Posts Tagged With: Yoyogi park

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

Abracadabra

Fri Feb 7, 2014 Saloon

Abracadabra

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

Details

Open Fri Feb 7

Time doors 11pm

Admission ¥1,500 (¥1,000 with flyer)

Venue Saloon

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

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

 

Tokyo Grand Shopping Week

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

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

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

Details

Open Jan 23-Feb 5

Time Varies by store

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

Address 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

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

 

The 88th Kokufu Bonsai Exhibition

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

 

Details

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

Time 9:30am-5:30pm

Admission ¥1,000 (students ¥500)

Venue Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

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

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

 

High Street feat. DJ Craze

Fri Feb 7, 2014 Sound Museum Vision

High street DJ Craze

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

Details

Open Fri Feb 7

Time doors 10pm

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

Venue Sound Museum Vision

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

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

 

Sterne

Fri Feb 7, 2014 Womb

Sterne

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

Details

Open Fri Feb 7

Time doors 11pm

Admission ¥3,500 (¥3,000 with flyer)

Venue Womb

Address 2-16 Maruyamacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

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

 

The Mastery of Time

Fri Feb 7 – Wed Feb 12, 2014 Roppongi Hills

clock

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

Details

Open Feb 7-12 2014

Time 11am-6pm

Admission Free

Venue Roppongi Hills

Address 6-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

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

 

Sarabeth’s Daikanyama Special Valentine’s Day Menu

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

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

Details

Open Feb 3-14

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

Venue Sarabeth’s Daikanyama

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

Transport Daikanyama Station (Tokyu-Toyoko line)

 

Chinese Spring Festival 2014

Until Fri Feb 14, 2014 Yokohama Chinatown
lanterns

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

Details

Open Jan 31-Feb 14

Time Various times

Venue Yokohama Chinatown

Address Yamashitacho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

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

 

The Lumineers

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

Details

Open Sat Feb 8 2014

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

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

Telephone 03-3444-6751

Venue Shibuya AX

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

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

 

Acid City

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

Details

Open Sat Feb 8

Time doors 10pm

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

Venue Air

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

Transport Daikanyama station (Tokyu Toyoko line).

 

Off The Rocker & Verbal present Rad

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

Details

Open Sat Feb 8

Time doors 11pm

Admission Women ¥3,000, men ¥3,500

Venue Sound Museum Vision

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

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

 

Little Nap Music Stand

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

Details

Open Sun Feb 9

Time doors 4pm

Admission ¥3,000 (includes a cup of coffee) ※Reservation required – email booking@n0idea.com

Venue Vacant

Address 3-20-13 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

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

 

Zoushigaya Handicraft Market

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

Details

Open Sun Feb 9

Time 9am-4pm

Venue Kishimojindo , Otori Shrine

Address 3-15-20 Zoshigaya, Toshima-ku

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

 

Chocolate Making at Lindt Jiyugaoka

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

Details

Open Feb 8-9

Time 10am-noon, 2-4pm on both days

Admission ¥5,000 (includes ingredients and box)

Telephone 03 5726 8921

Venue Lindt Chocolat Café Jiyugaoka

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

Transport Jiyugaoka Station (Tokyu Toyoko line)

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

Things to do this weekend in Tokyo October 18- October 20

Innovative Sweden

innovative designs
This touring show of innovative designs has arrived in Tokyo, having already visited a number of countries, including the US, China and Brazil. Expect innovative design and technology from 20 up-and-coming Swedish companies in the fields of ICT, cleantech, gaming and life sciences, with the likes of eye-controlled computers and green mobile phone chargers on the bill.

Details

Open Oct 2-18

Time 10am-5pm

Admission Adults ¥600, 18 or under ¥200

Venue National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation

Address 2-3-6 Aomi (Odaiba), Koto, Tokyo

Transport Funeno-Kagakukan station or Telecom Center station (Yurikamome line).

 

The Trojans

Fri Oct 18, 2013 Shibuya Club Quattro
The trojans
Celebrating the first new Trojans album in 14 years, frontman Gaz Mayall brings his ska rockers back to Japan and to Shibuya’s Club Quattro. Members and times have changed, but the Trojan sound remains something truly special, combining ska and reggae with Celtic tunes and more. The band will be joined by guest vocalist Hollie Cook and trumpeter Eddie ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton.

Details

Open Fri Oct 18

Time 7.30pm (doors open 6.30pm)

Admission Adv ¥6,000

Venue Shibuya Club Quattro

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

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

 

Tokyo Vegefood Festa 2013

Sat Oct 19 – Sun Oct 20, 2013 Yoyogi Park (Keyaki Namiki Road)
Tokyo vegafood festa 2013
Throughout the year, Yoyogi Park serves as a gathering point for Tokyo’s various ethnic minorities and special interest groups. This weekend, one of the more long-suffering communities gets its moment in the sun: the vegans. Tokyo Vegefood Festa boasts roughly 100 stalls, ranging from macrobiotic cafes to vegetable vendors to fair trade goods. Though the event hopes to convert a few carnivores to the cause, it’s probably the people who’ve already sworn off meat, fish and dairy that’ll enjoy it the most.

Details

Open Oct 19-20

Time 10am-5pm

Admission Free

Venue Yoyogi Park (Keyaki Namiki Road)

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

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

 

Tokyo Meat Market Festival

Sat Oct 19 – Sun Oct 20, 2013 Tokyo Central Meat Wholesale Market
Tokyo meat market festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once every year, and perhaps as a rebellious answer to Yoyogi’s Vegefood Festa, this unique wholesale market opens its doors for one meaty festival. This is your chance to try free samples, buy special wares at reduced prices, and marvel at the various animal flesh-related exhibits. The focus is squarely on the good stuff: shabu-shabu, tonkatsu cutlets, yakiniku, and so on.

Details

Open Oct 19-20

Time Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 10am-3pm

Admission Free

Address 2-7-19 Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Transport Shinagawa Station (JR lines)

 

Japan Hoop Dance Championship

Japan hoop dance championship
The time has come to give credit to the most talented hoop dancers in the land. Although relatively popular in the West, hooping has failed to break out on a large scale in Japan so far. However, the community keeps growing and this event brings together the best dancers from all over the country. Marvel at the finalists’ performances at the main gala show and get acquainted with this energetic form of expression.

