Things to do this weekend in Tokyo Friday February 7th – Sunday February 11th


Fri Feb 7, 2014 Saloon


Daikanyama’s Saloon welcomes Tokyo resident Englishman Max Essa for this intimate Friday-night bash, where he will be joined by house veteran Toshiyuki Goto.


Open Fri Feb 7

Time doors 11pm

Admission ¥1,500 (¥1,000 with flyer)

Venue Saloon

Address ZaHouse Bldg. B3F, 1-34-17 Ebisunishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Daikanyama Station (Tokyu Toyoko line); Nakameguro Station (Tokyu Toyoko line, Hibiya line); Ebisu Station


Tokyo Grand Shopping Week

Thu Jan 23 – Wed Feb 5, 2014 Laforet Harajuku , Omotesando Hills, Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, and other area shops and restaurants
Tokyo grand shopping week
Now this is a sales bash that no tourist can miss! Around 260 shops and restaurants in the Harajuku-Omotesando area will be participating with bargains and much more during Grand Shopping Week, a massive sales event that sees a total of 183 stores in the shopping centres Laforet HarajukuOmotesando Hills, and Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku holding sales with discounts of up to 90%. In addition, 79 area shops will advertise specially recommended souvenirs for foreign tourists, while 23 restaurants, including ’takoyaki’, ‘okonomiyaki’, and crepe shops popular with tourists, participate in Restaurant Week with special offers such as free drinks, 10% off the final bill, and free sweets.

Pick up the official Time Out Tokyo-produced leaflet and map for full information on all discounts, souvenir recommendations, and Restaurant Week offers. During the event, foreign tourists who spend ¥1,000 or more at any of the participating shops receive a scratch card, thus participating in a lottery with prices including gift vouchers and gift items. Shoppers who pay with an overseas-issued Visa card also receive an additional scratch card at the time of purchase.

On February 1 and 2, visitors can experience Japanese culture at workshops, with alternatives including trying on anime and manga character costumes or kimonos, traditional ink marbling, origami paper folding, ‘kendama’ (a Japanese ring-and-pin game), and handkerchief decoration. Guided tours of the Harajuku-Omotesando area will also be available.


Open Jan 23-Feb 5

Time Varies by store

Venue Laforet Harajuku , Omotesando Hills, Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, and other area shops and restaurants

Address 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Transport Harajuku station (JR Yamanote Line), Takeshita Exit, Meiji-Jingumae station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda, Fukutochin Lines), exit 5.


The 88th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition

Until Wed Feb 12, 2014 Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Kokufu bonsai exhibition
 Hobbyists battle it out for years just to get their trees accepted for judging at Japan’s (and the world’s) premier bonsai exhibition, first held in 1934. If you attend both parts, you’ll see over 500 of these fascinating little masterpieces.



Open Part 1: Feb 4-7, Part 2: Feb 9-12

Time 9:30am-5:30pm

Admission ¥1,000 (students ¥500)

Venue Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Address 8-36 Ueno Koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ueno Station (Yamanote line), park exit; (Ginza, Hibiya lines), Shinobazu exit


High Street feat. DJ Craze

Fri Feb 7, 2014 Sound Museum Vision

High street DJ Craze

High Street, a ‘street-style party for adults’, returns from a 10-month slumber with a bang. Master turntablist DJ Craze and former DMC world champion Kentaro bring the heat to Shibuya’s Vision with their unrivalled scratch skills – a can’t-miss opportunity for any and all aspiring DJs and friends of technical electronic music.


Open Fri Feb 7

Time doors 10pm

Admission Adv ¥3,000; same-day women ¥3,000, men ¥3,500

Venue Sound Museum Vision

Address 2-10-7 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin, Denentoshi, Tokyu Toyoko, Keio Inokashira lines)



Fri Feb 7, 2014 Womb


The stars will truly be out tonight at Tokyo techno emperor Takkyu Ishino’s regular party, as Germany’s mysterious and masked house maniacs Snuff Crew take over Womb. Minimal techno master A. Mochi will be responsible for keeping the party going in the lounge area.


Open Fri Feb 7

Time doors 11pm

Admission ¥3,500 (¥3,000 with flyer)

Venue Womb

Address 2-16 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Ginza lines), Hachiko exit; (Hanzomon line), exit 3A.


The Mastery of Time

Fri Feb 7 – Wed Feb 12, 2014 Roppongi Hills


2014 marks the 150th anniversary of Swiss-Japanese diplomatic relations, which is the perfect excuse to celebrate something both countries do extremely well: keep time. This exhibition traces the evolution of timepieces from ornate table clocks to modern-day smartwatches, and also displays traditional Japanese-style clocks.


Open Feb 7-12 2014

Time 11am-6pm

Admission Free

Venue Roppongi Hills

Address 6-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Roppongi station (Hibiya line), exit 1C; (Oedo line), exit 3.


Sarabeth’s Daikanyama Special Valentine’s Day Menu

Until Fri Feb 14, 2014 Sarabeth’s Daikanyama
Chocolate explosion

Owing to its heavenly french toast and pancakes, Sarabeth’s morning offering is known as the ‘Queen of breakfasts’. This special Valentine’s menu – ‘Chocolate Explosion’ – is only available at the Daikanyama location, and features a harmonious mixture of fluffy pancakes topped with chocolate sauce and marshmallows, finished off with a small explosion of chocolate sauce.


Open Feb 3-14

Time 9am-10pm
(Last order for food 9pm, for drinks 9:30pm)

Venue Sarabeth’s Daikanyama

Address 1-35-17 Ebisunishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Daikanyama Station (Tokyu-Toyoko line)


Chinese Spring Festival 2014

Until Fri Feb 14, 2014 Yokohama Chinatown

While it’s fun to visit whatever the season, Yokohama’s Chinatown district is never livelier than during its New Year festival. The two weeks of festivities include traditional lion dance performances and music on February 1, 2, 8, 9 and 11 (at Yamashitacho Park), as well as a parade of traditional costumes on the afternoon of February 8.


Open Jan 31-Feb 14

Time Various times

Venue Yokohama Chinatown

Address Yamashitacho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

Transport Motomachi Chukagai Station (Minatomirai line), Ishikawacho Station (Keihin-Tohoku, Negishi lines)


The Lumineers

Sat Feb 8, 2014 Shibuya AX
The lumineers
Ever since ‘Ho Hey’ became our resident earworm, we’ve been waiting for this folk-pop outfit to make their way to Japan. Nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy in 2013 and familiar faces at Coachella and Glastonbury, The Lumineers are easy on the ears (and eyes). Don’t miss them at Shibuya AX.


Open Sat Feb 8 2014

Time Show starts 6pm (venue opens from 5pm)

Admission 1/F Standing: ¥6,000 (advance tickets) 2/F Reserved seats: ¥6,000 (advance tickets)

Telephone 03-3444-6751

Venue Shibuya AX

Address 2-1-1 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Harajuku station (Yamanote line), Omotesando exit or Meiji-Jingumae station (Chiyoda line), exit 1.


