Articles by: Metropolis Editors
Metro Daily

Red and green Ampelmann run riot in Tokyo

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Upfront

Step out for tsuyu with style

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Metro Daily

Here’s to 1,000 issues this week!

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Upfront

Full steam ahead for this steampunk-of-all-trades duo

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Metro Daily

Get chic for the cherries

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Behind the Cover

The body is the canvas for this Harajuku makeup artist

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Metro Daily

Newsy tidbits from the past year, taken from the Metropolis Small Print

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Upfront

Life is a bowl of cherry blossoms

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Upfront

Do the dragon with the guys who invented it

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Upfront Extra

The ILBS Christmas Charity Fair will be held at the Tokyo American Club on Sun., Nov. 13th, 11 am-3 pm. Entrance fee: ¥500. The International Ladies Benevolent Society charity fair includes Christmas handicrafts and decoration sales, homemade baked goods, white elephants and jewelry, a mini-mart and stationery. Great raffle prizes will also be available with ...

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Upfront

Head to Toho Roppongi on Thu to see this award-winning docu about organ transplantation

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Upfront

Go German with beer, sausage and art this Sunday in Hiroo

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Upfront

SSFF & ASIA 2012 is accepting travel short submissions

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Upfront

Raise money with a world-music bash this Wed

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Village Voices

Flex up your charitable intentions

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Upfront Extra

Make your eyes a little deerer

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Bits 'n' pieces

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Upfront Extra

Try this schedule on for size

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Upfront Extra

Bits 'n' pieces

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Bits 'n' pieces

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Sep 9 Family Cooking Day ku-ku = cook Sep 17 Cute Adults’ Day Celebrate growing up, not growing old. kyu-to na (kyuuto otona) = cute adults Sep 19 Surname Day On this day in 1870 citizens were given permission to bear a surname—pre-Meiji Restoration this was reserved for the samurai and upper class only. Not ...

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Q & A

Executive Sous Chef, Western Cuisine, Grand Hyatt Tokyo

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Upfront Extra

For British passport applicants For good British gentlemen and ladies keen on getting a new passport for those spicily uniformed minxes to stamp at the airport, take good notice of this news, straight from the Embassy’s horse’s mouth. (Yes, they have a horse.) From August 18, you can still apply to Hong Kong’s Regional Passport ...

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Upfront Extra

A cracker for hanabi season

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Info awaits in the Hachiko bus

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What the crazy kids are typing

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Met Vids

The equine meat fest in motion

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Former Metropolis cover boy Charles Ayres has released his memoirs as a Kindle e-book. Billed as “the rudest book you’ll ever love,” Impossibly Glamorous teaches lessons on growing up gay in Kansas, becoming a TV personality in Japan, why you shouldn’t date hustlers with Porsches and what to do when your boyfriend prostitutes himself on ...

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Upfront Extra

Dating advice for the lads

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Prepare yourself for the hot summer BBQ season with some cool beer accessories from Tokyu Hands, ever the emporium of things-you-never-knew-you-needed-but-suddenly-have-to-have. There, you can find some beer supplements to convert your measly cans into foamy works of art. These draft-beer-on-the-go contraptions come in different guises (and prices). The Beer Smoother (¥735) is a nozzle that ...

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The Goods

Been having sadistic urges towards your breakfast banana? Based on the concept that human beings are not the only possible targets for a bit of S&M-style bondage, Hirotsugu Itsuji has tied up an impressive range of 300 different subjects for your perverted pleasure—including bananas, jellyfish, pairs of high-heels and a great deal more. Why? To ...

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The Goods

If hitting the half-pipes at the skate park just makes you feel in need of a sit-down nowadays, help is at hand. Produced by a skateboarding workshop in Aichi Prefecture, the “Rolling Foot” lets you sit and skate. Billed as a way for board-phobes to deal with their anxiety, this skateboard-cum-seating device clocks in at ...

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The Goods

If you are a fan of self-proclaimed “obsessive artist” Yayoi Kusama—who holds the record for most expensive work sold by a living female artist (US$5.1 million)—now you can snap up some trinkets for your home gallery. Designed with her trademark bright colors and repetitive patterns, the conceptual artist’s range of goods includes the floating action ...

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Upfront Extra

What weird service station delicacies are you curious about? Octopus cabbage burger, Akashi Service Area Cream stew-filled steamed bun, Hirugano Kogen Service Area Cactus ice cream, Moriyama Parking Area Maiko hamburger, Katsuragawa Parking Area Unshu mikan (mandarin/satsuma) bread, Nihonzaka Parking Area Crocodile set lunch, Hongo Parking Area Gabai!!, double Turkish rice burger, Kawanobori Service Area ...

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On June 11—the Tohoku earthquake’s three-month marker—you can contribute to the relief effort while winning yourself some fancy movie memorabilia. The Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2011 is holding a charity auction to raise money for the Red Cross. The prime lot up for grabs is a copy of The Making of the Empire ...

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Get into character (street) Down under Tokyo eki, on the B1F level, both character fanatics and ramen gluttons can finally gather together in one glorious place. As well as Ramen Street (opened Apr 8), First Avenue also contains Character Street, recently souped up with four new shops, bringing the total up to a whopping 19. ...

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Met Vids

Get an eyeful of creativity at Big Sight

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Korokoro ころころ Rolling (trademark name of a sticky roller used to clean dust) A high, clear, pleasant sound such as the ringing of a bell or a young girl’s giggle Fat and round Something that changes frequently, such as the topic of a conversation Example: かいだんをコロコロところげおちた。(They rolled down the stairs)

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May 6 Korokoro Day From the sound of the date (go-ro), this is a day to get your sticky roller out and grab that dust (see japanomatopoeia) May 7 Powdery Things Day 5,7 = Go-Na = “powdery things.” Um… flour? May 18 Words Day It’s helpful Japanese has so many different words for numbers. Ko-to-ba ...

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Upfront Extra

Plenty of relief cash has been put in the tin cup by golfers, from the mega to the local. Added to generous donations from prime swingers Ryo Ishikawa (all his 2011 prize money) and Ryuji Imada ($1,000 for every birdie), Korean K. J. Choi ($100,000) and Japan’s LPGA Tour (3% of all prize money), there ...

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The loud, megaphone sounds of democracy in action have frayed the nerves of many over the last few weeks, with color-coded electoral candidates sonically assaulting voters from bannered cars and street corners. This was too much for English teacher Edward Jones in Tokorozawa on Saturday, April 23, when he had his own Michael Douglas in ...

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Which demons are haunting your home? Rank 1 The computer crashing demon 2 The alarm clock resetting demon 3 The remote control hiding demon 4 The mobile phone hiding demon 5 The half-damp clothes demon 6 The earphone-cable tangling demon 7 The vegetable rotting demon 8 The Wi-Fi/3G signal eating demon 8 The key hiding ...

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Features

Relive the 1998 vibe with the Tokyo Classified Golden Week Special

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The Goods

Kigurumi, or fur suit mascots, are a “growing pastime and successful marketing tool,” according to Edward and John Harrison, the creators of Fuzz & Fur, a new 144-page hardcover book available from Amazon. The former Harrison brother was involved with the design of viral sensation #quakebook, created to aid the victims of March 11. This ...

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Upfront Extra

Relief effort donations to Japan at a glance

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Met Vids

Metropolis went to PechaKucha’s Inspire Japan event which kicked off similar events at many of PK’s 400 global locations. We asked organizers, presenters and punters one simple question… See more met vids

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Upfront Extra

Ishinomaki Black Water Mike Rogers has sent Metropolis this video along with the message: “My friends and I have been running relief trips to the hardest hit areas of the tsunami… This is where the real disaster is: still 30,000 dead or missing.” Shot over the course of his recent trips to the area, the ...

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Upfront Extra

From Egypt to Tokyo For those of the Jewish persuasion, this Passover has the usual seder nights (ceremonial dinners) going on around Tokyo. Break the matzah with the Chabad Lubavitch, at either of their two locations (here or here). These are both free, and operating according to the Chabad’s usual everyone-is-welcome policy. The JCC Japan‘s ...

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Features

Flash back to the first issue of Metropolis in our new online feature

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Met Vids

Metropolis headed to Yoyogi Park at the cusp of Hanami. The throngs of giddy revellers belied the precarious situation in Tokyo. There were even plenty of gaijin. We filmed a few, asking them the perennial question: Why are you still in Japan? See more met vids

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Tech Know

You’ll need to have a pachinko ball on hand (or a pocket of coins) for this, but it’s a handy trick if you’re stuck in a blackout scrambling for flashlight batteries. After a rummage, you finally find some AAs. Great—except the flashlight takes those fat C batteries. Fret not, for this “Tech Know” tip can ...

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Tech Know

Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral hits the world of promotion, hotting up the new stereoscopic 3D version of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society that came out on March 26. With the Kinect, users can engage with the 3D projections on the surrounding walls and partake in missions with their very own Tachikoma ...

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Tech Know

Military commandos about to plunge into the North Korean jungles on secret missions need no longer worry about their iPhones. Neither do extreme klutzes or those of us in natural disaster hot zones. Billed as a “military-grade” iPhone 4 case, the Griffin Survivor comes in rugged black, camouflage green, man-of-mystery black-and-white, and… hot pink. “It’s my ...

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Upfront Extra

Shinjuku Gyoen One of the only parks to be spared when all sakura trees were chopped down in the 1860s. Wide-open spaces, placid ponds and hidden pavilions make this worth the entry fee. Open daily (Mar 25-Apr 24) 9am-4pm. Free (6 and under)/¥50 (kids)/¥200 (adult). Nearest stn: Shinjuku-Gyoenmae. www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen Chidori-Gafuchi Popular with OLs and salarymen ...

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Japanese corporations are notorious for their hostile attitudes toward working mothers. That’s the stereotype, anyway. A new survey by Luxembourg-based workplace solutions provider Regus tells a different story: Japan beats all other countries when it comes to “Net Appreciation of Part-Time Mothers.” This result is even more impressive when set against the backdrop of the ...

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Upfront Extra

Since its debut in 2004, the Minatomirai line has been popular with day trippers who want to explore Yokohama hotspots like Chinatown, Bashamichi and the MM21 waterfront area. Now, the rail spur—which connects to Shibuya via the Tokyo Toyoko line—is brandishing some serious geek cred as well. For a recently launched promotion dubbed Cannes-Miko: The ...

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Upfront Extra

What: 80g packet of cut apples Where: A vending machine near exit B1a of Kasumigaseki station How much: ¥190 Who: Distributed by Hyogo-based MVM Corp. When: Debuted January 15 Why: In these harried times, it’s easy to miss out on your recommended daily servings of fruit. MVM Corp. helps to rectify that situation with vending ...

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Upfront Extra

“Don’t let yourself become a 40-something flunky!” exhorts the March 1 issue of Spa! magazine. Inside, the weekly tabloid offers its younger readers tips on how to avoid ending up as a middle-aged loser, starting with a checklist of telltale signs that you’re turning into an office deadweight. “I’m so busy!” is becoming your catchphrase ...

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Upfront Extra

Entries are currently being taken for the 1st Bi-Annual DSLR Cinema International Film Festival, which invites budding videographers to submit five-minute shorts shot exclusively on digital cameras. In a nod to Alfred Hitchcock, the theme for the inaugural competition is “Speechless”—meaning that the films must do all their storytelling without using any dialogue. Among the ...

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It isn’t due to open for another year, but the Shibuya Hikarie building has already redrawn the Tokyo skyline. When the 34-story complex flings open its doors in 2012, it’ll offer a range of amenities, from shops, offices and restaurants to a gallery space and a purpose-built musical theater. In the meantime, nascent Hikarie fans ...

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Title: Self Portrait as Tree House, 2010 Artist: Julie Heffernan Exhibition: “Broken Homes” Concept: “Heffernan’s elegant and grotesque paintings, reminiscent of baroque and rococo aesthetics, are sprinkled with elements of life and death against unusual backdrops such as wild jungles and old castles” Venue: Megumi Ogita Gallery (www.megumiogita.com) When: Until March 19 Megumi Ogita Gallery ...

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Over the past year, Tokyo has been ranked as the most expensive, the most livable, and the most delicious city in Asia (by Mercer, Monocle and Michelin, respectively). Now it’s got another claim to supremacy: as the greenest major city in the whole of the Asia-Pacific region. A recent survey by consulting firm Solidiance ranked ...

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Mar 5 Coral Day San (3) and go (5) combine to form the Japanese word for “coral,” as well as that rarest of things: a nihongo wordplay that actually makes sense Mar 12 Sunday Holiday Day The Meiji government designated Sunday an official day of rest on this day in 1876, while making Saturday a ...

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Heidi Nestler says: “Kai Gai Solutions, Inc. has launched an English version of its popular Kai Gai Shoppers personal import site. Our company, based in Portland, Oregon, has been providing Japanese-speaking consumers with transshipment and personal shopping services since 2007. There are over 1 million English-speaking foreign residents living in Japan. The advent of online ...

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Upfront Extra

It was a neat idea: take one old-school neighborhood sento, add a well-regarded indie musician or two, and see how things go. But after luring some big-name talent and even starring in a JR ad campaign, Furorock will be heading to the great bathhouse in the sky next month. Held in the unlikely surroundings of ...

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Upfront Extra

Next time you see a tricked-out pair of neon wheels zip past you on the street, resist the impulse to lash out at “those punk street racers.” Because this time, it might just be an ordinary salaryman cycling home from work. The Monkey Light from boutique bike-accessory outfit MonkeyLectric features 32 full-color LEDs that attach ...

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With its central location and scenic pathways, the area around the Imperial Palace is enjoying newfound cachet as a destination for runners and bikers. To help cope with this increasing popularity, a pair of local companies have teamed up to create Marunouchi Bike & Run, a facility for fitness enthusiasts who commute to the area. ...

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Q & A

Entrepreneur, model and actress

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Features

A conversation with Ken Corporation founder Ken Tanaka

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Upfront Extra

We’re a bit sad that NTV’s morning program, Zoom-In!!Super, is ending its run on March 31. Not because we’re regular viewers, but because we’ll miss the frequent calls to Metropolis HQ from the show’s producers asking for help with random, gaikokujin-related queries. Among the most perplexing: Can you get us a couple of tubes of ...

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Upfront Extra

It’s lucky that Futako-Tamagawa (a.k.a. “Nicotama”) is such a popular spot—otherwise, the near-constant construction during the past several years might have done serious damage to its cachet as a shopping destination. But the developers behind one of those projects, Futako-Tamagawa Rise, are hoping that the March 17 grand opening will make the years of putting ...

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Artist: AES+F Exhibition: “The Feast of Trimalchio” Concept: A Russian art collective presents “an ode to gluttony, unbridled pleasure and the brevity of human existence” Venue: Art Statements Tokyo (www.artstatements.com) When: Until Mar 15 Art Statements Video art, photography. Until Mar 15, free. 3-2-12 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3712-7708. Open Tue-Sat noon-7pm, closed Sun-Mon & hols. ...

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Tokyo’s Best Neighborhoods 2011 “Gee, I wish I lived there!” Kichijoji (1)* Shimokitazawa (3) Ebisu (4) Jiyugaoka (2) Shinjuku (10) Ikebukuro Asakusa Nakameguro (5) Daikanyama (8) Nakano (9) “Man, I’m glad I live here!” Nakano (2) Koenji (9) Kichijoji (1) Ikebukuro (3) Nerima Shinjuku Sangenjaya (7) Kasai Meguro Tachikawa Source: Survey of 3,183 Tokyo Walker ...

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What: White stork figurine Where: International Space Station, in orbit above the earth Who: Created by staff at Ibaraki’s Tsukuba Space Center Why: This 20cm-tall mascot was a “surprise gift” to crewmembers aboard the ISS, who discovered the stuffed toy when they opened the cargo doors of the H-2 Transfer Vehicle, which had been launched ...

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Metropolis is looking for editors! For details, go to http://metropolis.co.jp/staff.

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Carl Jones says: “The Global Mood Clocks app is inspired by the classic office decoration of a ‘wall of clocks’ that displays local time for multiple global cities. Grey Canada has updated that concept for the virtual office with a unique clock interface that displays real-time visualization of data trends on Flickr, Twitter and Google. ...

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Out of all the stories about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Sadako Sasaki’s is perhaps the best known. Just 2 years old when the city was attacked in August 1945, Sasaki survived the blast but was later diagnosed with leukemia, which was thought to have been caused by the radioactive fallout. Before succumbing to the ...

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When Laura Pepper and her husband decided to leave Japan last year, the experience proved just as maddening as it is for every other repatriating expat. Frustrated by the fragmentary and often out-of-date information available online, she created a comprehensive guidebook of her own for other people going through the same process themselves. The Stress-Free ...

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Guys, is it sad not to get any chocolate on Valentine’s day? Yes 84.6% No 15.4% Source: Survey of 518 men by Let’s Enjoy Tokyo (http://valentine.enjoytokyo.jp/honne)

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It’s that time of year again: as the first rumblings of spring are felt across Japan, they’re accompanied by vast clouds of cedar and cypress pollen, reducing a sizeable chunk of the population to sniffling, itchy-eyed wrecks. And 2011 looks to be a particularly rough year for hay fever sufferers. The Ministry of the Environment ...

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Upfront Extra

Things you should never say to your girlfriend “You look older” “Damn, girl, did you put on weight?” “You’re not a child any more, you know…” “…and you’ve got the skin to prove it” “I bet your room’s a total pigsty” “Tsk, don’t you know anything about the world?” “My ex was nicer than you ...

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Both one of the richest and most expensive cities on the planet, Abu Dhabi is home to the world’s first vending machine that, unsurprisingly, sells solid gold. As salaries and bond values shrink, the machine’s makers argue, the best strategy is to invest in something, well, solid. And now the concept is spreading to Japan. ...

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“Calling out to all the human beings out there,” writes Hideki Omori, the founder of Tokyo-based toy camera peddlers Powershovel and Superheadz. “Let us collect videos sleeping in cellphones or left under the dust in the garage and bring them out to our plaza. Let us shuffle, dissect, roll, boil… and make one great soul ...

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Q & A

First Lady

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Upfront Extra

Ladies, why did you start smoking? Curiosity (60.2%) Stress (36.2%) Recommended by friends (23.5%) I saw smokers who looked like they enjoyed it, so I decided to try (20.1%) I love how people look when they smoke (17.2%) Family members were smokers (13.9%) Boyfriend/attractive guy was a smoker (7.6%) Someone I admired was a smoker ...

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You don’t have to be a gearhead to be impressed by The Peninsula Tokyo’s customized car fleet. On any given day, the hotel’s circular driveway might boast an Audi R8, BMW 750 Li, or one of three Rolls-Royces, including a stunning 1934 Phantom II. Now the hotel has further burnished its reputation among car-lovers with ...

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Feb 7 Northern Territories Day Created in 1981 with the optimistic aim of promoting the “return” of the northern islands, currently held by Russia, to Japan Feb 8 Hari Kuyo So-called “pin festival,” when superstitious kimono makers stick broken pins and needles into tofu to thank the gods for their skills Feb 16 Weather Chart ...

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One of the most influential movements in modern ceramics got its start when Paul Soldner dropped a bowl. In 1960, Soldner was an art professor in California experimenting with a 16th-century Japanese pottery method known as raku—low-fired, lead-glazed ceramics, commonly used for the tea ceremony, which are finished by immersion in cold water. While carrying ...

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Top jinxes for juken (entrance exams) If you pray at more than one shrine, you’ll fail If someone steps on your admission card by accident, you’ll pass. But if you step on your own, you’ll fail If your registration number can be divided by 3, you’ll pass You’ll pass if you take your ID card ...

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Oliver Rose says: “Hard to get around to ‘doing’ your flashcards? If you have an iPhone, you can play a game that is more engaging and really gets you processing the component readings and meanings of kanji. Kanji Wordsearch (www.kanjigames.com) also tracks your progress through the kanji and vocabulary lists, crossing off known words and ...

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ぶるぶる buru buru Meaning: trembling with cold, fear, etc. Example: 吉田さんはコートがないので、寒そうにぶるぶるふるえている; Yoshida-san wa kooto ga nai no de, samusou ni buru buru furueteiru; Yoshida-san is shivering with cold because he doesn’t have a coat. Source: Giongo/Gitaigo: A Practical Guide to Mimetic Expressions Through Pictures, by Akutsu Satoru (ALC Press Inc., 1994)

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Artist: Yoshimasa Tsuchiya Title: Kirin Exhibit: “Private Myth” Dates: Jan 28-Feb 12 Concept: Experience the artist’s own private myths through the traditional wood-carving techniques used for Buddhist statuary Venue: Megumi Ogita Gallery, Ginza (www.megumiogita.com)

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High school students preparing for the upcoming university entrance exams got a boost from an unexpected source: Nestlé. On January 7, the food-manufacturing giant unveiled the limited-time-only Sakura Saku Juken Ouen Cafe in Harajuku. The venue is a tie-up with Tokyo University, whose braniac students are on hand to help tutor the customers. Also gracing ...

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They say the best things in life are free, and when you consider that freebies include love, air and Metropolis magazine, it’s hard to disagree. That’s the idea behind Only Free Paper, a newly opened shop that offers hundreds of giveaway periodicals ranging from anime-car mag Itasha-Do to the Waseda student-produced Cue. The shop was ...

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Public approval ratings of recent prime ministers

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You could forgive guests at Hotel Mt. Fuji for feeling a little narked if they spent their entire stay waiting for the clouds to clear and reveal Japan’s loftiest peak, towering over the waters of Lake Yamanaka. Evidently, the hotel management feels the same, which is why each year they offer compensation to guests who ...

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If you overhear the Japanese people next to you speaking English, don’t jump into their conversation just yet. They may have uttered these sentences, which coincidentally sound similar to English phrases Hamachi desu ハマチです Meaning: This is yellowtail Sounds like: How much is this? Me aiteru raion 目開いてるライオン  Meaning: A lion opening its eyes Sounds like: ...

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25.3 Percentage of marriages in Japan during 2009 that were shotgun weddings 20.9 Percentage in 1999 38.2 Percentage in Okinawa Prefecture, the highest rate in the nation 81.5 Percentage among 15-19-year-olds 44 Percentage of shotgun weddings that end in divorce within five years: Sources: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; Baby-marriage.com

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What: Fatgroove, Tokyo’s first turducken restaurant Where: B1, 5-11-10 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku When: Opened December 6 Why: Made from a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey, turducken is a specialty of the Southern US. Whether or not Tokyoites are ready for this culinary innovation remains to be seen Web: www.epicuriens.jp/fatgroove

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What will be the top trends of 2011? Tokyo Sky Tree LED bulbs Electric vehicles Haneda Airport’s new international terminal Smartphones 3D Hybrid cars E-books Discount airfare Tablet PCs Source: Dentsu Hit Products Report 2010 (www.dentsu.co.jp) So you missed the last train—what now? Catch a cab home Go to an internet/manga cafe Crash at a ...

