Tag Archives: Japan

Nestle Japan Pepper

Nestle to ‘hire’ 1000 robots to sell Nescafe in Japan

Nestle Japan Pepper

Nestlé, the world’s largest food and drink conglomerate, has bought 20 humanoid robots to help sell coffee machines in its stores across Japan.

Nescafé will use the humanoid robot “Pepper” to sell Nescafé Dolce Gusto and Nescafé Gold Blend Barista coffee machines in home appliance stores.


Through voice and emotion recognition technology, the robot is able to analyze consumers’ feelings by reading their facial expressions and listening to their tone of voice.

The machine will even be able to hold a conversation with the customers!

“The dream to create an advanced consumer experience with Pepper is now coming true,” said Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank Corporation, producer of the robot. “We hope that by providing people the opportunity to interact with a robot whilst shopping, we can help create experiences of wonder and delight for consumers.”

Pepper was first unveiled in June of this year by SoftBank and has been working in the mobile carrier’s locations ever since.

He will make his Nestlé debut this December in around 20 home appliance stores, with the company planning to use the robot in around 1,000 stores in Japan, its biggest market, by the end of 2015.

Collection Esprit Dior Tokyo

Raf Simons taking Dior pre-fall show to Tokyo

Collection Esprit Dior Tokyo

The  creative director will show the brand’s Pre-Fall 2015 collection in the Japanese capital in December.

After last week’s announcement that Chanel will be taking its Métiers d’Art show to Austria (Salzburg, to be precise), comes the news that Christian Dior will be heading to Japan for the same season.

According to a report by WWD, the French brand will be playing to the crowds in the Tokyo with a special show on December 11.

The brand is reportedly also readying a new store in the city’s Omotesando district, as well as an exhibition and photo book by French fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier.

The trend for international shows in between the main Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer fashion weeks is now well established.

Collection Esprit Dior Tokyo 2015

Alongside Chanel’s ventures to Dallas, Singapore and Edinburgh over the past few seasons, Dior has also travelled to Brooklyn and Monaco to show off its collections.

Noma at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Noma to pop up at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

Noma at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Due to popular demand,  has announced plans to extend its pop-up restaurant in Japan next year by an extra two weeks.

Originally scheduled to run for three weeks starting January 9, 2015, Noma at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo will now be extended to February 14.


Noma Kitchen

The registration line will reopen October 17, at which time guests can can book lunch or dinner, or an accommodation package at the hotel that includes a Noma dinner.

For the pop-up event in Japan, chef René Redzepi intends to follow the culinary philosophy of Noma and focus on using fresh, seasonal, local products in Tokyo to create a new and original menu.


Danish chef Rene Redzepi

The meal will consist of small servings followed by larger dishes, and paired with wines from small-scale producers.

The fixed menu is 40,200 JPY or about $375 USD. Wine and juice pairings are extra. For details on Noma in Japan visit noma.dk.

ritz tokyo

The world’s cleanest hotels are in Tokyo!

ritz tokyo

Not all hotels live up to the same standards when it comes to cleanliness.

According to a recent study conducted by Hotel.info, Tourists are most likely to find an immaculate hotel room while traveling to .

In the cleanliness category, hotels in the Japanese capital scored an average rating of 8.93/10 on the website.


Next in the ranking is Warsaw, Poland with an average rating of 8.76, just ahead of Seoul, South Korea. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, also achieved a high score (8.54), tying with Bulgarian capital Sofia.

Hotel Maid

At the other end of the ranking, although the ratings are not catastrophic, Rio de Janeiro holds the dubious distinction of the lowest score with 7.29/10.

Overall, Western European hotels hardly impressed the website’s users in terms of hygiene. Four of the continent’s capitals obtained some of the worst scores: London, England (7.52); Oslo, Norway (7.53); Amsterdam, the Netherlands (7.58) and Copenhagen, Denmark (7.60).

The world’s top tourist destination, Paris also has room for improvement: The French capital scored a paltry 7.63.

