blossom monaka?

Flower viewing from Tokyo’s waterways

Another unique sakura experience is provided by HOSHINOYA Tokyo, a luxury ryokan in the heart of Japan’s capital. From the hotel, you’ll be taken by rickshaw, via prime cherry blossom spots, to Nihonbashi Pier.

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Here, you’ll board a small private boat, helmed by a guide who will steer you to the best waterside sakura spots of the moment.

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From the coast of Tsukudajima to the banks of the Oyokogawa river, the trip offers a unique perspective on the city’s cherry blossom. As a bonus, you’ll be served sparkling sake and a sakura-inspired bento box onboard.

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The ultimate way to appreciate cherry blossom in style.

How to experience Japanese mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness has become a buzzword in recent years. Our lives are increasingly busy and stressful – and we’re all looking for ways to unwind. “Mindfulness” is the art of concentrating all your senses on the present moment, putting aside the past and future to be fully aware of what is happening now. It helps you be more focused and self-assured, and to be in touch with your body and surroundings.

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It’s a concept the Japanese have been practicing for centuries. Embracing the present is at the heart of many traditions in Japan, including cherry-blossom viewing, the tea ceremony, and the incense ceremony.

Next time you’re in Japan, why not treat yourself to a few days away from modern life?

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At Hoshino Resorts, you can choose from a number of special programs to experience Japanese-style mindfulness.

Zen meditation in Kyoto

Stay at HOSHINOYA Kyoto, and you’ll find all the ingredients you need to maximize mindfulness. The ryokan is set by the river Oi among the forested hills of Arashiyama – a few minutes by boat from one of Kyoto’s most tourist-friendly areas. An other-worldly calm reigns here, and you’ll feel it from the moment you walk through the property’s traditional Zen gardens.

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At the onsite spa, you can enjoy a regenerating massage. In the garden, you can take part in waterside breathing exercises.

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Or, for the ultimate in mindfulness, why not sign up for early morning meditation at a Buddhist temple?

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At the break of dawn, staff will drive you to a nearby temple, where you’ll join a small group for a ritual of energetic chanting followed by silent contemplation. It’s a unique experience, with the sun gradually filling the hall as you concentrate your senses on the here and now. After the ceremony, you’ll sip green tea with the priest and congregation before heading back to the ryokan for breakfast with river views.

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Pollen-free revitalization in Okinawa

This spring, HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island is offering a stress-free stay specially designed for those who suffer from pollen allergies. Based in your own private villa, you’ll spend 3 days on a tiny sub-tropical island free from the traditional triggers of hay fever.

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What better way to relax and live in the present moment?

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Populated by just 360 people, Taketomi island has a climate that is unconducive to pollen-heavy trees such as cedar and cypress, meaning the air is cleaner. What’s more, spring temperatures are around 25C.

As part of the “Goodbye Pollen” program, you’ll bathe in water steeped in mint and shiso, helping to wash off any pollen. You’ll be treated to a spa treatment to rejuvenate your skin.

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And you’ll be able to enjoy a beach picnic without fear of suffering your usual seasonal symptoms. What better conditions for eating bagels and seasonal fruit while admiring the ocean waves crashing against the island’s sandy shores?

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Finally, you can take part in morning and evening deep breathing and stretching, the perfect way to contemplate the sun rising over the beach or the stars lighting up the Okinawan sky.

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Morning canoeing by Mt. Fuji

At HOSHINOYA Fuji, you can reconnect with nature through the resort’s luxury glamping experience. Every private cabin is set in a forest of pines and conifers, and boasts exceptional views of Mt. Fuji. What’s more, the site offers a wide range of outdoor activities to help you forget stress and appreciate the here and now.

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For the ultimate start to the day, how about contemplating the reflected beauty of Japan’s most famous mountain from a canoe?

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Early morning is the best time to catch Mt. Fuji cloud-free – and Lake Kawaguchi, set just below HOSHINOYA Fuji, provides the perfect vantage point.

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With the sun just appearing on the horizon, you’ll have the lake to yourself. A moment of complete calm beneath Japan’s most celebrated sight.


Back to basics with digital detox

At HOSHINOYA’s luxury ryokans, you can sign up for a Digital Detox stay where you give up your smartphone, laptop and other devices to embrace timeless pleasures.

