Category Archives: TOKYO

Smokehouse BBQ- Shibuya

Smokehouse in Shibuya claims to be Tokyo’s first authentic BBQ restaurant. My husband and I recently visited on a date night and enjoyed the atmosphere and the food! They also offer a craft beer selection from T.Y. Harbor Brewery. We started with the smoked devil eggs which were delicious. For our main course, I had a hamburger and my husband had the Combo 4 meat platter with corn bread. We both really enjoyed our meals and I’d love to go back and try some of the other offerings on the menu. You can view the full dinner menu, in English, on their web-site. You can also link to their on-line reservations page. The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor above The Roastery, which looked like a great spot to grab a coffee. We walked to Smokehouse from Baird Beer in Harajuku. The restaurant is off of Cat Street which is a hip and pedestrian friendly shopping street. It was a great date night to celebrate my husband’s birthday with brews and meat! – Angela Vaillant, March 2019

Web-site: https://www.tysons.jp/smokehouse/en/

Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-10:00pm, Sundays/Holidays: 11:30am-9:00pm

Baird Beer Taproom

Baird Beer Taproom is a great spot in Harajuku to grab a beer. A short walk from Harajuku Station, it is located off the popular Takeshita Street where you can also find unique shops and giant cotton candy. This Japanese style pub has a a large selection of beers on tap and a food menu as well. We tried a sampler of beers and only had the pickled vegetables since we were heading to dinner at Smokehouse after. You can sample 3 beers for Y1100. They have 12 beers that are available year round and a seasonal beer menu. We enjoyed all the beers we tried. The bar is small with some seating on either side. We arrived around 3:30pm on a Saturday and had no problem getting a spot by the bar. The place was full by 5:00pm when we left so arrive early if you plan to go on the weekend. – Angela Vaillant, March 2019

Hours: Weekdays: 5:00pm-Midnight, Sat-Sun-holidays: Noon-Midnight

Web-site: https://bairdbeer.com/taprooms/harajuku/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/harajukutaproom/


Commune 2nd

Need a meeting spot in Tokyo or just a place to grab a drink and a snack?  Commune 2nd is an open air “restaurant” surrounded by beer and food trucks.  You can walk in and grab a seat at one of the long tables or on a small bench with table for 2.  It was a rainy night when my husband and I checked it out so we sat in the tent area under cover.  We only tried some Gyoza but there were many other food options including ribbon fries.  There were more seating options outside so I’d definitely go back on a nicer night.  The night we went they also had a DJ,  a wine tasting vendor, and an artist painting foxes on a large canvas.  Visit their facebook page to see what is coming up as far as events.  If you plan to go, go early, as they close at 10:00 pm.  Take the train to Ometesando Station, take the A3 exit and its about a 10 minute walk from there to Commune 2nd.  It was only a 15 minute walk to our dinner reservation in Shibuya (Trunk Kitchen) and a similar distance to Harajuku (Baird Beer), so you can easily walk to some other cool spots from here.  – Angela Vaillant, January 2019

Hours: Daily 11:00am-10:00pm

Web-site: http://commune2nd.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/commune2nd/

Oslo Brewing Co. Shibuya

Oslo Brewing Co. in Shibuya is a Japanese Beer Bar dedicated to Scandinavian culture according to their web-site.  About a 10 min walk from Shibuya Station Oslo Brewing Co. is down a small street that will feel like you are walking down an alleyway.  I’ve stopped in twice to grab a craft beer but you can also order a few light food options from their menu.  On my second visit they had a food truck outside with Mexican food options.  They offer 20 different draft beer selections from Japan and Scandinavia.  They also have their own beer available in bottles.  I tried the Norwegian Blonde and enjoyed it.  The beers are a bit pricy with most 12oz pours costing Y900-Y1500.  You can also get a smaller pour for less.  Inside the bar has a chill vibe, playing eclectic music.  You can choose to sit at the bar, a table, or a bench with pillows and small tables.  They also have outdoor seating available.  Stop in and check it out the next time you are in Shibuya!  – Angela Vaillant, November 2018