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Top 10 places you’d never go to alone Amusement park Izakaya “I can’t go anywhere alone” Karaoke box “I have no problem going anywhere alone” Family restaurant Concert Bar Movie Fast food restaurant Survey of NTT Docomo mobile users, Nov 22-Dec 6

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They say that laughter is contagious—and now here’s proof. On December 23, the first-ever Tokyo International Laughter Competition will inject some levity to the proceedings at a pair of venues across town. According to the organizers, “Competitive laughter is a new international trend, where people demonstrate the skills of contagious laughter to promote more laughter—to ...

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Dough-faced cartoon character Anpanman may be über-popular with the preschool set, but the one thing you don’t want to do is piss him off. Or rather, show him looking pissed off without permission. The employees of downtown Osaka clothing boutique King learned this the hard way when they created a line of “original” T-shirts bearing ...

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Patrik Washburn says: “I’ve been working on a personal project that is very special to me. To quickly sum up: I asked several Japanese artist friends of mine to contribute to an art and storybook, Punchkinhead, the Never-Give-Up Boy. The sales go to a charity for my cousin’s baby, Holden Thomas Underwood, who is suffering ...

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Two of the area’s best-known meeting places have reappeared after some downtime. First up, Almond cafe at Roppongi Crossing reopened earlier in the month following a nearly two-year renovation. The original venue dates to 1964, and its parent company is said to have been the first such business in Japan to hand out oshibori. Over ...

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What: Limited-time 3M Store Where: Omotesando When: Until Dec 26 Why: While the 2F shop houses over 1,000 3M products, the real draw is the ground-floor exhibition space, featuring a “Meister area” where staff help you customize film iPhone covers and other goods. There are also displays of digital signage that respond to your movements. ...

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If you’re clueless about what to do when the Big One hits, then book a spot at the TMG’s upcoming disaster preparedness drill geared toward foreign residents. In addition to earthquake simulations, the event will have experts offering advice about how to escape from a vehicle or a smoke-filled house. Participants can practice handling emergency ...

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If you’re looking for an al fresco venue to do some Xmas shopping, then head to the second annual German-style Christmas Market at Roppongi Hills. Taking place through Christmas Day, the market features a variety of stalls offering handcrafted decorations, toys, imported sweets and more. When you get tired of the wallet-workout, load up on ...

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Upfront Extra

In these straitened economic times, it’s easy to look at people in different lines of work and imagine that life must be better for them. But is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence—or, for that matter, on the underside of society? The December 7 issue of Spa! features a fascinating ...

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Hot on the heels of their record showing in the new Michelin guide, Tokyo restaurants get star billing in the 2010/2011 Miele Guide, an annual publication showcasing Asia’s top eateries. Cracking the Top 20 is L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Roppongi, which took ninth spot overall. Two other classic French restaurants—L’Osier in Ginza (www.shiseido.co.jp/losier) and ...

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[slideshow id=15 w=450] Scenes from Metropolis’ live music showcase, Saiko vs. Kickstart Your Heart, November 19 at Club Edge in Roppongi. For more photos, see www.metropolis.co.jp/saiko.

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If you took just a quick glance at the “Wanted” posters cropping up in Katsushika-ku recently, you might think that a rogue, smiling cop is on a crime spree. Hardly. The flyers are part of a campaign by local merchants to promote a lookalike contest based on a well-known manga and anime series. First appearing ...

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Upfront Extra

Consider the commode. “Toilets are kind of like underwear,” runs the blurb for P-Vine Books’ recently released Tokyo Toilet Map. “You can’t live without them, and even though they don’t seem important, some people are really picky.” This compact tome goes out to people like that. Credited to the Tokyo Toilet Research Team, it’s crowded ...

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dec 3 Magic Day Established by the Japan Professional Magicians’ Association in 1990. The date (12/3) is a reference to the standard disappearing-trick patter: “One, two, three… Poof! It’s gone!” Dec 14 47 Ronin Day Commemorates the bushido-tastic samurai of popular lore, who dispatched the perfidious Lord Kira and avenged their master’s death on this ...

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What: 1:625 scale model of “space battleship” Yamato Who: Bandai Corp. When: On sale from November 27 Where: Area model and hobby stores How much: ¥23,100 Why: To coincide with the December 1 release of Space Battleship Yamato, the big-screen adaption of the iconic anime series, Bandai is releasing a 42.5cm-long metallic version of the ...

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Kanto vs. Kansai: Most surprising differences Standing on an escalator: Kanto people stand on the left, Kansai on the right Tsuyu sauce for udon: Kansai’s is stronger and thicker Abbreviation for McDonald’s: in Kanto it’s “Makku,” but Kansai is “Makudo” Sliced bread preferences: Kanto-ites like 6-8 slices per pack; Kansai-jin 4-6 Tare sauce for tokoroten ...

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The most recent sign that Japan’s (admittedly dubious) “eco” boom is taking hold: Cogi-Cogi, a new bicycle sharing service that allows members free use of electronic-assist cycles around the Omotesando area. When you need a ride, simply stop by the nearest “port,” swipe your members card at the electronic terminal, and the bike is yours ...

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The bidding was intense in New Bond Street, London earlier this month at an auction of offbeat Japanese goods. Up for sale: items from “one of Europe’s most important and comprehensive private collections of Japanese gentleman’s accessories.” The pieces were from the estate of Edward Wrangham (1928-2009), an English mountaineer, environmentalist and scholar who amassed ...

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What’s the difference between chu-toro and akami? How do you tell whether your aka-gai is fresh? What’s the best season for enjoying suzuki? With the new Sushi Book iPhone application (¥450), you can get all these answers on the go. Based on a guidebook from Shinjuku-based publisher Japan Travel & Life, this handy app contains ...

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Tokyoites have a rare opportunity to enjoy “natural wine” at an innovative event being held this weekend in Ebisu. Festivin is billed as Japan’s first large-scale tasting dedicated to vins naturels, or wine made without chemical and technological interference during either growing or bottling. Visitors can sample over 300 wines from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, ...

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English-fluent celebs you’d like as a teacher Mari Sekine (actress) Thane Camus (tarento) Yu Hayami (singer) Risa Stegmayer (model, tarento) Hiro Mizushima (actor, author) Patrick “Pakkun” Harlan (comedian, TV host) Hikaru Nishida (singer) Hikaru Utada (singer) Jun Hasegawa (model) Yoshino Kimura (actress) Survey of 1,072 users of Goo Ranking (http://ranking.goo.ne.jp), Sep 21-22

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What: Sky Planetarium Where: Mori Arts Center Gallery, Roppongi Hills When: Until Feb 13 Why: Billed as the world’s first “3D walk-through planetarium,” this exhibit takes visitors on a journey 137 light-years into space and back again www.sky-planetarium.com Mori Arts Center Gallery Sky Planetarium: Journey 1,000 Light-Years Through the Universe. Nov 26-Feb 13, ¥800 (MS ...

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It’s illumination time in Tokyo

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Photographer Justin Tellian likes to think big. Since 2008, he’s been traveling to cities around the globe in search of fellow dreamers, who are invited to congregate at a designated spot for a group portrait—all dressed in white. After shoots in Brooklyn, Mexico City, Berlin and the Burning Man festival’s Black Rock City, Tellian arrives ...

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Readers might remember our story on the efforts of Tokyo-based labor organization 21 Seiki Shokugyo Zaidan (aka the Japan Institute of Worker’s Evolution) to improve the welfare of female and part-time workers (issue 845, June 4). Hot on the heels of their folder illustrating the dangers of “power harassment” comes this anti-sexual harassment file, featuring ...

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With the goal of “promoting friendship between Scottish and Japanese people and improving knowledge and understanding of Scottish traditions and culture,” the St. Andrew Ball is a black-tie affair that combines good food, good fun and charity. This year’s event, presented by The St. Andrew Society of Yokohama & Tokyo and supported by banking giant HSBC, ...

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Joshua Chamberlain says: “I am writing to introduce the English-language comic book Dread & Alive, which is now available in Japan. Dread & Alive is the first superhero comic book with a Jamaican as the protagonist. Created and written by Nicholas Da Silva, the story follows Drew McIntosh and his heroic exploits after being empowered ...

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Meguro is all about its residents’ health. So much so, in fact, that its Ward office recently published a guidebook to the area’s many hilly streets. Sakamichi Walking no Susume offers recommendations for seven themed walking courses, ranging from “Historical Water and Greenery” to “Investigating the History of Hills.” All routes are 3-6 kilometers in ...

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Common misconceptions about the opposite sex Japanese girls assume that guys… …like big breasts (30 percent). But actually, “shape is more important than size.” …like skinny girls (25 percent). In fact, “skinny model types are too fake. Having natural curves is more womanly.” …want to treat girls (22 percent). But really, “I’m not going to ...

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Founded in California in the 1980s, the Technology Entertainment and Design conferences, better known as TED, have become a worldwide phenomenon. Each spring, thinkers from an array of fields—including the likes of Isabel Allende, Bono and Bill Clinton—offer mini-presentations under the heading “ideas worth spreading”; video of the talks are then posted online. Following the ...

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October 28 at Vanity Lounge & f.Bar nightclubs

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What: Edoco, a “kimono-clad clean-up project” When: Sunday, November 7, 1:30-3:30pm Where: Asakusa 3-chome (meet at Senso ji) Who: A collaboration between a half-dozen organizations, including Japan Tobacco and the Asakusa Shopping District Association How: Sign up through the website Why: Combining the terms “Edo” and “eco,” the event aims “to promote Asakusa, kimono culture, ...

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As if you needed another excuse to visit Tokyo Designers Week, art-book publishing house Taschen gives you about 100 more. To coincide with TDW 2010, the publisher’s Japan office is setting up a bazaar of books inside the flash hhstyle.com shop in Aoyama. All the latest titles are included in the promotion, which is running ...

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Nov 2 Hanshin Tigers Day Commemorates the iconic Kansai team’s first—and, to date, only—Japan Series victory in 1985 Nov 10 Toilet Day Designated by the Japan Toilet Association in 1986; 11 (ii) and 10 (to) are used in the phrase ii toire (good toilet), which is a pretty tenuous bit of wordplay, really Nov 24 ...

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What’s with all these leggy ladies bothering the J-pop charts at the moment? That would be Girls’ Generation (So Nyu Shi Dae), the nine-strong idol unit leading the charge in the K-pop girl group invasion. Japanese people listening to pop in Korean? Surely not! Actually, the group has recorded Japanese versions of its biggest hits ...

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From tinyurl to bitly, Twitter has spawned a myriad of url-shortening services. But when you’re copy-pasting those shortened links, it pays to remember that just one little error can make an enormous difference. Case in point: Meg Whitman, the businesswoman-turned-politician who is currently running for governor of California. Like many politicos, Whitman is taking advantage ...

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To commemorate the 25th anniversary of its business in Japan, Domino’s Pizza has launched an all-new, all-English website. Besides offering a stress- and hassle-free way for the kanji-challenged among us to order pizza, the site features exclusive services and limited offers. Just like back home, you can create your own pizza by choosing your favorite ...

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Top behaviors that prevent you from losing weight Even with large portions, you eat it all so as not to waste food You only wear loose, comfy clothes When you see someone fatter than you, you think “I’m still all right” and relax You like foods with strong flavors You can’t be satisfied unless you ...

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Beauty products and the good old US of A—not the most obvious combination perhaps, but those two ideas form the basis for Shampoo to Go! The new shop’s décor is “mischievous West Coast American seaside,” with red, white and blue-painted walls hung with US license plates and flags. Operated on a members-only system, the store ...

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Features

Scare up a Halloween to remember at Tokyo's hottest parties

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The way of the samurai goes manga: Sean Michael Wilson and artist Chie Kutsuwada have adapted Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s Hagakure, originally released way back in 1716. See books for review.

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What: Tokyo Kimono Week 2010 Where: Various venues around Nihombashi, including Mitsukoshi department store, Coredo shopping center and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Tokyo When: October 20-November 9 Why: “To celebrate the Japanese culture of kimono.” Highlights: Ladies Kimono Contest (Oct 24, 1-3pm, Mitsukoshi; free), parade (Oct 31, 1:45-2:30pm, Nihombashi Chuo Dori; free), free kimono fitting ...

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Things Japanese girls do that make guys go, “Huh?” They want to lose weight when they don’t need to When one says, “Kawaii!” all the others follow They go to the bathroom in groups Even though they say “I’ll leave it up to you,” they complain about your choice They spend a really long time ...

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Autumn gets arty with an offbeat series of film screenings, live music and late-night drinks at Roppongi Hills. The novelty of the Cinema October festival is that local media personalities, including J-Wave DJ Chris Peppler and TV Asahi announcer Sawa Ishii, were asked to put together a program of films they would like to see. ...

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Finding a convenience store in Tokyo isn’t exactly a challenge, but in case you absolutely must know where that nearest Lawson or 7-Eleven is, コンビニ (“Conbini”) is here to help. Available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, the augmented-reality app directs you to the nearest shop within a 1km radius. When using the iPhone’s camera ...

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Hilary Tolman says: “Toko Shinoda: Calligraphy in Prints and Paintings and Other Treasures from the Recent Past” showcases paintings by world-renowned artist Toko Shinoda, as well as small-edition lithographs with hand-added color chosen from among over 300 prints created especially for the Tolman Collection (www.tolmantokyo.com). Ms. Shinoda was first brought to world attention in New ...

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Non-Japanese-speaking residents got some much-needed help last month when the government unveiled a website to assist foreigners dealing with natural disasters and other emergencies. According to The Mainichi Daily News, the site provides details on how to use the 119 emergency phone number and “simple Japanese phrases, like ‘I am injured.’” Here are some other ...

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What: A T-shirt to support efforts to rescue the 33 miners trapped underground in Copiapo, Chile Who: Higashimatsuyama Society of Commerce and Industry, Saitama (www.higashimatsuyama.or.jp) How much: ¥1,500, plus shipping. Proceeds donated to the Chilean Embassy in Tokyo Why: “The T-shirts bear Japanese sentences saying: ‘I’ll give up _____ until all the people trapped in ...

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Some might argue that Itsuma Kuramoto is obsessed with Apple. Since 2004, the artist has been traveling to iStores from Shibuya to London in order to, well, bite the apple. His BiteApple project is a series of photographs and videos showing the rogue artist—his work is completely unaffiliated with the company—chewing a chunk out of ...

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Japan is a smoker’s heaven, right? Packs are cheap, restrictions are limited, and in just about any restaurant, being cheerfully presented with a fresh ashtray is as inevitable a courtesy as receiving your menu. Wrong. Well, at least on the price business. For the second year in a row, Japan is levying tougher taxes on ...

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Moments that make Japanese women say, “I never want to see that jerk again!” He’s always bragging about what car he drives or what school he graduated from He acts superior and critical of others and makes comments like, “That guy is completely useless” Without being asked, he tells you about his views on love, ...

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A selection of bands on the bill at Shin-Okubo live house Earthdom this month Worms’ Meat Golgo Butch Tyrant of Mary Helsinki on the Beach Money i$ God Rocket Jack Vaders Die You Bastard! The Gaboo Spike Honey Deadman Walkings The Sludge http://meturl.com/earthdom

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What: Free English-subtitled screening of director Atsushi Ogata’s upcoming romantic comedy Wakiyaku Monogatari (English title: Cast Me If You Can) Where: Space FS, Shiodome (www.asumu.jp) When: Sun, Oct 10, 10:30am Why: Hiroshi, a down-on-his-luck bit actor, is constantly getting mistaken for other people—from store clerks to kidnappers. When he meets starlet Aya, he’s is finally ...

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Oct 3 Mountaineering Day Established by the Alpine Guide Society of Japan in 1991. 10 (to) and 3 (zan) make tozan (mountaineering) Oct 15 Mushroom Day Autumn is peak kinoko season, which led the Japan Special Forest Product Promotion Association to establish this day in 1995 Oct 19 Bargain Day Japan’s first discount sale (known ...

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Ayako Suwa’s avant-garde culinary creations are available at Laforet Museum, October 9-11. See Agenda (Food) for details. Laforet Museum Ayako Suwa. Lost Tongues. Food art. Oct 9-11, free. 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3475-0411. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Meiji-Jingumae. www.lapnet.jp

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Alison Reynolds says: “The Australia Society Tokyo, formed in the 1950s for Australians and friends living in Tokyo, continues to organize enjoyable social events. The autumn BBQ is at the Australian Embassy on October 2, and our Melbourne Cup Luncheon is on November 2. The Melbourne Cup, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, is about ...

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According to The Mainichi Daily News, a DPJ education panel has “recommended the establishment of a research institute for bizarre and non-mainstream scientific inquiry… [T]he institute would hopefully re-evaluate uniquely Japanese methods and themes that would then be cultivated and passed down to aid in the development of future generations.” Here are some lines of ...

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Audiences got their first glimpse of Tran Anh Hung’s hotly anticipated adaptation of Norwegian Wood at the Venice Film Festival this month. But could the Oscar-nominated director capture the spirit of Haruki Murakami’s hit 1987 novel? Here’s what the critics had to say… “…a beautifully mounted, dramatically inert study of some attractive young Japanese men ...

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Wayne Henderson of The Jazz Crusaders performing at Tokyo Jazz 2010 on September 5. For a complete report, see http://meturl.com/live.

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Kazuo Jibiki says: “Located in the heart of Tokyo, Biotope Enokizaka is a new ‘third-space concept’ that combines the resources of a state-of-the-art business center with the relaxing, communal environment of a coffeehouse. It offers mobile workers a comfortable, professional environment complete with designer chairs, a variety of workspaces and meeting facilities, computers with secure ...

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What do you do when you’ve got a crush on a coworker?* Women Flash my smile (29.7%): The direct approach is too difficult; a smile is about all I can manage Ask for help when I don’t understand something (26.3%): Guys like to feel like you’re depending on them Say “Hi” every morning (25%): It’s ...

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The beef tataki roll (¥1,600) is one of the many new dishes on the revamped menu at Rainbow Roll Sushi restaurant in Azabu Juban. See Restaurant Review for more info.

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There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but if you stop by R25 Café before the end of the month, you can at least get some free noodles (1F Recruit Ginza, 7-3-5 Ginza, Chuo-ku; 03-3575-6825). Every day from 11:30am-4:30pm, conbini chain Lawson’s will be handing out half-size portions of its brand new yaki-pasta. The ...

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What kanji best describes your job-hunting experience? Survey of 1,099 university seniors (class of 2011), July 28-Aug 1. Source: Mainichi Communications (www.mycom.co.jp)

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While other purveyors of luxury products bemoan the decline of Japan’s purchasing power, Mitsukoshi decided that the way to lure back customers is… a makeover. After a brief shutdown, the depato’s Ginza branch reopened on September 11 with several new amenities. The highlight is a 3,000m2 terrace on the ninth floor, which features a spacious ...

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This sculpture, called Hamon (“Ripple”), was on display earlier this month as part of an exhibition of “mathematical art” at Maruzen bookstore in Nihombashi. Presented by Tokyo-based Ohashi Engineering Co., the show featured stainless steel sheets that had been cut into curves according to a variety of mathematical formulas. Source: Yomiuri Shimbun

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So you dropped out of college and ended up in the kind of blue-collar job your high-school teachers warned you about? Not to worry: the work may not pay well, but it could be your ticket to dating nirvana. The September 7 issue of Spa! magazine rounds up a selection of rubbish jobs that are ...

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JAL has taken a real financial beating lately, but the airline can’t be faulted for its environmental efforts. Recognized in 2005 as an “Eco-First” company for its pledges to reduce C02 emissions, JAL has now unveiled a 777-200 festooned with the logo of the upcoming COP10 summit in Nagoya. The colorful paintwork was added to ...

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“Your child’s being noisy—could you get off, please? We’re all on our way to work.” In the days before the internet, this brief exchange between an OL and a mother on a rush-hour train would have been swiftly forgotten. Instead, it was reproduced on Twitter and swiftly became one of the hottest topics on the ...

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Men Amusement park (17.6%): It’s hard to keep up a conversation waiting in long lines High-class restaurant (12%): I get so nervous, I don’t even taste the food Karaoke (11.1%): It’s a place you go with friends, to let off steam Designer brand shop (10.2%): I keep worrying about my wallet and it stresses me ...

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えーんえーん een, een The loud crying of a child おいおい oi oi Loud crying, mainly of a man おぎゃあおぎゃあ ogyaa, ogyaa The crying of a baby しくしく shiku shiku The quiet crying of a woman or child めそめそ meso meso The whimpering of a crybaby Source: Giongo/Gitaigo: A Practical Guide to Mimetic Expressions Through Pictures, ...

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Title: Konesosho; New York Lady; Kingero, Soldier; Gommie, Soldier, 1860 Photographer: Studio of C.D. Fredricks & Co. Exhibition: “Samurai in New York: The First Japanese Delegation, 1860” Venue: Museum of the City of New York (www.mcny.org) When: Until November 7 Concept: “‘Samurai in New York’ invites visitors to… share the city’s excitement over the visit ...

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Artist: Yuki Atae Exhibition: “Showa Memorial” Concept: Dolls portraying the difficult lives of Japan’s children during the early postwar years. Venue: Matsuya Ginza When: September 16-October 4 Admission: ¥1,000 (kids ¥400- ¥700) Yuki Atae. Showa Memorial. Dolls. Sep 16-Oct 4, free (MS and under)/¥700 (HS, univ)/¥1,000 (adult). 8F Matsuya Ginza, 3-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3567-1211. ...

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What nampa techniques do you find yourself falling for? He points out we come from the same hometown or school I’m caught without an umbrella when it starts raining; he offers to let me share his His sense of style matches mine He gets my attention in a gentlemanly manner: “Sorry to bother you, but…” ...

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The news last month that China had overtaken Japan as the world’s second largest economy unleashed a veritable monsoon of media punditry. Here are a few highlights… Japan was the world’s second-largest economy for 40 years. But the traits that made it an economic powerhouse in the 20th century—easy capital, big companies, rote learning, management ...

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At the time of writing, we’re still reeling from the news that anime director Satoshi Kon has passed away at the age of 46, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. One of the most respected figures in the industry, Kon had his first manga published in Weekly Young Magazine in 1984 while still studying at ...

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You’d be styling if your living space in Tokyo had a walk-in closet, private gym, executive office, Bose surround sound system (in each room), and a bathroom with its own sauna and a jet bath overlooking the Imperial Palace gardens. But all this in a hotel suite? That’s just silly. In the August issue of ...

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When keeping up with the Tokyo food and drink scene is part of your job, the endless parade of “dining bars” and “beer restaurants” spouting the same recycled ad copy can get really old. So it’s refreshing to come across a venue that embraces, well, a different PR philosophy. The Guru-navi-hosted homepage for Motsusen (2F, ...