Acid City

Sat Feb 8, 2014 Air
Acid city
 As last year’s ‘Acid City’ album proved to be a success, veteran producer DJ Emma decided that a regular acid house-themed party was in order in Tokyo. His plan has now been realised, and this first date at Air will feature Hokkaido’s deep house star Kuniyuki.


Open Sat Feb 8

Time doors 10pm

Admission ¥3,000 (¥2,500 with flyer, under-23s ¥2,000)

Venue Air

Address Hikawa Bldg B1F-B2F, 2-11 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Daikanyama station (Tokyu Toyoko line).


Off The Rocker & Verbal present Rad

Sat Feb 8, 2014 Sound Museum Vision
Off the rocker
Shinichi Osawa’s and Masatoshi Uemura’s DJ unit Off The Rocker teams up with big-time rapper and producer Verbal to bring you Rad, an ‘exciting and chaotic’ party, where they’ll be joined by 80Kidz and DJ Kyoko. Join the madness at Shibuya’s Vision.


Open Sat Feb 8

Time doors 11pm

Admission Women ¥3,000, men ¥3,500

Venue Sound Museum Vision

Address 2-10-7 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin, Denentoshi, Tokyu Toyoko, Keio Inokashira lines)


Little Nap Music Stand

Sun Feb 9, 2014 Vacant
Little Nap Music Stand
 Yoyogi Park’s Little Nap Coffee Stand celebrates its third anniversary with an evening of music, with performances by artists Tica and Kyo Sakurai, as well as DJs Shunji Mori, Michiharu Shimoda, and Pepe California. Jinnan bistro Rojiura provides the food, and interestingly-named pastry makers Mad Donuts Riot serve their signature delicacy. Special t-shirts and prints are also available for purchase. Reservations are required – send an email titled ‘Little Nap Music Stand’ to the address below, and write down your names and contact details.


Open Sun Feb 9

Time doors 4pm

Admission ¥3,000 (includes a cup of coffee) ※Reservation required – email

Venue Vacant

Address 3-20-13 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Transport Harajuku station (JR Yamanote Line) or Meiji-jingumae station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)


Zoushigaya Handicraft Market

Sun Feb 9, 2014 Kishimojindo , Otori Shrine
Zoushigaya handicraft market
 This handicraft market runs once a month at Kishimojindo shrine, selling everything from pottery and woodcrafts to bags and accessories. Browse the stalls while chatting to the artists over a slice of delicious cake and home-roasted coffee.


Open Sun Feb 9

Time 9am-4pm

Venue Kishimojindo , Otori Shrine

Address 3-15-20 Zoshigaya, Toshima-ku

Transport Kishibojin-mae Station (Toden Arakawa line) or Zoushigaya Station (Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin line)


Chocolate Making at Lindt Jiyugaoka

Sat Feb 8 – Sun Feb 9, 2014 Lindt Chocolat Café Jiyugaoka
 Lindt jiyugaoka
 Everyone knows Lindt, and everyone wants some of their goodies for Valentine’s Day. Not only can you get the classic heart-shaped gift box for your beloved one, you can also drop by the café in Jiyugaoka to try making your own matcha or raspberry chocolate. Events are held twice on both Saturday and Sunday, and up to eight people can participate in each event (a minimum of four people are required). Reservations are essential.


Open Feb 8-9

Time 10am-noon, 2-4pm on both days

Admission ¥5,000 (includes ingredients and box)

Telephone 03 5726 8921

Venue Lindt Chocolat Café Jiyugaoka

Address 2-9-2 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo

Transport Jiyugaoka Station (Tokyu Toyoko line)

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The next olympic sport? Synchronized walking, only in Japan

The video of a 47-year-old tradition at Japan’s Nippon Sports Science University went viral in November last year. ‘Shuudan koudou’, which means ‘Collective Action’, is a unique routine where a group of students put up an amazing display of synchronized walking.

On November 14, 77 students performed before a crowd of 11,000 people at the university’s festivities. Their walking routine was similar to military movement exercises or synchronized marching band movements. But they were far more intricate and precise. Watch the video, and you’ll know just how precise. Seriously, the way they move is simply mind-blowing.

synchronized walking

Prior to the program, the students practiced three days a week, for five months straight. Their training included exercises to get them in shape for the dazzling display. They ended up walking almost 1,200 kilometers during practice (roughly the distance between Paris and Rome).

23-year-old Keiko Suzuki, the captain of the team, said: “People say Japanese youngsters these days lack the ability to work collectively in a group, but we just proved that we don’t.” She also said that the training would give them an edge in their job search. “We all mastered this highly disciplined training and made it our habit to stick to strict rules. I believe this experience will be an asset as we enter into the job market.”

Synchronized movements are embedded deep into Japan’s culture. In Japanese schools, morning assemblies have students standing equidistant from each other. The NSSU group movement is a very popular tradition. It is almost like the western equivalent of cheerleading. The complicated routines have been practiced since 1966, and the very first exhibition by female students happened in 2011.

NSSU is famous for producing Olympic gold medalists, sumo wrestlers, and surprisingly, politicians. Many of its graduates go on to work as Physical Education teachers, trainers and coaches. The annual festival is meant to be a display of the students’ athletic prowess.

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Got hay fever? No fear, the new ‘Pollen Robo’ is here!

For several years, Weather forecaster Weathernews Inc. has deployed a special robot at this time of the year to help Japan’s hay fever sufferers better navigate the pollen season.

The new Pollen Robo designed for this year will be capable of collecting data on not only pollen, but also on PM2.5 particulate matter and yellow sand that blows across the sea from China.

The company is dispatching 1,000 units across the country.

Hay fever sufferers will be able to access the information online in real time, allowing them to know where the levels are highest and plan their days accordingly.

Weathernews said pollen levels started climbing in the Kanto region (the Kanto region is where Tokyo is located)  from late January, and will greatly increase from around mid-February.

The amount of airborne pollen is expected to climb by 10 percent this year from an average year.

The spherical Pollen Robo measures 15 centimeters in diameter and has human facial features such as eyes, nose and a mouth. The eye color also changes according to the amount of pollen it detects.

Weathernews Inc.’s new Pollen Robo will monitor pollen and PM2.5 levels.

Weathernews Inc.’s new Pollen Robo will monitor pollen and PM2.5 levels.

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Dog Castle – The Coolest Dog House in Japan

Japanese love their pets, but some take their love to a whole new level!

Meet Nanami,  a playful Japanese pooch can claim to be the only dog in the world to be living in a regular castle.

