Home > About Tokyo and Japan > Events in Tokyo Archive

Events in Tokyo Archive

It’s Wisteria Time in Tokyo

img_20170430_150236

Until May 6th 2017, there is still some time to visit the wonderful Wisteria flower display at Kameido Tenjin Shrine in the Kinshicho area. The purple flowers begin blooming quite rapidly from late April until the beginning of May.

These lovely violet-colored flowers hang in several bunches like grapes. The Kameido Tenjin Shrine is well known for its wisterias. Beneath the wisteria trellises is a charming pond filled with carp and tortoises, creating the unique scenery of purple flowers reflected on the surface of the water. Going way back, these flowers were planted during the Edo period and are featured in many ukiyoe (color prints) and other works of art. For a modern touch, good views of Tokyo Sky Tree can be seen from the Shrine.

Follow this link for the Shrine’s official website (in Japanese): http://kameidotenjin.or.jp/ This separate website has detailed information on the Shrine: http://www.ukiyoe-gallery.com/kameido.htm

RSS リーダーで購読する

Enjoying Springtime in Tokyo

hanami

Toyohara Chikanobu (1838–1912)

There are two seasons that are truly wonderful in Tokyo: Spring and Autumn, and this blog focuses on the former. Spring is arguably one of the best times, and after an often miserable Winter with its dry air and lack of greenery, the warmer weather is a godsend (unless you are a heavy sufferer of Kafunsho (pollen allergies). The warmer weather, of course, also brings the cherry blossoms and the happy, joyful people under them.

Spring brings the Sakura

mtfuji2

Flickr, Reginald Pentinio

Without a doubt, cherry blossom (Sakura) season is a major highlight in Japan. It is interesting to note that sakura trees grow extensively in the East Asian region, and exist in China, Korea and Taiwan. However, the way the trees are often presented in Japan is special. Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is a well-loved tradition and custom where friends, family members and sometimes even coworkers go out to eat and drink all together under the trees to look at the gorgeous cherry blossoms. Click here for a previous blog about viewing the cherry blossoms here: http://livingtokyo.net/uncategorized/2015-03-25/cherry-blossom/ and visit this site for a few more listings: http://www.gotokyo.org/en/tourists/attractions/fourseasons/sakura.html.

Commons, Jun of Kanagawa

Creative Commons, Jun of Kanagawa

For Tokyo, on average, cherry blossoms start to bloom around the 25th of March and should be in full bloom by the first few days of April. It seems for this year, 2017, the blossoms may arrive a little earlier in Tokyo, and the latest (the fifth) forecast shows possible start date of March 19th. The blossoms usually last about a week. Warmer weather sooner will bring the blooms earlier, while colder weather will delay the blooms; but it is always hard to gauge especially for travellers who need to plan ahead. A good site for tracking the Sakura forecast for Japan is by the Japan Meteorological Corporation : https://n-kishou.com/corp/news-contents/sakura/news2017.html?lang=en#section01

Spring palate bamboo, greens and pink

Joi Ito from Inbamura

Creative Commons, Joi Ito from Inbamura

Spring brings an assortment of new greens to the kitchen table. In Japan, people enjoy bamboo shoots, spring cabbage, asparagus, wild greens from the mountains, as well as certain types of clams and seafood. Unlike other countries that associate strawberries as a summer fruit, strawberries are widely available and considered seasonal in Spring as well.

Young bamboo shoots are used in cooking during the spring and summer seasons. It is usually served with rice or seasoned with a sauce, or can be eaten boiled with a topping of bonito flakes. Another seasonal delight are new potatoes, which give a distant flavor compared to the old spud.

Creative Commons, Katorisi

Creative Commons, Katorisi

The red sea bream (tai) is also considered best in Spring, and is popular as sashimi (raw fish) or stewed. Squid, although available all year, also becomes sweeter in this season.

It won’t be Spring without seeing pink-colored sticky rice cakes (Sakura mochi)  for sale in stores. Do note that the pink hue does not come naturally from cherry blossoms, but is rather colored to celebrate the season. This extends to other Sakura-marketed products and even the Sakura frappuccinos at Starbucks. To the best of this author’s knowledge, the pink blossoms from the cherry trees really don’t have much of a scent or taste; and even if some species do, it would be weak at best (unlike jasmine blossoms, which give off a strong scent, for example).

