Saturday, October 6, 2012

If It's the Weekend, then It Must Be Party Time in Osaka!

Like to party? 

Want to meet some new friends in Kansai?

Don't have a plan for the weekend?

If you answered "yes" to the above and if you live close to Osaka, Kyoto or Kobe, listen up!  

There are plenty of social mixers happening every Friday, Saturday and Sunday somewhere close to you.  Now some of the sites that I've mentioned below are only in Japanese, so if you're Japanese skills need some brushing up, better to get a friend to assist you before you miss your chance at a great night out!

Without wasting any more of your precious time, here is a comprehensive list for you to research.

ICE BREAK

ICE BREAK is run by yours truly.  With that said, the site is predominantly in Japanese but if you have any questions, you can always direct them to me for answers.  If you're looking to meeting mainly Japanese in and around the Kansai area, the parties (held in Osaka, Kyoto & Kobe) listed on ICE BREAK are a good place to start.


Royal Linkage

Royal Linkage is run by a Japanese friend of mine who's been in the party organizing business for more than 10 years.  With a wealth of experience, you can be sure that the parties hosted by Royal Linkage will be enjoyable.  The downside with Royal Linkage is that the site is in Japanese only, however with that said, the parties tend to be attended by mainly Japanese so if you are looking for some Japanese friends, check out one of Royal Linkage's parties in Osaka.    


Furtherment of International Friendship Organization (FIFO) - Osaka

FIFO is a recent newcomer to the "international party" circuit.  As I haven't been to one of their parties before I can't give you a first-hand point-of-view but they may be worth checking out if you are looking for a more "international" feel of an event.


WhyNot!?

When it comes to international parties in Kansai, WhyNot!? is where it's at!  They've been around the block several times having been in business for around 8 years, which is quite significant in the party industry here in Kansai.  Plus I know the sisters who are behind the WhyNot!? brand.  Very bright they are indeed.  Even though I have not been to a WhyNot!? party in several years, their events tend to be well attended.  If you're in your 20s then for sure WhyNot!? would be a good place to start as their guests consist of university students, graduate students and company employees early in their careers.


iNetwork Japan

Another international party organization that has been around for several years, iNetwork Japan holds various types of events in Osaka and Kyoto for most of the year.  Even though I haven't attended one of their events, my friend is the brains behind iNetwork Japan, so I would definitely give them a look if your schedule fits with one of their events.  In terms of price, iNetwork Japan in general is probably the least expensive so if you don't want to spend too much money the first time out, they may be the best option for you.


So next time you're looking for some "fun" on the weekend, I definitely recommend that you check out the sites I've listed above for details.

Until next time, have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nothing Screams "Japan" Like Fake Food!


In a follow-up to my post from way back in February 2011 titled "Japanese Novelty: Food Sample Art a.k.a. Fake Food", I've since decided to dive in head first into the fake food industry per an insightful recommendation from a friend.  And what a ride its been!  After more than a year of planning, we were finally able to bring the online shop to a reality when Fake Food Japan was born to the online world in May 2012.

In just these short few months, we've taken orders from Europe, the Americas, Oceania, SE Asia and of course Japan.  Everything from cell phone straps to business card cases to life-size replicas has passed through our doors before heading out to its final destination.

And to top it off, the feedback we've received from customers has been great.  The most common comment we receive is in relation to how realistic the fake food actually looks.  I wonder if I should change the name to "Looks so real I can't believe it's fake food!".  :)

I guess we are changing people's perceptions of fake food so that's definitely a step in the right direction.  Leave it to Osaka's true fake food craftsmen for creating these fake food masterpieces like none other.

As the holiday season is just around the corner, how about picking up some memorable (and handmade by the way) and unique Japanese gift items for your family and friends?

If you want to surprise them with something "different" this year, you can't go wrong with fake food!

Until next time!

P.S. If you have any Japanese friends, we have a Japanese fake food online store as well, which you can access from here: http://fakefoodjapan.net

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kobe Fireworks via Sailboat






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Having never experienced the Kobe fireworks extravaganza (it always falls on the same day as the Yodogawa fireworks display in Osaka every year), I thought what not a better way than to see the fireworks up close not from land but rather from sea on Saturday, August 6.  Realizing that one of my friends was planning an evening out on the open waters to enjoy the fireworks in Kobe, I jumped at the opportunity to join in on the fun on his sailboat.

Starting from Osaka Hokko Yacht Harbor (see picture 1) a little before 4:00 p.m., we departed for Kobe enjoy the cruise along the way.  After two hours of cruising, we entered into Kobe territory (see picture 2) where we enjoyed a great BBQ on my friend's sailboat as part of the pre-fireworks festivities before the main event took place from 7:30 p.m.

At the conclusion of the one hour fireworks show, one of the most interesting scenes of the night was seeing all the motor boats and sailboats that had come to enjoy the festivities just like us leave in droves at the same instant.  It was just like out of a Hollywood movie as all the boats got "out of dodge" in a matter of a few minutes.  Very entertaining to say the least.

The two hour return trip back to Osaka was quite uneventful as most of the boats that came to see the fireworks returned to other areas like Suma and Awaji Island.

Having never seen the fireworks so close before, it was a very worthwhile experience.  With some much more left to explore and land and sea, I am eager for the next opportunity.  As always, I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Paragliding in Hyogo? Yes, it is possible...



