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Floresta Tokyo Donut Shops

It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tokyo, but there are a surprising amount of excellent donuts shops throughout Tokyo. Below is a list of some of the best Tokyo donut shops that are worth checking out!

Tokyo Donut Shops: Camden’s Blue Star Donuts

Camden's Tokyo Donut Shops

This Tokyo donut shop is my personal favorite on the list! Camden’s Blue Star Donuts started in Portland, USA and then expanded to Tokyo and other parts of Japan. These brioche-style donuts are baked from scratch, in-house, to ensure freshness and quality of each treat.

The Daikanyama shop is located in The Mart at Fred Segal, which is surrounded by other cool shops and cafes that are definitely worth checking out.

Flavors include: Blueberry Bourbon Basil, Cointreau Crème Brulee, Matcha Latte (exclusive to Japan locations), Raspberry Pistachio, and Plain Glaze.

Average Price: Although a little pricey, around 500 yen, these donuts are definitely worth it.

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

ADDRESS: Link to Locations

Doughnut Plant

Doughnut Plant Tokyo Donut Shops

Like many other places on this list, Doughnut Plant originated in New York City and expanded to Tokyo. These donuts are not only beautiful and delicious, but are also all natural, seasonal and made with fresh high quality ingredients. There are also no eggs, preservatives, or artificial flavorings or colors. Doughnut Plant even has some vegan options, which are just as delicious as the rest!

Flavors include: Cake Donuts – Vanilla Bean, Soymilk Triple Berry, Blueberry Cream Cheese & Jam

Bakery Donuts – Vanola Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Soymilk Triple Berry & Jam

Average Price: These donuts range from 200-400 yen, depending on flavor and size

Website (Google Translate) ||| Facebook ||| Twitter (NYC) ||| Instagram |||

ADDRESS: Link to Locations (Google Translate)

Dumbo Doughnuts and Coffee

Dumbo Tokyo Donut Shops

You know you’re at Dumbo Doughnuts and Coffee when you see the pink signs and the line out the door. Tucked in a back street of Azabujuban, this coffee and donut shop is extremely popular for its oversized donuts and beautiful lattes.

In my opinion, they are not the best donuts on this list in terms of taste (a little greasy for my liking), but they sure do make for great pictures! And the coffee is excellent.

Flavors include: Lemon Poppy Seed, Raspberry, Matcha Cream Cheese, and Plain Glaze

Average Price: Most donuts are between 300-400 yen.

Website ||| Instagram |||

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

ADDRESS: 1F, 2-17-6, Azabujuban, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0045

Hours of Operation: 9:00 – 7:00PM

Floresta Nature Doughnuts

Floresta Tokyo Donut Shops

I first stumbled upon Floresta Nature Doughnuts in Kamakura and was immediately drawn to how cute the treats were. Luckily for me (and you!), there are a few closer Floresta locations throughout Tokyo. Each Floresta donut is organic, baked daily, and hand-decorated to look like different animals. Not all designs and flavors are available at all times or at every location, so it’s best to go earlier in the day before they sell out.

Flavors include: Strawberry (pig) and Chocolate (cat)

Average Price: These donuts are around 200 yen, but vary depending on flavor and animal.

Website (Google Translate)  ||| Facebook (Google Translate)  |||

ADDRESS: Link to Locations (Google Translate)

Good Town Doughnuts

Good Town Tokyo Donut Shops

Good Town Doughnuts and Coffee was my first Tokyo donut shop experience and it did not disappoint. Freshly made every day, these donuts are chewy, soft and very filling!

The shop’s aesthetic screams hyper-Americana, making it the perfect backdrop to take pictures of your sweets. Although known for their donuts, Good Town also sells specialty coffee, ice cream, cookies, and a variety of lunch and breakfast dishes!

Even if it may not be their prettiest donut, I highly recommend the Nutella donut, and ask for it warmed up. The gooey Nutella filling running down your hand makes it more fun and delicious!

Flavors Include: Kyoto Uji Matcha, Maple Bacon, Hibiscus, and Smile Mango

Average Price: These donuts are on the pricier side, at about 400-500 yen (but totally worth it)

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

ADDRESS: 6-12-6 Jingumae Shibuya-ku, Tokyo J-cube B 1F

Hours of Operation: 10:00 – 8:00PM

Macanon

Macanon Tokyo Donut Shops

If you are gluten-free, this is the Tokyo donut shop for you! Macanon donuts are made with rice flour from Kumamoto, making the texture very soft and rich. Unlike traditional fried and sugary donuts, these are baked and are not glazed. If you’re lucky, you can get a piping hot donut right out of the oven!

Flavors Include: Plain, Orange, Rum Raisin, and Brandy

Average Price: A plain donut is 180 yen and other prices vary depending on flavor

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

Nearest Station: 6-minute walk from Meijijingu-Mae Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

ADDRESS: 4 Chome-24-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001

Hours of Operation: 11:00 – 7:00PM

nico donuts

Nico Tokyo Donut Shops

This tiny Tokyo donut shop is located in the heart of Azabujuban. These donuts are unique because they are made with soybean paste, which absorbs less oil, so they are slightly healthier than the average donut (but just as delicious). They are a little small, so I recommend getting more than one.