Creative Commons, Katorisi

Creative Commons, Katorisi

Spring mountain vegetables are prevalent from the later part of winter onwards. Called Sansai, they are essentially wild, edible vegetable from the mountainous areas of Japan. For more details visit: https://gurunavi.com/en/japanfoodie/2016/03/sansai.html?__ngt__=TT0ce0dba30001ac1e4ac20aFjAUoGt4r8gMJP83v-BonA

Springtime festivals and events

There are countless festivals taking place in Spring time, many of which are centered around the cherry blossoms, and provide food and drink at the same time. One of the major ones occur along the Meguro river in the Nakameguro area, where neighboring restaurants and bars come out with a food and drink stand selling items like sakura champagne and gourmet sausages. There are, however, other festivals of interest and here are a few listed below.

firewalkingThe Firewalking festival at Mt Takao : At the festival on March 12th, believers first pray for the safety of family, traffic and body and then follow yamabushi (Shugendo practicing monks) to walk barefoot over the sacred goma fire that is smoldering and still partially burning. The sight of yamabushi monks bravely walking through the flame while chanting is the event’s highlight. Visitors may also participate in the barefoot walking after the fire has been put out, and by that time, the actual temperature of the path they would walk is only slightly warm. For more info: http://www.takaosan.or.jp/english/index.html

uenoparkhanamiThe Ueno Sakura Matsuri: Ueno Park, is the host of one of many sakura matsuri that take place at the end of March or beginning of April (when the blossoms bloom). Ueno Park is especially welcoming for hamami, as people take up spots by the sakura trees. For this festive occasion, expect plenty of food stalls but also huge crowds. Nevertheless, Ueno Park is one of the best places to take a stroll with the cherry blossom trees.

yabusameYabusame at Asakusa: Yabusame is a type of horse-mounted archery in traditional Japanese archery. An archer shoots three special “turnip-headed” arrows at three wooden targets, while riding on a sprinting horse. This style of archery has its origins at the beginning of the Kamakura period. Taking place on April 15th, 2017, the free event lasts one hour from 11am. It is best to arrive early to grab a good viewing spot.

azaleaBunkyo Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri): Located at Nezu Shrine, Bunkyo Ward, azaleas bloom for about a month. Home to about 3,000 azalea plants, the shrine will have Taiko drum and folk dance performances, usually around Golden Week. For more details (in Japanese): http://www.nedujinja.or.jp/main/k4.html

sanjaThe “Yakuza” Festival (Sanja Matsuri): Held in May, centered around the Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine area (5-min walk from Asakusa station), the Sanja Matsuri is considered Tokyo’s biggest festival. It has a reputation for being somewhat wild and lively displaying many elaborate portable shrines (mikoshi). The festival lasts three days and attracts over 2 million visitors. Festivals featuring mikoshi tend to have an energetic intensity about them, as they’re essentially about feats of strength and endurance; and the Sanja Matsuri is considered one of the major ones in this respect.

RSS リーダーで購読する

Hina Matsuri: An Early Spring Tradition

19th century Ukiyoe by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892)

19th century Ukiyoe by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Japan, 1839-1892)

Every year on March 3rd, Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival) is celebrated in Japan. As one of five major seasonal festivals in the country, ceremonies and special dishes are prepared to ensure good fortune. It is easy to spot any Hinamatsuri celebration since it involves the display of elaborately crafted dolls representing the Imperial Court. In the old days, there was a broader tradition that involved making simple paper dolls called hitogata for religious purposes. The hinamatsuri gradually became a time to give thanks for the health and development of young girls. Over time, the intricately crafted artisan dolls came into flavor.

dolls-set

Creative Commons, Katorisi

Dolls in The Imperial Court

The most alluring aspect of the Hinamatsuri is, of course, the intricately crafted dolls (Hinakazari). These are displayed on a red-carpeted, platform called Hinadan, which represents the court of the Imperial household. The top level displays the Prince and Princess (this pair of dolls is the most basic of displays, called the Dairi Bina, which is often displayed inside a glass casing). In the full setting, the royalty are waited upon by the court ladies, musicians, and other attendants who sit on the lower levels along with decorations such as sake cups and elaborate chests of drawers.

From sometime in February, households with young daughters will display the ornately dressed figurines prominently, where they can be admired by family members and guests. However, once the festival is over the dolls and decorations are promptly packed away (superstition dictates that leaving them out too long will harm a daughter’s chances of marriage).

