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I love to explore various dimensions of Japan. Today, I want to bring you to one of the best locations for vacation in Shizuoka prefecture, Izu Peninsula. If you love natural scenery, fresh seafood, and onsen (hot spring), you will love the trip to Izu Peninsula!

Izu Peninsula: How to get to Izu?

Trip to Izu Peninsula

You can take the Tokyo East Line from Shinjuku, Shinagawa, or Ueno to Izu. However, you need to spend at least 4000 yen (40 USD) for the round trip from Tokyo to one of the Izu stations. This is uneconomical and inefficient. Go to one of the JR ticket offices in Tokyo and buy a JR Wild Pass (10000 yen, or 100 USD). Using this Pass, you can travel without restrictions throughout Izu for three days.

What can You Do at Izu Peninsula? Three Recommended Stations!

Izukyū Shimoda Station

(伊豆急下田)

Trip to Izu Peninsula

Since Shimoda located in the southernmost part of Izu Peninsula, we have to take the train from Shinjuku to Shimoda station for three hours. Shimoda is the cradle of Japan’s modern history. During the Edo period, Tokugawa Shogunate remained self-isolation. In order to break the barrier and develop business partnership with Japan, Western countries decided to take action. Accompanied by black battleships (Black Ships), Matthew Perry, a commodore of US Navy, arrived Shimoda and intimidated the Japanese Government to open their ports for business by signing up the Japan–US Treaty of Peace and Amity, or the convention of Kanagawa in 1854.

Mount Nesugata

Trip to Izu Peninsula

You should take the ropeway to Mt. Nesugata. From the top of the mountain, you can take an aerial view to the Shimoda Bay and the Pacific Ocean. There is a map on the top of the mountain. When you look at it, you can see exactly where the Black Ships were located. On the other side, you can overlook the Shimoda city. This mount is also a national park. The local government spends money to plant seasonal flowers and different vegetation in this park. With the sunshine, you will discover that you have integrated yourselves with the natural beauty.

Trip to Izu Peninsula

You can visit the official website here for the detail. Website (English)

Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Izu Cruise

Trip to Izu Peninsula

Ancient Chinese wisdom speaks, “It is better to travel far than to read voluminously.” Instead of reading history, we can relive the history by taking the black ship together. The tour guides will show you the different islands of Izu and tell you the history of the islands. Furthermore, by spending few hundred yen, you can get some chips and feed the seabirds during the cruise.

Trip to Izu Peninsula

You can visit the official website here for the detail. Website (Japanese only)

Hours of Operation: 9:10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Last Departure)

Red Snapper and Other Seafood

It is one of the most luxurious meals in Japan. The Japanese people love to use red snapper to make sushi, sashimi, shabu shabu, and dried fish. Although tourists usually prefer to eat tuna or salmon, you should try this white fish. When you chew it carefully, the sweetness and freshness of the fish will gradually flood into your taste buds. You will also fall in love with the aroma of red snapper.

Furthermore, spiny lobster and abalone are the other famous seafood from this area. Because they are expensive, I can only afford the abalone.

Izu Peninsula: Jogasaki-Kaigan

(城ヶ崎海岸)

Kadowaki Suspension Bridge and Lighthouse

Trip to Izu Peninsula

Kaigan means coast in Japanese. Because of the lava of Amagi Volcano, Jogasaki is a national park and beautiful coast. Two of the tourist sites do not require any entry fee. First, climb up to the lighthouse. You will see seven islands of Izu: Oshima (伊豆大島), Toshima (利島村), Niijima (新島), Kozushima (神津島), Miyake-jima (三宅島), Mikurajima (御蔵島), and Hachijojima (八丈島). Like the islands of Hawaii, there are certain numbers of residents living in those islands of Izu. Although you are not able to travel to all of the islands, at least you know a little more about the geography of Japan.

After you climb down, you will cross the Kadowaki Suspension Bridge. Want to feel like Indiana Jones? When you step on the bridge, you can feel it shake. You can only continue your adventure by crossing the bridge, and then you can walk the natural trail.

Trip to Izu Peninsula

I think that you need to know something first. After you get off the train, you are required to walk 1.3 km before getting to the coast. However, you will pass by a cherry blossom tunnel. You can appreciate sukura each spring, and maple trees each autumn.

Trip to Izu Peninsula

You can visit the website here for the detail. Website (English)

Hours of Operation:

Suspension Bridge: 24 hours

Lighthouse: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Izu Peninsula: Atami City

(熱海市)

Atami literally means, “hot ocean,” which refers to the famous onsen in this area. According to the historical record, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, always came to Atami for hot spring. He thought that Atami is one of the best onsen in Japan because this place contains pure and high quality spring water.

Besides onsen, visitors will also take pictures of Kanichi Omiya no zo. This statue portrays the romantic tragedy from a novel, The Golden Demon.

Trip to Izu Peninsula

Higashikaigancho

Trip to Izu Peninsula

If you like ocean activities, such as canoeing or swimming, you should come here. During weekends, some adolescents will play volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee at the beach. You might be able to meet some new friends here. Along the shore, you can also find some restaurants to fill your belly. If you just want to have a walk, Higashikaigancho is also a good spot for you.

Atami Castle and Trick Art Museum

Trip to Izu Peninsula

This castle was built as a tourist attraction in 1959. You can dress up in costumes and become samurai. You can go to the top of the castle to overlook Atami city. If you want to know more about the history of Edo Period, you can come here. I also recommend that you to go to the Trick Art Museum, which locate next to the castle.

Trip to Izu Peninsula

In the museum, you will enter to an illusory world. Artists utilize certain angles to portray a painting and lead the audience to believe that they are watching a 3D painting. If the staff know that you are a foreign tourist, they will offer you a free-tour and help you take all of the photos. After you go in, you will discover that you have a lot of interaction with animals. Some of them will play with you. Some of them will try to hunt you down. It’s worth the 900 yen entry fee!

