Japan to Russia on a five-hour ferry
Joyce Lam hops on a ferry from Hokkaido to Sakhalin, Russia's largest island, and discovers a forgotten world
The ultimate Tokyo udon top 15
Slurp noodles on the cheap at the city's best Kagawa-style udon joints
How to get a date in Tokyo
Without resorting to Tinder, we mean. Kirsty Bouwers heads to six bars to try and meet people (and perhaps find a little romance) the old-fashioned way
Things to do this week in Tokyo
This week’s hottest events, gigs, films, festivals and more
Discover more of Japan with UnionPay
Tasty premium offers await
The best of Tokyo
From tonkotsu to tori-paitan – it's your ultimate noodle-slurping guide
Because sometimes you just need a furry friend
The finest places serving homemade beer, in and out of the city
Where to enjoy a relaxing hot-spring bath in the capital
100 best shops
Essential boutiques, plus the best book, music and souvenir stores
Top 10 sushi
Going beyond the obvious picks
The best events in Tokyo
Noh Theater: Beyond Words, Beyond Borders
Experience the traditional art form like never before
20 artsy things to do in Tokyo this autumn
Take your pick of the city's top exhibitions, performances and festivals
After much hand-wringing and controversy, the first-ever exhibition of traditional Japanese erotic art (shunga, literally 'spring pictures') in this country is finally happening. Spurred on by the success of a similar, critically acclaimed display at the British Museum in 2013, the organisers reportedly offered this exhibit to around ten museums, only to be turned down by them all – the 'obscene' reputation of shunga remains strong in some circles, despite the fact the art is readily available in e.g. book form across Japan. The exhibition was finally taken up by Mejirodai's Eisei Bunko Museum, usually dedicated to the preservation and display of the Hosokawa samurai clan's history and artistic fortune. From September on, visitors can rest their eyes on around 120 pieces by the likes of Hokusai, Utamaro and Suzuki Harunobu – but you'll need to be 18 or older to enter.
The German embassy in Tokyo once again presents Deutschlandfest, your now-annual opportunity to enjoy not only the obligatory sausages, beer and pretzels, but also traditional German handicrafts and cosmetics, plus educational workshops and dance performances. Learn how to make real bread or pick up some handmade candles, and plan a Teutonic vacation by visiting the many tourism info booths.
Tokyo area guides
Explore Tokyo's coolest 'hood
The best places to eat, shop and play in Tokyo’s buzziest neighbourhood
101 places to eat, shop and play
Survive Tokyo's centre of luxury
88 things to do, from the obscure to the obvious
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Interview: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
They call her Japan's Lady Gaga. And they're right – although more cute than grotesque, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is every bit as compelling as her American counterpart. Which probably explains why she has been one of the few Japanese artists to break into the international market. Famed for her kawaii-cum-kooky dress sense and weirdo facial expressions, Kyary started off as a model and blogger before releasing her first single 'PonPonPon' in 2011. She has since brought out three albums, been featured on the cover of 'Dazed and Confused', and completed two world tours. And she's only just getting started... You’re known for your outlandish costumes, but what do you wear on your days off?I really like clothes, but I get tired of always wearing bright, pop-style clothes, so on my days off I often wear darker colours. Like black dresses and sporty looks. I think it’s a little different from the public image of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Of all the phrases that have been used to describe you in overseas media, which one resonated with you the most?Oh, I wonder… Maybe when they say ‘Japanese pop icon Kyary’. That is something I always wanted to achieve, so when people from other countries say it, it makes me happy. Do you come across misleading clichés about Japan in the Western media?Yes, I get asked a lot of strange questions during interviews. In terms of fashion, they always ask me about designers, which is something that hardly ever comes up in Japan. Any surprises in the overseas repo
The 20 best ramen in Tokyo
Tokyo is a city of 100,000 restaurants, and sometimes it feels like half of them are serving the same dish: ramen. The nation's most popular fast food comes in various guises, from simple, comforting chuka soba and even healthier options to meaty mixtures like rich Hakata-style tonkotsu and flavour bombs like the fiery noodles served at Mouko Tanmen Nakamoto. Rather than attempt to list all of the best ramen in Tokyo, we consulted some hardcore noodle geeks – people who scoff over 200 bowls of the stuff a year – to help select 20 essential destinations. From Ramen Jiro to Kiraku, these are the ramen bars that any self-respecting ramen fan in Tokyo needs to visit. Reviews by menchuck and Time Out Tokyo editors
The best Tokyo bars
Tokyo’s drinking scene is one of the best in the world, with boundary-breaking cocktail bars taking mixed drinks to the next level, while traditional izakayas bring you back down to earth in the best possible way. Should you be looking for the perfect pint or a cocktail beyond comprehension, our critics have rounded up their favourite bars and pubs across the capital on Time Out’s list of the best bars in Tokyo. Whether it's that place where everybody knows your name or a hangout where you can live it up like the A-list, there’s something for everyone in our guide. And if you're still not satisfied, check out our guides to bars with a view and bars specialising in craft beer.
