Posts Tagged With: Shibuya

Where to stay: 10 of the best budget hotels in Tokyo

10 of the best budget hotels in Tokyo

Tokyo has a good spread of hotels at great-value rates, from traditional ryokans to cheap and cheerful business hotels in the heart of Shinjuku.

Khaosan Tokyo Guest House Ninja

Khaosan Tokyo Guest House Ninja

One of the cheapest places to stay in the city, the Khaosan Tokyo Guest House Ninja is a popular spot for backpackers. The communal space in the hotel features free Wi-Fi and a large TV with cable, and the dormitory-style rooms (no doubles – not ideal for couples) accommodate both short- and long-term guests. The hotel encourages a community spirit among guests, which is rare for Tokyo, and often holds parties for residents.
• 2-5-1 Nihombashi Bakurocho, Chuo-ku, +81 3 6905 9205,, twin rooms from £40, dormitory cabin beds from £21

YMCA Asia Youth Center

YMCA Asia Youth Center

This YMCA is not as cheap as many of its counterparts in other cities, but that’s because there is little difference between this hostel and a hotel. Rooms are a little small, but most feature an en suite bathroom and wireless internet. The hostel is run by the Japan branch of the South Korean YMCA, and as such attracts a lot of tourists from that part of the world. The hostel also has numerous large rooms for functions and conferences, and so can often be quite busy during the day.
• 2-5-5 Sarugakucho, Chiyoda-ku, +81 3 3233 0611,, doubles from £96

Ryokan Sansuiso

Ryokan Sansuiso - Shibuya
 Shibuya junction. Photograph: Patrick Batchelder/Alamy

Offering very simple rooms for very low prices this hotel is located in the somewhat unfashionable Gotanda district, but its major appeal is its close proximity to many other places, such as Shibuya, Ebisu and Roppongi. It’s quiet, the rooms all have futon beds, and there is a shared bath. The ryokan closes its doors at midnight, however, so may not be the best option for party animals. Rooms are available for up to three people, and come with TV, wireless internet and aircon.
• 2-9-5 Higashi Gotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Gotanda, +81 3 3441 7475,, doubles from ¥8,600 (£71)

Sunroute Plaza

Sunroute Plaza

This is one of Tokyo’s most popular hotels for tourists on package holidays. It’s essentially a cheap and cheerful business hotel – the furnishing is basic, but its location and prices take some beating. It’s in the heart of Shinjuku, the perfect place for travellers looking to experience city life. As may be expected, food in the hotel’s restaurants is worth skipping in favour of heading out into the streets and experiencing the local izakayas. All rooms have internet access, and Wi-Fi is available in the lobby.
• 2-3-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Shinjuku, +81 3 3375 3211,, doubles from £110

Kimi Ryokan

Kimi Ryokan

Unusually for Tokyo, this smart-looking ryokan caters almost exclusively for foreigners, and so the staff are well-informed on what the city has to offer and are often willing to help organise tours or cultural events. The communal living room is often lively, and in summer there is also a rooftop balcony. Kimi Ryokan has seen many long-term residents of Japan pass through its doors as they start on their way to making a life in the country, and the advice the staff give newcomers can be invaluable. Bathrooms in the ryokan are all shared, but are very clean. The smallest room sleeps four, the largest eight, and rates drop according to how many people are sharing the room.
• 36-8-2 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, +81 3 3971 3766,, beds from £24

Tokyu Stay Shibuya

Tokyu Stay Shibuya

Located in a quiet corner of the bustling city, and offering guests simple amenities, the Tokyu Stay Shibuya is more of a business hotel than a place for tourists, but rates are reasonable and as well as having internet access, rooms also come with kitchenettes including sink, fridge and microwave, and washer/dryers. For visitors staying at the hotel for more than six days, rooms are cleaned once a week. Often this Shibuya branch of the chain will be fully booked, but Tokyu has hotels at many other locations across the city, almost always close to railway stations.
• 8-14 Shinsencho, Shibuya-ku, +81 3 3477 1091,, doubles from £141

Hotel Hoteiya

Hotel Hoteiya, Shitamachi district
 Shitamachi district, Tokyo. Photograph: Judy Bellah / Alamy

This is one of the cheapest places in town (you could stay here for a week for less than a night at a mid-range hotel) and the decor inside the rooms admittedly minimal. But it has satellite TV and Wi-Fi on all floors, and there’s a kitchen and coin laundry between 7am and 10pm. Bathrooms are shared. Located in Taito ward, Hoteiya is a good place to stay for visitors wanting to see Tokyo’s Shitamachi (downtown) areas. The hotel expects visitors to bring their own towels and toothbrushes, and while there is not a curfew, guests partying until late into the night will be frowned upon. While the surroundings are not luxurious, this is a popular hotel for people travelling on a shoestring.
• 1-23-9 Nihonzutsumi, Taito-ku, +81 3 3875 5912,, doubles from £31

Ryokan Katsutaro

Ryokan Katsutaro

Located in the Yanaka area of north-east Tokyo, close to the Ginza shopping street and in the centre of one of Tokyo’s friendliest neighbourhoods, Ryokan Katsutaro has simple rooms that can sleep up to four, and Wi-Fi is available throughout. It also has bicycles available for rent for visitors wishing to explore the surrounding area (£1.70 a day). This area of Tokyo has in recent years seen the opening of several galleries and museums, and is perfect for tourists looking to explore the city’s art scene.
• 4-16-8 Ikenohata, Taito-ku, +81 3 3828 2500,, doubles from £70

Shinjuku Washington Hotel

Shinjuku Washington Hotel
 Shinjuku skyscraper district. Photograph: Alamy

Here you can find reasonable rates right in the centre of the Shinjuku skyscraper district. Room facilities include high-speed internet, air-conditioning and fridges. The hotel’s restaurants and bars are perhaps better avoided: steep prices make eating out nearby much better value. Rooms are simply decorated, and large enough to be comfortable, and there are decent views from the upper floors. Be sure to visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government offices across the road, where it is free to get to the top of the skyscrapers and see spectacular views of the city.
• 3-2-9 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, +81 3 3343 3111,, doubles from £124

Sakura Hotel Jimbocho

The Sakura Hotel<br />
 The Imperial Palace gardens. Photograph: Stuart Freedman/In Pictures/Corbis

This place is close to the centre of the city in the Jimbocho district, with the Imperial Palace a short walk away. The rooms are a little on the small side, but the hotel is clean, convenient and comfortable. A 24-hour cafe in the lobby serves as a communal space for those looking to socialise while in the city, and there are dormitory beds for backpackers and group rooms at reasonable rates. In busy periods, the hotel gets full very quickly, so be sure to book well in advance.
• 2-21-4 Kanda-Jimbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, +81 3 3261 3939,, doubles from £68

For more information go to the Japan National Tourism Organisation’s website:

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Kimo-kawaii: It’s gross and cute at the same time!

Kimo-kawaii, the slang that mashes up kimoi (yucky, gross; which is a shorter, slangier version ofkimochiwarui, itself) and kawaii (cute, sweet) has become an apt description of more and more things over the years. While aficionados might disagree on what defines kimo-kawaii, generally if something has an eerie, sweet creepiness that makes it hard to look at but harder to look away, it’s kimo-kawaii.

Here are 13 things deemed so in Japan, in chronological order:

1999: Dancing Baby, a funky CG animation, became a meme in United States in the ‘90s (evenappearing on the TV showAlly McBeal”), but it became so popular in Japan that Toyota put it in a Cami ad (above). Young people of the time who had already begun saying kimo-kawaii applied it here in an early use case.

