Tag Archive: Japan

Tokyo Tops!

Going back to Tokyo this June, WOOOOOOOOOOOO, so to celebrate, here’s a collection of top places to visit in Tokyo, by myself and friends. Some, you will have heard of, some (hopefully) you will have not….any suggestions, please comment!!

Ameyoko, Ueno

1. Ueno

Although best known for it’s fabulous park, Ueno is quite the lively place. It’s nice to get away from the typical sky scraper, crazy lifestyle Tokyo is so famous for, and personally, Ueno always feels like I’m actually living in the city.

Pictured left is Ameyoko, a FANTASTIC little area that I recommend to everyone. It’s one of the few true markets left in Tokyo, where you can find anything and everything.

There’s also a zoo, a motocyle district and my personal fav, Tokyo National Museum.

The building is MAGNIFICENT. Anyway. Visit. Pls. 🙂

Nakano Broadway

2. Nakano Broadway and the Ghibli Museum

OK, I kinda cheated and put these two together. Mainly because everyone I know, does them in the same day. They’re both really close to each other, and anime related!!

If you’re taking Children to Tokyo (good luck 🙂 ) Ghibli Museum is a definite, also if you love the wonderful films they produce, or even if you’re just interested in seeing a different side to the Tokyo Anime scene. Ghibli Museum -it’s suprisingly cheap but you do need to buy well in advance. Do check it out.
Nakano Broadway is a slightly underrated anime or just shopping destination! But all my friends love it. It’s got several Mandarake shops, and stocks cosplay items and some fantastic (and rare) retro goods. Check it out here.

Akihabara Main street

3. Akihabara (The obvious choice!)

The mecca of all things anime/electronic/cosplay/manga/crazy stuff. If you haven’t heard of it…well OK you might not be into Anime. Anyways. Constantly evolving, there’s now a new J-list shop and finally a proper Mandarake. If you come out of the Akiba (short for Akihabara), Electric Town exit off the metro, you’ll bump straight into the wonderful Kotobukiya shop. Don’t forget to visit that Samurai Maid Café.

There’s also the hundreds of electrical goods shops, from cameras to computers to speakers shaped like Lego bricks. With plenty of duty free shops-just take your passport!

Myself and friends at-Kaminarimon Gate

4. Asakusa

This June I’m lucky enough to be staying in a lovely Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn) near the beautiful Asakusa. Considered a must see destination by pretty much all tourists, this is a fantastic introduction to an “old Japan” that is still very much important to the every-day Japanese.
Google Images for all you lazy people out there. The Buddhist temple is fantastic, with a walkway of trees and lovely little (if slightly overpriced) stalls that are perfect for souvenirs. Oh, and a great Totoro shop on the corner 🙂 A lot of people don’t realise that there’s a whole other area to the temple too, (search for asakusa maps, or get one at the temple), with koi ponds and then it leads onto an old-style theme park and fantastic side roads.

I’ve been EVERY time I go, that’s how much I love it.

Takeshita Dori

5. Harajuku

A definite. I refuse to believe you have seen Tokyo if you don’t go here. Go. Infact, go now. Now. WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE!?!?!

The area best known for it’s fashion, and if you visit on a Sunday afternoon (definitely the best time, though not the only), you’ll be treated to a crazy amount of people in even crazier clothes. See this book for some brilliant photos of Harajuku fashion. It’s a truly vibrant, mad place. With everything from vintage to Lolita to punk to trendy, there will definitely be a shop for your tastes. OH and I found an awesome school uniform shop off on one of the side roads 🙂

Make sure you continue all the way down the main road, and out onto where H&M is. There’s a brilliant caramel café that’s well known –Hanabatake Bokujo Cafe where the Caramel milk is divine, as well as suprisingly cheap second hand shops. Though obviously, beware of how small Japanese sizes are.

ALSO-nearby is Meiji Jingu shrine (awesomely beautiful and a lovely chance to get away from the hustle and bussle).

Hamarikyu tea

6.  Hamarikyu Gardens

For more detail, see the Tokyo Parks site , but this has become my favourite place in Tokyo. If travelling from Asakusa to Odaiba, or you want to get to Odaiba, the boats stop at Hamarikyu and use this as a great way to hop from place to place. Although I could easily spend a day in this beautiful, edo style garden, a few hours could easily do you. There is an admission charge, but it wasn’t expensive.

