Ever since its port was opened to ships from the U.S., the Netherlands, Russia, Britain and France in 1859, Yokohama has prospered as one of Japan’s largest maritime trading centers. To mark the 150th anniversary of the port opening, various events are planned in and around the city throughout the year.

As part of the celebrations, the InterContinental Yokohama Grand has prepared special “Celebrate Yokohama’s 150th” party packages.

The packages feature Western dishes introduced to Japan through Yokohama port and dishes created in Yokohama with Western influences, with one or two modern touches from the hotel’s chefs.

Each package lasts two hours and includes an original cocktail colored to look like the Yokohama Bay Bridge and unlimited drinks.

The party style can be chosen from a buffet (from 20 people), waiter service or course menu (from 10 people) and prices range from ¥9,000 to ¥11,000. The packages are available through June 30.

The InterContinental Yokohama Grand is a two-minute walk from Minatomirai Station or a 10-minute walk from Sakuragicho Station. For more information or reservations, call (045) 223-2222.

Sake-tasting and a Royal dinner

The Rihga Royal Hotel Tokyo will hold a sake-tasting dinner on March 26, featuring over 70 kinds of sake from 25 breweries nationwide.

The event is an opportunity to try various brands of sake while talking about its production with the brewers.

The hotel’s executive chef of Japanese cuisine will prepare dishes that best accompany the sake. There will also be a prize draw, with sake and hotel products for the winners.

The dinner will be between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. (reception from 6:30 p.m.) in the Royal Hall on the third floor and costs ¥10,000 per person, including food and drinks. Reservations are required.

The Rihga Royal Hotel Tokyo is a seven-minute walk from Waseda Station or 10 minutes on the hotel’s shuttle bus from Takadanobaba Station. For more information and reservations, call (03) 5285-8962.

Wine and dine in Nagoya

The Nagoya Kanko Hotel will host “Wine Ensemble: Spring Night 2009” on March 27 at French restaurant Escoffier.

The hotel’s four sommeliers will select premium wines and attend the dinner to explain the charms of each vintage. During the dinner, violinist Sei Takahashi’s Acoustic Band will provide entertainment, featuring Gypsy music, jazz and other genres.

Selected wines are Franciacorta Ca’ del Bosco, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru En Remilly 2005, Les Fiefs de Lagrange 2004, Vosne Romanee 1999 Cellier du Chateau de la chaume and Vino Cacao.

The menu includes amuse-bouche bite-size hors d’oeuvres, four other kinds of hors d’oeuvres, roast duck with orange compote and fava bean puree as entree, assorted natural French cheeses and chocolates.

The dinner is between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and costs ¥18,000 per person, including food and wine.

The Nagoya Kanko Hotel is a two-minute walk from Fushimi Station on the Nagoya Subway Higashiyama and Tsurumai lines. For more information and reservations, call (052) 231-7711.

Sake on show in Niigata

Niigata’s annual Sake no Jin festival will be held at the Toki Messe Convention Center in Niigata City. On March 14 (10 a.m. -6 p.m.) and 15 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.), more than 90 Japanese breweries will showcase their products alongside local food and produce.

A mere ¥1,000 (¥2,000 for both days) will buy you a tasting cup and the opportunity to try hundreds of varieties of sake. Chat with the brewers, try your luck at the tasting challenge or check out some of the scheduled stage entertainment. Call (02) 5229-1218 for advance tickets (¥1,500 for both days).

JR East is offering special discount tickets from Tokyo for the event. Round-trip tickets for one day are only ¥12,000; two-day excursion packages with hotel accommodation are available from ¥21,500. Contact JR East at (05) 7004-8928 or (03) 3843-2001 for details.

Toki Messe is located at Bandaijima 6-1, Niigata, (02) 5246-8400.

(Courtesy of Bento.com.)

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