Creative Commons (flickr), Takashi .M

Creative Commons, Takashi .M

Families often buy a new set of dolls when the first daughter is born, while others pass down the Hinakazari from one generation to the next. In the past it was not uncommon for new brides to take their set with them when they married. Undoubtedly, the hinadan represented one of the most splendid and valuable possession in the home and was cherished not just by girls, but the entire household.

Events and Activities with Hina Matsuri

Creative Commons, Midori

Creative Commons, Midori

In the days leading up to March 3 it is common for children to celebrate hinamatsuri by holding parties and enjoying such treats as hina-arare (multi-colored sweets made from rice and sugar), chirashi-zushi, clam soup, and red and white rice cakes called hishi-mochi. Traditionally, sprigs of peach blossoms are displayed along with dolls at these gatherings.

There are also exhibitions held across Japan that showcase the Hina Matsuri dolls, many are antiques created and preserved as historical relics. In Tokyo, there are also many displays for Hina Matsuri, and there are a variety of exhibitions in town. Below we list a couple of major exhibitions that are held annually.

megurogajoen1

Meguro Gajoen

At the Meguro Gajoen: this location in Meguro hosts a large, extensive display of Hina Matsuri dolls at its historically relevant and well preserved Hyakudan Kaidan (a series of seven extravagantly decorated rooms linked by a 99-step staircase that has great historical value, and is worth a visit in its own right). Throughout the year, the Hyakudan Kaidan hosts a number of exhibitions and events. The area would otherwise be closed to the public. For more info, visit: http://www.megurogajoen.co.jp/event/hinamaturi/

keio2

Keio Plaza

At Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo: Every year, through February and March, the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo celebrates the Hina-matsuri festival. The main lobby, and other locations around the hotel, will showcase 6,500 handmade hanging silk dolls. In addition, a variety of bonsai are displayed to compliment the festival. For more info, visit: http://www.keioplaza.com/offers/events1601_01.html

hinabanner

Creative Commons, S Kitahashi

RSS リーダーで購読する

Toss Away Your Demons

setsubun11

Dividing the Seasons with Setsubun

Setsubun (節分, せつぶん) literally means “seasonal division” is celebrated on February 3rd every year. Setsubun is the day preceding risshun, which is the first day of spring according to the old Japanese or lunar calendar. The idea of Setsubun involves cleansing away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come.

Artist: Sheila Harrington of eachdayisacelebration.com

Artist: Sheila Harrington of eachdayisacelebration.com

Called Mamemaki (bean throwing), the ritual involves throwing roasted soybeans either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or ogre) mask, while saying “Demons out! Luck in!” (鬼は外! 福は内! Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!) and then slamming the door. These soybeans are called fuku mame or fortune beans,

wooden-setsubun-mask

Source: Daderot, Creative Commons

The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Also people can be healthy and happy if they pick up and eat fuku mame the number equal to their ages. Also, eating fortune sushi rolls called eho-maki is a Japanese custom on Setsubun.

Mamemaki is still common practice in households, and widely celebrated at schools and kindergartens with children. In addition, many people attend a shrine or temple’s Spring festival for an event. At major temples and shrines, Japanese celebrities often participate in mamemaki by tossing the beans at the revellers.

Setsubun at Sensoji

Setsubun at Sensoji

For Zozoji Temple, famed for its association with the long line of Tokugawa shoguns and for its proximity to Tokyo Tower, will have a bean flinging ceremony. Also, a similar event will be held at Asakusa’s famous Sensoji Temple.

For more on the subject visit Best Living Japan’s compilation here: http://www.bestlivingjapan.com/best-of-setsubun-february-3rd-read-go-and-make/

setsubunclassic2

RSS リーダーで購読する

Free Christmas Concerts in Tokyo

roppongihills

There are a number of special events being held in Tokyo to celebrate Christmas. Among them, you can find some choir group performances and orchestra concerts. Below is a selection of some of the free events happening around town.

roppongihillskrajaRoppongi Hills

The annual Roppongi Hills FREE Christmas concert is being held from December 23rd to 25th.

On December 23rd are KRAJA, a Swedish choir group, and LITTLE CAROL, a Japanese choir group are performing.

On the 24th and 25th there will be two performances by KRAJA.

For more information: http://www.roppongihills.com/christmas/2015/event/concert/

newotanihotelHotel New Otani

On December 23rd the hotel will host two charity concerts of Christmas carols at the Atrium Chapel.