Caution: When you go to Atami castle or the Trick Art Museum, you will need to take the ropeway. When you get off of the ropeway, you will pass by the Hihokan – Adult Museum. It is restricted to adults age 18 and over. If you feel uncomfortable about what you see, please don’t go in and run out the entrance as quick as you can. When you go out the entrance and turn right, you will see the castle.

You can visit the official websites here for details. Website for Castle (English) and Website for Museum (English)

Hours of Operation for Both: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Nakamise Shopping Street and Heiwadori Shopping Street

You can go to these two streets as your last stop before going back to Tokyo. There are some famous souvenirs and specialty that you can buy here. For example, you can purchase lobster ramen, onsen streamed bun, and miso soup powder. If you are renting an apartment in Japan while traveling, you can buy dried red snapper or frozen red snapper belly. Thus, you can bring a “taste memory” back to your apartment.

Japan is waiting for you to discover her variety. Take a trip to the Izu Peninsula for a weekend getaway and appreciate the natural scenery, delicious cuisine, and miraculous power of onsen!

April 26, 2017 0 comment
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Japanese manga and anime are definitely awesome! Because it is the Big City, many scenes in popular anime are set in Tokyo. Of course, for all anime fans would like to go to places where they can buy figures or key chains in Akihabara and Ikebukuro, or maybe spend an afternoon singing their favorite anime songs. But there are more places for you to go in Tokyo – real places that appeared in anime! And guess what? We can tell you where they are!

 

Real Anime Places in Tokyo: The Cat Returns (猫の恩返し)

The Cat Returns is an animated film of Studio Ghibli, which is a story about a girl named Haru who saved the Prince of the Cat Kingdom Lune from being hit by a car on a road. After that, she was invited to the kingdom, and the King wanted her to marry the Prince. But Haru rejected the offer, and the Baron has to help her escape from the soldiers.

Real Anime Places 1

 

The sweets shop MYNT in Shin-Koenji Station is where Lune bought a gift (fish cookies for his lover) before he was saved by Haru. And the shop really sells fish cookies!

 

Real Anime Places Fish Cookie

MYNT information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Shin-Kōenji Station (Exit 1)

Hours of Operation: Mon, Wed – Sun 10:00 a.m. – 07:00 p.m.

 

Your Lie in April (四月は君の嘘) : Nerima Ward

The second part of our real anime places tour takes us to Nerima Ward. Your Lie in April is a very popular and touching anime in Japan, and has also been produced into a live-action film! The main character Kousei Arima was a child piano prodigy, and his mother was very strict to him because she wants him to become a famous pianist. But after his mother died in an accident, Kousei cannot hear the sound of his own performance, so he stops playing piano. One day, he meets Kaori Miyazono, a girl freely plays violin, who gradually changes his mind. The Nerima Culture Center appeared in the anime several times, where piano contests are held. Kousei often comes here.

Real Anime Places Narima Culture Center

Nerima Culture Center  (練馬文化センター) information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 1-minute walk from Nerima Station (Central North Exit)

Hours of Operation: Everyday 09:00 am – 10:00 pm

 

Real Anime Places Park

Outside the Nerima Culture Center is Heisei Tsutsuji Park, where Kousei and Kaori met for the first time. Kaori was playing melodica on the top of a play structure (which does not exist in reality) for a group of children, and Kousei was touched with her performance.

Heisei Tsutsuji Park (平成つつじ公園) information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 1-minute walk from Nerima Station (Central North Exit)

Hours of Operation: Everyday 09:00 am – 10:00 pm

 

THE iDOLM@STER CINDERELLA GIRLS : Sangen-Jaya Cho

My favorite anime! The story mainly focuses on the growth and changes of the idol project “Cinderella Project” in 346Production, and how they overcame their difficulties on the way to stardom.

Real Anime Places Flower Shop

This flower shop is another one of the real anime places you can visit. It was owned by Rin Shibuya, one of the main characters. In episode 1, another main character, Uzuki Shimamura came here and bought a bouquet for herself to celebrate her debut. It was also the place where Rin and Uzuki met for the first time.

Yayoi Gardening (やよい園芸)  information

Nearest Station: 2-minute walk from Sangen-Jaya Station (North Exit)

Hours of Operation: Everyday 10:00 am – 08:00 pm

Holiday: Wednesday (Irregular), 3 days in the beginning of the year

 

Real Anime Places Park 2

Setagaya Maruyama Park appeared in the anime twice. In episode 1, Rin was attracted by Uzuki’ s smiling face under the cherry blossoms here and decided to join the project.

The second time was in episode 23. Rin and Mio took Uzuki, who had lost confidence in being an idol, here and poured their hearts out, “You said here, right? ‘Being an idol is my dream.’” This is definitely the most touching scene among all the episodes!

The picture of the bench has become the cover of their CD “Story,” too! One of he many real anime places you can go to strike a pose! Great for your Facebook page!

 

Setagaya Maruyama Park  (世田谷丸山公園) information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 7-minute walk from Sangen-Jaya Station (North Exit)

 

Love Live! (ラブライブ!) : Akihabara

Love Live! is a super popular anime in Japan, which is abouta  high-school girl named Honoka Kosaka forming a nine-person idol group “μ’s” in order to save their school from being closed down. After they succeeded, the group set the goal of getting the championship in the “Love Live,” a school idol competition for the best groups in Japan.

 

Real Anime Places Kanda Shrine

Kanda Shrine is the place where a member Nozomi Tojo works as a miko (“Shrine maiden”). The main characters often come here.

 

Real Anime Places Otoko

Don’t forget the staircase on the right hand side – Kanda Shrine Otoko Zaka (神田明神男坂)! In the anime, when the members have to do some training, Nico Yazawa suggested that they climb this staircase.