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Sep 4 Comb Day Established in 1978 to raise awareness about the importance of beauty and hair care. 9 (ku) and 4 (shi) make kushi (comb) Sep 7 CM Song Day Commemorates the airing of Japan’s first “singing commercial” in 1951. The ad in question was for Konica’s Sakura brand film Sep 19 Family Name ...

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Suffered a breakup but can’t seem to let go? Nanapi.jp, a so-called “life recipe” website, offers a handy guide on how to start hating your ex, in four simple steps. Step 1: Think back on your time together and all of those times you felt unhappy or dissatisfied, being very careful to block out any ...

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Congratulations are in order to former Metropolis correspondent Ned Goodwin, who in May became just the 281st person on the planet to earn the coveted Master of Wine certification—and the first Japan resident to be so honored. Goodwin, 41, a Londoner by birth but a Sydneysider by heart, has served as wine director for the ...

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Name: Gree Say what? It’s inspired by the concept of “six degrees of separation.” Degree, geddit? Yeah, whatever. So what is it? According to recently released figures, it’s now Japan’s biggest social networking service. The company, founded by ex-Rakuten man Yoshikazu Tanaka in 2004, reported 21.13 million users at the end of July, overtaking previous ...

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“A smiling Japanese person is not necessarily happy. The Japanese tend to smile when angry, embarrassed, sad or disappointed. They may think it rude if you talk to them with your hands in your pockets. Avoid staring, as eye contact isn’t generally considered polite. While sitting, try not to show the bottom of your shoes. ...

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As mainland Japan braces itself for typhoon season, we cast our eye back on the most notorious storms in the country’s history… Name: “Vera” (a.k.a. “Isewan”) Date: September 26, 1959 Worst hit: Nagoya area Casualties: Over 5,000 dead or missing, 39,000 injured Name: “Kathleen” Date: September 14-16, 1947 Worst hit: Kanto Casualties: Approx 1,900 dead ...

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When standard diplomacy fails, there’s always manga. The US military is attempting to win over the Japanese public with a slice of comic-book propaganda entitled Our Alliance—A Lasting Partnership (available at www.usfj.mil/manga). In the premiere edition, a bunny-eared tyke named Usa-kun squishes a cockroach to teach his Japanese friend Arai Anzu about the benefits of ...

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Even when the economy’s in the doldrums, there are some places that consumers just won’t go. When online magazine Business Media conducted a survey of ¥100 shop habits, the respondents reeled off a familiar list of frequently purchased items, with stationery (53.1 percent), kitchenware (43.1 percent) and candy (32 percent) scoring highest. But what about ...

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Things guys do that make you suspect a hidden agenda He gets really touchy-feely all of a sudden He pretends not to notice that it’s almost last train When walking me home, he asks if he can use my bathroom He says, “Next time, will you cook for me?” He wants to be alone with ...

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What: Midtown Water Works 2010 Where: Tokyo Midtown When: Nightly through August 29, 7:30 & 8:30pm How much: Free Why: The hanabi-inspired show “feature(s) spectacular streams of water with laser-light, mirror and smoke effects. Plus this year, a new splash area is open.” For more info, see http://meturl.com/waterworks

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What: Free English-subtitled screening of director Takeshi Koike’s upcoming Redline Where: Tokyo Film Center School of the Arts, Nishi-Kasai When: Friday, August 27, 10:10am Who: Foreign students only, must bring valid student ID for entry Why: The minds behind Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and the animated short from Kill Bill: Vol. ...

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Micro-Scooter Japan’s new three-wheeled kickboard is the must-have item among the 3-5-year-old set. Sporting an extra wheel for balance, the scooters come in a kid-friendly neon color range of orange, green and pink. To help promote the line, Micro-Scooter has come up with a friendly, big-eyed cartoon mascot—and is holding a competition to name the ...

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Although the Japanese commonly write the names of Western countries in the phonetic katakana script, many nations can also be rendered in kanji. This is done by using a combination of characters whose pronunciation matches the Japanese version of the country’s name—even if the kanji’s literal meaning gets lost in translation. Country Japanese Pronunciation Kanji ...

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Its technology companies are flagging, its auto industry has been tarnished and its ice-skaters aren’t as good as Kim Yu-Na, but at least Japan can still count on being considered the coolest cat in East Asia… right? Not any more: the Asahi Shimbun returned from last month’s Japan Expo in Paris with the worrying news ...

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Top 10 cringe-inducing moments with my boyfriend at the beach His stomach hangs over his swimsuitHe ogles other girls in bikinis He shows up in Speedos He gets yelled at by the lifeguard He keeps his skin completely covered to avoid getting a tan He worries about the water ruining his hairstyle His swimsuit doesn’t ...

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Meet Pixel Mari-tan, star of a manga-style English conversation textbook series that purports to teach “the kind of military slang that other textbooks don’t.” Mari-tan hails from the magical kingdom of Paris Island, and when the flowers around her peaceful home begin to wither, she knows that the world’s happiness levels have dropped dangerously low. ...

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What: “Ashikari no Ie” Summer Ghost House Where: Tokyo Dome City, Suidobashi When: Until Aug 31 Why: Beat the heat with some spine-tingling fun. Tokyo Dome City’s summer scarefest is an annual tradition: this is the 19th to date, all produced by veteran shock master Hirofumi Gomi. The “Ashikari no Ie” (Leg-cutter’s House) is haunted ...

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Obscure etiquette for ochugen (summertime gifts)* When sending late gifts, the front of the noshi (envelope or paper strip) should read: 暑中御見舞 (shochuu omimai; “Best wishes for midsummer”) or 残暑御見舞 (zansho omimai; “Best wishes for late summer”) The decorative string on the noshi should be red and gold (with five or seven strings) and tied ...

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Albert Abut says: “The MKS center is a bio-technological complex intended for preparation and distribution of seeds for agricultural use. The design is directly inspired by the site and reflects the combination of many different natural elements: water, earth, light, and minerals which, together with seeds, are the indispensable prerequisites for creating life. It is ...

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Prime Minister Naoto Kan offered an odd response when asked about his wife’s new book: “I’m too scared to read it.” We can’t blame him. Published late last month by Gentosha, Nobuko Kan’s Anata ga Sori ni Natte, Ittai Nihon no Nani ga Kawaru No? (“Now that You’re Prime Minister, Dear, Exactly How will Japan ...

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He’s one of the classic hard men of manga, so when it comes to coffee, Golgo 13 doesn’t pussy around. The cartoon assassin’s visage adorns Toyo Beverage’s Otoko no Hard Black (tagline: “This bitterness ain’t bad…”) and Otoko no Cafe Au Lait (“I don’t need sweetness…”), the manliest drinks you’re likely to find in the ...

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Samurai-speak you’d most like to use in an email 1. かたじけない (katajikenai): arigatou, thank you 2. 面目ない (menbokunai): hazukashii, embarrassing 3. しばし待たれよ (shibashi matareyo): sukoshi mattekudasai, “please wait a moment” 4. ~でござる (~de gozaru): aru/iru, “is” 5. 参上 (sanjou): to visit a person of higher rank 6. 出陣 (shutsujin): to take the field, kick off ...

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What: Southern rock lobster with caramelized sauce Who: Mark Best, chef-owner of Marque restaurant, Sydney Where: The Westin Tokyo When: August 1-7 See Dining Out, issue 853 for details

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Taishi Higashida is on a roll—literally. The 25-year-old Kyoto University grad student is already a celebrity in brain-teaser circles, and last year even released his own Nintendo DS game. Now the inveterate puzzler is walking the length of Japan, handing out his creations to passersby with a cry of “Bira ga pazuru” (the flier is ...

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Each summer, the Sony Building in Ginza becomes an aquatic playground for 1,000 fish, including such exotic creatures as sea turtles and white-tip reef sharks. At this year’s 43rd Sony Aquarium, the eighth floor Opus theater will be screening footage—in 3D—that allows audiences “to enjoy the experience of going underwater and swimming with giant sharks ...

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Mark Smith says: “Real Japanese shows how kids learn to speak by following the daily progress of a Japanese girl for a year. She picks up vocabulary and grammar in a very different order to how they are taught in textbooks and language courses. For instance, she hardly uses particles! Instead, she concentrates on the ...

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Pint-sized yakyu senshu are in for a treat August 13-14, when they’ll be able to join their heroes on the field in Roppongi. The event, titled Konami Presents Let’s Play Catch! in Tokyo Midtown, gives kids a chance to toss around a ball with some big-name former professional baseball players, including Masayuki Matsunuma (Seibu Lions), ...

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Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki doesn’t have much love for modern technology—the guy still draws and writes letters by hand, fer chrissakes—but he really outdid himself in the July issue of Studio Ghibli’s Neppu journal, where he lashed out against Apple’s iPad in style… “I feel no admiration or excitement whatsoever for this kind of game ...

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If beer gardens aren’t quite your thing, the annual Starlight Cinema at Yebisu Garden Place offers a different kind of al fresco summertime entertainment. This year, the theater will present blockbusters like the otaku fable Densha Otoko (July 30) and Hirokazu Kore-eda’s acclaimed 1998 fantasy Wonderful Life (August 7). Screenings begin at 7:15pm each Friday, ...

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Title: Kanata ni Mieru Mono Artist: Yoshiyuki Akagawa Exhibition: “Grown-up Children” Concept: “The human head and face deformed as a part of nature” Venue: Megumi Ogita Gallery Showcase, Ginza When: Until August 7 www.megumiogita.com

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Who: Bikini-clad waitresses Where: Roppongi Beer Garden When: Every Mon-Sat until late summer Why: With staff like this serving the beer, who cares what it tastes like? See Bar Review, issue 851 for more details

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Osaka Castle is getting a makeover—or at least, it will be if Chamber of Commerce & Industry head Osamu Tanaka has his way. The tourism promotion chairman recently unveiled a plan to turn the area into a “history theme park,” where visitors can get a taste of what the Edo-era city was really like. According ...

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After a five-year study, the Council for Cultural Affairs has significantly revamped the list of joyo kanji, the Chinese characters that are considered the basic components of Japanese literacy. The panel added 196 kanji to the list, bringing the total to 2,136. Alas, these five characters got the boot, primarily due to lack of use. ...

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We’ve heard of some bizarre economic indicators in the past, but few can match the one chosen by otaku statistician “Hidemaro.” The self-described “Gravia idol researcher” has plotted the last 15 years of GDP growth data against the average bust size of Japan’s popular pin-ups, and it seems like one man’s boom is another’s you-know-what. ...

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What would be your ideal summer fling? With a Latin guy while I’m traveling abroad! I think he would give me an incredibly passionate trip! He invites me to go for a drive one day, and I find out he’s booked a room at a seaside hotel. That would be the best! Like in Roman ...

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Japan’s tetsudo have spoken, and their choice for train of the year is… the Narita Express E259-series. Unveiled last October, the new N’EX has a host of features that get the train geeks drooling. The Japan Railfan Club, in honoring the locomotive with its 2010 Blue Ribbon Award, praised the futuristic looks, shinkansen-bred shake control ...

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Tim Anderson says: Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries, an irresistible new gay, left-handed, diabetic travel memoir by North Carolina native Tim Anderson (http://seetimblog.blogspot.com), takes a heady ride through the great Japanese megalopolis, bobbing, weaving, and karate kicking its way through the shadowy, dangerous underworld of a Harajuku girl-phobic, viola-playing, kabuki-tastic English conversation instructor on ...

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Fans of traditional Japanese monsters might be familiar with the Ame-onna, a creepy yokai “rain woman” who is said to be able to summon the watery elements at will. But in recent years, the term (or its masculine equivalent, ame-otoko) has come to refer to those unlucky individuals who never get invited to the beach ...

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We can imagine the discussion at Domino’s HQ: “OK, we need to come up with a new pie that’s gonna grab everyone’s attention—any ideas?” “How about corn and tuna—on the same pizza?” “That’s a frightening idea—I love it—but it’s already been done.” “OK, how about a pie divided into quarters, with an appetizer, two ‘entrees’ ...

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What: Bobby Banana Where: B2F, Shibuya Daiichi Kangin Kyogo Bldg (outside exit 3 of Shibuya station) Why: Japan’s first ever banana vending machine, courtesy of Dole, sells individual fruit for ¥130 apiece and bunches for ¥390 What to say: It’s the healthiest thing I’ll eat all day! What not to say: Holy moly, that’s expensive!

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Which location has the strongest festival spirit? Kyoto (Aoi, Gion & Jidai Matsuri) Kishiwada, Osaka (Danjiri Matsuri) Sapporo (Yosakoi Soran, Yuki Matsuri) Aomori (Nebuta Matsuri) Awa, Tokushima (Awa Odori) Sendai (Tanabata Matsuri) Hirosaki, Aomori (Neputa Matsuri) Kanazawa (Hyakumangoku Matsuri) Takarazuka, Hyogo (home of the Takarazuka Revue) Kamakura (Yabusame, various festivals at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine) Source: ...

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The day when billboards can target individual consumers, Minority Report-style, may be coming sooner than we thought. Last month, the Digital Signage Promotion Project, a consortium of railway companies and their advertising arms, unveiled 27 high-tech displays at stations around the Tokyo area. The 52-inch digital screens, which are in place for a one-year trial, ...

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A commuter-belt city that’s best known for being next to a US Air Base, Zushi isn’t exactly the most rock ’n’ roll of destinations. But for a couple of months each year, it becomes a haven for Japanese music fans, thanks to beachside live house Otodama Sea Studio. Started in 2005 by local duo Kimaguren, ...

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It’s been called “comedic storytelling” and “Japanese standup”—but whatever the description, a skilled rakugo performance is just about one of the funniest things on the planet. Only problem is, the fast-paced wordplay and, often, the heavy use of Osaka-ben makes the art form incomprehensible to all but the most fluent of non-native speakers. Enter Bunkyo ...

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What certifications are likely to be most valued during the recession? Government official Judicial clerk CPA Bar exam Notary public TOEIC Home helper Medical processing Social worker Chinese language Source: Survey by Goo (www.goo.ne.jp), May 21-24

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Noro noro Meaning: Slowness in movement, in a negative sense Example: 道がこんでいるので、車はのろのろ動いている. Michi ga konde iru no de, kuruma wa noronoro ugoite iru. The streets are crowded, so the cars are just inching along Source: Giongo/Gitaigo: A Practical Guide to Mimetic Expressions Through Pictures, by Akutsu Satoru (ALC Shuppan, 1994)

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July 3 Wave Day Seven (na) and three (mi) give you the Japanese word for “wave,” which is as good an excuse as any to celebrate all things surf-related July 13 Occult Day Influential horror movie The Exorcist hit Japanese screens on this day in 1974, sparking an “occult boom” in the country July 16 ...

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Mobile Suit Gundam takes to the air again! Well, sort of. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the first Gundam plastic kit, toymaker Bandai has teamed with All Nippon Airways to outfit one of its planes with images of the giant robot. The tricked-out Boeing 777-300 will enter service on July 16, ...

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Just when all that talk of B-kyu dining and fast fashion was lulling us into thinking that the capital was getting cheaper, Tokyo has returned to the top spot in ECA International’s worldwide cost-of-living survey. The annual report measures the most expensive cities for expats to live in—with occasionally surprising results. While Japan has more ...

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No one can accuse Japanese construction company Shimizu of thinking small. In collaboration with Nomura Securities and a consortium of universities, the firm is planning to build a 1,000m-tall “floating residential tower” in waters near the equator. The structure will be a “self-sufficient community that can accommodate some 30,000 to 50,000 residents,” complete with a ...

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What: 1/50 scale model of the Angkor Wat temple complex Where: Sophia University Who: A group of children under the supervision of university president Yoshiaki Ishizawa When: May 30 Why: Ishizawa, who leads a program to train Cambodian workers to preserve Angkor Wat, supervised the recreation of the World Heritage site using 30,000 wooden blocks. ...

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The Asahi Shimbun earned itself a visit from the black bus brigade after running an editorial criticizing attempts to block the release of controversial documentary The Cove. A group of nationalists congregated outside the Asahi’s Yurakucho office on June 16 to register their dissent. “Despite the strong objections, people need to come face to face ...

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Hard to believe that it’s been a year since the King of Pop departed for that great Neverland in the sky. If you’d like to mark the first anniversary of his death, there are plenty of Michael Jackson tribute events going on around town on Friday, June 25. Nishi-Azabu hotspot Eleven’s “Forever Michael” kicks off ...

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It used to be that you could escape NHK fee collectors by claiming you don’t own a TV. No longer. The Tokyo Shimbun reports that a young woman who recently moved to the capital was told by an NHK rep that she had to cough up because her one-seg cellphone has TV capabilities. Predictably, 2channel ...

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Martin Eden says: “I create a comic called Spandex, which is about an all-gay superteam (I am aiming for a mixed readership). Because of my love for Japan, I decided that the team should head to Japan in issue #2. There they meet Neon, the world’s first gay, fluorescent ninja, and also Gayzilla, Super Bad ...

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Girls, what kawaii technique do you use when taking a picture of yourself? Hold camera diagonally from above Hold camera above head Increase camera’s white balance Use hair to hide outline of face Pout! Go outside in natural sunlight Turn flash on and maximize brightness of cellphone’s display Bring hand close to face Hold fluorescent ...

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What: “Cool Ja-pon” book fair Where: Akihabara branch of Yurindo bookstore Why: Publishing company Shakai Hyoron Sha has compiled a list of “100 Japanese Books with Global Appeal,” designed to interest even readers who can’t understand Japanese. When: Until June 30 See books, issue 847 for details

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Summer is upon us, and women everywhere are getting ready to bare it all on the beach, by the pool… or at a 300-strong bikini parade, like the one held last month at the Venus Fort shopping complex in Odaiba. To promote its new Gillette Venus razor, parent company Procter and Gamble assembled 323 bikini-clad ...

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Guys, what kind of woman do you avoid introducing to friends? Expects men to pay for everything Bad manners in public Doesn’t make an effort to read the situation Self-centered Spends money extravagantly Talks about herself too much Overly high expectations of men Heavy drinker and a bad drunk Married or already has a boyfriend ...

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Disney’s cuddly, goggle-eyed robot Wall-e may soon become a reality, according to the Japanese government. The Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy announced its plan to send a robot to explore and analyze the moon’s surfaces, and if all goes according to schedule, by 2020 the machine will create a base installation from which to power ...

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What:Omotesando Hills Candle Night When:Saturday, June 19, 6-11pm Where:Along Omotesando Dori and in area shops Why:Turn off the electricity and have a slow, candlelit evening at this annual event, featuring illuminated LED installations by local art students www.omotesandohills.com

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The Tokyo-based labor organization 21 Seiki Shokugyo Zaidan (a.k.a. the Japan Institute of Worker’s Evolution) is dedicated to “improv[ing] the welfare of female workers, workers who care for children or family members, and part-time workers.” Toward that end, the group has produced a file folder to remind big shots around the office of the dangers ...

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If you’re one of the 126.2 million people in Japan who didn’t bother going to Yokohama’s 150th anniversary celebrations last year, you can make amends next weekend. From June 4-6, the city will start the countdown to its 200th anniversary with the Y151 Festival. The main stage at Yamashita Park will play host to a ...

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As investment options go, it’s certainly an odd one. The Yokai Fund, a new initiative that aims to spread the joys of traditional Japanese spooks and monsters, is currently seeking financial backers. Shares cost ¥30,000 a piece, and money raised will be used for “various yokai projects” (no, we’re not sure what that means either). ...

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Girls, what were you surprised to discover about a guy from your past? Married with child Got fat Changed his hairstyle and became attractive Grew thin Used to be good-looking; now, not so much Got taller Became social and friendly No change since middle school Became flashy and superficial Already divorced Source: Survey of 1,128 ...

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Each year, the aspiring Mitch Bucchannons of Japan head to the tip of the Izu peninsula to strut their stuff at Shimoda’s Japan Lifesaving Championships. Now into its 23rd year, the event—subtitled “Surf Carnival / Rescue 92 Memorial”—acts as a proving ground for youngsters hoping to make it as professional lifesavers. Guys and girls, many ...

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Forget those stale images of Mt. Fuji and cherry blossoms: what does Japan mean to you? That’s the question being posed by My Japan, a “creative contest” run by students, for students. Submissions are currently being accepted for 30-second films and interactive computer applications that convey “original ideas and perspectives on Japan.” And no, that ...

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Curious to know what all the fuss is about with Haruki Murakami’s multi-volume mega-hit novel 1Q84? Spa! magazine recently offered its own 400-character summary of the book, which we’ve further condensed into 100 words here… Tengo Kawana, cram school teacher & aspiring novelist. Masami Aomame, sports instructor & professional killer. Same elementary school, since gone ...

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Guys, what’s the most embarrassing memory you wish you could erase? People in the room heard me fart Caught wearing socks with holes Loudly hummed to myself thinking no one was around People around me heard my stomach grumble Caught with my zipper undone Slipped and fell on a wet floor Accidentally wore a pair ...

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As the popularity rating of the Hatoyama cabinet threatens to dip into negative figures, we consider some possible ways to improve DPJ support (Metropolis bookies’ odds in parentheses). Kick Hatoyama out and get a new PM (3/2) Call a snap election, lose, then wait six months until everyone hates the LDP again (4/1) Replace Hatoyama’s ...

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It’s taken 120 years, but someone finally—finally—has created a mosaic portrait of Vincent van Gogh out of polo shirts. The Dutch treat arrives courtesy of Tokyo-based apparel maker Onward Kashiyama, which asked 20 of its staff to spend more than three hours assembling the image from 2,070 tops. The work, on display last week in ...

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From the Annals of Unlikely Collaborations comes a promotional tie-up between Tower Records and a variety of leisure-lifestyle brands. The limited edition version of Pentax’s popular K-x DSLR is part of Tower’s Summer Festival 2010 Support Goods campaign, which offers a one-stop shop for hot-season music fans. Also available are items from well-known outdoor brands ...

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What: “Idling stop” yellow card Where: Niigata Who: Distributed by local environmental activists Why: A “penalty” for drivers who sit in parked cars with their engines on Catch Copy: Yellow Card! Stop idling… …to save money …to save the environment When you’re… …waiting …temporarily stopped …at a long red light …loading or unloading To download ...

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Population of crows in Tokyo Source: Tokyo Metropolitan Government figures released Apr 30

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Anyone who waded through the sea of humanity that was last year’s “Ashura” exhibit probably wondered if there could possibly be a more crowded museum—the answer, it seems, is “no.” According to the April 2010 issue of The Art Newspaper, “Ashura” was the most heavily attended exhibition in the world. In terms of overall numbers, ...

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What could be better than visiting Design Festa, Tokyo’s leading showcase for up-and-coming creative types? Why, saying hello to Metropolis while you’re there, of course! Stop by booth E-99 to chat with our designers and staff, order poster-size versions of your favorite covers, watch the latest works from Metropolis Media, and lots more. Giveaways, too! ...

