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- December 2023: What to do in Tokyo!
Looking for things to do in Tokyo this December? From holiday celebrations, winter illuminations and traditional Japanese festivals, we got you covered! Chichibu Night Festival Saturday December 2nd - Sunday December 3rd Hitsujiyama Park Photo Courtesy of https://www.chichibu-matsuri.jp/en/ The Chichibu Night Festival is one of three major float festivals in Japan, otherwise known as "hikiyama" festivals! Here, you can see handmade floats parade through the area, decorated with traditional Japanese craftsmanship, flowers and lanterns! This festival will take place over two days, Saturday December 2nd and Sunday December 3rd. On Saturday you can find the floats being showcased around the streets from 12pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm in addition to a direworks display from 7pm to 10 pm! On Sunday, the "Grand Festival" will take place from 9 am to 10pm with the peak of the festival occurring from 7pm to 10pm. There will also be a fireworks display on Sunday from 7:30 to 10pm! Akibasan Fire Festival Wednesday December 6th Akibasan Shrine, Odawara City Photo Courtesy of https://www.akihasan-shuyoji.or.jp/himatsuri/ This event is about 2 hours outside of Tokyo but definitely worth the trip! The Akibasan Fire Festival is a "fire protection festival" that has origins reaching as far back as the 16th century. However, contrary to what you might think these activities can come off as more of a celebration of fire. Some displays that you can witness involve writing Kanji in the air with fire, and shooting flame arrows into a larger flame as well as other traditional dances. These fire events will begin at 7 pm with the festival itself taking place from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Tokyo Comic Con 2023 Friday, December 8th - Sunday, December 10th Makuhari Messe Photo Courtesy of https://tokyocomiccon.jp/ Comic Con is well known all across the world but Tokyo's Comic Con is always something special. This year will even feature the following celebrities with more coming! Tom Felton (Harry Potter) Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) Evangeline Lilly (Lost and The Hobbit Trilogy) Mads Mikkelsen (Indiana Jones, Casino Royale) Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) Tom Hiddleston (Loki) Ewan McGregor (Obi-wan Kenobi) Temuera Morrison (Boba Fett) There is however a fee of typically over 20,000 yen to meet these celebrities. Additionally, if you're looking to cosplay at this event you will need to pay an additional fee. Tickets for the event can be found here! Tokyo Skytree Dream Christmas 2023 November 9th - December 25th Tokyo Skytree At the bottom of Tokyo's most prominent building will be a vibrant Christmas market that features an 8 meter tall Christmas tree and shops selling everything from beer, sweets and other foods! The venue is filled with an insurmountable amount of decorations making it ideal for photo opportunities. From December 15th to the 25th a projection mapping will also be featured. Photo Courtesy of Photo by ©TOKYO-SKYTREETOWN STAR DANCE: Japan Anime and Character Drone Show December 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, and 31 Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise Photo Courtesy of https://www.seaparadise.co.jp/special/stardance/ The Japan Anime and Character Drone show in Yokohama will feature 1,000 drones that will create displays of famous Japanese fictional characters from the likes of Demon Slayer, Ultraman and Evangelion. The drone show itself will start at 5 pm and take place for 15 minutes with an hour interval in between. Each show will feature different characters so it makes for a good opportunity to explore the area! Tickets for this event start at 4,300 JPY. Midtown Ice Rink November 16th - February 25th, 2024 Tokyo Midtown Photo Courtesy of https://www.tokyo-midtown.com/jp/event/6734/ If being active is more your speed, Tokyo Midtown will have an outdoor ice skating rink not dissimilar to one you may find in New York! The ice rink is featured right next to the Midtown Winter Light displays so this area is perfect for photos but can get a little crowded. The rink is open from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Yomiuriland October 19th - April 7th, 2024 Yomiuriland The Yomiuriland amusement park will be COVERED in millions of LED lights for a truly stunning display this winter season! The amusement park itself features rollercoasters, a ferris wheel as well as other activities throughout, making it perfect for families, friends and dates. The park opens from 4:00pm and closes at 8:30 pm. There is a variety of different ticket options which can be found here.
- Kusatsu Onsen: Japan's Must Visit Hot Spring Destination!!!
