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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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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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Kiddy Land Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Kiddy Land Harajuku

Kiddy Land Harajuku Tokyo Japan

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

Kiddy Land Harajuku Snoopy Tokyo Japan

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

Kiddy Land Harajuku Star Wars Tokyo Japan

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

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

Kiddy Land Harajuku Rilakkuma Tokyo Japan

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

Kiddy Land Harajuku Store Information

Facebook (customer reviews and photos) | Website

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

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

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

© 2016 Peanuts Worldwide LLC

© &™ Lucasfilm Ltd.

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

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

July 12, 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

Website ||| Facebook ||| Twitter ||| Instagram

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

The Shinagawa Station Tile

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

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

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

First Godzilla Attack – the Yatsuyama Bridge

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

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

Yatsuyama Godzilla

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

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

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

The Yatsuyama Bridge Information

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

Hibiya Chanter Square

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

Hibiya Chanter Square Information

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

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

Toho Studios

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

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

Toho Studios Information

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

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

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku

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

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

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

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku Information

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

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

Tamagawa Sengen Shrine

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

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

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

Tamagawa Sengen Shrine Information

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

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

Nishi-Rokugō Park

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

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

Nishi-Rokugō Park Information

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

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

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

January 2, 2016 0 comment
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“LINE?” I asked. “The app? They have a store?”

“Yes they do,” the missus replied. She was on it, chatting with several of her cousins. The familiar tone of messages sent and received came fast and furious. She laughed at a sticker emoji that someone sent.

“I don’t get it. It’s a free app, right? You can get stickers, I suppose. But what could they offer that justifies opening a store in Harajuku?”

****

As it turns out, there is a lot more to LINE than just an instant messenger service. The characters featured in the app’s free “stickers” (small bits of artwork that the app’s users can insert into their chats) are so popular that they have spawned their own line of merchandise. On the mobile app, a user can purchase virtual “coins” in order to get premium stickers, themes, and related applications (such as the Disney TsumTsum application, a match-three game which has its own series of mini-cartoons that play on the Disney Channel in Japan). From the application, you can also make international phone calls, call a taxi, or even attach a credit card to the account to make use of LinePay, the app’s new mobile payment service.

The app’s success has spun off into the “Line Offline” cartoon, which follows the adventures of Moon the Salaryman and other LINE characters (you can watch the first episode in Japanese). The popularity of the characters led to the opening of the LINE Friends stores, which feature character merchandise and even exclusive app stickers that you can only get by visiting the store.

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The Harajuku LINE Friends store was the first LINE store in Japan, and it’s easy to get to. Once you leave Harajuku station’s Takeshita-Guchi exit, cross the street and wade through the super-kawaii!!! crowds on Takeshita Street. If you manage to get through without getting too much fashion on you, you will make it to the other end of Takeshita where it intersects with Omotesan Street. Use the crosswalk to get to the other side of the street, turn right, and keep walking. In about 250 meters, you will run into Brown and Sally.

Brown the Bear is LINE’s primary mascot. He stands next to the door, with a yellow duck named Sally on his head. There are several other characters related to the LINE app inside the door–Brown and Sally again, as well as Leonard the Frog, Edward the Worm, and Cony the White Rabbit. Stop and take a picture with your favorite!

The upper floor is long and narrow, and features dozens of items emblazoned with the LINE characters. Buttons and stamps are up front, along with the cute school gear for kids to show off to their classmates. On the wall on the right hang sweatshirts of the different characters, and you can pull the hood up to wear froggy eyes or a duck bill. If you’re looking for something relatively inexpensive to give the LINE fan in your life, this floor probably has it.

At the opposite end of the store is a giant stuffed Brown, sitting in FAO Schwarz fashion, ready for pictures. Go ahead and give him a hug. I did, once I made sure no one was looking. Also in this area are a number of framed artworks called “Memories of Brown,” which are apparently scenes from the cartoon. My favorite was the one where Brown, his expression unchanged from his normal small-eyed, unsmiling stare, punches a crab man in the face. I’m sure there’s a great story behind that altercation.

Next to the giant stuffed Brown is a set of stairs leading to the lower level. The downstairs section of the LINE Friends store is a little more upscale–dishes, models, and other fancier merchandise. Fancier prices, too. But even if you’re just window-shopping, you can visit Brown’s Room at the back, featuring the bear relaxing in his chair. On the wall behind him are a number of smaller Browns, each wearing a different outfit. Judging by the reactions of the girls snapping picture after picture, this was the cutest thing ever.