Kanda Shrine (神田明神) information

Website

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Ochanomizu Station (Exit 3) or 7-minute walk from Akihabara Station

 Real Anime Places Wagashi

And don’t forget Takemura! This old wagashi shop (a place that serves traditional Japanese confections with tea) appears as Honoka’s home in the anime.

Takemura (竹むら) information

Nearest Station: 3-minute walk from Awajichō Station (Exit 3) or 7-minute walk from Akihabara Station

Your Name. (君の名は。) : Suga Shrine

It’s the most famous anime in 2016! Your Name took Japan by storm–you can hear its theme song Zenzenzense (“Previous Previous Previous Life”) everywhere. The story is about Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamizu, two high-school students who switch their bodies intermittently. Their memories fade after each swap, and they cannot even remember each other’s names. One day, Taki realized Mitsuha actually died three years prior and he tried to save her.

 

Real anime places your name

Although the real anime places from Your Name are mostly located in Nagano and Gifu Prefectures, there are some spots in Tokyo! The scene in Suga Shrine is the most recognizable one, because it’s on Your Name’s poster! It is the last scene of the film, where Mitsuha and Taki met on this staircase and asked each other, “I think we have met before. What’s your name?”

Suga Shrine (須賀神社) information

Website (via Google translate)

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Tokyo Metro Yotsuya-sanchōme Station (Exit 3) or 12-minute walk from Yotsuya Station

Have fun in taking photos in the real anime places in Tokyo!

April 7, 2017 0 comment
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Roppongi Hills Observatory Tokyo Tower

After a long day traversing through the city of Tokyo, there’s no better way to wrap up a day of sightseeing then to go to an observatory and overlook the streets you walked and the buildings you passed. At Roppongi Hill’s, Mori Tower, the only rooftop sky deck in Tokyo lies waiting for you to see the beauty within this city from a bird’s-eye view!

Roppongi Hills is located in the Minato district of Tokyo. There are shops and restaurants, a movie theatre, the Mori Art Museum, and of course, the Tokyo City View Sky Deck! With the inside observatory on the 52 floor, and the outside sky deck on the rooftop, you can see the entire city from both indoors and out!

Despite it’s name, there is no hike required when venturing to Roppongi Hills. This, however, is just the name that one of the largest property developments in Tokyo was given.

Roppongi Hills Observatory upwards

Depending on where you may come from, the idea of an open-air observatory may seem a little new to you. While some countries have more than others, Japan’s list of these rooftop observatories is limited. Making the trip over to Roppongi Hills is definitely recommended during your stay in Japan!

Unlike many cities, Tokyo is not a city with skyscrapers on every block. Fortunately, this makes the views from observatories in Tokyo even more breathtaking!

Also, within the area, there is much to do! With hundreds of restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars, the Roppongi area will keep you entertained, whether its 3pm or 3am!

 

Get Involved at the Roppongi Hills Observatory

If you’re a long-time visitor of Tokyo, you may be interested in attending one of the seminars and workshops Roppongi Hills has to offer. Every fourth Friday of the month, there are events open for the public focusing on astronomy. These events do not require any special membership, so everyone is welcome to participate!

If you’re not interested in astronomy, or even if you’re not in Tokyo for very long, Roppongi Hills Observatory is also hosting a photo contest that only requires one visit to Roppongi Hills and one outstanding picture that will stand apart from the rest.

With multiple periods to enter, there are also multiple winners! You can find details about the contest here! Photos taken at the observatory as well as photos of Tokyo’s landscape including Roppongi Hills, will be accepted!

Roppongi Hills Observatory tulips

Website

Nearest Station: Roppongi Station

Hours of Operation: 10am- 11pm

Price: General admission is 1,800 yen. Discount rates for children, students, and seniors are also available: Seniors 1,500, Students 1,200, and children 600 yen.

March 22, 2017 0 comment
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Parasitological Museum

You know that you’ll find weird and interesting things once you come to Tokyo. Check out our article on Bizarre Museums in Tokyo you might want to visit while you’re here!

 

Bizarre Museums in Tokyo: Meguro Parasitological Museum

Parasitological Museum Bizarre Museums in Tokyo

 

If you like weird stuff, this is the right place for you. This place is known as the number one most bizarre museum in Tokyo. Meguro Parasitological Museum is a private research facility focusing on parasites. A must-see at this museum is definitely the world’s longest tapeworm that is 8.8 meters long. Don’t forget to visit their museum shop where you can buy parasite-related merchandise!

 

Parasitological Museum Bizarre Museums in Tokyo

Hours: 10:00-17:00
Holidays: Monday and Tuesday (when a national holiday falls on Monday or Tuesday, the museum is opened and closed on the following day), New Year Holidays
Admission fee: Free (donations are welcome)
Access: 15 min walk from JR Meguro station

Bank of Japan Currency Museum

This museum was opened in 1985 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Bank of Japan. Here you can find exhibitions of money from ancient Japan up to the present day as well as money from all over the world.

Hours: 9:30-16:30 (No entry after 16:00)
Holidays: Monday (opened when Monday is a holiday) and New Year holidays (Dec 29 – 4 Jan).
Admission: Free
Access:

1 min walk from Subway Mitsukoshimae Station (Hanzomon line Exit B1)
2 min walk from Subway Mitsukoshimae Station (Ginza line Exit B5)
6 min walk from Subway Nihonbashi Station (Tozai line Exit A1)
8 min walk from JR Tokyo station’s Nihonbashi Exit

 

Tokyo Trick Art Museum

Tokyo Trick Art Museum comprises of 3D artworks and optical illusions that will blow up your mind. There are different areas for you to explore, including the “Edo Area,” “Japanese monsters” and the “Trick Art Gallery.”

WARNING: MUST BRING CAMERA!

