Photography is not allowed during the show, but at the end of the performance, you can have your picture taken together with the ninjas!Enjoy an Edo-style Lunch at Yabu At 15:15 every day, all the citizens gather in the center of the town to watch the Oiran Parade. The most beautiful girl in Edo’s pleasure quarters was called “oiran” and was regarded as an idol. On special occasions, the wealthy lover of an oiran would sponsor a parade during which the citizens would be able to marvel at her beauty.As you’ll be able to see in Edo Wonderland, the procession is impressive and the oiran has a magnetic presence. You wouldn’t tell that the gorgeous kimono she’s wearing weighs 20 kilos!Mizugei-za – Enjoy a Traditional Performance Involving Water A whole exhibit is dedicated to the precious Edo Kiriko glassware, a craft that has gained worldwide appreciation recently. You can take a look at the sophisticated patterns decorating the glass and learn more about this amazing craft.What’s best, Edo Kiriko glassware is available for purchase at the souvenir shop of Edo Wonderland! Before leaving, how about taking a look at the items available? You might find just the right souvenir from your visit to Japan and Edo Wonderland. For example, by seeing the exhibit dedicated to Edo fireworks you will be able to imagine how marvelous must have the fireworks been as they exploded on the Edo night sky. No wonder that these colorful flowers of light are so loved by the Japanese nowadays too.This display allows you to learn more about the traditional fireworks which stand at the origin of modern fireworks. We tasted their hot udon with tempura, a delicious dish that comes in a set with soup and pickles. The udon noodles have just the right texture and the tempura (deep fried battered vegetables) was heavenly!At Yabu, the customers can choose between regular table seats and tatami seats. The atmosphere inside helps one imagine how Edo period eateries must have looked like, so it’s worth taking the time to check out the details of the interior.Hair Accessory Workshop at Aizome-ya One of the unique theaters within Edo Wonderland is Mizugei-za, a venue dedicated to a traditional type of illusion performance involving water. Believed to have originated in the Nara period (710 – 794), this type of performance used to amuse the Edo citizens. You’ll be surprised to see water rushing from the most unexpected places on the stage! It’s a very entertaining show that can only be seen here in Edo Wonderland.Before Leaving, Stop by the Souvenir Shop Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura Route SummaryAsakusa Station → Kinugawa Onsen Station → Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura → Kinugawa Onsen Station → Asakusa StationTransportation expenses (round-trip): around 6000 yenEdo Wonderland admission ticket: One Day Pass – Adults 4700 yen, Children 2400 yen* Dressing up as an Edo citizen and some of the prize games and workshops require separate fees. However, most of the activities and experiences available at Edo Wonderland, including the museums and theaters, are free. The Modern Edo-Tech Museum is a facility dedicated to some of the Japanese crafts that originate in the Edo period. You will be able to see here items made for daily use that are being produced even nowadays using the traditional methods inherited from the Edo craftsmen. The lifestyle of the citizens (samurai, merchants, craftsmen, and peasants) also improved greatly. In fact, most aspects of Japanese culture as we know it today developed in the Edo period. The museums and facilities within Edo Wonderland offer insights into this historical era, helping the visitors deepen their knowledge about Japan.During your explorations of Edomura, you might be greeted by friendly townspeople inviting you to check out their trade. They are all staff of Edo Wonderland doing their best to make everyone feel welcome. Be a good citizen and answer to their greetings with a simple “Konnichiwa” (“Hello”). This will make you feel at home in Edo.To make the illusion of a time slip even more real, how about dressing up as an Edo citizen yourself? At Jikuu, the store dedicated to transforming the visitors into Edo citizens, you can choose from a wide variety of costumes and kimonos. Men and boys can choose to transform into samurai, ninja, policemen or lords, while women and girls can choose to dress up as samurai daughters, kunoichi (ninja girls), geisha or townswomen. Anyone planning a trip to Japan who did a bit of research on what to visit in Nikko must have heard of Edo Wonderland, an area that recreates the atmosphere of Edo (pre-modern Tokyo).Also known as Nikko Edomura, Edo Wonderland is a cultural theme park with museums, theaters, dining places and many other facilities where visitors can have a firsthand experience of how people in Japan used to live during the Edo period (1603 – 1868).In Edo Wonderland, you are encouraged to become an Edo citizen for a day! There is no better way to learn about the roots of Japanese culture while having fun. This article will introduce some of the activities that would make your day in Edo unforgettable.8:00 – 10:30 — Traveling from Asakusa to Edo Wonderland If you depart from Tokyo, we recommend taking the 8:00 Tobu limited express train bound for Kinugawa Onsen from Tobu Asakusa Station. Your stop is Kinugawa Onsen Station, which you’ll reach in two hours.At Kinugawa Onsen Station, stop by the Tourist Information Center within the station to buy a bus ticket for going to Edo Wonderland. You can also purchase your entry ticket to Edo Wonderland here, so please ask the staff for advice.You will receive a roundtrip bus ticket (820 yen) which you can use to go to and back from the facility. The bus departs from platform No. 3, which is located right in front of Kinugawa Onsen Station.If you prefer using the JR lines, then the most convenient way to access Edo Wonderland is from the JR Nikko Station. There is a free shuttle bus running from the JR Nikko Station to Edo Wonderland. To see the bus timetable, please check the information available on the Edo Wonderland website.10:30 — Welcome to Edo Wonderland! Let the Adventure Begin Yet another amazing display will shed light on the connection between Japanese swords and everyday use items such as scissors and nail clippers. When the age of the samurai was over, the sword craftsmen were constrained to use their skills to make other items than swords, which were now no longer needed. Their skills gave birth to a wide range of cutlery that is being used in Japan and all over the world today.There are many other fascinating displays at the Modern Edo-Tech Museum. All the crafts are exhibited using modern displays that are engaging and beautiful to watch. This facility is the ideal place to learn about the technology and crafts that stand at the roots of Japanese culture.If you encounter an item that you like, remember to look for it later at the souvenir shop. Most of the handmade items displayed at the Modern Edo-Tech Museum are available for purchase and make great souvenirs.13:00 – 13:30 — Watch an Amazing Ninja Show!After a museum visit, how about enjoying an exciting ninja performance? The Grand Ninja Theater hosts performances four times a day. These shows are full of action and contain stunning displays of ninja skills.Each show lasts for about 30 minutes and the story is kept simple and easy to understand. All the light and sound effects enhance the power of the performance. The amazing ninjas will take your breath away with their speed of movement and precision. Girls will be glad to hear that the cute hair accessories that they get to wear together with their Edo-style kimono are handmade and that they can even try making them! If you visit on weekends, stop by Aizome-ya, a store that hosts accessory workshops. For the fee of 500 yen, you get to make a flower-shaped hairpin to take home as a souvenir! Beautifully dyed, precious Japanese cloth is used for making these charming accessories. It’s a very fun and relaxing activity.At Aizome-ya, you’ll be able to see various handmade objects on display, from accessories to toys and items used for celebrations and festivals. Most of them are made by Ume-san, the friendly owner of the store and manager of the workshops. The cute, colorful items are lovely and provide an insight into what young women in the Edo era used to do for fun in their free time.Archery, Shuriken, and More! Play in the Ninja Village Next, how about trying your hand at playing the shamisen? A traditional string instrument, the shamisen was developed in the 16th century and became popular in the Edo period. You will be amazed at the wide range of sounds that can be obtained with only three strings!During the 30-minute workshop, you will learn to play a simple song. If you’re not very confident in your musical skills, don’t worry. The sensei is extremely patient and happy to show you how to take the notes. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to play a song by yourself at the end of the workshop!Modern Edo-Tech Museum – Learn about Traditional Japanese Crafts Beni is a natural cosmetic that was invented in the Edo era. During the workshop, you will learn more about how it is made and get the chance to try it on. A very precious cosmetic, beni is said to fit anyone, as the red pigment naturally combines with the color of one’s lips, resulting in a hue that looks good on the wearer.This workshop is being held with the support of Isehan-Honten, the only manufacturer and distributor of beni at present. If you like how the beni stays on you, you can consider purchasing it as a souvenir! Beni products are available at the Edo Wonderland souvenir shop.Try Playing the Shamisen Another impressive display is the one dedicated to traditional combs. You will be impressed at how fine they are designed. In addition to being a tool for daily use, these combs were also used as hair accessories by the beauties of Edo. Those who wish to experience the world of samurai and ninja should head straight for the Ninja Village. At the archery dojo, you can learn how to use the Japanese bow. After receiving instructions from the sensei, you get to shoot three arrows and practice your archery skills.It seems that it’s not a simple task to hit the target, so if you do, you’ll most surely want to practice even more! While in the Ninja Village, do stop by the Ninja Kai Kai Tei, the amazing trick house. It’s a structure that challenges your senses. You won’t believe how hard it is to simply stand up on your feet in here!Enjoy the Oiran Parade After considering a glamorous geisha kimono and a ninja girl attire, the author of this article settled for a samurai daughter kimono. Although it may look like a regular kimono, it actually has accessories and details that used to exist only in the Edo period.Now that we transformed into an Edo citizen, let’s start our exploration of the city. Introduced below are some of the exciting activities that can be enjoyed in one day at Edo Wonderland.Beni Workshop at Beni-yaGirls should check out the store called Beni-ya to have their lips painted red using beni, a traditional red lip color made with an extract of safflower. The moment you step in Edo Wonderland, you’ll feel as if you slipped through time back to the Edo era (1603 – 1868). The townscape, with its wooden buildings, narrow streets, beautiful arched bridges, and people clad in historical costumes, is a realistic recreation of an Edo period town.The Edo era started in 1603 when the country was unified under the rule of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. In stark contrast to the previous era, the so-called Sengoku jidai, or Warring States period, the Edo era was a time of peace. This allowed for unprecedented economic growth and technological developments. Supported by EDO WONDERLAND Nikko Edomura After spending a fun day in Edo Wonderland, remember to stop by the souvenir shop on your way out. In addition to consumable goods such as sweets, snacks, local foods or sake, you will find here a wide variety of crafts and handmade items meant for daily use. Most of the exquisite traditional objects you saw in the Modern Edo-Tech Museum can be found here.You can also consider the exclusive Edo Wonderland themed goods which will be wonderful keepsakes of the day you spent here as an Edo citizen.Closing the DayAfter an exciting day spent in Edo Wonderland, you can choose to stay overnight in Kinugawa Onsen or Nikko and enjoy sightseeing in the area the next day. Or you can return to Tokyo by taking the Tobu limited express departing at 18:36 from Kinugawa Onsen Station. Either way, you’ll be left with great memories of this area where you encountered the spirit of the Edo era.If you plan to stay a few days in Tokyo, do visit Edo Wonderland! Your entire experience of Japanese culture will be enhanced by your visit to this amazing place. EDO WONDERLAND Nikko Edomura View Informationamusement_park There are several dining places in Edo Wonderland. If you’d like to taste traditional dishes that originated in the Edo period, we recommend having lunch at Yabu, a store specialized in soba and udon noodle dishes. If you like ninjas, how about trying your hand at throwing shuriken? There are various levels of difficulty and you can really get into it. Even this samurai daughter thought she should dress up as a ninja girl next time she visits Edo Wonderland.