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You’ll spend a couple of stress-free days focusing on traditional value and relaxation. At HOSHINOYA Tokyo, you’ll meditate and learn samurai-style swordsmanship.

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At HOSHINOYA Karuizawa, you’ll enjoy a shiatsu treatment and take a horseback trek to Mt. Asama volcano.

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Five resorts offer the program – and each has its own take on how you can refocus your energy and make the most of the present moment. What better way to put mindfulness into practice?

Shibuya transformed

If you’ve ever been to Tokyo, chances are you’ve been to Shibuya. The station is a major transport hub and the area makes for fascinating people-watching thanks to the hordes of shoppers, trendsetters and cosplay aficionados who come here for the nightlife and fashion scene. Filled with flashing neon banners, immense TV screens and booming sound systems, Shibuya is a classic Tokyo experience – capped by the celebrated mayhem of its scramble crossing.

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Head to Shibuya today, though, and you may be in for a few surprises. Over the last few years, the area has undergone a major transformation – and it’s set to change further by 2027. The station has been radically rethought to make life easier for passengers and free up space for new buildings.

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Cutting-edge tech companies have started to move in. An underground river has been reopened. And the square housing the iconic Hachiko statue is due to be significantly expanded.

We take a look at what’s changed – and what you can expect on your next trip to Tokyo.

Ambitious vision

The project to transform Shibuya started over 10 years ago. The aim? First, to improve the flow of people in and around the station, which serves 1 billion passengers annually.

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The other major aim? To make Shibuya a leading centre for international business and technology innovation. That’s why the skyline is currently being filled with new multi-purpose skyscrapers housing shared workspace, offices, shops and restaurants of all descriptions.

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The ultimate objective is “for people to think of Shibuya in the same way they do London, Paris and New York”, according to the mayor of the Shibuya ward, Ken Hasebe.

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In the last few years, Shibuya’s subway train lines have been reshuffled and revamped.

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The Ginza Line, Tokyo’s oldest, was recently reopened on a newly-created platform with a designer roof shaped like a wavy “M”. The Tōkyū Tōyoko Line was moved from the second floor to the fifth. The Saikyō Line was relocated 350 metres north, and the Yamanote line is being rebuilt as an island platform.

By resituating platforms and placing pedestrian walkways on multiple levels, the new-look station optimizes space – allowing developers to expand the famously-crowded Hachiko square on the north-west side of the station.

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It is here that you’ll find the statue of Hachiko, a dog who loyally waited here for his owner to arrive home from work in the 1920s and 30s, continuing to wait every day long after his master had died.

Riverside regeneration

The building spree around the station began with Shibuya Hikarie, a 183-metre multi-purpose tower opened in 2012.

Nearby, the 39-storey Shibuya Stream was inaugurated in 2018 alongside the little-known Shibuya River. Back in the 1960s, the city covered over many of its waterways to build roads.

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One victim of this policy was the Shibuya River, which has now been reopened, rejuvenated and lined with a tree-planted pedestrian promenade. Alongside it stands Shibuya Stream, a place to relax, eat, shop and work.

Changing skyline

In 2019, another three skyscrapers joined the party.

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Shibuya Scramble Square is already a major tourist attraction thanks to its 360° open-air observation deck dubbed “Shibuya Sky”. At 230 metres high, it offers unobstructed views of scramble crossing, the Tokyo skyline, and, on a clear day, Mt. Fuji.

On top of the usual mix of shops and restaurants, Shibuya Scramble Square houses more office space than any other building in Tokyo. It’s already sparked a return of major tech companies and incubators to the area, strengthening Shibuya’s claim to be Tokyo’s “bit valley”.

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In November 2019, Shibuya Parco reopened after major reconstruction, a combination of luxury stores, art galleries and a whole floor for fans of gaming and manga. A couple of weeks later, the 18-storey Shibuya Fukuras unveiled its mix of co-working spaces, restaurants, shops – and a hologram version of Hachiko that you can control via a tablet!

Urban vibe

Planning to visit the new-look Shibuya? Hoshino Resorts OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka is direct on the Yamanote Line – and the hotel’s vibe is similarly contemporary, if a little less hectic than Shibuya!