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For those of you who are adventure seekers residing in the Kansai region, I would highly suggest that you consider making the trip to Toyooka city in the northern part of Hyogo Prefecture to experience paragliding with the professionals at ARC Paraglider School (Japanese only).  I took "the plunge" so-to-speak at the beginning of July, so yes, this blog post is a little outdated but still relevant for those of you who enjoy the great outdoors.  

The great thing about ARC if you don't have a car is that they can provide round-trip transportation for you from either Sannomiya or Akashi for an additional charge.  I took them up on their offer but just so you know, be prepared for an early start.  The pick-up time for people at Sannomiya was just after 6:30 a.m.  After 2.5 hours, we arrived at ARC and jumped right into learning the basics for about one hour before trekking up the ski resort to a higher elevation for the real deal.  

Regretfully we did not have a strong wind on our flying day but we still made the most of it.  I was told that technique is only 10% while a good wind makes up for the remaining 90% to successfully paraglide.  Just my luck with only a faint breeze being felt with high humidity that you could cut through with a steak knife!  

However, I did not let the poor paragliding conditions get me down.  As you can see in the video above, I was able to paraglide after all.  One important thing to remember is to just keep running down the hill and not pull your parachute but rather let it rise up naturally.  If done right, you will be lifted off the ground in no time with your feet dangling in the air.  Once you get the hang of it, it is like riding a bike, you will not forget.

After most of the participants successfully flew through the air, we headed back down the resort to the lounge for lunch.  Unfortunately it started to rain very heavily during lunch which prevented us from going back up the mountain to do some more paragliding runs in the afternoon.

The day was cut short due to the weather but all-in-all, it was an enjoyable experience.  With two locations for paragliding in the vicinity, why not experience something different while enjoying the great outdoors in the countryside of Hyogo Prefecture.  Plus, a visit to the local hot spring spa will make for the perfect ending to a fun-filled one day adventure.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Osaka Yacht Harbor




It's been quite a busy summer!  Which is why it has taken me almost 6 weeks to update my blog.  In particular this entry is already 3 weeks late...

In the middle of June, for the first time ever I visited Osaka Yacht Harbor.  I was invited by Mr. Shirakawa, a fitness club friend of mine, to join him on his just under 37 foot sailboat "Silver Fox" for a Sunday cruise around Osaka Bay and a visit to the neighboring yacht harbor located in Nishinomiya (the largest in the Western part of Japan).    

Even though the weather was overcast, it did not dampen everyone's spirits as we took a round trip cruise to Nishinomiya and back after having lunch at the Osaka Yacht Harbor.  

In the pictures above, you can see the Nishinomiya and Kobe skyline with Mount Rokko in the background for picture 1.  Picture 2 consists of two sailboats involved in a race, which was going on in the morning.  Picture 3 is of Mr. Yamashita and his sailboat "Amalfi", who is another friend of mine.  And last but not least is a picture of the Silver Fox captain, Mr. Shirakawa, and I.  

Established in 1988, Osaka Yacht Harbor is the only yacht harbor in Osaka City.  The harbor is equipped with docks for just over 100 boats, which makes it about half the size of the Nishinomiya Yacht Harbor.  

As Melbourne, Australia is a sister-city and sister-port for Osaka, the two cities have held one-way races that take at least one month (sometimes two) to finish either going from Osaka to Melbourne or vice versa every few years.  Even though I do not think I am ready for that length of a journey just yet, I hope to have more boating experiences as I get to know more in the yachting community.

For more information on the Osaka Yacht Harbor, click here.   

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Japan's First Budget Airline Chooses Kansai As Its Home

It's true.  The frugal citizens of Kansai can now rejoice!  The light magenta colored airline that goes by the name of "peach" will begin its domestic service flying out of Kansai International Airport (KIX) next March followed by an international route to Seoul from May.  Who knows, with a little luck maybe this will be the start of a greater trend towards linking peach with destinations outside of Asia like North America and/or Europe.  

As the sharp eye consumers of Kansai are the hardest to please in the country and possibly the entire world, this news is music to everyone's ears.  Now for the next step.  How will peach stack up against the other more established carriers flying out of KIX?  If Australian budget carrier Jetstar Airways is any indication, things are looking on the up and up.

Related articles:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cafe Ateya @ Mount Rokko

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Cafe Ateya is what I would call the gateway to hikers and the like before they ascend to the higher altitudes of Mount Rokko.  Not prepared for hiking, Cafe Ateya was my final destination on this day but it was a trek nonetheless.  

Located about 25 minutes by walk from Hankyu Ashiyagawa Station into the mountains, it was a nice change of scenery from the concrete jungle that I am exposed to day in and day out in Osaka.  The walk up to Cafe Ateya, also known as Rokko-san Cafe, was pleasant seeing the massive Western and Japanese style homes lining the street.  

Unable to tell from the attached video clip, Cafe Ateya is located in what one would call a shallow cave that can seat 10 people maximum.  With the manager of the cafe changing every Saturday and Sunday on a rotating schedule, the menu changes just as much.  With a variety of home-cooked meals and alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks available as well, one can definitely get some R&R before heading up the mountain or heading down to complete one's journey.

For those of you not into hiking, paying a visit to Cafe Ateya is recommended to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city where one can breathe in the life of the great outdoors.