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Akai Medical Clinic

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“Everything,” is Dr. Hidemi Akai’s answer to what his Medical Clinic—a longtime leader in the field in Tokyo—can provide. Dr. Akai notes that his percentage of foreign customers has grown to some 30-40% over the last few years, as his reputation continues to precede him in gaijin circles.

The clinic has recently added eCO2 fractional laser treatment to its already impressive lineup of options. This skin ablation laser method can be used to treat the effects of aging and sun damage on skin, as well as scars, large pores and stretch marks. Unlike traditional CO2 laser treatment, it causes minimal discomfort and has fast recovery times. If lasers aren’t your thing, Akai is still the only place in Japan with an EndyMed PRO machine, a high-tech radio frequency device that provides non-ablative skin tightening, body tightening, body contouring and cellulite treatment.

For men concerned about thinning tops, “there are many ways to fight baldness,” explains Dr. Akai. “Most baldness is caused by a certain type of hormone, and this can be treated by inhibiting it.” Simple, eh? Treatments range from topical use of lotions and intraoral treatment to injection and—if your pate is totally bereft—transplantation.

Liposuction is offered everywhere—“from face to ankle,” adds Akai—with this one-time surgical procedure costing ¥250,000 per area. For general aging treatment such as removal of bags under the eyes or tear troughs, you can get a course of non-surgical growth factor injections. Taken from your blood, the growth factor comes from your own platelets and tells the skin to repair itself. This is definitely the biggest craze in cosmetic surgery in recent years, as it uses the body’s own natural elements to reverse the aging process.

To really shine this summer, Akai Medical Clinic has a wealth of special packages to suit every budget and desire. Discounts include Polaris and Fotofacial RF treatments for sun-damaged skin, wrinkle reduction, rosacea, freckles and skin tightening. If you’re already thinking about how you’re going to look on the beach, ask about their non-surgical body contouring and cellulite treatment, which combines EndyMed, VelaSmooth and a professional massage for the ultimate in slimming.

These are just a few of the services on offer at Akai Medical Clinic, but they go some way to showing the range of solutions on offer. The staff offer consultations in English and are accustomed to dealing with people from around the world. The procedures are fast, effective and increasingly sought-after among both women and men, both Japanese and international alike.

Omotesando: 3F KNK Bldg, 3-5-17 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5771-4114. Email: amc@aka
. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.

Yokohama: 4F Katsukou Bldg, 1-2-8 Horai-cho, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-252-9455. Email: Open Tue-Fri 11am-7pm, Sat 11am-5pm, closed Sun-Mon. Nearest stn: Kannai.

Azabu Skin Clinic

The hydrangeas are in bloom all around Tokyo as the summer air fills you with dreams of eternal youth. Why not put some of these ideas into practice at Azabu Skin Clinic?

For the summer season, Azabu have launched their exclusive laser hair removal, botox for hyperhidrosis (underarm), and pregnancy stretch mark treatments. For reducing cellulite and tightening skin, ThermaCool body works effectively—even after a single session. Vela smooth and slim leg treatment are other tightening and fat-reductive methods to achieve your ideal body figure.

The warm season activates sebum secretion, bringing forth the specter of acne. To treat it, Azabu have deployed their secret weapon: face, back or décolletage acne-treatment courses work wonders, while acne scar treatment uses needle therapy or fractional resurfacing and growth factor techniques.

For skin tightening and wrinkles, ThermaCool CPT, facial botox, Titan XL (face/neck), Polaris, and intensive eye-beauty treatment are all very popular and have received rave reviews. Homecare products are on hand for preventing skin damage by sun. For menopause, fatigue, lack of motivation/energy, insomnia, depression and progression of aging, Azabu offers BHRT (Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy) to improve the youthfulness of body and mind. Effective treatments are also offered for those troubled by thinning hair—the symptoms of AGA (androgenetic alopecia).

Check Azabu’s site for promotions on procedures such as IPL photofacial for spots, elasticity, skin
redness, V-beam laser, and PDT (Photo Dynamic Therapy).

The clinic’s medical director, clinicians and receptionists can speak English, and their copious experience can deal with all skin types—as evidenced by thirty percent of clients being foreign nationals. The director is constantly scouring the globe for the latest techniques to ensure that Azabu Skin Clinic stays ahead of the cosmetic game at all times.

With the latest technology, well-informed clinicians with a sharp aesthetic sense, and treatment to best suit the needs of each client, Azabu Skin Clinic is the place to take care of your worries as the summer marches onward.

7F Hagiwara Bldg 1, 1-3-1 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 0120-005-327 (toll-free). Open Thu-Mon 10am-7pm, Tue-Wed 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Ebisu.

