Sustainable life-style in Japan: Zero-waste town Kamikatsu

Since July 1st, shops in Japan have been required to charge the plastic bags. Japan has had a pressure to reduce usage of plastic to combat environmental problems, such as damage on the ecosystem, groundwater contamination and dirty water. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it can only break to smaller and smaller pieces, and therefore it is a toxic which takes 400 – 1,000 years to disappear in the environment. Our usage of plastic has mostly an impact on the ocean ecosystem. According to ConservingNow.com in some places in the world, there is 46 times more plastic in the ocean than food for sea animals.

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Beside of this national measure in Japan, there are some villages in Japan which have a Zero-Waste policy. For example, Ikaruga town in Nara, Mizuma in Fukuoka, but the first village which started with a Zero-Waste Policy is Kamikatsu. Kamikatsu is small town in Shikoku Prefecture, only reachable by car or bus from Tokushima City. It was an unknown place, until they started as the first place Zero-Waste declaration in Japan. Surprisingly, people come there as visitors to see the garbage system or to experience the Zero-Waste life style. This year, the hotel has opened for visitors who want to join for a Zero-Waste workshop program.

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Zero-Waste Concept means aiming to reducing, reusing and recycling waste. This leads to a healthier and better lifestyle for human beings, animals, trees and other nature-creatures. Also Kamikatsu could be a typical Japanese ghost town, but it has been changed drastically. The municipality earns by selling waste like paper (which can bring 2.5 million yen yearly). These earnings can be used to pay the waste disposal cost. It is a circular system, like the Circle of Life explanation of Mufasa to his cub Simba in the movie ‘the Lion King’.

Some Sustainable and Zero-Waste measures in Kamikatsu:

  • Recycling > In a new building designed by an architect, people can separate their waste in 45 categories, aluminum cans, newspaper, cardboard, styrofoam, chopsticks, used oil, clothes, batteries, light bulbs etc.
  • Recycling > Giving subsidies for purchasing composters for composting waste.

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  • Reusing > They have a free second hand shop called Kuru Kuru Shop. Locals can bring items and everybody (locals and visitors) can take anything for free.
  • Reusing > Used clothes and other certain items can be used at the Kuru Kuru Craft Center. Mainly seniors craft new items from those used materials and sell them afterwards. In the summer, Kamikatsu organizes a summer festival to promote these items and items from Kuru Kuru shops.

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  • Reducing > The commercial businesses are encouraged to join this waste policy to reduce more waste by giving certain logos to promote themselves, towards visitors.
  • Reducing > The municipality encourages the locals to throw away waste in that Waste Station by a point campaign. After collecting enough points, they can be exchanged to free functional items, like toilet paper, detergents, lighter and so on. Every month, 10 people who throw away garbage properly, will have a chance of 1,000 yen gift coupon.

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  • Sustainable > Kamikatsu is also about biological food. Café Polaster is a restaurant which only use local biological products. They have a shop called BuY shop, which sells local food products. Last but not least, a new hip building, built of used materials, like used bricks and used windows, Rise & Win Brewing Co. has opened. It has local barbeque meat and own brewed beer Kamikatz.

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Compared to other countries Japan has made a slow start in reducing waste especially plastic. Japan had the largest amount of plastic waste in the world and it produced about 9 million tons of plastic waste annually.
Japan is changing step-by-step; as we can see from Kamikatsu, other zero-waste towns and the new reducing plastic bag policy.

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Sakura Season 2020

It is not the brightest and the most romantic moment right now in 2020, the corona virus is still spreading and it hasn’t been decreased. You might probably know a lot of entertainment facilities are closed and a lot of events are canceled. End of March is almost coming, which means the cherry blossoms will full bloom soon. The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike warns people, hanami (picnic under the cherry blossoms) is still a risky activity in this situation. She asks people to refrain doing picnic and having parties in parks. Although, she doesn’t want to stop people enjoying cherry blossoms, she said on March 12th: “We discussed what to do with hanami. It is open-air, therefore we still want people to admire flowers.”