Built as a small replica of Japan’s famous Matsumoto Castle, Nanami’s castle stands 2.5 meters tall and features three rooms. At the front is the main hall, where Nanami can just lay on his belly and watch out for the mailman, while at the back he has a sand-floor room, for cooling down during the hot summer days, and a rear room to hide in during thunderstorms.

Located in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Nanami’s castle took his owner six months to complete, and cost 50,000 yen ($583). While it may not be as old and famous as the real Matsumoto Castle, built in 1504, Nanami can be proud of his new dog castle.

Japanese dog house

Matsumoto castle








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Things to do this week in Tokyo: Tuesday January 28th- Sunday February 2nd

of Montreal

Tue Jan 28, 2014 Tsutaya O-West

Of Montreal

Funky indie rockers of Montreal (actually of Athens, Georgia) return to Japan after a five-year absence, during which time their style has gone through a number of mutations, most recently returning to a form of classic, straightforward rock with the 2013 ‘Lousy with Sylvianbriar’ album.


Open Tue Jan 28

Time doors 6pm, show 7pm

Admission Adv ¥5,000, same-day ¥5,500

Venue Tsutaya O-West

Address 2-3 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya station (Yamanote, Ginza, Hanzomon lines), Hachiko exit.


Akiko Endo exhibition: ‘Opening the Abyss of the Soul’

Until Tue Jan 28, 2014 Ueno Royal Museum
The evening bell has gone
 Renowned contemporary Tokyo artist Akiko Endo’s work has been compared to Escher’s for its layered complexities. Visit her solo exhibition at Ueno Royal Museum for a retrospective of her work, including a new film ‘depicting the four seasons’ and a talk by the artist herself.



Open Jan 15-28 2014

Time 10am-5pm daily (until 6pm during special exhibitions).

Admission ¥600 adults, ¥400 university students, free for high school students and children

Telephone 03 3833 4191

Venue Ueno Royal Museum

Address 1-2 Ueno Koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ueno station (Yamanote line), park exit; (Ginza, Hibiya lines), Shinobazu exit.


Jamie Cullum

Wed Jan 29 – Thu Jan 30, 2014 Orchard Hall
Jamie Cullum
Standing at around 5’4″ and with a six-album discography of easygoing swing-pop, Jamie Cullum has become known as the ‘jazz hobbit’ – a nickname that was reinforced when he married the rather taller author and model Sophie Dahl in 2010. Matters of height aside, Cullum is eminently likeable on stage and has branched out musically in recent years to embrace house and trip-hop – there’s even a guest vocal spot by Roots Manuva on his new record Momentum. This Tokyo date, his first visit to Japan since playing at Fuji Rock in 2010, kicks off a nationwide tour including gigs in Osaka, Nagoya, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Tickets go on general sale on July 20.


Open January 29-30

Time Doors 6pm. Gig 7pm

Admission ¥6,500 adv

Venue Orchard Hall

Address Bunkamura, 2-24-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya station (Yamanote, Ginza, Hanzomon lines), Hachiko exit.


Positive Short Films Program

Until Fri Jan 31, 2014 Brillia Shortshorts Theatre
Positive short films program
This program includes five short films with positive or otherwise light-hearted messages, allowing visitors to escape their daily troubles and emerge from the theatre with smiles on their faces. Check out the German flick Dear Mr Starr, a thoughtful story about a hairdresser in early 1990s Germany who admires the Beatles drummer.


Open Jan 2-31 2014

Time 5:30pm-7:30pm

Admission Adults ¥1,000, children & seniors ¥800

Venue Brillia Shortshorts Theatre

Address Filmee 2F, 5-3-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa

Transport Shin-Takashima Station (Minatomirai line)


Los Lonely Boys

Thu Jan 30, 2014 Liquidroom
Los Lonely boys
Get a swinging introduction to ‘Texican’ rock ‘n’ roll with Los Lonely Boys tonight at Liquidroom. Hailing from the great state of Texas, the three Garza brothers won a Grammy in 2005, and captured the hearts of many Japanese listeners at the 2012 edition of Fuji Rock. Anyone partial to classic rock should enjoy this trio’s version, which is further flavoured with country and tejano influences.


Open Thu Jan 30

Time doors 6.30pm, show 7.30pm

Admission ¥6,500

Telephone 03 3444 6751

Venue Liquidroom

Address 3-16-6 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ebisu station (Yamanote, Hibiya lines), west exit.


Asobinite with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Fri Jan 31, 2014 AgeHa


Celebrate the 21st birthday of Harajuku pop princess Kyary Pamyu Pamyu at this AgeHa bonanza. The lineup is of course led by the birthday girl herself, while other performers include Yasutaka Nakata‘s Capsule, DJ Kyoko, and rapper Verbal. Advance tickets are on sale now.


Open Fri Jan 31

Time doors 9pm

Admission Adv ¥3,000, same-day ¥4,000, couple ticket ¥5,400

Venue AgeHa

Address 2-2-10 Shinkiba, Koto-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shinkiba station (Rinkai, Yurakucho lines).


Alien Radio feat. SIS

Fri Jan 31, 2014 Sound Museum Vision

Alien radio

Vision’s underground techno party ‘Alien Radio’ returns with a bang after an all too long absence and welcomes Berlin native SIS of ‘Trompeta’ fame. Dance your socks off to his original but easily digestible beats.


Open Fri Jan 31

Time doors 11pm

Admission Women ¥3,000, men ¥3,500 (one drink included)

Venue Sound Museum Vision

Address 2-10-7 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin, Denentoshi, Tokyu Toyoko, Keio Inokashira lines)


Hyperdub 10

Fri Jan 31, 2014 Unit
Hyperdub 10
Feel the beat at Daikanyama’s Unit tonight, as London-based dubstep and bass label Hyperdub showcases some of its representative artists at this 10-year anniversary party, which will see appearances by heavy hitters like owner Kode9, DJ Rashad, and Laurel Halo.


Open Fri Jan 31

Time doors 11pm

Admission Adv ¥3,800, same-day ¥4,500

Venue Unit

Address Za House Bldg, 1-34-17 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Daikanyama station (Tokyu Toyoko line).


No Age

Sat Feb 1, 2014 Shibuya Club Quattro

No age

The LA-based based punk duo No Age recently released their fourth studio album, and seem to be getting closer and closer to perfecting their innovative sound that combines noise, psych, and hardcore elements with an honest punk attitude. If you haven’t heard of these guys yet, this Tokyo gig’s a great chance to see what you’ve been missing out on.


Open Sat Feb 1 2014

Time doors 6pm, show 7pm

Admission Adv ¥5,000

Telephone 03 3444 6751

Venue Shibuya Club Quattro

Address 5F, 32-13-4 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin, Denentoshi, Tokyu Toyoko, Keio Inokashira lines), Hachiko exit


Cocoon / Sven Väth

Sat Feb 1, 2014 Womb
German techno godfather and Cocoon record label founder Sven Väth has been doing his thing for over three decades now, including running the annual ‘Cocoon Ibiza’ bonanza at the party island’s Amnesia club since 2000. The legend now brings his stuff to Tokyo, hopefully treating fans to one of his famed extended-length sets.