Photo by Katsuya TanakaThe first point of interest on the Shibayama Course is the Museum of Aeronautical Science. This is Japan’s first aviation museum and it opened in 1989. The greatest charm of this museum is its hands-on experiences, as it gives the visitors the opportunity to enter the cockpit of a retired plane. You can see all the various gadgets used in maneuvering a plane.Photo by Katsuya TanakaYou won’t be just looking at the displays, but you’ll be able to touch the objects and get a feel of what it is like to fly a plane.Photo by Katsuya Tanaka Photo by Yu AokiThere are many shops offering local Japanese foods and snacks. If you find you get hungry during your tour, you should definitely try some of the local food, such as the dango (dumplings) on a stick, pictured above.Photo by Takafumi OoshioPhoto by Yu AokiBelow you can see the entrance to Nichihonji Temple, also known as ‘Hydrangea Temple’ (Ajisaidera), which is breathtakingly beautiful in June when the large flowers are in full bloom.Nichihonji has a history over 700 years and is a highly revered temple. The inscription with the name of the temple on the entrance gate is believed to be the work of Hon’ami Koetsu, one of the great artists of the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). When you visit the temple, take a good look at its impressive gate.Photo by N KoizumiAs you pass through these torii gates, you will feel as if you have stepped into another world. This is definitely an integral part of experiencing authentic Japanese culture.4. Sakae Course Photo by Nobuyo TAKAYANAGIIn Japanese, the small town or shopping district before the temple gates is called ‘monzenmachi’. The Narita Course includes a walk around the Shinshoji monzenmachi. On your way to the temple you can pick up an unadon (eel rice bowl) or stop by one of the shop selling traditional items to buy souvenirs.Naria-san Shinshoji Temple CoursePhoto by 谷ぽぽ These kids seem to have liked the samurai appearance of our model so they approached us. If you walk around in a costume like this, you’ll enjoy feeling like star. The Sakae Course gives you the opportunity to visit Boso no mura, a hands-on museum that has recreated the streets of an Edo Period town. The greatest charm of this course is being able to dress up as a samurai and take photos with the historical town in the background. Our previous article introduced the services and the benefits of the Narita Airport Transit Program, which offers free sightseeing tours around Narita Airport which can be enjoyed during a layover.Actually, from March 2017, this program has been released anew as Narita Transit ＆ Stay Program, addressing now not only guests on a layover but also the travelers who stay at the hotels in the Narita Airport area.From the eight available courses, we picked up four recommended tours which will be introduced here with original pictures.Read also:Narita Airport Transit Program – Enjoy Authentic Japan During A Layover1. Narita CourseThe Narita Course includes a visit to Narita-san Shinshoji Temple. Near this austere temple are many shops where you can enjoy traditional Japanese dishes such as unagi (eel), dango (sweet rice dumplings), and other Japanese delicacies.Walking around Shinshoji TemplePhoto by yumi .s Photo by Brian KemperOutside, there are various airplanes on display, which you can explore one by one. If you’re someone with an interest in planes, then this tour course is definitely recommended for you.Photo by Brian Kemper Photo by Brian KemperIn addition to the Museum of Aeronautical Science, the Shibayama Course includes a hiking tour, dining at a buffet restaurant serving dishes made with fresh vegetables and fruit, as well as a visit to a ’michi no eki’, a shop where you can buy local food products and souvenirs.3. Tako CoursePhoto by Takafumi OoshioTako is a town famous for its hydrangea flowers and for its delicious rice. The rice from Tako is soft and has a delightful glutinous texture.Tako has the atmosphere of a classical old Japanese town and is closely connected to its rich natural environment.June, in particular, is a special time for nature lovers. During this month the gorgeous hydrangea flowers are in full bloom. The hydrangea are very large flowers (think about the size of a dinner plate) with deep colors, usually purples and blues. In Tako, you can even take a boat tour of the areas with the most beautiful flowers! (as seen in the image above)Photo by N KoizumiHere you can see the very first post office that was ever opened in Chiba prefecture, where Narita Airport is located. It’s an impressive old building that will naturally draw the curiosity of anyone passing by, so go ahead, take a peek inside.Photo by Takafumi OoshioThis is one of the guides who may accompany you on your tour. These guides are very knowledgeable about the area and are great at explaining the history and relevance of the sites you are visiting – as well as making sure you don’t get lost or late!Photo by 谷ぽぽ At the time of our coverage, we were able to dress up as a member of the Shinsengumi, a samurai group that was active at the end of the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). Walking the streets of the museum, it felt as if we had slipped two centuries back in time. With the wonderful town as a backdrop, we were able to take many pictures. Shinshoji Temple is one of Japans largest temples. Every year more than 3,000,000 people visit its grounds.In the picture above you can see the main gate of the temple. The gate has an imposing stature standing at 15 meters high. It is constructed entirely from hinoki (Japanese cypress). The main structure is supported by a kaerumata, a wooden arch which is supposed to resemble the out stretched legs of a frog (’kaeru’ in Japanese). On the interior of the kaerumata you can see the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac finely carved into the wood.The main gate, which acts as a proverbial front door to the temple complex, always attracts a large number of visitors.If you’re lucky and your timing is good, you can even snap a picture of the monks in their ritual garb.While visiting Shinshoji, you can clearly see the attention to detail that is specific to Japanese architecture. You can see a sample in this photograph of one of the temple pagodas – each piece of the structure is immensely ornate in its carvings and paintings. The temple grounds will bring you a truly breathtaking experience of color and of the profound.The first floor alone is adorned with more than 19,000 square sheets of gold leaf (10.6 cm x 10.6 cm). The exterior is painted in a rich vermilion tone. The paint used to make this red tone is a combination of cinnabar, mercury, and lead. If you look carefully you can see subtle variations in tone depending on your perspective.The ‘Great Showa Pagoda’ was built in 1984. The tower is 58 meters tall. On the first floor you can enjoy an exhibition related to the history of Shinshoji and even try your hand at shakyo, the activity of copying Buddhist sutras as an offering. Visitors are allowed to explore up until the fifth floor. Each floor has beautiful Buddhist statues on display. This pagoda is a little away from the main building of the temple, but it offers a deeply awe-inspiring experience.2. Shibayama CoursePhoto by Brian KemperShibayama is a town located very close to Narita Airport and you can see the planes departing and landing. This a great spot for taking pictures of the planes flying at low altitude.Museum of Aeronautical SciencePhoto by Brian Kemper The participants to the Narita Transit Tour can choose their favorite costume at the Cosplay House run by the town of Sakae. Usually, one needs to pay a fee to be dressed up by the professionals in this facility, but the participants to the Narita Transit Program enjoy this experience for free!Men can choose from a variety of samurai and ninja costumes, while the ladies can put on a beautiful kimono of their choice. In Boso no mura, you can take part in workshops of traditional crafts such as coloring Japanese masks and objects, as well as designing the patterns of Japanese candles. You can, of course, also enjoy savoring the local food. Even is it’s only for a few hours, those who would like to learn more about Japanese culture should definitely take this tour.We have introduced in this articles four courses available within the Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program. Each of these tours gives you the opportunity to experience a different side Japan. They are all charming tours that can be enjoyed free of charge, so we highly recommend them.If you would like to take part in the tours offered by the Narita Transit ＆ Stay Program, make your reservation HERE!Official website: NARITA AIRPORT TRANSIT & STAY PROGRAM* This information in this article has been updated in March 2017. In addition to the Narita Course, Shibayama Course and Tako Course, the new Sakae Course is also introduced here.
One thing that’ll surprise overseas visitors when coming to Japan is Japan’s bread culture. In contrast with some Western cultures where bread, not rice, is eaten at every meal, there’s a large variety of breads and sweet breads in Japan’s bakeries.The reason as to why Japanese think of bread as “sweets” or “snacks”, mostly has to do with one Japanese man’s idea that developed, over 144 years ago. That man, was the man that became the pioneer for sweet breads in Japan: Yasube Kimura.People from all over the country flock to Kimuraya in Ginza, to get their hands on on the Sakadane anpan (*1) that Yasube Kimura came up with in 1874. Today, we’ll take a look at Kimuraya’s well established, very popular anpan.*1……Anpan is a Japanese sweet used by wrapping some freshly baked bread around sweet an (a bean jam made by boiling sweet red beans with sugar).A long established bakery: Kimuraya’s head store in GinzaThis is Kimuraya: with people going in, one after the other, being lured into the store by the aroma of the bread wafting outside the storefront. This store on Ginza 4-chome isn’t just a bakery, it also houses a Kimuraya managed cafe, grill, and restaurant.Kimuraya’s head store in Ginza doesn’t only sell the anpan on the signboards outside; they also have jam-filled breads, and curry breads, amongst countless types of breads lined up on the shelves.This is a leaflet giving some information on Kimuraya’s anpan in English. As these leaflets have the nutritional information for the products, as well as what ingredients constitute the anpan, even overseas visitors can feel relieved when purchasing the store’s products.The history behind Ginza Kimuraya’s Sakadane AnpanAround the 1800’s, people in Japan were still not very familiar with bread. During this time, Yasube Kimura was trying to think of more ways to help increase the popularity of bread in Japan. In thinking this, he came up with bread which is made using a special active yeast called fermented sakadane. As this sakadane produced a more flavorful bread, this ended up being the bread that was used to fill with an, and used to create anpan. The name Kimuraya became well known a little while after their special anpan made its appearance on their shelves.No.1 bestseller: Sakadane Sakura (150 yen)Sakadane Sakura: when you take a bite, you can enjoy the sweet, great-tasting an, wrapped in soft dough. The salted sakura also gives the bread a delicately salty, sour accent. This store is also known for having presented some of their products to the emperor when the store was founded. This is a superb sweet, with quite a bit of history to it.A simple, staple item: Sakadane Ogura (150 yen)Sakadane Ogura is Kimuraya’s no.2 bestselling anpan. You can taste the azuki’s natural sweetness and thickness with Kimuraya’s original “an”. Also, the anpan’s small, easy to eat size is also popular with women and children.Seasonal favorite: Sakadane kurikabocha (180 yen)Kimuraya periodically sells seasonal sweets that match the difrent seasons. The anpan pictured above is a fall-only item which uses kuri (chestnut) and ebisukabocha (pumpkins from Ebisu), which has sweetness similar to that of a sweet potato, and mixes it into its an. During spring and summer though, the store has different sweets lined up in its shop; it features sweets making use of apricots, and sweet Waston pomelo, among other seasonal ingredients.Kimuraya’s anpan is an unchanging constant, in the ever-changing town of Ginza. Kimuraya is a bakery that shows that Ginza that loves tradition, and has been able to withstand the test of time, over several generations, without so much as a shudder. If you ever find yourself in Ginza, definitely experience Japan’s bread culture by stopping by Kimuraya.InformationGinza Kimuraya Ginza Head StoreAddress: 4-5-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, TokyoHours:1F Bakery: 10:00-21:002F Cafe: 10:00-21:00／LO 20:303F Grill: 10:30-21:00／LO 20:304F Restaurant: Lunch 11:00-15:00／LO 14:30 Dinner 17:00-21:00／LO 20:00Closed: Open year round (excluding New Years Holidays)Wi-Fi Availability: NoneCredit cards acceptedMulti-lingual support: Japanese, EnglishMulti-lingual menus available: Japanese, EnglishNearest station: Ginza Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line/ Tokyo Metro Ginza Line/ Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)Access: 1-minute walk from Ginza Station A9 ExitPrice range: -999 yenReligious dietary considerations: N/ATelephone: 03-3561-0091Official website: Ginza Kimuraya
