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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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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)

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

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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Parasitological Museum

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

 

Bizarre Museums in Tokyo: Meguro Parasitological Museum

Parasitological Museum Bizarre Museums in Tokyo

 

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

 

Parasitological Museum Bizarre Museums in Tokyo

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

Bank of Japan Currency Museum

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

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

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

 

Tokyo Trick Art Museum

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

WARNING: MUST BRING CAMERA!

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

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

 

Tokyo Kite Museum

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

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

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

 

Showa Retro Packaging Museum

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

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

 

Postal Museum Japan

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

 

Philatelic (Stamp) Museum

 

Stamp Museum Bizarre Museums in Tokyo

 

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

 

Stamp Museum Bizarre Museums in Tokyo

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

 

Tokyo Museum of Sewage

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

Hours: 10:00-16:00

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

 

Tobacco and Salt Museum

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

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

 

Tokyo Toy Museum (Toy Communication Museum)         

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

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

 

March 20, 2017 0 comment
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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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Skytree

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

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

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

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

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

June 15, 2016 0 comment
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Ebisu Garden Place Observation Deck, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is worth way more than 36 hours of your time. Tokyo is such a massive sprawling beast of a metropolis that you could never see the many facets of the city in such a short time. That said, 36 hours of Tokyo is better than no hours of Tokyo, and if you only have a bit of time to spare, we’ll do our best to show you Tokyo at its best.

For lodging, I suggest AirBnB as a way to rent a space because it is less hotel and more apartment. Another idea is the capsule hotel, which is not for the claustrophobic. Yet another adventurous idea is getting an overnight comic book or Internet café room. All of these have options in the Shibuya area, so I suggest starting there. Bring your energy because you’ll need it to run all over Tokyo.

Day 1 – Embrace the Touristy Side of Tokyo

9:00 a.m. Shibuya

For many of the AirBnB visitors, staying near Shibuya area means you will need to ride into Shibuya from nearby stations like Sangenjaya Station, Shimokitazawa Station, or Ebisu Station. Trains are known for being absolutely insane during morning and evening rush hour when workers are heading in and out of work.  Find a safe corner to watch the insanity unfold with a coffee and a bagel.

While in Shibuya it is practically a requirement to check out the famous scramble crosswalk and Hachiko Square. Tokyu plaza is right next to it with some cute shops to wander as well. Once you have had your fill and the station begins to be less of a madhouse, head into the station proper. It is totally worth the trouble to pay the 500 yen for a PASMO or Suica train card because you can repeatedly charge it and skip the trouble of micromanaging your fare. With your IC card pass, take the JR Yamanote line (look for green JR signs) and head to Harajuku, one stop away.

10:00 a.m. Harajuku/Meijinjingunmae

Harajuku is well known for Takeshita Street, the hub connecting Harajuku Station to the Omotesando area. Takeshita Street is full of youthful energy and shops with goods ranging from crazy costumes to female fashion styles like girlish skirts and blouses all the way to goth and punk attire.

As you leave Harajuku and enter Omotesando, the area gets more sophisticated glam. Omotesando has one of my favorite souvenir shops in all of Tokyo called Oriental Bazaar which is well worth a look for gifts. You can either backtrack to Harajuku to ride two stops on the Yamanote line to Shinjuku Station, or you can head into Meiji-jingumae Station to ride the Fukutoshin line up to Shinjuku-sanchome Station. By then, you probably will be getting hungry and can grab lunch.

12:00pm Bask in the touristy glow of Shinjuku

Shinjuku station is the busiest station in the world so can be quite difficult to navigate, but is a great place to people-watch as you try and find your way around to the correct exit. Shinjuku’s East End is my preferred neighborhood in Shinjuku because unlike West Shinjuku, where the government buildings are, East Shinjuku is more a retail area where you can hang out. Catch lunch in one of the many department stores or street level shops. As a personal suggestion, Korean food in Lumine EST is pretty tasty and easy to access on the upper floors of the department store.  Save room though because I definitely have a suggestion for dessert. One of the latest Tokyo crazes for sweets is located right at Shinjuku East End. It is the Croissant Taiyaki. Cronuts (croissant donuts) have nothing on this, I promise you. If you don’t like traditional red bean paste filling, try the custard or a seasonal flavor. If you like sweets, your stomach will thank me.

But what you’ll really thank us for is directing you to the Robot Restaurant, which is one of the craziest dinner shows you will ever experience. Even better, our good friends at Voyagin can get you a discount on your reservation!

