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yamato noodle school 2

yamato noodle school 1

We don’t even have to ask- we know you love ramen. The ramen craze has expanded all over the globe, and ramen shops can be found just about everywhere. And Yamato Noodle School is one of the institutions that teaches students how to make ramen like professionals and prepares people to open their own ramen shops.

yamato noodle school 2

We here at EnableJapan.com had the opportunity to sit down with Kaoru Fujii, the founder and owner of Yamato Noodle School. He was able to give us some background on his school, and some tips on how to succeed in the ramen business. “We started as an udon school in 2000 and started a ramen program in 2003. We have school here twice a month here at the Tokyo office, and at the main headquarters in Kagawa. In 2005, we started a ramen school in Singapore.”

Where do the students at the Tokyo branch come from? “Mainly here in Tokyo. Other students come from inside Japan, but sometimes they come from the United States, or Canada, or from all over the world. So we decided to start the ramen school in Singapore because of many foreign students. Most Japanese people cannot speak English at all, but in Singapore everybody speaks English. In Singapore, there are many different types of ramen. So for the first day of class, we take the students to the ramen district, and we show the many different types of ramen at once. Then we ask them what types of ramen they want to make, so they can easily try many different types of ramen.”

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If you are not a Japanese speaker, Yamato Noodle School in Singapore might be a better fit for you. “We have classes in Japan and Singapore. In Singapore we teach in English. But In Japan, we teach only in Japanese. So students in Tokyo must pay for interpreters. In Singapore, they don’t need an interpreter.” Although we visited the Japan branch of this school, EnableJapan.com recommends that our readers visit the Singapore branch rather than the Japan branch, so you won’t have to pay for an interpreter (which can be upwards of 40,000 yen [USD$400] per day).

What makes Yamato Noodle School different than other ramen schools in Japan? It’s what Mr. Fujii calls “digital cooking” method, or cooking with numbers. “Students] can study by our digital cooking. French or Italian chefs do not use digital cooking when they cook. They cook by sense or by inspiration. Because we teach students digital cooking, they can easily understand how to make very complicated recipes of ramen.” Yamato Noodle School teaches its students to follow very precise recipes, so that even the most difficult of recipes can be perfectly executed. Every drop of soup base is calculated for a specific taste–guessing is not an option here. This “digital cooking” is what sets Yamato’s students apart from the rest.

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Yamato Noodle School not only teaches how to make ramen, but also how to manage a ramen restaurant. “We teach not only how to make very tasty ramen, we also teach the management. The management is more important to succeed in this business.” Yamato Noodle School graduates are more successful than regular ramen shop owners, and has the numbers to prove it. On average, 70% of ramen shops close after 3 years, and 40% close after one year. For ramen shop owners who attended Yamato Noodle School and use their machines in their shops, only 6.6% of shops close after 3 years, and 0% close after one year. “Many of our graduates have become very famous. Not only in Japan, but students have succeeded in other countries. One-third of our students open their own ramen restaurant. This school teaches you whether or not the ramen business is suitable for you. Students can find out during our five or seven day courses if this is a good business for them or not.”

According to Mr. Fujii, what makes Yamato Noodle School special is the instructor’s knowledge of the cuisine of other countries. “We teach how to make the ramen that students want. So if they want to make ramen for customers in Switzerland, they can. I understand the food in Switzerland, and the taste of food in Switzerland too. We teach about everywhere they might open their restaurants.” No matter where you come from in the world, Yamato knows how to make ramen that will be successful in your country.

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We also had the opportunity to sit down with Oliver, a student at Yamato Noodle School, from Switzerland. He wanted to learn the basics of ramen. He’s a chef, but as much as he tried, he couldn’t make the bowl of ramen he would like to eat. After graduation, he plans to open a ramen shop by next year. Although there are a few ramen shops in Switzerland, he says only few really get the ramen right. Oliver likes the atmosphere of this school- in the morning, they even stretch together. “There are really friendly staff working here, everyone is doing a really great job, and I am learning a lot. It’s amazing… how much you get taught here. It’s a great team. It’s just seven days, but after that, I’m sure you’re good to go.”