Private outdoor bath Sumiya KihoanHeading west from Kyoto, past Arashiyama you will find a beautiful mountain area called Kameoka. Take the JR line train to Hozukyo station where you will be able to join the Akechigoe course of the Hozukyo Hiking Trail. After leaving the station, head north and follow the river towards the Old Mizuo Road. This will take you to your trailhead. Here turn east towards Doyo no Reisen and head east on the clearly signposted mountain path, which will take you to Kameoka via some stunning Shinto shrines sitting hidden in the ancient forest.This area is famous for growing yuzu (a famous Japanese citrus fruit), with the Mizuo Yuzu Farm a short detour from the Old Mizuo Road. Here you can try the area’s famous yuzu chicken sukiyaki or even bathe in yuzu-infused hot springs. Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Kyoto city is in an enviable position. The hubbub of the center can be easily escaped into a lush countryside, where you can really appreciate the tranquility and find the connection to nature that resonates from these wondrous walking sites.After a long day of hiking, there’s nothing more relaxing than a long soak to ease the aches and pains of tired muscles. What’s best about Kyoto’s top trail-ways is that you can do just that at one of the mineral-rich natural hot springs, or ‘onsen’ as they’re known in Japanese, that are perfectly poised en route to unwind weary travelers. You can head for the hills in any season and won’t need any specialist equipment, just remember to take your camera as the views offer some incredible photo opportunities!Ohara – Visit Amazing Temples Mountain steps on the Hieizan trailAbandoning the well-trodden, touristy temples of the inner city, hiking Mount Hiei presents visitors with not only spectacular natural scenery. It’s famous cedars and scents have been chosen as one of the ‘Kaori Fukei 100 Sen’ or the ‘Best 100 Scent Sceneries’ in Japan. The Enryakuji temple complex, which radiates graceful elegance amongst an ocean of nature, is also one of its highlights.There are a number of hiking routes to the summit and even a cable car for those who don’t fancy the walk but the best path starts from Shugakuin Station, on the Eizan Line from Demachiyanagi. From here it’s about a 15-minute walk, heading east past Shirakawa Dori and alongside the canal, to the trailhead. The first thirty minutes are steep and some parts of the path are carved between giant rocks with an uneven surface. Sturdy shoes are advised. Lanterns lining the mountain path toward KuramaSanzen-in is the most acclaimed, particularly lovely in autumn when its grounds, a sea of maple trees whose leaves burn with a vermillion palette, are at their full glory. It’s also the perfect starting point for the two and a half to three hour Ohara to Kurama hiking trail. Private outdoor bath Sumiya KihoanThe highlight of the Kameoka hot-springs is Sumiya Kiho-an in the Yunohana Onsen region. They offer a day spa and lunch option or treat yourself to an overnight stay and join the likes of Yoko Ono and John Lennon who used to regularly frequent this ryokan when staying in Kyoto. At Sumiya the pools are radium-rich and believed to relieve neuralgia and arthritis, soothe chronic digestive diseases, fatigue and even alleviate gout. So just imagine what it will do for a few aching muscles.Kameoka Akechigoe HikingAddress: Kyoto Prefecture, Kameoka City, Hozu, Hozusan 3-1434 (JR Hozukyo Station) Google MapAccess: around 20 minutes from JR Kyoto StationOfficial Website: http://www.kameoka.info/foreign/en/Enjoy Exploring Kyoto’s Surroundings!Spending time hiking the trails of Kyoto is an unmissable break from normal city exploration. Paths are strewn with beautiful temples meaning that you can still enjoy Kyoto’s renowned culture whilst basking in the breathtaking natural beauty of the surrounding mountains. An afternoon of hiking and hot springs is the perfect way to explore and experience a different side to Kyoto!You May Also LikeKyoto Complete Guide: Travel Tips, Sightseeing, Festivals And More!5 Relaxing Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots Near Kyoto5 Famous Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots In Western Japan Even though the path is steep, it’s direct and very easy to follow, taking even inexperienced hikers no more than two hours to reach the top. The energy expenditure is worth it for the clean air thick with the smell of cedar and incense and the juxtaposition of bright vermillion structures nestled into lush greenery.Descending on the Shiga side of Hieizan brings you to Sakamoto and Ogoto Onsen where you can take a rest at one of the many onsen ryokans. For something particularly special, spend the night at Yomotokan Ryokan to unwind in their rooftop hot spring overlooking Lake Biwa.Shugakuin StationAddress: Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto City, Sakyo Ward, Yamabana ichoda-cho, 14-1 Google MapAccess: 30 to 40 minutes from JR Kyoto StationOfficial Website: https://www.hieizan.gr.jp/design/pdf/en.pdfKameoka – Explore an Ancient Forest Ohara, a rural farming village, only an hour by train and bus from central Kyoto, has to be high on the list for an afternoon of hiking and hot springs. Famed for growing shiso and making the most delicious tsukemono (Japanese pickles), Ohara also has a number of stunning temple complexes. Mountain shrine in KuramaBegin in the morning with an hour or two wiling away in the grounds of Sanzen-in. From here head to Jakko-in, where you will enter the mountain trail passing in front of the Ebumi Shrine. Walk the Ebumi Ridge to the village of Shizuhara where you can slip into silent admiration for the stunning scenery.From Shizuhara the path leads over another ridge to the old village of Kurama, including outdoor hot springs where you can sit back and relax in the hot, healing waters. The trail can be reversed and onsen enjoyed in Ohara as well. There are both overnight and dayspring options available and the outdoor bath at Kurama Day Spa is a particular highlight.OharaAddress: Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto City, Sakyo Ward, Ohara Raikouin-cho 81-2 (Kyoto Ohara Sightseeing Hoshokai) Google MapAccess: From Kokusaikaikan (Kyoto International Conference Center) Kyoto Municipal Subway Station, take Kyoto Bus 19 for 23 minutesOfficial Website: http://kyoto-ohara-kankouhosyoukai.net/ (Japanese)Mout Hiei – A History-Rich Temple Mountain
In Japan there are onsen (hot springs) in every region, from Hokkaido in the north all the way down to Okinawa in the south. Each hot spring has its own characteristic flavor and rich tradition, and the health benefits derived from stepping into one differ from place to place.If you’re interested in giving a hot spring a try, we highly recommend doing some preliminary research before choosing one that best suits your individual needs. Today we’ll introduce four hot springs along with their videos and other useful information. You’ll soon see that each place has it’s own special character and flavor in addition to a long tradition and rich history.1. Ehime’s Dogo Onsen – Japan’s Oldest Hot Spring©ITVEhime prefecture’s Dogo Onsen, said to be Japan’s oldest hot spring, even appeared in the book of classical Japanese history, Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan) as early as the 8th century. Every morning at 6 am in the hot spring’s symbolic main building, the sound of taiko drums can be heard announcing the start to a new business day.A famous legend that still remains at Dogo Onsen is the story of the white heron whose injured leg was healed by the soothing waters of the hot spring. The alkaline waters of the hot spring are gentle to the body and are said to have healing powers and beauty-enhancing properties.In addition to dipping into the hot spring there are numerous ways to enjoy yourself; relaxing in your yukata as you enjoy the tasty tea and cakes on the second floor of the main hall, or perhaps just sitting back and taking a well deserved break in the privacy of your own room.Loved by visitors and locals alike for all there years, how about savoring the nostalgic atmosphere of Dogo Onsen’s main building?Dogo OnsenAddress: Ehime, Matsuyama city, Dogo Tako-cho 6-8Website: Dogo Onsen (Japanese)2. Kagoshima’s Ibusuki Onsen – A Hot Spring With Sand?©MBCChange into a yukata (robe), lay down on the beach, and while listening to the sound of the incoming waves fully enjoy this hot spring.At Sunamushi Onsen in Ibusuki city, one of Japan’s foremost onsen areas, the experience that awaits you is a truly unique one, even in the world of hot springs.Here the naturally occuring hot sand will soon heat up your body. Dressed in your yukata, sand will be piled up over your body by the hot spring staff, and soon your body will start feeling warm.Afterwards, you can wash off any excess sand and the resulting sweat in a nearby pool, which leaving you feeling totally relaxed and refreshed. Visitors from outside Japan also converge non-stop on this highly popular tourist spot.Ibusuki Sunamushi OnsenAddress: Kagoshima, Ibusuki city, Yunohama 5-25-18Telephone: 0993-23-3900Website: Ibusuki Sunamushi Onsen3. Yamaguchi’s Yumoto Onsen – Popular With Dignitaries©tysYumoto Onsen has a history spanning 600 years, and is said to be the oldest hot spring in Yamaguchi prefecture. The Yumoto Onsen area is dotted with many onsen resorts, and one resort in particular, the venerable Otani Sanso, hosted Russian president Vladimir Putin during the Japan-Russia Summit Talks held in December of 2016.Yumoto OnsenAddress: Yamaguchi, Nagato city, FukawayumotoTelephone: 0837-25-3611Website: Yumoto Onsen (Japanese)4. Tochigi’s Tosho Onsen – Enjoy a Yuzu-Filled Hot Spring©TBSThe winter solstice, the longest night of the year. In Japan during the winter solstice, there is a custom of placing yuzu (citrus fruit) in the bath, so that people can submerge themselves in this ‘yuzu water’.On the day of the winter solstice in 2016, a special event was held at Tosho Onsen in Tochigi prefecture’s Nikko city. Looking ahead to, and anticipating the approaching new year of 2017, a total of 2017 yuzu citrus fruit and 21 of Japan’s largest variety of yuzu (banpeiyu) measuring 30 centimeters in diameter, were set afloat in Tosho Onsen’s huge rotemburo, or open-air bath.Be sure to watch the video showing the hundreds of yuzu bobbing on the surface of the water!Everyone at Tosho Onsen would like to invite all of you to come and enjoy the one hot spring in Japan that has the most yuzu floating in it.Tosho OnsenAddress: Tochigi, Nikko city, OwatariWebsite: Nikko Kinugawa Travel GuideIn ClosingOn video you’ve seen the wide variety of Japanese onsen; from hot springs where you lay in the sand to ones where you can bathe with the sweet aroma of yuzu gently drifting in the air.Were there any hot springs that you already knew about or was this the first time for you to hear about them? If it was the first time to learn about these places or if you’ve never been there, by all means please try to visit some of them.Your hot spring adventure here in Japan has just started and will be one that simply can’t be duplicated anywhere else!Sponsored by TBS Holdings, INC.