Hours: Sun-Tue 12pm-12am, Wed/Thurs 12am-1am, Fri 12am-2am, Sat 12pm-2am

Web-site: http://www.oltokyo.jp/

Phone number: 03-5738-7186

Shibuya Cheese Stand

If you love cheese, then Shibuya Cheese Stand is a must visit spot for lunch or dinner.  I recently stopped in for a solo lunch since a friend had told me how good it was.  I trained from Akishima station to Shibuya station (Hachiko exit) and walked about 15 minutes using google maps to the restaurant.  I arrived right before opening and stood in a short line.  They opened 15 minutes late after the cheese arrived on a refrigerator bike.  At least you know it is fresh!  I decided to order one of the cheese plates (fresh tomato, Burrata, oregano, and dill) and the mozzarella, tomato, basil and arugula sandwich.  It was a little more than I could eat alone but I wanted to try at least two cheeses.  The cheese plate was beautiful with a Buratta cheese bow.  The majority of the Burrata was super soft but the bow was a little firmer.  The tomatoes were really fresh and paired well with the the oil and herbs.  I also really enjoyed the sandwich.  The cheese plate was a little pricey at ¥1680 but the sandwich was only ¥500.  The lunch menu also included pizza and dessert. Bring yen as they did not take credit card.  Definitely a spot I will recommend to friends!  – Angela Vaillant, October 2018

Hours:  Tuesday-Saturday 11:30am-11:00pm, Sunday 11:30am-10:00pm, Closed Mondays

Web-site: http://cheese-stand.com/

Roberto Perozzi Hair Salon – Shibuya

One of the first concerns I had when we found out we were moving to Japan was where I would get my hair done.  I’ve gotten highlights and lowlights for years but I knew having blonde hair might make it harder to find a good stylist in Japan.  Luckily a neighbor of mine heard of a place in Shibuya and recommended I check it out.  I contacted Roberto Perozzi Hair Salon (RPH) in Shibuya using their web-site contact us link.  They wrote me back with a quote for the services I requested and we quickly made a reservation for the next month.  My neighbor offered to take the train with me into Shibuya since it was my first time training to this area.  Using google maps to walk from the station we got a little off track but made it from East side of base to the salon in 2 hours.  My second visit my husband tagged along and it took about the same amount of time.  Shibuya station is under construction so the exits were different the second time around.  The salon is located in an office building called Villa Moderna in unit C507.  You take an elevator up from the lobby and it sort of looks like you are walking into an apartment.  The salon is small with just two chairs.  Once there I was greeted by Takumi, a male stylist who spoke very good English and chatted with me the entire appointment.  On my first visit it was just me and Takumi but the next time the owner was also styling hair beside us with one assistant.  I showed Takumi a picture of what colors I wanted for my hair and he did exactly what I asked.   For a highlight, lowlight, cut, and blow-dry I paid 22,000yen.  This was for full head foils but you can also do partials.  All of the pricing is listed on the web-site as well as detailed directions by train or car.  After both of my appointments I had lunch at Goo Italiano which was recommended by Takumi.  I also went to check out Shibuya Crossing for the first time with my fresh hairdo!  – Angela Vaillant, April 2018

Website: http://www.robertoperozzi.com/
Hours: Tue-Sat 9am-7pm

E-mail:  perozzirob@gmail.com
PHONE: 03-6427-2444

Head downstairs from the street level to enter the lobby

Take the elevator up to the entrance.

Before

During

After at Shibuya Crossing

Goo Italiano – Shibuya

While getting my hair done in Shibuya, my hairdresser recommended a nearby Italian restaurant for lunch after.  Goo Italiano is a cute little Italian restaurant on a corner not far from Shibuya crossing.  I have been twice now for lunch and enjoyed their Paccheri Tomato Sauce dish on both visits.  Their sets range for 1000yen to 1500yen for lunch and include focaccia bread, salad, pasta choice and a drink.  Their iced peach tea is worth a try!    My husband also enjoyed the pasta of the day special.  Their dinner menu has a lot more variety and includes family style meals.  The dinner grand menu includes pizzas, pastas, salads, lasagna, and Italian appetizers.  They also offer carry out.  – Angela Vaillant, April 2018

Website: http://www.take-5.co.jp/goo-italiano/shibuya/
HOURS: Weekdays 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-12am and Weekends 11:30am-12am
PHONE: 03-6418-8300

