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

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

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Guitar Planet

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Guitar Planet

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

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Guitar Planet 2

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

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

Guitar Planet Information

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

Hours of Operation: 11:00~20:00

Big Boss

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Big Boss

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

Big Boss Information

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

Hours of Operation:

Weekday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

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

 

Ishibashi Music Drum Store

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Drum Store

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

Ishibashi Music Drum Store Information

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

Hours of Operation:

Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Sunday and Holiday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

 

Shimokura-Gakki – Violin and Wind instrument Specialty Stores

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: 下倉

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

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores:下倉Violin

Shimokura-Gakki – Violin and Wind instrument Specialty Stores Information

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

Hours of Operation:

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

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

For your convenience, here are the list of locations.

 

Disk Union

Tokyo Music Instrument Stores: Disk Union

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

Disk Union Information

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

Hours of Operation:

Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

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

 

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

March 27, 2017 0 comment
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AKIBA CULTURES THEATER Japanese Idols

Hi! I’m Tracy, and I love Japanese idols!

In Japan, irrespective of age or sex, people love Japanese idols who “give dream and hope to fans.” So if you have a chance to come to Japan, remember to spend some time and get to know more about the “idol culture” here!

 

Top Japanese Idols at the AKB48 Theater

AKB48 theater(in) Japanese Idols

AKB48 is the most famous group of Japanese idols and is one of the highest-earning musical performing groups in Japan. The group is formed with its own theater and a concept of “idols you can meet”, so fans can always see them live in their own theater and at “handshake events.” If you want to watch high-quality performance, you should definitely pay a visit to the AKB48 Theater!

At the AKB48 Theater, you can see cute and sweet girls singing and dancing in a small area. Imagine—the “National Idol” is performing in front of you only a short distance away! And you don’t have to worry if you cannot get the show ticket, because the live show will be broadcast on the screens outside the theater. Do not forget to check the live schedule before you go!

AKB48 theater(out) Japanese Idol

AKB48 Theater Information

Website (English) ||| Facebook (Japanese) ||| Instagram ||| Youtube

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Akihabara JR Station (Electric Town exit), 8F of Don Quijote Akihabara (click on the Google Map below for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Weekdays 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Sat-Sun-Holidays 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Estimated Price for Show: ¥3,100(male), ¥2,100(female) *by random lottery, pre-registration is necessary

 

AKB48 CAFE & SHOP

Before going to join the Japanese idols at AKB48 live, you can come here to enjoy a meal in an “AKB48 world.” The original menu here is based on the favorite foods of top AKB48 members with toppings of characters designed by themselves.

AKB48 cafe-food Japanese idols

There are monitors in the cafe which are always playing music videos of AKB48, so you can enjoy your meal while listening to their songs! The decorations here are also full of AKB48 style and signatures of members are everywhere in the cafe.

AKB48 cafe japanese idols

If you became a fan of AKB48 after that, you can just go to the official shop near the cafe to buy souvenirs. Stationery, T-shirts, key chains—there are all kinds of items here which you may want! Photos or names of members are printed on the goods, so you have a chance to bring a souvenir from your favorite Japanese idols home!

AKB48 CAFE&SHOP Information

Website (English) ||| Twitter (via Google Translate) ||| Online shop (English)

Nearest Station: Right next to the Akihabara JR Station (Electric Town exit) (click on the Google Map below for walking directions)

Hours of Operation (Cafe): Monday – Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Friday & days before holidays 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 am – 11:00 pm, Sun-Holidays 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

Hours of Operation (Shop): Weekdays & days before public holidays 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Sat-Sun-Holidays 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

 

Meet Underground Japanese Idols

After the boom of “AKB48,” Japanese girls started joining different groups to give performances at the Japanese Idol headquarters of the world, Akihabara! Since most of them have yet to make a debut with a group, they can only give performances in underground venues, so they are called “Underground Idols.” As of this writing there are thousands of underground idols giving performances in different live houses of Akihabara. Here are the five best Underground Japanese Idol Live Houses!