Mid 2000s: Ungirls, the comedy duo comprised of Takushi Tanaka and Yoshiaki Yamane became known as kimo-kawaii, somewhat cruelly, mostly due to their looks. Over the years and depending on whom you ask the assessment seems to change from “Tanaka is kimoi, but Yamane is kawaii” to just deciding that Tanaka himself is kimo-kawaii. Or maybe not even kawaii. . . Last year on the variety show “London Hearts” when Tanaka ranked high (low?) on a list of most disliked celebs, hesaid everyone should give being him a try because it’s a hellish life, but he will keep doing it as long as he lives.



May 2006: ”Kobito Zukan“ originated as a picture book illustrated by Toshitaka Nabata. Literally “dwarf encyclopedia,” these weird little humanoids were first aimed at children. Adult fans, however, greatly expanded the fan base and the dwarves became a popular Nintendo 3DS video game last year. The official online store is also chock full of figurines, which one could argue are an art form all their own.

By the way, 2006 is the year that the word “kimo-kawaii” isconsidered to have really “arrived.”

August 2007: Face Bank, the piggy bank designed by artist Eiichi Takada that actually pigs out on your savings, went on sale. When you place a coin near its mouth, it opens and swallows the currency — a perfect way to add some kimo-kawaii to your everyday life.

2008  Noi Asano’s manga “Chiisai Oyaji Nikki” (something like “Little Old Man Diary”) about a girl who one day discovers a tiny man began airing as a series of anime shorts  last year and most recently got promoted with latte art at Double Tall in Shibuya.



October 2010 Nishiko-kun (right), the mascot of Nishi-Kokubunji, was born. The “fairy” is one of many regional mascots that have become widespread across Japan in recent years. Unlike its traditionally cute counterparts, however, Nishiko-kun is a lanky, armless thing with a huge head that evokes the image of a happy manhole. His proportions have made for some especially awkward dance moves, but he remains oddly alluring, don’t you think?

October 2010 Jigokuno No Misawa‘s “Kakkokawaii Sengen” comic was collected and published. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the extravagantly eccentric singer known for being the current flag-bearer of Harajuku kawaii fashion, is a big fan of series. In fact, she had a cameo in the comic last year — of course with the artist’s trademark pudgy-faced style.



June 2011 BeeWorks‘s “Mushroom Garden” (aka “Nameko Saibai Kit”) smartphone game series has exploded in popularity since its release two years ago. These nasty-yet-endearing fungi have gained quite the following (ask almost any elementary schooler), leading to an avalanche of merchandise, including a Nendoroid that reaches back to its “Touch Detective” roots on Nintendo DS.

June 2012 Body part jewelry makes a kimo-kawaii splash from across the globe. Handmade in the U.K. and sold on crafty website Etsy, these doodads allowed people to attach ears to their ears, mouths to their fingers and noses to their necks, among other things.



Fall 2012: Later that year, the freaky-looking toy with its own language, Furby, relaunched with a smartphone app and a Momoiro Clover Z campaign (including the above commercial).

March 2013: There are plenty of kimo-kawaii videogames, butCocosola‘s smash hit “Alpaca Evolution“ is a textbook example of how strangely addicting bizarre characters can be. Your objective is to absorb other alpacas in a cannibalistic fashion as you mutate into a more and more grotesque creature. A prequel has already been released and it looks like the merch parade is marching along.

June 2013:  Isopods are something like gigantic, aquatic cockroaches. Naturally, the Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium decided to make a life-sized stuffed animal based on the critter, because who wouldn’t want to cuddle one? As evidence to the popularity of kimo-kawaii nationwide, all 140 were sold out within a few hours, despite costing a hefty ¥6,090 (around 60 USD) apiece. Another creepy aquatic sensation is based on the NHK television documentary that captured footage of a giant squid  for the first time. With help from the National Museum of Nature and Science, the TV channel is selling a variety of tentacle-related merchandise.


“Attack on Titan” stamps for LINE

June 2013: “Attack on Titan”-branded LINE stamps feature a number of human characters from the anime, but also explore a kimo-kawaii side of the monstrous titans that will give fans a chuckle (or surprise/gross out the unsuspecting friend on the other end of your LINE chat).

This is by no means a comprehensive list, nor do we presume to be authorities on the matter. In fact while researching we noticed Tofugu had nicely summarized the trend recently. We’re sure the wave of kimo-kawaii will be good surfing for years to come, so remember this useful word when you come across a sort-of-cute character that makes you feel kind of icky at the same time.

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Things to do: Get your make-up done like a cute Japanese girl @ Gal Café 10sion in Shibuya

You’ve probably heard of costumed coffee shops like Maid cafés, which can predominantly be found in Akihabara. These unique establishments frequently feature wait staff dressed as French maids. Gal cafés, however, are something different. I’ve heard about one in Shibuya  and aparently it’s been an extraordinary experience, immersing yourself into this very special Japanese sub-culture called Gal.


Gal (also gyaru in Japanese) refers to young Japanese girls, who are very fashion-conscious, famous for their dyed hair, excessively decorated long nails and edgy make-up to create those extremely big anime-like eyes. It’s a very exaggerated girly style, often understood as a sign of wanting to be different, of breaking away from traditional Japanese standards. You can often see these girls strolling around Shibuya, especially on the Center Gai Street, which starts right opposite of Shibuya station.

If you are interested in Japanese sub-culture or if you just would like to know more about Gal, Gal Café 10sion is a great place to go. As the name says, it’s a café, a very relaxed place where you can hang out with your friends and meet some Gal in person.

There are 7 active Gal working in this café, all being extremely nice and friendly. If you like you are taught some makeup techniques and you can hear about their fashion trends, their idols etc. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for fashion is incredible and talking to the girls working at this cafe is really an experience on its own.


The inside of the café is pretty small and cozy, maybe 20 seats or so. Using keigo (honorific Japanese language) is banned here, so again, it’s a very casual atmosphere. Gal even use their own unique vocabulary and it’s called Gal-go (Gal language). However, even if you don’t speak any Japanese, there’s no problem at all. One of the Gal speaks English very well and the others are all very sociable, so that the language doesn’t really matter. They usually use their own Gal language anyway, which other Japanese people can hardly understand.

A true highlight of this café is the “Gal’s eye makeup experience” (3,500 yen including artificial eyelashes). Naturally it’s a service for women only. It is really fun to give it a try.  One of the Gal will do your makeup, using her own special technique, and wow, your eyes will look twice as big as before; you will virtually change into a Gal before your eyes!

Some other services include taking pictures with Gal (1,000 yen) or playing games. There is for example a game called shinken-shirahadori: a Gal brings a sword down towards the guest’s head and the guest has to try to catch it between their palms. If you catch it, you will get a free drink.

By the way, this place is not exclusively for women. Men can certainly enjoy the café, too, although they have to pay an extra fee of 1,000 yen per hour. I understood this is to keep them from staying too long. Anyway, visiting this café is a truly unique experience and lets you take a closer look at one of the real and active sub-cultures in Tokyo.


13-9 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0042

Homepage: (in Japanese)

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Things to do in Tokyo: The best places to do purikura

In another blog posting I wrote about the phenomenon of purikura. A photobooth where you can have your picture taken and decorate them with lots of fun stamps and texts. Also at some purikura places they offer free clothes rental so you can dress as an anime character or like a maid and some places even offer curling irons so you can make sure your hair looks perfect for your photo shoot!

Here I will tell you what the best places are to do purikura.

Purikura no Mecca

After doing a bit of research I stumbled upon Purikura Mecca (プリクラのメッカ) Game Las Vegas on Shibuya’s well-known Center-gai street. Mind you, I have not yet been here myself, but the reviews I read were pretty good so I would definitely recommend it. This unassuming arcade has only one activity on the docket: purikura. Purikura is the shortened form of purintokurabu or Print Club and they are the tackiest, flashiest photo booths to exist on planet Earth. Popular among schoolgirls and young twentysomethings, these photo sticker machines launch the classic black and white strip pictures to a completely different level. Girls love these photo booths because they create the ideal image of feminine cuteness and beauty with the touch of a pen. There are many varieties of purikura booths, with more elaborate and technologically advanced versions emerging every year. The first machines emerged in 1995 and have since evolved to machines with the power to ensure maximum beauty in your images. The booths are equipped with digital cameras, typically Canon, and high-capacity flash lamps to illuminate the entire mini photo studio in a wash of perfectly balanced white light.