Peninsula Tokyo Pokemon

Pokémon comes to the Peninsula Tokyo hotel

Peninsula Tokyo Pokemon

Luxury hotel The Peninsula Tokyo has launched a PR campaign for their littlest guests by inviting characters from Pokémon to invade their hotel.

From October 1, kids staying at the hotel will get the chance to live out an episode of the cartoon with characters like Pikachu, Lucario and friends in an interactive game designed exclusively for the hotel.

Guests five and up will be armed with a Poké Ball and invited to hunt down Pokémon characters in a game that is a bit like hide and seek.

Only instead of hiding behind trees, they’ll be hiding amidst extravagant chandeliers and extravagant furnishings.

To please the silver spoon tastes of their pint-sized guests, luxury hotels know that serving milk and cookies isn’t enough.

The Burj Al Arab in Dubai also provides a personal butler service that includes bonbon and candy delivery service from a Sweet Train, a gold-plated iPad, and child-friendly excursions.

Kyoto Golden Temple

This Asian city was voted the world’s top destination

Kyoto Golden Temple

Kyoto, Japan has been named the top travel destination in the world by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine in the US.

In the 19th edition of the publication’s annual poll of the best in travel, readers gave the former imperial capital an overall score of 90 points.

It’s not just for its cherry blossoms and zen gardens but also for the cutting-edge ryokans — Japanese inns — that are being reimagined to offer experiences that straddle the modern and traditional.

Ryokans typically feature tatami mat flooring, sliding doors, and hot spring bathing areas. The ryokan experience is also defined by the traditional Japanese cuisine kaiseki, a multi-course meal that features small, light tapas-style dishes which focus on regional, seasonal ingredients.

Aerial view of Kyoto

Last year, The Daily Meal singled out Kitcho restaurant in Kyoto as the most expensive restaurant in the world.

Described as a high temple of kaiseki, diners can expect to shell out $600 USD for dinner and drinks. British chef Heston Blumenthal has also called meals at Kitcho “extraordinary.”

Overall Europe dominated the list of top 10 destinations, snagging five of the top spots.

After Kyoto, readers put Charleston, South Carolina as the second best city, followed by Florence, Siem Reap, Cambodia and Rome.

The best overall island is Santorini in Greece.

Here are the world’s top cities, according to T + L:

1. Kyoto, Japan
2. Charleston, South Carolina, USA
3. Florence, Italy
4. Siem Reap, Cambodia
5. Rome, Italy
6. Istanbul, Turkey
7. Seville, Spain
8. Barcelona, Spain
9. Mexico City
10. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Alexander McQueen Aoyama flagship

Alexander McQueen opens Tokyo flagship

Alexander McQueen Aoyama flagship

  has unveiled its first flagship in Japan, a 4,200-square-foot space in Tokyo’s Aoyama neighborhood.

The new store is set over two storeys, has separate ready-to-wear and accessories sections and follows on from the brand’s accessories-only store, which opened in April 2013.

The retail concept was conceived by the brand’s creative director, Sarah Burton, along with architectural practice David Collins Studio. The design mixes flora and fauna with added influences from painters Francis Bacon and HR Giger as well as nods to the McQueen label’s history.

Alexander McQueen Aoyama flagship store

A heritage tailored jacket and the famous ‘armadillo’ shoe have been etched onto bespoke plaster panel moldings alongside a range of motifs from the natural world.

“The collections are presented in an environment that feels luxurious and precious which is also reflective of our design ethos,” explained Burton.

Alexander McQueen boutique Tokyo

The finishes include Calacatta Oro cracked marble flooring with deep pile carpets, and bronze animal feet on furniture, with the material also used to support marble shelves.

Other key elements include a one-piece marble staircase and a hanging installation by contemporary artists Takeo Hanazawa and Takao Togashi.

Mount Fuji in Japan

Japan to offer bullet train with footbath

Japan’s super-speedy bullet train is to offer passengers a chance to soothe their tired feet in a carriage equipped with footbaths.

bullet train japan

JR East will launch the service in July, with one carriage on the “shinkansen” bullet train having two 2.4-metre-long (8-foot) tubs facing windows.

