Tokyo

Faster than a speeding bullet! Ride the Tokyo to Kyoto “Nozomi” Shinkansen with us! 【Video】

Even if you’re not exactly a trainspotting otaku, chances are you still find the idea of riding a Japanese bullet train seriously appealing. After all, those things get up to some crazy speeds, and the whole process runs like smooth, scientifically adjusted clockwork. Even the cleaning crew get their job done, making the trains absolutely spotless, in seven minutes max!

But if you haven’t quite made it to Japan yet, then we invite you to take a Shinkansen ride with us and our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley. Strap yourself in and feel those G-forces!

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Japanese photographer captures gorgeous photos of timeless building facades in Tokyo

It must take Hitoshi Kobayashi a long time to walk anywhere if his collection of photographs is any indication. The photographer has been gaining attention online for his galleries of photos dedicated solely to the facades of local buildings tucked away in the quiet streets and alleyways of suburban Tokyo. In fact, taking a stroll through his pictures is almost like being spirited away to another world and time altogether. 

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New Tokyo hotel lets you sleep in a bookstore

Bookstores are really relaxing places, particularly since many Japanese ones have responded to the rise of digital publishing by merging with cafes and creating inviting places to hang out and peruse the goods. With the quiet babble of background noise and a squishy chair to sink into, you may find your eyelids drooping over the new Murakami. However, a comfy chair is not a bed and the stores are generally not open 24 hours, so if you give in to sleep, you’ll probably find yourself turfed out at closing time with a crick in your neck.

If this has been a problem for you in the past, you’ll want to reserve a spot at Book and Bed, a new hotel in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood that invites bibliophiles to sleep in the stacks.

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Chill out with a tasty shaved ice treat from Mercedes-Benz’s ICE MONSTER tie-in shop

We’re not even halfway through summer here in Japan yet, and already we’ve seen a number of strange collaboration combinations, including barley and eel soda and soft-serve sushi.

This time we’d like to introduce another curious combination, in the form of a new Mercedes-Benz x Ice Monster shop that recently popped up in Roppongi, Tokyo. But what do luxury car makers know about making the perfect frozen ice treat? Our ever-popular reporter Mr. Sato heads out to investigate.

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Japanese Twitter users can’t help but respond to suggestive-looking starfish with crude humor

It’s hard being an adult sometimes. Once you become a grown-up, the world starts expecting you to possess a certain level of maturity, which includes things like powering through your Aunt Virginia’s special turnip casserole without gagging, not engaging your Uncle Ted about his uninformed political views on Facebook, or trying not to turn everything you see or hear into something sexually suggestive.

But there are some situations where the lattermost just can’t be avoided. Like when Japanese Twitter user Kojiro decided to take a trip to his local aquarium and came across this curious-looking starfish that, no matter how you look at it, looks like a certain part of the male anatomy. Well, to some dirty-minded folk anyway…

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Is super-salty Tokyo ramen too much umami for foreign tastes? 【Video】

Ramen is the ultimate Japanese hunger-busting food. With its combination of greasy, fatty soup combined with carb-heavy noodles, it’s the perfect meal for when you’re REALLY hungry in Tokyo (or just really hungover.) But that doesn’t mean that this taste is for everyone. In fact, there’re probably a lot of people out there who just can’t handle that heavy hit of garlicky, salty grease.

Our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley mentioned in her winning video entry that she really wanted to get a taste of Tokyo ramen. We accompanied her to Ramen Jiro to watch as her tastebuds tangled with the pungent umami of a bowl of their finest slurping fare. Unfortunately, Ashley soon realised that the reality of the truly salty ramen might be a little hard to swallow – along with the actual ramen itself! Check out our video report!

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What are Tokyo trains at rush hour really like? Check out our eyewitness account!【Video】

Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station is the Guinness World Record holder for busiest transport hub in the world, with an average of 3.64 million people passing through the station, which has 36 platforms and over 200 exits, each and every day. And it’s never busier than during the morning rush hour, with commuters from all over Tokyo and its neighbouring prefectures pouring through the station on their way to work. No wonder the trains are so crowded!

Since Ashley, our Japan Wish” competition winner is currently in town soaking up as much Japanese culture as she can, we thought it would be great if she could experience the rush hour crush for herself and share her thoughts with her fellow RocketNews24 readers.