Gather your willing friends and head for Game Las Vegas. Note that some purikura centers do not allow men to visit on their own and women must accompany them. This rule is in place to ensure the safety of the young demographic using the machines. With your all-female or mixed gender group assembled, walk out of Shibuya Station’s Hachiko Exit; walk across the famous scramble crossing and up Center-gai and the arcade will be on the left side of the street. Purikura is an activity suited for any time of day and fortunately this arcade is open until midnight. The more popular machines featured in magazines will surely have a gaggle of girls waiting in line to take their turn. The machine you use doesn’t really matter, they all outfitted with similar programs to create the same beautifying effects.

Now insert your money and get ready for the fun to begin. The machines are usually just 400 yen per use. First you will have the option to click on which type of complexion filter for your photos. Each machine will have different options, so just pick whichever filter you think looks best. Remember to choose quickly, each step of the process only lasts about ten seconds so the decisions have to be quick. You will then have the choice of which backgrounds and frames to select for your photos. Click around on the screen and pick the ones that suit your group.

After posing it out in your photo shoot, everyone moves to the other side of the booth where you will then decorate the pictures on the monitor using the two stylus pens. Decorating elements include stickers, colorful writing and of course, more cosmetic enhancement. Some machines serve as beauty laboratories with the ability to create the illusion of longer eyelashes, lankier legs, slimmer faces, bigger eyes or colored hair. The options seem endless. Once everyone is satisfied with their editing or if time is up, select how the pictures should be arranged and separated among the group. After that, everything is finished; just wait a few minutes for the sticker sheets to print. While waiting, some machines have mini games or options to send the images digitally to your cell phone by simply inputting your Japanese cell phone email address.

Purikura are a staple in Japanese cute culture and are here to stay. Spare a couple hundred yen and visit an arcade with friends. The frantic picking and choosing of decorative options is really addicting and the resulting pictures are so saccharine sweet; it’s easy to see why this is a popular pastime among young women.


The address is:Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 1-23-10


Another great place to go to for purikura is in Akihabara. This place I did actually go to. We dressed up in cute cosplay outfits before we had our picture taken in one of the many booths.

Club Sega
Club Sega is not actually solely dedicated to Purikura. The building has 6 floors and you can also play lots of arcade games or try to catch a stuffed toy in one of the many crane machines, but of course we were only interested in the purikura.

CLUB SEGA: Akihabara

Nearest Station Akihabara
Address 1-10-9 Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Telephone 03-5256-8123
Home Page (In Japanese)
Business Hours 10:00am-1:00am


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Things to do this week in Tokyo July 22nd- July 28th 2013

It Girl!!! Vol. 10

Mon Jul 22, 2013 Module
Nothing like a bit of pole dancing to get your week off to a proper start, eh? (No, you don’t have to answer that.) Tokyo‘s Grace A studio will be taking charge at Module in this monthly party, with head honcho Atsumi acting as MC for an evening of solo, duo and group pole performances.


Open July 22

Time Doors 7pm

Admission ¥2,500 on the door; ¥2,000 adv

Venue Module

Address M&I Bldg B1F-B2F, 34-6 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya station (Yamanote, Ginza lines), Hachiko exit; (Hanzomon line), exits 3, 6.

Champagne Garden at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo

Mon Jul 22 – Sat Aug 31, 2013 Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo
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.


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


Mon Jul 22, 2013 La Mama
Fresh from appearing at the weekend’s Jazz Art Sengawa festival, Swiss unit Superterz are taking their burbling stew of free jazz, improv and electronics on tour. The first date in their itinerary looks set to be a loud one: it features a guest appearance by Japanese noise overlord Merzbow. Catch them again later in the week with Hikashu’s Koichi Makigami.


Open July 22

Time Doors 7pm. Gig 7.30pm

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

Venue La Mama

Address B1F, 1-15-3 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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

David Murray Big Band featuring Macy Gray

Mon Jul 22 – Wed Jul 24, 2013 Blue Note Tokyo
One of the pivotal figures of contemporary American jazz, saxophonist David Murray combines the free jazz experiments of Ayler and Coltrane with a mainstream ear. Here he hooks up with sandpaper-voiced singer Macy Gray, who guested on the bandleader’s just-released Be My Monster Love album.


Open July 22-24

Time 1st show: Doors 5.30pm. Gig 7pm; 2nd show: Doors 8.45pm. Gig 9.30pm

Admission ¥8,400

Venue Blue Note Tokyo

Address Raika Bldg, 6-3-16 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Omotesando station (Chiyoda, Ginza, Hanzomon lines), exit B3.

Miran Fukuda

Tue Jul 23 – Sun Sep 29, 2013 Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
A portrait of the Mona Lisa reclining on a sofa and a mirror image version of Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave’ are just two of the subverted masterpieces on show in Miran Fukuda’s solo exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. An adept stylist and mimic, Fukuda excels at these kinds of sly parodies, though she doesn’t shy away from tackling more serious themes: some of the pieces here – all of them dating from the 1990s onwards, and featuring 20 new works – deal with the aftermaths of 9/11 and the 2011 Tohoku disaster.


Open July 23-September 29 Closed Mon (except Sep 16, 23), Sep 17, 24

Time Tue-Sun 9.30am-5.30pm (Fri until 9pm)

Admission Adults ¥800, over 65s ¥500, students ¥400

Venue Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

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

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

Andy Warhol and Sunday B Morning

Tue Jul 23 – Sun Aug 4, 2013 Tabloid
If you can’t wait for the American Pop Art show at the National Art Center, Tokyo next month, the bayside Tabloid complex is hosting a warm-up exhibition that would do Andy Warhol proud. Those are his images adorning the walls, you see – but they’re also not. They’re actually credited to Sunday B Morning, the tag used for authorised reproductions of the great reproducer’s most famous work.


Open July 23-August 4 Closed Mon

Time Tue-Sun 11am-6pm (Aug 4 until 4pm)

Admission Free

Venue Tabloid

Address 2-6-24 Kaigan, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Hinode Station (Yurikamome line), Hamamatsucho Station (Yamanote line)

Kagurazaka Matsuri 2013

Wed Jul 24 – Sat Jul 27, 2013 Waseda-Dori and surrounding area, Kagurazaka
Usually one of Tokyo’s most refined neighbourhoods, Kagurazaka gets a little unruly each July, as hordes of yukata wearers and awaodori dancers flood the streets for four days of traditional festivities. On the first two evenings of the Kagurazaka Matsuri, you can pick up a Chinese lantern plant at the market in Bishamonten (Zenkokuji) temple, as well as join a guided tour of the area (which includes a free commemorative snap if you’re wearing a yukata). But the main action comes on Friday and Saturday evenings, when teams of dancers make their way along Waseda-Dori from Iidabashi and Kagurazaka stations, converging at the central crossing.


Open July 24-27

Time July 24, 25 5.30pm-10pm, July 26, 27 7pm-9pm

Venue Waseda-Dori and surrounding area, Kagurazaka

Radical Music Network 2013

Wed Jul 24, 2013 Club Asia
You can always count on this annual gig to snag some of the more world music-y acts playing at the weekend’s Fuji Rock Festival. This year’s Radical Music Network joins the dots between genre-mashing Basque rocker Fermin Muguruza, LA-based cumbia act Very Be Careful and veteran UK spinner DJ Scratchy. They’re supported by a reliable cast of local trouble-makers including Asakusa Jinta, Mitsukaze & Green Massive and Caribbean Dandy, and the music keeps rolling until dawn.


