Epic Recycled Brewery

Kamikatsu in southern Japan has set its sights on being a ‘zero-waste town’, and judging from their brewery, they’re well on their way.

The building that houses Rise and Win Brewery is made from mostly recycled materials, first and foremost the epic patchwork of windows at the front of the building, all nabbed from abandoned houses in the area and given a new lease of life.

The brewery itself isn’t too shabby either; the taproom featuring a delicious, rotating selection of kegs.

The beer itself follows the lead of the rest of the town, composting the by-products of the brewing and using wheat grown nearby for beer that is truly local.

There’s everything from a lighter summer ale through to a stout, and a tasty looking BBQ-inspired menu.

Party Time at Avani Chaweng Samui Hotel & Beach Club

When a press release comes our way saying a new property is a “hedonistic bolt-hole” well, we sit up and take notice!

There’s a new player in town at Koh Samui’s party central Chaweng Beach and this player oozes glamorous 50’s swagger and style. Imagine a Palm Springs, South Beach Miami vibe with a Thai twist and it is party time at Avani Chaweng Samui Hotel & Beach Club

Sitting just a few steps away from a sumptuous stretch of silky white sand, you’ll enjoy access to the best sunsets, dining, entertainment and people-watching on Samui. SEEN Beach Club Samui, the hard-hitting party central next door, throws epic pool parties with top DJs and world-class entertainment on tap. The resort’s social swimming pool feels like a hopping bar, with snug cabanas and a mixology station that moonlights as a check-in area.

This place will be the coolest joint on Samui.

HIRADO CASTLE

Live like a Japanese samurai warrior for one night in this newly converted private guest room at Hirado Castle on Hirado Island in Nagasaki Prefecture.

The contemporary golden interior design of the private quarters are juxtaposed against the rough, ancient exterior of what was once a very regal and traditional Japanese castle. Once home to the famous Matsura clan, the castle was first constructed in the 16th century. The bathroom has sweeping views over the Sea of Japan and the Hirado bridge below. Open to just a pair of guests each night, you’ll also get a kagura show and tea ceremony on arrival. But it’s definitely a very pricey cuppa.

From AU$11,700 per night.

The House on the Very, Very Large Slope

When it comes to titles that don’t quite tell the full story, ‘The House on the Slope’ might just be the biggest undersell in history.

First of all, the ‘slope’ is actually a 7000ft mountain in the Himalayas. Bit of a decent slope, if you ask me.

Secondly, the term ‘house’ is understating things as well. The accommodation is not only homely and has a roof, which you would expect of a ‘house’, but also allows the things that makes it special to shine. This is, of course, mainly it’s location.

Camouflaged amidst a virgin pine, oak and rhododendron forest, the house is made almost entirely of stone bricks that have been hand-carved from local stone. The structure stretches across multiple terraced fields, giving a unique kind of layered look. An all-glass skylight runs through the roof and transitions into the front wall of the house, where you get breath-taking views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks such as Trishul and Nanda Devi. Not a bad thing to wake up to in the morning.

Imagine enjoying an altitude-filled brekky in the morning on the terrace in the morning, drinking coffee in the mountains, in the freshest of air. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Top Four New Japan Stays

The Land of the Rising Sun is finally reopening.

Everyone’s second favourite country has been closed to tourists more or less since the start of the pandemic. Bloody ages, if we had to put a number on it.

Now, after months of cautious movements, the Japanese government has released all restrictions, effective from the start of October.

The fact that this 2,194 km² bundle of, energy, onsens, snow, delicious food, and cool weird shit is open again warms our hearts, and makes us feel like travel is truly back in business.

Since it was last open, a number of cool places have opened up to stay – check out four of the best below:

Kai Poroto

Hokkaido

Inspired by the art and architecture of the indigenous Ainu people, all 42 rooms of KAI Poroto have views of Lake Poroto. All 42 rooms are absolutely stunning as well, combining traditional architecture with more modern styles in a way that Japan seem to do so well. There is an onsen, and it is filled with Shiraoi waters, a rare type of onsen water that contains organic minerals.

Click here for more info.

Appi Kogen Resort – Opulence in the snow

Tohoku

Tohoku’s first luxury resort will be ready for the next winter (December – March), set upon stunning snowscapes that are renowned by locals as ‘miracle silky snow’.

