Kirsty is a staff writer for Time Out Tokyo. She spends her free time trying to not get hit by swerving taxis while cycling on an obnoxious orange mamachari. She avoids hashtags and loves latergrams (but despises the word). Follow her @bouwerskt.
How to book tickets to Tokyo's most popular museums and attractions
Considering Tokyo's status as one of the world's largest cities, it's hardly surprising that we have an outsized art scene. With hundreds of museums, galleries and attractions dotted around, there's usually something going on to suit your taste. Some places, however, require a bit of pre-planning to get into, due to a combination of immense popularity and restricted ticket sales. That includes the Yayoi Kusama Museum, the Ghibli Museum, teamLab Planets, the tuna auction at Toyosu Market, both Disneyland and DisneySea, Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo – The Making of Harry Potter, and the soon-to-open teamLab Borderless. Read on to find out how to get your hands on these hot tickets – and whether you need to set an alarm to do so. RECOMMENDED: Have fun whatever the weather at Tokyo's best indoor theme parks and amusement parks
What's the deal with... KFC and Christmas in Japan?
It’s that time of the year again: the illuminations have gone up and the first Christmas bucket orders are being placed at KFC. Wait, what? Yes, you read that correctly: Christmas and KFC are completely intertwined in Japan. Around December 25, families gather around the table to eat a bucket of fried chicken for the occasion – something that would be all but incomprehensible in countries with Christian foundations, where Christmas is generally, uh, fast food-free. Orders for buckets of deep-fried drumsticks and breast can be placed from early November, and even then you’ll have to wait in the massive queues that form outside KFCs across the country on Christmas Day itself to pick one up. But why? Turns out the entire thing can be traced back to one man: Takeshi Okawara, the enterprising manager of the first KFC in Japan, opened in Nagoya in November 1970. The company line is that Okawara had a dream about selling a party bucket full of chicken, and started a one-store campaign to boost sales. The reason why he had the dream in the first place? He allegedly overheard an expat saying that they missed eating turkey for Christmas, and that chicken was the next best option during the festive season. Whatever the case, Okawara's venture came to set the tone for Christmas in Japan for decades to come, especially after the winter of 1974. Photo: KFC Japan The fried chicken party bucket went national in 1974 with the slogan ケンタッキーはクリスマス！(Kentucky is Christmas!), cementing the conn
The 12 best things to do in Osaka
You've done Tokyo, but have you done Osaka? Though this city can sometimes get overlooked for its more famous neighbours, it's well worth a week on its own; this city is louder, brasher and often more merry than Tokyo – making the best things to do in Osaka some of the top activities in Japan, period. The locals here also like to eat, so much so that they have a word for it: kuidaore, or ‘to eat yourself broke’ in the local Osakan dialect. Leaving this city hungry (or with a full wallet) is a no-go. It's a relatively small, compact city, but it packs a punch. From Osaka castle to flashy Dotonbori, here are the best things to do in Osaka right now. RECOMMENDED:🇯🇵 The most underrated destinations in Japan⛩️ How to do two weeks in Japan💮 Is it insane to go to Japan for a week? Kirsty Bouwers is a staff writer for Time Out Tokyo. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.
