While the COVID-19 infection is spreading all over Japan, a good thing (probably the only good thing?) is spreading too. That is AMABIE.
AMABIE is a legendary Japanese ‘yokai’ specter which is believed to have the power to stave off epidemics.
It is said that during the time nearing the end of the Edo period (1603 – 1868), in the former Higo province (present-day Kumamoto prefecture), a half-man-half-fish ‘yokai’ spirit emerged from the sea and instructed people there to draw an image of itself and show it to others when there is an epidemic.
For this reason, a lot of ‘AMABIE’ goods have been produced all over Japan, wishing for the eradication of the COVID-19 and AMABIE has gained huge popularity.
Even the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare enlisted AMABIE as part of its campaign to prevent the spread of the Covid-19!
(From the homepage of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare)
For this reason, in this blog, we will introduce two “AMABIE” goods, current topics in Nagasaki.
【AMABIE ’wagashi’ (traditional Japanese confectionary)】
Hakusuido, a Japanese confectionary shop with a long history in Nagasaki, is now offering AMABIE-shaped sweets. (270 JPY a piece) These sweets are all handmade. Because of that, no two AMABIE sweets have exactly the same expressions on their faces. “I would like people to smile and enjoy having these sweets during this difficult time,” says the proprietress of the shop. How did their AMABIE sweets turn out to look so cute? That is because the confectioner of the shop made the sweets based on the image of an AMABIE that once appeared in a popular Japanese ‘yokai’ comic book, “Gegege no Kitaro”.
AMABIE sweets come with a good-luck charm that wishes for an early eradication of COVID-19.
Hakusuido prayed for the eradication of COVID-19 pandemic at Yasaka Shinto Shrine the other day.
“I want to buy the AMABIE sweet! I want to eat it! BUT I cannot go and buy it in the shop because we are all requested to stay at home.“ For you and other people who have the same problem, and also for people who live far away from the shop, Hakusuido started to sell on line at the shop’s official home page on May 1 (Friday). Until now, AMABIE sweets were only sold in the shop because they are unbaked and should be eaten when they are fresh. When shopped online, sweets are sent by refrigerated courier service. The shipping charge for AMABIE sweets is 540 JPY. (For other products, 550 JPY for shipping)
Shianbashi main store
〒850-0832 Adjacent to Shianbashi Tram Stop, 1-3 Aburayamachi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture
AMABIE coloring and paper craft template
Isahaya Shrine in Isahya city have made an “AMABIE coloring and paper craft template” and are distributing them for free from the shine office. The template can be downloaded through the shrine’s home page. It is nice that we can easily download and print it at home while we are requested to stay at home, isn’t it? During the interview with the chief priest of the shrine, Mr. Miyamoto, he expressed his wishes that people spend their time peacefully doing this paper craft when they are expected to spend so much time at home.
During the interview with the chief priest of the shrine Mr. Miyamoto, he expressed his hope that people use this coloring book and have a peaceful time at home during the refrainment from going out.
He also advised, considering the current COVID-19 situation, not to go out to visit the shrine to receive the template but stay home and download them on the internet.
The template should be printed on A4 size paper, monochrome. When printed out, color it in, cut it out, and assemble it. The whole family can enjoy doing it!
1-12 Uzumachi, Isahaya City, Nagasaki Prefecture
Tel : 0957-22-2073
Official Homepage : https://isahaya-jinja.jp/
For the detail of AMABIE coloring sheets:
How about overcoming this difficult situation together with various “AMABIE” goods and with a smile?
Neru Nagahama is a central member of the popular idol group Keyakizaka 46 from Nagasaki Prefecture. She spent some of her childhood years on the Goto Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture, the main location for her first photobook, “From Here” (Koko Kara). Her photobook sold over 200,000 copies and reached No. 1 on the Oricon Photo Book Rankings for the first half of the year.
Right now, she’s one of the most watched idols.