Flavors Include: Vanilla Bean Sugar, Triple Berry, Matcha, and Sesame Seed

Average Price: These donuts start at 170 yen

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

Nearest Station: 4-minute walk from Azabujuban Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

ADDRESS: 1-7-9 Azabu Juban Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0045

Hours of Operation: 10:00 – 8:00PM (or until sold out)

SOAKS (OK Doughnuts)

SOAKS Tokyo Donut Shops

OK Doughnuts are definitely more than just OK. These may be the most unique and interesting donuts on the list. All of the donuts in this café are organic and are made from 100% vegetable powder, which is packed with tons of vitamins and minerals. SOAKS also swaps out white flour and refined sugar for whole-wheat flour and beet sugar. These donuts are not only delicious, but they are guilt-free too!

Flavors Include: Ginger, Tomato, and Original (lotus root)

Average Price: Between 150-200 yen – surprisingly inexpensive for the quality!

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

Nearest Station: 2-minute walk from Naka-Meguro Station (click on the Google Map for walking directions)

ADDRESS: 1-5-10 Kamimeguro Meguro-Ku Tokyo

Hours of Operation: 10:30 – 11:00PM

Streamer Coffee Company

Streamer Tokyo Donut Shops

Streamer Coffee Company is famous around Tokyo and on Instagram for its Military donut, excellent coffee, and beautiful latte art.

Flavors Include: Blueberry Glaze, Military (coffee, matcha and chocolate), and Vanilla Bean

Average Price: Around 400-500 yen.

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

ADDRESS: Link to Locations

March 24, 2017 0 comment
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You must be kidding. Can people eat a sushi meal within 1000-yen budget (10 USD)? The answer is Yes! However, if you want to find exceptional sushi restaurants, I want to introduce standing sushi bars to you. There are a lot of high quality standing sushi bars in Tokyo. Before elaborating more on this topic, I would first like to explain the sushi dilemma to you.

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

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

Standing Sushi Bars: Okame Sushi おかめ

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

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

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

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

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

Okame Sushi Information

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

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

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

Nemurohanamaru 根室花まる

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

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

Nemurohanamaru Information

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

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

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

Uogashi Nihon-Ichi 魚がし日本一

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

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

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

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

Uogashi Nihon-Ichi Information

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

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

For your convenience, here is list of locations

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

Tachiguimidori 美登利 エチカ池袋店

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

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

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

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

Tachiguimidori Information

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

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

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

Sakura Sushi さくら寿司

High Quality Standing Sushi Bars in Tokyo

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

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

Sakura Sushi Information

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

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

Hours of Operation: 10:00~22:00

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

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

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants : Sukiya (すき家)

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

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

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Sukiya Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours.

 

Yoshinoya吉野家

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

Yoshinoya Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours

CoCo Ichibanya CoCo壱番屋

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

CoCo Ichibanya Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours

Fuji Soba名代富士そば

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

Fuji Soba Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours

Hanamaruはなまる

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

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

Hanamaru Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

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

Chikara Meshi 東京チカラめし

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

Chikara Meshi Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

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

Matsuya 松屋

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

Matsuya Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

Hours of Operation: Open 24 Hours

MOS Burger モスバーガー

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

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

MOS Burger Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

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

Saizeriya サイゼリヤ

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

Saiziriya Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

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

Tenya天丼てんや

Cheap Tokyo Restaurants

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

Tenya Information

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

For your convenience, here is the List of Locations.

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

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

March 6, 2017 0 comment
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Lock-Up Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Any time of the year is Halloween at the Lock-Up Shibuya! Located 2 floors under the street, the Lock-Up is a novelty horror dining experience in Tokyo. To enter the restaurant, you have to walk through a dark hall full of jump-scares. If you can survive that, then you can survive the rest of the restaurant. We promise. And Voyagin can promise to get you a reservation for the scariest dining experience in Tokyo!

The rest of the restaurant is themed as a haunted prison. The moment you step inside, you will be handcuffed and brought to your table. You have to slide a barred door to enter your dimly lit cell, where you will be eating. Servers are dressed up as prisoners and the hosts are dressed like cops.

Lock-Up Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Once every few minutes, a show starts. Creepy monsters will reach through the cell windows; you can recoil in fear if you wish, but you can also high-five them. They will also come into your cell to scare you. One of the monsters who visited us had a fake chainsaw, and all had freaky masks. They will try to scare you, but don’t be fooled. I made a heart with my hands to one of the monsters and he did it back. One tried to scare me by getting super close to my face, and I pretended to kiss his mask.

After a few minutes of terror, cops came and killed all the monsters, and I was pretty sad that they had to leave. One monster climbed over the wall of our cell and dropped to the floor and died dramatically. Overall, it was a lot of fun!

During our prison excursion, we ordered both food and drinks, which are reflective of the restaurant’s theme. They have chicken shaped like a claw and desserts with a fake eyeballs. We tried some hot dogs with faces, because food is better when it can look on in terror as it is being devoured.

Lock-Up Shibuya Tokyo Japan

I would only recommend coming to the Lock-Up if you enjoy scary attractions. If you are super jumpy and easily frightened, it  would be better to steer clear. But seeing as The Lock-Up is one of Tokyo’s most prominent themed restaurants, we encourage you to visit! And there is no truth at all to the rumors that some diners never escape…

The Lock-Up Shibuya Location Information

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

Nearest Station: 7 minute walk from Shibuya Station (click on the Google Map for directions)

Hours of Operation: Open Monday-Friday 5:00 pm – 1:00 am, Saturdays 5:00 pm- 5:00 am, Sundays 5:00pm- 12:00am

Estimated Price: There is a ¥525 cover charge per person. Drinks range from ¥500-800, and food ranges from ¥700-1200. Make a reservation through Voyagin!