Details

Open Sat Oct 19

Time 1pm-3:30pm

Admission General admission ¥1,500, children ¥500 (first-come, first-serve)

Venue Ushigome Tansu Citizens’ Hall

Address 15 Tansumachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Transport Ushigome-kagurazaka Station (Oedo line), exit A1

 

Sancha de Daidogei

Sat Oct 19 – Sun Oct 20, 2013 Setagaya Public Theatre , around Carrot Tower
Sancha de Daidogei
Though Sangenjaya is always nice for a wander, there’s no better time to visit than during this two-day street performance festival, in which acrobats, clowns, musicians, dancers and assorted costumed freaks ply their trade to a gawping public. Keep an eye out for the international visitors including France’s aerial hoop artist Julot and the stilt-sporting Nani-Sole (who, at about 10 feet tall with enormous wings, is pretty hard to miss).

Details

Open Oct 19-20

Time 6pm-8pm

Venue Setagaya Public Theatre , around Carrot Tower

Address 4-1-1 Taishido, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Transport Sangenjaya station (Tokyu Denentoshi line) Sancha Patio exit.

 

Nezu-Sendagi Shitamachi Matsuri 2013

Sat Oct 19 – Sun Oct 20, 2013 Nezu Shrine
Nezu Sendagi Shitamachi Matsuri
Nezu flaunts its shitamachi (downtown) roots at this autumn festival, a relatively recent invention that marks its 15th edition this year. The action centres around Nezu Shrine, which will be hosting concerts and performances throughout the weekend, accompanied by a flea market and stalls selling traditional goods. The rest of the neighbourhood follows suit, with attractions including a Sunday afternoon parade, and performances of traditional Japanese music and various dances at the Fureai-kan on Shinobazu-dori.

Details

Open Oct 19-20

Time 6pm-8pm

Venue Nezu Shrine

Address 1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Transport Nezu Station or Sendagi Station (Chiyoda line), Todaimae Station (Namboku line)

 

Kagurazaka Bakeneko Parade

Sun Oct 20, 2013 Kagurazaka Nursing Home, around Kagurazaka O-dori
Kagurazaka Bakeneko parade
Kagurazaka will again play host to the Bakeneko Parade, one of the more curious Halloween-related events in the city. Everyone is welcome, all you have to do is dress up as a cat and bring a feline attitude. You can get a cat makeup done for ¥100 before the parade, and there are also costume-related goods available for purchase in case you feel the need to complement your outfit. The parade route reaches along Kagurazaka O-dori toward Iidabashi Station and back again.

Details

Open Sun Oct 20

Time 2pm-3.30pm
participant registration 10am-1pm at Kagurazaka Nursing Home

Admission Free

Venue Kagurazaka Nursing Home, around Kagurazaka O-dori

 

Shimokitazawa Curry Festival

Until Sun Oct 20, 2013 Shimokitazawa area
Shimokitazawa curry festival
‘Making Shimokitazawa the holy ground of curry’ is the motto of this spicy ten-day festival, in which participating restaurants (over 70 in total) tout their specialty curries in all corners of the trendy neighborhood. Meet the ‘Curryman’ mascot, see who gets crowned ‘Miss Curry’, and use the curry map (available for free around town) to discover the tastiest curry joints.

Details

Open Oct 11-20

Time Varies by event

Twitter CurryShimokita

Venue Shimokitazawa area

 

Rhizomatiks Inspired by Perfume

Until Sun Oct 20, 2013 NTT InterCommunication Center
Rhizomatiks inspired by perfume
Creative group Rhizomatiks – best know for their work on the stage productions of J-poppers Perfume – will be displaying their work in an exhibition. This group of creators and engineers have garnered attention around the world for their original production methods and use of cutting-edge technology – including 3D scanning and data visualisation. This exhibition will introduce visitors to their production techniques, and showcase costumes and equipment from Perfume’s music videos and stage performances, as well as 3D models of Perfume group members.

Details

Open Sep 21-Oct 20 Closed Mon (Tue if Mon is a holiday)

Time 11am-6pm

Admission ¥500

Telephone 0120 144199

Venue NTT InterCommunication Center

Address 4F Tokyo Opera City Tower, 3-20-3 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Transport Hatsudai Station (Keio line)

 

Mitsuaki Iwago: Cats & Lions

Mitsuaki Iwago
Popular wildlife photographer Mitsuaki Iwago just can’t seem to get enough of milking the internet’s favourite meme. Following his Go With Cats show at Mitsukoshi Nihombashi, the avid snapper heads to the more highbrow Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography for another exhibition devoted to all things feline. This time around, Iwago will be juxtaposing photos of domestic cats with similar images taken of lions in the wild. ‘Cats are just small lions,’ he observes. ‘Lions are just big cats.’ Deep.

Details

Open August 10-October 20 Closed Mon (Tue if Mon is a holiday)

Time Tue-Sun 10am-6pm (Thu, Fri until 8pm)

Admission Adults ¥800, students ¥700, over 65s, high school & junior high school students ¥600

Venue Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography

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

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

 

 

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Things to do: This weekend: Super Yosakoi (2013) dance festival

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.

Details

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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Things to do: This weekend: U-1 Grand Prix; an undon noodle contest in Yoyogi park

Sat Aug 24 – Sun Aug 25, 2013 Yoyogi Park

There are plenty of delicious udon places in Japan, but which is the best? How do you know whether you’re eating the finest bowl out there, or being fobbed off with second or third-rate noodles? The U-1 Grand Prix, held in Yoyogi Park, is a championship to determine Japan’s best udon. Stores from across the country will gather for the two-day fest to prove their worth, including representatives from as far afield as Akita, Fukuoka and the Goto Islands off the coast of Nagasaki. Go along and lend your taste buds to the cause.

Details

Open August 24-25

Time Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 10am-7pm

URL u-1gp.com/

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)

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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.

Details

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.

Details

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.

Details

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.

Details

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.

Details

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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Ultimate Japan: 6 must-see destinations

When in Japan, make like a local and head straight for these “pure Japan” spots.

1. Ancient Kyoto

It may be a cliché, but you might just see her on the cobbles of Kyoto.

Why: Let’s face it — most travelers can’t resist the magnetic pull of Japan’s former Imperial capital (794-1869), with its temples, shrines and (dwindling) ranks of geisha.

“Of course, many people from Western countries, like the United States and Canada, like to travel to time-honored cities like Kyoto,” says Mamoru Kobori of the Japan National Tourism Organization.