26 things to do in Tomigaya, the cool neighbourhood of inner Shibuya
Tomigaya is always in the conversation when discussing Tokyo’s coolest districts, but this little indie neighbourhood remains relatively calm and collected considering its proximity to central Shibuya. Roughly consisting of a couple of blocks southwest of Yoyogi Park, it stretches south from Yoyogi-Hachiman Station to, at most, the Bunkamura – technically you’re in Kamiyamacho by then, but everyone still seems to call it Tomigaya. Here you’ll find cute cafés, trendy coffee shops, eccentric fashion stores and fantastic restaurants next to old tofu shops and the local butchers. Long-term residents complain that there’s been too much gentrification in the past few years, but for now some of the golden oldies seem to still be holding out. RECOMMENDED: The coolest neighbourhoods in Tokyo
21 best restaurants, cafés, shops and things to do in Nakano
Sometimes dubbed ‘Western Tokyo’s Akihabara’, Nakano deserves its 'otaku (geek) heaven' moniker. But beyond the anime and manga paradise that is Nakano Broadway, you'll find plenty to keep you entertained here. Just hop on the train for one stop from Shinjuku and you'll find that Nakano is one of Tokyo's most authentic neighbourhoods. The area has more or less survived Tokyo’s incessant modernisation drive. Head slightly northeast from the station and you’ll find an old-school, partially pre-war block chock-full of izakaya, bars and more, while Edo-era (1603-1867) temples and serene parks can be found further north still. It’s a bustling mix of office workers, university students and families, and the locals are generally very friendly, laid-back and up for a chat. Ready to explore? Here are some of our favourite eateries, shops and hangout spots in this bustling 'hood. RECOMMENDED: The coolest neighbourhoods in Tokyo
タイムアウト東京 > Things To Do > 中野でしかできない20のこと 中野といえば、「中野ブロードウェイ」を中心にアニメや漫画などが集積する「オタクの天国」として有名だ。2023年になってからは、ジャパニーズカルチャーを愛する外国人たちによるにぎわいを取り戻している。 だが、決してそれだけではない。居心地の良いハイセンスなカフェやカジュアルなファインダイニングなどのモダンな店から、マイクロブルワリーや名物スイーツの数々など食の見どころも多い。 この記事では、タイムアウト東京英語編集部が選定した中野でおすすめのレストランやショップ、銭湯、ギャラリーなどを紹介しよう。これを機に、新旧の魅力がモザイク状に詰まった中野という街をぜひ散策してみてほしい。 関連記事『吉祥寺でしかできない20のこと』
タイムアウト東京 > ショッピング＆スタイル >東京、アンティーク着物ショップ3選 最後に着物を着たのはいつだろうか。成人式、卒業式、結婚式、男性なら七五三という人も多いのでは。ユニクロやゾゾタウンに依存する人にとって、着物は最も縁遠い衣服の一つかもしれない。たしかに着物にはTPOや季節などに沿ったルールがあり、自分のサイズにあったものを新品で買おうとしたらとんでもない値段になることも事実だ。 しかし、このリストで紹介する3軒が扱う着物は、値段は平均1万円前後と手軽な上、デザインなども驚くほどモダンで、着る場面を想像したくなるようなものばかり。なぜなら全て中古だからだ。 一口に中古と言っても、明治〜昭和前期ころまでのものはアンティーク、それ以降のものを中古に分類される。大正時代に大流行した銘仙の着物にポップな柄の帯や足袋をあわせたり、いつもの洋服の上に羽織りを着たり、書生風にシャツと袴であわせたり。各店のスタッフやマネキンが着ている自由度の高いコーディネートを見れば、今までのイメージは一掃されるだろう。卒業式では定番の、袴にブーツが生まれたのは約100年前の大正時代。今風と古風の絶妙なかけあわせで生まれる「かわいい」にはまだまだ可能性があるような気はしまいか。個性豊かな3軒の門戸を叩いて、ディープな着物の世界を覗いてみてはいかがだろう。 関連記事：『東京、和風旅館13選』
Tokyo Q&A: Why does Tokyo... not have street names?
Were U2 singing about Tokyo all along? In this city, only a handful of the main thoroughfares and shopping streets have honorary street names, such as Meiji-dori and Takeshita-dori. Other than that, rather than having street names, we’ve given names to areas and assigned numbers to the districts or sections within them, which are then counted as ‘chome’. For example, Aoyama It-chome is thus Aoyama (District) 1. So when you’re looking at a map, you first need to find the area and then you can go searching within it. Theoretically it’s a lot faster than trying to figure out at what end of that long street number 98 is. Let’s take our office address for example: 5-9-9 Hiroo, Shibuya. First, identify the area (first number plus the area name), which in this case is Hiroo 5-chome. Then find the block, which is the second number in the address (9), and then the actual building, the third number (also 9). There may be a building name or number after that as well, if it's a particularly densely-populated area. Happy searching! Confusingly, the numbers within a block often follow the order in which they were built or the land was registered; so number 26 may just end up next to number 57. Let’s just say that the introduction of Google Maps was a lifesaver for locals and tourists.
Floor-by-floor guide to the Yayoi Kusama Museum
Officially opened on October 1, 2017, the world's first museum dedicated entirely to bewigged contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama hosts two exhibitions annually, focusing on Kusama's entire repertoire, including (as of the current run) those legendary red polka dots, her Infinity Mirror room/installation and of course, pumpkins. The museum is located in Shinjuku ward's Bentencho, close to Waseda University and upscale Kagurazaka. Yayoi Kusama's fame internationally has skyrocketed this year, thanks to a series of high-profile and widely acclaimed exhibitions that have taken the world by storm. And it all culminates with this: the opening of her namesake museum back in her home country and adopted hometown, set up and run by a foundation created by the artist herself. Here's what you can expect from one of Tokyo's most anticipated new openings this year, as well as from one of the most popular artists in the world today.
