Category Archives: tokyo

Nagi Shokudo: Relaxed vegan eatery in Shibuya

Nagi Shokudo Set menu

When in Tokyo, I like to try out different vegan or vegetarian restaurants in addition to my mainstays. Nagi Shokudo (なぎ食堂) isn’t located that far from Shibuya Station but far enough that the bustling noise that everybody associates Shibuya with sounds merely like a whistle. But that’s the way most of Tokyo is, once you leave the busy main streets.

 

So I left the busy part of Shibuya behind walked up and down while being baked in the Summer sun – and missed the restaurant on my first try. Nagi Shokudo is not located at street level but a few steps below. There’s no big sign and the restaurant is partly obscured by a plant. 

 

Nagi Shokudo is supposed to be quite busy during lunch hour but I was lucky and the restaurant was empty when I arrived (but it was full when I left). The restaurant has a very laid back, casual atmosphere and they serve various Asian-style food depending on the day. Their lunch set was delicious with rice, soup and vegetables. A great place for lunch and highly recommended!

 

Nagi Shokudo is open from 12 to 4pm (last order at 3pm) and 6 to 11pm. They close at 4pm on Sundays. Menu and website are in Japanese and English. [ Map ]

 

Nagi Shokudo 2

Nakagin Capsule Tower – A modern monument

Nakagin 1

For all its traditional temples and shrines, apartment buildings in Japan are usually rather plain and not built to last decades. The Nakagin Capsule Tower is different – it’s one of the few remaining examples of Japanese Metabolism, an architectural movement that depicted towers with plug-in capsules. The movement remained largely theoretical and even though the Nakagin Capsule Tower was built, it never reached its full potential.

 

Architect Kisho Kurokawa’s building consists of two towers with 140 fabricated capsules. Each capsule was fitted with utilities before it was shipped to the tower and could be removed and replaced without affecting the other towers. This was akin to upgrading a software or a piece of hardware: Just swap it out for an updated unit and take advantage of better materials or utilities. Capsules were supposed to be mass produced, lowering the price of a new one. Unfortunately, it never happened.

 

Nakagin 3

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Art Aquarium in Fukuoka

Oiran
Over 2.5 million visitors across Japan have seen the special exhibition Art Aquarium which features goldfishes in small and big tanks illuminated with changing lights. I have been to the exhibition two years ago when it started in Tokyo. The exhibition is now in Fukuoka and in Osaka. The Osaka exhibition’s tanks vary from the ones shown here.

Japanese people love good illumination shows as can be seen every year in December. The Art Aquarium features both video projections and lighting, with the latter changing color after a few seconds. Thus you can see every tank in different colors.

The tanks itself are also impressive. The exhibition starts with a few smaller tanks which can only be enjoyed if you knee down. Different breeds of goldfish swim in the tanks and while the smaller ones only house a couple of fishes, the biggest contains almost one thousand! Lighting changes between seven colors.

Art Aquarium

Some of the works combine aquariums with Japanese motives such as the four distinctive seasons.

More photos: Read the rest of this entry

iPhone 5 in Japan

From the Wall Street Journal to Biscuit Today, there was probably not one magazine which didn’t report about the iPhone 5 and its launch day. Since Apple tends to give even its partners as little information as possible, most of the smaller cell phone shops here in Japan had to improvise. Most important for the customer was, whether the shop takes reservations or not.

So cell phone shops know the iPhone 5 will sell well, but they haven’t received promo material or event demo units yet. Therefore they improvise:

iPhone 5 Japan
Shop with iPhone 5 mockup

Some shops even had cases! Read the rest of this entry

Shinjuku Classic Camera Show

Camera Show
Classic analog film cameras are exciting and Japan is the place to buy them. At camera shows such as the this one at the Takashimaya department store, you can see and buy rare items. Most are sold during the first few days. I had no plans to buy another camera, but I still went to the Camera Show to enjoy the variety of analog cameras.

There are a few cameras I wouldn’t mind owning however. The large display of Polaroid cameras was an eye catcher and many different models and designs were on display. Even though Polaroid left the instant film business, cameras are still sold at used camera shops and stores like Village Vanguard which stock them together with modern toy cameras. I own an instant film camera by Fujifilm, but Fuji offers less variety and only one type of film.

Shinjuku Classic Camera Show

Another type of camera which fascinates me is the stereo or 3D camera. Coincidentally, it is again a modern version made by Fujifilm which I happen to own.

On to the other cameras… Read the rest of this entry

Karaoke

Microphone
Sometimes meet-ups groups wake up from their year-long slumber, such as the Karaoke Group. The meet-up venue was Karaoke no Tetsujin in Shinjuku, a karaoke chain that offers various rooms, including big ones for company parties. Costume rental is also possible, though their selection doesn’t seem to be very large.