Plaza Plastic Surgery

Conveniently located at the Hiroo Crossing, just by Starbucks, Plaza Plastic Surgery is a confidential, comfortable space where people of all nationalities and backgrounds regularly go to rely on state-of-the-art procedures done to the highest possible standards.

Head Surgeon Dr. Robert Kure is well-known as the harbinger of progress among the cosmetic legions—and his impressive resume will leave you in no doubt as to his prowess. Dr. Kure holds certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and he was Chief Resident in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles. Together with his colleague Dr. Mineo Orito, who is also certified by the US Board, Dr. Kure is always working hard to stay on top of the game and ensure that Plaza is offering the very best in modern cosmetic care.

Plaza is well experienced in helping patients with a smorgasbord of cosmetic processes, including Botox hyperhidrosis removal in armpits and hands, the easing of frown lines and crow’s feet, and Western-style skincare using Retin-A and the Obagi system for removing blemishes and wrinkles. Plaza also offers facelifts, liposuction, tattoo and freckle removal, and double eyelid procedures. To do all this, they employ up-to-the-minute equipment such as groundbreaking lasers.

Naturally, for such a cosmopolitan clinic, English consultations are offered, and foreign insurance can be used for reconstructive and certain dermatological cases. If you've been considering a procedure, why not give it a try this summer? There is a 50% offer on laser hair removal to get you through the door. But once you’re been, Plaza is confident you'll return.

4F, 5-5-1 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5475-2345. Email: Open Fri-Wed 10am-7pm (by appointment), closed Thu & Sun. Nearest stn: Hiroo.



Many men around Tokyo keen on looking good have come to rely on Top Jen, the latest facial and body contouring solution available at Ho’me. Based on TriPollar, it’s the world’s most advanced 3rd generation RF technology, clinically proven to deliver wrinkle, cellulite and circumference reduction, and skin tightening to boot. What’s more, the price has been slashed from ¥21,000 per hour, at Ho’me to just ¥10,000.

Among its bag of tricks, Ho’me also offers Alex-S, the “ultimate diet and relaxation machine.” It’s an electromagnetic, infrared light system that burns fat and cellulite, stimulates muscles, and drains lymph nodes—all while you do absolutely nothing. The Alex-S burns off the same as a 15km jog in just 30 minutes—and can work on your entire body or perform spot treatments—with the option to choose your own specialized course. The cost is ¥10,000 for a one-hour session.

The famous “sun” at Ho’me comes in the form of airbrush tanning, which gives an immediate, even coloration to make you look like you just flew in from Ibiza. You’ll also avoid exposure to dangerous UV rays and the possibility of ending up like a lobster. Ho’me’s airbrush tanning has the staying power of a real tan—ten days to two weeks—because of its deep skin penetration. For a full-body bronze, Ho’me charges only ¥6,000; for a partial tan, prices start at ¥4,000.

103 Odakyu Minami-Aoyama Bldg, 5-12-3 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5467-0191. Email: Flexible opening hours/days. Nearest stn: Omotesando.

Ken’s Nail

Located in Azabu-Juban, Ken’s Nail is your friendly neighborhood English-speaking nail specialist, offering courses in basic nail care, gel nails, and medical nail care.

The basic course involves removing the dry, hardened outer cuticle and trimming your nails to a good shape and length. You will be surprised at the dramatic results this can bring. Ken’s promotes the philosophy that healthy, clean nails can boost your self-confidence, helping you make a fantastic first impression.

You might have noticed that nail art is a recent trend among Japanese girls. Nail art is very versatile, and whether you’re keen on looking fashionable, gorgeous, classy or sexy, Ken’s can help you find the right gel nails for you. Ken’s Nail recommends Bio gel nails, which limit damage to your real nails—unlike the formerly popular acrylic variety. And the beauty of gel nails is that you can grow your nails longer at the same time.

Ken’s Nail can help if you experience pain while wearing shoes, or if you find yourself constantly trimming your toenails. Therapy for pincer nails is totally painless. Ken’s nail care specialists will analyze the cause behind pincer nails, then treat them and advise on aftercare.

Ken’s offers simple, flat-rate plans that allow customers to come in for multiple treatments. Monthly plans include unlimited hand care, buffing sessions and color (¥8,295) or gel nail treatments with one color (¥12,495; removal fee included). Metropolis readers can get an extra 20 percent off any of Ken’s services on their first visit.

4F ABA Asami Bldg, 2-18-8 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6435-1900. Email: Open daily 11am-10pm (last appointment 9pm). Nearest stn: Azabu-Juban.