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Yamato Noodle School is also famous for their noodle machines. “In Japan, ramen was introduced from China 100 years ago. After being introduced to Japan from China, this ramen was mixed with Japanese soba noodles, so Japanese ramen is a mix of Japanese soba and Chinese ramen. Our Japanese ramen went out all over the world because ramen noodles are made by machine. To make ramen by hand, you need ramen specialists. But it is very easy to make ramen by machine. Also, the taste is very stable when made by a machine. No matter where it’s made, it will taste the same” These ramen machines that Yamato sells are extremely beneficial when running your own ramen business. Making your own noodles in your restaurant increases your profit, increases noodle freshness, and gives a greater variety of the types of noodles you can sell.

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Each course of instruction at the Yamato Noodle School costs about $4000. However, according to Mr. Fujii, “This price is very cheap, because in Japan, there are many famous ramen restaurants. If somebody wants to ask the famous restaurants’ owners how to make ramen, they will teach you, but for ¥5,000,000 (USD$50,000). The owner can only teach one type of ramen soup, but we teach every type of ramen soup that the student wants to learn.” So although the price might seem steep now, if you want to go into the business of ramen making, this is the place to learn the most types of ramen for the lowest price. In Japan, the course is only 7 days, and in Singapore is only 5 days. “Our students usually come from all over the world, and they want to learn ramen making and the ramen business. But one year or one month is too long, because they are very busy. In one week or five days, they can be professional. It is more convenient for everybody.”

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So what does a typical class day at the Yamato Noodle School look like? “When students come to class in the morning, first we explain about the mindset. The mindset is the most important thing in order to understand the management and how to cook ramen. This ramen business is a very hard business because there is very strong competition in Japan and all over the world. They must never give up. I teach them to never, never give up every time.”

When asked if he has any last words for EnAble Japan readers, he said, “The noodle business is becoming more popular because noodles are very easy to eat. They are easy to digest compared to bread or rice. In Japan or other countries, the noodle business is spreading, becoming bigger and bigger. If people have an interest in this business, this is a very good opportunity to succeed.”

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So if you want to open your own ramen shop, come to Yamato Noodle School (in Japan or Singapore). And in the words of Mr. Fujii, “never, never give up.”

Yamato Noodle School also sells how-to books for making ramen. You can find them online here.

Yamato Noodle School Location Information

Website | Facebook | Twitter  | Contact Yamato Noodle School | Yamato Noodle School in Singapore

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Kitashinagawa Station (Keikyu Main Line) (click on the Google Map for directions)

“Why Go?”: To become a master ramen chef, of course!

Click on one of the links below to explore other travel options in Tokyo–

October 24, 2016 0 comment
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Sushi Academy Shinjuku 1

Sushi Academy Shinjuku 1

Have you ever wondered how to make sushi? Of course you have! You’re traveling to Japan, after all. At the Tokyo Sushi Academy, students are taught how to master the art of sushi making, so they can take their knowledge and bring it back to their home countries.

EnAbleJapan.com was lucky to have the opportunity to sit down and interview Ms. Sachiko Goto, the principal of the Tokyo Sushi Academy. We also had the opportunity to talk to a student at this school, Teddy, who owns Maki & Ramen Sushi Bar in Edinburgh, Scotland. “I want to improve my sushi by learning about authentic sushi to bring back to Scotland,” he told us. To learn more about this unique school, watch our video below!

Sushi is popular all over the world, and sushi chefs are always in demand. The Tokyo Sushi Academy began operation in 2002, and since then over 4,000 people have graduated from their program, with 300 graduating every year. According to Principal Goto, students come to the school to learn “a very traditional style [of sushi], but most of the students graduate and go abroad to work.” Therefore, they must also learn to make modern-style sushi, such as sushi rolls. “We teach 70% traditional style, and 30% modern style,” she says.

While most sushi chefs enter the industry by just watching and copying other sushi chefs, students of the Tokyo Sushi Academy will enter the workforce with professional training, guaranteed to give them the upper hand. That is why aspiring sushi professionals come to Tokyo Sushi Academy; what better place to study sushi-making than in the birthplace of sushi? All of Tokyo Sushi Academy’s instructors are Japanese professional sushi chefs. “They were all skilled sushi chefs before, with more than 50 years experience,” says Principal Goto. You can find a list of instructors and their credentials here.

Tokyo Sushi Academy is also the only sushi school in Japan that offers instruction in English. 80% of students are Japanese, and the remaining 20% are from all over the world. But not to worry–students do not need to master Japanese in order to learn here. Interpreters work closely with students to translate the class from Japanese to English, so students are not left behind.

