Meet a geisha and savour a gold-covered Kobe beef sandwich at a new café in Japan

  You may travel to Japan, but not get to meet a geisha. Like a rare wildlife sighting, real-life geishas can be elusive creatures to capture on camera. Graceful and discreet, the ladies are not known to stop and pose for a photo, but are more apt to scurry off to their appointment, head bowed. Women who do ham it up for photos are likely to be tourists dressed up as geishas. Enter the Maikoya Osaka, a cultural center in Osaka, billed as a space where visitors can meet openly with…

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‘See you down the izakaya’: pubs, Japan style

Tokyo’s taverns are tiny, sometimes raucous places for after-work drinking and great Japanese bar food Big in Japan … Tokyo is brimming with izakayas. Photograph: Alamy After a day of sightseeing and inevitable Lost In Translation moments, settling into an izakaya is the perfect respite for any traveller in Japan. Izakayas are cheerful pubs serving food and drinks – tiny, raucous and informal. They date back to the 17th century, when teahouses started selling sake to accompany snacks. Nowadays, they are popular with workers needing to unwind. They are found…

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Second deadly quake hits southern Japan, rescuers race against time

A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck southern Japan early on Saturday, killing at least 20 people, injuring more than 1,000 and trapping people in collapsed buildings, barely a day after a quake killed nine people in the same region. Rescuers dug through the rubble of collapsed buildings and mud and debris on Saturday to try and reach those trapped, but continued aftershocks hindered rescue efforts and fuelled fears of more powerful quakes. “Nothing is more important than human life and it’s a race against time,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,…

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