The first performance is at 5pm and the second session is at 7pm.

Both last about 40 minutes.

For more information: http://www.newotani.co.jp/tokyo/xmas/events/05_charity.html

megawebMegaweb, Daiba

Marunouchi Symphony orchestra will perform a live free Christmas Concert at Megaweb in Tokyo Teleport area on the afternoon of December 23rd at 1pm and 3:30pm.

There is also a Christmas illumination display at Megaweb.

For more information: http://www.megaweb.gr.jp/article/xmas_concert/

midtownMidtown Christmas Live

Each weekend leading up to Christmas, there will be a live Christmas concert of classical music held at the Galleria at Tokyo Midtown.

There will be three performances between 3pm and 8pm. The concerts last about half an hour each.

For more information: http://www.tokyo-midtown.com/en/events_news/detail.php?id=632

RSS リーダーで購読する

Spring into the Cherry Blossoms!

flowerblossom31

By Richenda Elledge

One of Tokyo’s best times of the year and event has arrived. Cherry blossom season with all its glorious hanami parties and beautiful scenery is a time not to be missed. The Japan Meteorological Agency has officially declared that cherry trees are blossoming and the first cherry blossoms were even spotted as early as Monday at Yasukuni Shrine.

That said, they are expected to come into full bloom throughout Tokyo from the weekend, and the full-blooming day is expected to be on April 1st. Here are some of the best locations for viewing sakura in Tokyo.

yasukuni2Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto Shrine in Chiyoda. This is one of the most famous locations and hordes of locals and travelers head here for cherry blossom viewing.

Much like the groundhog in the US, it’s also the go-to location to gauge the cherry blossom blossoming schedule.

imperialpalace3Imperial Palace Grounds

The Palace Gardens are especially beautiful during the cherry blossom season.

The Japanese Imperial Palace Gardens are open to the public daily except Mondays and Fridays. The entrance is free.

shinjukukoenShinjuku Gyoen

Shinjuku Gyoen has over 20,000 trees, including 1,500 sakura trees.

What makes this location so popular is its variety of cherry tree species that bloom from March to the end of April.

uenoparkkUeno Park

Ueno Park has around 1,000 sakura trees, most of which line the main path through the park. The area also offers plenty of space for hanami parties.

Of course, another good thing about Ueno is that there are other attractions in sight; such as the wide variety of museums and the Ueno Zoo. The grounds are also a delight to meander through.

yoyogiYoyogi Park

Although the number of cherry trees is small, the family-friendly setting of this park makes it a popular destination. Thus Yoyogi Park remains one of Tokyo’s most popular locations for families and friends to congregate for hanami. In addition, it’s in a very central part of Tokyo, a mere stone’s throw from Harajuku and Omotesando.

p1050922Nakameguro River

This author’s favorite spot, this location is a little different, in that the cherry trees dot the Meguro River and really don’t offer spaces for hanami parties per se. However, the restaurants and cafes that line the river all come out with food and drink stands in a festival setting. The festivities start from early in the day and end late into the night.

midtownnightTokyo Midtown & Roppongi Hills

For an urban Cherry Blossom viewing, Roppongi actually offers a great place for this enjoyment. Tokyo Midtown is a convenient spot. Its gardens feature eight different kinds of cherry trees and 150 in total, many of which are lit up at night. And of course, the complex has come up with promotions and decorations to match the occasion.

rhillsThe annual cherry blossom light-up at Roppongi Hills lights up the sakura trees in the Mohri Garden and along the Sakura-zaka slope. There are also festivities to mark the occasion with its Spring Festival that will showcase light performances and Springtime menu in a variety of restaurants located inside the complex. Some craft making sessions are also on offer.

skytreeblossom2Sumida River

About 1,000 trees along the Sumida River are lit up from 5 to 9:30 pm during the bloom period. Furthermore, the close proximity of Tokyo Sky Tree means cherry blossoms can be viewed along with one of Tokyo’s major landmarks. This has in turn  increased the popularity of this location.

inokashiraInokashira Park

Inokashira Koen straddles between Musashino and Mitaka in western Tokyo. Many cherry trees are planted around the pond, which makes this a charming spot to enjoy the blossoms while riding a boat out in the pond (available for rent). The park also has a petting zoo and a small aquarium.