MDSA Hair Removal Salon

With the merciless marching approach of summer, the stage is being set for mass disrobing and the spectacle of half the world in skimpy attire. Do you feel ready for your summer holiday? How does the prospect of wearing a swimming costume sit with you? If you find the hairs prickling on the back of your neck at the thought of other hairs—in other places—being visible to the world, then MDSA Hair Removal Salon could be just the ticket this summer.

Located just two minutes from Azabu-Juban station, MDSA operates through advance reservation only, to ensure a high degree of privacy and comfort for clients. Twenty percent of the clientele are foreigners, and the staff at MDSA can happily chat in English to work out exactly what treatment will best suit you. The equipment used to remove unwanted hair from backs, shoulders, bellies and bikini lines comes straight from the US and is calibrated to suit foreign skin perfectly.

The cozy atmosphere—combined with reasonable prices and excellent equipment—is bound to satisfy even the most particular of customers. Why not come in for a free consultation and a localized hair removal trial—to see for yourself how the equipment works? You’re bound to be impressed by the efficiency and minimal pain, as well as the good value for money that MDSA represents.

2F Ishihara Bldg, 3-7-1 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6435-1276. Email: Open daily noon-11:30pm. Nearest stn: Azabu-Juban, exit 1.

Nepenji (curly hair specialists)

According to Greek legend, Nepenthe is a potion that will erase your worries. And when it comes to matters of hair, Nepenji is guaranteed to do the same thing. Just six minutes from Ebisu station—or at their sister branch opposite Ikejiri station—you can always be sure of a relaxing experience among Nepenji’s wooden furniture and stone paving.

Specialized in all sorts of tricky follicle-related conundra, owner Kiyoko—who has worked in New York’s curly-hair specialist Devachan—and the Nepenji staff have the right skills for any head-full. Curly customers are encouraged to come with their hair down and in its natural state, so it can be accurately examined and diagnosed, and a “hair silhouette” created. This ensures that hair stays in place for a long time with no split ends and great hair strength. Aftercare advice is also given so that customers can maintain their defined ringlets every day.

To ensure your sorrows are truly banished, enjoy the salon’s head massages with Kérastase products, or Nepenji’s brand new aesthetic treatment service for face and body. Making use of the latest detoxification and lymphatic techniques, these massages can stimulate cellulite, improve blood circulation and heal your body in a natural way. If that sounds like the ticket, get in touch to book yourself an appointment. Metropolis readers can also get 20% off coloring when purchasing a cut and color, and a 30% discount for your first lymphatic massage.

Ebisu: 2-6-14 Ebisu Minami, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3793-2357. Open Mon & Wed-Fri 11am-9pm, Sun 10am-8pm, closed Tue & 2nd & 3rd Mon. Email: Nearest stn: Ebisu.

Ikejiri: B1, 3-1-3 Ikejiri, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-3421-3202. Email: Nearest stn: Ikejiri Ohashi.

Sin Den

In 1994, a small salon opened on the second floor of the old Las Chicas building. Named Sin Den, after its Australian owner Dene Sinden, it quickly became synonymous with good style. These days, Ai Inoue keeps the Sin Den flag flying, maintaining the salon’s reputation for excellence. Under her direction, celebrities like Yoko Ono, Alanis Morissette, My Chemical Romance, Daniel Powter, James Blunt, Sting and Coldplay have stopped by to get their hair and makeup done.

In June 2007, Sin Den moved to a stunning new building five minutes closer to Omotesando station, which was designed exclusively for the salon by the renowned Klein Dytham Architecture firm. The previous year, Inoue scouted veteran hairdresser Fabio Alfano from Toni&Guy’s busy Mayfair salon to become their master stylist. Now the managing director at Sin Den, Fabio also does freelance hair and makeup, and his work regularly appears in magazines as well as at fashion shows including London Fashion Week.

This summer, Sin Den recommends Brazilian Keratin Straightening treatment, a revolutionary new treatment that leaves your hair healthy soft, smooth and straight! And if you want to look your best on the beach, don't forget to ask about Sin Den's amazing specials this summer on manicures and pedicures!

3-9-3 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3405-4409. Open Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm. Nearest stn: Omotesando.


Familiar with the term “Vajazzling?” The latest in beauty trends, it refers to the practice of applying Swarovski crystals to certain areas after a Brazilian wax—with spectacular aesthetic results. But whether that’s your cup of diamonds or not, Waxing-Bee is a Brazilian wax salon that can cater to your every need. Waxing-Bee recently relocated to trendy Omotesando: you'll find everybody's favorite waxing professionals just one minute from the station, opposite Gold's Gym and Royal Host. They are well known for their great service and cater for clients ranging from Japanese locals and models to the gaijin community, and even the occasional Hollywood starlet when they happen to be in town. But whatever their background, clients are always astonished by how painless the waxing—not to mention the application of beautiful designs—turns out to be.
Facial waxing is offered (eyebrows ¥2,000; lips ¥1,500; and more) as well as body waxing (half-leg ¥4,000; half-arm ¥3,500; and more), and of course the famous Vajazzling, which Waxing-Bee were famously the first salon in Japan to offer.