Hanami: how to enjoy the cherry blossom season like a Tokyoite
It’s that time of year again when peak blossom frenzy hits Japan. Although the weather may not always be perfect, the national pastime of sitting beneath a cherry tree and drinking the day away, known as 'hanami', is on everyone’s mind. Of course, doing so requires some preparation and etiquette. Plus, this year, many Tokyo parks are discouraging people from gathering in large groups – even outdoors. So be safe and take note of these things to watch out for. DO: COME PREPARED Hanami season is one of the busiest times to be outdoor, and getting to sit beneath a blossoming tree and admire the flowers (read: drink and be merry with friends and busy yourself with absolutely anything but the flowers) requires a bit of planning akin to going to a major outdoor festival. You want a good spot? Get there early. Some companies make the new recruits head out in the morning to nab a spot (this practice is known as basho-tori). You could find a friend crazy enough to do the same, or just head out early with a group. Bring a tarp; do as the locals do and get a blue one from Donki if you want to blend in, and a straw one for insulation. Have enough food and drinks to last you a while (the konbini around the corner will most certainly be sold out or have massive queues). You’ll also need an iron bladder – the queues for toilets in parks rival those for popular ramen joints at peak hours – and something noticeable to stand out (flowers, a sign, a tall person who stays standing) so latecomers
How to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies in Tokyo and Japan
Japan on the whole may be pretty safe in terms of crime, but unfortunately when it comes to natural disasters, it's not a case of if but when. Even a temporary visitor may have experienced a small earthquake or two, while long-term residents certainly will have had their fair share of ground-shaking episodes, not to mention the typhoons. Luckily, Tokyo often avoids most of the severe trembles, but it pays to be vigilant and prepared, considering many scientists predict a rather high change of the big one hitting our megalopolis in the next few decades. Here are some of the basics you need to know, including essential places for English-language emergency information. RECOMMENDED: Read our typhoon preparation guide here.
Best anago restaurants in Tokyo
Anago (saltwater conger eel) is the less-fatty, seafaring brother of the more well-known unagi, or freshwater eel. It’s also significantly less rare, with unagi hovering on the endangered species list for years, making anago a more regular menu item. As the fish is native to Tokyo Bay, it has made its way into local cuisine in various guises, enjoyed for its clean, delicate taste. Both anago tempura and simmered anago as a sushi topping are considered Tokyo specialities, but anago is also commonly served in preparations similar to unagi: either with a sweet-savoury kabayaki sauce, or in a plainly grilled style known as shirayaki. The bones (roasted and deep-fried for a cracker-like texture) and livers (grilled on a stick, known as kimoyaki) are prized bar snacks, while anago sashimi is slowly gaining popularity among those in the know. RECOMMENDED: 10 things you must eat in Tokyo
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有名なうどん屋慎の近くにあるカジュアルな醸造所兼ガストロパブ。ミニマルで洗練された空間は、新宿の喧噪（けんそう）から離れてくつろぐのにぴったりの場所だ。 クラフトビールを飲むなら、1階の醸造所があるパブに行こう。ここでは自家製ビールや、新潟のスワンレイクビールなど人気の国産ビールも扱っている。 腹が空いているなら、7階のビアキッチンへ。1階のパブと同じクラフトビールのラインアップに加え、洋風のフードメニューも提供している。
YYG Brewery & Beer Kitchen
Just down the road from the famed Shin Udon, this casual brewery/gastropub is a great place to wind down from the intensity of Shinjuku. The first floor brewery pub is where to go for a craft beer, or three: the changing line-up of beers includes house brews and domestic favourites such as Niigata's Swan Lake. Have them either inside at one of the small tables, or out at the relaxed terrace and watch the queue crawl along slowly at Shin. If you want something to nibble on with your beer, head to the seventh floor 'beer kitchen', which serves the same line-up of craft beers alongside a Western-inspired food menu. We like their whole-fried mushroom and the daily carpaccio, while the truffle salt fries, served with different sauces of your choice, are a hit with many customers too. The restaurant may be a bit more bustling during the week than the bar downstairs, but either is cosy enough to make for a good night out. Considering the monocromatic, sleek decor, it's a surprise that YYG won't set you back that much: beers go for ¥800-¥1000, most appetisers are around the ¥800 mark and mains are from ¥1000, with generous portions to boot, too. Unlike many other craft beer joints in Tokyo, YYG has a full English menu as well, making ordering a breeze for non-Japanese speakers. List this one under 'dependable boozer'.