Hours: 11:00-21:00 (No entry after 20:30)
Holidays: Closing days are not fixed
Admission: Adult (ages 15&over): 900 yen, Child (ages 4-14) 600 yen, free admission for children ages 3 and under.
Access:

2 min walk from Odaiba Kaihinkouen station (Yurikamome line)
5 min walk from Tokyo Teleport station (Rinkai line)

 

Tokyo Kite Museum

Kites are known to have a long history in Japan. At every corner of the museum, you will find a collection of over 250 kites on display from all over Japan and other Asian countries.

 Hours: 11:00-17:00
Holidays: Sunday, National Holidays
Admission: Adult: 200 yen, Child: 100 yen
Access:

10 min walk from JR Tokyo station (Yaesu exit)
1 min walk from subway Nihonbashi station (Exit C5)

 

Showa Retro Packaging Museum

This museum gathers product packages such as tobacco, medicine packages, snacks and confectionery from the Showa period (1929-1989). The building is a refurbishment a former furniture shop, which gives you a nostalgic feel once you step inside.

Hours: 10:00-17:00
Holidays: Monday (closes the following day if Monday is a national holiday) and New Year Holidays
Admission fee: Adult 350 yen, Child 200 yen
Access: 4 min walk from JR Ome station.

 

Postal Museum Japan

Located on the 9th floor of Tokyo Skytree Town, the Postal Museum Japan exhibits collections that are related to postal service and communications.
Hours: 10:00-17:30 (Last entry 17:00)
Admission fee: Adult 300 yen, Child 100 yen
Access: a short walk from Tobu Skytree line (Tobu Skytree station).

 

Philatelic (Stamp) Museum

 

Stamp Museum Bizarre Museums in Tokyo

 

With a collection of 300,000 stamps from Japan and other countries, over 850 stamps are being displayed at special exhibits at the Philatelic Museum. The theme changes every three months. There are also workshops where you can participate and even make your own stamp!

 

Stamp Museum Bizarre Museums in Tokyo

Hours: 10:00-17:00
Holidays: Monday and Tuesday (when a national holiday falls on Monday or Tuesday, the museum is opened and closed on the following day), New Year Holidays
Admission fee: Adult 200 yen, Child 100 yen
Access: 3 min walk from JR Mejiro station

 

Tokyo Museum of Sewage

You can spend a whole day learning about Tokyo’s sewage system. If that’s not enough, here you can even get a chance to go inside the main sewer pipe!

Hours: 10:00-16:00

Holidays: Monday (when a national holiday falls on Monday the museum is opened and closed on the following day), New Year Holidays (Dec 27- Jan 5)
Admission fee: Free
Access: 7 min walk from Takanodai Station (Seibu Kokubunji Line)

 

Tobacco and Salt Museum

 Here you can get to know more about the history and culture surrounding tobacco and salt in Japan. The museum has a collection or resources and researches about tobacco and salt, and besides the normal exhibition, sometimes there are special exhibitions held for a limited time

Hours: 10:00-18:30 (Last entry 17:30)
Holidays: Monday (when a national holiday falls on Monday the museum is opened and closed on the following day), New Year Holidays (Dec 29- Jan 3)
Admission fee: Adult 100 yen, Senior 50 yen, Child 50 yen. (There is an extra charge for special exhibitions).
Access:
12 min walk from Subway Oshiage station (Exit B2)
8 min walk from Subway Tobu Skytree Line Tokyo Skytree Station (Exit 1)
10 mins walk from Honjo Azumabashi Station

 

Tokyo Toy Museum (Toy Communication Museum)         

The building of this museum was once an old elementary school and the goal of this museum is to promote friendship among different generations in the family. Feel free to play with the toys and join the toy workshops they offer!

Hours: 10:00-16:00 (Last entry 15:30)
Holidays: Thursday, New Year Holidays and special holidays in February and September
Admission fee: Adult 800 yen, Child 500 yen, Child and Adult pair ticket 1200 yen
Access:
7 min walk from Yotsuya- sanchome station
8 min walk from Akebonobashi station.

 

March 20, 2017 0 comment
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Hi! I’m Tracy, and I love anime and manga!

Do you know “Dragon Ball,” “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” and “Gundam”? I bet you have heard at least one of them before! Anime as an art form aesthetic that has reached out from Japan to influence animation and live-action films worldwide. That’s why you were attracted by the title and are reading this article right now!

When someone mentions “anime spots,” most people would think of Akihabara. But there are also some incredible anime spots near where I live in Ikebukuro, and I’m going to tell you all about them!

 

Tokyo Anime and Manga: ANi★CUTE

ANi CUTE3 Tokyo anime and manga spots

ANi★CUTE is an official shop of NIPPON ANIMATION. At ANi★CUTE, you can buy cute goods based on “Chibi Maruko-chan” and “Rascal the Raccoon.” Kids in Japan love these popular anime shows!

You can visit the ANi★CUTE’s Website (via Google translate) for more information. If you want to visit them in person, they are an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), on the 2nd floor of Sunshine City ALPA. Click on the map below for walking directions!

Sunshine City Tokyo anime and manga spots

TORA NO ANA

TORA NO ANA is one of the top 3 anime stores in Japan. They focus on selling dōjinshi, which are self-published works fan fiction.

There are actually two TORA NO ANA stores in Ikebukuro. Store A is male-oriented and and store B is female-oriented. Be careful! You may become embarrassed if you go into the wrong store.  TORA NO ANA sells adult dōjinshi, and there is no special section where they are by themselves.

TORA NO ANA A2 Tokyo anime and manga spots

Tora no ana Tokyo anime and manga spots

TORA NO ANA (male oriented)

tora no ana Tokyo anime and manga spots tora no ana Tokyo anime and manga spots

TORA NO ANA (female oriented)

You can visit the TORA NO ANA’s website (via Google Translate) or follow the male oriented store on Twitter (via Google Translate). If you want to see the female side, you can visit their Twitter (via Google Translate), too! Both are close to Ikebukuro JR Station, and you can find them by clicking on the map above.