Open July 24

Time Doors 6.30pm. Gig 7pm (all night)

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

Venue Club Asia

Address 1-8 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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

Shimbashi Koichi Festival (2013)

Thu Jul 25 – Fri Jul 26, 2013 Shimbashi SL Plaza
Shimbashi gets into the summer spirit at this two-day festival of dancing, boozing and taiko drumming. The highlight is the yukata (light kimono) beauty contest on Friday evening (6.30pm start), the winner of which stands to walk away with ¥200,000 and a four-night trip to Hawaii. There’ll be Bon Odori dancing both evenings, along with a range of food stalls and stage entertainment, and if you head to the fourth floor of the New Shinbashi Building you’ll find an evening beer garden that runs from 5pm to 9pm.


Open July 25-26

Time Noon-9pm

Venue Shimbashi SL Plaza

Address 2 Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shimbashi Station (Tokaido, Keihin-Tohoku, Yamanote, Ginza, Asakusa, Yurikamome lines)

Fuji Rock Festival ’13

Fri Jul 26 – Sun Jul 28, 2013 Naeba Ski Resort, Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture

With a Sunday night headlining set from Radiohead and three days of uninterrupted good weather, the 2012 edition of Fuji Rock ended up being our festival highlight of the year. Chances are that the weather won’t be as good when the event returns to Naeba, Niigata Prefecture in the final weekend of July – but the music might be. Nine Inch Nails, Bjork and The Cure have been confirmed as headliners, joined by EDM wunderkind Skrillex, stadium-folk sensations Mumford & Sons, The XX and acts ranging from Flying Lotus to Suzanne Vega. They’ve also snagged My Bloody Valentine, who were originally due to headline May’s abortive Tokyo Rocks fest. (Er… any chance we could get Blur, too?) Tickets are on general sale now (see for details about overseas purchases); here’s the lineup so far:

Friday 26:
Nine Inch Nails, Skrillex, Morio Agata, Kenichi Asai & Bad Teacher Kill Club, Brahman, Bryan Burton-Lewis & Tadanobu Asano, Caribbean Dandy, Char, Chara x Yusuke Kobayashi x KenKen, Gary Clark Jr., Cro-Magnon, Death Grips, Dohatsuten, Flying Lotus, Fragment x Keikoto Band, Fun., The Gaslamp Killer, Gentlemans Pistols, Kaoru Inoue, DJ Izpon, Kemuri, Local Natives, My Bloody Valentine, DJ Nobu, Stefano Noferini, Of Monsters and Men, Peppertones, Phunk Investigation, Quattro, Radical Music Network, CJ Ramone, Rhye, Eddie Roberts’ West Coast Sounds, Porter Robinson, Route 17 Rock’n’Roll Orchestra, The Sea and Cake, Ron Sexsmith, DJ Shadow, Soil & “Pimp” Sessions, Sparks, Yabe Tadashi, Tame Impala, Tower of Power, Turtle Island, Yellowcard

Saturday 27:
Bjork, Karl Hyde, Jurassic 5, Priscilla Ahn, Baianasystem, Julio Bashmore, The Bawdies, Boys Noize (live), The Cherry Coke$, Coheed and Cambria, Maya Jane Coles, Darkstar, Adam Deitch (DJ set), Doberman, Mark Ernestus presents Jeri-Jeri, Feed Me, Foals, Garth Hudson, Hurts, Dr Ihara, Jack Beats (DJ set), Killswitch Engage, Kyte, Lama, Kendrick Lamar, Daniel Lanois, Kenta Maeno & Soaplanders, Aimee Mann, Mannish Boys, Modeselektor, Fermin Muguruza Kontrakantxa, Namba69, Mari Natsuki, Tom Odell, Tamio Okuda, Rocket from the Crypt, Ryukyudisko, DJ Scratchy, Raphael Sebbag, Skinny Lister, Steruss, Shugo Tokumaru, Suzanne Vega, Very Be Careful, Your Song is Good

Sunday 28:
The Cure, Vampire Weekend, The XX, Bauuer, Mulatu Astatke, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, Big Willie’s Burlesque presents Mambo Loco, Bo Ningen, Cat Power, Daughter, DIIV, Ego-Wrappin’ and the Gossip of Jaxx, Brinsley Forde, The Golden Wet Fingers, Goma & The Jungle Rhythm Section, Haim, The Hot 8 Brass Band, A Hundred Birds feat. Ten & Gebo, Takkyu Ishino, Jamie XX, Jazzanova, DJ Jim, Tokiko Kato & Theatre Brook, Fusanosuke Kondo & The 1968 Band, Daisuke Kuroda, Lettuce, Lite, Lotus, Mitsukaze & Green Massive, Muddy Apes, Mumford & Sons, Murasaki Baby Doll with JVC Force Trio, David Murray Big Band featuring Macy Gray, Tavito Nanao, Portugal, The Man, Savages, Shacho, Sheena & The Rokkets, Sotaisei Riron, Sugiurumn, Tahiti 80, The Telephones, Yosuke Tominaga, Toro Y Moi, Yo La Tengo


Open July 26-28

Time Doors 9am. Gig 11am

Admission 3 day ticket ¥42,800 adv, 1 day ticket ¥17,800

Venue Naeba Ski Resort, Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture

Tokyo 1st Foam Party

Fri Jul 26, 2013 Club Asia
Bikini-clad women wield foam cannons over the crowd while’s Takeru John Otoguro and house scene stalwart DJ Yummy supply the tunes at Club Asia’s monthly bubble bonanza. Bring a change of clothes: this might get messy.


Open July 26

Time Doors 11pm

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


Venue Club Asia

Address 1-8 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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

Tokyo Idol Festival 2013

Sat Jul 27 – Sun Jul 28, 2013 Zepp Tokyo and other venues in Odaiba
Anyone who thought Japan’s infatuation with idol pop was just a passing fad need only look at the lineup for this two-day festival to realise how wrong they were. At the time of writing, there are 111 different groups lined up to take part in this year’s Tokyo Idol Festival, billed as the world’s largest event of its kind. The Fuji TV-created Idoling!!! (pictured) return for their fourth year, alongside a selection of acts you may have heard of (Bis, Negicco, Vanilla Beans) and a whole load you probably haven’t.


Open July 27-28

Time 10am-10pm

Admission One day ¥4,800 adv; two days ¥8,500 adv

Venue Zepp Tokyo and other venues in Odaiba

Address Palette Town 1F, 1 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo

Transport Aomi station (Yurikamome line) or Tokyo Teleport station (Rinkai line).

Sumida River Fireworks Festival (2013)

Sat Jul 27, 2013 Sumida Park Sumida River around Asakusa & Ryogoku
Japan’s oldest recorded fireworks festival dates back to 1733, when it was staged as part of a ceremony to pray for victims of a severe famine the previous year. Today, it’s by far the largest display in the capital – this year’s will involve a whopping 22,500 fireworks – and regularly draws close to a million spectators. Note that the event will be postponed until Sunday if the weather is poor.


Open July 27

Time 7.05pm-8.30pm

Venue Sumida Park Sumida River around Asakusa & Ryogoku

Address Mukojima, Sumida-ku, Tokyo

Transport Asakusa Station (Toei, Tobu, Ginza lines)

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. 26 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

Thai Fair in Tokyo 2013

Sat Jul 27 – Sun Jul 28, 2013 Yoyogi Park
Get a taste of Thai culture at this two-day festival, which will feature tuk tuks, Muay Thai displays, music and, of course, plenty of fiery Thai food to gorge yourself on.