Chef Tatsuya Ishiyama has over a decade of experience at Kagurazaka’s two-Michelin- starred Ren, so it makes sense that Arakicho Tatsuya feels like an establishment with a much longer history. But Ishiyama only opened this one-man operation in late 2017. Arakicho Tatsuya is a kaiseki restaurant at heart, with all the trimmings to prove it: austere counter, gorgeous crockery and of course, sublime and beautiful food made from premium ingredients minimally tweaked to bring out the best possible flavour. A taster: watershield surrounded by dashi- and soy- infused jelly, topped with squid sashimi soaked in egg yolk and shellfish. The flavours are gobsmacking. Yet there’s no stuffy formality here. Ishiyama takes pride in creating connections, both with his customers and his surroundings. His goal is to connect the customer with the vendor, by showcasing the best of Japan through his food. Although the menu is non-negotiable – vegetarians take note – the drink list leaves room to manoeuvre: there are no official 'pairings' here, only a long list of Japanese sake, shochu, whisky and wine, which Ishiyama will recommend based on your preferences.
シェフの石山竜也は、神楽坂の懐石料理店「石かわ」で3年、ミシュラン二つ星店の「蓮」で立ち上げから8年以上腕をふるった経験を持つ。開店が2017年とは思えない趣が漂っているのも、石山が持つ豊富な経験が要因なのかもしれない。飾り気のないカウンター、見事な器、そして極上の風味を引き出すべく最高級の素材にほんの少しだけ手を加えた、美しく気品ある料理。あらゆる断片から、同店の気品をうかがうことができる。 編集部が味わった料理は、だしと醤油のゼリーに封じ込められたジュンサイ、卵黄の中にイカの刺身をひたしたもの、そして貝。すべてが度肝を抜かれる味わいだった。それでも、ここには形式ばった堅苦しさは少しもない。石山は、生産者と彼の客とを繋ぐことに注力しており、彼の料理を通して客に日本の最良のものを紹介しているのだ。 メニューに関しては交渉は難しいが（ベジタリアンの方々は覚えておいてほしい）、ドリンク類に関しては相談できる。公式のペアリングはなく、日本酒、焼酎、ウィスキー、ワインの豊富なリストから客の好みに応じて、石山が選んでくれる。
Meguro Sushi Taichi
A 10-odd minute walk from Yutenji Station, Meguro Sushi Taichi was awarded Bib Gourmand status in 2018. It's slap-bang in the middle of a residential area: just when you start thinking 'this can't be right', the traditional sushi specialist finally appears halfway down a quiet road. For lunch, they serve barachirashi (scattered sushi) to 12 diners daily. If you want anything else, you'll have to order their alternative set menu (¥3,250) three days in advance; unless you really, really want nigiri, stick to the barachirashi. If you manage to be one of the lucky diners, the set is a steal: a big bowl of barachirashi, a sizeable chawanmushi, miso soup, and even a little dessert are all included in the ¥1,000 price tag. The barachirashi comes with a daily changing selection of chopped sashimi, plus the usual diced omelette, shredded nori and refreshing bits of cucumber. Unlike other places, you'll get both a spoon and chopsticks to use: not because you're a foreigner, simply because that's how things are done at Sushi Taichi. Dig in, and have a little bit of everything in one bite. The pre-seasoned fish, the rice, and all the other trimmings come together beautifully, with nothing too salty or too tart. Besides the sushi, the chawanmushi a highlight – ours had some perfectly steamed gingko nuts at the bottom rather than the customary bits of seafood. The final act, a one-bite dessert (a chilled matcha cake in our case), is a nice sweet touch. Sushi Taichi's interior, with it
This Bib Gourmand-tipped chicken specialist in Suehirocho does a stellar job at presenting the best of the bird in a myriad of ways. The small restaurant, with its wooden interior and simple seating, looks like it could have been a simple ramen joint in another life. That belies the quality and price level of dishes served here: a dinner easily sets you back upwards of ¥10,000 a head. For that, you'll be getting a whole lot of good chicken. For those with less cash to splash, Shizendo's lunch options offer an introduction on the magic they can work with chicken in various guises. On the menu is oyakodon, served up in six different varieties, starting from ¥1,100. Be prepared to queue. If you really want to get a feel just how good Shizendo is with chicken, you can splurge on their specials, available to 20 diners only every day: the tokujo (extra special) oyakodon (¥1,800) and the tokujo motsu-iri oyakodon (oyakodon with giblets, ¥2,100), both made with premium rice, premium eggs and of course, premium chicken. The eggs are barely set, and the bright-orange yolk mixes in with the remaining broth to coat the rice perfectly; it's almost sensual. The pieces of chicken, which are just cooked through in the mirin-based broth, still manage to keep their own against the eggs. The end result is immensely satisfying, just as you'd expect from a bowl of chicken and egg.
