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What does music mean to you? It is said that music is a universal language that is able to break through language and culture barriers.  It is even said that music is a medicine that can heal people’s hearts.  Listening to music may be like traveling through a time tunnel, re-triggering our past memories.  When a song is heard a personal experience of the past might be relived.  Music may allow you to sympathize with others.  No matter what music means to you, it always has the miraculous power to bind people together. If you are a music lover, you should go to Ochanomizu and find a store and come play a song or two, or you even buy a new guitar in Japan.  In this article, I want to take you to Tokyo music instrument stores at Ochanomizu and introduce five instrument stores to you.

By the way, Ochanomizu is the most popular music street in Tokyo. You can find diverse music instruments on this street.

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Guitar Planet

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Guitar Planet

As you can see the name of the store, all of its products are guitars. There are three stores lining up together in Ochanomizu. One of the stores exclusively sells electric guitars and bass guitars. In the store, you might notice a word, 中古, which means, “second hand.” If you are looking for a cheap guitar, Guitar Planet offers guitars for as low as 10,000 yen (100 USD).

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Guitar Planet 2

There is a different store that only sells acoustic guitars.  The selling point of this store is the unique Japanese brands such as Headway and Takamine. If you want a guitar that is made in Japan, come to this store. In addition, most of the staff there speak English.  If you have any questions regarding the guitars you can ask.

Finally, Guitar Planet (Ukulele Planet) branch also provides ukulele services. If playing the guitar is too difficult for you we can play the ukulele together.  With only 4 strings and less chords to memorize, its makes playing easier than the guitar.

Guitar Planet Information

You can visit the official website here. Website (Japanese). Follow Guitar Planet on social media at Facebook (English) and Twitter (Japanese).

Hours of Operation: 11:00~20:00

Big Boss

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Big Boss

There are four stores at Ochanomizu. I want to introduce to you the sound liner store, a specialty store for electronic guitar musicians. If you are an electric guitar musician, you will want to come here.  Big Boss provides guitar amplifiers, guitar effect pedals, pedal tuners, mic preamps, etc., to customers.   This is equipment necessary for live performances.  Besides fingerpicking and memorizing chords, personal solo and special effects are indispensable skills possessed by professional guitar players. In addition, if you accidentally break your guitar, Big Boss offers repair services. As the Chinese people say, “If a workman wishes to do a good job, he must first sharpen his tools.” Coming to the store is your initial step to be a successful guitar musician.

Big Boss Information

You can visit the official website here. Website (English). Follow Guitar Planet on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Twitter (Japanese).

Hours of Operation:

Weekday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Weekend and Holidays: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

 

Ishibashi Music Drum Store

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Drum Store

The percussionists are the soul of a band. They are the signal-senders who initiate a song, provide transitional signals, and conclude a song by hitting the crash cymbal.  Ishibashi is a store that is specifically for drummers and percussionists. This store also provides a private drum kit studio for individual practices.   You can play in the room without any interruptions.   You can select a snare drum and ask a staff member to assist in setting up in the studio.  You don’t feel embarrassed if you are not an expert of drums; no one will laugh at you.  

Ishibashi Music Drum Store Information

You can visit the official website here. Website (English). Follow Ishibashi Music Drum Store on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Twitter (Japanese).

Hours of Operation:

Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Sunday and Holiday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

 

Shimokura-Gakki – Violin and Wind instrument Specialty Stores

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: 下倉

Are you a jazz lover? Do you love listening to blues or gospel? Maybe you are a jazz musician.  Upright bass, saxophone, and trumpet are the essential elements of Jazz. I believe that playing music is similar to cooking. You might have the same meat as others have, but you decide the way you would like to cook; the seasoning you add on the ingredient and the sauces you put on the dish.  Likewise, playing the same songs can have different interpretations. Although Shimokura-Gakki also sells guitars, violin and wind instruments are one of their selling points. If you don’t like jazz music this store has  some violins as well. Shimokura-Gakki doesn’t disappoint.

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores:下倉Violin

Shimokura-Gakki – Violin and Wind instrument Specialty Stores Information

You can visit the official website here. Website (Engish) (Violin) (Wind instrument). Follow Shimokura-Gakki on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Twitter (Japanese).

Hours of Operation:

Monday to Saturday: 10:40 a.m. – 7:25 p.m.

Sunday and Holidays: 10:10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

For your convenience, here are the list of locations.

 

Disk Union

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Disk Union

Our last station is Disk Union. No doubt that we all are reminiscent in some points. There are some preeminent songs that can penetrate humans’ hearts disregarding the time until it slips by. You might not be a musician, but you can be a music lover. In this store, you are not required to have any particular skill, but have ears to listen songs. There are many CDs that cannot be found in any other place in Japan, but you can find them here.  You can even find gramophone records and record players. 

Disk Union Information

You can visit the official website here. Website (Engish). Follow Shimokura-Gakki on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Twitter (Japanese).

Hours of Operation:

Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sunday and Holidays: 11:00 a.m. – 8 p.m.

 

If there is no music, there is no meaning of life. Please come and visit these Tokyo music instrument stores.

March 27, 2017 0 comment
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You must be kidding. Can people eat a sushi meal within 1000-yen budget (10 USD)? The answer is Yes! However, if you want to find exceptional sushi restaurants, I want to introduce standing sushi bars to you. There are a lot of high quality standing sushi bars in Tokyo. Before elaborating more on this topic, I would first like to explain the sushi dilemma to you.

Opening a sushi restaurant in Japan is similar to playing the game of “dead or alive.” Competition between sushi restaurants becomes more intensive in Japan year by year. One of the reasons is the declination of ingredients. Overfishing is the primary reason behind this phenomenon. Because fishers cast their nets to the ocean and catch fish disregarding their sizes, sushi chefs have to find substitution of their ingredients. Another reason is about season. Seafood will be fatty in certain season. Overfishing eliminates the quality of sushi due to the neglect of fishing season. Furthermore, the quality of sushi chefs is also a crucial element for the success of business. They need to monitor and maintain balance between the temperature of fish and rice, so customers can enjoy sushi in the best timing.

What should the creative Japanese people do? They think about opening a standing sushi bar. Yes, instead of sit on a chair and eat sushi, customers can eat sushi while standing. If you are a sushi-lover and an adventurer, you must try these standing sushi bars. There are four reasons to try these standing sushi bars: lower-price, high quality, speedy, and convenient. I have done my research, and I have found the meritorious five-sushi bars in Tokyo for you. All you need is bringing 1000 yen to those restaurants, and then you can relish decent and fresh sushi.

Standing Sushi Bars: Okame Sushi おかめ

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

Most of you know that Tsukiji is one of the best fish markets in the world. Thousands of fish and other seafood have been delivered in that area. Okame Sushi locates at the Tsukiji area, so their ingredients are 100% fresh and seasonal. Maguro (tuna) or salmon only cost you 100-yen (1 USD). One of the special deals in this restaurant is the tuna sushi meal. You can enjoy tuna, medium fatty tuna, fatty tuna, partially grilled tuna, and tuna warship-roll in 1000-yen (10 USD).

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

I know that some of you don’t like tuna. But you need to know that most of the tuna you eat back home is yellow-fin tuna, which consists sour flavor. Yellow-fin tuna is also the lower level type in the tuna world. You don’t need to worry about these issues in this store because they select good Bluefin tuna for customers. When you first try it, you will gradually like it.

Although the operation hour of this store is longer than others, I would recommend you to come here before 12 noon in order to visit the markets. Most of the stores will close at 1 or 2 p.m. in Tsukiji. Besides sushi restaurants, you can also purchase various souvenirs at Tsukiji.