And lest we forget, the ancient city would have been obliterated by an atomic bomb at the end of World War II had it not been for U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, who took it off the list of potential targets because he had fond memories of honeymooning there.

For years, people have visited Kyoto to stay in its old ryokans and eat traditional, multi-course kaiseki meals. But they should also consider exploring the city’s new side.

Entrepreneurs are gutting old teahouses and geisha houses and giving them new lives. Niti, located inside a former geisha house, is a sleek bar and café that seamlessly blends contemporary touches with Japanese tradition.

Tutto Bene, also inside a renovated geisha house, is where locals (and sometimes geisha) go to get their pizza fix.

You can still get the regular options, but more surprising are toppings that range from sardine with eggplant sauce to okura with Japanese shiso sprouts to octopus with rice sauce and basil paste.

Another fascinating stop is The Garden Oriental, an Italian restaurant and bar created inside the former house and studio of celebrated Japanese painter Seiho Takeuchi.

Getting there: Tokyo and Kyoto Stations are connected by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen, which makes the trip several times a day. The journey takes about 140 minutes and a one-way ticket costs ¥13,320.

2. Kumano Kodo pilgrimage

Why: It’s a side of Japan not many tourists see. Monks, retired emperors, aristocrats and regular folk have been hiking this pilgrimage route since the Heian period (794-1192).

The Kumano Kodo, on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2004, is a network of well-marked (in both Japanese and English) and well-maintained trails winding through the forests and fields, villages and towns that stretch across the southwestern Kii Peninsula in the Kansai region.

“It’s not like Kyoto or Nara — it’s a little off the beaten path,” says Brad Towle of the Tanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau.

“The routes lead to inspiring natural sacred sites, and along the way visitors can find isolated hot springs, delicious cuisine and authentic accommodations.”

Arriving at the main ancient shrines and temples may be the ultimate goal, but visiting the “Oji” subsidiary shrines or strolling past towering cedar and cypress trees, water-logged rice paddies and neat green-tea plantations is also immensely pleasurable.

You can take a private dip in the cloudy waters of the Tsuboyu bath (¥750) in Yunomine Onsen. At 1,800 years old, the onsen is believed to be one of the oldest in Japan.

Villagers use the water for soaking, cooking and even drinking.

The geological wonder known as the Kawayu Onsen is also worth experiencing. A hot spring bubbles just below the rocky banks of the Oto River. All you have to do is dig a hole, wait for it to fill up and then plunk yourself down. Voilà — instant personal onsen.

Getting thereJapan Airlines (JAL) flies three times a day between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Nanki-Shirahama Airport, which is a bus ride away from Tanabe City. The one-way flight takes 80 minutes and costs ¥29,170 (¥47,840 for the round trip).

Travelers can also board a high-speed train from Tokyo to Osaka, and then transfer to a local express line to Kii-Tanabe. The one-way trip takes about five hours and costs ¥16,520. Use theTanabe City Kumano Tourism Bureau’s website to plan your hike and book accommodations.

3. Amazing Nagasaki

Why: Almost wiped off the map by the 1945 atomic bombing, Nagasaki has been rebuilt into an urban jewel on Japan’s third largest island, Kyushu.

Nagasaki grew from a tiny fishing village into an important port for trade with Europe and China. When the rest of Japan was practically cut off from the world for many centuries, Nagasaki kept its doors open.

These days, visitors come to learn about the city’s history, wander through its small but thriving Chinatown and marvel at the hillside Glover Gardens, which has a statue of Madame Butterfly to remind people of the Puccini opera that was set here.

Nagasaki also has deep Christian roots, with churches like Oura Catholic Church and monuments to missionaries who were executed in the 16th century and became known as the 26 Martyrs of Japan.

The best photo ops are from atop Mount Inasa, which towers 333 meters above the city. You can hike it or ride up on the Nagasaki Ropeway (¥1,200 round trip).

Another popular attraction is Gunkanjima, also known as Battleship Island, accessed via a 50-minute ferry ride.

“This former coal mining community on an island off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture was abandoned 40 years ago and left to decay,” says Charles Spreckley of custom travel operatorBespoke Tokyo.

“A few years ago it was opened as an eerily romantic, almost apocalyptic tourist attraction.”

Getting thereJapan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines both fly every day between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Nagasaki. The trip takes two hours. Return tickets range from ¥53,000 to ¥80,000.  Travelers can also ride the high-speed JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen from Tokyo to Fukuoka’s Hakata Station and transfer to the JR Kamome limited express train to Nagasaki. The one-way trip takes more than seven hours and costs ¥25,140.

4. Cool Karuizawa

Hot stuff in a real cool place — Mount Asama erupted in 2009.

Why: Because it’s one of the most beautiful places to be in Japan in autumn, because it’s several degrees cooler than Tokyo in the summer and because the thrill of being close to one of this country’s most active volcanoes will give your trip that added edge. The 2,568-meter Mount Asama erupted in 2009 and 2004 (an eruption in 1783 killed approximately 1,500 people).

However, the town’s natural beauty and charm help people to forget about the risks. Emperor Akihito met his future Empress on a tennis court here in 1957. John Lennon and Yoko Ono holidayed in Karuizawa in the 1970s and stayed at the Mampei Hotel.

The town has great hiking, hot springs and bird watching. Yacho-no-mori, or Wild Bird Forest, is home to about 120 species of bird.

Getting there: Karuizawa is a one-hour high-speed train ride from Tokyo Station. A one-way ticket costs ¥5,950. Express buses run from Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Yokohama. Single fares are about ¥3,000. The journey takes around three hours.

5. Pick a festival, any festival (omatsuri)

Strip off and climb on — the wild and racy Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival.

Why: Because Japan, with its centuries of Shinto and Buddhist tradition, has no shortage of them. They’re colorful, fun and they take place throughout the year in different parts of the country.

Where else can you see people riding logs down hillsides or sumo wrestlers trying to make babies cry?

Most people who have lived in this country, or who visit regularly, have their favorite. For Duff Trimble, whose Toronto-based Wabi-Sabi Japan customizes guided tours here, it’s the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival.

“It is likely the most powerful experience I had during my years in Japan — truly epic,” he says.

“I participated in the festival, which might explain my bias, but I believe this would be an amazing experience for anyone. It wraps up so many elements of Japanese culture in one experience.”

Similarly enthusiastic visitors to the July event — which takes place in Hakata, Fukuoka — typically head for the annual street-circuit race of one-ton, 10-meter-tall wheeled floats called yamakasa.

