Monthly Archives: July 2013

Where to drink: Indulge your inner child while drinking as a grown up

There really is nothing cooler than crushed ice in summer, but it can seem a little childish. The garish colors can bring to mind crayons and club nights rather than the fruits they’re intended to imitate. Fortunately, The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo’s bar has a more sophisticated solution. Located on the 26th floor of the hotel in the originally named The Dining Room, this upscale watering hole will be serving a Special Patissiere’s Kakigori summer cocktail guaranteed to cool you down and get your spirits high. Sweltering customers can customize the icy treat by choosing from five base-flavor syrups including peach, matcha, green apple with herb, tropical curry and cassis—all garnished with a layer of fresh fruit and topped with champagne. The “adult” afternoon tea set includes one kakigori cocktail, a plate of biscuits and is accompanied by coffee or tea.

¥1,800, available daily 2:30-5:30pm until Sep 16. 26F The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo, Shinagawa East One Tower. Nearest stn: Shinagawa. Tel: 03-5783-1111. www.intercontinental-strings.jp

Map:

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Hello Kitty in cosplay

If you’re interested in Japan, especially in its pop culture, you probably know “Hello Kitty,” a kitten character with a red ribbon. But did you know that this finnicky little cat likes to do cosplays just like her fans all over the world?

When you travel to Japan, check out local souvenir shops, where you’ll find Hello Kitties in hundreds of different costumes! You’ll find a Kitty climbing Mt. Fuji, being in Harajuku Girl style, or disguising herself as a fish dealer at the Tsukiji Fish Market. They may be embraced by a Big Buddha in Kamakura or dressed like a Geisha in Kyoto. They’re often sold as a pen, a strap, a key chain or as a lucky charm and are very popular as souvenirs. The costume or background always have something to do with the area you are in, historically or locally. Ask the locals about the meaning of the costume! It might be a great opportunity for visitors to learn more about the local area!

Thanks to the Japanese “buy-a-souvenir-when-you-travel” culture and their need to buy something that is typical of that area, most souvenirs have developed these special ‘local’ charms. Food is no exception. Not just charms are bought as souvenirs, Kit Kat is a good example of a great souvenir to bring home to your family: Green Tea Kit Kats in Kyoto, Melon Kit Kats in Hokkaido, and Soy Source Kit Kats in Kyushu.

Hello Kitty in her many getups, together with a splash of local Japanese culture makes the perfect souvenir for your trip, together with a kitkat bar!

Hello-Kitty-theme-park.jpg

Hello Kitty's Kawaii Paradise

Want to know the best place to buy Hello Kitty?

Naturally the pink-tastic Hello Kitty Kawaii Paradise in Odaiba!

It’s more like a mini indoor theme park  – a pink place of madness presided over by a Hello Kitty as Venus statue (it’s in Venus Fort mall, do you see?). As well as a Hello Kitty shop, it contains a cinema, arcade and…. a Pancake Party!

Yes, like most of us, Hello Kitty’s idea of paradise is as many pancakes as you can eat, preferably with your own face stamped on them, and a side order of Melon Fanta (best drink ever). She even lets her friends in on this one – Kids will love this place, and so will you.

The rest of the place is less exciting, unless you’re a huge Hello Kitty fan – the small shop sells (obviously) Hello Kitty cuteness and there’s an arcade at the back with Taiko drum and Pokemon games, air hockey and even a mini JR train you can sit in. It’s worth having a wander though, as the decorations are crazy – as well as the enormous Kitty Venus, there are fountains and flying angel bunnies and pink bows ahoy.

When you are there check out the cinema! There’s also a kids play area if you need a break from yours. And make sure you have a peek at the rest of Venus Fort too – it has painted ceilings that change throughout the day and in the winter there were lights to make it look like falling snow. Plus, there’s a small branch of Kiddyland for more kawaii.

Definitely one for the Hello Kitty fans, and anyone else should swing by if you’re in Odaiba (and like pancakes). I wouldn’t say it’s worth the trip in itself though.

 

Kawaii Paradise

Hello Kitty shop and statue. Photo by Tasty Miso

Hello Kitty's Pancake Party

Hello Kitty’s Pancake Party

Hello Kitty's Pancake Party

Maple pancakes and Melon Fanta.

Hello Kitty's Kawaii Paradise

How to get there

Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise is in the Venus Fort shopping mall at Palette Town on Odaiba. Odaiba is a man-made island in Tokyo Bay, which is connected to the rest of Tokyo via the Rainbow Bridge, monorail and boat. Both the boat and monorail are quite pricey so make a day of it – there’s plenty to see and do in Odaiba.

The monorail is called Yurikamome and connects at JR Shimbashi station. You can use your Suica card or buy a day ticket. Get off at Aomi station for Palette Town and the various malls are well signposted. Hello Kitty’s Kawaii Paradise is on the lower floor.

The boat to Odaiba leaves from Hinode Pier, or you can take in some other sights on the way, including Asakusa and Hamarikyu garden. Do note that the boats only run a few times a day so check the timetables beforehand. We took the boat one way and the monorail back – the boat trip was fantastic with great views of Odaiba, Tokyo and the Rainbow Bridge. The monorail is quite cramped but runs frequently and quickly (also it’s a monorail and thus super-exciting!).

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Things to do: Boutique shopping and more in Tokyo’s Jiyugaoka

Boutique Shopping and More in Tokyo’s Jiyugaoka

It’s hard to believe that Jiyugaoka is only ten minutes by train from Shibuya. Walking the calm and sophisticated streets of this leafy residential area, the gaudy neon and Manga inspired mayhem of Shibuya seem a world away.

For the discerning international visitor Jiyugaoka offers a glimpse of an urban Japan rarely seen by other tourists. For Tokyoites, however, this place is no secret and many dream of making a life here. It’s easy to see why as you join young families, dating couples and singles, all out to enjoy the area’s understated, yet creative and classy, shopping and dining scene.

Jiyugaoka is relatively compact and rewards an aimless stroll. Below are some suggestions for spending a half-day in the area.

Map:

SHOP

There are a wealth of fashion boutiques and home-ware stores here that offer astute shoppers the chance to move away from high-street lines and find something unique. Many collections and pieces balance elements of European and Japanese design.

Jiyugaoka boutique

You’ll want to explore the many unique shops of Jiyugaoka.

Watashi no Heya and Quatre Saisons – Located on Sunset Street, these popular stores have collections of home-ware accessories, tending towards a clean, organic sensibility.

Popeye Camera – Enthusiasts will love this store just north of the station, which sells trinkets with which to deck out your camera along with frames and albums to display your Japan pics. There’s also a delightful collection of vintage cameras.