chofuJindai Botanical Garden Chofu

Out in Chofu, Jindai Botanical Garden has over 60 different kinds of cherry trees, all of which burst into bloom around the end of March. The park offers free guided tours and as a botanical garden, the green surroundings, sculptured grounds and other plants compliment the cherry blossoms. To mark the occasion, special concerts will be held on March 28 and April 5.

cherrybird23

RSS リーダーで購読する

Apps for Tokyo Life

tokyoartbeat1tokyomapwalks22goodnite2

By Richenda Elledge

Communicating and getting around Japan can be a challenge for foreign residents at times. However, many apps are available that make every aspect of living in Japan easier. Not only for language assistance, there are plenty of apps for finding restaurants, art exhibitions, giving guided tours, and hailing a taxi at a touch of a button. Here are some Japan-specific apps that are useful for residents and travelers alike.

Wining and Dining Apps:

goodnite33Goodnite Tokyo

iPhone and Android

Goodnite is an app that locates Tokyo’s club events, bar locations, and karaoke shops based on the user’s GPS location. Users can also share events and locations with Facebook, Twitter, and LINE friends to arrange a fun and memorable night in Tokyo. For more information: http://goodnite.jp/tokyo/

quchy2Quchy

iPhone

Quchy offers a platform to keep track, organize and recommend favorite restaurants and shops, in a flashcard sort of fashion. Users can search nearby pressing the arrow, or search any city in the world to add any business to their collection. Like a deck of cards, restaurant listings are collected in card form with the ability to add personal notes and photos.

Also, users can collect friends’ recommended cards. The more recommendations users post, the more the user’s “expertise” increases. The app is compatible with Facebook to easily recommend great places to friends. For more information: http://www.quchy.com/en/about

teepee1TeePee Guide

iPhone

A lifestyle app, the TeePee Guide publishes more than 40,000 spots like restaurants, shops, hot springs, and leisure facilities that have been featured on TV or magazines. Four genres are covered: “Eat,” “Stay,” “Shop,” and “Play,” and the app is useful for a variety of situations like dating, traveling, and searching for souvenirs and gifts. No network connection is required for offline use. However, with the phone’s GPS function, users can easily search from their current position. Easily share information using Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail and also to post and view photos and comments. In addition, the app shows driving directions to desired location by connecting with car navigation including Internavi LINC, internavi Pocket, NaviCon, NAVIelite and navico. For more information:  http://teepeeguide.jp/

sooshi1Sooshi

iPhone

Sooshi is all about one of the most delicious foods, and is not only a sushi restaurant finder but also serves as an informative guide.

The app is put together with  hand-drawn photorealistic illustrations of food and cooking utensils and it gives a high aesthetic appeal. It informs on: what sushi is, how to prepare sushi and where to find the best sushi places via the phone’s GPS. For more information: http://getsooshi.com/

cookpad1Cookpad

iPhone and Android

Cookpad is Japan’s most popular recipe-sharing site with web usage surpassing 40 million active monthly users and mobile app downloads of over 20 million.

While the app is currently only in Japanese, the company has recently launched an English-language website of its popular Japanese counterpart.

For more information: https://itunes.apple.com/app/kukkupaddo-no.1reshipi-jian/id340368403

For the English website (not app): https://cookpad.com/en/categories/japanese-recipes

Daily Life Helpers (like language aids, information providers):

pocketbook1Pocketbook Appendix

iPhone and Android

Pocketbook Appendix is the English version of “Techo-no-furoku (手帳の付録)”. This app is essentially a compilation of reference tables quite commonly found inside diaries and pocketbooks. The free version of the app contains Japan-specific information such as age conversions table (which is useful as it also lists the year in Heisei while listing the specific animal for the specific year), Japan postal charges and public holidays, as well as the time difference of other countries from Japan and also lists the prefectures. There are other more universal, non-Japan specific conversion tables for length, distance, weight and temperature included. For more information: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocketbook-appendix-free/id417002893?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.co.technosquare.android.gappendix&hl=en

What? Nothing about Japanese studying apps or translators! This blog article would never end listing the English-Japanese dictionaries and Japanese language learning apps that are currently available (Google Translate, Iniwa, and  JEDict to name a few)  but here is one that is more unique:

waygo1Waygo

iPhone and Android

Waygo is a visual-based translator and dictionary for Chinese, Japanese and Korean that works offline and can translate text from photos taken from the camera photo. There is also a live mode where the user points the phone camera at the text and it will translate it. For more information: http://www.waygoapp.com/

safetytips1Safety Tips

iPhone and Android

Developed in collaboration with the Japan National Tourism Organisation, this app gives users earthquake and tsunami warnings issued in Japan. It provides various functions useful for both foreign tourists and residents in Japan. After registering desired location (a maximum of five is allowed), notifications regarding Earthquake Early Warnings will be sent to the user for earthquakes with a seismic intensity of 4 or greater.