Open Sat Feb 1

Time doors 11pm

Admission Same-day ¥3,500 (¥3,000 with flyer)

Venue Womb

Address 2-16 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Ginza lines), Hachiko exit; (Hanzomon line), exit 3A.


Gift feat. Cassy

Sat Feb 1, 2014 Air
 Minimal techno master DJ Masda is one of the ever-presents in the Tokyo underground scene, having attracted some of the world’s top talent to the city with his long-running ‘Cabaret’ party. His new creation ‘Gift’ now welcomes Berliner Cassy, a regular at the German capital’s famed Panorama Bar, who will be joined by Japanese talents Kabuto and Ryosuke.



Open Sat Feb 1

Time doors 10pm

Admission ¥3,500 (¥3,000 with flyer, under-23s ¥2,500)

Venue Air

Address Hikawa Bldg B1F-B2F, 2-11 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Daikanyama station (Tokyu Toyoko line).


Yun*chi & Una at Tokyo Grand Shopping Week

Sun Feb 2, 2014 Omotesando Hills Space O


Tokyo Grand Shopping Week, a massive sales bash for foreign tourists, is in full swing all over the Harajuku-Omotesando area. On February 2, Harajuku-associated singers Yun’chi (about to release her first album this month) and Una will perform at Omotesando Hills’s Space O, flanked by ‘kendama’ performance unit Zoomadanke. Yun’chi will take the stage first, at 2pm, followed by Zoomadanke (from 3.45pm) and Una (from 5.15pm).


Open Sun Feb 2

Time 2pm-6pm

Venue Omotesando Hills Space O

Address 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Omotesando Station (Ginza, Hanzomon, Chiyoda lines), Meiji-Jingumae Station (Chiyoda, Fukutoshin lines)


Fuji in the Bakumatsu and Meiji Eras

Until Sun Feb 2, 2014 JCII Photo Salon
Mt Fuji
Continuing the JCII gallery’s series of historical photo exhibitions, this show displays around 100 shots of Mt Fuji, taken in the early years of photography that coincided with the beginning of Japan’s Meiji era. Pictures by Felice Beato, von Stillfried, Wilhelm Burger, Renjo Shimooka, Juzaburo Usui, and other great photographers of the time show the sacred mountain and its surroundings from angles that have become inaccessible in modern times, while also documenting the unchanging beauty of Fuji, recently registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Open Jan 6-Feb 2 2014 (closed Mon)

Time 10am-5pm

Admission Free

Telephone 03 3261 0300

Venue JCII Photo Salon

Address JCII Bldg., 25-banchi, Ichiban-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Transport Hanzomon Station (Hanzomon line), exit 4


Shinro Ohtake: Documenta 13 – Materials

Until Sun Feb 2, 2014 NADiff Gallery
Shinro Ohtake
Contemporary artist Shinro Ohtake was one of the contributors to last year’s documenta, the world-famous modern art exhibition taking place once every five years in Kassel, Germany. This Ebisu gallery exhibition takes a closer look at his documenta piece ‘Mon Cheri: A Self-Portrait as a Scrapped Shed’, and also marks the launch of a special-edition materials publication by the artist.


Open Dec 20-Feb 2 2014 (closed Mon)

Time noon-8pm

Telephone 03 3446 4977

Venue NADiff Gallery

Address B1F, 1-18-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ebisu Station

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Where to stay: Check out the new “hotspot” for cheep accommodations in the newly renovated flophouse district

Tokyo's Sanya area has long been known for its flophouses for day laborers.When Tokyoites think of Sanya, they traditionally think of poverty. The district in the eastern part of the Japanese capital, was long known for its clusters of cheap rooming houses for day laborers. These days, the area is attracting a different crowd: budget-conscious foreign tourists.

Juyoh Hotel last summer set up a common room where guests can gaze at a Japanese-style garden.

Juyoh Hotel last summer set up a common room where guests can gaze at a Japanese-style garden.

Located right in the heart of the city, Sanya makes a convenient jumping-off point for sightseeing. Hotels offering cheap yet modern accommodations are starting to cash in.

The Kangaroo Hotel is one such establishment. The hotel charges 3,300 yen ($31.2) per night for a single room. It counts Canadians, Germans, Thais and other nationalities among its guests. Visitors from Southeast Asia, in particular, have been increasing rapidly since Japan relaxed visa restrictions last year. In 2013, the Kangaroo Hotel’s occupancy rate rose about 10 percentage points to 90%.

To meet the demand, the hotel is investing around 100 million yen to build a new four-story building across the street. The annex, which is to have 18 guest rooms and English-speaking staff, is to open in December.

Fumio Kosuge, the Kangaroo Hotel’s owner, says many foreign tourists prefer to stay in an inexpensive room to free up more money for shopping and entertainment. With the more touristy Asakusa and Roppongi districts nearby, there are plenty of ways for Kangaroo guests to part with yen. Kosuge aims to build up his hotel’s capacity to be ready for a surge in visitors when the Summer Olympics come to town in 2020.

Flophouse district

Over at Juyoh Hotel , another Sanya spot catering to the budget-minded, foreign tourists now account for 80-90% of guests. During the year-end and New Year’s holiday season, the hotel’s 72 rooms were fully occupied. Dutch and Indonesian travelers were among the customers.

Mago Yoshihira, Juyoh Hotel’s manager, predicted day laborers in Sanya will continue to make way for foreign tourists. Last summer, the hotel set up a common space where guests can gaze at a small Japanese garden. Juyoh is also working on an English map of neighborhood restaurants. A single room costs as little as 2,900 yen a night.

Yet another no-frills hotel aiming to ride the tourism wave is Hoteiya. It takes reservations through foreign online booking portals; it is also working on a website in several languages, including English and Thai.

Hoteiya often has 30-40 tourists from abroad, some of whom stay for more than a week. There are repeat visitors who use Hoteiya as a place to crash after practicing Japanese martial arts. A single room goes for roughly 3,000 yen per night.

Meet the foreigners

Sanya is not the only flophouse district becoming a favorite with visitors from overseas. In the Kotobuki area of Yokohama, not far from Tokyo, a community building company called Koto Lab has made 40 rooms available in three buildings. The company says it welcomes some 10,000 foreign tourists per year; a night in a hostel-type room can be had for 2,300 yen.

One thing that makes Koto Lab’s lodgings unique is that Japanese who want to chat with travelers are welcome to partake in Sunday breakfasts. Tomohiko Okabe, a company representative, said he hopes to offer more opportunities for exchanges, such as by setting up lobby bars so people can mingle over drinks.