Blu Jam Cafe – Daikanyama

Our family recently stayed at the New Sanno for a night to venture out closer to Tokyo.  We tried a great spot in Daikanyama called Blu Jam Café one morning for breakfast.  The area is a short train ride from the hotel, leaving Hioh Station to Daikanyama Station or Naka-Meguro Station.  They offer fresh food from local farmer’s markets and have no freezers on site, so you know everything is fresh!  Many of their ingredients are also organic and made in house.  The menu has many breakfast/brunch options and most were Gluten Free.  We tried the California Omelette, Morning Hash, and our kids loved the Chocolate Chip Pancakes.  My husband also tried their specialty latte called The Dirty Chai.  The prices were reasonable and the staff were easy to communicate with.  This is definitely a spot we will return to! – Angela Vaillant, November 2017

Website: https://www.blujamcafejapan.com/
HOURS: Daily 8:00am-9:00pm – Closed Tuesdays
PHONE: 03-6455-1446

Related links:  https://yokotatravel.com/?s=Daikanyama

Spring Valley Brewery, Daikanyama

Spring Valley Brewery (SVB) is a  great craft brewery in the Daikanyama area near Ebisu/Shibuya. They offer flights of beer to try selecting from a diverse range of beers. They also offer an eclectic menu of burgers, pizzas, seafood, and pastas to accompany your drink.

The first floor is spacious and stroller friendly that provides a great atmosphere. Be sure to check their website because they do have events that limit their menu/selection and may have an entry fee. For example, the beer and sushi festival was held in November. I recommend reservations for the weekends.

We took the train to Ebisu station and it was a 10-15 min walk from there. There are shops and other restaurants in the area and it’s a short stroll to the Daikanyama district with even more to the walk through. – Jennifer McCarthy, January 2017

Spring Valley Brewery:
 http://www.springvalleybrewery.jp/
Hours: Monday – Saturday 8 am – 12 am (Last Order 10:30 pm)
Sunday 8 am – 10 pm (Last Order 9:00 pm)
Phone number: 03-6416-4975 (reservation only 10 am – 10 pm)
03 – 6416 – 4960 (other inquiries)
Directions: To Daikanyama station, take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku, transfer to the Yamanote Line towards Shibuya/Shinagawa to Shibuya, and then transfer again to Tokyu Toyoko Line to Daikanyama. It is also accessible from Ebisu Station. To Ebisu Staion, take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku, transfer to the Yamanote line towards Shibuya/Shinagawa to Ebisu station.

Wabist, Japanese gift shop

The Ebisu station along the Yamanote line is known as a beautiful illumination spot called Yebisu Garden Place in December. There is also a famous museum for Yebisu beer there. When you visit the place, there is a unique Japanese gift store you should check out.

Wabist is a shop that is a little off the beaten path featuring all items made in Japan at all different prices. As they introduce some products on its website, many items are made by skilled craftsmen.

A lot of fun items you don’t see everywhere. Great for gifts to send home or to friends/family. – Jennifer McCarthy, December 2016 

Gift Shop Wabist : https://wabist.com/ec/specialcontent?id=104
Hours: 1 0am – 7 pm on weekdays, 12 pm-6 pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday and Japanese Holidays
Directions: To Ebisu station, take Ome/Chuo Line to Shinjuku and then take Yamanote Line towards Shibuya, Shinagawa. Ebisu is 4 stops away from Shinjuku. From the east exit, it is around a 5 min walk.

Ao no Doukutsu, Yoyogi Park Illumination

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This beautiful illumination is called “Ao no Doukutsu”, meaning Blue Grotto, was in Nakameguro in 2014. It has relocated to Yoyogi park this year (2016).
The illumination runs from November 22nd through January 9th. I didn’t have a chance to go to the Nakameguro Illumination, but I’ve heard they moved the illumination in favor of the much wider street of Yoyogi park.
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The Illumination starts on Shibuya Koen Dori (Shibuya park street) and those Japanese Zelkova trees were lit up for your 750 m walk. I recommend stopping by there when you are in the downtown Tokyo area. Check out the Illumination website to see the video for directions. – Mai Takahashi, December 2016