If you're looking to explore Japan's hot-springs theres no better location than Kusatsu Onsen. Located about three hours outside of Tokyo in the Gunma Prefecture, Kusatsu Onsen has what's regarded as the purest hot-spring water, believed to cure a number of diseases. With the largest volume of flowing hot spring water in Japan, the more acidic waters kill bacteria and microorganisms that might otherwise be lingering. The area features rich culture and history paired with a number of Japanese ryokans so that you can fully immerse yourself in the refreshing and relaxing experiences that the area has to offer. Kusatsu Traditions "Yumomi" at Nestu no yu bathouse Yumomi is a traditional technique that features long wooden planks used to cool the bathwater. At a high temperature of 65 (149 Fahrenheit), the water is unbathable when left alone. After Yumomi, the water temperature is brought down to 45 degrees celsius (115 Fahrenheit) making it a more comfortable bathing temperature. To see this practice first-hand stop by Nestu no yu bathouse! Which Hot springs should I visit? Here are Ohako's Top 3 Recommendations when it comes to which hot springs to check out! 1.Nestu no yu bathouse This is perhaps Kusatsu's most famous Onsen since you can see "Yumomi" in practice! If you're looking to experience Kusatsu to its fullest be sure to stop by here! 2.Sainokawara Rotenburo If you prefer an outdoor experience, Sainokawara is Kusatsu largest outdoor bath. Here you can breathe in the crisp mountain air without having to worry about being crammed too close to other visitors! 3.Otakinoyu If variety is what you're looking for, Otakinoyu features a plethora of different indoor and outdoor baths that each contain different water temperatures. Its recommended that you practice "Awase-yu," the action of moving from the coolest bath and slowly progressing your way to the hottest, which is closest to the hot spring source. Otakinoyu comes with modern amenities if you're also looking for a more luxurious experience stop by here! What To Experience Yubatake (Hot Spring Field) Yubatake is the centerpiece of Kusatsu which features a whopping 4000 liters of water running through it every minute. The hot spring field showcases the volume as well as the culture of Kusatsu as its surrounded by a wide variety of traditional shops and restaurants. The field lights up at night which in combination with the steam produces a beautiful display of colors. Sainokawara Park This park features decorative hot spring water pools as well as a few foot baths. At night the park features a beautiful light displays that makes for an other worldly experience. However, it is rumored that a demon lives here and makes appearances if one gets too loud... so speak at your own discretion! Shirane Shrine Shirane Shrine is dedicated to the god who discovered Kusatsu Onsen, Yudaki Dori. Its located at the top of a hill that overlooks the surrounding area, creating a separation between the shrine and Kusatsu itself. Its a great spot take in the area! For more information check out the official website at: https://www.kusatsu-onsen.ne.jp/guide/en/
- November 2023: What to do in Tokyo!
Looking for things to do in Tokyo this November? From early holiday celebrations to traditional Japanese festivals, we got you covered! Dream Yosacoy (Yosakoi) Festival November 4th - November 5th Location: Odaiba, Tokyo Image Provided by Takeshi Oda (小田岳史） The Dream Yosacoy Festival is a Japanese dance festival held at the beginning of November that attracts crowds of over half a million that come to see the 7000+ performers! Here, the dancers perform "yosakoi" which is a more creative form of dance that combines artistic expression with tradition. The performers wear a variety of outfits and costumes in addition to unique dances! Tori-noichi Festivals Day One: November 11th Day Two: November 23rd Locations: Asakusa, Shinjuku Image Provided by Asakusa Tori no Ichi If you need some good fortune in your career definitely stop by a Tori-noichi festival! These festivals are a yearly occurrence in Japan that celebrate good prosperity in business and take place on three different days. Like most other Japanese festivals, here you can find a lively atmosphere with a variety of vendors. However, what is unique to these festivals is their "kumade" which is a decorative bamboo rake meant to bring good luck. If you decide to purchase one the vendors will perform a clapping ritual before handing it over to you. Here's a list of some of the festivals to help you find the right one! First Asakusa Tori-no-ichi Fair: November 11th Second Asakusa Tori-no-ichi Fair: November 23rd First Shinjuku Tori-no-ichi Fair: November 11th Second Shinjuku Tori-no-ichi Fair: November 23rd Image Provided by Okunitama Shrine Hachiōji Ginkgo Festival November 18th - November 19th (9:00-16:30) Location: Hachiōji Image Provided by Hachioji Ginkgo Festival Committee If you're looking for beautiful fall colors in Tokyo, you have to stop by the