Under Japan’s law governing inns and hotels, a rooming house is defined as an establishment that offers lodgings for multiple guests, generally with shared toilets and bathing facilities. Youth hostels and mountain cabins fall under this category.

Some municipal authorities are trying to encourage renovation of rooming houses in hopes of attracting more travelers to their districts. In Taito, rooming house owners who renovate or rebuild their facilities can draw up to 14 million yen in support from the ward government.


Categories: Where to stay | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where to eat: Best yakitori in town

Where to get your tasty skewered chicken fix in Tokyo

Best known as every Japanese oyaji‘s favourite beer snack, the humble yakitori (grilled, skewered chicken) is most commonly consumed in noisy pubs, at simple roadside stalls, or at various open-air festivals taking place year-round all over the country. However, the gourmet value of this simple delicacy is also widely recognised, best evidenced by the existence of Michelin-starred yakitori restaurants in Tokyo. Below, we have selected 10 of the best places in the city for getting your mouthwatering chicken-on-a-stick fix, ranging from friendly neighbourhood izakayas to splendidly sophisticated bird bars.


Located close to Sendagi Station, this tiny yakitori eatery caters to all friends of wine and/or nihonshu. Go for the standard menu (¥5,400, includes appetiser, skewers, and a main dish) or pick your favourites off the blackboard – menus change daily, with the birds being grilled ranging from duck to shamo chicken, and vegetable plates rotating seasonally. Choose your drinks from a wide selection of organic wines from France, Italy, and Japan, or make your pick from the equally impressive nihonshu lineup. The friendly owner is always ready to make recommendations and answer any questions about ingredients and preparation methods. Reservations required.


2-29-4 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Transport Sendagi Station (Chiyoda line), exit 1

Telephone 03 3821 2989

Open 6pm-10pm / closed Mon

Isehiro Kyobashi


Be it at lunch or at dinner, Kyobashi’s Isehiro will never let a yakitori lover down. The lunch bowl (yakitori-don) maintains the same high quality as the dinner courses (from ¥4,725), which allow visitors to taste a variety of chicken parts, all not only flavoured differently but also featuring different textures. We recommend the five-skewer bowl (¥1,800), which contains delicacies like liver and lean sasami breast.


1-5-4 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Transport Kyobashi Station (Ginza line), exit 6

Telephone 03 3281 5864

Open 11.30am-2pm, 4pm-9pm / closed Sun, holidays





This tiny yakitori eatery in Musashi-Koyama often fills up right away after opening, making reservations highly recommended. The very reasonably priced yakitori (from ¥150) are outstanding, particularly the perfectly cooked livers and tsukune meatballs, which can be combined with a nice bottle from the shop’s expansive sake collection. If you’re ever strolling the area, do take a peek in to see if there are any seats available.


3-14-7 Koyama, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo

Transport Musashi-Koyama Station (Tokyu Meguro line)

Telephone 03-5749-3455

Open 5pm-2am / closed Thu



Located along the row of one-man shops and wholesalers near the foot of Ryogokubashi bridge, Edomasa is a chicken-and-drinks bar that’s been a fixture in the neighbourhood for decades. Slip in through the curtain and find the counter right there – the tiny space fits only 12 patrons. Items from the shop’s early days are still in use, while the wall is decorated with hand-written notes from old-timer Sumo wrestlers. Nothing beats the ambience here.


2-21-5 Higashi-Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Transport Higashi-Nihonbashi Station

Telephone 03-3851-2948

Open Mon-Fri 5pm-8pm, Sat 5pm-6.30pm / closed Sun, holidays




 Boasting one Michelin star and located a quick walk from Kinshicho station, this yakitori restaurant is a true rarity. Using only the freshest chicken liver, Toriki’s giblets are absolutely the main attraction here, while those uncomfortable with intestines will be relieved to hear that the rest of the menu maintains a similarly high quality. Reservations for weekends can be difficult to come by, but your luck might be better if you aim for a weekday after 9pm.


Kosaka Bldg. 1F, 1-8-13 Kinshi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

Transport Kinshicho Station (Hanzomon, Sobu lines), north exit

Telephone 03 3622 6202

Open 5.30pm-10.45pm (Sat from 5pm) / closed Sun, holidays



Ginza Torishige

Ginza Torishige

This upscale joint in Ginza has been in business for over 80 years, and the experience shines through in their tsukunemeatballs, light-tasting quail skewers, and chewy duck dishes. Don’t forget to end your meal with a bowl of Torishige’s famous ‘dry curry’.‘Would you like dorai kare [curried rice] with that?’ the staff invariably ask customers when they place their first order at this upscale yakitori restaurant in Ginza. Trust us: just say yes.


6-9-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ginza Station (Ginza, Hibiya, Marunouchi lines), exit A2

Telephone 03 3571 8372

Open Mon-Fri 11.30am-2pm, 5pm-10pm, Sat 4pm-9pm / Closed Sun & hols





The standard course (¥4,800) is the only way to go at this Nakameguro bar, but it’s also most certainly the right way; starting with artistic appetisers and stretching all the way from small veggie bites to excellent chicken skewers, Iguchi takes yakitori to another level.

The black-and-white interior, topped off with a bonsai tree, is only part of the attraction at this Nakameguro yakitori bar. The standard course (¥4,800) is the only way to go here, but it’s also most certainly the right way; starting with appetisers ranging from foie gras and liver pâté to caciocavallo cheese and stretching all the way to small veggie bites and excellent chicken skewers, it’s hard to find anything wrong with this presentation taste-wise. Big eaters may leave slightly unsatisfied, but yakitori beginners will love the variety on offer. Reservations required.


Highness Nakameguro 109, 1-2-9 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo

Transport Nakameguro Station

Telephone 03-6451-0575

Open Mon-Sat 6pm-midnight, Sun 4.30pm-midnight


Souten Minamiguchi

Souten Minamiguchi

The can’t-miss dish at Otsuka’s famed Souten is the shiitake-flavouredtsukune meatball, a juicy and powerful creation that rises high above the standard. Adventurous diners might want to take a shot at the chicken sashimi plate with its symphony of textures.

Pick and choose off the massive menu at Otsuka’s famed Souten, an upscale yakitori eatery that lives up to its fancy reputation. One can’t-miss dish is the shiitake-flavoured tsukune meatball, a juicy and powerful creation that rises above the standard. The adventurous among us might want to order the chicken sashimi plate, which includes some truly mind-boggling offerings. Don’t forget to hang around and order a cup of nihonshu orshochu from the impressive drink selection.


Saga Kato Bldg. 1F, 3-39-13 Minami-Otsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo

Transport Otsuka Station (JR lines), south exit; Mukohara Station (Toden Arakawa line)

Telephone 03 5944 8105

Open 5.30pm-11pm / closed Mon




Opened in summer 2013 in Yotsuya’s Arakicho, this small yakitori place has attracted quite a following in the past few months. The ‘tasting course’ (¥2,000) is great for first-timers, and features an impressive variety of juicy skewers that go perfectly with wine.

