Gundam and Japan: ode to the statue

Bandai Namco recently announced that it will remove the iconic Gundam statue in front of Tokyo Odabai’s Diver City next year (Model RG 1/1 RX-78-2 Ver. GFT to be exact). Its last public appearance will be on March 5th 2017 when it will be removed. Not only the statue, but also the nearby Gundamfront Tokyo entertainment zone will close its doors on April 5th 2017.

The owners have not announced any plans of a replacement statue or where the current one is going, but with the Gundam franchise still strong in Japan there’s a high chance this won’t be the last time we’ll see giant robots in Tokyo. Fans speculate that we’ll see a new Gundam around 2019 when the franchise celebrates its 40th anniversary. In fact, the statue might even move if we can believe the “Gundam Global Challenge”!
If you want to see the original statue in front of Diver City head to Tokyo before spring next year. As an ode to the iconic statue, let us share some interesting facts about Gundam and its history in Japan.

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A hit since 1979

The Gundam franchise was conceived in 1979 as an original production by animation studio Sunrise, titled Mobile Suit Gundam. It was the first show to use realistic working robots in a military setting and it spawned one of the biggest subgenres of hobby crafts in Japan. Nowadays there are still new creator kits released for Gundam enthusiasts by Gunpla.
In fact, the 2016 Gunpla Builders World Championship will be held on December 18th, 2016 at Gundam Front Tokyo.

Get your Gundam on

Even with the statue and entertainment zone leaving Odaiba, you can still get your Gundam fix by going to the Gundam Café in Akihabara. This official café not only serves food but also sells official goods you can only get at the Café. While you’re in Akihabara you can visit various hobby shops selling Gundam models and kits.

Tokyo Gundam Project

The announcement of the removal of the Gundam statue and the closing of Gundamfront comes as a surprise to most fans, especially as 2016 was the special “Tokyo Gundam Project” year. This is not the first time Gundam fans collaborated on a Gundam project. In 2008 the Hiroshima Animation Biennale saw the rise of the “International Gundam Society” with lectures from actual scientists discussing the possibility of a real Gundam and fans giving opinions about the series. However, since then nothing has been heard of the International Gundam Society. A year before that, in 2007, the Japanese army announced “project Gundam”, the building of several weapons and suits inspired by the franchise. Even now you will occasionally see similar news pop up.

The Statue’s Legacy

Even with all these Gundam activities going on in both Japan and the world, it’s still sad to see the statue go. The statue was erected in the Summer of 2009 at Odaiba Waterfront and quickly attracted 4,5 million visitors in its first month. Still, it was moved to Shizuoka for the Shizuoka hobby fair in 2010, was disassembled for display to raise money for the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and only got its most known spot in front of Tokyo Diver City in 2012. Over the years it got more features such as a moving head, lights and smoke coming from its body.

If you still need more Gundam, check out the official Gundam Info page for all the latest news in Japan and the world.

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Cheap all-you-can-drink Umeshu

If you’re a lover of Umeshu, Japanese plum win, you MUST visit Puedo Bar in Tokyo. For the mere sum of 1,080yen you can drink all the Umeshu you want for one hour, possibly the best umeshu deal in Tokyo! Puedo has a large selection of umeshu from all over Japan so prepare yourself to explore all the different tastes in the world of umeshu. This Japanese plum wine is a drink typically enjoyed by women because of its sweetness. Besides Umeshu, the bar also has a dinner menu designed like the classic Izakaya offerings.
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We stumbled upon Puedo after a fun day in kimono and felt a bit too dressed up for a bar. But Puedo is different, the interior is really nice and the friendly staff were ready to welcome us. We ordered some food from the menu when the waitress informed us about the cheap all-you-can-drink deal. We quickly decided to take this golden chance to get our money’s worth of umeshu.

Rushing to make the most of our hour
Rushing to make the most of our hour

We received glasses and ice from the waitress and were told that the nomihoudai, all-you-can-drink, option was self service. Meaning you can freely take the bottles and pour your own drink.
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When I said there was umeshu from all over Japan I meant literally from all over Japan. On the shelves you can find umeshu from Okinawa, banana umeshu, yuzu umeshu and even tomato umeshu.
Umeshu
When we asked the waitress what their best umeshu was one of the patrons quickly responded with “babaa no chi”, which translates to “grandma’s blood”. We were very surprised to hear this name for a bottle of umeshu but we found it right in the middle of the umeshu wall. The bottle’s label reassured us we heard correctly.
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Everyone’s verdict was that all the umeshu were delicious and that the one hour deal made the evening perfect. And if you want to know how “grandma’s blood” tastes you have to visit Puedo Bar yourself. All I can say is that it tastes better than its name!

Information

Name: Puedo Bar
Hours: 5pm – 11pm (closed on Sunday)
Access: near Kitasenju station
Address: 〒120-0026 Tokyo-to, Adachi-ku, Senjuasahicho, 41−14, Daiichi Building 1F

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Festive Christmas Markets In and Around Tokyo

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Get into the right mood for Christmas as you take in the decorations and have your fill of festive food and drinks as these spots in and around Tokyo are transformed into magical Christmas wonderlands.


1Tokyo Christmas Market – Hibiya Park

The Christmas Market in the Hibiya Park resembles the traditional German one the most. Last year a 14m high Christmas pyramid was imported from Germany to add to the traditional cozy atmosphere. Enjoy typical German dishes, hot wine and chocolate, art crafts as well as live performances with guests from Germany.

Date: December 16th (Friday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 10pm
Place: Hibiya Park – Water fountain area
Admission: free
Access: 1min walk from Hibiya Station – Exit A14 (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line); 5min walk from Kasumigaseki Station – Exit B2 (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line); 5min walk from Uchisaiwaicho Station – Exit A7 (Toei Mita Line); 20min walk from JR Tokyo Station – Marinouchi Exit; 10min walk from Yurakucho Station (Hibiya Exit)
Address: Chiyoda-ku, 100-0012 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
gardenplace.jp


2Christmas Marché – Yebisu Garden Place

This Christmas market leans on the typical Christmas market from France and provides hot mulled wine, typical dishes, seasonal crafts and decorations. As a highlight you can even buy items and Christmas themed clothes for your dog. A giant Christmas tree is set up right next to the stalls and sparkling illuminations provide the right mood.

Date: November 5th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 12:00 – 8pm
Place: Yebisu Garden Place – clock square
Admission: free
Access: Access: 5min walk from JR Ebisu Station (East Exit) via the “Yebisu Skywalk”
Address: 4-20 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, 150-6018 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★★
gardenplace.jp

Festive Christmas Markets In and Around Tokyo


53rd World Christmas Festival

The 3rd World Christmas Festival in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park provides Christmas food, drinks and music from all around the world. Dance performances are held as well!

Date: December 24th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 6pm
Place: Yoyogi Park – Event space
Admission: free
Access: 3min walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line) or Yoyogi-Koen Station (Chiyoda Line), a 3min walk from Meiji-Jingu-mae Station (Chiyoda Line or Fukutoshin Line), or a 6min walk from Yoyogi-Hachiman Station (Odakyu Line)
Address: Yoyogi Kamizono-cho 2-1, Shibuya-ku, 151-0052 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★☆
yoyogipark.info


6Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market

This authentic Christmas market sells traditional German dishes like schnitzel, sausages, gulasch, stolen cakes, mulled wine, beer and much more. Also traditional decorations and wooden dolls directly from the Erzgebirge in Germany are on sale. The highlight of the market will be the huge Christmas tree which provides the perfect atmosphere for a cozy evening.

Date: November 26th (Saturday– December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 10pm
Place: Red Brick Warehouse
Admission: free
Access: 10min walk from Bashamichi Station (Minatomirai Line)
Address: 1-1 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, 231-0001 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★★
yokohama-akarenga.jp

Festive Christmas Markets In and Around Tokyo


3Roppongi Hills Christmas Market

This year is the 10th anniversary of Roppongi Hills’ Christmas Market. It´s based on the biggest Christmas market located in Stuttgart, Germany and features a total of 11 stores lining up under the “O-Yane Plaza” and offer a lot of traditional Christmas decorations, like Christmas pyramids, Christmas tree decorations and many more. Mulled wine and sausages add to the typical German Christmas flair.

Date: November 26th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 9pm (Friday, Saturday and the day before a public holiday open until 10pm)
Place: O-Yane Plaza
Admission: free
Access:
Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line) Exit 1C (direct access)
Roppongi Station (Toei Oedo Line) Exit 3 (4min walk)
Azabu Juban Station (Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line) Exit 4 (8min walk)
Nogizaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line) Exit 5 (10min walk)
Address: 6-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 106-6108 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
roppongihills.com


4Tokyo Midtown Marché de Noël

©Tokyo Midtown Management Co., Ltd.

Tokyo Midtown’s Christmas market is located on the first basement floor of the Galleria shopping center. You can purchase tableware, gifts, cards and much more with beautiful Christmas prints and designs. After shopping, go out and enjoy the beautiful illumination show in the starlight garden.

Date: November 15th (Tuesday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 9pm (December 22nd (Thursday) – December 25th (Sunday) open until 10pm)
Place: Tokyo Midtown – Galleria B1 – In front of DEAN&DELUCA
Admission: free
Access: 5min walk from Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line; Toei Oedo Line); 6min walk from Nogizaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
Address: 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 107-0052 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tokyo-midtown.com

Dragonball themed Café at Tower Records Café – Omotesando

The next time-limited café for November opened its doors in the beginning of the month. The popular anime series “Dragonball” celebrates its 30th anniversary, therefore the Tower Records Cafe branch opened three Dragonball themed café’s in Tokyo (Shibuya and Omotesando) and Osaka (Umeda).

The dishes and drinks feature the motives and characters of the anime designed by Akira Toriyama.
While enjoying your food you can listen to the original soundtrack and watch parts of the anime via a big screen.

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The menu includes two main dishes, two desserts and four drinks. We decided for the “Trunks and My Special – Plate” which comes with grilled pork, fried rice, egg and salad (1,500yen (tax included)); the “Majin Buu‘s Sweets Plate” with light berry cream, sponge cake, frozen fruits, chocolate, cookies, marshmallows and ice cream (1,200yen (tax included)); …

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… the “Planet Namek x Piccolo Soda” which is kiwi soda topped with grape sherbet and fresh cream (750yen /tax included) and the “Shenlong Soda”, melon soda topped with mango ice cream (800yen (tax included)).

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Everything was very delicious and it´s a MUST-GO for every fan!

Don´t forget to bring home some souvenirs as well!

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The original soundtrack, anniversary plates and coasters, T-shirts, bags, hoodies and much more are on sale!

We had a lot of fun and definitely plan to visit the other two cafe´s as well!

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Information

Date: November 1st (Tuesday) until November 30th (Wednesday)
Hours: 11am – 10pm (L.O. 9pm)
Tel: 03-5778-9491
Access: 6min walk from Harajuku Station – Omotesando Exit (JR Yamanote Line); 2min walk from Meiji Jingumae Station Exit 5 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line); 8min walk from Omotesando Station Exit A2 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line, Ginza Line)
Address: Imon Building 2F, 6-3-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Kapibara-san theme Café at Tokyu Plaza Omotesando

Another limited-time café came to Tokyo in the beginning of November and enchants its guests with cute dishes featuring Kapibara-san a fluffy capybara and his friends.

Located on the 5th floor of Tokyu Plaza’s Omotesando Building, the Tokyu Hands Café is holding a special collaboration event with a carefully made menu featuring cute dishes in the shape of Kapibara-san.

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The place is nicely decorated with panels and stuffed animals, …

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…as well as cute welcome messages at the entrance.

The collaboration menu covers two main dishes, one dessert and two different drinks. Of course you can also choose out of the normal menu.

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We decided for the Teriyaki-Chicken Sandwich plate (1,380 yen including tax), the apple pancakes (1,280 yen including tax) and the Marshmallow Latte (700 yen including tax).

Everything was really delicious and carefully decorated!

After enjoying your meal how about spending a relaxed evening at the Starbucks Terrace on the 6th floor and view the illuminations and the sunset over Shibuya?

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Information

Date: November 1st (Tuesday) until November 30th (Wednesday)
Hours: 11am – 9pm (L.O. 8:30pm)
Tel: 03-3478-0717
Access: 4min walk from Harajuku Station – Omotesando Exit (JR Yamanote Line); 1min walk from Meiji Jingumae Station Exit 5 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line); 7min walk from Omotesando Station Exit A2 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line, Ginza Line)
Address: Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku 5F, 4-30-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tokyu-hands.co.jp

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo

 

15Yomiuri Land Jewellumination

The whole theme park is covered in beautiful colorful lights and makes a normal visit even more special.

Date: October 14th (Friday) – February 19th (Sunday); Park is closed on January 17th (Tuesday) – 19th (Thursday) and January 24th (Tuesday) – 26th (Thursday)
Hours: 4pm – 8:30pm (December 17th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday) until 9pm)
Place: Yomiuriland
Admission: 1,800Yen (adults), 1,500Yen (junior-high and high-school students), 1,000Yen (children)
Access: 5-10min ride with the Sky-Shuttle gondola or 5min Odakyu-Bus ride from Keio Yomiuri Land Station (Keio Sagamihara Line)
Address: 4-4015-1 Yanokuchi, Inagi-shi, 206-8725 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★☆
yomiuriland.com


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


13Venus Fort Christmas Projection Mapping “FROZEN VENUSFORT”

This year’s projection mapping features the popular Disney movie “Frozen”. Creative company NAKED Inc. created a spectacular show which you can only enjoy at Venus Fort. Music and illumination takes you into another world where you will feel like a character directly popped out of a fairy tale. The Venus Fort is a shopping center designed in the style of an old cityscape of the Middle Ages.

Date: November 3rd (Thursday) – middle of march / The show “Melting Story” around the water fountain takes place on November 3rd, 5th , 12th, 13th , 19th, 20th , 23rd , 26th and 27th ; in December on the 3rd, 4th, 10th , 11th ,17th , 18th , 21st , 22nd , 23rd , 24th and 25th.
Hours: “Melting Story”: 11:30am / 12:30 / 1:30pm / 3:30pm / 5:30pm / 7:30pm
Place: Venus Fort
Admission: free
Access: 3min walk from Aomi Station (Yurikamome Line) or Tokyo Teleport Station (JR Rinkai Line)
Address: 1-3-15 Aomi, Koto-ku, 135-0064 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
venusfort.co


14Showa Memorial Park “Winter Vista Illumination”

The area between the Tachikawa-entrance gate and the Fureai open space is covered in sparkling warm lights. Showa Memorial Park illumination theme changes every year. This year’s highlight will be a champagne glass tower made out of 15,000 glasses and located in the middle of the canal area located in the entrance of the park. You can enjoy a magical world of lights, featuring the light-up of the parks symbol, the big water fountain, and the alley.

Date: December 3rd (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 5pm – 9pm (admission until 8:50pm)
Place: Between the Tachikawa-entrance gate and the Fureai open space area
Admission: 410 yen (adults); 80 yen (primary – and middle – school students); free for children; 210 yen (over 65 years old)
Access: 15min walk from Tachikawa Station
Address: 3173 Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, 190-0014 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
sp.jorudan.co.jp

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


11Meguro River Minna no Illumination

Gotanda Fureai Waterside Square and the cherry trees along Meguro river will be decorated with light pink LED lights to create the image of blooming Sakura – Cherry blossoms during winter. The electricity used for this event will be extracted from edible oil which comes directly from restaurants and citizens living in this area.
Date: November 18th (Friday) – January 9th (Monday)
Hours: 5pm – 10pm
Place: Gotanda Fureai Mizube Hiroba and along Meguro river
Admission: free
Access: 6min walk from Osaki Station (JR Saikyo Line, JR Yamanote Line, JR Shonen-Shinjuku Line) or Gotanda Station (JR Yamanote Line; Toei Asakusa Line; Tokyu Ikegami Line)
Address: 2-9 Higashi-Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, 141-0022 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
minna-no-illumi.com


12DECKS Tokyo Beach Illumination “YAKEI” in Odaiba

This all year-around Illumination takes place around Odaiba’s Shopping mall “The Decks” and offers the best view of Tokyo Bay, including the Rainbow Bridge, as well as Tokyo Tower. About 40 trees are decorated with LED lights, one 20m high tree sparkles in all colors and the first 360° Projection-Mapping tunnel, the “Illusion Dome” shows you another world.

Date: all around the year
Hours: sunset – 24:00
Place: Decks Tokyo, Seaside Deck 3F
Admission: free
Access: 2min walk from Odaiba-Kaihinkoen (Yurikamome Line); 8min walk from Tokyo Teleport Station (JR Rinkai Line)
Address: Seaside Deck, Decks Tokyo Beach 3F, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku, 135-0091 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
odaiba-decks.com

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


9Omotesando Hills

The trees of the wide sidewalks of Omotesando are decorated with warm lights to make your shopping adventure even more special and luxurious during Christmas season. Don´t forget to pop into Omotesando Hills’ and enjoy their beautiful Christmas decoration. Due to Omotesando Hills’ 10th anniversary a sparkling 10m high Christmas-star-tree will be set up. The theme “Find your stars – A starry Christmas” features 15,000 LED lights and mirror balls reflecting and producing the twinkling and shooting stars.

Date: November 9th (Wednesday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 11am – 11pm
Place: Omotesando Hills
Admission: free
Access:
Omotesando Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Chiyoda Line, Hanzomon Line) Exit A2 (2min walk)
Meijijingu-mae (Harajuku) Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line) Exit 5 (3min walk)
Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line) Omotesando Exit (7min walk)
Address: 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
omotesandohills.com


10Ebisu Garden Place

Ebisu Garden Place features two illumination events, the “Baccarat Eternal Lights” shows a 8,4m tall and 4,6m wide crystal chandelier and the usual illumination event with its huge Christmas tree decorated with French ornaments.
Date: November 5th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Place: Ebisu Garden Place
Admission: free
Access: 5min walk from JR Ebisu Station (East Exit) via the “Yebisu Skywalk”
Address: 4-20 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, 150-6018 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
gardenplace.jp

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


7Tokyo Tower – Winter Fantasy ~ONE PIECE Snow Dome Illumination~

Beside the yearly illumination and the light-up of the tower, this year’s special illumination collaborated with Tokyo Towers One Piece Tower and created a huge Snow Dome which features one of the episodes of the popular anime One Piece called “The miracle Sakura which blooms during winter”.

Date: November 3rd (Thursday) – February 28th (Tuesday)
Hours: Snow Dome Show: every full hour between 1pm – 10pm for 5min; Illumination: 4pm – 11pm
Place: Tokyo Tower (Shiba-Park), in front of the entrance
Admission: free
Access: 5min walk from Akabanebashi Station
Address: 4-2-8 Shiba-Koen, Minato-ku, 105-0011 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★☆
onepiecetower.tokyo


8Shinjuku Terrace City Illumination

The 888m long Shinjuku Terrace sparkles in warm Christmas lights, featuring 300 Christmas ball ornaments and 235,000 LED lights.

Date: November 9th (Thursday) – February 14th (Tuesday)
Hours: 5pm – 24:00
Place: Shinjuku Terrace City (Within the HALC building (Shinjuku Station west-exit); Odakyu Ace building; within the Shinjuku – My Lord shopping mall; Odakyu Department Store; My Lord Mosaic Street; Shinjuku Southern Terrace; Flags)
Admission: free
Access: Shinjuku Station (South- and West-Exit)
Address: 1-1-3 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 160-0023 Tokyo

Ranking: ★★★★☆
odakyu.jp

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


5Roppongi Hills – Artelligent Christmas – Keyakizaka Galaxy Illumination

The main illumination takes place along Keyaki slope on the Azabu side of Roppongi Hills. The illumination covers two themes, the “Snow and Blue” one and the “Candle and Amber” one. 1,200,000 LED’s turn that place into a romantic illumination spot including a view of Tokyo Tower. Beside this illuminated street, you can also enjoy the Christmas Market inside of Roppongi Hills, featuring German decorations and traditional food.

Date: November 14th (Monday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 5pm – 11pm
Place: Roppongi Hills
Admission: free
Access:
Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line) Exit 1C (direct access)
Roppongi Station (Toei Oedo Line) Exit 3 (4min walk)
Azabu Juban Station (Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line) Exit 4 (8min walk)
Nogizaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line) Exit 5 (10min walk)
Address: 6 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 106-0032 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
roppongihills.com


6Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination

With the 150th year of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Italy, this year’s theme for Tokyo Dome City’s Winter Illumination features the Italian folklore of Befana, an old woman delivering candy and chocolates to children throughout Italy in the night of January 5th, the Epiphany Eve. Besides that, the official title of the event “Fall in love ♡ Italy” describes the different love-powerspots of Italy which attract many customers from all over the world. This theme will take place at the Tokyo Dome Area.

Date: November 10th (Thursday) – February 19th (Sunday)
Hours: 4pm – 1am
Place: Tokyo Dome City
Admission: free
Access: 1min walk from Korakuen Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line); 5min walk from Suidobashi Station (JR Chuo-Sobu Line; Toei Mita Line)
Address: 1-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, 112-0004 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
tokyo-dome.co.jp

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo


3Marunouchi Bright Christmas – The marvelous story of “The Nutcracker”

The main event takes place at the Marunouchi-Building and features a 15m high and 65m wide Christmas theater. The theater begins above the walkway of the 3rd floor along the window wall, which will act as the screen for the Projection Mapping “The Nutcracker”.
On the 1st floor of the Marunouchi-Building, a 7m high Christmas tree with the images of Clara and the Nutcracker Prince will be prepared. Within the Marunouchi area many more attractions featuring this story are set up. Also a Christmas market and illuminated streets transform this area into a magical Christmas world.

Date: November 10th (Thursday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Place: Marunouchi Building, New-Marunouchi Building, Marunouchi Brick Square, etc.
Admission: free
Access: 1min walk from Tokyo Station (Marunouchi South Exit); 4min walk from Tokyo Station (JR Keiyo Line); direct access from Tokyo Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line); direct access from Nijubashi-mae Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line); 3min walk from Otemachi Station (Toei Mita Line); 8min walk from Yurakucho Station (JR Yamanote Line; JR Keihin-Tohoku Line; Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line)
Address: Marunouchi Building, 2-4-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, 100-6390 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
marunouchi.com


4Tokyo Midtown Illumination – Starlight Garden, Starlight Road and Tree-Illumination

The Starlight Garden which is located in the Midtown Park Square is the main spot of this event and features up to 180,000 LED lights. With its blue and white sparkling lights it represents the image of the cosmos and attracts a lot of guests every year. This year’s highlight contains four spotlights reaching up to 100m.
As a memento of this romantic event, a special Illumination Photo Service will capture your photograph in front of the Starlight Garden. It´s a limited service between 23rd November (Wednesday) and December 18th (Sunday) only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 6pm to 8pm. (The taken photograph can be purchased online for 1,080 Yen)
Between November 26th (Saturday) and December 18th (Sunday) on Weekends at 1:30pm, 3pm and 4:30pm for 30min each, you can enjoy Christmas classical live performances within the Galleria building.

Date: November 15th (Tuesday) – December 25th (Sunday)
Hours: 5pm – 11pm
Place: Tokyo Midtown
Admission: free
Access: 5min walk from Roppongi Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line; Toei Oedo Line); 6min walk from Nogizaka Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
Address: 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 107-0052 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
tokyo-midtown.com

Map of Top Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo

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While many people come to Japan in spring and autumn, winter in Tokyo is made special with the many illumination lights on display throughout the season. WAttention presents you with the top spots in Tokyo to enjoy these romantic and fabulous spectacles.

(Click on the markers on the map below to preview and get the quick jump link to each spot.)


1Caretta Illumination

This is one of the top Illumination spots in Tokyo and attracts thousands of light-up lovers every year. The theme of this year’s show is called “Canyon d’Azur ~Blue mystical forest” and features about 270,000 LED lights. The show takes place in a time interval of 20minutes starting at 5pm.

Date: November 17th – February 14th (closed on January 1st and 2nd)
Hours: 5pm – 11pm (January & February 2017; 6pm – 11pm)
Place: Caretta Shiodome
Admission: free
Access: 2min walk from Shiodome Station (Toei Oedo Line; Yurikamome); 7min walk from Shimbashi Station
Address: 1-8-2 Higashi-Shimbashi, Minato-ku, 105-7090 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★★
dreamchristmas2016.jp


2Tokyo Skytree Town – Dream Christmas

Around the Skytree, a Christmas market will be set up with typical German decoration, food and a big Christmas tree. While strolling around the Christmas market, you can enjoy a special made projection mapping, as well as beautiful illuminated decorations made out of 350,000 LED lights.

Date: Illumination: November 10th (Thursday) – December 25th (Sunday); (Illuminations until March 5th (Sunday) / Projection Mapping: December 10th (Saturday) – December 25th (Sunday); Between 5:30pm and 8pm all 30min / Ice Skating Park: December 10th (Saturday) – March 5th (Sunday); 11am~
Place: Tokyo Skytree
Admission: free
Access: 20min walk from Asakusa Station, Direct access from Tokyo Skytree Station (Tobu Skytree Line); Direct access from Oshiage Station (Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Toei Asakusa Line)
Address: 1-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida-ku, 131-0045 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
dreamchristmas2016.jp

Ninja ID: nene16

Kappabashi: Home of Japanese Knives

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Just a short walk away from Asakusa, Kappabashi is a great place to spend an afternoon among a joyful chaos of stores specializing in all sorts of kitchenware, and a must-visit destination for visitors looking to pick up world-class Japanese knives.

Over 100 Years of History

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Kappabashi Dogu-gai (Kappabashi Kitchenware Street) has been a center of commerce related to tools for over a century, and is one of the best places in Tokyo to find cool (not to mention useful) souvenirs. The two main streets are stocked to the brim with everything from super-realistic food samples to ramen shop signs, pots big enough to make curry for 100 people, dainty sake cups, chopsticks in every color of the rainbow… and knives.

Kamata Hakensha: Knives Galore

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Located around the middle of Kappabashi, this little shop is heaven for both amateur and professional cooks, as it stocks a huge range of Japanese and Western-style knives, each individually checked (and sharpened!) by the owner. The staff speak decent English and are really good at helping you find the right knife for your needs and ability.

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From the window you can watch Seiichi Kamata (the owner and third-generation craftsman) engraving names on the knives (a rather cool touch, especially if the blade is a gift) or restoring the razor-sharp edges of the implements used by top chefs around the city.

With almost four decades of experience, his fingers can detect the slightest imperfection in the metal, invisible to the naked eye. During a recent visit, he spoke of the intense training his son (the fourth generation) underwent under both his tutelage and that of the master knife makers in Sakai City, Osaka, in order to ensure that he too will gain this level of craftsmanship.

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As many of the knives are completely handmade, they’re priced accordingly. However, the shoo does have a nice range of light but sturdy stainless steel kitchen knives that are very reasonable, as well as other unusual choices (my favorite being a pair of scissors with a cherry blossom motif).

Be sure to check out the Japanese-style knives decorated with flowers, leaves and dreamy wave patterns, which look almost too pretty to use!

www.kap-kam.com


Read the original article on All About Japan: Kappabashi: Home of Japanese Knives

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Sanrio Puroland

I guess there are just a few people left who haven´t heard about the white fluffy cat with its big round eyes which enchants her fans since 1974!
In  the western part of Tokyo you can find an indoor theme park dedicated to Hello Kitty and her friends. Opened in 1990, Sanrio Puroland attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year.
If you want to treat your kids to a magical experience, or if you are curious about Japan´s popular characters itself, don´t hold back and immerse yourself into a whole new world full of cute adventures.

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The entrance is a huge hall decorated with lovely artwork featuring the main characters of Sanrio Puroland.

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After entering the park you will be welcomed by one of the many characters which whom you can take a memorial picture with. Further, at the merchandise and souvenir booth located near the entrance, you can transform yourself into one of your beloved characters while purchasing its characters hairband with attached ears.

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Now you will take the escalator and reach Hello Kitty´s magical world.
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Beside having the chance to take a sneak peek inside Hello Kitty´s and Little Twin Stars house, you can also make a trip through Mariland with My Melody´s newest ride attraction.

While Cinnamoroll invites you to an exciting boat ride through the world of Sanrio Characters….

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….Hello Kitty takes you to see her fantastic musical at the “Märchen Theater”.

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It´s a magical place not only for families and children, also couples and friends can enjoy a pleasant day at Santrio Puroland.

Sanrio Puroland Info:
Hours: The opening hours and closing days differ from month to month, please check the website in advance.
Address: 1-32 Ochiai, Tama, Tokyo 〒206-8588
Access: 5min-walk from Tama Center Station, Keio Line
Keio Line: Central Exit / Odakyu Line: West Exit
Tel: 042-339-1111
URL: http://en.puroland.jp/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan: Tokyo

Tokyo 33~ 46


33Yoyogi Park (代々木公園) in Shibuya

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 3min walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line); 3min walk from Yoyogi-Koen Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
Address: Yoyogi Kamizono-cho 2-1, Shibuya-ku, 151-0052 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tokyometro.jp


34Meijijingu Gaien (明治神宮外苑) in Shinjuku

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Ginkgo tree row
Event: 20th Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival
Date: November 18th (Friday) – December 5th (Monday), Weekday 10am – 6pm, Weekend & Public Holiday 9:30am – 6pm (Last day until 2pm)
Access: 5-13min walk from Shinanomachi Station (JR Chuo Sobu Line), Sendagaya Station (JR Chuo Sobu Line), Aoyama-itchome Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Toei Oedo Line)
Address: Kita-Aoyama 2-chome, Minato-ku, 107-0061 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
meijijingugaien.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


35Mukojima-Hyakkaen Garden (向島百花園) in Sumida

A photo posted by こーさん (@kotyatora) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the middle of December
Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 150yen (adults), 70yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school students with residence in Tokyo
Access: 8min walk from Higashi-Mukojima Station (Tobu Skytree Line); 13min walk from Keisei-Hikifune Station (Keisei Oshiage Line)
Address: 3-18-3 Higashi-Mukojima, Sumida-ku, 131-0032 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp


36Rikugien Garden (六義園) in Bunkyo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Suikonoue, Tsutsuji tea house
Event: Daimyo Garden & Autumn Color Light-up
Date: November 19th (Saturday) – December 7th (Wednesday), sunset – 9pm
Opening Hours during the Light-up period: 9am – 9pm (last entry 8:30pm)
Admission: 300yen (adults), 150yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school students with residence in Tokyo
Access: 7min walk from Komagome Station (JR Yamanote Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line)
Address: 6-chome Hon-Komagome, Bunkyo-ku, 113-0021 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


37Koishikawa Korakuen Garden (小石川後楽園) in Bunkyo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Oigawa, Tsuten Bridge, Momiji Forest
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 300yen (adults), 150yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school with residence in Tokyo
Access: 8min walk from Iidabashi Station (Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line, Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, JR Chuo-Sobu Line, Toei Oedo Line), 8min walk from Korakuen Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line), 8min walk from Suidobashi Station (JR Chuo-Sobu Line)
Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, 112-0004 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp


38Showa Memorial Park (国営昭和記念公園) in Tachikawa

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Canal, Katarai Ginkgo Tree row, colored maple leaves in the Japanese garden
Opening Hours: 9:30am-5pm
Admission: 410yen (adults), 80yen (children), 210yen (pensioner)
Access: 2min walk from Nishi-Tachikawa Station (JR Ome Line), 10min walk from Tachikawa Station (JR Ome Line, JR Chuo Line, JR Nambu Line)
Address: 3173 Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, 190-0014 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆

showakinen-koen.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


39Tonogayato Garden (殿ヶ谷戸庭園) in Kokubunji

First colors: Middle of November until the end of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Koyo Pavilion
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 150yen (adults), 70yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school students with residence in Tokyo
Access: 2min walk from Kokubunji Station (JR Chuo Rapid Line, Seibu Kokubunji Line, Seibu Tamako Line)
Address: 2-16 Minami-cho, Kokubunji-shi, 185-0021 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp


40Road Koshu’s Ginkgo Row (甲州街道いちょう並木) in Hachioji

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Recommended Spots: Musashi Imperial Mausoleum, Ryoho-Temple
Event: 37th Hachioji Ginkgo Festival
Date: November 19th (Saturday), 9am – 5pm; November 20th (Sunday), 9am – 4:30pm
Access: 3min walk from Nishi-Hachioji Station (JR Chuo Main Line); 15min walk from Takao Station (JR Chuo Main Line, JR Chuo Rapid Line, Keio Takao Line)
Address: Higashi-Sakawa-machi 120, Hachioji-shi, 193-0834 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


42Mount Takao (高尾山) in Hachioji

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Recommended Spots: Cable car, mountain summit
Event: Mount Takao Maple Leaf Festival
Date: November 1st (Tuesday) – November 30th (Wednesday)
Place: The Mount Takao “Takao Shinrin Center”, in front of the mountain foot`s cable car station “Kiyotaki”, in front of the mountainside teahouse “Juitchome Chaya”
Access: Takaosan-guchi Station (Keio Takao Line)
Address: Takao-machi, Hachioji-shi, 193-0844 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
jnto.go.jp


43Mitake Ravine (御岳渓谷) in Ome

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spots: Around the Gyokudo Museum
Access: Mitake Station (JR Ome Line)
Address: 310 Mitake–honcho, Ome-shi, 198-0173 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pregamestraining.tokyo2020.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


44Akigawa Ravine (秋川渓谷) in Akiruno

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Around Ishibune Bridge, around Aokidaira Bridge, Kamiyozawa
Access: 15min bus ride from Musashi Itsukaichi Station (JR Itsukaichi Line) until Jurigi
Address: Akiruno-shi, 190‐0174 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
gotokyo.org


45Okutama & Okutama shore (奥多摩・奥多摩湖畔) in Nishitama – Okutama

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Recommended Spots: Mukashi Michi, Yama no Furusato Mura, Ikoi no Michi, Miharashi no Oka
Access: 20min bus ride from Okutama Station (JR Ome Line)
Address: 1740 Kawano, Okutama-machi, Nishitama-gun, 198-0225 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


46Okutama & Hikawa Ravine (奥多摩・氷川渓谷) in Nishitama – Okutama

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spots: Nippara Ravine, Hato no Su Ravine, Sogaku Ravine, Otaba River upper stream, Mukashi Michi
Access: 3min walk from Okutama Station (JR Ome Line)
Address: Okutama Visitor Center, 171-1 Hikawa, Okutama-machi, Nishitama-gun, 198-0212 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
jnto.go.jp

MoCHA, the stylish cat café

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Image credit: PR Times

Japan has many cat cafés, but this chain takes it up a notch. MoCHA, reminiscent of the French word for cat “chat”, is a stylish chain in Tokyo providing both cats and visitors with a relaxing atmosphere. Cat cafés are often built to be cosy, making MoCHA unique with its trendy interior.