Okame Sushi Information

You can visit the official website here. Website (English). Follow Okame Sushi on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Instagram (Japanese).

Nearest Station: 3-minutes walk from Tsukiji Station (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

Hours of Operation: Opens on Monday to Saturday from10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Opens on Sunday and Holidays from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Nemurohanamaru 根室花まる

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

It only takes fifteen minutes walk from Tsukiji to Ginza. We will go to the second standing sushi bar, Nemurohanamaru. It’s located at B2 floor in a new mall, Tokyu Plaza. If you are a sushi lover, you must want to try authentic seafood from their original places in Japan. This is what this tiny sushi bar can help you with. For example, you can order Sailfin poacher in Nemurohanamaru, which is a local specialty from Otaru, Hokkaido. They will import different ingredients according to the seasons and water areas. You can find hundreds of sushi restaurants that provide same types of sushi. However, if you want to have new sushi experience without traveling to other areas in Japan, Nemurohanamaru is your first choice.

Nemurohanamaru Information

You can visit the official website here. Website (English). Follow Nemurohanamaru on social media at Facebook (Japanese) , Twitter, and Instagram (Japanese).

Nearest Station: 4 minutes walk from Ginza station (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

Hours of Operation: 11:00~23:00(L.O.22:00)

Uogashi Nihon-Ichi 魚がし日本一

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

Besides searching variety of sushi, a sushi lover also loves to go to the original restaurants. Uogashi Nihon-Ichi is the ancestor of standing sushi bar. Its headquarter is located at the Tsukiji Market. They order bids and monitor the quality of ingredients in the market. Since the manager of Uogashi Nihon-Ichi has the business network with fishers and providers in Tsukiji, he always gets good quality seafood from the market. “Freshest” is the fascia of their restaurants.

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

In addition, you can have a dinner set from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m within 680 yen, which contains 5 pieces of nigiri sushi (hand-form sushi) with a cup of beer. Furthermore, the sushi staffs from this restaurant are friendly and approachable. If you want to chat with them and inquire sushi information from them, you should come and visit this store.

Uogashi Nihon-Ichi Information

You can visit the official website here. Website (English). Follow Uogashi Nihon-Ichi on social media at Facebook (English), Twitter, and Instagram.

Nearest Station: 3 minutes walk from Ikebukuro Station (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

For your convenience, here is list of locations

Hours of Operation: 11:00~23:20(L.O)

Tachiguimidori 美登利 エチカ池袋店

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

Midori is one of the premium sushi brands in Japan. Individuals line up at the Midori branches every day. In order to satisfy the demands of diverse customers, Midori also opens a standing sushi bar for those busy businessmen, and those who like to eat cheap and delicious sushi in Ikebukuro station. It’s not a huge bar, so you probably need to line up and wait for a while. But you will be rewarded. First of all, diversity is one of the selling points of Midori. There are thirty-six choices of sushi in the menu.

Second, Midori’s sushi is economical. I don’t think you can find any 50-yen tuna (0.4 cents) or 70-yen horse mackerel (0.6 cents) in other sushi restaurants. The medium fatty tuna only costs customers 100 yen (1 USD). If you want to have a piece of fatty tuna, you only need to pay 300 yen (3 USD). Tachiguimidori also have set lunch offer. You can have eight pieces of sushi within 500-yen (5 USD).

Finally, It’s located at the underground shopping center. If you just want to eat fast and rejuvenate your strength in order to go shopping again. Here is your first choice. Hence, Midori can be considered one of the best sushi chains in Japan.

Tachiguimidori Information

You can visit the official website here. Website (English). Follow Tachiguimidori on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Instagram.

Nearest Station: 6-minutes walk from Ikebukuro Station, exit west (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

Hours of Operation: 11:00~23:00(L.O 22:30)

Sakura Sushi さくら寿司

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

If you love to eat pagrus major (マダイ), splendid alfonsino (キンメダイ), or milt (白子), Sakura Sushi is definitely one of your favorite restaurants. Comparing to tuna and salmon, pagrus major and splendid alfonsino are the milder fish. When you put the sushi into your mouth, let the fatty part of the fish to fill your taste bud. When you are chewing the sushi, the sweetness of the fish will gradually come out. Since these two types of fish are milder, please remember to eat them first before partaking other sushi. If you mix up your eating sequence, the flavors of the stronger ingredient will affect your palate. As a result, you can’t enjoy the fullness of sushi.

Milt is the semen of a fish or a water creature. A lot of people consider this as a good culture experience. However, if you don’t like the smell or taste of milt sushi, you can still have around 50 choices in this restaurant.

Sakura Sushi Information

You can visit the Tabelog website here. Website (English). Follow Sakura Sushi on social media at Facebook (Japanese), Twitter, and Instagram.

Nearest Station: 4-minutes walk from Ikebukuro Station, Exit West (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

Hours of Operation: 10:00~22:00

What do the standing sushi bars can help you? Eat cheap, eat fast, and eat fresh!

March 17, 2017 0 comment
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Starving, but only have 500 Yen (5 USD) left in your wallet? Or are you just looking for a restaurant that serves delicious food at a cheap price? Let me show you the ten best cheap restaurants in Tokyo.

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants : Sukiya (すき家)

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Sukiya is a restaurant that serves gyudon (beef bowl). Gyudon is a bowl of rice with onions and slices of beef with sauce on top. Sukiya is a popular fast food chain in Tokyo, with more than 270 locations in the capital. You only need 350 yen to order a regular size of gyudon. You can also order curry and rice or pork and rice without spending more than 500 yen.

Japanese people eating at Sukiya often put a raw egg on the top of the beef bowl. Don’t worry–it’s perfectly fine, and tasty too! When mingling the slices of beef with a raw egg, the rice entirely absorbs the essence of egg and beef sauce. You will find out that you are entirely addicted to this bowl.

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Sukiya Information

You can visit Sukiya’s website here Website (English). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Instagram.

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours.

 

Yoshinoya吉野家

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

If you like gyudon, you will also like Yoshinoya. Yoshinoya is found in 1899. In other words, it is one of the oldest fast food chains in Japan. It also mainly serves gyudon. Comparing to Sukiya, Yoshinoya’s beef is fatter, and the sauce is sweeter. In addition, it will also be a good idea to add some red ginger on the top of the beef in order to kill bacteria in your mouth. But it really depends on your preferences. One thing I really like about Yoshinoya is that the food comes fast because the food will be delivered to you within 5 minutes after you ordered your food.

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Besides gyudon, Yoshinoya serves diverse dishes and also offer seasonal dishes to customers. One weird phenomenon though, ladies usually do not visit Yoshinoya. Thus, when you enter the store, you will see that 95% of the customers are male. Hence, if you feel awkward, grab someone to come with you.

Yoshinoya Information

You can visit Yoshinoya’s website here. Website (English). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Instagram.

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours

CoCo Ichibanya CoCo壱番屋

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

If you don’t like gyudon, CoCo Ichibanya seems like to be another good choice for you. It exclusively serves curry and rice to their guests. But Japanese curry is unique. When people think about curry, they will instantly think about spicy and hot. This is not the case in Japan, particularly in CoCo Ichibanya. You can select spicy and sweet curry. You can also choose the spicy or sweet level of your own dishes. If you want, you are able to add money to increase the size of your rice and choose other side dishes too. Anyway, it only costs you 484 yen to order pork curry and rice.