“Why Go?”: If you like a good scare with your meal, this is the place!

Click on one of the tags below to explore other dining and themed attraction options in Tokyo–

July 28, 2016 0 comment
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Robot Restaurant Shinjuku

Robot Restaurant Shinjuku

The Robot Restaurant Shinjuku is insane. There is nothing quite like it in Tokyo, nor anywhere else. I don’t even know if we can refer to it as merely a restaurant–the Robot Restaurant is an energetic, robo-centric show located in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku. And you certainly can’t miss it, seeing that it is a huge building with large flashy lights and robot techno music blaring from the speakers.

The Pre-Show Experience

The Robot Restaurant is touristy–they know it, and they love to flaunt it. From what we saw, more than 90% of the guests were foreign visitors, mostly North Americans. All the signs are shown prominently in English, and there are a number of foreign staff that speak native-level English.

A single ticket is a hefty ¥8000, though you can get ¥500 off when buying tickets in advance from their site, or 15% off through Voyagin. A bento to eat during the performance costs another ¥1000, which must be reserved before the performance, and beers and soft drinks are another ¥500-¥600 each. There are three shows per day during the week and a fourth on Saturday (showtimes), and each show runs for 90 minutes. However, you must be in the building at least 30 minutes prior to the performance, meaning that you should set aside a minimum two hours for the experience.

As soon as you enter, you are struck by the outrageously tacky décor, designed with a wink-and-nudge of giggly self-awareness. All guests are funneled to the third floor waiting room, and from there are directed to the bar and the seats by the English-speaking staff. There was a robot-costumed saxophone and guitar player playing jazz while we waited for the start of the performance, perfectly setting the mood for the wacky night ahead. Food and drinks could be ordered from the waiting room, and the prices are what you’d expect for such a tourist-heavy establishment (Eg. ¥600 for beer and ¥1400 for an American-styled “Mega Burger”).

Robot Restaurant Shinjuku

The Show

When it’s time for the performance to start, the staff leads the guests down a staircase of lizard sculptures and tactile paintings to the performance area. The seating is cramped, a tight spot to sit for a 90-minute performance. If you pre-ordered a bento during reservation, then you’ll collect them here, or you can purchase popcorn and drinks from the staff circulating through the room. There are three bento options available–grilled boneless short ribs, ginger-simmered beef in sweetened soy sauce, and sushi. All three bento are on the small side, but you aren’t actually here for dinner, are you?

Robot Restaurant Shinjuku

The show itself is excellent. The action is loud and flashy, with a surprisingly large and varied cast of robots appearing throughout the performance. The first segment is an eclectic taiko performance, fusing a traditional Japanese drum with—well, robots, obviously! The part we liked the most was the “Robot Wars” segment, which tells us the laughably wacky story of a war between animals and the “Robot Empire.” The action-packed story between the animals and the robots was funny and familiar, almost as if the action figures from my childhood came to life off of my bedroom floor and played out their battles in grand fightin’ robot fashion. The scale of the performances is quite extraordinary, and the performers are well-rehearsed and had lots of energy.

There is a 15-minute intermission every 30 minutes so the set pieces can be changed for the next performance. During intermissions the staff circulates through the audience, selling souvenirs and refreshments. There’s plenty of time to get another drink or make that bathroom trip without missing the action, not to mention the opportunity to get one of those sweet Robot Restaurant T-shirts!

The Robot Restaurant might be a touristy thing to do, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. It might be pricey, but you are guaranteed a fun night full of battlin’ robots!

Robot Restaurant Location Information

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Reservations Online | Get 15% off with a reservation through Voyagin!

Reservations by Phone in English: 03-3200-5500

Nearest Station: 8-minute walk from Shinjuku Station (click on the map for walking directions)

Showtimes: 4:00PM (Sat only), 5:55PM, 7:50PM, 9:45 PM. Shows are 90 minutes in duration; guests must arrive 30 minutes prior to showtime.

Estimated Price: ¥8000-¥10000 for tickets, drinks, and bento; more for souvenirs

“Why Go?”: Watch the crazy fun robot performance!

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

June 28, 2016 0 comment
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Did you come to Tokyo looking for ninja? Of course you did! Why else would you come?!?!

Ninja Restaurant

The best-known enclave of most-honorable shadow warriors is located at the Ninja Restaurant in Akasaka. But finding them is not an easy task! First, one must make contact with shadowy figures in order to make a reservation. Reservations may be made up to two months ahead of time via the Ninja Restaurant website reservation form (Google translated, but usable). For reservations of less than two days’ notice, one must use the telephone device.

What? One does not speak Japanese? It does not matter! The ninja are skilled in the speaking of English, both in person and on the telephone device! Call the number 03-5157-3936 and humbly request dining space for your unworthy self! If space is available, they shall accommodate! Honor demands it!