Tokyo Q&A: Why are there no rubbish bins on the streets in Tokyo?
There isn’t one main reason why our fair city has so few places to dump your trash – rather, it’s a culmination of factors. Our stringent recycling system (combustibles, non-combustibles, cans, PET bottles, plastics...) means that we wouldn’t just need a bin here or there; we would need bins for all different types of waste, and pray that people actually use them properly. Moreover, the different types of waste are collected on different days of the week depending on where you live, plus the waste classification system itself may differ ward to ward. Who knew waste disposal could be so complex. Other than that, as in other big cities, a number of bins in public places were removed after the 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo Metro to lessen their possible use in terrorist attacks. So for now, do as Tokyoites do and just carry your rubbish with you until you can dispose of it properly at home. Whatever you do, don’t drop it on the floor – Tokyoites are proud of the city’s litter-free streets. If you really, really can't wait to get rid of your trash, try a convenience store, but don't go too crazy. Most stores will have a sign asking you to refrain from dumping your home waste. So to make their life easier, keep it to a minimum, and of course, sort it properly for some extra good tourist points. This article was published on April 19 2018 and updated on December 15 2023.
How to use a Japanese toilet – an etiquette guide
Ah, the Japanese toilet, that most perfect of inventions. Stars of many a ‘should I?’ Instagram post, our high-tech washlets are a cut above. But that doesn’t mean doing your business is without its pitfalls – here is how to go when you have to go. Don't: Assume where the flush is You’ve done your business, and you’re all ready to flush – except there’s no lever at the side or behind the toilet. What to do? Look out for a panel on the wall or on the side of the toilet seat. There should be two buttons, labelled 小 (small) and 大 (big), possibly at the top of the panel. We’ll let you decide which one you need, but simply press either of those to flush it all away. Do: Dare to experiment That panel we mentioned? It usually comes with a whole list of extra functions that will make your nether end sparkle. Need a clean? Press おしり (oshiri, bum) for a jet stream of water right where it’s needed. Women, if you’d like the front cleaned, ビデ (bidet – they obviously missed out on the proper French use here) is the answer. やわらか (yawaraka) will give you a more ‘gentle’ cleanse. More advanced toilets might offer the options 水勢 (suisei, water pressure) and 位置 (ichi, position). To adjust, just press the corresponding arrows, or make the light move towards either 低 / 弱 (low/weak) or 高 / 強 (high/strong). If you’ve finished washing or accidentally pressed the wrong button, hit abort with 止 (stop). Who knew you’d need a manual for a toilet? DO: Add sound effects for extra privacy Want to avoid the
How to visit a temple or shrine like a Tokyoite
Shinto and Buddhism have generally coexisted happily in Japan for centuries but to the uninitiated it can be difficult to tell your shrines from your temples. Architecture helps. See a torii (two vertical pillars and a crossbeam)? It’s a Shinto shrine (jinja). See a grand, majestic gate with doors? Think Buddhist temple (tera). Shrines tend to be open-air, while temples have buildings you can enter (after taking off your shoes, of course). Here are some other basic things to know to avoid a spiritual faux pas. Photo: Peter Austin/DreamstimeTorii gates at Nezu Shrine in Yanaka Temples and shrines DO: THANK THE DEITIES Visiting a religious site in Japan is similar to entering someone’s house: don’t forget to thank your host first. At a shrine, this means bowing to the kami (deities), while over at the temples, buddhas are in charge. A bow-pray-bow routine is customary at both: at a shrine, you throw in a small coin offering, bow twice, clap twice, pray and bow once again. At a temple, however, you start by offering incense before bowing and praying. Don’t clap at a temple – that’s shrine-speak to signal the kami. DO: CHOOSE YOUR PLACE There’s a different Tokyo temple or shrine for almost anything you might need, from finding love and passing your exams to avoiding a car or plane crash. Many of these also sell nifty omamori amulets thought to give you an even better chance of realising whatever goal you’re aiming for – whether it be a debt-free life, a promotion or just prote
Tokyo Q&A: Why does Tokyo have a Statue of Liberty?
