• 07/16/2015
  • 02/25/2021

Japan’s First Robot Manned Hotel

At Japan’s Weird Hotel, receptionists, porters, concierge are all robots to save labor costs By YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer Check out the Photo Gallery: http://www.wral.com/business/image/14774321/?ref_id=14774320 SASEBO, JAPAN ? From the receptionist that does the check-in and check-out to the porter that’s an automated trolley taking luggage up to the room, this hotel in southwestern Japan, aptly called Weird Hotel, is “manned” almost totally by robots to save labor costs. Hideo Sawada, who runs the hotel as part of an amusement park, insists using robots is not a gimmick, but a serious effort to utilize technology and achieve efficiency. The receptionist robot that speaks in English is a vicious-looking dinosaur, and the one that speaks Japanese is a female humanoid with blinking lashes. “If you want to check in, push one,” the dinosaur says. The visitor still has to punch a button on the desk, and type in information on a touch panel screen. Henn na Hotel, as it is called in Japanese, was shown to reporters Wednesday, complete with robot demonstrations, ahead of its opening to the public Friday. Another feature of the hotel is the use of facial recognition technology, instead of the standard electronic keys, by registering […]

  • 07/14/2015
  • 02/25/2021

Vintage Apartments in the Azabus

The Azabus (Moto Azabu, Minami Azabu and Nishi Azabu mainly) are highly sought-after residential areas with one of the highest price tags in Tokyo. It is a well-known embassy and affluent area, and is popular with locals and foreign residents alike. The branded residences as well as newly-built apartments tend to run over JPY10,000 per square meter in rent. One option that is worth considering is looking for vintage-grade residences that would offer the convenience and luxury of residing in a popular location. Vintage-grade apartments tend to offer spacious layouts for the given rent, and are likely to be renovated inside to provide a comfortable lifestyle. Because of the location, the building, while on the older side, are also well-maintained and kept tidy to fit in with the surroundings. In this article, we highlight a number of vintage-grade apartment buildings primarily in Motoazabu and Minami-Azabu. Custom Motoazabu Located in the heart of the exclusive Motoazabu neighbourhood, Custom Motoazabu is a vintage apartment residence with a small number of units, which affords it a private and exclusive atmosphere in a sought-after location. Each apartment occupies an entire floor, which enables residents a very private living arrangement in this five-storey building. Moto-Azabu, […]

  • 06/29/2015
  • 02/25/2021

Cool off with Summer Festivals

By Richenda Elledge Despite the sweltering heat, summer is an exciting season in Japan. From catching gigantic beetles and tuning in to the cicadas’ last song, ?to relaxing on the beach digging into a kakigori (shaved ice flavored with syrup), it wouldn’t be a Japanese summer without watching a display of fireworks and attending a Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival). What better way to cool off from a summer’s day of sticky, muggy heat than to attend these events in the cool evening. The listing is given in chronological order. Tanabata Hiratsuka Festival, Jul 3-5 In its 65th year, Hiratsuka???s Tanabata is the biggest in the Kanto region. The colourful festivities will be centered around the shopping street on the north side of Hiratsuka station. The official event will continue until 9pm on Friday and Saturday and until 8pm on Sunday. http://www.tanabata-hiratsuka.com/ Mitama Matsuri at Yasukuni Shrine, Jul 13-16 The hottest months of summer are traditionally when Japanese commune with and honour the spirits of the dead. One such festival based around this idea is the Mitama Matsuri at the politically complex Yasukuni Shrine. Along the sando ? the promenade leading to the main shrine ? 30,000 lanterns are strung from […]

  • 04/29/2015
  • 02/25/2021

Quirky Pics Around Town

A Collection of Quirky Photos Around Tokyo (as only in Tokyo) Number 1: Members of the human statue street performer group named “Tokyo Hack” get shoppers’ attention as they march in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district Sunday, April 12, 2015. The main street in Ginza shuts the traffic and opens for shoppers during the day on Sundays. They have also been spotted on the subway. ?(Source: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi) Number 2: Residents in Tokyo have recently reported several sightings of possibly the most patient pet-walker in the world: an elderly man who takes his enormous African spurred tortoise (or sulcata) out for walks around town. Photos of the pair have been making the rounds of social media networks. (Source: Straits Times, Rocket News 24, Bored Panda)

  • 04/27/2015
  • 02/27/2021

All About Ramen

Ramen noodles, one of the main favorites in the Japanese diet, have become one of Japan???s most well known foods abroad. And while it is often thought of as a quick, go-to fast food meal, it can, as highlighted in the world-famous Itami Juzo film, Tampopo, also be savoured slowly by connoisseurs. The key feature about ramen is that it keeps renewing itself and is a cuisine that is often updated, reinvented and modernised. From the traditional chashu (roast pork loin) pork bone soup ramen, we now can find curry ramen, spicy garlic ramen, tomato and basil chicken ramen, and even lemon soup ramen. Ramen are, generally, wheat-based noodles that are served in a meat, fish, soy, or miso-based broth with sliced meats and vegetables. Regional ramen dishes vary in their presentation, preparation, flavor, and ingredients. But in a nutshell, main differences are often the type of soup stock and shape of the noodles. For instance, Sapporo ramen is associated with a rich miso ramen, while Kitakata (northern Honshu) is known for its thick, flat curly noodles. Yokohama ramen called Ie-Kei consists of straight, thick noodles in a soy and pork bone broth similar to tonkotsu (pork bone) soup, while […]