Summary: If you are a fan of all things LINE, this is a must-stop during your trip to Harajuku. If you are a fan of the application, you can stop by the register to collect one of the exclusive virtual stickers that you can only get at the store. Be sure to break them out during your next LINE chat, so everyone knows that yes, you were fashionably there.

Location: Omotesando St., Harajuku

Hours: Weekdays 11 AM to 9 PM; Weekends and Holidays: 10 AM – 9 PM

Website (English): http://fs.line.me/en/#index, or on Facebook (Japanese) at https://www.facebook.com/lfs.harajuku?ref=ts&fref=ts

July 4, 2015 0 comment
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Entrance to Star Wars: A Vision in Mori Art Museum, Roppongi, Tokyo

“We’re going to see Star Wars:Visions at Roppongi Hills!” I announced.

The three young boys accepted this news with little enthusiasm. “I don’t like Star Wars,” said my younger nephew.

“I do!” said his older brother. “The raccoon and the dumb tree guy were really funny!”

“That’s not it!” my son interjected. “I saw the movie last week. It was just like the LEGO Star Wars video game! I mean, it wasn’t as good, but…”

This might be a little more difficult than I thought.

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We took the #96 bus from Shinagawa, which for 210 yen will put you right underneath the Roppongi Hills Shopping Center. You can also take the train (one of the Roppongi exits puts you right on the center’s grounds), but now that the warmer weather is here the scenic route isn’t so bad.

Roppongi Hills is taking full advantage of the event. Several stores are offering Star Wars-themed merchandise, from the obligatory t-shirts to the LEGO Clickbricks toy offerings to the artsy umbrellas at Hanway. There was also a ROOTOTE stand, where you can custom-design a Star Wars tote bag for 4000 yen. The missus got one of the Millennium Falcon, but only because there were no Han Solo designs. “He’s so handsome!” she said.

Not far from the ROOTOTE stand is a display of stormtrooper helmets, as modified and decorated by local art students. The interpretations range from the lazy artist calling it in and drawing numbers on the helmet to the guy who turned his into a split watermelon. A nice thing to spend a few minutes on, but that’s not what we’re here for, is it?

Case of helmets, Star Wars: Visions Mori Art Museum, Roppongi, Tokyo

Star Wars:Vision Helmet by Dixie Wu in Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan

At the Mori Art Museum Tokyo City View entrance (at the West Walk), you will pass the nice lady and go up to the third floor for tickets. From there, you will be ushered to an elevator, which will zoom you to the 52nd floor. Be sure to swallow, or your ears will start popping around the 30th floor.

And you’re there! The first thing you will notice is the impressive view of the Tokyo skyline. The walls are actually floor-to-ceiling windows, through which you can take in the excellent view. At various points around the floor you will be able to see Tokyo Tower, the Skytree, Yoyogi Park, and other notable landmarks, all from this awesome bird’s eye view.

View of the Tokyo skyline and Tokyo Tower from Mori Tower in Roppongi, Tokyo

I was prepared to be wowed, and the entrance to the exhibit looked like my expectations would be fulfilled. The first thing I saw was the gigantic model of the Death Star hanging from the ceiling. This was the Return of the Jedi version, the almost completed yet “fully armed and operational” battle station, surrounded by scale models of Empire and Rebel fighter craft engaged in small-scale dogfights. Underneath the model was the man himself–a life-sized statue of Darth Vader, emerging from his meditation chamber.

Entrance to Star Wars: A Vision in Mori Art Museum, Roppongi, Tokyo

Death Star at Star Wars: Vision at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Past that was the entrance to the exhibits themselves, and that’s where we saw it. “No photography beyond this point! No touching the exhibits!” the sign said, along with the obligatory Japanese lady repeating it over and over. They meant it, too. Throughout the rest of the exhibition, there were no shortage of staff members saying the same thing to anyone who even looked like they were reaching for a camera. So if you want to take pictures, you better get one with Darth Vader right at the entrance. Like a certain rougish smuggler, I was getting a bad feeling about this.