Shocking to most Americans, Tokyo’s small Statue of Liberty has little to do with the U S of A. NYC’s Lady Liberty was given to the city by France way back in 1886, while Tokyo’s own version was temporarily moved from its home at Paris’ Île aux Cygnes to Odaiba in 1998 to commemorate Franco-Japanese ties for a year. It turned out to be so popular that they decided to erect a new replica on Odaiba in 2000. Combined with the backdrop of the Rainbow Bridge, it has been the ultimate photo spot ever since. Its positioning also makes it a perfect optical illusion: many people think the Tokyo version is just as large as NYC's, but get up close and things will suddenly seem a whole lot smaller. Our Lady stands a mere 12.25m tall, compared to New York's 93m (46m for the copper bits alone). What's more, this statue isn't Japan’s only one. At least two more exist (one in Shimoda, one in Osaka), though neither command views as impressive as those afforded Tokyo’s lucky Lady. This post was originally published on May 1 2018 and updated on May 14 2021. More from Time Out Tokyo Tokyo Q&A: Why is fruit so expensive in Japan? Tokyo Q&A: Is Tokyo tap water safe to drink? 9 things you didn’t know about the Shiba Inu, Japan’s native dog breed 10 things you didn't know were invented in Japan 30 interesting trivia and fun facts about Japanese food you didn't know Want to be the first to know what’s cool in Tokyo? Sign up to our newsletter for the latest updates from Tokyo and Japan.
Tokyo Q&A: Why is there a catfish on roadside signs?
You may have spotted a rather exaggerated image of a catfish on some of the signs hanging over the main roads. They are there to warn that these highways will be closed in the event of a major earthquake. The catfish wasn’t chosen at random: in Japanese mythology, a giant catfish, Namazu, is believed to live under Japan and cause the earth to move when it trounces. Some say that it starts thrashing when it senses multiple smaller tremors with its ultra-sensitive whiskers (much like actual catfish, apparently), making it a much-used image for earthquake prevention apps, such as Yurekuru and more. The Japan Meteorological Agency, who sends out information based on the earthquake early warning system, is an exception to the rule – we'd like to suggest a cute little fluffy Namazu mascot to drive the point home. In pop culture, Namazu was the inspiration behind the Pokemon character Whiscash. This blue catfish lookalike was originally named Namazun, and in its Pokedex description, Whiscash is said to trigger a massive earthquake whenever an enemy gets too close. As for the main roads being closed after a big earthquake, it might sound counter-intuitive, but it's actually quite pertinent: the emergency services need to be able to get through, so to prevent gridlock on main traffic arteries, the catfish guards over them. Pretty smart. For more information on what to do in the case of a natural disaster, check out our Tokyo disaster survival guide.