CoCo Ichibanya Information

You can visit CoCo’s website here. Website (English). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Instagram.

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours

Fuji Soba名代富士そば

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Who don’t want to eat healthy? Fuji Soba is a good place to provide nutritious noodles with economical price because the soba are made of buckwheat, which consist elements that can reduce cholesterol and maintain bone health. It is also beneficial to your digestive system. These are only few from the list; buckwheat can have much more benefits to human bodies.

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Most of the options from the menu are lower than 500 yen. As a result, eating cheap and healthy will not be an issue to you anymore.

Fuji Soba Information

You can visit Fujisoba’s wbesite here. Website (Japanese). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese)Twitter, and Instagram.

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours

Hanamaruはなまる

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Individuals always look for a restaurant that can be sensitive to the needs of guests. Hanamaru is one of them. Guests can always choose either eating a light or heavy udon meal in this fast food restaurant. Hanamaru has listed out the calories that each of their udon set consists.

Hanamaru is a half self-serve restaurant. When you go in, please tell the stuff that which udon set you want. You also need to tell them whether hot or cold udon you want to choose. After they give you the bowl, you can choose your own side dishes, such as tempura and hot spring egg by tongs. If you are thirsty, you can help yourselves to fill up water or tea into your cup. Afterward, you pay and find your own seat.

Hanamaru Information

You can visit Hanamaru’s website here. Website (English). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese)Twitter, and Instagram (Japanese).

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open Everyday from 5 a.m. – 1 a.m.

Chikara Meshi 東京チカラめし

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Our next stop is Chikara Meshi. You might start to wonder what in the world am I doing to introduce beef again. Well, have you tried a grill beef bowl on an iron board? I am not kidding. Yes, the stuff of Chikara Meshi will put the beef on an iron board in order to maintain the heat of the meat and cook the vegetables for you. You can consider eating at Chikara Meshi as having an individual teppanyaki meal. The only difference is that ordering a grill beef set with vegetable and miso soup costs you 500 yen.  Oppositely, teppanyaki restaurants cannot provide you the meal with the exact same price. If you don’t want to try to iron board meal, you can still try other grill bowls.

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Chikara Meshi Information

You can visit Chikara Meshi’s website here. Website (Japanese). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese)Twitter, and Instagram.

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open Everyday from 5 a.m. – 3 a.m.

Matsuya 松屋

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Since 2005, Matsuya starts to expand their business network to the United States. Individuals might have already heard about this restaurant. Although Matsuya sells similar meals as Yoshinoya and Chikara Meshi, Matsuya still has its selling point. They provide vegetable salad with three to four different dressings. They also offer miso soup with unlimited refill. Thus, if you don’t like eating too much meat, Matsuya’s food can be a blessing for your digestive system. Besides beef or pork bowl, Matsuya also serves customers with diverse curry sets and other seasonal set meals. Guests can always find surprise while eating in Matsuya. When you pass by one of them, make sure to try it out.

Matsuya Information

You can visit Matsuya’s website here. Website (English). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese), Twitter, and Instagram (Japanese).

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours

MOS Burger モスバーガー

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Restaurants endeavor to localize foreign food in order to satisfy local people’s flavors. For example, eating American food in Japanese style. MOS Burger is one of them. Have you heard about rice burgers? Pardon? Yea, you can find burgers made of rice in this fast food chain. The stuff from this restaurant also adds teriyaki sauce or other Japanese meat sauces and vegetables into the hamburgers. A simple burger can produce complicated flavors due to various dimensions of ingredients.

If you don’t want to drink soda, MOS Burger can offer you a cup of corn soup. Don’t forget the French fries as well because you can also find one of the thickest fries in here. Disregarding the set meal itself, you can exclusively buy a Japanese burger within 5 USD,

MOS Burger Information

You can visit MOS Burger’s website here. Website (English). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese)Twitter, and Instagram (Japanese).

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open Everyday from 5 a.m. – 3 a.m.

Saizeriya サイゼリヤ

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Living in Japan sometimes causes you to be homesick because you occasionally miss the food back home. You want to have pasta, pizza, steak, and cheesecake. Well, Saizeriya can satisfy all of your appetite because it is an Italian fast food chain. Customers only need to spend 500 yen ordering a set lunch, which include one main course, unlimited cups of soup, and one dish of vegetable salad. All other pasta and pizza only cost you 500 yen.

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Have you heard about Doria? Doria is similar to gratin, but people put rice instead. People add sauce, cheese, vegetables, and meat on the top, and then put in the oven and bake it. My dear friends, Doria is prominent in the Japanese world. I highly recommend you to try it. Besides the food you have ordered, you just need to add 190 yen to have unlimited, self-service drinks.

Saiziriya Information

You can visit Saiziriya’s website here. Website (Japanese). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese)Twitter, and Instagram (Japanese).

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open Everyday from 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Tenya天丼てんや

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Tendon is one of the luxury cuisines in Japan due to its ingredients. One bowl of tendon consists one to two pieces of shrimp, some seafood, and vegetables. If you go to a high-class restaurant, one set mean can cost you few thousand yen to 20,000 yen. However, you can make a deal with Tenya in 500 yen. With the unique tempura sauce on the top of the rice, you will recognize that tendon is a miracle!

Tenya Information

You can visit the website here. Website (English). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese), Twitter , and Instagram (Japanese).

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open Everyday from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Eating in low-priced restaurants with delightful food will definitely uplift the quality of your trip. Therefore, if you haven’t been one of those restaurants, you probably miss out a chance to experience of Japanese fast food culture. Furthermore, when you go to one of those restaurants, please remember to say “hi” to me!

March 6, 2017 0 comment
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National Azabu 2 Tokyo International Markets

You know that moving to Japan is going to be a huge transition, but there might be one thing that you haven’t considered. Your entire diet is going to change! Instead of cereal, you’re having rice and eggs for breakfast. Instead of taco night, you have curry night. On your birthday, you’ll be eating strawberry shortcake instead of chocolate cake. You love Japan, but sometimes you miss the food where you came from. We understand. So here are our picks for the top Tokyo international markets, which you can visit if you’re missing the food from your overseas home.

Top Tokyo International Markets : Costco

If you’re willing to travel to Chiba, Costco can become your favorite stock-up store. It is the favorite Tokyo international market store for residents from overseas, as one trip and one full vehicle can last you a month or so. And Costco is so big you can find almost anything there, from TVs to tools to groceries. Obviously, Costco is recommended for permanent residents with access to a vehicle of some sort rather than travelers. There are several locations near Tokyo and throughout Japan.

 

Dean & Deluca

Dean and Deluca 3 Tokyo International Markets

Dean & Deluca is a popular chain of Tokyo international markets in Japan, and quite often you can see people with tote bags bearing the brand name. Some of their larger stores sell western groceries, like deli meats, fish, cheese, coffee, and wine.  And if you have the time, they also have a seating area where you can stop for a bite. There are several easy-to-reach locations in the Tokyo area.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Facebook (Japanese) ||| Twitter (Japanese) ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

 

Kinokuniya

Although Kinokuniya is famous for its bookstores (our editor famously got lost in a Kinokuniya market while looking for the Kinokuniya bookstore in Shinjuku), it also has its own chain of Tokyo international markets. Their website advertises corned beef, cherries, and other foods generally not found in Japan. There are many Kinokuniya stores throughout Tokyo, and you can find the one closest to you on their list of store locations.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Facebook (Japanese) ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

 

National Azabu

National Azabu 2 Tokyo International Markets

No matter what kind of foreign food you are craving, chances are National Azabu has it stocked. National Azabu prides itself on being the best international market in Tokyo, and serves many English-speaking families in the area. They have an entire rack full of Mexican and Spanish foods, fine wines from Italy, and classic American snacks. Upstairs, they have a wide variety of English greeting cards. They also sell typical western toys, kitchen utensils, and books and magazines. National Azabu will make you feel like you’re back home. There are three locations in the Tokyo area, and you can look here to find the one closest to you.