Hachiōji Ginkgo Festival. Here, you'll get the chance to see the ginkgo trees at the height of their fall colors surrounded by vendors, shows and even an activity that takes you back in time. At this festival you can pick up a "tsuko tegata" a block of wood that was used as a transportation pass. You can use this pass to explore the 12 checkpoints around the festival! Image Provided by Hachioji Ginkgo Festival Committee Link: https://www.ichou-festa.org/ 11th Hirosaki Neputa Asakusa Festival (Tentatively) November 18 - November 19 Location: Asakusa Image Provided by Aomori Tourism Normally you would have to go all the way to Aomori to see these magnificent paper floats that represent scenes from different Kabuki stories. But at the Hirosaki Neputa Asakusa Festival, for one weekend these floats travel to Tokyo! After 5 PM you can see these floats hoisted by people on the streets, with the lights on showcasing amazing craftsmanship! This is a rare thing to see in Tokyo so definitely don't miss it! Image Provided by Aomori Tourism Link: https://www.city.taito.lg.jp/bunka_kanko/shotengaishinko/shotengaievent/20231101neputa.html Candlelight Concert: Best of Joe Hisaishi (Studio Ghibli Concert) November 25th Location: Nakano Image Provided by Carey Finn At the Umewaka Noh Theatre in Nakano, you can witness a live string quartet play some of Joe Hisaishi's best pieces from Studio Ghibli movies! This is for sure a popular event so be sure to snag your tickets soon! Tickets start at 4,200 JPY and can go up to 8,000 JPY for the 4:00PM and 6:15PM shows. Set-list: Kikujiro: “Summer” Kiki’s Delivery Service: “A Town with an Ocean View” Howl’s Moving Castle: “Merry Go Round of Life” Spirited Away: “Chihiro’s Waltz” Laputa: Castle in the Sky: “Carrying You” My Neighbour Totoro: “Path of the Wind” Princess Mononoke: “Main Theme” Tokyo Mega Illumination November 11th 2023 - January 8th 2024 (Closed from Nov 13-17 + Dec 4-8 + Dec 26-Jan 1) Location: Oi Racecourse (Oimachi) Image by Greg Lane If you're a big fan of the holidays and are looking to get into the Holiday spirit early, then stop by the Tokyo Mega Illumination! The Oi Racecourse is a horse race-track thats converted into an amazing display. This yearly illumination features millions of LED lights, fountains and more! Image by Greg Lane
- Tokyo's Lowkey Nightlife Havens
With Tokyo being one of the most populous cities in the world, you can imagine that a night out can be loud, exciting and maybe a little chaotic. That being said, sometimes fighting to get the bartender to pay attention to you in the middle of a crowded club isn't the move. Hidden in the back-streets of Tokyo you can find secluded, lowkey bars with welcoming bartenders and entertaining stories! Here are recommendations for Tokyo's lowkey nightlife havens! 1. Nakano Nakano might be known for its "Otaku" culture with anime and manga shops galore within Nakano Broadway, but come nighttime it shifts into an affordable and exciting place for a night out. Nakano at night is what you might call "real" Tokyo, its not too well-known as a nighlife spot for tourists and has a collection of small intimate bars with disproportionately large personlaities, some with their own unique retro themes! For those that still have an itch for a little bit of excitement you an even find some local clubs! Where to Start in Nakano: Juke 80’s If you're a music lover or simply dig 80s nostalgia, look no further than Juke 80's. You can experience the golden era with cult classics from ABBA, Queen and of course Michael Jackson. Even if mainstream isn't your thing, Juke 80’s also plays hidden gems from underground artists. We werent kidding when we said Nakano is affordable with drinks coming in from 350 to 500 yen during happy hour, making it a genuine bargain in the heart of Tokyo. Address: 164-0001 Tokyo, Nakano City, Nakano, 5 Chome−56−15 金井ビル B1 2. Golden Gai Despite being amidst the red-light district of Tokyo, Kabukicho has a hidden gem, or perhaps we should say "gems." In Golden Gai you can find over 200 bars within just six narrow alleyways, each with their own unique vibe or theme. With a long history, this area has been a very popular meeting place for famous creatives as well as many other celebrities. It's a great place to meet interesting, passionate and warmhearted bartenders! The one thing to remember is that etiquette is very important in this area. Bar-hopping is frowned upon in Golden-Gai with some establishments only allowing regulars and others with cover charges ranging from 500 to 1000 yen. Some places even come with a 5000 yen sleeping charge along with the possibility of being kicked out if you get a little too rowdy. But don't stress, all the rules of the bars will be posted for you to read! To find a bar, simply poke your head in and ask to be seated! Most bartenders will be happy to have you come in and chat about anything and everything! Golden Gai is popular for a reason, there's truly no other place where you can get one-of-a-kind