Tokyo Sushi Academy Curriculum

An old Japanese saying is that to master sushi, you need “three years in rice cooking, eight years in sushi-making.” Tokyo Sushi Academy understands that you probably don’t have that kind of time. “It takes a very long time to be a sushi chef, and our school is the first in Japan to teach sushi chef skills and to shorten the training time,” Principal Goto explains. All their courses are intensive, so that students can master the necessary skills in a short period of time.

We asked Principal Goto about a typical day of class for the students. “In the morning, students will come to the classroom and prepare fish,”  she says. “One day, salmon, another day, tuna, and another day, scallop or mackerel. Every day they will try different types of fish preparation. After they are prepared, they learn how to slice sashimi into sushi. In the afternoons, they learn roll sushi-making and nigiri sushi-making.”

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Does this sound good to you? Well the Tokyo Sushi Academy is always looking for students! Here’s the courses that the school offers–

Sushi Private Lessons for Pros are available for the sushi professional on a tighter schedule, and can be organized to suit the needs of the student. The class content can also be tailored to what you would like to learn. Two days of lessons (3 hours a day) typically costs ¥80,000, but price varies based on the lesson subject matter. For more information on this class, click here.

The Private Lesson for Fun is great for the non-professionals who are only in Japan for a short time (such as tourists) and want to learn about sushi preparation. You don’t have to be a chef to take this course; you don’t even have to be good at cooking! Tokyo Sushi Academy can organize the lesson’s time and content to suit your needs, and you will be taught by their experienced sushi chefs. The price for this one-day, three-hour lesson is ¥40,000, but the amount varies based on the lesson subject matter. For more information, click here. This course is also for people who are considering the 1-year course, but want “a trial course” to get a feel for how the school is run.

Once a student finishes one of the main courses of instruction (with the exception of the Private Lesson for Fun), you will be awarded a Certificate of Completion.

Sounds Great, But Where Am I Going To Live?

Of course, finding a place to stay in Tokyo for 10 days or 8 weeks or a year can be a task unto itself. The Tokyo Sushi Academy can help you find a place, but scheduling it and paying for it is up to the individual students. See their information page on accommodations for details.

The Tokyo Sushi Academy of Singapore

Tokyo Sushi Academy also has a branch in Singapore. To find out more, click here.

Tokyo Sushi Academy Shinjuku Information

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Telephone: 81-3-3362-1755

Nearest Station: 1-minute walk from Nishi-Shinjuku Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line)

“Why Go?”: It’s the first step on your journey to become the greatest sushi chef in the world!

Click on one of the tags below to explore other travel options in Tokyo–

October 13, 2016 0 comment
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Harinezumi Cafe Harry Roppongi Tokyo Japan 2

Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are undoubtedly one of the cutest animals on the planet. And lucky for you, the world’s first hedgehog café has opened up right in Roppongi! The Harinezumi Café Harry (called “Hedgehog Café Harry” in their social media) is the Roppongi Hedgehog Café to go to! The café sits in a quiet little alley near Roppongi’s crowded streets. Usually there is a small line outside, because there is limited room and seating area in the café. But once you get inside, you’ll find it is well worth the wait. Or you can skip to the front of the line with a reservation by our good friends at Voyagin!

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See?

The room is filled with glass tanks containing hedgehogs. Although some are ambling about, many are in little balls, sleeping. When you sit down, attendants will bring you a tiny hedgehog in a shoebox for you to play with for a bit. In one 30-minute session you will play with multiple hedgehogs, since they can be overwhelmed if they are played with for too long.

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When held, the hedgehogs are friendly, but also very squirmy. Make sure you hold onto them and be careful so they don’t fall. Also, I don’t know what I was expecting, but when their quills prick you, it hurts. It’s not the worst feeling in the world, but be ready to feel like you’ve just played with a really cute cactus.

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Most visitors only stay for 30-minute periods, but their website can be used to make one-hour reservations (English). English service is available, because 1/3- 1/2 of their customers are visitors and tourists. And if you fall in love with these little guys (and have a home in Japan where they can live), Harry’s hedgehogs are also available for adoption. Hedgehog adoption prices range from ¥30,000- ¥100,000. If you are not accustomed to caring for a hedgehog (or just want to know what you might be getting yourself into), they also have a hedgehog care manual online. (“Let’s Embrace the Hedgehog” is my favorite part, but the list of “Hedgehog Personality Types” also triggers an awww…)

Hedgehog

For people concerned about the animals’ well-being, the hedgehogs are well taken care of. The workers take extra caution to ensure that the animals are comfortable. The cages are a good size, and the hedgehogs seem happy and healthy. If a hedgehog is asleep, they will be left alone. If you are visiting with small children, please be aware that hedgehogs are prickly, and a quill-sting might surprise a child and result in a dropped hedgehog if we are not careful. Please be kind to our pokey little friends!

