Posts Tagged ‘japan’
Tokyo’s comedy scene may not be as booming as that of other major cities, but don’t let that deter you from finding some English comic relief. Within Tokyo’s growing international community there are some devout English-speaking comedians plying their trade in the city’s pubs and passing on their knowledge to those who are looking for a foot in the door of Tokyo’s comedy world.
Finding English books keeps getting easier. Of course there’s Amazon which, with their “buy over ￥1,500, get it shipped free” policy, is perfect for ordering a specific title or late-night Internet shopping. But what if you want to browse the shelves a bit? Adjacent to Shinjuku Takashimaya, Kinokuniya carries a large selection of language, fiction and non-fiction books. Aoyama Book Center on Aoyama Dori offers eclectic art and design books. The same store operates ABC Outlet Roppongi with an impressive (for Japan) collection of discount English fiction, cook books, coffee-table books and children’s books. Another place to check out is Tokyo Random Walk in Akasaka, where bins of discounted coffee table books and calendars often line the sidewalk.
By Emily Devan
Whether it’s the bouncy beat of a pop song, the grinding guitars of rock or the sweetly, sad vocals of a ballad, nothing releases the stress of life in the big city like a little live music. And, like all big cities, Tokyo has plenty to offer. The real problem is where to start. Here are five good bets.
Buried in the backstreets of Shibuya, finding O can be a bit of a chore, but once there, finding something worth listening to is easy. The reason: O is not one hall but a complex of four. From tiny, bar-like O-Nest, to O-East, whose wide stage and tiered floor make even 1,100-person events intimate, O has all it’s bases covered. The acts are equally diverse. On same night, one might see a punk act ravaging O-Crest, whose low stage and 200-person capacity make it perfect for such mayhem, while a young songbird sings her heart out in O-West. Although most of the acts are Japanese, foreign musicians have been known to make appearances as well. To further sweeten the deal, the entire complex was redone in 2003 so the sound, lighting and amenities are all modern. The O is definitely worth the search.
By Bryan Harrell
Beer Gardens have been a summer tradition in Tokyo, where large groups of people sit at long tables outdoors, hoisting mugs of yellow suds and picking on green soybeans and fried chicken nuggets.
In recent years, though, beer gardens have declined in popularity for a number of reasons. Rooftops of large buildings have now been largely taken over by all manner of equipment, from huge air conditioning units to scaffolding for large signs. Keeping a roof free and clear just for the operation of a beer garden for a few months in the summer is not economical these days. Also, escalating land prices during the bubble years wiped out a lot of great classic places, most notably the 2005 closing of Hanezawa Garden in Hiroo, a sprawling estate of greenery that once offered Tokyo’s best outdoor beer experience.
Perhaps the most significant reason is that beer gardens are, well, just plain old fashioned these days. Back when air conditioning was a luxury, spending a summer evening atop a building, bathed in breeze, was actually more refreshing than huddling in a stifling six mat room with the fan going full blast. For most Japanese, beer gardens recall the Showa Era, which ended almost 20 years ago.
In another 20 years, beer gardens are likely to become extinct. So while there is still time, pack yourself off to a beer garden some evening for a real retro-Japan experience. From the classic 1930s Kudan Kaikan, to the sleek and modern TY Harbor Brewery, you’re bound to find a beer place that fits the bill.
Here are a few suggestions…
By Nina Kahori Fallenbaum
If you’ve ever been trampled by a bag-toting obaachan in Shinjuku station as she runs for the last train (why she’s out shopping at 12:30 a.m., I have never understood), the concept of “slow life” in frenetic Tokyo probably is borderline comical. But LOHAS (“Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability”) has taken hold of Japan like the plague, and its now teetering between a serious subculture and just another boomu, or trend.
The term was first introduced to Japan in 2002 when sociologist Paul Ray, Ph.D. was invited to introduced his concept of “the Cultural Creatives” at a Tokyo symposium. In his book of the same title, he describes a growing sector of society that is interested in health, the environment, and spirituality, against wanton consumerism and waste, but willing to spend top dollar (or yen) on products that are high-quality and not harmful to the Earth. Co-written with his wife Sherry Ruth Anderson, Ph.D., the book was the first to explain why natural-food and cosmetics companies were posting record profits all over the U.S. and Europe, and how companies could better court these “green consumers.”
It’s the big day that every girl dreams about: Her wedding day. Here in Japan there is no expense spared. The Japanese wedding business is booming, with an industry estimated at a whopping 2 trillion yen in revenue a year. There are a variety of ways in which the Japanese like to celebrate that special day and you can too.