A large lounge overlooks the slopes, where there’s also a 400 year old beech tree surrounded by epic artwork. Most of the 38 rooms overlook the white stuff too, so you can watch people strut their stuff while enjoying a sake underneath the sheets. WARNING: You might never make it outside.

Click here for more info. 

Shiminka Villas

Okinawa

Shinminka Villas are five almost identical timber villas (with several new additions in 2022) spread out across the lesser-known Okinawa islands. With entirely transparent outer walls, this simple but aesthetically pleasing accommodation allows you to blend in as part of the natural environment during your stay. There’s a large bathtub, as well as a hammock, and there’s one villa with a pool as well. Take it easy.

Click here for more info. 

Izu Cliff House

Izu Peninsula

No prizes for figuring out what the Izu Cliff House is. It is a house on a cliff.

This doesn’t do it quite do it justice though. Two professors from Tokyo got married in the 1960s and decided to build this work of art, overlooking the stunning Izu Peninsula in the remote Minamiizu area, in 1971. It has only recently been open to the public to stay in.

Stunning floor to ceiling windows, thoughtful Japanese interiors and one of the best decks get lost has ever seen – this is an absolute gem.

Air BNB Link

Manuscript Cafe

Ever had trouble studying? Writing that novel? Finishing that report? Doing anything productive at all?

Japan, as always, has the answer. And as usual, it’s weird.

The Manuscript Café in Tokyo’s Koenji neighbourhood is designed as a base for anti-procrastination. How? Charging by the hour, for a start.

Credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon

A 150-yen admission fee is followed by a 300-yen hourly charge. Time is money – you’re not going to while away the hours playing candy crush or Football Manager, or watching cat videos when you’re on the clock.

Customers can request (at no extra charge) the owner and main man of the café to nag them to get on with things, and at differing levels; anywhere from gentle nudges to a strict disciplinarian standing behind them until work he is satisfied with what he sees on the laptop in front of him.

The café opened in April 2022, and we like to think productivity has soared as a result.

If you’re a working traveller in Tokyo, get your work done here, so you’ve got more time to enjoy the extraordinary delights of an incredible city.

Eating in Style in the Maldives

If you’re looking for a decadently tasty daydream to drool to, we’ve got just the ticket.

The Maldives has long been the leader in luxury resorts, and Soneva Fushi has long been right up the top of the list. And sure, there’s a bunch of breathtaking overwater retreats, but where Soneva has taken it to a new level in recent times is its dining options.

Soneva has added Out of the Sea to it’s list of restaraunts, the appropriately restaurant sitting literally on the water, where you can probably spot some of tomorrow’s seafood swimming beneath you. You literally can’t get any fresher than that.

The restaurant, like other offerings at the resort, features award-winning chefs serving mainly Mediterranean flavours, wok-fried dishes and tapas-inspired light bites. There’s also an intimate, rustic style of luxury that makes you comfortable straight away. 

The restaurant has recently opened, and adds to the 11 other tasty dining experiences on offer at the resort. We’ve selected our five favourites – check them out below:

Soneva Fushi, Maldives top five dining experiences

Ancient Okinawa

As well as being one of the world’s most underrated dive spots, and home to awesome wilderness retreats and delicious food, there’s also plenty of history in Okinawa Prefecture.

For almost 500-years, Okinawa and its surrounding islands were part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. This Kingdom once ruled from south of Kyushu in southern Japan, all the way down until (but not including) Taiwan.

Zakimi-jo Castle. It is estimated that there were once as many as 5000 castles total in Japan.

The historic era saw the Ryukyuans become prosperous, a key cog in the maritime trading route of Asia, traders, with evidence in 2022 to be found in the series of pretty epic castles that you can actually go and visit.

get lost have found the three best gusukus on Okinawa Island for you to step back in time in.

Katsuren-jo Castle site

The Pacific Ocean sandwiches Katsuren-jo Castle on two sides, which would have created a formidable lookout in the 13th to 14th century when it was built. Nowadays, it has lost its defensive purpose but retains its domineering beauty. In 2016, both Ottoman and Roman Empire currency was dug up at Kasturen, a nod to Okinawa’s status as a major maritime player.

Visit Katsuren

Katsuren is near Uruma, on Okinawa Island’s east coast.