How does it work?

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Image credit: PR Times

Cat cafés all around Japan mostly have a similar system; you pay a set entry fee for a certain time limit (this may or may not include a drink) and you’re ready to go! Most often shoes are off limits, but this can depend on the café. The management will also ask not to pick up the cats or disturb them. These furry hosts get many visitors on one day and would like to be able to relax when needed.

Rules at MoCHA
-Don’t chase the cats
-Don’t hold the cats
-Don’t feed the cats any human food. If you want to feed them, you can buy some treats at the café
-Photos are allowed, but turn off your flash
-Don’t speak in loud voices

What makes MoCHA different?

The main concept of MoCHA is to provide a serene, healing space. MoCHA thought about both cats and humans while designing the interior. Wooden trees, fake bird cages, ladders and plants provide plenty of entertainment and relaxing space for the cats while being a treat for the human eye. Instead of regular chairs and benches there are relaxing sofas and reclining chairs.

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Image credit: PR Times

All that’s left to feel completely at ease is a kitty on your lap, and MoCHA has about 15~20 of them at every café! You can learn their names and favorite foods from one of the photo books. These adorable cat dictionaries also have baby pictures of when they were just a kitten.

Cat themed drinks

Besides offering the basic café drinks, MoCHA also has an “all you can drink” option for 350 yen. Some hot drinks come with a kitty-shaped marshmallow or snack.

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Image credit: PR Times

Starting September 2016, MoCHA is collaborating with professional marhsmallow maker “Yawahada”, creating treats based on the café’s three most popular cats, all coincidentally named after delicious food! Wasabi: a female black and white Siberian, Azuki(sweet red beans): a female calico Munchkin, and Kinako (roasted soybean flour): a male light-cream tabby Scottish Fold. For the paws you can choose between vanilla, chocolate and black tea.

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Image credit: PR Times

Information

MoCHA Shibuya

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Image credit: PR Times

Hours: every day from 10am – 10pm (last entry at 9:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen / 10 minutes (1h stay is 1,200 yen)
Location: Asoruti Shibuya building, 8F
Access: 5-min walk from Shibuya Station
Address: 32-12 Udagawachō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0042
Characteristics: The café is like a big lounge, watching over Shibuya
URL: http://catmocha.jp/shibuya/

MoCHA Ikebukuro West

Ikebukuro West
Image credit: PR Times

Hours: every day from 10am – 10pm (last entry at 9:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen / 10 minutes (1h stay is 1,200 yen)
Location: Near Ikebukuro Westgate Park, there is a seven eleven store on the 1st floor
Access: 1-min walk from Ikebukuro Station West Exit
Address: 1 Chome-15-6 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tōkyō-to 171-0021
Characteristics: Natural materials such as wooden trees and soft ambient light give this café its relaxing atmosphere.
URL: http://catmocha.jp/ikebukuro/

MoCHA Ikebukuro East

Ikebukuro East
Image credit: PR Times

Hours: every day from 10am – 10pm (last entry at 9:30pm)
Admission: 1,800 yen general admission
Location: Sanke building 4F
Access: 3-min walk from Ikebukuro Station East Exit
Address: 1 Chome-22-5 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tōkyō-to 170-0013
Characteristics: Relaxing lounge style
URL: http://catmocha.jp/ikebukuro2/

MoCHA Harajuku

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Image credit: PR Times


Hours
: every day from 10am – 8pm (last entry at 7:30pm)
Admission: 200 yen / 10 minutes (1h stay is 1,200 yen)
Location: Cross Avenue Harajuku 3F
Access: Right next to Harajuku Station Omotesando exit
Address: 150-0001 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingūmae, 1 Chome−14-25
Characteristics: Refreshing green carpets, wooden trees and fake bird cages for the cats to rest
URL: http://catmocha.jp/harajuku/

My Neighbor Totoro Café in the heart of Tokyo

Hidden in the backstreets of the popular fancy Shimokitazawa Area, a small cute café called Shiro-Hige´s Cream Puff Factory attracts their customers with self-made cream puffs and cookies shaped in the silhouettes of the characters appearing in the movie “My Neighbor Totoro”.

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The entrance welcomes you with selected Totoro merchandise and the whole ambience feautures the charm of a cozy, friendly and warm home.

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On the first floor you can visit the little shop selling cookies and cream puffs for take-out.

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The filling of the cream puffs come in different flavors, two standard ones (custard & fresh cream, chocolate cream) and some which are limited to the current season (caramel banana cream: January – April; strawberry cream: January – June; green tea cream: May – August; peach cream: July – September; chestnut & chestnut cream: October – December; raspberry & cream cheese: September – December).

We went up to the second floor and where happy that a lunch and dinner menu is available as well, beside their speciality, the cream puffs.
We ordered the steak lunch together with custard & fresh cream cream puffs. (The cream puff must be ordered together with a drink.)

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It was really good, and we couldn´t stop taking pictures of the cute Totoro-shaped goodies.


Information

Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory
Hours: 10:30am – 7pm (Closed on Tuesday)
Tel: 03-5787-6732
Access: 3min walk from Setagaya-Daita Station (Odakyu Odawara Line)
Address: 5-3-1 Daita, Setagaya-ku, 155-0033 Tokyo
URL: http://www.shiro-hige.com/ (Japanese only)

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Tokyo Edo Week : Wattention reports

 

Last week Tokyo organized a new event called the Tokyo Edo Week to promote traditional Japanese dress. There were definitely more people out in kimono than usual and Wattention was there to catch them all on photo.

The stands were laid out like a traditional festival with places to sit in the middle. There were kimono shops, kimono photo studios (even a samurai one) and accessory shops. The highlight of the event was the main stage where performers showed tricks and kimono makers showed their latest creations.

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The workshops were given in both English and Japanese, making it easy for foreigners to participate. With easy to understand instructions everyone was able to create a beautiful souvenir to take home. The ladies here are using traditional materials to make beautiful hairpins.

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sake2Guests in kimono received one of these traditional sake cups made from cypress wood. The smell of the wood was amazing and it makes for a beautiful souvenir. You could use the cup to try some of the vintage sake brought all the way from Nara. This sake is brewed with a traditional recipe, ensuring that you could drink the same sake as they did during the Edo period.

After having drunk sake from the cypress wooden cup, the smell became even stronger and sweeter.

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On the main stage there was a kimono show, the miss Tokyo Edo beauty peageant and a sword demonstration. All three events were very entertaining to watch. It was very interesting to see furisode (long sleeve kimono) in one single color.

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The sword show was a mix between modern dance and acted fights. It all seemed very serious at first but at the end everyone broke down in a synchronized dance. The actors looked like they were having a lot of fun on stage.

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Our last stop before it became completely dark was the Kabuki experience stand. There were various masks on display showcasing all the different types of makeup a Kabuki actor can use. The choice depends on the type of role and character.

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The Tokyo Edo Week was a great event to revive traditional Japanese culture. I was happy to see many happy foreigners at the event who enjoyed the food, workshops and shows. Here’s to hoping they organize a second edition next year.

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Tokyo Yosakoi

Before Halloween, Ikebukuro has another big event coming up the Tokyo Yosakoi contest.More than a Matsuri, it’s a big dance competition.

Yosakoi is the name of the modernized Awa Odori, traditional summer dance. Thanks to the popularity of Yosakoi traditional Japanese dance is practiced by young and old all over the country. Most university and college students have a team with their own unique costumes and choreography. Every year the Tokyo Yosakoi contest in Ikebukuro attracts about a hundred teams.

History of Yosakoi

yosakoiThe Yasukoi dance is not as old as many other Japanese matsuri. It all started in the city of Kochi with the idea to reform traditional Japanese dance and to boost economic growth after the second World War. Yasukoi literally means “come at night” in the local dialect of Kochi prefecture.
The original Yosakoi song was written by Takemasa Eisuka who gave the rights to the public. This song combines a yosakoi melody, children’s song and a folk song from Kochi. Yosakoi dance teams are free to compose their own music but it must contain these elements but swapped with a folk song from your area. This music is either live or prerecorded and plays from a jikatasha, a colorful truck with speakers or a stage for musicians.

clapperAnother requirement is that the dancers must use a naruko, small wooden clappers that make noise when the dancer moves. Almost every competition has this requirement. Traditionally they are black and yellow but nowadays teams paint them in their own colors.

Costumes don’t have to be based on traditional Japanese clothing, as long as they have a connection with folk culture.

Examples of dances

Participants of last year’s Yosakoi competition in Ikebukuro

Yosakoi competition in Ikebukuro

The dancers will compete on nine venues around Toshima: the main site in front of Ikebukuro Station’s west exit, Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Park, Mizuki Street, Azeria Street, Yonshotengai, Sunshine Street on the east exit side, the plazas in front of Mejiro and Sugamo Stations, and Otsuka Station’s north exit area.

Dates: Oct. 8 – Oct. 9, 2016
Hours: dancers start around 11am
Location: around Ikebukuro
URL: https://www.yosakoitokyo.gr.jp/ (Japanese only)

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Tokyo Edo Week

 

The kimono is making a comeback with a modern twist and both young and old are wearing it more than ever. Tokyo wants to encourage you to try this timeless garment by organizing the Tokyo Edo Week during September 22nd~25th at Ueno Park.

Edo currency-Image edited from: edoweek.com
Edo currency-Image edited from: edoweek.com

The goal of this event is to show Japanese culture to the world in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The whole venue will be modeled after a street from the Edo period (1603-1868) and you can even pay in traditional Edo currency. If you don`t have a kimono to show off , you can rent one at the event. Everyone who comes dressed in kimono will get a free limited gift at almost every stand. If you bought a kimono or yukata but don’t know how to put it on, use this tutorial made by Tokyo Edo Week.

Tokyo Edo Week is the world`s biggest festival that celebrates traditional Japanese culture. Here are some of the festival`s highlights!

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Go Kimono Shopping

Various kimono designers from all over Japan will be displaying their latest creations as well as recycle shops with unique vintage kimono. If you would like to know more about kitsuke (着付け), the art of kimono dressing, you can see a demonstration by one of the attending kimono schools.

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Kimono Exhibition

If you`re not into trying a kimono yourself, you can visit one of the antique kimono exhibitions or the unique Kabuki exhibition. This interactive ICT event will be open for free to the public for the first time.

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Amazing Crafts

Now that you’ve completely immersed yourself in the world of kimono, it’s time to admire some traditional crafts. The Edo period was an amazing time for craftsmen as they enjoyed a relative nationwide peace at the start and were influenced by foreign crafts at the end. The result of years of perfection can be seen in crafts such as glassware, hairpins, kokeshi dolls, traditional dyeing techniques and more. Why not take home a piece of Edo?

Crafts
Image Courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

Meet Miss Sake Tokyo

The Tokyo Edo Week includes a special appearance by none other than the real Miss Sake. Ando Yumi proved she can be  Japan’s sake ambassador with both brains and beauty. Who knows, this might be the only time in your life that you get to meet a real Miss.

See Japanese Sword Arts and Plays

To top it all off, there are many amazing performers coming from all over Japan to show their talents. For those who like excitement there are samurai sword performances, a ninja show and even a DJ. If you like to have a more relaxed atmosphere, attend one of the traditional plays or comedy shows.

 

Enjoy Edo-style food with top class entertainment

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Image courtesy of Tokyo Edo Week

The food stands are well equipped to give every visitor a taste of historical Japan. Try some Edo classics and Western-inspired food while listening to a shamisen, classic Japanese three-stringed instrument, performance.

Not only food, but also sake is available at the Tokyo Edo Week. Micro breweries and local sake brewers worked hard to bring you the best they have to offer.


 

It would take a while to sum up all of the amazing activities the Tokyo Edo Week has to offer, but we hope these highlights convinced you to visit. Check out the Edo Week website for more information.

Event Information
Date: Sep 22 – 25, 2016
Hours: 11am – 8pm (22nd to 24th, last entry 7:30pm), 11am – 6pm (25th, last entry 5pm)
Where: Ueno Park Takenodai Square
Admission: Free (but you need to buy tickets for the food stands and the kimono exhibition).
URL: https://edoweek.com

The life of a Harajuku Shop Girl – Choom

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I’ve been an obsessive follower of Japanese street fashion for many years now so when I was given the opportunity to work at 6%DokiDoki, one of the most established brands in Harajuku and adored by fans worldwide, I jumped at the opportunity.

I am currently studying Japanese at university and an integral part of that is the year abroad in Japan. I chose to go to Tokyo because for me, it’s the only choice if you want to be a part of the fashion scene. The opportunity came about suddenly and quite randomly, first I was chosen to be a part of their show at the Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival then all of a sudden I was asked to be a Shop Girl. I was so thrilled!

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After a shaky start I quickly fell into step with my co-workers. Not only was this my first real job (I know, I know) but speaking the language was definitely tricky at first. After a few shifts and a lot of patience on behalf of my co-workers (thank you!!) I could communicate so easily with them and customers.
So a typical day at work would start not on the day of my shift, but actually the day before. I would message my manager and we would discuss what I would wear so then I could plan my accessories, foot wear and make up. The next day I would arrive about 30 minutes prior to when my shift would start. I was lucky to have lived about 15 minutes from Harajuku by train so the commute was never too bad. The only issue I would ever encounter would be tourists staring and shoving cameras in my face, so if you’re ever in Harajuku don’t be that person! You might be met with a very irritated shop staff! Once I arrived, I would finish my make up and put any final touches on my outfit.

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We have a schedule of things to do during our shift aside from helping customers and it always starts with taking pictures to post on social media and writing a bit about what we were doing and wearing. I didn’t know what I should say most of the time so I usually wrote about the weather, how very British of me! Other tasks on our schedule were cleaning the shop and restocking items that had been sold, so normal things any shop staff does. The only difference would be I’d be teetering over in my sky high platforms while sweeping up. I think a lot of people found it amusing for us to be cleaning up in over the top outfits and often took pictures of us outside the shop. I’m so worried somewhere on the internet someone has captioned a photo of me as ‘pink platform wearing cleaning lady in Harajuku.’

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Our customers were people of all ages, backgrounds and interests. I talked to both Japanese and non-Japanese customers and they all loved the bold, over the top cuteness of 6%DokiDoki. You could always tell when a new customer came in because they always exclaimed, ‘this is crazy’ or ‘this is amazing’ as soon as they walked through the door. There were always those that said they ‘could never wear something like that’ and asked me if I wore this kind of clothing every day. Sometimes I managed to coerce them into trying out some clothes and accessories by explaining how it could work with a simple, not very alternative outfit. I think it’s nice adding a little kawaii into people’s everyday lives!

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Obviously being a ShopGirl had its perks! Aside from the usual things like assisting customers we sometimes had photoshoots for both TV and magazines in the shop. Since 6%DokiDoki is so famous for its consistently outlandish and typically ‘Harajuku style’ it was a hotspot of interest to others. The shop also had diehard fans who loved everything about the fashion and the staff! It would be so lovely to turn up for work to find someone had left a gift for the staff. It really helped me to understand how much people appreciate the effort we went through to maintain the shop’s ‘sensational lovely’ image and the looks we created to promote the brand. I remember one day in particular when a customer came to the shop wearing a look I had done in my previous shift and I was so overwhelmed! Not only are we shop staff but people saw us as fashion inspiration too which is so cool!

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The experience I had as a Shop Girl was one to remember. My time both in and out of the shop was so fun and it made my year abroad memorable!

Moshi Moshi Kimono Salon produced by Yumenoya in Harajuku!

Starting Saturday, September 10th, the new Kimono Salon located on the 2nd floor of the “Moshi Moshi Harajuku Tourist Information Center” opened its doors to provide a unique and unforgettable experience to their customers!

Immerse yourself in the world of Harajuku and as you try out fancifully designed kimono. The kimono that they provide feature the traditional Japanese design of the Taisho Period (1912 – 1926), as well as elements from the current trendy Harajuku fashion style! You can choose between different style-options, for example the gothic-lolita kimono, the sweet-lolita kimono, the super colorful kimono, the princess kimono, the classic traditional one and many more!

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The up-coming fashion designer Yuka (有伽), who is also in charge of the costumes for the popular Japanese Wagakki-Band, created these fancy kimono designs.
Get your picture taken in the appointed photo studio which includes a colorful sliding paper door as a photo-background. It was created by art director Sebastian Masuda, the owner of the brand 6% DOKIDOKI who was also the main designer for Harajuku idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s music video “PONPONPON” (2011).

The Moshi Moshi Kimono Salon is the only place in Japan where you can have such a unique experience.

There are 4 different course options available:

The basic course includes the dressing of the kimono and the photo shooting. You will receive a CD with all your photos.

The next course is based on the basic course but includes a full make-up and hair styling make over (different types of wigs are also available).

If you choose the full course, an additional photo album and one edited photo will be included. You can receive your specially made photo album on the following day.

There’s also the full course including an outdoor photo shooting, where you can spend 30 min in full kimono regalia in the streets of Harajuku. Get the J-fashion star treatment as you capture the real Harajuku atmosphere in your pictures along with your eye-catching kimono outfit.

Wattention visited the Salon already last Friday, September 9th, and had the chance to wear one of these magical Harajuku Kimono!

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The models who welcomed us at the entrance looked fabulous and everyone was really friendly.

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Don´t miss this experience during your adventures in Harajuku!

Information

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Moshi Moshi Kimono Salon produced by Yumenoya
Hours: 10am – 6pm
Tel: 03-5770-5131
Access: 5min walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line) – Takeshita Street Exit; 9min walk from Meiji-Jingu Mae Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line); 13min walk from Omotesando Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line・Hanzomon Line・Chiyoda Line)
Address: Moshi Moshi Box – Harajuku Tourist Information 2F, Jingumae 3-23-5, Shibuya-ku, 150-0001 Tokyo
URL: http://www.tokyo-samurai.com/blank

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

A quick guide to Halal Japanese Cuisine in Tokyo

The struggle is over. What was thought to be extremely difficult – finding Halal Japanese cuisine that is both allowed and prepared according to the Islamic dietary guideline – is no longer the case as meticulous and attentive Japanese restaurants step up to the demands of a group of visitors they have long neglected. As more Muslims are drawn to the land of the rising sun, Wattention brings to you a myriad of choices, perfect amalgamations of Halal and Nippon cuisine, that will satisfy every single, each and one of your cravings!

1. YAKINIKU

Did you know, that prior to 1872, there was a 1,200 year ban on meat eating in Japan?It was not until the Meiji Period that the restoration government sought to remove this centuries-old social taboo against meat. As meat lovers went on to experiment and perfect their craft of preparing meat, we now have the fortune of enjoying Japanese BBQ, or more fondly known as “Yakiniku”!

Gyumon

Unassuming entrance
An unassuming entrance | Photo Source

Ready yourselves for a battle of speed as we huddle over an arena of charcoal grills, protected by extractor systems to whip away the wonderfully distracting smell and smoke, equipped with the longest tongs and eagle eyes to swoop in at the finest meat that is marinated in perfection.

Isn't this tempting!
Need I say more!? | Photo Source

One of the most-raved about Halal Yakiniku restaurant in Tokyo, Gyumon prides itself for its generous portions and succulent, delicious beef Yakiniku. This traditional and cosy restaurant even offers its diners a crash course on understanding their food!

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Cow-tography 101 | Photo Source
Mouthwatering halal dining
DIY – You can be the next Asia’s masterchef! | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 3 Chrome-14-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku Toyko
  • Average Price: JPY4000~
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 5pm – 4am; Sun & Pub Hols: 5pm – 11pm
  • Halal Status: Certified by Malaysia Halal Corporation Co. Ltd
    *Reservations recommended!

Sumiyakiya Nishiazabu 

This BBQ restaurant rose to fame when former Prime Minister, Mr Mahathir bin Mohamad visited and tried their Halal Yakiniku. A family-ran business, the restaurant came up with the idea of a Halal menu when they noticed a gap in the market that dedicated to Halal service. Since then, they have worked closely with professionals to learn how to prepare food in accordance with the Halal traditions.

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Korean style BBQ, Japanese style ingredients! | Photo Source

Using  ‘F-1’ Yakiniku (Herb-fed crossbred between Holstein cattle and Wagyu), Aomori Shamo chicken and Herb-fed Chicken from Brazil,  Sumiyakiya ensures that all their Halal meat used for your BBQ is Halal-certified. A unique (and healthy!) feature of Sumiyakiya is that their choice of cattle are herb-fed, and their Halal meats are marinated with plenty of herbs – as their slogan goes: “Herbs do more than simply adding flavor and color to your favourite dishes!”

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Cosy setting for family and friends | Photo Source
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All set to feast! | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 3-29-16, Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY2000~ (Lunch); JPY4000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 1130am – 3pm, 6pm – 1130pm; Sat: 6pm – 1130pm (Closed on Sun & Pub Hols)
  • Halal Status: Malaysia Halal Corporation
  • Official Website: http://sumiyakiya.com

2. TEPPANYAKI

Teppanyaki, which literally means “grill on an iron plate”, should definitely be on your food-to-try list in Japan! The strong emphasis on the freshness of ingredients, coupled with the performance aspect of the chef’s preparation, it will be both eye-candy and mouth watering experience!

Saishoku Teppan Ippin

Founded by La Copakku Japan, Saishoku Teppan Ippin aims to provide its diners with a ‘healthy and beautiful’ dining experience. As a pioneer in the Halal Teppanyaki industry, the restaurant has worked relentlessly to create a Halal menu to allow its Muslim diners to indulge in true Japanese culinary.

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Spoiled for choices? | Photo Source

Armed with skilled chefs, stashes of organic vegetables and premium selection of meat, Saishoku Teppan Ippin challenges its diners’ taste buds to a waltz they will never forget.

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Soaking in the atmosphere | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: Langs Daikanyama 2F, 2 Chome 13-16, West Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY1000~ (Lunch); JPY3000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 1130am – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm; Sun: 5pm – 11pm (Closed on every 3rd Sunday of the month)
  • Halal Status: Certified by Nippon Asia Halal Association
  • Official Website: http://ippin-halal.jp

3. SHABU SHABU

This bubbly dish got its name from the ‘Shabu Shabu’ sound supposedly emitted when ingredients are stirred in the hotpot. Finding its roots in Japan, it is one aspect of the traditional Japan cuisine a faithful tourist should not miss!

Hanasakaji-san

Named after a fairy tale, Hanasakaji-san beckons with quiet dignity; its simple and almost too-well-hidden entrance indicates its food’s quality with utmost confidence. A short-walk from Shibuya station, hungry diners after a day’s shopping can find comfort for their tummy at this lovely restaurant.

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Hanasakaji-san’s special Halal stew! | Photo Source
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Beef Shabu Shabu | Photo Source 

While Hanasakaji-san is not exclusively Halal, they are thoroughly committed to providing an authentic Japanese experience for their Halal diners. Taking extra steps such as keeping their Halal meat in a separate freezers from non-Halal meat, designating utensils for Halal diners which are kept separate from non-Halal diners and even serving non-alchoholic wine and champagne, the restaurant is faithful, helpful and genuine to its Halal diners.

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Eat till your heart’s (tummy’s) content! | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: Sakura Build B1f 3-22 Sakuragaoka Shibuya Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY4000~
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 1030am – 3pm, 5pm – 12am; Sat: 5pm – 12pm (Closed on every Sun)
  • Halal Status: Certified by Malaysia Halal Corporation Co. Ltd
  • Official Website: http://hanasakaji-san.jp/
    *Reservations recommended!

4. RAMEN

The origins of Ramen are unclear – however, Ramen has become such a popular dish in Japan that anyone who dreams of slurping down the best of these piping hot noodles would necessarily associate it with Japan. As Ramen is extremely affordable and can be found effortlessly all around Japan, it makes an ideal dining option for any traveller!

Naritaya

It is not uncommon for Ramen shops to use pork broth as the soup base or chashu for the Ramen toppings. But fret not, fellow Muslim travellers! Naritaya, who opened just earlier this year, is pioneering the Halal Ramen revolution so that people from all around the world can share in the enjoyment of Ramen.


Welcoming customers from all walks of life | Photo Source

In its carefully thought-out Halal menu, Naritaya does not use any pork or alcohol in its preparation of food. Ingredients for their Ramen include noodles made from domestic wheat produced at its very own noodle factory, refreshing chicken broth as its soup base, and toppings such as the usual nori seaweed, seasoned bamboo shoots, green onions and boiled egg.


Halal Ramen – First of its kind! | Photo Source

Embracing the internationality of its diners, the Japanese-ran Naritaya also has instructions in English plastered on its walls on how to eat their personalised Ramen. Naritaya even has a prayer room for its Muslims diners, including an arrow on the ceiling pointing to Mecca. This thoughtful Ramen stall sure deserves a thumbs-up!


Step-by-step Guide | Photo Source

Prayer Room | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 2 Chome 7-13 Asakua, Taito-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY1000~
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 11am – 10pm; Sat & Sun: 8am – 8pm
  • Halal Status: Certified by Japan Islamic Trust

T’s Tan Tan

As farmers’ markets become a regular feature on Tokyo’s urban landscape and diners choose to be increasingly health-conscious, we see more vegetarian restaurants and more places offering vegetarian menus to cater to the change in taste. Priding itself for using “smile veggie”, T’s Tan Tan uses only fresh vegetables and soy-meat to create a range of delicious Japanese-Western fusion dishes, including the unique vegan ramen!


Bestseller! T’s Shoyu Ramen | Photo Source
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For spicy-flavour lovers! Shiro TanTan | Photo Source

Located at an inconspicuous corner in JR Tokyo Station, favourable reviews rave of T’s Tan Tan creative and amazing vegan ramen, which is topped with soymeat, beansprout, green onion, seasoned chinese bamboo shoot and seaweed. I don’t know about you, but soymeat sure sounds enticing for eat-clean-foodies like us!!

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Tokyo’s first vegan ramen! | Photo Source

Simple interior to house hungry customers | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: Keiyo Street, Tokyo Station, 1-9-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY1000~
  • Opening Hours: Daily: 7am – 11pm
  • Halal Status: Not Halal certified, but welcomes Muslim diners (Vegetarian Restaurant)
  • Official Website: http://ts-restaurant.jp/tantan/

5. KAISEKI

Kaiseki refers to a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner that originates from the 16th century tea ceremony rituals. A culinary art form of the highest degree, it shows off the chef’s skills and techniques in preparing a meal that would utterly tantalize their diners’ taste buds.

Minokichi

Minokichi was founded in 1716 by Jurobe Satake, descendant of the highly respected Akita Satake Samurai Clan, and has a rich history in preparing the Kyoto Kaiseki cuisine. It While based in Kyoto, Minokichi has devoted to designing Halal menus for at least one of its branches in Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo.

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Exquisite food models by the Shop Entrance | Photo Source

The Muslim-Friendly menus encompass a myriad of Kyoto dishes, including traditional Japanese appetizers of  seasonal dish,  beef shabushabu, grilled fish, halal tempura, assorted simmered vegetables and more! All ingredients are meticulously prepared to ensure that the food does not include pork or alcohol. If you are craving for a slow-paced, finely detailed and delicious meal, this is your to-go!

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Kyoto Kaiseki in a Box! | Photo Source

Instagram-worthy Food! | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: Spice Ikebukuro Tobu 15F 1-1-25, Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY3000~ (Lunch); JPY7000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 11am – 11pm; Sun & Pub Hols: 7pm – 10pm (Closed on New Year’s Day & 3rd Wed of February and Aug)
  • Halal Status: Certified by Kyoto Council for Sharia and Halal Affairs
  • Official Website: http://www.japanese-kyoto-cuisine.com/
    *Reservations 2 days in advance required!

Kusumoto 

Located in the heart of Nishi-Azabu, a quaint and serene location that homes small restaurants and bars, Kusumoto aims to provide Muslims living or visiting Japan a taste of authentic Japanese food. Serving a brilliantly designed Halal Kaiseki, the restaurant only allows dine-in during dinner. Nevetheless, one can still order their beautiful Bento boxes for lunch delivery to your door-step!


Bento delivery for lunch on a restful day! | Photo Source

Dinner Dine-in | Photo Source

The beautiful restaurant is extremely committed to its Halal standards – all cookwares for halal menu are completely labelled and kept in specific places whilst all ingredients used for the Halal menu, even right down to the details such as  their seasoning, are Halal certified! If you are ever shopping around the Roppongi Hills area, be sure to check out this chic diner~

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 3-23-5, Nishi-Azabu, Minatoku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY2000~ (Lunch – Bento Delivery ONLY); JPY10,000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 6pm – 11pm; (Closed on Closed on Sun & Pub Hols)
  • Halal Status: Certified by Nippon Asia Halal Association
  • Official Website: http://www.tokyomuslim.jp
    *Reservations required! 5 days in advance for lunch delivery; 2 days in advance for dinner

6. FINE DINING

Kozue

Throwback to the olden days with traditional amber wood and handmade pottery and waitresses in kimonos – then past forward again to the modern times where you dine in a quiet restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooks the Tokyo Skyline. That interplay between Japanese traditional and modern culture is exactly what Kozue sells.

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Pamper yourself to luxurious scenery and food | Photo Source

Breathtaking scenery | Photo Source

Resting on the 40th floor of Park Hyatt hotel, one can even see amazing views of Mount Fuji on e a clear day. While the restaurant may be pricier than most other Halal options, it continues to be highly recommended by online Muslim travel guides. As expected of a luxury brand, the service is known to be top-notch. The waiters and waitresses explain with much patience and details the ingredients used to prepare each dish – all of which that retains the traditional element despite the restaurant’s setting – as they serve the exquisitely designed dishes to their customers.


Sashimi – Perfectly sliced! | Photo Source
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Yonezawa Sirloin wrapped in Hoba Leaf | Photo Source
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Doesn’t this look too pretty to be eaten? | Photo Source

In a nutshell:

  • Address: 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
  • Average Price: JPY3000~ (Lunch); JPY10,000~ (Dinner)
  • Opening Hours: Daily: 1130am – 230pm (Lunch); 530pm – 930pm (Dinner)
  • Halal Status: NIL
  • Official Website: http://tokyo.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/dining/Kozue.html
    *Reservations required!
    *Dress Code: Smart Casual (Sportswear/ Beachwear not allowed)

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore.

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Anghela in Harajuku and Haneda Airport

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan.
Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column! 

I’m Satoru, a 3rd year university student and I am a staff of Japan Tour Guide.
This time, I guided Anghela, a university student from Barcelona to Harajuku and Haneda International Airport by myself. She has a cousin who is currently in Japan to study and Anghela said it was one of the reasons why she visited Japan this time so that she could meet her.

As she was busy while in Japan, I divided the whole guide into two parts. For the first part, we mainly went to the Monster Café in Harajuku. We met at Sugamo at first, where a Japanese summer festival was being held at the time and headed to Harajuku Station before long.