Ninja RestaurantAnd now, one must journey to the restaurant itself. The door is hidden to the common passerby. But it shall be revealed to you! But when you discover it, the journey is not over! To learn the secrets of ninja dining, one must cross the bridges, pass over the river of ninja smoke, and brave the corridors until one reaches the ninja village. Failure is not acceptable!

Ninja Restaurant

Upon arrival, you will be seated in one of several secluded dining areas, where a server shinobi will see to your dining needs. The Ninja Restaurant offers 10 main courses, which you will have selected while making your reservation. For those who refrain from meat, the Ninja Chefs have thoughtfully accommodated with a vegetarian main course option. Do you have other dietary restrictions? The ninja have thought of this! One cannot surprise a ninja! The Ninja Chefs also offer a main course option which excludes the serving of pork and alcohol.

Some restrictions must apply to dining in such a dangerous environment. As befitting a stealthy warrior, the environment inside of the restaurant is as dark as a moonless night. Reservations including children (up to 14) may only be scheduled at 5 PM on weekdays, and one must accompany one’s children whenever they depart from the dining area. The Ninja Restaurant must be kept safe for guests!

Also, please note that normal persons are not usually not able to photograph a ninja due to their speed and stealth. But one may ask any ninja encountered to refrain from escaping in a cloud of smoke long enough for the photograph to be taken. The ninja is most hospitable and accommodating!

Ninja Restaurant

The Ninja Restaurant serves good food and provides quality entertainment (complete with vanishing ninjas). Ninja will not accept less than the best! But you may find that your money has vanished as well, as plates can be upwards of 20,000 yen. But it is of no matter! If sleight-of-hand illusions, hidden passageways, and a taste for theatrics—and good food—piques one’s interests, one must accept the hospitality of the Ninja Restaurant! There is no other choice!

Ninja Restaurant Akasaka Location Information

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

Reservations by Phone: 03-5157-3936

Nearest Station: 2-minute walk from Akasakamitsuke Tokyo Metro Subway Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line or Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line) (click on the google Map for directions)


Hours of Operation: Monday – Saturday 5 p.m. – 12 a.m.; Sundays and Holidays 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.

“Why Go?”: You will go! You will accept the hospitality of ninja and good food! It is too late to refuse! They know who you are!

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

 

June 24, 2016 0 comment
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Harajuku street fashion is a culmination of all things weird, trendy, and uniquely Japanese. And the best place to go in Tokyo to get that Harajuku Girl look is Takeshita Street. Not only is this pedestrian street a hub for the culture of youth street fashion, it’s also great fun! During your trip to Tokyo, be sure to check out these spots!

(If you’re worried about the differences in sizing, check out our great article on size conversions here!)

Harajuku Street Fashion: 6% DOKIDOKI

6%dokidoki

You can’t miss the pink and pastel exterior of 6% DokiDoki. With ribbons and glitter practically spill right out onto the street, 6% DOKIDOKI is the perfect place to start assembling your Harajuku Girl outfit.

Check out our article on 6% DOKIDOKI here!

 

ACDC Rag

ACDC Rag Harajuku Street Fashion

A fashion mainstay on a street where shops are quick to go out of style. ACDC Rag sells a variety of youth-oriented styles, from Gothic Lolita to punk to hipster. Collaborations with other designers and constant additions to their apparel keeps this brand fresh and exciting.

Check out our ACDC Rag article here!

 

Bubbles

Bubbles Harajuku Street Fashion

Bubbles makes you feel like you’re walking into dollhouse. Everything inside is just so girly! This is the perfect place to go to revamp your wardrobe with pastel sweaters, fuzzy bunny phone cases, and velvet chokers. Make sure to strike a fashionable pose in front of the rose wall!

You can check out this very cute Harajuku Street fashion on the Bubbles Website and Online Store (Google Translate) or check them out on Twitter (via Google Translate) and Instagram.

 

Calbee Plus

Calbee Plus Harajuku Street Fashion

Check out the Calbee Plus shop on Takeshita Street! The menu includes potato chips exclusive to this store, such as freshly-fried potato chips topped with maple syrup, cream cheese, or chocolate. And they have soft ice cream for those hot summer days! Packaged snacks make for delicious souvenirs for friends and family!

Check out our Calbee Plus article here!

Etude House

Etude House Harajuku Street Fashion

Etude House is the perfect place to visit for your makeup needs. This Korean cosmetics brand has a large line of cosmetics for every age and skin type.  Before buying, feel free to test out the products and ask for personalized help from a makeup specialist. You can also go to their in-store studio for a makeup lesson and a custom makeover!

You can see what Etude House has to offer on their Website (via Google Translate). Follow them on social media at Facebook (Japanese only), on Twitter (via Google Translate) , or their Instagram.

Harajuku Alta

Harajuku Alta Harajuku Street Fashion

Harajuku Alta is a multi-level mall containing a large selection of stores that will have you screaming “kawaii!” Favorites include Choco Choco by SWIMMER and the Harajuku Lagrace Mart, where you can find great accessories and shoes. Check out Harajuku Alta’s Website (via Google Translate) to see what’s happening now.

Hysteric Glamour

Like printed tees and denim vests? Hysteric Glamour is the place to go! With a laid-back California aesthetic and a rock ‘n’ roll mindset, this place can help you with a layered grunge look that mixes in that little bit of Japanese something.

Check out our article on Hysteric Glamour here!