Bonus fact: If you really want to make like a local, avoid eating cucumbers for the duration of the two-week festival.

Apparently, slices of the green stuff look too similar to the emblem of one of the benevolent local gods for mere human consumption.

Getting thereTravelers can take the high-speed JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen from Tokyo to Fukuoka’s Hakata Station. The one-way trip takes five hours and costs ¥22,120. Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines both have daily flights between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Fukuoka. One-way fares start at about ¥25,000.

6. Tokyo’s glorious parks

Why: Because, while most people believe this sprawling metropolis — with its crowded crosswalks and sardine-can trains — is a steel, glass and concrete jungle (or the setting for Ridley Scott’s 1982 film “Blade Runner”), it actually has its fair share of green spaces.

The popular ones include Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku Gyoen and Ueno Park. But the small, yet stunning Happo-en garden in Shirokanedai is just as impressive.

The 50,000-square-meter park is billed as a reflection of “the natural beauty of Edo Japan,” and is worth seeing in any season, especially spring (for the cherry blossoms) and autumn (for the fiery fall colors).

A hut next to a pond, which is fed by a nearby stream, provides the perfect place for quiet contemplation, and to watch fat carp fling themselves into the air. Happo-en also hosts a Japanese teahouse and two restaurants.

Oh, and a chapel — it’s a popular place for weddings. Staff say they can have anywhere from 18 to 35 marriages a day in the busy spring-to-fall season.

So, along with enjoying the garden’s scenery, visitors can watch newlyweds pose for photos in traditional Japanese attire.

Getting there: Take the Yamanote Line to Meguro Station, transfer to the Namboku Line, and get off at Shirokanedai Station. Happo-en is a five-minute walk away.

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Where to eat:Tokyo’s top vegetarian restaurants

15 places for vegetarians to enjoy a meat- and fish-free feast

Tokyo’s top vegetarian restaurants
DevaDeva Cafe Yogi Burger

‘Is shrimp okay?’ Being vegetarian in Tokyo, you get used to hearing questions like this all the time – the well-meaning but rather clueless attempts of restaurant wait staff to comprehend how and why someone would choose not to eat meat or fish. Yet life has improved for the capital’s long-misunderstood herbivores: as diners get increasingly health-conscious, we’ve seen farmers’ markets become a regular feature on the urban landscape, and Yoyogi Park now even hosts a dedicated festival each year, Tokyo Vegefood Festa. On the restaurant scene, more places are indicating which dishes on their menus are suitable for veggies, while the floor staff seem to be getting savvier (even if there are still plenty of exceptions). Still, sometimes you just want to go somewhere you can enjoy your meal with having to triple-check about whether there’s bacon in the salad or katsuobushi flakes on the tofu. Read on for 15 restaurants that are guaranteed to satisfy even the strictest Tokyo vegetarians.

Deva Deva Cafe

A very reasonably priced vegetarian café with a vegan menu that includes their particularly popular ‘Yogi Burger’, a soya sausage topped vegetarian pizza, some excellent ‘chicken’ nuggets (made from soya beans), various drinks (including a latte coffee made with soya milk) and a range of vegan desserts. Vegetarian or not, you won’t be disappointed with the food here. Plus with Inokashira Park located only a short walk away this is a great spot to grab some takeaway for a bite to eat outside. They also offer various homemade cakes that can be made to order.

 

Vegetable Sushi Potager

You don’t need fish to make exquisite sushi, as Potager proves. The selections at this elegantly appointed sushi shop – an offshoot of Nakameguro’s equally herbivorous Patisserie Potager – are entirely vegetarian, with vegan meals also available by reservation. Much of the fun comes from working out what everything on your plate actually is: what looks like maguro is really a sliver of tomato topped with mozzarella; a mock-scallop is made with fried eringi mushroom; and the ‘uni’ turns out to be a sauce of carrots, spices and cream. Mercifully, it’s not just about novelty value, and even hardened fish fans might be forced to admit – albeit grudgingly – that most of the offerings are really rather tasty. Expect to pay the same as you would in a relatively upmarket sushi shop, with lunch sets from ¥1,575 and dinner courses from ¥5,250.

Meu Nota

Well worth seeking out, this intimate vegan café in Koenji serves a varied menu of meat-free grub at a decidedly leisurely pace. Meu Nota occupies a second-floor perch opposite a branch of the Seiyu supermarket chain, but it’s easy to forget the outside world once you’ve settled in amongst the antique furniture and dark wood floorboards. Even traditional vegetarian staples are given an interesting twist – as with the black bean hummus (pictured) – while you can also try nifty inventions like the mock taramasalata, actually potato salad with added amaranth. It’s not just tapas, either: there’s also plenty of heartier fodder on offer, including salads, pastas and a killer vegetarian taco rice. If you’re planning on going at the weekend, note that they often hold concerts in the evenings, for which you’ll need to pay an additional charge.

Pure Café

Set in the heart of Tokyo’s fashionable Aoyama district, Pure Cafe melds its health-conscious, near-vegan principles with a bright, contemporary interior (it’s part of the glass-fronted Aveda holistic spa complex). The menu offers a mix of East and West, along with organic wines and beer. Pure Cafe’s early opening hours make it just the place for a healthy breakfast.

Chien-Fu Roppongi

Vegetarians stranded in Roppongi have a new place to go with the opening of this branch of Nakaichi Soshoku Ten, a Taiwanese veggie restaurant in Kunitachi that’s been going since 1986. Like its parent shop, Chien-Fu – whose fourth-floor location affords scenic views of the Shuto Expressway – sticks to the principles of Chinese vegetarian cuisine. Meat and fish are out, but so too are strong-smelling veg like onions, garlic and shallots. In their place, you get ample greens and a range of ingenious mock meats, made with soy, gluten, yuba and even konnyaku. It’s all awfully healthy, though the flavours are considerably more robust than what you’d get at the average vegan or macrobiotic restaurant. The ¥950 weekday lunch sets – a choice of four dishes, such as mapo tofu or mock pork with cashew nuts, served with a choice of brown or white rice – are particularly good value.

Macrobiotic Marché

If you’re curious about the world of macrobiotics – the grain-heavy, predominantly vegetarian cuisine that’s found something of a cult following in Japan – this Ebisu eatery is a good place to start. Operated by the Kushi Macrobiotic Academy (which holds cooking classes upstairs), the café serves meticulously prepared lunch sets alongside intriguing offerings like tempeh burgers and soymilk tiramisu. The portions can be on the puny side, but it you follow the macrobiotic mantra and chew every mouthful 30 times, you should walk away fairly satisfied.