Open Jul 27-28

Time Daily 10am-7pm

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)

Celebrates the 20th Birth Anniversary of Maniac Love

Sat Jul 27 – Sat Aug 10, 2013 Galaxy-Gingakei

The club itself may be long gone, but Maniac Love’s notoriety lives on. Join a host of aging turntable terrorists at Harajuku’s Galaxy this summer, as they gather to mark the 20th anniversary of the techno hotspot’s opening. Held on consecutive Saturday nights, the three parties star a by-now familiar cast of Tokyo dancefloor warriors, among them DJ Wada, Dr Shingo, DJ Tasaka, Q’Hey and DJ Yama. And in true Maniac Love style, the action continues in post-5am after hours sessions, complete with free coffee.

July 27
DJ Wada, DJ Yama, DJ Jimihendrixxx aka Keiichiro Shibuya, DJ Shufflemaster, DJ Hiro. After hours: Toby, Yo-C

August 3:
Co-Fusion, DJ Tasaka, Dr Shingo, DJ Sodeyama, Osamu M. After hours: Shinkawa, DSKE

August 10:
Q’Hey, Mayuri, A Mochi, Takami, Rok Da House. After hours: Uiroh, ATT


Open July 27, August 3 & 10

Time Doors 10pm

Admission ¥2,500 on the door; ¥1,000 after 5am

Venue Galaxy-Gingakei

Address B1F, 5-27-7 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Meiji-Jingumae Station (Chiyoda, Fukutoshin lines), Harajuku Station (Yamanote line)

Ray-Ban Summer Party

Sun Jul 28, 2013 Roppongi Hills Arena
Top Tokyo DJs including Shinichi Osawa, Tomoyuki Tanaka and Taku Takahashi are on board for this free, Ray-Ban-sponsored party in Roppongi Hills Arena, though you’ll need to navigate a slightly cumbersome (and Japanese-only) registration process if you want to go. See the Ray-Ban website for details.


Open July 28

Time 2pm-8pm

Admission Free (with invitation)

Venue Roppongi Hills Arena

Address 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Roppongi Station (Hiroo, Oedo lines)

Tokyo’s top 10 eggs benedict

Breakfast like a champion with the capital’s best eggy offerings

Tokyo’s top 10 eggs benedict

There are many delicious ways to enjoy the humble egg, each more enticing than the last – whether it’s boiled, scrambled, fried, cosied up to a slice of bacon, mounted on a slab of buttery toast, coated in a blend of clay, ash, salt and quicklime and buried for a few months until it’s brown… You get the gist. But none are more enticing than eggs benedict. It covers all the most important breakfast food groups (carbs, pig, protein, some sort of sauce), is usually less artery-clogging than the full English, more sophisticated than a stack of syrup-drenched pancakes, and delicious to boot. Here’s where you can find the best eggs benedict in Tokyo…


Popular New York import Sarabeth’s has been giving hungry expats a taste of home since it arrived on Tokyo’s dining scene in 2012. In keeping with the restaurant’s dainty decor, the eggs benedict is a real work of art, comprising a round of English muffin stacked with smoked ham and a perfectly poached egg, smothered in a glossy hollandaise sauce. Served with a salad garnish rather than the usual greasy hash browns, it even looks sort of… healthy.

Sarabeth’s Lumine Shinjuku store 3-38-2 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Price: classic eggs benedict ¥1,400
Open daily 9am-10pm

Good Honest Grub

You’ll have to swing by on a weekend if you fancy a bite of Good Honest Grub’s eggy offering, as it’s only served at brunch. Choose between two or three eggs accompanied with hash browns, then spend the next ten minutes dithering over which toppings to pick: alongside the usual bacon and ham, you’ll find grilled aubergine, crab, caramelised onion, avocado, feta and more.

Good Honest Grub 2-20-8 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: eggs benedict ¥1,600 yen for two, ¥2,000 for three
Available at brunch only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 10am-4pm


Beacon’s take on eggs benedict is about as decadent as you can get. The classic English muffin base is swapped for toasted brioche, the hollandaise for lemon cream sauce, and instead of the usual side of hash browns you get a lobster cake. The quality is reflected in the price tag, of course, but at least you’ll leave satisifed – this is brunch done the American way, so expect the plates to be piled high.

Beacon 1-2-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: eggs benedict with brioche toast and lobster cakes ¥3,200
Available at brunch only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 11am-3pm

Kimono Wine Bar and Grill

Another one for Sunday brunch, Kimono has three types of eggs benedict on offer. Purists will want to go for the classic or florentine options, but if you’re a little more adventurous it’s worth sampling the Cajun-style version with andouille sausage. The salty, spicy meat offsets the eggs and hollandaise nicely, delivering a fiery wake-up to sleepy tase buds.

Kimono Wine Bar and Grill 1-15-28 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Price: eggs benedict Cajun style with spicy andouille sausage ¥1,365
Available at brunch only, Sundays 10am-4pm

Slappy Cakes

There’s usually a queue at this popular Portland import, currently one of Tokyo’s most prized pancake destinations. However, anyone looking for a slightly less stodgy breakfast can feast on their ‘Slappy Benedict’ instead. Available all day, the English muffin base is house-made, while the topping includes a purée of dried tomatoes, sautéed spinach, ham and roasted garlic, covered in the obligatory hollandaise sauce and topped with poached eggs. Tasty enough to give the pancakes a run for their money.

Slappy Cakes 7F Lumine Est, 3-38-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Price: Slappy Benedict ¥1,100
Open daily 11am-10pm

Rose Bakery Ginza

Given that co-founder Rose Carrarini authored a book called How to Boil an Egg, you’d expect Rose Bakery to know a thing or two about brunch. Their eggs benedict doesn’t disappoint: the base of toasted, buttery brioche is topped with poached egg, spinach, bacon and a generous coating of buttery hollandaise sauce, with a generous side order of baked tomatoes, green beans and potatoes to make it feel slightly less sinful.

Rose Bakery 7F Ginza Komatsu West, 6-9-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Price: eggs benedict ¥1,300
Available only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 11am-9pm


Mixing up the classic eggs benedict recipe has proved a smart move for Lauderdale, Roppongi’s eternally bustling spot for brunching expats. There are three adventurous combos to choose from – corned beef and veg; shrimp, avocado and cheese; and salmon and bacon – though you’ll have to go at brunch to sample them. The place gets pretty packed, too, so be sure to book yourself a seat on the terrace if you want to chow down in style.

Lauderdale 6-15-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Price: corned beef and veg eggs benedict ¥1,900
Available at brunch only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 8am-4pm

West Park Cafe

Expat families still flock to this long-running Yoyogi restaurant at weekends for some good old American-style brunch. Service can be a little sloppy, but it’s worth enduring it for the eggs benedict – a classic toasted English muffin topped with bacon, a perfectly cooked egg and generous serving of hollandaise. The eggs florentine is also worth trying, featuring all the usual components but with healthier, vegetarian-friendly spinach replacing the meat.

West Park Cafe 23-11 Motoyoyogicho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: eggs benedict ¥1,480
Available at brunch only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 10am-5pm


New York arrival Bubby’s achieved a hat-trick of stores when its Yaesu branch opened in 2012. The menu includes an ample selection of burgers, sandwiches, and chicken and waffles, as well as a vast array of pie. While other restaurants save their eggs benedict for weekend brunch, here you can have it on weekdays too. This orthodox rendition comprises the usual ham, poached egg, hollandaise and English muffin, and comes with a garnish of sautéed onions and potato.

Bubby’s Yaechika 2-1 Yaesu, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Price: eggs benedict ¥1,200
Available at weekday lunch 11am-4pm and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 9.30am-11.30pm

Royal Host Omotesando

When you’re chowing down on Western-style dishes in Tokyo, you expect to pay import prices – but if you don’t mind forsaking authenticity, there are other options. Dig ¥546 out of your pocket and wave it in the direction of Royal Host, and you can buy yourself a Japanese-style eggs benedict. All the usual components are in place (if not necessarily up to the same standards as the other dishes featured in this list), with the added bonus of, er, coleslaw sitting atop one half of the muffin. At least it’s one of your five-a-day.