Luz – A smart little shopping center for Japanese fashion on Suzukake Street which attracts a younger crowd who want urban style without losing sophistication.

Jiyugaoka Department Store – Next to the train station (central exit) this department store harks back to an older era (and an older clientele). It’s an interesting local attraction without being a tourist trap, and a great place for authentic souvenirs.

EAT CAKE

Jiyugaoka Cake Shop

Refuel for more exploration with sweets and a coffee.

The Japanese obsession with cake is astonishing given how slim everyone is. (Where does it all go?). Jiyugaoka has an abundance of French inspired boulangerie (French Bakeries) for you to drool over. A local favorite is Pais S’eveille on Hilo Street which sells an exquisite range of cakes, cookies and jams. For a more low-brow experience (yes, Jiyugaoka is capable) Sweets Forrest on Green Street has a whole floor of treats for you to enjoy.

MEET THE LOCALS

Green Street Jiyugaoka

Green Street in Jiyugaoka is a great place to meet the locals.

Green Street, so named for the row of trees running down the center, is one of Jiyugaoka’s main thoroughfares. On the pedestrianized stretch south-east of the train station you’ll meet many locals, visitors and the occasional old-timer hanging out on benches beneath said trees. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a break with your purchase from the boulangerie and watch some beautiful people rocking the latest in tasteful Japan fashion.

GO TO TEMPLE

Joshin Temple Jiyugaoka Tokyo

Joshin Temple: A traditional treasure in modern Jiyugaoka.

Follow Green Street west out of town and you’ll arrive at Joshin Temple, also known as Kuhonbutsu. The temple is a mystery. The mystery being how a place so staggeringly beautiful and peaceful, surrounded by some thirty million people, could be so little visited. Founded in 1678, it’s a large complex of amazing buildings, Buddhas, gates and bells, hidden in an area of woodland. People spend days chasing around Kyoto for experiences like this. And it’s free! I almost feel guilty for writing about it.

DINE AL FRESCO

Jiyugaoka, Tokyo outdoor dining

Al Fresco dining opportunities abound in leafy Jiyugaoka.

Opportunities to dine Al fresco in crowded Japan are limited so take advantage of the charming options in Jiyugaoka to round off your visit. One of the nicest terraces belongs to the Rakeru restaurant on Hillside Street. Surrounded by greenery it offers privacy, peace and fresh air. Although it’s a chain restaurant it’s one of the best places to try an ‘only in Japan’ combination of omelet and rice. Otherwise known as omuraisu!

 
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Things to do: How To Turn Your Cat into Totoro

How To Turn Your Cat into Totoro

Step 1: Cut out the shapes and decorate them with a felt tip pen.

Step 2: Make sure you have a grey cat at your disposal that is willing to sit still long enough for you to place the ornaments on top and for you to make a picture

Step 3: Don’t try to strangle said cat if you are unable to get it to sit still long enough for you to take a picture

Step 4: Enjoy your handy work

In case you are not an avid Anime fan and are wondering what the heck a Totoro is, it is actually an owl and this is what the original looks like:

You can see more of him at the Ghibli museum. Be sure to reserve your entrance ticket one month in advance!

Details:

Address: 1-1-83 Simorenjaku, Mitaka-shi,
Tokyo 181-0013

Map:

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What to eat: Summertime (ramen) noodles

Hiyashi Chuka: Ramen’s Summertime Sibling

Hiyashi Chuka, a dish of cold ramen noodles with a chilled tare sauce and vibrant toppings, is one of the best parts of summer in Japan. Characterized by pale yellow ramen noodles and colorful toppings of sliced ham, cucumbers, and fried eggs, this seasonal dish has become a culinary icon for the Japanese summer.

The name Hiyashi Chuka literally means “chilled Chinese food.” The dish first appeared in Sendai about 80 years ago as a combination of Western, Chinese, and Japanese influences. However, neither Japan nor China claim the dish as their own and, despite its commercial success, the origins of Hiyashi Chuka are virtually unknown. This dish of chilled ramen noodles and refreshing toppings has spread throughout Japan, becoming one of the most popular dishes to eat during the hot summer months. Some consider Hiyashi Chuka an iconic treat, especially in the southern areas of Okinawa, Osaka, and Kyoto.

Hiyashi Chuka itself is an aesthetically gorgeous dish. It is composed of springy, pale yellow ramen noodles, dipped in a light brown, sweetish tare sauce, and topped with sliced fried eggs, cucumbers, and ham. Other varieties of Hiyashi Chuka also contain sliced carrots, ginger, chicken, tomatoes, bean sprouts, sesame seeds, and barbecued pork. All of these colorful toppings are arranged methodically on top of the bed of chilled ramen noodles in a circular fashion, producing both a beautiful and delicious meal. The careful arrangement of the dish highlights the importance of presentation, as well as taste, in Japanese cuisine and culture.

Although convenience stores and ramen shops both serve this summer staple, the quality of the Hiyashi Chuka varies greatly depending on the shop where it is purchased. Most 7-Eleven or Lawson convenience stores sell pre-made Hiyashi Chuka in typical, plastic containers in the Bento lunchbox section. Since they are sold pre-packaged, the ramen noodles from a convenience store Hiyashi Chuka are typically chewier and less flavorful than if they were freshly made. At a ramen restaurant, on the other hand, the noodles are softer and almost melt in your mouth.

Since Hiyashi Chuka is such a simple dish, you can taste the price difference from a convenience store, a cheap ramen restaurant, and a more expensive traditional restaurant. For cheap Hiyashi Chuka, made freshly at a ramen restaurant Ban-Nai (also known as Bannai) is a popular choice. They have over thirty branches in Tokyo, as well as a few outlets in Osaka, Iwate, and Nagano prefectures. High quality Hiyashi Chuka depends on the location; there are many well-known traditional restaurants with popular Hiyashi Chuka offerings, it’s best to ask the locals where their favorite place is!

If you have a chance, try eating Hiyashi Chuka at many different places and prices to find your favorite. While the ingredients vary depending on the prefecture, these delicious yellow, springy noodles that have become synonymous with summer in Japan are guaranteed to make you smile.