 

NAMJATOWN

namjatown Tokyo anime and manga spotsNAMJATOWN is Namco’s theme park for gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and ice cream. Don’t ask why, it’s Japanese! You can have a nice afternoon eating and enjoying the different cartoon attractions! Throughout the year there are special events held in collaboration with popular anime like “Yuri on Ice” or “Osomatsu-kun.” It’s fun!

You can visit the NAMJATOWN’s Website for more information. A little tip to save your money is that buying “Namja After3 Passport”(Unlimited Attractions Pass after 3:00pm) for ¥2,300 helps you save ¥300!  The NAMJATOWN is an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), 2F of Sunshine City World Import Mart Building, click on the map below for walking directions!

LASHINBANG (らしんばん)

Locating on the Otome Road – a street in Ikebukuro where shops are female oriented(Otome-Kei 乙女系), LASHINBANG is the largest store that specializes in second-hand anime goods. From tiny goods like badges to figures and cushions, you can find anime goods which are not popular anymore. Or sometimes you can find rare goods selling at a lower price here! They have 5 branches  in Ikebukuro, and the following are three stores on the Otome Road.

lashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spotsThe 2-floor LASHINBANG Main Store sells both male and female oriented goods – that means all kinds of anime! You can visit the Main Store Website (via Google Translate) or follow them on Twitter (via Google translate).

lashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spots

The LASHINBANG 2nd Store focuses on female oriented goods and anime CDs. You can visit the their Website (via Google Translate) or follow them on Twitter (via Google translate) .

lashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spotslashinbang Tokyo anime and manga spotsThe LASHINBANG Cosplay Store is on 4F of Animate Sunshine and is full of cosplay costumes and accessories. You can visit their Website (via Google Translate) or follow them on Twitter (via Google translate) .

All of these 3 stores are a 7-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit). Click on the map above for walking directions!

 

ACOS

You can buy everything you need for cosplay in one shop – costumes, wigs, color contact lenses, and even cosmetics are all here! No matter if you are a beginner or are experienced in cosplaying, just come here and you’ll truly enjoy the cosplayers paradise! You can visit the ACOS Website (via Google translate) for more information. If you want to come and buy cosplay stuff, the store is a 7-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), on the 2nd ~ 3rd floor of animate Sunshine. Click on the map below for walking directions!

 

P’PARCO

Not just for stores of famous teenager Japanese fashion brands, P’PARCO is also a shopping mall. Inside is the headquarters of the big video sharing website “NicoNico” and anime goods stores.

EVANGELION STORE

evangelion store Tokyo anime and manga spots

The official store for Evangelion and fans will be crazy for the limited items here!
Rejet shoprejet shop Tokyo anime and manga spots
The Rejet shop is the filled with goods of Otome-Kei anime produced by the Rejet.co, which mainly focusing on games and drama CDs.

THE CHARA SHOP (THEキャラSHOP)the chara shop Tokyo anime and manga spots
The Chara is an online shop for wide variety anime goods. Events collaborating with different anime are held in this physical store and you can buy limited goods here!

Dash Store (ダッシュストア)dash store Tokyo anime and manga spots

Anime collaborated events are held in a short period (that’s why it’s called “Dash Store”), have a grasp of time to get the limited items of your favorite anime here!
Limited Baselimited base Tokyo anime and manga spots
A store that full of “limited” collaborated items which you can only find here!

p'parco Tokyo anime and manga spots

You can visit the P’PARCO’s Website (via Google translate) for more information. The shopping mall is right next to Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), click on the map below for walking directions!

 

K-BOOKS

K-BOOKS is a store chain selling anime goods from old things to newest popular things. There are 13 stores in Ikebukuro, and all of them have different in themes, such as games, otome-kei, idols, etc! Here are two of them located on the Otome Road. Believe me, you won’t want to leave the store once you entered it (like me)!

k-books anime & live Tokyo anime and manga spots
The K-BOOKS Anime & Live Store are in the same building where you can find goods of all types of anime on 1F and idol anime on 2F. You can visit the Anime Store Website (via Google translate) or the Live Store Website(via Google translate) to have more information.

k-books otome Tokyo anime and manga spots

The Otome Store is only a few steps away from the Anime & Live Store that hundreds of otome-kei games and anime can be found here. You can visit the Otome Store Website (via Google translate) to have more information. Both of the stores are a 7-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit) and opposite to the Sunshine City, that means you can go there for shopping after buying anime goods!

 

POKEMON CENTER MEGA TOKYO

pokemon center Tokyo anime and manga spotsIt’s the largest Pokémon Center in Japan! A huge range of goods can be found here. Are you dreaming of becoming a Pokémon master?

Besides Pikachu, you can meet other Pokémon here and “catch” them all to take home! Check the Pokémon Center’s Website and take a 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), 2F of Sunshine City Alpa to see how amazing here is! Click on the map below for walking directions!

 

J-WORLD TOKYOj-world Tokyo anime and manga spots

J-WORLD is a theme park for Shonen Jump, which is the most popular manga magazine in the world. At J-WORLD, you can take photos with the famous manga characters in Shonen Jump such as Son Goku from “Dragon Ball,” Luffy from “One Piece,” Naruto from“Naruto,” and much more!

A warning for you: make sure to come with your stomach empty, because you are going to try the original menu with designs from your favorite manga here!

Another tip to help you travel cheaper is that you can buy tickets online in advance with a ¥100 discount or buy a Night Passport (Unlimited Attractions Pass after 5:00pm) for¥1,800 (you save ¥800)!

