Posts Tagged With: Yokohama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flophouse district

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

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

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

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

Meet the foreigners

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

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

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

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


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Things to do: Like the beach? Check out the Morito no Hama Bon dance festival on August 15th

Let the Festival begin

Do you like the beach? Do you like or want to experience Japanese summer festivals? Then the Morito no hama, bon dance competition/Festival is the best place to be this summer.


The festival will be held this year on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 between 7pm and 9pm and takes place on the shores of the Morito beach in Hayama located in Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture. It’s just thirty minutes from Zushi or forty minutes from Yokohama city. To get there, take the JR Yokosuka line train from Yokohama station to JR Zushi station. After that, there are buses that will bring you into Hayama. From the bus stop, it is just a short walk to the beach.

Hayama is a town know for its summer hideaways, beautiful beaches, a very nice marina, and lovely homes. If fact, many of Japan’s rich and famous live here.

The Experience

You can enjoy great grilled and barbecue dishes on the beach side as well as participate in the festival events.  Definitely a fun filled experience with great food, great people and great dancing. If you are not the dancing type, then you can simply relax near one of the food stalls, enjoy the music and the ambiance.

 Anyone can go join the dancing and not feel foolish. That’s because many of the foreigners who are dancing don’t seem to have a clue about the next move. But after doing it a few times, it becomes really fun. 


There are a variety of food stalls for your convenience, so you can pick and choose at will. Be it chicken, pork, shrimp, fish, it’s all there. This is certainly a festival worth checking out and best of all it’s FREE!

I guarantee that this event is one you will look forward to going to again. The only part of this festival you won’t enjoy, is when it’s over. Check it out with your friends-the Morito no hama bon dance competition/festival. It will be one that will live in your memories.

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Six great rainy day deals in and around Tokyo

Summer in Japan also means plenty of rainy days, as humidity levels are at their highest across the country. Thankfully, it’s not all bad news on rainy days, and as long as you’re willing to take an umbrella with you when you go out, you can score some great deals in the Tokyo area.

1. Koichian (Matsuya Asakusa department store, Taito Ward, Hanakwado 1-4-1)

Rain or shine, you’ve got to eat, right? Well the sushi goes half-price on rainy days at take-out counter Koichian’s branch in the basement of the Matsuya department store in Asakusa. Whether you want to use these savings to treat a friend or simply order twice as much for yourself is, of course, up to you. The Asakusa Matsuya is also within strolling distance of Sensoji, Tokyo’s liveliest Buddhist temple which is approached by paved walkways that are easy traverse on a rainy day.

Bar Del Sole: Akasaka

2. Del Sole (Akasaka 3-19-10, Minato Ward)

Head to the Del Sole café in Akasaka, which offers free refills on selected drinks on rainy days. Even better, they also offer free refills of their award-winning gelato, just the thing to cool down with during a sticky Tokyo summer squall. Lucky diners might even get a 50% discount to their bill by winning one of the games of bingo the staff organizes when it rains.

3. Narita Yume Ranch (Chiba Prefecture, Narita City, Nagi 730, open 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)

While a visit to a farm on a rainy day might seem like a strange choice, Yume Ranch sweetens the deal by discounting their tickets by the same amount as the chance of rain, meaning that tickets are half-off even if there’s only a 50% probability of showers. Aside from barnyard animals and flower fields, for an additional fee, Yume Ranch also offers indoor classes in making ice cream, butter, bread, jam, and even sausages. Admission is 1,200 yen for visitors junior high school-age and up, 700 yen for children over three.


4. Akihabara Parking Garages

UDX Parking (Soto Kanda 4-14-1)
Akihabara Dai Building Parking (Soto Kanda 1-18-13)
Fuji Soft Building (Kanda Neribecho 3)

Until July 31, these three parking garages in Akihabara, Tokyo’s anime and video game shopping mecca, are offering 50% discounts if you pull in while it’s raining outside. You also have to show their ad featured in the free local guide pamphlet Radio Kaikan #9, which can conveniently be obtained inside the garage, as well as at hundreds of stores in Akihabara. As a bonus, parking in Akihabara means you stand a good chance of spotting a couple of “itasha”—cars decked out by hardcore anime fans with decals and graphics of their favorite characters.