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Where to go: Day trips and weekend breaks around Tokyo

Day trips and weekend breaks

Chiba

Sawara

If you only do three things…
The Inoh Tadataka Museum
Japan’s mapmaking pioneer acquired a taste for cartography after retiring from the family business in 1794, and created a map of the country’s coastline so detailed that it would remain in use for another century. This museum dedicated to Inoh’s life and work sits just across the river from his old house. Tue-Sun, 9am-4.30pm; closed Mon (except national holidays). Adults 500 yen, kids 250 yen. 1722-1 Sawarai, Katori, Chiba (0478 54 1118; www.city.katori.lg.jp/museum)


Gutter Bridge by TANAKA Juuyoh, on FlickrCanal trip
Sawara was once a thriving centre of commerce, and its old canal still survives today. Take a boat ride past the traditional buildings of Chiba’s ‘Little Edo’, and under the famed (though not particularly awe-inspiring) twelve bridges of Sawara. Daily, 10am-4.30pm (May-Sep). Adults 1,200 yen, kids 600 yen. Boats depart from outside Inoh Tadataka’s Former Residence (0478 55 9380; www.kimera-sawara.co.jp)

Sawara Municipal Aquatic Botanical Gardens
The 100-metre wisteria tunnel is at its peak in late April and early May, but that’s just a prelude for the Iris Festival that runs for a month from late May, with 1.5 million flowers in bloom. Daily, 9am-4.30pm. Adults 500 yen, kids 250 yen (during Iris Festival: adults 700 yen, kids 350 yen). Transport: Yodaura line bus from Sawara Station bound for Itako, getting off at Suisei Shokubutsuen-mae.

Where to eat
Koboriya Honten
It’s a tourist trap, sure, but it’s got pedigree: the original Koboriya opened 220 years ago, and its current home dates back to 1892. The house speciality is kurokiri soba, buckwheat noodles made with added seaweed that turns them squid-ink black (900 yen). 505 Sawarai, Katori, Chiba (0478 52 4128; http://koboriya.jp).

Where to stay
Ichiranso
This homely ryokan compensates in price for what it lacks in elegance: full board costs a not-unreasonable 6,800 yen per person. 3839-1 Sawarai, Katori, Chiba (0478 55 2029; www.ichiransou.com)

How to get there
The trip by JR takes just under two hours from Tokyo Station, changing at Narita Station (1,620 yen).

Minamiboso Area

If you only do three things…
Shell fishing
The tidelands of the Boso Peninsula are prime territory for clamming, and at low tide hordes of parents and kids go ferreting in the mud for shellfish. There are a few spots around Kisarazu, Nakanoshima being the easiest to reach by train. Until Aug 3. Adults 1,400 yen (up to 2kg), kids 700 yen (up to 1kg). Nakanoshima, Kisarazu, Chiba (0438 23 4545; www.jf-kisarazu.jp). Transport: 20 mins walk from Kisarazu Station (JR Uchibo line)


Nokogiri Mountain by simimasa, on FlickrMount Nokogiri
This dramatic peak’s name literally translates as ‘Sawteeth Mountain’, a reference to the exposed outcrop at its top (the view from which is dubbed ‘jigoku nozoki’ – peeping into hell). It’s also home to a Buddha statue that dwarfs Kamakura’s in size, towering to 31 metres.Transport: Nokogiriyama Ropeway from Hamakanaya Station (JR Uchibo line). (Daily, 9am-5pm. Adults (12 and over) 900 yen round-trip, kids 450 yen. 0439 69 2314; www.mt-nokogiri.co.jp)

Mother Farm
A perennial family-pleaser since 1962, Mother Farm sprawls across 250 hectares of rolling countryside. The animal attractions include a sheepdog show, duck dash, and the chance to milk cows, though you can also stroll through fields of flowers – or go bungee jumping, if you’re so inclined. Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4.30pm; Sat-Sun and national holidays, 9am-5pm. Adults 1,500 yen, kids 800 yen. 940-3 Tagura, Futtsu, Chiba (0439 37 3211;www.motherfarm.co.jp/en). Transport: Shuttle bus from Kimitsu Station (JR Uchibo line); call 0439 37 3211 to reserve

Where to eat
Sushi no Kaede
You’ll have to reserve at least a day in advance if you want to snag one of the six counter seats, but if you’re looking for top-notch seafood, it’s worth it. Omakase sets start from 5,000 yen. Open by reservation only. 1-19-7 Gion, Kisazaru, Chiba (0438 98 5504; www.geocities.jp/sushi_kaede). Transport: Gion Station (Kururi line)

Where to stay
A popular option with group parties, the no-frills Futtsu Misakiso is housed within a park that stretches across a natural cape extending into Tokyo Bay. Full board starts from 6,900 yen per person. 2342-2 Futtsu, Futtsu, Chiba (0439 87 2611 www.tschiba.com/misaki). Transport: Nitto Bus for Futtsu Koen from Aohori Station (JR Uchibo line)

How to get there
The west coast of the Boso Peninsula is accessible by JR line from Tokyo via Chiba and Soga stations. The Tokyo-Wan Ferry runs once an hour between Kurihama, near Yokosuka (8-17-20 Kurihama, Yokosuka, Kanagawa), and Kanaya (4303 Kanaya, Futtsu, Chiba). Adults 700 yen one-way, kids 350 yen; cars from 2,300 yen one-way

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What to buy: Special inflatable umbrella for todlers designed by Japanese housewife

my_1st_umbrella_japan

One of the reasons that I really like writing about Japan is that there is a steady flow of awesome design concepts from here that few other countries can match. Some of them are incredibly simple and elegant, and My 1st Umbrella is a perfect example of this.

Umbrellas can be terribly and pokey dangerous items, especially for kids, and parents might be concerns about children getting sharp parts in their eye, or jamming their fingers in the moving components. So one clever Japanese entrepreneur has come up with an absolutely brilliant solution. Her inflatable umbrellas are great for young children, as they are light, easy to carry, and most of all, entirely safe. It looks almost like a bath toy, in fact.

Another clear advantage is portability. One umbrella can be deflated in about ten seconds, quickly folded up and put into a bag or purse.

Interestingly the creator of the product, Hiroko Yoshida, used to be a housewife, and is now the CEO of My1st. So far her umbrella has been featured on Japanese TV and on the popular publication Nikkei Trendy.

If you would like to pick one up for your own little one, My 1st Umbrella is available atvarious retailers around Japan.

 

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Where to drink: What a hoot, after cat and rabbit cafe’s, now you can enjoy your coffee break with an owl for company

Written by: Kunihiko Miura

An owl was looking into my eyes through a glass wall at Tori no Iru Cafe (bird cafe) in the Kiba district of Koto Ward, Tokyo. Nowadays, cafes where customers can connect with owls are quietly gainly popularity in central Tokyo with people seeking comfort.

Mika Toriyama, 40, who opened the cafe in December, said, “I wanted as many people as possible to see beautiful owls.”

In the cafe, horned owls and other species of birds are kept in a glass enclosure. For a fee, customers can enter the enclosure and touch the birds.

Customers were happily chatting about the birds, saying, “The feather pattern on this bird is pretty, isn’t it?” while drinking coffee and other beverages.