Brown Rice Café

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or just can’t face another steak dinner, this Omotesando eatery – a staunch adherent to the ‘whole food’ philosophy – should be able to satisfy your cravings.

Nataraj

Chef Sadananda and his team prepare sophisticated, vegetarian Indian delicacies that are so good you’ll never ask where the meat went. The original restaurant in Ogikubo may be funkier and more casual, but this newer branch near Gaienmae is far more accessible. The Ginza outlet is suitably glitzy.

Vegan Healing Cafe

Run by a devoted vegan activist, this conveniently located café – not far from the Shibuya branch of Tokyu Hands – does a nice line in mock meats. Falafel, tempeh and soy-meat karaage all feature on the menu, available à la carte or in a set meal with brown rice, salad and relishes, and they also do a vegan spin on Vietnamese com am phu, substituting soy-meat for the pork. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there’s also a small selection of cakes on offer – plus organic teas, coffees and juices – though the sterility of the decor might prevent you from lingering for too long.

T’s Tantan

It’s almost worth rerouting your trip via Tokyo Station to eat at this noodle shop. T’s Tantan, an offshoot of Jiyugaoka eatery T’s Restaurant, earns the rare distinction of being one of the only places selling vegetarian ramen in Tokyo – or, at least, ramen that’s actually worthy of the name. The speciality of the house is Chinese-style tantan-men noodles, served in a broth flavoured with sesame and peanut oil and available with a range of toppings. Our medium-spiced ‘midori tantan’, topped with leafy greens, soymeat mince and pumpkin seeds (nice touch, that) wasn’t as rich as the meat-based version of the dish, but made for a hearty lunch nonetheless. T’s Tantan can be found inside the JR Tokyo Station, at the end of the Keiyo Street shopping parade on the way to the Keiyo Line platform.

Garden Café

The Sincere Garden spa and salon on Aoyama-dori is also home to an organic restaurant that’s likely to appeal to vegetarians – especially female ones. Garden Café serves a selection of veggie salads, curries and soups, including a popular Sri Lankan combo plate (pictured) that’s based on ayurvedic principles. There’s also a good range of herbal teas on offer, including a few that are specifically for pregnant mums, along with a few varieties of cake that you won’t feel guilty about eating afterwards.

Nagi Shokudo

Shibuya’s best vegetarian restaurant is also one of the trickiest to find, tucked away on an obscure back street five minutes’ walk south of the station. Nagi Shokudo is busiest at lunch, when diners pay ¥1,000 for a generous set including rice, miso, a drink and three dishes from the deli counter (all of which are actually vegan, though they don’t make a big deal about it). At dinner, you can order à la carte (including a ¥1,000 deli ‘n’ beer deal) or get the evening’s plate combo, which might be Thai, Indian or Japanese-style, depending on when you go. A library of Japanese and English-language zines and consistently interesting soundtrack add to the charm. Just one caveat: if they run out of food, they close early.

Kuumba du Falafel

Tokyo’s best falafel shop seems to go out of its way to disguise itself: perched on a highway intersection a good 15 minutes’ walk from Shibuya Station, it doesn’t even have a sign outside to indicate that you’ve found the right place. It’s also got a habit of closing without warning, while the staff can seem a tad standoffish at times. Culinary pilgrims will be rewarded for their persistence, though: Kuumba du Falafel’s sandwiches are superb, crammed with so much lettuce, red cabbage, fried aubergine, tomato, hummus and tahini sauce (we could go on) that they’re almost impossible to eat without making a mess. If you’ve got a penchant for spiciness, add some of the housemade chili sauce – though be warned that it packs a serious kick. Falafel sandwiches are available in full and half sizes (the latter is still pretty substantial), with a more expensive falafel plate that increases the amount of fillings yet further and lets you make your own. Other options include a hummus-only sandwich and a revitalising lentil soup, and it’s all completely vegan.

Island Veggie

Self-proclaimed ‘Hawaiian macrobiotics’ eatery Island Veggie has upped its game since we first visited shortly after it opened in October last year. The disappointing Mana Burgers – soy-and-veg patties made down in Fukuoka – have been excised from the menu, and the restaurant has been expanded to include a second floor that’s invariably crowded with OLs and ladies-who-lunch. The kitchen frequently struggles to keep up with the demand, but the food – once it arrives – is now consistently good. Everything on the menu is meat- and fish-free, and much of it is suitable for vegans, with deli counter offerings that make extensive use of organic veg, grains and beans, plus soy meats and tempeh. If you’ve got room for dessert (and, given that the portions aren’t exactly huge, you may well do), Island Veggie also offers big-in-Hawaii dishes like an energy-charged Acai Bowl. The restaurant does takeaway, too, making it a good option for diners in search of that elusive vegetarian bento box.

Crayon House Hiroba

Sitting next to a natural food shop, Crayon House is not exclusively vegetarian, but serves up a good selection of wholesome, well-prepared dishes, many with organic ingredients. It consists of two mini restaurants: Hiroba, offering Japanese food, and Home, offering Western dishes.

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Yoyogi park, perhaps not here to stay

A girl performing at Yoyogi park

A girl performing at Yoyogi park

Performance art at Yoyogi Park

It may seem odd to include mention of a park in a chapter about the stranger aspects of life in Tokyo, the ‘other’s side of life and the like, but given that Tokyo is so very limited on communal green spaces in which the populace at large and visitors from around the country or overseas can get together, the very existence of such a gem as Yoyogi Park in one of the busiest areas of the city is itself an oddity!

According to rumor – and likely true – Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park was actually set to vanish in whole or in part had Tokyo won their late 2009, bid to attract the 2016 Olympic Games. In the end, Tokyo’s bid failed and so we still have the park – although when you walk around town and see all the banners for the Olympic games for 2020, Tokyo is in the run for the 2020 Games.

In the past, the park was the site of Japan’s first ever powered flight, in 1910, served as a military drill area, later as a residential quartering zone for occupying American officers after World War II, before being turned into the athletes’ village for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Three years later it made its debut as a park and is now known as one of the best places in the city to see cherry blossoms (in Spring) and ginkgo trees (in Autumn) whilst also being an area for sports lovers to flock to with its multiple facilities and athletic areas near the sail like shape of Yoyogi Gymnasium.