 

AKIBA CULTURES THEATER

AKIBA CULTURES THEATER Japanese Idols

Being the biggest permanent theater in Akihabara, there are performances given by different Japanese idols everyday. Unlike the original type of theater, audience in AKIBA CULTURES THEATER keep sitting while watching the live. Come here to experience a new type of live performance!

AKIBA CULTURES THEATER Information

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

Nearest Station: 4-minute walk from Akihabara JR Station (Electric Town exit); B1F of AKIBA CULTURES ZONE (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Weekdays 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., Sat-Sun-Holidays 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Estimated Price for Show: ¥2,000 – ¥4,500 *One ¥500 drink will also be charged

 

Dear Stage

There are 3 floors for the Dear Stage. You can watch performances on the 1st floor, relax in the maid cafe on 2nd floor, and enjoy an alcoholic drink or two in the bar on the 3rd floor. Dear Stage is also the headquarters for the popular idol group Dempagumi.inc (でんぱ組.inc).

Dear Stage Japanese Idols

Dear Stage Information

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

Nearest Station: 5-minute walk from Akihabara JR Station (Electric Town exit) (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 6:00 p.m. – 10:50 p.m., Sat-Sun-Holidays 5:00 p.m. – 10:50 p.m.

Estimated Price for Show: ¥1,000 – *Only drink fee is charged, and “MyDearStage” membership registration (free) is required to enter the 2F and 3F.

 

P.A.R.M.S

P.A.R.M.S Japanese Idols

As the permanent theater of the production company “Alice Project,” you can meet the upcoming idol group “Kamenjoshi (Girls with masks)” here. Curious about their faces? Come here to join the 3:00 p.m. free live shows on Saturday, Sunday and holidays!

P.A.R.M.S Information

Website (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 3-minute walk from Akihabara JR Station (Electric Town exit),; 7F of PASELA RESORTS (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 5:30 p.m. – 19:05 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. – 9:35 p.m., Sat-Sun-Holidays 10:30 p.m.  – 13:40 p.m. & 14:45 p.m. – 16:10 p.m. & 6:00 p.m. – 8:50 p.m.

Estimated Price for Show: ¥2,500 (pre-registered),¥3,000 (walk-up) *¥1,500 “Food & Drink Ticket” is included, plus one ¥500 drink will be charged

 

TwinBox AKIHABARA

TwinBox AKIHABARA Japanese Idols

Being a live house locating in the Akihabara Electric Town, TwinBox is equipped with high-quality monitors and audio equipment. They also occasionally have 500 yen live shows!

TwinBox AKIHABARA Information

Website (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Akihabara JR Station (Electric Town exit); B1F of Box’R AKIBA Building (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Depending on the performance time

Estimated Price for Show: ¥1,500 – ¥3,000 *One drink will be charged

 

KamiTower

KamiTower Japanese Idols

The KamiTower is full of amusement. From “Kami Space” on the 3rd floor with near-daily performances to the maid cafe to the game center, you could probably spend a whole day in the KamiTower!

KamiTower Information

Website (via Google Translate)

Nearest Station: 2-minute walk from Akihabara JR Station (Electric Town exit); 3F of KamiTower (The entrance is in the right hand side of the game center) (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

Hours of Operation: Depending on the performance time

Estimated Price for Show: ¥1,000 – *One drink may be charged

So you can see that there are many places where you can go to see Japanese idols, and it’s not hard to do! You should go and see, it’s lot’s of fun!

February 1, 2017 0 comment
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Karaoke in Tokyo FI

Hi, I’m Tracy! I love karaoke!

It’s Friday night, you’re out with friends, and one of them brings up a crazy idea: “Hey! Let’s go to KARAOKE!!” We all love Karaoke, but can we tell the difference between the different types of karaoke shops? Which one offers more English songs? Which one offers a student discount? Which one doesn’t smell of “teen spirit”?

For those of you who love Karaoke and can actually tell the difference between the establishments, go forth and sing your heart out. But for those of you can’t, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in our comprehensive guide to the most popular karaoke spots in Tokyo.

 

Utahiroba (歌広場)

UtaHiroba watermark tokyo karaoke shopsOne of the most popular karaoke chains in Tokyo, Utahiroba can be easily identified by its logo—a big smiling pink face, usually wearing yellow gloves.