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Even though, hanami is very fun and it is a tradition in Japan, it is better to listen to the governor of Japan. But how and where can we enjoy sakura (cherry blossom) this year? It is better to go to small local parks in the residential areas instead of the popular big public parks, where a lot of people (locals and tourists) come. Before going to the list of suggestions. Here is the list of sakura festivals which are canceled:

Ueno Sakura festival 2020
Chiyoda Sakura festival 2020
Nakameguro Sakura festival 2020 (along the river)
Shibuya Sakuragaoka Sakura festival 2020
Bunkyo Sakura festival 2020
Jiyugaoka Sakura festival 2020
Sa*kaso Sakura festival 2020 in Asukayama park
Koganei Sakura festival 2020
Sumida Koen Sakura festival 2020

In other small places, there are no festivals hold, but they are still nice to walk around or sit there. According to the cherry blossom forecast, the blossoms have started blooming in Tokyo on March 14th. The best moment is around March 27th. Probably in the weekend of March 28th and 29th you can enjoy the beautiful scenario.

For Happy House Mint and Witt-Style Clover
Two big parks in Nerima ward with a lot of cherry blossoms. Hikarigaoka Park and Toshimaen Park in Nerima ward.

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For Happy House Koenji and Happy House Kamikitazawa
A popular spot for locals and less for tourists, it is the Wadabori park in Suginami ward. Big cherry blossom trees along the Zenpukuji river.

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For Happy House Orange, Vitamin Color and Asian
Nakano has a lot of Cherry Blossoms and not specifically in parks. Nakano dori is full of cherry blossoms.

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For Witt-Style Nakameguro and Witt-Style Mishuku
One of the most popular spot to see sakura is in Nakameguro, along the Nakameguro river. It might be less busy compare to the previous years, but probably it is better to skip to go there for this year. In Setagaya ward, there is a park called Kinuta Park, which has about 930 cherry blossoms blooming.

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For Happy House Kagurazaka & Chilli Pepper and Cream
PersonallyI went to Iidabashi area for hanami last year, it was not super crowded along the Kanda river, so probably there won’t be many people walking this year. It is beautiful though.


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Tulip Staff Introduction II

Hi, this is Yuka and I have worked at Tulip for more than half a year, but I hadn’t introduced myself yet. This blog is about me, my home country the Netherlands and my experience in Tokyo.

I was born and raised in Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands. My parents decided to live in the Netherlands a long time ago, because they really fell in love for this country when they were in their twenties. Even though they like to live there, I decided to move to Japan. In 2010 I had the opportunity to do an exchange program in Tokyo and since then I have liked Japan a lot. I haven’t always lived in the Netherlands since I had started my bachelor study, I was going somewhere else to get more experience in architecture. Because of my nomadic lifestyle, I have started to see how great the Netherlands is. I didn’t understand why people like to visit the Netherlands, but now I do understand!

Windmills and tulips in the country side of the Netherlands (Photo Credit)

The Netherlands is a very small country in Europe, close to Germany and Belgium. The size is about the size of the island Kyushu in Japan. Probably, people know this country as the country of tulips, and windmills. We indeed have windmills and tulips, but generally speaking you won’t see them in the main cities of the Netherlands. So, what is the Netherlands beside of the suburban iconic elements? You might know, it is the country of the tallest people on earth, the LGBT rights are the most progressive in the world, a flat landscape which is 70% below the sea level and the country of legalized soft drug law.

Amsterdam canals, Amsterdam houses and house boats (Photo Credit)

The Netherlands is well known of the brick Canal houses along the canals. Normally, they are about six-stories high, have quite big windows and steep stairs, and lean a bit to the front. The relationship between the buildings and the canals are potential urban elements what I miss a lot. A lot of Dutch cities have chill public spots between the buildings, for example big plazas with terraces around (good places to have a cold orange juice or beer in the sun) and canals to sit on the side and stare to the boats. There are even cafes and restaurants along the canals; Beautiful, cozy and enjoyable. The country of water!

