How to use your Japanese holiday to rejuvenate
The New Year period is a time of tradition and cultural significance in Japanese culture and marks the start of a clean slate. For travellers kick-starting the new year with a trip to Japan, here are three uniquely Japanese ways to reflect and stay motivated for the decade ahead.
Cleanse away the past decade with a sake bath
Two hours from Tokyo via Joetsu Shinkansen bullet train lies Ponshukan Sake Museum. It is located in the Niigata Prefecture which is widely considered the best rice-producing region in Japan.
In addition to offering more than 100 types of sake, Ponshukan gives visitors the opportunity to bathe in sake. The museum’s day spa “Sakeburo Yunosawa” features a sake-infused onsen where you can soak away the year that was and walk away with silky smooth skin.
Getting there: Using the JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata), visitors can travel from Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa Station in just about 1.5 hours. Ponshukan is conveniently located inside the JR Echigo-Yuzawa Station.
Reflect and set goals for the future with a Mogami River Basho Line Cruise
The Mogami River spans the length of the Yamagata Prefecture, located in the north-east of Japan’s main island, Honshu. The river is described by locals as the “Mother of Yamagata”, with scenery that changes with the season.
Visitors during winter can immerse themselves in the scenery of snow-capped trees and mountains with a Mogami River Basho Line Cruise. Boats are fitted with traditional Japanese ‘Kotatsu’, heated tables which provide ample comfort to reflect on your goals for the decade ahead.
Getting there: Using the JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area), visitors can travel from Tokyo to JR Shinjo Station in about 3.5 hours and then on to JR Furukuchi Station.
Be motivated to stick to your goals by the Oga no Namahage
The Oga Peninsula in Akita Prefecture is home to the mythical Namahage. Ogre-like god creatures who roam the district in winter looking for lazy children and young people.
Legend has it that if children or young people sat around the fire for too long without working, the fire would damage their skin. Namahage are said to have sensed this and would come with a knife to slice off the damaged skin.
Today, the Namahage are celebrated annually in February at the Namahage Sedo Festival. Stay motivated to meet your goals and keep moving by gathering with locals to watch the Namahage descend from the mountain to a giant bonfire.
Getting there: Using the JR EASR PASS (Tohoku area) visitors can travel from Tokyo to JR Akita Station in approximately four hours and then on to JR Oga Station.
All of these areas are part of the Tohoku Region, which was selected as a top travel destination in ‘Best in Travel 2020′ by Lonely Planet.
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About East Japan Railway Company
The East Japan Railway Company (JR East) operates trains including the Shinkansen (high-speed bullet trains) in the East Japan region. The company is the largest passenger railway company in Japan, serving around 17 million people every day and their network covers the half of the main island of Honshu, from the Tokyo metropolis to multiple areas in Eastern Japan. Apart from the main railway business, JR East Japan also operates various other establishments such as shopping malls, retail shops, restaurants and hotels as well as managing office buildings.
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About the JR EAST PASS
The JR EAST PASS is a special discount pass for international visitors to Japan (limited to those entering on a short term 90-day visa). Pass holders can get unlimited access to all JR East Japan Railways (Shinkansen bullet trains), affiliated railway companies and JR buses for 5 days within the period of 14 days from the date of issue of the pass. Visitors arriving into Narita or Haneda Airport can start their holidays by using the pass to head straight out to the beautiful and lesser-known Tohoku region and multiple other locations throughout Eastern Japan. We hope visitors will enjoy their trip to Japan with this great deal, the JR EAST JAPAN PASS!
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