The city of Kobe, located in Hyogo prefecture, is famous for its many places worth seeing, as well as for its unique food specialties. Kobe’s most famous sightseeing spots are concentrated around downtown, such as the Sannomiya/Motomachi area and the Bay Area. If you use your time wisely, you can enjoy many of the sights and delicious food that Kobe has to offer. Even outside of the central hub of the city, there are famous sightseeing places such as Mt. Rokkō and Arima Onsen. You can enjoy your trip to an even greater extent by staying over the course of several days.We will efficiently make our way through the heart of Kobe and reveal some little-known facts about the city in this article.Kobe – A Major Port City in Western JapanKobe is situated in the southern part of Hyogo, and is the capital of this prefecture. The city consists of nine administrative wards called ku in Japanese: Chūō-ku, Tarumi-ku, Suma-ku, Nagata-ku, Hyogo-ku, Nada-ku, Higashi-Nada-ku, Kita-ku and Nishi-ku. Of these wards, Chūō-ku is particularly notable for its many tourist destinations. Kobe is also known for its many slopes, which are due to the city’s proximity to both the sea and mountains. For this reason, climbing to the top of a hill in Kobe will allow you an unbroken view of the cityscape and the sea.How to Reach KobeWe will introduce you to the most convenient ways to reach Kobe. There are many options, but here we will talk about going to Kobe by Shinkansen (bullet train) (via Tokyo or Shin-Osaka), by domestic flight (via Haneda Airport) and by international flight (via Kansai International Airport).By Shinkansen (From Tokyo or Shin-Osaka Station）You can reach Sannomiya Station, located in central Kobe, in about three hours. From Shin-Osaka Station you can arrive at Sannomiya Station in about 20 minutes. If you go from Shin-Osaka to Sannomiya station by regular train, the trip takes about 40 minutes.By domestic flight (From Haneda Airport)It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to get from Haneda to Kobe Airport. However, since Osaka-Itami Airport is also close by Kobe city and its flights are more frequent, we also recommend going through Itami. It takes about one hour to get to central Kobe from Itami.By international flight (From Kansai International Airport)If coming to Kobe from overseas, Kansai International Airport is the most convenient. You can catch a train from there, and it will take slightly more than 90 minutes to reach Kobe.You can also travel by regular trains or by the high-speed boat, the Bay Shuttle, which connects KIX (Kansai International Airport) and Kobe Airport.Read also: Catch a Lift From KIX Into Kobe On The Convenient Bay Shuttle!Ride A Kobelin Rental Cycle to Smoothly Get Around Kobe’s Steep SlopesTo make the most of your time going from sight to sight, we recommend using the bikeshare program “Kobelin”. You can rent a bike for 30 minutes for 100 yen, and return it at any Kobelin bike port. The bikes have an electric pedal assist, so you can comfortably bike up Kobe’s many hilly streets.It is a very handy bike, with a display that shows remaining battery life. You can manually choose the level of the electric pedal.You can unlock it with the code given to you at registration. Before using a Kobelin bike, you must register as a Kobelin member. You can do that on this site.* Please obey traffic rules, and ride safely!The Weathercock House, a Western-Style Brick Mansion Representative of KobeThe Weathercock House is a historical building in Kitano, Kobe city. In 1904, it was built as a house for a German trader. The building’s design features a brick exterior and a weathercock perched on the roof. The external architecture was done in Western style, but the interior of the mansion was built to suit Japan’s natural climate. For example, the windows slide horizontally back and forth instead of opening outward, as though they were traditional Japanese windows. The mansion is also called the Old Thomas Residence after its former owner.You can get a great view of the city from the second floor window.The Nunobiki Herb Garden: A Wide View of KobeAt the Kobe Municipal Nunobiki Herb Garden you can enjoy different herbs and flowers with the change of the seasons. Ride the ropeway up to the top of the mountain and look at the wonderful cityscape of Kobe while surrounded by the relaxing scent of herbs.To get to the Herb Garden, take the ropeway shown in this picture.It opens from 9:30 AM.Get your ticket and hop on.One adult ticket: 1400 yen for roundtrip (900 yen one-way)One child ticket: 700 yen for roundtrip (450 yen one-way)After 5:00 PM, there is a “night” ticket that costs 800 yen for a round trip for adults, and 500 yen for a round trip for children.There are tulips like the ones in the picture above. However you will able to see roses, lavender and other flowers depending on the season.Request A Divine Blessing For You and Your Special Someone at Ikuta ShrineKobe’s Ikuta Shrine is famous for its connection to the bonds of marriage and romantic relationships. It has a long history, having made an appearance in Japan’s oldest written chronicles – the Nihon-shoki – and receiving blessings here is popular even with the locals. It is also close to the station, with many worshipers coming to visit every day. It gets extremely crowded around the New Year.“Mame-maki”, a bean-scattering ritual, is performed on the shrine grounds during the Setsubun festival of Ikuta shrine, which takes place every year on February 3rd. This unique cultural ritual called “mame-maki” is a prayer to ward off unhappiness and misfortune in the new year by throwing beans. (Beans are said to bring good luck and ward off evil.) Ikuta Shrine’s Setsubun festival is famous throughout the rest of Japan, and every year, many notable personalities join this event.Full of Life: The Kobe-Sannomiya Center Gai Shopping StreetThe Kobe-Sannomiya Center Gai, the shopping street where all of Kobe’s traffic networks converge, is always bustling with activity. With the latest trendy items and all sorts of stores assembled along this street, many people from Kobe and the surrounding areas do their shopping here.The Kobe-Sannomiya Center Gai is home to handicrafts and stationery stores, famous Kobe-branded Western confectionery stores, gigantic book stores, fashion boutiques popular with young people, and all sorts of other establishments. The shopping arcade is also unusual in Japan for having two levels.Chinatown: NankinmachiNankinmachi, the Chinese district in Kobe, is made up of roughly a hundred shops. It is one of Japan’s three great Chinatowns. Chinese cooking ingredients, accessories, food and all sorts of diverse goods can be found for sale in the shops around this popular sightseeing destination.Since Nankinmachi gathers these hundred shops into an area of about 200 meters from east to west and 100 meters from north to south, a fun thing to do is to wander from store to store and stall to stall, buying new things to eat as you go.Spend Some Quality Seaside Time At HarborlandThe Harborland area takes great advantage of the fact that Kobe is a city by the sea. The ocean, the Port Tower and the monuments make fabulous scenic backgrounds for photos, and this area is very popular among people who like taking pictures.People say that the Port Tower is the symbol of Kobe Harborland. When looking out over the night view of Kobe, the lit-up Port Tower is also a beautiful sight to behold.Get Your Fill Of Fantastic Food in KobeKobe Beef: One of Japan’s Three Great Wagyū VarietiesThere is plenty of amazing food that you can only sample when in Kobe, but we strongly suggest that you get some Kobe beef when you visit. The label of “Kobe beef” is only given to beef from Tajima cows – raised in Hyogo Prefecture – which has met certain fixed criteria. Kobe beef is considered one of the most important three Wagyū (Japanese beef) varieties for its high quality.At some restaurants, they will grill the Kobe beef right in front of you before serving it. We recommend making a reservation before going to a popular Kobe beef restaurant.*The photos in this section have been created in cooperation with Kobe Plaisir.Kobe’s Elegant Sweets SceneKobe is well-known throughout Japan for its abundance of popular establishments that specialize in sweets and desserts. Many of these sweets are a feast not just for the tastebuds, but for the eyes as well. We would like to introduce a particular gem that can be found exclusively in Kobe.This is the mille-feuille from Mikage Takasugi. Its appearance is luxurious and it tastes even better.This is the Denmark cheesecake from Kannonya. It has a unique oven-baked texture, and a fascinating taste.One of Three Great Night Views in JapanBlessed by its position between mountains and the sea, at night the cityscape of Kobe glitters like a jewel. The lovely nighttime views from Mount Rokkō and Mount Maya will take your breath away, and the moonlight spreading across the curves of the bay is a gorgeous sight. In 2015, Kobe’s night view was acknowledged for its beauty when it was recognized as one of the Three Great Night Views of Japan.In ConclusionWhat do you think? We introduced a few spots in Kobe, but there are plenty of other fascinating places to visit which lie out of the city center. Here are a few more.The Best Place in Japan to Enjoy Sake – Nada Go-gō (Nada-ku)Nada Go-gō, Hyogo prefecture’s sake production region, comprises five districts: Nishi-gō, Mikage-gō, Uozaki-gō, Nishinomiya-gō and Imazu-gō. The start of the sake brewing in this area goes back to the Muromachi era (1336-1573).At Nada Go-gō, the sake brewing cellars retain the same appearance they had long ago, and as you walk down the street, the faint scent of sake wafts in the air. Each sake brewer has their own unique choice sake to try, and each type of sake has its own personality. You can also come in contact with traditional brewing techniques through the manufacturing process.A place overflowing with charm, every visit to Nada Go-gō is a chance to encounter past brewing traditions and make new sake discoveries.Japan’s Oldest Famous Hot Spring, Arima Onsen (Kita-ku)The oldest famous hot spring in Japan, Arima Onsen, has been cherished by a wide range of people throughout its history, from the nation’s rulers all the way down to the common people. Arima Onsen is a mere 30 minutes away from Kobe/Sannomiya area. After you have a long soak in the hot spring, you can enjoy a meal of Japanese food, and meet a geisha as she performs zashiki asobi or “parlor-playing”, which is a traditional Japanese way to entertain guests with dances and games. You can also enjoy the ancient townscape outside.Akashi Kaikyō, The World’s Longest Suspension Bridge (Tarumi-ku)Image courtesy of Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway CompanyThe Akashi Kaikyō Suspension Bridge took ten years to complete, and is recognized as the longest suspension bridge in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. As the main traffic vein from Honshū (main island) to Awaji-shima island and Shikoku island, cars are constantly coming and going over the bridge. There are illumination lamps attached to the cables holding up the bridge, and they change color depending on the time and season, so it is a picturesque sight at night.Since Kobe is easy to access by Shinkansen, plane or Bay Shuttle, how about taking the time to visit it? We are sure that you will love it.Recommended articlesCatch a Lift From KIX Into Kobe On The Convenient Bay Shuttle!Top 4 Select Bakeries in Japan’s Unknown Bread Town, KobeStarbucks Kobe Kitano Ijinkan – Enjoy Coffee in a Western-style buildingInformationKobe Sightseeing Spots
Takeshita Street, Harajuku: Counterculture Fashion Paradise Photo by: Carlos Mejía Greene Tokyo Tower: 333 Meter Tall Landmark Photo by: Alex Chen Contents:1. The Charisma of Tokyo: See some of Tokyo’s charms through photographs.2. About Japan: Need-to-know information on Japan overall.3. Things to Bring: What you need for each season.4. Airports: Information on Narita and Haneda Airports.5. Main Stations in Tokyo: A guide to the biggest stations.6. Places to Stay: Information on hotel types.7. Food: Information on the best dishes to try in Tokyo.1. The Charisma of TokyoTokyo is one of the largest cities in the world; here you can find many different kinds of people, products and cultures. As the center of Japanese economy and politics, the face of the capital of Japan is changing every day. It’s a place where new businesses, technologies, and cultures constantly take shape. This sleepless city will never bore you, but can surprise you with its excitement and inspiration. This list of travel tips will help you to make your stay in Tokyo more meaningful. Kawaii Girl’s culture: Lolita fashion From: Totoro cream puff from the most well-known animation studio, Studio Ghibli. From:
SPIRIANT, a leading airline-equipment provider is pleased to announce that its innovative waste-management solution has taken to the skies with LATAM, the largest carrier in South America.The first of its kind, the highly functional concept saves space onboard with efficiency and cleanliness thanks to its design. Focusing on responsible waste management, it improves workflow for the crew and promotes a clean environment for passengers.The sleek design consists of a waste-bag holder and foldable drawer that allow for quick and easy access and effective disposal. The concept will be implemented in the airline’s economy class galleys of long-haul flights lasting over seven hours.“Space saving has never been more critical than it is today,” said Maria Estela Espinoza, Onboard Service Manager at LATAM. “There is no doubt that this waste-bag concept will make life easier for the crew. It is also highly functional and contributes toward our sustainability efforts.”“Helping to improve the day-to-day work environment of the crew is key when you want to create an exceptional passenger experience,” explained Carlos Rabines, Director Inflight Equipment at SPIRIANT. “To see the positive impact it has on the crew’s life is very exciting for us, and we are proud to offer this efficient waste-management solution in collaboration with LATAM.”SPIRIANT looks forward to continuing its successful relationship with LATAM and watching the progress of its waste-bag solution in the skies.SPIRIANT, an LSG Group subsidiary, is a renowned provider of equipment solutions for airlines worldwide, ranging from design to logistics.Its in-house design studio and global network of experts have won a number of international awards, including the red dot design award best of the best, iF product design award, observeur du design and the TravelPlus Airline Amenity Bag Awards.