Kawaii Monster Cafe

Kawaii Monster Cafe Harajuku Tokyo JapanIt’s not a clothing store, but no trip to Harajuku is complete without a stop at the Kawaii Monster Cafe. When people think of the crazy fashions, pastel-neon colors, and outrageous nuttiness of that aspect of Japanese culture, this is the place they’re thinking of! The bizarre decor, hyperactive floor shows, and high-speed pop beat is the perfect background for your Facebook and Instagram photos.

Check out our Kawaii Monster Cafe article here!

Lazy Hazy Planet

Lazy Hazy Planet Harajuku Street Fashion

Lazy Hazy Planet runs the gamut of Harajuku Street fashion. Glitter to goth, Levi’s to leather, L.H.P. has seen and done it all. And when you go inside, you realize they have it all! Lazy Hazy Planet is a perfect mix-and-match place to experiment with new looks.

Check out our article on L.H.P. here!

LINE Friends Store

LINE Friends Store Harajuku Street Fashion

Fashion isn’t limited to your clothing! If you use the LINE application, the LINE Friends Store at the end of Takeshita Street is a must-go. You can get your picture taken with Brown, pick up exclusive wear and accessories, and even get the exclusive virtual stickers to show your LINE friends that you were fashionably there.

Check out our LINE Friends Harajuku article here!

Milk

Lolita fashion - Milk Storefront in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

Lolita fashion is still alive and well in the Harajuku street fashion scene. For 45 years, Milk has been catering to the Lolita community with a constant stream of frilly and Victorian fashions. Whether you are new to the Lolita idea or a longtime fan, visiting this fashion landmark is always special.

Check out our article on Milk here!

Paris Kid’s

Paris Kids Harajuku Street Fashion

Need some cheap, trendy, and fashionable accessories? Paris Kid’s is the only place to go. the walls are lined with thousands of earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets that will put the finishing touches on your new look. Frequented by young girls and women alike, what keeps people coming back are the prices. None of the accessories or jewelry at this store cost more than 500 yen!

Check out our Paris Kid’s article here and get the discount!

Q-pot CAFE.

Q-Pot Cafe Harajuku Tokyo Japan

The Q-pot CAFE makes fabulous accessories to round our your wardrobe. And not only that, you can have a taste of the “accessory sweets” they have at the cafe! And the SE”Q”RET room? Well, you’ll just have to go and find out for yourself! Check out our Q-pot CAFE. article here!

Totti Candy Factory

Totti Candy Factory Harajuku Street fashion

You know you’re near the Totti Candy Factory when you start smelling sugar and sweets. Inside this pink polka-dotted shop, you’ll find decorated cake pops and a wall lined with all kinds of candy for your scooping pleasure. Their signature item is made-to-order cotton candy that is make right in front of you! Delicious fun for every age.

Check out the Totti Candy Factory’s Website (Google Translate) or follow them on social media at Twitter (via Google Translate) or on Instagram.

Tutuanna

Tutuanna-FI-585x390

It’s so pink and girly and sweet that you’ll have to brush your teeth afterwards. Tutuanna is the place to go for leg wear and socks. Because as we all know, no Harajuku Girl look is complete without pink cat hosiery!

Check out our article on Tutuanna here

WC

WC Harajuku Street Fashion

Bring out your girly and sweet side by visiting WC! This shop is filled with clothes and accessories to match the pastel and neon decor to get you dressing like a true Harajuku Girl. Update your wardrobe with the bunny-eared sweatshirts, cheetah-print backpacks, and velvet jackets that you can only find here!

Check out this Harajuku Street fashion at their Website or check their social media at Twitter (via Google Translate) or Instagram.

Wego

Wego Harajuku Street Fashion

With locations all over Tokyo and Japan, Wego is a testament of how often Harajuku Street fashion shifts from trend to trend. If you want fashion and accessories that will turn you into a street fashionista for a reasonable price, head to Wego!

Check out our article on Wego here!

Wonder Rocket

Wonder Rocket Harajuku Street Fashion

With two locations on Takeshita Street, Wonder Rocket sells Mori-style clothing and accessories ranging from sweet dresses and tops to fuzzy heels and bags. Although they are already reasonably priced, it pays to be on the lookout for Wonder Rocket’s 50% off sales!

Check out what’s going on at Wonder Rocket at their Website (via Google Translate) or on their Facebook (Japanese only), Twitter (via Google Translate), or Instagram.

World Wide Love

World Wide Love Harajuku Tokyo JapanWhere’s the love? It’s at World Wide Love! The brand of the spray-painted smiley face covers your street style fashion needs while never straying too far from whimsy. Check out their great collaborations!

Check out our article on World Wide Love here!

June 20, 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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Odaiba Onsen Featured Images, Odaiba, Tokyo

Onsens in Japan date back thousands of years. Thousands of these hot springs can be found throughout the country, but the cultural barriers to entry can seem high to outsiders. Where do you go? What do you do? Do you really have to get naked around a bunch of strangers?

Never fear! I have been to several onsens throughout the country, and in this article I’ll show you the do’s and don’ts of the onsen experience. For this article, I use the Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Tokyo. Not only is it a great onsen, it is easy to get to from any number of local train stations and hotels.

And should you decide to visit the Oedo Onsen Monogatari, Voyagin can help you out with a discount!