5. Pizzeria 1830 Nogizaka (Akasaka 9-6-28, Minato Ward)

If you’ve worked up an appetite, it might be worth heading to Akasaka for dinner at Pizzeria 1830 Nogizaka. From Monday to Thursday of each week, the restaurant offers pizzas at half-price for the first 20 diners to order one on rainy nights.

6. Landmark Tower (Minato Mirai 2-2-1, Nishi Ward, Yokohama)

And finally, if you’re looking for a romantic place to end the day, there’s the 69th floor observatory in Yokohama’s Landmark Tower. Located just a block away from the bay, on rainy weekdays regular adult admission of 1,000 yen is discounted to 700 yen and includes a drink.

While rain might obscure your view of the city’s unique skyline, the observatory’s 273-meter-high altitude puts you right inside the clouds, making for an otherworldly atmosphere. And of course, wet weather also means fewer noisy kids running around, so you and your sweetheart can snuggle to your hearts’ content.

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Where to eat: child friendly restaurants in Tokyo

If you have ever gone to a restaurant in Tokyo, you might have noticed that the tables are usually quite close to each other and a lot of them allow for people to smoke inside. Not exactly suitable to bring your kids, not to mention the food they serve which is often times not to (western) childrens liking.

Here are some of the best restaurants that are perfect to take the little ones!

1. Baby King Kitchen

The sign outside the door informs customers, with a splendid sense of equivalence, that dogs and children are equally welcome at Baby King Kitchen. With its whitewashed walls and leather sofas, this tot-friendly spot near Koenji station could easily be mistaken for a regular café – albeit one with a baby changing station in the toilet, an indoor swing, dinky slide and library of children’s books. In its determination not to shed its grown-up trappings, the place seems to be angling for parents who’d rather stay at home than face another trip to a sterile family restaurant: call it the Bills Odaiba demographic, if you will.

Of course, the food at Baby King isn’t quite as refined as the kind of stuff Bill Granger whips up in his kitchen, but they make up for it in volume; the ¥1,100 children’s lunch plate – hamburger, battered king prawn, fried egg, rice, salad, wiener sausage and small dessert – would probably sate a grown man, and Time Out‘s three-year-old accomplice doesn’t come close to finishing it. The menu also includes a selection of themed dishes that will probably make most sense to Studio Ghibli fans, be it ‘fried egg on toast whipped out of a wizard’s bag’ (as seen in Laputa: Castle in the Sky) or ‘herring pie baked with grandma’ (Kiki’s Delivery Service). However, the kiddy options are far outnumbered by the adult ones, including some quite respectable pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and rice bowls – not to mention a good selection of booze.

Whatever your age, you can expect your food to come dotted with ketchup smiley faces, though we’ve been to maid cafés that were more infantile than Baby King Kitchen. Given the prices, it’s probably the kind of place you’d go to as a treat rather than on a regular basis, and we were also surprised to discover that there weren’t any non-smoking seats available. However, there’s plenty to like about this kid-friendly café, not so much childish as young-at-heart.



2F, 3-2-15 Koenji-Kita, Suginami-ku, Tokyo

Transport Koenji Station (Chuo, Sobu lines), north exit

Telephone 03 5356 9960

Open Daily, 11.30am-12midnight


2. Bills Odailba

The newest – and largest – outlet in BIll Granger‘s overseas empire means that the Australian chef now has as many restaurants in Japan as in his native country. Once again, he’s picked a waterside location, although the heavily trafficked Decks shopping mall is a far cry from the Shonan coastline spot that provided a home to Granger’s first overseas outpost, Bills Shichirigahama. In decor and ambience, Bills Odaiba feels more reminiscent of its Yokohama sibling – albeit bigger, with space for just over 200 people.

The fabled (and, dare we say it, slightly overrated) scrambled eggs and pancakes are present, but the chief selling point is an all-new kids menu, which Granger hopes will introduce youngsters to some new tastes and textures. Denny’s it ain’t: the Wagyu burger, parmesan crusted schnitzel with garlic mashed potatoes, and spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, ricotta, spinach and pecorino are all adapted from the grown-ups’ menu, while there’s also a new dish, grilled salmon with mashed potatoes, green beans and roast tomato. All are available, with a choice of four desserts, for ¥1,100.

Given the continued popularity of its sister shops, Bills Odaiba is pretty much guaranteed to be a resounding success, and it makes the other culinary offerings at Decks look positively dowdy in comparison. Yet there’s a nagging sense of functionality to the place that will probably stop people falling for it as hard as they did with the Shichirigahama branch. Once a novelty that was worth an expedition in itself, Bills suddenly feels a little… ordinary.



