Goshu-in (Japanese Shrine Stamp)

Everyone who visits Japan will inevitably visit some famous temple or shrine, snap a few pictures and be done with it. But your visit can be made more memorable if you collect Goshu-in, unique stamps that each shrine or temple makes for visitors. You’ll need a special book which opens accordion style, which you will…

Tokyo Design Week

Today (Oct 26, 2016) is the Opening Day for the annual Tokyo Design Week, held in Meiji Jingu Gaien (not to be confused with Meiji Jingu shrine, which is in Yoyogi Park). Hundreds of designers from university students to celebrated professionals display their work, host discussions and party like only design folks can. Pecha Kucha…

Tomica

Tomica, the die-cast metal toy cars made by Japan’s Tomy Co., lead a parallel life to their American counterpart, Mattel Co.’s Hot Wheels. Hot Wheels exploded into the toy market in the late 1960’s and Tomica followed in Japan in 1970. Small and relatively inexpensive, Tomica are collected and traded by boys of all ages…

Mandarake

Any respectable otaku knows about Mandarake, the largest reseller of used manga and anime related products in the Tokyo area. Nakano Broadway, just outside of Nakano station, is home to no less than a dozen Mandarake shops, each catering to a different type of collector. From models to manga, to collectable Disney, you’d have a…

Hayashi Fumiko Memorial Hall

Hayashi Fumiko was a famous author who lived in Tokyo in the mid-20th century. Her and her husband Ryokubin, a painter, built this beautiful house in the Ochiai area in northwest Shinjuku surrounded by a small but lovely traditional Japanese garden. Their house was actually two buildings due to building restrictions around the war time,…

Korean Food

Wait, isn’t this a blog about Japan? Well yes it is and Korean food is one of those things that you’ll find in abundance in Japan. Japanese people do love Korean food, albeit at a little less spicy levels as the neighbors across the sea. Shin Okubo, a neighborhood just north of Shinjuku, is the…

Lunco

There are new kimono shops and there are used kimono shops, and then there is Lunco, off the beaten path in Mejiro, a stop seldom used by tourists along the Tokyo JR Yamanote Line. The kimono at Lunco are most definitely used, but they have been curated by the owner like an art dealer selects…

Golden Gai

Literally crammed into a tiny area of Shinjuku, Golden Gai sits in limbo between the days after WW2 and modern Tokyo. A hub for prostitution after WW2, now Golden Gai is a cluster of 200 tiny bars and restaurants lining six alleys, some too narrow for two people to pass side-by-side. While many of these…

Ikebukuro

Long time the punchline┬áof jokes of Tokyoites as the destination for Saitama hicks, poor Ikebukuro has suffered many┬áinjustices over the years. But its underdog reputation has kept it flying under the radar and given it a chance to develop subcultures that are unique to Tokyo. Ikebukuro boasts the largest Chinese immigrant population in Tokyo, making…

Wagashi Kurogi

Tucked in a corner of prestigious Tokyo University, the Daiwa Ubiquitous Research Building is difficult to miss due to its unique architecture of wooden slabs, but more importantly, the building is home to a unique restaurant, Wagashi Kurogi. Wagashi is the word for Japanese sweets, often associated with tea ceremony, but Wagashi Kurogi goes beyond…