After getting your Taiyaki, say goodbye to Shinjuku. From here I would suggest taking the Sobu line to Akihabara Station. This train line cuts across the Yamanote loop. 

2:30 p.m. Nerd out like a boss in Akihabara

Akihabara is called Electric Town, and rightfully so since it is a playground for tech-minded people. It is also a highly unique area of Tokyo that has a different feel from other parts of the city. Arcades line the main streets and girls dressed in frilly uniforms call out to passersby to visit their maid cafes. Play a few arcade games, grab some new headphones, or discover what maid/butler cafes are all about.

Akihabara Stores, Akihabara, Tokyo

Optional: If you take one look at Akihabara area and pale at the idea of spending time here, take the Shinjuku line to nearby Jimbocho Station. A book lover’s paradise, the area contains unique bookshops that will delight a different sort of traveler from Akihabara’s tech and anime fans.

An even better option is putting on a costume, renting a Go Kart, and riding around Akihabara to live out your favorite video game fantasy! C’mon, you know you want to. Let our friends at Voyagin help you book your rental!

Spend a bit of time taking in the sights and emptying your wallet before hopping back onto the Yamanote line again to Tokyo Station.

5:00 p.m. Tokyo and Meguro Station combo

Tokyo Station is a thing to behold. It is a massive complex of train lines all meeting near the city centre, where you can go to any other part of Japan via the Shinkansen bullet-trains. Even if you do not step outside of the station, it will truly amaze you to see all the stores and eateries in the sprawling underground hub. If you do decide to head out of the station, make sure to take a look at the newly renovated Tokyo Station—what’s old is new again because the station is modeled to look as it did a hundred years ago.

If you have had your fill of Tokyo Station and have time to spare, go back on the Yamanote line to head to the next destination, Meguro Station. The inside of Meguro Station is connected to shopping centers Arte1 and Arte2. Arte2 has a fun and well-known conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Eating raw fish and rice is an adventure for the new inductee if there ever was one. If raw fish isn’t your thing, Arte 2 also has a fusion restaurant called Yuuan that has heated food.

After your belly is full of raw fish or cooked eats, get back on Yamanote to go one train stop to Ebisu Station.

8:00 p.m. Get your drink on in Ebisu

Yebisu Garden Place Tower can be ridden to the upper floors to sneak a peek of the city skyline without the long lines or payment like Skytree and Tokyo Tower.

Ebisu

There are also restaurants upstairs if you decided to skip Meguro Station. The Ebisu area has plenty of bars for an after-dinner drink, and I heartily suggest Bar Martha, Red Dragon, or Buri. Bar Martha is one part jazz bar, one part Japanese whisky fan, and one part mixology. The dim, relaxing atmosphere will be a nice place to kick back after running all over the city, and the tasty snack jars will keep you from needing a midnight snack. Red Dragon is a Japanese take on a pub, with plenty of beer types to keep you going if you prefer a more excitable location. If you are looking for something a little more club and a little less straight up bar, check out Buri. It has a full bar, but it is well known for its semi-frozen one-cup sake. It is also a place where a lot of hookups happen, if that is your sort of thing.

Once you are done with your evening bar hop, call it a night and head back to your accommodations. Be warned, Tokyo does not have all night trains and buses so depending on time you might have to get a cab.

Day 2—The Triangle Experience

8:00 a.m. Breakfast in Shibuya

A bright and early morning awaits your fast-paced tour of Tokyo, especially if you’re jet lagged. Fight fire with fire by heading to your nearest Matsuya for breakfast. They have breakfast plates, but I would suggest the beef bowl with egg on top. It comes with miso soup and will help nurse any lingering hangovers you might be struggling with. Double dare you to try it with a side of natto!

9:00 a.m. Corner 1: Hipster delights in Nakameguro

Today is a bit slower pace. Take the Tokyu Toyoko line to Nakameguro Station and head out of the city center into a slightly more mellow area using what trains call the triangle ticket. Nakameguro Station’s surrounding area was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown as a hipster neighborhood. The Meguro River cuts across the station, making it an ideal place for cute cafés and small shops to line the tiny street and there are plenty of places to snack, buy gifts, and take photos.

10:30 a.m. European influence in corner 2: Jiyugaoka

Once you have had your fill of Nakameguro’s charm, take the Toyoko line further out of the city center by four stops to Jiyugaoka Station where you can mill about a very particularly styled shopping area and eat lunch. This area is known for being inspired by French culture and has plenty of places to try. I would suggest the taco rice for lunch at the Okinawan eatery Taiyou Shokudou. After you have wandered around to your satisfaction, get on the Tokyo Oimachi line over to Todoroki Station.