Waxing-Bee’s sanitary environment provides clients with a comfortable experience, and the technique of using natural honey wax, carefully sourced from around the world, is favored by repeat customers for the way it minimizes pain and skin irritation. Membership cardholders can enjoy additional perks, with further discounts advertised on their website, and Facebook and Twitter pages. Book an appointment now by email or by phone, or via the online 24-hour reservation system.

4F Furuya Bldg, 4-2-17 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5410-7020. Email: Open Tue-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm, closed Mon. Nearest stn: Omotesando.


Fanatic Tattoo Yokohama

Summer—when the clothes come off… Time to consider the impact a tattoo might make on the general public. And just five minutes from Yokohama station, one of Kanto’s most famous parlors can sort you out nicely. At Fanatic Tattoo Yokohama, worry not about communication problems—the staff speak English and Portuguese as well as Japanese. Tattooists in residence include both females and foreigners, to make you feel even more comfortable.

With more than 10,000 designs available ranging from traditional Japanese to New School, you’re sure to find what you want at Fanatic Tattoo, with small ink creations starting from just ¥10,000. Or, you could pick from a range of existing styles that include graffiti and portraits. Spend time browsing the thousands of tattoo flashes, or produce a one-off creation together with the staff, who'll be happy to help you with your own design.

Regretting that tattoo, the one that was “so cool” when you were 16? No longer in love with “Susan?” Tattoo cover-ups are also available to conceal the errors of the past with tact and delicacy.

Fanatic Tattoo is also fanatic about hygiene, with pressure steam and UV sterilizers, an ultra-sonic cleaner and disposable needles, ink and gloves, all used with immaculate care. The parlor is open daily, and walk-in customers are welcome, though it’s always best to book ahead to be sure.

Boasting a long history of international customers—including a fair share of US Marines—Fanatic has left its mark on many a Tokyo expat. Find out more on Facebook and MySpace and get your skin looking interesting this summer!

801 Stork Bldg, 2-12-6 Minami-Saiwai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-290-6910. Email: Open daily 10am-8pm.

Yamato Bonten Tattoo

Spruce up your body this summer by adorning it with that design you’ve always been keen on—or discover one you never knew existed. Yamato Bonten is a warm and personable tattoo artist who has been has been daubing body parts with pieces of genius since way back in 1998. His private studio, conveniently located in Asagaya just west of Shinjuku, is open to all. Non-Japanese speakers need not worry: Bonten speaks English and has plenty of experience working with international clientele. Whether you’re looking for traditional Japanese irezumi, original designs or your own custom tattoo, Bonten will be happy to work his artistic magic on you. He will also be happy to field any questions or worries you might have beforehand.

Get in touch ahead of time to book an appointment and get started on chatting about designs. If you’re at all worried about safety and hygiene, you need not be. All Bonten’s gear is fully sterilized by autoclave, and each pack of tattooing needles is opened right in front of your eyes. If you fancy getting down with the traditional Japanese style, you can even get your tat on with a bamboo tebori. This age-old method is arguably safer and less damaging to the skin.

As summer love blossoms, you might see fit to get a his ‘n’ her adornment, or you might just fancy adding something to all that skin you’re putting on show. Check out Yamato’s striking designs online. They might well inspire you.

1-43 Asagaya-kita, Suginami-ku. Tel 03-5364-9915. Email: Nearest stn: Asagaya. (Japanese); (English)


Tokyo Adventist Dental Clinic

Tokyo Adventist Dental Clinic was founded by Tokyo Adventist Hospital, specifically set up to serve the English-speaking population in Metropolitan Tokyo. Dr. Ritsu Oikawa, the clinical director, spent his college and dental school years in Nebraska. He studied biomedical ethics and holds a graduate degree from Emory University. After graduating from Creighton University Dental School, he was licensed in California.

Although Dr. Oikawa was born and raised in Japan until he was 19 years of age, he speaks perfect English and is often asked if he is nisei (second generation Japanese)—or from Hawaii. Watching soap operas every day—with Guiding Light as his personal favorite—dramatically improved his English.

After returning to Japan, he worked for a Japanese dental clinic where he saw over 30 patients on a typical day. The clinical environment was far from what he had been taught in dental school. In 1991 he joined the Tokyo Adventist Hospital, where he found the environment similar to an American practice—and never looked back. He has now placed more than 2,000 implants. His area of concentration includes Preventive, Restorative and Prosthetic dentistry.

