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Events in Tokyo Archive

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

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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 (???絽潟???????)???. 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

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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/
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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)

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