Ao no Doukutsu, Shibuya : http://shibuya-aonodokutsu.jp/
Illumination time in 2016: 5 pm – 11 pm, November 22nd – January 9th  (the illumination starts at 7 pm on November 23rd, December 4th, December 25th, and January 9th)

Direction:
To get to the illumination spot, the closest station is Shibuya. The street is on the opposite side of Meji Shrine in Yoyogi park, so make sure to get off at Shibuya Station, not Harajuku station.
To Shibuya station, take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku, and then transfer to Yamanote line towards Shibuya and Shinagawa.
From Shibuya station, exit from Hachiko exit and then cross the famous crowded intersection. And then take the street that is to the right of the building that is all glass and has a large tv display. You will see a Starbucks and TSUTAYA video store in this building. Keep walking until you see the blue lights on the trees.
img_2421Once you find the blue trees, follow them to Yoyogi park.
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List of English Book stores in Tokyo area

Books Kinokuniya, near Shinjuku South exit 

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If you are looking for a book store with English books, Books Kinokuniya might be your best bet to find what you are looking for. Kinokuniya  is a chain book store in Japan that usually carries a small amount of English books. But this particular store specializes in English books and only has English books. Make sure to check the directions below, there is another Kinokuniya book store out of the east exit. The store near the south exit is the only one that specializes in English books. Their selection was enormous! They had children’s books, magazines, travel books, fiction/non-fiction, etc. The space isn’t as large as a book store in the US, but I felt like I was in a mini Barnes & Noble.
Since all of the books are imported, the price of the books seemed expensive, but still a good place to go if you are in need of books. If you know any other book stores that carries English books, please let us know! – Mai Takahashi, November 2016

Directions: If you have been to Shinjuku, you know how big the station is. From the base, take the Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku station. And then look for the south exit. From that exit, you’ll cross the big intersection and turn left to walk through another part of  Shinjuku station towards Takashimaya.

img_2219There is a walk pass on the 6th floor of Takashimaya to the book store.

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Once you get to Takashimaya 6th floor, follow the signs and you’ll see the book store.

TSUTAYA BOOKS, Daikanyama 

There is a book store in Daikanyama where you can sip your coffee while you look for a book. Tsutaya Books Daikanyama is located in Daikanyama near Ebisu. Tsutaya is a CD/DVD rental chain in Japan that also sells books. The bookstore consists of three interlinked buildings, each having two floors. The first floors have books and there is a Starbucks on the first floor of the third building.


There are seats where you can bring a book to read while you enjoy Starbucks. The store does carry some English books, but not many. If you are looking for a certain title, Books Kinokuniya in Shinjuku might be a better option.

The Interior is so stylish that it is almost worth it to just visit. Don’t forget to check out Spring Valley Brewery while you are in the area. – Mai Takahashi, February 2017

Directions:
To Daikanyama station, take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku, transfer to the Yamanote Line towards Shibuya/Shinagawa to Shibuya, and then transfer again to Tokyu Toyoko Line to Daikanyama. It is also accessible from Ebisu Station. To Ebisu Station, take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku, transfer to the Yamanote line towards Shibuya/Shinagawa to Ebisu station. It’s about a 15 min walk from Ebisu station.

Comments from travelers:

The book store in Daikanyama is amazingly unique and an example of superb architecture by Klein Dytham!! There is also an excellent restaurant next door called the Ivy Place! The food is delicious with a Greek inspired theme. The atmosphere is lovely and it offers three different eating spaces that will accommodate anyone! They have a cafe for more casual dining, a bar area and a formal dining area. I highly recommend it!Amy Gaul, February 2017

BINGOYA, Japanese folk craft shop

img_2165If you are looking for authentic Japanese gifts, BINGOYA, the Japanese folk craft shop is a perfect place to check out. I was looking for a Kokeshi doll and was impressed by their collection.