At another cafe in the Tsukishima district of Chuo Ward, Tokyo, Fukuro no Mise (owl spot), more than 10 kinds of owls freely interact with patrons.

  • At Fukuro no Mise, owls receive regular talon buffing so they won’t hurt customers when perched on their arms.

Customers are charged an hourly fee, which includes a drink. Customers can choose their favorite bird and place it on their arm or shoulder.

The cafe also sells birds, and the owner said more than 30 birds have been sold in the past six months.

The cafe is so popular that on weekends there is a long line in front of the shop before it opens.

Yukika Ofuji, a 34-year-old company employee who frequents the cafe, smiled with an owl on her arm and said, “I feel comforted as the birds closely watch me when I worry about illness or work, for example.”

Though it is unclear whether owls have a therapeutic effect on people, how about enjoying a drink with an owl on your arm, when you need a break from work?

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Things to do this week in Tokyo July 29th-August 4th 2013

Oi Oktoberfest 2013 (TCK 1)

Mon Jul 29 – Fri Aug 2, 2013 Tokyo City Keiba
How many Oktoberfests is too many Oktoberfests? Tokyo is pushing things to the limit this summer, with a total of ten editions of the Munich beer festival (plus Asahi’s pseudo-Oktoberfest in late August). Tokyo City Keiba is one of the newest converts to the cause, and will be hosting a pair of mini-festivals during the summer. Expect the usual mix of suds, sausages and sauerkraut, with beers from German and Japanese breweries, all served up in proper glasses. The first runs from July 29 to August 2, with the second going from August 12 to 16.

Details

Open August 12-16

Time 2.20pm-9pm

Admission Free

Venue Tokyo City Keiba

Address 2-1-2 Katsushima, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo

Asovision

Mon Jul 29, 2013 Sound Museum Vision

Clubs

Proving that you don’t have to wait until the weekend to have a good party, this regular bash organised by the Asobisystem agency turns Monday into the most bangin’ night of the week. Producer Yasutaka Nakata and his barnstorming electro-house duo Capsule top the bill, joined by event regulars including Ram Rider, Verbal and Yun*chi.

Details

Open July 29

Time Doors 10pm

Admission ¥3,500 on the door; ¥3,000 with flyer, ¥2,500 adv

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)

Savages

Mon Jul 29, 2013 Astro Hall

Music

UK hype bands don’t always translate, but this all-female post-punk quartet has been leaving nothing but corpses in its wake during 2013. Savages recall a lot of music you might already know – PiL, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Dead Kennedys, even PJ Harvey – but the high points of debut album Silence Yourself are far too thrilling to dismiss as mere pastiche. Fresh from making their Japan debut at Fuji Rock, the group heads to Tokyo for a headlining show at Astro Hall. Tickets go on sale on July 13.

Details

Open July 29

Time Doors 6pm. Gig 7pm

Admission ¥4,500 adv

Venue Astro Hall

Address New Wave Harajuku Bldg B1F, 4-32-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Harajuku station (Yamanote line), Takeshita exit or Meiji-Jingumae station (Chiyoda line), exit 5.

Mumford & Sons

Tue Jul 30, 2013 Studio Coast

Music

Strap on your waistcoats and pull on your boots: having stormed to worldwide success with a hugely popular combination of banjos, braces and big, big choruses, Marcus Mumford’s travelling band are finally making their Japan debut this summer. With an appearance at Fuji Rock Festivalalready confirmed, the group have announced an additional Tokyo date.

Details

Open July 30

Time Doors 6pm. Gig 7pm

Admission ¥6,000 adv

Venue Studio Coast

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

Transport Shin-Kiba Station (Rinkai, Yurakucho lines)

66th Tsukiji Honganji Bon Dance Festival

Wed Jul 31 – Sat Aug 3, 2013 Tsukiji Honganji

Around Town

Mid-summer is synonymous with obon, the traditional Japanese festival of the dead – and where there’s obon, there’s usually dancing. Get in on the action at one of Tokyo’s more established obon festivals, held across four evenings at Tsukiji Honganji temple. There’ll be taiko drumming and group dancing every night, while August 2 – for reasons that we can’t quite determine – has been designated ‘fancy dress day’.

Details

Open July 31-August 3

Time July 31-Aug 2, 7pm-9pm; Aug 3, 6pm-8.30pm

Venue Tsukiji Honganji

Address 3-15-1 Tsukiji, Chuou-ku, Tokyo

Transport A 1-minute walk from Tsukiji Station (Hibiya Line : exit1) / A 5-minutes walk from Shintomichyo Station (Yuurakuchou Line)・Higashiginnza Station (Asakusa Line)・Tsukijishijyou Station (Toei Ooedo Line)

Dreamgirls

Wed Jul 31 – Sun Aug 25, 2013 Tokyu Theatre Orb

Performing Arts

Bust out the sequins: Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen’s Supremes-inspired musical is returning to the Tokyo stage in a touring Broadway production, to mark the first anniversary of Theatre Orb.

Details

Open July 31-August 25 No performances Mon, Tue

Time Performance times vary

Admission S ¥12,500, A ¥9,500, B ¥7,500

Venue Tokyu Theatre Orb

Address 11F Shibuya Hikarie, 2-21 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya Station (Yamanote, Shonan-Shinjuku, Ginza, Hanzomon, Fukutoshin lines, etc.)

Shuji Terayama: Knock

Until Sun Oct 27, 2013 Watari-Um Museum of Contemporary Art

Art

In 1975, unruly dramatist Shuji Terayama conducted a 30-hour performance in Asagaya, where his accomplices roamed the neighbourhood randomly knocking on doors (prompting some befuddled residents to call the police). The inspired anarchy of Knock is documented in this exhibition at the Watari-Um, which includes films and a variety of previously unseen ephemera.

Details

Open Until October 27 Closed Mon (except Sept 16 & 23, Oct 14)

Time Tue-Sun 11am-7pm (Wed until 9pm)

Admission Adults ¥1,000, students ¥800; pair ticket ¥1,600 (students ¥1,200)

Venue Watari-Um Museum of Contemporary Art

Address 3-7-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Gaienmae station (Ginza line), exit 3.

Quincy Jones

Wed Jul 31 – Thu Aug 1, 2013 Tokyo International Forum

Music

The stars are out in force for this 80th anniversary tribute to producer, composer and 24-time Grammy winner Quincy Jones. Singers Patti Austin, James Ingram and Siedah Garrett will be paying tribute to their hit-making collaborator, alongside a host of youthful musicians who’ve recently received the Quincy stamp of approval. But it’s not all about the overseas guests: homegrown musicians ranging from jazz pianist Makoto Ozone to M-Flo frontman Verbal and guitar god Miyavi are on board for an all-Japanese tribute session, led by producer Seiji Kameda.