Bathing is a ritualised and highly-prized activity in Japan and the footbaths are intended as places for passengers to relax rather than to clean their feet.

The train, named Toreiyu — a combination of the English “train”, the French “soleil” and “yu”, the Japanese word for hot water — will also have a car with a bar counter and tatami-mat flooring with tables made from cherrywood.

Bullet Train with footbath

“We are trying to offer services in which getting on the train itself is the purpose of the travel,” said JR East spokesman Ryosuke Akaya.

The train will run on a 148-kilometre route between Fukushima and Shinjo City in Yamagata prefecture. It is part of a campaign to promote tourism in Yamagata, a farming area known for rice, beef, cherries and pears.

chocolate spa

Japanese take chocolate spa for Valentine’s Day

A hot spring resort in Hakone, Japan, is offering customers a chance to relax in chocolate baths for Valentine’s Day.

Yunessun spa resort customers paid 27 USD for the twice daily bathing session which some women believe will lead to good skin and smell. In Japan, it’s traditional for women to buy gifts for men on February 14.

chocolate spa

So for those wondering what to give their Valentine, perhaps, in 2015, instead of a box filled with chocolate, it will be a tub filled with chocolate instead!

Madonna Premiering Skin Care Brand

Madonna launches skincare line in Japan

Madonna has launched a range of products under the label MDNA Skin.

Madonna Premiering Skin Care Brand

Created in collaboration with Japanese beauty company MTG, the line will be exclusively available at a pop-up store in the Ba-tsu Art Gallery in Shibuya, which will open from February 13 to 23 and will also contain visual projections, testing areas and a VIP room.

The collection is composed of three products: Chrome Clay Mask, an enriching clay oil therapy that uses a base of Italian clay from Montecatini Terme; Skin Rejuvenator, designed to revitalize the skin and remove impurities using a ‘Deep Derma induction system’; and a serum created especially for the pop star that’s designed to leave the skin glowing.

“Using these products routinely as part of daily skin care regime creates firm, resilient and radiant skin overflowing with energy after every use,” said an announcement on the singer’s website.

Skin care expert Michelle Peck, who is also Madonna’s personal skin care advisor, has been signed on as the brand’s ambassador.

After the pop-up, MDNA Skin will then go on sale at selected department stores in Japan on February 26.

Gucci Flora handbags

Gucci set to celebrate 50 years in Japan

Gucci is celebrating half a century in Japan with a series of events and special products. Gucci’s first relationship with Japan began back in the 1940s, when the brand imported Japanese bamboo for its handbag handles.

The Italian brand then launched its 1st store in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood to coincide with the 1964 Olympics which took place in the Japanese capital.

Gucci Flora handbags Japan

Gucci has remained a popular luxury brand with Japanese customers, and to celebrate its half-century in country, the label is creating a limited edition Flora collection of bags and accessories.

The items, which will arrive in March, include a special scarf (below) which will see 100 percent of sales go to the UNESCO Association Scholarship – GUCCI Scholar initiative (a joint effort between the brand and the NGO).

Gucci Flora print scarf for UNESCO

The collection will be unveiled alongside an event, at the Isetan department store, called “The House of Artisans“, designed to show off the brand’s craftsmanship.

Later in May the brand will fête the reopening of the Aoyama flagship store which will also see an exhibition of Gucci Première gowns as well as the Japanese debut of the tailoring capsule collection created with Lapo Elkann.

Lapo Elkann x Gucci

CEO Patrizio di Marco and creative director Frida Giannini will play hosts at a dinner for UNESCO in the second half of the year, and the brand will also work with former Roma, Parma and Fiorentina player Hidetoshi Nakata.

The retired Japanese footballing legend has roped in Gucci for the second year running to help with his ‘Revalue Nippon Project’, a charity gala aimed at preserving traditional Japanese design skills and heritage. Special one-off items will be created for the event, ready to go under the hammer for charity.