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This five-story store offers folk crafts from all over Japan. As it is shown in the picture below, they have a variety of items.
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The staff spoke great English and there were signs in English to explain each item. I wouldn’t say some of the products were affordable, but I think the price was reasonable for its authenticity. Every product was beautiful and I wish I could spend much more money. There were some inexpensive items like tatami mat coasters, paper crafts and small toys. A kokeshi doll that I bought was Y2300 without tax and I was very happy with my purchase. I love every detail of my kokeshi. The store is not too far away from Shinjuku station, so if you are looking for a place to visit while you are in Shinjuku, I think it’s worth a visit especially for authentic Japanese gifts to bring home.  – Mai Takahashi, November 2016

BINGOYA, craft shophttp://bingoya.tokyo/
Hours: 10am-7pm, Tuesday-Sunday, Closed on the 3rd Saturday and the following Sunday (except in May, August, November, December).

Directions: I didn’t see any parking lots near by, so I recommend taking the train to the store. The nearby station is Wakamatsu-Kawada on Oedo-Line Subway. From the base, take Ome/Chuo Line to Shinjuku station. Transfer to Oedo-Line Subway. (Exit from West exit and follow the Oedo-line sign. You’ll be getting on Oedo-line from Shinjuku Nishi station.) Take Oedo line to  Wakamatsu-Kawada.
From Wakamatsu-Kawada station, exit from Wakamatsu-Kawada exit and turn right. Walk straight until you reach the store. The store will be on your right.
Make sure to exit from the correct exit at Shinjuku station. You could exit from the South exit to catch Oedo line, but then you have to transfer again at Tocho-mae station. Getting on Oedo-line from Shinjuku-Nishi exit is the key.

 

Art Aquarium, Nihonbashi Tokyo

 

IMG_8436Summer is one of the most exciting times of the year throughout Japan. As the temperature and humidity increase, excitements of the summer increase, and there are many summer events going on in our neighborhoods.
Art Aquarium is a seasonal aquarium that opens during the summer, and it is an art exhibit with living kingyo (goldfish). The theme of this year’s Nihonbashi Art Aquarium is the Edo period of Japan, during which the Kingyo culture spread among townspeople. More information on the exhibit can be found here.

IMG_8265The exhibit takes place in Coredo Muromachi, which is a shopping complex where there is fine dining, food stores and more. There are three Coredo Muromachi buildings and the Art Aquarium is located in Building 1. The entrance is on the 4th floor. There is a summer event called “Eco Edo Nihonbashi 2016” around the neighborhood and the Art Aquarium is part of the seasonal celebration. The streets are decorated by lanterns and if I describe the atmosphere, I would say it’s an elegant Japanese old town. Check their Facebook page for more info.

IMG_8329The aquarium exhibits were very unique. There were many kinds of Kingyo. I was impressed by the wide variety of Kingyo that I had never seen. Each exhibit was very arty, and it was a cultural experience of Ryo of Kingyo, enjoying the refreshing coolness by looking at Kingyo swim. The exhibit room is not so big; I would say 30min to 1 hr is enough time to look around.

IMG_8296Starting from 7pm, the Art Aquarium turns into the “Night Aquarium” during which they start serving alcohol and you can walk around the room with your drink. We arrived there around 6:30pm on Sunday, and I saw several families with small children. After 7pm, there were mostly adults. There are special nights with DJ performances on weekends. Check their website for the event schedule because you may need a special ticket to get in on those nights. When you plan your visit, try to avoid the weekends. They limit number of entrances once it gets crowded. According to their Twitter, Saturday is usually very busy and there might be a 30min wait. I heard it’s less crowded in September. If you are going to Tokyo area during the summer, I recommend stopping by the Art Aquarium to enjoy goldfish, symbolic of Japanese summer. – Mai Takahashi, July 2016

Website
Art Aquarium: http://artaquarium.jp/en/
Coredo Muromachi: https://31urban.jp/lng/eng/muromachi.html
Art Aquarium Hours:  July 18th-September 25th, (the dates may differ every year) 11:00am – 11:30pm (Night Aquarium starts at 7:00pm)
Admission: Y1000 for adults, Y600 for elementary school age and under, and free for 3 years old and under. (Children must be accompanied by adults.)