I would really recommend going so long as you don’t mind being prickled a bit. The hedgehogs are all friendly and quite adorable. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are allergic to animal dander, you can react from the quill pricks. Wash your hands often. Visiting is a great experience and you will get a lot of great pictures from your trip.

Harinezumi Café Harry – Roppongi Hedgehog Café Location Information

Website  |   Facebook (Japanese only)  |   Twitter (Japanese only)

Nearest Station: 1 minute walk from Roppongi Station (Hibiya Line Exit No. 3). Located under the Ms. Bunny Cafe.

Hours of Operation: Open everyday 12:00 pm- 9:00 pm. Hedgehogs often sleep in the morning and the middle of the day, so this café is open later than other animal cafés, so the hedgehogs will be fully awake.

Average Cost: On weekdays, a 30 minute stay is ¥1,000, and on weekends and holidays, 30 minute is ¥1,300. Let Voyagin help you with your reservation!

Why Go?: Harry’s Café is the only hedgehog café in the world; where else will you get the chance to hold an sweet little hedgehog?

For other sightseeing options in Tokyo, click on the links below–

September 9, 2016 0 comment
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Bill's Omotesando Tokyo Japan

Have you been in Japan for a while, and have been missing food from back home? Bill’s Omotesando is an Australian restaurant that has made its way up to Japan, and is famous for its breakfast food. Many people call it “the best breakfast in the world,” and people claim that celebrities fly to Australia just to eat there. I can say from personal experience that Bill’s has the best pancakes, made from a special ricotta cheese recipe, that I have ever had.

Bill’s Omotesando is easy to find since it is located in the Tokyu Plaza building, with the front exterior covered in angled mirrors. Bill’s has separate menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and a kids menu too. All seating is available in the indoor main dining room, mezzanine dining room, and the terrace.

Reservations can be made online here. Reservations are accepted up to two months in advance, but specific tables cannot be booked. There are other locations in Japan at Odaiba, Shichirigahama, Yokohama, and Futakotamagawa.

So if you are missing a genuine western breakfast, check out Bills Restaurant in Omotesando. Seriously, get the pancakes. You will not regret it.

Bill’s Omotesando Location Information

Website | Instagram | Phone: 03-5772-1133

Nearest Station: 2-minute walk from Meiji-Jingumae Station, 5-minute walk from Harajuku JR Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday: 9:00am- 11:00pm (last orders 10:00-10:30pm), Weekends and Holidays: 8:00am- 11:00pm (last orders 10:00-10:30pm)

“Why Go?”: OMG the pancakes. Did we mention the pancakes? Because we really, really liked the pancakes. Pancakes.

Click on one of the tags below to explore other dining options in Tokyo–

August 4, 2016 0 comment
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Lock-Up Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Any time of the year is Halloween at the Lock-Up Shibuya! Located 2 floors under the street, the Lock-Up is a novelty horror dining experience in Tokyo. To enter the restaurant, you have to walk through a dark hall full of jump-scares. If you can survive that, then you can survive the rest of the restaurant. We promise. And Voyagin can promise to get you a reservation for the scariest dining experience in Tokyo!

The rest of the restaurant is themed as a haunted prison. The moment you step inside, you will be handcuffed and brought to your table. You have to slide a barred door to enter your dimly lit cell, where you will be eating. Servers are dressed up as prisoners and the hosts are dressed like cops.

Lock-Up Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Once every few minutes, a show starts. Creepy monsters will reach through the cell windows; you can recoil in fear if you wish, but you can also high-five them. They will also come into your cell to scare you. One of the monsters who visited us had a fake chainsaw, and all had freaky masks. They will try to scare you, but don’t be fooled. I made a heart with my hands to one of the monsters and he did it back. One tried to scare me by getting super close to my face, and I pretended to kiss his mask.

After a few minutes of terror, cops came and killed all the monsters, and I was pretty sad that they had to leave. One monster climbed over the wall of our cell and dropped to the floor and died dramatically. Overall, it was a lot of fun!