Website (English) ||| Facebook (English) ||| Twitter (Japanese) ||| Online Shop and Delivery Service

 

Nissin World Delicatessen

Nissin world Tokyo International Markets

Just south of Roppongi is the Nissin World Delicatessen, a three-story international foods store. Nissin is one of the most popular Tokyo international markets–they carry a wide variety of products, and attract more than just English-speakers. Nissin is especially famous for their variety of meat products.

Website (Japanese and English) ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 3-minute walk from Azabu-Juban Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open daily 8:30 am to 9pm

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

January 10, 2017 0 comment
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Tokyo is a crowded metropolitan city. People are busy with sightseeing, business trips, or educational exchanges. Sometimes, those activities can stress you out. Are you looking for a place that can provide internal peace into your heart? While visiting Tokyo, you may have a hard time finding a place to worship and practice your religion. To help, we have compiled a listing of Tokyo religious services. If you would like your congregation included, please email us at info@enablejapan.com and we will add you to our listing.

Tokyo Religious Services Listings

Christianity

Catholicism

To Catholic, mass and confession are a part of their discipleship lives. Mass is a similitude of the sacrifice of Christ. Through this ceremony, they express their gratitude to the Lord. Confession is a way for Catholics to repent and reconcile with their God. You might not be able to attend Church at a certain day, but the church here in Tokyo provides daily mass. When I visited the hall, I felt calm because I could cast my temporal cares aside. My dear Catholic friends, if you are looking for peace (even you are not a Catholics or believers) in a metropolitan city, go to one of the Churches. I want to give you four churches with their worship schedule in here.

Roppongi Franciscan Chapel

Roppongi Franciscan Chapel

Address: 4-2-37 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032 Japan

English Mass:

Weekdays: 8am; Wednesdays has additional service at 6:30 pm

First Fridays 6:30 pm

Saturdays: 8am, 6pm

Sundays: 8 am, 10:15 am, 12 pm, 6 pm

Confessions: Saturdays  4:30 to 5:30 pm. Also by appointment. Available in English and Japanese.Tokyo Religious Services Franciscan 2

St. Ignatius Church

St. Ignatius Church

Address: Koujimachi, Chiyoda-ku 6-5-1, Tokyo 102-0083 Japan

Sunday Mass:

English: 12pm, Main Chapel

Spanish: 1:30 pm, Main Chapel

Indonesian: 4pm, St.Francis Xavier’s Chapel

Portuguese: 12:30 pm, St. Mary’s Chapel (Only 1st. Sundays)

Vietnamese: 3pm, Main Chapel (Only 1st. Sundays)

Polish: 4pm, St.Mary’s Chapel (Only 1st. Sundays)

Tokyo Union Church

Tokyo Union Church

Address: 5-7-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0001

Sunday Services: 8:30 am and 11 am

Meguro Catholic Church

Meguro Catholic Church

Address: 4-6-22 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 141-0021

Mass Schedule:

Weekday Mass: 7:30 am

Sunday Mass: 12 nn

Protestant

Tokyo Baptist Church (Shibuya Branch)

Tokyo Baptist Church

Protestant is another popular religion in the world. They partake in sacrament to remember Jesus and his infinite sacrifice for all mankind. Protestants enjoy the association or fellowship with others. They call each other brothers and sisters because they believe that all people are God’s children. Individuals worship and sing hymns together. They unite with others through services and meals. When you visit Tokyo and don’t want to miss a Church service, here are the addresses.

Address: Hachiyama-cho, Shibuya-ku 9-2 Tokyo 150-0035 Japan

Services: Saturdays: 7pm, Sundays: 9am, 11am, 1:30 pm, 5:30 pm

Wesleyan Holiness Yodobashi (site is Google-translated)

Wesleyan Holiness Yodobashi

Address: Shinjuku-ku, Hyakunincho 1-17-8, Tokyo 169-0073 Japan

Services:

English worship (English Service): Sunday 1:30 pm

Korean worship: Sunday 1:30 pm

Chinese worship: Sunday 3:30 pm

LDS Church (Mormon)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS Church (Mormon is the nickname given by others), is a burgeoning Christian group throughout the world. They believe that God has restored His Church through His prophet, Joseph Smith, in the 19th century. Joseph recorded that he saw God the Father and Son, and they spoke to him. Currently, there are 100,000 LDS members in Japan and three chapels in Tokyo. Normally, they only have church services on Sunday. However, they sometimes have some special events on Saturday, such as general conference broadcast twice a year. They believe that the prophet and apostles of God will receive revelations from God and speak to them during general conference.

Tokyo 1st Ward

LDS Church (Mormon) LDS Church (Mormon) 2

Address: 5-8-8 Minami-Azabu MINATO, Japan

Sunday Service: 10 am (Sacrament First)

Tokyo 2nd Ward

LDS Church (Mormon) 3

Address: 2-25-11 Minami-senzoku, Ota-ku 145-0063 Japan

Sunday Service: 9 am (Sacrament First)

You might see some young men wearing a suit or tie with a name-tag. They are full-time volunteers for two years who sometimes approach you and teach you about Jesus. When you see them on the street, you can ask them any questions. But you might ask, “What makes this Church so special?” They believe that there are living prophets and apostles today, and people can still receive revelations from God today. I am sure that they are more than happy to answer all of your questions. Want to learn Japanese or English for free? They can help you as well.

LDS Church (Mormon) 4

Judaism

Jewish Community of Japan

Jewish Community of Japan

Members of the Jewish faith has their worship services on Friday evening and Saturday morning (they call it Shabbat services). They welcome all people, male and female, to join their worship. After the services, they provide a kosher meal. In order to take the meal and socialize, you must make a reservation on Thursday. However, you don’t have to join the meal. You can simply participate the worship with them.

If you want to visit the synagogue in Tokyo during weekdays, you must make a reservation a week prior to your visit by sending them an email.

Address: Shibuya-ku, Hiroo 8-8-3 Tokyo

Friday Evening Services: Egalitarian Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma’ariv service at 18:30.

Saturday Services: Egalitarian Shachrit service at 9:30.

Islam

Islam is one of the major religion groups in the world. There are at least seven mosques in Tokyo. Muslims need to offer prayer five times a day. When they pray, they put their work aside and go to mosques for their worship. They wash their revealed limbs for purification. If you are looking for a mosque to offer your devotion, I can provide two locations for you.

Japan Islamic Trust

Japan Islamic Trust

Address: Minami Otsuka, Toshima-ku 3-42-7, Tokyo 170-0005 Japan

Open: 5am – 10pm (prayer schedule on the website)

As-Salaam Foundation

As-Salaam Foundation

Address: Taito, Taito-ku 4-6-7 Tokyo 110-0016 Japan

Prayer Schedule can be found on the website

If you are not a believer of Islam, that’s fine. There are a lot of noble and kind Muslims who are more than happy to provide a tour for you. They want to share their culture and hospitality with you. When I visited Japan Islamic Trust, I was able to have some snacks with my new Muslim friend and have a glance of Islam world.