Directions: Mitsukoshi-mae station on Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line/ Ginza Line is the closest station, but from Fussa, getting off at the Tokyo station is the easiest.  To get to the Tokyo station from Fussa, take Ome/Chuo line all the way to the Tokyo station. I love returning from the Tokyo station. Since the station is the first and the last stop of Chuo line, there is a great chance that you can sit all the way from Tokyo station to Fussa. From Tokyo station, exit from Nihonbashi exit or Yaesu North exit. It’s about a 15 min walk.

Tokyo Tower, The Milky Way Illumination

IMG_8175If you are planning on visiting Tokyo Tower, I recommend going there during the summer. There are “Tanabata”(Star Festival) themed decorations called the “Milky Way Illumination” which represents “the night sky of summer where the Milky Way is visible”. The interior sky (ceiling) is filled with blue stars (lights) on the main observatory floor. My husband and I reached the main observatory right before the sunset. Since it was a weekday, there was no waiting time to get up to the main observatory floor and the floor was almost empty.

IMG_8163We decided to wait for the sunset at a small cafe on the main observatory floor. The cafe offers light meals and drinks such as sandwiches, fries, ice cream and drinks. The floor got busy as the sun went down. The view of the city turning its color was very pretty and the floor gradually turned blue, thanks to the stars.

IMG_8136After the sunset, the room was completely blue and the atmosphere was very romantic.  There is a DJ booth on the same floor and the performer differs by the day of the week. We missed it, but there is projection mapping on the second floor of the main observatory. The outside staircase to the main observatory is also decorated with blue lights, but we could not climb the stairs due to the weather.

IMG_8205If you are a fan of manga/anime called “ONE PIECE”, there is a themed park on 3rd, 4th and 5th floor of the building below the tower called “Foot Town”. Also, there will be a haunted house on the basement starting July 15 through September 4th (the dates may differ every year). Hours for the haunted house: 12pm to 9pm, Y800 for junior high school students and above and Y500 for 4 years old up to junior high school students). If those brave souls visit there, please let us know how it was. – Mai Takahashi, July 2016

Read more about the Tokyo Tower from previous posts  here.

Tokyo Tower The Milky Way Illumination 2016: June 1st to August 31st
Tokyo Tower Website
: https://www.tokyotower.co.jp/en.html
Tokyo ONE PIECE Tower: http://onepiecetower.tokyo/?lang=en
Hours: 9 am to 11 pm (last entry 10:30 pm)
Admission to the main observatory (150m high): Y900 for high school students and above, Y500 for junior high school and elementary school students, and Y400 for  children between 4 years old and before elementary school age.
Special observatory(250m): Y700 for adults, Y500 for junior high school students to elementary school students, Y400 for children between 4 years old and elementary school age.
Directions: In my opinion, the easiest way to get to Tokyo Tower from Fussa is take Ome/Chuo line to Shinjuku and transfer to Oedo line(subway) and then get off at Akabanebashi. From the Akabanebashi exit, you’ll see the tower in front of you. It’s about a 5-10 minute walk from the station.

Ninja Akasaka Restaurant

IMG_7154If you are looking for a unique Japanese restaurant to take your family, guests or friends, Ninja Akasaka will not disappoint you! It is a ninja-themed restaurant where you can enjoy delicious food in a ninja’s secret lair. The restaurant is located in the corner of Akasaka Tokyu Plaza where many boutiques and restaurants reside. When we arrived at the restaurant, most of the shops at the plaza were closed since it was past their normal business hours, but it seemed like it was a nicer place than a regular shopping mall. It might be hard to find the restaurant since the outside of the restaurant is all black, but it is perfect for a ninja’s secret base.

IMG_7153Your ninja experience starts from the entrance. I don’t want to ruin your experience by spoiling it too much, because I think you’ll enjoy this place more when you don’t know what will happen next. From the entrance, a ninja (waiter) took us to our hideout (table).  The inside of the hideout was dim and the ceiling was lowered in some-parts, just as I had always imagined a ninja’s place to be. The service from the ninjas was great. The ninja were well trained and they spoke very good English. Since it is more of a  fancy restaurant, the menu price is a little spendy. We went there with a group of ten people, so we had to order from the course menu.IMG_7138

