Locals worried by ice and snow falling from Tokyo Sky Tree Tower

The builders of Tokyo Sky Tree have announced some of the technologies that have been installed to deal with the winter weather, after it was confirmed that chunks of snow and ice had fallen from the upper portion of the structure to the street below between January and March this year.

Read the rest of the story: Locals worried by ice, snow falling from Tokyo Sky Tree ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.


Tokyo hostess club busted for employing high school girls

The manager and another employee at a Tokyo hostess club were among those arrested for employing minors, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 25).

Officers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police took manager Koji Nakakarumai, 31, staff member Ichiro Goto, 28, and two others into custody for employing high school girls at hostess club Apricot in Sumida Ward in violation of the adult-entertainment law.

Nakakarumai and Goto have denied the allegations, while the two others have admitted involvement.

Read the rest of the story: Tokyo hostess club busted for employing high school girls.

Thieves target Sukiya gyudon beef bowl restaurants for cash

The National Police Agency has taken the unusual step of telling the operator of the Sukiya gyudon beef bowl chain to tighten its security measures–again–after its outlets were targeted in 90 percent of robberies on such restaurants in the first nine months of this year. The NPA has instructed operator Zensho Co. to increase staff numbers at night and take other crime-prevention steps at its 1,699 outlets nationwide, police said. According to the NPA, 63 of the 71 robberies and attempted robberies of gyudon outlets between January and September targeted Sukiya restaurants, with thieves getting away with about 6.6 million yen. The rival Yoshinoya gyudon chain suffered six robberies during the same period.


Nile Perch Creating the Fairy Kei & Pastel-Lovers Paradise in Harajuku

Nile Perch hasn’t always been a leading name in Japanese Fairy-kei fashion. More than 25 years ago it was a simple polo-shirt brand with a fish logo (the Nile Perch) inspired by Lacoste’s famous crocodile insignia. It’s the longevity and growth of Nile Perch which makes it different from other Fairy-kei labels such as 6%DokiDoki and the Tavuchi-led Spank!!!, Monascas Banana, and Ticket to Darling.

If we go even deeper into Fairy-kei, which has been a movement or scene in Tokyo for years now, we can see that there is no such thing as a unified Fairy-kei but multiple mini-scenes which make up Fairy-kei culture. 6%DokiDoki opts for vibrancy in colors and theme, Spank goes for second-hand pop and rock inspired 80s kitsch, and Nile Perch is a proponent of softer, kinder colors such as pinks and pastels. They might look similar to outsiders, but within the Fairy-kei community these brands are as different as Gucci and Takuya Angel.

Read the rest of the story: Nile Perch – Fairy Kei & Pastel-Lovers Paradise in Harajuku.

Tokyo Disneyland’s parking falling apart and sinking

The district surrounding Tokyo Disneyland may have to reinforce reclaimed land housing 96,000 people after the earthquake off Tohoku turned the ground to mud, snapping utility pipes and tipping over buildings.

The quake triggered ground liquefaction — which causes soil to act like quicksand — across much of the 1,455 hectares of reclaimed land in the city of Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, said Kazuhisa Nakatani, a local government spokesman.

Some of Disneyland’s parking lot was also affected, trapping as many as 30 cars. The park’s main areas didn’t suffer as they sit on 15-meter-deep reinforced foundations.

"There’s no question the earthquake damaged the area more than expected," said Yasuhiko Hino, the head of urban disaster prevention projects at the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry. Houses in the suburban district were most affected because they lack the concrete pilings that protected high-rise buildings, he said.

Read the rest of the story: Tokyo Disneyland’s parking lot shows the risk of reclaimed land.

Japan: A Nation of Iron Chefs

Sushi, Tempura, Ramen, Yakisoba … You probably know these dishes. But what about Ishikari-nabe, Hiyajiru, Funazushi, Fukagawa-meshi? Unless you decide to live in Japan for the rest of your life (and even then it may not happen), you’re never going to experience, or even hear of every dish the Japanese have invented. After all, this is the land that (according to my Japanese father) encourages the consumption of 30 different types of food a day, so they have built up quite a culinary repertoire.

The best way to experience Japanese cuisine is to go to Japan. Forget Paris and New York. Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants then the two gastronomic powerhouses combined. And if ‘haute cuisine’ isn’t your thing, there are curry houses, soba and udon stalls and tempura joints ready to feed your appetite for 800 yen (around ten bucks) or less. The myth that Japan is an expensive place to visit doesn’t hold much water when it comes to eating.

Read the rest of the story: Japan: a nation of iron chefs.

Japan eager for panda arrival from China

Japan is rolling out a red carpet ahead of the arrival of much-awaited special guests from China: a pair of giant pandas.

The two 5-year-old pandas are due to arrive at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo on Monday. They’ll be the zoo’s first since the 2008 death of its beloved giant panda Ling Ling.

The Ueno area was filled with panda themes Sunday. Streets were decorated with banners carrying panda cartoons, and shops were selling novelty goods.

"The pandas are finally coming to town," said beaming Masahiro Kayano, a jewelry store owner in Ueno. "We are so excited."

The zoo’s first pair of pandas arrived in 1972, marking the signing of a peace treaty between Japan and China.

Expectations are running high for the new set of pandas to boost Tokyo’s economy and its troubled relations with Beijing.

Read the rest of the story: Japan eagerly awaits pandas arriving from China.

Japan’s Sushi Chains in Price War

Japan’s largest sushi chain restaurants have started a price war that is making dining out on the nation’s most famous delicacy more reasonable than ever before.

With the economic downturn continuing to bite and fewer people opting to eat out, operators of "kaiten-zushi" restaurants – where small plates of sushi roll past diners’ tables on conveyer belts that are constantly replenished by the chefs – are looking to appeal to a new consumer base by cutting prices.

The three largest restaurant chains in Japan – Kappa Sushi, Akindo Sushiro and Kura Sushi – have reduced the cost of most platters to Y100 (€0.90) in a bid to attract families to replace the high-spending businessmen of the past.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s most famous cuisine becomes more affordable.

Harajuku – Where trends draw the crowd

For several decades, the trendy Harajuku district in central Tokyo has been a magnet for young people seeking the latest fashion trends and also for those who want to express their own style.

From imported luxury brands to "fast fashion," tiny individual stores offers shoppers and browsers a huge range of fashion goods, turning the area into Japan’s fashion mecca.

Following are some basic questions and answers about Harajuku.

Where is Harajuku?

The area is in Shibuya Ward and can be reached by train or subway. It is actually hard to identify the boundaries of Harajuku because the name itself has not been used for addresses since 1965.

In general, many people tend to view the intersection of Meiji-dori and Omotesando avenues as Harajuku central. Those places are located between Jingumae 1-chome and 6-chome.

Read the rest of the story: Trendy Harajuku draws crowds.

Pandas to arrive to Ueno Zoo in February

A pair of giant pandas to be leased from China will arrive at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo in February, sources said Saturday.

The giant pandas will be the zoo’s first since Ling-Ling, a male panda, died in April 2008, and follows a deal between the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and China to borrow the popular animals for 10 years.

One of the pandas is a male named Bili, and the other is a female called Xiannu.

Read the rest of the story: Ueno Zoo to get pandas in February.