Japan Islamic Trust 2

Thus, when you are looking for a different experience in Tokyo, you should come and visit one of the mosques.

I know what is you concern. You worry about language barriers. All of the religious groups from above offer English services to the visitors. Hence, you can add a trip to the religious service of your choice while you are in Tokyo. Come to worship and meet new friends!

October 27, 2016 0 comment
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Tell Lifeline

Immediate Help and Resources for English-Speakers in Japan

 

 

TELL Lifeline: 03-5774-0992. Free, anonymous telephone counseling all across Japan, 9:00 am – 11:00 pm daily

Police: 03-3501-0110. Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5:15 pm. After hours, dial 110 and stay on the line. They will find someone who can help you.

Fire & Ambulance: Dial 119 and stay on the line. They will find someone who can help you.

Poison Control: US Air Force Hospital Yokota, 0425-52-2511, ext. 57740. 24 hours.

Other Emergency Resources

About TELL Lifeline

TELL Lifeline

Tokyo can be a rough city. Crowded trains, language barriers, and difficulty adjusting to a new land and a new way of life can chip away at the confidence and soul of even the most stalwart expat. Family issues, money problems, addictions, and the other ailments facing the modern city dweller may cause some to simply give in to despair.

If you are living in Tokyo, you may feel isolated from others and that your problems are overwhelming. But help is available in the form of the TELL Lifeline. Founded in 1972, TELL has helped hundreds of thousands of people throughout Japan.

 

How the TELL Lifeline Can Help You

The original TELL Lifeline service is the free, anonymous counseling number: 03-5774-0992.

TELL Japan website | Facebook | Twitter

But you do not have to be in dire need to call or visit their website for help. TELL offers numerous services to the community, from counseling services to outreach programs to a wiki for handling everyday annoyances.

Counseling: Sometimes life can be overwhelming, and more in-depth assistance may be needed. It doesn’t matter whether you live in the middle of Tokyo or in a small town in Kyushu – you can call TELL and get help (phone number for counseling services is 03-4550-1146 in English and 03-4550-1147 in Japanese). TELL offers services to adults, youths, children, and even has resources for issues in the workplace.

TELL can set up face-to-face counseling or provide it over the Internet, so distance is not a reason to avoid calling. Japanese National Health Insurance does not cover counseling, but TELL offers a sliding-scale fee system to make care affordable to those who need it.

Outreach Programs: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. TELL offers a number of outreach programs, covering topics ranging from Child Protection and Anti-Bullying to Exceptional Parenting and Suicide Awareness and Prevention, and a whole lot more. Visit the website or call 03-4550-1911 to learn about their programs to help you and your family live a happier, safer life.

Online Directory: TELL’s online directory can help you with a multitude of not-emergency-but-still-important issues. the wiki covers topics ranging from legal and health issues all the way down to finding a bookstore or library so you can read a bedtime story that night. Best of all, you can contribute to this wiki, allowing English speakers living in Japan to pool their knowledge and help each other.

How You Can Help the TELL Lifeline

TELL offers a wide range of services to the community, but they need help too! TELL receives no government funds and relies on the community to help them continue their good work.

Donations: You can donate directly to TELL via Paypal, Bank Transfer, or Postal Transfer, either as a one-time donation or by offering monthly support. Donations are tax-deductible.

You can also donate goods and services, such as bottled water and energy drinks, serviceable IT gear and office supplies, etc. as detailed in the link.

Volunteer: TELL needs you! TELL is always looking for counselors for the TELL Lifeline. Although difficult, there are many rewards for becoming a a Lifeline Phone Counselor beyond just helping those in need. If you want to become a Lifeline Phone Counselor, follow this link for more information.

Not all volunteer opportunities require a large commitment. TELL always needs volunteers for events and to help with office work at busy times of the year. Follow the link to learn more about volunteering.

Sponsorship: Corporate sponsorship plays a very important part in supporting TELL services. If your company is interested in supporting TELL, follow this link to find out more.

Upcoming Events

TELL is constantly raising awareness for suicide prevention and other issues. They hold a regular Pub Quiz at the Hobgoblin in Shibuya, an annual Runathon, and many other events. Keep up with the latest TELL events on their website by following this link.

Life can get you down sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you have to face everything alone. Take care out there, Japan. TELL is here if you need them.

For more information on living in Tokyo, please click on one of the links below–

September 22, 2016 0 comment
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Moving is stressful enough, but moving to a different country with young children can be even more harrowing. Where will they go to school? Who will they play with? What can we do on the weekends?

Several of our interns, staff members, and freelancers have either attended or currently have children attending one of the  International Schools in the Tokyo. Our picks for the top Tokyo international schools from preschool all the way through law school are–

Top Tokyo International Schools : The Top 5

 

The British School in Tokyo

In our opinion, the best international school in all of Japan. They accept students with British and Commonwealth passports, which means that students with two Japanese parents likely won’t be enrolled.

The British School has two campuses. Students up to Year 3 will attend the Shibuya campus, and high-level students will attend the Showa campus. There are rumors that a Roppongi campus will open by 2022.

Age Range: Nursery School through Sixth Form (ages 3-19)

Area: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Nursery to Year 3) and Showa (Year 4 to Year 13) (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

The American School in Japan

A popular choice for international couples, this large school is located in Chofu and offers bus service from central Tokyo. Emphasis is on individuals rather than groups, as befitting the source country.

Age Range: Nursery School to High School (ages 3-18). Offers an English Immersion program.

Area: Roppongi and Chofu, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting).

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

 

Tokyo International School

Next to Temple University’s Japan campus, TIS is another top school regarded to be the equal of the British School in regards to academics. And they are just as hard to get into; they have strict entry criteria that ensures that only the best students get in. They are centrally located in the Minato  ward and have a small campus (though larger than the British School and Nishimachi).

Age Range: Kindergarten through 8th Grade (ages 5-15)

Area: Minami-Azabu, Tokyo (map and contact information available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

Nishimachi International School

This is a top school for producing bilingual students–homework is given both in English and Japanese. Although they have a small campus, their longstanding commitment to bilingual education makes them a desirable school. The student body has a high percentage of Japanese mothers.

Age Range: Kindergarten through 9th Grade (ages 5-16)

Area: Minami-Azabu, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

International School of the Sacred Heart

Although boys can attend the kindergarten program, Sacred Heart is one of the top Tokyo international schools for girls that is located on the Sacred Heart University campus in Hiro-o.

Age Range: Kindergarten through High School (ages 5-18)

Area: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (Map available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

 

Other Top Tokyo International Schools

Aoba-Japan International School

AOBA International school has two campuses –  one in Meguro Ward, near Daikanyama and One in Nerima Ward. While Meguro campus is very small (two houses converted to school), the Nerima campus has large area, as it was converted from a regular Japanese elementary school.

Age Range: Kindergarten through High School (ages 5-18)

Area: Hikarigaoka and Meguro, Tokyo (Maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

 

Canadian International School of Tokyo

Age Range: Preschool through High School (K3 – 12th grade)

Area: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information

Happy Days International Preschool

Age Range: Preschool (15 months to 6 years old)

Area: Ebisu, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information | Tuition

India International School in Japan

Age Range: Kindergarten through High School (ages 5-18)

Area: Tokyo and Yokohama (Maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

 

K International School Tokyo

Age Range: Kindergarten through High School (K1-12th grade)

Area: Koto, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition (2016-2017)

KAIS International School

Age Range: Elementary through High School (1st-12th grade)

Area: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

Kanto International Senior High School

Age Range: Senior High School (9th-12th grade)

Area: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information

Lycee Francais International de Tokyo

Age Range: Kindergarten through High School (ages 5-18)

Area: Takinogawa Kita-ku (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information

 

Montessori School of Tokyo

Age Range: Preschool to Middle School (2-14 years old).

