BEPPY – OITA 別府市

Oita is the true Japanese capital for rugby. As soon as we got off the station, we were met by friendly statue of man captured playing rugby. A lot of sculptures and monuments inviting visitors to join overall cheering for rugby games. As a true fan of rugby (lol!), I wore rugby jersey and I believe this is what attracted the local SBS to ask me for an interview just on the street. They asked me who I was, what I thought of rugby in Japan, who I supported and what was my dream. It was amazing chatting to them. 

Oita is the South of the country. I picked straight up palm trees on the streets – that little reminder of Australia and my first association with Australia when I arrive there over 5 years ago. 

The area is very touristic due to its hot springs. Beppy contains world biggest amount of hot springs/onsens in the world. Based on them, the government has built heaps of special tours for visitors that are quite costly. 

On the way to Beppy we took a short half a day trip to Fukuoka, Hakata. Nice and lovely area with small temples around. This is the destination I shall start my blog with:

Hakata-ku 博多区

Hakata is one of the oldest cities in Japan. It is also famous for its seaside wharfs and ship industry. The government of Hakata started to invest in development of ship tourism in the area and it has been going well for decent 5 years. Regular port calls are coming from world famous cruise companies like Royal Caribbean – this industry makes the area one of the richest in Japan. 

We have literally had 4.5 hours to spend there so we managed to visit local shrines and a couple of shopping malls. Hakata is a great example of what visitors and fresh tourists need to know about visiting Japan. Moreover, I have collected some interesting facts below throughout the whole trip so far.

  • CASH CASH CASH – if you get used to operate with credit cards, change your habits in Japan. You might get away with your card in busy Tokyo, however, smaller cities have a lot of cash only places. Save your time and effort and get cash within first couple of hours upon arrival if not beforehand; Japan understands that it needs to move away from cash operations and trying to encourage its citizen to use more their credit cards – it hasn’t been accepted by the majority of the population yet; However, you may get 5-10% discount off if you are paying with credit card but many places are still cash only;
  • GUILT-FREE SWEETS – when you dedicate yourself to a healthy eating plan, you still want to get out of the plan and try some tasty treats. When you are overseas, it is almost impossible to avoid it as you want to try new things (Curious Me!). I have been reading labels of some of the Japanese treats and sweets, fortunately, found out that their treats/sweets contains lesser sugar and calories than Australia and Russian ones. Maybe they are made from rice flour and/or replaced some sugary and artificial add-ons – I don’t know (my Japanese is not strong to read it), however, the fact is the fact. You can be guilt-free when you try some awesome sweets in Japan;
  • CAPSULE HOTELS – so cooooool (never tried though lol). If you are not after fancy hotels and just need to drop your head for some rest, you can literally be checked-in in a capsule that looks like the time keeping capsule from Futurama cartoon. These “hotels” are located next to bus/train stations and night life areas;
  • 7/11 is good for SNACKS only. If you want/need to get food from 7/11 – best rule is try to avoid 7/11 labelled food. Say, 7/11 Japanese wine would taste only slightly better than Australian goon, express meals are not the freshest than in a supermarket. 7/11 made product is also not cheaper than other brands, sometimes even more expensive. If you have an opportunity to buy products in a supermarket, go there instead;
  • SUPERMARKETS HOURS – important to know. None of the Japanese supermarket will be open until 10:00-11:00am – this is normal opening time for many businesses in Japan and don’t get surprised – THE COUNTRY OF THE RISING SUN sleeps longer than we do. If you plan healthy version of your breakfast, go to the supermarket late night – you will get your yogurts, fruits or proteins (sashimi, meats, beans) with a huge discount. They try to get rid of all today’s fresh meals by making huge discounts at night (around 60-70%). It is my option for breakfast as before 11:00am the only food you can find for breakfast is donuts, breads and burnt coffee;
  • Back to WINE topic – Japan loves import wine from South America. Argentina, Spain and Chilli – countries for good red wine to try in Japan pretty much everywhere; New discovery for me that has become my favourite – California Pinot Noir;
  • CIGARETTES can be purchased from vending machines on public streets (no one cares to check IDs);
  • If you are a MORNING PERSON and love going to parks, you may see heaps of Japanese people gathering in public parks to do gymnastics together at around 6:30am – cuuuuuute;
  • Every Japanese city has its unique SHRINES and TEMPLES.

Hakata is the home of Sumo Sport. Sumo is a Japanese style wrestling in an elevated ring. Originally performed in Japanese ancient rituals and festivals, it is now Japan’s national sports. At the same time, it is also considered as form martial arts. If you are after watching martial arts or boxing, you will enjoy this – Hakata is the home for this type of sport. If you end up in Fukuoka – book a ticket to watch the wrestling. Sumo Official Tournament (honbasho) is held regularly as follows: every year, during the first or second week of January, March, July, September, and November for 15 days.