Utahiroba is regarded as one of the cheapest, major chain karaokes in Tokyo and many of their stores stay open 24hrs depending on location. Their food menu is quite extensive as well and you can expect the usual fried snacks and dishes that you can easily get at any low-end izakaya.

Utahiroba Information

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

Store locator (via Google Translate)

Average price:

  • ¥140 – ¥500 every 30 minutes, with all-you-can-drink (non-alcoholic) (depending on time of day and day of the week)
  • ¥1,000 – ¥1,980 for free-time (Open – 8:00pm / 11:00pm – 5:00am), with all-you-can-drink (non-alcoholic) (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Time slots may be different depending on branches

Tips to save your money:

  • Making a reservation in advance can get you a discount of 10% off the room charge
  • Lunch Pack: ¥580 with a meal, all-you-can-drink (non-alcoholic) and 2-hour karaoke (Prices are different depending on branches) *Only for entering rooms before 2:00pm

 

Karaoke-kan (カラオケ館)

KaraokeKan_watermark tokyo karaoke shopsKaraoke-kan is another popular karaoke chain, with branches across Japan. Famous for its appearance in Lost in Translation with Bill Murray (the Shibuya branch, 6th floor), Karaoke-kan is one of the most recognizable karaokes in Japan due to their big blue neon signs with its name in red.

Karaoke-kan offers a variety of rooms, from VIP to party rooms, as well as an extensive variety of food and snacks including everything from “Italian” pizzas to Japanese snacks and desserts. A few of their locations even have a darts bar separate from the karaoke rooms if you want a break from hitting the high notes.

Karaoke-kan Information

Website (via Google Translate) |||  Facebook (via Google Translate) ||| YouTube

Store locator (via Google Translate)

Average price:

  • ¥100 – ¥800 every 30 minutes (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1 drink is required
  • ¥1,200 – ¥1,800 for free-time (11:00pm – 5:00am) (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1 drink is required *Time slots may be different depending on branches

 

BIG ECHO

BigEcho_Watermark tokyo karaoke shopsBIG ECHO is yet another popular sight on the streets of Tokyo. BIG ECHO offers a variety of services that a lot of chains seldom do. For example costumes for cosplay, free Wi-Fi, and popular anime songs for the anime lovers out there.

They also offer a large selection of rooms and often do “Colabo Rooms” (コラボルーム)where the entire room is themed in styles of popular anime, J-Pop or K-Pop groups, and even baseball teams.

BIG ECHO Information

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

Store locator(via Google Translate)

Average price:

  • ¥100 – ¥800 every 30 minutes (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1 drink is required
  • ¥1,200 – ¥3,500 for free-time (Open – 7:00pm / 11:00pm – Close) (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1 drink is required *Time slots may be different depending on branches

Tips to save your money:

  • Showing a coupon with your smartphone can get you discounts (10% off room charge for 1-drink course, 5% off total bill for all-you-can-drink course)
  • Party Course: From ¥2,000 with a food course and 3-hour karaoke (Prices may be different depending on branches) *Order of minimum 1 drink or all-you-can-drink is required *Reserve in advance can get an extra 5%off discount

SHIDAX

Shidax watermark tokyo karaoke shops

SHIDAX is known to be a bit more upscale compared to the former three, and rightly so as SHIDAX specializes in more than just karaoke.

SHIDAX is a bit pricier, but you pay for what you get, as the food and drinks are of a higher quality. Rooms are also nicer, with less tobacco burn stains on the tables and comfier couches. That being said, SHIDAX caters more to a Japanese audience, therefore you might not be able to find your favorite underground title from your home country here.

Shidax Information

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

Store locator (via Google Translate)

Average price:

  • ¥200 – ¥500 every 30 minutes (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink is required
  • ¥1,200 – ¥2,500 for free-time (Open – 7:00pm) (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink is required *Time slots may be different depending on branches

 

COTE D’ AZUR

Cote D'Azur watermark tokyo karaoke shops

This is another somewhat expensive, fashionable karaoke, with well-furnished modern rooms. The food menu here is restaurant quality.