Kyushu Railway Seven Star train

Japan railway unveils super-luxury train

Kyushu Railway Nanatsuboshi

A Japanese railway operator on Friday unveiled a new super-luxury train it hopes will appeal to well-heeled travellers who don’t mind splashing out to have their every travelling need fulfilled.

Kyushu Railway’s “Nanatsuboshi” — Seven Stars — service has a lounge car with a piano and a bar, top-end dining and 14 private suites.

Kyushu Railway luxury train

Each wood-panelled bedroom has plush beds and a desk along with an ensuite bathroom with a shower and toilet, equipped with a heated seat. The train travels around the rural southern island of Kyushu, with a four-day, three-night package costing up to 1.13 million yen ($11,000) per couple.

Kyushu Railway Seven Star train

The company’s website boasts of a “refined and dignified” design that is a “fusion of Japanese and Western and of new and old”. The train is already fully booked until June 2014.

Seven Star train

Bowers Wilkins 805 Maserati Speakers

Prabal Gurung redesigns All Nippon Airways uniforms

Prabal Gurung

Prabal Gurung is set to design uniforms for around 10,000 All Nippon Airways cabin and ground staff to celebrate the airway’s 60th birthday in 2014.

Famed for dressing celebrities as diverse in the style stakes as Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, Gurung has built up a dedicated following for his use of modernist prints and clean lines.

Based in New York City, where he previously designed for Bill Blass, Gurung launched his own label in February 2009 and was awarded the runner-up prize at the 2010 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.

Gurung has previously collaborated with Target on a capsule collection, but this is the first time the designer has created a uniform for an airline.

Earlier this month British punk designer Vivienne Westwood unveiled new eco-friendly and sustainably sourced designs for the Virgin Atlantic airline staff.


Paris’s first sake salon set for June


Paris is poised to get its first sake tasting salon in a bid to demystify the Japanese rice wine that is still relatively unknown to Western consumers.

Owners of Japanese restaurants Sakebar and Sola – which holds a Michelin star – will be hosting what they’re calling the first Sake Salon in Europe in June, bringing in sake experts from Japan who will lead tastings for curious French consumers.

Sake producers, distributors, and sommeliers will help European palates understand the nuances styles and complexities of the fermented rice wine in roundtable discussions, workshops and conferences.

One of the roundtable discussions, for instance, will center around sake and French gastronomy, and food pairings possible with the unexpected dinner companion.

The arrival of a sake salon in Paris comes as little surprise, given the city’s love affair with Japan’s culinary heritage. Rivaling the number of bistros and cafés in the city is the number of sushi restaurants in Paris that have popped up in response to the ever-growing demand.

The Sake Salon will be held June 21-22. Tickets are €10.


Loewe Collaborates With Junya Watanabe

Loewe Junya Watanabe

Japanese fashion designer Junya Watanabe showed off his latest collaboration with Loewe in Tokyo.

The famous Spanish luxury brand Loewe is celebrating 400 years of Hispano-Japanese bilateral relations with a new capsule collection of bags and ready-to-wear, created with Japanese designer Junya Watanabe of Comme des Garçons.

Loewe creative director Stuart Vevers and Watanabe of Comme des Garçons held a presentation at the Spanish embassy in Tokyo on May 21, where models with spiked and dyed punk hair showed off 24 looks which featured Spanish leather, and Japanese denim.

Watanabe told WWD that he was able to express himself fully with the collection: “basically I asked them to let me do whatever I wanted. Our relationship was like an adult accepting child’s play.”

A video released by Loewe shows models strutting their stuff, dressed in a mix of vintage Junya Watanabe and Loewe pieces and the new capsule collaboration.

“I came up with the idea of combining the essences of each other’s icon. The combination of leather and denim. This is a combination of luxuries and casualness, and also the combination of the fashion agriculture of Spain and Japan.”

The collection will go on sale first in Japan in August where it will hit Dover Street Market concept store in Ginza, Tokyo, before later being unveiled at around 40 locations around the world in September, including Loewe boutiques and online at Loewe.com.