Terraces along the canals (Photo Credit)

Since a big part of the country is below sea level, water is the weakest and the strongest element in this country. Since ages ago, Dutch people have fought against water; high dunes, dikes and other water systems were created. Even the wind mills are water systems, you will notice that the most of wind wills are next to the water. They also appreciate water by creating a lot of canals, lakes and water leisure parks. Also, the Dutch team during Olympic Games is strong at water related sports, for example Swimming, Ice skating, Beach volleyball and Sailing. But probably the Dutch people are mostly proud of their high-skilled water technology and innovative water ideas. Dutch companies are often been asked by other countries for tsunami disasters, rising water level and drink water.

There are so many other Dutch characteristics, cheese, cows and milk, the direct and open communication, an orange colored festival, famous painters etc.

Beside of explaining about the Netherlands, I would like to tell a bit about my experience in Tokyo. In Tokyo, I like Aoyama, Yanaka and Kagurazaka. Since, we have two houses around Kagurazaka, which are Happy House Kagurazaka and Chilli Pepper & Cream, I will tell a bit more about Kagurazaka.

Kanda river in Kagurazaka during cherry blossom period (Photo Credit)

When I am planning to visit this area, it is mostly because I am going to meet someone to eat in one of its restaurants or cafes, to visit the Akagi shrine or to visit my friend’s contemporary art gallery when there is a new exhibition. The restaurants are very nice, I enjoy eating Japanese food and French food in this area. I recommend Rito Kitchen, a beach house restaurant where they serve meals cooked with products of the small islands of Japan. For French, I really enjoyed the food in the very popular restaurant Maison de la Bourgogne. If you go to the canal side, there is Canal café, maybe because I come from a canal country、I like to sit there with a cup of tea staring to the big canal. During spring sakura time, along the canal it is a popular spot to enjoy Hanami (picnic under the cherry blossom trees). Along the canal you have big cherry blossom trees.

 

 

 

 

Rito Kitchen in Kaguraka (Photo Credit)

I like architecture and Akagi Shrine in Kagurazaka is renovated by a current famous Japanese architect, therefore I like to go there for my prayers. The same architect also renovated an old book warehouse in Kagurazaka. It called La Kagu and it is currently an event space with shops and a restaurant.

La Kagu, an old book warehouse to an event space with shops, exhibitions and restaurant (Photo Credit)

Still many things to explore in this area and other places in Tokyo. Even though I have come to Tokyo so many times and have lived here for 2 years now. For more information about our two houses in Kagurazaka area, check our website.

Happy House Kagurazaka: https://tulip-e.com/en/estateinfo/27/

Chilli Pepper & Cream: https://tulip-e.com/en/estateinfo/30/

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Tokyo’s Hidden Gems: Livin’ in a Grandma’s Paradise – Sugamo

Our sharehouse Apricot Terrace is in Sugamo. Sugamo is a slice of pure, classic Tokyo, served up at your grandparents’ house because you told them your mum hasn’t fed you yet.

Sugamo is known locally as ‘Granny’s Harajuku’ and it’s easy to see why. Geriatrics visit Jizo Dori in their hordes to get the best picks of traditional Japanese sweets, premium matcha tea and old-timey fashions.

But this grandma’s paradise holds plenty of attractions for any ages. Especially visitors who want to see a more old fashioned side of Tokyo. These are our favourites.

(link:http://japan-local-guide.com/ja/sugamo_a_paradise_for_tourists_who_want_to_take_a_look_at_old_japan/)

Obligatory Cute Mascot Sugamon

The mascot of Sugamo is a very round, white duck called Sugamon and he is adorable. A replica of his butt is stationed at the entrance to Jizo Dori, which can be stroked for a boost of luck in love. His schedule is written only in Japanese, but you can be sure he’ll make an appearance at all Sugamo’s festivals and events. His bum also looks like the shio daifuku that Sugamo is famous for. Mochi filled with red bean paste and flavoured with salt to counteract the sweetness. http://sugamon.jp/

 

Maruji Red Pants

You may notice an abundance of bright red panties. Not so much Sugamo’s saucy underbelly, rather these underwear are believed to grant you good health if you wear them. Judging by the average age of their patrons, there may be something in it…

(link:https://matcha-jp.com/en/greatertokyo/place/ChIJSQZuOp2NGGAReuli9ZYo2Ic)

Koganji Temple (Togenuki Jizo Temple)

This temple is more commonly known by its nickname of Togenuki Jizo, meaning ‘Jizo that draws out the thorn’ in reference to a story about the Jizo deity that is enshrined there. A samurai drew 10,000 pictures of the deity in order to cure his wife’s disease and after that the pictures were also used to cure a woman who had swallowed a thorn. Even now, this temple is very popular with people who want to cure their ailments.