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Monster Café located in Harajuku is really popular among foreign tourists because you can eat very Harajuku-style dishes and see stuff which is available only there!!

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When you order something, you can use this cute device and the cake the staff brought us was so unique and amazing.

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I was happy to hear that Anghela was satisfied with the experience in Harajuku.
If you have opportunities to visit Harajuku, Monster Café is definitely one of the places you must see!

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When it comes to the second part, we went to Haneda International Airport on another day.
Some of you reading this may wonder why of all places I chose the airport for the guide. Against your image of a typical airport, Haneda International Airport is different from the others in terms of that you can see and touch very Japanese stuff and spend a good couple of hours there.

Let me introduce some of them.

1. The replica of the famous bridge Nihonbashi.
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This bridge was first constructed in Tokyo in the Edo period (about 400 years ago) .
It has been rebuilt 19 times and has been contributing to the prosperity of Tokyo for a long time.

2. Japanese style resting place
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Crossing bridge, you can see such a beautiful resting place on the right side. Since there is a famous Japanese cafe which serves green tea and sweets near this resting place, I think it good to order take-out and eat them while sitting here.

3. Great view from the observation deck
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From the observation deck, you can see such an amazing view for free!! Since the planes waiting for departure are so close that you can see every detail and the ground illuminated by many colored lights is beyond description.

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That is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide.
We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!

Furugiya – Second-hand clothing shops in Tokyo

If you have been to Tokyo multiple times and have gotten bored of shopping along Ginza or Harajuku, it’s time to venture onto an alternative shopping experience; it’s time to explore vintage shopping.

Furugiya (vintage or second-hand clothes) shops are fairly common throughout Japan, but Tokyo has some of the best shops, with the best selection of items. Depending on the type of store, you may find regular second hand clothes, previous season’s designer items or designer vintage pieces, at a fraction of their original prices.

During my visit, I went to the stores along Harajuku Street near Tokyu Plaza, Ura-Hara area behind Omotesando and Shibuya.

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Pigsty at Urahara. The owners actually started out in Osaka before opening their 2nd branch in Tokyo.

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This street behind Omotesando leads to a few unique Americana vintage shops and the famous Ragtag.

The stores around Harajuku have a strong flavor of American culture, where you can find items from American brands such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. Some of the stores also carry a huge stash of southwestern printed items for all your bohemian needs.

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Rama, a store on Harajuku street filled with Americana vintage goods.

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Berberjin is another store along Harajuku street. They have an online site too.

Two must-see stores around Harajuku would be Jumble Store and Ragtag. Both stores are part of a larger chain and have online stores which you can browse before visiting. Jumble Store carries quite a range of items, from Dickies jeans to the latest designer labels such as Dior Homme and Balmain. However, going through the racks to find a designer item of your size will require time, effort and patience. If you only wish to find designer items, Ragtag would be better. Their store only carries famous labels; both mid-level priced as well as designer.

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A 2-storey standalone Jumble store in Harajuku

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For truly vintage items, I recommend Kodona and Sullen around Shibuya. Both stores are rather hard to access, but contain true gems. Carefully curated and extremely popular, both stores have to change their inventory frequently to keep up with demand. During my visit, I found beautiful vintage Christian Dior, Kenzo and Burberry pieces that were still in good condition.

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Kodona.

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Kodona’s décor blends and enhances the pieces that they have in the store.

Before becoming too excited, here are some pointers to note when visiting:

Check: Check the pieces carefully. Some stores will have labels indicating defects or issues with the products. Do not be too excited about the discount given. Also check the stitching and condition and make your own judgment.

Ask: If unsure about an item, do ask the owners. They will be able to provide valuable information, such as the age of the item, condition of the item as well as care methods. They will also be able to provide you styling advice if you are unsure about a vintage item, but absolutely cannot do without it. They should also be able to provide advice on whether alterations should be done or not.

Enjoy: The entire process feels like a treasure hunt. Even if the item is not in your size, enjoy finding beautiful and interesting clothes while digging through the racks.

Decide: Most items are unique and there is only one. Decide if alterations can be done and if you truly would like the item. If you let it go, you probably would not find it again. So, choose wisely.

 

Contributed by Dwight Tan

Read the original articles on WAttention Singapore.

Kewpie and Veggie Buddies Cafe

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Another awesome place to have lunch in Shibuya! Kewpie and Veggie Buddies Cafe just opened in Shibuya for a limited period of time until September 23. The cafe’s concept is to deepen your love of vegetables. And it’s definitely working for us!

Their mouthwatering lunch items include a wonderful Egg & Shrimp Cobb Salad (available from Aug 24 – Sep 8) and an energizing Chicken and Grapefruit “Power Salad” (available from Sep 9 – 23).

Egg & Shrimp Cobb Salad
Egg & Shrimp Cobb Salad
Chicken and Grapefruit "Power Salad"
Chicken and Grapefruit “Power Salad”

While their dinner menu offers Romaine Lettuce Grilled Caesar Salad and Fresh Vegetables with Colorful Mayo Dip 4-ways
Romaine Lettuce Grilled Caesar Salad
Romaine Lettuce Grilled Caesar Salad
Fresh Vegetables with Colorful Mayo Dip 4-ways
Fresh Vegetables with Colorful Mayo Dip 4-ways

They also have some cute Kewpie and Veggie Buddies merchandise, so make sure to check it out!

Information

sub9Kewpie and Veggie Buddies Café
Hours: 11am – 11pm (last order: 10pm)
Access: A 10-min walk from JR Shibuya Station
Address: 2F Royal Garden Cafe Shibuya, 4-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya
URL: http://www.kewpie.co.jp/event/yasai_cafe2016/tokyo/index.html (Japanese)

Ninja ID: ururumeru


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Melissa Wullur
I’m an amateur writer and avid reader who’s been living in Japan since 2007. I enjoy reading and writing about food, travel, and quirky trivia. I treat 100 yen shopping as therapy.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Running around the Imperial Palace

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As more and more runners hit the streets, the surroundings of the Imperial Palace have become a Mecca for runners; just like Central Park in NYC. Arguably the most popular running course in Tokyo, the parameters around the Imperial Palace is booming for several good reasons:

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1. Easy access

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The course is right in the city center, and can be easily reached via seven subway stations on four different lines.

2. Convenient facilities

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Along the course, there are no lack of toilets, water fountains, and vending machines. Catering for office workers who want to hit the road before or after work, runner’s stations fitted with changing rooms and shower facilities have been built in recent years. You can even take a dip in one of the nearby public baths after a good run.

3. Safety

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Needless to say, there are lots of police guarding the Palace, making it a safe place to run even at night.

4. Great running course

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The course is traffic free and with good views. You will be greeted by spacious moats, stone walls, trees, and of course, modern buildings on the other side of the road. One lap of the course is around 5km, making it a perfect run for both beginners and experienced runners. As if to add a few more incentives, there are distance markers representing each prefecture in Japan, so you can honestly tell everyone you’ve run all the way from Niigata to Nagano.

5. Run with others

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It is getting popular among office workers to have a drink together after a good run. The increase of well-designed and fashionable running ware also encouraged more female runners to put on their running shoes.

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Because the running course is so popular, it can be crowded on weekends. As more and more runners join the running boom, runner’s etiquette has become a concern recently. To respond to the concerns, the local tourism association has come up with 10 guidelines. If you become one of the Imperial Palace runners, just remember one thing: the route is not reserved only for runners.

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Eddie & Pete in Asakusa & Shibuya

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan.
Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column! 

We received a guide request from Eddie and Pete from the US. They are colleagues and Pete has been in Japan on business trips before. This time, two of the members of Japan Tour Guide, Kazuhiro Takano and Tomoka Kosuge showed them around Tokyo! They met up in Akihabara.

First, our guides took them to Asakusa to let them enjoy Japanese traditional atmosphere. It was so busy with both visitors from other countries and even Japanese. They seemed to be interested in the rickshaws called “Jinriki-sha” in Japanese, which are really popular in Asakusa. They all took a picture in front of “Kaminarimon-gate”, and then took a walk along “Nakmise-street”.

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They were little bit hungry by this time, so they bought some “Ningyo-yaki” which is a pancake stuffed with sweetened bean paste or custard. The ones they had were freshly baked, so they were lucky to get the best ones!

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Then, they headed to the confectionery store, “Kagetsu-do” which is famous for its melon shaped bun. It’s really popular now and they took to it very much. They also had a Japanese dessert, “Anmitsu,” which is a Sweetened Red Beans Parfait with some pieces of fruits served in syrup. They all were able to enjoy such Japanese sweets in Asakusa, so if you like sweets, I guess Asakusa would be the best spot to enjoy them!

Then, they left Asakusa, and moved to Shibuya. They walked to “Shibuya KAMO” to buy the uniforms of “Gamba-Osaka”, a famous Japanese soccer team, as a souvenir to their friend.

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After that, they went to Don Quijote to buy matcha flavored Kit Kats. They told our guides that it is really popular in their country. So they looked really happy to purchase a lot of them.

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Then, our guides heard that the guests had wanted to eat sushi, so they took them to the sushi restaurant, “Sushi Zanmai” for dinner. They have few opportunities to eat sushi in their hometowns, so they seemed to be satisfied with eating the sushi along with some alcohol. They all enjoyed the meal and had a good time with each other.

After finishing dinner, they saw Eddie and Pete off to the station platform, and then said goodbye.

That is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide.
We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!

Five places to enjoy the Olympics in Tokyo before 2020

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1. View exciting live broadcasts of the Rio Games in Ueno Park

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Want to follow the Olympic Games but don’t feel like watching TV at home or in your hotel room? Then join the crowds at Ueno Park and cheer for your favorite athletes by watching live broadcasts shown on a big screen. Apart from various stage events and sport experience sessions, I was most impressed with the realistic multimedia footage of athletes’ performances shown on a screen with a length of 30m! Also don’t forget to get a free Tokyo 2020 pin badge by filling out a simple questionnaire.

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Tokyo 2020 Live Site in 2016 – from Rio to Tokyo –
Dates: Aug. 6, 2016 – Aug. 22, 2016 and Sep. 8, 2016 – Sep. 19, 2016
Hours: 9am – 6pm
Admission: free
Location: Ueno Park (check the website for five other venues in suburb Tokyo and Tohoku area)
URL: click here


2. Buy Tokyo 2020 official merchandises in Shibuya or Ginza

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Get official licensed Tokyo 2020 products before anyone else! Selection ranges from t-shirts and towels to souvenirs such as pin badges and key holders.

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Dates: Jul. 29, 2016 – Sep. 19, 2016
Hours: 10:30am – 8:30pm (Shibuya); 11am – 8:pm (Ginza)
Location: Tokyu Toyoko Store 2F concourse (Shibuya) and Tokyu Plaza Ginza 6F (Ginza)
URL: click here (Japanese only)


3. Experience various sport activities at Tokyo Sports Expo

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The annual event features a whole range of sport experience sessions instructed by Olympic medalists and other top athletes. Definitely a great chance to experience and develop an interest in various kinds of sport activities!

Tokyo Sports Expo 2016
Dates: Oct. 8, 2016 – Oct. 9, 2016
Hours: 10am – 5pm
Admission: free
Location: Komazawa Olympic Park, Koganei Park
URL: click here (Japanese only)


4. Watch a baseball game in Yokohama Stadium

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Baseball the national pastime of Japan will return to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020 after a 12-year hiatus. Though not has been confirmed yet, Yokohama Stadium, home of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, is emerging as the most likely candidate to host the baseball games during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. So why not catch the baseball fever before 2020 by watching a BayStars game at Yokohama Stadium?

*The professional baseball season starts in April and ends in October.

Yokohama Stadium
Access: 3 minutes walk from Kannai Station on JR Negishi Line.
URL: click here (Japanese only)


5. Revisit Tokyo 1964 at Komazawa Olympic Park

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Though National Stadium, the main venue for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, has been demolished to make way for a new stadium for 2020, you can still get a taste of the 1964 Games at Komazawa Olympic Park, the second site for the 1964 Olympics when facilities such as athletic fields and gymnasium were used as venues for soccer, wrestling, and other competitions. It was opened to the public after the Olympics, and is also one of the venues for the above mentioned Tokyo Sports Expo.

Komazawa Olympic Park
Access: 10 minutes walk from Komazawa-daigaku Station on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line.
URL: click here

August 2016 Fireworks Festivals Schedule – In & Around Tokyo

Here comes the second part of our Fireworks Festivals Schedule! All big Events In & Around Tokyo for August are featured in this article.  Get your Yukata ready!

Tokyo

The 34th Koto Fireworks Festival

Date: August 1st (Monday), 7:30pm – 8:30pm
This fireworks display will be held along the Arakawa River. In case of light rain, the event takes place. In case of stormy weather, the fireworks display moves to the next day, August 2nd (Tuesday).
Visitors last year: 350,000 people
Number of fireworks: 4,000
Access: Tokyo Metro Tozai Line –> Minami-Sunamachi Station, Exit No. 2A or 3 (15min walk)
Address: Arakawa・Sunamachi Mizube Koen, 8-22 Higashi Suna, Koto-ku

63rd Todabashi & 57th Itabashi Fireworks Festival

DSC_0486Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks festival features two festivals which are very close to each other and count as one. The Arakawa river separates those both places, Toda City belongs to Saitama Prefecture and Itabashi belongs to Tokyo. Therefore you can enjoy the festival from both sides of the river. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: Itabashi Area 520,000 / Todabashi Area 420,000
Number of fireworks:  12,000
Access & Address:
① Todabashi Fireworks Festival (Arakawa Kasenshiki, Todabashi Joryu, Japan National Route 17, Toda-shi, Saitama)
JR Saikyo Line -> Toda Koen Station (20min walk)
② Itabashi Fireworks Festival (Arakawa Kasenshiki, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo)
JR Saikyo Line -> Ukima Funado Station / Toei Mita Line -> Takashimadaira Station・Nishidai Station・Hasune Station (20min walk)

41st Edogawa-ku Fireworks Festival & 32nd Ichikawa Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

DSC_0487Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:15pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks festival features two festivals which are very close to each other and count as one. It is located at the border of Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 1,390,000 (Edogawa-ku 900,000 / Ichikawa-shi 490,000)
Number of fireworks:  14,000
Access & Address:
① Edogawa-ku Fireworks Festival (Edogawa Kasenshiki, Toritsu Shinozaki Koen, Kamishinozaki 1-25, Edogawa-ku)
Toei Shinjuku Line -> Shinozaki Station (15min walk); JR Sobu Line -> Koiwa Sation/ Keisei Line -> Edogawa Station (25min walk)
② Ichikawa Summer Nights Fireworks Festival (Ozu 3, Ichikawa-shi, Chiba )
JR Soba Line -> Ichikawa Station (15min walk); JR Sobu Line -> Motoyawata Station (30min walk) , Keisei Line -> Konodai Station (20min walk)

Jingu Gaien Fireworks Festival

DSC_0193Date: August 20th (Saturday), 7:30pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks festival acts as a charity at the same time, concentrating on the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Kumamoto Earthquake. Popular artists will perform as well. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, August 21st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 1,000,000 people
Number of fireworks:  12,000
Access: JR Sobu Line -> Sendagaya Station・Shinanomachi Station・Yoyogi Station; Tokyo Metro Lines -> Gaienmae Station・Aoyama-Itchome Station・Omotesando Station・Kitasando station; Toei Oedo Line -> Kokuritsu-Kyogijo
Address: Meiji Jingu Gaien, Minato-ku, Shibuya-ku, Shinjuku-ku

Movie City Chofu – Summer Fireworks Festival (34th Chofu Fireworks Festival)

DSC_0464Date: August 21st (Sunday), 6:50pm – 7:50pm (*Paid seats are available)
Since Chofu is the movie city of Tokyo (many movie production companies are located in this area) the fireworks festival comes along with music out of popular movies.
In case of stormy weather, the event will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 380,000 people
Number of fireworks:  8,000
Access: Fuda Area: Keio Line -> Chofu Station (25min), Keio Tamagawa Area: Keio Line -> Keio Tamagawa Station (10min walk)

Kanagawa

2016 Yokosuka Fireworks Festival

DSC_0151Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:15pm – 7:45pm
150 booths are set up to enjoy local food. In case of stormy weather, the event will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 223,000 people
Number of fireworks:  5,000
Access: Keikyu Line -> Yokosuka Chuo Station (25min walk)
Address: Umikaze Koen, Mikasa Koen, Yokosuka-shi

70th Atsugi Ayu Summer and Fireworks Festival

Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7pm ~
In the end of the Ayu Summer Festival, about 10,000 fireworks will turn the sky into a mood-enhancing play of lights and colors.  While watching the fireworks you can taste local dishes which are prepared by the 400 booths which are set up around the area. In case of stormy weather, the event will be postponed.
Visitors last year: 180,000 people
Number of fireworks: 10,000
Access: Odakyu Odawara Line –> Hon-Atsugi Station – North Exit (15min walk)
Address: Sagamigawa Kasenshiki Sansen Goryuten, Atsugi-shi

42nd Southern Beach Chigasaki Fireworks Festival

DSC_1129Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:30pm – 8:20pm
Booths are set up to try local food while watching the fireworks display. In case of stormy weather, the event will move to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 80,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: JR Tokaido Main Line・Sagami Line –> Chigasaki Station – South Exit (20min walk)
Address: Southern Beach Chigasaki, Chigasaki Kaisuiyokujo, Nakakaigan 4-12986, Chigasaki-shi

36th Miura Kaigan Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

Date: August 9th (Tuesday), 7:30pm – 8:15pm
The fireworks will be set off from the sea and you can enjoy the view while sitting on the beach. 90 booths selling local food are prepared. In case of rainy or stormy weather, the event will move to the next day, August 10th (Saturday).
Visitors last year: 105,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: Keihin Kyuko Kurihama Line –>Miurakaigan Station (3min walk)
Address: Sagamigawa Kasenshiki Sansen Goryuten, Atsugi-shi

75th Tamagawa Fireworks Festival

Date: August 20th (Saturday), 6:30pm – 8pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and will be held along the Tama River. 200 booths are set up to enjoy local food. In case of stormy weather, the event will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 308,000 people
Number of fireworks:  6,000
Access: Tokyu Den’entoshi Line -> Futako-Shinchi Station (15min walk – Kawasaki Area), Oimachi Line -> Kaminoge Station (8min Tokyo Area)
Address: Tamagawa Kasenshiki, Futakobashi  ~ Daisan Keihin Doro, Takatsu-ku, Kawasaki-shi

66th Shonan Hiratsuka Fireworks Festival

Date: Friday August 26th (Friday), 7pm – 8pm
In the end of the Ayu Summer Festival, about 10,000 fireworks will turn the sky into a mood-enhancing play of lights and colors.  While watching the fireworks you can taste local dishes which are prepared among the 400 booths which are set up around the area. In case of stormy weather, the event will be postponed.
Visitors last year: 140,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: JR Tokaido Main Line –> Hiratsuka Station – South Exit -> 10min Bus ride into Sukaminato direction until the last stop (5min walk)
Address: Sagamigawa Kako, Shonan Itako, Hiratsuka-shi

42nd Kanazawa Fireworks Festival

Date: August 27th (Saturday), 7pm – 8pm
This fireworks display will be held in front of Tokyo Bay. About 20 booths are set up to enjoy local food while watching the fireworks display. In case of rain, the event takes place. In case of stormy weather, the fireworks display will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 280,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,500
Access: Kanazawa Seaside Line –> Uminokoen-Minamiguchi Station・Uminokoen-Shibaguchi Station (right in front); Keikyu Main Line -> Kanazawa-Bunko Station (20min walk)
Address: Kanazawa-ku Uminokoen, Uminokoen 10, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama-shi

45th Sagamihara Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

Date: August 27th (Saturday), 6:45pm – 8:15pm (*Paid seats are available)
About 200 booths are set up to enjoy local food while watching the fireworks display. In case of stormy weather, or floodwater of Sagami-river, the event moves to the next day, August 28th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 200,000 people
Number of fireworks:
8,000
Access: JR Yokohama Line –> Sagamihara Station – South Exit -> Bus No. 17 into Suigotana direction via Tana Bus Terminal until the last stop (5min walk)
Address: Sagamigawa Takatabashi Joryu, Suigotana, Chuo-ku, Sagamihara-shi

Chiba

Teganuma Fireworks Festival 2016

DSC_1196Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
The fireworks will be set off at three different areas which are located close to each other. For example, the first venue features characters loved by kids, and the second one shows a fantastic fireworks display set off on water. Booths are set up at the Akibo area to enjoy local food. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 410,000 people
Number of fireworks: 13,500
Address & Access:
① Kashiwa Spot 1 (Teganuma Shizen Fureai Ryokudo・Kita-Chiba Dosui Visitor Center  Area)
Access: JR Joban Line –> Kita-Kashiwa Station (25min walk); Kashiwa Station – East Exit (40min walk)
② Kashiwa Spot 2 (Teganuma Shizen Fureai Ryokudo・Michi no Eki  Area)
Access: JR Joban Line -> Kashiwa Station – East Exit -> Bus Platform No.5 -> Tobu Bus into Shonan direction -> 20min ride until Oi (20min walk)
③ Abiko Spot (Teganuma Koen  Area)
Access: JR Joban Line -> Abiko Station – South exit (10min walk)

The 890th Anniversary of the foundation of Chiba-City
Makuhari Beach Fireworks Festival 2016 (38th Chiba Fireworks Festival)

Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:30pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and it is popular for reading special messages like marriage and birthday slogans while setting up the fireworks. Booths are set up to enjoy delicious festival food during the event. In case of stormy weather the fireworks festival will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 300,000 people
Number of fireworks: 15,000
Access: JR Keiyo Line –> Kaihin-Makuhari Station (15min walk)
Address: Makuhari Kaihin Koen, Mihama 1, Mihama-ku, Chiba-shi

56th Sakura Fireworks Festival

Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and will be set off from the water. Booths selling local food are set up. In case of stormy weather the fireworks festival will move to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 160,000 people
Number of fireworks: 16,000
Access: Keisei Main Line –> Keisei-Usui Station (30min walk)
Address: Sakura Furusato Hiroba (Inbanuma Kohan), Usuita 2714, Sakura-shi

40th Nagareyama Fireworks Festival

Date: August 20th (Saturday), 7pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and is also called “Nagareyama Sky Musical”. Booths selling local food are set up. In case of stormy weather the fireworks festival will move to August 26th (Friday).
Visitors last year: 165,000 people
Number of fireworks: 10,000
Access: Ryutetsu Nagareyama Line –> Nagareyama Station・Heiwadai Station (5min walk); Tsukuba Express -> Nagareyama Central Park Station -> Free Shuttle Bus until Ryutetsu Nagareyama Line –  Nagareyama Station
Address: Edogawa Tsutsumi, Nagareyama 1~3, Nagareyama-shi

69th Kisarazu Port and Fireworks Festival

Date: August 15th (Monday), 7:15pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
The fireworks display will be the highlight of the Kisarazu Port Festival. 500 booths are set up to enjoy typical festival food, as well as playing festival games. In case of rainy weather the fireworks festival will move to the next day, August 16th (Tuesday).
Visitors last year: 120,000 people
Number of fireworks: 10,000
Access: JR Uchibo Line –> Kisarazu Station (15min walk)
Address: Kisarazu-Ko Naiko, Naka no Shima, Kisarazu-shi

Saitama

33rd Asaka Festival (Saika-Festival)

DSC_0471Date: August 6th (Saturday), 7:15pm – 8:15pm (*Paid seats are available)
The fireworks display will be the highlight of the Asaka Saikasai, which takes place from Friday August 5th until Sunday August 7th. 300 booths are set up to enjoy typical festival food and playing festival games. In case of stormy weather the fireworks festival will move to the next day, August 7th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 280,000 people
Number of fireworks: 9,000
Access: Tobu Tojo Line –> Asaka Station (5min walk)
Address: Camp Asaka Atochi, Asaka-shi

38th Tatara Festival & Fireworks Festival

Date: August 7th (Sunday), 7:45pm – 8:30pm
The highlight of the Tatara Festival will be the fireworks display. 160 booths are set up to enjoy typical festival food, as well as playing festival games. In case of rain, the fireworks festival will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 160,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: Saitama Rapid Railway Line –> Minami-Hatogaya Station (15min walk)
Address: Kawaguchi Autorace, Aoki 5-21-1, Kawaguchi-shi

Higashi Matsuyama Fireworks Festival

Date: August 27th (Saturday); 7pm – 9pm
30 booths are set up to enjoy typical festival food. In case of light rain, the fireworks festival takes place. In case of storm and rain, the event moves to August 28th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 90,000 people
Number of fireworks: 5,000
Access: Tobu Tojo Line –> Takasaka Station (15min walk)
Address: Tokigawa  Riverside Park, Ooaza Takasaka 700-1, Higashi-Matsuyama-shi

Saitama City Fireworks Festival 2016 (Higashi-Urawa Omagikoen)

Date: August 11th (Thursday); 7:30pm ~
The light up of the garden due to the fireworks offers a beautiful sight. 250 booths are set up to enjoy local dishes. In case of light rain, the fireworks festival takes place. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to August 12th (Friday).
Visitors last year: 80,000 people
Number of fireworks: 5,000
Access: JR Musashino Line –> Higashi-Urawa Station (20min walk)
Address: Omagikoen Area, Midori-ku, Saitama-shi

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Shibuya’s Peko-chan Restaurant

In the heart of Shibuya, across from Shibuya 109 you can find a branch of Fujiya Restaurant featuring its cute mascot character Peko-chan.

DSC_0006 Fujiya Food Service Co., Ltd. famous throughout Japan for its confectionery stores and restaurants, opened its first store in 1910 in Yokohama. The chain’s mascot is a little girl with pigtails who is constantly licking her lips.

Her name is Peko-chan, a play on the word ‘peko peko’ which is the onomatopoetic sound for being hungry or peckish in Japanese. You can spot a figure of her in front of every Fujiya pastry shop and restaurant, greeting customers. Here is Peko-chan and her boyfriend, Poko-chan sitting above a store in Kamakura right next to Kamakura Station.

The restaurant in Shibuya offers a cheap lunch menu with great value.DSC_0662

The advertisement says pasta & parfait lunch, including a salad and drink for only 950 yen (tax included)! We were curious and had to try it!

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You have the choice between six different main dishes, including pasta, gratin and doria/pilaf dishes, five parfaits and several beverages.

It was a hard decision, but in the end we ordered the shrimp & chicken macaroni gratin and the custard-pudding strawberry parfait.

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Our stomaches were filled and the taste was really good!

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You can even celebrate your birthday together here with Peko-chan.

For every 500 yen you spend at the restaurant you will get one stamp on your point-card and if you collect several points you can exchange them for special Peko-chan goods at the restaurant.

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After collecting two point cards you can receive this cute, round box for example!

Information

Hours: 11am – 11pm
Tel: 03-3477-2226
Access: 5 min walk from Shibuya Station (Hachiko Exit)
Address: Sanrui Building 2 F, Udagawa-cho 26-2, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
URL: http://shop.fujiya-peko.co.jp/b/fujiya/info/84129/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Beer and Soul Food @ B-1 Grand Prix Shokudo

The annual B-1 Grand Prix started as an event aimed to promote Japan’s regional dishes though now the focus has shifted to a more holistic approach, promoting the local towns and cities instead of just the food. Even though this event was credited for starting the B-kyu gurume (B-grade gourmet) boom that swept the nation, the “B” in B-1 actually stands for Brand, with each region bringing their own brand to the table. And the quality of what they’re bringing is definitely not B-grade!

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The B-1 Grand Prix Shokudo Aki-Oka Caravane in Akihabara is the first certified place to serve award-winning B-1 dishes within Tokyo so you can enjoy 16 delectable local dishes from 16 different prefectures, all within a 3-minute walk from Akihabara station! Prices range from 300-700yen.

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As if that’s not enough, their summer beer event lets you drink all the alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks you can drink in 1 hour for 980 yen.

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This year’s local cuisine beer garden will continue until Sep. 30.

Information

B-1 Grand Prix Shokudo Aki-Oka Caravane
Address: 15-1 Kanda Neribeicho, Chiyoda Tokyo
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-9pm Sat-Sun, Holidays 11am-8pm
Access: 3 min. walk from Electrical Town Exit, JR Akihabara station
URL: http://www.jrtk.jp/b-1gp/index.html (Japanese)

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Jerome in Oshiage and Asakusa

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan.
Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column! 

We received a guiding request from a Belgian guy, Jerome, who teaches mathematics in Belgium. Although it was his first time to come to Japan, I heard that he had been interested in Japanese culture. He wanted to go to somewhere we recommend, so Yurie Nakamura and myself, Yuka Takada, took him to some interesting places to see and hang out in Tokyo. We met up with him at Oshiage station.

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First, we went to Tokyo Skytree which is known as the tallest tower in the world. It was built three years ago in 2013 and the number of tourists has been increasing year by year. We took the elevator up to the observatory which was 350 meters high. On that day, it was cloudy and the sky was not so clear so we couldn’t see the view very much. If it was sunny, we could have enjoyed the magnificent view from there.

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Then, we headed for Tokyo Solamachi. It stands by Skytree and has quite a few things to see. Many of the stores were targeted at tourists from other countries. For lunch we had udon, a kind of noodle made of wheat flour. The guest, Jerome ordered udon topped with sliced beef. He seemed to have liked it and we all were satisfied with this familiar Japanese cuisine!

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After having lunch, we went to Asakusa. I heard that one of the famous Japanese style confectionery stores Kagetsu-do in Asakusa holds an event during the summer season, so we took him there to experience a little Japanese tradition. Have you heard of “Kingyo Sukui” before? It means “goldfish scooping” in Japanese. Kingyo Sukui is a traditional Japanese game which is often seen in Japanese summer festivals or Ennichi. The rules are so simple that both children and adults can enjoy this game. Of course it was his first time but he was pretty good at scooping goldfish! Surprisingly, he got more than 10 ones which was even better than the Japanese Ms. Nakamura did. He looked really enjoyed this Japanese tradition, so we hope he likes Japan much more now!

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After taking the last picture together in front of Asakusa station, we said goodbye.

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That is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide.
We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!

A Visit to the Kawaii Monster Café in Harajuku

Wattention staff visits the Kawaii Monster Café in Harajuku!

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This café is exactly what Harajuku stands for: crazy – psychedelic – cute – strange – spooky!

The layout of the café resembles the belly of the chopstick monster. The belly symbolises Harajuku, it creates its own crazy culture by swallowing all the world’s fashion trends and turning it into Harajuku Fashion.
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The concept of the restaurant was made by the Diamond Dining group – owner of the Alice in Wonderland theme restaurants, and Sebastian Masuda – owner of the 6% Doki Doki boutique and creator of the layout for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu´s Number one hit “Pon Pon Pon”.

While entering the café you will walk down the tongue of Choppy the monster.

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The doors open and you are in front of the cake shaped Merry-go-round called “Sweets Go Round”.

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The café is divided into four differently designed areas – “Mushroom Disco”, “Milk Stand”, “Bar Experiment” and the “Mel-Tea Room”. We were welcomed by two cute “Monster Girls” in crazy outfits and were guided to our seats in the “Milk Stand” area.

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The “Milk Stand” area features huge neon animal heads and milk bottles hanging down from the ceiling.

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The “Mushroom Disco” is a forest of mushrooms and huge flowers, with private seat areas.

 

We received the summer lunch menu and decided to go for the Colorful Pop Burger.

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The menu includes a salad, a drink, the main dish and a mini-parfait. You can choose to upgrade your dessert or drink by paying some extra money.

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While waiting for the food, a 10-minute show by the Monster Girls started in front and on top of the merry-go-round!

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The Monster Girls are wearing specially made crazy costumes in all different styles. Their stage names were Candy, Dolly, Baby, Crazy and Nasty. All of them speak English, and Chinese and Korean services are available as well.

After leaving the café you will reach the merchandise area where you can purchase a lot of Kawaii Monster goods!

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It was an interesting experience to immerse yourself into this crazy and unique world of Harajuku.

Read also: Let’s Talk Subculture Vol. 9 for a more in-depth review of the subculture behind the cafe.

Information

Kawaii Monster Café

Hours:
Monday to Saturday Lunch Time 11:30am – 4:30pm (Last Order 4pm); Dinner Time 6pm – 10:30 (Last Order 10pm)
Sundays and Public Holidays Lunch Time 11am – 8pm (Last Order 7:30pm)
Entrance Fee: 500 yen per person
Address: YM Square Building 4F, 4-31-10, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: A 7-min walk from Harajuku Station (Omotesando Exit)
URL: http://kawaiimonster.jp/pc/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Godzilla in Shibuya

If Godzilla were to really appear in Shibuya, we at WAttention would definitely run for our lives (or maybe not, depending on our next publishing deadline).