The app also provides details regarding evacuation procedures, communication cards written in four languages (Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese), as well as links to other sources of information that may be necessary during disaster situations (such as contact information of embassies and nearest tourist centers). There are also explanations regarding the intensity of an earthquake (according to the seismic intensity scale). For more information: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/essential/emergency/safety_tips.html

nhkworldtv1NHK World TV and NHK Radio

iPhone and Android

NHK operates international television, radio and Internet services. Together, they are known as NHK WORLD. NHK WORLD provides both domestic and international news to the world and to serve as a vital information lifeline in the event of major accidents and natural disasters. It also broadcasts many aspects of Japanese culture and lifestyles, recent developments in society and politics, the latest scientific and industrial trends, and Japan’s role and opinions regarding important global issues. The aim is to foster mutual understanding between Japan and other countries and promote friendship and cultural exchange. The broadcaster provides two apps, one for radio and another for TV. NHK World TV enables users to watch its channel on the iPhone or iPad, while the radio streams live radio and audio clips. For more information:  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/app/info/index_en.html

Travel & Exploration Apps:

tokyoartbeat1Tokyo Art Beat

iPhone and Android

TokyoArtBeat.com is a highly-reputed art and design events calendar. It is a free bilingual website listing hundreds of events each month. The team launched an official Tokyo Art Beat app where users can find events near their location and get directions and details for those events. It also lists a popular list to show the hottest events in Tokyo. It is compatible with Twitter, Facebook, email and SMS to bookmark and share the events. Users are able to browse through hundreds of exhibitions happening in Tokyo, sorted by media, area, time period and popularity. For more information:  http://www.tokyoartbeat.com/tablog/entries.en/2010/02/introducing-the-tokyo-art-beat-official-iphone-and-ipod-touch-app.html

tokyomapwalks1Tokyo Map and Walks

iPhone and Android

Both a lite (free) and full version are available for this app. The lite version of Tokyo Map and Walks offers a detailed and fully functional city map to assist the exploration of the city and locate sights. A useful app for travellers and residents new to Tokyo,  users can search for street names and businesses and bookmark locations. Walking tours included in this app are: the Tokyo Imperial Palace, Asakusa, Ueno Park, Yasukuni Shrine, Kitanomaru Park, Shibuya, Ginza and Takanawa.

While the Lite version does not provide navigation assistance during the tour (this function is disabled), users are still able to use the city map or learn about the tour sights visited by the walking tours from the sight descriptions and photos. The paid version includes detailed tour route maps and turn-by-turn directions to guide you from one sight to the next. For more information:  http://www.gpsmycity.com/apps/tokyo-walking-tours-20.html

sentomap1Tokyo Sento Map

iPhone

For travellers and residents who are interested in experiencing public baths Japan style, this app locates the nearest communal bath house in Tokyo by location and allows users to mark those already visited. While it is in Japanese, it is quite easy to use the search function for the locations and get addresses and directions. For more information:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tokyo-sento-map/id844039424?mt=8

Transportation Apps:

japantaxi1Japan Taxi

iPhone and Android

Japan Taxi App enables users to order a taxi with direct control and GPS function of the smartphone. It covers 47 prefectures, 22,007 cars from 123 taxi companies. Other functions include: fare calculation as per the local taxi company’s fare system, corresponding to the location, the ability to save favorite locations, and storage of past history information. For more information:  http://japantaxi.jp/

uber1Uber

iPhone, Android and Windows

Global private driver service provider, Uber, provide private taxis to customers in over 50 countries. Tokyo is one of the locations under its coverage. The app allows users to request a ride and get picked up within minutes, and the on-demand service means no reservations required and no waiting in taxi lines. The app also enables users to compare rates for different vehicles and get fare quotes in the app. In addition, customers can use PayPal or add a credit card to their secure account, thus enabling a cashless transaction. For more information: https://www.uber.com/cities/tokyo

tokyorailmap1

Tokyo Rail Map

iPhone

Tokyo Rail Map showcases a comprehensive map of the metropolitan Tokyo rail & subway system.