Royal Host Omotesando 4-3-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Price: eggs benedict ¥546
Available at breakfast only 9am-11am

Basement Ltd: Ena release party

Sun Jul 28, 2013 Module
It’s kind of ironic that the qualities which stopped Ena’s debut album from blowing us away on first listen – depth, restraint and a minimal, bass-heavy palette that sounds rubbish over laptop speakers – are the same ones that have kept us coming back again, and again. The Tokyo-based producer moves from drum ‘n’ bass to something more approximating dubstep onBilateral, but these stark beat excursions are a long, long way from Skrillex territory. Get a hefty dose as he plays an extended two-hour set at Module, in a belated release party for the album. Jah-Light, Keihin and label boss Greg G lend appropriately dubbed-out support.


Open July 28

Time Doors 5pm

Admission ¥2,000 on the door; ¥1,500 with flyer

Venue Module

Address M&I Bldg B1F-B2F, 34-6 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo

Transport Shibuya station (Yamanote, Ginza lines), Hachiko exit; (Hanzomon line), exits 3, 6.

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Things to do this week in Tokyo

Gokiburi Combinato’s grown-up haunted house

Until Tue Jun 25, 2013 Vanilla Gallery

This ain’t no famliy-friendly haunted house,’ promises the PR blurb for the last show at Ginza’s Vanilla Gallery before the kinky art space’s impending relocation. Extreme performance troupe Gokiburi Combinato – a regular presence at fetish events like Sadistic Circus – will be offering their own spin on the fairground spook house, and it’s one that’s been specifically designed to scare the bejeezus out of grown-ups. Visitors are advised to wear clothes that they don’t mind getting dirty, and the ¥1,500 admission fee includes a photo of your best scaredy-cat face.


Open June 22-25

Time 4pm-7pm (June 23 from 1pm)

Admission ¥1,500

Venue Vanilla Gallery

Address 4F, 6-10-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ginza Station (Ginza, Marunouchi, Hibiya lines)

Leonardo da Vinci: Portrait of a Genius

Until Sun Jun 30, 2013 Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
If you were hoping that Tokyo might be able to muster a show of the same calibre as the National Gallery’s acclaimed Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, carry on dreaming. Of the over 100 paintings, sketches and writings featured in this heavily promoted exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, only a handful come from the hand of the Renaissance master himself (even the provenance of the 1490 Portrait of a Musician, pictured above, is disputed). The remainder of the show is given over to works by contemporaries and students – drawn from the collection of Rome’s Biblioteca Ambrosiana – which do at least provide some valuable context for da Vinci’s oeuvre.


Open April 23-June 30 Closed Mon (except April 29, May 6), May 7

Time Tue-Sun 9.30am-5.30pm (Fri until 8pm)

Admission Adults ¥1,500, students ¥1,300, over 65s ¥1,000, high school students ¥800

Venue Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

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

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

Tokyo 1st Foam Party

Fri Jun 28, 2013 Club Asia
It’s time to bust out your swimsuit, as Club Asia holds its first foam party of the summer. Bikini-clad women wield foam cannons over the crowd while house scene stalwart Sugiurumn supplies the tunes, accompanied by party organiser Afromance. This might get messy.


Open June 28

Time Doors 11pm

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


Venue Club Asia

Address 1-8 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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

The Power of Manga: Osamu Tezuka and Shotaro Ishinomori

Sat Jun 29 – Sun Sep 8, 2013 Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo pays tribute to two of Japan’s great manga pioneers in its summer show. Osamu Tezuka and Shotaro Ishinomori weren’t just ground-breaking innovators in the world of Japanese comics – they were also colleagues, working together on Shonen Mangamagazine in the early 1950s. The Power of Manga charts the careers of both men, from early drawings to seminal works like Tezuka’s Atom Boyand Ishinomori’s Cyborg 009. In testament to their lasting impact, it also includes homages from young Japanese and international artists who’ve been influenced by these two manga giants – and we’re guessing there have been quite a few.


Open June 29-September 8 Closed Mon (except July 15), July 16

Time Tue-Sun 10am-6pm

Admission Adults ¥1,200, students & over 65s ¥900, high school & junior high school students ¥700

Venue Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

Address 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku, Tokyo

Transport Kiyosumi-Shirakawa station (Hanzomon line), exit B2 then 9mins walk. Kiyosumi-Shirakawa station (Oedo line), exit A3 then 13mins walk.

Francis Alÿs: Gibraltar Focus

Sat Jun 29 – Sun Sep 8, 2013 Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo has been giving some generous exposure to Francis Alÿs this spring and summer, with two shows devoted to the oeuvre of the Belgian-born, Mexico-based conceptual artist. Following on from the career-spanning Mexico Survey, the museum now hosts a more recent work. Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River revolves around a massive performance art piece that Alÿs orchestrated on both sides of the Gibraltar Strait in 2008, documented across a hundred-odd pieces of video, photos, drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations.

Nagisa Music Festival Tokyo 2013

Sat Jun 29, 2013 Ajinomoto Stadium
Once a regular fixture in Odaiba, where it used to happen twice a year, the Nagisa Music Festival has been awfully quiet recently. The event returns this month after a lengthy hiatus, though it’s moving the action to Chofu’s Ajinomoto Stadium this time. We’re not sure how the venue is going to handle a multi-stage event such as this, but there should be plenty on the lineup to keep Nagisa’s more psychedelically inclined fans happy, including appearances by big-name trance acts Astral Projection and Yoji, chill-out supremo Banco de Gaia and Orbital’s Phil Hartnoll.


Open June 29

Time Doors 11am. Gig noon

Admission ¥4,300 adv

Venue Ajinomoto Stadium

Address 376-3 Nishimachi, Chofu, Tokyo

Transport Tobitakyu station (Keio line).

Mottainai Festa 2013

Sat Jun 29 – Sun Jun 30, 2013 Akihabara UDX
The late Wangari Maathai kickstarted the Mottainai movement in 2005, a year after she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize on account of her political and environmental activism. The Japan-based campaign encourages environmental conservation and sustainable use of resources through a variety of means, ranging from custom vending machines to events like this weekend festival in Akihabara. There’ll be a variety of booths propagating the Mottainai message – reduce, reuse, recycle, respect – along with flea market stalls run by children (1-3pm only), artisans and some of the local otaku. Because, eh, toys need to be recycled too. Hang around on Saturday evening for a candle display, sand art performance by Karin Ito and music by pop singer Chay.


Open June 29-30

Time June 29 11am-8.30pm, June 30 11am-5pm

Venue Akihabara UDX

Address 4-14-1 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Transport Akihabara Station (Yamanote, Sobu, Hibiya, Tsukuba Express lines)

281 Anti Nuke Retrospective

Until Sun Jun 30, 2013 The Pink Cow
You won’t know his face (and he’d prefer to keep it that way), but you probably know his work. The subversive stickers of street artist 281 Anti Nuke have become a ubiquitous feature on Tokyo’s landscape since the Fukushima disaster, taking well-aimed jabs at prime ministers, TEPCO and a political culture that puts profit before citizens’ wellbeing. The Pink Cow will be presenting a selection of 281’s work throughout June, and you can meet the artist himself at the opening night on June 6 (from 7pm), when they’ll also be screening a new documentary by Tokyo-based filmmaker Adrian ‘Uchujin’ Storey.