experiences from interacting with such passionate bar owners. Where to Start in Golden Gai: Ace's Bar Its easy to be intimidated by the huge number of bars in Golden Gai. So we recommend stopping by "Ace's Bar" to dip your toes into the unique area. Known for its foreigner friendly vibe, this place comes with an English speaking staff, no cover charge and affordable drink prices! It's the perfect place for first timers to get to know the area and ask any questions that they might have. Address: 1-chōme-1-9 Kabukichō, Shinjuku City, Tōkyō-to 160-0021 3. Shimokitazawa Shimokitazawa, often heralded as Tokyo's thrifting hub during daylight hours, undergoes a magical transformation come nightfall, attracting a diverse crowd of music enthusiasts and creatives. If you're trying to learn more about the indie culture that surrounds Tokyo's local artists and creatives this is one-hundred percent the place to visit. If music is your thing, you can find music bars with live performances and even some small clubs! If traditional Japanese bars are more your speed, izakaya's are also around every corner. For those that are feeling adventurous, if you look carefully enough you'll even find hidden speakeasies. Shimokitzawa is a must visit for those looking to have a unique deep-dive into the artistic and creative culture of Tokyo. Where to Start in Shimokitazawa: Little Soul Cafe Little Soul Cafe is a Jazz bar owned by perhaps Tokyo's biggest Jazz enthusiast. This cozy bar has hundreds and hundreds of Jazz records placed all along the walls with the nightly playlist carefully curated by the bar tender. The vibe itself is calm and relaxed making it the perfect place to get your adventure in Shimokitazawa started! Address: 155-0031 Tokyo, Setagaya City, Kitazawa, 3 Chome−20−2 大成ビル ２階
- October Event's in Tokyo 2023!
From Festivals to Spooky Displays, here's whats going on in Tokyo in October! Tachikawa Yokai Bon Odori 2023 October 7th 2023 (Saturday) - October 9th 2023 (Monday) The Tachikawa Yokai Bon Odori will go on for three days in early October. It will feature Bon Odori, live music and DJ's as well as a "Yokai" costume competition! "Yokai" is a broad term in Japanese that can encapsulate supernatural things like ghosts, demons, monsters and others! Meaning, you're bound to see some crazy creative costumes here! The Tachikawa area is on the outskirts of Tokyo towards the mountains, so its a great event if you're looking to get out of the city! Location: Tachikawa Dates: October 7th 2023 (Friday) - October 9th 2023 (Monday) Time: 11:00 - 20:00 Price: Free TOKYO TOWER CITY LIGHT FANTASIA September 15th (Friday) - October 31st (Tuesday), 2023 The Tokyo Tower Main Deck will be projected with wild art that fuses seasonal images along with the fantastic view of Tokyo. The general theme of this exhibit is "Halloween party" meaning you get to see vibrant and playful spooky characters along the skyline. Location: Tokyo Tower Main Deck (Height 150m) 2nd Floor North Floor Date: September 15th (Friday) - October 31st (Tuesday), 2023 Time(s): September 15th (Friday) - October 5th (Thursday) 18:00-22:20 October 6th (Friday) - October 31st (Tuesday) 17:30 - 22:20 Price: 500 - 1200 JPY (See Main Deck Admission Prices Here) Nihombashi Ebisu-ko Bettara-ichi Festival (Tokyo's Pickle Fair!) October 19th 2023 (Thursday) - October 20th 2023 (Friday) This "Pickle Fair" market contains anywhere from 400-500 street vendors selling local foods, beer and even sake! The market itself is held around Takarada Ebisu Shrine where a large number of vendors will be selling the locally renowned bettara-zuke (sweet and salty daikon radish pickles) as "Bettara-ichi" translates to Pickle Fair! Location: Takarada Ebisu Shrine Date: October 19th 2023 (Thursday) - October 20th 2023 (Friday) Time: 12:00 - 21:30 Price: Free Tokyo's 63rd Kanda Used Book Festival October 27th 2023 (Friday) - November 3rd 2023 (Friday) Photo From Nakagawa Shobo Within Jimbocho, Tokyo you can find a street lined with various different used bookstores! In October, this street transforms into the location for the biggest Used Book Festival in Tokyo! There are even special events within this festival that showcase book ownership stamps! This festival is somewhat of a year-end clearance sale so you can grab as many books as you want! Not even your backpack is the limit, because some shops also include delivery services won't need to carry them all home! Location: Kanda-Jinbocho Used Bookstore Street, Kanda-Jinbocho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo Date: October 27th 2023 (Friday) - November 3rd 2023 (Friday) Time: 10:00 - 19:00 Price: Free Tokyo Autumn Rose Festival October 7th 2023 (Saturday) - November 11th 2023 (Saturday) This festival celebrates the wide variety of over 5,000 seasonal roses where you can find beautiful autumnal roses such as dahlia and chrysanthemums for this brief period of time. The location features a Western-style garden, a Japanese Garden and a large Western-style