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Vin Neuf

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French cafe by day, wine bar by night, Vin Neuf is the place to go if you want to relish wine culture in the unlikely city of Tokushima. It is run by the incomparable Mr. Oe, who also owns a wine shop in Komatsushima. At 500 yen a glass, you can pay another 500 for a cheese to pair with it, or bring your own snacks/cheese/desert, and upon request Mr. Oe will match it with a truly fantastic wine. He may even tell you a bit about the world of wine!

Mr. Oe also teaches wine classes, so if you’re looking to learn a bit about discerning between different types of wine, where it comes from, how it’s made, and how to tell good wine from bad, then ask him about it (in Japanese though) when you stop by.

Vin Neuf is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 7:00 p.m. to midnight, and is located beneath Alliance Francais, at this address:

徳島市徳島町2丁目59
仁田ビル1F

Tokushima city, Tokushima-cho, 2 chome 59

Jinta building, 1st Floor

TEL: 090-4563-5631

web: http://blog.livedoor.jp/vin_neuf/

Happy Wining! hahaha…

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Toyotomi Coffee

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Hi all, my name is Sarah and I am the new owner of this blog, since the delightful Aussie who started it has since left Tokushima and returned to the down under. He will be sorely missed. But now it’s up to me to do what I can to provide some English insight into Tokushima’s spots of interest and public facilities.

First off, apologies for the hiatus. I’m still getting my head around the new job I am filling, which has a lot of responsibilities besides this blog. But I have had time to explore Tokushima a bit, and this coffee bar I am about to introduce was one of the first places I fell in love with, and I was actually first taken there by the former owner of this blog. Of course.

Mr. Toyotomi is a barista with nearly twenty years of experience who imports coffee beans from all around the world and roasts them at his own shop. Tokushima born and bred, he studied agriculture in college, and soon thereafter went abroad to work in the U.S. where he nurtured a love for American culture, and above all, coffee. He studied to earn his barista’s license and returned to Tokushima to open his own shop. Together with his business partners and friends in the coffee-lover community, he is striving to spread the market of specialty coffees in Japan, where frequently quantity is valued more over quality.

He has the usual array of delicious blended coffees, cappuccinos, machiatos, etc. that you can expect from a seasoned barista, as well as a few surprises such as a green tea espresso smoothie, an iced orange cafe late, an espresso and azuki (sweet red bean, TO DIE FOR) smoothie, a few fruit smoothies, and an array of sandwiches, cakes, and parfaits to have you making up excuses to come out to Toyotomi.

He also has an art gallery on the 2nd floor where local artists have their work on display, and frequently for sale! This includes not just canvas works, but a great variety of handmade crafts as well. Come out and take a gander!

If you speak enough Japanese to get by, he also has a Coffee Class every month, where you will learn the science and art of roasting and brewing your own coffee. Participation fee is 2000 yen.

Toyotomi’s hours are:

Weekdays: 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (closed Wednesdays)

Weekends: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

The parking lot fits 12 cars, but I’ve never seen it full so don’t worry about there not being space. There is also some space at Plain Table, a furniture and houseware store next door (also a wonderful place that might get a review in the future).

Address: 〒770-0866  徳島県徳島市末広2丁目1-42

Tokushima City, Matsuhiro 2 chome 1-42

TEL: 088-655-8052

Website: http://www.uma-e.net/tokushima/home/toyotomi/

Don’t be deceived by outward appearances! This place is a must-visit for coffee lovers!

Tokushima Awaodori Airport

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The new terminal building as seen from outside. Parking is to the left and accessed by a covered walkway while a row of taxis wait in front for the last flight of the day.

This past April 8 saw the opening of the new and improved Tokushima Awaodori Airport, sporting a new terminal building and an extended runway capable of handling jumbo jets. The new terminal building has a wide range of services available, including teller machines for local banks, a convenience store, coin lockers, a nursing room, car rentals (8:00 – 20:00), and wireless internet zones.

One of the main attractions, however, is the shopping and restaurant area on the upper level. In addition to the standard fare of cakes, biscuits and other assorted goods can be found more specialist products such as indigo dyed clothing and accessories, and otani pottery. Those wanting a pre-flight bite also have plenty of options, from the ramen shop Marutaka serving Tokushima Ramen and Tokushima-don to R’s Cafe with its standard cafe menu and the (now) renowned Tokushima Burger.