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Thankfully, this one is pretty harmless, even though he appears to be wrecking havoc on Shibuya Parco.

In lieu of the new Japan-made Godzilla movie, “Shin Godzilla”, Parco Shibuya had this made on their wall prior to them temporarily closing for renovations in August.

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Our only question is: why the “R”? Is it more tasty-looking? Does Godzilla has something against the “R”s of the world? Perhaps we will never know… Watching the movie and standing next to this huge wall-relief of Godzilla ripping the R off of Parco’s wall is as close as we want to be to the famous yet terrifying monster.

Ninja ID: ururumeru


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Melissa Wullur
I’m an amateur writer and avid reader who’s been living in Japan since 2007. I enjoy reading and writing about food, travel, and quirky trivia. I treat 100 yen shopping as therapy.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Disappearing Treasures: Fujino-yu in Yoga

Fujino-yu Facade

Not to be confused with the popular cardio exercise or spiritual practice from India, Yoga is an upscale residential district in the Setagaya ward. Tucked away in the backstreets is the Fujino-yu bathhouse which has been in operation for over 50 years. Its old-fashioned exterior is more than enough reason to stop and take a look. Just in the few minutes I was waiting outside I saw curious couples, amused passersby, and inquisitive students who came over to take a closer look.

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Welcome to a one-of-a-kind wooden bathhouse
“Back when public bathhouses were experiencing a boom, many building owners built cookie-cutter public baths on the first floor. But I wanted to create something different, something unique” says the owner Mr. yamaguchi, who has a keen eye for art and design. He used to create woodblock art, some of which you can see on the walls of the bathhouse. It is because of his unique vision and sense of design, this one-of-a-kind wooden bathhouse came into existence.

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Unlike other polished tile bathhouses, Fujino-yu has a warm and nostalgic atmosphere. Everything from the front counter, shoe boxes, lockers, doors and lounge chairs are all made out of wood.

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The wood theme continues in the wet area, where a Cypress wood bath and a unique wood pavilion become the focal point of the bathhouse.

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Another notable interior decoration are the ceramic tiles with Iris paintings. A Japanese bathhouse typically has a grand painting of Mt. Fuji on the wall, but here, an elegant drawing of Irises welcomes you at the jet baths. On May 5th (Children’s day), many people take Shobu-yu, an Iris bath to wish for longevity and good health. At Fujino-yu, everyday is a Shobu-yu day!

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Mr. Yamaguchi says that though the number of people who frequent Sento bathhouses has significantly declined, more and more young families and students are trying out Sento and enjoying the experience.

However, with this shift in demographics came a new dilemma.

Sento is a place to learn how to share and respect
Since we live in the era of abundance and cheap disposable items, we rarely have an opportunity to share things with others. But at a Sento bathhouse, we not only share the facilities, but we also share the water and even the atmosphere. Visiting a Sento bathhouse is a prime opportunity to learn how to share and respect each other.

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“When it comes to sharing, a little foresight and empathy goes a long way,” says the owner. For example, you don’t want to disturb the water, let alone swim in the water, because people are here to relax. You don’t want to get the floor soapy because other people have to walk on it. What’s normal in your household might not be the norm in a public area. You are here to witness and respect subtle and often unspoken social rules at Sento.

With that said, don’t hesitate to fully enjoy the Sento experience. If you have a question ask the person behind the counter or one of the regulars. More often than not, they are willing to answer any questions you might have and strike up a friendly conversation. What better way to learn about Japanese customs and values than to share stories and quality time together.

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The owner’s art works are on display in the lounge area.
Owl decorations
There are many owl ornaments and decorations.

Our lifestyles have been modernized and our mindset has changed. But at Fujino-yu, things have remained the same for a long time. Inside those well maintained wooden baths sits the chance to teach great values and subtle etiquette to a new generation of Sento guests.

Information

IMG_2901_RFujino-yu
Address: Tamagawadai 2-1-16, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 7-min walk from Yoga Station (Tokyu Denentoshi Line)
Hours: 3:30pm – 11pm
Closed: Friday
Admission: 460 yen

Read Also:
Disappearing Treasures: Sento, a Public Bathhouse
Disappearing Treasures: Sento Etiquette, What Not To Do Around Naked Strangers
Disappearing Treasures: Tsukimi-yu in Shimotakaido

WISE OWL HOSTELS, a special nest for night owls

When it comes to traveling, choosing the right accommodation is very important. So how do you choose the perfect place out of the sea of luxurious hotels, traditional inns, capsule hotels and airbnb hosts?

There’s now a place in Hatchobori you should give a hoot about.

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Location: Close vacinity to Tokyo sightseeing spots
The newly opened “WISE OWL HOSTELS” is a perfect central hub for sightseeing around Tokyo. Ginza, a high-end shopping district, Nihonbashi, a business area with the Edo flair, and of course, Tsukiji, the renowned fish market are all within walking distance.

IMG_2750_RWhen you get out of Hatchobori station, you’ll see an abstract wall mural created by an up-and-coming painter, Jun Inoue, on the side of the building. This place used to be a dingy old office building, but with a few innovative ideas and fresh designs, it is now a hip and modern hostel complex.

 

 

 
Facility: A cozy little nook for a good night’s sleep
Inside is minimalistic yet well designed. Compared to other typical youth hostels, WISE OWL HOSTELS has a sophisticated and grown-up feel to it. Each bed is compartmentalized with wooden walls for privacy and Simmons mattresses are provided for comfort.

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What they emphasize is not the amount of sleep, but the quality of sleep guests get. Because we all know that when you are traveling abroad, time is precious and you want to make the most of it. Would you rather sleep or go out and experience an exciting nightlife? WISE OWL HOSTELS suggests the latter.

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For those who are planning on staying in Tokyo for longer than a month, there is a spacious and upscale service apartment on the 6th floor.

Food and Entertainment: Under one roof
There are two in-house facilities worth mentioning. Located on the first floor is a “Fukurou (Owl)” restaurant. They serve Yakitori (chicken on a skewer) and Oden (winter hot pot) as well as a variety of local Japanese sake. Sharing a lively conversation with a Japanese businessman over a cup of artisan sake is an experience you can only get in Japan.

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If you are a night owl and want to mingle with the local club goers, just head downstairs to the “Howl.” A unique sound system designed with custom made vacuum amplifiers and speakers make this place stand out from the rest. It’s sure to satisfy music aficionados.

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For better or for worse, your accommodation plays a key role in making your trip memorable. Everybody has different priorities and preferences when it comes to choosing where to stay. But if you are one of those short sleepers, why not try the WISE OWL HOSTELS. Afterall, the name alone suggests that it’s a wise choice for a night owl like you.

Information

WISE OWL HOSTELS
Access: 30-sec walk from Hatchobori Station
Tel: 03-5541-2960
URL: http://www.wiseowlhostels.com/

TOKYO MIDTOWN ♡ SUMMER

Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi opened its yearly summer event last week! You can enjoy and explore five summer themed areas until August 28th.

The highlight of the event is the Summer Light Garden, which opens between 6:30pm and 11pm and shows three 6-minute light shows within one hour. The illuminations are based on the three biggest and most popular fireworks from Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture (shown from August 1st until August 14th), Oomagari in Akita Prefecture (shown from July 15th until July 31st) and Tsuchiura in Ibaraki Prefecture (shown from August 15th until August 28th).

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The representative director of Tokyo Midtown, Mr. Yasuhiro Nakamura (the person wearing a Yukata on the left) announced that this year is the 10th anniversary of Tokyo Midtown. He also shared his vision for its 20th or 30th anniversary; he aspires to change Tokyo Midtown into an even more sparkling place with the grand firwork illumination!

Next to the Summer Light Garden is the Bacardi Midpark Café. You can enjoy several Mojito drinks made with Bacardi Rum, as well as different kinds of grilled food and salads.

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If you are here with friends, why not try the the “Mega Water Melon Mojito” (5,000 yen) or the “Mega Pineapple Mojito” (2,000 yen)?

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One of the recommended food items is the BBQ plate which comes with grilled chicken, spare ribs, smoked sausage and fries (2,400 yen).

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In the vicinity, there are a lot of areas to explore. The third spot features the Ashimizu area which literally means putting your feet into the little stream, and enjoy the evening breeze and relax. The fourth spot is inside the Galleria building, where you can see about 450 wind chimes in 15 different styles. This event is called Furin Saisai. The last event features the Roppongi sprinkling water event on July 22nd, where you pour water on the streets to cool down the city.

On this map you can see the different locations of the events:

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  1. Summer Light Garden
  2. Bacardi Midpark Café
  3. Ashimizu
  4. Furin Saisai – Wind chime area
  5. Roppongi sprinkling water event

Information

Summer Light Garden
Date: July 15th until August 28th
Hours: 7:30pm – 11pm (cancelled in case of rain)
Entrance fee: free

Bacardi Midpark Café
Date: July 15th until August 28th
Hours: 5pm – 10pm (L.O. 9:30pm) during weekdays; 12 – 10pm (L.O. 9:30om) during weekend and public holiday (closed in case of rain)
Price range: drinks 500 yen – 5,000 yen, food 800 yen – 2,400 yen
Seats: 100, reservation not possible

Ashimizu
Date: July 15th until August 28th
Hours: 2pm – 8pm (cancelled in case of rain)
Entrance fee: free (optional: towel 100 yen)
Seats: 60

Furin Saisai – Wind chime
Date: July 15th until August 28th
Hours: 11am – 9pm
Entrance fee: free

Roppongi sprinkling water event
Date: July 22th
Hours: reception 5:20pm; start 5:40pm
Entrance fee: free, please bring an empty 2l bottle

Tokyo Midtown
Access:
Direct access from Roppongi Station, Exit 8 (Toei Oedo Line); Exit 4a (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)
3-min walk from Nogizaka Station, Exit 3 (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
10-min walk from Roppongi-itchome Station, Exit 1 ( Tokyo Metro Namboku Line)
Address: 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, 107-0052 Tokyo
URL: http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/en/events_news/detail.php?id=697

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Q-POT Café attracts guests with their new Sailor Moon themed menu

After the popular “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” exhibition which was held until June 19th in Mori Tower in Roppongi, Q-POT Café located in Omotesando follows the hype by creating a new menu featuring the different characters of the popular Anime and Manga series.

Q-POT is more known as a jewelry brand, producing jewelries and accessories in the shapes of cookies, chocolates, and other confectioneries. A majority of their fan-base are girls who are into Lolita Fashion. For those who don’t know, this fashion style is based on Victorian clothes, featuring a knee length skirt or dress with a petticoat underneath, a frilly blouse, knee high socks, and a headdress.

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Wattention staff visited the Café on Saturday, July 9th. For now, entering the café requires you to make a reservation online. Be prepared since during this reservation process you already need to decide what you would like to eat, as well as where you would like to sit. The payment needs to be made in advance as well.

We ordered the “Pink Sugar Heart Parfait” together with the “Gift of the Moon Fairies Tea”, which comes as a set for 2,500 yen (tax not included).

DSC_0607aaThe parfait consists of a star shaped sugar paste on the top, Chibi-Usa´s accessory made of a heart jewelry shaped strawberry jelly, strawberry sorbet, a heart-shaped cookie, fresh fruits, strawberry cream, fresh strawberry purée, peach jelly, cornflakes and custard sauce. You will also receive the special designed Chibi-Moon coaster as a present.

The Tea represents the colors of the three cats, Luna, Artemis and Diana who appear in the anime. The upper part of the drink filled with fresh cream and milk comes in shape of Artemis, the white cat. The ears and the moon sign are made of white chocolate. The blueberry and cassis purée in the lower part of the drink resembles the color of Luna. If you mix the two colored ingredients together, they turn into the same color as Diana, the daughter of Artemis and Luna. Now you can enjoy a delicious blueberry milk drink.

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Specially made Sailor Moon merchandise is also available in the store.

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If you make a purchase over 15,000 yen at the Q-Pot store, you will receive one of these limited “Sailor Moon x Q-Pot” fans as a present, perfect for the hot and humid summer in Japan.

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You are welcome to take a picture together with Tuxedo Mask´s silhouette.

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The special designed mug featuring the lovely cat family can be purchased in the café. The tail of Artemis forms a Q which acts as the handle.

The Café consists of different rooms, each featuring a different theme.

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On the picture you can see the Whip Strawberry room and the Religieuse room.

Information

Q-POT Café – Sailor Moon Menu Period
Hours: 11:30am – 7:30pm (Last Order: 7pm), Closed during New Year
Tel: 03-6427-2626
Price: 1,950 yen to 3,900 yen (tax not included)
Access: A 3-min walk from Omotesando Station B2 Exit
Address: Kita Aoyama 3-10-2, Minato-ku, 107-0061 Tokyo
URL: https://www.q-pot.jp/shop/cafe/?eng=1

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Edo Tokyo Soba no Kai : One-day soba making lesson

Become a Soba master

Love eating Soba (buckwheat) noodles? You’re not the only one, as these noodles have been a beloved specialty in Tokyo ever since the Edo period. Especially since soba is considered auspicious in Japan.

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If you’re wanting to do more than just eat soba, why not try making it? See if you’ve got what it takes to become a Soba master!
Edo Tokyo Soba no Kai is a soba making school in Tokyo that offers one-day lessons on making your own Soba by hand with English interpreters.

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Learn how to start from ground soba grains and shaping the dough to rolling and cutting. The instructors do a good job in walking you through the steps.

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And of course, afterwards you can enjoy the deliciously fresh soba noodles that you’ve made!

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Prior reservation is required. You can do that in English by sending an email to [email protected]

■Days: One-day classes are offered in English on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
■Hours: 11am–1:30pm; 3pm–5:30pm
■Address: Higashi Tateishi 3-248, Katsushika
■Access: 5-min walk from Keisei Tateishi Station (Keisei Oshigami Line)
■URL: http://www.edotokyosoba.com (Japanese)

Beautiful and Elegant: the Cut Glassware Shop Hanashyo

After 170 years, a century-old glass cutting method has been revived in Nihonbashi!

Edo Kiriko Store

Edo Kiriko, one of the finest glass cutting techniques in Japan, was established in 1834 by Kagaya Kyubei, who owned a glassware store in Edo (the city now known as Tokyo). He started adding intricate designs to glass products by using just an emery grinder. His designs were so elegant and beautiful that anybody who took a look at them were instantly captivated.

Edo Kiriko InsideThrough Edo Kiriko’s technique and its popularity quickly spread throughout Edo, unfortunately the manufacturing base moved to other locations and the Kiriko stores gradually disappeared from where it started.

But now, after 170 years since its inception, Edo Kiriko has finally returned to its original roots and opened its doors to many Kiriko admirers.

A newly opened Edo Kiriko store, Hanashyo, is not a typical glassware store. Its mission is to promote not only the products but also Japanese culture. Visitors can see how the Kiriko designs are engraved into glassware at an in-house studio or join a Sake tasting seminar using a Kiriko sake cup. Hanashyo aims to become the cultural hub for both Japanese and foreign tourists, where they can see, touch and experience this century-old Japanese craftsmanship.

Edo Kiriko

 

The pinnacle of Japanese elegance and craftsmanship, the Edo Kiriko products make a great gift for your friends at home!

Information

Hanashyo SignEdo Kiriko Hanashyo
Hours: 10:30am – 6pm (Tuesdays to Fridays), 11:30am – 5pm (Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays), closed on Mondays.
Access: 2-min walk from Shin-Nihombashi Station (JR Sobu LIne), a 3-min walk from Kodemmacho Station (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line), a 6-min walk from Mitsukoshimae Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line).

Disappearing Treasures: Tsukimi-yu in Shimotakaido

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It’s 3pm on a Sunday afternoon and the Tsukimi-yu bathhouse doesn’t open for another half an hour. Yet, there’s already a few people waiting outside to be the first ones into the hot fresh water tubs.

“This is quite typical. The regulars want to be the first ones in, especially on weekends.” The proprietor Mr. Kondo, a third generation Sento owner says as he opens the shutter door a little early. Even before stepping inside this bathhouse, I could tell that this is a place adored by the locals.

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Tucked away in a quiet residential area in Setagaya-ku, the Tsukimi-yu bathhouse has been welcoming the locals for more than 50 years. Despite its humble exterior, the bathhouse offers a wide range of baths: the onsen (hot spring), jet baths, a charcoal bath, water bath, standing showers, a sauna, and last but not least, the electricity bath.

2_shimotakaido_sento_008_RThe interior is clean and bright and the high ceiling lets in alot of air and light. Both the male and female locker areas have plenty of space to relax (there’s even an outdoor sitting area for the guys!). Not only that, they have a massage chair, coin operated hair dryer and refrigerators full of beverages. With all these amenities available for you to pamper yourself, it’s no wonder people line up outside before the doors open.

The hot spring bath is everybody’s first choice since it’s at 39 degrees (102.2℉), not too hot nor too cold, just a nice comfortable temperature. Regulars tend to congregate in this bath and chit-chat. But my favorite is the jet bath which has multiple jets aimed right at the common sore muscle areas: shoulders, backs and feets. Then there’s the mysterious and most shocking one of all,the electricity bath, with its low level of electric current running through the water. When you go in, you feel a little tingling on your skin. Some people might find it relaxing, I on the other hand, am not so sure about it…

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You can try an old-fashioned scale and hair-salon-style hair dryer.

2_shimotakaido_sento_019_RWith all the different pools, you can spend quite a long time in the bath. But the reason people keep coming back to Tsukimi-yu is not only the facilities, but also the sense of connection they get. Most of the early sento-goers are well over 70 years old. They talk, they care and they even wash each others backs. Back in the lobby, everybody gathers around a short table near an old TV like one big family.

It reminds me of the Japanese phrase “Hadaka no Tsukiai (socializing naked)” which literally means a relationship with nothing to hide. The sento culture embodies this sentiment and brings people closer together.

Even a new sento goer like myself was immediately welcomed and I felt right at home at the Tsukimi-yu bathhouse.

 

Information

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Address: Akatsutsumi 5-36-16, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 6-min walk from Shimotakaido Station (Keio Line, Tokyu Setagaya Line)
Hours: 3:30pm – 12am
Closed: Tuesday
Admission: 460 yen

 

Read Also:
Disappearing Treasures: Sento, a Public Bathhouse
Disappearing Treasures: Sento Etiquette, What Not To Do Around Naked Strangers

Disappearing Treasures: Sento Etiquette, What Not To Do Around Naked Strangers

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In my previous article, I pointed out the struggles and hardships that Sento bathhouses face. Sadly, many of them cannot figure their way out of their predicament and are forced to close their decades-long business. There’s no quick fix to this problem, but I believe the best way to help them out is to simply go and enjoy the bath and be a good patron. So here is how to do it.

What to Bring
Though many bathhouses offer towels and shampoo for an extra charge, we all have our own favorite brands when it comes to washing ourselves. Bring along your toiletries, a wash cloth, a bath towel, change of clothes and enough money.

Check List
□ Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner and soap)
□ Wash cloth and bath towel
□ Hair tie (for long hair)
□ Plastic bag (for putting a wet towel and laundry in)
□ Money (460 yen plus little extra for refreshments)

Many of the Sento bathhouses open around 3 in the afternoon. I like to go there right after it opens so that I can be in fresh and clean water.

1 Keep Your Shoes at the Entrance
Just like in most Japanese houses, you take your shoes off at the entrance. Place your shoes in an open shoe box and lock it by pulling out the wooden key.

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2 Pay the Admission Fee
460 yen is the standard rate for Sento around Tokyo. Some bathhouses offer a steamy hot sauna service for an extra charge. Facilities are separated by gender, make sure to go to the appropriate side: 男 for Male and 女 for Female.

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3 Strip Down
After taking off your clothes, put them and other belongings in the locker. The locker key usually comes with a water resistant wristband so you can wear it while taking a bath. Now let’s go into the bath area.

4 Clean yourself
Grab a stool and a basin and find a spot where you want to wash yourself. Japanese people usually wash themselves while sitting on a stool. But if you prefer standing, some facilities offer shower rooms.

2_shimotakaido_sento_013_R5 Taking a Bath
Once you’re clean, rinse the stool and the basin well and put them back to where you found them. Check the water temperature before you go in, since it can be very hot sometimes. Keep your towel and hair out of the water to show that you wanna keep the water clean.

6. Warm Up and Unwind
From a jacuzzi to a water bath, some facilities offer a wide variety of baths. It’s fun to try them all, but be aware that taking a bath can be very exhausting. Don’t force yourself to stay in the water too long.

7. Get Dressed and Cool Off
When you’re ready to get out, wipe your body with your wash cloth so as not to get the locker room wet. Get dressed and cool off. Bathhouses usually have a lobby area where you can get drinks and icecream. Take your time and relax, even mingle with the locals.

 

So, it’s not that dissimilar to your normal shower, right? Aside from that there are bunch of naked strangers around, the only difference is that the bath is bigger and fancier. Once you try it you’ll get used to it, and perhaps, you will become fond of the Sento experience.

In the next article, I will introduce my local Sento, Tsukimi-yu.

Let’s Talk Subculture Vol. 17: Scenes From Wonder Festival 2016 Winter

[WAttention X FIELDS Research Institute] 
Explore the fascinating world of Japan’s subcultures with insights from the inside

An Otaku dream come true

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In most countries, figurines and plastic toys are for kids, but not in Japan, where it’s serious adult business.

On February 7, WAttention attended Wonder Festival 2016 Winter, an event at which both amateur and professional creators showcase their self-produced figurines. Eight halls of Makuhari Messe – Chiba’s largest convention center – were filled with figurines from Japanese anime, manga and video games, and for each model on display, at least 10 otaku could be seen examining these figurines so precious to them.

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Nowhere else in the world do you see this many adults queue for a manga or anime figurines, and that is what makes Japan fascinating and special. Even if figurines or plastic models aren’t quite your thing, a peak at this show will have you respect Japan’s dedication and love towards craftsmanship, a national trait that lives on today even if the focus is shifting from traditional crafts to otaku goods.

Without any further ado, let’s have a look around at this overwhelming event!

 

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This impressive Godzilla model takes over Wonder Festival…and your wallet if you plan to buy it!

 

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As you can see, Godzilla was not the only scary thing at Wonder Festival.
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Look, even the dealer at this booth…!

 

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OK, let’s get back to kawaii. How about these Japanese “idolls”?
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Anime figurines in flamboyant Chinese dresses

 

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Russian president in judo wear…also cute?

 

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Alice from Alice in Wonderland, but anime style. Of course, with a shotgun in her hands.

 

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Some figurines from video games you might know. From left to right: Kizuki Kokone from Phoenix Wright: Attorney Ace, Solaire of Astora from Dark Souls, and Megaman, or Rockman as he is known in Japan from the Megaman series.

 

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Let’s end this article with a cosplay girl buying a giant purple-haired head…

This article was written with the assistance of Fields Research Institute, which conducts research in entertainment.

2016 Tokyo Bay Summer Night Cruise Information

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Hop on board this definitive Tokyo summer experience!

Tokai Kisen, a company that runs passenger ship tours and routes in around Tokyo Bay, proudly announced the opening of the 66th Tokyo Bay Summer Night Cruise. Participate in this 2-hour cruise aboard the `Salvia-go`, a passenger ship that can be boarded by up to 1,500 people and drink in the beautiful view of Tokyo’s city lights while enjoying food, beverages, music and good company.

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In addition, you can get a special discount on weekdays if you join the tour wearing a yukata (light summer kimono). Do not worry if you do not have one – there’s a rental service available at the terminal! You can come empty handed and go home filled with fun summer memories.

If you’re not yet convinced, read this review of last year’s event written by a WAttention reporter.

Prior reservation is required so make sure to reserve as soon as possible!

Reservation

TEL 03-3437-6119 (9:00~20:00)
WEB http://www.nouryousen.jp/payment.html (Japanese)

Cruise Information

Dates: Jul. 1 - Oct. 10, 2016
Hours: 19:15~21:00 *boarding starts at 18:50
Location: Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal
Access: 7 min. walk from JR Hamamatsucho Station, 7 min. walk from Toei Subway Oedo line or Asakusa line Daimon Station, 1 min. walk form Yurikamome line Takeshiba Station
Fee: Adults 2,600 yen
High school or Jr High School students 1,050yen
Elementary school students 550 yen
・This fee includes boarding, free-flow drink and tax
・1,000 yen discount for passengers dressed in yukata (weekdays only, does not include Sat/Sun/Public holidays)

Yukata Rental Information

Summer night cruise Yukata rental shop
URL: http://yukata-natsu.tokyo/ (Japanese)
Rental fee:
Prices for renting the yukata and kitsuke (help with putting the yukata on) starts from 4,000 yen.
You can also bring your own yukata and get help with putting it on for 3,000yen.

Package plan:
1. Boarding pass + kitsuke only
4,500yen (weekdays) / 5,500yen (Sat/Sun/Public holidays)

2. Boarding pass + Full Set rental
6,000yen (weekdays) / 7,000yen (Sat/Sun/Public holidays)

(All rates including tax)

Disappearing Treasures: Sento, a Public Bathhouse

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I know that many travelers come to Japan hoping to have an authentic Onsen (hot spring) experience, soaking in soothing hot water is truly relaxing and rejuvenating. It’s true, an Onsen is a blissful joy and you should definitely try it at least once, but there’s an alternative. For many busy Japanese people and travelers, there is an easier way to get a similar hot bath experience.

Sento, a local public bathhouse.

A true local experience
In the olden days, many Japanese apartments didn’t come with a private bath. Tenants often had to go to a nearby Sento bathhouse not only to get clean but also to socialize with neighbors. The Sento was and still is a social hub where different generations come together and talk about their everyday lives. Though most modern apartments and houses now come with a private bath, there is something special about going to the local Sento, seeing your neighbors and being part of the community.

On a verge of extinction
Unfortunately, Sento bathhouses are on a sharp decline. During the past few decades, the number of Sento baths around Tokyo has dropped from over 2500 to around 600. There are many factors for this decline but a few major reasons are a) there are less people using a public bath, b) facilities are deteriorating rapidly and the renovation cost is enormous, c) utility costs (water and gas) are getting more expensive and d) owners are getting old and they don’t have a successor who can take over the management.

Number of Sento Bathhouses
Statistics by Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other resources

Preserving by taking a dip
You might say this is just part of economic progress, an evolution from a poorer time, and that change is inevitable and necessary. But as one of many naive Sento enthusiasts, I would like to do something about it.

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So here’s the deal, I’ll highlight these one-of-a-kind bathhouses before they disappear. Hopefully I can shine some light on the realities and struggles they face and introduce some of the innovative solutions they’ve come up with. And you can try them out, give them a reason to stay around.

So be willing to expose yourself to a cultural experience and in the process bear witness to the naked truth. If we don’t contribute to keeping these landmarks relevant they will disappear and the stories of everyday life will wash away down the drain of history.

In the next article, I will explain the rules and proper etiquette of the Sento bathhouses, such as what you should bring and how you should act around naked strangers. So stay tuned.

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Charles in Asakusa, Nihonbashi & Kichijoji

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan. Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column!

We received a request from a French man, Charles, who is working as an intern in Japan. He wanted to experience something that locals do. This time, we, Yuko Harayama and myself, Yuka Takada, strolled around Tokyo with Charles. We met up with him in front of Kaminari-mon Gate in Asakusa.

First, we headed to Hanayashiki, the oldest amusement park in Japan. In operation since 1853, Hanayashiki has continued to develop and promote new attractions and events over the years. We got there in five minutes from the gate and he looked excited to see that there were so many attractions in such a small area, even though I had told him about the scale of the park in advance. Hanayashiki might be completely different from what foreign tourists expect. But I assure you that you can still enjoy the taste of its old atmosphere. Unfortunately, we couldn’t ride the most famous roller coaster because it was under maintenance, but we had a good time enjoying other attractions and taking pictures.

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Next, we walked towards Nakamise-street. As we strolled around, we found “omikuji” or fortune-telling paper strips. Charles had never tried it yet, so we all each drew one. Charles got Kichi, which means good luck in Japanese. When you draw bad luck, it is a Japanese custom to fold up the strip of paper and attach it to a wall of metal wires alongside other bad fortunes, or a pine tree in the temple or shrine grounds. None of us got the bad fortunes, so we didn’t do it, but if you get it, you should try! It is said that it will bring you a better fortune.

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Then, we headed towards the station through Nakamise-street. We took a train to Nihonbashi to have Hiyashi-chuka for lunch. Chuka means Chinese, so people tend to think of it as a Chinese food, but in fact, it originated in Japan. We all ordered Hiyashi-chuka with sesame sauce. The name of the shop was Sapporo-ya, a ramen shop, which is known among locals. Although he seemed to have difficulty eating noodles with chopsticks, it was really tasty, and for him, as a French guy, its flavor was acceptable. I heard it was his first time to eat Hiyashi-chuka so I hope he liked it.

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After we had lunch, we moved to Kichijo-ji station by train. There are so many things to see in Kichijo-ji. First, we went to Inogashira-park, and then, headed to one of the famous shopping arcades called Sun-road.
Inogashira-park has many attractions such as a zoo, aquarium, and place where vendors, musicians, artists and street performers gather. The park also contains a small shrine. There was a place to experience Zeniarai. Zeniarai means purifying money. It is said that if you wash your money with purified water, it will multiply! Charles looked shaken up by this conduct, but he enjoyed it and wished it would bring him much money!

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After strolling along the shopping arcade and taking a short drink break, we took one last picture together and said goodbye.

That is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide.
We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!!

Little Mermaid themed Sweets Buffet at Keio Plaza Hotel

Since the sweets buffet events are very popular among Japanese young women, the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku adds to that trend and prepares a special menu every month. The buffet’s main theme for this summer is the “Little Mermaid” and between June and August you can enjoy refreshing desserts and cakes. For June a range of blueberry flavored dishes are prepared, for July special peach flavored desserts are planned, and the main flavor for August’s menu will be mango.

Wattention staff tried out the buffet on Sunday afternoon at the Hotel’s restaurant “Jurin.” The beautiful ocean-themed decoration and the LED board which highlighted a selection of desserts raised our spirits.

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Colored roses, blue and green candles, as well as hydrangea flowers which represent the rainy season in Japan are used for decorations.

We entered the restaurant and were guided to our table in front of the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the garden.

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The event starts at 3pm, so we had the chance to take a closer look at the already set up buffet and take some pictures.

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We received an explanation about the buffet and the time limit, as well as the drink menu.

The all-you-can-drink menu is in Japanese, but the staff will explain everything in English as well. You can choose between a variety of coffee, iced beverages and juice. Regarding the tea menu, a self service counter is set up to prepare your own pot of tea.

At 3pm we were allowed to enter the buffet and lined up in front of the mouth-watering delicacies.
DSC_0124Everything is carefully prepared, looks cute and tastes delicious.

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Round shaped rusk and Danish pastry with blueberry filling.

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Cold and iced desserts are served as well.
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From left, Mermaid Blue Sky Gelee, Pasta in Tropical Soup, Blue Soup and Honey Tiramisu.

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Rare cheesecake tart.
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Blueberry waffle sandwich and rice flour role-cake.

Beside desserts, you can choose a variety of savory dishes as well, like sandwiches, mini burgers, pasta, fried chicken, fries or variations of bread.

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DSC_0038Everything was very delicious and we had the chance to experience new flavor compositions as well. We are excited for the next month buffet!
You will receive a point card during the payment.

The card is valid for one year. If you collect 5 stamps, the next sweets buffet is for free! This is a really good deal and made us want to come back for the next buffet.

Information

Jurin – All Day Dining (Sweets Buffet – Little Mermaid)
Date: June until August
Time: 3pm – 5:30pm (Last Order 5pm)
Price: 3,800 yen (Adults), 2,600 yen (Children between 4-12 years old)
A reservation is recommended. Tel: 03-3344-0111 (English & Japanese OK)
Address: Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo, Main Tower 2F, 2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku,
Shinjuku
Access: Shinjuku Station (West Exit – JR, private railway, subway) -> 5min walk; Toei Oedo Line –> Tochomae Station (Exit B1)
URL: Sweets Buffet
URL: Restaurant “Jurin”

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Eat Vegan and Gluten-free in Shibuya

Whether you are a full-time healthy eater, gluten intolerant, or just looking for a quick way to cleanse yourself after eating that mouth-watering spicy ramen or sinfully good burger, this tiny cafe and juice bar tucked away in a backstreet in Shibuya should be your next destination!

WAttention staff tried their house salad, priced at 1,000 yen. The volume is overflowing and judging by the colorful array of vegetables, this bowl is jam-packed with much-needed vitamins and minerals.

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And since we love sweets (proven by this, this, and this article), we also tried their gluten-free muffin made from almonds, raisins, coconuts, chia seeds and oranges and we were not disappointed! Apparently they change the flavor of the muffins every few days or so since we previously had one with walnuts and bananas.

