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Akai Medical Clinic

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As Tokyo turns into a pressure cooker, you will be thinking of shedding the long sleeves and pants and dressing in a lighter summer style. When you get the chance you might be running away to a local beach, poolside, or better yet, a tropical idyll of some sort. But for many people these places present a world of difficulty. Do you feel good about yourself? Can you look in the mirror in those summer clothes or swimming costume—or do you turn away? Maybe this is a good opportunity to make some long-considered changes.

And who better to guide you through this life change than Dr. Hidemi Akai? A graduate of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Akai is well known on the Tokyo and Yokohama scenes, and in the country as a whole. He is always on the lookout for the latest techniques from around the world, to best meet his customers’ varied needs.

AccuSculpt, for example, can help you shave off the fat without a lot of hard work in the gym. This is a new kind of laser-assisted lypolysis (Laser-Lipo), which removes excess fat deposits in typical areas such as chest, jowls and hips. This innovation uses a specific wavelength to eliminate fat with a minimum of collateral tissue damage. Akai Medical Clinic is one of the first places in Japan where you can try this effective device.

Another popular service for this time of year is removal of unwanted hair, for those swimsuit moments. Back laser hair removal costs around ¥40,000-¥90,000 per session (depending on the area), with approximately five to seven sessions needed. Liposuction is offered at ¥250,000 per area, for a one-off procedure.

Akai offers a full range of services, including eyelid surgery, nasal reshaping, thread and MACS facelifting, breast surgery and liposuction. The therapies cover everything from minor touchups to comprehensive makeovers. The doctors are currently offering procedures that everyone in cosmetic surgery is talking about, combining breakthrough regenerative therapies with aesthetic medicine. Stimulating already-existing cells and activities, these add buoyancy and youthfulness to skin.

Men with thinned tops can try a number of treatments at AMC, including the revolutionary Hair Stimulating Complex (HSC). Based on newborn cells operating in embryonic conditions, this groundbreaking solution is offered alongside topical use of lotions, intra-oral treatment, injections and—for complete baldness—a transplant.

For treatment such as removal of bags under the eyes or tear troughs, take the 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 of recent years, as it uses the body’s own natural elements to reverse the processes of aging.

If you’re missing the strength and energy of youth, growth hormone treatment is the closest you can come to turning the clock back. Used by US presidents, this course of self-applied injections costs about ¥200,000-¥500,000 per month.

If you’re not sure what you want or how to go about it, feel free to get in touch for a friendly consultation with Akai’s bilingual team. The important thing is that you enjoy your summer to the fullest.

● Omotesando: 3F KNK Bldg, 3-5-17 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5771-4114. Email: 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

As the glorious hydrangeas sprinkle the summer scenery with color, Azabu Skin Clinic offers an array of seasonal deals to help you feel good at this time of year.
As the weather warms up you’ll be wanting to bare some skin. Azabu provides cellulite treatments such as Vela Smooth, Body Thermacool, and cavitation that show lasting results from the start. Other services like Botox for hyperhidrosis are also available. With the heat increasing sebaceous secretion, resulting acne can be combated with Azabu’s treatment plans. Also take note of their laser hair removal to prepare you for summer clothing. Check Azabu’s website for the full range of procedures on offer.

For menopausal or andropausal symptoms of tiredness, depression, and insomnia, replacement therapy using biologically identical hormones can boost your general energy levels. Azabu is always happy to host your hormonal checkup.

The staff at Azabu Skin Clinic are perfectly comfortable in English, and, with 30% of clientele being foreign, they have experience in treating all skin types. The director—a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Medicine, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery—is always off round the world picking up new technology and information to bring to her clients back home.

Top information, a good aesthetical eye, and the newest equipment and treatments all make Azabu Skin Clinic a beautiful place to be this summer.

● 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

Plaza is well experienced in helping patients with a comprehensive range of cosmetic processes, implemented in a confidential and comfortable space by Starbucks at the Hiroo Crossing. Head Surgeon Dr. Robert Kure is renowned among the Japanese and expat communities as a leader in the field. Not only does he hold certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery, but he was Chief Resident in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles. Together with Dr. Mineo Orito, also certified by the US Board, Kure always works hard to ensure Plaza offers the very best in modern cosmetic care.

Procedures include 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.

No lack of Japanese ability need hinder your quest for physical amelioration, with English consultations offered. What’s more, foreign insurance can be used for reconstructive cases, and certain dermatological ones, too. If you’ve been considering a procedure, why not give it a try this summer? Take advantage of a 50% offer on laser hair removal, and you won’t be disappointed.

● 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.

Hair & BeautyTop


Kaz Taira at Dude describes cutting hair the way an architect would describe building a house: “We always start off by designing the overall line of the haircut, which is the foundation,” he says. “We then add volume with graduation and layering techniques. As a final process, we work on the details such as texturizing or thinning, which give character to the haircut.” And that’s not all. “Most haircutters concentrate on thinning out hair without following this basic construction process,” he continues. “Good haircuts with substance never fall apart after the first wash and last a long time. Too much thinning makes fine Western hair frizzy and unmanageable. Japanese hair can still look good with lots of thinning.” If you fancy meeting the rainy season head-on, with a slick and shiny hairstyle, Dude recommends a “super intense straightening perm & cut” (¥21,000).

Another point in the favor of this stylish salon in the hipster neighborhood of Shimokitazawa is that Dude leaves all its customers in peace when they are in. The staff there know full well how the silly conversation and personal questions of most hairdressers can be extremely boring. So go to Dude and get an energy-boosting, happy haircut with substance, in a super chilled-out environment.

