Travel around Japan with stunning videos from the 4K ultra HD video library

There are many beautiful videos of Japan floating around on YouTube, but there’s one special channel that’s aiming to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Called TokyoStreetView – Japan The Beautiful, this is an ongoing project that’s working towards compiling a library of high definition 4K videos, showcasing unique aspects of Japanese culture and featuring beautiful locations all around the country.

We take a look at four of their stunning videos, filmed within the nation’s capital, at Akihabara and the famous Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, and in its more picturesque regional areas, at Nikko and Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture. The superb, high quality of the images is so remarkable, you’ll feel as if you’re seeing the country not through a lens but through your very own eyes!

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Samurai Studio is open and we were the first in line!【Photos】

When we wrote about Samurai Studio earlier this month, we have to admit we were more than a little excited to head down and try it out ourselves. Hey, who doesn’t occasionally (or constantly) wish they could run around dressed in Japanese armor with a couple of swords strapped to their side?

Samurai Studio opened for its 10-day limited run today, and we were literally the first in line! In case you’re on the fence about going or just want to see what the process is like, you’ll want to check out our full report, complete with lots and lots of photos.

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Samurai Studio: Tokyo’s new photo studio where you can get your picture taken in samurai armor

Even in the modern era, you’ll find plenty of occasions in Japan to dress up in kimono, such as for festivals, fireworks exhibitions, or other special events (and considering how relatively easy it is to do, it’s something you really should try at least once). But as much as Japan may love its traditions and history, there aren’t too many occasions when you get to strap on a set of samurai armor, so when life gives you the opportunity to do so, like at this new photo studio in Tokyo, you won’t want to let it pass you by.

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Kurand Sake Market opens Asakusa branch, Mr. Sato and Yoshio imbibe to their hearts’ content!

On September 2, Kurand Sake Market opened a new shop in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. This location is a sister branch to the original Kurand Sake Market which opened earlier this year in Ikebukuro, where sake lovers can sample 100 varieties of sake for 3,000 yen (US$24.64) per person with no time limit.

The Asakusa branch invited curious members of the media in for a sneak peek before its grand opening to the public, so we promptly sent our sake-loving reporters Mr. Sato, a veteran of the Ikebukuro shop, and Sailor Venus-cosplaying reporter extraordinaire Yoshio to check things out. But rather than write their opinions for each of the 30 individual brands they sampled, which would undoubtedly become tedious after a while, they decided to create a handy visual guide so that you can gauge their reactions to each cup with a picture, thus eliminating any language barriers in the process. Let the sake festivities begin!

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Tasty and cheap: 30 minutes of all-you-can-eat yakiniku for only 780 yen

We used to think that the 45-minute all-you-can-eat lunch of cook-your-own grilled meat lunch for 950 yen (US$7.60), offered by the Jimbocho Shokuniku Centre restaurant, was pretty hard to beat in terms of value for your money. However, we’ve recently learned that there’s another yakiniku restaurant in Tokyo that offers an even better value!

If you love meat and are looking for a bargain, read on to learn about our meal at Asakusa Buta Yashiki Horumon Sakaba.

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Add a bit of adventure to your tour of Asakusa with a ninja experience!

There are many things that draw people to Japan, from pop culture to the traditional tea ceremony. One of the highest on that list is probably those mysterious masters of stealth, the ninja, who have left and indelible impression on millions of people around the world.

While most of us will never get to actually be ninja, it’d be nice if we could at least try it out for a day, right? Obviously, to get the full ninja experience, you’d need to head out to a place like Iga, but if you’re just hanging out in Tokyo for a quick trip, we have a fun compromise for you! Next time you’re sightseeing in Asakusa, try stopping by the Ninja Taiken Dojo.

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You can touch but you can’t eat: We made food replicas from wax in Asakusa, and you can too!

If you’ve ever spent any time in Japan, you’ve probably been to at least one restaurant whose front window is full of surprisingly realistic food samples. In fact, they’re realistic enough that if you’re jet-lagged and starving, like my first day in Osaka, you too may have wondered, “How do they keep the food from rotting and smelling?!” Obviously, the “samples” aren’t samples of food but wax replicas made to look as delicious (or maybe even more delicious) than the food served inside.

But where do those food samples comes from? Well, there are a variety of shops that make them — both for restaurants and people who just love replica food. But at Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya, you can make your own! We recently headed to Asakusa and created several of our own food samples. Join us after the jump to read about how we made lettuce and tempura food samples, and watch a video of the whole creation process!

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Why Does Engrish Happen in Japan? Part 2: Please refrain from using the bathroom alone

It’s time once again for an episode of Why Does Engrish Happen in Japan? If you missed the first installment (which we really should have given a clever name like Why Does Engrish Happen in Japan? ~Unexpected Opening to the Truth~) you can check it out here.

Today, we’re taking a look at a hotel in Japan that seems to be clamping down on solo peeing, with a sign posted in its lobby that requests visitors “Please refrain from using the bathroom alone.”