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They are also well known for their cleansing cold-pressed juices and smoothies, even providing cleansing courses where you can buy a set of bottled juice to drink in 1-5 days.

Sky High Aoyama
Hours: 10am – 7pm(12am – 5pm on Sundays)
Address: Aoyama TN Building 2-3-4 Shibuya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
URL: http://skyhigh-tokyo.jp/

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Kiya

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Designed by Mandai Architects

Slice of Edo Life
Kiya has been specializing in cutlery and knives since 1792 and its shop banner and logo can be spotted in historic art pieces depicting Nihonbashi in 1805. Here you can find traditional handmade knives and knives using modern materials and designs. Unlike Western kitchen knives, there are many specialized knives used for different ingredients, be it vegetable, fish, eel or meats. From steel to stainless knives, there’s sure to be one to fit the cut.

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Designed by Mandai Architects
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Kiya Haou-Kamakata 180mm: 20,000 yen

Shop Info

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Cutlery Kiya
Address: Nihombashi Muromachi 2-2-1 COREDO Muromachi 1F, Chuo
Hours: 10am – 8pm (Closed on Jan. 01)
URL: http://www.kiya-hamono.co.jp/english/

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Ninben

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Stock Up On This
Established in 1699, Ninben has been known as the leading brand in dried bonito flakes for centuries. Stock made using the fermented bonito is said to be origin of Japanese flavors. Now you can recreate these flavors at home with handy flavored-soups and seasonings here, which also make great souvenirs. See how the professionals shave bonito into flakes at live demonstrations here.

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Nihombashi Kezuriba: See bonito blocks being shaved here and enjoy the fragrance of fresh bonito flakes.

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Mazefuri (furikake) seasoning powder set of 3: 1,850 yen

Nihonbashi Dashi Bar Hanare
Experience real “UMAMI”

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Located at COREDO Muromachi 2 is a newly opened restaurant, Nihonbashi Dashi Bar Hanare, where you can get savory cuisine full of seasonal ingredients and flavor.

Shop Info

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Ninben Original Nihonbashi Store
Address: Nihonbashi Muromachi, 2-2-1 COREDO Muromachi 1 1F, Chuo
Hours: 10am -8pm (same rest days as COREDO)
URL: http://www.ninben.jp/

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Ninben Nihonbashi Dashi Bar
Address: Nihonbashi Muromachi, 2-3-1 COREDO Muromachi 2 1F, Chuo
Hours: 11am -11pm (Last order 10pm)

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Nishikawa

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Not Resting On Laurels

Bedclothes and sleeping goods maker Nishikawa has been in Nihonbashi for over 400 years since the Muromachi era. Nishikawa has history of pacesetting innovation, dating back from improving the mosquito net and futons centuries ago to modern ergonomic mattresses today. Nishikawa provides sleep consulting using the latest technology to provide sleeping goods best suited to individual needs.

For a fully customized pillow fine-tuned to your personal measurements
Get a fully customized pillow fine-tuned to your personal measurements and preferences

Nishikawa craftsmen combine tradition with technology.
Nishikawa craftsmen combine tradition with technology.
Nishikawa’s AIR mattress is one example of Nishikawa’s pioneering spirit.
Nishikawa’s AIR mattress is one example of Nishikawa’s pioneering spirit.

Shop Info

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Nihombashi Nishikawa
Address: Nihonbashi 1-5-3 Nihombashi Nishikawa Bld, Chuo
Hours: 10:30am – 6:30pm

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Nihonbashi Saruya

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Get Picky
This is the only handmade toothpick specialty store not only in Japan, but in the world, with a history dating back over 300 years.

The toothpicks come in a special box made of Paulownia.
The toothpicks come in a special box made of Paulownia.

These individually-carved toothpicks are made from high-quality fragrant wood and used for eating wagashi during tea ceremonies or as an auspicious gift.

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Shop Info

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Nihonbashi Saruya
Address: Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-12-5, Chuo
Hours: 10am – 6pm (closed Sun, Holidays)

Omotenashi Nihonbashi

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Get a taste of authentic Japanese cultural activities such as tea ceremonies and geisha performances, as well as tours led by international tour guides.

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Time to Geisha

See a geisha performance and try traditional games
Approx. 60 min.
5,500 yen


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Kimono Rental & Dressing

Walk around Nihonbashi in a traditional kimono
Fitting from 10:30am to 3:30pm, return by 6pm
5,500 yen


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The Way of Tea

Discover the world of tea ceremony
Approx. 60 min.
5,500 yen


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Best of Japan Gourmet Tour

Taste food from across Japan
Approx. 90 mins.
from 1,000 yen


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Culture Experience Tour & Lunch

Find out about local tradition and culture
Approx. 150 min.
From 5,500 yen


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Origami Workshop

Make your own paper crane
Approx. 30 min.
500 yen


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Design Your Own Hanko!

Make a name stamp in Japanese
Approx. 60 min.
2,000 yen

Info

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OMOTENASHI NIHONBASHI
Nihonbashi Information Center
Address: COREDO Muromachi 1, B1
Tel: 03-3242-2334 (English, 10am – 7pm)
Hours: 10am – 9pm
URL: http://www.nihonbashi-info.jp/omotenashi/

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Kuroeya

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Lasting Lacquerware
This lacquerware shop harks back over 300 years to the Edo era, and preserves techniques from the Kuroe Village in what is now known as Wakayama Prefecture, famed for its lacquer production. A piece from here will last for generations to come.

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Wine Cooler, 15,000 yen
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Hand Mirror, Red
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Ornamental Plate

Shop Info

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Nihonbashi Kuroeya
Address: Nihombashi 1-2-6 Kuroeya Kokubun Bld 2F, Chuo
Hours: 9am – 6pm (closed weekends, holidays )
URL: http://kuroeya.tokyo/

Bunmeido Nihombashi Café – Fit For Royal Tea –

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Adjacent to the cafe is the Bunmeido Gallery where works of Shinsui Ito are displayed.

Bunmeido started in Nagasaki Prefecture over 100 years ago and is the most famous castella cake maker in Japan. While this cake is said to originate from Castilla, Spain, no doubt the Japanese have perfected the recipe to rich and moist perfection. Head to the Nihombashi Café for a taste of this confectionery which is also served to the royal family of Japan.

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Bunmeido Cocktail in classic Japanese kiriko glass: 630 yen (tax included)

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Bunmeido Premium Castella: 880 yen (tax included)

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Freshly Baked “Mikasa” Pancake: 780 yen (tax included)

Shop Info

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Bunmeido Nihombashi Café
Address: Muromachi 1-13-7 Nihombashi, Chuo
Hours: 11am – 11pm

Centuries of Craftsmanship : Haibara

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The Write Stuff
Now run by the 7th generation owner, this washi (Japanese paper) specialist has been along Nihombashi for over 200 years. The exquisite paper products here will make you feel like rediscovering sensory pleasures of writing.

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Chiyogami Paper Box 864 yen (tax included)

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Uchiwa Fan with Stencil-Dyed Paper 4,806 yen (tax included)

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Haibara Notebook: 1,512 yen (tax included)

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Shop Info

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Haibara
Address: Nihombashi 2-7-1 Tokyo Nihombashi Tower, Chuo
Hours: 10am – 6:30pm (5:30pm on weekends)

Mikado Coffee – Pioneering Coffee Connoisseur –

Humble Origins - Mikado Coffee started its long history as a coffee stand in 1949
Humble Origins – Mikado Coffee started its long history as a coffee stand in 1949

Mikado can be said to be a pioneer in the third wave coffee movement, roasting imported coffee beans in house to suit the local tastes since 1948. They take pride in good acidity in their brew, balanced with body and aroma.
Left: Mikado coffee is mild and smooth, perfect for your everyday cup of joe.  Right: A signature menu, Moca ice cream.
Left: Mikado coffee is mild and smooth, perfect for your everyday cup of joe.
Right: Coffee float (brewed coffee topped with a swirl of their signature Mocha ice cream).
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Shop Info

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Mikado Coffee – Main Store
Address: Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-6-7, Chuo
Hours: 7am – 7pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 6pm (Sat), 10am – 6pm (Sun, Holidays)

Nihombashi Walkabout

Nihombashi is best explored on foot, and preferably in traditional Japanese garments for a taste of the heart of Edo. Take a virtual tour around Nihombashi with the 26th Chuo City Tourism Ambassador, Ms. Asami Kure.
Ms. Kure clinched the 26th Chuo City Tourism Ambassador prize to become Miss Chuo in 2007. She now serves with a smile as Team Leader for the Sales Operation Division at the Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store.

Navigating Nihombashi

Get a glimpse of what Nihombashi was like in its past glory and present grandeur at these historical sites.

1: Nihonbashi Bridge
First built in 1603 by Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate who unified Japan, this symbol of the area has been rebuilt 19 times. The original bridge was made of wood, but the current bridge is made of stone and features statues of mythical creatures on the parapets.

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*The kimono and obi in this feature are products of Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store

2: The Road Origin Marker of Japan
Located right in the middle of Nihonbashi bridge, this continues to mark the official starting point for Japan’s highways.

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3: Nihonbashi Fish Market Memorial Plaque
Before Tsukiji Fish Market, there was the Nihonbashi Fish Market. This stone plaque commemorates the first fish market in Nihonbashi that was run by some 30-odd fishermen from Osaka.

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4: Nomura Securities
The headquarters of Nomura Securities was built in the 1930s and features a “Japanese-style modernism” design.

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5: Nihombashi Mitsukoshi Main Store
Built in 1914, this renaissance-style white brick building had an extension added in 1935 to reach its current form. It was also where the first escalator in Japan was introduced.

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6: Bank of Japan (the Old Building)
This neo-baroque style building shares the same designer as the grand old dame, the Tokyo Station. Completed in 1896, it was modeled on the National Bank of Belgium and is designated as an Important Cultural Property.

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7: Mitsui Memorial Museum
Opened in 2005, this museum houses many valuable Japanese and Asian works of art. The western-style structure created in the early Showa era has been designated as an Important Cultural Property.

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8: Fukutoku Shrine
Also called Mebuki Shrine, this shrine is said to have been around since the late 9th century and visited by famous shoguns.

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9: Nihonbashi Nakadori
A 50m stretch lined with restaurants, cafes and shops with a modern twist to traditional Japanese culture, this road recalling the pavements of the Edo era is pedestrian-only on weekdays and holidays from 11am to 8pm.

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Nihonbashi or Nihombashi? Why we used two different spellings

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In the articles within our website, you will see two different spellings for Nihonbashi.

Typically, Japanese words are spelled out phonetically, but the letter “ ん” is spelled with either an “n” or “m”, depending on how you want to pronounce it. In fact, these mixed spellings can be seen on the streets of Nihonbashi and other areas as well.

In regards to this variation in spelling, we have established our own set of rules.

We’ve decided to adhere to the brand identities, by using Nihombashi for the names of certain stores and facilities.

Articles using the spelling Nihombashi include:

For others, we used Nihonbashi which is now the standard for addresses and road signs.

Articles using the spelling Nihonbashi include:

We hope you understand our intention and the nuances of Japanese linguistics.

Sailor Moon Exhibition at Roppongi Hills

The exhibition is open until June 19th.
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The “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” exhibition is being held at the 52nd floor (Tokyo City View observation deck) of Mori Tower in Roppongi, Tokyo.

This popular Manga series which got first published in 1992 and was written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi, gained worldwide success due to what was then considered a fresh new story, and acted as the forerunner for the now ubiquitous mahoshojo (magical girl) stories. The whole series sold more than 35 million copies worldwide and stands as one of the most influential manga titles, raising the popularity of Japanese animation in Western culture.

“Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” features the adventures of a middle school girl, Usagi Tsukino. She transforms into Sailor Moon and has to find a princess, and an artifact called “Legendary Silver Crystal.” Usagi becomes the leader of the Sailor Guardians, which is a group of girls around her age, fighting against villains who are trying to destroy the solar system and want to steal the Silver Crystal.

The manga has been adapted into an anime series, consisting of several seasons. For the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon, a new anime series, “Sailor Moon Crystal” premiered on July 5th 2014.

WAttention staff checked out the exhibition last Saturday, and was totally impressed by this accurate and carefully made event. Even if you are not a fan of this manga series, you will probably feel nostalgic for the 1990´s!

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We received our ticket, went up to the 52nd floor and entered the exhibition room.

The entrance area is designed to look like the Moon Castle of the lunar royal family.
The window area is covered with huge wallpapers featuring the Sailor Guardians in the latest artwork design. In front of that, a photo spot is set up to take a picture with the five Guardians, which you can purchase for 1,300 yen.

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Around the photo spot, there were magazines, video games, action figures, pens, plush toys, and a lot more merchandise on display to get you into the right mood. We already could hear all the joyful laughter and stories of the visitors reminiscing about some of the merchandise that they owned as a child.

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In front of the windows and near the photo spot, Sailor Moon´s weapons and transformation items are shown.

On the way to the next room, you will pass a wall demonstrating the chronological order of all the seasons of the Anime series, featuring the different characters and their relationships, as well as the various stories. Walking through the next room which shows a short movie out of Manga pages, you will enter a new spot decorated with huge colored Manga pages to understand the beginning of the story, as well as cover pages of the magazine “Nakayoshi” from 1992, in which Sailor Moon was published.

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On the way to the next corner, you can discover another photo spot with life-size figures of Neo Queen Serenity and King Endymion.

The next section of the exhibition features rare merchandise items from the 1990´s, such as the transformation items of Sailor Moon, figures and dolls, sweets, a bicycle, a game console, cosplay outfits, card games, and much more.

The following room features the original artworks of the cover pages of “Nakayoshi” and the Manga books. It is amazing how you can see which material, colors, and technique was used.

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For souvenirs you can visit the merchandise shop which sells limited items. The highlight between all those goods is a marriage certificate which comes in four different designs. We spotted some couples choosing their favorite layout. Even Japanese people were surprised about this item, and girls bought it “just in case” for their future plans.

After our visit at the exhibition we decided to have lunch at the “Chibiusa Café,” which is located on the same floor. Since it was a Saturday we had to wait in line for 2 hours to get a seat. Thanks to the food samples located near the entrance of the café, we could imagine how the real dish will look like.

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We decided to try the “Sailor Moon Special Burger” which comes in the shape of the Crystal Star compact (1,600 yen including tax), as well as the “3 different kind of Talisman Curry” in shape of the talismans carried by Sailor Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (1,450 yen including tax).

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The recommended beverage called “Beauty Boost Juice x Chocola BB of the 5 Sailor Guardians.” It is a mix of juice, or ginger ale and the popular Chocola BB drink, which is meant to be good for your skin. The different colors of the drinks represent the colors of the Sailor Guardians. We tried the drink of Sailor Mars, mixed with grapefruit juice (850 yen including tax).

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As a dessert we shared “Heaven’s Miracle Romance Parfait”, a parfait out of different flavored jellies, ice cream and chocolate. (1,250 yen including tax)

The food was very delicious and when you are lucky you will even get a window seat to enjoy the amazing view of Tokyo as well!
In conclusion it was a great exhibition. We recommend going there, even if you are not a fan of this series. The artwork is beautiful and it takes you on a time-travel back to the 1990’s.

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Details:
Exhibition: Roppongi Hills Observation Deck  Tokyo City View  Sky Gallery,
Address: Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 52F, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato
Website: Sailor Moon Exhibition

Chibiusa Café: Roppongi Hills Mori Tower 52F
Hours: 11am – 10pm (L.O. Food 9pm, Drink 9:30pm)
Website: Chibiusa Café

Access:
Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line “Roppongi Station”, Exit 1C
Toei subway Oedo Line “Roppongi Station”, Exit 3, 4min walk
Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line “Azabu Juban” Station, Exit 4, 8min walk
Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line “Nogizaka” Station, Exit 5, 10min walk

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Firefly Night in Shibuya

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The beginning of summer means firefly season in Japan and you can participate in Japan’s tradition of firefly viewing through many events throughout June. Fireflies usually gather near clear streams, but if you don´t have the chance to leave the busy streets of Tokyo, you can catch a glimpse of these nature’s little light bulbs in Shibuya’s Botanical Garden FUREAI! The garden will be holding its 12th “Firefly Night” between June 17th and June 21st. The entry for this evening-event is free.

Hours: 5:30pm – 9pm (entrance until 8:15pm)
Address: Shibuya-ku Fureai Shokubutsu Center, Higashi 2-25-37, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Website: http://www.botanical-fureai.com/

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

July 2016 Fireworks Festivals Schedule – In & Around Tokyo

Summer means Hanabi Matsuri (花火祭り) season in Japan, and refers to great Fireworks Festivals held throughout the country. During the hot and humid summer, the festivals lighten up the mood and provide a sparkling colorful night sky.Unbenannt-22
Japanese people tend to wear traditional Yukata (light summer Kimono) to turn this event into a special occasion during the year. If you feel like experiencing a Hanabi Matsuri while wearing the traditional summer outfit, you can already get cheap Yukata sets starting at 6,000 yen, including Yukata, Obi (sash) and Geta (wooden clogs).

Read also: The Matsuri Manual : Festival Style Guide

We summed up all the big Fireworks Festivals in and around Tokyo for July 2016 in the following article.

Too many festivals, too little time? Check out our 3 top picks: Top 3 Fireworks Festivals in Japan 2016

Tokyo

The 39th Sumida River Fireworks Festival

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Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7:05pm – 8:30pm
The oldest fireworks display of Japan comes back to Tokyo’s Sumida river. At two spots you can enjoy a huge spectacle of colours. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 950,000 people
Number of fireworks: 20,000 (1st Spot 9,350 / 2nd Spot 10,650)
Access & Address:
Tokyo, Taito-ku and Sumida-ku
① Spot 1 (Sakura Bridge Karyu ~ Kototoi Bridge Joryu) Tokyo Metro Ginza Line –> Asakusa Station (15min walk)
② Spot 2 (Komagata Bridge Karyu ~ Umaya Bridge Joryu ) Toei Asakusa Line Toei Oedo Line -> Kuramae Station (5min walk)

50th Katsushika Summer Nights Fireworks Festival

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Date: July 26th (Tuesday), 7:20pm – 8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
For Japans oldest fireworks display, all the fireworks supplies are made in Japan, and not imported. Therefore the colours of the fireworks are simply held in an orange-red style. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, July 27th (Wednesday).
Visitors last year: 630,000 people
Number of fireworks: 15,000
Access: Keisei Kanamachi Line -> Shibamata Station (10min walk); JR Joban Line -> Kanamachi Station・Keisei Line -> Keisei Kanamachi Station (20min walk)
Address: Katsushika-ku Shibamata Baseball Stadium (Edogawa Kasenshiki), Shibamata 7-17-13, Katsushika-ku

The 38th Adachi Fireworks Festival

Date: July 23rd (Saturday), 7:30pm – 8:30pm
This fireworks display combines fireworks with music and will be held along the Arakawa River. The event will be cancelled in case of rain.
Visitors last year: 550,000 people
Number of fireworks: 13,500
Access: JR Joban Line –> Kita Senju Station (15min walk); Tobu Isesaki Line (Tokyo Skytree Line) –> Kosuge Station・ Gotanno Station・Umejima Station (15min walk)
Address: Arakawa Kasenshiki, Adachi-ku (Held between Nishiarai – bridge and Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line – railway bridge)

Hachioji Fireworks Festival

Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7pm-8:30pm
This event will take place in the Hachioji Citizen Ball Park. In case of stormy weather the event will move to Sunday, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 100,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,300
Access: JR Chuo Line –> Nishi Hachioji Station (15min walk); Keio Takao Line –> Yamada Station (15min walk)
Address: Hachioji Shimin Kyujo, Daimachi 2-2, Hachioji-shi

Tachikawa Festival – Showa Memorial Park Fireworks Festival

Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7:20pm-8:20pm (*Paid seats are available)
Food booths and festival related booths will be set up inside the park. After 6pm you don´t need to pay any entrance fee for the park. In case of stormy weather, the event will move to the next day, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 360,000 people
Number of fireworks: 5,000
Access: JR Chuo Line –> Tachikawa Station (15min walk)
Address: Minna no Harappa , Showa Kinen Park, Midoricho 3173, Tachikawa-shi

Kanagawa

Yokohama Sparkling Twilight 2016

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Date: July 16th / 17th (Saturday / Sunday), 11:30am-8:30pm, Fireworks display: 7:30pm-8pm
During this weekend you can not only enjoy the fireworks display in the evening, you can also see the parades, live shows, and live music events, as well as a rescue live demonstration by the fire brigade. The Sparkling Parade features mikoshi (portable shrines) from every district of Yokohama, including Chinatown. Enjoy the restaurants and bars along the beachside of Yamashita Park, providing food of  the oldest and best-known places of Yokohama. The combination of music and fireworks provides a sparkling – final to the event. In case of light rain, the event will take place, in case of stormy weather it will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 380,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,000
Access: Minatomirai Line –> Nihon Odori Station・Motomachi/Chukagai Station (3min walk)
Address: Yamashita Park, location towards the sea, Yokohama-shi


2016 Kurihama Perry Festival and Fireworks Festival

Date: July 16th (Saturday)
The festival is dedicated to the opening of Japan to the world and the friendship between Japan and America due to US naval officer Matthew Perry in 1853. In case of bad weather, the Hero Show takes place in the arcade and will be changed into a Sign and Handshake event. The other events will be cancelled or resecheduled.
Access: JR Yokosuka Line –> Kurihama Station (17min walk); Keihin Kyuko Line –> Keikyu Kurihama Station (15min walk)

Event schedule:
Yokosuka Kaikoku Bazar
Hero Shows and Band performances, as well as refreshment booths are set up.
Location: Kurihama Shotengai Harodo Dori
Time: 10am – 3:40pm
■ Memorial Ceremony for US naval officer Matthew Perry’s arrival
This event commemorates Perry’s arrival at Kurihama to arrange the opening of diplomatic and trade relations between Japan and the US.
Location: Perry Park
Time: 2pm-2:40pm
Japan – America Friendship Perry Parade
The Parade features a fleet of black ships on the water, groups of people dressed in ancient costumes, drum and fife bands, dancers, etc.
Location: In front of Perry Park; In front of Keihin Kyuko Kurihama Station
Time: 4pm – 5:30pm
Kurihama Fireworks Festival
In case of bad weather the fireworks display will be held on the following day, July 17th (Sunday).
Time: 7:30pm – 8:10pm (*paid seats available)
Visitors last year: 90,000 people
Number of fireworks: 3,500
Location: Perry Park, Kurihama Kaigan, Kyu Nichiro Ganpeki, Yokosuka-shi

68th Kamakura Fireworks Display

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Date: July 20th (Wednesday), 7:20pm-8:10pm
Kamakura´s fireworks display is special, since the fireworks will be set off from boats, while you sit on the beach and watch this beautiful event. At some point the fireworks are also released underwater, where half of the explosion happens underwater, and the other half above the water.
In addition to that, festival booths are set up and sell tasty local foods to enjoy during the fireworks display. In case of rainy and stormy weather, as well as high waves the event will take place on the next day, July 21st (Thursday).
Visitors last year: 140,000 people
Number of fireworks: 2,500
Access: Yokosuka Line –> Kamakura Station (15min); Enoshima Dentetsu Line –> Yuigahama Station ・ Wadazuka Station (5min walk)
Address: Yuigahama beach ・ Zaimokuza beach, Zaimokuza, Yuigahama, Kamakura-shi

51st Hayama Beach Fireworks Display

Date: July 27th (Wednesday), 7:30pm-8pm
Hayama beach is wide and beautiful and the perfect spot to enjoy this fireworks display, which will be set off from the sea. Festival booths are set up, so don´t worry about an empty stomach. In case of stormy weather, the event will move to the next day, July 28th (Thursday).
Visitors last year: 32,000
Number of fireworks: 1,100
Access: JR Yokosuka Line –> Zushi Station -> Bus Platform No. 3 –> 15min ride until Morito Kaigan (1min walk); Keikyu-Line –> Shin Zushi Station –> Bus Platform No. 2 -> 15min ride until  Morito Kaigan (1min walk)
Address: Morito Beach, Horiuchi, Hayama-machi, Miura-gun

Chiba

Funabashi Festival – Funabashi Port Water Park Fireworks Display

Date: July 27th (Wednesday), 7:30pm-8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
The highlight of this fireworks display will be the image of Funabashi’s PR character “Funaemon” in the night sky . Booths are set up to buy local dishes. In case of light rain, the event takes place. In case of storm it will move to the next day, July 28th (Thursday).
Visitors last year: 80,000 people
Number of fireworks: 8,500
Access: JR Sobu Line –> Funabashi Station (25min walk)
Address: Funabashi Harbor Water Park, Funabashi Fishing Port area, Funabashi-shi

38th Urayasu Fireworks Display

Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7:30pm-8:30pm (*Paid seats are available)
The fireworks display adapts to the music and provides a nice atmosphere. You can also enjoy local foods while watching the fireworks. In case of stormy weather, the event will be cancelled.
Visitors last year: 150,000 people
Number of fireworks: 6,500
Access:  KeiyoLine -> Shin Urayasu Station; Tokyo Metro Tozai Line –> Urayasu Station (A shuttle bus departing from both stations is planned)
Address: Urayasu-shi Comprehensive Park, Meikai 7-2, Urayasu-shi

Sanmu City Summer Carnival

Date: July 30th (Saturday), 3pm-8pm
This event has a Brazilian flair and you can see street performing artists as well as Samba Dances all day long. Up to 10 booths are prepared to enjoy local dishes as well. In case of rain, only the fireworks display will move to the next day, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 17,000
Number of fireworks: 1,000
Access:  JR Sobu Main Line –> Yoko Shiba Station –> 30min bus ride (Hasunuma Junkan Hasunuma direction) -> Minamihama stop (5min walk)
Address: Hasunuma Seaside Park, Hasunuma ho, Sanmu-shi

Saitama

68th Ogawa Tanabata Festival Fireworks Display

Date: July 23rd (Saturday), 7:15pm-8:30pm
The city center is decorated with Tanabata themed decorations. Regarding the legend, the festival celebrates the reunion of the deities Orihime (star Vega) and Hikoboshi (star Altair) who are separated by the Milky Way. Only once a year, on July 7th, the lovers are allowed to meet. Traditionally, on this day you can write down a wish on a paper strip called Tanzaku, and tie it to bamboo branches. Beside the fireworks display, 150 booths are set up to buy local dishes, as well as goods of the Festival’s Character “Stamu-chan”. In case of rain, the event takes place on the next day, July 24th (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 220,000 people
Number of fireworks: 1,800
Access: Tobu Tojo Line –> Ogawa Station –> 20min bus ride (Park Hill direction) -> Saitama Dentokogei Kaikan stop (the venue is right there)
Address: Sengenyama Miharashi no oka Koen, Ogawa 1440, Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun


21st Ageo Fireworks Festival

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Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7pm~
Enjoy local foods while watching this popular fireworks display. It is famous for reading marriage and birthday slogans while setting up the fireworks. In case of rain, the event moves to August 6th (Saturday).
Visitors last year: 160,000 people
Number of fireworks: 10,000
Access: JR Takasaki Line –> Ageo Station -> Tobu bus 20min bus ride (Heiho direction) -> Heiho stop (3min walk); (* There will be a shuttle bus from Ageo Station-West Exit -> last stop (10min walk))
Address: Heiho Arakawa, Heiho 2606-1, Ageo-shi

2016 Saitama Fireworks Festival “Odawa Park”

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Date: July 30th (Saturday), 7:30pm~
400 booths are set up to enjoy a lot of Japanese local dishes, as well as experiencing the traditional summer festival of Japan. In case of stormy weather, the event moves to the next day, July 31st (Sunday).
Visitors last year: 100,000 people
Number of fireworks: 5,000
Access: Tobu Noda Line –> Omiya Koen Station ・ Odawa Station (15min walk)
Address: Around Odawa Park, Saitama-shi, Kita-ku・Omiya-ku・Minuma-ku

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Morning Glory Festival

 

The Iriya Asagao Matsuri,or Morning Glory Festival is celebrated from July 6th to July 8th every year. This event is by far the biggest festival in Japan dedicated to the morning glory flower.

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About 120 producers of morning glories and about 100 festival stalls line Shingen-ji Temple and Kototoi-dori Street. Shingen-Ji is the common name for the Iriya temple, dedicated to the goddess of childbirth and children. The morning glories of Iriya are said to have gained fame around the late Edo period (1603 – 1868). During the Meiji period the flowers from Iriya were deemed so attractive that they became a very popular decorative plant.

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The flowers vanished for a while during the Taisho period (1912 – 1926) and after World War II. But the flowers are back thanks to a dedicated team of locals and nowadays there are about a thousand varieties of morning glories. Together with the the Shitaya Tourism Association they revived the tradition and organized the Asagao Matsuri as we know it today.

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When you visit the Iriya Asagao Matsuri you will get the traditional Edo summer festival feel as you gaze upon the beautiful morning glories.

Access

Date: Jul. 6 to 8, 2016
Area:1-12-16 Shitaya, Taito-ku / In and around Iriya Kishimojin
Access: 1-minute walk from Iriya Station on the Hibiya Subway Line or a 5-minute walk from JR Uguisudani Station.
Hours: 6am – 11pm
URL: http://www.asagao-maturi.com/ (Japanese only)

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Dakota, Lisa, Daniel and Emily in Marunouchi & Harajuku

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan. Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column!

We received a guide request from four university students, Dakota, Lisa, Daniel and Emily from Edmonton, Canada. They wanted to enjoy biking around the Imperial Palace and visit somewhere locals like. It was their first time to come to Japan, so we, Shota Asaka and myself, Yuka Takada, took them to some exciting places in Japan! We first met up with them at Yurakucho Station.
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First, we went to Tokyo International Forum, which stands between Tokyo Station and Yurakucho Station, and is a multipurpose exhibition center. When we got there, we found out that a flea market was being held, so we strolled around for a bit before heading for the Forum Art Shop. Not only does it sell souvenirs of Japan, it also sells so many kinds of goods from all over the world! Then, we headed to the museum of Aida Mitsuo, a famous Japanese poet, which was located in the same building. All of his poems were translated into English. They all seemed to be interested in them and read them closely. There was also a place to experience calligraphy, and they tried to write some of their favorite characters with a brush. I wonder if they were able to create precious memories there.
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Next, we headed for Tokyo Station to have Soba for lunch. They all had never tried Soba before, so they looked at the menu thoroughly. We all ordered either cold or hot Soba, and some of us ordered it with a mini Tendon. Before we started to eat, Shota and I taught them a little about Japanese manners. We taught them the words “Itadaki-masu,” and “gochisou-sama”, polite phrases that Japanese say before and after eating, that is said with our hands put together to express our gratitude for the meal. I think one of the good points of traveling with locals is that you are able to learn things regular tour guides probably don’t tell during their tours.
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After having lunch, we walked towards the Imperial Palace to go biking. The weather was pleasant and the wind felt so good.
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Lastly, we went to Monster Café in Harajuku. It is really popular even among tourists from other countries these days. The ornate and unique inside of the café surprised all of them! We ordered a big parfait with five colored whip cream and ice cream. They all looked like they enjoyed Japanese “Kawaii” culture a lot there!
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After taking one last picture together, we hugged, shook hands with each other, and said goodbye.
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This is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide. We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!

Restaurant Review : Penguin Bar

Near Ikebukuro’s West Exit is a bar with some very special dining guests, penguins. The Penguin Bar offers you the experience to enjoy a drink and eat some food while watching penguins frolick in the water. Wattention staff went to check out this unusual Penguin Bar.

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The bar itself is not that spectacular, but it’s the penguins who are the main attraction. There is the option to only have a drink, eat from the menu or take one of the bar’s course plans. These plans start at 3,000 yen per person for students and include a 4-course meal with free drinks for two hours. That’s a great deal for a fancy bar in Tokyo!

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The napkins are folded in penguin shapes, which added some cuteness to the whole penguin theme. TV-screens on the ceiling play documentaries about penguins on loop. Don’t worry about coming to this bar if you can’t speak Japanese, the staff can provide an English menu. After ordering your food you are free to go look at the penguins and take photos.

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The portions were smaller than expected but the food tasted very good. Even after leaving the bar I still had a nice taste in my mouth.

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The penguin bar is a nice novelty bar in central Tokyo for the true penguin lovers out there. They offer reasonable dining courses for dates, friend’s night out and parties. Seats at the Bar are limited, so come on time if you want to have an amazing evening with penguins.

Access

Cosmy 1 1st floor, 2-38-2 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo

Opening Hours : 18:00 – 04:00

Admission fee : 800 yen + one drink per person

Notice: the bar does not serve special dinner plans during Golden Week and other public holidays.