Another new addition to the airport is a rest area for pilgrims on the first floor of the terminal. Fitted with seats and tables, a variety of magazines and books regarding the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage are available for perusal. There are also some change rooms, and notebooks for those on the temple trail to leave messages and notes for future travellers.

The first floor lobby of the new terminal building. Seen here are a large-screen video display of tourist attractions in Tokushima, indigo-dyed streams of cloth hanging from the ceiling and a colossal artwork depicting a scene from awa odori.

An LED archway leads to the observation deck, cycling through a myriad of different colours.

LED domes in the observation deck on 3F of the airport. The domes change colour and flash in time with music.

Flight Information
Flights to and from Tokushima Airport are available between Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka. The extension of the runway gives hope to the possibility of more exotic destinations to come, but there are no flights that make use of this new capability just yet.

To Tokyo
07:15  →  08:25     JAL1430
09:25  →  10:35     JAL1432
12:20  →  13:30     JAL1434
14:45  →  15:55     JAL1436
17:00  →  18:10     JAL1440
18:40  →  19:50     JAL1442

From Tokyo
07:20  →  08:40 JAL1431
09:45  →  11:00 JAL1433
12:15  →  13:30 JAL1435
15:00  →  16:15 JAL1437
16:30  →  17:45 JAL1439
18:30  →  19:45 JAL1443

To Nagoya
13:00  →  13:50 ANA1816

From Nagoya
11:35  →  12:30 ANA1815

To Fukuoka
10:45  →  12:15 JAC3560
19:30  →  21:00 JAC3568

From Fukuoka
09:05  →  10:15 JAC3561
17:55  →  19:05 JAC3567

Access
The new airport terminal is located on the same site as the old one, but a further two kilometres down the road. The highway bus leaving from Tokushima Station (430 yen) is still available to take passengers from A to B, and drivers need only take the left before the old terminal and make their way around.

Parking
The parking lot at the new terminal building has 726 spaces, and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cost is free for times under one hour, 150 yen for each hour thereafter until three hours, and then 600 yen for blocks of time between three hours to 24 hours and each subsequent 24 hours. The price for large vehicles is double.

Tokushima LED Art Festival 2010

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Saturday, April 17 to Sunday, April 25

Welcome to Tokushima’s first ever LED Art Festival, an art exhibition held on the banks of the Shinmachi River and throughout the streets of Tokushima to celebrate one of Tokushima’s finest industrial resources.

Spread across 27 different locations, this large-scale exhibition features a huge body of work from professional artists as well as university students, representatives of the Nichia Corporation and more. Held with the aim of stretching LED-based artwork to its limits, each work offers its own unique style, combining light, shape and sound to make a mesmerising display. A truly must-see event.

The "Luminous Band Camp" by the Shinmachi Bridge

Being spread over so many locations, it might seem difficult to see all of them in one go. But this is not necessarily the case. For example, the Hyotan Jima River Boat Cruise is offering a special night-time course from 18:00-21:00 every day of the event. The cruise costs 100 yen for insurance, and lasts approximately 10 minutes, taking those on board to see the more spectacular displays on offer. Bicycle rental is also available for free from the Awa Odori Dance Hall during the hours of 9:30-21:00 upon presentation of an LED Art Festival coupon. Coupons are available on page 16 of the event’s program, available online for free, here.

The coupons can also be used to receive discounts at nearby tourist facilities:

Awa Odori Dance Hall
Daytime sessions of Awa Odori are discounted by 100 yen for adults and senior high school students, and 50 yen for junior high school students and below. Night-time performances are discounted by 140 yen for adults and senior high school students, and 70 yen for junior high school students and below.

Bizan Ropeway
Ropeway tickets are discounted by 200 yen for a round trip for adults and senior and junior high school students, and 100 yen for elementary school students and below.

Tokushima City Castle Museum
Entry is discounted by 60 yen for adults, 40 yen for senior high school students and university students, and is free for junior high school students and below.

Tokushima Zoo
Entry is discounted by 100 yen for adults and senior high school students, and is free for junior high school students and below.

An array of Valentine's Day presents displayed as LED Art.

Stamp Rally
A stamp rally is being held for the duration of the event. Here’s how to participate:

  1. Collect the stamps from all exhibition sites and mark them on the first page of the program.
  2. Take your completed sheet to the information desk on the Shinmachi Boardwalk.
  3. Show the staff and vote for your favourite exhibition.
  4. Receive a raffle ticket for LED-related goods.