mansion! Location: Kyu-Furukawa Gardens Date: October 7th 2023 (Saturday) - November 11th 2023 (Saturday) Time: 9:00 -17: 00 Price(s): Children up to Junior High School: Free Adults: 150 JPY Ages 65+: 70 JPY 45th Setagaya Ward Tamagawa Fireworks Festival October 21st 2023 (Saturday) This is Setagaya's Biggest Fireworks Festival! In it's 45th year, this festival is extremely popular so be sure to get there early! Each person is allowed a 90cm by 90cm tarp to sit on as well, so be sure to get there in time to claim your spot! Location: Futakotamagawa Station Date: October 21st 2023 (Saturday) Time: 18:00 - 19:00 Price: Free Shimokitazawa Curry Festival October 5th 2023 (Thursday) - October 22nd 2023 (Sunday) Believe it or not, curry is one of Japan's most popular dishes! Over 100 shops in the Shimokitazawa area will be participating in this festival that will feature innovative dishes from each business! The hours of this event will vary from business to business but you can check out the event website for more in-depth information! Location: 2 Chome-24-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0031, Japan Date: October 5th 2023 (Thursday) - October 22nd 2023 (Sunday) Time: Dependent on Business Price: Dependent on Business
- Oden! Japan's Most Popular Winter Dish!
Oden is a "nabemono" (Japanese one-pot dish) that's so popular, that you can even find it in convenience stores in the winter! The pots of oden can feature foods such as boiled eggs, daikon or konjac as well as region specific foods which you can typically buy for around 100 yen each. The broth itself is "dashi" flavored and is shared by all of the ingredients, allowing all of the flavors to mix together. While its considered a winter dish, some of these shops keep what is known as a "master stock." Which means they never get rid of all of the broth but instead, refill it as it simmers to let the flavor develop for sometimes years.
- Exploring Real-Life Ghibli Spots in Japan
The enchanting world of Studio Ghibli has captured the hearts of millions worldwide with its captivating animations, memorable characters, and breathtaking landscapes. For fans of Studio Ghibli, a journey to real-life locations offers a chance to step into a realm where fantasy and reality seamlessly blend. My Neighbor Totoro: Sayama Hills, Saitama 公益財団法人 トトロのふるさと基金 In the heart of Saitama lies Sayama Hills, affectionately known as "Totoro's Forest" (トトロの森). This serene area served as the inspiration for the idyllic village in "My Neighbor Totoro." Notably, film director Hayao Miyazaki was an initial contributor to the National Trust of Totoro no Furusato, a foundation dedicated to preserving this expansive nature reserve. As you explore the lush greenery, rolling hills, and quaint rural landscapes, you'll feel like you've stepped right into the heartwarming world of Totoro. Princess Mononoke: Yakushima Island, Kagoshima @josef.diermair Princess Mononoke," renowned for its stunning forest landscapes and complex characters, draws inspiration from the ancient forests of Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. This mystical island is home to some of Japan's oldest trees, including the awe-inspiring "Jomon Sugi," a colossal cedar tree believed to be over 7,000 years old. As you wander through the dense, moss-covered Yakushima forests, you'll sense the echoes of an epic Ghibli adventure. Whisper of the Heart: Seiseki-Sakuragaoka, Tokyo framed in beige "Whisper of the Heart" weaves a heartwarming tale of self-discovery and dreams against the backdrop of the peaceful suburban neighborhood of Seiseki-Sakuragaoka, a real place in Tokyo. Here, visitors can stroll along quaint streets, visit the antique shop that inspired the film's iconic cat figurine, and even find the iconic hillside where the main characters frequently meet. In this neighborhood, the magic of the film is infused into everyday life. Ponyo: Tomonoura, Hiroshima @ekolu_hoku "Ponyo," a heartwarming story of a young boy and a magical fish, unfolds in a charming coastal village inspired by Tomonoura in Hiroshima Prefecture. Hayao Miyazaki himself spent two months in Tomonoura, drawing inspiration from its picturesque harbor, quaint fishing boats, and rocky coastline. These elements come together to perfectly mirror the idyllic seaside setting depicted in the film. From Up on Poppy Hill: Yokohama, Kanagawa Kanagawa Prefectural Government "From Up on Poppy Hill" is a heartwarming coming-of-age story set in the bustling port city of Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture. The film beautifully captures the vibrant and nostalgic atmosphere of the 1960s in Japan. Many of the locations depicted in the movie are directly inspired by Yokohama's rich history and charming architecture. These real-life spots in Japan are not just travel destinations; they're gateways to the enchanting worlds of Studio Ghibli. So, pack your bags and set off on an unforgettable journey where fantasy and reality blend seamlessly.