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How Do You Overcome Gogatsu-byo*? Play sports Go out for drinks with friends Eat and sleep well Go for a walk Go on a shopping spree Lie around all day Go to karaoke and sing at the top of your voice Eat a well-balanced meal Find a new hobby Go out for a drive *a ...

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What: Sex and the City 2 “Brilliant Ticket” Who: Toho Cinemas and Vogue Japan How much: ¥1,900 When: While supplies last Where: Toho theaters nationwide Why: To celebrate the June 4 premiere of SATC2, this promotional packet includes a ticket to the film, a couple of fashion magazines and a pair of flip-flops from trendy ...

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If you noticed something funky happening at your local McDonald’s recently, you’re not alone: 13 branches of the fast food chain, including shops in Shibuya, Azabu-Juban and Roppongi, underwent a complete overhaul in late April. In collaboration with French designer Phillippe Avanzi, McD’s reworked everything from the signage to the interiors in an effort to ...

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What: Paradise Who: Dancer Yumi Yoshimoto, founder of performance group Flowers Where: Nemoto Shipyard, Kawasaki When: May 8-9, 7pm Why: Yoshimoto has been performing Paradise since 2000, roping in different collaborators each time. For the latest version, she’ll be accompanied by avant-garde cellist Hiromichi Sakamoto and percussionist Kosmas Kapitza. The unorthodox location was picked for ...

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Ever find yourself staring longingly at the not-quite-full train bench in front of you? If only the people on either side would scoot over a bit, you’d be able to rest your aching feet. But as it is, the open space is barely big enough for a pint-sized elementary schooler. Here are some tips on ...

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Petite Japanese women often prefer clothes that make them appear fuller-figured—to the lament of many a foreign gal. But now a lingerie maker is reaching out to the other segment of the population. Last fall, Wacoal surveyed 590 women about what they look for in a bra, and a full 10.9 percent answered: “I want ...

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From PC games to anime and manga, the kawai-sugiru craze—in which straight men fetishize boys dressed as girls—shows no sign of letting up. Now there’s a magazine just for fans of this kinky niche. Debuting April 24, WAai! features interviews, illustrations, “profiles” of cross-dressing otokonoko characters, an original comic serial, and tips for readers to ...

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Ladies, which of your husband’s mealtime comments are most upsetting? (more than one response allowed) “That’s it?” (32.7%) No comment (29%) “This needs a bit more salt” (19.2%) This doesn’t taste good” (16.3%) “This tastes awful” (11%) “Did you even try this before serving it?” (10.6%) “Did you make a mistake or something?” (7.3%) “I ...

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Flip on C-span or NHK and you’re bound to see lawmakers, brows furrowed in concentration, scribbling furiously in their notepads. Ever wonder what they’re writing about? Well, if the politician in question is European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, the answer is likely to be haiku. The former Belgian PM, a well-known fan of the ...

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What: Advertisement for the horror film Survival of the Dead Where: Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro (www.cinemasunshine.co.jp) Who: Created by students at the Tokyo Visual Arts school When: On display until May 14; movie premieres June 12 Why: This bit of guerilla marketing, in which a cinema box office appears to be overrun by zombies, has proven ...

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This week, Tokyo Midtown is offering a rare chance to go down in the annals of history. At Guinness World Records Live!, an international road show that’s already stopped in Dubai, Turkey, and other exotic locales, visitors have the chance to try their hand at various world-record challenges. The Tokyo event features a total of ...

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Ladies, when is the ideal moment to be asked for your hand in marriage? Spontaneous moment on an ordinary day (40.2%) Our anniversary (30.1%) My birthday (16.1%) Christmas (7%) A date that’s easy to remember (1.9%) White Day (1.9%) His birthday (1%) New Year’s Day (0.9%) Other (0.6%) Valentine’s Day (0.3%)

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While Tadao Ando’s redesign of Shibuya station is eagerly awaited by architecture fans the world over, less well-known is the skyscraper that will sit on top of the complex. Shibuya Hikarie, scheduled to open in spring 2012, will reach 34 stories into the Tokyo skyline and offer 144,000m² of shopping, dining, office space and cultural ...

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What: New “manner poster” Where: All Tokyo Metro stations When: Campaign unveiled this month; new posters produced monthly through March 2011 Why: Commuters were instructed to “Do it at home” all last year, but the Tokyo Metro folks are going for a more positive feel with 2010’s campaign

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Umbrella art protesting the construction of a Nike-sponsored skate park and climbing wall in Miyashita Park, Shibuya. For more info, see The Last Word, issue 839

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A chronology of American fast food franchises in Japan Click to enlarge

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Features

Leave the landlubber life behind and enjoy a variety of nautical activities around the capital

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Ladies, where do you want him to take you on your first date? 1. Odaiba (39.2%) 2. Daikanyama (11.7%) 3. Kichijoji (10.8%) 4. Omotesando (9.5%) 5. Asakusa (8.5%) 6. Ikebukuro (7.3%) 7. Ginza (7.3%) 8. Harajuku (1.9%) 9. Shibuya (0.9%) 10. Shinjuku (0.9%) 11. Other (2%) Source: Survey of 316 women by Escala Café (http://escala.jp), ...

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“Suzuki” ranks second only to “Sato” as the most common surname in Japan, and members of the clan are understandably proud. Last month saw the unveiling of a Suzuki Association in Hamamatsu, the city with the most Suzukis. Around 40 people attended the launch party, with music provided by jazz singer Mami Suzu… oh, you ...

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We’re all aware of the Japanese passion for seasonal sodas and juices, but thankfully, that obsession isn’t limited to just soft drinks. Popular Kanagawa microbrewery Sankt Gallen threw the beer world into a tizzy with the announcement of its new Toriaezu Beer, a brew with so little flavor that it “goes with anything.” (Incidentally, this ...

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Parents, what career do you want most for your little boy? 1. Civil servant (19%) 2. Athlete (15%) 3. Doctor (10.5%) 4. Salaryman (6.8%) 5. Artisan (4.5%) 6. Scientist/academic (3.8%) 7. Firefighter (3.6%) 8. Pilot (3%) 9. Teacher (2.7%) 10. Architect (2.3%) 11. Other (28.8%) …and little girl? 1. Nurse (11.9%) 2. Civil servant (9.1%) ...

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With more and more people shying away from traditional books in favor of shorter, easier-to-consume media, it stands to reason that manga have become a tool to reach young Japanese. Which is exactly the reasoning behind a new graphic rendering of the abduction of 13-year-old Megumi Yokota by North Korean agents in 1977. Published by ...

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Even expats who thought they were immune to the ridiculousness of Engrish were taken aback when the Yokohama BayStars unleashed their 2010 team motto: “FULL SEASON FULL POWER, Analyzing Baseball.” Here are some other goofy slogans—past and present—from the world of Japanese yakyu. Hanshin Tigers (2010): “Focus On This Play, This Moment” Rakuten Golden Eagles ...

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New security cameras around Tokyo

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What: Park Yoga Where: Tokyo Midtown When: April 23-May 5 Who: Yoga Aid sponsors two weeks of sun salutations under the open sky Why: Get fit, enjoy fresh air and help support local charities like Green Tokyo See Close-Ups for more details

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You can’t live with them, can’t live without them—but thanks to a new book, you can at least hope to understand them a little better. Onna no “Tatemae Honne” Honyaku Jiten II (roughly, “Womanese Translator’s Dictionary”) helps befuddled fellas get a better grasp of what women really mean, as opposed to what they just say. ...

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Ladies, why did you choose your current job? 1. Received a naitei (offer) (31.9%) 2. Dreamed of working in this particular field (20.9%) 3. Satisfactory pay and benefits (10.2%) 4. Easy commute (9.6%) 5. Friendly people and atmosphere (7.5%) 6. Got it through a connection (5.4%) 7. A good stepping-stone (4.8%) 8. “My dream company” (3.9%) 9. To use specific skills acquired from school ...

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What’s in a name?

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The Tokyo Sky Tree, which is being built on the banks of the Sumida River, surpassed the height of Tokyo Tower late last month. How does the structure compare to other notable big things? 1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles: 2m 2. Sperm whale, Antarctica: 16m 3. Shonan Maru 2, Antarctica: 71m 4. Godzilla, whereabouts unknown: ...

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What: Filet of Beef Rossini Where: Les Saisons restaurant at the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo When: April 4-May 30 Who: Chef de cuisine Thierry Voisin Why: A special table d’hôte menu feting Voisin’s fifth anniversary at Les Saisons, as well as the 2005 renovation of the restaurant See Word of Mouth for more details

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Ever fantasized about the perfect kiss with the perfect girl? The folks at Akihabara’s NR Pro have. This small design and media company specializing in otaku-minded products is going for the kill with the latest in its “Moe” series: Chu DVD. Past NR Pro efforts include fantasy-inducing CDs in which a cutesy voice actress reads ...

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Top 10 Regional Dishes that Surprise Other Japanese Cherry curry (Yamagata) Sweet ankake (starchy sauce) on somen noodles (Yamagata) Pear curry (Yamagata) Miso soup with cucumber (Toyama) Bread with chikuwa (tube-shaped fish cakes) (Hokkaido) Ohitashi (boiled spinach) flavored with mayonnaise (Fukushima) Hard, unripe peaches (Yamanashi) Takikomi gohan without any added ingredients (Shizuoka) Okonomiyaki topped with ...

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Every so often, Spa! magazine takes time to unravel some of Tokyo’s more trivial mysteries in its “Riddles of the Changing City” column. Here are a few from the most recent installment… Q: Is it just us, or has the urban skyline been getting a bit less cluttered? A: It’s not just you. Since 1986, ...

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Anyone who reads the news in Japan knows that when it comes to dealing with really big stuff, Tokyo Dome represents the ultimate measuring stick. Animal, vegetable, state-of-the-art facility—nearly everything, it seems, can best be explained as “the size of [x number of] Tokyo Domes!” 1 TD: amount of blood spilled in recent action flick ...

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Apr 4 Anpan Day Emperor Meiji tucked into bean-paste buns from the Kimuraya shop in Ginza during his hanami party on this day in 1875. Unlike Meiji, Kimuraya is still going today Apr 10 Ekiben Day The train station bento box has been celebrated on this date since 1933; the date was chosen because the ...

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Just after 10am on the morning of March 1, pedestrians passing through Shibuya were confronted with an intriguing sight: a mysterious group of people bearing bright orange umbrellas flooding across the fabled “scramble” intersection. It turns out the brolly stunt was to raise awareness for the Shibukasa campaign, presented in conjunction with Frisk’s new line ...

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Expats often complain that they’re not treated fairly by the locals. But sometimes, it must be admitted, we bring it on ourselves. Case in point: Anilir Serkan, a 36-year-old Turkey native who was recently given the boot as a University of Tokyo architecture professor when it was discovered that he had plagiarized large portions of ...

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How do Japanese guys put the moves on their ladies? Buy dinner Offer to carry heavy bags Make a “bold move” during a sports game Buy dinner for a kohai (junior staff) Sing a ballad at karaoke Pretend their mind is elsewhere Stock up on and present trivial facts Open the top two buttons of ...

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One of the golden rules of the Japanese entertainment industry is that the audience always comes last. Fans of the Odoru Daisosasen (“Bayside Shakedown”) police comedy-drama series were disappointed to hear that the latest movie installment, due to hit theaters this July, will be arriving without mainstay Miki Mizuno (above). The actress, who played police ...

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Who: Yuki Shikanuma (20, left) and Zhang Ziwei (16) What: Campaign models for chemical company Asahi Kasei’s 2010 line of Sunplay swimwear Why: Asahi Kasei’s suits are made to be quick-drying and super stretchy for “effective support.” They also have UV blockers and are made with a ceramic-infused polyester fiber to prevent skin damage. This ...

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One of the surest signs of spring in Tokyo is the sight of newly minted college graduates heading out en masse on their first job hunt. This year, in addition to meishi and resumes, the young hopefuls are arming themselves with a new tool: a list of “black” companies to be avoided at all cost. ...

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Shinjuku Gyoen One of the only parks to be spared when all sakura trees were chopped down in the 1860s. Wide-open spaces, placid ponds and hidden pavilions make this worth the entry fee. Open daily (Mar 25-Apr 24) 9am-4:30pm. Free (6 and under)/¥50 (kids)/¥200 (adult). Nearest stn: Shinjuku-Gyoenmae. www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen Chidori-Gafuchi Popular with OLs and salarymen ...

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Current forecasts predict Tokyo’s blossoms will reach their peak near the end of March—although the schizophrenic weather patterns of recent weeks have likely impacted the proceedings. The following websites keep track of the latest developments on the blossom front so you’ll know exactly when to start staking out your spot. www.mapple.net/sp_sakura This website from leading ...

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Crazy installations, avant-garde performers and a general matsuri-like atmosphere will envelop Roppongi Hills at sundown on March 27, when the second annual Roppongi Art Night kicks off. Last year’s inaugural event featured everything from Styrofoam teahouses to a huge fire-breathing robot, and the 2010 program goes several steps further. Attractions include Hiroshi Fuji’s gigantic dinosaur ...

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Hey, salaryman! Are you sick of coming home tired and ravenous every night, unable to whip up anything more complex than a cup of instant ramen? This one’s for you. Produced by fashion mag Men’s Joker, Men’s Kitchen is the latest in a small but welcome push to encourage guys to cook for themselves. In ...

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Though some would argue that GPS has rendered paper maps obsolete, many others—especially the kanji-challenged among us—will appreciate Informa’s cleverly designed Tokyo guide. Stations like Shinjuku that serve as central transfer points are indicated with a larger icon than their lesser-used neighbors, while pedestrian transfers like Hibiya/Yurakucho or Harajuku/Meiji-Jingumae are also clearly indicated. The bilingual ...

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Title: Sphinx With Far Hand, 2006 Artist: Katsura Funakoshi Exhibition: “An Image of Love Supreme” Venue: Takahashi Collection in Hibiya, until April 4 Concept: “A celebration of motherhood, life, death and love” Takahashi Collection Nobuyoshi Araki and Katsura Funakoshi. An Image of Love Supreme. Photography, sculpture. Until Apr 4, free (MS and under)/¥150 (HS, univ)/¥300 ...

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“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.” So begins Eric Carle’s famed picture book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which has been translated into over 50 languages and has proved just as popular in Japan as in the US. And with all the eating going on in the story, it’s ...

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What: “Wan-dafuru Life” residence card for dogs Why: Itabashi-ku is issuing these certifications as part of an effort to encourage pet owners to register their mutts and have them inoculated for rabies. The card includes a photo of the dog, along with its name, address, birthdate and inoculation history Where: Available at public health centers ...

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Most Disappointing White Day Gifts A present that’s cheaper than the Valentine’s Day gift I gave him Tasteless handkerchief or towel Boxed candies intended for everyone at the office Unfamiliar mascot accessory Jewelry that’s not to my taste Love note from someone I’m not attracted to Lingerie Obviously last-minute candies CD of a band he ...

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Imagine preparing your whole life for a shot at Olympic glory… only to be disqualified because of a technicality half an hour before your event begins. That’s the situation 24-year-old Japanese skeleton racer Nozomi Komuro found herself in on February 19, when it was discovered that her sled lacked an official sticker mandated by the ...

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On February 16, Fast Company magazine released its annual ranking of The World’s Most Innovative Companies. The list raised some eyebrows—not just because Facebook was occupying the top slot, but also because it included only one Japanese corporation, Fast Retailing. Here’s what Steve Nagata at Mobile in Japan had to say… In a global sense, ...

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Watching Japanese TV at the moment can feel like reliving the horrors of John Huston’s Annie on repeat, thanks to a wanton proliferation of child actors. Every channel we flip to seems to be overrun with the precocious, squawking little runts. Our toes began to curl with the appearance of Nozomi Ohashi, whose star turn ...

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Q & A

Professional boozer

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The latest in Tohato Corp’s line of super-spicy Bokun Habanero snacks is dubbed Saikyo, which can mean both “most powerful” and “most evil.” Intended for those who felt that previous versions were too wimpy, Tohato used corn instead of potatoes this time around, because “corn melts quickly and the habanero spice hits directly as it ...

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In late 2009, the crowd fell into a reverent silence as Maki Asakawa took the stage at Shinjuku’s Pit Inn. Clad in one of her signature black velvet dresses and inscrutable shades, the 67-year-old singer remarked, before launching into a pensive set, “It’s been 41 years, and the venue has changed, but I still feel ...

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Talk about sore losers. Following a 2-0 loss to FC Tokyo in the finals of the Nabisco Cup in November, players from the J. League squad Kawasaki Frontale threw a hissy fit. During the awards ceremony, several teammates took off their runner-up medals and refused to shake hands with visiting dignitaries; it was even reported ...

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What: English screenings of Yasunobu Takashi’s horror flick Locked Out (left) and the ensemble drama Lost & Found by Nobuyuki Miyake. Where: Cinemart Roppongi (www.cinemart.co.jp/theater/roppongi) When: March 3, 11 and 17 (Locked Out); March 4, 10 and 14 (Lost & Found) Why: The Global Recognition series presents Japanese independent films that have gained praise and ...

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“One after another, department stores across the country are closing. Even in Tokyo’s Ginza district, the Yurakucho outlet of Seibu department store in the landmark Yurakucho Mullion complex is to close its doors… Shopping is not simply an act of exchanging money for a product. It also has to do with feelings of expectation, satisfaction ...

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Most popular athletes and spectator sports Sports Professional baseball High school baseball Ekiden Golf Marathon Figure skating/Sumo (tie) Athletes Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners outfielder Ryo Ishikawa, golfer Mao Asada, figure skater Hideki Matsui, former New York Yankees DH Hakuho, sumo wrestler Tomoaki Kanemoto, Hanshin Tigers outfielder Masashi Tanaka, Rakuten Eagles pitcher Tatsunori Hara, Yomiuri Giants ...

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Who: Illustrated by Mitsuru Aoyama What: Anime Charity Auction official poster Where: Tokyo International Anime Fair, Tokyo Big Sight When: Mar 27-28 See Multimedia Guide for details.

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Apple executives were left a little red in the face this month when it was discovered that the copy of electropop trio Perfume’s album Game for sale on its iTunes store was actually an illegal version. The CD description displayed on the sales page was written entirely in English, and all of the song titles ...

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Top five things you do that exhaust your boyfriend 31.3% 25.9% 25.5% 24.1% 22.7% Texting him a dozen times every day Not listening Getting angry when your call isn’t answered Getting angry when your text doesn’t get a reply Constantly complaining Source: Online survey of 278 men by Cobs Online (http://cobs.jp/), Sep 15-28, 2009. More ...

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Isoiso いそいそ Meaning: Looking forward to something and moving spritely. Example: 妹はパーティに行くので、いそいそと支度をしている; Imouto wa party ni iku node, isoiso to shitaku o shiteiru; My little sister is in high spirits getting ready for the party. Source: Giongo/Gitaigo: A Practical Guide to Mimetic Expressions Through Pictures, by Akutsu Satoru (ALC Shuppan, 1994)

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iPad Developed by Apple, this high-tech tablet promises to revolutionize the way we read, surf the web and watch movies by, er, being bigger than an iPod touch. Aipad Developed by Awajitec, this high-tech incontinence pad promises to minimize discomfort and rashes by alerting caregivers when it becomes wet.

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Suggested future jobs for recently retired yokozuna Asashoryu Plus-size fashion model Club bouncer K-1 fighter Diplomat Competitive eater Late-period Elvis impersonator Industrial paperweight President of Mongolia

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In a splendidly weird interview, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara recently gave Sapio mag his take on the love lives of today’s youth. “In the past, there wasn’t so much information out there about male-female relationships, but these days you can get all the graphic details quite easily [via the internet]. Even women know about things ...

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Top ten first-date mood killers 1.    Splits the check down to the yen 2.    Continues to text during conversation 3.    Talks on phone for long periods 4.    Only goes to places with discount coupons 5.    Talks only about self 6.    Refuses to deviate from plan 7.    Makes you take your shoes off in the car ...

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Which Japanese City or Prefecture Are You? You are…. a. …warm, trendy and chic, but understated; open to new things while valuing the old b. …convinced you’ve got it all, but others see you as materialistic, gaudy and a bit shallow c. …tanned, love nature, are extremely chilled and everyone adores you. Your favorite food ...

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The Japanese online community is abuzz over an (undated) photo showing some unusual signage on the JR Kobe line: 日本は終了しました (Nihon wa shuryo shimashita; “Japan is finished”). The obvious explanation is that a worker accidentally mis-typed the first two characters in the standard end-of-day announcement: 本日は終了しました (Honjitsu wa shuryo shimashita; “All through for today”). But ...

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2010 trends to watch 1. Tabi Ryoman (旅RYOMAN) Tours of locales associated with Meiji Restoration figure Ryoma Sakamoto, whose surging popularity reflects a revival of interest in historical topics 2. Tenohiraito (テノヒライト) Brand name of a “fortune-telling” flashlight from Takara Corp 3. Tsumekomu (ツメコム) A type of shopping in which customers pay a predetermined price ...

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What: Kamen Cider Who: Beverage company DyDo in collaboration with the kids TV show Kamen Rider Where: Conbini, major supermarkets and vending machines nationwide When: On sale How much: ¥100 (350ml) Why: Part of DyDo’s Fukkokudo (“Reissues”) series, the cans feature nine Kamen Rider characters from the Showa Era www.dydo.co.jp

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Who do Japanese women lie to the most? Friends 47.9% Family 18.7% Themselves 16.3% People they meet online 11.8% Boyfriend 5.2% Source: online survey of 20,858 women by Niko Niko Doga (www.nicovideo.jp), Jan 18

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Cyzo magazine is the self-styled gadfly of the Japanese media world, picking up stories that other publications are too timorous to touch. The current issue focuses on Japan’s New Taboos, and it raises some interesting questions… Is the debate over giving foreign permanent residents the vote really about Zainichi Koreans? With its elderly leader Daisaku ...

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Sumo wrestler Takamisakari came in for some unexpected backlash last month when Nikkan Sports magazine reported that he was in a relationship with a “beautiful woman with L-cup breasts” (later revealed to be gravure idol Minami Matsuzaka). The revelation incited storms of jealousy across the internet, especially on popular BBS 2-channel. Here are some of ...

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Who knew that women would be so keen to have a slumber party with manta rays and dolphins? The Ladies Night Stay promotion at Kamogawa Sea World in Chiba offers gals the chance to camp out at an aquarium while enjoying a variety of insider tours and activities. Dinner is served at Ocean restaurant, whose ...