Details

Open July 31-August 1

Time Doors 6pm. Gig 7pm

Admission SS ¥12,000, S ¥9,500, A ¥8,000

URL qj80.jp

Venue Tokyo International Forum

Address 3-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Transport Yurakucho station (Yamanote, Yurakucho lines), Tokyo International Forum exit.

Kanagawa Shimbun Fireworks Festival (2013)

Thu Aug 1, 2013 Rinko Park
The Minato Mirai waterfront lends a picturesque location to this bombastic summer fireworks display. There’ll be around 15,000 fireworks deployed in the course of the event, the largest of which measures 480m in diameter, with musical accompaniment to heighten the sense of spectacle. If you want to secure a good spot, there are ‘Fireworks Appreciation Tickets’ sold at Lawson convenience stores (L-code 31110); note that the display will be postponed until Friday if the weather is poor.

Details

Open August 1

Time 7pm-8.30pm

Admission Adults ¥2,500, junior high & elementary school students ¥500

Venue Rinko Park

Address 1-1 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama

Transport Minatomirai Station (Minatomirai line)

Walking with Dinosaurs

Thu Aug 1 – Wed Aug 7, 2013 Saitama Super Arena

Museums & AttractionsAround Town

Kids and big kids alike are catered to with this live stage show, an offshoot of the TV show of the same name. If you’ve always fancied a trip to Jurassic Park without the risk of being eaten by a pack of raptors, then this is about as close as you’re going to get. The show starts at the cretaceous period, before moving to the jurassic period and finally the triassic period using a mixture of video footage and enormous puppets that roam the stage fighting, feeding and doing your usual dinosaur activities. Expect to see triceratops, stegosaurus and, of course, the always crowd-pleasing T-rex.

Details

Open August 1-7 August 5

Time 11am, 3pm & 7pm

Admission Adults ¥4,200-¥10,500; children ¥3,150-¥9,450

URL wwdj.jp/

Venue Saitama Super Arena

Address 8 Shintoshin, Chuo-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama

Transport Saitama Shintoshin station (Keihin-Tohoku, Utsunomiya/Takasaki lines)

Steve Vai

Thu Aug 1, 2013 Akasaka Blitz

Music

No disrespect to guitar god Steve Vai, but we’re pretty much over the technically proficient, yet emotionally empty, razzle-dazzle that’s on display tonight. Gotta hand it to the dude, though – he hasn’t let up on his fret-shredding ways since his days studying with Joe Satriani, counting among his many achievements stints with both Zappa and David Lee Roth, a still-thriving solo career and a new album, last year’s The Story of Light.

Details

Open August 1

Time Doors 6pm. Gig 7pm

Admission ¥7,000 adv

Venue Akasaka Blitz

Address Akasaka Sacas, Akasaka 5-3-2, Minato, Tokyo

Transport Akasaka Station (Chiyoda line), Akasaka-Mitsuke Station (Ginza, Marunouchi lines)

Movie Day
The first day of the month is Movie Day, meaning you can get discounted ¥1,000 tickets at cinemas throughout Tokyo – an ideal opportunity to catch recent openings includingHope Springs and Emperor.

Monsters University

Antique Jamboree (2013)

Fri Aug 2 – Sun Aug 4, 2013 Tokyo Big Sight

ShopsAround Town

Knicknack lovers rejoice as the nation’s largest antiques market returns to Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba, bringing with it 500 dealers specialising in artefacts and heirlooms from Japan, Europe and the US. This being the land of the otaku, special attention is reserved for collectors of aged toys and playthings, but there’s usually enough going on at these events to interest even the most passive browser. Hardened scavengers pay extra to get in on Early Buyer Day on Friday, but regardless of when you go, it’s worth hitting the jamboree’s website beforehand for their printable couponsthat knock a few hundred yen off the ticket price.

Details

Open August 2-4

Time 10am-5pm

Admission August 2 (early buyer day) ¥3,000, August 3, 4 ¥1,000

Twitter Tech2R

Venue Tokyo Big Sight

Address 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto, Tokyo

Transport Kokusaitenjijo Station (JR Rinkai Line) or Kokusai-tenjijo-seimon station (Yurikamome Line)

Hachioji Matsuri (2013)

Fri Aug 2 – Sun Aug 4, 2013 Koshu Highway, Hachioji

Around Town

Floats and portable shrines are carried down Hachioji’s central Koshu Highway in this summer festival, held in the first weekend of August each year. When rival dashi floats pass, their bands attempt to throw each other off their groove in a musical face-off known as buttsuke – a distinctive Hachioji tradition. Also look out for taiko drummers, ice sculptures, dragon dancers and more in the course of the three-day fest.

Details

Open August 2-4

Time Noon-9pm

 Venue Koshu Highway, Hachioji

Club Chic Summer 2013

Fri Aug 2, 2013 Grand Hyatt Tokyo Grand Ballroom

Clubs

The Grand Hyatt dusts off the mirrorball for the classiest disco party of the summer on August 2. Put on your dancing shoes and sashay into the Roppongi hotel’s main ballroom for an evening of ’70s grooves and free-flowing booze, with DJs Ai Emori and K-Co, plus live vocals from Bro. Kone and Tsunoda Hiro. If you’re feeling extra plush, spring for one of the VIP tickets, which includes top-notch tipples such as Louis Roederer Cristal Brut 2005 and Henri Giraud Fût de Chêne NV. Revellers can also stay overnight for a reduced price of ¥25,000; call 03 4333 8838 for details.

Details

Open August 2

Time 8pm-midnight

Admission ¥15,000 (VIP ticket ¥30,000)

Venue Grand Hyatt Tokyo Grand Ballroom

Address 6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

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

Lone Ranger

This Hi-ho Hollywood reboot can’t ride off into the sunset soon enough

Lone Ranger

Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Arnie Hammer, Ruth Wilson

Since his first appearance in 1933, he’s galloped his way between radio, movies, books and television. His popularity led to a spin-off series starring a little character known as the Green Hornet, while his catchphrase (‘Hi-ho Silver, away!’) and theme music (the William Tell overture) have become permanent fixtures of the popular culture lexicon.

Given that pedigree, a Hollywood reboot of the adventures of the masked lawman known as the Lone Ranger was inevitable. Of course that purveyor of blockbluster bloat, Jerry Bruckheimer, saw it as a chance to launch a new Pirates of the Caribbean–like franchise. And of course his house star of the moment, Johnny Depp, signed on to bring his increasingly diluted quirkiness to the role of Tonto, Native American companion to our white-hat vigilante hero John Reid (Arnie Hammer, nondescriptly noble).