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It’s a great chance to get to know authentic Tokyo thanks to the OMO Rangers, who will take you out to discover local bars and restaurants you may never dare enter on your own. What better way to complete your urban Tokyo experience?

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Japan for every kind of traveller

Planning a trip to Japan and looking for your dream accommodation? With Hoshino Resorts, you can choose from a host of hotels, ryokans and special programs adapted to different tastes.

Perhaps you’re a couple dreaming of a cosy stay or a romantic boat trip?

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Maybe your priority is a relaxed vibe and accessible prices? Or you’re travelling with kids and want to keep them busy?

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And if you’re visiting alone, we offer several special solo traveller programs to help you make the most of your stay.

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Comfort for solo travellers

At HOSHINOYA Kyoto, solo guests have special privileges. Check-in is earlier and check-out later – allowing you to stay 24 hours and enjoy the riverside setting when other guests are gone.

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To reach the ryokan, you’ll take a private boat. Located among forested hillsides, HOSHINOYA Kyoto is 10 minutes downstream from the historical district of Arashiyama – and a world apart in terms of atmosphere. Every room is a haven of calm with river views. And, as part of the solo travel program, yours will be filled with travel books for you to peruse.

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In the evening, a multi-course dinner prepared by award-winning chef Ichiro Kubota will be served in your room – paired with our sommelier’s pick of wine and sake.

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After dinner, head to the ryokan’s renovated Salon & Bar to enjoy a complimentary cocktail.

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The next day, you can sleep in until 10 am. A hearty hotpot breakfast will be served in your room. And, when other guests have checked out, you can head to the outdoor tea room for a private tea ceremony, where you’ll learn to whisk green tea matcha. Check out is not until 2 pm.

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Another solo travel program is offered by Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake in Japan’s wine country. Just two hours by train or car from Tokyo, you can treat yourself to a wine-themed stay tailored for guests on their own.

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As part of the program, you’ll enjoy an 11-course menu with your own private sommelier. What better way to learn about the local wines than from a dedicated expert?

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For a more urban solo experience, head to Hokkaido. At Hoshino Resorts OMO7 Asahikawa, you can discover the northern island’s buzzing second city of Asahikawa thanks to insider advice from OMO Rangers. These local guides are part of the hotel’s experience and will point you to the best restaurants for solo travellers, ensuring you get to sample authentic Japanese cuisine with friendly restaurateurs.

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Romance for couples

Travelling as a couple? Then how about a little romance during your stay? During the winter at Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Tomamu, an entire ice village is sculpted on the grounds of Tomamu ski station.

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The domed igloos include a bar, a café – and an Ice Hotel. Why not book yourself in for a night to enjoy your own private ice bed – plus plenty of covers to wrap up warm at night?

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Or how about a romantic tea party, served at an ice bench and table in a silver birch forest?

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You can even get married in the village’s ice chapel!

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If your idea of romance is a private boat trip, how about a tour of Tokyo’s waterside cherry blossom organised by HOSHINOYA Tokyo?

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Or head to HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island to watch the sun set over an Okinawan island while sipping cocktails from an old-fashioned sailboat.

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Kid-friendly activities for families

For those travelling with children, Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Atami ticks all the boxes. Located in the famed geisha city of Atami, the hotel has a giant climbing wall for kids in the lobby. Nearby, the Kids’ Room houses a smaller climbing wall and a ball pool overlooking the ocean.

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Outside, the hotel’s Kusu Kusu Treehouse and Garden features a tree-climbing adventure park with bridges, ropeways, and wooden platforms, plus a treehouse you can reserve for tea and cakes.

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In the evening, drop the children off at the complimentary nursery while you enjoy dinner.

Laid-back vibe for young travellers

If you’re young or young at heart, how about a casual hotel where rules are relaxed, parties are allowed, and you can come and go as you please? Hoshino Resorts’ new BEB hotels are designed with the younger generation in mind.

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At Hoshino Resorts BEB5 Karuizawa, music flows from the DJ booth, breakfast is served whenever you want, and there’s a special flat rate for under-35s.

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Opening March 19, 2020, Hoshino Resorts BEB5 Tsuchiura will be bike-themed, with guests free to check in and check out on their bikes. There’s even a wall rack in each room to hang your bike.