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What: Heart-shaped pepperoni pizza from Domino’s When: Available February 10-14 Where: Orders taken only via the web How much: ¥1,300 (M size only) Why: Aimed at those who don’t like sweets but still want to enjoy V-Day, each pie is “lovingly” handmade by Domino’s staff. www.dominos.jp

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Ever wonder what Tokyo looked like in the Edo Era? Eihan Shimizu has. The University of Tokyo engineering professor used geographical data to create a series of CG-based cityscapes showing the city as it might have appeared in the 19th century. The results were then compared with the best-known contemporary depictions of Edo – the ...

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Inspired by a post at the Tokyo Shift blog, which listed bizarre Google auto-complete suggestions for “Why is Japan so…”, we tried a few searches of our own. Here are some highlights, along with their Japanese-language equivalents. Japan is… weird; an island lyrics; an island; famous for; known for; awesome; better than America 日本は。。。 なぜ貧しい人が多いのか ...

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Holy crap! Renowned toilet manufacturer TOTO has transformed its Shinjuku showroom into an exhibition space devoted to one of mankind’s most welcome inventions. Chronicling the evolution of toilets from the primitive bowls of the Meiji era to the current heated-buttocks heyday, the show details innovations in design, technology and environmental efforts. TOTO created the display ...

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Top 10 Fetishes of Japanese Women Voice Veins on the surface of a guy’s hands Muscular buttocks Thick fingers Adam’s apple Silky hair Bump on a guy’s wrist Muscles in general Open-collared shirt 5-o’clock shadow Source: Online survey of 1,077 women by Goo (www.goo.ne.jp), Dec 18-21

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Title: Hz, 2008, pencil on paper Artist: TANKA Exhibition: “Passport to Planet Earth” Concept: “Dramatic moments that lurk in the cracks of the everyday” Venue: Galerie Sho, Nihombashi When: Feb 5-March 6 Galerie Sho Tanka. Passport to Planet Earth. Painting, drawing. Feb 5-Mar 6, free. B1 Sansho Bldg, 3-2-9 Nihombashi, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3275-1008. Open Mon-Fri ...

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In a land where green Tabasco sauce is actually considered spicy, it can be hard for dedicated chili aficionados to get a decent fix. So we were tickled pink when a fellow devotee told us about Pepper Friends, a Yokohama-based online store which specializes in all things togarashi-related. You’ll find frozen (and, depending on the ...

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Features

From lingerie to chocolate, love hotels to parties, Metropolis presents a grab-bag of Valentine's Day fun

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The fact that there’s a specific word in Japanese for students taking entrance exams (jukensei) says a lot about how much of a challenge these tests are. And as exam season approaches, some people will try anything to guarantee their success. Even the convenience store isn’t safe, as food makers release special pre-exam editions of ...

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After all that kerfuffle with China, we don’t imagine the executives at Google will be losing much sleep over remarks made by Yahoo! Japan president Masahiro Inoue in an interview with Nikkei Business earlier this month. “Google? It ain’t all that” splashed the headline for the article, in which Inoue gave his closest rival a ...

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In its recent Top Risks of 2010 report, global political risk research and consulting firm Eurasia Group ranked Japan at #5, one slot above climate change… “What happens when the ruling party loses power in a one-party state? You get a zero-party state…[If PM Yuki Hatoyama is replaced], regardless of the merits of the actual ...

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Of all the things we love about Twitter, the recent corporatization of the microblogging service is not one of them. Here’s a collection of Japanese tweets that pretty much define the concept of too much information Duskin: @duskin_osouji “To clean a toilet, it’s better to use an acidic type of cleaner than a neutral type.” ...

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In what has become a year-end tradition for doll maker Kyugetsu, a group of traditional hagoita (battledores) festooned with the likeness of the year’s top newsmakers were displayed at its headquarters in Asakusa-bashi. In addition to baseball star Ichiro Suzuki (pictured), luminaries included US President Barack Obama, Uniqlo chief Tadashi Yanai, World Series hero Hideki ...

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Artist: Jef Aérosol Exhibition: “No Man’s Land” Where: Embassy of France in Japan, Hiroo Why: The embassy has moved into a new building next door, and its old home is earmarked for demolition. As a last hurrah, the space was turned over to a group of Japanese and international artists, who have converted the old ...

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Meaning: A strong feeling of hunger. Usually used in the form onaka ga peko-peko da. Example: 朝ごはんを食べなかったので、お腹がぺこぺこだ; Asa gohan o tabenakatta node, onaka ga peko-peko da; I didn’t eat breakfast this morning so I’m starving. Source: Giongo/Gitaigo: A Practical Guide to Mimetic Expressions Through Pictures, by Akutsu Satoru (ALC Shuppan, 1994)

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Wondering when your fellow passengers are likely to detrain? Keep your ears tuned for these verbal cues, and you may be rewarded with a seat Often asked by people just getting to know each other. Listen for the use of formal Japanese, which may precede a question like this Friends or couples visiting one another’s ...

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If you’ve spent the past few weeks huddled under a pile of blankets and dreaming of a beach holiday in Bali, you probably aren’t the only one. Still, it would appear that some of us feel the winter weather more keenly than others. A recent poll by online news website Business Media Makoto posed the ...

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Top Nengajo Disappointments 1. Wrong name 2. Corporate sender 3. Completely blank except for name/address 4. Same card as last year 5. Unknown sender 6. Impersonal mass mailing Source: Survey of 1,166 men and women by Goo (www.goo.ne.jp), Nov 19

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If you’ve been spotting tiny figures perched on lampposts or bus stops while wandering around town, don’t worry: you aren’t losing your marbles. They’re part of Code: Tiwiki, a project conceived by Tiwiki Design and Kollektiv Tokio and launched at Tokyo Designtide 2009 back in the autumn. Three-hundred handmade figurines, each with their own name, ...

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What Japanese Girls Don’t Want Their Boyfriends to See Farting Shaving Using the bathroom Personal blog Text messages and emails Messy apartment Naked body Changing Room “Nothing in particular”

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What: Omotesando H.I.S. Skating Theater Where: Omotesando Hills, 4-12-10 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Nearest stn: Omotesando or Meiji-Jingumae When: Daily through Jan 17, 11am-9pm (until 8pm Sun-hol) How much: Free (skate rental ¥500) Info: www.omotesando.or.jp

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The low-budget, faux-documentary Paranormal Activity proved to be the sleeper horror hit of 2009. But how will the film play in Japan? Find out for yourself at a sneak preview on Friday, January 22 at Kudan Kaikan in Kudanshita (www.kudankaikan.or.jp). Metropolis has managed to score 20 pairs of tickets to the screening of Oren Peli’s ...

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Where would you like to spend Christmas with your boyfriend?* 59.2%: Restaurant 48.3%: Hotel 46.5%: His apartment 39%: Traveling 38%: My apartment 25.3%: Amusement park 4.1%: Other *More than one response permitted Source: Survey of 2,060 readers of L25 women’s magazine (http://l25.jp)

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Takeshi Kitano wears many hats—filmmaker, comedian, tarento. Now, we can add “artist” to the list. Kitano was chosen to create a novelty plate for this year’s “Art of Christmas Namiki” event, which is held annually on Ginza’s Namiki Dori. The somewhat mournful creation shows a solitary man smoking and drinking while a family across the ...

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How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa Claus? 31.4%: Younger than elementary school age 26.3%: In 1st-2nd grade 36.5%: In 3rd-6th grade 1.9%: In middle school 3.9%: I still believe in Santa Claus Source: Survey of 2,060 readers of L25 women’s magazine (http://l25.jp)

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What: German Christmas market Where: Roppongi Hills, O-Yane Plaza (West Walk 2F) When: Until Dec 25, 11am-9pm Why: German-made toys, Xmas ornaments, breads, sweets, sausages, mulled wine, beer and more. Also an accordion performance and “large Christmas pyramid,” with Santa on hand to pose for photos with kids Admission: Free Info: http://tinyurl.com/rh-german (Japanese); http://tinyurl.com/rh-german2 (English)

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What was the worst Christmas present you ever received? 1. An outfit that wasn’t to my taste 2. Jewelry that wasn’t to my taste 3. DVD of a home movie 4. CD or DVD of an unfamiliar artist 5. Handmade scarf 6. Clothes 7. Cheap jewelry 8. Character goods 9. Underwear/lingerie 10. Figurine Source: Survey ...

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It’s a question that has troubled the greatest minds for decades: how did Christmas in Japan become synonymous with a fast food joint? Foreigners may laugh at the queues that form outside branches of KFC on December 24, or the people reserving their buckets of chicken months in advance, but it turns out that we’ve ...

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What happens when a weather service company decides to collaborate with a shipping firm? In the case of Weathernews Inc. and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, the result is a globe-shaped display showing the real-time position of commercial ships around the world, as well as sea temperatures in varying colors. Unveiled at Mitsui’s Tokyo headquarters in October, ...

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What: Bridge of Plants Who: Flower artist Makoto Azuma Where: Akasaka Ark Hills, Karajan Plaza When: Until May 5; illumination nightly 5:30-11pm What else: In addition to the installation, Azuma has created Christmas wreaths and flower arrangements that will be sold at a temporary market set up in the plaza on December 12 and 19, ...

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Tekipaki てきぱき Meaning: performing a job quickly and proficiently Example: てきぱきやったので、仕事が早く終わった; Tekipaki yatta no de, shigoto ga hayaku owatta; I worked efficiently, so I finished early Source: Giongo/Gitaigo: A Practical Guide to Mimetic Expressions Through Pictures, by Akutsu Satoru (ALC Press Inc., 1994)

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Could this be the best alcohol vending machine in the whole of Tokyo? Occupying a perch just up the street from the Daikanyama Address building, this marvel of egalitarianism caters to booze snobs and cheapskates alike. Selections range from Ozeki One-Cup sake (¥230), the tipple of choice for that old guy who sits on the ...

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In celebration of the end of Movember, home appliance maker Philips has released an innovative promotion for its Arcitec electric shaver. A new website called Hige-Sori Bijyo features videos of 20 “beautiful women” pretending to shave their faces with the razor. Visitors to the site have until January 11 to vote for their favorite model, ...

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Top 10 girl’s gokon fashions that give guys the wrong message 1. Sleeveless shirt 2. Denim miniskirt 3. Hot pants 4. Boat neck shirt that shows her collarbones 5. Loose V-neck shirt 6. White blouse 7. Dress with a soft and lacy silhouette 8. Shorts 9. Fishnets 10. Tiny T-shirt Source: Online survey of 1,156 ...

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Japan’s obsession with youth, beauty and all things kawaii has given it a reputation as the most image-conscious of nations. That will come as no surprise to the estimated 1 million members of My Face, My Style, an NPO that helps Japanese people with facial deformities survive in a culture where appearance is everything. The ...

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If you’ve spent the past few months studying furiously for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, take heart: even the natives sometimes struggle with the complexities of nihongo. Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo—English title: Japanese That Japanese Don’t Know—is the illustrated tale of the lessons learned by real-life sensei Nagiko Umino in the course of teaching foreign ...

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Dec 6 Sound Day Established in 1994 by the Japan Audio Society, among others. Thomas Edison made his first recording on a phonograph on this day in 1877 Dec 11 Kanji Day Established by the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society in 1995, this is the day on which the public’s Kanji of the Year is announced ...

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What: “Usavich: Puchi-Kire” When: Until Dec 9, free Where: Logos Gallery Why: Goods, songs, video clips and stills from Usavich, a series of animated short films about an odd couple of rabbits named Kirinenko and Putin who are stuck in a Soviet prison. Logos Gallery Usavich: Puchi-Kire. Illustration. Until Dec 9, free. Shibuya Parco, 15-1 ...

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The US online sports community has its panties in a twist over the near-unanimous selection of Joe Mauer as American League MVP. In a 27-1 vote, the Baseball Writers Association of America chose the hard-hitting Minnesota Twins catcher as the league’s top player; the only dissenting ballot was cast by an obscure Japanese reporter, Keizo ...

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In our first few encounters with Japanese toilets, the ubiquitous automatic flushing noises took us by surprise. But now, after growing accustomed to their constant, soothing presence, a trip to a silent WC can lead to an embarrassing case of shy-bladder syndrome. To help combat this scourge, companies have begun creating portable, hand-held sound machines ...

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Ever dreamed of soaring through the skies as the pilot of your own giant robotic spacecraft? For lots of otaku, the answer to that question would be a resounding “yes.” And that’s exactly what has made Kameleon Inc.’s line of Mousou Licences so popular (mousou means “wild idea” or “delusion”). The company offers everything from ...

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The world of konkatsu (marriage hunting) is fraught with misunderstandings. In a bid to bridge the communication gap, a recent issue of Spa!magazine provided a guide to the honne and tatemae of what women say and what they actually mean when they’re looking for a husband. Helpfully, they also asked 100 ladies aged 25-35 whether ...

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Japanese lingerie maker Triumph certainly knows how to pull off an effective PR stunt—the company has already caused a splash with such items as the Jury System Bra (“to raise public awareness of the lay juror system”) and the My Chopsticks Bra (“with a set of collapsible chopsticks that tuck into either side”). Now, in ...

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Good news for all you budding entrepreneurs and captains of industry—that bible of economic reporting, the Wall Street Journal, is finally getting a Japanese-language online edition. When it officially opens for business on December 15, the site will present a variety of articles from the publication’s other overseas editions, carefully selected for their appeal to ...

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What: Drinks coaster Where: Pronto Cafe & Bar, Shinagawa branch Tagline: “When you go out drinking, age differences don’t matter” Info: 1-8-27 Konan, Minato-ku; www.pronto.co.jp

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Artist: Yoko Watanabe Exhibition: “Complex x Complex” Title: Equality of the Reincarnation Concept: 50 works representing two conflicting worldviews: front and back, good and evil, beauty and filth Venue: Lapnet Ship, Jingumae Admission: Free Lapnet Ship Yoko Watanabe. Complex x Complex. Various media. Until Nov 25, free. 1F 1-11-6 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5411-3330. Open daily ...

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A brief guide to Japanese luxury brand wallets

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Named after a well-known pop-culture critic, the Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Library of Manga and Subcultures opened on October 30 on the campus of Meiji University. Its holdings include some 140,000 titles ranging from postwar manga precursors to rare graphic serials for girls. Visitors can register for a one-day pass for ¥300 or sign up for ...

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Japan’s pizza makers are famed for the sheer wrongness of some of their culinary creations, but even previous triumphs like Pizza Hut’s sausage roll crust couldn’t prepare us for the wonders of the Premium Cheese Fantasy Super Rich Quattro. “From appetizer to dessert, it’s a full-course meal in a single pizza!” squeals the sales blurb ...

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The latest slab of gastronomic excess from Domino’s Pizza is far from the only product out there with a fixed shelf life. An alarming dip in consumer spending over the past year has forced manufacturers to slap the gentei (“limited edition”) tag on all kinds of stuff in an attempt to make it more desirable ...

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Who do you least want to run into when not wearing any makeup? Husband’s friends (22%) Colleagues (15.3%) Strangers (10.3%) Friends (8.3%) Boss (7.3%) Boyfriend (7%) Neighbors (5.3%) Fellow moms (4.3%) Husband (0%) Source: survey of 150 women in their 20s and 30s by Unilever Japan

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What: Amuse Museum When: Opened November 1 Where: 2-34-4 Asakusa, Taito-ku (adjacent to Senso-ji temple) How much: Adults ¥1,000, students & kids ¥500-¥800 Why: “Amuse Museum is a general art building where you can feel and experience the real Japanese culture through many functioning spaces such as ukiyo-e theater, live stages, as well as the ...

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Ah, omiyage. One of the best-loved Japanese customs, where travelers bring back tasty treats for family, landladies, coworkers and the like—treats they usually bought in a panicked rush just before boarding their shinkansen home. Now Nestle has solved these weary wanderers’ problems (while at the same time finding a use for its array of mind-bogglingly ...

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The Japanese remake of Alexander Payne’s 2004 Oscar-winner Sideways scored an unexpected thumbs-up from our resident eiga expert Rob Schwartz last month. Could it be that, after years of having their best work imitated by Hollywood, Japan’s directors are going to start responding in kind? If so, here are a few classics that we’d love ...

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The producers of Quentin Tarantino’s creatively spelled WWII adventure flick Inglourious Basterds are so confident that Japanese audiences will love the movie, they’re offering to refund the price of a ticket for anyone who doesn’t. Well, for a little while, anyway. For the first four days of the film’s run (November 20-23), Toho Cinemas will ...

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(In a corporate newsletter dated October 21, Japan Airlines struck back at the filmmakers of Shizumanu Taiyo, a thinly veiled fictional account of the crash of JAL Flight 123 in 1985.) We Face This Together: Do Not be Misled by Gossip and Criticism The harsh financial conditions surrounding our company are attracting the attention of ...

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What: Fifth Anniversary Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination Where: Tokyo Dome City When: Daily 5pm-midnight, through February 14 Admission: Free Why: Tokyo gears up for the year-end season with… a bunch of bright lights Holiday Illuminations Akasaka Sacas White Sacas ‘09-’10. Nov 13-Feb 28, Mon-Fri 11am-7pm (until 9pm on hol eve), Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 10am-7pm. ...

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How can you tell when a train rider is about to leave his or her seat? To help snag yourself a spot, learn to recognize these common actions of seat-holders who are about to detrain 2 Body position: Look for people who are uncrossing their arms, placing their feet flat on the floor, or resting ...

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What Wish Do You Want to Fulfill at Tokyo Disneyland? 26% Monopolize a favorite character for the day 16% Catch a one-time-only performance 15% Discover a secret that no one knows 13% Ride all the rides in one day 10% Have my own “hidden Mickey”* 10% Participate in a show or parade 7% Buy goods ...

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On a recent trip to Family Mart, we spotted a special edition can of Sapporo Mugi to Hoppu (“Barley and Hop”), which suggests that shoppers complement their pseudo-beer with some succulent fried chicken. Very enterprising, we must say—but why stop there? Here are a few suggestions for other fruitful conbini pairings. Kirin Hyoketsu 8% Strong: ...

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atsuhime (厚姫) Origin: combination of atsui (thick) + hime (princess) Meaning: a woman with too much makeup B&B Origin: acronym of busu (ugly woman) and busaiku (ugly man) Meaning: an unattractive couple BY Origin: acronym of bamen (situation) and yomenai (cannot read) Meaning: someone who can’t read the situation CG Origin: acronym of chikan (groper) ...

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“In recent months, the yen’s surge on major markets as the dollar weakened has sent a false sense of security… For all the recent talk of a shift away from the dollar as the reserve currency of choice, it is the yen that is becoming increasingly irrelevant, analysts say. The yen made up 3.08 percent ...

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Popular wisdom has it that convenience stores are the last place to go for lunch if you’re watching your waistline. But could you actually lose weight on a conbini diet? Spa! magazine asked some nutritionists (and, bizarrely, a bodybuilder) for advice… Know your hidden carb bombs That seemingly innocuous potato salad is actually laden with ...

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Meaning: Tottering on one’s feet almost to the point of toppling over Example: よっぱらいがよろよろ歩いている; Yopparai ga yoroyoro aruiteiru; That drunk guy is staggering around

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Artist: Ryo Matsumoto Title: Magic Journey Concept: “Sculptures exploring the search for the meaning of one’s existence” Venue: San-Ai Gallery Admission: Free San-Ai Gallery Ryo Matsumoto. Sculpture. Until Nov 7, free. Ichidai Sato and Kenji Yamauchi. Painting. Nov 2-7, free. 1-26-8 Nihombashi-Kayabacho, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-5847-7714. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-7pm, Sun 11:30am-6pm. Nearest stn: Suitengumae. www17.plala.or.jp/san-ai_gallery

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NOV 1 Shochu Day Established in 1987 to promote the joys of Japanese liquor. This is traditionally the day on which the year’s new batch of shochu is first tasted NOV 12 Western Clothing Memorial Day The Meiji government issued a decree on this day in 1872 for officials to ditch their Japanese threads in ...

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“There’s nothing left that I want to do,” Kazuhiko Kato wrote to a friend shortly before committing suicide at the age of 62 in mid-October. The musician and producer, who was found hanged in a hotel room in Nagano Prefecture, had fought a long battle against depression. His personal troubles were far removed from the ...

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As Tokyo rues its loss to Rio de Janeiro in the bid for the 2016 Olympics, Japan is already gearing up for another bash. Metropolis recently obtained a copy of the minutes from a meeting by the Working Group for the Realization of a Successful and Heartful Olympic Games in Japan (tentative name), and it’s ...

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Japan has gone positively rugby-mad. Just weeks after it was announced that the country would host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the prestigious Bledisloe Cup promises to bring hard-hitting Aussie-versus-NZ action to Tokyo (see Sports, page 22). Now, to promote the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the folks at Tourism New Zealand are installing a giant ...

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Kanto residents have gotten used to seeing the cute, round face of the Suica penguin just about everywhere they go. As with many big stars, though, it seems as though the little critter has grown dissatisfied with the limited scope of his endorsements and is looking to expand into more culinary pursuits. Enter the Suica ...

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A recent online poll asked Japanese OLs which company policies they wish were in effect at their office* 44.8%: Allow employees to take a break to “surprise” someone 44.6%: A weekly “tasting” of cuisines from around the country 23.6%: An all-you-can-drink bar for employees to enjoy after work 23.6%: Free iPhone to all employees 19%: ...

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Village Voices

Things will be getting decidedly shaggy around the Metropolis offices next week, thanks to the onset of Movember. This annual charity drive for men’s health sees dudes across the globe starting November 1 with a clean shave and then letting their moustache grow for the rest of the month—and the funkier the better. Hop on ...

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Village Voices

You already know that Metropolis’ Glitterball is Tokyo’s biggest and best Halloween party, a frighteningly fun bash that draws over 1,000 ghosts, ghouls and goblins to Alife nightclub in Nishi-Azabu. What you may not know is that Glitterball also has a heart. A total of ¥500 from each ticket sold at this year’s event will ...

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With the recent openings of H&M, Forever 21 and even the L.A. fashion boutique Kitson, trend-conscious Tokyoites haven’t exactly been suffering from a dearth of places to shop. But starting this month, there will be one less brand to keep track of. In what’s being billed as a sign of the collapse of the world’s ...

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What: Virus Screen Suit Say what? It may look like off-the-rack business garb, but this suit packs a hidden weapon: a special coating that kills 40 percent of H1N1 virus particles within three hours Who: Haruyama Trading How much: ¥52,290 Where: Available at 272 stores nationwide www.haruyama.co.jp

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Title: Koike Eiko wears Gianni Versace, 2004 Artist: Kaoru Izima Exhibit: “Landscapes with a Corpse,” in which Japanese celebrities were asked to imagine their “ideal death” Venue: BLD Gallery, until October 25 Admission: Free BLD Gallery Kaoru Izima. Landscapes with a Corpse. Photography. Until Oct 25, free. 8F 2-4-9 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-5524-3903. Open daily ...