Credit where it’s due, though: both Depp (only sort of cashing a paycheck) and his not-untalented Pirates 1–3 director Gore Verbinski have a lot of fun with the story’s setup. The promising opening scene, set in 1930s San Francisco, cleverly introduces Tonto as an aged attraction at a Wild West carnival exhibition (Depp rather movingly performs the role under what looks like a ton of Dustin Hoffman–in–Little Big Man prosthetics). He relates his and the Ranger’s often-convoluted adventures to a wide-eyed young audience of one, which establishes a nice air of innocence – it’s telling that Verbinski explicitly references Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon (1956) in an early composition. But the childlike sense of wonder is almost immediately eliminated once the movie flashes back to the late-1800s Wild West.

Though his adeptness with throwaway gags suggests he could have been a superb Warner Bros animator (there’s a particularly humorous one here involving vampire rabbits), summer tentpole morass tends to squash Verbinski’s gifts. As in nearly all of his films, an overstuffed plot gets the better of him: there’s a mutilated and malevolent gunslinger (William Fichtner, expectedly bringing the crazy) prowling the land. The transcontinental railroad is winding its way through the Monument Valley desert, a project overseen by a big-city businessman (Tom Wilkinson) with clearly suspicious motivations. There’s cold-blooded murder and declarations of vengeance, run-ins between the local Indians and the cavalry, a whorehouse madam with a wooden gun leg (Helena Bonham Carter, apparently on loan from an aborted Tim Burton project), a romantic interest and plenty of low comedy courtesy of Tonto’s smirky training of his new partner. Reference is even made to Depp’s ‘stupid fucking’ role in Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 acid Western Dead Man – minus the f-word, lest one offend the sensitive ears of the PG-13 multiplex demographic.

It’s all too much and not enough – a succession of disparate, can-you-top-this episodes inelegantly piling up like skidding cars on a freeway. And that’s not even taking into account the action scenes. Lord, those action scenes: monotonous, loud and relentless, they’re a punishing example of the self-satisfied, digitally augmented ephemera that typifies modern Hollywood moviemaking, and House Bruckheimer in particular.

When Tonto moves between two speeding locomotives with chamois-like agility or the Ranger leaps across the roofs of buildings and moving vehicles on his faithful steed, we never have any true sense of danger or exhilaration because everything is too uncannily seamless. Even if only at a subconscious level, we’re all too aware we’re watching ones and zeroes slathered around performers making ‘oh shit!’ faces at objects to be fully rendered later. This machine-tooled pomposity is all the more irritating for the few times Verbinski brings a genuine sense of invention to the proceedings (he shoots some of the Monument Valley locations with a comically askew eye that’s equal parts Ford and Leone). Or for those rare moments when Depp and Hammer – tossing off a quip or flashing an ingratiating grin – show a flicker of the gleam-in-the-eye ranger spirit. Otherwise, ‘Kemosabe’ and his faithful sidekick can’t ride off into the sunset soon enough.

Lone Ranger opens nationwide on August 2

Rock in Japan Festival 2013

Fri Aug 2 – Sun Aug 4, 2013 Hitaichi Seaside Park, Ibaraki

Music

Few music magazines have a better grasp of what the public wants thanRockin’ On, the influential periodical behind the annual summer Rock In Japan festival and its winter counterpart, Countdown Japan. The former, held at an attractive seaside park on the Ibaraki coast, consistently sells out in advance each year – despite (or maybe because of) the fact that the lineup has more repeat performers than any other summer music fest. Here’s the lineup so far…

August 2
The Back Horn, Back Number, Bigmama, [Champagne], Coldrain (NEW),Dr DownerThe FlickersFlower Flower, Fujifabric, FukurouzuGood Morning AmericaMotohiro Hata, Hey-Smith, Husking Bee, Inoran,Shishido Kavka, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Last Alliance, Maximum The Hormone, Merengue, MowMow Lulu Gyaban, Mongol800, Yuji Nakada, Negoto, Shiori Niyama, Noise and Milk, Okamoto’s, One OK Rock, Puffy, Rip SlymeRottengraffty, Sakanaction, Straightener, Shugo Tokumaru, Soil & “Pimp” SessionsTancobuchin, Totalfat, Unison Square Garden, Wasureranneyo, Zazen Boys…

August 3
Akai Ko-en, Androp, Applicat Spectra, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Back Drop Bomb, Base Ball Bear, Bump of ChickenBuzz The Bears, Capsule, The Chef Cooks MeCinema Staff, Creephyp, A Flood of CircleGood4NothingHello SleepwalkersHilcrhymeKen Hirai, Leo Ieiri, J, Miliyah KatoKinniku Shojo Tai, Lecca, Low IQ 101 & The Rhythm Makers, Magokoro Brothers, Nico Touches the Walls, 9mm Parabellum Bullet, Nothing’s Carved in Stone, The Novembers, Overground Acoustic Underground “5”, PassepiedPesPolysicsSamezame, Sayonara, mata kondo ne, Shinku-Horou, Special OthersYu Takahashi, Mao Uchu, White Ash, Masayoshi Yamazaki…

August 4
Yuko Ando, Anzen Chitai, Avengers in Sci-fi, The Band Apart, The Birthday, CNBLUE, Does, Dragon Ash, The DresscodesFlower CompanyzGroup Tamashii, The Hiatus, Kana-BoonKinoco Hotel, Taro Kobayashi, Kreva, Luki, Tortoise Matsumoto, The Mirraz, Miwa,Miyavi, My First Story, Nubo, Ohashi Trio, Tamio Okuda, Orange Range,Perfume, Plenty, PredawnQuruliRihwa, Maaya Sakamoto, Sakanamon, ScandalScott & Rivers, The Starbems, 10-Feet, TK from Ling Tosite Sigure, Tokyo Karankoron, Tricot

Details

Open August 2-4

Time Doors 8am. Gig 10am-8.30pm

Admission 1 day ¥11,500 (including parking ¥13,000), two days ¥22,000 (inc. parking ¥25,000), three days ¥30,000 (inc. parking ¥34,500)

 URL rijfes.jp/

Venue Hitaichi Seaside Park, Ibaraki

Bondaid feat Co La

Fri Aug 2, 2013 Seco

Clubs

Baltimore producer Co La – whose dreamworld beatscapes sit comfortably alongside the likes of Clams Casino and the Tri-Angle label – is the guest of honour at this liminal all-nighter. Hypnotic Tokyo-based guitarist Dustin Wong joins him for what’s billed as an ‘ecstatic sunshine session’, with further support from hazy house producer Sapphire Slows and DJs including Cold Name (from Jesse Ruins) and Mayu.