  • 04/23/2015
  • 02/25/2021

The Fruits of Chiba

By Richenda Elledge Chiba Prefecture is adjacent to Tokyo and runs southeast of the Kanto Plain. It is often thought of as a suburb of the sprawling metropolitan of Tokyo, where many commuters take arduous return trips to and fro work on a daily basis. Besides suburban life, the prefecture has much to offer for Tokyoites, interested in going beyond the confines of Tokyo City. One area of interest would be to sample the agricultural output. The prefecture boasts Japan’s overall second-highest agricultural output for vegetables. Some of the major produce that this prefecture produces are peanuts, carrots, daikon, tomatoes and a variety of fruits. In this article, we explore a variety of fruit-picking and farm excursions. Fruit and vegetable harvests: Strawberry Picking Kawatsura Farm is usually open for strawberry picking between middle of December until early May.The farm has been growing strawberries since 1964. Located in Sammu city, (eastern part of Chiba), visitors will find strawberries grown in a beautiful environment. It takes about 1 hour from Tokyo station by express train to get there. The farm encourages visitors to try their out their strawberries without milk and sugar, and essentially enjoy the natural goodness from the fruit. http://www.kawatsura15.com/e/index.html […]

  • 04/07/2015
  • 02/27/2021

Dining Halal in Tokyo

By Richenda Elledge The author???s recent need to arrange business dinners at halal restaurants for Muslim visitors on business as well as gatherings for local halal-eating friends has encouraged her to put her findings in writing. With Muslim visitors entering Japan on the rise, Halal cuisine has become a hot topic of late. According to Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), over 176,000 Malaysians (an increase of 65% in one year) and over 136,000 Indonesians, (27% increase) traveled to Japan in 2013. Japan???s relaxation of visa requirements for travelers from Southeast Asia will continue to encourage higher numbers in the long run. As to actual Muslims residing in Japan, there are no official statistics on this per se; however, demographic studies estimate the range to be from 70,000 to 120,000 Muslim residents, with about 10 percent of that number being ethnically Japanese. Japan can appear as a culinary dilemma for people who follow strict dietary requirements set out under sharia (Islamic law). Food must be halal, thus must not contain or come in contact with anything considered forbidden. More commonly, most people think this means no pork and alcohol, but the halal concept also includes procedures for slaughtering animals and handling […]

  • 03/25/2015
  • 02/25/2021

Spring into the Cherry Blossoms!

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. Yasukuni 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. Imperial 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. Shinjuku Gyoen Shinjuku Gyoen has over 20,000 trees, including 1,500 sakura trees. What makes this location so popular is […]

  • 03/20/2015
  • 02/25/2021

Moving Companies

Moving Companies In addition to Art Corporation (http://www.the0123.com/) (awfully expensive but professional), there are some lower-priced options that offer help in English. Quoz Movers Tokyo Quoz Movers is a moving company for people who need to get things done in Tokyo. The company has been moving people since 1995 and have an experienced team that can handle any kind of move small or large. All of its staff speak English. Services include packing, moving, and disposal. Although the majority of our work is in Tokyo we are able to offer moving services to other parts of Japan. Website: http://www.quoz.biz/ Tokyo Happy Move Tokyo Happy Move provides reasonably priced moves in the Kanto area. The company is able to keep prices low by working together with our customers. It is the client???s choice for the type of move, either assisted or non assisted. Website: http://www.tokyohappymove.com/moving Tokyo Helping Hands Tokyo Helping Hands is a family owned company, founded and based in Tokyo City. The company claims to have friendly, energetic and trilingual staff, and offer services designed specifically to meet the needs of the international community in Tokyo. Tokyo Helping Hands provide tailored packages to suit individual needs, and ensures that moving […]

  • 03/20/2015
  • 02/25/2021

Relocation Specialists

Most international relocation and moving specialists have well established offices here in Tokyo and are able to assist foreign families in settling into the new life. Here is a list of the major relocation specialists. A-CROSS Corporation A-CROSS Corporation offers international moving services to the expat community in Japan. With staff whose cumulative experience in the moving industry totals over 50 years, the firm prides itself in providing high quality, hassle-free moving services. It is are associated with a number of established movers worldwide, and have also been appointed as the Japan-based moving agent for many reputable independent companies the world over. Website: http://www.a-cross.jp/index.shtml Allied Pickfords With over 600 locations in more than 40 countries Allied Pickfords has grown to become one of the largest and most respected providers of moving services, handling over 50,000 international moves every year. First established in 1995, Allied Pickfords Japan is supported by 16 employees. As part of its commitment to workforce diversity, its Japan office employs multilingual (including Japanese, English, French, German, Spanish & Italian) and different nationalities. Website: http://www.alliedpickfords.co.jp/ Asian Tigers Mobility Asian Tigers Mobility specializes in the art of moving and relocation services. Its focus is on the customer???s wants and […]