Intelsat leases Ku-band satellite bandwidth, and that bandwidth may very well be in use already by inflight connectivity service providers to support broadband Internet on business jets. But Intelsat has never offered a service specific to the business aviation community. That is until today.In back-to-back announcements that dropped at the big NBAA convention in Orlando, Intelsat both launched its new managed end-to-end service called FlexExec for business aviation, and revealed that Satcom Direct will serve as master distributor, as part of the new SD Xperience platform.“By having one, cohesive network, service providers will immediately gain operational efficiencies and be in a stronger position to simplify the inflight experience for flight departments,” said Intelsat in a statement.Significantly, FlexExec is unique in that it is dedicated to the business aviation community. So, while the capacity will come from Intelsat’s global, multi-layered fleet of 50 Ku-band satellites (including its six Epic high throughput satellites), it will not be shared amongst commercial aviation or consumer broadband customers.This is a crucial aspect of the alliance, because business jets can quickly encounter congestion on satellite beams if commercial airliners are sucking up the capacity. To put the issue into perspective, that same Intelsat network currently counts at least 2,865 Ku-transmitting aircraft across more than 60 airlines. And these aircraft are supported by rival inflight connectivity service providers Global Eagle, Gogo, and Panasonic Avionics.Speaking to Runway Girl Network in advance of NBAA, Intelsat VP and general manager, mobility Mark Rasmussen explained that FlexExec represents “our first service for business aviation, period”, and because the capacity isn’t shared, it is about bringing a service platform to the space that has never existed before.Moreover, Satcom Direct will be able to craft its own plans, whether they be power-by-the-hour, high-speed plans, lower-speed plans, limited or unlimited plans to name just some of the options. In short, Satcom Direct has “enormous amounts of flexibility there and the sky’s the limit then for them on how they go to market” and how they target users more specifically, says Rasmussen.To be clear, the arrangement between Intelsat and Satcom Direct is not exclusive, “but our intention here is that SD is our master distributor and they’re going to bring the best value out there whether for business aircraft owners or other distributors that want to join up and participate in FlexExec”, adds Rasmussen.Satcom Direct supports 7,000 business aircraft in service today, and has deep relationships with the OEMs, which is very important in this part of the industry. And because OEMs are increasingly looking for guidance on connectivity – and want to know which providers are going to be around for the long run – “that’s where Satcom Direct is really bringing a special value here for our relationship and jet owners”, notes the Intelsat executive.Satcom Direct already has a relationship in place with Panasonic Avionics, which has addressed the business aviation market in partnership with Astronics, with the latter contributing its T-210 and T-220 tail-mount antenna packages to the project.But Satcom Direct, in a press release today, said the FlexExec architecture will be delivered “via the upgraded AeroSat FlightStream (T-310) tail-mounted antenna system”. And in a later statement, Astronics said its FliteStream F-310 and T-310 satcom products would be the “first to become qualified for the Intelsat business aviation service”. It remains to be seen if Panasonic – or indeed other Ku-band inflight connectivity providers – intends to tap Satcom Direct for the FlexExec packages to support their business aviation clients.Meanwhile, when it comes to the battle over who is promising the highest speeds or most capacity in the business aviation market, Intelsat is opting not to participate in that conversation, with Rasmussen telling RGN he believes there is far too much hype out there with people making “crazy claims” about the speeds they can offer and the number of Mbps that passengers should expect. “We’re doing it differently, bringing a lot of throughput to the network, but that will show up with more consistency to business jet customers.”News that Intelsat is more formally jumping into business aviation comes at a time when the industry is on an upswing after suffering in the doldrums for several years. The Honeywell Global Business Aviation Outlook forecasts up to 7,700 new business jet deliveries worth $251 billion from 2019 to 2028, up 1 to 2 percentage points from the 2017 10-year forecast.Intelsat’s Rasmussen agrees that the timing for Intelsat’s entry represents “good fortune”. He notes that Intelsat has been “working on this for quite a while, it’s ready to go, it’s operational, we haven’t waited around to do it. We did it in a disciplined and methodical manner. We put the network in place, aligned our partnership with Satcom Direct, and now we’re ready to go. The BizAv market is trending up and that’s good for us. We’re going to benefit from that.”Related Articles:Intelsat, OneWeb work to bring new economics to Ku connectivityGoing indirect with GoDirect; Viasat sees value of partners in bizavDespite delay, Astronics optimistic about BizAv Ku connectivity rolloutFaster Ku part of ViaSat arsenal as it preps for 16 Mbps Ka in BizAvSD enables simultaneous live TV and Internet with single bizav antennaWith Cathay Pacific in the bag, Gogo’s double-down on Ku is clearInmarsat, Panasonic seek to displace Yonder and ATG in bizavWhy BizAv can expect bigger things with 2Ku commercial migrationRiding the Jet ConneX wave via Satcom DirectSatcom Direct, now branded SD, broadens portfolio for bizav IFCHoneywell gets geeky with new data control and consulting for BizAvInflight connectivity players assess the art of the possible in BizAvPress Release: Intelsat introduces end-to-end managed service for BizAvPress Release: SD to be master distributor for Intelsat’s FlexExec service
Flying on Delta One from JFK to LHR on an Airbus A330 was all about form and function over flair, a buttoned-up way to fly premium with the occasional indulgence. Simply put: business class is all business here, but there is some fun to be had before departure.Delta Air Lines first introduced its Delta One experience from New York to London earlier this spring (an upgrade from the BusinessElite product) offering fully-flat seats with Westin Heavenly bedding, chef-curated menus, adorable TUMI kits packed with Kiehl’s toiletries, and a comprehensive Panasonic inflight entertainment system.Given that the flight is a relatively quick jaunt – about seven hours – you’ll have to get to sleep right after takeoff in order to make the most of these inflight luxuries. But what’s the fun in doing that?The Ticket: I had booked the flight using a combo of Delta SkyClub miles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles since Delta and Virgin Atlantic have a codeshare agreement. I had to buy some of the Flying Club miles through American Express Express points.The Seat: The seats on this A330 are in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration and I selected a window seat on the left. Navy blue and grey are the dominant colors of the pods, with navy blue leather on the seats and on the trim surrounding the shell.The seat does indeed lie very flat and I slept about four hours on the way to London. The bedding is super comfortable too. Overall, the seat was functional but it didn’t feel luxurious.Navy blue and comfortable bedding is a standard. Image: Juliana ShallcrossThe Amenities: As mentioned, the seats come with glossy black mini-TUMI hard shell cases with Kiehl’s toiletries, specifically moisturizer and lip balm. Also packed in are hand “cleanser”, eye masks, socks, tissues, ear plugs, and a toothbrush and toothpaste.The amenity kit on Delta One. Image: Juliana ShallcrossThe IFE: Delta Studio, the airline’s inflight content package, doesn’t mess around. There are over 1,000 movies, TV shows, songs and games to entertain yourself with. Plus, each Delta One seat gets a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to better hear the movie with.Delta One IFE lives up to its name. Image: Juliana ShallcrossThe Food: This flight menu was created by Union Square Hospitality Group, a popular NYC-based restaurant and bar group. Their biggest claim to fame is probably creating Shake Shack, but they’ve also got a few Michelin-starred and James Beard winning restaurants under their umbrella.Obviously, the chefs drew from these fine-dining establishments to pull together the Delta One menu. I selected the baby romaine salad with delicata squash and the three-cheese cannelloni for my meal but had to pass on dessert. Funnily enough, I had Shake Shack in the airport before my flight. Which leads me to…The menu has a variety of inspiration. Image: Juliana ShallcrossThe Perks: The most fun in flying Delta One was actually on the ground at JFK with the Delta Sky Club Lounge, specifically the Delta Sky Deck within Terminal 4.Open seasonally, the rooftop terrace allows you the chance to get some fresh air in between flights and to do some plane spotting. And of course you can bring your food and rosé out here too.Another fun perk of the Sky Club is being able to use your Delta Sky Miles for a massage in the Asanda Spa. It’s done in a massage chair but it feels just as nice as laying down on the table.The spa also offers facials and a Deepak Chopra-created meditation session. You can book when you arrive or if your timing is tight, you might want to schedule in advance. I had a five-hour layover from Los Angeles, so anything was possible for me.The only downside to the Delta Sky Club Lounge is that the food presentation is a rather small buffet style for a ginormous lounge. I tried the pho that they had on offer but was a little sketched out by the buffet utensils.Also, the place gets very crowded as it’s so big. Ultimately, I left the packed lounge for ShakeShack next door.Related Articles:Evolving business class suite privacy beyond just adding a doorUS big three airlines consolidate business class changes, slowly$500 for a door? Delta starts charging for better biz PaxExDelta goes Thompson Vantage XL with new A350, 777 biz suitesDelta quietly testing Gogo TV; seeks to exceed direct broadcast productDelta, Bombardier quickly push the boundaries of regional PaxExDelta amps up the socially-conscious cool factor with LSTN headphonesPress Release: Factorydesign talks customizing Delta One suitePress Release: Airbus, Delta partner on Skywise predictive maintenance