3F Decks Seaside Mall, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Odaiba-Kaihinkoen Station (Yurikamome line), Tokyo Teleport Station (Rinkai line)

Telephone 03 3599 2100

Open Daily, 9am-11pm (subject to change)


3. Chano-Ma


trendy tokyo kids. a few local popstars.


order-receive. pretty busy.


21st century tokyo tea room. quite special. extremely tokyo. fab interior and space. mattress seating good views. still one of the coolest bars in the area.long narrow rectangular room with windows on either side with somewhat interesting view over naka meguro. sisal mat flooring, matress seating, italian mirror chandelier, etched wood block menus, food served on mammoth wooden trays, overhead candle track!


6F nakameguro kangyo building,
1-22-4 kami-meguro


+81 3 3792 9898


shop hours

mon-thu: noon-6am, fri-sat: noon-8am

4. Dear kids cafe

The menu consists of everything kids love, like pasta, pizza, omelets, fried potatos, chicken, etc. The play area is an ideal hangout on a lazy afternoon for parents with small kids.

11am-7pm (Last order for food 6:15, last order for drinks 6:30)
Tel: 03-35858-3711
Kami Shakuji 1-25-3, Nerima-ku, Tokyo
Nearest station: Kami Shakuji Station by Seibu Shinjuku Line, South Exit (4 minutes on foot)
No smoking, with kids plate, kids menu, nappy change area, kids’ toilet, kids’ play area, baby chair, nursing area, parking space, and buggies allowed.

5. Tokyo baby café

Don’t let the name fool you—the Tokyo Baby Café (B1F, 4-5-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; is as much for parents as it is for kids. Apart from luxe amenities such as spacious changing areas and nursing rooms, the café is stocked with picture books and toys galore, allowing parents to relax because their children are playing safely and not causing mayhem. The menu caters for customers of all ages, and a limited number of Oisix-sourced organic lunch sets are available daily. Exclusively for the under-seven set (accompanied by parents or guardians) and pregnant women, the Tokyo Baby Café charges ¥500 per half hour for use of its facilities on top of any food and beverages ordered.

6. Sun2diner

A relaxed and easy vibe, stroller-friendly interior, non-smoking area and BBQ goodies galore have all helped make Nakameguro burger and grill restaurant Sun2Diner (Ogawa Building 1F, 2-43-11, Kamimeguro Meguro-ku; a finger-licking family favorite. Children are also in for a special treat with their very own Kids’ Plate (¥650) including mashed potato, pancakes, scrambled eggs, drinks and vanilla ice cream. Time your visit right and you might also get to see some old school animation along the lines of Tom and Jerry on the venue’s TV.

7. Pierette

Near Futako-Tamagawa station, kids will want to pirouette with joy at Pierette (4-15-30, Seta, Setagaya-ku;, a massive indoor play complex produced by educational toy importer and retailer BorneLund Ltd. Multiple zones—the cyberwheel, air castle, circuit and baby gym, among others—are designed to amuse and captivate kids up to age 12, while the Garden Café provides sustenance and refreshment before and after energetic bouts of play. Adults can rest assured that all menu items have been tested for potential allergens, and choose from either a Japanese or Western set (¥980) as the kids tuck into their own curry (¥530), or a special basket of goodies (¥630). Various admission charges apply.

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Ever ridden a dragon?

May 25(Sat), 26(Sun), June 1(Sat), 2(Sun), 2013

Yokohama Dragon Boat Race 2013

The Dragon Boat Race is a race of boats shaped like dragons. Each boat consists of a crew of 15 to 20 members. It is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year with over 4,000 participants from 200 teams around the world. Dragon boats pursuing the landscape of Yokohama are a unique view of Yokohama. At the event, you can also enjoy great food and cold beer at food stands. There will be performances by brass bands and amateur bands on the stage, which add to the festive mood.
Dates May 25(Sat), 26(Sun), June 1(Sat), 2(Sun), 2013
Venue Yamashita Park
Tel NPO Yokohama International Dragon Boat Association (045-261-1163)

Feel like participating?

If you want a piece of the action, Tokyo Gaijins is participating in the race. If you like you can join their team in the dragon boat race. For more information click here.


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