1:00 p.m. Escape the city without stepping out of Tokyo at Todoroki Valley

Todoroki Station is a way to escape the city without ever leaving it. Truly the definition of suburb, this adorable neighborhood is not a shopping hub like previous locations. Instead, head into Todoroki Valley to experience another, greener side of Japan. Todoroki Valley is amazing. Others have gone so far as to call it a godsend. After all the experience of the city, the trees and quiet sounds of water flowing downstream is a relief. Walking along the river from the station leads to a set of stairs that go up to the temple Fudoson where you can pay your respects, enjoy the view of the waterfall, or relax at the seated cliffside view. Backtrack to the station and re-board the Omiya line for Futakotamagawa Station.

3:00 p.m. Futakotamagawa: Last corner of the triangle

Futakotamagawa Station is based along the Tamagawa River. The side you are on is the Tokyo Metropolitan area and the other side is Kanagawa prefecture. It is worthwhile to walk a bit out of the area first (approximately 20 minutes) or to cab it to the Okamoto Park Old Farmhouse Garden. The park contains an old thatch roof farmhouse where you can see Japanese architecture and culture from the late Edo period (1860s), and it feels like you are stepping out of time. It is open until 4:30 p.m. and closed on Mondays, so mind your timing to ensure you get to see the house and surrounding area. One of the impressive parts of the area is how seamlessly it blends old and new Tokyo together as new shopping malls exist alongside older establishments. Any last minute shopping you need done can be taken care of at the mall surrounding the station or once you get to your airport. 

Ebisu Garden Place Tower, Ebisu, Tokyo, Japan

For more ideas on how to spend a short stay in Tokyo, visit 36 Hours in Tokyo: Kids in Tow.

June 13, 2016 0 comment
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Beauty Products in Tokyo Featured Image

Japanese beauty products are a thriving market, particularly for skin care and anti-aging products. In addition, Japanese cosmetics have now become one of the most popular souvenirs from Japan. Here are our picks for the best, and where you can go to get them!

 

Top Japanese Beauty Products: Isshin-do Facial Masks

Tokyo Japan Makeup Facepack Japanese Beauty Products

Get your moisturizer with a fun character mask!

Where: Tokyu Hands and LOFT department stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 900 yen for a 2-mask pack

 

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

DHC is the #1 rated cleansing oil in the Japanese beauty products market and is highly regarded in the US.

Where: Marui and Atre department stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 700-1700 yen, depending on size

 

Fancl Active Conditioning Toner and Emulsion

Tokyo Japan Japanese Beauty Products

Famous for being preservative-free, and is perfect for sensitive skin. A toner for men also available.

Where: Marui and LOFT department stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 1500-1900 yen

 

Sekkisei Series Toner

This is a high-quality line of Japanese beauty products distributed under the Kose Cosmetic Company. Voted #1 Toner on many Japanese cosmetic charts by customers and users. Best in moisturizing and whitening skin.

Where: Drug stores and department stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 5000 yen for 200ml, 7500 yen for 360ml

 

Elixir Superieur Series Cleasing Gel and Serum

Tokyo Japan Japanese Beauty Products

Another high-quality line of Japanese beauty products under the Shiseido Company. Best in cleansing and skin tightening.

Where: Drug stores and LOFT department stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 2200 yen for the 140 gram tube of the Cleansing Gel, 8100 yen for a 35ml of the Serum

 
Sana Nameraka Honpo series

sananamerakahonpo

 

A series of unique soy-based skincare products including cleansing gel, toner, mask and lotion. Reasonable price for a whole set of skin care.

Where: Drug stores and department stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 700-1500 yen for all products

 

Cure Natural Aqua Gel

No. 1 Exfoliating peeling gel in Japan. Deep clean the skin with gentle touch.

Where: Drug stores and department stores
Cost: 2500 yen for a 250 gram bottle.

 

Saborino Beauty Mask Mezamasheet

This mask is your best friend that will help you to get ready in the morning. Apply the mask for 60 seconds. The apple acid will help get rid of the dead cells on your face and the fruit ingredients will provide you a mixture of vitamins. This mask serves best as your makeup base.

Where: PLAZALOFT
Cost: 390 yen (5 sheets/ pack), 1300 yen (20 sheets/ pack)

 

 

Minimum Golden Beauty Bar

Beauty Bar Tokyo Japanese Beauty Products

Facial lifting with 24K gold covered bar. One of the most popular domestic Japanese beauty products.