Details

Open August 2

Time Doors 9pm

Admission ¥3,000 on the door; ¥2,500 with flyer

URL bondaid.jp

Venue Seco

Address B1F, 1-11-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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

Prom Nite feat. Kelela & Total Freedom

Fri Aug 2, 2013 Unit

Clubs

‘I would like to do Brandy but weirder,’ was how hotly tipped R&B singer Kelela described her approach in an interview with Fact earlier this year. She’s been keeping good company so far, guesting on tracks by Kingdom and Teengirl Fantasy and hooking up with LA’s Fade to Mind posse, whose Total Freedom is accompanying her for this date at Unit. DJs including Toby Feltwell and 1-Drink lend eclectic support.

Details

Open August 2

Time Doors 10pm

Admission ¥3,000 on the door

Venue Unit

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

Transport Daikanyama station (Tokyu Toyoko line).

Funktaxi feat Marc Schneider

Fri Aug 2, 2013 Air

Clubs

Though he’s the main buyer for German distributor Word and Sound, Marc Schneider was a late bloomer when it came to producing his own music. Already a fixture on the club circuit by the mid-’90s, he didn’t start releasing tunes himself until a decade later; fortunately, his rough, Fuckpony-esque house cuts were worth the wait. He returns to Tokyo’s Funktaxi party almost exactly a year on from the last time he played there, with support from event regulars Den, Da and Pi-Ge.

Details

Open August 2

Time Doors 10pm

Admission ¥3,000 on the door; ¥2,500 with flyer

Venue Air

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

Transport Daikanyama station (Tokyu Toyoko line).

Itabashi Fireworks (2013)

Taking advantage of a serendipitous schedule clash, Itabashi’s annual fireworks display takes place at the same time as the one in Toda City, just across the waters of the Arakawa River. You can expect a combined 11,000 fireworks to go up in the course of the evening, including an enormous ‘star mine’ and the spectacular ‘Niagara Falls’, a 600-metre chain of explosions that always draws the biggest cheers of the night. If you want to guarantee yourself a good vantage point, reservations for reserved seating areas are being taken from June 29 (details, in Japanese only, available here).

Details

Open August 3

Time 7pm-8.45pm

Venue Banks of Arakawa River, Itabashi

Address

Transport Takashimadaira Station (Mita line), Nishidai Station (Mita line), Hasune Station (Mita line)

Ocean Peoples (2013)

Sat Aug 3 – Sun Aug 4, 2013 Yoyogi Park

Around Town FREE

Yoyogi Park doesn’t seem like the most obvious location for a festival celebrating the sea (surely the beach would be a better option?), but don’t let that mar your enjoyment of this weekend’s Ocean Peoples fest. Organised by the crew behind the annual Greenroom Festival in Yokohama, this freebie two-day event boasts live music from the likes of Sandii (of ‘Goodbye Morning’ fame) and energetic dance shows, plus a dedicated beer garden and food offerings including burgers, shaved ice, kebabs and ice cream. Keep an eye on the timetable on the official website for announcements on who’ll be playing when.

Details

Open August 3-4

Time 11am-8pm

Admission Free

Venue Yoyogi Park

Address 2-1 Yoyogi Kamizounocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Harajuku Station (Yamanote line), Yoyogi-Koen Station (Chiyoda line), Yoyogi-Hachiman station (Odakyu line)

Asagaya Bali Dance Festival (2013)

Sat Aug 3 – Sun Aug 4, 2013 Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine

Around Town

The Balinese counterpart to the Asagaya Tanabata Matsuri reaches its 12th edition this year, supplying two evenings of free gamelan and traditional Indonesian dance. Bonus marks to anyone who can explain exactly why there’s a Balinese festival held in Asagaya every year, but it sounds like a pretty tempting proposition either way. Note that the event will be called off if there’s heavy rain on the night – an all-too-regular occurrence at this time of year.

Details

Open August 3-4

Time Doors 4.30pm. Show 5pm

Admission Free

Venue Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine

Address 1-25-5 Asagaya-Kita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo

Transport Asagaya Station (Chuo line)

Tatemono-en Shita-machi Yu-suzumi

Sat Aug 3 – Sun Aug 4, 2013 Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum

Around Town

The Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum will be extending its opening hours for this two-day event, which invites visitors to enjoy a balmy summer evening (known as yusuzumi in Japanese) like they used to in the Showa era. With bon-odori dancing, food stalls and paper lanterns lighting the streets, it promises to be atmospheric – though the taiko drumming and cries of a veteran street hawker should stop things getting too tranquil.

Details

Open August 3-4

Time 2pm-8.30pm

Admission Adults ¥400, university students ¥320, high school age and under ¥200

Venue Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum

Address 3-7-1 Sakuracho, Koganei Ishi, Tokyo

Transport Musashi Koganei station (Chuo line), north exit then any bus from bus stops 2 or 3 to Koganei Koen Nishi-Guchi.

One Summer Night with DVS1 & DJ Nobu

Sat Aug 3, 2013 Unit

Clubs

If the recent closure of Nishi-Azabu’s Eleven left a bitter taste in the mouth, that’s partly because the über-underground nightspot was subsequently transformed into a commercial EDM club. In a brilliantly malicious bit of timing, the old Eleven crew have chosen the opening weekend of Double Tokyo to host their own get-together at Unit, starring a host of DJs who’ll be familiar to club regulars. Minneapolis techno warrior DVS1 shares the podium with local hero DJ Nobu in the main room, while Kez YM, Kikiorix and co. take charge of the downstairs Saloon. Double who…?

Details

Open August 3

Time Doors 11pm

Admission ¥3,500 on the door; ¥2,500 adv

Venue Unit

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

Transport Daikanyama station (Tokyu Toyoko line).

Juno Reactor Final Frontier Tour

Sat Aug 3, 2013 AgeHa

Clubs

Ben Watkins has been trawling the globe with his ever-morphing electro-trance collective for over twenty years, but if you still haven’t decided where you stand on them, here’s a simple litmus test: do you have happy memories of The Matrix Reloaded? Juno Reactor certainly won’t be sparing any excess during this mammoth twelve-hour party at Ageha, which boasts additional live sets by collaborators including Miyavi, Sugizo and Jayant ‘Jitter’ Luthra, plus DJ turns by the likes of Mike Maguire, Ree.K and Numanoid aka DJ Tsuyoshi.

Details

Open August 3

Time Doors 6pm (all night)

Admission ¥4,500 adv

Venue AgeHa

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

Transport Shinkiba station (Rinkai, Yurakucho lines).