Open June 1-30

Time Tue-Sun 5pm-late (opening party June 6, 7pm-11.30pm)

Admission Free entry

Venue The Pink Cow

Address B1F Roi Bldg, 5-5-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Roppongi Station (Oedo, Hibiya lines)

Start of Summer party

Sun Jun 30, 2013 Otodama Sea Studio
You know summer’s here when Zushi’s seaside gig venue kicks into action. Otodama Sea Studio holds its first Sunday dance party of the season on June 30, with a host of DJs who’ll be more than a little familiar to Tokyo clubbers, including Takkyu Ishino, Shinichi Osawa, Taku Takahashi and Dexpistols.


Open June 30

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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Where to eat:Get your soy joy at Tokyo’s 5 best vegan restaurants

Time to give animal products a break? Try one of these cruelty-free diners.

With the shocking news this summer that major retailer Aeon sold beef from cattle which ate feed contaminated by nuclear radiation from Fukushima, Tokyo residents could be forgiven for seeking alternative food sources when eating out.

After all, avoiding death through dining comes pretty near the top of most folks’ priorities.

And, even if you’re not a herbivore, exploring non-meat cuisine can be a rewarding challenge. Tokyo has many more veggie restaurants than it did 10 years ago, including vegan eateries, which eschew dairy and animal products altogether.

That said, it can be difficult for people who don’t eat animal products to get a decent meal if they don’t know where to look. So, if you’ve got the time and appetite to find them, here are Tokyo’s five best vegan restaurants we’ve picked out to get the meatless feast moving.

1. Pure Café

This stylish vegan café is tucked away in the Aveda holistic spa building in fashionable Minami-Aoyama. Staff put a lot of time into preparing its offerings, focusing on organic vegetables and beans.

Excellent daily lunch and dinner set meals (¥1,300-¥2,100) can include lentil soup, goya champuru (tofu, brown rice and bitter gourd), tempeh and enchiladas, as well as sandwiches, pastas and veggie pizzas.

The star attractions, though, are the vegan sweets and cakes such as apple crumble, chickpea Mont Blanc and tofu cheesecake.

5-5-21 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo, +81 (0) 3 5466 2611.

2. Loving Hut

A few minutes’ walk from Yotsuya-Sanchome Station on the Marunouchi Line, Loving Hut is a breezy eatery dedicated to helping the environment through veganism. Or so they say.

Menu delights include the ¥500 Loving Burger, a cracking stomach-filler made of tofu and soy beans, and the Zen plate (¥1,000) which combines rice, a salad and teriyaki-style soybean and lotus root.

Soy soups, curries and vegan cheese tarts are also on offer. Loving Hut sells organic vegan bento lunches at its restaurant, as well as from trucks in Ningyocho and a few other locations. See the website for details. 

2/F, 3-6-15 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, +81 (0) 3 6807 9625.

3. Saishoku Kenbi

In the heart of Tokyo’s Korea town and a five-minute walk from Shin-Okubo Station on the JR Yamanote Line, Saishoku Kenbi is a Buddhist banquet with a plethora of vegetarian and vegan choices.

Nearly 30 offerings including spaghetti, salads, croquettes, dumplings, yuba and tofu are presented buffet-style (lunch ¥1,200, dinner ¥2,000). There are also individual à la carte dishes such as carrot pilaf doria (¥850).

Anything with dairy products is clearly marked. There’s also a section with take-home foods. Call ahead to reserve for dinner (served on Thursday and Friday only).

12-21-26 Hyakunin-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, +81 (0) 3 5332 3627.

Saishoku Kenbi

4. Rainbow Bird Rendezvous

This relaxing café and mini-spa is tucked along the Tokyu Toyoko Line tracks about a 10-minute walk up Meguro-ginza shopping street from Naka-Meguro Station.

Right next to funky Mexican resto Junkadelic, Rainbow Bird is based on LOHAS principles — in addition to reiki and aromatherapy, it has a tantalizing selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Lunch and dinner sets typically feature miso, curry, organic brown rice, potato croquettes and tofu burgers. For dessert, tuck into a slice of tofu chocolate cake.

1-1-1 Yutenji, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, +81 (0) 3 3791 5470.

5. Vegan Healing Café

On a hill behind Tokyu Hands in the youth-oriented Shibuya district, this small eatery is dedicated to food prepared without milk, eggs, fish, meat, honey or butter, but still manages to delight the taste buds.

Mains include brown rice and range from bean stew to fried soy meat to dahl curry (all ¥900-950), which you can chase down with organic tea, coffee or beer.

For dessert, try the blueberry galette or tofu almond chocolate tart.

102 Parashion Shibuya Building, 6-20 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, +81 (0) 3 5489-5185.

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Must see:Renovated Japanese house Hagiso is Tokyo’s “smallest” art complex

It’s a little-kept secret that almost all of the interesting recent new art spaces in Tokyo are “recycled” spaces — ones that are reusing an old building or facility.

A few years ago 3331 Arts Chiyoda opened in the former Rensei Junior High School near Akihabara, while Tokyo Denki University in Kanda was turned temporarily into Trans Arts Tokyo festival in 2012 (set to return in autumn 2013). And for years, Gallery ef in Asakusa has used a former Japanese kurastorehouse to host art events and performances, while SCAI The Bathhouse in Yanaka, the major art gallery housed in a former sento, surely needs no introduction.

For a city that often seems obsessed with the new and frequently displays a profane disregard for preserving its heritage, these recycled spaces are exciting even just for daring to be old — and certainly a world removed from the cultivated swank of other new art venues in Shibuya or Roppongi.

hagiso tokyo

Hagiso before it was renovated

Joining SCAI in the quiet shitamachi neighborhood of Yanaka now is Hagiso, a former house that has been converted into the “smallest cultural facility complex” by a group of students from the nearby Tokyo University of the Arts.

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Hagiso, the newly renovated Japanese house in Yanaka that is now a venue for art and other events

The two-storey building sits rather serenely in its new classy coating of black, nestling among the temples of one of the oldest parts of Tokyo.

When renovating the site, the team behind Hagiso have cleaned up but retained the original traditional wooden fittings, adding a very peaceful cafe downstairs, while turning much of the rest of the building into spaces for changing events.

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Hagi Cafe

For the inaugural show, ‘Hagiennale 2013: Third Life’, multiple artists added installations and exhibits all around the building, from the toilet to stairway, and almost all of the walls on both floors.

hagiso tokyo

You can look right out at the exhibition space while enjoying a cup of coffee.

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Downstairs exhibition space during ‘Hagiennale 2013: Third Life’

There were also dance performances on the opening night, plus ‘Third Life’ also featured a pop-up crafts shop in one room, offering jewellery and accessories by several designers.

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The gift shop in Hagi Room

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Performance on the opening night of ‘Third Life’

Even the attic, which has been left exposed, can be utilized for projecting artworks. The upstairs also now includes an atelier, hair salon and design office.

From 2004 Hagiso was a share house and studio for artist residencies, following a fifty year-stint as a rental property. It played host to the ‘Hagiennale 2012′, showing students’ work, which attracted 1,500 visitors.

It was then set to be demolished but a successful crowd funding campaign on Campfire led to enough money being raised to keep Hagiso going as a new exhibition and cultural facility.

Hagiso also has a nice sense of humor. We love this graphic they made, comparing the size of their venue with other famous “multi-purpose” facilities like Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Sky Tree.

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Why Hagiso can claim to be Tokyo’s “smallest” cultural facility! Can you work out what the other buildings are?

The opening event ‘Hagiennale 2013: Third Life’ has now closed but Hagiso will continue to host exhibitions, performances, talks, screenings and more.



3-10-25 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo

Transport Sendagi Station (Chiyoda line), Nippori Station (Yamanote, Keihin-Tohoku, Joban, Keisei lines)

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Things to do: Beyond the temples: Touring arty Japan

Design, architecture and galleries — there’s so much more than the ancient side to Nippon.