A Note on Tattoos

Japanese people have an aversion to body art due to its long association with criminal elements. Some onsens outside of Tokyo allow them, and others will allow you to enter if you have some way of covering them up (usually with a flesh-toned bandage).

The Oodeo Onsen Monogatari does not allow tattoos at all. Yes, they are aware that not everyone who has a tattoo is a criminal. Your tattoos may very well be innocuous (your kid’s names, etc) or have some deep, personal meaning. But sorry, you will not be admitted. Please do not be the ugly foreigner who shows up and makes a scene by arguing with the staff.

NOTE: I have heard that some people have gotten around this rule by covering up with a t-shirt or leggings, but you will still not be able to get into the baths. And if you can’t go to the baths, why bother going at all? Also, I don’t know what happens to you if you get caught, but I’m sure it will cause quite a bit of embarrassment.

 

Money Matters

Onsen trips can be expensive. The Oedo Onsen Monogatari has a reasonable price of entry (2500-2900 yen per adult, 1000 yen for children ages 4-12, under 4 is free), which includes the bath, the yukata robe (more on that below), towels, and facility usage. But that’s not all–there are plenty of good things to eat and drink, games for the kids to play, and wonderfully relaxing massages.

You do not carry money at Oedo Onsen Monogatari–they have a computerized system that keeps track of your purchases via a barcoded bracelet that you will receive once you go inside. Therein lies the danger. Since money isn’t changing hands, you may have no idea how much you have spent until you get to the checkout counter. For your estimation purposes, my last trip with my wife and son cost 12,000 yen (baths, food and drink, etc). Make sure you have enough to cover your trip!

 

Other Things To Consider

Medical conditions and pregnancy. If you have high blood pressure, are pregnant, or are otherwise susceptible to high temperatures, complications could arise from using the baths. Please check with your doctor before you leave home if you are thinking of going to an onsen.

Bring a change of clothes. You will want clean underwear after you leave the baths, and clean clothes to change back into once you leave the onsen.

Know your height in centimeters, so you can get an appropriately-sized yukata (below).

 

The Oedo Onsen Monogatari Experience

Once you enter the onsen, you have to take off your shoes and place them in one of the lockers to the left of the entrance. You can wear socks if you want, but make sure they are clean and not-holey ones. Keep the key, so you can get your shoes back at the end of your visit.

Next, you will check in at the service desk. Here you will give your credit card number and you will receive a barcoded bracelet that doubles as locker key and wallet. The barcode bracelet is used to pay for food, drinks, and other extras inside the onsen area.

The third step is to get a yukata from the counter. A yukata is a thin robe, worn with a sash, which you will wear for the duration of your trip to the onsen. As it is with the case of tattoos, this is not negotiable–this is what is worn inside the onsen area. Go to the counter and choose your size (in centimeters), a pattern, and one of the sashes. Oh, and make sure you get one that is the correct size. Too long and you are wearing a wedding gown that trails everywhere. Too small, and everyone will wonder where the flood is.

 

Wearing Your Yukata

At Oedo Onsen Monogatari, there are separate changing rooms for men (blue curtain) and women (red curtain). The changing room is essentially a locker room. Find the locker that matches your key, and you will be ready to change into your yukata.

Wearing a yukata is just like wearing a bathrobe. When you put it on, you will cross the left side of the robe over the right. Ladies have additional strings on the inside of their yukata in order to prevent “wardrobe malfunctions.”

Why is it left over right? Well, the explanation I got was that swordsmen drew their katana with their right hand from their left hip, and having your yukata on right-over-left could possibly entangle your sword hand, which would likely get you killed.

“But I don’t have a sword,” I said. “Also, I’m left-handed. If I did get into a quick-draw-and-slash contest, I would be just as screwed.”

“Shut up and put it on right,” was my wife’s answer.

There is another reason. Wearing the yukata right-over-left is reserved for the dead at their funeral. No one will actually think that you are dead, but it is a social faux pas. On the other hand, you now know how to identify Japanese zombies should the dead rise during your vacation. If you forget which side goes over which, there are plenty of signs in the changing area to remind you.

Traditionally, people wore nothing at all under their yukata, but modernity has allowed for some modifications. First, you will wear underwear beneath your robe. Ladies, a bra is also appropriate. If you like, you can also wear a t-shirt and socks with your yukata. If you intend to go to the baths immediately, put on your fresh gear. You don’t want to take a bath only to put your dirty underwear back on.

Also, there is a small pocket on the inside to keep your cell phone or camera. You can take a camera inside the onsen, just be mindful of where you are taking pictures. In the common areas, it’s ok, but (for obvious reasons) no pictures are allowed in the locker rooms or bath areas.

 

To the Baths!

First, please refrain from taking a bath when you are dead drunk (see sign).

Thank you for not embarrassing the rest of the visitors. Now lets get to it.

Once you leave the locker room, you enter the common area, where all of the food booths, games, etc are located. Oedo Onsen Monogatari is built like a miniature hot springs town–in other onsens, all of these food stands, bars, games, etc. aren’t this close together. To get to the baths, go left and follow the signs.