(link:http://japan-local-guide.com/ja/sugamo_a_paradise_for_tourists_who_want_to_take_a_look_at_old_japan/)

Ganso Sennari Monaka

Purveyors of traditional Japanese sweets, you can watch fresh dorayaki being made in front of your very eyes. They also offer cute, colourful monaka for only 100 yen each. A sweet traditionally served with tea, consisting of a jam filling (there’s a choice of flavours such as red bean paste or plum) sandwiched between crisp mochi wafers. A perfect souvenir of your time in Sugamo!

(link: https://haveagood.holiday/spots/290884)

 

Traditional Japanese Clothing

Although the vast majority of the clothes in Sugamo are geared towards a more mature market, if you want to buy some traditional Japanese wear there are bargains to be had. Old ladies know where to get value for their money. Yukata, which are light, summer kimonos can be found for unbelievably low prices.

If you want to know even more about Sugamo, read our previous blog about the market that takes place there!

(link: https://matcha-jp.com/cn/3997)

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Why Koenji is an awesome place? ChapterI

Tokyo’s one of the coolest hipster area, Koenji. It is already popular among the local Japanese and step by step the tourists discover this area too. Koenji has a young and energetic vibe in an area with low-rise buildings, which makes it cozy and cute as well. Why is Koenji an awesome place to live and to be in?

Since, we have one share house called Happy House Koenji, close to Koenji station, we would like to share some cool or convenient spots in this area. This time, we have listed up some of Koenji’s characteristic popular spots! Go there, if you have time.

Koenji is well-known of the various vintage second hand stores, like second hand book stores, music record stores and especially second hand clothes stores. The most of these stores are in the south of Koenji station in the famous street called “Look Street” and in the north of the station in the street “Azuma Street”. Here are some examples of second hand stores.

CLOTHES
There are a lot of different clothes which you cannot find anywhere else and they are still in good condition! For Vintage clothes, Loversoul, Re’all, Chart and Small change are interesting. These are the most popular ones where they sell clothes, shoes, bags and other accessories.

Small change: https://www.smallchange.jp/shop_koenji.html

Lover Soul: http://koenjilook.com/modules/shop0/index.php?id=290

Re’all: http://reall-koenji.com/  

Chart: https://ameblo.jp/whistler-and-chart/

Re’all
credit: http://img11.shop-pro.jp/PA01294/717/slideshow/slideshow_img_6d22fc.jpg?cmsp_timestamp=20190109205535


Small Change
credit: https://media.timeout.com/images/102566928/750/422/image.jpg

 

BOOKS
For interesting and unique books, you might like Ehonya Rusuban Bansuru Kaisha, Cocktail, Tomaru and SUB-store. Enhonya Rusuban has a lot of children books from all over the world. Cocktail is transformed from a full bookstore to a bar with some books. Tomaru is more for people who can read Japanese and the last one, SUB-store is a place where you can eat, drink, listen music and read books.

Rusuban: http://rusuban.ocnk.net/page/36

Cocktail: https://www.tokyocreative.com/sights/7509-cocktail-koenji

Tomaru: https://nakadori.jp/shop/0333373690.html

SUB-Store: https://substore.jimdo.com

SUB-Store
credit: https://experience-suginami.tokyo/exstcms/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/054-720×540.jpg

Cocktail
credit: https://www.tokyocreative.com/sights/7509-cocktail-koenji

 

MUSIC RECORDS
Beside of that, Koenji has some music live bars and music lovers come to Koenji for music. Beside of live band performances, you can find second hand music records in small shops between the streets.
EAD records focuses on New Waves, Jazz Funky and Dance & House Classics. For Punk and Metal, Record Shop Base is the place to be. Be-in-records has vinyl records of the most famous international musicians like the Beatles. This store actually has a lot of different kind of music genres. If you are curious about Japanese indie music, you will like Enban. Enban sells CD and DVD of Japanese artists.