● 2-26-10 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-3468-9116. Open Wed & Fri 10am-7:30pm, Thu 10am-8:30pm, Sat-Sun & hols 10am-7pm, closed Mon-Tue. Nearest stn: Shimokitazawa.

Gold Salon

Located in fashionable Azabu-Juban, Gold Salon has established itself as the salon of choice for Tokyo’s international community. The salon’s 100m2 floor space and view of Roppongi Hills offer a relaxing atmosphere for your hair treatment. Its stylists specialize in a range of services, with a strong emphasis on coloring using imported products to achieve natural, healthy-looking hair.

Gold Salon is Tokyo’s leading spot for Brazilian keratin treatment (BKT), a revolutionary straightening procedure that truly transforms hair (keratin is the primary protein of hair, skin and nails). Gold offers the most advanced technology available in BKT with five different formulations on offer to achieve unparalleled transformations for unruly, textured hair. Unlike other straightening/smoothing techniques, BKT replenishes the condition of the hair without changing or damaging its molecular structure. It’s safe for all hair types—even highly bleached and extremely damaged hair. The only home care involved is the use of a non-sodium shampoo and conditioner to protect and replenish the keratin coating. Gold Salon’s Brazilian keratin treatment delivers every time on its promise of “smooth, shiny, frizz-free hair.”

Until August 30, Gold Salon is offering Metropolis readers 20% off BKT and a complimentary bottle of sodium-free shampoo and conditioner to take home. Try this revolutionary technique and change the way you feel about your hair.

● 6F, 4-1-9 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6436-0228. Open daily from 10am till 8pm- closed Tue & Sun. Nearest stn: Azabu-Juban.


From the moment you step into Ho’me—now in their new Jiyugaoka location—you’ll feel yourself relax. Many Tokyo men keen on looking good have come to rely on Top Jen, the latest facial and body contouring solution. It’s clinically proven to deliver wrinkle, cellulite and circumference reduction, and skin tightening, with the price at just ¥10,000 per hour. Among Ho’me’s offerings, try out 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 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. The cost is ¥10,000 for a one-hour session.

Get some color in your cheeks with airbrush tanning, which avoids exposure to dangerous UV, and keeps your color even and natural. It’s proven to last from ten days to two weeks because of its deep penetration. For a full-body bronze, the charge is just ¥6,000; for a partial tan, prices start at ¥4,000.

A key part of the Ho’me experience is candle art, with a selection of candles designed and produced especially for Ho’me by Millie, who works at Candle Studio Daikanyama. This range of candles, with a handmade feel and vintage texture, are on sale at the salon.

● B1 Opera-za, 1-3-28 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku. Tel: 03-5726-8540. Flexible opening hours/days. Nearest stn: Jiyugaoka.

Maris Gina brazilian salon

To eliminate hair from your body in a quick, clean and effective way, and achieve the results you are looking for, then opt for Brazilian waxing. This technique—a current craze in the West—has yet to become widespread in Japan. Now, it is expertly provided at the prestigious salon Maris Gina.

Close to both Roppongi and Nogizaka stations, Maris Gina targets on getting your wax done in 20 minutes, though staff are happy to take it slower if you prefer. The salon also offers various types of aromatherapy, to complement your experience, clear your air passages, and freshen your mind.

Maris Gina is a strong believer in taking care of your whole body—even the parts not regularly seen by others. If you take that pride in your appearance, then you can realize you’re doing it for yourself more than for others.

Opened in May, Maris Gina is a private salon where clients can feel at home and in complete comfort. When the staff have time, they’re even happy to drive the customers over to Shibuya station. Because it is a completely private salon, Maris Gina can provide that kind of personal attention, marking it out from the typical high-street spots.

As a grand opening campaign, bikini waxing plans are only ¥5,500. Save in advance by buying a book of tickets at campaign price—tickets with no expiry date. Check availability and reserve any time (24h) via the website calendar, or call from 9am-5pm.

● Residia Tower, 9-6-39 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6804-2632. Email: Open daily 9am-11pm. Nearest stn: Roppongi or Nogizaka.

MDSA IPL Laser Hair Removal Salon

Now summer is hard upon us, your mind is probably filled with images of shedding your clothes and running gaily along the beach in the sunshine. But wait—isn’t there something you’ve forgotten?

MDSA Hair Removal Salon is just two minutes by foot from Azabu-Juban station, offering private operating rooms through advance reservation only, to ensure a high degree of privacy and comfort. Twenty percent of the mixed-gender clientele are foreigners, meaning those not fluent in Japanese need not worry—the staff at MDSA can chat to you in English to work out what treatment will suit you best. Tools and procedures used to remove unwanted hair from backs, shoulders, bellies and bikini lines come straight from the US, and are calibrated to suit foreign skin perfectly.

The welcoming atmosphere combines nicely with reasonable prices and excellent equipment 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. Operating rooms can service two people at one time, so ask a friend or family member if they want to benefit from the top-class MDSA service alongside you.

● 2F Ishihara Bldg, 3-7-1 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-6435-1276. Email: Open Mon-Fri noon-11:30pm, Sat-Sun & hols 10am-11:30pm. Nearest stn: Azabu-Juban.


They say a week’s a long time in politics, but 30 years is as long as you get in cosmetics. That’s how long mail-order company Kareivi Cosmetics has been plying their trade. They’ve been specialists in all-natural beauty products, such as medical hair growing agents and skin-lightening cosmetics, since 1983.