Check out the video we took of Ashley being squished like a sardine and see for yourselves how she rates the experience!

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Sayonara, stadium! Tokyo tosses out design for 252 billion-yen Olympic site, starts from scratch

I’ve got nothing but love for Tokyo, and I’ve spent a good chunk of my adult life working and playing in Japan’s city of cities. Still, I remember having mixed emotions when it was announced as the site of the 2020 Olympics.

Like everyone at RocketNews24, I truly believe Japan is an awesome place, and I’m happy whenever something happens that gets people to take a peek at what’s going on here. But I was worried that in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics, Japan would embark on a glut of overly extravagant construction projects, building needlessly expensive stadiums that would fall into disuse or disrepair soon after the Games ended, as has happened in so many other host cities.

That certainly seemed to be what was happening with Tokyo’s New National Stadium. Every few months came a new report that cost estimates had been revised up yet again, and the expected price tag recently soared to 252 billion yen (US$2.02 billion). Finally, though, the Tokyo Olympics organizers have said enough is enough, and they’ve decided to toss out the existing design completely and start over from scratch.

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We scarf down all-you-can-eat fried chicken at a Tokyo pub

Let it never again be said that America is the only country that has an unhealthy relationship with fried foods.

While you may not find such cynically, blatantly unhealthy fare as fried butter and fried Oreos  here in Japan, you will find that many square meals consumed in Japan are going to come with some kind of fried food. A lot of times the default is karaage, a dish that is basically the Japanese analogue to American fried chicken, and an item that Japanophiles the world over desperately, vainly argue is somehow healthier than American fried chicken by virtue of its, uh… Japanese-ness or something?

The truth is, karaage is every bit as unhealthy as fried chicken from anywhere else and the Japanese are just as prone to gorging on it to the point of discomfort. Don’t believe us? Exhibit A: This all-you-can-eat fried chicken restaurant we went to for, uh… “research purposes.”

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Fermented sushi? Two restaurants where you can get a same-day seat to try this gourmet treat

This year fermented sushi is in vogue among Tokyo’s gourmet crowd, with people raving about how the maturation of the fish brings out the elusive umami of the meatAs the name suggests, the creation of these dishes involves fermenting the ingredients to enhance the flavours and then using them to make regular sushi. This might sound strange since sushi is usually about having the freshest raw fish, but it’s actually an ancient form of sushi preparation from which the sushi we know today developed, and it’s apparently quite delicious.

However, as it requires great skill to properly ferment fish, there are currently few restaurants in the Tokyo area that specialise in this kind of food, and they’re already booked up by gourmet types leaving you to wait months before you can get a place. However, we’ve found two particular restaurants where you should be able to get a same-day reservation.

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The biggest “natural” hot spring spa in Tokyo is being built now, but what is its “secret?”

Do you love hot springs and spas? How about Tokyo? If so, we have good news for you! A new onsen (hot spring) spa, the largest in Tokyo, is currently under construction right here in beautiful Shinjuku! Even better, it’s set to open at the end of July.

We were so excited about this ginormous new relaxation spot, we sent a writer to check out the new spa, called Thermae-yu, to see how it’s looking these days. Along the way we learned a certain secret that’s not actually a secret, but may disappoint die-hard onsen fans.

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Artist’s amazing colored pencil drawings of Tokyo scenes look like actual photographs

Remember the joy of getting a fresh new pack of coloured pencils when you were a kid? The artistic possibilities! You were going to make masterpieces with those things, weren’t you? Unfortunately, coloured pencils are kind of a difficult tool to wield. For one thing, they’re hard to erase, meaning that whatever mistakes you make wind up lasting forever.

But this Japanese artist can make serious magic with nothing but paper and those same humble art supplies. In fact, his artwork depicting Tokyo street scenes looks so photo-realistic, we were almost fooled at first…

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All-you-can-eat stinky fermented soybeans come to Ginza, if that’s your thing

Spend a while in Japan, and at some point you’ll no doubt encounter natto, sticky, stinky fermented soybeans that often get served over rice for breakfast. This polarizing food has its superfans and impassioned detractors among Japanese and foreigners alike, but if you happen to be in the former camp, you should know there is an all-you-can-eat premium natto pop-up bar in Tokyo’s Ginza this weekend.