When it comes to visiting or touring Japan, we tend to read (and write) an inordinate amount about the historical and traditional sides of the country — from temples and rituals to festivals and food, and rightly so; their variety is frankly amazing.

Still, the fact that so many travelers are first attracted to Japan by its art and design makes it clear the more disparate, artistic aspects of the country deserve closer inspection. Here are half a dozen (very free-form) alternative tours for the artistically inclined visitor or cultural explorer.

Museums and galleries

Tokyo, of course, has the whole range of galleries and museums, from small basements-for-hire to the 52nd- floor Mori Art Museum, but a short trip to neighboring areas will reward you with some very good local museums.

In fact, three of the most interesting exhibitions I’ve seen have been an hour or more out of Tokyo. Try Chiba City Museum of Art for bloodthirsty 19th-century woodblock-printed scandal newspapers, the Museum of Modern Art in Saitama for historical works by the multi-talented Settai Komura or Fuchu’s Art Museum and its contemporary local Tamagawa artists.

The Fuchu venue also recently featured exhibitions on Christianity in Japanese Art, which was a surprise for me.

Of course — and as with the central museums — your level of interest depends on the exhibitions themselves, but if there’s a good show you also get a chance to explore a local area before or after.


Tokyo International Forum is a hidden cathedral of glass and steel.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the cityscape of Tokyo looks like clutter. But, sometimes hidden in plain sight, sometimes down the myriad backstreets, there are some excellent buildings and small, unexpected architectural quirks.

On the large scale, for example, there’s the Tokyo International Forum. The busy urban location means you don’t get much of a chance to enjoy the outside, but it’s inside that counts — the atrium is a cathedral-like public space that soars for several stories of glass.

Go to the higher floors and you can even stand on a corner of glass against a glass railing and look 11 stories down. And that even in earthquake-prone Tokyo, where in fact the Forum was a place of refuge for stranded Tokyoites on March 11.

A bell chimes you in, and the rush of outside noise diminishes in a ship-shaped curve of changed atmosphere. As you might expect, Tokyo frequently rewards an eye kept out for the small oddities that can be anywhere, like the seemingly unusable garage shown here.

Tokyo International Forum, 3-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Tokyo or Yurakucho stations.


Totodo — a standout bookshop amid the neon glare of Shibuya,

After taking in the modern scenery and the quirks of its culture, a good bookshop is always a plus for the arts-oriented traveler in a new city.

In Tokyo there is, for example, the compact collection at Totodo, a secondhand bookshop tucked away in the backstreets of Shibuya. The big name artist monographs from overseas may or may not be familiar, but there are also plenty of books on Japanese artists, architects, photographers and designers.

The best Tokyo arts bookshop, Nadiff, once in Omotesando, is sadly no longer — atomized into various smaller outlets which don’t quite equal the sum of that single previous store.

But if you’re looking for new books the ABC shop behind the United Nations University, also in Omotesando, stocks foreign and domestic magazines, books on all contemporary arts, wall space for a display and even a small collection of the artier manga. There’s also a branch in Roppongi.


You’ll perhaps be templed-out on any visit to Japan, yet what visitor with a design bent doesn’t fall for the craftsmanship of Japanese temples’ carpentry and joinery?

Taking the well-beaten tourist path to Kamakura’s temples, near Tokyo, or Miyajima, near Hiroshima, has much to recommend it. But visit the lesser-known Erinji, in Yamanashi to the west of the capital, and you’ll find an example of the rare “nightingale floor,” whose ancient wooden boards still squeak like a bird to warn of ninja-style trespassers (or visiting tourists). Erinji also has a good garden.

To get to Erinji take a limited express train on the Chuo line from Shinjuku to Enzan Station (about 90 minutes), then any of several local buses.



The celebrated layout of traditional Japanese gardens certainly isn’t just for visitors taking a green-Japan tour, although a classic like Ryoanji’s stone garden in Kyoto suffers slightly, like top-listed tourist spots everywhere, from overexposure.

A trip out of Osaka to the temple town of Koya in the Wakayama mountains will take you to Kongobuji’s stone garden, for example, perhaps not as geometrically “clever” as Ryoanji’s always uncountable stones, but aesthetically very beautiful indeed.

Back in Kyoto, Saihoji’s moss garden, which you can only visit by pre-booking, is both gently beautiful and at any one time filled with its limited number of visitors.

You’ll be required to copy a sutra as part of the visit — you trace faintly printed kanji characters, so even those without any Japanese writing skill can “practice” a little calligraphy. The restricted access makes you feel both privileged and a tad corralled, but the reward is a green that’s gossamer to the senses.

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Where to shop: musashi koyama shoutengai; a slice of the real Japan


Musashi koyama shoutengai: domestic shopping as far as the eye can see!

Musashi koyama shoutengai: domestic shopping as far as the eye can see!


When most visitors imagine shopping in Tokyo, they think of classy department stores with well-turned-out women pointing white gloves in the right direction. Other popular images include the massed ranks of electronic goods at Akihabara, or perhaps the trendy boutiques for the young or young-at-heart in places like Shibuya and Omotesando.

For those actually living in Tokyo though, shopping is a much more practical activity; the criteria for a good location to shop being that you can get most things you need at a reasonable price. That’s why traditional shopping streets, or “shoutengai” as they are known, are an important feature of Tokyo life. These shotengai, often located near stations, tend to mix the old with the new, and you often find family-run stores next to modern fast-food restaurants or pachinko parlors.

Two stations from Meguro on the Tokyo-Meguro Line, Musashi Koyama has one of the most interesting shotengai in Tokyo. The 1km long street was opened in 1956, when it was known as the biggest in the Far East, and it still has plenty of stores left over from that time. Turn left as you leave the station and you’re already at the entrance to this vast glass-roofed arcade. There are open-fronted shops strategically placed at the entrance serving Chinese dumplings (gyoza), fried octopus balls (takoyaki) and skewered chicken (yakitori).The latter also doubles as a standing bar and pulls in shop-weary customers of all ages on weekends and leads into the maze of small side streets, filled with tiny bars and restaurants, that exist by the side of the shotengai – the limited size of these establishments guaranteeing that, should you enter, you are bound to end up talking to someone.

Inside the bustling shotengai proper, there are fruit stores, ¥100-shops, sushi-restaurants, pharmacies, pachinko parlors, cafes, as well as shops selling Japanese cakes and vegetables, books, kimono, green tea… the list is endless. Interestingly though, the further you walk away from Musashi Koyama station, the cheaper the goods on offer seem to be. The greengrocers at the end of the shotengai is the place of choice for the older ladies, who know a good deal when they see it, and ¥100-for a bunch of bananas in Tokyo is a pretty good deal.

Elsewhere, places like “Book Off”, a chain, second-hand CD, DVD, manga store is worth a browse, as is the bizarre “Hollywood Mirror,” a novelty goods shop where you can buy souvenirs that will confirm to your friends back home that Tokyo is just as wacky as they thought. More practically, the Shinryudo clothes outlet has T-shirts, shirts, sweaters etc at prices you wouldn’t hear mentioned at department stores, and if you hang around till 8pm, the Chiyoda Sushi store starts to slap big discounts on its take-out sushi.

If you do find yourself loitering there till evening, you could do worse than slipping into one of the side streets mentioned earlier, which seem to come alive at night when the red lanterns of the izakaya traditional Japanese bar-cum-restaurants are turned on. There are bars with drinks as cheap as ¥500, and quite a few interesting non-Japanese places too.

Not on most people’s travel itinerary perhaps, but Musashi Koyama shotengai gives you a chance to experience a real slice of Tokyo life, and to come away with one or two bargains in the process.

Access: Musashi-Koyama Station, Tokyo-Meguro Line


Categories: Japanese customs, Must see, Things to do, Where to shop | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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