Mimosa is a beauty salon dealing in Kareivi Cosmetics products. And now they provide an airbrush tanning service (body coloring by Ho’me). With no UV ray exposure, this is the healthiest way to fake your bake. Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is sprayed on the skin to cause a chemical reaction with the amino acids in the dead layer of skin. The tanned color lasts for a week, depending on each individual. Because airbrush tanning is the easiest and safest way to bronze your skin, it’s recommended for those worried about flecks, wrinkles, dry skin, freckles, skin cancer, and other risks.

As far as colors go, select from “light sunshine” or “dark Brazilian.” The price weighs in at ¥6,000 for full-body, ¥4,000 for a partial treatment, or ¥1,500 for a facial only. Other courses include the facial trial course (¥2,100), an oil head massage (¥5,250), and a “hamam,” or herb-steam bed (¥3,000). All Kareivi products are sold at a discount of 10% off, and if you mention you read Metropolis, you can get 20% off menu price.

● 5-25-3 Kasuga-cho Nerima-ku. Tel: 03-3926-2377. Email: Flexible opening hours. Nearest stn: Nerima.

Nepenji Curly Hair Specialists

The famously humid summer of Japan can be a frightening thing for frizzy folk. But if anyone can help you through it, it’s the dynamic, all-female staff of Nepenji in Ebisu, Tokyo’s premium curly hair specialist salon.

Nepenji stylist Kiyoko worked at Lorraine Massey’s Deva Salon in New York, the Big Apple’s top ringlet manipulator. Massey has released a book of advice for lock-bearing ladies, and Kiyoko will be happy to show the book to you in her salon and explain its contents. She will also delve into her own wide experience to give advice on how to make your hair behave this summer, and which products are best to use. For example, curly-haired people should only use sulfate-free products. Check the ingredients on the bottles to make sure you aren’t using anything with sodium laurel sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, or sodium laureate sulfate. In the summertime, keep treating your hair, and always dry it well.

As a special offer, nab a hair consultation and treatment included with your first cut, all for the price of ¥8,400. Then, if you return within four months after your first cut, you’ll get your second for ¥6,825. If your second cut comes after four months, the cost will be ¥7,875. You can also add a hair treatment for just ¥2,100.

● 2-6-14 Ebisu-Minami, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3793-2357 (Kiyoko). Email: Open Wed-Sun 11am-9pm.


In just three years this convenient Omotesando salon has become renowned for its array of professional beauty treatments at a great price, and friendly English-speaking staff. Esteemed for fast and effective waxing treatments, NUA’s IPL hair removal and facial treatments have also developed a devoted following.

The newest addition to their services is the “microcurrent facelift” facial, which staff have described as the best alternative to a surgical facelift. This non-invasive, safe and painless treatment utilizes very mild electronic stimulation that lifts sagging jowls, develops muscle tone in the neck and face, improves blood circulation, and reduces puffiness, wrinkles and dark eye circles. A 60-minute trial costs ¥9,450 (regular price ¥12,600).

Another must-try is the photocare anti-aging facial. This progressive treatment improves major skin concerns such as age spots, skin texture, enlarged pores, broken capillaries, rosacea, acne, fine lines and wrinkles. Intense pulses of light stimulate collagen production, resulting in instant skin rejuvenation. A trial costs ¥10,500 (regular price ¥15,000) and includes ultrasound cleansing, photocare treatment, collagen moisturizing mask and anti-aging serum iontophoresis.

For the summer, get in on their new OPI gel polish manicures and pedicures too, guaranteed to get your hands and feet beach ready, with no dry time, longer lasting results than a regular nail polish—and less damage than regular gel.

Special offer for Metropolis readers: bring this magazine for a 10% discount on all services until July 31.

● #102 Lamial Jingumae, 4-8-17 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-6804-5285. Email: Open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-7pm, closed Sun. Nearest stn: Omotesando.


The weather is already warm, and before you know it the height of summer will be upon us. And with the summer styles you’ll see on everyone around you—it’s nice to feel and look your best. A visit to Dan Suzuki’s Shape salon in Akasaka (near exit 6) is just the thing to freshen up your hairstyle. Master stylist Dan draws on years of training at the Vidal Sassoon studios in London, which endowed him with both the creative vision and technical know-how to tackle any kind of styling challenge. When a simple trim just isn’t going to pass muster, Dan and his Shape artists will be glad to show off their highlight and foil-work skills, using Wella color products imported from the UK to ensure the best results for Western hair.

Shape knows how to pamper customers in style, too. The salon has its own coffee bar, where you can enjoy a complimentary cup of espresso, cappuccino or organic tea either before or after your appointment. And there’s no need to stop with your hair, either: Shape now offers manicures and pedicures while you’re having your trim. As a bonus to Metropolis readers, mention to your stylist that you’re interested in the “Nano steam treatment”—available to anyone booked in for a haircut—and you’ll get it for free.

● 4F, 6-3-16 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3568-3666. Open Mon-Tue & Thu-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat-Sun 10am-8pm, closed Wed and second Tue. Nearest stn: Akasaka.

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, 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 London Mayfair salon and academy to become their master stylist. Now Fabio is the managing director of Sin Den and under his leadership the salon is filled with a dynamic and gifted team. Fabio’s freelance work includes artists such as U2 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 technique that virtually eliminates frizzy hair, making your hair healthy and amazingly maintenance free! And if you want to look your best from fingertip to toe—don’t forget to ask Sin Den’s amazing nail specialist Rika Obara about Shellac Nails, the ultimate in summer manicures and pedicures that has the whole beauty world raving. FREE CONSULATION AVAILABLE!

