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.

Japanese Love Doll Brothels

Some people tend to compare Japanese Love Dolls with regular western sex dolls, but in reality, they are on a whole other level. Believe it or not, people actually pay big money to sleep with a doll, at the bustling love doll brothels across Japan.

The first Japanese love dolls were created 30 years ago, so that people with disabilities could enjoy some female companionship, but they quickly became an alternative for healthy men simply to shy to enjoy sleeping with real women. A lot of Japanese men are obsessed with anime and manga girls, and these realistic love dolls gave them the chance to actually fulfill their fantasies of spending some time with their favorite characters. Some have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying dozens of high-end love dolls, made of silicon, and feel much more comfortable in their presence than they would in that of a real woman. They don’t nag, they never complain and they don’t cheat.

Read the rest of the story: Japanese Love Doll Brothels Are Bustling.

Cooling off in ghost houses – Tokyo, Japan

Ghost houses are set up especially for the summer in amusements parks in Japan with the tradition linked to Japanese Buddhism which views August as the time when ancestral spirits may return for a visit and Japanese visit their elders’ graves.

This year ghost houses have reported dramatic increases in visitor numbers as they tap into the Japanese tradition of also telling scary stories to send shivers down people’s spines and cool them down.

With temperatures still running high, Tokyo Dome City Attractions has extended its ghost house opening by a month.

"Japanese naturally connect summer with being scared and feeling cool thanks to that," said the Dome’s spokesman Yoshinosuke Goto.

Read the rest of the story: As temperatures soar, Japanese turn to ghost houses.

Roppongi Has a New Sheriff in Town

Masatoshi Shimbo has always felt more than a bit paternal toward the changeling Roppongi district, the inner-city neighborhood where he grew up and his family made its real estate fortune. But Roppongi often breaks his heart, over the decades turning from a U.S. servicemen’s haunt into a respectable business district and then back to disrepute — the gentle women in kimonos giving way to mobsters and drug dealers. Good or bad, in this famously safe city, Roppongi stands out: elegant one block, seedy the next, a multicultural meeting spot known as Tokyo’s most cosmopolitan dusk-to-dawn adult playground. Through it all, Shimbo has fiercely gone to battle over Roppongi’s reputation. Now the 58-year-old merchants association leader is facing a new challenge: bar touts. Popping up sometimes five or six to a block, the mostly young men from Nigeria and other African nations have a particularly un-Japanese way of doing business.

Source: Los Angeles Times
Photo: John M. Glionna

Bistro Juban Stand – Standing Bar

Standing Bars are not only for middle aged men any more. They once were as they were used by salarymen to drop in after work. They would drink, perhaps have an appetizer, and talk there around the big barrels discussing what ever it was that happened to be happening around the office. That was yesterday. Not today. Today standing bars are a lot more hip and diverse.


For a stylish Standing Bar near Azabu Juban Station, try the Bistro Juban Stand. It is open for all and has a regular fair of many young women and internationals, too. But, besides all those wonderful people being around…well it’s really affordable with 390 yen jugs of beer, 500 yen sake and so-chu, and even appetizers that go for 300 yen, like the Shrimp Peperonchino…did I say yummy? Yummy.


Out late? Don’t like to go home? When you’ve missed the last train, you can just stay there until 4 a.m. the next morning. No biggie, no hassle. They’re open late. If you like to sit and drink, they have a table in the back (Charge 500 yen). But after a few that might be where you want to end up.

During the daytime, they serve their own original curry. It is 490 yen and tasty. They serve 100s of dishes of curry each and every day. I’ve been there and I know you will enjoy just drinking or meeting new friends there. Try it out. But, hey it’s getting cooler outside you say for a standing bar…more reason to find someone and stand a little closer.

Hint: If you need a landmark look for the big barrels placed in front of the bar.


For More Information:

Address: 2-1-9-1F Azabu Juban, Minato-ku
1minute walk from Subway Nanboku line, Oedo line “Azabu Juban” exit 4
TEL: 03-5730-9777
Time: 16:00-4:00am


New Friends International Party in Roppongi

There is a New Friends International Party in Roppongi this Sat Jul 25th.