Nakijin-jo Castle site

Nakijin Castle was seemingly built in the 13th century with tourism in mind. You can actually walk along the top section of the castle and you’ll get some pretting incredible views of the forest and surrounding ocean, and Japan’s famous cherry blossoms bloom around the castle in January and February. Nakijin changed hands a few times in history and was actually burnt to the ground in 1609. It’s size is seriously impressive for the era in which it was constructed.  

Visit Nakijin

Nakijin-jo Castle has pretty impressive views whichever way you look.

Zakimi-jo Castle site

Zakimi Castle’s walls were built so strongly in 1420 that you can still walk along them today. It’s pretty special to be able to admire the handiwork of masons, whose work has withstood several hundred years of civil war. There’s also a vreally interesting, informative museum on site, the perfect place to learn more about the gusuku and Okinawa’s rich culture and history.

Visit Zakimi

Zakimi from above.

Stay in a Japanese wilderness

Looking for a city getaway? We know a few places in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Okinawa is a prefecture of Japan comprised of a group of islands in the East China Sea. It isn’t as heralded as a tourist destination as some of Japan’s other star attractions, despite the stunning beaches and dense jungles that comprise it.

Getting close to nature and feeling its connection lure you closer to Earth is what a holiday in this part of the world is all about. With this in mind, a Shinminka Villa is the perfect place to base yourself, be that for a short time or an extended stay.

Shinminka Villas are four almost identical timber villas spread out across Okinawa’s islands that follow traditional Okinawan minka folk house design. With entirely transparent outer walls, this simple but aesthetically pleasing accommodation allows you to blend in as part of the natural environment during your stay. Within the confines of the humble timber design, there’s no shortage of places to relax: there’s a large bathtub, as well as a hammock, and there’s one villa with a pool as well.

Kicking back, surrounded by your own garden or jungle or beach, isolated in your own little world, is arguably as good as island life gets. One is also an extension of the island’s oldest ryokan, making it easy to reconnect with your body as well as the island. Okinawa and it’s surrounding islands are characterised by a variety of terrain and geography; a patchwork of waterfalls and rivers, jungles and mangroves.

Hiking and swimming are aplenty in these parts if you wish, but so is relaxing, in your own little intimate slice of Japanese wilderness.

Nakijin Castle is a 14th century castle ruins nearby to Shinminka.

Japan’s best kept underwater secret

Japan is home to some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling – if you know where to find it.

On land, everyone knows about this country’s delicious street food, powder snow, cultures that date back thousands of years and extraordinary outdoor experiences, but there is also plenty to be found underwater as well.

The Kerama Islands are one big national park, comprising of 36 islands, populated by just under a couple of thousand people. We don’t know what the true population of colourful fish swimming in schools and dancing in and out of reefs, dodging seaweed and hiding behind colourful coral, but go underwater for even just a few minutes and your perception of Japan will change forever. There are about 250 species of fish in the islands, humpback whales, manta rays as well as one other major drawcard: sea turtles.

From May through to September/October is the best time to see sea turtles in the Kerama Islands.

These big, friendly beasts live to up to 70-80 years in this part of the world. As you’re swimming in Kerama’s exceptionally blue waters, it’s mind blowing to think that the gentle green beasts in front of you were probably around in 1972, when the Okinawa prefecture was returned to the Japanese from the U.S., who had ruled the area for almost three decades. Or when Japan emerged as an economic superpower in the 1960s, or when they hosted the Olympic games in 1964 and 2021, or throughout any of this country’s major historic events over the last half-century and a bit.

And as they swim serenely in thrillingly clear turquoise waters in front of you – oblivious to any of those happenings – you’ll think that they’ve probably had the right idea all along.

get lost’s top four Kerama Islands diving spots:

  1. Zamami Island

    An array of beginner to advanced diving spots, drift diving and cave diving, with schools of migratory fish, gorgeous coral and more. Epic.

  2. Ijyakajya

    If you want to see sea turtles, this spot on Aka Island is where to come, between the months of May and October. Also plenty of manta rays, who gather to be cleaned by the other sea life there.

  3. Tokashiki Island

    The caves located beneath Aharen Lighthouse create an epic light display.

  4. Onna Village

Onna Village has the nickname ‘Coral Village’ for a reason. Check it out below: