Posts Tagged With: craziness

The Burakumin people, at the bottom of the Japanese food chain

Burakumin (部落民, “hamlet people”/”village people”) is an outcaste group at the bottom of the Japanese social order that has historically been the victim of severe discrimination and ostracism. They were originally members of outcaste communities in the Japanese feudal era, composed of those with occupations considered impure or tainted by death (such as executioners, undertakers, workers in slaughterhouses, butchers or tanners), which have severe social stigmas of kegare (穢れ or “defilement”) attached to them or people who had been taken prisoner in one of the many wars waged throughout Japan. Traditionally, the Burakumin lived in their own hamlets or ghettos. This minority group accounts for less than 2% of the population.

The reason other people looked down on others who worked as butchers or tanners is because of buddhism. According to the buddhist faith you should not be involved in the taking of an animals life, which accounts for the strong prejudice agains people working in these trades, especially in a feudal society dominated by the military elite.

The social status and typical occupations of outcaste communities have varied considerably according to region and over time. A burakumin neighborhood within metropolitan Tokyo was the last to be served by streetcar and is the site of butcher and leather shops to this day.

Burakumin villages near Tokyo or Edo as it was formally known

During the Edo period

At the start of the Edo period (1603–1867), the social class system was officially established as a means of designating hierarchy, and eta were placed at the lowest level, outside of the four main divisions of society. Like the rest of the population, they were bound by sumptuary laws based on the inheritance of their social class. The eta lived in segregated settlements, and were generally avoided by the rest of Japanese society.

When dealing with members of other castes, they were expected to display signs of subservience, such as the removal of headwear. In an 1859 court case described by author Shimazaki Toson, a magistrate declared that “An eta is worth 1/7 of an ordinary person.”

Historically, eta were not liable for taxation in feudal times, including the Tokugawa period, because the taxation system was based on rice yields, which they were not permitted to possess. Some outcasts were also called kawaramono (河原者, “dried-up riverbed people”) because they lived along river banks that could not be turned into rice fields.

Since the taboo status of the work they performed afforded them an effective monopoly in their trades, some succeeded economically and even occasionally obtained samurai status through marrying or the outright purchase of troubled houses. Some historians point out that such exclusive rights originated in ancient times, granted by shrines, temples, kuge, or the imperial court, which held authority before the Shogunate system was established.

The end of the feudal era

The feudal caste system in Japan ended in 1869 with the Meiji restoration. In 1871, the newly formed Meiji government issued a decree called Kaihōrei (解放令 Emancipation Edict) giving outcasts equal legal status. (This terminology is not the original, but a later revision. Originally, it was labeled Senmin Haishirei (賤民廃止令 Edict Abolishing Ignoble Classes.) However, the elimination of their economic monopolies over certain occupations actually led to a decline in their general living standards, while social discrimination simply continued. For example, the ban on consumption of meat from livestock was lifted in 1871 in order to “westernise” the country, and many former eta moved on to work in abattoirs and as butchers.

However, slow-changing social attitudes, especially in the countryside, meant that abattoirs and workers were met with hostility from local residents. Continued ostracism as well as the decline in living standards led to former eta communities turning into slum areas.

There were many terms used to indicate former outcastes, their communities or settlements at the time. Official documents at the time referred to them askyu-eta (旧穢多 “former eta”), while the newly liberated outcasts called themselves shin-heimin (新平民”new citizens”), among other things.

The term tokushu buraku (特殊部落 “special hamlets”, now considered inappropriate) started being used by officials in 1900s, leading to the meaning of the word buraku (“hamlet”) coming to imply former eta villages in certain parts of Japan.

Movements to resolve the problem in the early 20th century were divided into two camps: the “assimilation” (同和 dōwa) movement which encouraged improvements in living standards of buraku communities and integration with the mainstream Japanese society, and the “levellers” (水平社 suiheisha) movement which concentrated on confronting and criticising alleged perpetrators of discrimination.

Social discrimination

Cases of social discrimination against residents of buraku areas is still an issue in certain regions. Outside of the Kansai region, people in general are often not even aware of the issue, and if they are, usually only as part of feudal history. Due to the taboo nature of the topic it is rarely covered by the media, and people from eastern Japan, for example, are often shocked when they learn that it is a continuing issue.

The prejudice most often manifests itself in the form of marriage discrimination, and less often, in employment. Traditionalist families have been known to check on the backgrounds of potential in-laws to identify people of buraku background. These checks are now illegal, and marriage discrimination is diminishing; Nadamoto Masahisa of the Buraku History Institute estimates that between 60 and 80% of burakumin marry a non-burakumin, whereas for people in their sixties, the rate was 10%.

Cases of continuing social discrimination are known to occur mainly in western Japan, particularly in the OsakaKyotoHyogo, and Hiroshima regions, where many people, especially the older generation, stereotype buraku residents (whatever their ancestry) and associate them with squalor, unemployment and criminality.

Members of the Yakuza (Japanese maffia)

According to David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro in Yakuza: The Explosive Account of Japan’s Criminal Underworld (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1986), burakumin account for about 70 percent of the members of Yamaguchi-gumi, the biggest yakuza syndicate in Japan.

Mitsuhiro Suganuma, the ex-member of Public Security Intelligence Agency, testified that burakumin account for about 60 percent of the members of the entire yakuza.

“Black book” citing information of Burakumin published world wide

In November 1975, the Osaka branch of the Buraku Liberation League was tipped off about the existence of a book called “A Comprehensive List of Buraku Area Names” (特殊部落地名総鑑Tokushu Buraku Chimei Sōkan). Investigations revealed that copies of the hand-written 330-page book were being secretly sold by an Osaka-based firm to numerous firms and individuals throughout Japan by a mail order service called Cablenet, at between ¥5,000 and ¥50,000 per copy. The book contained a nationwide list of all the names and locations of buraku settlements (as well as the primary means of employment of their inhabitants), which could be compared against people’s addresses to determine if they were buraku residents. The preface contained the following message: “At this time, we have decided to go against public opinion and create this book [for] personnel managers grappling with employment issues, and families pained by problems with their children’s marriages.”

More than 200 large Japanese firms, including (according to the Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Centre of Osaka) ToyotaNissanHonda and Daihatsu, along with thousands of individuals purchased copies of the book. In 1985, partially in response to the popularity of this book, and an increase in mimoto chōsa (身元調査, private investigation into one’s background) the Osaka prefectural government introduced “An Ordinance to Regulate Personal Background Investigation Conducive to Buraku Discrimination”.

Although the production and sale of the book has been banned, numerous copies of it are still in existence, and in 1997, an Osaka private investigation firm was the first to be charged with violation of the 1985 statute for using the text.

Famous Burakumin

Some Burakumin did manage to fight their way to the top and were actually quite successful in doing so, regardless of their back ground. Here is a list of some of the people that made it to the top.

  • Tōru Hashimoto, politician, lawyer, the 52nd Governor of Osaka Prefecture, and current Mayor of Osaka city 
  • Ai Kago, singer, actress
  • Jiichirō Matsumoto, politician and businessman who was called the “buraku liberation father”
  • Ryu Matsumoto, politician of the Democratic Party of Japan, a member of the House of Representatives in the Diet (national legislature)
  • Toru Matsuoka, politician of the Democratic Party of Japan, a member of the House of Councillors in the Diet (national legislature)
  • Nahomi Matsushima, comedian
  • Manabu Miyazaki, writer, social critic and public figure known for his underworld ties
  • Kenji Nakagami, writer, critic, and poet
  • Mineko Nishikawa, actress and Enka singer
  • Hiromu Nonaka, chief cabinet secretary (1998–1999) 
  • Takashi Tanihata, politician serving in the House of Representatives in the Diet (national legislature) as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party
  • Tadao Yoshida, founder of the YKK Group

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The Japanese obsession with blood types

It is a good idea to know your blood type. While most Japanese know their blood type, many foreigners do not (and Japanese are frequently surprised to hear this).

Many Japanese people believe that each blood type has a certain personality and affinity, so it is common for them to ask someone their blood type or try to guess someone’s blood type by their personality. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for women in their 20s and 30s to even select a prospective husband based on his blood type.

Not only in Japan but also in other East Asian countries a person’s ABO blood type or ketsueki-gata (血液型) is predictive of his or her personality, temperament, and compatibility with others, similar to how astrological signs are used in other countries throughout the world, although blood type plays a much more prominent role in Japanese and the societies of other East Asian countries than astrology does in other countries’ societies.

Ultimately deriving from ideas of historical scientific racism, the popular belief originates with publications by Masahiko Nomi in the 1970s. The scientific community dismisses such beliefs as superstition or pseudoscience due to their lack of basis on demonstrable evidence or reference to testable cryteria. Although research into the causational link between blood type and personality is limited, current research conclusively demonstrates no statistically significant association.

There are many books about the various blood type personalities. For example, “A, B, O, AB gata jibun no setsumeisho” (A Guide to A, B, O, AB blood types), written by an unknown author who uses the pen name Jamais Jamais, have become best sellers in Japan.

bath salts for each blood type

The history

The ABO blood group system is widely credited to have been founded by the Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner, who discovered three different blood types in 1900.[7]

In 1926, Rin Hirano and Tomita Yashima published the article “Blood Type Biological Related” in the Army Medical Journal. It was seen to be a non-statistical and unscientific report, motivated by racism.

In 1927, Takeji Furukawa, a professor at Tokyo Women’s Teacher’s School, published his paper “The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type” in the scholarly journal Psychological Research. The idea quickly took off with the Japanese public despite Furukawa’s lack of credentials, and the militarist government of the time commissioned a study aimed at breeding ideal soldiers. The study used ten to twenty people for the investigation, therefore failing to meet the statistical assumptions required to demonstrate that the tests were either reliable or generalisable to the wider population.

In another study, Furukawa compared the distribution of blood types among two different ethnic groups, the Formosans in Taiwan and the Ainu of Hokkaidō. His motivation for the study appears to have come from a political incident: After the Japanese occupation of Taiwan following Japan’s invasion of China in 1895, the inhabitants tenaciously resisted their occupiers. Insurgencies in 1930 and in 1931 resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Japanese settlers.

The purpose of Furukawa’s studies was to “penetrate the essence of the racial traits of the Taiwanese, who recently revolted and behaved so cruelly”. Based on a finding that 41.2% of a Taiwanese sample had type O blood, Furukawa assumed that the Taiwanese rebelliousness was genetically determined. The reasoning was supported by the fact that among the Ainu, whose temperament was characterized as submissive, only 23.8% had type O. In conclusion, Furukawa suggested that the Japanese should increase intermarriage with the Taiwanese to reduce the number of Taiwanese with type O blood.

Interest in the theory faded in the 1930s as its unscientific basis became evident. It was revived in the 1970s with a book by Masahiko Nomi, a lawyer and broadcaster with no medical background. Nomi’s work was largely uncontrolled and anecdotal, and the methodology of his conclusions was unclear. Because of this, he was heavily criticised by the Japanese psychological community, although his books remain popular. His son continued to promote the theory with a series of books, and by running the Institute of Blood Type Humanics.

Bloodtyping today

Discussion of blood types is widely popular in women’s magazines as a way of gauging relationship compatibility with a potential or current partner. Morning television shows feature blood typehoroscopes, and similar horoscopes are published daily in newspapers. The blood types of celebrities are listed in their infoboxes on Japanese Wikipedia. A series of four books that describe people’s character by blood type ranked third, fourth, fifth and ninth on a list of best selling books in Japan in 2008 compiled by Tohan Corporation.

Although there is no proven correlation between blood type and personality, it remains popular with the many matchmaking services that cater to blood type. In this way, it is similar to the use of astrological signs, which is also popular in Japan. Asking one’s blood type is common in Japan, and people are often surprised when a non-Japanese does not know his or her own blood type.

It is common among anime and manga authors to mention their character’s blood types, and to give their characters corresponding blood types to match their personalities. Some video game characters also have known blood types. In addition, it is common for video game series to allow for blood type as an option in their creation modes.

Blood type harassment, called “bura-hara” (wasei-eigo-a portmanteau of “blood” and “harassment”), has been blamed for bullying of children in playgrounds, loss of job opportunities, and ending of happy relationships.

Many people have been discriminated against because of their blood type. Employers have been asking blood types during interviews despite the warnings they have been given. Children at schools have been split up according to their blood type. The national softball team has customized training to fit each player’s blood type. Companies have given work assignments according to their employee’s blood type.

Facebook in many Asian countries allows users to include their blood type in their profile.

After then-Reconstruction Minister Ryu Matsumoto‘s abrasive comments towards the governors of Iwate and Miyagi forced him to step down from his post, he partially blamed his behavior on his blood type, saying “My blood is type B, which means I can be irritable and impetuous, and my intentions don’t always come across.”

Blood types are treated as important in South Korea as well. An example can be seen in the film My Boyfriend Is Type B where a girl is advised not to date a man because his blood type is B.

Here is a look at what it’s all about.

Japanese blood type personality chart
Type A
Best traits Earnest, creative, sensible, reserved, patient, responsible
Worst traits Fastidious, overearnest, stubborn, tense
Type B
Best traits Wild, active, doer, creative, passionate, strong
Worst traits Selfish, irresponsible, unforgiving, erratic
Type AB
Best traits Cool, controlled, rational, sociable, adaptable
Worst traits Critical, indecisive, forgetful, irresponsible, “split personality”
Type O
Best traits Confident, self-determined, optimistic, strong-willed, intuitive
Worst traits Self-centered, cold, doubtful, unpredictable, “workaholic”

General personality of people who have type A blood

—Consider things carefully
—Can understand other people’s feelings easily
—Good at hospitality
—Don’t express themselves in order to avoid possible quarrel
—Do things carefully and steadily, and don’t take the next step if they are not satisfied
—Honor student types who don’t go off the rail
—Big on cleanliness
—Can be calm even when accidents happen
—Strong on taking responsibility
—Hard workers
—Safe drivers

Type A blood people’s affinity with each blood type

Partner who is type A – They have many common points; however, both of them are highly strung, so they may be irritated by each other.

Partner who is type B – Type A person envies type B’s happy-go-lucky personality. However, type A person worries about type B person’s personality.

Partner who is type AB – Type AB person is reliable for type A, someone they can turn to for good advice and help. They can have a stable love relationship.

Partner who is type O – Type O person is protective of type A. However, if type A talks about every small thing, the relationship won’t be good.

General personality of people who have type B blood

—Like to go their own way
—Do what they want without considering other people’s feelings, rules and customs
—Happy-go-lucky and masters of breaking rules
—Friendly and open their heart to anybody
—Not pretentious
—Afraid of being alone
—Get lonely easily
—Quick to adapt
—Flexible thinkers
—Don’t chase a dream much
—Like to play
—Love festivals and parties
—Have been in love many times
—Don’t get heart-broken over lost love

Type B blood people’s affinity with each blood type person

Partner who is type A – Type A person is always willing to help type B person; however, they get tired of each other easily. Type A often complains to type B.

Partner who is type B – Both of them are not careful, so they may do things that are off the rail.

Partner who is type AB – They attract each other and they may quickly start a relationship. They love each other very much.

Partner who is type O – They can understand each other easily. Type O person covers for type B person’s bad points. They are a great match for friendship.

General personality of people who have type AB blood

—Chase ideals and dreams
—Don’t have secular needs such as greed and a desire to succeed
—Have strong spirituality
—Calm and rational
—Sensitive and easily hurt
—Have a complicated personality
—Private life is important
—Don’t like interference from other people
—Have various hobbies
—Vigorous in pursuit of knowledge in wide range of fields
—Are bookworms
—Have unique ideas and are creative
—Have fairy tale-like hobbies
—Calm and frank about love relationship

Type AB blood people’s affinity with each blood type person

Partner who is type A – Type AB person respects type A person, and they have a passionate love for each other. However, they may quarrel frequently.

Partner who is type B – They are a good match and connect with each other easily.

Partner who is type AB – Their relationship is always proceeding along parallel lines. They cannot open their minds to each other. It is best not to be too close to each other, nor be too far apart.

Partner who is type O – They can succeed in business and at various activities together. They can produce new things together easily.

General personality of people who have type O blood

—Good at developing economic concepts
—Vigorous at earning a living
—Strong in face of adversity
—Dream of getting rich quick, but actually take a steady approach
—Go straight toward their goal
—Have leadership ability and often take care of younger people and people below them
—Very cautious
—Don’t care about small things, taking a wider perspective instead
—Devoted, but with a strong desire to monopolize

Type O blood people’s affinity with each blood type person

Partner who is type A – Type O person always wants to take the lead for type A person. They are a good combination.

Partner who is type B – They can talk freely and openly and have a comfortable relationship. However, type O person gets confused by type B person’s moody personality sometimes.

Partner who is type AB – Their thoughts are a match. However, if they are in the same “arena,” they compete with each other strongly.

Partner who is type O – They cannot understand each other basically, and they feel alienation easily. It is best not to get too close together.

Source: Ketsuekigatabetsuseikaku (Each blood type’s personality)

Dieting methods by blood type

Erica Angyal, a Miss Universe Japan official nutritionist and health consultant, has published books on health and beauty by blood type, such as “Bijo no Ketsuekigata BOOK” (beautiful women’s blood type) and “Bijo no Ketsuekigata-bestu Obento BOOK” (beautiful women’s lunch box by each blood type).

Also, the fitness and health magazine FYTTE’s February edition introduces a dieting method by blood type directed by Angyal.

Here is brief introduction to the dieting method.

Recommended diet for type A

Recommended foods for type A people are carbohydrates such as rice and grain, vegetables, and fruits because type As originated from agricultural tribes who mainly ate foods from plants. However, type As usually don’t digest dairy products easily, so it is better to have yogurt. Also, meat is difficult to digest and turns into fat easily for type A people, so it is better to eat beans and fish for protein. Japanese traditional foods such as miso soup, natto, tofu, and so on are a good match for type A people.

Recommended exercise for type A

Stress is the main enemy for type A people, so slow exercise such as yoga is the best way to relax.

Recommended diet for type B

Type B people have the ability to digest various foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, meats, grain and dairy products because type Bs originated from nomad tribes who ate various foods to survive in their extreme environment. It is best to have various foods, especially protein, otherwise type B people get irritated and tired easily. Lean meat with low fat, especially beef and lamb, are good because they are easy to digest and make metabolism faster for type B people. However, chicken, sesame, corn, soba noodles and wheat make type B people fat.

Recommended exercise for type B

Type B blood people have high stress, so it is best to play active sports such as tennis and golf, and also try slow exercise such as yoga to relax.

Recommended diet for type AB

Type AB people have features of both type A and type B. For example, type AB people don’t have enough stomach acids to easily digest some kinds of meat like type As. Protein from soy beans is good for type AB people, as are some dairy products. Therefore, it is best to take protein from fish and soy beans, and other various foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, yogurt, and so on, with a good balance. Wheat, chicken, corn, sesame and soba noodles are not good for dieting.

Recommended exercise for type AB

Type AB people have negative feelings such as anger and hostility and it is bad for their body when they get excited too much. So the best exercises for type AB people are yoga to relax their body and aerobics to let stress out.

Recommended diet for type O

Type O people can digest meat easier than other blood types. However, lack of protein tires them easily too because type O people originated from tribes that hunted animals and gathered nuts, fruit and plants. The tribes ate low fat meat, so low fat beef and lamb are good for type O people. Especially fish with omega-3 fatty acid are the best protein source for them. Eating fresh vegetables and fruit is recommended. The early tribes did not eat grains and dairy products, so those foods are difficult to digest for type O people. Wheat and dairy products make type O people get fat easily.

Recommended exercise for type O

Exercises which improve the heart rate function and muscles, such as running and boxing are good for type O people. Active exercises keep their hormone balance right.

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Breaking news: Japanese couple marries under water

Original story by Tokyo desu



A Wakayama Prefecture couple tied the knot 13 meters underwater June 29.

36 year-old diving instructor Yasuko Emoto proposed the unusual ceremony for the couple, which was attended by 30 diving certified friends and approximately 8000 mackerel.

The happy couple sealed their vows in front of some guy in a suit – they couldn’t find a diving certified priest – with an enthusiastic “glub glub glub glub!” and the internationally recognized diving signal for “OK.”

ScreenHunter_171 Jul. 02 19.24

Wrong signal.

While an underwater ceremony presents numerous logistical difficulties, there are certainly perks: rain can’t really ruin a wedding that’s already submerged in 13 meters of saltwater, and there’s no need for the bride to fuss with her hair.

We can only imagine what beach sunbathers thought when the procession emerged from the sea post-wedding looking like the cast of The Little Mermaid.


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Why are there North Korean schools in Japan?

Original story by ‘The Economist”.

ALONG with America and South Korea, Japan is one of a handful of states that has no diplomatic relations with North Korea (though 165 countries do). On the rare occasions when they meet, the Japanese and North Korean leaders mostly discuss the thorny issue ofabductees, seized from Japan’s beaches more than three decades ago. Japanese views of North Korea are the most damning in the world: in a survey conducted last month by GlobeScan, a pollster, not one respondent viewed the North’s influence as positive. Yet around 10,000 pupils in Japan study in schools that teach allegiance to the North’s Dear Leader and his father, Kim Il-sung. Why?

Between 1905 and 1945, when Japan occupied Korea, ethnic Koreans were considered Japanese nationals. After Japan lost control of the peninsula in the second world war, Koreans wishing to stay in Japan (known as Zainichi Koreans) were provisionally registered as nationals of Joseon, the name of undivided Korea between the 14th and 19th centuries. But when the North and South declared independence in 1948, the term Joseon no longer corresponded to a specific country. From 1965 Zainichi Koreans could register as South Koreans. Those who retained their Joseon nationality (rather than register as either South Korean or Japanese) became de facto North Korean citizens.

So part of the reason for the existence of the North Korean schools is an accident of history. About a quarter of the 600,000 Zainichi Koreans are members of Chongryon, a pro-North Korean organisation based in Japan which runs a network of banks, secondary schools and a university in Tokyo (though its big business is in pachinko, or gaming parlours). Its schools (known as joseon hakkyo, or Joseon schools) are vestiges of Korea’s colonial history rather than true indoctrination camps. But Chongryon serves as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan. For decades North Korean coffers funded its schools. Their curriculums are outside Japanese control; school excursions are usually to Pyongyang, the North’s capital. The organisation frowns upon marriage to Japanese citizens, and discourages Japanese naturalisation.

That said, many of Chongryon’s members hold South Korean passports—including North Korea’s most famous footballer, Jong Tae-se, who studied at a joseon hakkyo and who may hold passports for both Koreas. That is fine with South Korea, which considers all North Koreans to be citizens of the South anyway.

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What to buy: Essential Tokyo souvenirs

25 only-in-Japan gifts, from chopsticks to Be@rbricks

Essential Tokyo souvenirs

No trip to Tokyo would be complete without some souvenir shopping, but scoring the ultimate omiyage can be a real pain sometimes. We’ve made life easier by picking 25 great Tokyo souvenirs, ranging from the traditional (incense, combs, lucky charms) to the downright quirky (tooth-shaped jewellery, anyone?), and most of them are sold close to the city’s main sightseeing spots. Happy shopping, and remember: there’s more to souvenirs than Tokyo Banana.

Fake food keyring
Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya, Asakusa
A fixture on the Kappabashi ‘Kitchen Town’ circuit since 1932, Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya produces fake food for display in restaurant windows, but in recent years it’s branched out into keyrings, mobile phone straps and DIY ‘Sample’n Cooking’ kits. Address and map

Maneki-neko figurine
Imado Shrine, Asakusa
The maneki-neko ‘beckoning cat’ figurines beloved of Japanese shops and pachinko parlours are believed to have started life at this shrine to all things romantic. Imado’s distinctive conjoined cat statuettes would make a perfect gift for a lovestruck couple.Address and map

Boxwood comb
Yonoya Kushiho, Asakusa
Handmade combs may be a dying art, but the boxwood beauties on sale at this Asakusa shop (established all the way back in 1717) should last for a generation or two if taken care of properly. Prepare to be tempted by the elegant hairpins and keyrings on offer. Address and map

Made-to-order notebook
Kakimori, Asakusa
You might find yourself falling in love with the art of writing all over again after a visit to stationery shop Kakimori, where staff can craft you a custom-made notebook using a range of locally produced paper, covers and bindings. Address and map

‘Akari kokeshi’ doll
Tokyo Kitsch, Yanaka
Traditional Japanese motifs are given a modern twist at Tokyo Kitsch. Their ‘akari kokeshi’ wooden doll conceals an LED light that switches on automatically when it’s picked up or knocked over – a neat trick that might prove invaluable if (or when) the Big One hits. Address and map

Bamboo birdcage
Midoriya, Yanaka
Operating for over a century now, the family-run Midoriya offers bamboo products ranging from the everyday to the exquisite. Its traditionalmushikago cages come in a range of shapes and sizes, and you can even buy bamboo birds and insects to put inside. Address and map

Japanese-style Be@rbricks
Medicom Toy Solamachi, Oshiage
Housed in Tokyo Skytree’s onsite mall, the flagship shop for Medicom Toy shows an admirable respect for its ‘hood, with traditional-style Be@rbrick figures decorated to resemble kabuki actors, daruma dolls and more. Address and map

Lacquered chopsticks
Ginza Natsuno, Ginza
Small and portable, chopsticks make for ideal souvenirs. Mind you, some of the offerings at Natsuno – including lacquered pieces from various regions of Japan – look so gorgeous you might be reluctant to actually use them. Address and map

Japanese stickers
Ito-ya, Ginza
Huge and almost invariably busy, Ginza’s Ito-ya shop is the go-to place for Japanese stationery. Head down to the basement and you’ll find a selection of suitably Japan-style stickers, including images of Mt Fuji, sushi, maneki-neko cats and kabuki.Address and map

Incense pouche
Kyukyodo, Ginza
Established nearly 350 years ago, Kyukyodo supplied incense to the Imperial family during the Edo period, while also specialising in Japanese paper. We’re particularly fond of their palm-sized incense pouches, including the sandlewood-scentedkinran kinchakuAddress and map

Lacquered pencil
Gojuon, Ginza
Ballpoint pens and pencils must be some of the most humdrum stationery around – at least, that is, until you’ve seen the items sold at Gojuon. The gorgeous lacquered pencils here are crafted using traditional techniques, to produce a range of different finishes. Address and map

Edo-style broom
Shirokiya Denbe, Kyobashi
Floors, tabletops, clothes: if there’s something that needs sweeping, you’ll probably be able to find a broom for the task here. Shirokiya Denbe’s Edo-style brooms are also available in compact sizes that are ideal for getting dust off suits and jackets. Address and map

Fortune toothpicks
Saruya, Ningyocho
There are toothpicks, and then there are the hand-crafted little marvels sold at this three-century-old shop in Ningyocho. The kumadori box set comes adorned with a kabuki motif, and its toothpicks are wrapped in fortune slips carrying traditional love songs. Address and map

‘Chigibako’ charm
Shiba Daijingu Shrine, Shiba-Daimon
People have been buying these distinctive, three-tier lucky charms since the Edo era, when women bought them in the hope of finding a good husband. Decorated with wisteria flowers, the three boxes contain beans that rattle when shaken. Address and map

Origami paper
Souvenir From Tokyo, Nogizaka
With a name like that, it’d be rudenot to include Souvenir From Tokyo in this list. The NACT’s shop lives up to its billing with a well chosen array of Tokyo- and Japan-themed design products, including this nifty printed origami paper – also sold in postcard format. Address and map

Bonsai kit
Oriental Bazaar, Harajuku
Tokyo’s most famous souvenir shop is a no-brainer if you’re on the hunt for Japanese gifts. This DIY bonsai set comes complete with seeds, soil and a pot to put them in, meaning that all you’ll need is water – oh, and the patience of a Zen monk. Address and map

‘Tenugui’ towel
Kamawanu, Daikanyama
Tenugui – traditional hand towels made from dyed cloth – have been coming back in vogue recently, and there are few better places to get one than at Kamawanu. Don’t be fooled by the name, either: these ‘towels’ can be used for a lot more than just drying stuff. Address and map

Honeyx bathtime box
Claska Gallery & Shop ‘Do’, Shibuya
Keeping people’s skin fresh and perky since 1927, Hoken’s honey- and royal jelly-dervied cosmetics are an ideal gift for the lady in your life. This gift set includes soaps, shampoo and conditioner, all housed in an attractive paulownia box.Address and map

Mt Fuji tissue case
Katakana, Jiyugaoka
There’s an entire section devoted to Mt Fuji at Katakana, Jiyugaoka’s ever-reliable ‘shop presenting Japanese cool’. Their tissue cases are particularly nifty – notice how the protruding tip of the hankie matches the shape of the mountain’s peak.Address and map

Rilakkuma phone straps
Kiddy Land, Harajuku
Harajuku toy shop par excellence, Kiddy Land devotes a hefty chunk of its fourth floor to ubiquitous bear character Rilakkuma, including these only-in-Tokyo phone straps featuring landmarks like Kaminarimon and Mt Takao. Address and map

Retro kit models
Tokyu Hands, Shibuya
One of the nerdiest corners of the Tokyu Hands shop in Shibuya is floor 7B, home to a panoply of plastic model kits. The nostalgia-inducingFubutsushi sets recreate scenes of Showa Japan, from the local sweet shop to the late-night soba cart.Address and map

Tooth jewellery
Aquvii Tokyo, Shibuya
As unusual Tokyo souvenirs go, you could do a lot worse than Aquvii’s line of tooth earrings and necklaces. And don’t worry: they’re fashioned from medical-grade resin rather than real human gnashers, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting them past customs. Address and map

Cheap snacks
Don Quijote, Shinjuku
Sure, you could splurge on some highfalutin Japanese sweets at a department store. But your recipient would get a far better sense of contemporary Japan from a selection of cheap ‘n’ nasty children’s snacks, courtesy of our friends at Don Quijote. Address and map

‘Washi’ paper goods
Bingoya, Wakamatsucho
A six-floor bazaar devoted to traditional Japanese crafts, Bingoya should satisfy even the most jaded souvenir shopper. Their handmadewashi (Japanese paper) products are oh-so-practical, with business card holders, book covers and more.Address and map

Manga… in English
Manadarake, Nakano
Manga, dojinshi fanzines, out-of-print books, fan merchandise: whatever your otaku obsession, you’ll be able to sate it here. Perhaps more importantly, Mandarake also has a selection of English titles, if you want something that people back home can actually read. Address and map

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Japan summer music festivals 2013

 From Fuji Rock to Freedommune: a music fan’s guide to summer in Japan

Japan summer music festivals 2013

Music festivals in Japan: they’re a summer tradition, a rite of passage, and a brilliant way of spending the price of an overseas vacation in the space of a single weekend. As we ease into tinnitus season, things are already heating up: Fuji Rock has managed to pull together its strongest lineup in years, including a trio of A-list headliners, while arch-rival Summer Sonichas demonstrated unequivocally that you don’t actually need a good lineup if you want your event to sell out. The Big Four – which also includes the domestic-only Rock in Japan and Rising Sun – find themselves in an increasingly crowded (if not necessarily varied) market, as events like Hokkaido’s Join Alive, Aomori Rock Festival and Baycamp grow more ambitious in their scope. Meanwhile, jazz, techno, classical and world music fans will also find something of interest if they look in the right places – and some of it won’t even cost a penny. So slip on your wellies, stick in your earplugs and join us on a romp through the Japanese music festival scene…

The Big Four

Fuji Rock Festival ’13

Who’s playing: Bjork, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Skrillex, Mumford & Sons, Vampire Weekend, The XX, Flying Lotus, My Bloody Valentine, Jurassic 5

July 26-28 | Naeba Ski Resort, Yuzawa, Niigata
3 day ticket ¥42,800 adv, 1 day ticket ¥17,800 adv

The daddy of Japanese outdoor music fests is perhaps also the most demanding – whether it’s the expense, the ever-present rain, the exhausting scale of the site, or the fact that the two acts you most want to see almost always clash with each other. If you can forgive all this (and the fact that it’s nowhere near the eponymous mountain), Fuji Rock has an atmosphere that few festivals manage to replicate, and this year’s lineup is one of the strongest in recent memory. And if not… well, there’s always Summer Sonic. Event details

Summer Sonic 2013

Who’s playing: Metallica, Muse, Linkin Park, Mr Children, The Smashing Pumpkins, Beady Eye, Pet Shop Boys, Cheap Trick, Earth, Wind & Fire, Fall Out Boy

August 10-11 | Makuhari Messe & QVC Marine Field, Mihama-ku, Chiba
2 day ticket ¥28,000 adv, 1 day ticket ¥15,500 adv

The appeal of Fuji Rock’s main rival can be summed up in a single word: convenience. Tickets are (slightly) cheaper, you won’t have to take any time off work, and the Makuhari Messe location is just a half-hour train ride from Tokyo Station. Once a straightforwardly rockist affair, Summer Sonic these days seems more concerned with ensuring that tickets sell out as quickly as possible, resulting in a Frankenstein’s monster of a lineup that feels like it was compiled by accountants rather than music fans. Event details

Rock in Japan 2013

Who’s playing: Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Sakanaction, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Miyavi, Perfume, Quruli, Special Others, Shugo Tokumaru, The Hiatus, 9mm Parabellum Bullet

August 2-4 | Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki
3 day ticket ¥30,000 adv, 2 day ticket ¥22,000 adv, 1 day ticket ¥11,500 adv

Few music magazines have a better grasp of what the public wants thanRockin’ On, the influential periodical behind this most repetitive of music festivals. Held at an attractive seaside park on the Ibaraki coast that seems to have been entirely purged of drunk people, Rock in Japan 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. Event details

Rising Sun Rock Festival 2013 in Ezo

Who’s playing: Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Quruli, The Hiatus, 10-Feet, Sambomaster, Maximum the Hormone, Haruomi Hosono, Char, Misia, The Birthday

August 16-17 | Tarukawa Wharf, Ishikari Bay New Port, Otaku, Hokkaido
2 day ticket ¥18,000 adv, 1 day ticket ¥9,000 adv (Aug 16)/¥12,500 adv (Aug 17)

You’d be surprised how many Tokyoites make the pilgrimage to Hokkaido for this two-day affair, where the main stage keeps going until dawn on the second night. Like Rock in Japan, the lineup at Rising Sun consists purely of domestic acts, although they spread their net wider, and with less regard for commercial considerations. It’s also a gastronomic delight: look out for stalls selling locally farmed produce, seafood and craft beer. Event details

Weekend festivals and longer

Earth Celebration 2013

Who’s playing: Kodo, Hiromitsu Agatsuma
August 23-25 | Shiroyama Park + other venues, Sado Island, Niigata
1 day ticket ¥4,700/¥5,200 adv, 2 day ticket ¥8,400/¥8,900 adv, 3 day ticket ¥13,000

Though they spend much of the year touring Japan and overseas, tireless taiko troupe Kodo return each summer to their base in Sado Island, off the coast of Niigata, to host this annual festival. Over two decades after it started, it’s easy to take Earth Celebration for granted, but those who bother to make the trip are seldom disappointed. Event details

Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto 2013

Who’s playing: Saito Kinen Orchestra, Junko Onishi
August 17-September 7 | Kissei Bunka Hall + other venues, Matsumoto
Individual concerts ¥1,000-¥30,000

Septuagenarian conductor Seiji Ozawa has managed to lure jazz pianist Junko Onishi out of retirement for this year’s Saito Kinen Festival, but that’s just one of the attractions in a nearly monthly-long series of orchestra and chamber concerts, opera productions, workshops, and even programs for the kids. Event details

Join Alive 2013

Who’s playing: Sakanaction, Sekai no Owari, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Gary Clark Jr, The Hiatus, Flumpool, Rocket from the Crypt, Clammbon, Kemuri, Miyavi
July 20-21 & 27-28 | Iwamizawa, Hokkaido
1 day ticket ¥8,000-¥8,800, 2 day ticket ¥15,500

A Hokkaido amusement park provides the setting for this relatively young fest, which is spreading the action across two consecutive weekends for the first time this year. It’s a gambit that could go either way – as could the decision to introduce more overseas acts (including Gary Clark Jr and Yo La Tengo) to a lineup hitherto dominated by chart-friendly Japanese artists. Bit of an unknown quantity, this one. Event details

Tokyo Jazz Festival 2013

Who’s playing: Tony Bennett, Chick Corea, Lee Konitz, Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club, Bob James & David Sanborn, Bobby McFerrin, Ai Kuwabara, Matt Dusk, Larry Carlton
September 6-8 | Tokyo International Forum, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Individual concerts ¥6,000-¥9,500, 1 day ticket ¥18,000; some events free

Japan’s biggest jazz event is also its least catholic. The three-day Tokyo Jazz Festival doesn’t balk at booking crooners (Burt Bacharach last year, Tony Bennett this year), and each indisputably great musician on the lineup (Chick Corea, Lee Konitz) seems to be counterbalanced by a soporifically smooth operator (we’re looking at you, Bob James and David Sanborn). The main concerts are supplemented by more intimate gigs at the nearby Cotton Club, plus free outdoor shows for people who are too cheap to buy a ticket. Event details

The Labyrinth 2013

Who’s playing: To be announced
September 14-16 | Naeba Greenland, Niigata
3 day ticket ¥16,000 adv

Once you’ve tried Labyrinth, there’s no turning back. Revered by techno nerds worldwide, it must be one of the most fastidiously crafted dance parties on earth: attendance is capped at a few thousand people, the high-end Funktion One sound system is EQed to shimmering, pin-drop perfection – and they only bother to book acts who know how to make the most of it. Event details

Sukiyaki Meets the World

Who’s playing: Oliver Mtukudzi & The Black Spirits, Ukandanz, Mariana Baraj meets Dos Orientales, Antonio Loureiro, Puntigam, Matchume Zango & Sakaki Mango
August 23-25 | Nanto Helios + other venues, Nanto, Toyama
Single stages ¥2,500-¥3,500 adv; some events free

Japan’s biggest world music festival takes place in Nanto, Toyama during the final weekend of August, where performances by acts from Zimbabwe, Brazil, Argentina and beyond (plus some of their local disciples) are supplemented by workshops and Caribbean-style street parades. You can catch many of the headliners at WWW in Tokyo the following week, but the atmosphere won’t be the same. Event details

Tokyo Idol Festival 2013

Who’s playing: Bis, Negicco, Idoling!!!, Vanilla Beans, Weather Girls, Mariko Goto, Tokyo Girls’ Style, Dorothy Little Happy, Sakura Gakuin, Up Up Girls (Kari)
July 27-28 | Zepp Tokyo + other venues, Taito-ku, Tokyo
1 day ticket ¥4,800 adv, 2 day ticket ¥8,500 adv

In a bit of scheduling that we imagine is going to bother absolutely no-one, this all-out idol-pop assault is taking place on the same weekend as Fuji Rock. Expect to see over a hundred acts take to the stage over the course of the two-day Tokyo Idol Festival, though you’d need to be an über-nerd to know who most of them are. Event details

Ringo Fes. 2013

Who’s playing: UA, Towa Tei, Hitomi Toi, Tofubeats, Nabowa, Oorutaichi
September 14-15 | Alps Park, Matsumoto, Nagano
1 day ticket ¥6,500, 2 day ticket ¥12,000

The dominance of Japanese-only lineups on the music festival circuit wouldn’t be such a drag if rival events actually bothered to book different acts from each other. Kudos to this Matsumoto-based fest for keeping things avowedly left-of-centre – and for having such a gorgeously verdant setting, too. Event details

One-day fests and all-nighters

Aomori Rock Festival ’13

Who’s playing: Envy, N’Shukugawa Boys, Group_inou, Goma & The Jungle Rhythm Section, Hijokaidan, Kan Mikami,, Ningen Isu, Zazen Boys, Totalfat
September 14 | Yogoshiyama Ski Area, Hiranai-machi, Aomori
¥7,000 adv

If you’re still looking for excitement in the dying days of the summer, head up north. The one-day Aomori Rock Festival likes to do things differently, from the ludicrously early start time (7am!) to the free slice of toast with each ticket order, to the lineup that finds space for workaday indie guitar bands, idol pop, avant-garde noise acts and legendary folk singer Kan Mikami. Event details

World Happiness 2013

Who’s playing: Hikashu, Towa Tei, Shugo Tokumaru, Akiko Yano, Tamio Okuda, Rekishi, Scha Dara Parr, Ko Shibasaki, Ohashi Trio, Yukihiro Takahashi
August 11 | Yumenoshima Park, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Adults ¥8,500, elementary schoolers ¥1,050

It’s the only major summer music festival that actually happens within Tokyo, at a park right next to Shin-Kiba Station. Co-organised by YMO’s Yukihiro Takahashi, the single-day World Happiness is a family-friendly affair, with a decent kids area, special tickets for parents accompanying elementary school age children, and a lineup that’s unlikely to ruffle anybody’s feathers. Event details

Freedommune <0> Zero One Thousand 2013

Who’s playing: Penny Rimbaud, Boredoms, Yoshihide Otomo & Amachan Special Big Band, Keiji Haino, Isao Tomita + Steve Hillage, Milton Bradley, Towa Tei
July 13 | Makuhari Messe, Mihama-ku, Chiba
Free (with minimum ¥1,000 charity donation)

It may not have been the best music festival we went to last year, but Freedommune Zero <0> was easily the most audacious: a free all-nighter held at the same venue as Summer Sonic, with high-tech visuals and a bill that ran from noise godfather Merzbow to ’90s J-pop veteran Tetsuya Komura – plus the preserved brain of Meiji-era novelist Natsume Soseki. This year’s promises to be just as memorable, with highlights including a 91-drummer version of Boredoms’ Boa Drum project and appearances by Crass co-founder Penny Rimbaud and synth pioneer Isao Tomita. Event details


Who’s playing: The Stone Roses, Pet Shop Boys, Sakanaction, Denki Groove, Perfume, Steve Aoki, Justice, Klaxons, Breakbot, Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas
August 8 | Makuhari Messe & QVC Marine Field, Mihama-ku, Chiba
¥9,800 adv

This Friday night warm-up party for Summer Sonic actually looks like the more appealing proposition, mixing nostalgia acts (The Stone Roses, Pet Shop Boys) with some more trend-savvy selections – plus enough surefire-draw local artists to ensure that it’s actually well attended. Event details


Who’s playing: Giorgio Moroder, Josh Wink, Sven Vath, Slam, Len Faki, Ken Ishii, Hell, Matias Aguayo, 2000 and One, Westbam
September 14 | Yokohama Arena, Kohoku-ku, Yokohama
¥11,500 adv

Techno DJ and Denki Groove member Takkyu Ishino held his first Wire all-nighter back in 1999, taking inspiration from Germany’s long-running Mayday parties. Held in the humungous expanse of Yokohama Arena, it’s the largest indoor party in Japan, with visuals and décor to match. Plenty to keep thrill-seekers happy, but serious techno heads would do better to skip this and go to Labyrinth instead (see above). Event details

Baycamp 2013

Who’s playing: The Birthday, Zazen Boys, Eastern Youth, Dragon Ash, Husking Bee, [Champagne], The Telephones, Group_inou, Frontier Backyard, Kaisoku Tokyo
September 7 | Higashi Ohgishima Park, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
¥6,900 adv, under 18s ¥4,900 adv

After getting off to a promising start in 2011, this bayside all-nighter has significantly upgraded its lineup – with the unfortunate effect that it’s increasingly indistinguishable from every other summer music fest. Head to Higashi Ohgishima East Park, in the heart of Kawasaki’s industrial area, to catch sets by big-name guitar bands plus a few younger, hungrier acts. Event details

Categories: Daytrips, Must see, Things to do, Weekend trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things to do this week in Tokyo Juli 1st- Juli 7th 2013

Handsome Boys and Good-Looking Men of Edo

Tuesday July 2nd- August 25th  Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art

Beautiful women are a common subject for ukiyo-e woodblock prints, but what about beautiful men? In fact, there’s a rich tradition of depicting dishy fellows in traditional Japanese art – and you can see plenty of examples during the Ota Memorial Museum of Art’s summer exhibition, from Edo-era dandies and kabuki actors to literary characters such as Hikaru Genji.


Open July 2-August 25 Closed Mon (except Aug 15), July 16, 29-31

Time Tue-Sun 10.30am-5.30pm

Admission Adults ¥700, students ¥500


Venue Ukiyo-e Ota Memorial Museum of Art

Address 1-10-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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

All-You-Can-Eat KFC

Wed Jul 3 – Thu Jul 4, 2013 KFC and branches nationwide
How much KFC is too much KFC? You can find out on July 3 and 4, when the finger-lickin’ fast food empire celebrates its anniversary with an all-you-can-eat blitzkrieg. Head to 565 participating branches nationwide from 11am-7pm, order up three to fives pieces of chicken, a small portion of fries and a medium soft drink (combined price ¥1,200), and you’ll be entitled to carry on gorging on more of the same for the next 45 minutes – i.e. until your stomach bursts or you decide that you never, ever want to eat KFC again. Good times. Note that you’ll need to book in advance; reservations are being taken in-store until July 2.


Open July 3-4

Time 11am-7pm

Admission ¥1,200 for 45 minutes (by reservation only)


Venue KFC and branches nationwide

Address 1-21 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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

Hoop Lounge

Wed Jul 3, 2013 SuperDeluxe
Get in shape for beach season (or practice your moves for the upcomingsummer music festivals) at this free get-together at SuperDeluxe. The regular Hoop Lounge sessions offer a chance for newbies and hardened hula pros to have a communal hip-wiggle, with DJs, VJs and a few hoop performers on hand to keep things interesting.


Open July 3

Time 7pm start

Admission Free (with drink order)


Venue SuperDeluxe

Address B1F, 3-1-25 Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Roppongi station (Hibiya, Oedo lines), exit 1B.

Andreas Gursky

Wed Jul 3 – Mon Sep 16, 2013 The National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT)
Proud creator of the most expensive photograph ever sold, Germany’s Andreas Gursky helped put the colossal-scale ‘is it photography or is it painting?’ approach on the map. His first solo exhibition in Japan takes a career-spanning approach, with around 65 images running from the 1980s to the present day, and documenting subjects ranging from supermarkets (99 Cent, pictured) to North Korea’s Mass Games. And yes, they include that aforementioned record-breaker: Rhein II (1999), a print of which sold for US$4.3 million in 2011.


Open July 3-September 16 Closed Tue

Time Wed-Mon 10am-6pm (Fri until 8pm)

Admission Adults ¥1,500, students ¥1,200, high school students ¥800


Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo (NACT)

Address 7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Transport Nogizaka Station (Chiyoda line), Roppongi Station (Oedo, Hibiya lines)

Anxiety / Relief

Until Thu Jul 4, 2013 Hibiya Library & Museum
Alternative Finnish animation isn’t something that you get to see very often in Tokyo, so this show at Hibiya Library & Museum is worth savouring.Anxiety / Relief takes its title from Ami Lindholm’s year-long chronicle of the life of an animator, but the works on show range from Maria Björklund’s brief, hyperactive ‘Kihi-Kuhi’ (pictured) to Kaisa Penttilä’s ‘Rushed Through’, in which spectators have to run past a series of images to create the animation themselves.


Open June 11-July 4 (closed June 17)

Time Mon-Fri 10am-9pm, Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 10am-5pm

Admission Free


Venue Hibiya Library & Museum

Address 1-4 Hibiya-Koen, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Transport Uchisaiwaicho Station (Mita line), Kasumigaseki Station (Marunouchi, Hibiya, Chiyoda lines)

Pee Wee Ellis Funk Assembly

Wed Jul 3 – Sat Jul 6, 2013 Cotton Club
James Brown’s post-Maceo tenorist and the man behind JB’s ‘Cold Sweat’, Pee Wee Ellis hits Cotton Club with his current touring funk outfit, adding a burning energy to many of the stone cold classics from his vast repertoire – while also throwing in the odd jazz standard for good measure.


Open July 3-6

Time July 3-5 – 1st show: Doors 5pm. Gig 6.30pm; 2nd show: Doors 8pm. Gig 9pm 
July 6 – 1st show: Doors 4pm. Gig 5pm; 2nd show: Doors 6.30pm. Gig 8pm

Admission General ¥8,400, reserved seats from ¥9,500


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)

Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri (2013)

Fri Jul 5 – Wed Jul 10, 2013 Kappabashi-Hondori
Asakusa’s Kappabashi – the famed Mecca for Tokyo chefs looking to kit out their kitchens – is festooned with vibrantly coloured streamers and decorations during this annual summer festival. Though it runs from July 5 to 10, the best time to visit the Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri is at the weekend, when local business put out stalls and hold parades and street performances.


Open July 5-10

Venue Kappabashi-Hondori

Raw Fish & Chips (Visionist/Puzzle)

Fri Jul 5, 2013 Fai
Grime isn’t dead: it was just locked in a basement, pumping iron and hallucinating feverishly. Briefly the hottest sound on the UK underground, the genre has been seeing a minor resurgence recently, buoyed both by veteran producers such as Terror Danjah (and Wiley, when he can be arsed) and relative newcomers including Visionist. Hailing from the sub-bass heartland of South London, this gifted MC-turned-producer harks back to the Eskibeat aesthetic pioneered by Wiley in the early 2000s: dark, stark, but also furiously inventive in its way with rhythm and texture. Expect a good battering when he guests at this party organised by the Diskotopia label and promoters Osiris, where he’s joined by Berlin-based futurist Puzzle, a member of the city’s hard-hitting Leisure System collective. Expat beat merchants Submerse and A Taut Line and homegrown UK garage aficionado Prettybwoy support.


Open July 5

Time Doors 11pm

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


Venue Fai

Address B1F-B2F Hachihonkan Bldg, 5-10-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Omotesando Station (Chiyoda, Ginza, Hanzomon lines), exit B1

Iriya Asagao Matsuri (Morning Glory Festival) 2013

Sat Jul 6 – Mon Jul 8, 2013 In and around Iriya Kishimojin
t’s worth getting up early – as in crack-of-dawn early – for Japan’s largest morning glory festival, held on July 6-8 every year in and around Iriya Kishimojin temple. Around 400,000 people head to the event each year, perusing the 120 flower booths and hundred-odd festival stalls on display, though given that the event falls on a weekend this year you can probably expect it to be even more crowded than usual.


Open July 6-8

Time From 5am

Venue In and around Iriya Kishimojin

French Paintings from the State Pushkin Museum

Sat Jul 6 – Mon Sep 16, 2013 Yokohama Museum of Art
The State Pushkin Museum is Moscow’s largest repository of European art, and you can see some of its finest treasures – including key works by Poussin, Degas and Cézanne – in this blockbuster show. Masterpieces of French Paintings from the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow(to give it its full title) was originally due to arrive in Japan in April 2011, but had its trip postponed following the March 11 disaster. Highlights include Renoir’s 1877 ‘Portrait of Jeanne Samary’ (pictured) and Ingres’ ‘Virgin with Chalice’ (1841).


Open July 6-September 16 Closed Thu (except Aug 1, 15)

Time Fri-Wed 10am-6pm

Admission Adults ¥1,500, students ¥1,200, junior high school students ¥600


Venue Yokohama Museum of Art

Address 3-4-1 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku, Kanagawa

Transport Minato Mirai station (Minato Mirai line), exit 5.

Yokai : Demons, Folklore Creatures and GeGeGe no Kitaro

Sat Jul 6 – Sun Sep 1, 2013 Mitsui Memorial Museum
Forget Halloween: mid-summer is the traditional season for ghosts and demons in Japan. This timely exhibition at the Mitsui Memorial Museum lures unwitting visitors into the world of Japanese yokai, with an array of spooky paintings, masks and figurines, a few of them dating back as far as the Kamakura period. Bringing things all the way up to the present, the show also features 25 original illustrations by Shigeru Mizuki, the horror-loving manga artist of GeGeGe no Kitaro fame.


Open July 6-September 1 Closed Mon (except July 15, Aug 12), July 16

Time Tue-Sun 10am-5pm

Admission Adults ¥1,200, students ¥700


Venue Mitsui Memorial Museum

Address 7F Mitsui Main Building, 2-1-1 Nihombashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Transport Mitsukoshimae Station (Ginza, Hanzomon lines), exit A7

Monsters University

 Pixar’s back-to-school prequel doesn’t flunk the most important test
Monsters University

Director: Dan Scanlon
Starring: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Jennifer Tilly

A few weeks ago, a French maths teacher was suspended for showing his class of 11-year-olds the first Saw – were they learning about the mean? – and while that’s far from the typical curriculum, it’s close to a perfect gag for Pixar’s mock-ghoulish latest. You needn’t have seen 2001’s Monsters, Inc. to understand or enjoy this prequel; it’s enough to know that a decade before audiences first met one-eyed blob Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and turquoise gorilla ‘Sulley’ Sullivan (John Goodman), they were dewy hopefuls striding the corridors of higher learning. At ‘MU,’ apparently the Yale of scare schools, they first tussle as competing Big Monsters on Campus, then are forced into an unlikely partnership when Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren, uncorking the Queen) targets them for expulsion.

Monsters University aces a two-part test – first, appealing to kids with gorgeous, hyperrealistic animation that teases out every pink hair on a beastly art student; then luring in parents with several knowing jokes about strumming your guitar on the quad or playing beer pong. Behind the gentleness lies a significant message of sticking up for honesty (cheating is a plot point), along with the value of studying hard. If the film lacks the heartbreaking quality of Pixar’s revolutionary best, there’s no demerit in playing it solid and safe for a change. Adult fans of horror will love the idea of a fearsome school of hard knocks, Hogwartsian for sure, but with its own under-the-bed growl.

Monsters University opens nationwide on July 6

New 10am Film Festival

Until Fri Mar 21, 2014 Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills Rakutenchi Cinemas Kinshicho, Tachikawa Cinema City, Toho Cinemas Fuchu

Toho’s popular 10am Film Festival – a season of morning movie screenings that allowed audiences to revisit classics from Belle de Jour to Back to the Future – looked set to bow out in 2013, yet another victim of the switchover from celluloid to digital. But fret not, cineastes: after some last-minute wrangling, the event will be continuing in a new, all-digital format. That’s not the only change, either – there are now four Tokyo-area cinemas taking part, with each film now getting an extended, two week run. The following list is for screenings at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills; see the official website for details of screenings at other participating cinemas (Japanese only):

April 6-19: The Last Adventure (Les aventuriers) (1967)
April 20-May 3: Roman Holiday (1953)
May 4-17: Pretty Woman (1990)
May 18-31: West Side Story (1961)
June 1-14: Rio Bravo (1959)
June 15-28: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
June 29-July 12: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
July 13-26: Ben Hur (1959)
July 27-August 9: Forrest Gump (1994)
August 10-23: Cinema Paradiso (1988)
August 24-September 6: Mary Poppins (1964)
September 7-20: Casablanca (1942)
September 21-October 4: Rocky (1976)
October 5-18: Enter the Dragon (1973)
October 19-November 1: The Godfather (1972)
November 2-15: The Godfather: Part II (1974)
November 16-29: The Day of the Jackal (1973)
November 30-December 13: The Towering Inferno (1974)
December 14-27: The Great Escape (1963)
December 28-January 10: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
January 11-24: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
January 25-February 7: Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
February 8-21: Gone with the Wind (1939)
February 22-March 7: Chariots of Fire (1981)
March 8-21: Psycho (1960)

Natsume Soseki and Arts

Until Sun Jul 7, 2013 University Art Museum
The University Art Museum mounts a comprehensive tribute to Meiji-era novelist and art buff Natsume Soseki, collecting together works that featured in the author’s writings – including artists both foreign (Turner, Millais) and Japanese (Watanabe Kazan, Ito Jakuchu) – as well as friends and contemporaries like Asai Chu and Goyo Hashiguchi.


Open May 14-July 7 Closed Mon

Time Tue-Sun 10am-5pm

Admission Adults ¥1,500, students ¥1,000


Venue University Art Museum

Address 12-8 Ueno Koen, Tokyo

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

Otodama Beach Party 2013 Vol 2

Sun Jul 7, 2013 Otodama Sea Studio
You know summer’s here when Zushi’s seaside gig venue kicks into action. Otodama Sea Studio holds its second Sunday dance party of the season on July 7, with a host of DJs who’ll be more than a little familiar to Tokyo clubbers, including Tomoyuki ‘Fantastic Plastic Machine’ Tanaka, Daishi Dance and Rocketman, plus live music from electronica star De De Mouse.


Open July 7

Time Starts 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)



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Want to drive a Lexus, but can’t afford one? Get a Lexus bike!

Toyota Motor Corp. has released a luxury bicycle priced at 1 million yen under its Lexus brand and will limit sales to 100 units worldwide.

The main components of the road bike are made of the same material as that used for the body of the Lexus LFA, Toyota’s top-end sports car model.

The marketing of the bike comes as other Japanese carmakers and German automakers are putting their own luxury bicycles on the Japanese market. They hope to improve their brand image by marketing luxury bicycles built with technology and materials developed for their cars.

The transmission and wheels of Toyota’s bicycle are made by Shimano Inc., a Japanese manufacturer of high-quality bicycle parts.

A Toyota official said the bicycles can be used for racing.


BMW is selling road bikes priced at about 400,000 yen, and Porsche AG is marketing models priced at between about 450,000 yen and 810,000 yen.

Mercedes-Benz sells bicycles priced at about 460,000 yen.

A Mercedes-Benz official said the German carmaker hopes to increase opportunities to show consumers its technological excellence and fine product quality.

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What to eat: Cronuts come to Japan (kind of)

If you thought Tokyo residents queueing for hours just to eat a plate of pancakes was ridiculous, it pales in comparison to the hysteria that’s been gripping New York since Dominique Ansel Bakery launched the Cronut on May 10. Half croissant, half doughnut, the $5 pastry has inspired what some describe as ‘Magnolia-cupcake-in-the-millennium levels of buzz’ – though they’re quick to point out that this sweet treat is ‘so good it doesn’t need Sex and the City to do the marketing for it.’ With only 200-250 available each day (for quality control, natch), people have been willing to pay absurd prices to get their hands on one – leading an opportunistic third-party delivery service to charge $100 each. And now the madness is coming to Tokyo. To the suburbs, in fact.

On July 1, Shizuoka-based bread company Banderole is launching Japan’s first croissant-doughnut (and no, it’s not a real Cronut: that name’s trademarked). The pastry will be available in four different flavours – Crispy Chocolate, Strawberry Chocolate, Rich Matcha Chocolate and Smile White Chocolate – at all 81 of Banderole’s shops nationwide, with an additional Salt Caramel Chocolate version also available at select branches. And where are Banderole’s shops? Er… in the suburbs. A quick glance at the company’s website reveals that most of its Tokyo bakeries (that’s Bread Basket, B’s Cafe, Sandorian and Pan Kojo) are located in the farthest reaches of the city. Not to worry, though: we hear Akishima is lovely at this time of year.

See for details.

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The summer is heating up! Don’t miss out on Tokyo’s best dance festivals!

Super Yosakoi

Summer in Japan is known for more than just its stifling embrace and hair-ruining humidity – it’s also the time when Tokyoites take to the streets and strut their funky stuff. That’s right, as Martha and the Vandellas once foretold, there’ll be dancing. Dancing in the street. But how do you choose which raucous festival to shimmy along to? Here are five of the funkiest traditional dance festivals Tokyo has to offer.

Shinjuku Eisa Festival 2013

Sat Jul 27, 2013 Shinjuku area
Eisa is a form of Okinawan dance usually performed to mark the end of the Obon period. Like all things Okinawan, it’s been enthusiastically embraced by the rest of the country, and this Shinjuku parade proves a good example. 24 eisa dance troupes (including teams from Okinawa and Tohoku) will take to the streets around the east exit of Shinjuku Station to beat portable taiko drums and twirl their way through the crowds – a colourful and noisy event to brighten your weekend. Slap on the sun cream, grab yourself a handheld fan and get there early: it’s guaranteed to be crowded.


Open July 27

Time 1pm-8pm

Venue Shinjuku area

Asakusa Samba Carnival 2013

Sat Aug 31, 2013 Central Asakusa
Teams of elaborately attired dancers flood the streets of Asakusa for Japan’s largest samba carnival, shaking their tail feathers to the Brazilian beat as they work their way from Sensoji Temple to Tawaramachi Station. First held in 1981 in an attempt to revitalise the neighbourhood, the carnival is now one of Tokyo’s more popular summer events, drawing half a million spectators. Seeing that this is the first time in a while that it hasn’t clashed with rival dance festivals like the Koenji Awaodori and Super Yosakoi, you can expect an even fuller turnout than usual in 2013.


Open August 31

Time 1.30pm-6pm

Venue Central Asakusa

Shimokitazawa Awaodori (2013)

Fri Aug 9 – Sat Aug 10, 2013 Shimokitazawa Ichibangai
Granted, it’s a minnow compared to the Koenji Awaodori that takes place a couple of weeks later, but Shimokitazawa’s version of the famed dancing-in-the-streets fest (originally from Tokushima) has a unique charm of its own. Now into its 48th year, the Shimokitazawa Awaodori sees teams of dancers romp along the neighbourhood’s main shopping streets in the evening, then dazzle the assembled hordes with their own special routines from 8.10pm. Be sure to hang around afterwards, when the area is engulfed in a wave of booze-sodden joie de vivre.


Open August 9-10

Time 6.30pm-8.30pm

Admission Free

Venue Shimokitazawa Ichibangai

Koenji Awaodori 2013

Sat Aug 24 – Sun Aug 25, 2013 Around Koenji
12,000 dancers pile out on to the streets of Koenji over the two days of the annual Awaodori, undoubtedly one of Tokyo’s most energetic festivals – and one with crowds to match. The awaodori (‘awa dance’) tradition can be traced back to Tokushima in Shikoku, where the story goes that the localdaimyo plied his citizens with booze to celebrate the completion of the local castle in 1586, leading to a citywide outbreak of dancing in the streets. Whatever the accuracy of that tale, the enthusiasm was contagious, and Koenji has been holding a dance of its own for over half a century. While the action starts at 5pm, you’ll need to arrive much earlier if you want to snag one of the best viewing spots.


Open August 24-25

Time 5pm-8pm

Admission Free

Venue Around Koenji

Super Yosakoi (2013)

Sat Aug 24 – Sun Aug 25, 2013 Yoyogi Park Omotesando, Meiji Shrine, Yoyogi Park
The final weekend of August is always a good time for dancing in the streets, with many major festivals kicking off. The original yosakoi dance started life in Kochi in 1954, where it was intended to help revitalise the struggling post-war economy, and Tokyo’s own Super Yosakoi festival has been going for just over a decade now. The event sees 90-odd teams of brightly attired dancers trying to outdo each other as they strut their stuff to the rhythm of the naruko – a type of clapper that the people of Kochi originally used to scare birds away from their fields.


Open August 24-25

Time August 24 10am-8pm; August 25 10am-5pm

Venue Yoyogi Park Omotesando, Meiji Shrine, 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)

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