Yoyogi park, stairs towards shibuya

Yoyogi park, stairs towards shibuya

Up and over to flea markets and festivals.

The park is sandwiched in between Harajuku and Shibuya, borders Meiji Shrine‘s own huge expanse of tree filled land, and is for many the best park in Tokyo if suffering from a lack of greenery. Other parks also worth a visit can be found in central Tokyo near the Imperial Palace, Shinjuku and out west in the suburbs.

Numerous lakeside and wooded walks can be enjoyed throughout Yoyogi as can the gentle spray of fountain in summer. Ball games, picnics, and dog walking all seems to be an ever-present regardless of when you visit – and it is all just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Shibuya and Omotesando.

Sunday afternoons sees a shift to the performing arts not seen in the week in areas near the main elongated fountain, when those out to practice dance moves, magic tricks, juggling, and a wealth of other hobbies are forever moving around, performing to passers-by and generally enjoying their moment in the spotlight – all individuals presumably not too displeased with Rio de Janeiro’s success in securing the Olympics.

Rockers dancing to Japanese rock music

Rockers dancing to Japanese rock music

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My Saturday in Tokyo; Satagaya area

(Please scroll down to read an English translation)

Experience the relaxed vibe of Shimokitazawa
Dit weekend heb ik maar eens mijn wandelschoenen aangedaan en ben met mijn camera op zak op pad gegaan. Als eerste ben ik op zaterdag naar Shimokitazawa gegaan. Dit is in de wijk Setagaya. De wijk is hele ‘up and coming’ in Tokio, ondanks het feit dat het buiten het centrum gelegen is. Tijdens een enquette onder jongeren gaven velen aan graag in deze wijk te willen wonen. Wat is er te vinden? Als je op het station aan komt, dan kun je grofweg twee kanten op. De noordkant of de zuidkant. Aan de zuidkant vind je veel barretjes, theaters, en restaurantjes. Aan de noordkant vind je veel hippe winkeltjes. Bijvoorbeeld veel vintage kledingwinkels, tweede hands lp en cd winkels en leuke vintage spulletjes.

At shimokitazawa

At shimokitazawa

De wijk bestaat uit veel kleine steegjes die leuk zijn om doorheen te lopen. Je valt van de ene verbazing in de andere. Overal iets wat te zien. Helaas toen ik er was, waren veel winkeltjes nog dicht, hoewel de rolluiken in veel gevallen ook erg leuk waren om te zien. De sfeer in deze wijk is heel relaxed. The mensen zijn heel ‘laid back’ en zeker op een zaterdag was het met name bij de lokale broodjeszaak enorm druk met mensen die lekkere broodjes of muffins kwamen afhalen of die gezellig met een kopje koffie lekker van een ontbijt of lunch aan het genieten waren.

A young girl taking a break at Shimokitazawa

A young girl taking a break at Shimokitazawa

Store front at Shimokitazawa

Store front at Shimokitazawa

Vintage store in Shimokitazawa

Vintage store in Shimokitazawa

Als je van hip en trendy houdt, maar wel graag ook betaalbaar, dan is shimokitazawa zeker een wijk die leuk is om te bezoeken. Harajuku is in vergelijking veel duurder en extremer wat mode betreft. Shimokitazawa is meer een wijk voor studenten en mensen die hun eigen ‘look’ willen creëren met de leuke vintage winkels die er te vinden zijn.

Cool bar in Shimokitazawa

Cool bar in Shimokitazawa

Maneki neko
Als je van katten houdt, dan is de Maneki neko een must see. Dit is het al oude bekende witte katje wat zijn pootje ophoudt en vaak aan de ingang van restaurants of soms in winkels te vinden zijn. Deze kat wuift naar klanten en probeert ze met zijn pootje naar binnen te lokken. Aan deze kat is een speciale tempel gewijd. Deze tempel heet Gotokuji en is vanaf Shimokitazwa gemakkelijk met de trein te bereiken.

Maneki Nekko

Maneki Neko

De oorsprong van Maneki Neko
Je zal je vast afvragen waarom Japanners een hele tempel wijden aan één enkele kat en geloven dat deze kat geluk kan brengen. Het verhaal van de oorsprong van Maneki neko of ‘lucky cat’ gaat als volgt. Op een dag kwam er een witte kat aanlopen bij de Gotokuji tempel. De tempel was in die tijd erg arm en de priester had amper eten om zichzelf te voeden. Toch, toen de kat aan kwam wandelen, kon hij het niet over zijn hart verdragen om haar weg te sturen. Hij voedde de kat en de dagen verstreken. Op een gegeven moment ging het nog slechter met de tempel en de dagen dat er geen eten was, werden er steeds meer. De priester zei dan ook gekscherend tegen de kat die hij Tama had genoemd:’Misschien kun je beter je geluk elders proberen Tama, hier valt niet meer zoveel te halen.’ De kat wandelde vervolgens langzaam naar de poort van de tempel toe, en begon haarzelf te wassen, zoals katten wel vaker toen. Inmiddels begon het weer te betrekken en begon het te regenen en te stormen. Een belangrijke samurai kwam langs rijden met zijn gezelschap. Hij en zijn metgezellen besloten te stoppen en te schuilen onder een boom. Toen hij opkeek zag hij de kat zitten, en besloot hij naar haar toe te lopen om haar beter te bekijken. Eenmaal bij de kat aangekomen, sloeg de bliksem in, in de boom waar de samurai minuten ervoor nog aan het schuilen was. De samurai zag dit als een teken en besloot de tempel in te gaan om de priester te bedanken voor het sturen van de witte kat die zijn leven had gered. Vanaf dat moment werd de samurai een beschermheer van de tempel en was de tempel gered. Het verhaal van de wonderbaarlijke kat verspreide zich al snel in Edo (zo heette Tokyo in die tijd) en vele mensen trokken naar de tempel toe om de merkwaardige kat te zien in de hoop dat dit geluk zou brengen. Tegenwoordig zijn er nog steeds mensen die voor een beetje geluk naar deze tempel komen om een wit katje achter te laten in de hoop dat dit geluk brengt.