Website: http://www.penginbar.jp/en/

Visiting the crow gods of Mt. Takao

50 Minutes from Central Tokyo is a beautiful mountain called Takao. It is said to be the home of crow-gods called Tengu and has many temples scattered on the hiking trails up to the top.

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The main trail takes about 90 minutes to get to the top but you can half this time by taking either a cable car or chairlift to the first temple stop. I recommend walking the whole way because you get to admire the scenery at your own pace and you come across some interesting good luck rituals. Not to say that the cable car and chairlift have an average waiting time of 40 minutes on busy days, the exact same time it takes you to walk the distance they cover. The paths are all paved and even beginners can take on this climb.

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Change the kanji on the wheel to the body part you want healed

The most important temple on Mt. Takao is Yakuoin. This Shinto-Buddhist temple is protected by Tengu and just like the mountain trail it features various rituals for good luck, health and wealth. Yakuoin is believed to have been built in 744 during the Nara period on the orders of Emperor Shomu as a base for Buddhism in Eastern Japan. Over the years Mt. Takao got known as a sacred mountain, but is most famous for being the home of Tengu, long-nosed beings with crow features. They serve as messengers of the deities to ward off evil and protect the good. Their fan sweeps away misfortune and brings good luck.

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rituals

On your way further to the top you will encounter a monkey park, various food stalls and more shrines and temples. Once you reach the top you have a beautiful view of the area. If you have time, visit the visitor center at the top to learn about the wildlife living on the mountain. During the winter period you have the chance to see the famous “diamond Fuji” if you arrive on the mountaintop in the early morning.

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If you’re more adventurous, you can take a different trail back down. The signboards are very easy to follow so you can change routes whenever you see a fork in the road. One of these routes takes you deeper into the mountain forest, along narrow pathways and a suspension bridge.

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After your long hike, congratulate yourself with a meal of Tororo Soba, the local specialty. Tororo is grated mountain yam and it is delicious in combination with the soba and raw egg.

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Access:

From Shinjuku station : 50 min with the Keio Line to Takaosanguchi station, 390 yen

The foot of the mountain is a 10 minute walk from the station and the route is marked with signposts.

 

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Hellish Hot Pot @ The Lockup

This winter, prison themed restaurant The Lockup offers a new super spicy nabe (hot pot) menu from hell for their fearless guests. Are you brave enough to try its burning hot soup with so much chili it looks like a bloodbath?

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Meticulously decorated like the setting of a horror movie, not only the food, but also the staff are waiting to torture and suffocate you, so be prepared!

 

The Lockup Shibuya Outlet

Address: Utagawa-cho 33-1-B2 Shibuya

Hours: 5pm-1am (5pm – 4am on Fridays, 4pm – 4am on Saturdays and the day before public holidays, 4pm – 4am on Sundays and public holidays)

Souvenir Vending Machine

Need a last-minute Japanese souvenir but the stores are all closed? Japan has the answer! Just like there are many different vending machines in Japan such as for drinks, snacks and even vegetables there is now a Japanese Souvenir Vending Machine. Located in a side street of Shibuya, this vending machine sells products such as origami earrings and decorative kimono cloth. If you’re a late-night shopper in Shibuya and someone’s birthday is coming up, this vending machine might just be a lifesaver.4 5

 

Express Sushi in Shibuya

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Today WAttention headed to Sushi-Nova, a new sushi eatery that opened just this September by the United Nations University on Aoyama-dori Street. Though considered a kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) store, this high-tech restaurant delivers your sushi express upon ordering on the touch screen panel.

Lunch Set D, 1,000 yen
Lunch Set D, 1,000 yen

Not only is the sushi very fresh and tasty for a kaiten sushi restaurant, the lunch sets are also very reasonably priced, ranging from 800 – 1,500 yen. Anago (eel) lovers will want to be sure to try the lengthy cuts here.

Large anago (eel), 360 yen
Large anago (eel), 360 yen

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Sushi-Nova Aoyama Oval Bldg Store
Hours: 11am – 11pm, Last Order 10:30pm
Address: Jingumae 5-52-2, Shibuya

Secret Spot – Meguro Sky Garden

This secret garden in the middle of Tokyo is the perfect hideout during Golden Week.
Enjoy the view over Tokyo in a relaxed atmosphere above the busy city-life.
Meguro Sky Garden is located in Ohashi, Meguro-district, just one train stop away from Shibuya station.

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The garden opened in 2013 and won the Good Design Award because of its special shape. It is built on the roof of the Ohashi-Junction, which connects the express highways Central Circular Route C2 and the Shibuya Route 3. Even though the park is located directly on the top of the highway, you cannot hear any sounds of traffic at all!

The garden is divided into different areas that you can enjoy, such as the garden of four seasons, the community space, the amusement area or the chill-out area.

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The loop-shaped garden area is about 7000m² wide and 400m long, while the elevation differs from 11 to 35 meters above the ground.

Here you can see the view of modern and traditional Japanese elements which are set up next to each other.

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You can also enjoy viewing beautiful flowers, trees and plants all year round.

Thanks to the big number of benches and green areas, you can help yourself to a nice picnic or view the cherry blossoms during spring time.

On a clear, sunny day you can catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, as well as Tokyo Tower from the top of the park.
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Garden details:
Address: Meguro Sky Garden
1 Chome-9-2 Ohashi,
Meguro, Tokyo 153-0044, Japan
Opening hours: 7:00 ~ 21:00
Entrance: Free
Access: It is a 3min walk from Ikejiri Ohashi Station on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line.

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Detective Conan Café in Shibuya

Detective Conan celebrates his 20th anniversary as an Anime in 2016!

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, Detective Conan follows the story of a talented and renowned high school detective named Shinichi Kudo. He got in the way of a criminal syndicate, known only as the “Black Organization” who attack him and force him to swallow a drug called “APTX4869”, that transforms him back into a child. He assumes a fake name: Conan Edogawa and while keeping his true identity hidden, he continues to solve cases.

To celebrate the new movie, Detective Conan: The Pure Black Nightmare (released on April 16th), Detective Conan Cafés were opened in various locations throughout Japan (Nagoya・Hiroshima・Tokyo・Yamagata (until May 8th) , Osaka (until June 19th)).

WAttention staff visited the one in Shibuya, Tokyo.

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You should plan some extra time for lining up, especially during lunch and dinner time because it might be crowded.P1020514

The front of the Café is features the main characters of the Anime.

At the takeout stand you can buy éclairs wrapped and shaped in the image of the “APTX4869”, the drug which transformed Shinichi into a younger version of himself.

After entering the Café you can take a commemoration picture at the photo spot with Conan and his rival Kaito Kid.

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The windows at the back of the Café have “Mori Detective Agency” 毛利探偵事務所 (Mori Tantei Jimusho) written on them, just like in the Anime.
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The whole theme of the Café is inspired by London, the home town of Sherlock Holmes, another famous detective character created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Detective Conan chose the same name as the author of the detective whom he admires so much.

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The walls are covered with pictures of the characters.

The time limit for staying at the Café is about one hour.
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The menu is divided into savory dishes, sweet desserts and drinks. Every dish is connected to the Anime.

We decided to order “Danny’s Special Chicken Curry” together with “Haibara & Ayumi´s homemade Black Curry”.

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Every savory dish comes with a 2.5 dimensional figure which you can collect and also purchase in the merchandise store in front of the Café.

For dessert, we ordered the “Tropical Strawberry Parfait”….

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…and the “Conan Caffè Cappuccino”, which is designed with either Conan´s or Kaito Kid´s silhouette.

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As a present you will receive a specially designed coaster.

After eating, you can buy limited merchandise at the official “Conan Café Shop”.

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There is a variety of goods that you can choose from. Your purchase will be then put into a limited paper bag with the new movie’s commercial image and the logo of the Café.

 

Café details:
Café Manduka (Detective Conan Café + Detective Conan Official Shop)
Lumine Man Shibuya 1st floor
Jinnan 1-22-11, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo 150-0041
Opening period: April 8th ~ May 8th
Opening hours: Café 11:00 ~ 24:00 (last order 22:30)
Shop 11:00 ~ 21:00
Access: 2min walk from JR Shibuya Station – Hachiko Exit.
Website: http://www.conancafe.jp/en/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Farmer’s Market @ UNU

One of the best ways to enjoy traveling abroad is to engage with the local culture; live like the locals and eat like the locals. By doing so you can experience the real, unfiltered lives of local people. What they say is unrehearsed, what they wear is everyday clothes, not high fashion or traditional costumes but outfits they feel comfortable in. The stories they tell you will be about their own lives and families. They might even share their sorrows and concerns.

When you engage with the locals, you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for that culture. The destination you visited and the souvenirs you purchased become more meaningful and important because they remind you of the people you met and experiences you gained.

While there a many fascinating tourist spots you can visit in Tokyo, there are also numerous local favorites as well. One of them is the Farmer’s Market @ UNU which is held almost every weekend. Stalls of fresh produce and regional delicacies crowd the open area in front of the United Nations University. Farmers, crafters, and food vendors from all over Japan gather here to sell their specialties.

Farmer's Market is held every weekend at UN university.
Farmer’s Market is held every weekend at UN university.

Many locals come here to get regional goods. They are fresher and perhaps cheaper (depending on what you buy) than those at the local supermarkets. You can even sample some of the food before purchasing.

A variety of tomatoes are out for anybody to try.
A variety of tomatoes are out for anybody to try.
Colorful display of fresh fruit right from the farm.
Colorful display of fresh fruit right from the farm.

Asking questions is always a nice icebreaker as most of the vendors are happy to answer any product related questions. They might not be able to answer you in perfect English, but their earnestness and sincerity always translates their good intentions.

 Adjacent to the Farmers Market is the Antique Market where you might be able to find century-old treasures and rare items. The Antique Market is held every weekend as well.
Adjacent to the Farmers Market is the Antique Market where you might be able to find century-old treasures and rare items. The Antique Market is held every weekend as well.

For those who are staying at a hotel in Tokyo, I recommend some fresh fruit or ready to eat vegetables to try out. I have nothing against restaurant-prepared food, but what better way to appreciate local delicacies than tasting fresh produce harvested that morning.

Tokyo offers many things. Temples, which give you a glimpse into a long gone history, fashion that can show you the current and emerging trends, but a local marketplace filled with regional cuisine invites you to experience the real, here and now everyday life of normal people and a few curious tourists.

Farmers Market @ UNU is open every Sat. and Sun. from 10am to 4pm.
For more information visit http://farmersmarkets.jp/

The White Heron Dance

In Japan, the white heron is seen as a special bird because it can move between three elements: air, earth, and water. The bird can also be seen as a sign of good luck and a bringer of good harvest.

Shirasagi-no Mai, which translates to “White Heron Dance,” is an ancient Japanese dance that almost died until its resurrection in November 1968 by the Asakusa Tourist Federation. They did this to celebrate Tokyo’s 100th year anniversary as the capital of Japan. (The previous capital being Kyoto.) The dancers make slow, graceful movements that reproduce the elegance of Heian manners (late 8th to 12th century Japan).

Shirasagi-no Mai is performed twice annually at Senso-ji, in Asakusa, on the 2nd Sunday of April and on November 3rd. The dance is usually performed twice. Once around 10:30am and a second time around 2pm.

The procession is made up of six dancers dressed as white herons, one baton twirler, one bird feeder, and one parasol carrier.


The dance starts really slow with short and strong movements. The music describes the movements and the dancer’s timing is impeccable, it is not difficult to imagine them as birds. During the dance, the bird feeder moves around and throws confetti at the dancers.

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After the dance. The audience hurries to the confetti to pick them up as good luck charms. Then the procession starts again and leaves the stage.

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Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

【TOKYU HANDS × WAttention】Top 5 Puzzle and Toys

TOKYU HANDS is “THE ONE-STOP SHOP” chock-full of all kind of goods such as kitchen utensils, beauty goods, stationery, bags and tools, joined by fun discoveries and surprises. Visit TOKYU HANDS and gain a better understanding of today’s Japan.
tokyuhands

In this article, we bring you TOKYU HANDS’ Top 5 Puzzle and Toys!

rankNo. 1: nanoblock® “Tokyo Tower”

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Take home a piece of Tokyo! Or make that 390 odd nano-sized pieces of Tokyo Tower – perfect to remember your trip by!

Price: 1,998 yen (including tax)
Category: Block
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Great for those with dextrous hands! The minute size of this toy belies the enormous sense of achievement after completing it.”

 


 

rankNo. 2: Fridgeezoo HOGEN

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©創通・サンライズ

Are you one of those people who open the fridge and then forget what you were looking for? Or had no idea why you opened the fridge in the first place? These little fellas live in your fridge and start talking at you once they sense the fridge door is ajar – be it from telling you to shut the door quickly, or a warm greeting to perk you up (you can choose from different characters and Japanese dialects!), you’ll never go home to a quiet fridge again.

Price: 2,036 yen (including tax)
Category: Toy
WAttention Editor’s comment: “You’ll find yourself talking back to these little fridge friends and their wisecracks!”

 


 

rankNo. 3:Meta Nano “Gundam Gold”

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Be amazed at the laser-cut precision of the pieces in this premium gold metal that click in place to form a perfectly-detailed Gundam figurine. A perfect gift for those who love Gundam and assembling their own toys. When using an exclusive LED light up stage, a fantastic scene can be produced.

Price: 3,240 yen (including tax)
Category: Figure
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Own a lightweight version of this heavyweight figure in the anime world with this great souvenir!”

 


 

rankNo. 4: fuchico

fuchico
©タナカカツキ/KITAN CLUB

With over 10 million figurines sold, fuchico is a big hit in Japan. This miniature office lady will do her best to hang on to your cup and keep you entertained with her cuteness. If you are lucky enough to get a fuchico doing an acrobatic move, you can marvel at her skills.

Price: 216 yen (including tax)
Category: Toy
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “The phrase ‘hang in there’ when work gets tough just got a new meaning.”

 


 

rankNo. 5: Wooden Art “KIGUMI”

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“Kigumi” literally means “assembled out of wood”, and that’s exactly what this wooden 3D puzzle is. Fun to build, easy to assemble and fascinating to look at, put the wind back in your sails with this wooden sailing ship model!

Price: 4,104 yen (including tax). The other models are priced at 1,404 to 8,640 yen each.
Category: Toy
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Makes for a great talking piece for the office or home!”

 


 

TOKYU HANDS -Shinjuku Store-

Times Square Building 2-8F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

WEBSITE:http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/foreign.html

スクリーンショット 2016-02-17 9.32.40

An online shop with a Café?

Popular online retailer Rakuten has a Café in Shibuya. Besides serving food and drinks that are popular on the site’s main retailing webpage “Rakuten Ichiba”, the staff can give you information about anything on Rakuten from financial to product advice. Free e-readers are available as well as free 1GBPS wifi, in case you want to make a Rakuten purchase.

Location: Ma Maison Shibuya-Koen-Dori Building, 1-20-6 Jinnan, Shibuya Ward.
Hours:
11 a.m. – 11 p.m. (7 days a week)

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Flower Festival in Tachikawa’s Showa Kinen Park

This year’s Flower Festival in Tachikawa’s Showa Kinen Park invites you to come and see hundreds of tulip fields in a variety of types and color. You can admire these flowers until May 22nd (Sunday).

WAttention staff visited the park on a Saturday and was overwhelmed by its beauty and colors.
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The little pond and stream contribute to the calm atmosphere, which helps you relax while being surrounded by nature.

The flowers match each other very well and create a harmonic play of colors.

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After strolling around and enjoying all the pretty tulip fields, this special photo-spot in the shape of a house is sure to be a great memory of your trip.

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Another flower field full of poppies is in full bloom as well.

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Visiting Showa Kinen Park during Golden Week makes for a perfect day trip, not just for couples or friends, but also for families. Entrance will be free on April 29th, and on May 5th it is free for elementary and middle school children as well as for their guardians. To explore the whole park we suggest to plan a full day to see all the attractions, playgrounds, events, flower fields, etc.
It is also possible to rent bicycles, unicycles, pedal boats or rowboats. At the BBQ Garden, you can hold your own grill-party, as well as play disk golf,  petanque, croquet, lawn bowls and much more.

Food stands and restaurants are located in nearly every area of the park, where you can enjoy Japanese food and snacks as well as the limited time tulip soft cream.

Park details:
Showa Kinen Park
3173 Midoricho, Tachikawa
Tokyo 190-0014
Opening hours: 9:30 ~ 17:00
Entrance fee: Adult (over 15) 410yen
Children (6 to 14) 80yen
Senior (over 65) 210yen
Access: From Shinjuku Station by JR Chuo Line (Express Train) about 25min until Tachikawa Station, 10min way to Akebono gate
Website: http://www.showakinen-koen.jp/event/httpwww-showakinen-koen-jpp5370/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

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Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Green Mall in Shibuya

This building covered in greenery is Shibuya Modi, a mall that has everything. Here you can drink a coffee with your friends, go shopping for clothes and afterwards go for karaoke. There are multi-language touch screen panels inside to help you if you don’t speak Japanese.

Access: 〒150-0041 1-21-3, Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

48

Let’s Talk Subculture Vol. 16 Takadanobaba Game Center Mikado: Tokyo’s Empire of Retro Video Games

[WAttention X FIELDS Research Institute] 
Explore the fascinating world of Japan’s subcultures with insights from the inside

Insert coin to relive childhood

outrunDue to its unassuming façade, Mikado could easily go unnoticed by even a seasoned gamer. This video game arcade, or ge-sen (an abbreviation of game center) in Japanese, is located not in the otaku heaven of Akihabara, but tucked on a small street of Takadanobaba, a student quarter in Shinjuku Ward along the Yamanote Line. Tourists won’t likely visit the area without a special reason, but for gamers there is plenty of reason as Mikado will be like a tour through their childhood.

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During the eighties and nineties, video game arcades were stuff of the future, but now with the advent of advanced home consoles they have become a phenomenon of the past. Outside of Japan, they are pretty much extinct, and even the ge-sen here are becoming an endangered species. The few major ones that are left, owe their life not to fighting and shooting games, but to the UFO catchers and purikura booths that attract families and couples.

“When I was young, video game arcades were dark, smoky halls where young guys would hang out after school to play the newest video games. Now, games are played on smartphone devices and arcades have become family entertainment” says Mikado owner Minoru Ikeda with a sad smile on his face.

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A quick look around at the two-story Mikado, which probably has the most CRT screens put together in one space in Tokyo, makes it easy to understand that it is a recreation of the video game arcades Ikeda remembers from his childhood. From SEGA’s 1985 classic shooting game Space Harrier to Capcom’s legendary fighter Street Fighter II that still has a following more than 20 years after its release, Mikado is like a museum that showcases the golden days of Japanese video games. With a total of more than 200 machines, even games that were quickly forgotten after their original release finally get their well-deserved lot here at Mikado.

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It is not just the nostalgia that brings gamers to Mikado. For many now forgotten games, Mikado is the only place where competitive players can still find a good opponent, which is why so many players from all over the world make their pilgrimage to this holy ground of vintage video games. The special events and tournaments held on daily basis keep things active, and make this recreation of an old-style video game arcade one that not only has the games of the good old days, but also captures the lively energy and tension that was present in video game arcades back then.

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“My next dream is to develop an original game for Mikado. By making it only playable here, it could become a new reason for people to visit.”

Ikeda’s plan would indeed make for an interesting type of exclusivity. Ideas like this add a layer of personality to Mikado that make it a very special place.
A visit will make you recall the fun and adrenalin rush of jostling elbows with your opponent seated next to you, rather than some faceless online game user on some other part of the planet.
Game Center Takadanobaba Mikado

Address: Takadanobaba 4-5-10, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Access: 1-min walk from Takadanobaba Station (JR Yamanote Line, Tozai Line, Seibu Shinjuku Line
Hours: 10am – 12am
URL: http://mi-ka-do.net/baba/ (Japanese)

This article was written with the assistance of Fields Research Institute, which conducts research in entertainment.

Shibuya Scramblers – Liese

People from all walks of life from all over the world come to the Shibuya crossing to experience the world’s busiest scramble. In this series, WAttention staff randomly asked foreign Shibuya scramblers what they were doing there and where they are headed for.

Liese

(Nickname: The Lizard)

From: Belgium

In Shibuya to: see the scramble. Also for some shopping!

The Shibuya crossing is:  Really cool. It’s so busy that I couldn’t even take a photo! By the way, when is the busiest time at Shibuya crossing?!

Japan is fascinating because

There are so many strange things in Japan. I wanted to flush the toilet but when I pressed the button, I could only hear a flushing sound but there was no flushing. (This device in toilets is called Otohime (Sound Princess). Japanese people use it so others can’t hear any sounds from the toilet.) What’s also amazing about Japanese toilet is that the seats are heated.

In restaurants, you can order from a vending machine and eat in separate cubicle-like spaces and on the streets everything is loud and flashy. When we went to visit a gaming center, everyone was so focused on their game. It’s amazing in its own way. An amazing experience for me was to go to Arima Onsen and visit the baths.

After Shibuya I’m: 

I don’t know where we’re going! *laughing* Currently I’m on a big group tour.  Tomorrow I’m going to visit Tsukiji Fish market because it’s moving soon. I would also like to visit Harajuku and the Hyatt Hotel in Shinjuku (This hotel was featured in the movie “Lost in translation”)

 

Liese brought her Japan-style jacket from Belgium to wear in Tokyo
Liese brought her Japan-style jacket from Belgium to wear in Tokyo
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Thank you for the interview! We hope you have fun shopping for Japanese fashion

Rescue Cat Café: Asakusa Neko-en

Japan has many themed cafés, but the most popular ones are cat cafés. Takako Saito has been running cat café “Asakusa Neko-en” for 7 years now and there is one thing that makes her café stand out amongst all the others – all her feline companions are rescued cats.
Her love for animals inspired her to be different from the other cat cafés who typically abandon cats after a certain age or focus on one specific type of breed. Saito’s cats are all strays or rescue cats. . Recently she has been taking in refuge cats from Fukushima prefecture as well, after many animals over there had been abandoned by their owners after the Tohoku Earthquake.R_P1020299

The Café has a very nice atmosphere, it feels like you are visiting a friend and her cats. All the furry friends get along really well and react friendly to every touch.

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Visitors come from everywhere in Japan and the world. Wattention met with a couple from Romania who visited the cat café while on their vacation in Japan. “I love cats. That’s why I wanted to come here”, says Michaela. Her friend Alex came along because it was Michaela’s idea, but he said he was also very inspired by the fact that the café only has rescued cats.

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There are plenty of books to read in the Café and there is a big selection of Japanese manga, a television, a selection of cat toys, drinks and snacks. And on top of that, the café has free Wi-Fi.

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If you feel ready to be covered in cats, buy some cat food for 100 yen and let the furry fun commence.

R_P1020332 Saito says she thinks Western people love animals more than Japanese. “Japanese people buy animals in pet shops, which are illegal in Europe. These pet shops give the animals a lot of stress.” In Europe, most pets come from licensed breeders or they are adopted from “accidental” litters.
All the cats in Asakusa Neko-en are de-stressed for sure. And if you want to de-stress yourself, a visit to this cat café is well worth it. If you really get attached to one of the cats you can adopt him/her to take home.

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Hours: 11:00am to 9:00pm
Access: 6th Floor Umamichi Myoukenya Building, 3-1-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo (Katsuta watch shop on ground floor)
Admission for 1 hour: Adults 800 yen, Children (junior high school age or younger) 700 yen
Each additional 30 minutes: 200 yen
4.5 hour special rate: 1,500 yen (weekdays only)
Note: You have to wear socks to enter the café. If you’re not wearing any, you can buy some cute cat socks at the entrance for 150 yen. Stockings are ok.

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Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Bartosz in Shibuya

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan. Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column!

We received a guiding request from Bartosz, a tourist from Poland. He wanted to visit somewhere exciting with shops and entertainment related to anime. Japanese manga and anime subculture fascinated him back in Poland that he dreamed of coming to Japan one day. The guides were both university students, Kodai Ikeda and myself, Kate Esterly. We met up with Bartosz at the Hachiko statue in Shibuya.

 

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First, we headed for Mandarake, an anime shop that widely sells mangas and classic sci-fi figure dolls. After passing the big Shibuya crossing, it was ten minutes’ walk to the shop. Bartosz was surprised to see so many mangas at once, since he has only been to smaller-scale anime shops in Poland. He decided to purchase some mangas that he couldn’t get in Poland.

 

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In the same building, we went to another anime store called ‘Animate’ which was few floors above. The shop sells all kinds of merchandise of popular anime, particularly popular among female audiences. We enjoyed reflecting on different anime from old to new as we walked through the aisle.

 

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Then we headed towards PARCO in Shibuya, a department store that consists of about 180 shops. Not only does it include fashion, shops of Japanese pop culture can be found as well. We went to the ONE PIECE MUGIWARA STORE, where it has all sorts of merchandise and gallery of the popular anime, ONE PIECE. It is a great spot to take pictures too!

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As we were getting hungry, we headed to Ichiran to eat Japanese ramen. Located in Spain-zaka, a small slope with Spanish design, Ichiran is famous for its addicting Tonkotsu soup that is pork marrow bones and fat cooked for hours. After we entered, we placed our order at the vending machine and got our tickets. We could choose our favorite toppings such as boiled eggs or extra porks too! Then we filled out our order sheets (there’s English too) to select the type of broth, spicy level, noodle hardness level, etc. The restaurant is a bar seating style, where we are seated in individual cubicles. We enjoyed our delicious meal and especially Bartosz, who ordered Japanese beer that tasted exceptionally good with ramen!

 

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Lastly, we went to Big Echo, a karaoke shop. It was Bartosz’s first-time experience to sing at karaoke. He tried to sing his favorite anime songs as much as he can with the help by Kodai. He enjoyed singing a lot. After walking back towards the station, we greeted each other and said goodbye.

 

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This is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide. We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!

Denbo-in, Asakusa’s Secret Garden

When you are in Asakusa you will notice there are many temples near the Senso-Ji area. One of them is the Denbo-in Temple, the office of Senso-Ji Temple and the residence of the head priest for generations. The garden is one of the few temple gardens from the Edo period in Tokyo.

Denbo-in was a secret garden as even the ruling lords were not easily allowed to visit. This is because Denbo-in Temple was used as Gozen-sho (place the shoguns of the Tokugawa family took a meal or rest when they came to visit). The area was opened as a public park from 1873 until 1930 but is now only open to the public for a certain period every year.

WAttention visited the garden to discover its secrets during its limited opening time. For the 300 yen entrance fee you can visit a small exhibition with ema (wooden plaques) from the Edo period. Photos are prohibited in this area but taking pictures of the garden is ok. The proceeds from this garden will be donated to support the recovery from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake.

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Typical for this period was the arrangement of ponds on the north and west side of buildings. When you enter the garden you are greeted by flowers and a temple. The ladies who attend to the temple serve free tea to all the visitors just as they would if the Shogun came to visit.

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The view opposite the temple is beautiful. There is a rock beach, a pond with big Koi fish and greenery giving the area a relaxing atmosphere. Even in the center of Tokyo, you can experience this calm area as if you were in the middle of a forest. Although the illusion is broken by the silhouette of modern buildings in the background, the tranquility is amazing.

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You can reach the other side of the pond by crossing a stone bridge facing a small shrine. These ladies in kimono and hakama were taking a stroll in the garden.

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After crossing the bridge you will see a stone staircase leading to a hill from which you have a beautiful view of the garden and the Temple. But before you completely cross the bridge, admire the view of Sensoji-Temple peeking through the foilage.

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If you are in Tokyo during the limited opening period, the garden is well worth a visit, if not only for the privilege that you walked in a private garden usually only accessible for nobles. The small exhibition with Ema and original sculptures from the Edo period is an amazing bonus with the entrance fee. Two things you must see at the exhibition are the original Golden Dragon puppet from the Golden Dragon Dance performed twice a year in Asakusa and the original scroll that tells the story of how Asakusa Temple came to be.

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Access: 6 min walk from Asakusa station, on the temple grounds of Senso-Ji Temple.

【TOKYU HANDS × WAttention】Top 5 Travel Goods

TOKYU HANDS is “THE ONE-STOP SHOP” chock-full of all kind of goods such as kitchen utensils, beauty goods, stationery, bags and tools, joined by fun discoveries and surprises. Visit TOKYU HANDS and gain a better understanding of today’s Japan.
tokyuhands

In this article, we bring you TOKYU HANDS’ top 5 travel goods. Pick these up during your travels in Tokyo to ensure a convenient and comfortable trip!

No. 1: earPlanes

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These ear plugs are your perfect companion for a comfortable flight. With a special porous filter that helps to regulate the sudden changes in air pressure that happen during take-off and landing of a plane. Disposable, and perfect for one round trip use, these ear plugs are also available in children’s sizes.

Price: 1026 yen (including tax) for one pair with case
Category: Ear plugs
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Great for a comfortable and quiet flight, especially if you’re hoping to get some sleep.”

 


 

No. 2: Hands+ Light Suitcase Front Open Type

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These popular lightweight suitcases are equipped with front pockets for easy access, as well as wheel locks to prevent rolling when on the train.

Price: 21,492 yen (including tax) (38L model)
Category: Suitcase
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Great for Japan touring, where lots of walking and riding on trains is unavoidable.”

 


 

No. 3:Eagle Creek 2-in-1 Travel Pillow

This versatile bead pillow can function as a neck pillow or cushion, perfect for airplane travel and more.

Price: 2,376 yen (including tax)
Category: Pillow
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Adjusts its shape to meet your every ache and need!”

 


 

No. 4: Solo Tourist: Aqua Pouch (Clear)

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Whether for cell phones, loose change, or other small items, this clear pouch will guard your valuables from getting wet.

Price: 972 yen (including tax)
Category: Travel Pouch
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Fits passports perfectly! With this you can even bring your passport or other valuables with you into the hot spring or to the beach!”

 


 

No. 5: Caldera Neckrest (Black)

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This pillow is designed to support your head weight, allowing your neck and shoulders to relax. For computer work, watching TV or movies, reading, or travel, use it for a variety of purposes.

Price: 3,672 yen (including tax)
Category: Pillow
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “More compact than your typical travel pillow, but also practical to have around the house for daily use.”

 


 

TOKYU HANDS -Shinjuku Store-

Times Square Building 2-8F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

WEBSITE:http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/foreign.html

スクリーンショット 2016-02-17 9.32.40

Shibuya Scramblers – Jo

 People from all walks of life from all over the world come to the Shibuya crossing to experience the world’s busiest scramble. In this series, WAttention staff randomly asked foreign Shibuya scramblers what they were doing there and where they are headed for.

Jo

From: United Kingdom

In Shibuya to: go indoor climbing with a friend – climbing is my hobby.

The Shibuya crossing is: Crazy and strange! There are so many people! When my parents came to Japan to visit me they got lost on the scramble.

Japan is fascinating because:

I went to an Owl Café with friends, for me it was something strange but very fun. A family member married a Japanese person and I attended their traditional Shinto wedding. That was a nice experience to be able to see that.

After Shibuya I’m:  Going to my friend in Japan where I’m staying and after my Japan trip I will go to Thailand.

We are jealous of your adventurous life Jo
We are jealous of your adventurous life Jo

Hachiko’s Overlooked Neighbour: The Green Train Carriage

The next time you are waiting for someone at the famous Hachiko Statue meeting point, why not check out the Shibuya Tourist Center which is set inside an old train. The interior is as cute as the outside and has many interactive displays.

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You can sing along to Japanese children’s songs or try your luck at the slot machine for speciale wallpapers for your phone. This Tourist Center has much more to offer than your standard information!

Shibuya Scramblers – Susanne and Lars

People from all walks of life from all over the world come to the Shibuya crossing to experience the world’s busiest scramble. In this series, WAttention staff randomly asked foreign Shibuya scramblers what they were doing there and where they are headed for.

Susanne and Lars

From: Sweden

 In Shibuya to: see every part of Tokyo and Shibuya is a must-visit.

The Shibuya crossing is: (Lars) Really busy!

Japan is fascinating because:

(Lars) People all wear these mouth masks. Do Japanese use it to protect themselves or to protect others? It’s a really strange sight.

(Susanne) The Japanese politeness is amazing, everyone is polite and kind. When we are only taking a small look at our pocket map Japanese people will come spontaneously to try and help us find the right place. Also, I was wondering with some many Japanese people on the street….don’t they have to work? It seems like all of Tokyo is gathered at Shibuya.

After Shibuya we are: planning to visit Mt Fuji and Kyoto. We are going to Mt Fuji by bus and then to Kyoto by Shinkansen. We also would like to try to visit Odaiba.

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Lars films all their Japan adventures on his GoPro
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Thank you for the interview!