Area: Minato-ku, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

 

Poppins Active Learning International School

Age Range: Preschool (11 months to 6 years)

Area: Ebisu, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

 

Sesame International Preschool

Age Range: Preschool (6 months to 6 years old)

Area: Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information

St. Mary’s International School

One of the top Tokyo International schools for boys. There is a high percentage of Japanese students, and a focus on Japanese culture and language.

Age Range: Kindergarten to 12th grade (ages 5-18)

Area: Setagaya-ku (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information

 

Summerhill International School

Age Range: Preschool (15 months to 6 years old), daycare for babies 3 months to 12 months old. Conducts Japanese classes daily.

Area: Minato-ku, Tokyo (map available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information

Temple University, Japan Campus

Age Range: College (Undergrad through Masters/Law School available). A branch of the main campus in Philadelphia, PA.

Area: Minato-ku, Tokyo (maps available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information

 

Willowbrook International School

Age Range: Preschool (15 months to 5 years old). Offers both an English program and a dual immersion (bilingual) program.

Area: Minato-ku, Tokyo (map available; please make an appointment before visiting)

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

Yokohama International School

Age Range: Early Learning, Elementary through High School (ages 3-18)

Area: Yokohama (35 minutes from Shinagawa station in Tokyo, map available; please make an appointment before visiting.

Website ||| Contact Information ||| Tuition

April 27, 2016 0 comment
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As with many long-lived fictional characters, Godzilla’s popularity has waxed and waned over the decades. He’s changed with the times, changed back, and became goofier or more hardcore as the zeitgeist dictated. But the Terror of Tokyo has always had legions of fans. And if you’re one of those fans, you can turn one of your days in Tokyo into a tour of the Godzilla sites!

The Shinagawa Station Tile

Our first subject is located on the #1 platform of the Yamanote Line at Shinagawa Station. Near the mid-point of the platform (underneath a pair of security monitors) is a floor tile, depicting a suspiciously dinosaur-like creature in a circle. The kanji on the tile tells us that this exact point is the 0 kilometer mark–that is, the spot from which all other distances on the line are measured.

But why a dinosaur? Well, that depends on who you ask. One popular story holds it that JR East (the rail company on the line) asked permission to use Godzilla’s likeness on an anniversary tile of some sort, due to his association with the area (see the Yatsuyama Bridge, below). This plan hit a snag when it ran up against an expensive licensing fee from Toho. So instead, the station decided to use a “dinosaur” as a symbol. Sort of like painting a triceratops costume green and calling him Blarney, the Lucky Irish Dinosaur.

There’s nothing official here, and no advertisement of the tile’s presence beyond a few blog posts here and there. But since you’re going to be at Shinagawa Station at some point during your trip, you should have a look!

First Godzilla Attack – the Yatsuyama Bridge

In the 1954 classic, this intersection is the spot where Godzilla first stepped in Tokyo to give the Shinagawa ward a serious monster beating. Well, it’s not exactly this spot–years after the film was made, railroad tracks were laid down, and a bridge was built over them. But it’s as close as you’re going to get without playing dodge-train.

Nice, but how do I know what you say is true? Well, do you remember that map board you passed outside of Kitashinagawa Station? Go take a look again. And there you’ll see it–a spot marked on the board with a cutesy giant lizard-monster. This is the closest approximation of where our hero first placed his three-toed foot on the city he loves to hate.

Yatsuyama Godzilla

But why are there no other markings at the intersection? The locals did want to mark it, but Toho’s licensing fees were far outside what the community could afford. So besides the map, there’s nothing to mark this piece of cinematic history.

You might also have another question. Godzilla was fifty meters tall in the original film. Where’s the water he came from? There is no water near the intersection that is deep enough to hide a towering radioactive lizard.

The reason for this is simple modernization–the landing spot was much closer to water in 1954, but a reclamation project in the 60s and 70s diverted the water into a river in order to make land available for Tokyo’s expansion. Godzilla may be able to take on Ghidrah, but there’s no way he can defeat real estate development.

The Yatsuyama Bridge Information

Nearest Station: 3-minutes walk from Kita-Shinagawa Station (South exit) (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

Hibiya Chanter Square

Our third spot will be at the Hibiya Chanter Square. The Godzilla statue and faux-marble plinth it stands on is around two and a half meters tall. The ground nearby is covered in plaques, Hollywood-Walk-of-Fame style, with the metal-casted handprints of various Japanese celebrities. It’s a nice photo op in a small park.

Hibiya Chanter Square Information

You can visit Hibiya Chanter’s website here. Website (English). Follow it on social media at Facebook (English) and Instagram.

Nearest Station: 4-minutes walk from Hibiya Station (Southwest exit) (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

Toho Studios

It ‘s a long walk to reach this location. Movie studios need a lot of room for sound stages, and land is at a premium in Tokyo. Also, it does no one any good to have tourists tramping through when you’re ready for your close-up, right?

Walk under the sign towards the lot entrance. Do note that you cannot get onto the lot itself–there is a security guard posted. Moreover, you don’t want to be rude by interrupting someone’s next blockbuster, do you?  The best you can do is to see the mural outside, the gate, and perhaps snap a shot or two of the person-sized Godzilla statue out front. Security can be lax or strict, depending on who-knows-what. The best bet is to be polite, be quick about getting your pictures, and be gone.

Toho Studios Information

You can visit Toho Studios’ website here. Website (English). Follow it on social media at Facebook (English) and Instagram.

Nearest Station: 10-minutes walk from Seijogakuen-Mae Station (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku has become a landmark due to the Godzilla’s head statue mounted on top of the hotel. The Godzilla Head roars and breathes non-radioactive steam nine times a day. The event starts at noon, and then repeats every hour until 8 p.m. The best video/camera footage for this event is on the street leading up to the hotel. the roar is much more colorful at night, so please plan accordingly.

The hotel lobby has a number of Godzilla movie posters, a small souvenir store, and a cafe. You give your Godzilla pass to the host, who then seats you (if you’re staying at the hotel, all you need is the room key, but you do have to show them something). And yes, they know you are coming–prices are kind of high, because the Gracery is a fancy sort of hotel. If you want to order a Godzilla cake set with coffee, which will cost you 1700 yen.

After that, it was time for the main event! Outside, you can get up close and personal with Shinjuku’s most famous resident. The statue itself is towering, and at the base you can see a few bas-reliefs and plaques of great moments in Godzilla history. The best angle for pictures is at the front corner.

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku Information

You can visit Hotel Gracery Shinjuku’s website here. Website (English). Follow it on social media at Facebook (English)Instagram, and YouTube.

Nearest Station: 10-minutes walk from Shinjuku Station (East station) (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

Tamagawa Sengen Shrine

Leaving Tokyo, our next stop is the Tamagawa Sengen Shrine. If you have seen the movie Shin Godzilla, you might remember the “Taba Strategy.” In the movie, the commander of the Japan Self-Defense Forces sets a defensive perimeter at the Tama River to prevent Godzilla from entering Tokyo. The Shrine was designated as the command center.

Yes, Godzilla stands exactly next to the bridge in the movie. But air forces and tanks cannot stop Godzilla!

Even if you are not a fan, you can still stand at the shrine and see the beautiful landscape of Tama River on the Marukobashi (Maruko Bridge), which is one of the most popular bridges in Japan. Many Japanese dramas have been filmed here.