Maneki Nekko mania

Maneki Neko mania

Het complex is natuurlijk interessant vanwege deze kattenbeeldjes die je staan op te wachten, maar de gebouwen zijn ook zeker de moeite waard om te zien. Er is een mooie pagode te zien en ook een grote begraafplaats waar veel familie leden van de familie Ii (zo heette de samurai die beschermheer was) zijn begraven. De kat schijnt er ook ergens begraven te liggen, maar dat graf heb ik helaas niet gevonden. Wel zag ik dat in de speciale hal toegewijd aan Maneki neko een dienst werd opgevoerd voor een meneer die blijkbaar wel wat geluk kon gebruiken.

Gotokuji temple

Gotokuji temple

Pagode at Gotokuji temple

Pagode at Gotokuji temple

Sakura's at Gotokuji temple

Sakura’s at Gotokuji temple

Sumo tempel
Aangezien ik toch in de buurt was, besloot ik de trein te nemen naar Setagaya Hachiman jinja. Dit is een shinto tempel die is opgedragen aan sumo worstelaars. Van origine was Sumo namelijk een soort van rituele dans waarbij de ‘dansers’ zogenaamd met een ‘kami’ of geest aan het worstelen waren. Later werd deze dans de sport die het nu is. de ring waar sumo worstelaars in spelen wordt nog steeds als heilige grond beschouwd. Nog veel van de traditionele ‘danspassen’ uit de vroegere vorm van sumo zijn bewaard gebleven, vandaar dat je sumo worstelaars altijd eerst deze stappen ziet uitvoeren voordat het gevecht daadwerkelijk plaats vindt. Terwijl ik er was, had ik geluk. Er werden twee babietjes ‘gedoopt’ in deze prachtige tempel. Ik voelde me echt heel gelukkig dat ik dit bijzondere ritueel mee mocht maken, hoewel één van de babietjes het minder leuk vond.
Bij deze tempel is een openlucht sumo ring te zien met een kleine stenen tribune erbij. Op deze plek vinden nog steeds gevechten plaats.

Setagaya Hachiman jinja

Setagaya Hachiman jinja

Sumo ring at Setagaya Hachiman jinja

Sumo ring at Setagaya Hachiman jinja

At Setagaya Hachiman jinja

At Setagaya Hachiman jinja

Shokoin tempel
Een andere tempel die in de buurt ligt van de Setaga Hachiman jinja is de Shokoin ji. Dit is een buddhistische tempel met een begraafplaats die bekend staat om het mooie bamboebos er omheen. Hier ben ik ook nog even langs geweest voordat ik mijn reis verder vervolgde. Ik twijfelde of ik in Setagaya zou blijven en nog de carrot tower zou bekijken (een hoog gebouw in de wijk waar je in kan om het uitzicht te bewonderen) of dat ik meer terug richting huis zou gaan en nog langs Yoyogi koen zou gaan. Het is nu op en top kersenbloesemtijd dus besloot ik toch maar de metro te nemen richting yoyogi koen.

Cementary at Shokoinji

Cementary at Shokoinji

At Shokoin jinja

At Shokoin jinja

At Shokoin jinja

At Shokoin jinja

Yoyogi koen
In yoyogi koen (koen betekent park) was het een drukte van jewelste. Hoewel het weer niet fantastisch was en het zelf behoorlijk begon te waaien, was het heel druk in het park. Veel Japanners waren naar het park afgereisd om te genieten van een pick nick onder de uitgelopen kersenbloesems. In Yoyogi koen is er in het weekend altijd genoeg te doen, zo zijn er optredens door steeds weer verschillende mensen en zijn er ook ‘oude bekenden’ zoals de trommelaars die altijd bij de ingang richting Shibuya aan het ‘jammen’ zijn.
Vandaag was echter anders dan anders, vanwege de kersenbloesems, kwamen er natuurlijk veel mensen naar het park dus een uitgelezen moment voor mensen om hun kraampje op te zetten en de heerlijkste hapjes te verkopen. Was is een pick nick immers zonder eten en drinken? Hoewel er natuurlijk ook mensen zijn die zelfgemaakte hapjes meenemen, worden de meeste mensen in yoyogi park verleid door de heerlijke geuren van gebakken noodles, bao pao’s, worstjes en andere lekkernijen.

Hanami at Yoyogi koen

Hanami at Yoyogi koen

The crowds enjoying Sakura at Yoyogi koen

The crowds enjoying Sakura at Yoyogi koen

Inmiddels begon ik al een beetje moe te worden, maar terwijl ik richting de metro liep, zag ik dat bij het station nog veel meer kraampjes waren waar niet alleen eten, maar ook kleding en andere zaken werden verkocht. Ook was er een podium waar de bekende Japanse meidenband AKB 48 aan het optreden was. De batterij van mijn camera hield er inmiddels ook mee op, en hoewel de muziek leuk klonk en ik uit de verte veel mensen zag genieten van het optreden, besloot ik toch maar de metro richting huis te pakken.

English:

(Please scroll down to read an English translation)

Experience the relaxed vibe of Shimokitazawa
This weekend I put on my walking shoes and went out with my camera. First thing in the morning I went to Shimokitazawa. This is an area in Setagaya district. The area is very ‘up and coming’ in Tokyo,  eventhough it is located outside the city center. During a survey among young people many of them indicated that they would like to live in this area. Why is it worth wile to visit?  When you arrive at the station, you can go basically in two directions. The north side or the south side. On the south side you can find many bars, restaurants and theaters. On the north side there are many shops selling one of a kind vintage clothes and other items, second hand lp & cd shops and clothes stores by small labels.

At shimokitazawa

At shimokitazawa

When you walk around Shimokitazawa or ‘Shimikita’ as it is called by the locals, you can find a maze of small streets and alleyways that zig zag across and take you to all the cool places. Where ever you walk there is something interesting to see, it is truly amazing! Unfortunately when I was there, most shops were not open yet, although the shutters of most shops were pretty amazing too with interesting paintings or graffiti. The admosphere in the area is really relaxed. The people are ‘laid back’ and especially on a Saturday there were many that frequented the local sandwich shop to buy the most wonderful sandwiches and muffins to take away or have there with a nice cup of coffee.

A young girl taking a break at Shimokitazawa

A young girl taking a break at Shimokitazawa

Store front at Shimokitazawa

Store front at Shimokitazawa

Vintage store in Shimokitazawa

Vintage store in Shimokitazawa

When you like hip and trendy, but are on a budget, the affordable prices in Shimokitazawa is definitely a fun place to go. Harajuku is in comparison a lot more expensive and more extreme where fashion goes. Shimokitazawa is more and area for students that want to create their own look by buying choice items at one of the many vintage or small label shops that are scattered around the place.