The raffle will be held on Saturday, April 25 at the Tokushima Children’s Traffic Park in Tokushima City, between 18:00 and 19:00. Prizes include a set of LED candles, LED world clocks, desk clocks, tag lights and more, and the raffle will be accompanied by a variety of other events such as a mini concert, LED workshops and more.

For detailed information on individual exhibitions and events, please refer to the LED Art Festival Homepage or post a comment here!

Bizan Ropeway Discounts

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Good news for fans of Mt. Bizan or those looking for a cheap way to climb the mountain with family and friends. The Bizan ropeway is offering discounted tickets at 500 yen for adults for a round trip. In other words, a full 50% off the normal price!

But how?

This deal is for customers of Sogo, Amico, and the Tokyu Inn. If you make a purchase at either Amico or Sogo, or stay at the Tokyu Inn, take your receipt to the information counter on 1F for Amico, 2F for Sogo, or the front desk of the Tokyu Inn and you can get your ticket there.

That’s all there is to it, so happy shopping, and happy climbing!

Restaurant Reviews in Japan

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Feeling hungry? Looking for a good place to eat but not sure where to go? If so, then look no further than Wan Wan, a new website for restaurant reviews and your best friend for finding that someplace special.

Wan Wan has reviews for restaurants not only in Tokushima, but also in Ehime and Kyoto. Each review is accompanied by a literal swathe of photos and you can search for reviews based on your budget, the type of cuisine, and much more.

Not only that, but you can even add reviews of your own.

Check it out.

The Nankai Ferry

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For those planning a trip to mainland Japan, the Nankai Ferry connecting Tokushima and Wakayama might not be their first choice of transport. But there are many merits to taking the ferry that warrant it a second look.

Perhaps most importantly, a trip by ferry offers a quick journey of just two hours in either direction, making it faster than both the highway buses and travelling by car. This is especially important during peak hour traffic when congestion in the Kobe and Osaka areas can tend to cause long delays in travel. Not so for the ferry, which bypasses all of this for a smooth trip from A to B no matter the situation on the roads.

Another advantage is that the ferry ports are strategically placed in some of the most well-connected areas of their respective prefectures. The port in Tokushima City is a quick bus ride from Tokushima Station and then to a variety of locations both in and outside the prefecture. Meanwhile, the port  in Wakayama sits right next to a train line that heads directly to Namba in Osaka, and connects to the train to Koya-san for those on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.

The Nankai Ferry "Tsurugi" as it passes by Awaji Island.

The ferry also allows for a level of comfort not enjoyed by other methods of transport. Passengers have plenty of space to lie down and take a nap while aboard, or go for a walk around the ship and even get a drink or a bite to eat! Combined with a set of three televisions throughout the deck, the two hours you spend on board will pass by very quickly.

Last but not least, good news for those wanting to drive while they’re abroad. For an additional charge you can take cars, motorbikes and other vehicles on board. Yet another opportunity to take a rest from driving or riding and save up your energy before you hit the other side. But be careful, as you need to make a reservation for vehicles, so call ahead in advance to let them know you’re coming.

Of course, taking the ferry is not without its downsides. Rough weather can sometimes force the boats to remain in port (although the bridges connecting Shikoku to mainland Japan are sometimes closed for the same reasons) and those susceptible to motion sickness can feel a bit queasy when the seas are choppy. But on the whole, the ferry is a very handy method of transport for those heading across the seas to mainland Japan. Next time you’re planning a trip, why not give it a go?

Ferry Times:

Tokushima – Wakayama
3:25 – 5:25
5:55 – 7:50
8:15 – 10:10
11:00 – 13:00
13:30 – 15:40
16:35 – 18:35
19:00 – 21:05
22:00 – 24:00

Wakayama – Tokushima
2:40 – 4:50
5:50 – 7:45
8:30 – 10:30
10:50 – 13:00
13:40 – 15:50
16:30 – 18:30
19:20 – 21:20
21:35 – 23:25

Tickets cost 3,800 yen for a round trip for adults, and 1,900 yen for elementary school children and below. Prices for vehicles differ according to the size of the vehicle, but a concise price list, along with directions on how to get to the ports and other information can all be found on the Nankai Ferry Homepage at the following address: www. nankai-ferry.co.jp.