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When we were in high school, the annual blood drive was one of the highlights of the year. Sit in a chair, eat cookies, and don’t go back to class for at least half an hour—naturally, every eligible student showed up. Now, the Japanese Red Cross has decided to offer similar incentives to the otaku ...

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Despite its reputation as Tokyo’s leading youth-fashion hub, the 109 shopping complex can be a forbidding place for foreigners. Wall-to-wall teenyboppers and floor upon floor of kawaii style madness make for a vibe that’s intense, if not downright freaky. So the appearance of the first English publication devoted to this retail palace makes for a ...

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Call it The Case of the Missing Mayor: when popular Yokohama shicho Hiroshi Nakada unexpectedly resigned in July, pundits were left scratching their heads. Why would the boyish 44-year-old politician, who is widely credited with sparking an economic and cultural revival in Japan’s second city, leave his job mid-term? Many believed the former Diet member ...

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Anime producer, author and otaku expert Toshio Okada hit the big time when he published Itsumademo Debu to Omouna yo (“Don’t Think You’ll Be Fat Forever”) in 2007. The memoir, recently released in English as Sayonara, Mr Fatty!, describes how he managed to drop 110lbs in the space of a year simply by recording exactly ...

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The latest innovations in katakana English nega-kyan – ネガキャン Origin: short for “negative campaign” Meaning: mudslinging or bashing your opponent, usually in a political campaign Example: 政治家たちがどんなに必死でも、ああいうネガキャンはだめだと思います; Seijika tachi ga donna ni hisshi de mo, aaiu nega-kyan wa dame da to omoimasu; No matter how desperate politicians are, that kind of dirty campaign is wrong ...

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What: The Peacekeeper Where: Big-screen adaptation of Astro Boy When: Opens Saturday, October 10, at area theaters Why: “The Peacekeeper is a breakthrough in mad science, an ultimate fighting robot that Astro must stop before it destroys Metro City” See Don Morton’s review

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“See you at the track.” That’s not something we ever expected to hear ourselves saying, but thanks to a tie-up between Metropolis and the Japan Racing Association, we’ll be spending a day at the races. On Saturday, October 17, Metropolis staff will be manning (and womanning) a booth at Tokyo Racecourse, located about 30 minutes ...

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Title: A Dog I Artist: Enpei Ito Exhibit: “Enpei Ito Solo Exhibit” Venue: Yukari Art Contemporary (Meguro), until October 17 Admission: Free Info: www.yukari-art.com

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Title: A Dog I Artist: Enpei Ito Exhibit: “Enpei Ito Solo Exhibit” Venue: Yukari Art Contemporary (Meguro), until October 17 Admission: Free Info: www.yukari-art.com

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It seems that men aren’t the only ones who don’t return phone calls the morning after. When Spa! magazine conducted a survey of 100 women in their 20s and 30s, they were surprised to find that over a third were guilty of, ahem, humping and dumping a guy. “It was just casual sex” was the ...

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It seems that men aren’t the only ones who don’t return phone calls the morning after. When Spa! magazine conducted a survey of 100 women in their 20s and 30s, they were surprised to find that over a third were guilty of, ahem, humping and dumping a guy. “It was just casual sex” was the ...

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“Most Japanese, mostly among the old generation, are satisfied with the kind of society they have built. They perceive Americans and Europeans as being obsessed with money and material ambition, and they seem ready to accept some stagnation as the price of remaining truly Japanese. …How long can Japan sustain this period of harmonious stagnation? ...

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What do you do while the stylist is cutting your hair?* Make small talk women: 81.7% men: 76.1% Read a magazine women: 72.7% men: 32.2% People-watch women: 12.7% men: 17.6% Sleep women: 4.4% men: 21.2% Play with a cellphone women: 4.3% men: 1% Others women: 4.1% men: 4.9% *Respondents could choose more than one answer ...

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If someone asked you to design an artifact that would cause a splash among Japanese historians, you’d be hard pressed to come up with anything better than the pair of folding screens recently unearthed in Niigata. The six-panel byoubu depict 16th-century Emperor Go-Yozei paying a visit to the castle of the warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi in ...

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Oct 2 – Tofu Day Usually observed on the twelfth of each month, this event is brought forward in October. To (10) and fu (2), of course, make tofu Oct 14 – Railway Day Japan’s first railway line, linking Shimbashi and Yokohama stations, was opened on this day in 1872 OCT 17 – Savings Day ...

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Intelligent news journalism and Noriko Sakai’s beach house haven’t been the only casualties in the protracted drug scandal enveloping the former J-pop star. The so-called “Nori P Shock” has also brought Japan’s club culture under the spotlight. As parents worry themselves silly about what their offspring are really getting up to at the local discotheque, ...

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Intelligent news journalism and Noriko Sakai’s beach house haven’t been the only casualties in the protracted drug scandal enveloping the former J-pop star. The so-called “Nori P Shock” has also brought Japan’s club culture under the spotlight. As parents worry themselves silly about what their offspring are really getting up to at the local discotheque, ...

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What: Armani “Night Effect” cellphone (a.k.a. Softbank 830SC EMPORIO ARMANI Model) Who: Giorgio Armani, in collaboration with Samsung When: On sale now Where: Available at Softbank shops nationwide Why: Whip one of these sleek, ultraslim (47mm) puppies out, and bikini chicks like Marie will be all over you

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The 10th anniversary of Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast video game console was marked in curious style on September 9, when the long-defunct geek news website Gaming Intelligence Agency briefly resurfaced to report that a Dreamcast 2 was in the works. The new console would apparently have off-the-shelf components and wireless internet, with launch titles including new ...

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ぴんぴん Meaning: Used when someone such as an elderly person seems hale and hearty Example: うちのおじいさんは90歳だが、まだぴんぴんしている; Uchi no ojiisan wa 90-sai da ga, mada pinpin shiteiru; My granddad is 90, but he’s still really chipper Source: Giongo/Gitaigo: A Practical Guide to Mimetic Expressions Through Pictures, by Akutsu Satoru (ALC Shuppan, 1994)

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ぴんぴん Meaning: Used when someone such as an elderly person seems hale and hearty Example: うちのおじいさんは90歳だが、まだぴんぴんしている; Uchi no ojiisan wa 90-sai da ga, mada pinpin shiteiru; My granddad is 90, but he’s still really chipper Source: Giongo/Gitaigo: A Practical Guide to Mimetic Expressions Through Pictures, by Akutsu Satoru (ALC Shuppan, 1994)

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“I think that video games are evil… [Gaming] is not a type of activity that provides any support to our daily lives, and all these consoles are just consuming electricity! Let’s say we have about three billion people on this planet wasting their time, bringing no productivity at all. Add 10 billion more people, and ...

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“I think that video games are evil… [Gaming] is not a type of activity that provides any support to our daily lives, and all these consoles are just consuming electricity! Let’s say we have about three billion people on this planet wasting their time, bringing no productivity at all. Add 10 billion more people, and ...

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Five local Twitter users we can’t live without (and what they’ve been tweeting) neojaponisme [Marxy] I just realized that the Japanese public would have no real reason to know who Will Ferrell is. jgtokyo Word on “Shock Labyrinth” is [sound of sucking air through teeth]. Mulboyne Now his wife has spoken about interplanetary contact, it’s ...

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The latest fashion statement being made by Japanese women is something of an anti-statement. Mori Girls (森ガール) are all-natural and proud of it, with a back-to-basics sensibility and a down-to-earth approach to style. The movement started in 2006 when a Mixi user was told by a friend, “You look like you could be in the ...

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Q & A

Screenwriter/musician

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Q & A

Screenwriter/musician

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A recent online poll asked Japanese OLs if they agreed with the following unwritten workplace rules: A. Say hello if you happen upon a colleague in the street B. Make sure to clean shared spaces if you’re a kohai C. Don’t touch your cellphone during lunch with a senpai D. Show up at work before ...

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A recent online poll asked Japanese OLs if they agreed with the following unwritten workplace rules: A. Say hello if you happen upon a colleague in the street B. Make sure to clean shared spaces if you’re a kohai C. Don’t touch your cellphone during lunch with a senpai D. Show up at work before ...

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“Some Chinese tourists are already so full of their own ideas about what Japan is like that if the reality doesn’t conform with their expectations, they get really pissed off. For instance, some have heard that mixed bathing is possible in Japan, so you’ll get these leery middle-aged guys making outlandish complaints when they can’t ...

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“Some Chinese tourists are already so full of their own ideas about what Japan is like that if the reality doesn’t conform with their expectations, they get really pissed off. For instance, some have heard that mixed bathing is possible in Japan, so you’ll get these leery middle-aged guys making outlandish complaints when they can’t ...

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According to the nonprofit group Hackspace.org, hacker spaces are “physical places where people can meet to learn, socialize and collaborate on projects.” The movement began in Europe as a way for artists and engineers to share ideas, technology and infrastructure, and after spreading to the US, it’s now found a home in Japan. The Tokyo ...

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The Japanese government is well-known for its contribution to overseas aid programs, but an international scientific collaboration promises to benefit humanity in a different way. When it’s completed in 2018, the Thirty Meter Telescope will “enable astronomers to detect and study light from the earliest stars and galaxies, analyze the formation of planets around nearby ...

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The Japanese government is well-known for its contribution to overseas aid programs, but an international scientific collaboration promises to benefit humanity in a different way. When it’s completed in 2018, the Thirty Meter Telescope will “enable astronomers to detect and study light from the earliest stars and galaxies, analyze the formation of planets around nearby ...

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What: Kosher bagel Who: Tokyo-based baker Fujimoto Where: Dean & Deluca stores Why: Hey, do you have any idea how hard it is to get a decent bagel in this town? Price: ¥210 www.bagel.co.jp

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What: Kosher bagel Who: Tokyo-based baker Fujimoto Where: Dean & Deluca stores Why: Hey, do you have any idea how hard it is to get a decent bagel in this town? Price: ¥210 www.bagel.co.jp

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When it comes to snack foods, Japanese companies consistently cook up flavor combinations that would have the rest of the world running for the bathroom. Case in point: a new series of fruit- and veggie-inspired Kit-Kats from Nestle. Some, like sour orange and mango pudding could, in theory, pair well with chocolate. An ume-shitate flavored ...

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“Some baseball players are just beyond the comprehension of computers, and Ichiro Suzuki is one of them. Machines don’t get him. They process his data, choke on it, [and] start pluming black smoke… His meticulous preparation and artful swing and utter coolness draw attention and keep it rapt. The modern Western baseball establishment cannot, does ...

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What: “Hanatsutae” exhibition Where: The Westin Tokyo hotel When: September 19-23 Admission: ¥2,000 Why: This annual event seeks to “reincarnate Japanese beauty into artistic works filled with originality and delicacy.” All proceeds will be donated to UNICEF

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Forget what you’ve heard about Kabukicho cleaning up its act. If a recent issue of Spa! magazine is to be believed, things around the ’hood are as bad as ever… if not worse. A four-page photo spread entitled “The Slumification of Kabukicho” depicts brawls, arrests, and prostitutes plying their trade right round the corner from ...

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Forget what you’ve heard about Kabukicho cleaning up its act. If a recent issue of Spa! magazine is to be believed, things around the ’hood are as bad as ever… if not worse. A four-page photo spread entitled “The Slumification of Kabukicho” depicts brawls, arrests, and prostitutes plying their trade right round the corner from ...

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For months, it has stood there, taunting us with promises of multi-floor fashion heaven. But the time, my friends, has finally arrived—time, that is, for anyone not interested in shopping to give the area around Bunkamura a wide berth, because on September 19 the H&M bargain machine comes to Shibuya. If the hordes of shoppers ...

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For months, it has stood there, taunting us with promises of multi-floor fashion heaven. But the time, my friends, has finally arrived—time, that is, for anyone not interested in shopping to give the area around Bunkamura a wide berth, because on September 19 the H&M bargain machine comes to Shibuya. If the hordes of shoppers ...

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…Amazon Japan The standard line on Amazon reviewers used to be that they were the vanguard of a glorious process of democratization. Knock those fusty old critics out of their ivory towers! Level the playing field! Long live Web 2.0! Of course, that was before we heard the stories about corruptible “Top Reviewers” and companies ...

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…Amazon Japan The standard line on Amazon reviewers used to be that they were the vanguard of a glorious process of democratization. Knock those fusty old critics out of their ivory towers! Level the playing field! Long live Web 2.0! Of course, that was before we heard the stories about corruptible “Top Reviewers” and companies ...

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People will say pretty much anything to win an election. But can the newly-elected Democratic Party of Japan make good on its campaign pledges? Use this scorecard to keep track End wasteful spending of tax money and amakudari (golden parachutes for bureaucrats) Ban “hereditary” Diet seats Cut 80 seats in the House of Representatives Pay ...

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People will say pretty much anything to win an election. But can the newly-elected Democratic Party of Japan make good on its campaign pledges? Use this scorecard to keep track End wasteful spending of tax money and amakudari (golden parachutes for bureaucrats) Ban “hereditary” Diet seats Cut 80 seats in the House of Representatives Pay ...

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Two of Disney’s best-known characters are getting a makeover this month with the launch of Rootote’s “The Artists Who Love Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse” series. The company asked 54 artists, designers and illustrators to create original graphics featuring the wholesome twosome, which were then printed onto canvas bags. The resulting artwork features everything from ...

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What: English screenings of Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s gore-fest Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. Where: Theater N, Shibuya (www.theater-n.com) When: 7pm screening, every Saturday and Sunday Tagline: “An unabashed plunge into countless buckets of blood, frenzied action battles and wry, black humor”

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What: English screenings of Yoshihiro Nishimura and Naoyuki Tomomatsu’s gore-fest Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl. Where: Theater N, Shibuya (www.theater-n.com) When: 7pm screening, every Saturday and Sunday Tagline: “An unabashed plunge into countless buckets of blood, frenzied action battles and wry, black humor”

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When Yomiuri Giants pitcher Seth Greisinger beat the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium early last month, the Sports Hochi newspaper reported the feat with a pun-ishing headline: “Nice Guy Gurai.” The verbal gymnastics involved a katakana rendering of “nice” (ナイス), followed by the first kanji of gaijin (外) and a shortening of “Greisenger” (グライ). But ...

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When Yomiuri Giants pitcher Seth Greisinger beat the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium early last month, the Sports Hochi newspaper reported the feat with a pun-ishing headline: “Nice Guy Gurai.” The verbal gymnastics involved a katakana rendering of “nice” (ナイス), followed by the first kanji of gaijin (外) and a shortening of “Greisenger” (グライ). But ...

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Move over, Chuck Norris Random Fact Generator. We’ve recently come across an online chronicle of pearls of wisdom from the mouth of controversial actor Manabu Oshio, he of the recent drug bust/dead-hostess imbroglio. According to the site’s (anonymous) author, all quotes come via an unnamed source close to the star. If reincarnation exists, I want ...

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“Popular mass media in Japan depict women in explicitly sexist and demeaning ways that serve to perpetuate stereotypes of females as dependent on men and lacking the ability and will to make their own way in life. The mass media have become self-regulatory when it comes to the use of language in reporting on disabled ...

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Have you ever wanted something so bad that you could smash the nearest objet d’art to get it? Well, now you can. The Genjo Daha from Ichiyama Touen is a plain ceramic egg on which you write down your heart’s desire, anything from “I’m going on a diet!” to “I will be a more decisive ...

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When he came to office last September, Prime Minister Taro Aso was praised for his love of manga, which supporters said was evidence of his common touch. Ten months later, the embattled PM’s frequent mistakes reading kanji have fueled the opposite view: his brain has been dulled by comics. Here’s a rundown of some notable ...

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The August issue of Cyzo magazine asks a group of experts to take the pulse of various industries. Which companies are likely to succumb to their illnesses, and which are going to pull through? Industry: Banking General state of health: Critical Malady: Paralyzed by toxic assets Surviving: Mitsui Sumitomo Financial Group Failing: Mizuho Financial Group, ...

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Sinap, a Tokyo-based communication design firm, is conducting a little experiment. For its annual promotion event, known as Sinap Summer Project, the company came up with the idea of building a giant three-dimensional QR code out of sand on a Shonan beach. Each side of the square symbol is, appropriately, about the length of a ...

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The nationalist groups (uyoku dantai) and their sound trucks will be out in force at Yasukuni Shrine on August 15. But what are they shouting about these days? Here are a few of their current causes.* • Russia must return the disputed Kuril Islands to Japan • The Nanjing Massacre was a fiction concocted by ...

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Title: Soma no Furudairi Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi Exhibit: “Yokai Paradise Nippon: Picture Scroll to Manga” Venue: Kyoto International Manga Museum, until Aug 31 Info: www.kyotomm.jp

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Features

Japan's Obon and summer festivals are loud and mad enough to wake the dead - Here are a few of the major events being held around the country during the coming month.

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Features

It’s easy to see why rooftops are all the rage in Tokyo. In a city where space is at a constant premium, sticking a few aerials and an air-conditioning unit on the top of a building just won’t cut it. Look towards the heavens here and you’ll find everything from gardens (beer or otherwise) to ...

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Features

Stuck in Tokyo for Golden Week? Lucky you. With everything from cosplay festivals to street fairs to beer factory tours, the city and environs offer more than a week's worth of fun. Here are our top picks.

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Features

From nightclubs to dance lessons to, um, wax museums, locals offer their tips on where to find a date in Tokyo

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Features

Get your new year off to a crafty start by learning a traditional hobby

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Travelogue

Get ready for more searches at Narita Airport. From July, the transport ministry will start testing full-body scanners that are capable of detecting explosives and chemicals which conventional metal detectors would miss. The devices, described in The Washington Post as “basically a kind of radar for meat,” use electromagnetic radiation to create three-dimensional images of ...

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Travelogue

Narita’s claim to fame as Tokyo’s international airport of choice might be under threat—from the same airport that it originally superseded. Earlier this month, Transport Minister Seiji Maehara revealed that he hopes to transform Haneda Airport into a 24-hour international hub to rival South Korea’s Incheon International. And, with a fourth runway due to open ...

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Travelogue

Narita’s claim to fame as Tokyo’s international airport of choice might be under threat—from the same airport that it originally superseded. Earlier this month, Transport Minister Seiji Maehara revealed that he hopes to transform Haneda Airport into a 24-hour international hub to rival South Korea’s Incheon International. And, with a fourth runway due to open ...

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Travelogue

Want to see Tokyo and get some exercise at the same time? The Tokyo City Guide Club is offering walking tours of Asakusa and the Imperial Palace East Gardens, conducted by certified English-speaking guides. The “Asakusa Then and Now” tour will be held on November 4 and 21, followed by a walk around the palace ...

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Adventure

Luxurious accommodation is probably the last thing you’d expect to find in the middle of the Gobi Desert. The Three Camel Lodge, however, promises just that. Run by tour operator Nomadic Expeditions, which has been providing trips to Mongolia for over 17 years, this deluxe development lets you experience desert life without sacrificing too many ...

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Adventure

Luxurious accommodation is probably the last thing you’d expect to find in the middle of the Gobi Desert. The Three Camel Lodge, however, promises just that. Run by tour operator Nomadic Expeditions, which has been providing trips to Mongolia for over 17 years, this deluxe development lets you experience desert life without sacrificing too many ...

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Travelogue

Rumors of an approaching meltdown in Tokyo’s luxury hotel industry may have been overstated. After a disastrous June, the Nikkei reported last month that occupancy rates at 21 major hotels in the capital had risen during July—the first such increase in over two-and-a-half years. Much to the relief of the city’s hoteliers, this also put ...

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Travelogue

Rumors of an approaching meltdown in Tokyo’s luxury hotel industry may have been overstated. After a disastrous June, the Nikkei reported last month that occupancy rates at 21 major hotels in the capital had risen during July—the first such increase in over two-and-a-half years. Much to the relief of the city’s hoteliers, this also put ...

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Bites

Low and slow meat in Azabu-Juban

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Bites

Taste a salaryman's nectar

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Word of Mouth

Bar ya neema (3F Ishii Bldg,2-5-7 Ueno, Taito-ku; www.bar-ya-neema.com) is an African bar with extreme eating options for Epicureans. Opened at the end of February, their crocodile curry (with real croc tongue) and zebra penne demand your attention. Dishes that are less wild, but nonetheless exotic, include couscous and savanna cereal. If you’re intimidated by ...

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Word of Mouth

Lifestyle brand Diesel has turned its hand to pleasing the palate with the food and drinks available at Glorious Chain Café (Cocoti 1F, 1-23-16 Shibuya; www.gloriouschaincafe.jp). The restaurant is based in the doorway of the Shibuya store on Meiji Street. Apart from the bounteous BLT hamburger—with smoky bacon—and comfort classics such as eggs Benedict, there ...

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Word of Mouth

Décor that features a prize chandelier imported from Harrods London adds to the pride of Tenkuu no Kanade (Shinjuku Peace Building 7F, 3-34-11 Shinjuku; 03-5367-3288). Cast your eye around the low lighting, red tablecloths, exquisitely framed mirrors and rough, rustic brickwork on the walls and you will have no trouble believing it. The restaurant specializes ...

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Bites

The icebox-dwelling Fridgeezoo characters will, according to their promo copy, “fill your heart but not your stomach.” These milk carton-shaped creatures with cute anime voices offer daily greetings when you open the refrigerator—but leave the door open too long and you’ll get a scolding. Originally released last July, the animals are said to have escaped ...

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Bites

The icebox-dwelling Fridgeezoo characters will, according to their promo copy, “fill your heart but not your stomach.” These milk carton-shaped creatures with cute anime voices offer daily greetings when you open the refrigerator—but leave the door open too long and you’ll get a scolding. Originally released last July, the animals are said to have escaped ...

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Bites

Tokyo’s newest shopping and dining complex is being billed as a place to “stimulate adults and produce a new Ginza.” Albore Ginza (2-4-18 Ginza, Chuo-ku) brings together well-known fashion shops, brands and salons, but gourmands will be most interested in the upper-floor eateries. Shari (www.shari-ginza.com) specializes in sushi rolls with offbeat ingredients like mango, avocado ...

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Bites

Tokyo’s newest shopping and dining complex is being billed as a place to “stimulate adults and produce a new Ginza.” Albore Ginza (2-4-18 Ginza, Chuo-ku) brings together well-known fashion shops, brands and salons, but gourmands will be most interested in the upper-floor eateries. Shari (www.shari-ginza.com) specializes in sushi rolls with offbeat ingredients like mango, avocado ...

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Bites

Metropolis has long been the foreign community’s most trusted source for restaurant, bar and dining news, reviews and information. Now we’ve brought that expertise online with a comprehensive, interactive website called Metro Dining (http://metrodining.jp). This newly launched online service includes a fully searchable database featuring hundreds of Tokyo’s best bars and restaurants, plus photos, maps, ...