The basic dos and don'ts for tourists in Tokyo
Have you been living in Tokyo for some time but have yet to master the nuances of Japanese etiquette? Or are you just visiting as a tourist, oblivious to local social norms? Here are some basic courtesy rules that bear repeating and will help you not to stand out for the wrong reasons... DON'T: TALK LOUDLY OR MAKE CALLS ON TRAINS We all have those moments when we’re very excited and feel the need to broadcast this to the world. A crowded train in Tokyo, however, is not the place to do so. Both talking on the phone and loud conversations on trains are rather frowned upon in this city where commuters like to be able to travel in peace. If you get a phone call, either decline the call and buzz them back once you’re off the train, or pick up and quickly, quietly, let them know you can’t talk at the moment. The only exception to this rule is the last train home on weekends, when the average rider is so sloshed that all inhibitions are lost and almost anything goes. DO: BE ON TIME – MEANING, EARLY The Japanese like to be punctual. It’s the main reason our transport system runs like clockwork (in 2017 a train operator apologised profusely for a train leaving 20 seconds early), and in any other situation the same principle holds. The additional piece of information you need, however, is that being ‘on time’ when it comes to work or official situations in Japan means being 15 minutes early. Reset your clock if you need to be tricked into doing so; your coworkers or clients will ap
Fukubukuro 101: a basic guide to the lucky bag
Once you've survived devouring a bucket of KFC for Christmas, eating your fill of osechi and perhaps braving the crush of people at a temple in the middle of the night on January 1, it's time to get into that other important Japanese New Year's tradition: getting your hands on a fukubukuro, or lucky bag. No idea what we're on about? Here's your one-stop Fukubukuro 101. What is it? Fukubukuro (福袋, fuku means luck, fukuro – conjugated into bukuro – means bag) are sealed bags sold for a set price at shops across the country, from Starbucks to Isetan and Kinokuniya, around New Year's. They contain a variety of goodies from the store's lineup, and usually the contents of the bag would be anywhere from slightly to significantly more expensive if you were to buy each item separately. In recent years, the fukubukuro craze has spread beyond traditional retailers and concepts to a number of fancy restaurants, who fill the bags with their specialities in frozen, dried or vacuum-packed form, and 'experience' fukubukuro, which contain concert tickets or the like. History The tradition's origins are usually traced back to a number of different stories, all of which start at some department store. One legend has it that the first fukubukuro was packed at Echigoya, the predecessor of Mitsukoshi, who started selling them in the Edo era (although Daimaru's predecessor is also laying claim to the same title). Another tale suggests that the lucky bags were invented by the predecessor of Matsuya
How to get tickets for the Yayoi Kusama Museum
UPDATE (Dec 14, 2017): The number of tickets per slot will increase from 50 to 70 from January 2018. Ever since the news broke of Yayoi Kusama opening her own museum, the question on everyone's lips has been how to actually nab tickets for the place. The short answer? Blood, sweat, tears, and impeccable timing. The museum may have opened on October 1, but getting tickets has been nigh impossible so far – they're currently sold out until December. If you are going to attempt to get some, here are a few things to keep in mind: - The museum is only open from Thursdays to Sundays, plus national holidays - There are six time slots per day, all for 90-minute sessions (11am, 12noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm) - 50 tickets are allocated per slot. Price: Adults, ¥1,000; children aged 6 to 18, ¥600; children under 6 years old, free. - Tickets go on sale on the first day of each month, for dates in the month after next, at 10am sharp Tokyo time through the museum's official ticketing website. That means that January 2018 tickets will go on sale on November 1, those for February 2018 on December 1 and so on. So far, tickets for each month have sold out within 15 minutes, so this is not an exercise for the faint of heart. Tickets are ¥1,000 for adults and ¥600 for kids aged 6-18, with children under the age of six entering for free. May the odds ever be in your favour, and if you do manage to get tickets and snap a few choice shots while at the museum, tag us on Instagram with #timeouttoky
Explore Japan's music scene with the made-for-TV concert Songs of Tokyo this November