During our prison excursion, we ordered both food and drinks, which are reflective of the restaurant’s theme. They have chicken shaped like a claw and desserts with a fake eyeballs. We tried some hot dogs with faces, because food is better when it can look on in terror as it is being devoured.

Lock-Up Shibuya Tokyo Japan

I would only recommend coming to the Lock-Up if you enjoy scary attractions. If you are super jumpy and easily frightened, it  would be better to steer clear. But seeing as The Lock-Up is one of Tokyo’s most prominent themed restaurants, we encourage you to visit! And there is no truth at all to the rumors that some diners never escape…

The Lock-Up Shibuya Location Information

Website (via Google Translate) | Facebook (Japanese only) | Twitter (Japanese only)

Nearest Station: 7 minute walk from Shibuya Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Monday-Friday 5:00 pm – 1:00 am, Saturdays 5:00 pm- 5:00 am, Sundays 5:00pm- 12:00am

Estimated Price: There is a ¥525 cover charge per person. Drinks range from ¥500-800, and food ranges from ¥700-1200. Make a reservation through Voyagin!

“Why Go?”: If you like a good scare with your meal, this is the place!

Click on one of the tags below to explore other dining and themed attraction options in Tokyo–

July 28, 2016 0 comment
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Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo

When I heard that I was going to Kawaii Monster Café, I had no idea what to expect. However, stepping inside was leagues beyond what I anticipated; this place is insane. Harajuku is known for its wacky and colorful fashions, and this café embodies everything Harajuku stands for (and more). Walking through the restaurant solicited reactions like, “this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” to, “this is so weird and I’m uncomfortable.”

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan 11

The weird starts at the café entrance, which is a monster’s mouth (named “Mr. Ten Thousand Chopsticks” or “Mr. Choppy’s”). The restaurant itself? Legend has it that it exists in his stomach. But wait, it gets weirder!

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

After you walk inside Mr. Choppy’s mouth, you see the Sweets-Go-Round. It’s a giant rainbow carousel with different objects, with animals that look like they are made out of melting candy. The whole ceiling is covered with broken mirror pieces, and flashing lights and pop music add to the wild atmosphere of the place.

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There are four different seating areas of the café. The Mushroom Disco has tables under giant poisonous mushrooms and extraterrestrial plants. Hidden behind the Mushroom Disco is a secret room, decorated with red lips, called the “Secret Area for Talkative Ladies.”What do they talk about? Well, you have to go there to find out…

 Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan 14

The show is held right in front of this area. The next area is called the Milk Stand, which is themed like a wacky baby’s room. Milk bottles hang from the ceiling, and giant animal heads drink from these bottles over the tables. This area of the restaurant really made me think, “This is either the strangest thing ever, or the most Japanese thing ever.”

The Mel-Tea Room is next. In here, the walls look like pastel chocolate and giant ice cream cones are dripping down from the ceiling. Giant macaroons are stacked up against the walls (along with giant ants going after these sweets). Right next to the Mel-Tea Room is the “Experiment” Bar, for adults only. The bar is lit up by a huge jellyfish hanging over the counter. There is also a secret VIP room with a pink cat theme.

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Monster girls run around the café and put on shows. They have colorful hair and weird outfits- the monster girl I met had purple hair and a bracelet made out of baby shoes. The food in Kawaii Monster Café is just as bonkers as the rest of the place. It’s all rainbow; no matter what you order, you’re guaranteed to get a good picture for your Instagram. They claim that the coloring for their food is healthy and natural. Some popular menu items are rainbow pasta with “paint” dip, and the “colorful poison parfait extreme,” which is a giant rainbow parfait.

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan 13

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

The restaurant is non-smoking, but does have a smoking area for you to duck into. There is an English menu, and most of the workers and some of the monster girls can speak English. It is possible to reserve parts of the restaurant in advance for parties (which would be necessary if you have a large group, because there are 193 seats in total). Reservations can be made via Facebook Messenger or through this Voyagin link.

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan 15

In short, this place looks like Tim Burton’s fantasy, if Tim Burton were a kawaii Japanese schoolgirl. I know I am definitely coming back, and bringing everyone I know with me. Kawaii Monster Café perfectly captures what Harajuku is about: the weird fashions, the bright colors, the over-the-top atmosphere, and even the slight creepiness of it all. So if you find yourself in Harajuku, definitely go to Kawaii Monster Café for the strangest and most fun meal you’ll ever have.