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Bites

Metropolis has long been the foreign community’s most trusted source for restaurant, bar and dining news, reviews and information. Now we’ve brought that expertise online with a comprehensive, interactive website called Metro Dining (http://metrodining.jp). This newly launched online service includes a fully searchable database featuring hundreds of Tokyo’s best bars and restaurants, plus photos, maps, ...

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Bites

Tokyo’s fabled Nihombashi bridge—first built in 1603 and since reconstructed 19 times—is celebrating the centenary of the current 20th version. Among the events and festivities being held in honor of the double-arched stone bridge is a promotion featuring original cocktails created by local bars and restaurants. The celebration is being spearheaded by the Mandarin Oriental, ...

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Bites

The Conrad Tokyo (www.conradtokyo.co.jp) is getting into the spirit of hanami season with its beautifully crafted “Yoshino” bento. The lunchbox (¥5,800) features 20 bite-size delicacies, including sakura-flavored simmered tako, Japanese-style hamburg steak, chirashi-zushi and fresh seasonal vegetables. The two-tiered box is a keepsake in its own right, with a vivid furoshiki cloth you can use ...

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Word of Mouth

Tokyo’s newest theme restaurant, King of the Pirates (5F Aqua City Odaiba, 1-7-1 Daiba, Minato-ku; http://meturl.com/pirate), unfurled its Jolly Roger and set sail from Odaiba on February 25. Greeting diners in the nautical-themed interior are hoards of gold and jewelry—just make sure to avoid the skeletons. The food menu is highlighted by Western-style dishes like ...

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Word of Mouth

Connoisseurs of high-end Chinese cooking won’t want to miss the all-you-can-eat dim sum promotion at the classy Chinaroom in the Grand Hyatt Tokyo (www.tokyo.grand.hyatt.com; 03-4333-8785). For just ¥3,900 per person, diners can enjoy a full array of steamed buns, pancakes and dozens of other dishes. The meal kicks off with a daily dim sum selection, ...

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Word of Mouth

Two of Tokyo’s busiest train stations have unveiled a pair of new shopping and dining complexes. Ecute Ueno is home to six restaurants, ranging from nicely appointed soba shop Kyohka (03-5826-5620) to Midori no Kitchen (http://meturl.com/mkitchen), which showcases farm-fresh vegetables in dishes like ginger-fried pork and veggie curry. At the other end of the Yamanote ...

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Word of Mouth

Billing itself as a “dining café,” Home (5-11-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku; http://cafehome.jp) celebrates the spirit of Italy with imported delicacies like mozzarella cheese, olives and prosciutto. The lunch buffet features a selection of soups, pasta, grilled chicken and more (¥1,300), and at night there’s a full menu of appetizers, main dishes and desserts—everything for under ¥1,400. ...

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Word of Mouth

Japan’s recent infatuation with gyu-nabe hotpots means that there’s an increasing availability of premium “A4”- and “A5”-grade Kuroge wagyu. Taking advantage of this surplus is Bistro Ushibenkei (3-6-1 Shimbashi, Minato-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e620724), which matches an inventive array of beef dishes with several varieties of wines by the glass. Diners can enjoy carpaccio of four types of ...

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Word of Mouth

The owners of Akihabara curry restaurant Party Party Carolina (4-14-1 Soto-kanda, Chiyoda-ku; http://meturl.com/carolina) see themselves as warriors in Tokyo’s culinary battleground. “We covertly entered the Akihabara scene selling bento,” they say. “And now, our bento battalion has finally acquired a home base.” A half-dozen varieties of curry are available, including fresh tomato and avocado (¥880), ...

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Bar Life

Tokyo gets ready for a slew of St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans

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Word of Mouth

The recent move of Metropolis HQ to the outskirts of Roppongi means that we’ve had the chance to reacquaint ourselves with a recently opened favorite: Turkish restaurant Anatolia (3-13-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku; www.anatolia.jp). Located on the main Gaien-Higashi Dori drag near TGI Friday’s, this restaurant makes up in scrumptiousness what it lacks in space. Pick up ...

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Word of Mouth

With most ramen shops, you know exactly what in for: noodles, broth and a counter to eat them on. Not at Umebachi. This newly opened Shibuya restaurant (2-28-2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku; 03-3461-3002) is a spot where you can kick back and take your time, and women won’t be horrified to visit by themselves. The owners are ...

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Word of Mouth

Sure, we all love quiche Lorraine and quiche florentine, but how about quiche with kinpira, chicken curry or sweet potato? All those and more are on offer at newly opened Le Poussin in Ebisu (1-31-10 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku; 03-5424-6522). And unlike traditional quiches, these vegetable-filled pies here are high on the health quotient. Open since January ...

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Bites

Rossella Ceccarini, author of Pizza and Pizza Chefs in Japan: a Case of Culinary Globalization

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Bites

The words “corporate cafeteria” conjure up images of dirt-cheap grub that’s been over-warmed on a steam tray. Unless, that is, you’re talking about scale-maker Tanita, who in keeping with a company that manufactures machines to tell you how much flab you’ve got to lose, replaced their cafeteria’s entire menu with an array of five-dish 500-calorie ...

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Bites

After unveiling a banana vending machine at Shibuya station last summer, Dole is back in the news with a piece of fruit developed specifically for this weekend’s Tokyo Marathon. The new-style banana was created in the Philippines, where, according to the company, growers played “runners’ favorite songs… to help in cultivation and to make it ...

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Bites

Tokyo gourmands get a special chance to enjoy the food and wine of Italy’s Piedmont region during a month-long promotion at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. The event kicks off with a visit by one of Italy’s hottest chefs, Davide Palluda, chef-owner of the Michelin-starred Ristorante all’Enoteca in Canale. Palluda will host a ...

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Bites

What: Minova kitchen knives Who: TYK Corp. How much: From ¥12,800 Why: For hundreds of years, the Mino region of Gifu has been renowned for its washi paper and ceramic art. Now, local craftsmen have lent their talents to this series of ceramic-bladed knives festooned with colorful glazed designs. Info: www.minova-cera.com

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Word of Mouth

How much does the owner of Kita no Daisougen love ramen? So much that he spent five years tasting more than 1,000 varieties in his hometown of Sapporo. Now he’s opened his own chain of shops specializing in miso ramen, with two venues in Tokyo (3-14-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku; 3-31-17 Kami-Igusa, Suginami-ku). Kita no Daisougen sets ...

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Word of Mouth

The newest contender in Tokyo’s increasingly crowded Mexican restaurant scene is Hacienda del Cielo, located just steps from the Daikanyama Address (9F, 10-1 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku; http://modern-mexicano.jp/hacienda). Specialties of the house include tacos al pastor (¥700 for two), queso fundido (¥900) and the semi-dried beef jerky known as cecina (¥800-¥2,000). Small platillos, including ceviche, quesadillas and ...

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Word of Mouth

Inexpensive skewers in an intimate setting with a copious selection of cheap booze—that’s the idea behind Dora-Ichi, located in Tokyu Plaza near bustling Kamata station (7-70-1 Nishi-Kamata, Ota-ku; 03-6313-4306). Among the 30 varieties of kushi-age on offer are renkon (¥100), sasami (¥150) and gyu-katsu (¥180). Dora Ichi also serves up a selection of kushi-oden, including ...

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Bites

Top-ranked restaurants from popular Japanese food blogger “Roba-to” ☆☆☆+ Joel Robuchon Ebisu; French (www.robuchon.jp) Salone 2007 Yokohama; Italian (www.salone2007.com) Hoshinoya Karuizawa, Nagano; Japanese/French (www.hoshinoya.com) ☆☆☆ Epicer Yokohama; Chinese (www.motomachiepicer.jp/) Mutekiro Yokohama; patisserie (www.mutekiro.net) La Maree de Chaya Miura, Kanagawa; French (www.chaya.co.jp) L’embellir Minami-Aoyama; French (www.lembellir.com) Beige Ginza; French (www.beige-tokyo.com) L’osier Ginza; French (www.shiseido.co.jp/losier) Arakagayaki Ginza; ...

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Bites

Pity the plight of Japanese sake brewers. Squeezed on one side by domestic rivals (shochu, happoshu) and on the other by foreign imports (wine, whisky), the nihonshu craftsman has reason to be pessimistic. Domestic sake consumption, which peaked at 1.67 million kiloliters in 1975, plunged to 610,000 in 2009. But the brewers aren’t going down ...

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Bites

It’s said that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The same is true, apparently, of mikan. Atarashii Mikan no Mukikata (“New Ways of Peeling a Mikan”) chronicles the adventures of Mukio, a little boy who creates animals and other shapes from the rind of Japan’s favorite winter fruit. Beginning on New Year’s ...

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Bites

Tokyo has cafes devoted to maids, cats and even butlers, but we’ve never come across one that’s inspired by… postcards. Scheduled to open next month in Ueno station, Up Café (http://up-cafe.com) celebrates Tokyo’s most renowned shitamachi district via postcards made from customer-submitted photos and drawings. All the cards are available in the shop for free, ...

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Bites

Big news for anglers: for the first time in five years, Lake Yamanaka in Yamanashi is frozen enough for ice fishing. The prized catch? Wakasagi smelt, a cold-weather delicacy that’s now abundant in local waters—and on local menus. Fishermen and -women can go catch their own at Ooba, a restaurant on the banks of Lake ...

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Keeping Tabs

Over in the suddenly hip neighborhood of Ningyocho, Oasis Bar (2F, 2-2-4 Nihombashi-Ningyocho, Chuo-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/a158403) prides itself on billiards, darts—and low, low prices. Draft beer starts at ¥390, and snacks like sliced prosciutto, gobo chips and olives are all just ¥380, while the popcorn is free. Even the pool table is cheap—just ¥500 per person ...

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Keeping Tabs

Most bars make their money from large groups, but Marumugi targets ohitorisama—solitary drinkers (2F, 1-Banchi, Arakicho, Shinjuku-ku; 03-6380-4745). Open since January 15, the 14-seat pub serves craft beers from all over Japan. Owner Suga-san changes the selection frequently, but one thing that doesn’t change is the price: pints are ¥1,000 and smaller glasses ¥700. Belly ...

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Keeping Tabs

It’s being billed as the future of highball bars, and Shimbashi 1923 (2-1-1 Shimbashi, Minato-ku; 03-3597-6500) is certainly cut from a classier cloth than other whisky-soda peddlers like the Gindaco Sakaba chain. Regular Kaku-highballs cost ¥450, though you might prefer to have yours made with Yamazaki 10 Year (¥580), Hibiki 12 Year (¥630) or The ...

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Bites

Originally published way back in 1988, What’s What in Japanese Restaurants has been given a makeover for its newly released third edition. The compact yet comprehensive guide, written by Robb Satterwhite of the popular website Bento.com, offers tips for both J-food newbies and veteran foodies. Topics range from basic etiquette to “The Evolution of Izakaya,” ...

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Bites

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so if you’re looking for a way to impress that special fella this Valentine’s Day, pick up some holiday treats from Bella’s Cupcakes. The lineup includes chocolate cupcakes decorated with red hearts and kisses, and “red velvet” cupcakes with cream cheese frosting—specially made ...

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Bites

What: Teppanyaki restaurant Heki Where: Mitsukoshi’s newly revamped Ginza store When: Opened September 2010 How much: Lunch from ¥3,990; dinner from ¥6,090 Why: Featuring beef from Okinawa, rice from Niigata, olive oil from Italy and a bounty of seasonal vegetables, Heki is the quintessential Ginza grill 12F Mitsukoshi Ginza Shin-kan, 4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3538-2919. ...

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Bites

Fans of the yoshoku staple known as doria will want to check out the new menu at Cheese Parade Cafe in Yokohama’s Tama Plaza (3F Tama Plaza Terrace Gate, 1-1-2 Utsukushi-gaoka, Aoba-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g600142). The “Gotouchi Doria” promotion features an array of the rice-based, cheese-topped dishes, with recipes sourced from around the country. From Hokkaido comes ...

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Bites

Seafood aficionados are consoled in the dark days of winter by the arrival of fugu at local restaurants. Among the upscale eateries serving the much-loved delicacy are Usuki Fugu Yamadaya in Nishi-Azabu (www.usuki.info/yamadaya) and Ajiman in Roppongi (3-8-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku)—both of which earned stars in the 2011 Tokyo Michelin guide. Over in the Marunouchi Building, ...

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Bites

Goofy Tokyo restaurant names ask a giraffe (Yokohama; http://giraffe.georges.co.jp) So Tired (Marunouchi; www.heads-west.com/sotired.html) Titty Twister (Nishi-Azabu; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g823400) My Humble House (Ginza; www.mhht.jp) Salad Bar Selfish (Shinjuku; http://www.geocities.co.jp/Foodpia-Celery/4000/) Henry Good Seven (Marunouchi; www.heads-west.com/henry.html) Cafe & Bar Super Lunch Magic (Nakano; www.superlunchmagic.com) Nicoli Eccoli (Soshigaya; www18.ocn.ne.jp/~nicoli) Snobbish Babies (Nakameguro; www.bento.com/rev/3021.html) And, last but not least, the dearly ...

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Word of Mouth

High-end sushi in a shitamachi train station? Sounds unlikely, but that’s the story behind Maguro Ichidai (3F, 7-1-1 Ueno, Taito-ku; 03-5826-5621), a new 14-seat restaurant in Ueno’s Ecute complex. The specialty of the house is top-quality hon-maguro, and the menu is crowned by the Maguro Ippon Don (¥1,500), a one-of-a-kind rice bowl featuring every part ...

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Word of Mouth

Honpo (4-2-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g960801) is a popular “all-you-can-eat izakaya” from Kobe that’s just arrived in Tokyo. But banish thoughts of dull dishes and second-rate ingredients—the menu features more than 20 homemade items that are entirely additive-free. And at just ¥2,000 for 90 minutes of unlimited grub, it’s perfect for these recessionary times. Washoku staples ...

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Word of Mouth

Just the thing to get us through the coldest days of winter: home-style soup from Chowders. Available at six cafes around town and for purchase online, the menu includes Boston clam chowder, seafood bisque, roasted tomato chowder and many others—42 in all. Authentically spiced and perfectly textured, the recipes get the thumbs up from Metropolis ...

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Word of Mouth

The Japanese obsession with yakitori is taken to scintillating heights at newly opened Ginza Rikyu (8-3-11 Ginza, Chuo-ku; www.ginza-rikyu.com). Serving exclusively cochin birds shipped in daily from Nagoya, the grill is fueled by Kinshu bincho-zumi, a high-quality charcoal made from ubame oak. The full array of standard yakitori skewers—prepared by a chef with 18 years ...

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Word of Mouth

For the third year in a row, the Tokyo Michelin guide has confirmed what most locals already know: this is the world’s best city for dining. The newly released 2011 edition of the venerable guidebook awards the top rank of three stars to a whopping 14 restaurants—three more than the previous edition, and four more ...

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Word of Mouth

Garu is a recently opened izakaya specializing in offbeat meat dishes (10F, 1-19-11 Nishi-Shinjuku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e991601). The house original Garu nabe is a hotpot of beef, chicken and pork motsu with a tomato base (¥1,780), and diners can also try horse, chicken and beef sashimi (¥1,800 for a sampler). Other interesting dishes include homemade soymilk cheese ...

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International Dining

Metropolis continues its tour of the city’s top spots to chow down, Italian-style

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International Dining

Metropolis kicks off its survey of the best Italian restaurants in Tokyo

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International Dining

Get stuffed to the brim at some of Tokyo’s best Thanksgiving dinners

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Dining Diary

Heaping portions, low prices, fast delivery and no frills—God, how we love B-kyu gourmet. But cheap doesn’t have to mean tasteless, especially at Torikizoku, a popular yakitori joint with branches across Japan. Last month, a group of journalists were invited to sample the wares at the new Shibuya Bunkamura location. Torikizoku’s main selling point is ...

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Bites

“Antenna shops” are the cultural and, more importantly, culinary outposts for Japan’s different regions here in Tokyo. Recently opened Marugoto Kochi keeps the flag flying for Shikoku’s largest and most sparsely populated prefecture, best known as the birthplace of 19th-century modernizer and historical heartthrob Ryoma Sakamoto. You’ll find booze and handicrafts in the basement, including ...

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Bites

Few people have done as much to help Western audiences understand Japanese food as Elizabeth Andoh. In her follow-up to 2005’s award-winning Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen, the former Gourmet magazine correspondent casts her eye over the country’s neglected tradition of vegan cuisine. Like her earlier books, Kansha (“appreciation”) isn’t content merely to ...

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Bites

Kazuto Chiba, sommelier of Hortensia restaurant

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Keeping Tabs

If you’re looking for a bit of folktale kitsch with your evening, head over to Taketori no Densetsu in Yokohama (5F, 2-17 Minami-Saiwai, Nishi-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/a185017). This new dining bar is themed around the eponymous tale of the Moon Princess Kaguya, who was sent to earth in a stalk of bamboo. With its bamboo-enclosed private booths ...

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Keeping Tabs

The biggest complaint about Tokyo is the lack of space, so it’s refreshing to find Byrd, a newly opened Ginza nightspot with an airy, loft-like interior (2-3F, 8-2-14 Ginza, Chuo-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/gac3800). While the ceilings may not be as high as you find in New York, the white walls, large windows and exposed brick give the ...

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Word of Mouth

Ginza has been all abuzz of late over the grand re-opening of Mitsukoshi’s landmark department store (www.mitsukoshi.co.jp). Among the new venues on the dining floors is Gyunta (www.gyunta.com; 03-6228-6915), the Tokyo sister shop to a popular Kobe okonomiyaki restaurant. Long a favorite with locals, Gyunta promises to bring the “true Kansai flavor” to Tokyo with ...

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Word of Mouth

If you’ve been wanting to indulge in a classic kaiseki-style feast—but have been put off by the sky-high prices—then head to Totojin (3-2-6 Kanda-Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku; www.totojin.net). This newly opened restaurant is offering a full seasonal course dinner for just ¥3,675. Diners can enjoy a succession of raw, steamed and grilled dishes, plus rice, soup and ...

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Word of Mouth

Local foodies will relish the chance to try exciting American cuisine when David Varley visits the Four Seasons Tokyo Hotel at Marunouchi. Varley, the executive chef at Michael Mina’s popular Bourbon Steak restaurant in Washington, DC, will serve dishes like chopped fatty tuna with anchovy broth and caviar; smoked venison with celery and matsutake; and ...

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Keeping Tabs

Wine lovers in an eco frame of mind will want to check out the new promotion at American grill Roti (6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku; www.roti.jp). All parties ordering two main dishes at dinner Sunday through Thursday can enjoy a bottle of organic wine from Chile’s Emiliana Vineyards—absolutely free. Choose from sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and ...

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Bites

The arrival of autumn brings with it the most highly prized seafood of the year: sanma, a.k.a., Pacific saury. The popular fish plays a starring role on menus throughout the city, including at Asakusa Takaradori (6F, 1-1-16 Asakusa, Taito-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g727001), which offers a ¥3,500 course meal featuring sashimi, fried sanma with sato-imo, and several other ...

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Bites

No one can accuse Toshio Yamamoto of lacking passion for his hobby. The cup-ramen aficionado has parlayed his success on YouTube—where his 40-second noodle reviews have been watched millions of times—into a comprehensive new book. Sokuseki Mencyclopedia (er, “Instant Noodle Encyclopedia”) features 1,046 varieties of cup noodles, ranging from the conventional (Nissin’s 20th anniversary ramen) ...

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Bites

Funded by the Japan Agricultural Society, Ajinomoto and a variety of other organizations, newly opened Dashi Café (B1 Kotsukaikan, 2-10-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku; 03-6269-9998) serves snack sets of onigiri and soup—entirely for free. The organizers say that the café, which uses Akita Komachi rice in its onigiri and similarly high-quality ingredients for its soup stock, is ...

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Bites

Meat lovers got a place to call their own when Shibuya Niku Yokocho (Chitose Kaikan 2F, 13-8 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku; http://shibuya.yokocho.info) opened its doors early last month. Billed as “Japan’s largest ‘meat restaurant’ complex,” the venue houses 16 stalls offering everything from Sendai beef tongue to yaki-ton. Overseas brands include “modern Korean” eatery Ri-san no Daidokoro ...

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Bites

Chef Tadao Noguchi celebrates three years at the Royal Park Hotel (2-1-1 Nihombashi-Kakigara-cho, Chuo-ku; www.rph.co.jp) with special menu plans at lunch and dinner. Noguchi is reprising favorite dishes from his stint at Palazzo, the Royal Park’s flagship restaurant, infusing each recipe with seasonal flavors of autumn. The lineup includes silky cream soup with oyster and ...

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Bites

Popular coffee shop Beck’s (www.jefb.co.jp/becks) greets the autumn season with a sweet new drink. The Maple Milk Coffee (¥350) comes with caramelized pecans, whipped cream and a maple-flavored biscuit—which, come to think of it, makes it more like a dessert than a cup of joe. If you’re looking for something a bit healthier, try the ...

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Bites

Autumn is here, and hotel chefs are celebrating the season with exquisite new sweets. At the Hotel Century Southern Tower (www.southerntower.co.jp), the South Court Lounge & Bar serves up a mont blanc made with French chestnuts and mascarpone cheese (pictured; ¥1,350). Available from October, the dish is limited to 20 servings per day… At the ...

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Bites

The newest entry in the crowded Shimbashi izakaya scene is Umanami-ya (2-9-17 Shimbashi, Minato-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e620714), which specializes in horsemeat from Aomori. Also highlighting the menu are dishes made with the renowned breed of chicken known as Shamrock. Raw fare includes a horseflesh sampler (¥1,800), yukhoe-style horse heart (¥700), sliced chicken breast carpaccio (¥880) and “sushi-style” ...

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Bites

As if Dom Perignon needed any more fizz, the famed champagne maker has embarked on a “collaboration” with one of the 20th century’s best-known artists. On October 1, Japan will get a limited-edition release of bottles adorned with colorful Pop Art labels inspired by the work of Andy Warhol. Commissioned by London’s Central Saint Martins ...

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Bites

Popular Korean restaurant chain Kyogyu-so (www.wdi.co.jp) is celebrating 15 years of yakiniku goodness with a pair of special deals. Debuting October 1, the Sankyu Set (¥3,900 = san-kyu = “thank you”) includes a sizzling platter of bulgogi, yukhoe (raw beef with egg), udon, namul and a choice of gejang (marinated shellfish) or BBQ beef tongue; ...

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Despite what the title says, The Just Bento Cookbook is not, in fact, just a bento cookbook. Each of the 25 lunchboxes is made up of separate dishes that could very well stand on their own, from classic kimpira and chicken karaage to prosciutto-wrapped tofu and sweet-and-sour shrimp-pork balls. Written by well-known blogger Makiko Itoh ...