Started last year, Songs of Tokyo is an annual fest to showcase the best of Japan's music scene to the world, from quintessential J-Pop to old-school favourites and everything in between. The show is broadcast across the world, making it easier for international viewers to get a taste of what's hot in Japan's music scene right now. Alexandros This year sees the show split into two distinct sections, with a line-up of three bands who are all known for their anime soundtracks followed by the likes of rock band Alexandros and the eternal youthfulness of News. Garnidelia On the anime front, Eir Aoi, Garnidelia, and Hiroyuki Sawano (pictured top) – as SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] – all make an appearance. Sawano in particular is the ultimate crowd pleaser, and will be playing some of his hit songs that were used as title songs for popular anime. Keyakizaka46 The anime-themed set is followed by some of Japan’s biggest pop stars who have also caught attention of audiences abroad. That includes Keyakizaka46, who are praised for their intricate dances, during which the members run around the stage in mind-boggling formations without ever crashing into each other. Alexandros Another highlight is Alexandros, who have benefitted from their six-month recording session in New York: they’ve brought back renewed power and stage presence, making their performance more riveting than ever. The cherry on the cake is News. This boy band is one of the biggest things after SMAP, and they’ve
Best artworks and installations to see at Designart Tokyo
One year and a subtle rebranding later, Designart Tokyo (formerly Designart) is back for round two. Started by a collective of established Tokyo-based creatives, including Shun Kawakami, Astrid Klein, Mark Dytham and Akio Aoki, the ten-day festival takes over the city and turns it into a veritable museum, with an eclectic range of 110+ exhibitions and installations which straddle the axis of art and design – all of which are for sale too. Walk around Omotesando, Aoyama, Roppongi or Daikanyama anytime until October 28, and you're likely to bump into one of Designart's pieces, which have been incorporated into retail spaces, office buildings and galleries. Keisuke Tanigawa 2021# Tokyo Scope The festival purposely doesn't have a real 'hub' to speak of, but one of their larger pieces is inside Minami-Aoyama's Avex office building. Designed by Yuko Nagayama and Akira Fujimoto, '2021# Tokyo Scope' is a huge, silvery balloon inflated inside the atrium, which acts as a statement on what Tokyo could be like post-Olympics. The installation includes a physical red line drawn from the site of the old Olympic Stadium all the way past Roppongi Hills towards Toyosu, literally connecting the past and the future. Keisuke Tanigawa Site-specific installations Besides office buildings, there's plenty to see in a range of shops and galleries, including the window of Canada Goose (pictured above), Restir's courtyard (below) and the Axis building (top image). It's worth downloading their (pai
我々日本人は美食家ということで知られているかもしれないが、東京にはオリジナリティあふれるバーを持つ、素晴らしいバーテンダーが多く存在する。イギリスのウィリアム リード メディア グループが主催する「世界のベストバー50」に、東京の愛すべき2つのバーが、前回に引き続き今年もランクインした。 ランキング常連のバー ハイ ファイブ（Bar High Five）は、13位から12位に1つランクを上げた。 銀座にある同店舗は、都内指折りのバーとされ、今年開店10周年を迎える。オーナーの上野秀嗣（うえの ひでつぐ）は、かつてスタア バー（Star Bar）で活躍していた。メニューというほどのものはなく、上野は客に好みを尋ね、それに合ったカクテルを提供する。いずれも客の舌にピッタリなカクテルに仕上げている。 伝説的な『ホワイトレディー』や黒い『ネグローニ』を頼むのもいいだろう。これはカンパリの代わりに、ビター系ハーブリキュールのフェルネット ブランカを使った一杯。 我々のお気に入りの一つ、バー ベンフィディック（Bar Benfiddich）も栄えある49位に選ばれた。初めてリスト入りした昨年の37位からは順位を落とした。 特徴的なのはバーテンダー鹿山博康（かやま ひろやす）が使う自家栽培のハーブリキュールやインフュージョンで、それを目当てに来店する客が後を絶たない。 「世界のベストバー50」では、伝統的なカクテルトレーニングで培われたカクテルさばきを土台とした、鹿山のカクテルに対する新たな試みを称えている。 ランクインしたバーのみなさん、おめでとう！ 関連記事『東京、ベストバー100選』
Don't miss these three teamLab exhibitions outside of Tokyo
Known for their digital 'artworks' which act as the backdrop to every second Tokyoite's profile pic, teamLab have certainly put their stamp on Tokyo, with two museums having opened this year: teamLab Borderless and teamLab Planets. At peak times, however, the museums can descend into a mess of queuing for the most popular installations. Luckily, if you're planning to have a little getaway away from Tokyo, teamLab also offer plenty of immersive and interactive exhibitions both permanent and temporary across the country. Beat the Tokyo crowds and teamLab-ify your trip through Japan at these exhibitions. Photo: teamLab Mifuneyama Rakuen Hotel & Park, Takeo, Saga The lobby at this mountain-resort hotel in northwestern Kyushu has been permanently transformed into a sea of light bulbs that resonate with proximity. On top of that, part of Mifuneyama Rakuen Park has become the set for ‘A Forest Where Gods Live’ until October 28 this year. Natural phenomena such as ponds, rocks and waterfalls are all projected with nature-inspired imagery, which as always, are interactive. ‘A Forest Where Gods Live’, until Oct 28. Adults ¥1,200, junior high school & high school students ¥800, 12 year-olds & under, FREE entry. Photo: teamLab Tokushima Bunkanomori Park, Tokushima, Shikoku These ‘resonating trees’ change colour when you walk past them, and emit a specific tone, which is different for every tree. They made an appearance in Ginza this summer, so if you missed them, head straight to Tok