Tokyo

Foggy night transforms Tokyo government building into Final Fantasy dungeon

Foggy night transforms Tokyo government building into Final Fantasy dungeon

Located a short stroll from Shinjuku Station, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, or Tocho, as it’s commonly called, is one of the city’s most easily recognizable landmarks. Its design is distinctive, stately, powerful…and honestly, if you stare at it too long, it starts to look a little sinister.

Driving this sentiment home were a few Japanese Twitters user who worked a little photo editing magic to prove that Tocho would make a perfect dwelling for an RPG boss in a title from video game giant Square Enix.

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Moving to Tokyo? Here are the three best, most reasonable neighborhoods to live in

Moving to Tokyo? Here are the three best, most reasonable neighborhoods to live in

Committing to an apartment in Japan can be nerve-wracking. On the plus side, there’s no penalty for breaking your lease, but on the other hand, you can expect to pay somewhere between four to six months’ worth of fees and deposits to your real estate agent and landlord. This being Japan, they’d like that in cash, and before you move in, of course.

Long story short, bouncing around from one apartment to another is cost prohibitive, so you want to make sure you choose a location you like. For everyone who’s looking for a place to live in Japan’s capital, we asked a real estate agency for the three best, most affordable neighborhoods in which to live in downtown Tokyo.

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Cyclist in Tokyo ordered to pay $459,000 after collision leaves 74-year-old woman dead

Cyclist in Tokyo ordered to pay $459,000 after collision leaves 74-year-old woman dead

A Tokyo court has ruled that a cyclist must pay 47 million yen (US$459,000) to the family of a 75-year-old women he collided with and killed in 2010.

The pensioner, one Mrs. Mitsuhiro Azuma, was struck by the cyclist on a pedestrian crossing in Tokyo’s Ota Ward after he ignored a red light. The court heard that Mrs. Azuma suffered a head wound when she was knocked to the ground, from which she died five days later.

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This might be the skinniest house in Tokyo…and it’s on sale now!

This might be the skinniest house in Tokyo…and it’s on sale now!

Housing in Tokyo is notoriously cramped, but this is ridiculous! With a total of 7.2 ㎡ (77.8 square feet) per floor (that’s smaller than the inside of Japan’s famously crowded train carriages), this towering five-story house packs a lot of rooms into a petite frame. So if you’ve ever fancied living in a tiny triangle, now’s your chance because this baby is on sale now!

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Ignore the name, Kitchen Dive’s bento are cheap and delicious!

Ignore the name, Kitchen Dive’s bento are cheap and delicious!

There are only three reasons one could possibly fathom going to any establishment that’s known in American English as a “dive”: Cheap beer, cheap beer, and greasy burgers.

Now apparently you can add a fourth reason: Cheap, delicious bento lunch boxes, thanks to whispered-about bento  shop, Kitchen Dive. With just a handful of locations around Tokyo, we’d never actually seen one in the flesh before and almost thought they were some apocryphal legend; some cruel prank older, wiser salarymen were playing on the newbies, maybe (“Oh yeah, there’s a shop selling 200 yen bento. Right around the corner. Caaaan’t miss it.”).

Finally, we spotted an honest-to-goodness, 24-hour Kitchen Dive in the unassuming Kameido area of Tokyo and the 100 yen coins in our pockets practically flew out of their own accord.

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Biker gang crashes Coming of Age Ceremony in real life anime moment

Biker gang crashes Coming of Age Ceremony in real life anime moment

The Coming of Age Ceremony is the Japanese celebration that officially marks the passing into adulthood of all boys and girls that turned 20 the previous year. It’s normally steeped in tradition and – unlike some other countries’ coming of age rituals where kids put their hands in fire ant mounds or drink 15 beergaritas or whatever – it’s generally a pretty subdued affair until the youngsters-only after-party.

But one Setagaya Ward Coming of Age Ceremony saw things get pretty rowdy this year when a gang of bikers – called bosozoku – decided to crash the party. Bosozoku (literally, “wild running clan”) are groups of teens and 20-somethings that share a love of impractically kitted-out motorcycles, breaking traffic laws and all-around crude behavior.

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Fishermen (illegally) save endangered Japanese fish species

Fishermen (illegally) save endangered Japanese fish species

In a somewhat complicated story we’re not sure is heartwarming or kind of devastating, three middle-aged Tokyo fishermen have accomplished what experts thought was impossible by single (triple?)-handedly bringing an area fish species back from the brink of extinction by illegally catching them.

The three men, according to their accounts, caught the fish and, upon learning that they were on the endangered species list, contacted experts and aquariums for advice on breeding them – either for the sake of fishkind or for the sake of tons of delicious illicit fish meat.

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See a Tokyo from the past as you’ve never seen before — in vivid colors and brushstrokes!

See a Tokyo from the past as you’ve never seen before — in vivid colors and brushstrokes!

Before the capital city of Tokyo was given its current name in the late 1800s, it was known as Edo and served as the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate. The era now referred to as the Edo Period effectively ended with the last Tokugawa shogun Yoshinobu Tokugawa relinquishing power to Emperor Meiji in 1867, thus drawing the age of the shoguns to a close. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find a collection of vivid paintings depicting Tokyo sometime after the end of the Edo Period but still strongly reminiscent of a past era when the city was called by its former name. Quite interestingly, these paintings happen to be the work of an American artist who travelled to Japan near the end of the 19th century. So, come join us and take a look at Tokyo through the eyes of a foreign visitor to Japan over 120 years ago. It’s certainly nothing like the Tokyo we know today!

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Tokyo woman mugged for 3,000 yen, haggles mugger down to 1,000

Tokyo woman mugged for 3,000 yen, haggles mugger down to 1,000

At about 6:00am on 26 December, a young woman was walking down a street in Nakano, Tokyo. Suddenly, she was confronted by a man brandishing a knife and threatening, “Get out all your money and nothing will happen.”

The woman in her 20s complied and passed over 3,000 yen (US$30). You’d think the crime would be nearly complete, but in a truly Columbo-like moment the woman had just one more thing to ask the mugger.

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New banana shake-flavored Tokyo Banana cakes come out — in bright prints!

New banana shake-flavored Tokyo Banana cakes come out — in bright prints!

Visitors to Tokyo may be aware of a popular local sweet called Tokyo Banana sold here in the city. They’re cute, yellow, banana-shaped sponge cakes with banana custard cream filling inside. And yes, they’re as good as the description sounds, which is why the cakes are a well-loved treat in Japan, and seemingly in other  parts of the world as well, as I’ve actually heard people from Singapore and Malaysia mention that they’re fans of the cake.

One of the reporters at our sister site Pouch is also apparently a big fan, so when a new version of Tokyo Banana came out this month, she naturally had to get her hands on some! And what’s so special about the new Tokyo Banana cakes? Well, to start with, they’re only sold at one location — Tokyo Station to be exact — and not only do they come in a different flavor from the regular cakes, they come in beautiful, colorful prints!

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【Thursday Throwback】Free Admission: 12 of Tokyo’s Best Kept Secrets

【Thursday Throwback】Free Admission: 12 of Tokyo’s Best Kept Secrets

Expensive Tokyo living got you down? Are you staring another three-day weekend in the face and wondering what havoc it will wreak on your wallet? You’re in luck! There are plenty of places to enjoy yourself for free all over Tokyo, if you know where to look. RocketNews24 has sifted through the many options and has come up with 12 suggestions that will not disappoint. Try them next time you have a last-minute date or cobwebs in your billfold!

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Tokyo enlists civilian “water monitors” to prove its water is delicious

Tokyo enlists civilian “water monitors” to prove its water is delicious

Even though tap water in Tokyo is perfectly safe to drink, and in most cases indistinguishable from bottled water, the metropolitan government is concerned about the bad rap it gets from citizens who will not give it a try. In October, the Bureau of Waterworks, charged with providing clean and tasty water for Japan’s largest metropolitan area, wrapped up a 25-year-long project to connect the majority of Tokyo residents to great-tasting and specially treated water from the Tone River system.

According to an NHK article, the government agency wants to get the word out that their water is just as good as any store-bought bottled water and has asked 700 private citizens all over Tokyo to become “water monitors” and test their home’s tap water for minerals and judge its quality.

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12 urban legends about Tokyo Disneyland

12 urban legends about Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland is a magical place, what with all the joyous rides, concerts utilizing incredible animatronics and performers who seemingly never tire, mostly not-terrifying mascots available for photo ops, and children mysteriously vanishing from the park every year, never to be seen again.

Wait, what?

Okay, so the last one may or may not be an urban legend. Like any public place that gets massive amounts of traffic and a lot of media attention, Tokyo Disneyland attracts its fair share of urban legends. Some of these legends apply to Disneyland locations worldwide, while others are exclusive to TDL. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting/frightening ones:

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Boxers, manga, umbrellas… ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Boxers, manga, umbrellas… ABSOLUTELY FREE!

We all know there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, but in Japan, you might just be able to get free tour rides, free vegetables, and even free boxers! Some of these services even deliver the free items right to your doorstep without charging a single cent!

Sounds too good to be true. Getting a little skeptical here, aren’t we? Details after the cut!

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We made monjayaki with a Pon de Monja doughnut!

We made monjayaki with a Pon de Monja doughnut!

Yesterday, we wrote about Mister Donut’s new Pon de Umaimon series, which are basically savory varieties of the doughnut ring leader’s signature product, the Pon de Ring. Speaking of savory doughnuts, some genius in the office thought, why not go all the way with it! So we attempted the ironic stunt of making a monjayaki with a monjayaki flavored doughnut to see if it blends in with the real deal.

Monjayaki is a Kanto dish, so we had our very own Tokyo native, Mr. Hatori, work the monja magic for us!

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“Hamsters are friends, not food!” says Japanese snake Ao-chan

“Hamsters are friends, not food!” says Japanese snake Ao-chan

Back in school we learnt about the predator-prey system, the brutal but entirely natural way in which Mother Nature keeps things in balance. It’s a cruel world out there in the wild, but that’s just how it is.

But things don’t always go as planned, even for great Mother Nature. There are exceptions every once in a while, like this pair of miracle buddies, Gohan-chan the hamster and Ao-chan the snake, who seem to get along just fine.

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Cute cat stands sacrifice themselves to hold up your smartphone

Cute cat stands sacrifice themselves to hold up your smartphone

It’s about time cats did something for us. We’ve pampered them on the Internet and in convenience stores for years, and all they ever did in return was learn how to poop in the litter box.

Cats are finally giving back now with these cute but somewhat disturbing smartphone stands that depict various cat breeds heroically holding up your smartphone so it won’t topple over.

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Specialist French fry stand “And the Friet” opening today in Tokyo

Specialist French fry stand “And the Friet” opening today in Tokyo

If you’ve ever yearned for an authentic potato chip in Tokyo, then it’s time to get excited because specialist french fry shop, “And the Friet”, is set to open in the Hiroo district today!

The Belgian-style stand will offer six types of cut, half a dozen potato varieties including a Belgian variety flown in especially, and a choice of seasonal dips and sauces. It’s time to get your friet on!

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Honda’s UNI-CUB is our laziest dream come true

Honda’s UNI-CUB is our laziest dream come true

The good people at Honda, seemingly having read our minds, introduced at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show this beautiful luxury chair-vehicle hybrid that we never knew we’d always been waiting for.

Gone are the days of actually having to get out of your seat to retrieve the remote, or that last broken chip from the Pringles can that somehow found its way into the seat cushion of that chair you never use. In fact, with the new UNI-CUB the only reason you’ll ever need to get out of your seat again is to give a standing ovation to Honda’s brilliant – and probably equally lazy – engineers.

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Feed your inner monster with adorable Totoro cream puffs

Feed your inner monster with adorable Totoro cream puffs

Sometimes food is so beautifully prepared it seems like a shame to eat it. And yet, the beautiful preparation makes it that much more enticing. The Japanese are without a doubt the masters of this skill, ranging from the exquisite jewel-like arrangements of chic kaiseki-ryori to the saccharine adorableness of the average kid’s bento.

But we’ve discovered an almost-too-squee-inducing-to-eat treat that should appeal to adults and children alike: cream puffs shaped like Ghibli animation favorite Totoro.

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