Darth Vader at Star Wars: Visions, Mori Art Museum, Roppongi, Tokyo

The art itself was wonderful. The walls were covered in artwork from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (http://www.lucasmuseum.org). Much of it was interpretations of events in the series itself, along with aspirational pieces (girl stormtroopers) and even a few paintings of major characters in Ye Olde Portrait style. My favorite was the portrait of an unscarred Hayden Christensen in his Darth Vader costume, helmet at his side, with Mustafar’s fiery landscape in the background (none of which makes any sense if you think about it for a second).

Also present were props from the movies. One room contained replica lightsabers; another was full of mannequins wearing the costumes of characters from the movie. Yet another room featured dioramas and models from famous battles, such as Hoth and Naboo. Throughout the exhibition, screens endlessly looped pivotal scenes from the films. It was around these screens where I kept finding my son and nephews.

Once I thought about it, I can see why they weren’t interested. Yes, the Mori Art Museum is an art museum, not a playground. There are no interactive exhibits, nothing to play with or sit on or climb on or have your picture taken next to. Nothing but some dumb pictures and costumes for some old movies that their parents and grandparents liked. To our generation, Star Wars was a touchstone of popular culture. To them, it’s just another option in the seemingly endless parade of entertainment possibilities, no different from any of the other superhero movies that come out every year. To them, it was just like visiting–well, a museum.

At the end of the tour was the obligatory gift shop selling the various franchise-related tchotchke, including prints of some of the artwork featured in the exhibition. Outside were two coin and medal machines. A couple of guys were feeding them money as if they were Vegas slots, probably with the same goal in mind.

Summary: If you are an older fan, Star Wars: Visions offers an interesting perspective into the art that helped to shape the series. For children, it’s something you must endure so you can have McDonald’s for lunch. Really, would it have been too much to ask to allow people to take pictures of themselves next to mannequins of their favorite characters? A shot of me and my best bud Boba Fett would have had a long tenure as my Facebook profile pic.

Mori Art Museum, Star Wars: Visions Roppongi, Tokyo

Tokyo Skyline, Mori Art Musuem, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan

Location: Roppongi Hills Mori Art Museum City View (Roppongi Station). The exhibition is open 1100-2200 daily (last admittance 2130) until June 28th.

Prices: Adult advance tickets can be purchased at convenience stores and other ticket outlets for 1500 yen. For reasons I do not readily understand, adult tickets are the only ones that can be purchased in advance in this manner. At the counter (third floor of the museum), prices are (in yen): Adults 1800, High School/College Students 1200, Seniors 1500, Children 600.

Website: Google Translate page at http://translate.google.co.jp/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.roppongihills.com%2Ftcv%2Fjp%2Fsw-visions%2F.

Looking for other ideas on fun things to do with kids? Check out Derek’s article 36 Hours in Tokyo: Kids in Tow.

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Derek Winston is retired from the US Navy and currently attends college in Tokyo. If you see him on the street, approach with caution; there’s no telling what you will end up talking about. It might be safer to limit your exposure by contacting him at derekrwinston@gmail.com. Might be.

 

 

May 17, 2015 0 comment
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Akihabara is the global cultural hub for all things related to anime and manga. With such a vast treasure trove of varied literature found within the bustling district, K-Books is the place to go for an organised and centralised shopping experience. K-Books is by far the best location for discovering everything that has to do with anime, manga, otaku, and Japan’s underground culture. Just off of Chou-dori, K-Books is a monolithic multi-story building that is jam-packed with all things Akihabara inspired and desired.

The first floor of this sprawling store is mostly dedicated to manga and anime magazines. The sheer variety of manga on this floor is astounding, but everything is neatly organised into subsections, allowing for a streamlined shopping experience. You will be able to find those old classics from your childhood (Hello Inu Yasha and Sailor Moon!) in their original bound volumes as well as stumbling upon brand new series that you never knew existed. Although there is a dearth of mangas with English language serialisations at the store, those who have yet to master the Japanese language will be happy to find art books of some of their favorite series that can only be found in Japan. No matter what your language level is, manga fans of all backgrounds will be able to find something to sink their teeth into.

Reaching the upper levels of K-Books is when things get interesting, intriguing, and downright weird. Some of these floors are mostly 18+ because of the nature of the photo-books and the body-pillows, but the other levels of this store are open to fans of all ages. A combination of both vintage and fresh new toys of a plethora of series are found throughout the various floors. Especially check out the third floor where you will find a maze of keychains and miniature action figures. K-Books also caters to those who are fans of the girl group AKB48 as they sell an impressive collection of idol goods as well as the light-up wands that you see fans waving at AKB48 concerts.