Cool bar in Shimokitazawa

Cool bar in Shimokitazawa

Maneki neko
If you are a cat lover, then Maneki neko is a must see. This is the all known with cat that hold up her paw and if often put at the entrance of a lot of restaurants or even some shops. The cat beckons with her paw to custumers and charms them to visit the restaurant or shop. Did you know this cat actually has her own temple? This temple is called Gotokuji and can be reached from Shimokitazwa by train.

Maneki Nekko

Maneki Neko

The origin of Maneki Neko
You might wonder why Japanese actually award an entire temple to a simple cat and believe it is the key to good luck. The story of the Maneki neko or ‘lucky cat’ goes as follows. On a day a white cat sauntered on to the de Gotokuji temple. This temple was at the time really poor and the main priesst hardly had any food  to feed himself, let alone the cat. Regardless he felt for the little critter and took it in. The days past and the plight of the temple only grew more serious. At one point the days without food became more and more frequent so the priest said jokingly to the cat:’Tama (this was the name the priest gave the cat) I think you’d better find another place to live.’ The cat looked at him and walked off towards the entrance of the temple. She didn’t actually go far. Just outside the temple she remained and started washing herself like cats tend to do. By that time the weather started to go bad and a storm was starting. An important samurai was just passing together with his entourage. He decided to take shelter under a tree. When he looked up he noticed the cat near the temple gate. The cat caught his eye and he proceeded to move closer. When he had reached the cat, lightning struck the tree, where moments before the samurai was taking shelter from the rain.  The samurai saw this as a sign and followed the cat back into the temple to thank the priest who took care of the cat that had saved his life. From that time onwards the samurai decided to become the guardian of the temple and it started to flourish from this influx of money. Word spread quickly around Edo (this is how Tokyo was called at that time) and many people flocked to see to this wonderful temple to see the cat that had saved a samurai. The visitors hoped that being in the vicinity of the cat, some of it’s good luck might rub off on them and, although the cat is long since dead, still many people come to the temple for a bit of good luck.

Maneki Neko mania

Maneki Neko mania

Of course the cats are nice to see, the complex itself is also worthwile. Especially the pagoda is really nice. Besides that there is cementary where a lot of members of the Ii family have been buried. (This is the name of the samurai who became the protector of the temple after he felt he his life was saved by her.) The cat is said to have been burried there as well, but unfotunately I did not find her Grave. I did see a man who underwent a special Shinto ceremony in the hall dedicated to Maneki neko apparently he was in need of a bit of luck as well!

Gotokuji temple

Gotokuji temple

Pagode at Gotokuji temple

Pagode at Gotokuji temple

Sakura's at Gotokuji temple

Sakura’s at Gotokuji temple

Sumo temple
Since I was in the neighbourhood, I decided to take the train to Setagaya Hachiman jinja. This is a shinto shrine dedicated to aan sumo wrestlers. In the old days sumo was not considered a sport at all but was part of an elaborate shinto ritual. Two wrestlers preformed a kind of dance meant to resemble a fight with a vicious ‘kami’ or spirit god. Later this dance grew out into the sport it is today. Many of the original moves from those days were kept, so before every bout, the wrestlers do a sort of dance that represent the original shinto ritual. In fact the ring in which the wrestlers fight is considered hallowed ground up until this day. I was Lucky, while I was at the temple, a ritual ‘baptism’ for lack of a better word, was conducted. I felt privaliged to have been a witness to this, although one of the babies enjoyed the whole thing a lot less and screamed it’s little heart out.  This temple actually has an open air sumo ring with a stone spectators area. It is still in use today and once in a while sumo matches can be seen.

Setagaya Hachiman jinja

Setagaya Hachiman jinja

Sumo ring at Setagaya Hachiman jinja

Sumo ring at Setagaya Hachiman jinja

Sumo ring at Setagaya Hachiman jinja

At Setagaya Hachiman jinja

At Setagaya Hachiman jinja

Shokoin temple
Another temple that is quite nearby is the Shokoin ji. (The ‘ji’ stands for a buddhist temple so whenever you see a sign with the name of a temple that ends with ‘ji’ and has the English word for temple behind it, it basically says … temple temple) This particular temple is well known for the beautiful bamboos that surround the temple grounds. Before taking my journey further, I decided to drop by since it was just around the corner anyway.  After visiting the Shokoin temple I either wanted to go to the carrot tower and stay in the Setagaya (this is a a high building that has an observation deck from where you have a nice view over the city) or I was going to go more in the direction of home and head to Yoyogi koen. (koen stands for park in Japanese) Since it is cherry blossom season, the park won and besides the weather wasn’t too great either so I figured the view could wait for another day.

Cementary at Shokoinji

Cementary at Shokoinji

At Shokoin jinja

At Shokoin jinja

At Shokoin jinja

At Shokoin jinja

Yoyogi koen
In yoyogi koen it was even more crowed than usual. Even though the weather was not great and the wind had started to pick up, there were still many people in the park enjoying the hanami (having a pick nick under the cherry trees). A lot of Japanese had travelled to the park to enjoy one of the best days for enjoying the blossoms as they are currently at full bloom. After the weekend they will slowly start to fall out unfortunately. Yoyogi koen is always a nice place to visit on the weekends. There are generally a few people performing, some new and some familiar faces too like the drum players that always gather there and sit near the Shibuya exit enjoying a nice jam session.
Today was unlike most weekends, obviously because of the cherry blossoms. A lot more people frequented the park than usual which allowed wonderful opportunities for the local vendors. The came out in mass to set up their little stalls and sell the most wonderful snack food like fried noodles, freshly steamed bao pao, sausages on a stick and other delicacies. I mean, what is a pick nick without food and drinks right? And since many people know that one a day like this, food is abundant so most of them opt for not lugging everything with them, but to just buy some there.

Hanami at Yoyogi koen

Hanami at Yoyogi koen

The crowds enjoying Sakura at Yoyogi koen

The crowds enjoying Sakura at Yoyogi koen

By this time I was starting to get tired, but while I was walking towards the nearest metro station, I noticed even more stalls near the stadium, which offered not only food, but also other items like clothes for instance. Later on I noticed a stage and it turned out the popular girl band AKB 48 performing. By that time the battery of my camera had died and even though the music sounded alluring and the smell of food delicious, I decided to head home and grab the next metro instead.

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