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Local Noto Businesses that You Can Support

Roughly 6000 people remain in temporary evacuation shelters ever since the Noto Earthquake on January 1st upended life for so many. And while the recovery is long and arduous, many are doing what they can to return to normal and that includes the many local businesses in the Noto community. Authorities are still discouraging travel to the Noto region (but other cities like Kanazawa are open for business!) but in this day and age, many business have their online shops up and running. Below are a few that you can support.

Obviously this is not a complete list so if you know of any others, please leave them in the comments!

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A Spoon & Tamago Guide to Ishikawa Prefecture

this post was sponsored by the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

This travel guide originally appeared in February 2023 and ever since Covid restrictions were lifted, Ishikawa prefecture has seen a steady climb in tourism. However, the tragic Noto Earthquake at the beginning of 2024 changed that and many businesses have seen a precipitous drop in activity. Although roughly 6000 people in the city of Wajima continue to be living in evacuation centers, the mayor of Ishikawa has put out a cry for tourists to not change their plans and come visit. The city of Kanazawa is largely business-as-usual and now is a great time to visit as tourism will only help recovery efforts.

editor’s note

Just quick ride from Tokyo aboard a speedy Kagayaki 505 bullet train, Ishikawa Prefecture is a hidden gem among popular tourist destinations across Japan. Offering a host of ancient gardens, historic temples, delectable dining, and exposure to artisanal crafts, towns like Kanazawa, Kaga, and Komatsu offer a rare glimpse at uncompromising beauty and tradition that spans centuries. We chose to visit Ishikawa in the fall, just as the maple and cherry trees turned a fiery red that formed a sumptuous backdrop to our daily explorations. 

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A Relic of the Past, Shibuya Green Tea is Leafing Out Once Again

Umeharaen, a green tea seller that once stood at the corner of Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya typically conjures images of tall skyscrapers, neon lights, and the world’s busiest pedestrian crossings. Not tranquil tea plantations. But 150 years ago in the early Meiji era, Shibuya, as well as Harajuku and Yoyogi, were dotted with fields growing green tea. In fact, the famous Shibuya Crossing was once home to Umeharaen, a purveyor of fine teas. A new initiative hopes to revive the once-forgotten Shibuya-cha and bring it back to local cafes and bars.

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Wakuni Cafe: New Tokyo Cafe Made from 700 Bronze Plates Salvaged from Hayatani Shrine

the wakuni cafe, which opens January 19, 2024, is inside a 50-year old renovated building

Opening in the Tokyo neighborhood of Higashimurayama this month is Wakuni Cafe, a new destination that embodies history, craftsmanship and a spirit of reusing old materials. The exterior of the cafe is made from roughly 700 bronze plates, each between 60 and 100 years old, salvaged from Hayatani Shrine in Hiroshima.

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Take a Ride on the Yagi-Shingu Bus, Japan’s Longest Local Bus Route

Japanese trains often get all the love, but we’re a fan of their buses too. And if you’re keen on living the slow life while also experiencing the Japanese countryside, boy do we have the perfect activity for you. The Yagi-Shingu Bus, which has been in operation since 1963, is Japan’s longest local bus route. Making a total of 168 stops throughout its 6 and a half hour journey, the bus travel close to 170 km, or roughly 100 miles, all without riding any highways.

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Japanese Designer New Year’s Cards of 2024

It’s been a rough start to the new year for Japan as one disaster begets another. We are of course talking about the evolving situation at Haneda airport, as well as the Noto Peninsula. Our hearts go out to everyone affected but we also want to highlight the many heroes of the situation: the news reporters who calmly and accurately delivered life-saving information to victims of the earthquake, to the crew of commercial airliner who safely evacuated close to 400 passengers in a matter of minutes. Japan is prone to natural disaster, and it’s times like these that all the preparation and training that typically goes unnoticed and un-thanked, really shine. Japan should be proud.

As tradition goes, we’ve been putting together our favorite nengajo, or New Years cards, from Japanese artists and designers. This year’s zodiac animal is the dragon, significant in that it’s the only mythical creature of the twelve. We present to you, in no particular order, some inspiring artwork in hopes that the traits of the dragon—strength, benevolence and good luck—are with those affected by recent events.

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Spoon & Tamago’s Most-Popular Posts of 2023

It’s an annual tradition at casa Spoon & Tamago to reflect on the year that was by taking a look back at the posts that resonated the most with our readers. In doing so, we try to make sense of the year which, for Japan, was very much a year of homecoming. Japan felt like *the* place to be this year. Tourism came back strong but Japan’s soft power was also on full display with popular films and anime doing remarkably well with viewers outside Japan, both at the box office and on streaming platforms. With that quick backdrop, let’s check out which posts our readers enjoyed the most this year.

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All 54 Playing Cards Reinterpreted Through Still Life Photography by Yuni Yoshida

Flower petals, leaves, foods and other objects have all been meticulously arranged and then photographed to create a set of 54 playing cards, including 2 jokers. It’s the latest work by art director Yuni Yoshida (previously), who’s penchant for analog techniques that shun digital manipulation have resulted in an arresting series of works that trumps any deck of cards we’ve ever seen.

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Japanese Aqarium’s Flowchart Illustrates the Complex Relationships of Their Penguins

the Sumida Aqarium’s 2024 Penguin Relationship Flowchart

Penguins, the way they waddle around and protect their eggs, are often thought of as cute, cuddly and romantic. But those who observe them for extended periods know they have a dark side. Two aquariums in Japan, Kyoto Aquarium and Sumida Aquarium, keep obsessive tabs on their penguins and maintain an updated flowchart that visualizes all their penguin drama.

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A New Brewery in Yobuko Wants to Revive the Former Whaling Town

Photos by Hiroshi Mizusaki courtesy Case-Real Architects

The Town of Yobuko, located at the tip of North-Western Kyushu, is named after the migratory path that whales swam. Beginning in the 1700s, Yobuko prospered as a whaling town, birthing the idiom, a single whale flourishes seven towns. Whales were a symbol of vitality, prosperity and hope. But times change. Fast-forward to today and the town’s population has fallen below 6000 due to a younger generation’s migration to larger cities.

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