Where: LOFT department stores, Yodobashi Electronic stores (list of store locations at the bottom of the page), and Bic Camera department stores (list of store locations at the bottom of the page) throughout Tokyo
Cost: 19,800 yen

 

Yoji-ya Facial Oil Blotting papers

Founded in 1904, Yoji-ya is one of Kyoto’s famous cosmetics brand. Their facial oil blotting papers has always been the number one best selling and an award-winning product. The papers are made by washi (traditional Japanese paper), which does not contain any powder so it is guaranteed that it will not clog your pores.

Where: Check out the list of stores on their website.
Cost: 330 yen (20 sheets in one pack)

 

Laduree (Les Merveilleuses Laduree)

Laduree, one of the famous patisseries in France has now brought the art of their confectionery onto cosmetics. Their best selling product is the “face color rose Laduree,” primarily a blush that comes in the form of rose petals!

Where: Check the list of stores on their website.

 

Bifesta eye makeup remover

Bifesta eye makeup remover is your best solution to wash off waterproof makeup. It is claimed as one of the top-selling makeup removers in Japan.
Where: Tokyu hands, drug stores, PLAZA,LOFT stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 850 yen for 145ml

 

Pelican DEITANSEKI clay & charcoal series

deitanseki charcoal soap

The clay & charcoal series include non-silicone shampoo and conditioner, face and body soap. One of the most popular products is the peat stone face soap, as the micro-pore active ingredients in charcoal will leave your skin bright and clean.

Where: LOFT department stores, drug stores throughout Tokyo.
Cost: 150-2200 yen for all products

 

Kailijumei lipstick

Although based in China, Kailijumei’s flower-jelly lipsticks have gone viral in Japan and also overseas. The lipstick bullet is transparent but it has a real flower inside plus sprinkles of gold. When applied onto your lip, it magically changes the color. This sure is one of the most gorgeous lipsticks you’ll ever find.

Where: Tokyu Hands stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 1800 yen + tax

 

KISS ME Heroine Make Long & Curl Mascara Advanced film

This is known to be one of the top Japanese brand mascara ever since. It is smudge-proof, waterproof and can be removed easily with facial soap. Also, it will make your eyelashes look naturally longer and thicker.

Where: PLAZALOFT , Don Quijote , drug stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 1200 yen + tax

 

Rosette Face Washing Paste 

rosette face wash

Rosette Face Washing Paste comes in various colors to treat different skin types. The paste includes sulfur, which helps treat acne and smoothens your face.

Where:Tokyu Hands  stores, drug stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 423 yen

 

Kanebo Milano Collection Face powder

As one of the brands under Kanebo, the Milano Collection is ranked as the most popular face powder for the last eight years. The face powder contains SPF14 PA++, which will protect your face from UV as well as keeping your skin smooth and bright.

Where: Drug stores throughout Tokyo (reservations available)
Cost: 12000 yen + tax

 

MAQuillAGE Dramatic Lip Treatment

MAQuillaGE’s Dramatic Lip Treatment is formulated with adhesive rich oil that will keep your lips moistened throughout the day.

Where: Department stores, PLAZA stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 2000 yen

 

Shisedo Anessa, Essence UV Sunscreen Aqua Booster SPF50+ PA++++

sunscreen

This waterproof sunscreen ensures a long-lasting protection for your face and body against UVA and UVB rays. The sunscreen won’t make your skin sticky so it can be easily removed with face wash and body soap.

Where: Drug stores, LOFT stores throughout Tokyo
Cost: 1620 yen for 25ml, 3240 yen for 60ml

 

Kracie Ichikami Hair Products

The Ichikami hair series consists of Japanese botanical essences that help prevent further damages to your hair as well as repair existing damages.

Where: Drug stores throughout Tokyo

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

April 12, 2016 0 comment
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As with many long-lived fictional characters, Godzilla’s popularity has waxed and waned over the decades. He’s changed with the times, changed back, and became goofier or more hardcore as the zeitgeist dictated. But the Terror of Tokyo has always had legions of fans. And if you’re one of those fans, you can turn one of your days in Tokyo into a tour of the Godzilla sites!