Tokyo alleyway guide
Hidden in between and behind shiny high-rises, massive station complexes and other architectural monsters, Tokyo's old-school alleyways or yokocho are treasure troves for anyone looking to experience the city's less sterile, more down-to-earth side. Found all over town, Tokyo's yokocho host thousands of tiny eateries, pubs and shops, some of them dating way back to the early postwar years, and provide opportunities for slipping back in time to the smoky, change-filled decades of the Showa era. Recent years have seen some yokocho become trendy locations for opening hip new restaurants, adding another flavour into the diverse mix of tastes, attitudes and customs found on these backstreets. If you don't mind a little neighbourly physical contact (many joints seat less than 10 patrons), yokocho eateries and izakayas are cheapo heaven. People's booze, such as highballs, shochu and Hoppy, is often available from ¥100 or so, and the food maintains the same dirt-cheap standard without sacrificing quality. The alleys are also ideal for discovering the less stuffy sides of Japanese culture and making new drinking buddies. Do avoid going in big groups though, as there simply won't be enough space for all of you. Here's our comprehensive list of 17 fascinating yokocho – crawl through them all and you'll have learned more about the city than many people ever will.
The best coffee in Tokyo
Tokyo: nice city, shame about the coffee. This used to be a standard complaint amongst foreign residents and visitors alike, with even people who'd considered themselves permanently indisposed to Seattle's most famous coffee export being forced to seek out the 'Bucks in order to get a cup of Joe that seemed even halfway worthy of the name. And while part of the problem was down to ignorance (Café de l'Ambre has been open since 1948, for crying out loud), the good places generally took a lot of effort to find, with shops specialising in espresso drinks being particularly thin on the ground. No more. The last few years have seen a sharp increase in the number of serious-minded coffee makers plying their trade around the capital, many of them roasting their own beans and wielding heavy-duty espresso machines. Moreover, with the odd exception, most of them actually know what they're doing. Time Out spent a few over-caffeinated weeks trawling around the city in search of Tokyo's best coffee shops, and we were impressed by how many good places we found. Read on for our favourites, and make sure to also check out our picks of the best artisanal coffee shops. Reviews by James Hadfield and Jon Wilks
Tokyo’s best hotels
Uber-private luxury resort brand Aman is known for attracting celebrities, business high-rollers and others who prefer to keep their whereabouts a secret. In a surprise 2014 move, Tokyo's Otemachi business district saw the opening of Aman's newest branch, an exclusive hotel located on the upper floors of the Otemachi Tower building that marks a new high in urban opulence.
The Hyatt group's luxury brand Andaz opened its first Tokyo hotel on the top of the 52-story Toranomon Hills complex in June 2014. The hotel houses 164 guestrooms, a partially open-air penthouse bar, and a whopping 50m² suite, the largest of its kind in all of Tokyo. Conveniently situated close to many embassies and offices of global corporations, this location is a sure draw particularly among business travellers.
ANA InterContinental Tokyo
In 2007 owners All Nippon Airways joined forces with the InterContinental chain and rebranded this 37-storey hotel. Its airy lobby has been redone in gleaming marble and cherry wood, with the modern space broken up by cascading waterfalls and artworks. Spacious, well-equipped rooms have all been recently renovated. The hotel provides stunning views on a clear day – you can see Mt Fuji from Japan's largest club lounge on the 35th floor.
The Peninsula Tokyo
Facing Kokyo Gaien National Garden, and located near Hibiya Park, The Peninsula Tokyo is surrounded by greenery. It’s one of the largest hotels in the city, with 47 suites and 314 guest rooms decorated with a traditional Japanese touch. The Lobby restaurant is open for all day dining, featuring its popular afternoon tea. Hei Fung Terrace on the second floor serves up a pagoda kakuni braised pork worth trying.
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
Focusing not just on Tokyo, but on the historic Nihonbashi area in which it sits, the Mandarin is the antidote to that feeling that luxury hotels are the same the world over. Many of the materials are sourced from local artisans. The lobby and rooms all hint at traditional Japanese motifs, from the torii shrine gates and washi paper lanterns to the woven fabrics that hang in place of paintings. The view from the rooms trumps most of its top-end rivals, with a mosaic of lights from the business district in the foreground, and Mt Fuji straight ahead.