BACK TO BEPPY

We have stayed in the Beppywan Hotels & Resorts. It is a bit away from the station, however, the shuttle bus operation was outstanding so we didn’t feel “left out” from the main area of the RWC. As I expected the Hotel has its own hot spring bath so I could experience traditional Oita Onsen without visiting jigoku or “hells” – geothermally heated water bubbles up to the surface as steamy ponds or sulphurous gloop.

We have visited Rugby fan village next day after arrival and watched one of the games there. Oita was put on the international map by the 2002 World Cup. The purpose built “Big Eye” stadium, somewhat reminiscent of a giant titanium turtle, was designed by the celebrated Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa (who also designed Toyota Stadium, the Wakayama Museum of Modern Art, Kuala Lumpur Airport and the New Wing of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam).

Oita Stadium can be reached via shuttle bus from Oita Station. Oita Stadium (aka Oita Bank Dome; 大分銀行ドーム) is the home ground of J-League soccer team Oita Trinita. I believe this stadium was used for the Rugby game we watched – Fiji vs. Wales. 

I have to say that I haven’t expected this game to be so interesting. Wales did win, however, I have to give a huge credit to Fiji for their amazing performance. Never regretted attending this game!

Being a qualified event manager, I have to also note that the events operations and logistics at the end of the event was nit great at all. Crowed control (considering we had over 33,000 people at the stadium) was not planned – a lot of annoyed and frustrated people were leaving stadium nearly breaking fences. Japanese police couldn’t do much. Instead of opening a few stream lines for people heading to the buses taking them down to the main JR station, they closed the main road for taxis and made people walk long walk to the bus station. Not quite logical. Why not to let all these busses to come closer to the stadium and consequently collect crowds one by one? 

Anyways, apart from disappointing post event operation, that day was the highlight of the whole Oita stay.

FUNAI CASTLE

We had just a bit of a time to visit Funai Castle before we had to the game. The castle did belong to Otomo Sorin. Hid clan was a powerful one in Kyushu who during the first half of the 16th century gradually expanded their control over neighboring warlords. When Otomo Sorin became the 21st Otomo Daimyo in 1550 he continued to expand Otomo territory and eventually the family were known as the Lords of Seven Provinces.

A castle was built at Funai in 1562, but many sources credit Fukuhara Naotaka with its construction in the last few years of the 16th century, but the main keep was built by Takenaka Shigetoshi in 1602.

In 1656 a branch of the Matsudaira took control of the castle and remained there until the Meiji Period.

Most of Funai Castle burned down in 1743 and the castle was decommissioned in 1872.

All that remains today is the moat and outer walls, two towers that were reconstructed in the early 1860’s, and the stone base of the keep. In 1965 the main gate and turrets were restored, and in 1996 the covered bridge was reconstructed.

The Japanese built LED version of the castle – as soon as the sun goes down, you are able to see its “ghost version” that is displayed and visible across the centre of the city.

Legendary Wine Diet 🍷

I got to the stage to share one of those iconic diets that has blown up minds of my friends and family. 

It doesn’t sound like it is legit but trust me – whatever I place in this blog, I have personally tested before sharing. 

Red, red wine…

It can be white too as long as it is a dry wine. 

All depends on your preferences but, yes, it is the wine diet!

I got the raw idea of this diet when I had explored it. I would also like to share some other tricks that I missed out when I firstly found this diet. 

Identified benefits and results 

First of all, a quick cheat sheet about DRY wine:

  • It has low to zero carbs according to laboratory research in Washington (sounds good, hey!) 
  • It has zero fat BUT it still contains enough calories to be able to put on weight 
  • It drops your blood sugar level 
  • Your body uses different technique to digest wine
  • Red wine has resveratrol, a plant polyphenol chemical that turn body white fat (“bad/obese fat”) into brown fat that is a healthier option of body’s immune and protective system and easier to be burned
  • Wine has fewer calories than beer or heavy spirits 
  • One bottle of dry wine can contain 570-750 calories – depending on the alcohol percentage 
  • Red wine has more vitamins and minerals than white wine. 
  • Red wine in moderation is good for your heart as it increases HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) and decreases LDL (“bad one”)

The Wine diet can be considered as a separate dieting stream or be trailed as a part of the Mediterranean diet. As you might know the Mediterranean diet is based on the idea of consuming a lot of plant-based food together with some amount of dry wine. 

I have seen positive results of the wine diet for around 3 weeks allowing me to loose 1.5 kg in the first week, 1.1 kg in the second week and 1 kg in my third week. So, the verdict – the diet is working!!! 