The Myth of Tomorrow

This huge mural hangs at Shibuya station. Named “The Myth of Tomorrow”, it is made by the Japanese artist Taro Okamoto. It was painted in the late 1960’s in Mexico, but unveiled in Shibuya Station in 2008. The painting represents the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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The controversial Japanese art group Chim|Pom added a small painted piece about nuclear destruction eight weeks after the Great Tohoku Earthquake. It has now been removed and did no damage to the painting.

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WAttention Photo Contest Spring 2016 Results

WAttention would like to thank all fans of Japan for sending us your best shots of Asakusa, Ueno, ramen, and Japanese Spring for our fourth photo contest. Starting with the winning photo, which impressed for capturing the colorful combination of Sensoji Temple with sakura, blooming in full glory, we bring you a selection of our favorites here below!

"Tokyo as its best ..... Cherry Blossom" by Thierry RAVASSOD
“Tokyo as its best ….. Cherry Blossom” by Thierry RAVASSOD

 

"Love Canal at Nakameguro" by Heath Smith
“Love Canal at Nakameguro” by Heath Smith

 

"asakusa nightview" by Markus Riedl
“asakusa nightview” by Markus Riedl

 

by CNC Bailey
by CNC Bailey

 

by Risa F
by Risa F

 

"Watching Sakura Tree near the River Banks" by Gerdie Nurhadi
“Watching Sakura Tree near the River Banks” by Gerdie Nurhadi

 

"Night cherry blossom viewing at Ueno" by Meng-Jiun Chiou
“Night cherry blossom viewing at Ueno” by Meng-Jiun Chiou

 

"Downtown Sky" by taka waka
“Downtown Sky” by taka waka

Thank you for all your beautiful photos.
The WAttention Summer 2016 Photo Contest is now open for entries. Check it out here.

Swashbuckling Samurai & Ninja Fun At Asakusa

Ninjas and samurai warriors show their fighting spirit!

Want to experience all the classic highlights of Japanese culture and history but only have around an hour to spare?

Then the Samurai & Ninja Show at the historical area of Asakusa is for you. This action-packed, interactive live show in English and Japanese has everything from samurai battles, ninja tricks, taiko drumming, geisha games and even soba making! You can also try on samurai armor or ninja outfits after the show.

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However, as the main stars – the Nagoya Omotenashi Bushotai (a popular samurai performing troupe made up of 6 army generals and 4 foot soldiers) – are usually based in Nagoya Castle and have a very busy schedule (and growing fan base!), the performance at Asakusa is only seasonal. WAttention caught the swashbuckling fun at its spring performance held over 3 days at the end of March and was bowled over by the realistic fighting sequences and hands-on fun.

Epic swordfight

Historical battles starting from the Warring States era leading into the Edo era are stylistically re-enacted, so you will see prominent 16th-century warlords Nobunaga Oda, Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa taking to stage, with the actor playing Tokugawa providing most of the English lines.

Each section of the performance allows for audience participation and our Belgian intern, Ilse, tried her hand at slicing through a samurai with a katana (Japanese sword).

Get on stage and slice your foe

If you are the shy type, however, don’t worry as after the main show ends, there is a 30-minute hands-on session where you can try out the various activities at different stations set up on and around the stage.

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I would say this show is a foreigner- and family-friendly introduction to Japanese culture – even some Japanese were spotted in the audience trying their hands at the shuriken (ninja star) throwing – and well-worth the time and money. After all, it would cost more than 3,000 yen to go all the way to Nagoya to catch this strapping samurai troop!

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Watch out for their next Tokyo performance at the following websites:

http://www.samurai-ninja-show.com/
http://busho-tai.jp/schedule/ (Japanese)

Happy Birthday PomPomPurin!

Sanrio Character PomPomPurin is 20 years old! For this celebration Sanrio placed huge, fluffy – and huggable- ads of the character in Shibuya station.

Wattention staff tested the big, fluffy pudding dogs and found them to be extremely soft and adorable.

If you listen closely, PomPomPurin’s stomach makes grumbling noises.

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PomPomPurin has a secret message for all his visitors.

On the back of one of the many fluffy ads there is a riddle. “Secret code: irakinbasuruo”. If you flip the characters of the code you get “orusuban kirai” (おるすばんきらい)-> I hate sitting at home. Be sure to remember this code because you can use it on the PomPomPurin 20th anniversary site to get digital goodies: http://bit.ly/22bBU2F

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This special advertisement is only here until April 10th, so be sure to check it out before it’s gone!

Location : Shibuya Station, 2F Keio Inokashira line ticket gate

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KitKat Mail

We found this display in the post office in Shibuya.

KitKat Mail allows you to mail  chocolate with a message on its package in collaboration with Japan Post. During this season, the messages are usually words of encouragement for newly graduates or people starting new jobs or schools. This year the campaign was promoted by Japanese band DISH and rugby coach Michael Ritchie.

In Japan KitKat is famous for bringing good luck as it sounds similar to the Japanese “Kitto Katsu”(I will win for sure).

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Tokyo Must Do: Tian from Malaysia

Explore Tokyo through the eyes of Tokyoites as they share their favorite secret hideaways.

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Tian Zhong Ing

Zhong Ing was born in Sarawak, Malaysia and came to Japan when she was 19. She studied civil engineering in Hyogo Prefecture and Aichi Prefecture for 5 years, during which time she fell in love with the izakaya culture. Since graduating, she has been working at an izakaya in Tokyo, to pursue her new dream of opening a restaurant in the future.

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1. Izakaya

Izakayas are places where you can have beers and meals for local people, and they can be pretty much found everywhere. The best izakaya I know is Zekkoucho Teppen, the place I am working at currently!

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I love working amidst the laughter-filled atmosphere, where people can feel free to be themselves. Also, not only is the food delicious (the grilled fish is the best!), but the workers here are very energetic and kind. Your energy will be refreshed with the bright ambience, and you will leave with a big smile on your face, I promise.

Robatayaki Zekkocho Teppen Shinjuku
URL: https://savorjapan.com/0006044941
Access: 5-min. walk from JR Shinjuku Station East Exit

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2. PABLO

To all cheesecake lovers, you will definitely not want to miss out on the cheese tarts here. The taste is supreme and you can even choose the bake–rare or medium. They are very light and melt so quickly in your mouth that you will surely go for seconds. Did I mention they’re also cheap? Go check it out!

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PABLO Shinjuku
URL: http://www.pablo3.com/english.html
Access: 1-min. walk from JR Shinjuku Station West Exit in the Shinjuku Metro Shokudougai B2.

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3. Karaoke

Since you came to Japan, why don’t you try something that originated here? As many foreigners visit Japan, now they have a lot of English, Chinese and Korean songs you can sing along to as well. Food and drinks are provided, which you can order via the phone inside your private room. Just be sure to check the price beforehand, as it often varies depending on the day and time.

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4. Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji is known as one of the world’s largest fish markets, and you only have until Nov. 2016 to catch it before it moves locations to Toyosu! Handling over 2,000 varieties of marine produce as well as fruits and vegetables, there’s an inner market where wholesale business and the famous tuna auction takes place, and an outer market where you can find many retail shops and restaurants. The tuna auction is very popular, and open to customers from 5:25am to 6:15am with registration starting at 5am, so if you want to see it, you better be as early as even 4-4:30am. Afterwards, be sure to grab a kaisendon (seafood covered rice bowl), which is incredibly fresh and cheap here!

URL: http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm
Access: 5-min. walk from Tsukiji Station

【TOKYU HANDS × WAttention】Top 5 Convenient Kitchenware

TOKYU HANDS is “THE ONE-STOP SHOP” chock-full of all kind of goods such as kitchen utensils, beauty goods, stationery, bags and tools, joined by fun discoveries and surprises. Visit TOKYU HANDS and gain a better understanding of today’s Japan.
tokyuhands

In this article, we bring you TOKYU HANDS’ Top 5 Convenient Kitchenware!

No. 1: Honey Spoon

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Deep, v-shaped, stainless steel spoon created by our unique processing technology eliminates excess mess when you scoop up honey. Simply turning around the spoon perfectly stops honey from dripping. Made in Japan.

Price: 1,296 yen (including tax)
Category: Spoon
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Not just for preparing food in the kitchen, but great when serving tea and toast to guests!”

 



No. 2: Butter Peeler Knife

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Even the hardest butter straight out of the fridge is no match for this butter peeler knife, which smoothly shaves off a thin layer with just a simple glide across its surface. Ready to spread in seconds!

Price: 950 yen (including tax)
Category: Knife
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Ensures an even spread every time!”

 



No. 3: Kiwi Cutter

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Just three simple steps to peel and cut at all at once, without even needing a separate knife: 1. Cut kiwi in half. 2. Insert Kiwi Cutter. 3. Rotate.

Price: 778 yen each (including tax)
Category: Cutter
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “For the green smoothie drinker or for serving up fruit plates for friends, this little tool will revolutionize the way you cut your kiwi!”

 



No.4: Choioki Leaf

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For ladles or cooking chopsticks that just don’t have a place on your counter while cooking, this little leaf is the ideal place to rest your kitchen utensils, firmly keeping them from falling over or dripping on your countertop.

Price: 268 yen (including tax)
Category: Utensil Holder
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “So simple, and yet so revolutionary for such a small price.”

 



No.5 Super Stone Barrier Pan

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This sturdy pan is made with ten layers of stone barrier, providing quick heat conduction and anti-stick properties.

Price: 5,940 yen (including tax)
Category: Pan
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Incredibly affordable considering its versatility and high-quality.”

 



TOKYU HANDS -Shinjuku Store-

Times Square Building 2-8F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

WEBSITE:http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/foreign.html

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Hidden Hachiko?

Did you know that in front of the biggest Tower Records (media store) in Japan stands another Hachiko statue? However, this Hachiko seems like he’s being blown away. Maybe because the music is too loud?

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Don’t miss a photo opportunity with this special Hachiko statue!

Shibuya Tower Records is a 4-minute walk from the original Hachiko statue near Shibuya station.

Highlights of AnimeJapan 2016

For those of you anime fans who didn’t make it down to AnimeJapan 2016 at Tokyo’s Big Sight over the weekend, here’s a flashback of all the amazing anime events and goods that were on display!

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The Main Area

This is where all the dealers and important animation companies set up their booths with information and goodies. Japanese conventions are different from European and American conventions in that they are very organized. Dealers do not freely display their goods but hand out papers where you mark what item you want and then you pick it up from the booth.

All the displays are detailed and have mascots and/or cosplayers promoting them.

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What was most exciting is that the stages in the main area were very loud. The atmosphere was really like a concert, with everyone shouting for their favorite voice actor or designer. The free goodies you could get at almost every booth were very surprising. From blow up clinging dolls to big paper bags with flyers in them, they all looked very well-made and definitely collectors’ items. An interesting booths was the “Garo Museum”, where they displayed custumes and props from the Japanese tv-series “Garo”. Another interesting booth was “Studio Chizu”, the animation studio most known for animator Mamoru Hosoda and movies such as ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ and ‘Wolf Children, Ame and Yuki’. Here, they displayed real storyboards and rough drafts from their new movie, ‘The Boy and the Beast’. Sadly, we were not allowed to take photos in this area.

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Anime fashion was brought to life at the booth of  “Super Groupies”. This label makes high class anime and manga-inspired clothing and accessories for women. Their booth displayed a plethora of fashionable shoes based on characters from popular series.

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The Food Park

In our article “All about AnimeJapan 2016” we talked about the anime-inspired food that would be at the event. Of course we had to try these! The line at the food park was very long and just to get a slice of pizza or cup of oden, the waiting time was at least 40 minutes. We tried ‘Hachiken’s pizza’ from the manga (and anime) Silver Spoon and ‘Hokkaido cheese curry’ from the anime WORKING!!!. All this food was AnimeJapan 2016 exclusive and was actually very good! After finishing all the food it was easy to see why people would wait in line for so long. This was not your regular run-of-the-mill convention food.

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Children’s Area

Only people with children could enter this area, so parents would not have to worry about losing their children in a big crowd. Activities included coloring, origami, crafts and watching kid-friendly anime shows on a big screen. Everyone seemed very energetic and the staff made sure the parents could participate in the activities as well.

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The cosplayers

Of course one of the main attractions of every convention are the cosplayers. There was a special area set up outside so photographers could have better lighting. It was very windy and cold in the shade, but that didn’t stop the cosplayers from posing in character with the amazing Tokyo Bay as a backdrop.

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The best stop for everything Anime

If you haven’t realized by now, this is an anime fan’s paradise. If you are planning on visiting AnimeJapan next year, there are volunteer English guides who give information about all the booths, but remember to sign up early at the information desk. The whole event is very foreigner friendly, so do make plans to come over for the event next year!

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All about AnimeJapan 2016

This weekend is Anime Japan 2016, so here is a guide to introduce you to all the activities before you head to the Tokyo Big Sight.

What is Anime Japan?

AnimeJapan is not only an entertainment event but also an opportunity to connect with the Anime industry. Professionals from all corners of the animation world will give panels, host talk shows, provide workshops and will discuss your dream career plans. Why not bring your portfolio with you? This could be your big break!

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Navigating the exhibition halls

The area at Tokyo Big Sight is divided into different sections, each dedicated to an area of the anime industry.

Stages

There will be four stages; a red, green, blue and open stage. The colored stages host a variety of events such as panels, talk shows, news about series and cast appearances. However, these stages require a reservation and access is limited. The open stage is open to the public and free to enter. It will feature unique events, information about upcoming anime, talk shows and more.

Dealers

With more than 40 dealers selling unique merchandise, a fan is sure to find something to their liking. Big animation merchandise stores as well as smaller shops will sell and exhibit their goods. Definitely stop by the booth with Anime Japan 2016 exclusive merchandise and Premium Goods area.

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Food Park

Have you ever wanted to eat the food you saw on an anime? Now you can! Try the special Hokkaido pizza from agricultural hit manga Silver Spoon or other dishes such as Homemade Corn Soup from the adventure manga The Seven Deadlines Sins.

Creation Area

Anime Japan created a special area for all aspiring and professional animators. The Creation Stage will hold business seminars with lectures from creators about new developments in the industry. Experienced staff of professional schools will provide career counseling in a separate area and production works will be on display in the exhibition area.

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Business Area

This area is meant to provide business chances for both attendees and exhibitors in a comfortable environment. Be warned, students and people who are planning to start their own business are not allowed to enter the Business area. The area is strictly for business talks with exhibitors and to collect anime-related information for business.

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Children’s Area

For families with young visitors there is a special exhibition area with workshops and play corners.  Pose for a photo with popular manga characters such as Pikachu and Yokai Watch’s Jibanyan.

The festival goes on

After AnimeJapan closes, the party continues until late. On Friday and Saturday there will be a variety show and special event by Anison CLUB. Dance all night on Saturday at the AnimeJapan 2016 Night Festival, featuring some of the best DJ’s of Japan.

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With this much going on, there really should be no other way to spend your weekend than by going to AnimeJapan 2016. See you there!

Shibuya’s Cheapest Vending Machine

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We found the cheapest vending machine in Aoyama. Here you can get coffee for just 80 yen! Or green tea for just 50 yen!

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We guess we’ll be able to make it on a cheap budget in Tokyo after all.

(Located on Aoyama-dori Street, just north of the intersection with Omotesando Street.)

Tokyo Is Yours

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We at WAttention are not huge fans of graffiti, but there are some exceptions to the rule. Though the author (or artist?) behind these taggings is obviously anonymous, “Tokyo is Yours” has been showing up all across Shibuya and beyond, especially along the back alleys.

We personally find it encouraging. How about you?

Tokyo Must Do with Japan Tour Guide

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Get a taste of “real” Japan with sights recommended by Japan Tour Guide, a group in Japan that matches visitors with volunteer guides. (http://tourguide.jp/)

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Today’s Guide: Tomonari Watanabe

Tomonari is a student from the Tokyo University of Science. He guides foreign visitors every weekend in Tokyo, where he was born and raised. To date, he has guided some 300 groups of visitors.

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Spot 1: Kichijoji (10:00am)

Take a stroll around the most desirable town to live in, as voted by the locals. The picturesque Inokashira Park here is famous for cherry blossom viewing and boasts a large pond where you can paddle a boat in. You may even catch some street performers along the river path.

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For a satisfying and affordable meal, try yakitori restaurant Iseya.

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Spot 2: Shibuya (1:15pm)

After seeing how the locals live, see how they play.

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Shibuya is where you can shop for the latest fashion, eat a variety of food and try all sorts of entertainment, such as concept cafes–maid cafes, ganguro cafes (witness extreme makeup!) and even a goat cafe!

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Between Shibuya and Harajuku, there is Cat Street which has many street fashion clothes shops and general shops where you can enjoy window shopping.

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Spot 3: Harajuku (3:00pm)

The most famous place for foreign tourists in Harajuku is definitely Meiji Shrine. Feel purified both mentally and physically while experiencing Shinto, the Japanese traditional religion.

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From the shrine, you can easily access the trendsetting Takeshita Street, which is famous for its clothes shops and crepes. For high fashion, Omotesando Street is just round the corner.

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Spot 4: Shinjuku (5:15pm)

In the skyscraper district of Shinjuku, there are many shopping malls, bars and clubs where you can experience Tokyo’s nightlife. For a feel of Japan’s early post-war days, head to drinking alley Omoide Yokocho. Or visit Hanazono Shrine, Shinjuku’s guardian shrine for some history and culture.

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For dinner, why not treat yourself to Kyomachi Koishigure, where you can enjoy Kyoto’s traditional atmosphere and savor delicious Japanese food and sake.

 

Shibuya’s Goat Cafe

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This is Sakuragaoka Cafe in the backstreets of Shibuya’s Sakuragaoka-cho.

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This cafe is different from other cafes because…

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you can pet and feed the goats here!

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The goat, Sakura-chan is waiting for you, so why not stop by?

Information

23-3 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya

Hours:
Morning time 8:30am-11:30am (last order 11am) ※Weekdays only
Lunch time 11:30am-3pm
Idle time 3pm-5:30pm
Dinner time 5:30pm-11pm
Midnight time 11pm-6am Sunday (holidays until midnight)

Cat Street

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This is “Cat Street”, called by this name for two reasons. First, it seems that cats seem to like walking this street.

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Many new shops by aspiring fashion designers and up-and-coming fashion lines can be found here.

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Not only new fashion but also cafe or restaurant you can enjoy in this street.

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【TOKYU HANDS × WAttention】Top 5 Stationery Supplies

TOKYU HANDS is “THE ONE-STOP SHOP” chock-full of all kind of goods such as kitchen utensils, beauty goods, stationery, bags and tools, joined by fun discoveries and surprises. Visit TOKYU HANDS and gain a better understanding of today’s Japan.
tokyuhands

 

In this article, we bring you TOKYU HANDS’ Top 5 Handy Stationery Supplies, from slim-folding scissors to fun-designed sticky memos — all worthy of taking note of!

 

No. 1: Fitcut Curve Twiggy

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The long-awaited portable on-the-go version of the Bernoulli-curved scissors’ Fitcut Curve series–the number one selling* household scissors (based on 2014 Japan stationery scissors market sales).

Price: 702 yen (including tax)
Category: Scissors
WAttention Editor’s comment: “Fits perfectly in your pen case, and is quite sturdy for its small size. You won’t find a more convenient pair of scissors!”

 



No. 2: Memo Can 

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These memos will sway back and forth on your desk when folded in half and stood up on your desk. Use the stylish can for storing small items afterwards!

Price: 648 yen (including tax)
Category: Memo
WAttention Editor’s comment: “This gift is a 2-in-1 deal (memos and can case), both practical and playful for kids to adults.”

 



No. 3: Clip Family

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Not only can you use this bear-shaped clip as a paper clip or bookmark, but dip it in water for 5 minutes and you can bend it to a variety of positions, serving as a key hook, pen stand, and more. Available in multiple colors and varieties, including clip man, clip girl, clip monkey and more.

Price: 518 yen (including tax)
Category: Clip
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Unbearably cute, with endless creative ways to use just by bending!”

 



No. 4: Celebrity’s Mutter Sticky Note

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Become a big name celebrity — even Einstein — with this collection of sticky notes designed with famous faces.

Price: 410 yen (including tax)
Category: Memo
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Your ordinary messages will become the spark of many smiles with this fun addition to your desktop.”

 



No. 5: Ninja Pins

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The secret to these wall pins are their “V” shape, leaving little evidence of being used, compared to pins with a typical circular shape.

Price: 432 yen for 5 packs, 864 yen for 15 packs (including tax)
Category: Wall Pin
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “These pins leave hardly any trace of their presence, just like a true ninja!”

 

 



TOKYU HANDS -Shinjuku Store-

Times Square Building 2-8F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

WEBSITE:http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/foreign.html

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Kawazu-zakura Cherry Blossoms in Bloom!

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We found kawazu-zakura cherry blossoms in the side streets of Omotesando!

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This variety of cherry blossoms are originally from Shizuoka Prefecture, and bloom quite early, between late February and early March. Enjoy looking for cherry blossoms in Shibuya Ward, even along discreet passageways!

The importance of personal space in Japan

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This is a bench in a public area in Shibuya Ward.
If you’re wondering what the spheres are for, they are mean to delineate one’s personal space. After all, space is important, especially in Tokyo.

A good invention? Or inconvenient for those who simply want to lie down? What do you think?

United Nations University

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United Nations University (UNU) is located in Shibuya, just across from Aoyama Gakuin University. Its main building on Aoyama-dori Street is hard to miss. Built in 1973, it is an academic and research institute of the United Nations.

Information

ADDRESS: 5-53-70 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-8925
Tel: 03-5467-1212
Fax: 03-3499-2828

Big Buddha Statue by Shibuya

Have you ever seen a daibutsu (large Buddha statue) in Japan? Perhaps you’ve heard of the most famous ones in Kamakura and Nara. We introduce to you a daibutsu at Chokokuji-Temple, right next to Shibuya.

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Nishi-Azabu is a district of Minato Ward in Tokyo, Japan, which was a part of the former Azabu Ward.

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Inside this main hall, you’ll find a marvelous daibutsu statue.

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Chokoku-ji Temple (長谷寺), also known as Azabu Big Kannon (麻布大観音), is a Soto-shu (曹洞宗) temple.

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Information

ADDRESS: 2-21-34 Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo

Let’s Talk Subculture Vol. 13 Japanese Subculture as Seen by Foreign Artists

[WAttention X FIELDS Research Institute] 
Explore the fascinating world of Japan’s subcultures with insights from the inside

Interview with David OReilly and Caleb Wood

1. Caleb Wood  and David OReilly
Caleb Wood (left) and David OReilly (right)

Japanese anime, manga and video games have great followings in the west, but how do western creators look at such Japanese contents?
At GEORAMA 2016 – an animation festival held mainly in Shibuya and Koenji from February 2 to 23 – animated films from throughout the world were brought together. WAttention was on site, and had the chance to interview two worldwide acclaimed artists, David OReilly and Caleb Wood.

David OReilly is a self-taught Irish 3D animation film maker and game developer based in Los Angeles. At the festival, his short films “Please Say Something”, “External World” and “THE HORSE RAISED BY SPHERES” were shown in Japanese cinema. Many of his works capture modern pop culture in a satirical way, but also have something genuine and emotional about them. He is also responsible for animating a scene in “her”, the 2013 movie directed by Spike Jonze. In 2014, OReilly created “Mountain”, a game best described as a mountain simulator. This was his first achievement as an independent game developer.

2. 共通画像-“Please Say Something” David OReilly Animation
“Please Say Something” David OReilly Animation

Caleb Wood is an independent American animation artist based in New York. After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in 2011, he has been active as a freelance animation artist. “Little Wild”, “Totem” and “Goodbye Rabbit, Hop Hop” are some of his best known works. His works are abstract and generally have no narrative. It is the animation itself, the movement and the sound that tell the story. At GEORAMA 2016, he drew a live animation by painting on a wall, a unique method not seen before.

3. “Totem” Caleb Wood
“Totem” Caleb Wood

Japan, a country of contrasts

WAttention: What are your impressions of Japan?

Caleb Wood: My first visit in 2013 was a transition to a totally different culture. I was here for JAPIC AAIR, a residency program in Tokyo for foreign animation artists. I had three months to stay in Tokyo and made a film. During my stay, I visited Yoyogi Park every day and would just sit down and draw. “Goodbye Rabbit, Hop Hop” is the short film I made in this period. It incorporates the experience of getting out of the city and being enclosed by nature. I wanted to express the freedom you feel when entering the park. I also recorded the sounds here. Some of it is very urban and industrial, while the more natural sounds were recorded in Yoyogi Park.

4.  “Goodbye Rabbit, Hop Hop” Caleb Wood
“Goodbye Rabbit, Hop Hop” Caleb Wood

Caleb Wood: I have really fond memories of staying in Tokyo, and coming back here now 3 years later feels like coming back to an old house. There’s definitely a lot of nostalgia to it for me.

5.
WAttention:
How about you, David?

David OReilly:
There are many things I find inspiring here. Japan is a country of contrasts. There is a different way of looking at the world here, probably because it is an island. Island cultures tend to have their own unique eco-systems of culture. The first thing I really loved about Japan was the psychedelic music of the seventies. J.A Seazer for example, made a lot of incredible compositions. He was also responsible for a lot of music in the films of director Shuji Terayama. It was truly a revolutionary art movement at the time, and it was amazing to see how much emotion they put in their work. It has aggression and beauty at the same time, and is a great example of the contrasts that exist in Japanese culture. The people here are very polite and reserved, yet produce very extreme and strong culture.

WAttention: Do you feel that this is because the society here can be very strict? That the Japanese have a stronger will to put their emotion into their creations as they aren’t allowed to do so in everyday life?

David OReilly: Yes, I think so. Everybody is human and there are always going to be emotions escaping somehow. The people here are generally less extraverted than in the west, but what they want to say is often expressed in their art. It is very easy to say that for example the Soviet Union was evil and bad, but at the same time, it did produce Tarkovsky, one of the greatest artists of the last century.

6. 

The sense of timing in Japanese anime

WAttention: What do you think about Japanese anime?

Caleb Wood: I find the sense of timing very interesting. American animations have all become very similar to each other. People expect the same thing regarding how stories are told and how scenes should be animated. Japanese animation feels more unfamiliar and opens the mind. This is especially so for independent work, but even the bigger works – say Ghibli Studios – also have their own specific timing.

WAttention: We feel that the movement and sound in your works, especially “Little Wild”, have things in common with Ghibli Studios. Were you influenced by them?

Caleb Wood: Not the background scenery or story, but definitely the movement. A Japanese animator I especially respect is Shinya Ohira. He is a freelance animator that does scenes for many major Japanese animation studios. If there is a scene in a Japanese anime you find especially spectacular, there’s a pretty big chance it was done by him.

7.  “Little Wild” Caleb Wood
“Little Wild” Caleb Wood

Wattention: Are there any other Japanese animators or directors you like?

Caleb Wood: Although very different from my own approach, I think that the editing of Satoshi Kon, the director of “Millennium Actress” and “Paprika” is amazing. His works are really more like film than animation.

Japanese games, looking forward and backward

WAttention: How about other mediums than animation. David, you developed “Mountain”, an indie game in 2014. Are there any Japanese video games you grew up with?

8. “Mountain” David OReilly
“Mountain” David OReilly

David OReilly: Definitely. Growing up playing Japanese video games and at the same time watching old cartoons, reading comics and watching European and Asian cinema are the biggest components of influences for my works. Although I was not allowed to play that many video games, I endlessly played Super Mario Land on the Gameboy in my early years. When Final Fantasy VII came out, I was about 12, and the game totally got into my imagination. It was a huge leap of technology back then.

WAttention: What are you expecting from the upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake?

David OReilly: It’s a really unusual time in culture where classics are constantly being remade. As a creator you always want to go to the source and see what the magic is. I will definitely play the remake because it will be a chance to revisit my childhood. That being said, I cannot think of a remake that is better than the original. When something original is made, it has a quantity of experimentation going on and looks forward, while a remake is obviously a process of looking back.

It required a Japanese mind to make the purest thing

WAttention: Are there any more recent Japanese games you enjoy playing?

David OReilly: Dark Souls is one of my favorite series today. When I first played it, I totally hated it. It was way too masochistic and unbelievably hard. But once I understood how the game develops it took over my head. It’s a very pure game experience that makes you feel like you are in a dream. The feeling, the tone, how the characters interact is mindless and possessed in a zombie like way. The world looks realistic, but it is so abstract. It gave me a feeling I have never felt before. The environment is what you are experiencing, much more so than the narrative.
The game is a western RPG, but it required a Japanese mind to make the purest thing. It is very interesting to see how Japanese creators absorb ideas from other cultures.
Also, just by playing the first few hours of Metal Gear Solid V made me feel like there’s no reason to ever make an action movie again. The game does everything an action movie does, only 10 times better!

9.

Dancing and experimenting

WAttention: I would like to end this interview by talking a bit about how the two of you work. What is most important for you as an artist?

Caleb Wood: When creating, there’s not something in specific I’m conscious about. I don’t really have a plan either. I just let the drawings become what they want to become and do what the animations tell me. It’s kind of like dancing. The narrative comes naturally through the movement.

10. “Goodbye Rabbit, Hop Hop” Caleb Wood
“Goodbye Rabbit, Hop Hop” Caleb Wood

David OReilly: When I try to make something, I want to do something new and see where it goes. We tend to be amazed and inspired by new things and they change the way we see the world. If I do a new project, it’s always because I want to learn something new and grow my technical knowledge. To make a project interesting I have to learn new things. Doing new things is always risky, but without it a project is not as exciting.

11. “External World” David OReilly Animation
“External World” David OReilly Animation

WAttention: Thank you both for your time!

12.

This article was written with the assistance of Fields Research Institute, which conducts research in entertainment.

Isehan-Honten Museum of Beni

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Are you familiar with beni?
Beni is the red color pigment extracted from benibana (safflower) petals, which have only 1% of red pigment. Benibana is said to have its origin in the Nile River Valley of Egypt, but has been used traditionally in Japanese beauty products.

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Today, we went to the Isehan-Honten Museum of Beni. It was established in 2006 to preserve and pass down the history, culture and traditional craftsmanship of beni.

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We tried to paint beni on our hands. Even after washing it, the red color wouldn’t come out, showing how strong this dye is.

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Information

ADDRESS :K’s Minami Aoyama Building, 6-6-20 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
TEL & FAX: 03-5467-3735
HOURS: 10:00 – 18:00
CLOSED: Mondays, during exhibition installations, and during the New Year’s holiday period. (Except when a national holiday falls on Monday. In this case, the museum is open on the holiday and is closed the next day, Tuesday)
ADMISSION: Free (except exhibitions)
ACCESS: 12 min. walk from Omotesando Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza, Hanzomon, Chiyoda Line, B1 Exit) or a 1 min. walk from Minami Aoyama 7-chome bus stop on the 01 or 88 Bus (Shibuya – Shimbashi)

Bamboo street in Nezu Museum

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Nezu Museum was founded to conserve and exhibit the collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art created by Nezu Kaichiro (1860-1940).

This bamboo-lined path leads to the entrance of museum.

Information
Nezu Museum

ACCESS: 8-minute walk from Omotesando Station (Ginza, Hanzomon and Chiyoda Lines) Exit A5 (stairs only), 10-minute walk from Exit B4 (escalator available), or 10-minute walk from the B3 Exit (elevator and escalator available).

Discover the hidden Hachiko on the manhole!

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You can find this manhole design in Shibuya (especially near Shibuya Center Street).
Can you see the running men?

O.K.Let’s turn this manhole to the side.

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Can you see dogs?

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There are many dogs! And what’s more, one of them has a collar on its neck.
Yes, it is Hachiko!

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So keep an eye out for the Hachiko manhole in Shibuya!

【TOKYU HANDS × WAttention】The Top 5 Health Care & Beauty Products

TOKYU HANDS is “THE ONE-STOP SHOP” chock-full of all kind of goods such as kitchen utensils, beauty goods, stationery, bags and tools, joined by fun discoveries and surprises. Visit TOKYU HANDS and gain a better understanding of today’s Japan.

 

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No. 1: MISOKA Toothbrush

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This is the toothbrush that requires only water for use. Its bristles are coated with nano-mineral ions, and activated by water. MISOKA not only cleans your teeth but also leaves an ionic coat on the surface of your teeth.

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Simply dip it in water and you’re ready to brush! It is especially popular amongst Japanese and Asian customers.

Price: 1,080 yen (including tax)
Category: toothbrush
WAttention Editor’s comment: “For the outdoor and businessman who’s always on the go, you won’t find a better toothbrush than this one. And it actually works!”

 

 



No. 2: Green Bell Nail Clipper w/Magnifying Glass G-1004

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Tired of straining your eyes when trimming your nails? This nail clipper comes with a 2x magnifying glass, which can also stand up on its own and be used for reading and other needs.