From ‘Ladies Rooms’ to ‘VIP party rooms’ and even children play rooms with karaoke machines inside, Cote D’Azur can cater to a girls’ night out or husband and wife with children in tow. And when you want a break from singing you can always go throw some darts and even play billiards.

As with Shidax, Cote D’Azur caters to a more Japanese audience, so English song selections are rather limited.

Cote D’ Azur Information

Website (via Google Translate)

Store locator (Japanese)

Average price:

  • ¥70 – ¥500 every 30 minutes (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink is required
  • ¥1,000 – ¥2,300 for free-time (6:00pm – 5:00am / 11:00pm –5:00am) (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink is required *Time slots may be different depending on branches

Tips to save your money:

  • Early bird discounts with a reservation in advance
  • Show a coupon with your smartphone and get discounts (20% off room charge for 1-drink course, 5% off total bill for all-you-can-drink plan or free-time course)
  • Party Course: From ¥2,500 with a food course and 3-hour karaoke (Prices maybe different depending on branches) *Reserving one week prior can get a ¥500 discount

 

FIORIA

Having 3 branches in the upscale districts in Tokyo – Roppongi, Ginza and Shinjuku, FIORIA is a restaurant provides luxury private rooms and high-quality food that fit your wants. Rooms are all furnished with different themes such as Botanical Saloon, Star Dust Saloon and Grotto Saloon.

My most recommended room is the SPA Saloon in Roppongi branch, where you can sing your favorite songs while enjoying a warm footbath. FIORIA is the most costly one in these 10 karaoke shops, but the food and environment worth the price with no doubt.

FIORIA Information

Website (Languages can be changed at the top right corner)

Store locator (Japanese; use the “English” button on top to switch languages)

Average price: From ¥3,500 for 2hours (depending on courses)

 

PASELA RESORTS (カラオケ パセラ)Pasela Resorts akihabara showa-dori tokyo karaoke shops

PASELA RESORTS has been rated highest in customer satisfaction among all Japan karaoke shops for 2 years. As what its name stated, PASELA RESORTS are furnished like tropical resorts and amenities are well prepared—just like what hotels do.

Akihabara Showa-Dori branch is definitely the most special one that rooms are designed in an early Showa style, where you can enjoy karaoke in retro Japan rooms like Sento (Japanese communal bath house) and old-style train.

Besides making you feel like being in a resort, “Colabo Rooms” of popular anime are also one of the most attractive points here. Listen, all fans of “Monster Hunters”, “Evangelion”, “Sengoku Basara”, “FF Series” and “Hakuoki”, coming here to take lots of photos and “Check in” on Facebook is a must-do in Japan!

PASELA RESORTS Information

Website (via Google Translate)

Store locator (via Google Translate)

Average price:

  • ¥200 – ¥600 every 30 minutes (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink is required
  • ¥1,500 – ¥2,800 for free-time (11:00pm – 7:00am / 10:00pm –5:00am) (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink is required *Time slots may be different depending on branches

 

MANEKINEKO (まねきねこ)

Manekineko tokyo karaoke shops

Another popular karaoke chain in Japan! MANEKINEKO is the cheapest karaoke chain in the morning time. Guess how much is it? It’s only 10yen (≈$0.09USD) every 30minutes! If you are going to burn off your calories or blow off your steam in the morning, come to MANEKINEKO!

MANEKINEKO Information

Website (via Google Translate)

Store locator (Languages can be changed at the top right corner)

Average price:

  • ¥10 – ¥500 every 30 minutes (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink is required
  • ¥500 – ¥2,500 for free-time (8:00am – 8:00pm / 4:00pm – 12:00am / 10:00pm – 5:00am) (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink is required *Only for ten first-come groups in each time slot *Time slots may be different depending on branches

 

ROUND1

round1 tokyo karaoke shopsRound1 is the amusement shop chain of the highest sales in Japan. Being a multi-purpose entertainment center, Round1 offers sport games like bowling, billiard, as well as karaoke. Round1 caters to families that you may bring your kids here to karaoke and game center after doing some exercises.