Takkyu Ishino @ Otodama Sea Studio

Sat Aug 3, 2013 Otodama Sea Studio

Clubs

Techno heavyweights Takkyu Ishino and Ken Ishii descend on Zushi’s Otodama Sea Studio for a sweaty daytime dance party – though we’re not sure how literally to take the event’s Japanese title, which translates literally as, ‘It’s hot, so take all your clothes off!’ Champion turntablist DJ Kentaro and beatboxer Afra support.

Details

Open August 3

Time Doors noon

Admission ¥4,000 on the door; ¥3,500 adv

Venue Otodama Sea Studio

Address 2-3 Shinjuku, Zushi, Kanagawa

Transport Shin-Zushi Station (Keikyu line) or Zushi Station (Yokosuka/Shonan-Shinjuku line)

Magic Mike

At last: Channing Tatum gives the ladies what they want

Magic Mike

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Cody McMains

First (because we know it’s on your mind): the Channing Tatum male-stripper movie is filled with male stripping. Tons of it. With the exception of one backstage shocker of a close-up, you don’t get the full monty – but maybe something even better. These choreographed dance numbers, set to pumping remixes of ‘Like a Virgin’ and, unavoidably, ‘It’s Raining Men,’ are hilariously unsubtle. Never is an opportunity lost for an assless-chapped cowboy or a trench-crawling soldier to perform a crotch thrust; pants are removed with a magician’s bold flourish. For these sequences alone, Magic Mike connects on a screamingly funny level, and not just for wayward bachelorettes.

This being a Steven Soderbergh movie – he of the overstated ‘retirement’ and reinvigorated craft (ContagionHaywire) – it’s also a beautiful piece of straightforward storytelling, burnished with golden-hued cinematography and snappy cutting. Our hero, Mike (Tatum, who spawned the script from his own experiences), is the aging, unsatisfied star of a nightly revue; lanky Adam (Alex Pettyfer), a jobless drifter, is drafted into the squad, thrilling to the female adoration and druggy edges of the scene. There’s an unusually fine sense of money anxiety, from Mike’s seedy ’70s-style beach house in Tampa and construction day work to the routine of counting all those single-dollar bills and plunging them into ‘equity’ – a relocation to Miami is the dream.

You know where this is all going. If Magic Mike doesn’t quite attain the hedonistic stature of twin cautionary tales Boogie Nights and the campyShowgirls, it can’t be faulted for wanting to satisfy on a deeper level. Meanwhile, didn’t Soderbergh notice there was pathos enough in Matthew McConaughey’s beefcake proprietor, an ab-slapping, spandexed Peter Pan? Between this role and his owlish DA in the subversively sly Bernie, the actor has finally found a way to subvert his six-pack. He’s the magic here.

Magic Mike opens at select Tokyo area cinemas on August 3

Meteo Night 2013

Sun Aug 4, 2013 Shibuya O-West Shibuya O-Nest, 7th Floor

Music

Call it the anti Rock in Japan. Meteo Night takes place on the same day as the ultra-commercial J-rock fest up in Ibaraki, but that’s where the similarities end. Organised by indie label Less Than TV, this one-day gig sprawls across four floors of the Shibuya O complex, and peddles a diet of scrappy, occasionally brutal music that’s unlikely ever to get within spitting distance of the pop charts. This year’s Meteo Night takes a slightly different format from previous editions, devoting the larger O-West to a face-off between acts from 11 different indie labels, including noise-Vocaloid combo Hatsune Kaidan (representing Alchemy Records), beatmakers The Lefty (Black Smoker Records) and the faintly Steely Dan-esque Cero (Kakubarhythm). Upstairs, you can expect plenty of the usual suspects, ranging from veteran hip hopper ECD + Illicit Tsuboi to pulverising post-hardcore act Tiala and hard-riffing mentalists Limited Express (has gone?) – and keep an eye out for Safari, featuring a certainTadanobu Asano on vocals.

Details

Open August 4

Time Doors 12pm. Gig 1pm

Admission ¥4,000 on the door; ¥3,500 adv

Venue Shibuya O-West Shibuya O-Nest, 7th Floor

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

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

The Von Trapps

Sun Aug 4, 2013 Shibuya Kokaido

Music

The real-life great grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp belt out ‘Edelweiss’, ‘Maria’ and other tunes from The Sound of Music, in the final date of their first-ever tour of Japan.

Details

Open August 4

Time 2pm

Admission ¥6,500

Venue Shibuya Kokaido

Address 1-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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

Champagne Garden at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo

Until Sat Aug 31, 2013 Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo

Bars

Trust the Hotel Chinzano to supply a classier alternative to Tokyo’s beer garden booze-ups. The elegant Mejiro hideaway is putting its new rooftop Serenity Garden to good use for this summer-only promotion, where ¥5,000 gets you two hours of free-flowing Laurent-Perrier champagne – the same tipple served at Kate Middleton and Prince William’s wedding in 2011. The price also includes wine, beer and a selection of nibbles, though note that you’ll need to reserve by 6pm the day before in order to take advantage of the offer.

Details

Open July 22-August 31

Time 1st session 3pm-5pm, 2nd session 5pm-7pm

Admission ¥5,000 per person

Telephone 03 3943 1111

Venue Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo

Address 2-10-8 Sekiguchi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Transport Mejiro Station (Yamanote line), then 61 bus or Edogawabashi Station (Yurakucho line), exit 1A

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A refrigerator, washing machine and vacuum cleaner have been added to Japan’s Word Heritage list

Some of the nation’s first domestically manufactured home appliances–a refrigerator, washing machine and vacuum cleaner–have been added to the Mechanical Engineering Heritage list, which contains items that significantly contributed to the development of the field in Japan.

The Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers announced Tuesday it had newly certified six single items or groups of items for the heritage list.

The refrigerator, washer and vacuum cleaner were grouped as the “Dawn of Japanese Home Electric Appliances.” Also added was the “Former Yokosuka Arsenal’s Steam Hammers.”

Certification of items for the heritage list began in 2007, and 61 single items or groups of items are currently listed.

The refrigerator in the group was manufactured by Shibaura Seisakusho, currently Toshiba Corp., in 1930. It is currently on display with the washing machine and vacuum cleaner, which were manufactured around the same time, at the Toshiba Science Museum in Kawasaki.

The steam hammers were imported from the Netherlands in 1865 and used for shipbuilding at the former Yokosuka Seitetsusho in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and other production facilities. The hammers can be seen at a museum in Yokosuka.

The other four newly certified single items or groups are the “Mechanical Car Parking System ‘Rotopark’” in Shinjuku, Tokyo; the “Okuma Non-round Plain Bearing and GPB Cylindrical Grinder” in Oguchi, Aichi Prefecture; “Japan’s First 16mm Film Projector” in Nagoya; and the “Japanese Automata ‘Yumihiki-doji’ (archer doll)” in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture.

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