Sunday Territorian 5 May 2019
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SUNDAY MAY 5 2019 FRONTIER 39 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA floor entrance looks like the front of an apartment, but inside are smooth Japanese whiskeys served with precision by a master of his craft. The smoky 10-seater bar, cool jazz beats and a laboratory of 50-plus proof drams wind up the night. SHOTGUN SECRET In the morning, if Fuji isnt in cloud, head to Nihondaira (flat Japan) view point to see the peak and for port views. Then set aside half a day to visit the Shinto shrine of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, hero-worshipped since his death for bringing peace to Japan, effectively unifying the country for the first time, in 1600. Three traditional orange gates prevent the evil spirit from entering where the shoguns mausoleum remains, along with rumours that his body is still entombed there. EELS (AND NO TATTOOS) Elsewhere in Shizuoka Prefecture, stay at the 45-storey Okura Act City Hotel in Hamamatsu, which has spectacular views and conveniently towers over Hamamatsu rail station. You can take the 30-40-minute train trip to Kanzan-ji Temple where people write messages on blocks of wood about love, good luck, health, etc and tie them to a small shrine. Nearby is brackish Lake Hamana, 114km in circumference, 16.6m deep at its deepest and home to some of Japans tastiest eels. Haminoki restaurant serves crispy-skin eel with the softest and most delicate flesh, sweetened with a special sauce and accompanied by a slurping udon noodle soup, pickles and beer. Hamana is ringed by hot springs only discovered 70 years ago, but know that spas generally forbid tattoos because of their links to elaborately inked Yakuza crime gang members. OITA Beppu in Oita Prefecture is the steaming centre for the classic onsen. Locals even pump water from the hot springs into their private onsen. Tokyo railway station is also a destination for the finest ramen restaurant, if youre willing to wait. By the time a breakfast of noodles with thick fishy soup is finished, there is a queue of customers who will wait an hour to get a seat in the restaurant. PODIUM FINISH As you wait to leave Tokyo, make Haneda Airports Hyakuzen teriyaki restaurant your final destination. The panko-crumbed pork loins and fillets, cabbage pile, pickles, dressings, miso soup with miniature cockles and a cold beer make for a winning exit from the Japan Rugby World Cup, whatever the result. The writer was a guest of Japan National Tourism Organization The circuitous drive to Kunisaki to visit a Tendai Buddhist temple built in the seventh century is worth the five hours. The route passes Aso, Japans largest active volcano with a 128km circumference, although its most recent party days were 17,000 years ago. Anytime soon, were warned. YOKOHAMA After a game at International Stadium Yokohama, downtown is humming with bars and food. Ten minutes walk from the stadium towards Shin-Yokohama Station are small bars with excellent cold draught beer and grilled fish and chicken treats. Head up Marine Tower for views right across the city (that slightly unsettling wobble in the stem of the tower is not a quake). Then head into Noge in Yokohama where 400 tiny bars are crammed into 2sq km pub crawl heaven. Bars will fit six to 12 drinkers and serve only a few barrels until they run out. Every glass is poured to frigid perfection in frosty glasses everywhere in Japan. Japanese arent keen on drunks during daylight hours, but after work things take a wild turn. Expect to see geishas walking to work in this district and you may share the bar with some powerfully inebriated locals who have earned their right to let loose. TOKYO Rugby is growing, but sumo and baseball are the national sports in Japan, by some margin. Tokyos Shinjuku district has a great batting cage in the respectfully adults-only district and its about $5 to face a few balls pitched up to 120km/ h. The rail network is well signed in English and by far the best way to traverse the city. GETTING THERE Japan Airlines flies to Haneda International Airport via Sydney. au.jal.co.jp Internal flights, Fuji Dream Airline, from Hokkaido to Shizuoka and Oita to Haneda. fujidream.co.jp/en/ RUGBY The Rugby World Cup runs from Sept 20 to November 2. rugbyworldcup.com MORE jnto.org.au ESCAPE ROUTE Rugby fans will descend on Japan in September. Heres how to make your trip about more than mauls, according to MATTHEW KITCHIN