Dr. Oikawa characterizes his practice by its conservative approach. “New doesn’t always mean good,” he explains. “I have seen many new technologies come and go. Time-proven techniques and technologies are still the core of good dentistry.”

Rates are competitive, with examinations costing ¥6,300, fillings from ¥8,400, and porcelain crowns from ¥105,000. While the clinic does not accept Japanese insurance, they are happy to fill in your insurance forms. Call in advance for an appointment with car parking.

1-11-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3402-1501. Open Mon, Wed & Fri 9am-4:30pm. Nearest stn: Harajuku or Meiji-Jingumae.


Wholistic Healing Center Argutha

Occupying a stunning four-story house in a peaceful Minami-Aoyama neighborhood, each floor of Argutha offers a different way to experience nature’s healing powers.

The first floor is home to an aromatherapy shop and a beautiful, cozy organic café serving fresh juice and tasty vegetarian lunch plates. The vegan sweets are so delicious you’ll forget they contain no butter, eggs or animal-derived ingredients.

The second floor is a relaxing, colorful lounge where customers can enjoy organic meals and a variety of drinks. Try the prix fixe course, featuring fresh seasonal vegetables complemented by wine—including organic varieties from all over the world.

Up on the third floor, a gorgeous salon awaits. Therapists offer personalized treatments with pure, organic essential oils to help ease pain and achieve bodily balance. Skincare treatments use the finest quality essential oils with anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. A facial nourishment course and body aromatherapy course, complete with Reiki treatment, is on offer from ¥5,250.

Argutha’s top-floor yoga studio offers spectacular night views of Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown; in the daytime, the sun shining through the large windows creates an atmosphere of calm and freedom. The morning class starts as early as 6am. For Metropolis readers on their first visit, Argutha is offering an exclusive trial coupon: for ¥3,000 (cash only), you'll receive two yoga classes (valid for 10 days after purchase), and a 10% discount on an Aromatherapy Body Treatment course.

1-22-5 Miami-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6447-2896. Opening hours vary. Nearest stn: Nogizaka. Email

Hit the RoadTop

Green Valley Hakuba

Imagine gazing at Japan’s famous Northern Alps, filling your lungs with that gorgeously clear mountain air and supping the fresh, mineral water that is a balm to your city-weary body and soul. Have all of this at Shinshu-Hakuba, and do it the easy way with Green Valley. If you like to have a bit of autonomy, then Green Valley is for you: with 41 cottages of varying budget and facility-level, you can pick the one that’s right for you. Couples, families and groups from 2-22 are welcome, while the range of cottages includes standard, log cabin, pet-friendly, group, executive and even open-air bathroom. Dinner and breakfast sets are available for varying prices, or you could simply cater for yourself.

Aside from the seven ski resorts just a few minutes away from this fabulous location, there are plenty of other activities on offer—too many to list in full. From hot-air-balloon riding to nocturnal boating, there is something to suit all tastes and pulse-rates. There are onsen around to bathe away your weariness and the neighborhood also boasts various museums, such as the Chagall Art Museum, and other sights like the Botanical Garden and Blueberry Park.

Finally, as a special treat for Metropolis readers, Green Valley is offering the use of a barbecue set for free during your stay (normal price ¥3,000).

24196-24 Kamishiro Hakuba-mura, Kita-Azumi-gun, Nagano. Email: Tel: 0261-75-4000. Tokyo office: 1-32-9 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3379-5997. Email:

Natural Action Outdoor Tours

Dream of being an outdoor adventurer? Do you lie in bed imagining yourself rafting rapids and racing down craggy mountains in a place of spectacular natural beauty? These need be pipe dreams no longer. Natural Action Outdoor Tours does exactly what it says on the tin—providing various adventures to ram your pulse up a notch or two in the stunning surrounds of Mt.Fuji and Asagiri (“morning mist”).

Take the half-day Fujikawa rafting course, which will have you rockin’ down one of Japan’s three fastest rivers. Head there right away to catch the insane water volume and speed of rainy season—or wait for gentler periods to swim and jump merrily off a 6m-high rock. This is available from April to November and costs ¥7,000 per person. For those under 3rd grade there is a Kids’ Rafting program. With comparatively calmer currents, this is a great way to get the nippers soaked and happy for just ¥6,000 per person.

If you feel more comfortable on dry land, try Asagiri Mountain Biking. Set against the backdrop of Mt. Fuji in all its seasonal splendor, tours are customized to suit your level of experience, and cost ¥7,000 per person for a half-day and ¥8,500 for a full day (including lunch). Finally, the Canyoning tour (¥7,500 per person) will have you barrowing down a natural slide of melted snow from Mt. Fuji, then jumping off cliffs and abseiling, with relaxation by a waterfall finishing it all off. All fees include equipment rental and insurance.