Among the many small bars and eateries in Yotsuya’s Arakicho, this small yakitori place has attracted quite a following in the past few months. Full courses are recommended, particularly the impressive 10-course ‘Yakitori menu’ (¥5,000). The ‘tasting course’ (¥2,000) is great for first-timers, and features an impressive variety of juicy skewers. Wine-drinkers might want to combine a crisp white with the liver pâté (¥700), another silky smooth creation.


Wind Arakicho 1F, 9-1 Arakicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Transport Yotsuya-sanchome Station (Marunouchi line); Akebonobashi Station (Shinjuku line)

Telephone 03 5315 4630

Open 5pm-midnight


Carnivores in the know might have heard of this Shibuya eatery, which lets customers grill every chicken part imaginable, yakiniku-style, in a homely atmosphere. The proprietress explains preparation methods and ingredients carefully, so even first-timers needn’t worry. Book in advance for the samgyetang soup (¥4,800), a dish best enjoyed in good company.


1-9-4 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station

Telephone 03-3797-1002

Open 6pm-11.30pm / closed Sun, holidays

Categories: What to eat, Where to eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things to do this week in Tokyo Wednesday January 22nd- Sunday January 26th

This week’s hottest events, gigs, films, festivals and more

Salon du Chocolat 2014

Wed Jan 22 – Mon Jan 27, 2014 Isetan Main Building 6F, 7F Event Plaza
Salon du Chocolat 2014
With Valentine’s Day just a few weeks off, Tokyo’s most indulgent romantics will be heading to Shinjuku Isetan to stock up on fancy choccies at this year’s Salon du Chocolat. Now into its 12th year, the Tokyo incarnation of Paris’s famous chocolate trade show bears little relation to its French forebear: gone are the free samples, workshops and chocolate fashion shows, replaced by what more closely resembles a department store food court on the first day of the New Year sales. If you don’t mind braving the crowds, though, there’ll be a range of exotic, hard-to-find treats on offer from the likes of world-famous chocolatiers Patrick Roger and Oriol Balaguer – and look out for the Japan debuts of Thierry Bamas and David Capy.


Open Jan 22-27 2014

Time 10am-8pm (Jan 27 until 6pm)

Venue Isetan Main Building 6F, 7F Event Plaza

Address 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shinjuku-Sanchome station (Marunouchi, Shinjuku lines), exits B3, B4, B5 or Shinjuku station (Yamanote, Chuo lines), east exit; (Oedo line), exit 1.


Wed Jan 22, 2014 Liquidroom

Get in touch with your savage side. They only launched their debut album in 2013, but already this punk revival quartet from London has played at impressive venues including David Lynch’s exclusive Paris nightclub, Silencio. Japan saw them at Fuji Rock ’13, and now Savages are back for a more intimate affair at the legendary Liquidroom.


Open Wed Jan 22

Time doors 6pm, show 7pm

Venue Liquidroom

Address 3-16-6 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ebisu station (Yamanote, Hibiya lines), west exit.

Yoji Yamada Retrospective

Until Wed Jan 22, 2014 National Film Centre Main Hall
Yoji Yamada
Celebrating Yoji Yamada’s 50 years as director, the National Film Centre presents a retrospective of the decorated auteur’s work. A total of 54 films will be screened, ranging from Yamada’s first movie ‘Nikai no Tanin’ to 20 films from the ‘Tora-san’ series, as well as more recent works like ‘Twilight Samurai’. The director himself will also give a talk on December 3 (from 5pm, following the 4pm screening).


Open Dec 3-Jan 22 2014 (closed Mon, Dec 28-Jan 6)

Time See schedule

Admission ¥500, students & seniors ¥300, schoolchildren ¥100

Telephone 03 5777 8600

Venue National Film Centre Main Hall

Address 3-7-6 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Transport Kyobashi station (Ginza line), exit 1.


Thu Jan 23, 2014 Shibuya Club Quattro
These three sisters took Fuji Rock by storm last summer, and are now back in Japan to promote their critically acclaimed debut studio album, ‘Days Are Gone’. The LA-based trio’s music combines folky rock with R&B influences, an eclectic style that’s been widely praised in industry circles on both sides of the Atlantic. Hop on the fast-moving bandwagon and check out these rising stars at Shibuya’s Club Quattro.


Open Thu Jan 23 2014

Time doors 6pm, show 7pm

Admission Adv ¥5,000

Telephone 03 3499 6669

Venue Shibuya Club Quattro

Address 5F, 32-13-4 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin, Denentoshi, Tokyu Toyoko, Keio Inokashira lines), Hachiko exit

Meguro Gajoen Hyakudan Kaidan Festival

Fri Jan 24 – Mon Mar 3, 2014 Meguro Gajoen 100 Steps Staircase
Meguro Gajoen Hyakudan Kaidan Festival
Meguro Gajoen’s celebration of Hinamatsuri, or Girls’ Day, has become a popular yearly occurrence. This year features hina dolls from Kyushu, highlighting the region’s strong traditions in marking this special day. Marvel at the various accessories required in constructing the perfect seven-tieredhina-dan platform, and take the opportunity to learn more about this centuries-old custom.


Open Jan 24-Mar 3 2014

Time 10am-6pm

Admission Adv ¥1,200, same-day ¥1,500, students ¥800

Telephone 03 5434 3140

Venue Meguro Gajoen 100 Steps Staircase

Address 1-8-1 Shimo Meguro, Meguro, Tokyo

Transport Meguro Station (JR Yamanote line, Tokyu Meguro line, Nanboku line, Mita line)

Independent feat. Darren Emerson

Fri Jan 24, 2014 Sound Museum Vision

Independent feat. Darren Emerson

Dance legend and former ‘Underworld’ member Darren Emerson returns to Shibuya’s Vision and kicks off 2014 for the ‘Independent’ party. Having focused on touring the world’s top clubs while managing his ‘Detone’ record label, Emerson has been a very busy man in recent years. Catch the globetrotting mix master tonight at this rare Japan appearance.


Open Fri Jan 24

Time doors 11pm

Admission Women ¥3,000 (incl. one drink), men ¥3,500 (incl. one drink)

Venue Sound Museum Vision

Address 2-10-7 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin, Denentoshi, Tokyu Toyoko, Keio Inokashira lines)

Jessy J

Fri Jan 24 – Sat Jan 25, 2014 Cotton Club
Jessy J
American saxophonist and singer-songwriter Jessy J is one of the hottest names in contemporary jazz right now, having mesmerised audiences all over the world ever since releasing her debut album ‘Tequila Moon’ in 2008. Her latest album included guest appearances by smooth jazz giants like Jeff Lorber, Norman Brown, and Jimmy Haslip, creating a fusion sound with R&B and latin elements that was well received by critics. These two nights of gigs at Cotton Club are the perfect opportunity to experience her soulful and energetic performance.