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

Tribeca West

Tribeca West is pleased to announce that New York’s experienced hair stylist Mimi is available for your hair cutting and styling needs in the funky heartland of Kichijoji. Mimi boasts 17 years’ experience working at Warren-Tricomi in the New York Plaza Hotel, and at the Big Apple’s top salon, Garren.

All her experience has prepared Mimi to deal with all hair types, including blond and African-American. This is important not just for cutting and styling, but also for coloring, as different hair types take to colors in different ways. Mimi is also adept at treating the humidity’s effects on your hair, and uses tools such as magnetized irons for hair straightening without damage, and the ultra-sound iron to treat deeper areas of the hair. Naturally Mimi speaks fluent English, and is happy to have a chat with you about what you’d like to do with your hair.

Prices start from ¥7,350 per hour for a cut. As a special offer, Metropolis readers can get 20% off on first visit, 25% off for second and third visits, and 30% off for fourth and fifth visits. If you bring a friend along after your second time, you can claim a 30% discount—so spread the word! Also, on your fourth visit, ask about receiving a free carbonated spring head spa, or free hair treatment. Check the website for Mimi’s schedule.

● 8F Coppice Kichijoji Bldg B, Kichijoji Honcho, Musashino-shi. Nearest stn: Kichijoji. Tel: 0422-27-2518. Email: Open Mon-Fri 10am-4:30pm, Sun 10am-6pm, closed Sat.


Looking for a good Brazilian waxing salon in Tokyo? Waxing-Bee can cater to your every waxing need. Its second salon recently opened in the Mecca of fashion and beauty, Ginza, just one minute’s walk from Ginza station, while the first Waxing-Bee lies just one minute from Omotesando station. Known for its great service and featured in Japanese fashion magazines and TV programs, Waxing-Bee plays host to Japanese and gaijin clients—and even the occasional Hollywood starlet passing through. 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.

The menu includes Brazilian waxing at ¥7,300, facial waxing (eyebrows ¥2,000, lips ¥1,500 and more), and body waxing (half-leg ¥4,000, half-arm ¥3,500 and more), and of course the famous Vajazzling, which Waxing-Bee brought to Japan before any other salon.

Waxing-Bee’s sanitary environment provides clients with comfort during their experience, and the technique of using natural honey wax—carefully sourced from around the world—is favored by repeat customers for its minimal pain and irritation. Member’s-card holders enjoy additional perks, with further discounts advertised on the website, Facebook and Twitter. Book an appointment now via the online 24-hour reservation system, by email or by phone. Ladies only.

● Omotesando: 4F Furuya bldg, 4-2-17 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5410-7020. Nearest stn: Omotesando.

● Ginza: 5F APA Ginza bldg., 3-8-15, Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3562-2288. Email: Open Tue-Fri 11am-9pm, Sat-Sun 10am-7pm, closed Mon. Nearest stn: Ginza.

Holiday & OutdoorTop

Evergreen Outdoor Center

Japan’s summer will soon turn the metropolitan concrete jungle into a pressure cooker. Fear not, for there is a beautiful refuge available. A short journey to the scenic landscapes of Hakuba in Nagano could be just what your spirit needs.
Hakuba is the gateway to the Japan Alps, with peaks rising to 3,000m and abundant rivers, lakes and trails. Even in midsummer the cool air is refreshing, and clean waters are perfect for a dip.

Visitors can leisurely enjoy the scenery, or get more intense with outdoor sports. The folks at Evergreen Outdoor Center make it a year-round priority to get out and seek the best adventures. Whether it’s a wild day in the local natural water-park of Kamoshika Canyon, a relaxed one canoeing or kayaking on beautiful Lake Aoki, or some gnarly mountain biking, Evergreen guarantees an unforgettable experience. Families can enjoy fun-filled days on a combo tour, with kids assured an awesome time at the lakeside summer camps.

Evergreen’s professional and experienced staff are passionate about their work and focused on making each experience safe and memorable. No matter your ability or desired activity, let Evergreen Outdoor Center set up your revitalizing summer getaway. Come out and experience it for yourself.

● 4377 Hokujo Hakuba, Kita-Azumi, Nagano. Tel: 0261-72-5150. Email:

Forest Adventure

In three stunning locations close to Tokyo, spend a day in the treetops on a safe and exhilarating Forest Adventure for the whole family.

Your experienced guides will harness you up with safety devices designed to make the afternoon memorable and risk-free. In no time you’ll be zipping down lines stretching over 100m, swinging Tarzan-like from tree to tree, and taking dizzying canopy walks. The fun is not only 100% safe; it’s 100% guilt-free, too, as Forest Adventure prioritizes environmental harmony.

The Mt. Fuji location lies just ten minutes from Kawaguchiko IC on the Chuo Expressway by car. The adventure course is the main attraction and available to anyone over 10 and taller than 140cm, while the canopy course is great for kids over 110cm tall. Ten minutes from Odawara station by car or bus, you can be immersed in an immense forest with 300-year-old trees overlooking a gorgeous stream. The courses there are open to kids aged six and up, and over 110cm tall. The Hakone location is 12 minutes from Hakone-Yumoto station by foot, or two minutes via the free bus. This park, in the heart of Hakone, offers a full course to anyone over 10 and 140cm tall. Make reservations in English for adventures at any of these locations online or by phone.