Older onsens were mixed-sex bathing, but those have fallen out of fashion. Oedo Onsen Monogatari splits the baths into men’s and women’s sides. For this portion, please realize that I am a guy, so I only know what’s in the men’s baths. (My wife assures me that it is essentially the same over on their side, but you never know…)

After entering the bath area, you will first enter another locker room. Right inside the door you will receive two towels–one small, one large. With these, choose a locker and strip down. Everything goes into this locker–your yukata, underwear, socks, cell phone, and even your bar code bracelet. You cannot wear any clothing at all in the onsen–no shorts, no swim trunks, whatever. Naked as the day you were born, as the saying goes. The locker has a key on a plastic band. This goes around your wrist, and is the only exception to the “total nudity” rule.

The larger towel you got at the entrance also goes into the locker, because it is for drying yourself off after you get out of the bath. The smaller one (a washcloth, for Americans) is what you take into the onsen with you. If you are modest, you can use it to block the view of your junk, which no one cares about anyway. If you want to go like a native, you’ll use it to wash your face and dry your sweat in the baths. Please do not dip this cloth into the bath water–it is considered unsanitary to do so. While in the water, you can put it to the side or fold it up and put it on your head, just like in the cartoons.

 

Once Inside the Baths…

The first thing you do in the actual bath section is to take a shower. It may sound odd, but the purpose of the onsen is to relax, not bathe. You are going to soak here, and hopefully not in a bath of oily scum left by previous bathers. Inside the Oedo Onsen Monogatari, there are two options. Once you enter, there is a traditional “bowl bath”, in which you simply douse yourself in water. If you look behind you, there is a Western-style shower. Either way works.

If you are especially grimy, please use one of the shower stations that are on the left side of the indoor section of the baths. The stations all come with a stool, body soap, shampoo, conditioner, and a bowl and shower head combo. Get your pretty man on! Just make sure you get all of the soap off of your body before going to the baths. That’s another faux pas to avoid.

After that, there are several pools to choose from. They vary in temperature, as per a nearby thermometer. There are baths, and there is even is a whirlpool. Not bad, right? Be aware of the temperature and don’t force yourself to get into a bath if it is too hot.

And once you are there, relax. Nice, isn’t it? Some people bathe alone, and others gather in groups and chit-chat. If come by yourself, you will probably stay that way. One time during one of my earlier trips, some guy sat next to me to practice his naked English, which was rather awkward. But that was just that one time, out of dozens of trips.

 

Nude in the Great Outdoors

After your initial stride into the waters of a Broader Mindset, see if you can go outside. Yes, there are bathing pools outside, along with benches and other spots where you can lie down and flap about in the breeze. The high wall surrounding the area protects your privacy, and will protect the general public from your bad jokes (Q. Why did the bald man go outside at the onsen? A. He wanted to feel the wind in his hair). You can soak in the outside pool or take a nap if you like. Beware of sunburn on your sensitive bits.

Once you are done soaking, take another shower at one of the shower stations before exiting the bath area. You’ll leave the onsen feeling fresh, relaxed, and very clean. Time to see what else is here!

 

The Foot Baths

The foot baths at Oedo Onsen Monogatari are outside, in the Japanese gardens. Here, there is a long, winding walking pool. If you are feeling bold, hike up your yukata and wade right in!

I have to admit, this is not my favorite thing to do. The water is nice, but the walking path (both in the water and on the dry parts of the path) are studded with rocks. The rocks are supposed to “massage” your soles, for increased blood circulation or some other ancient Eastern medicine reason. I think that the larger rocks are ok for this, but walking on the smaller rocks is like finding missing Lego while going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Painful! Overall, I’d rather just sit on one of the benches that line either side of the pool and dangle my feet in the water.

There is another peculiar pool in this area, full of tiny fish. For a fee, you can soak your feet in this pool, and the fish will eat the dead skin off of whatever they can reach. The very idea sorta grosses me out, but some people seem to like it.

The Rest of Your Onsen Experience

The Oedo Onsen Monogatari is a great place to go for your first onsen experience. It is foreigner-friendly and easy to get around. All the signs are duplicated in English, and most of the staff can help you in areas related to their expertise.

There are lots of things to eat and drink. Just about every Japanese dish is represented here at one food stand or another, along with desserts (I liked the strawberry ice topped with condensed milk). We went with a group and had lunch with them (pictured), but you don’t have to do that. Just find what you like, point at the menu, and use your barcode bracelet to pay. Easy!

And there are other things to do. Near the bathing area is the spa, where you can get everything from a massage to skin exfoliation to a reflexology treatment. There are plenty of carnival-style games for the kids (and me, because I like throwing ninja stars). There is even a reclining chair area for you to take a nap, in case all of that relaxing wears you out.

And don’t forget to go to the gift shop before you leave!

In Short…

Going to an onsen is one of those “very Japanese” things to do, and will make for a great story when you return home. I used the Oedo Onsen Monogatari as a template for onsen trips–if you go somewhere else, the particulars may vary, but probably not by much. Also, Oedo Onsen Monogatari is inside Tokyo and is easy to get to through any number of methods (see below). If you are staying at a hotel, they can likely arrange a trip for you. Highly recommended!

Still not sure if you want to go to Oedo Onsen Monogatari? Maybe Voyagin’s discount can help you decide!

Oedo Onsen Monogatari

Oedo Onsen Monogatari Location Information

Website (English) | Facebook (customer reviews and photos)

Access: There are multiple ways to get to Oedo Onsen Monogatari, best explained at http://daiba.ooedoonsen.jp/en/#access

Hours of Operation: Open 7 days a week, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m (next day), last entry: 7 a.m.