Most people hate the tea and sweets you get from the tea ceremony, and so avoid it, but the tea house at the centre of these gardens serve a lovely (not too bitter) tea with wagashi (trad. sweets) along with an ENGLISH explanation of what to do. Also, there’s a nice lil pier-type-area to look over the ponds. It’s only 500 yen, DO IT!

Shibuya Crossing

7. Shibuya

A complete contrast to Hamarikyu, Shibuya is another obvious stop-off on everyone’s Tokyo Travel list! Or atleast, it should be.

The crossing is very famous, and is unbelievable during early evenings, where just thousands of people can cross in the space of SECONDS (well maybe not seconds)……..and there’s a good view point higher up in Shibuya Station.

There’s also the well-known Hachiko statue where people meet up, read the story behind it here . I think it’s now a Hollywood-Richard Gere film!

Urrrm oh, brilliant 900000 storey (or summat) building with CDs, DVDs, Manga, and at the very top is my favourite magazine store. Check it oouutt.

Yoyogi Park

8. Yoyogi Park

Although close to Harajuku and the Meiji shrine, this large park certainly deserves it’s own mention. Especially on Sundays, Yoyogi is a fantastic, eccentric and wonderful place to visit, with people busking, dancing, singing and just generally doing whatever they want to. Friends tell me the live performances have dried up recently-since Japan introduced licensing-but it’s still got the atmosphere.

I actually first heard about it for it’s large homeless camps, but they are quiet and you don’t tend to find any problems.

The people here are really friendly, and friends say they always end up having a chat with someone random. Oh, I also remember there being dog runs, which is rare in Tokyo, dogs are usually not allowed off the leash.

Eeerm, OK not much to say about the park, but do give it a visit if you want a slow walk for a few hours, absorbing the lively feeling.


9. Odaiba

Everyone I know says they love Odaiba, and it has become quite a popular tourist destination. I would recommend getting the boat there, because you get to see the wonderful Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay, although there are other ways to get there!

Museums, theme parks, entertainment and shopping-this place literally has everything! The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is wroth a visit if you enjoy all things modern, and you can find the famous robot ‘Asimo’. Don’t forgot Oedo Onsen Monogatari, I’ve never managed to visit but it has great reviews, especially if it’s your first time in a hot spring.

FOR MORE- check out JapanGuide for better detail than I can give here.

The lights of Ikebukuro

10. Ikebukuro

This June will be my first visit, hence it not being very high on the list-I’m going on information from everyone else! This mini article is a good describition of the area- CLICKIE . Sunshine 60 is one of the best places to get a view of Tokyo (I always found the Tokyo Tower uninspiring for it’s price) and it has an aquarium, the department stores are varied and very different to our own, it has a massive car showroom of funky mobiles,  oh and a musical instruments museum!!

My friends all say Ikebukuro was one of their favourite places, it’s not as horridly busy as Shibuya, but it has a more friendly, medium-city-like feel. If you’ve seen Durarara, you’ll get what I mean. There’s always something mad to find here, just go and explore.

EDIT: I completely forgot about the Animate here! It’s a massive 9 story building with some great merch and the usual manga/anime collection. I recently heard Ikebukuro described as the female Akihabara, so have a look around 🙂

Other places of note: Roppongi, Kamakura (short day trip from Tokyo), Omotesando Hills, Ochanomizu (for guitars!!) Jinbocho (used books), Tokyo Metropolitan Building, Tokyo Tower.

Hope this helps, any questions on places to visit within these places, just comment. I’m certainly not the law on all things Tokyo, but I enjoy the city and hope to help in any way!


My First Cosplay~

I first cosplayed some years ago now, back in….gosh….2006. For the MCM Midlands Expo, I bought the top, then made the rest, for a Suigintou cosplay.

Emo shot xD

Suigintou is the ‘baddy’ character from Rozen Maiden….an anime series I actually thought was as boring as it’s main character, a dirty little-black-haired-nasty-to-his-sister-knob called Jun….(sorry fans). BUT Suigintou really caught my imagination, and was a nice addition to a sea of…well…dolls. It is a shame…the idea behind the anime is quite cool… ANYWAY!!!!