- Japan's Viral 80 year-old Pudding Master! (Hekkelun)
80-year-old Shizuo Mori has gone viral for his passionate pudding-making skills! His wrist flicking technique has been unique to him and his homemade pudding for nearly 60 years and Mori-san has no plans on stopping. While most people would retire well before reaching 80, Mori-san has dedicated much of his life to this cafe following his mantra of "work is what gives us energy." His charismatic charm is infectious to anyone who visits. This is one of those experiences where you immediately feel right at home. Location: 105-0003 Tokyo, Minato City, Nishishinbashi, 1 Chome−20−11 安藤ビル 1F
- Japan’s Top 5 Craziest Dessert Spots
Every country has amazing desserts unique to them and their culture, and Japan is certainly no exception. That being said, sometimes a simple piece of matcha chocolate or a soft serve ice cream cone doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you need something extreme… From towering parfaits, to all you can eat buffets these are our recommendations for the top 5 craziest dessert spots in Japan! All You Can Eat Dessert Buffet (Sweets Paradise) Buffets are a foodie’s paradise, but I don’t know if we’ve ever come across a buffet with an unlimited selection of desserts THIS big. At Sweets Paradise for just 20 USD you can get unlimited premium fruits, desserts and savory meals for 100 minutes. If you want to skip out on the fruits (thought we highly suggest that you don’t) the price drops to only 10 USD. At this price point you might be skeptical about the selection they have available but rest assured they serve unique fruits like Okinawan peach and desserts ranging from cakes, macarons and even mousse. This is one those places that sound too good to be true but I guess that’s why they call it “Sweets Paradise.” Location: Sweets Paradise, 新宿F・Fビル Ｂ１Ｆ 3 Chome-26-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0022 The Biggest Pudding in Japan (Nihonbashi Brewery.T.S) If size matters to you then you have to stop by Nihonbashi Brewery.T.S. in Tokyo! Their giant pudding comes in at 4.5 lbs (2 kg) and is four times the size of normal pudding. It’s topped with a caramel glaze and simply too much ice cream. It tastes amazing but the sugar crash is something you’ll have to brace for. Location: 1 Chome-11-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0005 The Sweetest Shop Owner (Inu no Yaki Imo ya San) This small shop in Osaka serves the classic Japanese treat, “Yaki-imo” otherwise known as sweet potato. While, the sweet potato is great, you may be asking how this shop ended up on the “craziest desserts” list? It’s the fact that this shop is run by “Shu-chan” the Shiba Inu! Shu-chan is super friendly and loves to greet everyone that comes to his stand, but it’s important to remember the fact that he doesn’t have thumbs so you’ll have to pay in exact change! Shu-chan only opens up shop from 1:30 to 2:30 PM so be ready to get there fast to grab Yaki-imo, treats for Shu-chan and his personalized T-Shirts! Location: Inu no yaki imo ya san (いぬのヤキイモやさん) Sapporo, Japan Time: 1:30-2:30 PM Eating Dog for Dessert? (PEARLS) Don’t tell Shu-chan about this place… At PEARLS you can order a dog shaped dessert that is creepily realistic, down to the texture of the dog’s fur. For only 600 yen you can order a delicious “wanna cotta,” a dog shaped panna cotta that, rest assured, tastes like panna cotta and not dog. Though, it did feel a little wrong to eat, I guess you can now tell your friends that you’ve tried “dog” now. Location: 1-3-21 Abenobashisuji, Abeno-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka Does Height Matter? (All Day Dining Hikari) If height matters to you then you have to stop by All Day Dining Hikari in Osaka. This behemoth of a parfait is built with a whopping 50 strawberries and lots of cream. Standing at 5 cups tall, we were honestly shocked that the cup of cornflakes and cookies at the bottom were able to hold everything steady. The owner told us that the small cookies on the side of the parfait represent Mt. Everest climbers and with the size of the parfait we understand why. With the amount of cream and sheer number of strawberries this is a phallic treat that you’ll defintiely have to tag team with your friends. Location: 592-0014 Osaka, Takaishi, Ayazono, 1 Chome−9−1 1階 Appla Takaishi
- Beginners Guide to Shimokitazawa: Tokyo's Thrifting Hub