Open Jan 24-25

Time Fri Jan 24: first show – doors 5pm, show 6.30pm; second show – doors 8pm, show 9pm. Sat Jan 25: first show – doors 4pm, show 5pm; second show – doors 6.30pm, show 8pm

Admission Table seat ¥6,800, box seats from ¥8,500

Venue Cotton Club

Address Tokyo Building Tokia 2F, 2-7-3, Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan

Transport Tokyo Station (JR Lines, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line : Marunouchi South Exit)

Guidance 9th Anniversary feat. Enzo Elia

Fri Jan 24, 2014 Amate-Raxi
Guidance 9th anniversary
Eclectic ‘Balearic Gabba’ member and Berlin native Enzo Elia joins the ‘Guidance’ crew at Shibuya’s Amate-Raxi for the ninth anniversary of this regular party, which looks like a must for friends of creative dance floor beats. Joining the headliner will be DJs like Altz, Kenji Takimi, and CMT.


Open Fri Jan 24

Time doors 11pm

Admission ¥3,500 (incl. one drink), ¥3,000 with flyer

Venue Amate-Raxi

Address 3-26-16 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Shonan-Shinjuku line), New South exit

Meewee Dinkee Exhibition (Second Stage)

Sat Jan 25 – Sun Jan 26, 2014 Maywa Denki Atelier
Meewee Dinkee Exhibition
Meewee Dinkee is the first fashion brand launched by the art unit Meiwa Denki and this is their second exhibition since the end of last year. Movie director and blogger Torico is the brand’s managing director and designer, with graphics done by Aruta Soup who returned to Japan in 2012 after working in London. Experience their unique perspective of the world, based on the concept of creating fashion from art.


Open Jan 25-26 2014

Time Unconfirmed

Twitter maywadenki

Venue Maywa Denki Atelier

Address 3-14-30 Ebara, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo

Transport Musashi-Koyama Station (Tokyu Meguro Line)

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde

Sat Jan 25 – Sun Apr 6, 2014 Mori Arts Center Gallery
Mori Arts Center Gallery
Having debuted at London’s Tate Britain in 2012, this epochal exhibition now comes to Tokyo and to the Mori Arts Center Gallery. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed in 1848 by John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Holman Hunt, challenged convention in Victorian Britain and endeavoured to overthrow the art orthodoxy of the time through a return to the classical roots of Italian 15th-century painting, renowned for its rich and complex form of expression. This show traces the evolution of the movement through 72 representative pieces.


Open Jan 25-Apr 6

Time Daily 10am-8pm (Jan-Feb: Tue until 5pm)

Admission Adv ¥1,300, students ¥1,000, children ¥400; same-day ¥1,500, students ¥1,200, children ¥500

Telephone 03 5777 8600

Venue Mori Arts Center Gallery

Address 52F Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Roppongi Station (Hibiya, Oedo lines)

Classics feat. Jeru the Damaja

Sat Jan 25, 2014 Sound Museum Vision
Sound Museum Vision
Now housed at Shibuya’s Vision, the ‘Classics’ party has done the Tokyo club scene a huge service over these last eight years by flying the flag for true 90’s hip hop. Having already brought artists like The Beatnuts and DJ Jazzy Jeff to town, Classics now pulls an ace out of their sleeve and present the legendary Jeru the Damaja, one of the premier rappers of the 90’s New York scene, best known for his epoch-making 1994 album The Sun Rises in the East. DJ Southpaw Chop will also be playing during the night, and as usual, the Deep Space lounge will echo with 90’s R&B classics.


Open Sat Jan 25

Time doors 11pm

Admission Women ¥3,000 (one drink incl.), men ¥3,500 (one drink incl.)

Venue Sound Museum Vision

Address 2-10-7 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin, Denentoshi, Tokyu Toyoko, Keio Inokashira lines)

John Talabot: DJ-Kicks

Sat Jan 25, 2014 Air
John Talabot- DJ-Kicks
Can John Talabot do it again? His set at last year’s Sonar Sound was one of the highlights of that bash, but this ‘indie dance’ virtuoso now tries to make it two in a row when he comes to Daikanyama’s Air for a full three-hour set. His latest ‘DJ-Kicks’ album, released in autumn 2013, borrowed from genres ranging from 90’s deep house to Italo-disco, and won over critics worldwide. Talabot will be joined by DJs Moodman and Gonno for this gig, ensuring a night of delirium for all friends of electronic music.


Open Sat Jan 25

Time doors 10pm

Admission ¥3,500 (¥3,000 with flyer), under-23s ¥2,000

Telephone 03 5784 3386

Venue Air

Address Hikawa Bldg B1F-B2F, 2-11 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Daikanyama station (Tokyu Toyoko line).

See ‘Diamond Fuji’

Fri Jan 24 – Thu Jan 30, 2014 Sunshine 60 Building Observatory
Diamond fuji
The phenomenon known as ‘Diamond Fuji’ occurs when sunset and sunrise align perfectly with the peak of Japan’s highest mountain, creating a mysterious, jewel-like image. This twice-a-year occurrence is best viewed from Sunshine City’s 60th-floor observatory, with its 360-degree views of Tokyo and surroundings. The exact date for the first ‘diamond’ is January 27, but the effect can be seen a few days before and after that as well. Don’t miss the opportunity completely though – you’ll have to wait until the middle of November for the next alignment.


Open Jan 24-30

Time 10am-9.30pm

Admission ¥620, schoolchildren ¥460, seniors ¥500

Venue Sunshine 60 Building Observatory

Address 3-1-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ikebukuro station (Yamanote line), east exit; (Marunouchi, Yurakucho lines), exit 35 or Higashi-Ikebukuro station (Yurakucho line), exit 2.

Ueda Shoji & Jacques Henri Lartigue: Play with Photography

Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
This exhibition explores the work of Ueda Shoji and Jacques Henri Lartigue, two photographers who shared a lifelong delight in the essence of amateur photography. In other words, the joy of simply taking snapshots of the world around them. Both became giants in their field at a time when modern photography was reaching maturity, and even though their individual work contrasts Japanese and French culture, as a whole their work poses one question: what is the human significance of photography?


Open Nov 23-Jan 26 2013

Time Tue-Wed, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm; Thu-Fri 10am-8pm
Closed Mon

Admission Adults ¥700, university students ¥600, high school/junior high school students and over 65s ¥500

Telephone 03 3280 0099

Venue Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography

Address Ebisu Garden Place, 1-13-3 Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ebisu station (Yamanote line), east exit; (Hibiya line), exit 1.