The Shinagawa Station Tile

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

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

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

First Godzilla Attack – the Yatsuyama Bridge

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

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

Yatsuyama Godzilla

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

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

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

The Yatsuyama Bridge Information

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

Hibiya Chanter Square

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

Hibiya Chanter Square Information

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

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

Toho Studios

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

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

Toho Studios Information

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

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

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku

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

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

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

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku Information

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

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

Tamagawa Sengen Shrine

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

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

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

Tamagawa Sengen Shrine Information

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

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

Nishi-Rokugō Park

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

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

Nishi-Rokugō Park Information

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

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

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

January 2, 2016 0 comment
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Don’t do what I did. I left Tokyo station at the North exit, crossed the street, and started walking around. It took me an hour to find Maruzen in this fashion. It was at this point that I began thinking that Google Maps wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Do this instead. Inside Tokyo station, go towards the North exit. Instead of leaving the station at the exit, instead turn as if you are going to the Subway Tozai Line (blue circle). Walk until you see Mr. Minit; it should be on your right.

Across from Mr. Minit is a sketchy-looking exit. It is unmarked; there is no indication as to where it might lead. Strange for orderly Japan, right? Well, if you go up through this exit, it puts you right at the front door of Maruzen. As soon as you leave the station, crane your neck and look straight up. You will see the big M logo.

maruzen tokyo

Maruzen is a big box store, though their English section is smaller than Kinokuniya’s in Shinjuku. The fourth floor is where the foreign books are located (in addition to English, there are a number of German and French books). The escalator puts you right in front of that eternal bookstore fixture, the cafè. Turn right to get to the good stuff.

The new releases are right up front, and a fiction section was behind that. Both had a good selection. Going in deeper, I found an extensive children’s section, including a number of Golden Books that I knew from when I was just a ‘lil reader. I pulled one off the shelf–Lightning McQueen is having an adventure of some sort. So much for the classics. Still, they had The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which certainly counts in their favor.

Of special interest to English teachers and the parents of young children will be the large section with Oxford Graded Readers and Penguin Active Reading books, to help your kid/student with their vocabulary and reading skills. Another thing that caught my eye was the large collection of Oxford Very Short Intros. These books (currently around 400 different volumes are in print) take topics such as Descartes, AIDS, American History, Fractals, etc. and distill the topic to around 150 pages of easy-to-understand reading. If you want to learn something new but don’t know where to start, these books are great entry points.

After an extensive nonfiction section, the rest of the fourth floor of the Maruzen is taken up with various frip-frappery with only vague connections to books. I could understand the stationery and the pens (even the 10,000 yen pens), but purses? Ties? It just threw off my groove.

WHAT I BOUGHT: The Oxford Very Short Intro to Prehistory.

WEBSITE: http://www.marunouchi.com/e/shop/detail/2015.
Open daily 0900-2100.

Can’t get enough of bookstores? Visit Derek’s comprehensive review of Tokyo’s best bookstores, both big and small.

February 7, 2015 0 comment
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Popcorn is the food trend that is sweeping Tokyo right now. Seattle based Kukuruza Popcorn already has a pretty good clinch on the Omotesando market when it comes to the crunchy and salty treat, but there is another popcorn shop that is right next door in Harajuku. Doc Popcorn started in Colorado and has since spread to several countries and cities, including Harajuku, Japan where they are helping feed the popcorn craze cause.

While Doc Popcorn is a relatively new name in popcorn in Tokyo compared to Kukuruza or Garrett, that does not mean that you should knock them off your list! Where Doc Popcorn shines is in their ability to take classic and well loved flavors and turning them into popcorn marvels of taste. At the Harajuku location of Doc Popcorn, you of course will able to munch on classics like butter and kettle corn, but you may become a bigger fan of either sweet butter or better butter after you have left! Making two out of one is another very Doc Popcorn thing to do. Along with sweet butter and better butter, you can also pick your favorite between cheesy cheddar and triple white cheddar or classic kettle or caramel kettle! Along with classic options, like butter and cheese, Doc Popcorn also takes popcorn flavors to the next level with flavors like apple cinnamon, jalapeno, and salt-n-pepper! Another great thing about Doc Popcorn, is that you don’t have to pick just one flavor! You can put up to two flavors in one bag if you so choose!

For yet another location to go and see what all the popcorn craziness is about, head to the Harajuku Doc Popcorn location and dig in!

Doc Popcorn Harajuku Store Information

Website (via Google Translate) | Facebook (Japanese)

Nearest Station: 13-minute walk from Harajuku JR Station (Yamanote Line)

 

Hours of Operation: 10:00 am to 9:00 pm daily.

Estimated Price: 500-1900 yen for various sizes of bags, all the way up to 2600 yen for a tin.

“Why Go?”: A popcorn break in Harajuku!

October 22, 2014 0 comment
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