Price: 1,188 yen (including tax)
Category: nail clipper
WAttention Editor’s comment: “The perfect gift for seniors in particular, but I picked up one for myself too!”

 

 



No. 3: BOTANIST Smooth Shampoo & Treatment

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This non-silicone shampoo and treatment uses low acidity soap, making for a foamy and moist lather, and an unexpected silky feel. The shampoo and treatment each have their own distinct scent, and using both at the same time makes for a wonderful mixed fragrance.

Price: 1,512 yen each (including tax)
Category: shampoo, treatment
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “What a relief to finally have a non-silicone shampoo and treatment that still leaves my hair feeling as smooth and shiny. No more worrying about the silicone weighing down and drying out my hair!”

 

 



No. 4: Propolinse

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The secret to this mouthwash is its ability to remove protein impurities that build up within your mouth area. Since you can see with your own eyes the results of each rinse, you’ll feel even more refreshed!

Price: 271 yen for 12ml pouch (6 pack), 1,058 yen for 600mL bottle (including tax)
Category: mouthwash
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “Having seen for myself the disgusting things this mouthwash cleaned out of my mouth, I don’t think I can go without!”

 

 



No. 5: maNara Hot Cleansing Gel (200g)

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Even though technically a cleansing lotion, it functions similar to a beauty lotion, with a 91.4% serum content! When applied, this lotion will create a warming sensation, helpful for opening up your pores and removing dirt and oil. Utilizing no additional food coloring or mineral oils, it is especially easy on your skin.

Price: 4,104 yen (including tax)
Category: makeup remover
WAttention Editor’s Comment: “I didn’t expect it to warm my skin so quickly, and its citrus fragrance made for an even more refreshing feeling!”

TOKYU HANDS -Shinjuku Store-

Times Square Building 2-8F, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

WEBSITE:http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/foreign.html

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Jizo is covered with…”Salt”

Jizo is the guardian deity of children. If you come and travel around Japan, you can see jizo statues in many places. Some wear red clothes, and others have sweets and toys offered to them.

WAttention staff found a strange jizo at Tofukuji Temple in Shibuya.

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You can see normal traditional jizo near entrance of this temple.

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But if you head to the left side with your back against this jizo…you can see this strange jizo below.

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This Jizo is covered with salt. Why you ask?

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It is said to have the power to heal when you rub the part of the body on the jizo with salt where you are injured. Hence, it has become incredibly worn down through the years!

Information
Tofukuji Temple

Address: 3-5-8, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Peach, Plum or Sakura Pink: Which is the prettiest of them all?

Though it’s still a bit cold outside, if you look around, you will see a bunch of fuchsia-colored flowers and pastel pink petals opening up. Those pink flowers tell us that spring is fast approaching and warm weather with bright sunshine is just around the corner.

You might wonder if it already is Sakura (cherry blossom) season.
Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but these guys are Sakura’s close cousins: the plum or peach blossom.

Plum

Quite often, Sakura being considered the national flower of Japan, gets the most attention. There are countless poems, songs, stories, designs and yes, people’s names in honor of Sakura. But interestingly enough, sakura, plum and peach have a lot in common, and sometimes they are very hard to distinguish at first glance.

So what are the differences?
Here are some pointers you can use to identify them.

For Plum Blossoms
– There is no stem
– Round petals
– Blossoms one flower per knot

For Peach Blossoms
– Stem is short
– Pointy petals
– Blossoms two flowers per knot

For Cherry Blossoms
– Stem is relatively long
– Elongated split-end petals
– Blossoms in a cluster form

Generally speaking, plums bloom earlier than its counterparts. But depending on the climate and location, flower seasons vary. In the Tokyo area, plum blossoms can be enjoyed in mid-February. Then comes the peach blossoms in March and cherry blossoms start to bloom in late March to early April.

So let’s test your powers of investigation!
Can you identify them correctly?

Flower A
Peach

Flower B
Plum2

Flower C
Cherry

Here is the answer
Flower A: peach, Flower B: plum, Flower C: cherry

Were you able to answer them correctly?

So the next time you spot a pretty pink flower, take a closer look at it and see what it is. Sakura, plum and peach blossoms, they are very similar, yet they are different. Each of them has unique characteristics and its own beauty. Early or late, they are all waiting for the best time to blossom.

Do you want to dip fried chicken into…

WAttention editors went to Kin no Torikara in Shibuya (Shibuya Center Street).
This shop is famous for its boneless deep-fried chicken that comes with various sauces, including salt & lemon, ume, teriyaki, pepper, sweet chili, and even chocolate!

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We tried the chocolate sauce!!

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Information

Address: 25-3 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Ayu in Bunkyo Ward

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan. Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column.

We received a request from Ayu, a tourist from Indonesia. She asked us if we could take her somewhere less known, where foreign tourists usually don’t go, to get to know the local Japanese culture. The guides were university students, Satoru Sekiya and Kae Nishimura. We met up with her at Todai-mae Station, and gave her a tour of great spots in Bunkyo Ward.

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University of Tokyo
First, we headed to the University of Tokyo, which is the top-ranking university in Japan. We got there in 5 minutes from the station. We saw a statue of Hachiko, but it was a little bit different from the statue of Hachiko in Shibuya. We recommend that you see both statues!

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Yushima Tenmangu Shrine
This shrine is not so far from the university. This shrine receives offerings of ema (small wooden plaques). Around this time, many students write down their wishes to pass the entrance exams into junior, senior high school and university. They pray for success to enter the school they want in April. We wrote down our wishes on ema too!

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Then, we took the subway to Korakuen Station in Bunkyo Ward, where the rest of our sightseeing spots for the day awaited us.

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Tokyo Dome City
Many Japanese people like to spend time at this popular entertainment complex in Bunkyo Ward. Tokyo Dome City consists of a baseball stadium (Tokyo Dome), amusement park, shopping mall and spa resort (LaQua). We had lunch together at a restaurant which served doria, a western-style rice casserole with white sauce, that originated in Japan! It tastes like gratin.

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Purikura
Purikura is a popular activity among Japanese students, young women and couples. These machines let you take pictures and decorate them, before printing them on sticker paper. If you have chance, go try it!

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Don Quijote
Next, we introduced her to discount chain store Don Quijote. There are about 160 stores throughout Japan. They sell many kinds of products from groceries to cosplay goods. We found a unique beauty face pack that had Kumadori (Kabuki face paint) printed on it. This could be a good souvenir for your friends!

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Koishikawa Korakuen Garden

Finally, we visited Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, adjacent to Tokyo Dome City. This is one of the oldest and best gardens among the preserved parks in Tokyo. Open hours are from 9am until 5pm, and entrance costs 300 yen. Feel as if you’ve traveled back in time to the Edo period here. After walking around the park, we went back to Korakuen Station and said goodbye.

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This is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide. We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!

About Sangaku: Geeky Geometric Offerings

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Konno Hachimangu Shrine is located in Shibuya. This shrine is known as the shrine for sangaku. Sangaku refers to a votive tablet depicting a math puzzle given in devotion to a shrine or temple by a wasan (Japanese mathematics) mathematician.

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In this shrine,you can see actual sangaku from the Edo era. Many students in Edo offered sangaku after completing difficult mathematics problems and vowed to study even harder afterwards.

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Information
Konno Hachimangu Shrine

Address: 3-3-5-12,Shibuya,Shibuya-ku,Tokyo

Secret Stone Statues

We found these hidden stone statues in Aoyama at the back entrance to the Nezu Art Museum. Curious why they’re here?

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This entrance is used for special guests, such as ambassadors from foreign countries, and even the Emperor! Though you can’t use this entrance, you can still stop by for a quick peaceful meditation.

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Information
Nezu Art Museum

Address:6-5-1,Minami-Aoyama,Tokyo

Let’s Talk Subculture Vol. 12 International Robot Sumo Tournament 2015

[WAttention X FIELDS Research Institute] 
Explore the fascinating world of Japan’s subcultures with insights from the inside

Battle of the little giants

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You have probably heard of Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s sumo stadium where many prestigious sumo wrestlers have stood in the ring since 1985.

However, on December 13, 2015, two robots face each other in a small sumo ring, with their creators standing on both sides. The tension and pressure can be felt just by looking at them.

“Hakkeyoi! Nokotta!” the referee shouts – just like in real sumo – and marks the start of the match. And then, the moment of truth. The two robots bump into each other with great speed. Their creators shout at them as if they are giving instructions to a real wrestler. One of the two robots gets hit, and flies off the ring. Excited cheering, shouting, screaming. A true sensation it is.


As the name suggests, Robot Sumo is about two robots fighting each other in a ring, but there is a lot more to it than just that. To qualify, robots cannot weigh more than 3kg or be wider than 20cm, but there are no restrictions for their height. That means that within these restrictions, participants are completely free in how they create their robot and what material they use doing so. You will notice how there is a certain strategy behind each robot’s design.

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Some robots are simply built to push their opponent off the ring with pure strength, while others are designed to use the opponent’s force and toss away incoming robots. The great amount of different tactics and movements make each bout exciting and spectacular to watch, and sometimes really does remind of actual sumo wrestling.

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The All Japan Robot Sumo Tournament has been held annually since 1989, with Ryogoku Kokugikan as its venue. Since 2014, the International Robot Sumo Tournament is also held on the same day, which means that Japanese participants have a handicap as they fight two tournaments in a row, if their robots have any energy left at all.

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Robot Sumo has two main categories: Self Operating Robots and Radio-Controlled Robots.

Self-Operating Robots have multiple tactic patterns programmed by their participants. The pattern is decided before each bout. During the fight, robots rely purely on their artificial intelligence; all participants can do now is observe the fate that awaits their beloved creations. However, as two bouts have to be won to be victorious, tactic patterns can be changed for each stand-alone bout, resulting in different outcomes for the same match-up.

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Radio-controlled robots fight as their participants instruct. Every single movement is controlled by a remote control that will remind you of miniature model race cars.

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While from a technical perspective, robots battling with artificial intelligence might sound more impressive, bouts by radio controlled robots are usually more fast and spectacular as the outcome can be changed due to a wise move with the blink of an eye, always keeping observers on the edge of their seats.

In 2015, the tournament was held on December 13. The finals of the International Robot Sumo Tournament for the Self-Operating Robots category ended in a tie between a robot from Turkey and one from Romania. The winning Japanese Self-Operating Robot of the national tournament that day, was disqualified during the international tournament as it damaged the ring during battle.

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The winner of both the national and international Radio-Controlled Robots tournament was MTY- Hakuro, a robot from Kagawa Prefecture controlled by two high-school students. Tossing one robot after the other out of the ring as if it was nothing, they left 43 robots from 15 different countries behind. With sumo wrestlers of foreign origin dominating the last decade, seeing a victorious Japanese (robot) wrestler at Ryogoku Kokugikan was a nostalgic sight indeed.

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This article was written with the assistance of Fields Research Institute, which conducts research in entertainment.

Drainspotting: 3 Shibuya Manholes

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This cherry blossom manhole is the most popular and common in Tokyo.

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Bet you never noticed the Hachiko manhole, just by the Hachiko statue!

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Lastly, the “Tricky manhole”, along Dogenzaka. From this angle, it looks like a person running on the upper half, but look at it sideways, and you’ll notice a dog pattern. Look even closer and you’ll find one of the dogs has a collar – surely a Hachiko reference! (Hence: “Dog・en・saka”)

Taro Okamoto Museum of Art

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Taro Okamoto (岡本太郎) is one of the most well-known Japanese artists and sculptors, known for his iconic, cartoonish and somewhat surrealist large-scale public sculptures. But many people don’t know that his former house is located in Aoyama, and remains open as museum of his art.

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Information
Taro Okamoto Museum of Art

Address:6-1-19, Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo
Website:http://www.taromuseum.jp/english/index_english.html

Blue Note Tokyo

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Blue Note Tokyo in Aoyama is a branch of the the main jazz club and restaurant in Greenwich Village, New York City, considered one of the world’s most famous jazz venues. Catch famous international jazz artists here at this intimate and high-end live house.

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Information
Blue Note Tokyo

Address: 6-3-16, Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo
Website: http://www.bluenote.co.jp/jp/

SHIBUYA HOTEL EN Opens Feb. 5

SHIBUYA HOTEL EN will open on Feb 5th, 2016 in Shibuya, with a design based on Japanese culture, nature, art, tradition and history.

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Entrance

Each of the 9 floors are decorated according to different theme, like Hokusai, “WA”, and manga.

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The Manga Floor

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Torii floor
Torii (Gate) Floor

Why not try a stay here for a new kind of “WA” hotel!

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Information
SHIBUYA HOTEL EN

PRICE: Single 19,000 yen (per night)/ Twin 25,000 yen (per night)/Special floor 40,000 yen (per night)

TEL:03-5489-1010

ADDRESS: 1-1 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya

ACCESS: From JR Yamanote Line Shibuya Station (Hachiko exit), cross the Shibuya scramble and head towards “Shibuya 109”. Turn to the left at the traffic light at Dogenzaka 2 Chome. Shibuya Hotel En will be on the left after passing the first traffic signal.

WEBSITE: http://www.shibuyahotel.jp/en/

Why not move around Shibuya via the Hachiko Bus?

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Shibuya City runs the small, non-step Hachiko Bus, which also allows easy wheelchair access. You can go nearly everywhere in Shibuya by this bus!

Bus Route(Uehara-Tomigaya)
Uehara-Tomigaya Route map(PDF 31KB)

Uehara-Tomigaya Time table(PDF 85KB)

Bus Route “Jinguno Mori Route”(Jingumae-Sendagaya)
Jingumae-Sendagaya Route map (PDF 64KB)

Jingumae-Sendagaya Time table (PDF 18KB)

Bus Route Honmachi-Sasazuka Loop “Haruno Ogawa (A Stream in Springtime) Route “

Honmachi-Sasazuka Loop Haruno Ogawa Route map(PDF 67KB)

Honmachi-Sasazuka Loop Haruno Ogawa Time table (PDF 87KB)

Bus Route Ebisu-Daikanyama Loop “Yuyake Koyake (Sunset) Route”

Ebisu Daikanyama Yuyake Koyake Route map(PDF 72KB)

Ebisu Daikanyama Yuyake Koyake Time table(PDF 57KB)

Information

Fee:100 yen

Bird Watching in Yoyogi Park

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Did you know there are a variety of birds you can spot in Shibuya?
If you’re interested in bird watching, we recommend you join this class!

Information
Date: Jan. 23 (Sat), 2016
Place: Bird Sanctuary, Yoyogi Park in Shibuya
Participation Fee: Free
Participant Max: 20
Application Method: Call 03-3469-6081 (Yoyogi Park Service Center)

Birds viewable in January, 2015
Spot-Billed duck/Turtledove/Goshawk/Buzzard/Kingfisher/Pygmy Woodpecker/Parus Varius/Japanese Great Tit/Brown-Eared Bulbul/Japanese White-Eye/Starling/Thrush/Sparrow/Water wagtail/Oriental Greenfinch/Black-faced Bunting/White’s Thrush etc.

URL: http://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/event/2015/12/post-691.html (Japanese)

What’s “Earth Garden”?

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The Earth Garden event will be held in Yoyogi Park on Jan 23-24, 2016. This festival aims to raise awareness about the environment in a fun way, with food, music, eco-products and more.

Information

DATE: 10am-4pm Jan 23-24, 2016
*event will take place regardless of weather conditions
PLACE:Yoyogi Park in Shibuya
FEE: Free
TEL:03-5468-3282
MAIL:[email protected]

Hachiko heading back to Akita?!

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In 1924, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo, took Akita dog Hachiko, as a pet. Hachiko kept waiting for his owner in front of Shibuya Station after Ueno’s death, and now, his bronze statue is famous as a meeting place in Shibuya.

However, recently officials have begun considering moving the Hachiko statue temporarily to his hometown of Odate, Akita Prefecture in 2020, in light of construction work around the station. Such would make for his first return in 96 years!

Diary of a Japan Tour Guide: Monica in Asakusa & Shinjuku

Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan. Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column!

We received a request from Monica from Taiwan (pictured center below), who wanted to visit Asakusa and Shinjuku. The guides were Tomonari Watanabe, a university student, and LingLing, a student from China studying abroad in Japan.

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We met with Monica at the iconic Kaminarimon Gate at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa in the afternoon.

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After introductions, we explored Asakusa Nakamise-dori. This is the main shopping street at the temple, filled with shops where you can buy souvenirs and snacks.

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We ate ningyoyaki (small griddled cakes filled with bean paste), one of the most famous food items in Asakusa, and monaka ice cream (ice cream sandwiched between crisp wafers).

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Next, we tried omikuji. These are sacred lots that tell one’s fortune. Here’s how they work: first, put 100 yen in the money box. Second, shake the container with many numbered sticks until one comes out of the little slot. Lastly, find the box with the same number and take out the paper sheet. This little slip of paper predicts your fortune!

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We then needed to cleanse ourselves before entering the temple. We went to Sensoji and put 5 yen into the osaisen (offertory) and prayed. It is believed that 5 yen will bring good luck to your love life!

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From Asakusa we headed to Kappa-bashi by foot. Here, there are lots of shops with kitchen goods and food samples. Monica showed great interest in food samples, as she also makes them back home, but out of clay instead of wax.

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UENO

Afterwards we explored Ameyoko (Ameyayokocho), a busy street market area which is wellーknown for having very reasonable prices. Various products such as fresh fish, dried foods, bags, cosmetics, imported goods and more are sold along both sides of the street. Since the New Year was just around the corner, it was crowded with people seeking ingredients for osechi-ryori (special dishes only eaten for New Year’s). Monica told us that Ameyoko is similar to Taiwan’s night markets.

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SHINJUKU

At the end of the day, we went to the Izakaya “Kyomachi Koishigure” in Shinjuku. Once we stepped inside, it was like being transported to Kyoto. We enjoyed delicious Japanese food and sake while enjoying the atmosphere and vibe of Kyoto.

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This is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide.
We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!

Limited-Time Character Cafe at Shibuya Parco

mainOn Jan. 28, “Kanahei’s YURUTTO CAFE” featuring illustrator, manga artist, and LINE stamp creator Kanahei’s cute characters, will open for a limited time at Shibuya PARCO’s THE GUEST cafe & diner.

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Besides the original menu based on Kanahei’s “Piske & Usagi” characters and her “Small Animals” series, find original goods only available at this cafe’s shop, as well as a commemorative photo spot at the store front!

Kanahei’s YURUTTO CAFE
Location: THE GUEST cafe & diner (Shibuya PARCO Part 1, 7F)
Dates: Jan. 28 – Mar. 14, 2016
Hours: 11am – 10pm (last order for food), 10:30pm (last order for drinks)
Website: http://www.parco-art.com

Let’s Talk Subculture Vol. 11 The past and present of Japanese video games

[WAttention X FIELDS Research Institute] 
Explore the fascinating world of Japan’s subcultures with insights from the inside

An Interview with Koji Igarashi

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If you are in your twenties or thirties and are a fan of Japanese video games, there is a pretty big chance you grew up spending hours on end in the dark world of Castlevania, one of Konami’s most iconic franchises. Now, you can look forward to reliving the magic with a new game by former Castlevania key creator and gaming world legend, Koji Igarashi (fondly known as IGA)’s latest project, called Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. So eager were IGA’s fans to bring this fantasy world to fruition that it only took only 4 hours to reach the base goal of 500,000 US dollars on KICKSTARTER, one of the world’s biggest crowdfunding platforms. And only to think that this was just the beginning!

WAttention had the honor to interview IGA himself, and asked him about his new project, his masterpieces of the past, and the current state of the Japanese video game industry in general.

On Castlevania: 

“Castlevania is a gothic horror themed side-scroller (a 2D video game viewed from a side-view camera angle in which a character moves from one side to the other) in which the main character uses a whip as the main weapon to fight against Dracula and his army of mummy men, werewolfs and other characters that will remind you of B horror movies” IGA explains.

Although IGA is not the father of the Castlevania franchise which started in 1986, the first entry he worked on in 1997 “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night” was a revolutionary title that to this day is widely seen as not only the best entry in the franchise, but also as one of the best video games ever released for the original Sony Playstation.

In a time in which 3D video games came to rise due to new powerful hardware, IGA and his team had the guts to stick with 2D and revolutionized the side-scrolling genre by making it non-linear and adding elements of exploration and backtracking. While IGA humbly mentions Nintendo’s Super Metroid as an earlier game with similar features, it cannot be denied that IGA further expanded the concept by introducing experience points and magic, concepts borrowed from RPGs (role playing games), hence making the game more accessible for the less skilled gamer.

Much like IGA himself, a great number of famous Japanese video game creators from companies as SEGA, Konami, Capcom and Square Enix have gone their own ways in the last decade. We asked IGA why he thinks so many creators have left their companies.

“Video-game companies cannot accept new ideas as easily as before. Production costs are becoming higher as technology advances while sales are getting worse largely due to the rise of smartphone devices. Testing new grounds has become much more risky than before, forcing companies to play it safe by releasing titles of tested formulas for already existing franchises, leaving creators little to no freedom”

On Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will be the first title of IGA’s new studio ArtPlay. The project is partially funded through KICKSTARTER. With over 5.5 million US dollars funded by over 64 thousands backers, IGA’s project ranks in as the 11th best funded project and second best funded video game ever on KICKSTARTER.

“Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night” is currently in development for Steam (PC/Mac/Linux), GOG.com (PC/Mac/Linux), XBOX One, Playstation 4, Wii U, and PS Vita and is scheduled for a 2017 release.

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“As Bloodstained is partly funded by my fans, I want to give them the type of experience they have been waiting for. Still, while creating a game that will feel familiar, I am hoping to try new things as well. Also, given the fact that this is a new franchise, the story and setting will add a fresh touch to the game too.”

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On the future of the game industry: 

With even world-wide acclaimed video game creators as IGA having a hard time finding publishers to fund their projects, how do new talents bring their ideas to the world? Luckily, there is a new movement called indie games, which are video games created by independent developers. While the production costs for big titles are higher than ever, modern developing software has made the programming of video games more convenient and less expensive, allowing young creators to independently create and present their own video games.

“The difference between my project and indie games is that there is an existing fan base for my project. I have to make sure that those fans will be satisfied with my game, but an indie developer is completely free in what he wants to make, limited only by his own imagination.” says IGA, indicating that he does not see himself as an indie developer.
He does state that the marketing for his current project is significantly different from that of a traditional video game, and that as his own boss, he does possess similar freedom as an indie developer.

“I think that there are two types of creators. The creator that makes something completely new and the creator that perfects an already existing concept or genre. I happen to be the latter one, but for creators that want to bring something completely new to the world, video game companies aren’t as tolerant as in the old days. Luckily, they can show their projects as indie games, which is why I feel great potential towards this new branch of our industry”

While Japan is still a bit behind the west when it comes to indie games, the market is gradually growing. IGA was a speaker at 2015’s Bitsummit, an indie game festival in Kyoto that was held for the third time on July 11 and 12.

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IGA was pleasantly surprised by the scale and popularity of the event. Indeed, with more than 80 developing teams showcasing their projects and over 4,500 visitors, the Japanese indie game industry is definitely growing, and hopefully we will soon see young Japanese creators once again captivate the world with their fresh ideas like IGA did nearly two decades ago.

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This article was written with the assistance of Fields Research Institute, which conducts research in entertainment.

Shibuya Ranks #1 in Tokyo for College-Bound Rate

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This weekend, Jan. 15-16, high school students across the country will take the “Center Test” university entrance exam. And according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Shibuya Ward ranks at the top of Tokyo’s 23 wards for highest college-bound rate!

With 77.9% of high school students continuing to college or junior college, Shibuya more than doubles the lowest ranking ward, Adachi Ward, at 38.9%. Chiyoda (76.9%), Minato (75.3%), Bunkyo (74.7%) and Suginami Ward (72.6%) rounded off the list’s top 5.

Best of luck to all test-takers, in Shibuya and across Japan!

 

“Tree of Children” in Aoyama

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Ever see this strange objet d’art along Aoyama-dori Street?

It is called “Tree of Children”, sculpted by famous Japanese artist Taro Okamoto. Okamoto said “Humans must accept life as it is,” and expressed this thought through this artwork with many faces of children living freely. Find it just in front of the United Nations University!

Address: 5-53-1 Jingumae, Shibuya

Shop For Antiques At The Setagaya Boroichi Fai

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Do you have a keen eye for antiques?

If so, save the date for the Setagaya Boroichi Fair on the 15th and 16th of January, where you can find a wide variety of antiques, arts and crafts, interior decorations, fashion items, books, plants and more!

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Caption: Old chisels and intricate artwork found at the fair.

The fair originally started as a flea market for the farmers around 1570s, where they exchanged used farming clothes. As most of them were old and raggedy – colloquially called “boro boro” – people started calling it a Boroichi, the name we still use today even though the items on sale are more presentable.

During its peak, there were around two thousand stalls lining up right next to each other, providing not only everyday items but also food and entertainment. Today, about 700 stalls display their treasures, some centuries old, others unknown.

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Caption: Streets are packed with people trying to find one of a kind items.

You don’t have to be the expert of antiques to enjoy this fair. Just stroll down the street and see what people have in store. A plethora of random items will give you a glimpse into Japanese history and nostalgia.

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Caption: Plants and Bonsai are popular items sold at the Boroichi fair.

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Caption: How about a Manekineko for a souvenir?

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Caption: Freshly made sweets and snacks, perfect for snacking on as you shop!

Though the fair is held in a quiet suburb of Setagaya ward, it attracts approximately 200,000 visitors every year. The number alone is a enough testament for a visit, right? If you are fed up with the latest and greatest of what Japan has to offer, visit Boroichi for a change. You might find it very refreshing.

To get to the fair, hop on a cute tram called the Setagaya line and get off at Kamimachi Station. I suggest getting there early so you can have a better look at the treasures from the past and perhaps keep some for yourself. Enjoy!

<Information>

Date: Jan. 15th & 16th

Hours: 9am to 8pm

Fee: Free

Access: Setagaya Line Kamimachi Station

URL: http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/setagaya/11000/11004/d00125000.html (Japanese)

Discover Drinking Alleys In Japan (II): Neighborhood Yokochos

Almost every area has its own yokocho for locals to gather and unwind. Here are some other alleyways with character worth stopping by.

1) Asakusa Hoppy Dori 

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Hoppy has a reputation as being the mixer of choice of the older generation, and for good reason—it was created in their younger days as a cheaper alternative to beer, to be mixed with stronger liquor such as shochu. In this alleyway, you can even find “draft” hoppy. The specialty here is “motsu stew”, or a hearty dish made from pig or cow innards, vegetables and konjac.

Access: 3-min. walk from Metro Asakusa Station

2) Amazake Yokocho 

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Unlike the other alleyways that come alive at sunset, this 400m alleyway is more of a daytime place with a refined Shitamachi (old downtown) feel of the Edo era and famous for its amazake, or sweet non-alcoholic rice wine, and taiyaki baked pastry from a 99-year-old shop.

Access: 2-min from the Metro Ningyocho Station

3) Harmonica Yokocho 

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Formerly an underground flea market that sprung up in the early post-war period some 70 years ago, this is lined with small shops and bars just like the holes on a harmonica mouthpiece. While some of the tenants date way back, this area is now popular with the younger crowd for its trendy standing bars and hip restaurants.

Access: 2-mins walk from East Exit of Kichojoji Station

 

4) Koenji Gado-shita

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This is known as the alley for aspiring musicians and to support these struggling artistes are cheap bars, pubs and shops selling used CDs, musical instruments and clothes. Hang out with the lively crowd here under the tracks on the west side of Koenji Station. A must try is the “Gyoza for zero Yen” at Tachibana gyoza restaurant where you get a sizeable free gyoza portion with every drink ordered.

Access: 2-mins walk from JR Koenji Station

Coming Of Age Day

seinen3In Japan, one is considered an adult at the age of 20 and a national holiday – called Coming of Age Day (成年の日, seinen no hi) – is designated on the second Monday of January to celebrate this milestone event. This is a great opportunity to see a rainbow spectrum of traditionally-dressed men and ladies walking around town.

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Eligible residents receive an invitation card by the local government, informing them of the designated celebration venue. The actual event consists of a congratulatory speech and presentation of a  commemorative gift to the newly initiated adults .

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Ladies wear a furisode, or a type of kimono with long sleeves that drape down, while men either wear a traditional dark kimono with hakama or a suit and tie.

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In Japan, 20 is the legal age for smoking and drinking….

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…and the newly initiated adults usually celebrate this day by going out for a drinking party!

 

 

 

Ginza’s Past and Present in Photos

Ginza is one of the best places to go shopping in Tokyo, especially in January as many of the department stores here will have a bargain sale in the second half of this month.

The Kabukiza Theater also has a special program to mark the beginning of the New Year.

So why not head down to Ginza and check out these historical buildings that hark back to to the late 19th century and early 20th century?

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The Kabukiza Theater is one of the most famous Kabuki theaters in Japan. Surrounded by modern buildings, it creates an interesting contrast between Japan’s past and present.

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This is a postcard from somewhere between 1925 and 1945, and shows us what Kabukiza Theater looked like before it was bombed during the end of WWII.

The Kabukiza Theater was originally constructed in 1889.

It has been reconstructed after a fire in 1921, after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, after the WWII bombings in 1945, and recently in 2010 because it was starting to show its age.

The phoenix design on the noren (curtain) at the entrance is Kabukiza Theater’s crest. This legendary bird originally from China, stands symbolic for happiness.

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At night, the theater will be elegantly lit-up. Faced to the busy Harumi-dori street, it can get quite busy during rush hours here.

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If you walk along Harumi-dori street towards Ginza station, you will reach the famous Ginza 4-chome (yon-chome) crossing.

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On the right side of this crossing is department store Ginza Mitsukoshi, and the building with the clock on the left side is Wako, also a department store. These department stores have stood symbol of Ginza’s luxury image since the thirties.

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This photo was taken somewhere between 1932 and 1941. As you can see, both department stores were already at their current locations.

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Today, Ginza shines with stylish lights at night, thus managing to look hip while maintaining its original charm.

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This is the crossing of Harumi-dori street and Chuo-dori street.
You can see Matsuya Ginza at the end of Chuo-dori street on the right side of this photo.

Matsuya Ginza is also one of Ginza’s historical department stores, but today boasts a modern style architecture, which is beautifully illuminated with LED at night.

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The following photo taken between 1920 and 1930, you can see how trams used to pass by in Ginza.

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While you will probably be busy shopping in Ginza, sometimes, try to stand still and imagine what the area was like in the old days. Doing so will really allow you to appreciate the area for sure.
Spot Information

Kabukiza Theater

Location: Ginza 4-12-15 Chuo, Tokyo

Access: Directly connected to Exit 3 of Higashi Ginza Station (Hibiya Line, Toei Asakusa Line)

URL : http://www.kabuki-bito.jp/eng/contents/theatre/kabukiza.html
Ginza Mitsukoshi

Location: Ginza 4-6-16, Chuo, Tokyo

Access: Directly connected to Exit A7 of Ginza Station(Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line and Hibiya Line)

URL: http://goo.gl/0Wqy43
Wako

Location: Ginza 4-5-11, Chuo, Tokyo

Access: Directly connected to Exit B1 of Ginza Station (Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line and Hibiya Line)

URL : http://www.wako.co.jp/en/index.html

 

Matsuya Ginza

Location: Ginza 3-6-1 Chuo, Tokyo

Access: Directly connected to Exit A12 of Ginza Station (Ginza Line, Marunouchi Line, and Hibiya Line

URL : http://www.matsuya.com/visitor/en/m_ginza/

Shopping Campaign for Tourists

Until Feb. 29, the Japan Shopping Tourism Organization is holding its first campaign geared towards foreign tourists at the Koen-dori shopping street area – Tokyo Prime Shopping 2016 in Shibuya – giving away 1,000,000 yen in prizes and gift cards.

To participate, download the smartphone application WeChat, and use the “shake” function in the Koen-dori shopping street area to enter a lottery to win prizes and gift cards. Lottery entrants will also receive discount tickets and present coupons, valid at nearly 900 participating stores.

In addition, on Saturday, Jan. 9, at 6:18pm, the “Lucky Shake Event” will take place for just 30 seconds, where an extra 1,000,000 yen in present coupons will be given away.

 

Aoyama Gakuin celebrates victory

Today at 12:40pm, Aoyama Gakuin University held a victory ceremony in front of Goucher Memorial Chapel, celebrating its second consecutive win at the 92nd Hakone Ekiden race.

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Aoyama Gakuin 4th-year Kazuma Kubota jokingly asking the audience to raise their hand if they came to see him.

Coach Susumu Hara and the ten participating runners each shared brief words of appreciation and encouragement before a flood of students, faculty and visitors.

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A banner hanging by the campus entrance on Aoyama-dori Street, which reads, “Because we suffered more than anyone else, we had more  fun than anyone else.”