Despite sitting right next to Shibuya, Shimokitazawa is a laid back neighborhood known for its rich music culture and vintage thrift shops. You can also find a variety of unique cafes and small bars, each with their own "personality" and more often than not, a passionate employee eager to start a conversation. With so many shops to stop by, it can be a bit overwhelming for someone trying to first navigate the narrow streets... That being said, here are our top 5 vintage shops and thrift shops to help you begin cracking open the unique shops of Shimokita! New York Joe Exchange New York Joe's is a curated thrift shop that exists in what used to be a public bathhouse. It's a must visit place for first-timers with its unique decor and wide variety of both branded and non-branded clothing. From 2002 World Cup gear to old wedding t-shirts, you'll never know what you'll find here! If you can, try and swing by on the first Sunday of every month, when everything is half-price! (Just be sure to watch your step, the floor of the spacious building is still very much a bathhouse) Address: 3 Chome-26-4 Kitazawa, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0031 Focus (フォーカス) Located right across from New York Joe's, the next place you should stop by is Focus. This shop definitely has a more eclectic selection ranging from simple Carhartt shirts to bedazzled crop tops that otherwise might only exist in early 2000's music videos. This variety means that there's an item of clothing for every personality in this shop. Before you step in the store, keep an eye out for their discount board! Every tag is color coded, and everyday you can find clothes marked down at 30 percent and 50 percent! Address: 小清水ビル 1階, 2 Chome-35-9 Kitazawa, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0031 Sonora At first glance it might look like a crudely assembled hut, but if you're looking for unique jewelry for Goodwill prices, or a film camera to document your travels, you need to stop by Sonora. Here you can find just about anything from vinyls, rings to interesting lighters. The shop has a cozy atmosphere and a friendly employee to help answer any questions you might have. This place is the definition of a hidden gem. Address: 2 Chome-25 Kitazawa, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0031 Antique Life Jin This small antique store is for those who love to take their time to appreciate small trinkets and vintage items. From simple things like bottle openers from the 90's, jewelry, and even artwork, this shop is like a 'Where's Waldo' book for indie kids (except every item is Waldo). Despite it's small size it would take hours before you were able to go through everything here. For those looking for one of a kind items, definitely visit Antique Life Jin. Address: 2 Chome-30-8 Kitazawa, Setagaya City, Tokyo 155-0031 Micmo and Desert Snow These chain stores have multiple shops located throughout the streets of Shimokitazawa, each one selling a different set of curated items. While they might lack the personality of other shops in the area, if you want variety, these places are always reliable. Though Desert Snow tends to have an odd number of Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts from all across the globe? Address: Quite literally everywhere in Shimokitazawa
- Mount Fuji Closed: Over-tourism Causes Damages to Mt. Fuji
Source: Reuters Mount Fuji has closed all trails until the end of the year 2023, due to environmental damage caused by over-tourism. Fuji is typically a two-day climb for those that want to take in all that the mountain has to offer. However, many tourists are attempting to scale the mountain in a day. This has caused a high influx of rescue requests. The total number has risen to 60 this year, with a quarter of those coming from non-Japanese tourists. The increased number of tourists has also caused an excess amount of litter and dirtied bathrooms at a rate that maintenance and officials cannot keep up with. The reason for this closure is due to the fact that the litter and damages have threatened Mount Fuji's UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Additionally, if the mountain continues to face these damages, there are concerns that Mount Fuji's sacredness would be tarnished. As for solutions for this issue of over-tourism and environmental pollution, there are talks in place to remove the Fuji-Subaru access road and replace it with a train service. This new train would come with a high fare of 10,000 yen ($67.85 USD). The high price tag has been proposed in the hopes that those who are willing to pay the fare are more committed and respectful to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Exploring the Flavors of Autumn: Must-Try Fall Food in Japan