As a budget-sensitive traveler, I rarely find Eurobusiness tickets worth the fare difference, but SAS surprised me with its ‘light’ business class on a recent trip to Athens to attend IATA’s Global Airport and Passenger Symposium.After comparing options, I found that the return SAS Plus Saver fare from Billund, Denmark to Athens was about the same as other competitors’ economy fares – after adding seat selection and baggage.The SAS Plus Saver ticket comes with your pick of seats, allowance for two 23kg checked bags, FastTrack through security, access to the lounge and free Viasat high-speed Internet. No inflight connectivity – free or otherwise – would have been available on the other flights that fit my schedule.I departed from LEGO’s “home” airport Billund, which is always a pleasure to transit. It has become extremely convenient even on crowded autumn holidays, with plenty of self-service kiosks, automated bag-drop service stations, and automated gates at security. The FastTrack lane helped me avoid the holiday crowd and the whole process from arrival to bag-drop and clearing security took under ten minutes.After collecting my baggie (with a croissant and small water cup) from the baskets at the gate, I took off at 6:20 am on SK1280, the fifty-minute flight to Copenhagen. The ATR turboprop cabins are tight, even for someone with short legs, but I focused on the view out of the window.Breathtaking views from the window of this ATR. Image: Marisa GarciaWith a one hour and twenty-five-minute connection through Copenhagen, I didn’t have to rush but I didn’t have time to relax in the SAS lounge either. I took a leisurely stroll to my next gate instead. There are quality shops, restaurants and cafés everywhere at CPH, which is very handy.Flight SK777 from Copenhagen to Athens was a bit light on passengers. There were some seat changes for weight distribution, and I wound up with an exit row window seat. There was a ridiculous amount of room with no one seated next to me. However, unlike several Eurobusiness products, SAS Plus does not proactively block middle seats.I enjoyed tremendous legroom in an exit row seat on this SAS A321. Image: Marisa GarciaI admit to uttering a “squee” when I saw the radome hump on this Airbus A321. Having already trialled the SAS wifi during its debut, I knew I was in for a treat, and enjoyed a high-speed, Ka-band satellite connection.I had expected the connectivity service would deteriorate as we got closer to Greece’s busiest airport, but was delighted to find that was not the case. I got a lot of work done and had no delay in uploading a photo to share on social media. We were served a light sandwich and beverages.Athens Airport has all the modern conveniences, but it was extremely crowded with holidaymakers. On my return, I found that the automated bag drop machines are not common-use and only available two hours before departure. If you arrive early, as I did, you can’t go up to a different airline’s machines – even from the same alliance. I was stuck waiting.Clearing security was relatively smooth. The small Lufthansa lounge was very crowded. I walked through, had a beverage and left.On my return flight SK778, I had the bulkhead window seat. This time, there was no room to spare. I had companions in both the middle seat and aisle seat. The overhead bins were filled to capacity, but I found room for my small backpack.The minute we were in the air, I connected to the Internet again and watched shows on Netflix all the way back to Copenhagen. I also got some work done (email and cloud access to files) with Netflix playing uninterrupted.We were served the SAS healthy meal cube, which takes up very little room on the seat tray, so I didn’t have to put my iPad away. A small selection of gourmet bon-bons sweetened the deal.Back in Billund, at baggage claim, I was reminded that the airline industry is a tough business, and that few airlines actually make it.Low-cost carrier Primera Air went out of business; its cancelled flights were shown on the screen at baggage claim. Image: Marisa GarciaSAS is in a crowded marketplace with fierce low-fares competitors, but the airline has figured out what its core customers value and it delivers.Related Articles:Thinking through a realistic wishlist for EurobusinessAs SAS sports high-speed wifi in the sky, management praises ViasatWhen two aircraft mark an interesting business class watershedFive ways Europe’s airlines can make Eurobusiness less terribleEvolving Eurobusiness shows LCC opportunity, legacy threat‘SAS Dreams’ positions the airline as guide for branded experiences ViaSat vows to continue the fight to prevent European Aviation NetworkViaSat touts big capacity as it readies for European installsFinnair, SAS talk ViaSat connectivity pick as competition hots upViaSat pivots to coverage play for connected aircraft revolution
Ericsson and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) have announced that Ericsson’s Core Network as a Service solution is now live, supporting connectivity services across multiple markets served by Panasonic. Ericsson’s Core Network as a Service solution will help Panasonic and its subsidiary AeroMobile, a global GSMA telecoms operator, provide data, voice and messaging services to the millions of airline passengers that use these services in flight. The collaboration between Ericsson, Panasonic and AeroMobile started in 2016 and is now fully operational and delivers services to Panasonic customers worldwide.As part of Panasonic’s initiative to bring a superior connected experience onboard commercial aircraft, Panasonic and Ericsson have seamlessly migrated the existing service operating across a global fleet of aircraft onto the Core Network, delivered as a Service, while maintaining network performance and customer experience. Every passenger whose mobile service provider has a roaming agreement with AeroMobile can use the service, which is supported by mobile operators across the globe and delivered inflight on board more than 20 of Panasonic’s global commercial airline customers.The geo-redundant solution is delivered through Ericsson’s ground-breaking Core Network as a Service and includes virtualized network applications such as packet core, unified data management, mediation, and mobile switching delivered on the Ericsson NFV Infrastructure. The Core Network solution is part of Ericsson’s as a Service offering to service providers globally, and is able to support 5G services to the passenger and airline. Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile, says: “Our partnership with Ericsson, and the technology provided, will allow us to better serve the communications needs of our passenger and airline customers. Furthermore, the solution enables us to grow our footprint and expand into other services offering a richer experience for the passenger and operational efficiencies for our airline customers. We are looking forward to continuing our exciting collaboration with Ericsson.”Marielle Lindgren, Head of Customer Unit UK and Ireland at Ericsson, says: “Panasonic Avionics is the first customer on Ericsson’s newly introduced Core Network as a Service solution, which aims to bring Ericsson’s leadership and expertise to a wide range of service providers. We’re proud to have initially been chosen as Panasonic Avionics’ supplier for a 5G ready core network, and pleased that the project is now live.The two companies will explore other services to address further market segments and opportunities, while ensuring service continuity and the constant evolution of the live network, including exploring new 5G use cases.ABOUT PANASONIC AVIONICS CORPORATIONPanasonic Avionics Corporation is the world’s leading supplier of inflight entertainment and communication systems. The company’s best-in-class solutions, supported by professional maintenance services, fully integrate with the cabin enabling its customers to deliver the ultimate travel experiences with a rich variety of entertainment choices, resulting in improved quality communication systems and solutions, reduced time-to-market and lower overall costs.Established in 1979, Panasonic Avionics Corporation, a U.S. corporation, is a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation of North America, the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation. Headquartered in Lake Forest, California with over 5,000 employees and operations in 80 global locations, it has delivered over 9,000 IFE systems and 2,000 inflight connectivity solutions to the world’s leading airlines. ABOUT ERICSSONEricsson enables communications service providers to capture the full value of connectivity. The company’s portfolio spans Networks, Digital Services, Managed Services, and Emerging Business and is designed to help our customers go digital, increase efficiency and find new revenue streams. Ericsson’s investments in innovation have delivered the benefits of telephony and mobile broadband to billions of people around the world. The Ericsson stock is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm and on Nasdaq New York.
Vistara, a young, boutique airline in India, is seeking to make waves for its service and gracious staff. With a fleet of 22 aircraft including nine Airbus A320neos, Vistara – which is jointly owned by Tata and Singapore Airlines – has an endearing quality. Its name was drawn from the Sanskrit word Vistaar, which means “limitless expanse”.Presented with the opportunity to try Vistara as a guest of the airline, I recently flew roundtrip between Delhi and Bhubaneswar in East India – first in premium economy and then in business class.Check-in for the two-hour A320neo flight from Delhi’s T3 terminal was speedy, as priority check-in for premium economy travelers is facilitated. These passengers can also pay a fee to access the Vistara lounge. A piping hot breakfast was on offer when I entered.The lounge featured western and Indian cuisine. Image: Neelam MathewsThe layout in the lounge is multi-functional with small office spaces, a bar, privacy corners and a general lounge area available to passengers. I said “hello” to the non-functioning RADA, a robot who is usually on hand to give flight information when prompted.RADA recently won two awards at the Architecture World Summit held in New York. Image: Neelam MathewsNow it’s time to board. As I entered the cabin, I took notice of the snug galley complex for which the A320neo is increasingly known. I am sure the crew will have some tedious moments on longer flights, but the tight space suffices for shorter hops.The forward lav near the cockpit is big enough to move around in – a comfort attribute that Vistara management openly touts – but the two rear lavs are not as spacious.The galley was tight, but the crew executed a lovely meal, without complaint. Image: Neelam MathewsVistara, incidentally, is the only airline in India that offers three classes of service including a premium economy product that, in your author’s opinion, is worth the extra money as flights in India are among the most inexpensive in the world.The dedicated premium economy cabin features 24 seats which are technically the same seat architecture as found in economy class but the padding, leather quality and recline “is superior”, I’m told, and naturally the 33” pitch offers more legroom than in economy class, which is configured with seats pitched roughly at 30”.The breakfast menu featured two Indian vegetarian dishes and a Mexican omelet. A delicious Starbucks India blend of coffee also hit the spot; it is only served on flights above 90 minutes.For the Bhubaneswar-Delhi leg of my journey, I was lucky enough to be flying in business class.As I boarded, Vistara’s melodious theme song – which I’m told is called MOGO, a short form for ‘musical logo’ – seeks to position it as a world citizen on Indian soil. A full-service carrier, Vistara wants to be seen as both a carefree explorer and a caregiver to passengers, head purser Deepika explained to me.The seats, built by Italian seatmaker Geven, feature royal purple and grey hues, a 40” pitch and 7” of recline.Mood lighting in the cabin is curated to correspond with every step of the journey. With an extendable legrest and height-adjustable headrest with wings, it is easy to relax in this seat.I had plenty of room to stretch out on this 2-hour flight. Image: Neelam MathewsThe soft product is every bit as impressive, and I confess to being elated to learn that Vistara follows an old-fashioned business class service concept – spoiling you silly – on even short hops.Vistara is generous with the food choices. I opted for pan-seared fish fingers served with chicken kebabs, potato fritters and pressed mix fruit juice, as catered by TajSATS Air Catering Ltd. At the risk of being nit-picky, I would have liked to have seen some greens on the plate.A caramel espresso served as the finale. Vistara partners with Starbucks to offer a coffee that captures the aroma of Indian coffee from Tata Coffee estates in South India.Meals are served when you want them, though this can also lead to abuses (my neighbor asked for his meal just 20 minutes before landing, and was accommodated). Image: Neelam MathewsOn the inflight entertainment front, Vistara offers a streaming service from BlueBox, though it does not offer in-seat power.Branded as ‘Vistara World’, the wireless IFE network is accessed through passengers’ own devices, and features Indian and Hollywood films, kids’ programming, TV series and documentaries, plus a range of both Western and Indian music.Vistara is able to deliver its wireless entertainment through the Bluebox Wow portable wifi box, which is positioned in the overhead bin. Image: Neelam MathewsIn order to fully avail of the entertainment, passengers need to download the entertainment app before the flight for their Android or iOS device. Otherwise, one’s access to content is severely restricted.Unfortunately for me, I did not download the app on the ground so I ended up listening to ABBA Gold as most of the music albums required the app. (For Apple users, Bluebox says you need iOS 8.0 or later, and that the service is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.)Deepika assisted me when I sought to access the Vistara World wireless entertainment. Image: Neelam MathewsThe crew members were gracious throughout the flight, and set an excellent standard. And I was excited to learn that the first officer was a woman. The aircraft descended to the music of Hall & Oates’ Maneater, which amused me to no end.Related Articles:Vistara taps Bluebox for wireless IFE on A320s; eyes options for 787-9sWill shrinking lavs spell rising fortunes for Indian carriers?Free accessibility plus connectivity-lite coming to Bluebox customersInflight connectivity providers see compelling prospects in IndiaIndian carriers eye inflight Internet as country mulls removing block#PaxEx TV: Indian carriers face off for foodies in the skyIndian carriers ramp up marketing in battle to win passengersIndia’s Vistara uses wireless IFE as stopgap to connectivityVistara IFE deal underscores challenge of certifying tablets in seats
