Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

This weekend in Tokyo

It’s brrr cold, so let’s slow down a notch from all the end-of-year partying, and breathe…

+ If you’re craving for a hot cocktail, you should head to Bar Radio for a warm, civilized drink in an old school classy bar. 3-10-34 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo; 03-3402-2668; Opening hours: 1800 – 0100.

+ Cooking is therapy. Broaden your skills at hot culinary school of the moment — ABC Cooking Studio. Food and kitchen vocabulary in nihongo are easy enough so take the plunge and try learning how to conjure homey alchemy in a foreign language.

+ Feel like you overindulged during the festive season? Mosie over to Eat More Greens in Azabu Juban for a healthy vegetarian meal that actually tastes good, even for meat-lovers. 2-2-5 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku, 03-3798-3191.

+ Stay home this Sunday, Jan 11, and space out to a couple of awesome fantasy flicks, Eragon (1330 on Channel W, also known as WOWOW) and Beowulf (1530 on the same channel).

+ If you’re plain scared of getting a bad haircut because of mis-communicating in broken Japanese, you can allay such fears at Who Ga New York in Akasaka where the good people there give great service in perfect eigo. Call 03-5575-0855 to book an appointment.

Photo: sashimigRaphy

Tokyo Motor Show 2007 – The Girls

Tokyo Motor Show 2007 - The Girls
Following on from yesterday’s post, now it’s time for the photos you really wanted to see: the Girls of the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.

Sakura – Hanami

Any updates on when is going to be the peak time for viewing Cherry Blossom in Tokyo?

Last month’s official forecast was for March 25-April 3, a good week or two earlier than average (global warming?), but I haven’t seen any more recent forecasts; plus it turned cold today.
I have Hanami parties planned for March 24 & 31.

These are the Sakura maps that I found so far.

Odaiba Beach

Odaiba Beach
It’s not quite the Copacabana, but we do have a beach in Tokyo.
It’s in the Odaiba area and offers great views back over to central Tokyo.

Ueno Zoo

I was all over the place on Saturday. Before the art exhibits, I went to the zoo in Ueno for a little bit of nastalgia and – I’ll admit – because cute animals make awesome date scenery.

The zoo is located around Shinobazu Pond (不忍池). I’m sure there’s a better way to get to it, but we went out the Shinobazu exit at Ueno station and headed right. Just follow the people. There are ample maps around as well to help you out.

The price of entry is 600 yen, but bring a little more (I had only 800 yen total). We were both hungry, and the fact that every place seems to sell crepes, ice cream and pizza did not make things easier.

There’s a path around the zoo so you can be sure to hit everything, and also a monorail that links the East and West parts of the park. The West side has what appeared to be a petting zoo. I saw kids touching animals, so I assume that’s what it was, anyway. It was inside the kids zoo, and we didn’t hang out there too long because of all the young’uns bumping into us and running (literally) underfoot.

If you don’t want to take the monorail, like me because I had no money to do so, you can walk to the West side. It takes a few extra minutes, but you get a nice shot of the pond because the East side is maybe 10 meters higher than the West side. The West side is also host to an insect and creepy-crawly exhibit, which we didn’t go to. I’m deathly afraid of spiders and other such animals, but if that’s your thing I’m sure there’s plenty of them over there.

I took pictures of a bunch of the animals there, but I only put maybe 6 or so on my flickr page. You’ll find the usual fare at the zoo – lions, tigers, monkeys, birds – lots of the damn things, among others. I was fortunate enough to see the back of a panda’s ass for 3 minutes until the big guy stood up (Oohs and Ahhs from the crowd) to summarily empty his bowels and fall asleep (“Dammit” from me). Maybe future zoo-goers will have better luck.

Running in Tokyo

I like to fashion myself as an avid runner, though the truth is the Tokyo winter has been less than kind this year, and waking up at 5:45 in the morning for me is a Herculean task. On some days the temperature dips below 0 with wind chill, and that’s as strong an argument as my lazy ass needs to stay inside by the space heater.