Tamagawa Sengen Shrine Information

You can visit Tamagawa Sengen’s website here. Website (English). Follow it on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Instagram.

Nearest Station: 2-minutes walk from Tamagawa Station (South exit) (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

Nishi-Rokugō Park

You only need to spend fifteen minutes on the Tōkyū Tamagawa Line train from Tamagawa to Kamata station. Go to the east gate and walk toward south. We will be nostalgic a little bit because we are going to the Nishi-Rokugo Park, which is a children playground.

Watch out, a sculpture of Godzilla made of rubber tires stands in the center of the park. Children (or children at heart) can climb on its back and step on its tail. If you want to defeat Godzilla, you should come here and join the other kids to finish that mission.

Nishi-Rokugō Park Information

You can visit the website in here. Website (English). Follow it on social media at Facebook (Japanese) and Instagram.

Nearest Station: 15-minutes from Kamata Station (click on the Google Map below for walking directions).

You can do Godzilla pilgrimage, go sightseeing, and learn about Japanese history through visiting these places. This is a “one stone three birds” trip.

January 2, 2016 0 comment
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“I have to go check out all of the English language Tokyo bookstores. The lady at the website assigned it to me,” I kept my gaze low, hoping to avoid the truth-eliciting stare my wife was able to summon during interrogations of this sort.

She knows better. “Bull! You’ll take any excuse to go to a bookstore! You volunteered to do it, didn’t you?”

“No.” But I would have. I have always loved books. I didn’t take up smoking in high school with the cool kids, because buying cigarettes would have cut into my book-buying funds. After I joined the Navy, I didn’t get a tattoo for the same reason. To this day, I’m the only un-tattooed sailor I know. I’m also the only one I know who can quote PJ O’Rourke.

“How much are you getting paid to do this?”

I said a number.

“That won’t pay for everything you’ll buy!”

Also true.

“Oh, go ahead! Don’t bring back a library!”

Can’t promise anything.

 

AMAZON.CO.JP

Amazon delivers almost everywhere, and Amazon.co.jp has a few more features than I expected.

But first, I need an account. The site has the handy “English” option at the top that I’ve come to look for on major Japanese sites, so I switched to that. Other people have told me that they were able to log on to the .jp site with the account they made in their home country. No such luck for me. So, I’ll just make a new account–

Name Pronunciation.

What’s this? Can’t skip it. “Invalid furigana name?” What the hell is furigana? Googled it. Well, there’s something I didn’t know. I typed my name in hiragana in the box, and I was able to register. If you can’t do the same, find a Japanese friend to help you.

I did a search for one of my favorite books, The Tao of Pooh. The book was available, but the site shifted back to Japanese. Was there no way to check out Benjamin Hoff’s classic on Amazon’s site in eigo? Not a problem if you recognize Amazon’s “add to cart” button, but jarring nonetheless. I was able to backtrack a bit and find a “shop in English” section, but difficulties were encountered.

I was able to browse the Kindle section without incident. I did a search for Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket, and the results came up in Japanese (which he probably would have found ironic). Unfortunately, it’s not available in Japan, which can be the case with many things you could normally get back where you’re from.  Clicking on the first entry put me right back into English mode. Weird.

I looked into shipping and handling. Handling is 324 yen per order, and shipping is 514 yen (same day expedited) or 360 yen (Expedited and Scheduled delivery; all shipping is free to Prime members). You can have boxes delivered to a nearby convenience mart instead of your house. But why would you do that? Ok, maybe you are on the run from the law or have sketchy roommates who are always on the lookout for loose Tolstoy. If so, you can have your packages delivered to a nearby Lawsons, Family Mart, or Ministop by selecting “store pickup” under the shipping options. So if you can’t find what you want in any of the Tokyo bookstores we mention below, check online. It’s a sterile experience and not at all like going to one of the real Tokyo bookstores, but if you gotta have it…

Website: http://www.amazon.co.jp/
Open 24-7.

But instructions for Amazon is not why you’re here, is it? Any fool with a bookmark (physical or computer) can find Amazon. I know what you want.

You want that smell. That lovely perfume of of words trapped between covers. You want to roam around a Tokyo bookstore, to browse, and to find something new. Something that you didn’t know existed a few minutes ago but now cannot do without. Think that’s impossible in Tokyo? It’s not even difficult. And I spent two days (and a pretty good amount of cash) proving it.

Tokyo Bookstores

The Library

Have you considered your local library? Most libraries in the Tokyo area have a selection of English books. If you are a resident, you can get a library card with proof of residence (I used my Residence Card). If not, no one minds if you come in to browse. My local library has a few full bookshelves, mostly popular fiction from the past two decades. Do note that if you need some sort of reference material (encyclopedias, language books) that they will be grouped in the reference section, not with the other English books. Maybe not the same selection that you could get at one of the local Tokyo bookstores, but it’s free.

Website: Tokyo library; check your local area for web accessibility.

 

Book-Off

Book-Off is a chain of used Tokyo bookstores that can be found throughout the city and beyond. Normally they sell Japanese books and manga, video game stuff, movies, etc. Book-Off’s Tokyo bookstores have actually spun off into other areas, such as Hard-Off (stop giggling, it’s for housewares, clothing, home electronics, and the like), used clothing, and an assortment of other reusable materials.

Most of Book-Off’s Tokyo bookstores have an English section somewhere in their collection, but don’t expect to find much. The books are usually airport cast-offs, bizarre cookbooks from the 90s, novelizations of movies and popular fiction, etc. They have a 108 yen paperback section, just don’t expect to find a great selection.

“And where are the Book-Offs?” you might ask. Well, that’s tricky–if you don’t already know where one is, and you can’t read the Japanese page of Book-Off locations (which, for whatever reason, will not go through Google Translate), you might be out of luck. But not by much, given their selection. But they are common enough that the locals should be able to point you towards the closest location.

 

Infinity Books and Event Space

Tokyo Bookstores Infinity Books

With the demise of The Blue Parrot in Takadanobaba and the apparent dissolution of Good Day Books in Gotanda, Infinity Books is the only game left in town for second-hand English Tokyo bookstores.

Infinity Books is roomy and cozy. The books are only split between fiction and non-fiction–you’ll find sci-fi novels right next to historical romances and murder mysteries. It sounds like a strange way to organize, but I liked it. You may not find the exact book you want, but you’ll find something. And when you find that something, take it to the back of the shop. There are a few tables that are better lit, as well as…a bar?

Yes indeed. Nick Ward, the owner and proprietor, ran a bar (The Fiddler, in Takadanobaba) prior to opening Infinity Books. He keeps Yebisu and Bass on tap, the perfect complement for the thinking drinker’s new book. He also ran Caravan Books back in the days before he moved his operation online. “The costs were enormous. The problem was that I was doing the same thing I’m doing now–six days a week, watching a computer screen, waiting for an order to come in. Only there was no one to talk to, no new people coming around. My wife finally told me to get all of the books out of the house, so I opened this place.”

As far as the books go, you can visit and browse in person, or check online by category or the offline search service. Infinity Books takes trades, depending on whether or not Nick wants them; shelf space is limited. If he likes what you bring, Nick offers store credit (around 35% of the resale value) or cash (around 15%). He also frequently holds events (such as the acoustic jams every second Saturday of the month)–great for meeting new people, local musicians, and other book lovers.