In August 2018, volunteers from Shinkamigoto City and the Narao area in the Goto Islands, put together the “Neru-chan Map” that introduces all the locations featured in the photo book “From Here.” It’s being distributed for free at places such as the ferry terminals at the Nagasaki and Narao Ports. （There’s a list of places where you can get the map at the end of this article. ）
Neru Nagahama introduced the map on her official blog as “Great Things that Happened in the Last Year”, and it seems that recently more and more fans are visiting the locations featured in the photobook with the map in hand.
Neru grew up in Narao from the age of 4 to 7 and left the island after that, but she loves the place that she spent her childhood in, and has continued to stay in touch with the people who live there. She even chose to introduce Narao as a location on the TV show “You can’t write the character for Keyaki?”
Volume 1 is about the locations on Narao, while Volume 2 is about the “Great Points of the Island” in Nakadori Island featured in “From Here.”
◆National Natural Treasure “Sea Fig Tree (Narao Shrine)” (featured in Volume 1)
In the photo book, there’s a photo with Neru looking up at this 650-year-old giant tree. This is a truly symbolic spot in Narao. It’s said if you pass under the tree, you’ll have a long life, and so its very popular as a “power spot.” https://www.nagasaki-tabinet.com/guide/731/
◆ Sea Fig Charm Cookie (Featured in Volume 1)
This cookie is so cute it was much-talked about on Twitter after Neru posted about it. It’s on sale at the Narao Port Terminal.
In the photo book, Neru looks great swimming in a school swimsuit.
This is a very popular beach with white sand and it’s clear, shallow waters.
In the photo book, the praying Neru and the sunset are really striking.
This outdoor festival was one of “my recommended spots in Goto” that Neru herself talked about in an interview.
Why not grab a “Neru-chan Map” and take a walk around the “Great Points of the Island”?
◆ Main Places Where You Can Get the Neru-chan Map
Nihonbashi Nagasaki-kan (Tokyo) Nagasaki Port Terminal (Nagasaki City) Narao Port Terminal (Shinkamigoto Town) At about 70 other participating companies and shops. (Limited numbers available)
◆ Inquiries: Sasaya Shussen (Narao-go, Shinkamigoto Town, Nagasaki Prefecture)
Hello, it’s Tomocchi! ☆
Access to the main tourist attractions in Nagasaki City just got more convenient!
On April 8th, Nagasaki Bus launched a new bus route that lets you go from “Glover Garden Entrance” bus stop to the “Atomic Bomb Museum” bus stop without changing buses. The “Glover Garden Entrance” bus stop is close to Glover Garden and Oura Cathedral, as well as the Matsugae International Terminal, where cruise ships berth.
It’s a regular bus, so the normal fare applies, but if you use the 1 day free pass recommended for tourists (￥500 for adults), you can easily make your way around the stops on this route, including Glover Garden, Oura Cathedral, The Dutch Slope, Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown, Dejima, The Peace Park, Atomic Bomb Museum and the city center.
Also, up until now tourists have had to walk 5 mins to the Atomic Bomb Museum from the bus stop on the main national road. However, a new bus stop has been made on the “doorstep” of the Atomic Bomb Museum (Atomic Bomb Museum bus stop)! It’s really convenient that you can now go right to the door of the museum!
Whether you’re a tourist or a local, it’s worth giving it a try.
●Frequency: About once every 30 mins (14-15 buses a day)
●Route: “Glover Garden Entrance” to “Atomic Bomb Museum”
●Time taken from first to last stop: about 20 mins
●For tourists, the discount one-day free pass (￥500 for adults, ￥250 for children) is recommended. (N.B. The regular one-way fare from the first to last stop is ￥180)
For more details, please look at the Nagasaki Bus Website:
Hello, it’s Tomocchi! ☆
“So Many Colors in the Future What a Wonderful World” is an anime set in Nagasaki City! It’s
been on regular TV (NBC) here in Nagasaki from January this year.
Official Website: http://iroduku.jp/
Special Webpage on the Nagasaki Prefectural Tourism Website “Nagasaki Tabinet” (in
I’d like to tell you more about the “Forest Witch Cafe”, which appears in the show as the “Magic
Shop” where lead character Hitomi stays.