I live near Nerima, so the best places to run are Shakuji-koen, Hikarigaoka-koen and some of the parks in Wako-shi. They’re all easily identified on any map of Tokyo simply by virtue of the green blobs representing them. Green is quite rare on Tokyo maps.

shakuji sunsetShakuji-koen has a nice ~1.75km loop around the main section of the lake, as well as a wooded area on one side of the lake (inside the main loop) that is about 700m each way. 6 laps around the lake would be a bit over 10k for anybody wanting to put in some distance in their free time, and the scenery is gorgeous all year around.

If you aren’t afraid to take a walk across the street, halfway around the lake you can head towards Tanashi and Hoya, where a couple more parks await about 5km or so away. For those who don’t mind running on main roads, there’s a long stretch from Ogikubo on the Ome-kaido road, and parallel to that, Inokashira-dori, which lead to Shinjuku and thereabouts.

hikarigaoka3_1The park at Hikarigaoka used to be a US base, so it’s a very clean, expansive and well-designed park. It’s mostly flat on the running surface, but there are hilly fields where families and friends hang out every day of the year, as well as near-weekly festivals and open market events. The track is 400 meters, and there is a larger jogging course that extends to about 2.9km, marked both on the ground and with signs so you don’t get lost. A baseball diamond is situated by the track.

If anybody is interested in running events in Japan, two great websites are Sports Entry and Runnet. Unfortunately they both are written in Japanese, so it might be difficult to navigate for some people. I don’t know of any English web sites that have as extensive a list of upcoming events as either of those two, but if you do just let me know in the comments. If you need help with the sites, you can email me.

Let’s Catch a Flick!

Build It.

In the ’80s and mid ’90s the movie theater scene around the outskirts of Tokyo, near Tachikawa and Hachioji, was horrible. For a few years, Tachikawa did not have a movie theater at all and Hachioji had one screen with sticky floors and ’70s speakers. It was dismal. But that has all changed recently. In the general Tama (多摩) area, we now have the following cinema complexes either built or being built:

Those are places I would consider within striking distance.

Be Heard!

Currently, we give our money to Cinema City in Tachikawa. Cinema City has introduced Cinema Council. Cinema Council allows Cinema City members to vote for movies they want to see. For example, currently, Tim Burton’s latest flick is playing. The question is, which old Tim Burton flicks do you want to see?

Links provided the best list of movie theaters with their movie search by location. Thanks Yahoo.

Undokai. by Ado.

A Dad’s First Undokai.

Kee had her first undoukai yesterday (and indirectly, so did I). An undoukai is a sports meet, which is a very common part of Japanese education. Every school has its yearly sports day, and boy, do they make a big deal of it. Weeks of preparation go in it, all students participate, all parents attend and one or both of the parents even participate in one or more events. Since an undoukai is so highly respected you will also see other family members. Grandparents are a frequent sighting. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s the odd uncle from another prefecture, so to speak. We had Kee’s grandmother and aunt over for it. Sure, I had sports days during my elementary school years, but those were boring things that took place in midweek and not one family member was in sight. No one cared about it and no one remembered who won what. I think quite a few even took the day off.

I can confirm that weeks, no, at least a month and a half or more go into preparing an undokai. The kindergarten downstairs spent at least a two months preparing for their undokai. The music drove me crazy.


Some state-of-the-art coplay action.

[WP: Cosplay]


Greetings. Hope everyone who had Golden Week off, enjoyed it. For those who had to work, I feel your pain. This was the first year I thought, “God, I should have taken Golden Week off.” Next year, I will.

I did manage to make it out to Ome city (pdf) a few times over the past few weekends. The cool thing about Ome are the old movie billboards.

Billboards - 3.jpg


If you are ever really pressed for somewhere to go, visit Ome. There are some random museums, the Tama river and movie billboards. Outside of that, it is pretty local.

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