Duration of the diet: MUST NOT exceed 3 weeks

Results: 3.6 kg down

Feeling: no craving, starving feeling (if you follow the instructions below)

Enjoying my favourite races with a refreshing glass of Pinot Gris

However, before explaining the algorithm of the diet, I would like to continue with some downsides of the diet. I am not a nutritionist or a school teacher so I am not going to tell simple things about alcohol effect on your body. Any side effects described below are purely related to the wine diet. 

Side Effect to consider

The progression has stopped after 3 weeks due to some side effects of the diet that were not revealed before.

Any dry wine significantly drops your blood sugar level – therefore, you might end up at the kebab or pizza shop after a good night out drinking wine. You feel much hungrier when there is a presence of alcohol in your blood. Your craving is increased to maximum – if you are a person with low self-control, this diet is not the right for you. 

Moreover, as said above, your body uses different technique to digest wine. This is where many people who has described this diet before put the full stop. What does this technique include? How to make this technique work for you, not against you? 

Our body functioning is a very smart system. When it is attacked, it will use all its effort to fight with an “enemy”. Alcohol toxin is an enemy for any body. Therefore, your body will stop ANY digesting activity and stops what it has just been doing to prioritise “work on alcohol toxins”. Which means when you have eaten simple carbohydrates or saturated fats before wine, it will turn them into your white body fat, no matter if you haven’t eaten much before and your body needs that “energy”. When you have eaten similar crap after wine consumption because  your food craving was high, it will also turn into same fat storage. This is how you can gain weight from the wine diet.

HOWEVER, if you eat enough “absorbing” and lean food, it will assist your body to work on toxins and leave the positive results from wine consumption. 

In addition to it, I love my strength trainings that are aimed to reduce my body fat and gain some muscle weight instead. Same procedure here – your muscles stop developing when you have alcohol toxin in your blood as your body needs some time to fight with the new “enemy”.

Avoid rewarding yourself with a glass of wine after a good strength or HIIT training. Try to pick your High intensity trainings when you are not planning to go out for a fair few hours after that (your body recovers muscles differently depending on a number of factors i.e. age, gender, metabolic rate, etc.)

We got to this stage – Wine Diet 1:1 

If you are still reading this and believe it can work for you, here below what I did to have positive results of my wine diet. Please note that the results will gradually decreased and bring your more negative effects than positive so I would not recommend to keep the diet longer than 3 weeks. 

You MUST include a lot of green leafy food and good fats in every day of your diet! Some partition of protein should be included in any main meal of the day.

PART I – Morning 

As I am a morning person, I would typically end of at the gym or run in the morning. Hence, I would it breakfast rich in good carbs, vitamins and minerals. My typical breakfast would be Cocao Oat Bowl that I have described before here 

https://fashfitbox.home.blog/2019/05/18/cocoa-oat-bowl/

 The breakfast meal would include some fruits and fresh fat free yogurt. In that case, my morning tea would include 10-20 gram of peanut butter to fulfil some good fats in my body (Cocoa Oat Bowl is originally almost fat free). If I am after more “proteiny” breakfast option, I would go for egg whites omelette with a plenty of spinach or rocket. My morning tea would include a piece of fruit. 

PART II – Afternoon 

Feel it up with protein – a good piece of grilled chicken, salmon or a sirloin beef steak. I am always a bit flexible with lunch option as long as it has a plenty (up to 30 gram or more) of protein and green leaves – Italian 4 leaves mix is perfect for it. Include some vitamin enriched vegetables such as pumpkin, tomatoes, sweet potato, etc. I love to include 20-30 grams of cheese or 50 grams of avocado to fulfil good fat.

Afternoon tea – something simple, raw, non-carbohydrate food. It can be a piece of cheese or a protein bar. The most important here is to keep it one-stream i.e. good fat or protein, no carbs. It MUST be more filling than morning tea snack. 

PART III – Dinner time

Here we go! Time to crack a bottle of nice Pinot Noir (or different dry wine depending on your personal preference). Instructions:

Have a one-stream food with it so the alcohol toxin doesn’t hit you and your health. Options:

  • Cheese – blue vein, mild cheeses, just as it is, no crackers or carb food
  • Low fat ricotta or cottage cheese with celery and carrot sticks 
  • A piece of chicken, ideally, no more than ¼ chicken

And now you can enjoy your 2-2.5 glasses of wine. After one glass you may notice that your appetite has decreased, however, it is still important to consume some one-stream food (as above) to avoid bad influence of alcohol on your body and future craving feeling. 

Happy Dieting 🙂

***As said, this is the guideline for a healthy option of the wine diet only, no alcohol promotion and irresponsible drinking can be associated with the article.

Research found during trail diet weeks:

Drinking red wine is good for you — or maybe not

Watching your sugar intake? Toast to dry wine.

Drinking a plenty of red wine won’t help you lose weight

Ask the Diet Doctor: Is Red Wine Worth the Calories?