● Mt. Fuji: Tel: 090-3345-0970. Email: Odawara: Tel: 080-4330-4030. Email: Hakone: Tel: 080-4219-2206. Email:

Gakuto Villas, Hakuba

The Gakuto Villas complex lies in the peaceful, tree-lined Wadano Mori at the base of Happo One, the largest winter ski area and hub of summer activity in Hakuba Valley. Now approaching its second summer, each eco-chic villa is in impeccable condition. Self-catering facilities and a charming living and dining area provide a flexible living space adaptable to your needs whether you’re visiting with family, friends, or colleagues. There’s plenty of fabulous restaurants within walking distance, or you can spend the gorgeous nights on the newly built BBQ decking; a firm favorite of the locals—and the staff, too. For that ultimate countryside authenticity you can even catch your own dinner on the local fishing lake.

Hakuba is best explored by bike and a fleet is offered at Gakuto Villas for guests’ free use—a first in town. Spend a lazy afternoon cycling between paddies, a high-octane one rocketing down mountains, or ride up to the top and earn your evening BBQ. Just ask the English-speaking staff for their top routes and tips of where to stop for sights or a snack.

At Gakuto Villas, find the perfect platform from which to experience the endless delights of Hakuba. Beautifully finished, ideally placed, and with friendly and knowledgeable staff, the only thing you’ll regret about your stay is that it had to come to an end.

● 4720-1, 4721, 4722 Hokujyo, Hakuba-mura, Kita-Azumi, Nagano. Tel: 03-4577-3310. Email:

Harbor Circuit

Get your pulse racing, regardless of the weather, at this indoor kart paradise. Harbor Circuit is based on similar venues in the UK—the home of indoor karting. First-timers shouldn’t worry, as all gear is rentable and you don’t even need a driver’s license. All you need is a spark of curiosity.

Anyone over 130cm tall—regardless of age—can hop into the Sodi RX-7, with a Honda GX270 engine, made by France’s premier kart maker. Seats and pedals are adjustable for your comfort. There is also a kart tailored for kids aged 12 and under. Mounted with the Honda GX160 engine, the Funkid is chain-driven, meaning it runs quietly to keep little ears intact.

A real-time ranking system allows groups to compete, and individuals to smash their personal best. Regular endurance races and time trials are open to the public.

Safety is a top priority, with crash-prevention brake lamps, and burn-proof coverings. This all makes it easier to fly round Harbor Circuit’s pumping course layout, complete with a flying junction and tunnel.

Sharp corners and twisty turns test even the most experienced drivers. But it’s beginner friendly, too—though you won’t zoom round the first time, completing the course will bring satisfaction, as well as relieve some stress—and it can even provide a measure of exercise. Once you try, you’ll be hooked.

● 2F Harbor Circuit, Chiba Sports Plaza, 13-26 Dezuminato, Chuo-ku, Chiba. Tel: 043-441-3243 (Japanese only). Email: Open Mon-Fri, 2-11:30pm, Sat 11am-11:30pm, Sun 11am-9:30pm (admission 30 min before closing). Nearest stn: Honchiba.


Easy riders keen on roaring tracks along Japan’s glorious highways—but not planning to purchase their own choppers—should give Rental819 Kizuki a shout. Launched in 2007 as a motorbike vendor, five initial branches were soon transformed into a dizzying 97 franchised shops. Today, Rental819 Kizuki is renting bikes at shops and franchises across the nation from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and has garnered extensive coverage from NHK, J-Wave, Nikkei Shimbun, Nikkei Weekly, and other media.

For folks not keen on the long-term financial commitment of owning a bike—and who don’t have the garage space anyway; those planning a road trip around spectacular landscapes such as rugged Hokkaido; or those who simply want to test out different models; all can rent a bike with minimum fuss and maximum reliability through Rental819 Kizuki.

All bikes on offer are the latest models, with helmet and gloves for rent. Foreigners need not worry about insurance or annoying bureaucracy with Rental819 Kizuki. Just bring your international driving license, national driving license, passport, and your credit card, and one of their bikes will be purring under you in no time. An English-speaking staff member can accompany you on your trip for an extra charge. Check out the company’s website or get in touch to find out more.

● Head Office: 1-6-11 Sakura-cho, Kawaguchi, Saitama. Tel: 0120-819-147. Open 10am-7pm (variable by shop). Email:

Hakuba Meteor Lodges

If you were to fall through the atmosphere on a burning lump of space rock, there are few better places to cool off and enjoy the planet than Hakuba. Just minutes from the setting of the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Hakuba Meteor Lodges, along with Hakuba Pension, Hakuba Log Hotel, and Hakuba Brownie Cottage and Condominium are waiting to accommodate you and provide you with a platform from which to explore one of Japan’s most coveted and fun-packed destinations.

Tetsu and Midori Fukushima run all of these comfortable and convenient venues, and bring their 30 years of local experience to bear on your holiday planning. Their unparalleled knowledge of food, entertainment, outdoor activities and the secrets of the surrounding natural setting will help you squeeze the best possible moments into your stay.

Of course Hakuba is world famous as a ski resort, but even in the summer there are oodles of activities to get stuck into—how about sailing through the air in a hot-air balloon, or swooping by in a paraglider? Or hitting the flowing water on a raft, canoe or kayak? Or pounding up and speeding down the rock trails on a mountain bike?

Touted as “Hakuba’s number-one family-run pension,” Meteor is a perfect platform to explore and experience all that Japan’s premier vacation district has to offer. Dogs are welcome at Meteor Lodge hotel only (¥1,100/night).

● 2937-730 Misorano Hokujyo, Hakuba, Kita-Azumi, Nagano. Tel: 0261-72-5153. Email:

Mt. Fuji Guide Nori

The great Mount Fuji, emblematic of Japan’s natural skyline, looms high in the minds of every traveler in this country. To tackle the peak in the safest, most enjoyable way possible, one man is your ticket.