There are several course options you can choose from; course menu price starts at Y4,500 and up. It does not include tax and drinks. I had the Y5,700 course with drinks; I think I spent about Y8,000. If you go with seven people or less, you can order from the regular menu. Although it was expensive dining, I was very satisfied with the food, service, and the “entertainment”.IMG_7149

The restaurant offers a kids menu and family friendly hours. Make sure to make a reservation since this place always seems busy. If you are going there for a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc), don’t forget to let them know because they might celebrate it in the ninja way. For more details and pictures, check out their website. I highly recommend this place especially when you have someone visiting because you can take them somewhere unique. – Mai Takahashi, June 2016

Website: http://www.ninjaakasaka.com/top_main.html
Phone: 03-5157-3936
Hours: Mon-Sat 5:30pm-2am, Sunday and Holidays 5pm-11pm
Directions: It is 3 min walk from Akasakamitsuke station on Ginza and Marunouchi line. To Akasakamitsuke station from Fussa, take Ome/Chuo line to Yotsuya and then transfer to Marunouchi line. It’s one stop away from Yotsuya station.

Pepacafe Forest, Thai and Asian Cuisine

IMG_6548Kichijoji is one of my favorite Tokyo neighborhood’s where you can find many cute cafes, small/big businesses, and casual/fancy bars. The neighborhood is also known as one of the most desired places to live in the Kanto region. I enjoy taking a walk at Inokashira-park, famous for cherry blossoms during the Sakura season. There is a shrine, zoo, and a lake which you can even ride a swan boat. There is an art market during the weekend (usually starts at 9am) and you might encounter some puppet performers, magicians, or simply people playing their musical instruments. It’s a popular spot to get out especially on a sunny day.

There are a few cafes in the park and Pepacafe Forest is a casual Thai restaurant which is perfect for a family, a couple, or a group of friends.IMG_6549

If you like Thai food, this place is a must try! If you are not a fan of Thai food, you can still enjoy their drinks and desserts. I visited with my sister on a weekday for lunch. I had a lunch plate for ¥1100 (without tax).IMG_6551

I also visited on a weekend for a piece of cake and a drink (they have wine, beer, and cocktails.) The restaurant is spacious and I love how it’s surrounded by nature. You’ll have a view of the park if you get a window seat. I saw some families with little ones with high chairs available. The menu is listed in Japanese and English. I recommend going there during the weekdays since it could get very busy during the weekend. If you see people sitting on chairs right outside the restaurant, that means they are waiting in line, so you can sit next in line and wait. If the line is not so bad, I think it’s worth a try. – Mai Takahashi May 2016
Read more about Kichijoji neighborhood from past posts from here: Kichijoji

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pepaforest/
HOURS: Mon-Fri 12:00pm-10:00pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am – 10:00pm
PHONE: 0422-42-7081

GENERAL TRAIN DIRECTIONS to Kichijoji station: Take the Ome Line from Fussa to Tachikawa, then transfer to a Tokyo-bound Chuo line train and get off at Kichijoji. If you catch a rapid train from Fussa, you will not have to transfer at Tachikawa. Just stay on the train. Note that the special rapid doesn’t stop in Kichijoji, so if you’re on one, get off at Mitaka and take the next train.

To Pepacafe restaurant from Kichijoji station:

Exit through the Park Exit.
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After going down the stairs/escalators after the exit, you’ll cross a road and keep going straight.
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You’ll see a bigger street (called Inokashira street) and Marui department store in front of you (keep an eye out for “OIOI” (Marui) sign).
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You’ll cross the Inokashira street and walk down the street to the right side of the Marui department store.
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Keep going down the street and you’ll reach Inokashira park.
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After entering the park, keep going straight and cross the bridge. Then you’ll see the boat pier on your left.
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Pass the boat pier and keep going straight and you’ll see the restaurant.