Check J-WORLD’s Website or Twitter (via Google translate) or Facebook (via Google translate) for more information! The characters are waiting you at the 3F of the Sunshine City World Import Mart Building, which is an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit). Click on the map below for walking directions!

ANIMATE IKEBUKURO

animate ikebukuro Tokyo anime and manga spotsThe animate Ikebukuro is a 9-floor store with anime goods and an anime-collaborated cafe. It is the largest anime goods store in the world. It is famous not only because of the large stock of anime-related items, but also for the events held here such as anime exhibitions, autograph sessions of illustrators, and talk shows with voice actors.

When you step into animate, it’s just like you have entered into an  anime world where anime-related things are everywhere! You can definitely spend half a day exploring it! Visit animate Ikebukuro’s Website or Twitter (via Google translate) to find out what’s new! It is a 5-minute walk from Ikebukuro JR Station (East exit), and you can easily find it by its recognizable logo on a tall building. Click on the map below for walking directions!

 

So you can see that there are many must-go places for anime fans in Ikebukuro. All of them are full of “treasures”! Make sure to visit!

February 17, 2017 0 comment
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Tokyo Car Rental 4

Tokyo Car Rental 1

There are many methods of getting around in Tokyo. The city has some of the most convenient public transportation around, with a regular schedule of buses and trains that will get you anywhere you want to go.

Most people forget about their Tokyo car rental options. I mean, who wouldn’t? You don’t have a Japanese driver’s license. One wrong move, and you’re going to have a highway police encounter with a very serious patrolman who is going to cite you for…well, who knows? And if you make a wrong turn, how are you supposed to find your way back? If you don’t speak Japanese, good luck

(Editor’s Note: And if you’re an American, the steering wheel is on the other side of the car! Also, there is no such thing as a “left turn on red” here. And although I tell my relatives the contrary, you cannot fire blue shells out of the hood at the guy on his Sunday Drive in the middle of the week.)

Yes, most people will tell you that using a car within Tokyo is a bad idea. However, it can be a speedy and economical alternative to public transportation if you have to get to several places quickly.  Rental cars are handy especially when you want to travel around the rural areas of Japan, where public transportation may be underdeveloped or inefficient. Using rental cars allows people to access areas that public transport can’t get to.

Actually owning a car in Tokyo is a burden. But when headed out on a road trip beyond the city, a Tokyo car rental is a good option, especially if you’re a large group and have a lot of baggage. Also, driving is Japan is enjoyable–the roads are in good repair, and there are special yellow trucks with lights that keep the highways and byways of Japan clear of debris. Service areas appear every 50 km or so, and they have food courts, restaurants, coffee shops, bathrooms and even souvenir stores. A Tokyo rental car allows you to control your experience and allows you to see the sights and enjoy the beauty that is Japan.

 

Rules of the Road

If you intend to a Tokyo car rental service, you are going to need to know the rules of the road. The Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF) has translated the Japanese Rules of the Road into several languages, both in print and digital formats. You can find them at this link.

 

A Couple of Warnings

Tokyo Car Rental 3

WARNING #1: In mountainous areas (such as around Mount Fuji), you’re going to have a problem if you miss something or have to turn back. Service areas in these parts only let you return to the highway going in the same direction–you cannot use them to turn around and go the other way. You may have to drive an hour or so before you can turn around. If your car rental agency offers a navigator in English, get it!

WARNING #2: DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT, GET “GAS” FROM A GREEN PUMP! In Japan there is no central heating in most homes, and kerosene room heaters are common. At service stations, kerosene pumps are green and might be on the same pump “island” as automotive gas, and often has the exact same kind of pump handle. Worse, kerosene is cheaper than automotive gas. I’ve had to rescue people several times after they pulled up to the pump, made an economic decision based on gas station signs they couldn’t read, and filled their car’s gas tank with kerosene. If you do this, your car will not go very far afterwards and you will liable for a very large repair bill with the Tokyo car rental company.

Tokyo Car Rental 4

WARNING #3 (Especially for Americans): The police in Japan sometimes use lights and sirens to pull people over. Other times, they just use lights. Either way, pull off to the side of the road. If they follow behind you, come to a stop.

Also, if you are pulled over for a traffic violation, the police will take you from their car and put you in the back of theirs. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO JAIL (that is what this means in America). This is for the safety of both the officer and the person who has been pulled over. If you were Japanese, they would make you write your own ticket. You know, just like when you were in school and had to write apology notes! But here, they’ll write it for you. If you get a ticket, be sure to take it to a post office to pay the fine before you leave. I hear some nasty extra charges could be incurred if you think you’ll just leave the country and not come back. Remember, the Tokyo car rental place has your information and your credit card.

WARNING #4: If you get into an accident or have trouble with your vehicle, light flares and place warning triangles 100 meters and 50 meters behind your car. This helps other motorists see and avoid you. Do your part to prevent further accidents!

 

Tokyo Car Rental Basics

Tokyo Car Rental 2

In order to rent a car, you would need a valid international driver’s permit (IDP). You can obtain one in your home country (in the US, you can get one through AAA) or at any one of Tokyo’s many Drivers’ License Centers. In order to obtain an IDP you must be at least 18 years old and have an existing license from your home country. The permit is only valid for one year.

Here’s an approximate range of rental fees for certain cars:

  • Sub – Compact Cars = 5,000
  • Compact = 7,000
  • Medium Size = 12,500
  • Regular Size = 15,000
  • Vans = 20,000

Here’s a list of reliable Rental Car Agencies you can access in Tokyo…

Toyota Rent-a-Car ||| Nippon Rent-a-Car ||| ORIX Rental Car ||| Time’s Car Rental ||| Nissan Rent-a-Car

…and you can possibly snag cheaper deals through intermediaries…

Japan Experience ||| TooCoo

Have fun and drive safely!

