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Explore Japan Locals

Explore a wide variety of Japanese products born out of Japan's unique geography, diverse climates, and rich history. Find your own local gems.
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Kii-Tanabe shopping street Kumano Kodo (熊野古道) is a famous ancient trail for religious practice. It was registered as UNESCO World Heritage in 2004. Kii-Tanabe (紀伊田辺) is near to one of its routes. Compared to other places connected to Kumano Kodo, it is easier to arrive in Kii-Tanabe. Information about Kumano Kodo is much more available online. Hence, this time, I want to introduce you Tanabe city shopping street to enrich your trip to Kumano Kodo. When you go out of Kii-Tanabe station, you can see it immediately!! In Tanabe city there is a large shopping street that consists of 8 streets which are joined together to form a commercial place. The access way to get there is from JR Shin-Ōsaka station to Kii-Tanabe station around 2 hours by train and 3 hours by bus. From Nanki-Shirahama Airport to Kii-Tanabe station by plane is around 40min. It is very convenient as you only need 1 min by walking from JR Kii-Tanabe station to one of the shopping street. Cheers with Kishu Umeshu (Plum wine)  Before getting into the shop, please let me tell you some basic information first. Ume (梅), plum in Japanese, is one of the most famous crops in Wakayama Prefecture (和歌山県).Wakayama Prefecture not only yields the highest production of plum in Japan, but also is known for good-quality plum. Actually, it is much more common to see Kishu Ume (紀州梅) rather than Wakayama Ume (和歌山梅). Kishu (紀州) is the old name of Wakayama Prefecture. By the way, just to impress, the largest bookstore chain in Japan, Kinokuniya Shoten (紀伊国屋書店), was named after Kishu. Kinokuniya Shoten has its branches in the United States, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, and so on. I think that I am getting a little off topic. Let’s go back to the shop. There are a lot of products related to Ume. Here, I want to tell you something interesting such as Ume salt, emergency Ume stock. Moreover, the designs of the product packages are fascinating-because most of farmers are old, the elderly becomes the design theme. What make the designs more special are the slogans. For example, an old couple is the design of the pickled Ume with a lovely slogan “We only use salt and love to make it.” If you visit Kii-Tanabe shopping street, you should come to this Ume shop!! (This shop is also the tax-free counter of Kii-Tanabe. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to come here and ask.) Toyland Yonekura(ヨネクラ) & Suzuya (鈴屋) sweet shop Toyland Yonekura, and Suzuya sweet shop are near to the Ume shop. That is not the reason I put them together. The reason is their nostalgic atmosphere. Toyland Yonekura is a treasure house. You can find a variety of interesting things here!! What impresses me a lot is-the spinning top. If it is the first time you hear it, please regard it as the ancestor of fidget spinner. I know that fidget spinner is pretty popular now, and hopefully it can help you imagine. This spinning top not only can spin, but also can turn it upside down by itself!! Do you want to know more?? Please come to Toyland Yonekura and see in person. It seems that you are in old movies!! So does Suzuya sweet shop. I really enjoy the atmosphere. Suzuya sweet shop has been open for 88 years. The Japanese royal family enjoys many of their sweets. This time, I tried the most popular one. To be honest, sometimes I feel that Japanese sweets are too sweet (That is why they always have tea at the same time). Surprisingly, this one is perfectly sweet. I can have 2 or 3 in a row even without tea. If it is not so convenient for you to visit here, you can buy it online. However, I still beg you-Please come to Toyland Yonekura and Suzuya sweet shop to experience old Japanese style!!     Information about Kumano Kodo(JP): The website of Suzuya (鈴屋) sweet shop(JP): The website of tanabe city shopping street(JP):  
Nanokamachi Shopping Street Yamagata – ‘Surrounded by mountains’ Yamagata is the capital city of the Yamagata Prefecture located in the Tohoku region of northern Japan. As its name in Japanese meaning ‘mountain shaped’ evokes, the Yamagata city is surrounded by extraordinary mountainous formations. However, downtown Yamagata is completely flat, making it the perfect city to visit and have a stroll. The main shopping street, ‘Nanokamachi’ is just a 20-min. walk away from the main station. Onuma Department Store The Onuma Department Store located at the center of the shopping street is host to a lot of shops selling from luxury goods, brand name cosmetics to traditional foods and ingredients from the region. One can find a special corner for Yamagata products like Tsuyahime-rice, Dadachamame-senbei, Japanese sake and various cherry based products for which Yamagata is famous. For convenience of foreign customers, the department store has a tax exemption counter which serves also other stores from the shopping street. The stores included in the tax exemption scheme are listed on the guide link at the end of the article.  [01化粧][02お酒][03山形コーナー][04つや姫][05免税]   Some of the finest soba noodles at ‘Shojiya’ Soba noodles are one of Yamagata’s most famous specialty food. One great soba restaurant with a long history and fantastic taste is ‘Shojiya’, located at Nanokamachi-Gotenzeki. Gotenzeki consists of a small number of shops preserving an old style and lined up along a small canal. The noodles at ‘Shojiya’ are handmade from buckwheat flour and traditionally served over a wooden plank along buckwheat tea and optionally with side dishes as ‘tempura’ (deep friend seafood or vegetables). The restaurant has a clean and refreshing atmosphere with minimalistic geometric styles. A fantastic place to have a refreshing lunch. [06御殿堰][07蕎麦][08ライト] Modern looking Japanese tableware One of the most unique shops in Gotenzeki is KEN OKUYAMA CASA, selling Japanese tableware along other products by famous industrial designer Ken Okuyama’s design office. He is famous for being the Design Director responsible for the worldwide known sports car Ferrari Enzo. The store has a modern design while maintaining the old profile of Gotenzeki. The tableware such as the Nambu Tekki Teapot “Origami & Square” stand out because of its combination of traditional Japanese cast iron wares with simplistic styles which evoke origami geometry. They have a great variety of Japanese tableware which will make for a great and modern Japanese souvenir. [09奥山][10おりがみ][11店内] Japanese tea and tea flavored ice cream from ‘Iwabuchi-chaho’ Iwabuchi-chaho is a Japanese tea specialty shop with over 120 years of history, it offers the highest quality tea from all over Japan and has a great Matcha flavored ice cream cone which is great for eating while walking around the streets. They also offer a great variety of traditional teapots and teacups. This shop offers tax-exemption at the Onuma department store counter. [12岩渕茶舗][13茶瓶][14アイスクリーム] Local confectioneries at ‘Juichiya’ Right in front of gotenzeki is Juichiya, a small confectionery which also serves as a café until lunch. They have a great variety of sweets making use of Yamagata’s top-class fruits famous all around Japan. They also have other famous local sweets such as dadacha-mochi and three color monaca. It is a great place to buy souvenirs if one is looking for local sweets. [15十一屋][16フルーツ][17ただちゃ餅] Access From Sendai station: Take the Senzan Line to Yamagata station. (Takes around 73 min. /1140Yen) Take the express bus to Yamagata station. (Takes around 70 min. / 970Yen) From Yamagata station: A 20-min. walk to Nanokamachi. Take the Yamagata community bus “Eastern route” and get off at “Nanokamachi”. (Takes around 10 min./100Yen) Click here for the Nanokamachi shopping street home page. Click here for the Nanokamachi shopping street tax-free guide.
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