“Forest Witch Cafe” is a very popular cafe that’s actually located in the Kinkai area of Nagasaki
City. () It’s a little hideaway with beautiful scenery and a very peaceful atmosphere.
The two owl statues at the entrance are exactly like in the show!!
With great views of the ocean and lots of antiques, it’s a perfect fit for the “Magic Shop”.
The antique furniture is judiciously arranged inside the store, and with jazz softly playing, it
definitely has a grown-up feel to it. There are even mysterious ornaments that look as if they
could be magic lamps. (When I visited, it was Christmas-time, so they had a Christmas Tree up.)
And the beautiful scenery of Omura Bay unfolds below you!
【Advance Booking Required】 The Witch’s Original Lunch Course (¥1,500 + Tax)
Appetizer, Soup, Main (Choose from either Curry or Pasta), Dessert (Coffee included)
The vegetables are pesticide-free and home-grown in the field behind the cafe. There are lots of
great touches, with the rice also grown by local farmers. The menu is filled with lots of dishes
which bring out the best of the vegetables’ flavors.
Since I was able to choose from curry or pasta, this time I went with the popular curry as my
choice. This smooth and rich European-style curry is rich in the umami of beef! The spicy paste
and Japanese scallions are also home-made.
The coffee jelly dessert perfectly balances sweetness and bitterness for a grown-up taste. The
bitterness of the coffee bean garnish also add a nice accent. The ice-cream has the perfect level of
creaminess that gives the dish a really high-quality taste, and goes perfectly with the home-made
apple cinnamon jam.
And right behind the restaurant is the “Witch’s Cafe”, which is run by the wife of the owner.
There’s a signed panel from the voice-actor who played the lead character, Hitomi, and even a
guestbook for visitors who are coming to visit locations from the anime.
Open the guestbook, and you’ll see lots of messages from fans who’ve come from all around the
Why not step into the world of the anime “So Many Colors in the Future What a Wonderful
World” with the beautiful scenery and peaceful atmosphere at the cafe that is the model for the
【Forest Witch Cafe】
Address: Nishiumi-machi 138-2, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture.
※ Please make a reservation before you visit.
※ There are a limited number of parking spots, so please check when you call to reserve. Official
【Anime: “So Many Colors in the Future What a Wonderful World”】
◯ Broadcast Information (Nagasaki Area)
Nagasaki Broadcasting Company (NBC) – On air very early on Monday Morning (1:50AM) from
January 6th, 2019.
※ This show has also been available on Amazon Prime Video since October 5th in advance of the
TV broadcast, both in Japan and overseas!
※ Not available in mainland China.
Hello, it’s Tomocchi! ☆
I went for a cruise around on the Shimabara Railway (nickname: shimatetsu)! This time, let me tell you about some of the super-popular photo spots and great food that I found along the way.
On this trip, I used the 2-day unlimited trips Shimabara Railway & Bus Pass 【Shimabara Peninsula Free Access Ticket (¥ 2,300)】
And if you’re travelling on the 2nd or 4th Sunday of each month, the 【fShimatetsu Free Pass (¥1,000円/day)】is even cheaper.
Normally, just the return fare between Isahaya Station and Shimabara Station is ¥2,860, which makes the free pass astoundingly good value!!
Time to hop on and off the train and really enjoy everything on the Shimabara Railway line!♪
※ If you are departing from Nagasaki Station, you will also have to pay the return fare of ¥ 920 from Nagasaki Station to Isahaya Station on the JR line as well.
With that, let’s start a winter railway journey!
When the Shimabara Railway train from Isahaya Station stopped at Omisaki Station, some amazing scenery came into view!!
(Photo taken from the train window)
I hadn’t planned to get off on the way, but…
I was just so drawn in by the contrast between the blue sea and sky and the yellow flags, that before I knew it, I’d got off the train.
I’d seen that view so many times from the train window, so I’d always wanted to get off!
Omisaki Station is also said to be “The Closest Station to the Ocean in Japan”.