They even have an English website and organize international karaoke parties. One feature is missing from their international site though: The ability to search for songs and artists and write down the code. The search feature works the same way as the controller in the karaoke rooms and is a nice way to find out if they even have your favorite songs.

karaoke controller

Obviously they have a large selection of songs in Japanese, English and Korean language. Other languages are harder to find. Read the rest of this entry

Oktoberfest 2012 in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Oktoberfest Shinjuku  Tokyo  13
Honestly, I’ve stopped counting how many Oktoberfests were held around Tokyo alone, let alone Japan. An Oktoberfest held in a month other than October is nothing special though. Even the original in Munich starts in September. The Oktoberfest Shinjuku was held near Seibu Shinjuku Station. Personally I’d just skip the Oktoberfest and walk a bit further to Shin-Okubo to eat some Korean food instead, but I’m biased 😉

Oktoberfest Shinjuku  Tokyo  05

On the plus side, Oktoberfest seemed quite authentic to me. Plenty of German food and more than one beer variety to choose from. For Bavarians complaining about the rising beer prices every year, Shinjuku Oktoberfest must be a shock: 1 mass (liter) of Franziskaner Weissbier for 3000 Yen (about 30 Euro). For comparison: In June it was announced that the beer price at the Munich Oktoberfest would be between 9,10 and 9,50 Euro.

How authentic is the rest? Read the rest of this entry

Save the Pride

Save the Pride
Pride parades by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT) are common in the west and have been held in Tokyo since 1994. There were no parades held in the years 2008, 2009 and 2011, due to a dispute between organisers. This year two parades were held: Tokyo Rainbow Pride on April 29 and Save the Pride in August 11. I went to the latter one. But why were there two parades?

The Japan Times asked the organizers of both parades and they told a slightly different story. Hiroteru Inui of the Rainbow Pride states that the Tokyo Pride organizers weren’t sure whether they would do a pride event in 2012 while Daisuke Monko of the Tokyo Pride Parade claims that another candidate wanted to take over his position as organizer. He is ok with anyone holding a parade but asked TRP to change their name (which they didn’t). I guess that most people were happy to participate in both.

Rainbow

In another twist, the Tokyo Pride in August was cancelled, prompting members of the LGBT community to quickly organize a replacement called “Save the Pride”. The notice of cancellation was published on August 6 – to organize a replacement including show acts and sponsors in such a short time is amazing.

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Like the Rainbow Parade, Save the Pride was held at the event stage/square next to Yoyogi Park. Lots of events are held there from international food events to anti-nuclear demonstrations. I arrived to see the pride parade heading back to Yoyogi. The parade was small to say the least and although I like Lady Gaga, hearing only “Born this way” gets kind of annoying. It wouldn’t have hurt to add Madonna to the mix 🙂 Read the rest of this entry

Vegan Meetup at Pink Cow

Pink Cow Vegan Meetup
The Pink Cow is an expat- and vegetarian-friendly bar and has regular live music and art events. Together with the Tokyo Vegan Meetup Group, an all vegan buffet is offered each month and although it’s on the pricey side (2800 Yen), it is quite popular. Before having their regular meet-up at Pink Cow, the meetup group moved from restaurant to restaurant. Vegan meet-ups at places other than Pink Cow are now rare.

Food is just one part why people join this meet-up, socializing is the other one. It’s like an international party with a more laid back feel and the food is much better, but that’s just my personal opinion. There are a lot of international/friendship parties each month and the cost can vary between 1000 to 3000 yen. Some give discounts for foreigners and women, so if you are a female foreigner, you’ll get the biggest discount.

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All-you-can-eat buffet.

Veganism is just one of the topics people talk about at the tables and most of the people aren’t even vegans. Vegans do exist in Japan and at least in Tokyo there are quite a few vegan/vegetarian restaurants. I’d still say that if you plan to lead a vegan lifestyle in Tokyo, you need to be both an excellent cook and should be okay ordering many things online. Read the rest of this entry

Tsukuda Bon Odori – Folk Dance

Tsukuda Bon Odori  07
This is one of those smaller folk dancing festivals, even though it is recommended by the Japan National Tourism Organization. Tsukuda Bon Odori was held from July 13 to July 15 in Tsukuda, Chuo-ku near the Tsukudakobashi Bridge. The square is about a ten minute walk from Tsukishima Station (Oedo or Yurakucho Line) but finding it was not easy. I’ve never been to that festival or the area before so I expected a somewhat bigger, more public square.

Instead, this festival has more of a neighborhood feel to it. Music was played from 8 to 9:30 each day. The music is highly repetitive, but that works in favor for those who haven’t practiced before. Many obon festivals I’ve been to encourage people to join. While there were many dressed for the occasion in Yukata and sandals, others were wearing casual Western clothes.

The stage was simple. Larger festivals usually have a bigger tower for the musicians as well as some dancers who know all the proper moves. Read the rest of this entry