Freelance hiking guide Noritoshi Ikezawa, aka Nori, learned to speak English in the US, and has worked domestically and internationally. He is available to lead groups as large as you like—or even just one or two people—up the rocky slopes to the summit.

Make sure you don’t get lost among the 300,000 people who scale Fuji’s heights annually­—or more when it becomes a World Heritage Site next year. Most people hit the site via bus tours, typically in the afternoon on weekends. Nori can take you to Fuji during weekdays and at times when the fewest possible tourists will be around to compete for your trail.

Guided hikes cost ¥42,000 in Japanese and ¥52,000 in English, and cover one night and two days. A one-night stay (weekdays) is ¥7,350, and includes two meals. Customized tours for large groups can include transportation, accommodation, insurance, and of course your Fuji climbing guide. You can also rent all necessary equipment.

Feel free to chat to Nori about special deals—he’s happy to consider discounts for groups, custom-designed tours, day-trips, overnight stays, and special provisions for elderly and young people. You can also contact him through Facebook.

● Tel: 090-3214-0168 (24h). Email:

The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

As a bonsai points upward, so should those with an interest in the miniature trees head north of Tokyo. Where else should the world’s first publicly-run bonsai museum be but in Saitama City, where the culture is designated a traditional industry? Folks have long come from around the world to this district to take in the natural surroundings, talk to experts, and buy some specimens for their own collections.
Now, the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum has been established to promote and develop this culture, and thereby consolidate Saitama’s status as the home of bonsai in Japan.

The collection of the former Takagi Bonsai Museum of Art forms the nucleus of the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, with bonsai pots, and paintings and ukiyo-e woodblock prints depicting everyone’s favorite potted plants. The museum is also taking on the grand aim of systematically collecting and publishing documents related to the wonderful world of the diminutive trees, including history, folklore, growing techniques, and more.

English and Chinese headphone guides are available, in order to make international visitors feel at home and discover the arcane Japanese art with ease.

This summer call in to see a special exhibition about suiseki (Jul 6-Aug 29). These pieces of rock often resemble miniature mountains or islands, and are displayed alongside bonsai for visual pleasure, as both are seen as a microcosm of nature’s forces.

● ¥100-300, discounts for groups of 20 or more. 2-24-3 Toro-cho, Kita-ku, Saitama. Tel: 048-780-2091. Open Mar-Oct Fri-Wed 9am-4:30pm & Nov-Feb 9am-4pm, closed Thu (except hols) & New Year. Nearest stn: Toro.


ARC Academy

ARC Academy was established in 1986 and has been teaching Japanese to students from over 40 countries since then. Lessons are held all in Japanese, which might make you wonder how it is possible when you hardly know any. However, you’ll soon realize that it’s not only highly effective, but also fun and quick. The teachers are all well-trained and adept at knowing how to speak at your level of understanding.
The Intensive Course is available for any duration; as short as four days through to months and years. Diverse activities are organized so that students can enjoy learning various aspects of Japanese culture.

A short walk from either Shibuya, Shinjuku or Yokohama stations will bring you to one of ARC Academy’s branches, where you’ll find other courses such as JLPT Preparation, Business Japanese, and more. For those interested in anime and manga, a short-term summer program is available to learn basic information and techniques, as well as the language. As for private lessons and company training lessons, a custom-made curriculum is provided to meet individual schedules and needs.

Whether you’re keen on developing your basic conversational skills, or brushing up your business terminology, ARC Academy offers the best results. The friendly English-speaking staff will welcome your inquiries by email, telephone or in person.

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

Prime Junior

The newest and funkiest international preschool program in Tokyo, Prime Junior is based two minutes from Ebisu station. With the bold claim that “no other school offers this much funducation in their curriculum,” the school is already building a reputation as a fun-loving and stimulating place for children.

Programs are aimed at children from 18 months to six years old, and are all about giving students hands-on opportunities. Learning-by-doing begins as soon as students step through the front door, and they take this philosophy home to their parents.

The curriculum focuses on science, mathematics, art, music, physical education, and literacy. Students are proud to gain native levels in English literacy by age six, thanks to Prime Junior’s surefire reading program. Lessons have a monthly theme, which offers a well-rounded learning atmosphere. Where else can a child experiment with their shadow, learn about rhythm and tempo, build an obstacle course, and create a melted crayon masterpiece?

In addition, weekly event days—dress-up day, cooking day, Picasso day, party day, to name but a few—have been a massive hit with students and parents. Every week is a treat for the senses, and teachers are constantly awe-inspired by the creativity displayed by students during these special days.
Prime Junior is blazing a trail in “funducation,” so stop by and see what all the fuss is about.

● 1-13-2 Ebisu-Minami Shibuya. Tel: 03-6303-0566. Email:

Nichibei Kaiwa Gakuin Japanese Language Institute (JLI)

If you’re keen on studying basic or advanced level, practical or business Japanese this summer, Nichibei Kaiwa Gakuin is the place to be. Students choose from an intensive daytime program; early morning, afternoon, night and Saturday part-time courses; or private lessons. At the basic level you’ll practice intensive drills for practical conversation skills; at the intermediate and advanced levels, more sophisticated conversation and speech drills are part of the program. Newspaper articles, TV news, and JLPT preparation—as well as Japanese corporate culture studies—are also covered.

Students include business people, corporate trainees, diplomats, family members of working expats, spouses of Japanese and other adult learners with various cultural backgrounds. There is an even distribution of students from Europe, North America, East Asia, and other areas of the world.

Founded in 1967 by the International Education Center (IEC), JLI is conveniently located in central Tokyo, a three-minute walk from Yotsuya station, in a recently-constructed, earthquake-proof building.

