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    • Spring
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Into the Mystic

        While you probably won’t encounter an elusive river sprite in the highlands of the Northern Japan Alps, you may feel a bit lightheaded from the refreshing thin air, remarkable vistas and mystical aura of the mountains and valleys in Kamikochi.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • Summer
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
        A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Autumn
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Winter
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Shuzenji Sanctuary

        Nestled in the ...
    • Near Tokyo
      • Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Ark Hills Marche

        Tucked away in ...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Summer Runs, Races & Tours

        Trail running is a great way to explore the beautiful nature of a country while getting away from the usual tourist spots.

        Tokyo Escapes: Summer Camping

        Tokyo summers can be stifling—luckily it’s easy to escape the city for a cool break from the heat.
    • Near Kyoto
      • A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Cycling Awaichi

        “Awaichi” is sh...
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...

        Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • River and Lake
      • Air it Out

        There is no bet...
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...

        Minakami Mofest

        Head up to Japan's outdoor mecca of Minakami for the country's biggest outdoor adventure festival!
        video

        All-Season Outdoor Playgr...

        Enter the all-season world of Shinetsu Shinzekyo in Nagano and Niigata with outdoor professionals
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        The Reemergence of Arai

        Lotte Arai Resort will definitely become a hotspot for western skiers and boarders over the next few years.

        Tohoku Storm Chasing

        Just a few hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train) await remote mountains and the countryside of Tohoku’s Akita and Iwate prefectures.
    • Travel
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
    • Food and Drinks
      • Gravity-Defying Farming in Nishi Awa

        Discover the centuries-old secret behind what keeps southern Japan's mountains growing

        Up Market in Osaka

        There wasn’t mu...

        Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
    • Races and Events
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

A Day In The Drunk Tank With Polaris

Within Japan’s musical cosmos, Polaris has been one of the brightest stars. The group’s lead singer clues us in on his favorite way to experience the undersea world in Okinawa.

This month’s column features home-grown artist Yusuke Ohya, lead singer of Polaris who has pioneered the band’s lyrically soft, natural and extremely popular sound.

Last month was a busy one for Yusuke who simultaneously released a greatest hits album with Polaris and a collaborative effort with Hanaregumi’s Takashi Nagazumi and Ikuko Harada of Kuramubon. Because “Polaris” refers to the North Star, I figured his travel tips would gravitate to northern Japan. However, the first thing he said was, “There’s this great aquarium in Okinawa!”

He was referring to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa Kaiyoh-haku Memorial Park. This place boasts the Guinness-certified, largest acrylic panel fish tank in the world with side panels measuring a massive 22.5 meters wide, 8.2 meters high and 60 cm. thick.

Including whale sharks more than eight meters long and giant manta rays, this tank is home to countless varieties of marine life. Even the feeder fish they put in are large, and it’s not uncommon to find folks spending their entire day staring blankly into the tank.

“But the best part is there’s a space on one side of the huge tank that’s a bar so, while soaking in the sights, you can also take in a beer. I liked it so much I went twice just last year,” he said.

Yusuke had taken a liking to aquariums from an early age and has been to quite a few over the years. However, as far as he knows, this remains the only one serving up suds with their aquatic views.

“Weekday afternoons are especially good, because no one is around.” he suggests. “However, there’s still this strange feeling that you’re being watched. I noticed the big fish taking a quick glance in my direction whenever I passed by.

It wasn’t me being paranoid—they bustle around the tank and when they come back your way they sneak a peak. I thought maybe they were eyeing my beer, but it felt more like a look of contempt,” he observes.

Perhaps their disapproving looks are because of the young men slouching about at noon sipping beers.

“Drinking while being watched like that gives me an interesting buzz. It’s supposed to be us watching them, but it’s a bit nerve-racking that they’re the ones staring us down.”

To Yusuke’s credit, he does head down to Okinawa to create music as well. Taking a weekday off to enjoy a breather at an aquarium seems to be a pretty good diversion, especially as it’s at a popular tourist attraction. But there’s no reason to believe the aquatic giants in the water realize that. To them, he isn’t some popular musician. He’s just another guy drinking at the tank.

Yusuke’s latest album and
recommended Okinawa Sounds

Polaris
”Neiro”

The greatest hits album marks Polaris’s fifth year and features songs from their early days, before the Okinawa influence. Two-disc set includes a DVD. Great companion to their later works.

Compilation Album
“Best of Marutaka”

Album featuring the premier artists on Marutaka Records, Okinawa’s flagship label. “Early Okinawa tracks still rock,” says Ohya.

Sumiko Yoseyama
“Interlude”

The album released last year by the legendary jazz vocalist from Naha, Okinawa. Features live recordings of this older-than-65 veteran, making the listeners feel as if they were in the audience.

ohana
“Ohana Hyakke”

This trio of old friends comes together to produce fresh, bright tracks, bringing a sense of Okinawa to the listener.

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