Round1 Information

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

Store locator (Japanese)

Average price:

  • ¥200 – ¥600 every 30 minutes (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink is required
  • ¥1000 – ¥2,200 for free-time (Entering between 6:00am – 1:00pm / 1:00pm – 6:00pm / 6:00pm – 1:00am / 1:00am – 6:00am) (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Until 6:00am of the next day *Order of minimum 1drink is required *Time slots may be different depending on branches

Tips to save your money:

  • Morning free-time discount: Weekdays ¥580 (Entering between Open – 11:00am), Sat-Sun-Holidays ¥880 (Entering between 5:00am – 9:00am) *Until 6:00am of the next day *With all-you-can-drink *Order of minimum 1drink is required
  • Weekdays free-time campaign: ¥780 (Entering between 11:00am – 1:00pm) *Until 6:00am of the next day *Order of minimum 1drink is required

 

Karaoke Adores (カラオケアドアーズ)

adores akihabara tokyo karaoke shops

Adores is one of the largest game center chains in Japan. The 2 karaoke shops under the company is similar to the Round1, where you can play arcade games, UFO catchers and sing karaoke in one-building.

The Akihabara branch is a little different from the other game centers in Akihabara that it is the only game center equipped with karaoke rooms. 6 concept rooms including “Princess Rooms”, “Gothic Rooms” and “Live Stage Rooms” are offered, catering to not only karaoke singers, but also the cosplayers who want to take beautiful photos in the rooms.You can also borrow free cosplay costumes of idols, maids or popular anime here!

Karaoke Adores Information

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

Monzennaka-cho branch (via Google Translate)

Akihabara branch (via Google Translate)

Average price:

  • ¥90 – ¥800 every 30 minutes (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink may be required
  • ¥1,400 – ¥3,500 for free-time (depending on time of day and day of the week) *Order of minimum 1drink may be required

Tips to save your money:

 

The times you’ve wandered into a strange karaoke building only to find out they don’t have or offer certain services are over. Go forth, and “rock the mic” at which Karaoke fits you best.
Happy Karaoke-ing!

June 12, 2016 0 comment
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Robot Restaurant Shinjuku

Part of the thrill of visiting Tokyo is experiencing all of the delightfully strange things that make the city unique. And the biggest thrill is to check out some of the awesome theme restaurants in Tokyo. Here are the top picks from Enablejapan.com for theme restaurants and cafes in Tokyo.

Tokyo Theme Restaurants : Cat Cafes

Although not strictly in the “theme restaurants” genre, cat-lovers from around the world always ask us about cat cafes. There are several cat cafes in Tokyo where you pay to enjoy the company of cats. Most have an entrance fee or require you to buy food and drinks, but this doesn’t bother you, right? After all, you’re there to meet the kitties! There are lots of cats around who want to play or be stroked. For more information, visit our top 15 recommendations for Tokyo cat cafes or watch Part II of our Tokyo Animal Cafe video series featuring Cafe Neko JaLaLa.

Cure Maid Café

Cure Maid Cafe Theme Restaurants

Maid cafes are a uniquely-Japanese thing, and can be off-putting for visitors with conventional tastes. Given their propensity for the cutsey-poo dress-up and antics (particularly in Akihabara), you might walk away feeling kind of like you have just accidentally committed some sort of perverted act. However, Cure Maid Cafe is more Victorian and less cutesy, allowing you to enjoy the experience without having a crisis of conscience. Check out our review of the Cure Maid Cafe in Akihabara here!

Fukuro no Mise Tsukishima

Fukuro no Mise Theme Restaurants

Owls! Really, owl cafes are like cat cafes in that both animals seem to regard humans with thinly-disguised contempt. But you can visit this Tsukishima cafe and meet big owls, small owls, and many owls in between! Check out our review of Fukuro no Mise here!

If Fukuro no Mise is too far out of your away, you could always go to the Lovely Owl Cafe in Harajuku. Even better, you can make a reservation through Voyagin!

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

You don’t know Tokyo Weird until you know the Kawaii Monster Cafe. From the Monster Girl floor shows to the bizarre decor, it’s every stereotype of Japan kawaii culture all in one location. Go there, and have your camera ready for your future Facebook shots! Check out our review of the Kawaii Monster Cafe here!