2193-8 Utsubusa Fujinomiya, Shizuoka. Tel: 0544-65-1123. Email: Nearest stn: JR Shibakawa.

Learn JapaneseTop

Akamonkai Japanese Language School

Akamonkai Japanese Language School has been offering instruction to students around the globe since 1985. With two centrally located campuses just a short walk from Nippori station, and with more than 15,000 graduates and 1,000 students from 17 countries currently enrolled, Akamonkai is a can’t-miss option for the discerning Japanese-language student.

Approximately 100 thoroughly trained and experienced Japanese teachers support students’ study, while guidance counselors provide essential advice for a smooth transition to living in Japan. Students are divided into 14 levels, ensuring a suitable class for everyone. Three-month courses are available for ¥120,000 (including admission and textbook fees), and pre-college visas are provided for participants in one- to two-year courses. Students can also take advantage of the popular study hall—it’s open 24 hours a day. There are also a bevy of extracurricular activities, as well as the annual March festival that offers lectures and exchanges between students and local residents.

If you’re interested in longer-term programs, Akamonkai offers several scholarship plans and discounted enrollment plans. Work-study programs can also be arranged through its sister companies. After completing their studies, many Akamonkai students continue on to universities, graduate schools and vocational schools, or step directly into the job market.

6-39-12 Higashi-Nippori, Arakawa-ku. Tel: 03-3806-6102. Email: Nearest stn: Nippori.

ARC Academy

Imagine this: at a summer garden party, under a blue sky, you want to talk to someone... but you can’t. Why? Because you don’t speak Japanese. So why not spend summertime brushing up on your linguistic skills?

ARC Academy will be open for short-term enrollment on their Intensive Course from July 2011. No matter what your schedule might be, and however long your summer holidays are, the course duration is flexible—from four days to three months—to suit you down to the ground.

Lessons at ARC are held entirely in Japanese. “What? How is that possible?” you might ask, especially if you hardly know any Japanese. But once you have spent some time with their experienced education professionals you will understand that it is not only much more effective, but also more enjoyable.

A short walk from Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Yokohama, the four titans of the Tokyo metropolitan transport network, you can find one of ARC Academy’s branches. Other courses on offer include Japanese for Daily Life, JLPT Preparation, and more to discover. As for private lessons and company training sessions, a custom-made curriculum is provided to meet individual schedules and needs.

Whether you are looking to develop your basic conversational skills or business terminology, ARC Academy offers the best results. Friendly English-speaking staff are on hand to receive your inquiries by email, telephone or in person.

Main office: 2-14-7 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Open Mon-Thu 10am-7:30pm, Fri 10am-6:30pm, Sat 10am-4pm, closed Sun & hols. Nearest stn: Shibuya. Tel: 03-3409-0391 (main office), 03-3345-6411 (Shinjuku), 03-3590-4550 (Ikebukuro), 045-312-5759 (Yokohama). Email:

KAI Japanese Language School

Founded in 1987, KAI Japanese Language School was one of the first institutions in Japan to be certified by the International Association of Language Centres. The school attracts students from about 40 countries, who use Japanese as the common language of communication both in and out of the classroom. At KAI, students live Japanese.

KAI offers a pair of flexible study programs to suit all learners’ needs. The General Course is for students whose goal is to master the language. One term lasts 10 weeks, and the course can be continued for up to two years.
The Open Monthly Course is a three-to-four-week conversation program that includes four levels ranging from complete beginner to pre-intermediate, which emphasizes immediate use of Japanese through developing communication skills.

During the month of August, KAI offers the Summer Intensive Course, involving three different programs: Conversation, JLPT Preparation, and Business Japanese Communication. Special offers are available for these programs, and the school provides private and corporate lessons as well. KAI also organizes a variety of activities, while supporting students with scholarships, academic and career planning advice, as well as offering homestay programs and a conversation salon. KAI is active on Facebook ( and has recently started a student blog site “Gambalog” (, where students can write their thoughts and experiences in their mother tongue.

Miyuki Bldg, 1-15-18 Okubo, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3205-1356. Email: Nearest stn: Shin-Okubo.

Kumon Japanese Language Program

Some people might really want to study, but be faced with a familiar problem: normal class times are just not suitable to their lifestyle. For example, people who are working very intense professional schedules, or parents who are busy raising their children, might find it difficult to fit lessons into their lives.
Help is at hand. Kumon Japanese Language Program provides correspondence courses, allowing students to practice listening and reading aloud using CDs, and complete worksheets for the reading and writing elements of the course. Papers are then submitted to be graded by instructors.