EAD records: http://www.eadrecord.com/

Record shop Base: http://www.recordshopbase.com/

Be in records:http://www.bein.co.jp/

Enban: http://enban.web.fc2.com/

SUB-Store
credit: https://www.lifein.tokyo.jp/thegear/content/theme/media/article/archive/20-180528_%E3%82%88%E3%81%BF%E3%82%82%E3%81%AE_SUBstore/SUB%201%20Dadang%20Pranoto.jpg

Record Shop Base
credit: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DBzSEkqUIAAQixk?format=jpg&name=4096×4096

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Aoyama Girls Night Out – Tulip Team Style!

Omotesando’s more down-to-earth neighbor and Harajuku’s more sophisticated older sister; Aoyama is a place to refresh, get inspired and feel fancy. So it only makes sense that our staff decided to make it our go-to destination for a girls night out – Tulip style!

There is a certain air to Aoyama that gives it an exclusive feel, perhaps because it is tucked away in the hilly slopes of Tokyo, but the small streets do not feel too narrow. Or maybe it’s the effortlessly fashionable artists and designers that can be overheard talking about their up and coming projects in passing. The tiny, boutique shops and local bars’ dedication to their craft to produce top-notch quality and protect the artisan culture, or maybe it is the eclectic architecture that somehow the groups of tourists have not yet discovered.

Heading over to dinner, we passed by Sunny Hills, designed by one of Tokyo’s most beloved modern architects, Kengo Kuma. Fans of Kuma’s work should definitely check out his many projects scattered around Kagurazaka, where we also happen to have two lovely share houses, Chilli Pepper & Cream and Happy House Kagurazaka.

As we approached the restaurant, we were taken aback at the gorgeous exterior and atmosphere. Walking through the bar area (and slightly regretting our outfit choices), we were shown to a table seated by a lit-up terrace. 

Cicada is located just a minute’s walk from Omotesando Station and specializes in modern Mediterranean cuisine. The space itself has a Euro-chic atmosphere but the flavor of the dishes were deliciously authentic. We started with some toasted pita accompanied by various dips of your choice – we went with the classic hummus and a carrot, yogurt, & mint spread.

The cocktail menu was very impressive, which is expected as the restaurant is owned by Tysons & Company, the founders of T.Y. Harbor Brewery.

After our lots of chatting, laughs and “kanpais!” we scoped around the area for a place to grab some cocktails. We stumbled upon Radio Bar and were intrigued by its retro atmosphere, like something out of an old Japanese movie. It turned out that Radio Bar has been around since the 1970s, and THE place to go for cocktail connoisseurs and aspiring mixologists to enjoy a proper pour (which is hard to come across in Tokyo nowadays amongst all the Lemon Sours and Whiskey High Balls).

Accompanied with an incredibly delicious spread of fresh fruits and cheese came Bar Radio’s original cocktails served with impeccable presentation. Each cocktail has been meticulously crafted and perfected over the decades and we appreciated the attention to detail until the last very last drop. Because of the high standards of the establishment, the cocktails are not at all cheap and be prepared to be on your best behavior, that also means to dress accordingly!

Satisfied and slightly emotional over how exquisite our night has been so far, we were not ready for it to end. We decided to check out the nearby Commune 2nd, suggested by our staff Jan who is in the know about many Tokyo’s hidden gems.

At Commune 2nd, you will be greeted with hip, neon clad signs, beer and food stands with a modern-style food truck-like layout, and groups of merry making locals and foreigners alike enjoying themselves over drinks and food.

Commune 2nd closes at 10 PM, let’s clarify that all the shops and eating spaces close at 10 PM sharp! We had too much fun in the lively atmosphere and did not want to leave, but had to take a team pic while we were getting kicked out.