You absolutely MUST go to the Kawaii Monster Cafe during your trip to Tokyo. Let Voyagin help you with your reservation!

The Lock-Up Shibuya

The_Lock_Up_Shibuya_Tokyo Theme Restaurants

This chain of izakaya horror-prison theme restaurants that has a presence in most of Tokyo’s busy areas. The Lock-Up experience starts immediately when one of the waitresses handcuffs you and leads you to your table. Once seated, you can choose from their menu of unusual food and unorthodox drinks. A cocktail served in a smoking science beaker, anyone? Sporadically throughout the evening, alarms will sound and the lighting will go dark as escaped criminals come to scare you at your table. Check out our review of the Lock-Up here!

Ninja Akasaka Restaurant

Ninja_Asakusa_Tokyo_07 Theme Restaurants

A little more expensive than the café options, but this theme restaurant is all about ninjas! At Ninja Restaurant, you can watch as they’ll break out into tricks and performances suddenly throughout your meal, set within an atmospherically designed dining room. The menu varies from Japanese to European, and the quality of the food is generally excellent. Check out our review of Ninja Akasaka Restaurant here!

Q-pot CAFE.

Q-Pot Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

Life is sweet at the Q-pot CAFE. in Harajuku! Come by for the cakes and tarts, and then visit their store across the street for fashion accessories based on the sweets you just had! See our review of the Q-pot CAFE. here!

Robot Restaurant Shinjuku

Robot Restaurant Shinjuku Theme Restaurants

The Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku is a fairly recent addition to Tokyo’s lineup of theme restaurants. Here, you can enjoy a dinner show where the main feature is giant robots being controlled by pretty girls.  It’s an extremely flashy show, with lots of lights, noise and excitement that’s a fun one-off experience. See our review of the Robot Restaurant here!

If you plan on adding the Robot Restaurant to your “must-do” list, you can get a discount on Instant E-Tickets from Voyagin!

Tori no Iru Asakusa

Making New Friends at Tori no Iru Bird Cafe Asakusa Tokyo Japan

Once you’re done at the Sensoji Shrine, this little cafe is a must-see. They have several owls and a walk-in bird room where you can interact with dozens of parakeets and other birds. Re-enact Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” by buying a small box of birdseed! See our review of Tori no Iru Asakusa here!

For more dining and entertainment options in Tokyo, check out the links below–

June 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.

****

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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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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There’s a lot of weird and wonderful gifts to buy in Tokyo. Here is a list of the top 10 souvenirs you should get for someone (or yourself!) when you are traveling in Japan. 

1. Plastic food replicas are used all over the world to show incoming customers what a restaurant’s food will look like when served. Though found in restaurants across the world,  these food replicas are so popular in Japan that there are stores dedicated to selling them to anyone and everyone. You might be thinking, “Why would I buy this?” Well, why not! For any food you can think of, there is sure to be a plastic food replica of it. No trip to Japan is complete without buying at least one of these. They’re a great (and weird) addition to someone’s house!

2.If there was a list of the three things that Japan was most famous for, the list would be: samurai, sushi, and KitKats. In the West, there is really only one flavor commonly sold – chocolate. Japan, however, sells a wide variety of innovative flavors such as jasmine, matcha, and wasabi, to name just a few. There is now even a KitKat boutique in Seibu department store in Ikebukuro and at the Daimaru by Tokyo Station, so head there to stock up on limited edition flavors.

 

Japanese Kit Kats

 

 

 

3. Japanese knives are different from Western knives in the way they are forged, tempered, and shaped. While Western knives generally have double-sided edges, Japanese knives have single-sided edges. The Japanese believe that a single-edged blade is not only sharper, but can add more power to cuts and slices. 

kitchen knives

Photo source: japan-knives by sahua d

4. Japanese nail clippers are a much different item than their Western counterparts. What remains the same is the tool’s function. Japanese or Western, both cut toe/finger nails. What makes Japanese clippers different (and arguably more superior) is their quality, and cutting precision. For a higher price, you get a long-lasting clipper that will cleanly cut your nails. Great quality nail clippers are available at stores such as Loft and Tokyu Hands. 