Aircraft galley-cum-lavatories are not universally appreciated by passengers and cabin crew (not by a long shot), but they are having a serious moment right now as airlines densify their narrowbodies with more seats. The latest such product on the scene is Diehl Aviation’s SkyPax solution for Airbus A320 family aircraft, for which LATAM is the launch customer, Runway Girl Network can confirm.Developed in partnership with MRO giant Lufthansa Technik, the aft galley-lavatory combination for cabin retrofits creates space for up to two additional rows of seating – dependent upon seating position and configuration – which is equivalent to 12 additional revenue seats.SkyPax will not fulfill every airline’s needs, says Diehl Aviation chief customer officer Harald Mehring. “So we look just at airlines which are interested in a densification program.”The LATAM group is among those carriers. In fact, LATAM Airlines Brasil, formerly TAM Airlines, was a launch customer for Airbus’ original ‘Space-Flex v1’ galley-lavatory configuration for A320 linefits, which was developed in tandem with Diehl. In rearranging the rear galley by placing the two lavatories together, Space-Flex v1 not only added three seats (six if a full galley wasn’t necessary), but also catered to passengers of reduced mobility (PRMs) with a retractable partition between the two lavatories.Diehl still provides content for the v1 monument. “Yeah, it’s an option that can be selected, but there is still a version 2,” notes Mehring in reference to the later iteration known as Space-Flex v2, which was developed for A320 linefits by Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace (now Safran Cabin).Space-Flex v2 has seen increasing adoption by airlines, but generally comes in for harsher scrutiny than v1. While it added galley area, it did so at the expense of the lavatory space.Together with Lufthansa Technik, Diehl saw in the aftermarket “the potential for a new solution, a third one,” Mehring explains to Runway Girl Network. Thus, SkyPax was born. It is akin to a Space-Flex version 3, but developed specifically for retrofits at this juncture.Diehl delivered SkyPax to its first customer in late 2018. Image: DiehlIn 2017, before Diehl branded the product as SkyPax, management detailed the differences between its retrofit offering verses Space-Flex, noting to RGN that SkyPax is “lighter” and “more price sensitive, so it’s cheaper — so it’s more efficient”. Unsurprisingly, Diehl says it has more business in the pipeline for SkyPax. However, the German firm is also fielding a variety of other requests to accommodate aircraft densification.During last fall’s AIX, Americas show in Boston, the aerospace company revealed that American Airlines will take Diehl’s narrow 31” lavatory for A320 retrofits. The US major has also asked that the solution be delivered linefit.This so-called Space Optimized Lavatory does as its name suggests, optimizing lavatory space to ensure additional seats can be added to the cabin. “They can get in a row more, which is six paying passengers,” says Mehring.The lavatory is a little bit like the unit known as Airbus’ Smart-Lav, which was developed in partnership with Diehl and can be ordered in standalone form (i.e. not part of Space-Flex) as Indian operator Vistara says it has done. But the 31″ lavatory is different, clarifies Mehring, and is highly configurable to operators’ business models. It’s clear that the 31″ lavatory will pose a conundrum for passengers of size and reduced mobility. When your author shared the above photo on social media, travelers expressed concerns that they might not fit. “Passenger size is an issue and therefore you cannot equip an aircraft with only small and slim” lavatories, agrees Mehring.Yet, as this narrow lavatory rolls out on American A320s, we should not be surprised if the solution captures news headlines, as Collins Aerospace-manufactured mini lavs have done on American’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and on United’s MAXs.Related Articles:More space, less flex in Diehl-LHT galley-lav combo retrofit optionWill shrinking lavs spell rising fortunes for Indian carriers?Airline reveals its concerns about new Airbus lavatory/galley optionPassengers bemoan Space-Flex crunch on Lufthansa’s new A320neoDiehl stays flexible in face of A380 output cut, industry consolidationAPEX eyes aircraft seat standards while criticizing media reportingAirbus facilitates passengers with reduced mobilityAirbus delights in airline design reaction to A320 Airspace optionsDiehl SYLVIA rethinks the forward end of the narrowbody cabin
Carolina Ballet NutcrackerSaturday, Dec. 20:Performances at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.Sunday, Dec. 21:Performances at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.Memorial Auditorium,Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts2 E. South Street, Raleigh, NC (Downtown Raleigh)Tickets: https://www.carolinaballet.com/program/the-nutcracker14Choristers from The Raleigh Boychoir will lend their voices to Carolina Ballet’s Nutcracker. photograph by Bryan Reganby Elizabeth LincicomeOn a rainy Saturday morning in October, more than 30 boys have gathered to rehearse choral music in an unassuming brick house off of Ridge Road. Today they sing The First Noel, which they will perform at their Carols of Christmas concert. It’s a production that debuted in 1968, the keynote event of the Raleigh Boychoir’s performance season.Over the last 46 years, the choir has flourished, cementing its accomplished reputation with performances at the White House, Carnegie Hall, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Its choristers, who range in age from 7 to 14, are proudly coached “in the boychoir tradition,” says assistant artistic director Vicki Oehling. By that she means they learn and perform the sacred and classical music “that has been performed by boychoirs for centuries in the great cathedrals of Europe.” It’s a unique and memorable sound, she says, “distinctly pure, focused, powerful and beautiful.”To create that sound, they practice hard.“On these phrases, make sure you take the breath from where we talked about,” says artistic director Jeremy Tucker, as he points to his abdominal muscles.While the boys look to Tucker for singing direction, they look to one another for vocal cues and musical camaraderie. “How do we pronounce ‘Israel’ in the song?” one member asks the director. Then they’re on to the North Carolina state song, The Old North State, which they’re preparing to sing at November’s North Carolina Awards.Thomas E. Sibley founded the Raleigh Boychoir in 1968 with 20 boys and a $50 contribution from the Woman’s Club of Raleigh. He was the music coordinator for Raleigh public schools and the organist and choirmaster for Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. He started the choir because he was concerned about the lack of choral experiences and performance opportunities for boys, and believed the choir would be a good way for boys to develop etiquette and discipline – values that are still emphasized today.It’s a formula that works. Raleigh Boychoir alumni have gone on to join top boychoirs around the world, including the American Boychoir, St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, and the Vienna Boys’ Choir.“I really appreciate what the boychoir has given me,” says Sterling Jones, 13, in his 7th year with the group. “I had no singing experience before joining and it’s just been a lot of fun.” Jones and his family moved to Raleigh from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.CHORISTERSThe Raleigh Boychoir is “a finely-tuned team of singer musicians,” says assistant artistic director Vicki Oehling. “They learn the tools to build a dignified demeanor that earns respect.”Like a choir of angelsThe choir’s repertoire includes sacred and secular classics, selections from musical theater, and an assortment of American folk and patriotic music. It has many fans in and around the local arts community.“The Raleigh Boychoir is a unique and special entity unlike any other chorus or choir because young boys’ voices before they change sound like angels,” says Robert Weiss, the founding artistic director of the Carolina Ballet.This year, the Boychoir will sing during select Saturday and Sunday performances of the ballet’s Nutcracker. The scene in which they sing features a dramatic snowfall. “In the middle of this massive storm comes a calm,” Weiss says, “and then you hear the boys voices, no words, just singing, and it’s like a choir of angels singing. It sounds like you have been transported to the heavens. Sure, this has been done with female sopranos, but it’s not the same. This is what cherub angels sound like.”Some are young enough to look like angels, too. Many are part of the group’s Training Choir, where new members most often begin. The Resident Choir is typically an entry point for older boys with a musical background; the Performing Choir is the organization’s primary touring group; and the Millennium Singers are a smaller, elite choir that boys audition to enter once they’re part of the Performing Choir.Coby Schoolman, 13, is a member of the Performing Choir and has been with the group for four years. “Being in the Raleigh Boychoir is a real honor,” he says. “It’s really cool for me because there are so many other members who share the love of singing and just the love of music in general.”There are also options for boys to continue to participate even after a boy has “voiced out” of the choir. An Alumni/Scholar Choir is comprised of alumni and young men, and the group is considering creating a Young Men’s Ensemble to provide another option for graduates.Artistic director Jeremy Tucker. Page-Walker Fall/Winter Concert SeriesSunday, Dec. 144 p.m.Page-Walker Arts & History Center119 Ambassador Loop, Cary, NCTickets: www.etix.com (search term: boychoir)This concert, featuring The Raleigh Boychoir Millennium Singers, is quickly becoming a tradition at the historic Page-Walker Arts & History Center. December Concerts:Carols of ChristmasFriday, Dec. 197:30 p.m.Edenton Street United Methodist Church228 West Edenton Street,RaleighTickets: www.raleighboychoir.org/ticketsCarols of Christmas is a holiday staple in the Triangle area. Now in its 47th year, this premier concert features all of the choirs of The Raleigh Boychoir: Millennium Singers, Performing Choir, Resident Choir, Training Choir and Alumni/Scholar Choir.