Although at first a bit intimidated and unfamiliar with the Aoyama area, it has become one of our favorite places to explore. Stay tuned for hopefully an Aoyama Part 2 Guide by the Tulip Team and also a possible share house that will be newly opening up  in Aoyama some time in the future 😉

Thanks for reading and enjoy Tokyo to the fullest! Tulip Real Estate specializes in female-only share houses in Tokyo. Send us a message to ask about our share houses and we are more than happy to recommended our favorite places to check out nearby.

Tulip Website: www.tulip-e.com

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Tulip Travel Tips: Taiwan Edition

Summer is approaching its peak and we all know what that means…its traveling season! If you live in Japan, you might have noticed that Taiwan has been a trendy go-to destination for Japanese people for quite some time. People of all ages flock to Taiwan for vacation for many reasons whether it be because it’s just a quick  flight away,  for the bustling night markets, instagrammable foods (mango shaved ice, boba, and dumplings, oh my!), traditional temples, or Studio Ghibli lovers yearning to walk through the small town that was used as an inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” – Taiwan is a place for one and all to enjoy.

九份 – Jiufen

We decided to head out to Taiwan to catch up on the excitement for ourselves! If you are planning on taking a Taiwan trip soon, here is your guide to delicious local eats and must-see spots.

First up is Huashan 1914 Creative Park located in Taipei’s center. Originally a winery, Huashan 1914 Creative Park has been transformed into a spacious park and marketplace with an artsy twist that is free and open to the public. Here you will find galleries, rotating exhibitions, design shops, trendy cafes, and even an independent movie theater. 

The space has a mysterious and historic feel as most of the buildings are covered in plants or have been left untouched with the faded exterior. The structures throughout the space have an industrial feeling and house high-end, hip fashion shops and local artists alike.

Taipei is a bustling city with crowds, restaurants and street markets, but there are also many pockets within the city where you can enjoy parks, temples, and traditional constructs like  Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Taiwan’s ministry of culture transformed the hall to become a national landmark for “facing history, recognizing agony, and respecting human rights.” In the large park and plaza surrounding the monuments, you can find groups of people meditating, practicing Tai Chi or dancing in various styles in the early mornings.

If you have time for a day-trip while in Taiwan, try going down South to Kaohsiung City where you can see the Tiger and Dragon Pagodas. Enter through the mouth of the beasts and climb up the spiraling staircases in the seven-story towers.

Also a famous attraction in Kaohsiung is 85 Sky Tower, the tallest building in the city where you can check out the observation deck on the 74th floor that overlooks a stunning view of  Kaohsiung and its main harbor. The elevator ride to the observation deck goes dark and projects a star-light show on the ceiling!

Hop on a ferry and in 5 minutes to Cijin Island where you can stock up on fresh fruit and seafood at the street market leading up the beach and enjoy the local island feeling. I have had my share of mango shaved ice in Taiwan but the Cijin Island shaved ice was hands down the best!

Next up is probably #1 on a lot of our Taiwan bucket lists is Jiufen – a small village tucked away in the mountains that is now one of the top attractions in the world for anime lovers. Known to be used as the model for the ghostly street market in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away,” you can explore the shops serving delicious street food, local handmade goods, and of course some Ghibli souvenirs to take home.

Taipei Gourmet Guide:

Kao Chi  – A dumpling house right next door to the original Din Tai Fung dumpling house that started it all. Despite being near the now world renown dumpling house chain, Kao Chi stands their ground offering delicious freshly steamed dumplings and packaged to-go bites for the road. The crab and miso dumplings are a must!

Eastern Ice Store – Located in the hip and international area of Daan, Taipei serves cold or hot dessert bowls with your choice of rice cakes, red beans, grass jelly, etc inside. A perfect dessert for any season.

Wang Ji Fu Cheng Rou Zong – With less than 10 items on the menu, this local shop is sure to give you a true taste of Taiwan. Try their signature pork rice dumplings, noodle dish, and fish ball soup. 

Tiger Sugar – A shop you won’t miss because of the enormous line, this boba shop has taken the popular milk tea tapioca drink and uses their own brown sugar concoction to take it to another level of milky heaven. Totally worth the wait!

So, have you booked your ticket yet? 🙂

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