The Correspondence Course with Online Reading Lessons is an optimal method of learning, not just for working people and busy parents, but also for those who wish to study at their own pace without going to the study center. Lessons can be received via the web at no additional course. On a one-to-one basis with your instructor, you can receive guidance on your reading skills or ask any questions you might have on your mind. When necessary, the instructor will effectively support your study through communicating in English.

The Correspondence Course with Online Reading Lessons can improve your skills because it is an individualized learning program allowing you to study at your own pace. As this is a monthly-fee system, you can start studying any time you want. Contact Kumon for an information pack.

Tel: 0120-49-4625. Email:

OLJ Language Academy

If you have found that repeating “daijobu” over and over again has not quite enabled you to communicate on any meaningful level in Japan, then it might be time to think of planting your rear-end onto a classroom seat. With the bold claim that they'll help you reach N5 Japanese proficiency in the microscopic time period of five months, OLJ Language Academy should surely emerge as the frontrunner on your list of linguistic institutions. Courses start on July 11, and take place three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, right up until you take the JLPT test on December 4. As the maximum on the course is ten students, you’d better call fast to get your place.

OLJ have developed their own textbook, Terry and Mai, to communicate their own unique teaching method. Each lesson begins with situational dialogue, progresses through key sentences and practice drills, and concludes with a section introducing new kanji. Dialogues cover a wide range of real-life situations, such as making calls, writing letters, dealing with directions and reporting lost items. The instructor-led role-playing exercises, in combination with the memorization of key sentences, will give you a mastery of practical Japanese that you will find essential in your day-to-day life.

A summer course is also on offer for non-residents, so let your family and friends know, and get them here for August!

2F Shibuya New Plaza Bldg, 1-17-16 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3400-7181. Email: Nearest stn: Shibuya.

Tokyo Central Japanese Language School

Tokyo Central Japanese Language School offers the perfect study environment: it’s surrounded by greenery and historical buildings in a central location near Yoyogi station—within walking distance of Shinjuku and Harajuku. And what better way to spend your time there, than mingling with students from all over the world. Dozens of nationalities are represented among the student body, allowing you to interact with a variety of cultures, both in class and out. There are also daily opportunities for cultural exchange with students enrolled in the Japanese Language Teacher Training Course.
Study options include a daily intensive class, short-term courses and private lessons, with curricula designed to match a variety of needs. Teachers can also be dispatched to companies, schools and homes.

The application period for TCJ’s annual Intensive Japanese Summer Course will begin soon. This popular course, where students from all over the world participate every summer, is great for learning many new expressions useful in everyday conversation.

TCJ is currently accepting applications for its Business Japanese Course, which has been specifically designed for students seeking employment in Japan or who need to use Japanese in a work environment. Enrollment is available whenever you want. TCJ welcomes all students, irrespective of age or nationality, and offers many various international events to interact with people in many countries. To keep updated, visit the TCJ page on Facebook.

4-30-3 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku. Tel:03-5411-3331. Nearest stn: Yoyogi. Email:

We Japanese Language School

Language is one of the things that makes human beings distinct from our animal counterparts. With it comes a higher, more complex degree of sociability and a depth of communication unrivalled in the animal kingdom. As you might guess from its name, We Japanese Language School founds its entire pedagogical philosophy on the principle of sociability. What’s more, as We is located in the same building as an English school, the opportunity is fully taken advantage of. Events abound on the social calendar, allowing students to interact with other professionals in a cross-cultural atmosphere, rich with shared experience. This practical aspect is an essential element in learning to speak like a native.

We’s experienced instructors customize their lessons to suit each learner’s needs and objectives. Tailor-made curricula are enhanced by a range of original materials, and offered as group, private, semi-private and qualification classes. Lessons are available seven days a week, either at We’s sophisticated, state-of-the-art custom facility in Shibuya or at the location of your choice. Since classes are always student-centered, you can be sure to learn the Japanese that best suits your goals—whatever they might be. We Japanese Language School’s new website is launching shortly and will provide you with updated information upon courses and events.

4F Higashi Nihon Bldg, 1-22-8 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5489-6480. Email Nearest stn: Shibuya.


Book Off Shirokanedai

Expats in Tokyo all know what a major hassle it can be to get hold of books in one’s native tongue. They cost a fortune if delivered from home, and even the larger Japanese bookstores rarely stock anything more highbrow than the latest Dan Brown or Harry Potter. So praise Shakespeare’s well-groomed goatee for the Shirokanedai branch of secondhand chain Book Off.