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Who needs fast food? Tokyo tempura totaling less than 10 bucks

Here at RocketNews24, two of the things we love most are delicious foods in our bellies and cash in our wallets. Unfortunately, those two things don’t always go hand-in-hand, especially in the Michelin star-studded culinary landscape of Tokyo.

But in a city as big as Tokyo, you can find just about anything with a little searching. Even if you’re totally bereft of folding money, you can still get a great meal in Japan’s capital, and you don’t have to settle for eating at a fast food chain either. On the menu today: a nine-piece tempura meal in the heart of Tokyo for less than 1,000 yen (US$8).

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Shibuya Station 2019: one step closer to the Neo-Tokyo of our dreams

If you’ve been to Shibuya Station recently, you’ll have seen one area in particular that’s filled with crowds, noise and trucks; and it’s not the meeting place around the famous statue of Hachiko.

It’s the massive redevelopment project currently underway to revitalise the district and deliver a completely new-looking Shibuya by 2027. Latest pictures of the next high-rise in the pipeline reveal just how amazing life in Neo-Tokyo will be.

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Gorgeous stop-motion animation depicts Tokyo’s Shibuya crossing using tiny paper models

When the lights change at Shibuya’s scramble intersection, 10 lanes of traffic draw to a halt and thousands of people surge into the street to cross in multiple directions. It’s one of Japan’s iconic urban sites, and often features on the big screen as a symbol of Tokyo. Of course, Shibuya’s scramble is crowded – it may be the busiest crossing in the world – but underneath the chaos there is a kind of fluid order, as people weave in and out of the oncoming crowd.

Architect and artist Naoki Terada has constructed Shibuya at 1/100th its real size, with the crossing’s cars, people, motorbikes (and even dogs!) made out of hand-cut paper. This beautiful stop-motion animation is the result.

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Japan’s 10 best restaurants, as chosen by foreign travelers

People travel to Japan for all sorts of different reasons. Many are seeking a taste of tradition and history, and plan visits to the country’s most important shrines and castles. Some are drawn by Japan’s natural beauty, heading for its mountains and forests, while still others come to throw themselves into its neon-soaked urban entertainment centers.

But no matter what’s on your itinerary, at some point you’re going to need to get something to eat, and when your stomach starts growling, you can rely on the experience of those who made the trip before you with TripAdvisor’s list of the 10 best restaurants in Japan.

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Japan is full of ghosts: Visiting the grave of Taira no Masakado’s head

Summer in Japan means heat and humidity — enough such that people will try to cool down by any means necessary, including enjoying a few hair-raising ghost stories. From haunted houses to horror films, there are plenty of ways to get goosebumps in Japan, but today we’ll be taking you to the location of one of Tokyo’s most famous angry spirit!

Though it’s not exactly a shinrei spot (a place where ghosts have allegedly appeared), Taira no Masakada Kubizuka is one of the most famous “ghost” spots in Japan. It’s where Taira no Masakada’s head was enshrined in order to quell his spirit…because people believed it was wrecking havoc on the capital!

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Does how you dress affect what a sushi restaurant serves you? We experiment in Ginza

Take a stroll down the streets of Ginza and you’ll have no trouble realizing it’s Tokyo’s epicenter of everything posh and luxurious. The neighborhood is packed with shop after shop boasting high-end fashion, jewelry, and dining, so it’s only natural to think that any sushi restaurants in the area cater to an upscale clientele.

That being said, three reporters from our Japanese-language sister site began to wonder what would happen if they went to a Ginza sushi restaurant dressed to varying degrees of formality and ordered a special o-makase (“leave it to the chef”) course.

Would they each be offered different menu items depending on how they were dressed? Would their bills come out to be significantly different? With these burning questions in mind (and the prospect of eating sushi in the guise of journalism), they decided to conduct a little experiment to find out for themselves!

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Want to shake hands with an adorable otter? You can right now at this Tokyo aquarium

Tokyo’s Ikebukuro is an archetypical part of the concrete jungle of Japan’s capital. The neighborhood is even home to Sunshine 60, one of the tallest buildings in a city that’s already packed with massive skyscrapers.

With so much space to work with, Sunshine 60 houses a shopping center, restaurants, planetarium, museum, and even a parlor for playing the Japanese board game go. But what convinced us to visit recently was the complex’s aquarium, which right now is offering a chance to shake hands with its adorable river otters!

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