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Halal ramen comes to Tokyo with Asakusa restaurant, and it’s so good anyone will enjoy it

For decades, the international perception of ramen was that it was something for lazy college students to buy in bulk for when they wanted a quick, hot meal, with only minimal thought given to flavor or presentation. And while ramen does sometimes take that form, assuming it’s all like that is sort of like basing your whole image of pizza on microwavable frozen varieties.

Thankfully, there’s a ramen renaissance going on, as the rest of the world is getting onboard with just how delicious Japan’s favorite noodle dish can be. In response, some restaurants in Japan are adapting to make their food more accessible to foreign visitors, such as this restaurant in Tokyo that serves halal ramen.

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A little sweet with your spicy? Tokyo restaurant serves curry with strawberries and ice cream

One of the great things about curry is how versatile it is. The standard way to eat the spicy dish in Japan is with carrots, potatoes, onions, and pork, but you can also toss in chicken, shrimp, beef, or tuna. Things are wide open when it comes to vegetables, too, with some people opting for eggplant, spinach, or tomatoes.

But why limit yourself to just meats and veggies? One curry restaurant in Tokyo feels its menu should be inclusive of the entire food pyramid, and will fix you a plate of curry rice that represents the fruit and dairy groups in the forms of curry with strawberries and even ice cream.

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Classy pipes, intestines, and a taste of the past all can be yours from Asakusa vending machines

If you ever visit Tokyo, the district of Asakusa is a worthwhile spot to wander around in. It has a healthy mix of tradition, entertainment, food, and shopping that should please anyone looking  for a small but all-encompassing Japanese experience.

But there’s one other unique feature that Asakusa has and it’s one that’s surprising even the most entrenched Tokyo residents. Apparently, Asakusa is home to an enormous selection of wildly unusual vending machines. And coming from a land positively peppered with automatic vendors, that’s saying a lot.

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Stylish new cat café in Asakusa would be nice even without the kitties, is awesome with them

Cat cafes have established a pretty solid foothold in the Japanese dining scene. That said, some of them deliver more on the “cat” than the “café” part, with pretty unimpressive interiors and menus.

That’s not a problem at Monta, though, a cat café which recently opened up in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood. With stylish and colorful furnishings and delicious food, we’d be tempted to stop by even if it didn’t have a half-dozen cats running around inside.

Those cute kitties, though, sure helped seal the deal and get us through the door, though.

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Get a little Harry Potter-esque owl action at a bird cafe in Asakusa

With the highly anticipated Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Japan having just opened this week to great fanfare, owls seem to be the hot “animal of the hour” at the moment in Japan. (Plus, we think owls are pretty cool-looking birds to begin with even without the Harry Potter factor!) In that spirit, one of the reporters from our sister site Pouch recently visited a bird cafe in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, where you can interact with numerous species of owls, yes, but also parakeets and even some falcons as well! Since we’d already had such an awesome time at the owl cafe in Tsukishima, we knew we were going to thoroughly enjoy this visit too. And you can’t really blame us for wanting to share our photos of all the cute owls with you, can you? If you’ve ever been fascinated by owls, we think you’ll be impressed at how up-close and personal you can get with the birds once you’ve seen the pictures!

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We went to the Ozashiki Cafe to see professional geisha perform — and we had an amazing time!

Last month, we ran a story about the Ozashiki Cafe, a one day event that would offer a unique opportunity for the Japanese public to take a look into the usually exclusive world of geisha and the traditional Japanese restaurants known as ryotei, where they perform. Much to our delight, we received comments from readers encouraging us to sign up and attend the event, so that’s exactly what we decided to do! And we were quite excited to do so too, since the average person in Japan usually doesn’t have the chance to interact with professional geisha. So, here’s our report on what we experienced at the Ozashiki Cafe, which took place at the ryotei Miyakodori in the Asakusa district of Tokyo — and we have to say, it was quite a treat to be entertained by professional geisha, even it was for just one fleeting hour!

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Restaurant in Asakusa offers up itty-bitty sushi made with just a single grain of rice!

Restaurant “Sushiya no Hachi” (すし屋の野八) in Asakusa, Tokyo is serving up some really tiny sushi. So tiny, in fact, that you might not even be able to find it on your plate!

Sushi chef Hironori Ikeno is the man behind these minuscule works of art. He has perfected his craft to the point that he can make each piece using only one grain of rice. Don’t believe your eyes? Don’t worry- you’re not the only one who needs a magnifying glass!

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We checked out tourou nagashi in Asakusa and loved the beautiful floating lanterns!

In case no one told you, it’s obon this week in Japan! For many people this means a well-deserved long vacation and a trip home. It also means lots of fun cultural events. As you may know, obon is a Buddhist holiday all about the spirits of deceased ancestors coming back for a short visit. Tourou nagashi, literally “lanterns flowing,” is a special ceremony where, as the name implies, lanterns are set afloat, usually down a river. It’s a fun way to spend your evening and an incredible sight as well! This week, we headed to Azuma Bridge in Asakusa, Tokyo to check out the ceremony!

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