Check out the links below for other options on getting around in Tokyo–

January 12, 2017 0 comment
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samurai museum

samurai museumThe cultural hub in Shinjuku called “Kabukicho” is home to the many different stores and buildings that embody a section of Japanese culture. Among the shops and attractions is one that stands out to tourists and those interested in the warrior culture of medieval Japan. The Samurai Museum is dedicated to these brave warriors, and inside are fantastic displays of their armor and weapons. Each artifact has a history behind it.

samurai museum shinjuku 3The Samurai Museum offers tours in both Japanese and English. They delve deeply into the samurai culture, and visitors can learn a great deal about their lives and how they fought.  Though the museum may seem small, it contains five different exhibits which displays the different parts of the lives of samurai.

samurai museum 9The Samurai Museum also offers “Tate and Iai,” a showy instruction that demonstrates the Japanese “Way of the Sword.” It is very engaging and, because of the small area of the room, and you are very close to the demonstration–so close that the blade may sometimes be only inches from your face! The Samurai Museum instructors offer bolder visitors a chance to try the “Tate and Iai” along with the instructor and experience a small Japanese battle scene! But you shouldn’t go into battle unprotected, which is why you should don the o-yoroi samurai armor before engaging the enemy. Also, make sure you get your picture taken! The demonstration occurs four times a day, at 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 19:00.

samurai museum 4

samurai museum 7Even if you end up in a rush and can’t take the time to explore the museum, stop by the gift shop when you pass by! They offer items such as replica swords, armor, shirts, mugs and other items as souvenirs or gifts.

And since you’ll want to upload your photos right away, they have free wi-fi!

samurai museum shinjuku 8

Samurai Museum Shinjuku Location Information

Website (English) ||| Facebook (English) ||| Twitter (English) ||| Instagram

Nearest Station: 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10:30 am – 9pm (last entry 8:30 pm)

Entrance Fee: 1800 yen for adults, 800 yen for children under 12, children 3 and under free. Plus souvenirs!

“Why Go?”: What? I can’t believe anyone would have to explain this to you! Weren’t you ever a kid?

Click on one of the links below to explore more of Tokyo–

December 14, 2016 0 comment
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tokyo photography top museum

If you are a lover of photography, Japan is full of great places to indulge in the art.  Whether you are an artist hoping to make your way in Tokyo or you just enjoy taking snap shots, here is a quick list of top Tokyo photography museums.

 

Top Tokyo Photography Museums: Axis Building

tokyo photography AxisThe five-story Axis Building has a number of showrooms that frequently feature photography.  The two main showrooms are The IMA Concept Store and the Taka Ishii Gallery.  IMA is a Tokyo photography book store dedicated to showing off the photographer’s work. The Taka Ishii Gallery is a traditional gallery, but it’s strictly for the work of Japanese photographers. They change displays every three to four weeks, which gives you plenty of reasons to keep coming back.  All galleries is that they are all free to the public.

IMA Website (English) |||  Facebook (Japanese)||| Twitter (Japanese) ||| Youtube ||| Online Store (English)

Taka Ishii Gallery Website (English) ||| Twitter (Japanese)

Nearest Station: 8-minute walk from Roppongi Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Admission: Free

Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 7pm, closed Sundays and Mondays.

 

Fuji Film Square

Tokyo Photography fujifilmWhen people think of Roppongi, they usually think about clubbing and the nightlife.  But what you might not know is that Roppongi is hosts many of the top Tokyo photography galleries, and one of the best in the area is on the ground floor of the Fuji Film building.  This gallery has displays of every Fuji Film camera all the way back to the founding of the company.

One of the really great things about the Fuji Film Gallery that anyone can have their photos shown here. All you have to do is fill out a small application and send it in with your pictures.  Your photos will be reviewed, and if they like them they will go up in the gallery.  the snag is that it costs 2,000 yen per picture to have them reviewed, and if you want your pictures returned it will cost you another 2,000 yen.  But if you’re confident in your work, give it a shot!

Website (English)

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

Admission: Free

Hours of Operation: Open Daily 10am – 7pm, last admission ten minutes before closing.

 

Top Museum

tokyo photography top museumTop Museum is an awe-inspiring Tokyo photography gallery, with three floors dedicated to some of the greatest photographers of all time.  The basement floor houses the works of lesser-known artists who do not lack for skill or expressive subjects. Critics say that the work in the basement is hit-or-miss in terms of quality, so I suggest you keep an open mind when you visit.

Website (English) ||| Twitter (Japanese)

Nearest Station: 9-minute walk from Ebisu Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Admission: Varies for different exhibits.

Hours of Operation: Open daily 10am – 8pm; last entry 30 minutes prior to closing

 

Zen Foto Gallery

Tokyo Photography Zen FotoAnother spot for Tokyo photography in Roppongi is the Zen Foto Gallery.  Zen Foto Gallery is rather small, but makes up for it with their remarkable displays from both Japanese and international photographers.  They change their content about once a month, so making a return visit can be well worth your while.

Website (Japanese and English)

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

Hours of Operation: Open 12am – 7pm Tuesday through Saturday.  Closed on Sunday, Monday and National Holidays.

December 8, 2016 0 comment
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Yoyogi National Gymnasium Showcase Tours

Yoyogi National Gymnasium Showcase Tours

Being a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of guy, I do not go to Harajuku often. I have fashion writers for that sort of thing. Much younger fashion writers, who know the brands and can talk to Harajuku girls about the hottest new trends. I am glad I have those writers. There is no way I can approach a girl half my age and ask about what she’s wearing without the police becoming involved.

But there’s another side to Harajuku and Shibuya that doesn’t involve me embarrassing myself in a dressing room. I like history and I like a good story. Harajuku has a lot of stories, and Showcase tours can tell you all of them.