In addition to Japanese lessons, IEC provides a variety of English-language education programs and engages in various international exchanges. Activities include the International Speech Contest in Japanese, broadcast on NHK, and a diversity of other cultural forums, including the Japan-America Student Conference, which was originally founded in 1934.

Prospective students are invited to contact JLI to discuss which course is appropriate for them, or to stop in to check the facilities.

● 1-21 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-3359-9600. Email: Nearest stn: Yotsuya.

OLJ Language Academy

Now the summer is here, your mind might turn to thoughts of social events, garden and beach parties, and other action. But a lack of Japanese ability might obstruct your mixing with the locals. Why not enroll at OLJ Language Academy, a Japanese Language School in the heart of Shibuya, with an intensive beginner-level course starting this July? The beginner course kicks off on July 6, continuing five days a week, three hours a day, with long holidays in summer, winter, and spring. Fun-packed trips are also organized to Disneyland, beer factories and other havens of pure enjoyment.

OLJ Language Academy is smaller and cozier than the identical institutes you might have chanced upon. At OLJ, lessons take place with 15 students or fewer in the class, which ensures a personalized treatment.

Beginners use the original textbook Terry and Mai, which uses daily situations to teach Japanese through a combination of imagination and practical everyday communication.

Whatever visa you have, OLJ can provide lessons for you; be it a working visa, artist visa, dependent, and others. Currently OLJ has several students with spouse visas who have attended the Intensive Japanese Course (five days a week in the morning or afternoon) and successfully improved their Japanese from beginner level to JLPT N2 holder in one year’s study at OLJ.

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

Shinjuku Heiwa Japanese Language School

For top-quality Japanese education at bottom-drawer prices, a solution can be found in the roaring heart of Tokyo. In a convenient location ten minutes’ walk from the hub of Shinjuku station and just one minute from Okubo or Shin-Okubo stations, Shinjuku Heiwa caters for all levels. Thanks to small class sizes—no more than ten students per teacher—learners can enjoy personal attention. Selective classes teach Japanese through culture, kanji, and business manner, and JLPT preparation courses are available too.

Shinjuku Heiwa Japanese Language School offers room and board, allowing a full immersion in the culture. Accommodation costs as little as ¥35,000 a month, while home stays are offered to ensure more practice. Student visas can be arranged for around ¥290,000 for the first six months. What’s more, for those who mention this article, the Japanese intensive course is available for the bargain price of ¥14,800 (normal price ¥18,000). Visit the homepage for more details.

Non-residents can take advantage of Shinjuku Heiwa’s summer program, which includes room and board. The very reasonable ¥198,000 monthly fee covers tuition, dormitory accommodation, and two meals a day.
Shinjuku Heiwa’s name comes from the Japanese for “peace” and this philosophy extends itself into the lifestyle environment that the school offers. Check the website for details of social and cultural events.

● 1-13-14, Hyakunincho, Shinjuku-ku. Tel: 03-6304-0088. Email: Nearest stn: Okubo. or

Tokyo Central Japanese Language School

Established in 1988, Tokyo Central Japanese Language School (TCJ) has conducted long-term studies into cross-cultural communication through Japanese language education. It encourages students to achieve an excellent command of Japanese through its top-level programs.

TCJ is located in a convenient part of Tokyo, just one minute’s walk from Yoyogi station and within walking distance of Shinjuku and Harajuku. Every year students from over 30 nations come to TCJ to study. A place is provided where different values and opinions can be communicated, and those all-important cross-cultural friendships can be built up. TCJ’s faculty plans plenty of events each season that gain students access to Japanese culture through real communication with Japanese people.

The range of study options at TCJ includes daily intensive classes, short-term courses and private lessons—and curricula are designed to match a variety of needs. Companies, schools and homes can also request TCJ’s teachers to travel to give classes.

Apply now for TCJ’s three-week Summer Intensive Course, designed to improve your communication skills through learning useful day-to-day expressions. TCJ also offers Business Japanese Courses, open for enrollment whenever suits your schedule.

Anybody can study Japanese, irrespective of age or nationality. Get in touch to arrange a trial lesson and take the test to check your level—both absolutely free!

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

We Japanese Language School

Located in bustling Shibuya, We prides itself on innovative customer service and effective, results-driven training for professionals. Experienced instructors offer customized lessons to meet every learner’s specific business and communication objectives.

Setting it apart from other schools, We boasts a stylish, sophisticated interior and ambience that makes for a relaxing learning environment, offering flexible lesson times, seven days a week, from 7am-10pm. Off-site services are available for those who need to fit classes into their busy schedules.

With English and Chinese language divisions in the same building, international students can mingle with their Japanese counterparts. We organizes parties and other social events that allow students to interact with other professionals in a cross-cultural atmosphere. This practical experience is an essential element in learning to speak like a native.

We’s Student Partner System is a unique program matching learners with an experienced support counselor, ensuring they receive feedback that helps continual improvement. The philosophy of student-centered teaching will provide you with the support to meet your needs and achieve your goals. Students are always We’s top priority.

New courses from this summer include the Special Intensive Japanese Course. This aims to raise conversational Japanese and practical skills rapidly. From job hunters, to homemakers, and short-term visitors who want to accelerate in their studies, We offers courses to help you reach your goals effectively.

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

Health & LifestyleTop

Aoyama St Omotesando Dental Clinic

As everyone knows, neglecting your teeth can result in a lot of pain and a lot of money in the long term. Nevertheless, many foreigners end up doing just that, because of language and bureaucratic difficulties in Tokyo. Aoyama St. Omotesando Dental Clinic does its best to eliminate these obstacles, and provide international customers with a reliable, English-speaking service in Japan.