5. Many people who are interested in Japan have at least a passing level of interest in Japanese anime or manga. Gifts for your otaku friends can include products such as posters, CDs, DVDs, and figurines from their favorite shows. Anime lover or not, it is highly recommended you check these out – they’re quite intricate! The perfect place to shop for these is Akihabara, where you will find dozens of stores that sell anime and gaming goods. 

anime figures

Photo source: Akira by Peter Baker

Note: If you’d like some help on knowing where to start in Akihabara, visit our article Akihabara 101: Sorting Through the Madness.

6. “Sa-shi-su-se-so” is the phrase the Japanese use when describing the basis of their cooking. Translating into English, it is “sugar-salt-soy vinegar-soy sauce-miso paste.” Japanese cuisine is intricate, delicious, and comes in many forms. However, what forever seems to stand is the importance of these five condiments.

Acquiring these materials outside of Japan is not difficult, but what you purchase outside of Japan and what you purchase in Japan can be easily differentiated by the quality and taste. Cheap knock-offs are everywhere, but only in Japan can you obtain this harmonious group of condiments at the best quality, for a reasonable price. If you or your loved ones enjoy cooking Japanese food, then “sa-shi-su-se-so” is a must.

condiments

Photo source: Japanese condiments by David Woo

7. The popular maneki neko is heavily integrated in Chinese and Japanese cultures, and has found his way into many other countries around the world. He is actually a talisman that is said to bring good fortune, prosperity, and customers (if placed in a restaurant). Outside of Japan and China, it is difficult to purchase these cats for yourself unless live near a Chinatown. In Japan, however, there are stores everywhere that carry them. When you visit, pick up a few of these and share the prosperity they bring!

Maneki Neko

Photo source: Maneki neko shop by Luis villa del Campo 

8. In Japanese culture, it’s the norm to have little, dangly charms on one’s phone. Whether it’s attached for personal expression, sentimental reasons, or just for fun, you’ll see many people in Japan (kids and adults alike) with charms attached to their phones. Phone charms come in millions (not an exaggeration) of shapes, sizes, and colors. There are even plush toys attached to some charms! When visiting Japan, it is imperative that you pick some of these lightweight souvenirs up. With them, you’ll not only fit in, but you’ll find yourself wanting more and more – they’re inherently addicting to buy!

phone charms

Photo source: charm yourself by chelsea marie hicks

9.In the West, painting one’s nails entails a simple change in color, and possibly some glittery-substance to add a little flair. When buying nail polish in Japan, you will find that it comes in sets, with multiple bottles of polish, glitter, and other items to help you create unique nails. Japanese nail art is quite simply a spectacle. You can join in on the self-expression, too!

Visit any store that has makeup and get your creativity on! Loft and Tokyo Hands both have a good selection of nail art that you can do yourself. If you’d like a professional to work their magic though, head to Nail Salon Pinky or Ken’s Nails.

nail art

Photo source: smiley infestation by antjeverena

10. Wind chimes (fuurin) are extremely popular in Japan and are said to have made their first appearance in the Edo period (17th century). Moreover, Japanese-style wind chimes are light, small, and  create beautiful sounds. There are two major types of wind chimes – “Edo fuurin” (glass), and “Nanbutetsu fuurin” (iron cast/bronze). These two have distinct sounds and it is highly recommended to pick up one of each to experience the refreshing sounds that both have to offer. In addition, Japanese wind chimes differ from their Western counterparts by virtue of the small pieces of paper attached to them. These pieces of paper generally have little images on them with Japanese sayings, but sometimes they are blank, giving you the opportunity to write something of your own on them!  You should be able to find Japanese wind chimes in Asakusa, which is full of many tourist and souvenir shops.

wind chimes

Photo source: Fuurin by Joi Ito

For more ideas on fun souvenirs to buy in Tokyo,  check out our article The Last-Minute Japanese Gift Giving Guide. If you love buying quirky gifts, we recommend visiting The World Connection in Harajuku, a fun little variety store on Takeshita-street. 

 

April 18, 2014 0 comment
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