Kawaii Monster Cafe Location Information

Website ||| Facebook (Japanese only) ||| Twitter (Japanese only) ||| Instagram

Make a Reservation!

Nearest Station: 5 minute walk from JR Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line (click on the Google Map for directions)

 Hours of Operation: Weekdays and Saturdays 11:30 am- 4:30 pm and 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm. Sundays and holidays 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. If it is crowded, there is a time limit of 90 minutes on your stay (or 2 hours for dinner).

Showtimes: Lunch shows are weekdays 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, weekends 12:30 pm, 2:00 pm , and 3:30 pm. Dinner shows are only on Fridays and Saturdays, at 6:45 pm. Another event called “Pink Fat Cat with Yuka” is on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:55 pm and 8:45pm.

Estimated Price: There is an entrance fee of ¥500 for each person, and the average fee per person is ¥2500. Kawaii Monster Café takes VISA, UC, DC, UFJ, AMEX, JCB, and SAISON credit cards. Kawaii Monster Cafés also sells 13 different souvenirs, so be sure to pick up a totally sweet “Kawaii Monster Café” T-shirt! If you visit often, you can earn a Monster Card–the more you return, the more your rank will increase. Customers with high rankings get special privileges!

“Why Go?”: Scroll up and look at the pictures. Do you mean to tell me you are willing to go through life without seeing all of that in person?!?!?

July 26, 2016 0 comment
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Japan Travel Apps

Japan Travel Apps

 Japan Travel Apps

Preparing to come to Japan is difficult, especially when it comes to technology, but Enablejapan.com has you covered!

Sure, it’s easy to look at our wonderful website and imagine yourself coming to Japan and seeing all of the great things that Tokyo has to offer. But once you get here, you may find that navigating the city streets in person is a little tougher. And who are you going to ask for help?

If you haven’t already, have a look at our Guide to Getting Wifi and Phone Services in Tokyo. Got it? Good! Now that you have a phone and wifi, finding your way around Japan will be that much easier!

Here is our list of the top apps you should download on your smartphone before visiting Japan. These apps will help you deal with transportation, communication, and other traveling conundrums. Once you get here, we promise you won’t regret it!

Top Japan Travel Apps: Japan Travel

Japan Travel App Tokyo
 Japan Travel is one of the top Japan travel apps for English-speaking travelers in Japan. They have articles to help you through different traveling obstacles, like getting to and from airports and how to rent cars in Japan. They also have a route section of the app to help you navigate trains, buses, and streets. Japan Travel also has a section to help you find free Wi-Fi, currency exchanges, ATMs, train stations, and other tourist information nearby. Even longtime residents use this app to help them find their way around on the trains when they are going someplace new.

 Price: Free

Make an account?: No

Can download from: The App Store and Google Play

 

Google Maps

Beyond the fact that all of our articles use it to get you where you want to go, I can tell you from first-hand experience that Google Maps is a lifesaver while traveling in Japan. While many other map applications won’t recognize Japanese addresses, Google Maps will sort it out and get you exactly where you need to go. They will give you directions by car, train, bus, walking, or Uber, and give the exact amount of time it takes to get there. They will also give the amount of money each route will cost, train schedules, and delays if there are any.

Price: Free

Make an Account?: No

Can download from: The App Store and Google Play

 

Taxi!

English Taxi Travel

When you don’t speak Japanese, it can be hard to call a cab.And even if you get one, how do you explain where you are going and what you are doing? The drivers know major hotels and restaurants, but you’re going to have a problem if you want to do anything else.

Lucky for you, we have an article specifically about getting taxis (and Uber) in Tokyo and beyond. Download them and you will never have to worry about partying past train operating hours again!

 

Google Translate [offline]

Travel Apps Tokyo Japan

If you don’t know Japanese, having a translation app is extremely helpful. Although traditional Google Translate requires cellular data or Wi-Fi, it can be used offline if you download the Japanese translation files. This way  you can communicate with people around you even if you don’t have cellular data or Wi-Fi. To download the offline component of the app, first download Google Translate. Then go to Settings –> Offline Translation, and click “Upgrade” next to Japanese.

If you are using data or Wi-Fi, you can take pictures (signs, menus, or other Japanese text), speak into the microphone, write on the screen, etc. and the app will translate it all for you. Do note that due to the differences between Japanese and English in regards to grammar, idioms, etc. you aren’t going to sound smooth (the translation in the picture is not great). But you will be understandable.