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The BEB concept is all about spontaneity, flexibility, and 24/7 freedom.

Japan for romantics

You don’t need to be in Japan on Valentine’s Day to make a romantic gesture. This winter and spring, Hoshino Resorts is offering a number of unique opportunities for you to treat your other half.

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How about sipping sparkling sake on a private boat as you tour Tokyo’s cherry blossoms? Enjoying an intimate rosé experience in the wine region of Yamanashi?

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Or watching the sun set over a remote Okinawan island onboard a traditional sail boat? There’s something for every kind of romantic.

Sakura sightseeing by rickshaw and private boat

This spring, guests at HOSHINOYA Tokyo will not only enjoy a luxury ryokan experience in the city centre; they’ll also have access to an exclusive cherry blossom tour with a private guide. Running during sakura period (March 25 to April 10 in 2020), this evening activity takes you on a rickshaw and a small private boat for an intimate moment, far from the seasonal crowds.

You and your partner will travel in your own rickshaw from HOSHINOYA Tokyo to Nihonbashi Pier. During the 60-minute ride, you’ll pass famous cherry blossom spots such as Edo Sakura Street.

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On arrival, you’ll board a small private boat, helmed by a guide who will steer you to the best waterside sakura spots of the moment. In the Edo period, cherry trees were planted along the Sumida river by the Tokugawa shogun clan to encourage inhabitants to use boats. Today, HOSHINOYA Tokyo’s Sakura River Cruise is a chance to relive that golden era, enjoying close-up views of cherry blossom that most Tokyoites never see.

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During the hour-long trip, you’ll cruise to locations such as the coast of Tsukudajima or the banks of the Oyokogawa river. You’ll pass a host of famous landmarks, including the Eitaibashi Bridge and Tokyo Skytree.

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And you’ll be served sparkling sake and a special sakura-inspired bento box made by Shinkaika, an old Japanese restaurant located in Kanda Myojinshita. Expect cherry blossom-coloured sea bream with kombu seaweed and sushi rice, followed by matcha tea and sweet delicacies.

To complete the whole experience, why not wear a pure silk kimono for the occasion?

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They’re available for rent at the hotel – and you can even ask for your hair to be done Japanese-style!

Cuddle up with a rosé in wine country

Two hours west of Tokyo by car or train, you’ll find yourself in Japanese wine country. Here, in the foothills of the majestic Yamanashi mountains, lies Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake. This corner of Japan has plentiful sunshine, a generous supply of pure water, and clement weather thanks to the hills acting as a natural barrier.

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No wonder the national Koshu grape has been cultivated here for over 1000 years.

From March 25 to April 22, 2020, Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake is organizing a Romantic Rosé Stay so couples can make the most of the idyllic surroundings and local rosé wines. As part of the experience, you’ll enjoy a 3-course dinner inspired by Italian cuisine and paired with different rosé wines. Expect the dishes to include touches of pink throughout the meal.

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After dinner, head to the garden chapel ZONA, open exclusively for participants of the Romantic Rosé Stay, to see the exquisite cherry blossom. You’ll be served sparkling rosé and sweet treats such as strawberry macarons.

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During your stay, you also have the chance to become a rosé connoisseur at the hotel’s Wine School. Learn about grape varieties, fermentation methods and how to distinguish rosé colours and flavours from light to deep.

Island sunset and exotic cocktails

If watching a stunning sunset from an old-fashioned sailboat is your idea of romance, HOSHINOYA Taketomi Island has the perfect formula for you.

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Set on a tiny Okinawan island inhabited by just 360 villagers, this luxury resort is offering a private trip on a sabani, a wooden boat typical of the Ryukyu Islands.

You and your partner will be alone on the sea with just your guide for company. From the boat, you’ll have the perfect viewpoint to watch the skyline gradually take on an orange hue as you sip cocktails of local passion fruit and awamori, the Okinawan version of sake.

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By the time night falls, you’ll be ready for a multi-course menu at the resort’s restaurant, where the chef combines Okinawan ingredients with creative French-style cuisine.

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Then head outside to gaze at the stars in the clear sky. What better way to end your romantic evening on this tiny sub-tropical island?

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