“This area used to be US military housing,” Yuka says. She is a slim Japanese woman who speaks English with an American Midwestern accent, a souvenir from a childhood spent in Chicago.

“Here?” We are standing on a bridge overlooking the grounds of Yoyogi National Gymnasium, designed by architect Tange Kenzo for the 1964 Summer Olympics. I look to the right and see the entrance to Yoyogi Park. If I crane my neck a little, I can see the entrance to Meiji Shrine.

“Right here,” she confirms. She relates the story of how the Gymnasium was built. We are on Showcase’s Harajuku – Omotesando Architecture Tour, but we aren’t just talking about building design techniques. A city’s history can be found in its construction choices. Why is this building here? What was here before? Go ahead and ask. The answers will tell you about a Tokyo on the rebound, a city that rebuilt itself to host the Olympic Games less than two decades after the end of a devastating war.

A short walk away from the Yoyogi National Gymnasium I learned about the Co-Op Olympia apartments, built in 1965. They were the first “100 million yen” apartments, and were the first in Tokyo to have a concierge service.

As befitting a place of its renown and stature, Harajuku and Shibuya are host to a number of unusual buildings. There is the famous Gyre building, designed by Dutch architects MVRDV, who envisioned a building a stack of spun tiles. Omotesando Branches, designed by Sou Fujimoto, incorporates trees into its design. The Louis Vuitton building’s shape is meant to evoke an impression of stacked suitcases, to give the viewer a feel of travel. And the Sunny Hills building? You just have to see it for yourself–

Sunny Hills Showcase Tours

But the tour isn’t limited to the large and famous buildings. Tokyo has a style all its own, and architecture has had to adapt to changing times and available space. Yuka pointed out a tiny, wedge-shaped building on an intersection near the Iceberg, Audi’s former showroom. That awkward building is an example of “pet architecture,” a term given to the quirky buildings that are built to fit in leftover urban spaces. Later on Cat Street, Yuka told us about the Onden River underneath. “Look at the buildings,” She said. The former family homes were all situated facing away from Cat Street itself, because there was no reason for Japanese people to build their houses facing the dirty, narrow river.

And Showcase Tours aren’t limited to the new. taking a side street, we curved around the back of several buildings and walked right next to a graveyard, mere meters from people buying new suits. We passed by to emerge at Zenkoji Temple, a beautiful example of ancient architecture hidden behind the bustling streets.

Zenkoji Temple Showcase Tours

There is also an example of how the other half lives–not far from the temple is a low-income housing area, slated for demolition. Rows upon rows of squat, stained apartment buildings choked with weeds and sprayed over with graffiti, but one only has to turn around to see billboards for expensive watches over buildings that likely seem worlds away.

The Showcase tour functions not just as an Architecture Tour, but also ably serves shopping tour. “We sometimes have trouble keeping the groups together,” Yuka admits. “People see all of these fabulous places and drift away to go shopping!” It’s not hard to see why, once you pass by the Prada Building and its specially-imported windows, or the side-street boutiques of Cat Street. Take notes! Shopping opportunities abound, and not just on the main streets. All brands start somewhere, and you might just be able to pick up a little something from a label before they get world-famous.

I toured all of these spots and many more, thanks to Showcase Tours. Our three-hour excursion ended with sore feet and a camera full of photos. Harajuku and Omotesando isn’t just for the fashionistas–there are stories here, and not just about the architecture. There is a history, and hidden places that you might otherwise miss if you were just passing by in pursuit of the latest trend.  So go ahead–you can always go shopping later. Showcase Tours are great for history buffs and architecture fans alike!

Showcase Tours Information

Website | Facebook (English) | Instagram

Phone (local): 050-5308-1745, 9am – 6pm

“Why Go?”: Get a personal architecture, history, and shopping tour from the people who know best!

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

November 21, 2016 0 comment
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Scramble Cafe and Bar 1

Scramble Cafe and Bar 1

Just a 5 minute walk away from the Hachiko exit of Shibuya is the Scramble Cafe and Bar. This convenient spot is great for an easy lunch or dinner and is a common meeting spot for expats.

The Scramble Cafe and Bar menu (in both English and Japanese) is egg-themed, with pictures to help those people whose words have finally failed them after a long night of partying or are just waking up to breakfast (whatever time of day that meal occurs for them). It is a cozy little place right from the get-go, almost like a seaside café right by the beach! The food Western-styled, which includes Eggs Benedict, quiche, stew, and confit. All the dishes are a mix of traditionally American and French dishes with a Japanese twist. I had the Eggs Benedict, which came with pasta, potatoes and a mixed salad with some Japanese dressings and ingredients. The Eggs Benedict themselves were more like Eggs Royale, with its ham and the salmon on muffins, including fried egg on the salmon. It is the perfect post-clubbing late-night meal for the steamy Tokyo summer. Or could be your lunch, being a pleasant stop during your mid-day shopping spree. And it went pretty well with the iced Earl Grey.

Scramble Cafe and Bar 3

Scramble Cafe and Bar has two dining sections – an open area that is used in the daytime, and a more relaxed ‘evening’ dining section for late meals. It’s a great little place to sit back and take in the atmosphere, with good food at a good price for a town as busy as Tokyo. And the bar part? Scramble transforms in to an exciting bar with reasonably priced drinks at night. There is also a Saturday happy hour, and DJs start around 6 PM.

So there it is–perfect for lunch during the day and a drink or two at night, all within view of the Shibuya Scramble and not far from Shibuya station. Get your seat while you can!

Scramble Cafe and Bar Information

Website (Japanese and English) | Facebook page

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

Hours of Operation: Monday – Thursday 9am – 2pm; Friday and Saturday 9am – 5am; Sundays and Holidays 9am – 12am

“Why Go?”: Reasonably-priced meals and drinks in the heart of Tokyo!

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

November 17, 2016 0 comment
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