It’s summer and time to get out and meet new friends. This time the party is in prime partying territory, Roppongi! This is a joint party hosted by Hirosuke and Dave Faulkmore.

Different DJs will spin their favorite genres, so expect a mix of music. All you can drink wine, cocktails, soft drinks and lite snacks. All you can drink bar until ~8:30PM. Casual dress code. Smoking allowed outside. So everyone can relax and have a good time, this party we are encouraging people to have at least one strong drink.

New Friends International parties holds parties at various locations throughout Tokyo twice a month. It’s a great place for Japanese and foreigners to meet in a casual setting. Usually there are about 50-60 people, so it no small get together- It’s a party!

Time: Sat Jul 25th 6:00-9:00PM

Place: Saito Bldg 5Fl 3-13-8 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo ~4 min walk from Roppongi station

mobile map

PC map

Price: 2000jpy girls, foreign guys 2,500 yen 3000jpy asian guys

English Website

Parasite Museum as Hot Dating Spot?

Are you tired of exploring parks, temples, or nice restaurants in Tokyo with your partner? Then, I recommend trying something a little different like the Meguro Parasitological Museum.

This museum is literally showing specimens of parasites. You will hardly and hopefully never get the chance of ever seeing these specimens in your normal everyday life…Well unless you are in Meguro, Tokyo or you are scientist or researcher.

Usually, when you imagine parasites they are something gross or scary, and well that might just make you avoid wanting to look at one directly. Or so most sane people would think before building a museum to show them. But they built it and it’s actually not that scary…I guess. This museum tells you that parasites are more interesting than scary and more part of life on our planet than you might think.

I saw on TV once a famous opera singer, Maria Callas, who put parasites purposefully inside her as part of her diet plan. It seems to be a slightly dangerous way of dieting, but actually it’s not sooooo…dangerous as you have to only avoid a few kinds of parasites completely, the ones that can kill you more immediately as opposed to the ones that slowly drain your body of its nutrients while they suck the life force out of you. Either way, I don’t see it catching on anytime soon or getting as popular as the “Banana Diet” craze.

The museum shop has some really original merchandise. It’s mostly cute, nifty, and strangely gross T-shirts, key holders, and things. I think they are cool to have and that’s why I tell you people about them.

Oh…and have fun on your date.

For more information:
Meguro Parasitological Museum Website

Nakano Broadway

When I first entered Nakano Broadway I didn’t know what to expect. As I entered under the large red sign into the long corridor that makes up the first floor I wasn’t at all impressed. I was expecting a grander welcome that wasn’t there, at least not on the first floor. I saw a regular cheap ¥100 shop, a suit shop, and a cute place with socks representing each of the prefectures of Japan, but I didn’t see anything right away that would have given me any sense of what this place was hiding. At least not until I saw the Japanese idol trading card shop. Then I knew I was getting warmer and just a bit closer to the Otaku heaven this place has a reputation for. I didn’t have the time to stare and gawk though. I was ushered by my escort upstairs by way of escalator just as quickly as could be done through the crowd. Once on the top floor my eyes began to open wide to the world of Japanese pop culture. It was a treasure trove of Japanese pop culture mania or should say it is the mother load. That is Nakano Broadway, a hobbyist dream come true.

I didn’t realize that half of this stuff ever existed, but a lot of it reminded me of going though my grandparents attic and seeing some of the old toys that were my dad’s when he was growing up, but these were way freakier and not as dusty. These were spotless toys and they were everywhere and some perfectly preserved with boxes and all. Some were out and some were secured behind glass, but each seemed to have its place. It was obvious by just walking around and seeing a few of the shelves that there was a great deal of care put into the display of these mighty little figures and toys. There was of course the familiar Robbi The Robot from Forbidden Planet, Speed Racer, and Astro Boy filling up the shelves in various forms from trading cards to life-sized replicas, but after that all familiarity was gone. The most strange and somewhat disturbing thing I saw was a crucified Ultraman that seemed to be all the rage as he was everywhere. There were creatures and characters here that I’m sure are most beloved by most Japanese, but that I had no idea of who or what they could be. And they were rampant and scattered about, ambiguous in their domain. It was awesome nostalgia meets today’s now! It was glorious and spectacular!