 

“The Dirty Dish”

In talking with friends, one told me of a place in Tokyo called The Dirty Dish.  It was supposedly a large Japanese dishware store.  I googled the name and found a few write ups on some blogs, one of which had a phone number I could use to look the place up on the map.  The google street view of the location matched one of the pictures on the blog entry, so I decided to go check the place out.  The actual Japanese name of the store is not known, but the gaijin name of The Dirty Dish stuck due to the warehouse style set up of the store.  It is located about a 90 minute drive or train ride from Yokota in the town of Kawasaki.  If you drive, there are two pay parking lots around the corner from the store that max out at 900 yen, so parking is reasonable.  If you take the train, google maps estimates about a 15-20 minute (1.2km) walk to th store from Musashi-Nakahara Station.  It definitely looks like a warehouse from the street.
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And inside there are racks and racks of dishes.  Cups, mugs, plates, bowls, tea pots, and etceteras of every shape, size, color, and pattern.  There isn’t just blue and white pattern.
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The day I went everything was 40% off the sticker price, but I’m not sure if this is an everyday discount or something that was happening on that day.  Irregardless of the discount, most items are very reasonably priced.  Cash only.  Katie Campbell, April 2016
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Phone: 044-488-4888
Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700, closed Sat/Sun & Holidays
Website:  http://www.okuno-co.jp/ (Can switch language to English)
Dierctions: GPS for the store:  35.572669, 139.637653
GPS for the two parking areas (across the street from each other):  35.572210, 139.637007

St. Patrick’s Day Parade- Tokyo

Asia’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place in the heart of Tokyo’s Harajuku district. A section of Omotesando Street is closed to traffic for the parade and you will see everything from marching bands to the Tokyo chapter of the U2 fan club. It is a lot of fun! Also, don’t miss the I Love Ireland festival held in neighboring Yoyogi park, for food, entertainment and fun! The date varies every year, but this year (2016) the parade is being held on March 20, and begins at 1:00pm. (A quick google search will tell date and time for subsequent years).- Jamie Cowan March 20162014-03-16 13.37.00

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DIRECTIONS: Take the train to Harajuku station. Yoyogi Park and Omotesando are a quick walk from the station.

Kawaii Monster Cafe

My daughter and I were looking for something to do, and of course Japan never disappoints. 03715006-e6c0-457b-9d3a-7c3a490dcb68We went to Kawaii Monster Café in Harajuku, and what a treat it was! It all started with the friendly hostess, she informed us that there’s a Y500  per person table charge, then we got to choose a place to sit. There are four sections to choose from, my daughter choose Mel-Tea Room. Once we were ready to be seated they have you wait by the door and say “you ready”? My daughter said “yes” and they opened up the door and WOW,  all you see is nothing but amazing decorations all over the place. You feel like you stepped into a magical place. My daughter couldn’t stop smiling.icecream
Once we were seated they handed over the menu, which in itself was different. We only had dessert,  but the food looked delicious too. My daughter had the Monster Girl ( Nasty) ice cream.
I’m not 100% sure if this always happens, or we got lucky, but when she ordered her ice cream  a guy dressed in a tutu skirt and mid drift top with pink hair came to our table and started playing with her hair and tickling her.
She got picked on by a kawaii monster! He did speak a little English and tried to talk to her, but my daughter was a little freaked. As for me, I couldn’t stop laughing! After all, we did come here for the kawaii monster experience, so if you don’t feel like getting messed with, you might not want to order the Nasty girl ice cream!
20160112_154909 As we were getting ready to pay, all the lights turned off and they said something in Japanese. I asked the hostess what was going on she said ” the performance was about to start”. I couldn’t believe our luck. In the middle of the Café there was a merry-go-round that actually moved, and two kawaii monster’s where dancing around.
After the performance was finished we got to take a picture with them.502198d2-5b87-4850-912a-47c16815d71f
Once we were ready to leave, a kawaii monster grabbed my daughter’s hand and escorted us to the exit where they have a small gift shop. In total we spent Y2,480 for the entrance and two ice creams.
It can be a little pricy but you have to keep in mind that you are paying for the Kawaii Monster experience.I highly recommend this café as a great family outing, or  just a great night out with friends. Some info that you should know, Lunch time 11:30-4:30 (Last entry 3:30) Dinner time 6:00-10:30-Yasmin Cruz, January 2016
Phone: +81-3-5413-6142 (Reservations accepted)
Directions: From Harajuku Station take the Omotesando Exit once you get to the major intersection make a left go all the way down until you get to the major intersection cross the street and make a left you will keep going straight once you pass American Eagle Outfitters its going to be in the YM building 4F. Take the escalators all the way up.