The app displays a clear and concise route map, and also offers the ability to do route planning and specific station lookup, as well as an overview of the train lines and transit options.

It also offers GPS support to find the user’s closest station. For more information:

http://urban-map.com/home/

trainsjp2Trains.jp

iPhone

Further to the previous listing, trains.jp app covers a wider scope. The app covers over 1,300 stations and 110 lines in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama. It displays train routes and access information including travel time, distance, and price. This version has all the route information included, so no network connection is required - perfect for visitors from overseas or iPod touch users. For more information: https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/trains.jp/id344946340?mt=8

tokyometro1Tokyo Subway Navigation for Tourists

iPhone and Android

Despite the app’s actual name, it would probably be useful for anyone that need directions on the subway in Tokyo. Provided by Tokyo Metro, this app enable users to search transfer information for the Tokyo Subway network (both Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway). This app is available in English, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Korean and Japanese, and informs which stations have free wifi. For more information:  http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/tips/connectivity/smartphone/index.html

RSS リーダーで購読する

Winter Wonderland: Ice skating in Town

Winter Wonderland: Ice skating in Town

Santa spotted at the Yokohama Red Brick Art Rink

Santa spotted at the Yokohama Red Brick Art Rink

By Richenda Elledge
This winter has gotten cold fast. And with the festive season upon us, ice skating is an ideal pastime for this time of the year. In addition, there is nothing better than to ice skate outdoors in Tokyo. With that in mind, some outdoor ice skating rinks crop up in super convenient locations in town every year during wintertime. Anyone is welcome at these rinks, whether it’s families or couples, beginners or pros. Also, most rent out skates, which offer flexibility to coordinate a day out with ice skating as one activity on a full itinerary. Here’s a summary of some of the best venues in town, including both winter-only outdoor rinks and year-round, indoor facilities. This list is by no means inclusive but lists some of the venues that are close to the center of town. Please note that gloves are required at most venues.

Seasonal Outdoor Rinks

Akasaka Sacas

Ice Skating at Akasaka Sacas

Skating at Akasaka Sacas

Now until Mar 6, 2015
Every year, Akasaka Sacas hosts one of the largest outdoor rinks in Tokyo and is one of the best lit places for nighttime skating. Every winter, The Rink at Akasaka Sacas features skating classes, shows, festivals, and other skating events. Entrance is 1200 yen for adults and 600 yen for elementary school age children . Skate shoes rental fee is 500 yen. For more information: http://sacas.net/index.html?pSctoyo

Illuminated night skating at Midtown

Night skating at Midtown

Tokyo Midtown
From Jan 7 to Mar 8, 2015
Sponsored by Diners Club International, Tokyo Midtown hosts a large-scale outdoor ice skating rink in the Midtown Garden area. The venue can accommodate about 200 skaters. Entrance is 1,500 yen for adults and 1,000 yen for children. For more information: http://www.icerink-tokyo.com/index.php

Toshimaen Skate Rink

Amusement Park skating at Toshimaen

Toshimaen

Now until Mar 1, 2015
A bit further out than Roppongi, this venue is in Nerima Ward. The ice skating rink is right next to the Toshimaen Amusement Park. Re-entry is allowed for the day ticket, which offers flexibility for families out for the day and wish to combine the excursion with a trip to the amusement park or dining out in the neighborhood. Entrance is 2,100 yen for adults and 1,600 yen for children, which includes entry to the park, skate rink fee and rental skates. For more information: http://www.toshimaen.co.jp/event_iceskate/index.html

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse

Narrative is this year's theme at Art Rink

Narrative is this year's theme at Art Rink

Now until Feb 22, 2015
Located at the Red Brick Warehouse’s event plaza, an outdoor skating arena called “Art Rink” offers patrons the opportunity to ice skate while enjoying the scenery of the Minato Mirai area. What’s really interesting about this venue is that it fuses this festive outdoor activity with art appreciation. Every year, a selected artist collaborates with the Red Brick Warehouse and uses this ice skating rink as a personal canvas. This year’s Art Rink theme is “Narrative” by renowned artist, Shunpei Minakawa. Entrance is 500 yen for adults, 400 yen for elementary and junior high schoolers, and 300 yen for kids over the age of 3. Skate rentals are standard at 500 yen. For more information: http://www.yokohama-akarenga.jp/artrink2014/

