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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.

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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!

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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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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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yamato noodle school 2

yamato noodle school 1

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

yamato noodle school 2

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

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

yamato noodle school 3

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

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

yamato noodle school 4

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

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

yamato noodle school 6

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

yamato noodle school 7

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

yamato noodle school 5

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

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

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

yamato noodle school 9

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

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

Yamato Noodle School Location Information

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

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

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

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

October 24, 2016 0 comment
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Sushi Academy Shinjuku 1

Sushi Academy Shinjuku 1

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

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

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

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

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

Tokyo Sushi Academy Curriculum

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

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

Sushi Academy Shinjuku 2

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

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

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

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

Sounds Great, But Where Am I Going To Live?

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

The Tokyo Sushi Academy of Singapore

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

Tokyo Sushi Academy Shinjuku Information

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

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

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

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

October 13, 2016 0 comment
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Snoopy Museum

If you are like me, a chunk of your childhood was spent at the kitchen table, reading Peanuts comics in the Sunday paper. So when in Tokyo, why not revisit one of the world’s favorite comic strip characters?

Snoopy Museum

The Snoopy Museum is located a short walk from the Roppongi train station. Beyond his fantastic work with the Peanuts strip, the museum has several exhibits related to Charles Schulz’s personal life. The biographical exhibits include photos of the cartoonist, sketches and pre-Peanuts comics, and vintage Peanuts mementos. The displays change periodically, so there’s always something new for a a Peanuts fan to discover!

Snoopy Museum

The museum’s gift shop, “Brown’s Store,” sells unique Peanuts-themed merchandise, available only at the Snoopy Museum. “Café Blanket,” named after Peanuts character Linus’s security blanket, has a relaxing atmosphere and is a fantastic place to grab a snack after exploring the museum. Before you leave, make sure to take pictures in front of the Snoopy statues out front!

Snoopy Museum Information

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Get advance tickets through Voyagin!

And if you like to visit Japanese characters, check out Voyagin’s 45% discount on tickets to Sanrio’s Hello Kitty Puroland!

Nearest Station: 7 minute walking distance from Roppongi Station, and a 10 minute walk from Azabu-Juban Station


Hours of Operation: Everyday 10:00AM-8:00PM
Estimated Price: Adult admission is ¥1,800. Admission for university students is ¥1,200, high school students is ¥800, elementary school students is ¥400, and children under three years are admitted for free.
Online tickets may be purchased for five time slots: 10- 11:30 am, 12:00- 1:30 pm, 2:00- 3:30pm, 4:00- 5:30pm, and 6:00-7:30pm (18:00- 19:30). Online tickets can be purchased at all Japanese Lawson stores.
Why Go?: The Snoopy Museum features original drawings of Peanuts comics and other memorabilia, which can’t be seen anywhere else. Exhibits change twice a year, so you can keep coming back for more!
Click on one of the tags below to explore other places in Tokyo–

June 16, 2016 0 comment
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Skytree

A quintessential Tokyo experience has to be viewing the Tokyo skyline from one of the many observation decks. The two most popular observation points are Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree, both of which give an amazing panoramic view of Tokyo’s urban sprawl. The Eiffel tower-inspired Tokyo Tower is a classic of the city’s skyline, with views of Mt. Fuji on a clear day (900 for main observatory, 1600 for both observatories). The Tokyo Skytree, opened in 2012, is two times taller than the Tokyo Tower and is the second tallest structure in the world, giving a bird’s eye view of the city (2060 for first observatory, 3090 for both observatories).

Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills also has an open-air observation deck for those that are brave (2300 for the Sky Deck). And you can get a discount on tickets to that observation deck through Voyagin!

If you’re on a budget, there are a few free decks you can check out. First, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku has both a northern and southern observation deck, offering views of Shinjuku’s stark skyline and beyond. The Bunkyo Civic Center is another option. Though it’s a good bit shorter than other decks as it is only on the 25th floor, you can still enjoy a view of Mt. Fuji on a clear day. Finally, there is the Ebisu Garden Place Tower, which has a free observation deck on both the 38th and 39th floors.