“Why Go?”: For a relaxing soak, good food, and an unforgettable experience!

Click on one of the tags below to find other experiences in Tokyo–

July 17, 2015 0 comment
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Glass Dance Featured Image

“500 yen. Is cover charge.” This is the first thing I hear when I get in out of the rain. Not a good start, but I’m here on a mission.

“I’m fine with that. I hear you have the Devil’s own brew here.”

The waiter eyed me quizzically. As it turned out, he only knew enough English to tell foreigners that there is a cover charge. I guess that is usually enough to drive them off.

I agreed to the charge and got a seat at the bar at the Glass Dance Craft Beer Bar. Their website helpfully tells you that it is a 2-minute walk, or “a 45 second sprint” from Shinagawa JR station’s Kōnan gate. However fast your Beer Emergency compels you to move, you will depart from the station exit, go down the steps, and walk a block and a half straight ahead. And there it is, across the street from one of the Big Echo Karaoke stations, on your left.

Entrance to Glass Dance Craft Beer Bar in Shinagawa, Tokyo

“I’ll have the Satan Beer Red,” I told him. “Don’t worry, I understand hyperbole. I don’t believe Lucifer himself created this brew. I understand that a distributor has to give his product an attention-getting name and a cool bottle label in order to attract interest in an increasingly jaded beer-drinking public. And it worked! I saw the bottle in the display window. Good for you. Let’s get on with the temptations to my immortal soul.”

Bewildered by the stream of gibberish I just laid on him, the waiter moved away to fill my order. This gave me a chance to look around. The bar itself has a faux-rustic style that is just subtle enough to not be irritatingly overdone. The decor is the SOTW (Stuff On The Walls) standard, primarily pictures of the insides of breweries. And over to the side–a kitchen?

Beer Selection at Glass Dance Craft Beer Bar in Shinagawa, Tokyo

Interior of Glass Dance Craft Beer Bar in Shinagawa, Tokyo

Yes, they have a kitchen at Glass Dance. A kitchen that has an actual chef, not just some dude heating Hot Pockets in a microwave or a kid working a deep fryer. Intrigued, I flip through the English-subtitled food menu. Given the pub atmosphere, I decided to go with the fish and chips (780 yen). The bar also offers other selections from standard bar fare (margherita pizza, chicken wings, etc).

Old Scratch’s libation arrived. The Satan Beer Red was pricey (1150 yen) and ehh. Surely the Lord of Darkness would not allow such swill to represent him on earth. Perusing the drink menu, the price for Satan Red (and its companion brew, Satan Gold) seemed to be on the low-end of a large selection of imported bottled beers. A switch to the less-pricey tap seemed to be in order, and right at that moment my food arrived.

I wasn’t expecting much from people who jerk me up short for 500 yen at the door. But the fish and chips were actually pretty damn good. And there were plenty of fries, not just the five or six that one usually receives at other places. On a recommendation from the waiter, I try a Poperings Hommel Bier from the tap (930 yen). It came in a strange onion-shaped glass. An amber, but light and tasty. Things were starting to look up.

Fish and Chips at Glass Dance Craft Beer Bar in Shinagawa, Tokyo

Poperings Hommel Bier at Glass Dance Craft Beer Bar in Shinagawa, Tokyo

Next, I surveilled the bar. There were a number of different drafts available, the sign of any good watering hole. De-Koninck Authentic Antwerps, the Poperings Hommel I was drinking, Extra Vedett White. The Hoegaarden mega-pint (seemingly the most accessible European beer in all of Tokyo) could be had for 1380 yen. And still others, both from marked and unmarked taps. This selection, mixed with their imported bottled beer list, gives Glass Dance a broad range of interesting offerings.

It was still raining when I finished the Poperings Hommel. So, another beer with my Dao De Ching? Don’t mind if I do. I had a Leffe Blonde (930 yen). A perusal of the Leffe website gives off airs of a brewer who wishes he was a vintner, but the beer had a nice, light flavor that went well with my decidedly-plebian meal selection. That, and even though I had been munching and reading for a bit, I still had a pot full of fries. I certainly didn’t feel ripped off on that count, cover charge or no.

Glass Dance is one of those bars that opens in the early evening and stays open all the way until just before the station starts operating again in the morning. It would be a reasonable (if expensive) place to spend an all-nighter if you miss that last train, or a place to stagger to if it’s late but you don’t quite feel like going home just yet. Although the prices will keep it from being a regular stop, I’ll be going back for the beer selection and to check out the kitchen’s other offerings.

Atre at Shingawa Station

Satan Beer Red at Glass Dance, Shinagawa Station Atre, Tokyo

Beer Menu at Glass Dance Craft Beer Bar in Shinagawa, Tokyo

Draft beer at Glass Dance Craft Beer Bar in Shinagawa, Tokyo

Glass Dance Beer Tap in Shinagawa, Tokyo

Glass Dance Blackbaord in Shinagawa, Tokyo

Location: Two-minute walk from Shinagawa Station JR. Open Monday-Saturday 1700-0400, 1700-2330 on Sundays and public holidays. Accepts Visa, Mastercard, and other major credit cards.

Google-garbled translated website: http://translate.google.co.jp/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g600151/&prev=search (includes map)

 

March 20, 2015 0 comment
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