Autumn is the season for eating! Well, that is, according to a Japanese adage. This adage stems from the old belief that one’s appetite increases in autumn because of the abundance of harvest after the summer and the body needing to prepare for winter. The arrival of autumn brings a season of vibrant colors and an insatiable autumn appetite. Kaki (Persimmons) Photo from istockphoto.com (kuppa_rock) The arrival of autumn in Japan coincides with the peak season for persimmons, locally known as "kaki." These radiant, orange fruits not only add a pop of color to the landscape but also bring a burst of sweet, succulent flavor to the palate. Persimmons are enjoyed fresh, dried to create hoshigaki, or incorporated into traditional Japanese sweets like kaki manju. They are a symbol of the season's vibrant harvest. Hojicha Photo by @chopstickchronicles While Japan is renowned for its green tea, it's hojicha that takes center stage during the fall. Hojicha is created by roasting green tea leaves, imparting a warm, toasty aroma and a nutty, soothing flavor. It's the ideal beverage to sip while wrapped in a cozy blanket, providing a comforting respite from the autumn chill. Oden Oden, a beloved Japanese comfort food, comes into its own during the brisk autumn evenings. This hearty one-pot dish features various ingredients like daikon radish, boiled eggs, konjac noodles, and fish cakes simmered in a savory soy-based broth. The wafting aroma of oden invites people to gather at street stalls, savoring a bowl of warmth and nostalgia. Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Photo from Just One Cookbook Kabocha, the Japanese pumpkin, stands as a pillar of autumn cuisine. Its sweet, nutty flesh and vivid orange hue make it a versatile ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. Kabocha often stars in tempura, stews, or the comforting kabocha nimono—a simmered dish. It also finds a place in delightful desserts such as kabocha pie and kabocha mochi, showcasing its adaptability in Japanese kitchens. Ginkgo Nuts Ginkgo nuts, known as ginnan, are a unique and slightly bitter delicacy synonymous with autumn in Japan. These small, green nuts are gathered from the ginkgo tree and are frequently enjoyed after a gentle simmer in a soy-based sauce. Their distinct flavor and texture make them a sought-after ingredient in various dishes and snacks, adding a touch of autumn's charm to every bite. Yaki Imo (Roasted Sweet Potatoes) Photo from Just One Cookbook Yaki imo, or roasted sweet potatoes, are a quintessential autumn snack in Japan. Vendors can be found on street corners roasting sweet potatoes in wood-fired ovens. The sweet, caramelized aroma wafting through the air is irresistible. These warm, soft sweet potatoes are often enjoyed straight from the oven, providing a comforting and nostalgic taste of fall. Kuri Gohan (Chestnut Rice) Photo from Just One Cookbook Chestnuts, or kuri in Japanese, are another hallmark of autumn cuisine. Kuri gohan is a traditional Japanese rice dish where chestnuts are added to rice during the cooking process. The natural sweetness of chestnuts infuses the rice, creating a harmonious balance of flavors. It's a comforting dish that perfectly complements the cool weather of fall. Sanma (Pacific Saury) Sanma, or Pacific saury, is a popular fish in Japan during the fall season. This fish is known for its oily and flavorful flesh, making it a favorite choice for grilling. The crispy skin and tender meat of sanma are often seasoned with a touch of salt and served with grated daikon radish and soy sauce. It's a simple yet incredibly delicious dish that's best enjoyed when the air begins to turn crisp. Matsutake Mushrooms Photo from The Japanese Food Lab Autumn is mushroom season in Japan, and the highly-prized matsutake mushrooms take center stage during this time. Known for their rich, earthy aroma and unique texture, matsutake mushrooms are used in a variety of dishes, including sukiyaki, grilled over an open flame, or added to flavorful rice dishes like matsutake gohan. These mushrooms are a true delicacy and are often associated with the changing leaves of autumn. Momiji Tempura One of the most iconic fall foods in Japan is momiji tempura. Momiji are maple leaves that turn vibrant shades of red and orange during the autumn season. In many regions, these leaves are harvested and dipped in a light tempura batter, then deep-fried until crispy. The result is a delightful combination of crispy, slightly sweet, and earthy flavors that perfectly encapsulate the spirit of autumn. When you find yourself in Japan during this time, seize the opportunity to partake in these culinary treasures and experience the magic of the season's "shokuyoku no aki"—the autumn of the hearty appetite.