If you’re in the mood to splurge, the New York Bar in the Park Hyatt (the setting for the well-known 2003 film Lost in Translation) is a great place to enjoy great food and drinks as you admire the view. The view at night as you sip a cocktail is terrific, with Tokyo sprawling in every direction and the beaming red aircraft warning lights on each building lighting rhythmically. For something a little less touristy, we’d recommend Caretta in Shiodome.

Or maybe you want an even more complete view? You can reserve a helicopter tour of Tokyo through this link from Voyagin!

June 15, 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)

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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).

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Happy Days International Preschool

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

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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Poppins Active Learning International School

Age Range: Preschool (11 months to 6 years)

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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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April 27, 2016 0 comment
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Shrine Entrance FI, Tokyo, Japan

I was nervous the first time I visited a Shinto shrine in Japan. I mean, I have a passing familiarity with Western religion, so I generally know what is and isn’t acceptable in a church or synagogue. But a shrine? I didn’t know what to do, what to say, and I had Ricky Bobby-esque anxieties about what to do with my hands. I certainly didn’t want to make anyone angry by bowing or clapping at the wrong time, or by accidentally treading on sacred ground. Heck, I didn’t even know what the sacred ground looked like, much less how to avoid trampling it.

If you’re reading this, you are probably in a similar situation. You’d like to visit one of those magnificent Shinto shrines that you have heard about, but you want to be careful to do it the right way and not give offense. And not only are we here to help, we got some expert help ourselves! For this article, we visited the Shinagawa Jinja in Shinagawa and were expertly assisted by Negi-Sama Suzuki, a Shinto priest.

Photography

Can you take pictures at a Shinto shrine? Many shrines have beautiful architecture and artwork, and it would be a shame not to snap a memento, right? In general, it is acceptable to take photos on the temple grounds using small cameras or smartphones. There are some areas where photos are not permitted (such as the inside of the shrine itself), and those areas are labelled with the international “no photos” sign.

Also, shrines would prefer if you didn’t show up with professional equipment (TV cameras, tripods, etc.). Such things tend to get in the way of other visitors and detract from the shrine’s peaceful atmosphere.

 

Arriving at the Shrine

Shinagawa Shinto Shrine Entrance Tokyo Japan

So you’ve entered the shrine and the first thing you see is a long, flagstone path with torii gates at regular intervals. And now you have to make your approach to the shrine proper.

The first thing you need to know (and Mr. Suzuki was especially quick to point it out, so it must be a pet peeve of his) is that you are not supposed to walk in the center of the path. The center of the path is reserved for the kami (gods and spirits) only, like a spiritual fast lane. I saw no gods coming and going during my visit, but I doubt that I would want to be in their way if they decided to return (or depart) while I was there.

The next thing you need to know is to bow at each torii gate. If you spend any time at all in Japan, you will be doing quite a bit of bowing when talking to other people. However, the shrine bow is a little different; every time you bow, you want to bend your body all the way to 90 degrees (see the video if you are unsure how to do this). Please note that this isn’t a Bruce Lee movie or a martial arts competition; there is no opponent to keep your eye on.

 

The Purification Fountain

Purification Fountain Shinagawa Shinto Shrine Tokyo Japan

At Shinto shrines, you will usually see a purification fountain somewhere in the vicinity of the shrine itself. Many people skip these, but it might be good to have a surprise up your sleeve if people think you’re just another out-of-town visitor.

First, you’ll pick up the ladle with your right hand and fill the cup in the fountain. Now back up! You don’t want to commit a faux pas like I did in the video and allow water to drain back into the fountain. So with the water in the ladle, first wash your left hand (allowing water to spill into the drain below), then your right hand. You will then put water in your left hand and use that to wash out your mouth (spitting into the drain next to the fountain). After that, you will wash your left hand again. If there is any water left after all of this, tilt the ladle upwards to drain, then replace it where you found it for the next person.