But it wasn’t all toys here. There were all sorts of hobbies on display. There were manga books and anime cels. There were cosplay costumes of every type and character. There were air gun shops full of military realistic weapons and even more realistic if not realistic suits, helmets, badges, and outfits. There were those key chain/phone doodads made to look like everything cute under the sun. There were maid cafes, movie posters, record, and DVD stores. There was even a yo-yo shop and I’m sure stuff that I’m not mentioning that I might still be blinded by if I try to recall. All together it was a reminder of being a kid, and if you looked not even so hard, you could see the wanting eyes of window shoppers as they studied the toys and figures of their yesterdays through the glass. And it was all marked and priced and ready to be loved. And then, there were the people that were living their childhood still. Dressed to the nines in outfits and splendor that a kid’s imagination can only fathom and few can fashion.

We kept popping in and out of shops all day meticulously doing our own gawking at the shelves. We spent most of the time mentioning our own memories that were sparked by the pop amalgam and bursting into laughs at the more than occasional site of the absurd. It was fun. When we made it back to the bottom again we were both starving, but that’s a different story.

Onsens in Tokyo

Looking for a place to relax? It’s not easy to slow down in a city as busy as Tokyo, but you would be surprised that you don’t have to go far to enjoy some hot and relaxing therapeutic water. The city offers its own geothermal concoctions of which you would expect only from a pricey resort further up in the mountains. Onsens in the city are nothing new, but there are a few newer places that are worth the visit and the experience. The list below is of some of the most relaxing soaking spots around the city.

Note: Tattoos are not popular in onsens as they are associated with criminal activity. So, if you have one, you may be asked to leave. Best to cover it up with a bandage or heat patch, if possible.

La Qua

1-1-1 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku. Tel: 03-3817-4173

Open daily: 11am – 9pm

Nearest Station: Korakuen

Oedo Onsen Monogatari

2-57 Koto-ku. Tel: 03-5500-1126

Open daily: 11am – 9pm

Nearest Station: Telecom Center(Yurikamome Line) also free shuttle buses depart from Tokyo, Shinagawa, and Kinshicho Stations

Machida Roten Garden

358 Aihara-cho, Machida-shi. Tel: 042-774-2681

Open daily: 10am – midnight

Nearest Station: Hashimoto

Seta Onsen

4-15-30 Seta, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-3707-8228

Open daily: 10am – 11pm

Nearest Station: Futako-Tamagawa.

Niwa No Yu

3-25-1 Kouyama, Nerima-ku. Tel: 03-3990-4126

Open daily: 10am – 11pm

Nearest Station: Toshimaen

Cafés in Tokyo

A few decades ago, the café was just a place for having coffee, talking, smoking cigarettes, and so. Cafes in Japan have changed into a variety of styles lately.

Internet and Manga cafés are very useful places. They normally charge you per hour, and once you sit down on a nice sofa, you can do anything like having free drinks, reading comic books and magazines, using the Internet, watching DVDs and playing video games. You can also order food and take a nap. If you miss the last train after drinking too much, you can even go there and spend the night.

Maid cafés have made a big success in Akihabara in Tokyo, too. The girls with maid costumes serve you nicely. They are different from hostesses and the price is about the same as normal cafes, so you can have a good time without worrying about the bill. Some places serve liquor at counter tables. And if you are a girl, you might like Shitsuji(butler) Café. It is the opposite of a maid café with the men acting as butlers.

Cat cafés are getting popular among animal lovers. They are the perfect place for people who can’t have pets in their small Tokyo apartments. When you want to play with them, you can just go to the café and meet a variety of cats.

There are more varieties of cafes in Tokyo. If you are tired of going to StarBucks Coffee or Excelsior Caffé, why don’t you look for your favorite café in Tokyo?