Year-round rinks

Meiji Jingu Ice Skating Rink

Meiji Jingu Gaien Ice Skating Rink
Meiji Jingu Gaien Ice Skating Rink

This indoor ice skating rink is open to all, from beginners to professionals, and is open all year round. It is conveniently located in the Aoyama and Sendagaya area. Ice skating classes are offered all year round. Entrance is 1340 yen for adults and 930 yen for children. Skate rentals are 510 yen. There is a discount price for after 3pm entry. For more information: http://www.meijijingugaien.jp/english/ice-skating.html

Practicing at Citizen Plaza

Practicing at Citizen Plaza

Citizen Plaza Ice Skating Rink

Within the Citizen Plaza entertainment complex in Takadanobaba, this is a full-scale, international competition-sized rink that can accommodate also ice hockey and other sports. The rink is open to the public except for early morning and evening hours. Entrance is 1340 yen for adults and 820 yen for children. The complex also houses a bowling alley, tennis courts and an indoor golf range. For more information: http://www.citizen-plaza.co.jp/service/skate/
RSS リーダーで購読する

Christmas in Tokyo

rhills3

Illuminations around Town

By Richenda Elledge

Christmas is a very special time in Tokyo. Many places have beautiful illuminations that come alive in the evening as the days become colder and darker. Around town, one can enjoy the glittery and sparkling winter wonderland as trees, buildings and open areas are decorated with millions of colorful lights. Even landmarks like Tokyo Skytree or Rainbow Bridge flaunt the festive lighting. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to share a moment with your significant other or loved ones gazing at the amazing sights that can be found around town. Not a conclusive list, here are a few in the major areas of Tokyo.

Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills
midtownIn Tokyo Midtown, the Starlight Garden, is the main attraction and takes place at the back of the complex where the park is located. It is a light show set to music that runs continuously every day. While it gets rather crowded, it is possible to get good views due to its size and because the show runs several times an hour, everyone comes and goes pretty quickly. In Roppongi Hills, a Christmas marketplace takes place along with the Whisky Hills event. The old-world style market houses stalls that sell draft and bottled German beers, mulled wine, sausages, schnitzel, soup and pretzel vendors, as well as craft workshops selling European style-ornaments and decorations in a cozy European village setting.

ginza-2Ginza
Ginza boulevard turns into a sparkly and beautiful open space at Christmas. Almost every store has some sort of holiday display and the street is lined with Christmas trees and lights. One of the most outstanding display is from Mikimoto. It’s a nice, festive stroll and that runs until January 6, while many others end right after Christmas to make way for the Japanese New Year. Also not to be missed are the elaborate light displays at Bulgari and Cartier.

Tokyo Skytree
The Tokyo Skytree and the surrounding area go into Christmas mode with the connecting pathways between Tokyo Skytree and Oshiage stations decorated with tons of LED lights. Projection mapping shows add to the festivities, which will take place from December 12 and paint the lower part of the world’s tallest TV antenna white, gold, green, red and orange. In addition, German-inspired Solamachi Christmas Market which offers a good selection of seasonal sweets and mulled wine adds to the charm.

marunouchi2Marunouchi
Marunouchi Naka-dori is one of Tokyo’s most popular illumination spots. The street and trees are decorated with hundreds of champagne-coloured, low-energy bulbs, enabling the  display to be eco-friendly as well as stylish. The area will stay lit until midnight every day in December.

nakameguro2Nakameguro Blue Cavern
Called “Ao no Dokutsu” ( which translates to “Blue Cavern”), this year’s illumination show along the Meguro River gives the area a mysterious, bluish glow until Christmas Day. Thousands of blue LEDs reflect off the water’s surface to create an immersive light-up experience. A nice movie can be viewed here: http://nakameguro-aonodokutsu.jp/

Other places of interest are:
Yebisu Garden Place (http://gardenplace.jp/special/1410baccarat/)
Yomiuri Land Jewellumination (http://www.yomiuriland.com/)
Canyon d’Azur – Caretta Illumination (http://www.caretta.jp/event/topics.html#Illumination_2014)
Tokyo Dome City Winter Illuminations (http://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/illumination/2014/)
Tokyo Tower Christmas Illumination (http://www.tokyotower.co.jp/index.html)

RSS リーダーで購読する

Home > About Tokyo and Japan > Events in Tokyo Archive

Return to page top