Located close to Shirokanedai station and a just a minor bumble down the lane from Meguro, Book Off houses an extensive international section that you might find difficult to believe—stuffed as it is with over 40,000 titles in English, French, Chinese, Korean and more. Dizzy your literary sensibilities with a vast range of fiction, nonfiction, children’s books and ESL titles. Your scholarly obsession need not be hard on your wallet either, with titles starting from ¥200. That means you can beef up your library with a handful of coins. You won’t find that anywhere else.

For those who do not wish to be pigeonholed, Book Off Shirokanedai also stocks manga, CDs, DVDs and videogames. For cultural purposes, the cafe hosts regular events, such as live music, art exhibitions, coffee and tea seminars and storytelling for the little nippers.

With this season’s blue skies, waving trees and blooming hydrangea, there is nothing better than lying on the grass with a book. So take advantage of Book Off’s special summer sale. Head down to Shirokanedai on June 25-26 and nab a massive 20% discount on all international books. This could make your summer.

4-3-19 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5475-5696. Open daily 10am-10pm (shop); 8am-8pm (cafe). Nearest stn: Shirokanedai.

Global Talker Electronic Dictionary

A stroll through Akihabara will reveal the vast number of electronic dictionaries available in Japan. But how many are suited to your needs as a foreigner? Global Talker, presented by Toko Trading, has been designed specially with your needs in mind.

The company’s brand new lineup of dictionaries is available in 52 languages including English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Hindi, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Greek, Czech, Turkish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghaihua, Korean, Persian, Arabic, Indonesian, Malay, Thai, Vietnamese and more. Surely that is of use to even the most cunning linguist.

What’s more, the Global Talker features audio pronunciation functions for all languages. Simply type whichever word you would like to translate, and the dictionary will show you how to write it—and how to pronounce it, too. Once you’ve used the Global Talker on a business trip or a tourist expedition, you’ll never understand how you managed to cope without it.

This fancy new piece of equipment also features—along with standard tools such as a world clock, calculator and FM radio—a special recording device, allowing you to capture your own voice and compare it to the native pronunciation. You’ll be sounding like a pro in no time.

As an introductory special, the Global Talker is on offer at ¥24,800 for the 52-language dictionary, and from ¥10,000 for others, depending on the model.

Tel: 0120-919-689. Email:


Sometimes you can say it best with a T-shirt. It’s a time-honored way of celebrating an event, showing appreciation for a school or society, or raising funds for a good cause. Sometimes a personalized jacket or bag can help everyone feel like they belong, and enable them to carry away a memory of the experience. However, it might well be a difficult proposition to get a decent-quality T-shirt, hoodie or jacket printed in Tokyo—when you’re not really sure how it’s going to turn out. Many designs that look fantastic on screen can look substandard when translated onto a fabric.

Such doubts will now be a thing of the past. MBprints is a full-service T-shirt print shop in Japan that uses the highest quality inks, garments and equipment to ensure perfect results every time. Better yet, the Nagoya-based company offers service in English, making it a snap for foreigners to order custom tees, hoodies, jackets, polo shirts or bags for your school, cafe, society or event.

MBprints’ staff are committed to meeting customers’ needs, no matter what size the job. And since the actual silkscreen printing is done in-house rather than farmed out to a factory, the staff can quickly adjust or modify an order so you get exactly what you want. Orders are delivered to your door, and customers on a budget can check out the company’s special offers online or by phone. So look no further.

2-29 Kawasaki-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya. Tel: 052-846-7192.

Mureka Japan—Reaching out JP (ROJP)

Wouldn’t it be great if someone sourced all the goods around the world you can’t get in Japan—and imported them? Well, what do you know… someone just has. Mureka Japan Reaching Out JP (ROJP) will use the global network they’ve built up over the years as a hardware company to bring everything you need and can’t get to Japan. Think of it as the business version of Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption.

Pedro Marinho—the friendly Portuguese in charge—came over in April, and believes in connecting with expats to provide a tailormade service. The company has launched an e-commerce site and also a Facebook e-commerce page. Lucky readers are going to get some serious deals.

First, they will be offering US-models notebook computers (in English) plus English software and games for Sony PSP, PS3 and more. English board games and other items will soon be announced, while another great service on offer is website development in English and Portuguese.

For the grand opening this summer you can get a massive 20% off all products until July 31—and that’s in addition to free shipping. If you become a member, you can get a further 5% slashed off selected products. Orders are in Japanese only and payment is available via bank deposit transfer and COD. Click “like” on Facebook to get additional 5% off, and you really are racking up the savings.

Tel: 03-3242-2055 (English assistance available 9:30am-noon). Search for “ROJP” on Facebook.