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Where to eat and sleep - beefing up a trip to Japan


AS Tokyo gears up for the Olympics in July next year, there's no time like now to explore the dynamic capital and the rest of the Japan - one of the top must-go destinations for every traveller. In a new fortnightly series, Weekend magazine and Singapore Airlines present a close up view of what the amazing land of omotenashi has to offer.

In the first instalment, we head out to Yamagata prefecture, which sits in a sweet spot of Tohoku that faces the Sea of Japan in the west, and mountains in the east. We stop by Ginzan Onsen - one of those achingly charming historic villages that easily lulls you into your private Spirited Away fantasy, thanks to its 100-year-old traditional ryokans that boast mineral-rich hot spring baths. And if you thought Kobe and Matsuzaka wagyu are the ultimate brands of Japanese beef, it's time to taste Yonezawa beef in Yonezawa itself, where Yamagata's climate helps in raising cattle with the perfect balance of meat and fat. And of course, what's a visit to Tokyo without a visit to its famed fish market? We check out both the new Toyosu and what's left of the old Tsukiji market.

Meanwhile, fans of the hit British TV series Downton Abbey get to meet one of its stars Joanne Froggatt, as we speak to her about the challenges of playing her character Anna and other roles that she has taken on since.

We also look at the challenges facing fine dining restaurants today as uncertain economic times loom ahead, and fickle diners rethink what they want from haute cuisine. Chefs share their thoughts and strategies for staying ahead of the competition.

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Elsewhere, we visit the home of a couple that's inspired by black-and-white colonial houses and South African culture; check out the resort trends of 2020; review Jennifer Aniston's latest hit TV show; and ogle some of the timepieces sold at the recent Only Watch charity auction.