Cavity protection and basic cleaning starts from ¥3,000, with insurance. Without insurance, cavity protection can be had from ¥8,000, and a deep professional clean from ¥15,000.

Aoyama St Omotesando Dental Clinic offers a ceramic inlay for just ¥50,000. A full ceramic crown, matched to your tooth color, can be molded, created and applied for ¥120,000 (molar) or ¥150,000 (incisor). Implants can be had from ¥500,000. Many cases at Aoyama St involve a broken tooth. Make sure you don’t leave something like that until your next trip home, or you might end up with nerve damage or worse—and certainly you’ll end up paying more.

The clinic is fully equipped with the latest equipment, digital technology, and pain-saving techniques. State-of-the-art treatment is par for the course at Aoyama St Omotesando Dental Clinic. Get in touch for a friendly counseling session with Doctor Ootara and his staff, and find the best way to help ensure your dental health for a long time ahead.

● 1F Osakabe Bldg, 5-46-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3486-4484. Open Mon-Tue & Thu-Fri 11am-1:30pm and 3-8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-1pm and 2-5pm, closed Wed & hols. Nearest stn: Omotesando.

Basi Pilates

To move beyond traditional exercise to a more holistic approach, Pilates can provide a way forward. It combines physical strength-building and methods—such as breathing exercises—that cater to the contents of your head, too. Stop in at one of 12 studios around Tokyo to get to know Basi Pilates and how it operates.

The discipline was invented in the early 20th century by German nurse Joseph Pilates, and is now practiced by an estimated 20 million people around the world. Pilates uses the mind to control the muscles, helping build flexibility, strength, endurance, and coordination in the legs, abdominals, arms and back. Muscles deep in your body that work to support your skeleton are toned—not just surface muscles reached by ordinary exercise. Pilates helps you access this power for the first time. Contractions can then be managed daily to improve your posture and physical wellbeing.

During sessions, you will also be helped to direct your mind inwards, enabling relaxation. Concentration and breathing exercises help create a focused mind. Lessons will fly by quickly–but you will be left feeling totally refreshed and ready to continue with your busy week.

As a special offer for readers of Metropolis, Basi Roppongi is offering free admission (regular price ¥15,750), a trial machine private lesson for ¥8,400 (¥10,000) and a package machine private lesson for ¥18,000 (¥30,000).

● Studios in Roppongi, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Yokohama, and more. Tel: 03-6425-7054. Email:

Book Off Shirokanedai

Foreign bookworms hunkering down in Tokyo have long found it tricky to keep their bookshelves stocked with quality printed matter. Finding works in one’s own tongue can be costly, time-consuming—and often fruitless. Those looking for something more than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will be thrilled to walk through the doors of Book Off’s secondhand store in Shirokanedai.

Right by Shirokanedai station and a short walk from Meguro, Book Off houses an extensive international section stuffed 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 don’t wish to be pigeonholed, Book Off Shirokanedai also stocks manga, CDs, DVDs and videogames. For cultural purposes, the café 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 head down to Shirokanedai and fill your wheelbarrow with literary treasures.

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

Bungeling Bay Ebisu

Kick up a storm at Bungeling Bay Ebisu, the newest member of the kickboxing gym circuit founded by K1 Max competitor Akeomi Nitta. Anyone who wants to lose weight, get in shape and improve fitness levels is going to be a fan of the quality kickboxing lessons in store.

Lessons come in various forms to help everyone feel comfortable. There are classes for kids, women and beginners, offering kickboxing, muay Thai, core exercise and light sparring. There’s also training in Kaatsu, a patented exercise also known as “blood flow restricted exercise.”

If your goal is to lose weight, tone up, gain strength, or to simply feel healthier, then Bungeling Bay’s qualified and experienced trainers can set you on the right path. Personal training lessons are a way of improving on particular areas to meet your needs and will improve your self-confidence. You can arrange personal training lessons any time and any place. Families, friends and groups can get together and share the cost of these lessons.

The facility in Ebisu is equipped with a ring and sandbags. Men and women use separate locker rooms and showers, and two dressers are installed in the women’s area. The reception lounge offers a large monitor which you can rest your eyes on when putting your feet up after training.

● 3F Glorious Mansions, 4-22-8 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-6905-6573. Email:

Ryozan Park

With a décor described as “cozy eclectic luxury”—replete with chandeliers, a bright-red kitchen and a two-meter horse—Ryozan Park’s shared house/office space provides a fascinating melting pot for different cultures, languages and ideas.

The house’s Sugamo location is just a few minutes from the Yamanote line and the Mita and Namboku subway lines—close enough to commute, but far enough for some physical and mental space. Founder Noritaka Takezawa runs the house with his girfriend Rachel from Scotland. Together they work hard to create a comfortable and exciting international environment where they can share their own passions for music, fitness, politics, and community through classes, conferences and parties held in Ryozan Park’s event spaces.

The house’s features include a ladies-only floor with a beauty room, a small but fully equipped gym, and a 200m2 event space in the basement for activities such as lectures, networking parties, concerts, and yoga classes, often created and hosted by residents themselves. The basement is also available for private rental.

Shared offices cover three floors: one with fixed-desk rental and private rooms for small businesses; the second for female use only; the third a more relaxed free-seating arrangement. Office tenants are also welcome to use Ryozan Park’s large kitchen/dining space from 11am-6pm. To see this unique and inspiring space for yourself, get in touch for a tour.

● 1-9-1 Sugamo Toshima-ku. Tel: 03-6912-0304. Email: