Tokyo

NPO lobbies to rebuild Edo Castle at the cost of 50 billion yen (US$500 million)

NPO lobbies to rebuild Edo Castle at the cost of 50 billion yen (US$500 million)

Naotake Odake, former managing director of the Japan Tourist Bureau (JTB) and once director of the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau, spent years of his professional life traveling to cities across the globe in order to promote Tokyo as a worthwhile tourist destination. In his travels, he noticed a trait shared by all the major cities: they each had a unique and well-recognized landmark embodying the history and culture of the land. According to Odake, a structure of this sort is vital to bolstering a spirit of pride in any given population. Unfortunately for Tokyo, he believes that this sort of historical landmark is something that Japan’s capital city severely lacks. What he has against Asakusa Temple, Tokyo Tower, or Tokyo Skytree, I’m really not sure. But, it is for this reason that Odake has taken the lead as the chairman of a non-profit organization which hopes to rebuild the Edo Castle’s innermost tower. “In order to present Tokyo as a proud tourist city, we need something like Edo Castle,” he says. But will the payoff really outweigh the costs?

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It begins! First Tokyo iPhone5S buyer lines up for phone 10 days before it goes on sale

It begins! First Tokyo iPhone5S buyer lines up for phone 10 days before it goes on sale

It’s become an annual ritual. Every year, Apple releases a modified version of a product already available and people begin to migrate towards the glowing white apple in their cities to congregate and await its glorious arrival.

This year, however, one Japanese iPhone5S user-to-be may have jumped the gun on his pilgrimage to the Apple store in Ginza, Tokyo. Arriving 10 days before its release, he sits patiently waiting for it to come.

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Tokyo Olympic stadium looks like aliens landed downtown

Tokyo Olympic stadium looks like aliens landed downtown

As we’re sure you’ve heard, Tokyo was selected by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Of course, no host city would be complete without a ludicrously over-designed Olympic stadium that looks like a race of aliens that watched Blade Runner on VHS one too many times took a wrong turn somewhere and landed their space ship downtown. Welcome to New National Stadium!

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Tokyo bookmakers’ favourite to host 2020 Olympics

Tokyo bookmakers’ favourite to host 2020 Olympics

With just two days to go until the host city for the 2020 Olympic Games is announced, sports fans and economists all over the world are busy listing each of the three candidates’ strengths and weaknesses in an attempt to guess the overall winner. According to the bookies, however, Japan’s capital city is already the odds-on favourite to clinch the title.

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Green Tokyo: 5 cool examples of urban agriculture

Green Tokyo: 5 cool examples of urban agriculture

With its massive urban sprawl and busy streets, Tokyo doesn’t exactly seem like the kind of place you would find farmland, but Tokyoites are waking up to the fact that growing your food closer to home means more food security and less pollution from transport. The problem is finding the space in the city and cultivating–if you will excuse the pun–the expertise. But where there is a will, there is a way, and some Japanese have found truly ingenious ways to bring farming to the big city.

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What pleasures await? Ginza bar staffed by former and current porn stars

What pleasures await? Ginza bar staffed by former and current porn stars

We’re sure there’s never been a man on this earth – and especially Japan – that never had at least one day dream about dining with or being, erm… served by a porn star. Except for maybe Amish men, on account of the no Internet or TVs thing.

Now that dream can come partially true at Ginza’s Yuri bar, a concept watering hole somewhere between a hostess club and an after-work business meeting space that is staffed by porn stars both retired and currently appearing in films with titles we probably can’t write here.

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“Smoking Café” last oasis for increasingly ostracized Tokyo smokers

“Smoking Café” last oasis for increasingly ostracized Tokyo smokers

Japan has a long way to go when it comes to eliminating the public health hazards associated with smoking, but recent public policy efforts have caused a serious change in attitude toward smokers.

Smoking sections in restaurants and cafes are becoming smaller and increasingly more isolated, while fleets of bike-mounted enforcers hand out humiliating fines to those caught smoking on designated no smoking streets.

Finally, however, smokers can indulge in their pastime in peace at the Koshigaya Laketown shopping mall in Saitama Prefecture. A new specialized café, Smoking Café Briquet, caters specifically to tobacco connoisseurs with a variety of smoking merchandise and cigar and cigarette selections, with every seat in the house safe to light up in. It’s almost like being a character in Kaze Tachinu

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What’s a kokkai anyway? Tokyo’s street signs get an English makeover

What’s a kokkai anyway? Tokyo’s street signs get an English makeover

Visitors to Tokyo have often complained about the difficulty of navigating the labyrinthine capital. The numbering system isn’t in chronological order, many streets don’t have signs, and even if they do, the Roman letter translation of the Japanese can be as mystifying as the kanji characters. It’s all very well using a script foreign visitors can read, but what’s a Kokkai? And when looking for a police station would an English speaker really know to look for a Koban? It’s enough to make a visitor throw their hands up in defeat and head back to the airport.

Well, this week, as part of their preparations to make Tokyo more visitor-friendly for the Olympics, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has decreed a change to signs in the government district of Tokyo that should make a lot more sense.

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Homogenous? Ethnic enclaves within Japan feel like stepping into another world

Homogenous? Ethnic enclaves within Japan feel like stepping into another world

Compared to the diversity of most Western countries, Japan has had relatively low levels of immigration and has been famously described by many Japanese politicians as racially “homogenous”. Be that as it may, immigrants tend to discover their home away from home in certain areas where their countrymen and women congregate. In my case I found a cultural home mostly at the bottom of a glass in Hub, the British pub, or at T.G.I. Friday’s, the American restaurant chain, in Tokyo. Well-known ethnic neighborhoods include the Chinatowns of Yokohama and Kobe, and Little Korea in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo, but lately some new areas have sprung up.

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Top seven Tokyo oases providing shelter from heat of the city

Top seven Tokyo oases providing shelter from heat of the city

In the great city of Tokyo, the summer heat is particularly pervasive. Everywhere you look, people are bustle between crowded buildings and the hot pavement. The heat and the tension get trapped within that city bubble. You might think there’s no escaping it without a trip to the countryside, but as it turns out, there are a few grand oases within Tokyo’s boundaries. Here are seven such spots, guaranteed to bring the temperature down while raising your city-worn spirits up.

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We try shaved ice doused in Dom Perignon, feel like comically rich billionaires looking for novel ways to spend money

We try shaved ice doused in Dom Perignon, feel like comically rich billionaires looking for novel ways to spend money

Reporters get a lot of unexpected perks. Occasionally, our editor will demand we interview a porn star or go stuff donuts in our faces on the company dime. That’s great, for sure. But truth be told, the greatest perk of being a reporter is that not only is it expected you’ll be drunk around lunchtime, it’s even encouraged!

And so it went that we were asked to sample some shaved ice doused in Dom Perignon, because everything is better doused in Dom Perignon. Go ahead, pour a bottle over your head and walk down the street. See if you don’t get a couple of phone numbers.

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Mr. Sato participates in beer company’s mysterious “escape game”

Mr. Sato participates in beer company’s mysterious “escape game”

On July 16th, the Japanese beer company, Kirin, released an all-new brand of gin-based alcohol called Kirin Dry Rickey. To build up hype for their new product, Kirin ran a very unique sort of promotional event on Tokyo’s Yamanote train line. When most companies would have thrown their entire advertisement budget into posters, billboards, and commercials, Kirin organized a special event known as nothing more than an “escape game.” Our very own Mr. Sato, lured in by the mystery and the smell of booze, decided to take part in this very special game and discover what it takes to “escape” from a train on the Yamanote Line.

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We brave the Tokyo heat to munch on these limited edition Krispy Kreme summer doughnuts

We brave the Tokyo heat to munch on these limited edition Krispy Kreme summer doughnuts

‘Tis the season of the “Summer Gentei” (“Summer Specialties”) in Japan; an exciting time of year where near every food vendor in the country offers up some sort of cold, frozen, or energy-packed  limited edition summer-themed menu. And even the foreign chains are getting into it, with Krispy Kreme Japan currently offering three new summer-only doughnuts and two summer-themed drinks. Because we love you, we went and stuffed our faces.

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Japanese police smack down on prostitution ring employing overweight women

Japanese police smack down on prostitution ring employing overweight women

On Wednesday, July 16, reports came from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department announcing that two women had been arrested on suspicion of violating the Japanese Anti-Prostitution Law of 1956. Those apprehended are thought to have been running a prostitution ring for men with a fetish for fleshy females. The average weight of the women they dispatched to paying customers was a good 100 kg (220 pounds)!

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Love Nissin’s Chicken Ramen? The Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel has a room just for you!

Love Nissin’s Chicken Ramen? The Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel has a room just for you!

Teaming up in a collaborative effort for the first time, the Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel and the nearby Nissin Cup Noodles Museum have created two Chicken Ramen-themed rooms for connoisseurs who just can’t get enough of those tantalizingly delicious instant noodles and their irritating lovable chicken mascot Hiyoko.

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Major eruption could cause Mt. Fuji’s new life as Cultural Heritage Site to be short lived

Major eruption could cause Mt. Fuji’s new life as Cultural Heritage Site to be short lived

Results of an analysis by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and others released on the July 16, suggests that force generated by a large-scale earthquake could cause internal cracks within Mt. Fuji, leading to a major eruption of the recently listed UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.

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Tokyo heat melting food samples, you could be next

Tokyo heat melting food samples, you could be next

If it isn’t already clear from the sudden influx of summer heat-themed RocketNews24 articles over the past few days, summer is officially upon Tokyo and this year she’s out for blood.

At time of writing, the temperature is expected to reach a high of 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), the streets empty as the oppressive heat drives everyone indoors like so many ants scrambling from a magnifying glass beam.

Don’t believe it? No worries, we’ve brought photographic evidence:

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A day in the life of a Japanese anime director

A day in the life of a Japanese anime director

If you thought being an anime director was all cosplay groupies and cool action figures, think again. Turns out it’s long, long hours in front of a computer, less-than-fancy convenience store dinners and tons of office all-nighters.

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Mr. Leotard copy-cat on the loose in Tokyo!

Mr. Leotard copy-cat on the loose in Tokyo!

The arrest of the original Mr. Leotard in Machida left an empty hole in the ‘Net, crying out to be filled by a lyrca-encased male body. Thankfully, a new contender has emerged, ready to fit his muscled, leotard-clad form right into that gap.

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Riding the B Line in Argentina? Better bring a Japanese dictionary

Riding the B Line in Argentina? Better bring a Japanese dictionary

There’s apparently a running joke in Beunos Aires, Argentina, that if you’re planning on riding the subway’s B Line, you’d better bring a Japanese dictionary. No, Argentines don’t have a bizarre and nonsensical sense of humor; it turns out the country imported the B Line’s trains from Japan and didn’t even bother to change all the Japanese writing.

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