These photos were taken January 2010….’cause it was snowing!! AND I LOVE SNOW. SNOW SNOW SNOW 🙂

I did however, manage to fall over just before this shot…and I was SO COLD I thought my butt was gonna turn to ice.

My Nanny helped me make the wings, and I made the petticoat for underneath, as well as socks, and added the exciting white sleeves. I’m crap at sewing, and can’t afford ready made ones….so for May Expo I will likely cosplay with something I already have. 🙂 Comments and advice would be appreciated!!

Ever heard of SOAS? Didn’t think so.  I love my university, but hellfire I get the whole “Oh….what?” all the time. It stands for the School of Oriental and African Studies, and is…well….pretty good for anything Asia/Africa related. But  did you know, that the one and only mirai.fm owner, Mr Danny Choo is in fact an alumnus of said uni?

Hell yeah.

So, on a sunny Tuesday 13th April, Mr Choo paid us a visit…I actually dragged myself out of an Easter holiday-procrastination-oversleeping slump to attend his talk. If you don’t know who he is…SHAME ON YOU.  And then go visit DC …he is the god of all that is blogging. Oh and then go watch him dance… Tokyo Trooper


So, back to the event at hand.Danny’s talk was definitely worth going to, especially for me as a student of Japanese. Introduced by my History lecturer, Dr Angus Lockyer, who heads up the Japan Research Centre,  Danny began with his childhood. Growing up in Hackney,  his sega megadrive (SCORE!), his starting to watch anime and wanting to play more Japanese games…and so it followed that Danny started learning the language. I bet that’s the route a lot of you guys have taken?

I’ve gotta say, I was impressed at his dedication. Danny claims his love for a J-pop idol made him more determined to learn Japanese, and he gave a few interesting tips for us learners…

  • Danny recorded the audio from anime and played it back on his mp3, while walking/on buses etc.
  • He translated j-pop songs that he really liked (something I’ve heard many people do).
  • And most importantly in my opinion, the creation of Kanji charts and then putting them all over the house, especially in the toilet.

I would definitely recommend the last point, putting up grammar points on the side of the shower was certainly the key to my success at Japanese AS Level 😀 (If you can call it success >_>;)

Technical problems during the presentation...

Danny also put a lot of effort into getting jobs that would give him a chance to practice his language skills.

From a Japanese restaurant (where he met his lovely wife), onto JAL at Heathrow (Japan Airlines), and it must’ve worked as he graduated SOAS with First Class Honours….

*realises she should get her butt in gear if she wants to do the same….*

ALAS Danny Choo just wanted to live and work in Japan. He called it his “Destination”, and finally got a position with a magazine in Japan, thanks to his skills with the web, and then after that worked for Amazon.jp, also with their website.

  • One thing he also mentioned here, was that if you’re nay too keen on being an English teacher in Japan, a key thing to getting a job out there, is developing other important skills-NOT just language.

ALAS (I really like that word), he still wasn’t doing what he wanted to do. And he made a poignant, if slightly clichéd, speech about how little time we all have, how we should do what we truly love, and enjoy it. It certainly struck a chord with the audience though, and made me wanna go home and do my homework.

*Disclaimer: She did not actually go home and do her homework. But the thought was there.*

And thus Mirai (meaning future in Japanese), was formed. And the famous dannychoo.com. It’s user based content of blog-style posts vary from life in Japan, to anime, to figures, to Ball Jointed Dolls. A lovely example of which can be seen to the right, some of the audience brought their “daughters” with them.

Danny briefly spoke on the success of his business, all the Mirai related merchandise, TV appearances and now an in-the-making Anime. apparently showing all of us, that putting in enough effort will get you somewhere.

Not telling you where I am.

A lot of people turned up, and it was a good night, with a few hours for networking (or rather in practice for myself and friend….going really red and asking for photos with the Choo-ster). I would definitely advise checking out Danny’s website, a friend of mine can’t stand anime but she still reads it for the interesting insights into Japanese culture.

So, in the words of Danny himself….Lovely Jubbly.