Categories: Things to do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japans whacky holidays: Coming of age day

The second Monday of January is Coming-of-Age Day, a national holiday to encourage those who have newly entered adulthood to become self-reliant members of society. (The holiday used to be on January 15, but in 2000 it was moved to the second Monday of the month.) Last Monday we celebrated the coming of age day for 2014.

Local governments host special coming-of-age ceremonies for 20-year-olds, since an “adult” in Japan is legally defined as one who is 20 or over. They gain the right to vote on their twentieth birthday, and they’re also allowed to smoke and drink. But along with these rights come new responsibilities as well, and so age 20 is a big turning point for the Japanese.

Coming-of-age ceremonies have been held since time immemorial in Japan. In the past boys marked their transition to adulthood when they were around 15, and girls celebrated their coming of age when they turned 13 or so. During the Edo period (1603-1868), boys had their forelocks cropped off, and girls had their teeth dyed black. It wasn’t until 1876 that 20 became the legal age of adulthood.

These days, males generally wear suits to their coming-of-age ceremony, but a lot of females choose to wear traditional furisode – a special type of kimono for unmarried women with extra-long sleeves and elaborate designs. For unmarried women, furisode is about the most formal thing they can wear, and so many of them don it to the event marking the start of their adult life.

Coming of Age Day is a joyous occasion in Japan. Although most 20-year-old girls choose to wear a traditional kimono, get their nails painted, and have their hair done up, usually with some curls and a few accessories such as flowers or jewels. But one young adult who goes by the name “Harutamu” on Twitter, celebrated her milestone with some of the most extreme fashion we’ve ever seen. Don’t take our word for it, have a look yourself:

Harutamu crazy hair

Harutama full lenght

▼ Let’s play “Where’s Harutamu?”

Group pic

Don’t worry, Harutamu’s extreme fashion has company. Introducing the Coming of Age dress of Twitter user, “Richu,” who just happens to be Harutamu’s friend:


If you’re shocked by these ladies’ choice of clothing and accessories, take a look at how they look on the weekend:


Harutama and Richu are both part of a gyaru group called Black Diamond. Gyaru are fashion-conscious young women who like to dress in extreme makeup, but we probably didn’t have to tell you that. Upon turning 20 years of age, these girls are now technically adults in the eyes of the Japanese government, but we’re not so sure this is the kind of adult they had in mind. Especially with Twitpic captions such as, “Check out my long-sleeved kimono for the coming-of-age ceremony ♡ mini prostitute ʕ•̫͡•ʔ♡ʕ•̫͡•” (but we have to give her props for adding bear emoticons). As expected, most Twitter users who retweeted Harutama and Richu’s pictures were also unsure if the pair could be considered adults and one user wondered, “What happened to the Japan of old?” But no matter your opinion, we suppose there’s nothing left to say but, “Congratulations!” and hope for the best as these young ladies continue their journey into adulthood.

Categories: history of Japan, Japanese customs, Must see, News about Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An office for everyone: 5 share spaces in Tokyo for creatives and freelancers

With the cost of property in Tokyo so high, and an estimated 6,000 people squeezed into every square kilometre of the city, more and more urbanites are starting to think small. As well as choosing tiny houses that provide everything required for living but with none of the clutter, people are learning that life is far easier if, rather than yearning for their own private spaces and a multitude of possessions, they learn to share.

Following in the footsteps of movements such as last winter’s Warm Share, which offered incentives to members of the public who frequented designated–heated–public areas instead of sitting at home with their air-con cranked up, a number of “share spaces” are cropping up all over Tokyo, inviting both business people and freelance workers to use their facilities rather than staying in an office or cooped up at home.

So throw your laptop in your bag and come with us as we take a quick look at eight of Tokyo’s trendiest shared places to work.

Offering a wide variety of workspaces and the facilities you’d find in most modern offices but with a cooler, comfier vibe, share spaces are a sign of things to come in urban Japan. With high-speed internet access practically everywhere, ultra-portable computers, and data always obtainable from the cloud, many jobs can be done without the need for a dedicated office. But when team members need to get together, or when individuals simply need a place to work other than their own home, where can we turn?

Enter share spaces.

  • 1. The Terminal Harajuku

The terminal Harajuku

It might look a little bit like an Internet cafe, but you won’t find anyone playing WoW here. For 380 yen (US$3.80) per hour or 1,000 yen ($10.15) for three, freelancers at The Terminal can enjoy the facilities of a typical office without needing to suit up or clock in. Those with a lot of work to get through can pay 2,000 yen and remain glued to their computer for the entire day, while business types can rent private meeting rooms for 5,000 yen per hour.

Other facilities on offer include: space for giving presentations, copy machine access, access to additional power outlets, space for relaxing and reading, drink service, a roof garden for smokers, and of course wireless internet access.

The terminal

▼ A cute and cosy presentation room, complete with projector.

presentation room terminal

  • 2. Portal Point Kita Aoyama

Portal Point Kita Aoyama

Situated between trendy Omotesando and Gaienmae Station, “Transit Sharestyle Office” Portal Point is a sophisticated blend of a hotel, business centre, and cafe. One of the most extravagant of Tokyo’s newest share spaces, a hotel-style concierge service is available at reception, with staff on hand to direct groups or freelancers to the area best suited to their needs and handle future bookings.

With a dedicated conference room, long, well-lit tables for team-based tasks, personal booths for those who prefer cubicle-style office spaces, and even low chairs with coffee tables for those caffeine-fuelled tete-a-tetes, there’s something here for everyone. Beware, though, these facilities won’t come cheap; prices range from 52,000 yen (US$527) per month for personal-use desks with standard office equipment, to 399,000 yen ($4,000) for offices suitable for small businesses.


  • 3. Academy Hills Roppongi

Academy hills Roppongi

Another marvellously trendy and expensive workspace is Academy Hills, which can be found on the 49th floor of Roppongi Hills‘ iconic Mori Tower and aims to bring together “space, books, and opportunity.” Private study/work spaces can be rented for just 10,000 yen ($100) per month, with creatives and businesspeople alike given full access to an enormous library, desk and meetings spaces, and of course those absolutely stunning views of the surrounding city to take in while getting creative. You’ll need to be a ‘community member’ to gain entry to the facilities, but then if you’re hanging around one of Tokyo’s poshest areas, chances are you already are!

  • 5. Creative Lounge MOV Shibuya

Creative lounge MOV Shibuya

Soft sofas, armchairs and expensive-looking bicycles brought indoors, Creative Lounge MOV is something of a trendster’s dream. Boasting nine uniquely decorated meeting rooms costing between 6,000-16,000 yen ($60-162) per session, a spacious, comfortable lounge with rows of private booths, and a “residents’ area” which is made up of small rooms designed for individuals or pairs to use on a daily basis, MOV can be forgiven for looking a little like a hangout for the those who refuse to ride anything other than fixies and only listen to bands that no one else has heard of.

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