Tokyo Bookstores Infinity 2

Infinity has a rotating cast of characters, most of whom have followed the Yorkshireman from Caravan Books and The Fiddler. In my short time there, I met a pair of Canadian acoustic musicians, a Korean woman who sings classical Japanese songs, and an Irishman who teaches at a nearby university. However, I didn’t meet the ghost. Nick swears that she (it’s a woman, according to the people who have seen her) stomps around the store at night and throws things. Occasionally, she goes upstairs to the apartment building above the shop. “People there have seen her,” he says. He keeps a glass of beer over the bar for her, in case she gets thirsty. So far, she hasn’t drunk it. Maybe she doesn’t like Yebisu.

Website ||| Facebook ||| Twitter ||| Online Store

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Honjo-Azumbashi Station exit A1 (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 11pm, Sundays and Holidays 11am – 6pm. Closed Mondays, open late for events.

 

Tokyo Bookstores : Kinokuniya Main Store Shinjuku

The website lists the Tokyo bookstore as being in the Takashimaya Times Square building, which is easily reached from the New South Exit of Shinjuku station. I go inside, look at the floor guide, and see the Kinokuniya listed as being in the B1. Easy!

Not really. The moment I stepped off the escalator, I knew something was up. As with the basements of most department stores in Japan, Takashimaya Times Square’s basement was a gigantic supermarket. I found a sign pointing to “Kinokuniya” and followed it, where I found…a grocery store?

As it turns out, books are just one part of the Kinokuniya business. I managed to find another sign pointing “to the bookstore” (apparently someone got tired of lost foreigners raiding the vegetable section for the latest issue of The Economist). The sign leading to the bookstore led me to a dimly lit, somewhat scary-looking bare hallway. Strange artwork, not quite graffiti, was scrawled on the walls. No problem, I’ve braved worse for my literary fix. Still, I breathed a sigh of relief when I spotted the elevator at the end of the hall. A sign next to the elevator informed me that the foreign books were on the sixth floor.

Strange graffiti on the way to Kinokunia, Shinjuku

Books Kinokuniya is one of the big-box Tokyo bookstores. Inside, the place was indistinguishable from a Barnes and Noble in the US. The elevator opened into an extensive children’s and young adult’s section, meandering into a magazine section with the latest issues of what you’re looking for. Football magazines (American and metric) were next to Newsweek and Time. Next was a large section on comics, both translated Japanese manga and American graphic novels.

Moving on, there were a large number of scholarly works and textbooks on various topics. The “local” section featured the translated works of Japanese authors (the works of Haruki Murakami and Eiji Yoshikawa shelved next to Rashamon and collections of Japanese fairy tales). There were also large sections devoted to books in French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

If you’re looking for it, Kinokuniya Main Tokyo bookstores in Shinjuku probably has it. They have a “Book Import Department”, but no one there could answer any of my questions. Maybe I just caught them at the wrong time, but I got the impression that the staff wasn’t very knowledgeable about what was on the shelves. If you want it, you better know where it is.

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

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Yoyogi Station , inside the Takeshimaya Times Square Building, 6th floor (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 20:30 pm

 

Maruzen Marunouchi Main Store

Don’t do what I did. I left Tokyo station at the North exit, crossed the street, and started walking around. It took me an hour to find Maruzen Marunouchi Main Tokyo bookstores in this fashion.

Do this instead. Inside Tokyo station, go towards the North exit. Instead of leaving the station at the exit, instead turn as if you are going to the Subway Tozai Line (blue circle). Walk until you see Mr. Minit; it should be on your right.

Across from Mr. Minit is a sketchy-looking exit. It is unmarked; there is no indication as to where it might lead. Strange for orderly Japan, right? Well, if you go up through this exit, it puts you right at the front door of Maruzen Marunouchi Main Store. As soon as you leave the station, crane your neck and look straight up. You will see the big M logo.

Maruzen is also big box store, though their English section is smaller than Kinokuniya’s in Shibuya. The fourth floor is where the foreign books are located (in addition to English, there are a number of German and French books). The escalator puts you right in front of that eternal bookstore fixture, the cafè. Turn right to get to the good stuff.

The new releases are right up front, and a fiction section was behind that. Both had a good selection. Going in deeper, I found an extensive children’s section, including a number of Golden Books that I knew from when I was just a ‘lil reader. I pulled one off the shelf–Lightning McQueen is having an adventure of some sort. So much for the classics. Still, they had The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which certainly counts in their favor.

Of special interest to English teachers and the parents of young children will be the large section with Oxford Graded Readers and Penguin Active Reading books, to help your kid/student with their vocabulary and reading skills. Another thing that caught my eye was the large collection of Oxford Very Short Introductions. These books (currently around 400 different volumes are in print) take topics such as Descartes, AIDS, American History, Fractals, etc. and distill the topic to around 150 pages of easy-to-understand reading. If you want to learn something new but don’t know where to start, these books are great entry points.

After an extensive non-fiction section, the rest of the fourth floor of the Maruzen is taken up with various frip-frappery with only vague connections to books. I could understand the stationery and the pens (even the 10,000 yen pens), but purses? Ties? It just threw off my groove.

Website (English)

Nearest Station: 1-minute walk from Tokyo Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open daily 9am – 9pm

 

Tower Records Shibuya

Leave Shibuya station via the Hachiko exit. Go straight ahead to the busiest crosswalk in the world and look to your right. You should be able to see the yellow “Tower Records” sign down the street.

When I first got to Japan in 1997, Tower Records was the place to go if you wanted any English books and magazines from any Tokyo bookstores. The foreign books section took up the entire seventh floor and had anything you might want. The comics and art books gave that part of the store an “underground” vibe (as much as you can get while shopping at a corporate juggernaut, anyway).

In 2012, the foreign bookstore moved from the seventh floor to the second as part of a remodeling and restructuring. No longer spacious, the bookstore now had to share half of the floor with a cafè. Since then, the selection of English books and magazines has shrunk, encroached upon by Japanese books of similar flavors. This might be a great place to get a popular fiction book for your Japanese friend that you have read in English, but the pickings are starting to get slim. One gets the feeling that this bookstore may not be around much longer.

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Twitter (Japanese) ||| Youtube ||| Online Store (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 11pm

 Know of any Tokyo bookstores that we forgot to mention? Drop us an email so we can add it!

February 2, 2015 0 comment
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Wallet

We all know that Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world. If you’re looking to stay in Japan for a long time and don’t have the means to live a fancy lifestyle, here are some great tips on how to live cheaply in Tokyo!

Let’s start with the basics: food. With more than 45,000 locations, Japan has the most convenience stores in the world, the biggest of which are Seven-Eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson. Since you’ll likely see one at every corner, it will be hard not to go in and purchase a treat whenever you are hungry. However, convenience is not cheap.

Instead, try visiting a supermarket (or as Japanese call them スーパー) where you can find tons of affordable food! Supa’s in Japan are a great place to find filling premade meals at cheap prices. If you’re not quite sure where the nearest supa is located, just ask a police officer or any passerby.

If you’re not in the mood to hunt down a supermarket, another option is to visit the local 100 yen shop. The 100 yen stores give you the best “bang for your yen” as far as cost is concerned. You can find just about everything you need, from utensils, brooms, soup, snacks, and even some gardening supplies. If you’re lucky, you might even come across a Lawson Store 100, which is a cross between a 100 yen store and a regular Lawson’s convenience store.

As someone that has lived in Japan for quite some time, I can tell you right now that it is possible to pick up affordable items wherever you go if you take the time and look for these places!

Live cheaply everybody!

 

Image source: here

May 23, 2014 0 comment
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