Ikebukuro

Long time the punchline¬†of jokes of Tokyoites as the destination for Saitama hicks, poor Ikebukuro has suffered many¬†injustices 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…

Kyu Asakura House

Uppity Daikanyama is known more to be the home of the modern rich and famous, but 100 years ago, it was also home to Asakura Torajiro, a politician and businessman of Tokyo. The large two-story house sits in the middle of a beautiful Japanese garden, all of which is hidden behind a very modern shopping…

Ginza Itoya

How does a stationery store stay in business for over 100 years even 25 years after email nearly killed the handwritten letter? Ask the folks in charge of Itoya, the venerable stationery shop that recently opened a new flagship store in Ginza called G. Itoya. Innovation is the key, and the eight floors of G….

Asakusa – Bengara

You can’t walk around Japan without seeing the beautiful noren hanging in the doorways of shops and restaurants, but what if you wanted a unique one to take home as a souvenir? The ability to custom order a noren combined with a friendly owner who can communicate fairly well in English makes Bengara the place…

Pikachu Outbreak

Started in 2014 as a one time Nintendo promotion, the Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama has become an annual event that continues to grow in size and popularity. Held over a week-long period in early August, Pikachu Outbreak boasts a reported 1,000 costumed critters performing in various events around Minato Mirai, Yokohama Station and other tourist…

Oshino Hakkai

  Seeking variations on the views of Mt. Fuji can fill a lifetime, but there is certainly one view which should not be missed. Oshino Hakkai in Yamanashi Prefecture offers views of Fuji-san against the foreground of its eight crystal clear ponds which are fed from the water of Fuji’s melted snow. Travelling miles underground…

Yanaka

Yanaka is a quiet neighborhood in the northeast corner of urban Tokyo, partly because it is the last of the truly shitamachi neighborhoods of old Tokyo and partly because several thousands of its inhabitants are no longer part of the living. Yanaka Cemetery takes a large part of the neighborhood and is the permanent “home”…

Waterfall Climbing in Hanno

For an off-the-beaten-path summer activity, head out to Saitama to the foothills above the bedroom community of Hanno and discover not only beautiful waterfalls, but waterfalls you can climb. Well, perhaps with some experience or an experienced guide who can anchor a rope for you while you scale waterfalls between 3 and 15 meters high….

Kokeshi

The humble kokeshi were said to be invented in the Tohoku region of Japan as souvenirs for travelers coming to enjoy the regional hot springs. The simple design of traditional kokeshi is a round “head” attached to a cylinder body, created from cherry or mizuki wood by an artisan using a lathe. If the faces…

Ghibli at Tokyo City View

Here’s a deal that’s hard to pass up: buy admission to the 52nd floor viewing platform of Roppongi Hills known as Tokyo City View and get admission to a huge exclusive Studio Ghibli exhibition for free! Thousands of Ghibli artifacts are on display from original posters and advertising to storyboards to 3D models suspended from…