With yellow lab Lucy in the background, Jeanne Jolly tunes up before a show at Raleigh’s Southland Ballroom.by Tracy Davisphotographs by Scott SharpeJeanne Jolly is a jack of all trades, and also a study in contrasts.A classically trained vocalist, Jolly’s new record, A Place to Run, takes her deep into country music territory. And while the Raleigh native may look like a composed Southern Grace Kelly, on stage, she gets down, with powerhouse vocals evocative of Linda Ronstadt and the ethereal harmonies of Alison Krauss.Jolly’s hometown release show for A Place to Run will take place downtown at Lincoln Theatre later this month, and she’ll bookend that concert with three performances as a featured solo vocalist for the North Carolina Symphony’s trio of Thanksgiving holiday shows. Two are performances of traditional holiday songs, and the third, for children, features the music of Frozen. From soulful country originals to Princess Anna from Frozen’s song For the First Time in Forever–for Jeanne Jolly, it’s all in a day’s work.Growing up on an oak-lined street in Hayes Barton, Jolly was an entertainer from the start. “I was always on,” she says. “Doing impersonations, accents. I always loved making my family laugh.” Her parents’ favorite was a purposefully out-of-tune rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. Jolly would start on pitch but then gradually “make it all go wrong, in ways that were just agonizing to hear.”She could get the notes right when she wanted to, though. Jolly studied classical voice at Saint Mary’s School, then majored in music at Western Carolina University before heading north to the New England Conservatory of Music. There, she earned a master’s degree in vocal performance. “In classical music,” Jolly says, “there’s a perfection to it – a mark that’s there to hit, or not.”From Boston, Jolly moved to L.A., where she took a job as a receptionist at a post-production house and quickly picked up work as an in-house vocalist, doing commercial and television spots. In time, she got her big break. The call came on a weekday afternoon, from Grammy-award-winning jazz trumpeter Chris Botti. He’d heard Jolly’s cover of Sting’s Fields of Gold and liked it. Could she perform a song at his show that night?“I learned the song in my car on the way to the venue,” Jolly says. “I was beyond excited.” The show went well. So well that Botti signed Jolly on for a ten-day East Coast tour. “She called me from the bus,” says Chris Boerner, Jolly’s longtime musical collaborator (and friend since kindergarten at Lacy Elementary). “She’s telling me who she’s on this bus with, and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”After the last show of the tour, Jolly recalls, “There I was, saying goodbyes and taking pictures with everyone like it was the end of summer camp.” Botti, puzzled, asked why. “He’s all: ‘What are you doing? You’re hired.’”Jolly’s music has evolved on her newest abum, A Place to Run.Figuring it outTouring with Botti’s jazz elite for the next year and a half proved heady stuff, and Jolly’s still grateful. “I sang Good Morning Heartache in Carnegie Hall. In the audience was Ervin Drake, who wrote it, together with his wife, whom he wrote it about.” She shakes her head, remembering the moment. “My parents were there for that.”When the Botti gig ran its course, Jolly found herself back in L.A., waiting tables at a sushi restaurant and working through a classic bad breakup while pondering what to do next. At that point, she recalls, she kept her plans simple: “I decided, ‘I’m going to listen to Waylon Jennings right now and have myself a whiskey on my porch.’ And that’s when I started to peel off the layers and figure out who I was.”Her mother sent her a baritone ukulele, and Jolly dove into writing her own songs, thinking harder about the kind of music that moved her most. Her love of opera, Renée Fleming – but also Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Aretha Franklin. “I was identifying the source. The strings. Learning the nuances.”She found stray papers from those sushi days recently, while packing for a move: orders on one side, fragments of would-be lyrics on the other. “It’s all salmon, eel, tuna, whoa!” she laughs. “I remember how fresh and at the tip of my mind those thoughts were. ‘I’m in L.A., but I’m not gonna stay. I’m in love, but it’s not gonna last.’ I was waiting for the universe to tell me what to do.”What came was a devastating call from Raleigh, giving Jolly the news of her mother’s cancer diagnosis. From the start, they knew that time was short. Jolly packed up and came home.“When you lose someone,” she says, “your heart rips. Then it grows back a little bigger.” In her first release, the 2010 EP Falling in Carolina, Jolly worked through that grief. Writing those songs “kept me up for days,” she says. “I had to write it. It was my therapy. Then, I realized: I am a songwriter.”Jolly started writing her own lyrics on the back of sushi orders while waitressing in L.A.New purposeBack in her hometown, writing her own music, Jolly found new purpose. When grief began to lift, she says, “I had to find my joy.” She released her first record, Angels, in 2012. Joy came from other sources, too: Last October, she married her boyfriend of four years, Todd McLean, whom she met after a show at Deep South. The two have a yellow lab, Lucy.So her latest, A Place To Run comes, quite literally, from a new and different place. That’s reflected in how the record was made. Says Boerner, who produced it: “To make a record all at one time – to me, that’s the definition of a record. Capture a moment in time. Capture where you’re at, personally and emotionally, at that time.”Recorded over four intense days in Kernersville’s Fidelitorium Recordings, A Place To Run was a marathon sprint. No rehearsals. “You get in the zone,” Boerner says. Both he and Jolly cite as a standout the last night of recording, when they were laying down the final tracks for Circles in the Sky. The song is inspired by Jolly’s mother. They had plans for Phil Cook, the Megafaun musician, to add slide guitar and lap steel after he arrived late in the evening from a session working on his own record. “At around nine,” Boerner recalls, “we send Phil a text. We say, we’re tired. Phil says, Nope! He’s on his way. He shows up and brings this huge energy – and closure – to the session. It somehow becomes refreshing to stay up till 4 a.m.”“All guitars, in this big, vibey room,” says Jolly. “It was an orchestra of guitars.” Imperfect, captured, a moment in time.Jolly’s still mindful of the possibility of perfection, that “hit-or-miss mark” from her classical days. Its beauty is sharp, precise – as alluring as ever. What’s different now is that with her own songs – and the stories and experiences she chooses to share through them – she has an ever-longer list of reasons to aim for something different. Something more organic, rougher around the edges, more honest. Because emotions are like that.“Does the song match what’s in my head?” Jolly nods to herself; that’s what she’s after, and she’s aiming true. “I want to find the emotional place I’m trying to hit.”A Place To Run release showNovember 21; 7 p.m.; $15 in advance, $18 at the door;Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Cabarrus St.; lincolntheatre.comThanksgiving week performances with the North Carolina SymphonyChildren’s show featuring the music of Frozen, November 25, 3 p.m., $23 and up; and performances featuring holiday classics, November 27-28, 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday, $42 and up; all performances at Meymandi Concert Hall, 2 E. South St.; ncsymphony.orgJolly’s life experiences make for a soulful new album.
Durham Bulls infielder Richie Shaffer at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for Walter Magazine.“It’s awesome. I love the Carolinas in general … This is a good place to be.”–Richie Shaffer, Durham Bulls baseball playerby Mimi Montgomeryphotograph by Travis LongRaleighite Richie Shaffer, 25, is happy to be back for a second season with the Durham Bulls. Last season, he split his time between the Tampa Bay Rays, the Bulls, and the Montgomery Biscuits (both Rays affiliates). This spring, expect to see Shaffer playing first and third base for the Bulls, plus some outfield. A good number of the guys he played with last year are coming back for another season, too, and Shaffer is glad to see them again in the dugout. “You play every day together, and you get really close,” he says. “It’s sort of like a mini frat house experience. It’s a lot of fun.” The Charlotte native played baseball at Clemson University before heading to upstate New York, Florida, and Alabama, so he’s glad to make his way back to North Carolina. When the Bulls play the Charlotte Knights, he sees his parents and brother. He also loves Raleigh, where he and Danielle, his wife of four months, have made their home. But he doesn’t stay put for long. After their January wedding and honeymoon, Shaffer was off to spring training, and now that the season is in full swing, the team plays all but two days of the month. To Shaffer, it sure beats 9-to-5. “Basically, the way I look at it, normal people work Monday through Friday and have weekends off,” he says, “and we basically go from Valentine’s Day until end of October every day, and then have five months off.” In the meantime, Shaffer looks forward to exploring his new hometown – and maybe even finding some time to relax. “If the weather gets nice in May, maybe (we’ll) go out to Jordan Lake and just hang out a bit,” he says. “We’re so busy during the season that we usually just like to … relax a little bit” when there’s downtime. Hopefully he’ll find some of that.
Top from left: Smith Gaddy, Amanda Gaddy, Carnessa Ottelin, Trey Marchant, Ryan Sabino. Middle: Krista Padgett. Bottom from left: Emma Gaddy, 10, Caroline Gaddy, 7, Luca Sabino, 8, Katie Sabino, and Adeline Sabino, 5. (Missing is meal-share member Vered Seaton.)“We definitely look after each other – for food and for life events.”–Amanda Gaddy, member and co-founder of a neighborhood meal-share groupby Jessie Ammonsphotograph by Jill KnightA group of friends and neighbors in east Raleigh has been sharing meals four nights a week for a decade. “We’re a dinner club, but we don’t eat together,” says Krista Padgett. Her friend and neighbor Katie Sabino saw the idea in a magazine: A group of people cook for each other and share their meals, grab-and-go style. Padgett says there was skepticism at first. “We said, ‘OK, let’s try it for 30 days and then we’ll regroup.’ And now it’s been 10 years.” The group of eight – two couples and four singles – has lasted because of its informality, they say. They never did name the meal-share arrangement, for one. And the way it works is simple: Each couple is assigned to cook one weeknight; the singles share a night and cook every other week. Everyone else comes by and picks up their portion. Pick-ups are between 6:30 and 10 p.m., at each member’s convenience, including the cook. “If you aren’t around and don’t have time for people to pick up, it can just go in a cooler on the porch at 6:30,” says Amanda Gaddy, another founding member. “If you have to work late, no need to let us know as long as you’ll be here by 10” to pick up. Since six of the eight were in the original crew, chit-chat is bound to happen. “Sometimes dinner isn’t quite ready yet, so you sit down and have a beer while everything finishes cooking,” says Gaddy. “But it’s like family: Nobody’s offended if you had a bad day and need to just grab your food and go.” Also like family is the depth of the relationships formed. Already, the group was one of friends; but checking in – even just via a prepared bite picked up from a cooler – four days a week for a decade adds up. “Food is the starting place for community,” says Padgett. “We’ve developed a group of people who take care of each other and look after each other.”When the meal-share began, Gaddy’s daughter was six months old. The collective offspring total is now up to four: ages 10, 8, 7, and 5. For each new child, the parents would take a few months off and the group rallied to provide extra meals. They’ve done the same for divorces and major medical operations. “It’s the power of a group,” Gaddy says, and adds that her kids don’t know any other way. “They’ve always had at least six other adults, other than their parents, who are keeping track of them and invested in them and on the list to pick them up from school.”
This recent piece by Scott Nurkin is an unexpected fiery palette just a few blocks from Glenwood South.Through the Lens:Wallscapesby Jessie Ammonsphotographs by Geoff Wood and Gibson Wood“Buildings come in a few colors: brown, blue, and clear. Adding another layer of color is what, I think, art does,” says Jedidiah Gant of the Raleigh Murals Project. A media strategist by day with a background in architecture, Gant launched a trend a few years ago by “noticing blank walls in the city that I thought could use art on them. I started using the hashtag #PutAMuralHere.” The hashtag took off, and soon Gant teamed with his friend and fellow media strategist JT Moore to found the nonprofit Raleigh Murals Project in 2014. The project connects building owners with artists to make murals happen. “There was public art in Raleigh, but there was a gap and an opportunity to put color on walls. There’s something about the wall of a building. The architect in me believes that materials are beautiful, but there are some walls that seem to be asking for that layer of color.” So far, the mural project has helped bring about 35 installations to fruition, Gant says. Photographer Geoff Wood and his 9-year-old daughter Gibson, a budding lenswoman herself, captured a selection of them, plus a few other independent and recognizable Raleigh facades.