If you are already a fan of Akihabara or intrigued by the culture that fuels this electric town then K-Books will be the perfect place to dedicate a few hours of your day.

K-Books Akihabara Store Information

Website (via Google Translate) ||| Twitter (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: Two-minute walk from Akihabara Station (Keihin-Tohoku, Hibiya, Yamanote and Chuo-Sobu lines)

Hours of Operation: Open weekdays 11:30 am – 8pm, Saturdays and Holidays 11am – 8pm

“Why Go?”: A taste of Japan’s diverse literary culture in a world-famous electric district

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

October 22, 2014 0 comment
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TinTin

The popularity of Tintin around the world is an absolutely a wonderful phenomenon. The baby faced, blue sweater-wearing hero is a heart-warming presence that has lasted through the decades. For more than 100 years, thousands of kids and adults alike have found solace in the boy detective’s wit and ability to always save the day.

And Japan loves Tintin too! Just past the fabulous Omotesando Hills and down the street from the Tokyo Metro’s Omotesando station is The Tintin Shop where you can find anything and everything about Herge’s creation. No matter your budget, you will be able to find something to take home for yourself or as a gift for your favorite Adventures of Tintin fan!

The shop in Omotesando is decorated with Tintin and his faithful side kick, Snowy, peeking around the corner. Stepping inside is almost like stepping into the comic book itself, with everything popping out in full adventurous glory. Every corner is filled to the brim, so you will be sure to find something whimsical that suits your needs! If your smart phone is feeling a little naked and unadventurous, then be sure to check out the accessories area where you can find cases, themed headphones, and a variety of straps to deck your phone out!

The Tintin Shop has a many daily life accessories as well. You can get character-themed towels, umbrellas, t-shirts, or even a Tintin-themed watch or a tiny Snowy charm bracelet. Unique jewelry and accessories are also available, such as (our favorite) a hat pin with the Haddock insignia.

Fans old and new can discover the adventures of the boy hero through a multitude of media. The shop has reprinted bound books of old Tintin cartoons that you can read again and again as well as DVD box sets of the television series and the movie (in a variety of languages as well). The kids will love the selection of toys and games that range from complex jigsaw puzzles and fluffy Snowy plush toys.

If you are walking in the Omotesando area and are looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of one of Tokyo’s best shopping districts, take a trip to The Tintin Shop!

Tintin Shop Location Information

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

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

Map (center) (click on map for Google Map walking directions) (give an address, I’ll make the map)

Hours of Operation: Weekdays 11am – 7pm; Weekends and Holidays 10:30 am – 7pm.

“Why Go?”: A must for the Tintin fan in Tokyo!

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

October 21, 2014 0 comment
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TOKYO CHARACTER STREET

Looking for a unique Japanese shopping experience? Located within the Tokyo Station First Avenue mall, Tokyo Character Street (TCS) offers just that. Opening in 2008, TCS began as a relocation of the various character shops scattered throughout the mall. Now this Kawaii (Cute) section of the mall features 15+ character stores where customers can find anything from character based pastries, to small figurines, to collectible plush toys.

TCS’s Hello Kitty shop houses a plethora of stuffed toys and collectibles which are normally only obtainable by scouring the streets of Tokyo. The Ultraman World M78 store features all things Ultraman for fans of the series, young and old. And for Studio Ghibli fans, TCS even has a store dedicated to characters coming from the studio’s animated gems such as My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, or Spirited Away to name a few. Characters ranging from the likes of Doraemon to Snoopy can be found within the shops comprising TCS making it a must see destination for any fans of Japanese pop culture.

Whether you are in the area waiting for a shinkansen(bullet train), are an avid collector, or just want to catch a glimpse of just one of the many facets of Japanese culture, TCS offers something for the inner child in all of us.

Photo credit: Tokyo Character Street by DozoDomo

Address:Tokyo Station, Chiyoda, Tokyo
GPS:35.681382, 139.76608399999998
Telephone:03-3210-0077

Opening Hours

Monday:10:00 – 20:30
Tuesday:10:00 – 20:30
Wednesday:10:00 – 20:30
Thursday:10:00 – 20:30
Friday:10:00 – 20:30
Saturday:10:00 – 20:30
Sunday:10:00 – 20:30
October 21, 2014 0 comment
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