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Bites

We all know that it’s best to avoid eating lots of rich, fatty, sweet or salty foods. Well, now you can add “soft” to that list. The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that the increasing popularity of squishy foods like hamburgers, pasta and fried dumplings may lead to a rise in ailments like malformed jaws and weak ...

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Bites

A recent visit to the popular Tokyo branch of Trader Vic’s restaurant acquainted us with an offbeat cooking appliance: the Chinese oven. The apparatus consists of a wood-burning hearth connected to a 2m-tall, chimney-like barrel that’s topped by a steel grate. Cuts of meat—including Trader Vic’s signature grain-fed Black Angus from Australia—are placed in the ...

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Bites

Roppongi is good for a lot of things, but craft beer hasn’t traditionally been one of them. That might change with the opening of Malt Magic (B1 Minoya Bldg, 5-5-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku; http://beer.co.jp), an evening-only beer joint that shares the premises of one of those basement R&B clubs for which the neighborhood is better known. ...

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Word of Mouth

The most hotly anticipated restaurant debuts of the season take place this weekend at The Ritz-Carton, Tokyo (www.ritzcarlton.com; 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku). The sky-high space formerly occupied by Forty-Five restaurant has been split into a pair of new venues: Azure 45 offers seasonal French seafood with ingredients sourced not just from Tsukiji, but from the renowned ...

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Word of Mouth

Irish pub Seamus O’Hara (3-12-3 Meguro, Meguro-ku; www.seamus-ohara.com) celebrates its third birthday with a two-day bash on the weekend of September 18-19. The popular hangout will host concerts by Irish bands The Boys of Borstal on Saturday and Mutiny on Sunday. But a lot more than music is on offer: pints and cocktails are just ...

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Word of Mouth

If October seems too long to wait to get your Deutsche on, stop by the German Beer Garden at Tokyo Midtown (www.tokyo-midtown.com). The outdoor cafe runs through September 26, from 4-10pm on weekdays and 11am-10pm weekends. Revelers can enjoy quality imports on tap, including Münchner Weisse (¥1,500) and Hofbräu Dunkel (¥1,300), plus bottled brews, German ...

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Bites

Capcom CEO Kenzo Tsujimoto spent $100 million on his very own Napa Valley winery, enlisting the top-shelf talents of consulting winemaker Heidi Barrett and vineyard manager David Abreu to ensure the quality of the plonk. Kenzo Estate had its grand opening on July 1, and the general consensus seems to be that it’s really rather ...

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Bites

Non-alcoholic “beer taste drinks” were one of the big success stories of 2009, and consultants Fuji Keizai are predicting that the market will swell to ¥21 billion this year. Suntory and Asahi have just upped the stakes with their latest abominations—sorry, creations: All-Free (¥143) and W-Zero (¥138) both manage to cut not just alcohol but ...

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Bites

A century and a half after it was first created, Campari remains one of the most divisive drinks in the liquor cabinet. The bitter aperitif, prepared to a formula so secret that only three people know it, is celebrating its 150th anniversary in style this year. Get into the swing of things with one of ...

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Bites

Tokyo is far too short on outdoor drinking spaces, especially once the beer garden season has drawn to a close. So we can’t get enough of the seventh floor terrace at the Shin-Marunouchi Building, which draws a healthy mix of office workers, couples and out-of-towners to gaze out over the neighborhood’s latest construction projects. Order ...

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Bites

Suntory’s beer division had been in the red for 45 years when the company decided to release a brew that was more expensive than anything else in the conbini chiller cabinet. Even more surprising was that people actually bought it. So business journalist Osamu Katayama probably isn’t alone in asking, as he does in the ...

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Word of Mouth

Opened on August 1 in Ginza, Tsubaki Salon Sapporo (7-2-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku; 03-6255-6767) is “a place to taste the quality of Hokkaido and to experience the richness of Hokkaido’s nature.” Representative dishes from Japan’s far north include potato pizza made from local wheat (¥1,000), spicy curry cooked in a skillet and served with giant cheese ...

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Boasting 10,000 fish from each of the seven seas, Mizu no Hoshi (4-8-6 Ueno, Taito-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e551502) is Tokyo’s newest “aqua” restaurant. Diners can surround themselves with soothing waters and tanks full of vibrantly colored sea life while enjoying both Japanese- and Western-style cuisine. The menu is divvied up into sections like “Cold Dishes,” “Sashimi,” “Salads,” ...

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The samurai spirit lives on at Mifune (7-10-13 Nishi-Shinjuku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g953114), a new izakaya modeled after the traditional taverns seen in films like Seven Samurai and Rashomon. Swords and arrows adorn the walls, as do the handwritten scrawls of star actor Toshiro Mifune. The food menu features traditional pub fare like kushiage (¥250), shabu shabu (¥1,380) ...

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Bites

As the only country in South America with both a Pacific and Caribbean coastline, Colombia enjoys a singular cultural identity. That heritage is reflected in its cuisine. Now, Tokyoites can taste all the goodness for themselves at the Hilton Tokyo’s Colombian Gastronomic Journey, running August 4-8. Among the dozens of authentic dishes on offer will ...

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Bites

Who could’ve guessed that Japan’s struggling rice growers would have their prayers answered by… bread? Sanyo recently unveiled the Gopan, which it’s touting as the world’s first all-in-one rice bread maker. With this compact bakery-in-a-box in your kitchen, there’s no need to worry about buying rice flour: it even does the milling for you. The ...

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Bites

The geniuses at Mos Burger (www.mos.co.jp) have come up with a seriously wafu summertime treat. The new Genmai Flake Shake (¥300, pictured) is made with bittersweet tea pudding, unpolished brown rice flakes, rice-flour dumplings and azuki beans from Hokkaido. All that, and only 256 calories too… Freshness Burger (www.freshnessburger.co.jp), meanwhile, combats the stifling heat with ...

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Bites

Australia’s hottest chef arrives in Japan for a weeklong stint at The Westin Tokyo hotel (www.westin-tokyo.co.jp). Mark Best was hailed as Chef of the Year by the Sydney Morning Herald, and his Marque eatery was named Breakthrough Restaurant of 2010 by the prestigious San Pellegrino World’s Top 100 Restaurants. Not bad for a man who ...

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Word of Mouth

The Peninsula Tokyo (1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku; www.peninsula.com) has unveiled a summertime dining promotion aimed specifically at couples and small groups. Through August 31, Michelin-starred Cantonese eatery Hei Fung Terrace is offering a five-course dinner that includes Peking duck, shark’s fin soup and stir-fried minced duck for ¥22,800 for two people. Classy international restaurant Peter serves ...

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A trio of restaurants from the popular Diamond Dining group are spicing up summer with the hot chili oil known as ra-yu. At grill Marunageya in Ebisu (2-3F, 1-4-16 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku; 03-5768-4256), chicken wings (¥180), pork salads (¥680) and pot stickers (¥780 for six) all get the ra-yu treatment. Over at Kyushu restaurant Kuro Chochin ...

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Word of Mouth

Slow-food aficionados will want to book a table at Nakameguro’s new Be My Self complex (1-25-1 Aobadai, Meguro-ku; www.bemyself.jp), which, in addition to an organic deli and café, offers health products, aromatherapy, an art gallery and yoga studio. The first floor café serves light meals like bento with focaccia or brown rice (¥950), plus a ...

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Bites

The traditional Japanese summertime dish of grilled unagi gets a conbini twist at am/pm (http://family.ampm.jp). From July 24-26, the popular chain is offering a bento called the Aichi Mikawa Una Kasane (¥1,580; pictured), featuring “soft and aromatic” domestically caught eel with a traditional smoky soy-based sauce. The shop will also sell a Hitsumabushi-style Unagi Meishi ...

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Bites

First it was McDonald’s, which revamped 13 of its Tokyo stores in April with the help of French interior designer Philippe Avanzi. Now, a couple of other fast food chains are giving themselves a more sophisticated makeover. Burger King’s new Roppongi store (pictured), opened on June 29, encourages customers to unwind with comfy seating and ...

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Bites

The Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower (2-2-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku; www.southerntower.co.jp) is helping Tokyoites battle the summer heat with a quartet of icy mixed drinks. The Summer Cocktail Fair at the hotel’s South Court bar includes the Summer Dream (grapefruit liqueur with lemon and lime peel), meant to call to mind “a shooting star of the ...

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Bites

Tokaikisen’s Noryo (“cool of the evening”) summer cruises have become something of a Tokyo institution. Now into their 60th year, the nightly boat trips are like a mini-matsuri on Tokyo Bay, complete with music, dancing and ample supplies of alcohol. The ¥2,500 fare includes all-you-can-drink draft beer, wine, sours and juice (¥1,000 for junior high, ...

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Bites

The Oak Door in Roppongi (www.tokyo.grand.hyatt.com; 03-4333-8784) is one of Tokyo’s favorite restaurants, thanks to its classy interior, lively bar scene and fantastic steaks cooked in wood-fired ovens. In fact, the only thing that’s missing is brunch. Until now. The Oak Door’s new All-You-Can-Drink Sunday Brunch includes a 90-minute nomihodai of sparkling wine and bloody ...

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Bites

To celebrate the first anniversary of its La Maison Ginza shop (5-17-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku; www.haagen-dazs.co.jp/maison), Häagen-Dazs has created a variety of sumptuous ice cream treats. The mango, cream and pineapple mille-feuille (¥1,350; pictured) combines mango sorbet and vanilla ice cream with pineapple chips, gold leaf and caramel sauce, accompanied by brown sugar-marinated pineapple. The classic ...

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Word of Mouth

Newly opened yakiniku restaurant Kato (2F, 2-6-1 Nishi-Shimbashi, Minato-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/a479704) offers cuts of premium wagyu at rock-bottom prices. How? The owners purchase their beef whole and carve it up in-house. Kalbi, rosu and harami sell for just ¥1,000 apiece, while tongue is ¥750 and premium kalbi ¥1,500. Kato also offers a wide range of offal ...

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Keeping Tabs

The next time you’re in the mood for a cold one, make a beeline for the new Bamboo near Shinjuku-Gyoenmae (1-31-3 Shinjuku; http://beerbamboo.jugem.jp). Don’t let the name or the cute panda mascot fool you—when it comes to beer, this place means business. The daily selection of draft brews features tasty craft offerings like Baird Beer’s ...

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Word of Mouth

CoComo (11-15 Nihombashi-Tomizawacho, Chuo-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/ga4s900) is a new eatery enlivened by a pan-Asian menu, spacious interior and outdoor terrace. In other words, it’s the perfect place for either an intimate date or a bustling party. The cuisine is sure to please all comers: Indonesian nasi goreng (¥680), Chinese-style grilled shrimp with mayonnaise (¥680), Indian chicken ...

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Word of Mouth

Chicken wing specialists Tome Teba have just opened their newest Tokyo restaurant in Iidabashi (2F, 2-27 Agebacho, Shinjuku-ku; www.tometeba.jp). The wings—crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside, and dipped in the secret Tome Teba sauce (¥180)—are prepared by cooks who, we’re told, have passed a “strict examination.” The restaurant also serves horse-meat dishes (including ...

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Bites

The Dai-ichi Hotel (1-2-6 Shimbashi, Minato-ku; www.daiichihotel-tokyo.com) is helping diners endure the stifling heat with some cool summer sushi deals. The Matsuri Bara-Chirashi (pictured) is a kaiseki-inspired set featuring a sushi rice bowl, sashimi, fruit and a trio of other dishes. It’s available at dinner for ¥6,000, or in a lighter version at lunch for ...

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Bites

Looking to develop your nose for nihonshu? Each year, the Nippon Ginjoshu Kyokai (which translates, charmingly, as Japan Choice Brewing Association) holds a tasting event in Tokyo to showcase artisanal sake from around the country. After taking over the Tokyo station izakaya Komahachi last fall, this time they’ve moved to Kuri, an altogether more intimate ...

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Bites

From South African curry to Hamburg steak, Tokyo’s family restaurants are going international this summer. Popular off-price chain Gusto (www.skylark.co.jp/gusto) has unveiled a pair of new dishes for the season: Japanese-style hamburger with grated daikon and summer vegetables (¥838); and Chinese-style cold noodles (pictured) with chicken, shrimp and heaps of veggies, plus spicy ra-yu oil ...

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Bites

Tokyo-based Thilak Catering (http://thilakcatering.com) is known for a lot more than just food. Sure, the cooking is impressive—the head chef has 25 years’ experience at leading international hotels and embassies. Thilak’s wide-ranging menus, available for any occasion, are infused with Scandinavian, French and Asian influences. Among the dozens of dishes on offer are cognac chicken ...

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Bites

Life must be tougher than we’d thought for Tokyo’s dwindling population of wheezers. We’re not sure how else to explain the need for Tokyo no Kin’en Dekiru Resutoran, a new guidebook of restaurants where you’re allowed to smoke. The pocket-sized tome features a total of 202 “well-known establishments where you can enjoy good food and ...

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Bites

Lovers of gourmet New Zealand cuisine are in for a treat next week when chef David Griffiths of Craggy Range Winery visits The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo. Griffiths oversees the kitchen at Terroir, which was named Best Winery Restaurant in New Zealand in 2009. From July 8-10, the chef will set up shop at the Ritz’s trendy ...

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Word of Mouth

Wara is a new bakery with a twist: instead of using flour made from wheat, the bakers use rice. And that’s not all—most of the rice comes from right here in Japan, which means that Wara makes a tiny carbon footprint in addition to supporting local farmers. The Okayama-born chain (www.komekopan.jp) recently opened two shops ...

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Word of Mouth

Opened May 10 in Shinjuku, Pollo (5-10-15 Shinjuku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/ga5b000) “offers a dining experience for groups to enjoy delicious hinaidori dishes at a reasonable price.” The specialties of the house are kushiyaki sticks of the famed Akita-bred chicken, supplemented by an á la carte menu that features a range of Europe-inspired dishes and international wines. A ...

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This just in: the folks at brew-pub T.Y. Harbor in Shinagawa are taking a break from their popular Fourth of July BBQ. The event has become increasingly popular in recent years, but this time around, Independence Day revelers will have to seek their fun elsewhere. But not to worry: T.Y. Harbor (2-1-3 Higashi-Shinagawa; www.tyharborbrewing.co.jp) will ...

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Newly opened Kalbi Dojo (2-13-3 Akasaka, Minato-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/b457603) brings together the best of casual Japanese and Korean dining. The raucous one-room standing izakaya features gleaming steel-topped tables with built-in yakiniku grills. Cuts of meat range from bone-in beef kalbi (¥980) and marinated pork (¥680) to a 1m-long strip of intestine (¥1,980). A wide variety of ...

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Bites

The Kids Hotelier promotion at the Rihga Royal Hotel in Shinjuku (www.rihga-tokyo.co.jp) offers a treat for the whole family this summer. The deal includes an overnight stay in a suite, complimentary breakfast, and use of the hotel’s pool and sauna. But the real attraction is the “on-the-job training” for children aged 5-12. Throughout the day, ...

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Bites

Summer is here, and salarymen and OLs all over the city are ready to hit the roof. Here are our picks for enjoying the great boozy outdoors at the city’s best beer gardens. Aloha Table Hawaiian Beer Garden Until Sep 26 Yokohama More’s Building, rooftop Kirin, Heineken, Guinness, Corona Hawaiian BBQ, salad bar, shaved ice ...

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Bites

Opened late last month in Jiyugaoka, TWG Tea (1-9-8 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku; www.twgtea.com) is the first Tokyo branch of the famed Singapore tea company. The new salon-boutique offers over 260 blends created from 800 varieties of leaves. Order the teapot service (¥800) and choose from the likes of Singapore Breakfast Tea (green and black teas blended ...

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Bites

Yoshihiro Murata has more Michelin stars than any chef in Japan, but that doesn’t mean he can’t whip up a simple home-style meal. In his new English-language book, the owner-chef of Akasaka’s famed Kikunoi restaurant offers 60 “quick and healthy recipes” that “can be made using Western kitchen tools and ordinary ingredients.” Divided into straightforward ...

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Bites

Popular burger chain Becker’s (www.jefb.co.jp/beckers) has unveiled a trio of spicy sandwiches for summer. Topping the list is the Arabiki Magma Cheeseburger (¥470/¥820 with fries and drink; right), with Colby-Jack cheese and a red “ethnic sauce” that’s meant to resemble an erupting volcano. Meanwhile, the Bulgogi Burger (¥350/¥690) offers a taste of Korean BBQ, while ...

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Word of Mouth

Many Tokyo restaurants specialize in seafood, but few of them offer the kind of dishes you’ll find at Wasshoi (8F, 12-8-3 Kotobashi, Sumida-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g985916). This newly opened “kaisen izakaya” serves unusual fare like octopus shabu-shabu (¥1,980) and ebi odorigui (basically, shrimp that’s still alive when you cook it, ¥199). The specialty of the house, though, ...

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Word of Mouth

Seafood is also the name of the game at Hamayaki Taro (14-7-2 Minami-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/a345901), a cozy new izakaya in Shinagawa. The festive interior, modeled on a beach house, features chochin lanterns and lots of blond wood. Each table has its own gas grill so diners can cook their food just the way they like ...

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Word of Mouth

From the deep blue sea to the fat of the land: Umanami-ya (17-9-2 Shimbashi, Minato-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/e620714) is one of a few new restaurants in Tokyo to specialize in horsemeat. Delivered daily from a farm in Aomori, the ba-niku is served alongside a renowned domestic breed of chicken known as Shamo-rokku. Prix fixe menus start at ...

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Bites

Sure, standing bars are all well and good, but Tokyo’s new hotspots let diners eat on their feet. Targeted mainly at women, tachigui tend to be small, sleekly designed and inexpensive. Notable venues include Hokkai Tokoro Ichiba (pictured; 3-22-3 Shimbashi, Minato-ku; 03-6402-9100), which features ingredients shipped directly from the village of Tokoro-cho in northeast Hokkaido. ...

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Bites

The latest dining trend to hit France is a revival of interest in bistros, with some of the country’s leading chefs opening casual, off-price eateries. Now, Japanese foodies can get their own taste of this uncomplicated, generous cuisine. The 2010-2011 edition of Food France, an annual showcase of up-and-coming culinary talents organized by superstar chef/restaurateur ...

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Bites

The Hilton Tokyo is taking on a South American flavor during the Chilean Gastronomic Fair, running through June 8. Chef Matias Palomo of Santiago’s renowned Sukalde restaurant has created a lush buffet-style spread at the hotel’s Brasserie “Checkers” for both lunch (¥3,500; kids ¥2,000) and dinner (¥6,000). Among the dozens of dishes on offer are ...

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Bites

What: Shizuoka Cola Who: Kimura Drink Co. When: On sale now Where: Available online at www.kimura-drink.net How much: ¥3,360 per case (20 bottles) Why: Billed as “a Coke-like drink that matches perfectly with Japanese food,” Shizuoka Cola is aimed at “those who can’t decide between soda or green tea”

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Cooling nighttime breezes, free-flowing sparkling wine and gourmet barbecue fare at low prices—all that’s on offer at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo this summer. The “La Terrace Provence BBQ” promotion takes place nightly through September 30 on the newly renovated outdoor patio at the hotel’s French Kitchen restaurant (http://tokyo.grand.hyatt.com; 03-4333-8781). For just ¥4,800, diners can enjoy ...

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Bites

At first glance, the new Turkey Rice bento from Community Store (www.c-store.co.jp) seems to have a mysterious name. Inside, you’ll find no trace of Turkey (the country) or turkey (the bird). Instead, this Nagasaki specialty includes curry pilaf, chicken cutlet and pasta all on one plate. The lunchbox is available for ¥398 only in the ...

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Word of Mouth

If you’ve ever wondered about the cuisine of Tokushima Prefecture—and admit it, you have—then head to Awaodori (2F, 7-2-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g078518), which opened in Ginza on May 11. Local specialties from the Shikoku region include bamboo chikuwa (¥300), sashimi of sea bream (¥780) and a daily changing selection of himono (fried fish, ¥400). Pride ...

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With a casual, design-savvy interior and a menu full of classic noodle dishes, Sobateria (2F, 16-2 Daikanyama-cho, Shibuya-ku; www.tokyosoba.com) is just what its name implies: a cafeteria for soba aficionados. This newly opened eatery in Daikanyama features hand-rolled noodles made with 100 percent unfiltered buckwheat, prepared daily on-site. The menu includes all the standards, from ...

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With 30 varieties of tapas and six paella dishes, Tapas Blanco (1-1-7 Sakuragicho, Naka-ku; http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g469931) has the menu of a down-home Spanish pub. But the view out over Yokohama’s gorgeous waterfront is pure Japan. Open since mid-March in the flash new Colotte Mare complex, the bar offers dozens of tapas for ¥300-¥500 each, including garlic ...

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Tokyo’s tapas boom shows no sign of letting up, and the latest cuisine to get the one-plate treatment is… Chinese?!? Open since February, Shigyokuran (3-4-3 Higashi-Azabu, Minato-ku; www.shigyokuran.com) in Azabu-Juban offers a daily changing tapas assortment for ¥1,500. About two dozen hot and cold appetizers are available à la carte for ¥500-¥900, including preserved egg ...

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Word of Mouth

Debuting May 1 at the Hotel New Otani, Nakajima (4-1 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku; http://meturl.com/nakajima) specializes in the unlikely combination of soba noodles and Western sweets. Which sounds pretty iffy, until you consider the pedigree of the founding chef: Shunsuke Nakajima is an internationally renowned patissier and 33-year Otani veteran whose staff have trained at the hotel’s ...

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Nabe restaurants can be judged by the quality of their broth, and any fine broth starts with good water. That’s why newly opened Nabebula (6F, 2-23-8 Tsuruya-cho, Kanagawa-ku, Yokohama; www.nabebula.com) sources its most important ingredient from natural hot springs in Yamanashi, Saitama and Kagoshima. The onsen water is used in hotpots featuring Mizaki tuna (¥1,980), ...

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Word of Mouth

If you thought chocolate was just for dessert, think again. At newly opened Charlotte Chocolate Factory (4-6-1 Kinshicho, Sumida-ku; http://charlotte-factory.com), the menu includes not just cookies, pastries and gelato (from ¥400), but a full line-up of appetizers and entrees that use cacao as a primary ingredient. Enjoy the likes of chocolate-butter chicken (¥1,000), four varieties ...

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Word of Mouth

Popular restaurant chain Chegoya (www.chegoya.com) prides itself on home-style Korean cuisine. All the usual items are on offer, including kimchi (¥300-¥500), chijimi (¥800-¥2,400), bibimbap (¥770-¥1,050), yakiniku (¥850-¥1,260; set ¥1,980), hotpots (from ¥900) and bulgogi (¥1,000). Specialties of the house include seafood chijimi (¥2,400) and samgyetang, a soup made from whole chicken stuffed with rice, vegetables ...