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The Bone Chapel

The Bone Chapel in Kutna Chora, Czech Republic can truly be a frighting place for some people. It is a Catholic church in a small town just one hour away from Prague with a very particular interior. The remains of 40,000 to 70,000 people decorate this chapel. Like in a Castlevania game there is an enormous chandelier of bones, which contains at least one of every bone in the human body, there is also a coat of arms made out of human remains and many other oddities. Come down with me and take a look at this very special place – but beware of the walking skeletons!

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Tokyo After Dusk

After the sun sets and the electric lights turn on the city of Tokyo changes its form. While during the day the seemingly endless sea of concrete and glass is roamed by people it gets surprisingly quiet by night. Unlike New York or other so called world capitals Tokyo generally sleeps at night. Japanese people work a lot and additional office hours are common, so sleep is valued highly. Hard to belief but even the sprawling subway system is shutting down service for night time, so it can be cleaned and maintained for the upcoming day. Of course there are exceptions as no city with the size and proportions of Tokyo can truly go to bed. Like in a fever dream people continue playing and gambling in places like the entertainment district Akihabara or go to Izakayas, a kind of Japanese pub, to meet people, eat and drink. And of course there are the lights illuminating the allies and streets of Tokyo, bringing day into the night.

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Urban Discoveries: Onisando 鬼サンド

Before we start I’d like to introduce to you a new series on michaelhoffman.at. In Urban Discoveries I am going to present interesting places to eat, drink and generally have a good time in Vienna and elsewhere in Europe. There is no regularity here and mostly my usual photography series will fill the pages, but this is definitely a new addition to the site. To continue my Japanese theme I followed over the winter (one more series is due!) let’s start with a Japanese place in good ol’ Vienna.

Onisando is a pretty fresh endeavour by the guys behind Karma Ramen. Like Japanese noodles the roots of the dish lie in late 19th century Japan. In the Meji restoration period as this time is referred to by historians the country opened up after a prolonged period of reclusiveness and let in foreign influences in culture, religion and cuisine. Katsu as the sandwiches Onisando are offering are called were probably invented in a restaurant in Tokyo in 1899 called Rengatei. Orinally it was a Japanese version of a very European dish – beef or pork cutlet with breadcrumbs. Hence the Japanese word katsuretsu for cutlet, or just short katsu. Later customers demanded  a takeaway version of the dish and so Tonkatsu was created, basically Japanese style cutlets served with cabbage in a sandwich topped with sauces.

And that’s exactly what you get at Onisando for prices around 7 to 10 Euro for a set with Miso soup and apple. There are a couple of staple sets with meat, vegetarian and dish options and limited editions which change around twice a month. Very delicious was a Matcha desert I got to try which is still in development and not yet finalized (last picture). Very interesting too is the general style of the shop. It’s quite small and cozy and hence very Japanese. But the art envisioned by the Polish artist NDZW merges Austrian with Japanese culture by placing Katsu sandwiches in different very Viennese spots – like for example the ferris wheel Riesenrad. Notable too are the strict geometric forms like you seem them very often in the land of the rising sun.

All in all Onisando is a very nice experience with good food and affordable prices. It is open weekdays from 11:30 to 15:00 at Fleischmarkt 26, 1010 Vienna. For more info please visit https://www.onisando.at. Thanks for inviting @kju_rose an me in.

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Tokyo 2

The inherent beauty of Japan is how it first seems to contradict itself constantly but the more you get to know the country and its people it shapes into a whole and harmonious picture. Why are the streets so clean you may wonder yet there is no concept of public bins. Well people don’t really produce waste on the go and if they do they take it with them because it ain’t the business of the public. There is a strong idea of the collective, yet there is enough place for individuality and creative expression. Most and foremost Japanese culture is both strongly rooted in the past but also very forward looking. This may seem like the biggest contradiction of them all, but trust me it all makes sense when travelling this intriguing and fascinating country and getting to know it’s many inhabitants.

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