Price: Free

Make an Account?: No

Can download from: The App Store and Google Play

 Japan Connected – Free Wi-Fi

Japan is really good about having free Wi-Fi in restaurants and train stations, and this app is here to make it easier for you to get connected! It is especially helpful in case you are here short-term or are on a budget and don’t want to purchase a prepaid cell phone or international data. The app (which has over 146,000 spots in its memory banks) will search for free Wi-Fi in the area and notify you.

Price: Free

Make an Account?: Account required

Can download from: The App Store and Google Play

 

So there you have it! There are plenty of Japan travel apps that will make your Tokyo experience easy and convenient! Good luck, and happy traveling!

For more help with your Tokyo traveling experience, click on the links below–

July 20, 2016 0 comment
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Q-Pot Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Q-pot CAFE

Q-Pot Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Q-pot CAFE. makes dessert. And oh my, what desserts they are! Cute sundaes, ring plates, necklace plates, and all sorts of other tasty accessories are available in their sweet, tart, and creamy forms. And the SE”Q”RET Room? Well, you’re just going to have to go there and find out!

Q-Pot Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Q-Pot Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

But that’s not all! When you’re finished with your dessert, you can purchase accessories that look just like the sweets you just had. Q-pot.’s goal is to create “positive accessories” that make people smile when they see them. And from what I saw, they did just that! Choose from an array of candied-up accessories (ones-you-ate and ones-you-didn’t) such as necklaces, earrings, rings, charms, key-chains, umbrellas, nail stickers, pouches, phone cases, pins, hair ties and clips, and even randoseru (Japanese children’s school backpacks).

Q-Pot Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Q-Pot Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

The accessories are wonderfully detailed. Q-pot. tries to make accessories look as lifelike as possible, so don’t be surprised if people really wonder if you’re wearing an ice cream sandwich around your neck! Once you buy an accessory, chances are they sell the food it’s based on at their location right across the street. So if you’re looking for cute Japanese accessories to go with your mid-day treat, check out the treasures at Q-pot.!

Q-pot CAFE. Location Information

Website | Facebook (English) | Twitter (English) | Instagram (English) | Online Store (from the USA warehouse)

Nearest Station: 3-minute walk from Omotesando Station (Tokyo Metro), 7-minute walk from JR Harajuku Station (Yamanote Line) (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: open daily 11:30am – 7:30pm (Last Order 7:00pm)

Estimated Price: Dessert prices range from ¥750 to ¥2400. Accessory prices range from ¥3,600- 28,000.

“Why Go?”: For the super-kawaii!!! accessories, and the delicious treats!

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July 19, 2016 0 comment
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Kiddy Land Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Kiddy Land Harajuku

Kiddy Land Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Standing five stories tall, Kiddy Land Harajuku is a unique toy store that offers a wide range of goodies for all ages.  The first floor hosts a huge variety of eye-catchers such as katana umbrellas, electric joy buzzers, and miniature soda can taps. Below the first floor is the popular Snoopy Town, home to the creations of Charles Schulz.

Kiddy Land Harajuku Snoopy Tokyo Japan

Fans of Hayao Miyazaki will enjoy the second floor of  Kiddy Land Harajuku, as half of it is completely dedicated to toys from Studio Ghibli.  There are giant Totoro plushies, Kiki’s Delivery Service hand towels, Howl’s Moving Castle figurines, and much more. The second floor is also home to the Disney section, where customers can peruse offerings from the Cinderella classics all the way to the latest animated features.

Kiddy Land Harajuku Star Wars Tokyo Japan

The third floor features various Lego, Star Wars, and Gundam toys.

On the fourth floor, customers will find shelves upon shelves of Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma dolls.

Kiddy Land Harajuku Rilakkuma Tokyo Japan

Kiddy Land Harajuku  aims to help “dreams come true” for both children and adults alike. They are constantly receiving new toys and plushies, so be sure to check out their Arrivals page to see what is new! When you come to Tokyo, be sure to visit Kiddy Land Harajuku and pick up a unique souvenir of your favorite character! I mean really, how could you not want a giant Totoro plushie?!?!

Kiddy Land Harajuku Store Information

Facebook (customer reviews and photos) | Website

Nearest Station: 7-minute walk from Harajuku JR Station, 5-minute walk from Meijijingu-mae Subway Station

Hours of Operation: Open weekdays 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sat-Sun-Holidays 10:30 am – 9:00 pm

“Why Go?”: To get all of those wonderful toys!

