This hippo-like critter can help you be less lonely
May 16th, 2014
12:45 AM ET
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Talk about creative coping mechanisms for being alone - from the blogger who photographs selfies with his imaginary girlfriend to the company that takes your stuffed animals on vacation without you, Japan appears to be cornering the market on accommodating solo travelers.

You can now add the "anti-loneliness" Moomin House Cafe to the menagerie of "wait, what?" strokes of Japanese brilliance.
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Filed under: Japan • Restaurant News • Restaurants • Solo dining • Theme • Travel • Weird News


The rival empires of Japanese whisky
March 26th, 2014
03:18 PM ET
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The first thing offered to me at Suntory's Yamazaki whisky distillery - the birthplace of Japanese whisky - is a glass of water. It's so delicious it comes as a shock.

Even before the reason is explained to me, I'm asking: why does it taste so crisp, so different?

The distillery is surrounded by beautiful bamboo forests on a mountain - they must be getting to my brain.
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Filed under: Japan • Japan Eats • Japanese • Sip • Spirits


January 27th, 2014
02:30 PM ET
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The first time the South Korean factory owner watched his North Korean employees nibble on a Choco Pie, they appeared shocked - even overwhelmed.

He summed up their reaction to the South Korean snack in one word: "Ecstasy."

Much like what Twinkies are to Americans, South Korea's Choco Pies - two disc-shaped, chocolate-covered cakes, sandwiching a rubbery layer of marshmallow cream - are ubiquitous, cost less than 50 cents and are full of empty calories.

But on the other side of the Korean border, the snacks are viewed as exotic, highly prized treats, selling on North Korea's black markets for as much as $10, according to analysts. Their rising popularity in the north reveals an unexpected common ground between the two Koreas, despite their fractious relationship - a shared sweet tooth.
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November 15th, 2013
09:00 AM ET
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Kimchi-making season is upon South Korea, with grocery stores besieged with housewives snapping up buckets of giant cabbages, salt and red pepper powder - or more often these days buying pre-made kimchi so they don't have to go to the trouble.

In one of Seoul's more unusual sights, 3,000 housewives marked the start of the period in which the ingredients are at their freshest, with the country's biggest kimchi-making event to date in front of Seoul's City Plaza on Wednesday.
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Filed under: Asian • Korean


July 22nd, 2013
12:15 AM ET
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I'm sitting in a tiny, open-air seafood restaurant in Yeonhwari fishing village in Busan, South Korea, waiting for my breakfast.

In the distance, on the rocky shore, a local haenyeo ("sea woman") is picking through her morning's catch.

"She's late," says a fellow patron when she notices me staring. "All the other haenyeo have already finished their diving and delivered their catch."
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Filed under: Korea • Korean • Restaurants • Travel


Sushi favorite Japanese eel at risk of extinction
February 6th, 2013
09:05 AM ET
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Bad news for food-obssessed travelers to Japan.

Unagi - the sweet broiled eel dish that's one of Japan's best eats - may soon be going the way of shark's fins and fish balls: it gets overfished (check), it gets put on an endangered list (check) and it gets banned from restaurants (maybe).

The Japanese Ministry of the Environment officially added Japanese eel to its Red List of endangered fish on Friday, reported Yomiuri Shimbun.

Read the full story - Japanese eel becomes latest 'endangered food' - on CNN Travel.

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Filed under: Environment • Fishing • Japan • Ocean • Sustainability • Travel


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