As I stepped onto the platform, the sound of the calm waves on the Ariake Sea welcomed me.
The sea breeze felt just perfect. ☆
There was a single old lady in the cosy station building.
This sleepy seaside station has no station staff.
While I was wandering around taking photos, another train pulled in. Next I was on my way to Shimabara Station.
With the free pass you can also board Shimabara Railway buses, so depending on the time of day, it might be convenient to board a bus from the “Omisaki Bus Stop” in front of the station.
The train that departed from Omisaki Station arrived at Shimabara Station.
The castle-like design of the station looks great, right? You can see Shimabara Castle from the front entrance.
I thought I’d take a stroll around the Shimabara Castle Town area until lunch, but since I’d missed having lunch, I decided on having lunch first.
Shimabara’s best known specialty food is “Guzoni”!
I stopped in at Ginza Shokudo, a long-established restaurant in the Ichiban-gai Arcade founded in 1945.
Guzoni wasn’t the only thing on the menu, with lots of options to choose from, like curry, as well as champon and kakesoba noodles.
While I was enjoying taking in the old-fashioned interior, which reminded me of the mid-20th century Showa era, piping hot Guzoni arrived in an earthen nabe pot.
Guzoni (¥ 980)
Inside the bonito and kombu seaweed broth was…
14 types of toppings!!! Including 5 pieces of mochi stick rice, they were: chicken, grilled anago sea eel, tamagoyaki omelette, koyadofu tofu, kamaboko fish cake, chikuwa fish cake rolls, shiitake, taro, lotus root, shaved burdock root, kombu seaweed, edible chrysanthemum, and Chinese cabbage.
Although I’d skipped breakfast, I thought there was no way I’d finish it all!!! But the soft, thick and round mochi came together perfectly with the high-quality dashi and the delicate flavor of the ingredients, and I ended up finishing it faster than I thought. It was a really familiar taste that made me sigh with nostalgia.
It really was a lunch that left both my heart and stomach nice and warm. Thanks for the meal!!
※Unfortunately, as of December 31st, 2018, Ginza Shokudo has closed down.
However, there are many other restaurants in Shimabara that have great tasting guzoni, so take a look at the tourist map for one that takes your fancy.
After lunch, I went to visit some Shiba Inu dogs who’ve become famous in the news because they stick their faces out of holes in a fence.
This time only one dog showed their face, but it was really cute!!
(I noticed they’d gone to call their friends, but the other dogs didn’t show their faces, so you can only just make out part of their body on the other side of the hole)
The dog was a really showman, even moving on to stick its face out of the middle hole!♪
If you’re lucky, you might even get to see all three dogs sticking their faces out together! The spot to go is a normal house in the back streets of the Ichiban-gai Arcade on the Shimabara Castle side.
They’re the idols of Shimabara, so if you ask a passerby, they’re sure to be able to help you find them.
Of course, I won’t leave out the big tourist attractions! I took a quick rest at the “Shimeiso Spring Garden”, located in the “Town Where the Koi Carp Swim” area. And then I did a bit of shopping for Shimabara souvenirs at the nearby Tourism & Exchange Center “Seiryutei”
And in February, I highly recommend the Shimabara Castle Ume Plum Garden, with close to 300 trees making for a colorful scene with the castle tower in the background!
From February to March, there are lots of great spring events to come and see. Get off at Shimabara Station for the “Shimabara Castle Town Hina Meguri”, and get off at Koujiro Station for the Kunimi-cho, Unzen City “Nabeshimatei” Winter Sakura Cherry Blossom Festival.
Why not head off on a journey with Shimabara Railway! ☆
★ Here are all of the discount tickets offered by Shimabara Railway!
Unlimited travel on Shimabara Railway Trains and Buses for two days. You can purchase it at a JR station along with your JR ticket.
Unlimited travel on Shimabara Railway Trains and Busses, on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. Valid for 1 day. Available for purchase at Shimabara Railway Stations.
Unlimited travel pass that may only be used by people from foreign countries. (You must show your passport when purchasing it)Valid for 1 day.