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© &™ Lucasfilm Ltd.

©2016 SAN-X CO., LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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July 12, 2016 0 comment
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Shinjuku Station Shopping Tokyo Japan

Shinjuku Station Shopping

Shinjuku Station Shopping Tokyo Japan

Are you on an extended layover in Haneda? Waiting for the bullet train to bullet out of town? Want to do some shopping and maybe get a light meal, but you don’t want the hassle of navigating unfamiliar Tokyo streets? Shinjuku Station Shopping could be right for you!

Shinjuku Station is not just a train station, it’s also a gigantic shopping center. As such, it is an easy shopping and dining option for those who don’t have a lot of time or are reluctant to brave the Tokyo streets. But where are the best places to go? Shinjuku Station is gigantic, and you may not have the time to wander around forever in search of the perfect gift or that can’t-do-without item. Here are EnAbleJapan.com’s top places in Shinjuku Station Shopping, so you can explore (instead of sitting around on your smartphone like everyone else).

Isetan

Isetan is a Japanese department store that is so large, it has its own station exit. Isetan is also a great last-minute souvenir place, with Japanese alcohol and dessert packages designed with the traveler-on-the-go in mind. The second floor also features many clothing brands, like Dolly Girl by Anna Sui and Next B. by Agnes B. These fashion brands have a kawaii touch, so depending on who you’re shopping for, this could be a good place to go. It also has its own underground food court.

BIC Camera

Bic Camera Shinjuku Station Tokyo Japan

BIC Camera is a go-to spot for newbies in Japan. Shinjuku Station’s BIC Camera is located outside of exit B16. The two-floor store offers prepaid SIM cards for different phones, for different months, and for different amounts of data. They also sell power adapters, if your devices’ plugs won’t fit in Japan’s two-pronged outlets. If you are just arriving in Japan, we recommend stopping in BIC Camera to set up everything for your trip.

Sekaido Shinjuku

Sekaido Shinjuku, located at Exit C1, is a store that specializes in art materials and stationery. They have a wide selection of postcards and Japanese-style stickers, which could be great souvenirs to bring back home. There are plenty of choices, and the prices at Sekaido won’t break the bank.

UNIQLO

Uniqlo Shinjuku Station Shopping Tokyo Japan

Uniqlo is a popular brand all over the world, and has a huge store right in Shinjuku Station. They are known for their basic clothing pieces and low prices, and have something for the whole family. The 2nd floor of Uniqlo also offers embroidery design, so you can put small pictures or your name in kanji on clothes you buy (500 yen per word/ picture).

Kinokuniya Bookstore

Kinokuniya Bookstore is located by exits B7 and B8. Kinokuniya Bookstore’s 7th floor English bookstore sells a vast array of new books, bestsellers, genre books, and anything else you could find in a big-box bookstore. Of special interest are the section of books by Japanese authors that are translated to English, so you may find a treasure here that may be hard to get (or even browse for) anywhere else. There is also a travel section, where you will find Japanese maps, guidebooks, must-buy item guides, restaurant passports, and English manga. A great place to pick up airplane reading material! Outside the exit one can find a number of reasonably-priced restaurants with few crowds and many choices (such as curry, pasta, udon, yakisoba, sushi, etc.).

13th Floor Roof Garden

Air Garden Shinjuku Station Tokyo Japan

If you’re searching for something a little more relaxing, check out the 13th floor roof garden on top of the station. To get there, take exit E8 Takashimaya, and take the elevator all the way up. From there, you will have a perfect view of the Shinjuku area. There are plenty of seats, and many restaurants and cafés, too.

Tokyu Hands Shinjuku Station

Tokyu Hands is a store within Takashimaya department store. Tokyu Hands is one of those places that has everything–clothes, jewelry, bags, shoes, and other luxury goods. Brands include Chanel, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Bvlgari, and Gucci. Many products from these brands are exclusive to Japan, so if you’re looking for something unique and in-style, Tokyu Hands is your place.

NEWoMan

Newoman Shinjuku Station Shopping Tokyo Japan

NEWoMan is located right by the South Exit. It is eight stories of clothing and shoe stores, sweets shops, and even an outdoor area available for dining. On the first floor is Akomeya Tokyo, a rice specialty shop. They sell rice cookers, utensils, and sake cups for the discerning rice (and rice-product) enthusiast.

Shinjuku Station Shopping Location Information

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July 6, 2016 0 comment
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