Jiro On sushi

Japan gets another three-Michelin-star restaurant

Jiro On sushi

Michelin inspectors have awarded Hiroshima the city’s first three-star restaurant in the inaugural issue for the region, which now expands the brand’s coverage of Japan’s culinary landscape from three guides to four.

Nakashima restaurant, which serves traditional Japanese dishes using seasonal ingredients, puts the overall tally of triple Michelin-star restaurants in Japan at 37.

The inaugural Hiroshima guide expands Michelin’s coverage of Japan’s food scene, which covers Tokyo, Yokohama, Shonan; Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara; and Hokkaido.

The latest guide out of Japan also recognized regional Hiroshima cooking styles and specialties for the first time, including anago (saltwater eel), okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancakes), and dishes made with oysters, says Michelin.

In addition to inducting Nakashima into the exclusive three-star club, inspectors awarded five restaurants with two stars and 24 restaurants with their first star.

The 2013 Hiroshima guide also lists 49 Bib Gourmand restaurants, defined as being excellent value for money. Bib Gourmand eateries offer a complete menu for no more than 3,500 Yen (€27).

Foods represented in the Hiroshima guide include Japanese curry, ramen, udon, yakiniku (grilled meats), yoshoku (Western-influenced Japanese foods), while cuisines range from Thai, Italian, French and Spanish fare.

Michelin guide Hiroshima 2013


Amphibious tourist buses put into service in Tokyo

amphibious bus

Tokyo’s first amphibious buses were put into service Sunday, carrying 40 passengers through the city’s low eastern side by road before taking to the Naka river during a 100-minute “Tokyo Splash Tour.”

The two buses, dubbed “Sky Ducks”, departed from Tokyo’s new landmark Skytree, the world’s tallest communications tower at 634 metres (2,080 feet).

The bus moves up to 100 kilometres per hour on the ground and up to 13 kilometres per hour in the water. Tickets are priced at 2,800 yen ($30) for an adult and 1,400 yen ($15) for a child under 12.

Solid gold Lionel Messi’s foot on sale in Japan

Solid gold Lionel Messi foot

A solid gold replica of footballer Lionel Messi’s left foot, complete with blood vessels and the swirls of skin on the bottom of the toes, is to go on sale in Japan.

The 25-kilogramme (55-pound) statue, worth $5.25 million, was created from a mould of the star striker’s foot by Ginza Tanaka to mark Messi’s record-breaking fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or award.

The golden foot is due to go on sale on Thursday, along with a number of miniature versions and a solid gold plate of the Barcelona FC frontman’s footprint.

Part of the profits from the sale will go to help people affected by the quake and tsunami that hit Japan two years ago next Monday, through the Leo Messi Foundation, a charity run by the Messi family.

Rainbow Bridge

World’s Most Expensive Cities to Live In 2013

Rainbow Bridge

Tokyo and Osaka have topped an index of the world’s most expensive cities to live in for 2013, familiar positions for the Japanese megacities which have traditionally dominated the list prepared bi-annually by The Economist.

The Worldwide Cost of Living report put the Japanese capital at the top of the index after comparing more than 400 prices across 160 products and service such as food, clothing, household supplies, rent, utility and recreational costs.

Since 1992, with the exception of six years, Tokyo has been the world’s most expensive city to live in, toppled only by Zurich, Paris and Oslo. Asian cities dominate the index, with 11 of the world’s priciest cities coming from the east, and eight coming from Europe.

Tokyo’s inauspicious reign on the list, meanwhile, comes despite a fall in the relative cost of living in Tokyo that comes with Japanese deflation, a weaker yen and rising prices elsewhere in the world.

Notably, Australian cities have also risen quickly through the ranks due economic growth, ensuing inflation and currency swings, making them more costly to live in.

Here’s The Economist’s 10 most expensive cities to live in for 2013:

1.      Tokyo, Japan
2.      Osaka, Japan
3.      Sydney, Australia
4.      Oslo, Norway
5.      Melbourne, Australia
6.      Singapore, Singapore
7.      Zurich, Switzerland
8.      Paris, France
9.      Caracas, Venezuela
10.   Geneva, Switzerland