 

The Main Shrine

The main shrine will be the largest building on the grounds. Depending on your timing, there may or may not be a line leading up to the shrine area.

When you get to the front, the first thing to do is bow (remember, 90 degrees). You then put your monetary offering in the box (10 yen is okay, but you can do more if you like) and ring the bell one time. Now you bow twice, clap twice, and pray (the folded hands being similar to the Christian tradition). Once you are finished, you bow once more and then back away. Be careful not to turn completely around; apparently the gods find the view of your posterior offensive, and may be inclined to give it a good kick if no one is looking.

Another thing you will see at a Shinto shrine is an Omikuji fortune box. For 100 yen, you can select one fortune. At larger shrines (such as Senso-ji Shrine in Asakusa) you would be able to get one in English, but in smaller places you will only get one in Japanese (this is where having a Japanese friend comes in handy). If your fortune is good, keep it! If it is bad, you can tie it to the nearby tree or other designated place and leave your bad luck behind.

 

Smaller Shrines

Shinto shrines usually house more than just the one main shrine. There are many smaller shrines on the grounds of the Shinagawa Jinja, each dedicated to a kami or some other aspect of human concerns (such as the fox shrine for business). These smaller shrines have coin boxes for offerings, so be sure to have yen ready when you stop (10 yen is an appropriate amount to offer).

Offering Box Shinagawa Shinto Shrine Tokyo Japan

Most shrines are simply of the bow-and-pray-and-donate variety, though there are some that require a little more from the visitor (such as the coin washing shrine in the video).

 

Omamori

Omamori Shinagawa Shinto Shrine Tokyo Japan

At the end of your visit to the shrine, you can buy an omamori at the administrative building. Omamori are small charms devoted to one aspect of human concern or another, offering protection for the holder. Some are for protection from illness, protect travelers, and success in business, while others have more practical goals (such as the round “bumper sticker” that protects your car from accidents). Omamori are not particularly expensive (500 yen and up) and are wonderful souvenirs of your visit.

 

And Other Things You Might See

Beyond the shrines, there is another feature you might notice about the Shinagawa Jinja and similar shrines. These shrines have large mounds, studded with small shrines, leading to a larger shrine on top. These are fujizuka, and are stand-ins for Mount Fuji. In the past, climbing Mount Fuji was a religious devotional rite, but some worshipers grew old or infirm and were unable to complete the journey. Fujizuka were established at many shrines to enable worshipers to complete the rites that they would otherwise be unable to perform.

If you visit a shrine around the New Year, you will find it to be very crowded. You have encountered everyone at hatsumōde, their first trip to the Shinto shrine in the New Year. It’s a great time to go to the shrine, so don’t let the long lines put you off of your visit! The Shinagawa Jinja conducts blessings, mochi poundings, and sells many omamori and omikuji.

Shinto shrines are also the focal points for matsuri festivals. If you’re in town at the right time, you can join in the festivities and help carry a mikoshi shrine! See our Matsuri How-To article for details.

One thing I found surprising about shrines were the large number of food and game booths on the temple grounds during festivals. I had visions of Jesus making a whip of cords and laying a beatdown on money-changers and dove-sellers, but this is normal for shrines during festivals. Feel free to enjoy yourself without fears of spiritual wrath!

I hope that we have made you a little more comfortable with the idea of visiting a Shinto Shrine in Japan. I’d like to close by thanking Negi-sama Suzuki and the Shinagawa Jinja for helping us out. So get your camera and coins ready and be sure to visit a shrine during your trip to Japan!

 

Shinagawa Jinja Shinto Shrine Information

Shinagawa Tourism Association website

Nearest Station: Shimbamba Station on the Keikyu line

 

Estimated Price: Donations (10 yen per shine is appropriate); Omamori can be purchased for 500 yen and up

“Why Go?”: See a beautiful and accessible example of a Shinto shrine; climb a fujizuka if you don’t have time to go all the way out to Mount Fuji. Get an omamori and omikuji as a memento of your trip!

March 11, 2016 0 comment
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