Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tokyo Daijingu - Love Luck in Japan! [Pray]

Looking for some romance? Want to ask the gods of Japan for help and support in your love life? If you do, then there is only one place to go - Tokyo Daijingu! This popular shrine in Japan is famous for making your love life work out just the way you want it to.

Tokyo Daijingu first came to Tokyo in the Edo period. The Meiji Emperor wanted a satellite shrine of Mie Prefecture's Ise Shrine in Tokyo, so he had one built in Hibiya. Later, Tokyo Daijingu moved to where it is now – Iidabashi - after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Ever since then, it has been a famous shrine in the urban Tokyo.

Tokyo Daijingu is also the birthplace of Shinto-style weddings. The first Shinto-style wedding was held by the emperor in 1901 (before then, weddings were normally held at homes). Since that event, having weddings at a shrine has become a popular custom that is still continued today. If you are lucky, you may be able to see a wedding on the day you visit the shrine! The elegance of the wedding at Tokyo Daijingu is very unique, so it is an occasion to behold.

What I also recommend that you do at Tokyo Daijingu is to buy an Omamori (good-luck amulet). They can be purchased at the shrine and are very popular among young people (especially women) in Japan. There are types that can be worn on to your mobile phone or placed in your wallet, so you can take your luck around everywhere you go. If you do so, you may find your destined soul mate right away! Even if you already have a partner, there are also Omamoris for couples, so wearing them may be certain to make your love last forever!

Visit Tokyo Daijingu! I truly hope your love life will go well!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Street fashion in Tokyo

The fastest way to find out the characteristic of the town or area you are at in Tokyo is to look at the fashion of the people walking around. Today I'd like to discuss about the style in different areas of Tokyo.

The term Harajuku has been popularized by a pop queen in America while the image of these girls has grown too. The fashion of Harajuku girls is a bit different today, but their fashion is centered on being "kawaii" (cute). Pink, yellow, light green, and lollipop colors are used in many clothes, and their hair is almost always dyed.
Check it out

Girls in Shibuya are known for their tans and the colorful clothes often seen in clubs. They wear more make-up than girls in other areas and "having an attitude" is one of their things too. They dress up like girls from clubs and from R&B music videos.
Check it out

Omotesando is known for its expensive brands and stores; and many celebrities are usually seen shopping here. It is known to be like the Rodeo Drive of Tokyo. Here, many girls dress up like Hollywood celebrities and wear famous international brands.
Check it out

Girls seen in this area dresses up in casual yet fashionable style. The style is more European and the colors used in the clothing are not so bright. They use more monotone colors.
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Not many 'girls' are seen in this area. It is more known for the rich 'ladies & gentlemen' of Japan. They wear famous international brands like the girls in Omotesando, but the average age of women shopping here is older, most women are closer to their 30s and 40s.
Check it out

Shimo Kitazawa
Shimo-Kitazawa is known for punk and rock bands. Therefore, many people dress up with a bit of rock taste; and many people have highlighted hairs or dyed hair. The amount of the make-up put on is usually some to none. The whole concept of the style is very similar to Harajuku girls yet they have less make-up and have an essence of punk mixed into their style.
Check it out


When you first look at this food, you might think "What is this!?" That sloppy-looking food is called "Monja-yaki" and it is a popular food for people in Japan, mainly in the Kanto region.
Monja-yaki is an absolutely easy-to-make and delicious-to-have type of food. As you can see from the picture, the brown part is what you might call the dough. It is created by basically mixing water, flour and Worcester sauce. The ingredients are usually cabbage, small shrimps, squid, and pork slices, but nowadays there are numerous original recipes. (Ingredients include kimchee, cheese, mochi, cod roe, and etc.) Here, I will briefly introduce to you how Monja-yaki can be made at home. All you need is a grill and the desire to make a delicious Monja!

1. Fry all of the ingredients on the grill and chop them in to small pieces with a metal spatula.
2. When the ingredients are well-fried, create a circle on the electric grill with the ingredients.
3. Make an "O" shape with the fried ingredients and pour the dough into the center.
4. When it is heated well, mix everything together.

That's it! Easy isn't it? To eat Monja, people use a small metal spatula and eat directly from the electric hot plate in front of them. It is usually enjoyed by eating it with a group of people.

Since the dough is very thin - unlike an Okonomiyaki - Monja will burn easily. Despite this, it is still soft and this is what most people enjoy. In addition, the ingredients are crunchy due to the thin dough, so the balance of the dough and the ingredients are an important criterion for determining a "good Monja".
There is a place that I recommend where you can eat great Monja-yakis. That is a place called Tsukishima. Tsukishima is located in the Chuo Ward of Tokyo and is famous for having many Monja restaurants. It even has a street called Monja Street! As soon as you set foot into this street, you will be surrounded by the delicious smells of Monjas. Numerous Monja stores are lined up along this street and they compete over who makes the best Monja. (That is why they are all so delicious!) When you enter a store and ask a person at the store, they will teach you how to make a Monja. So don't be afraid to order a Monja that interests you!

Ready to eat a nice Monja? Let's give it a try!
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Thursday, May 14, 2009


Asakusa is one of the most popular places for tourists visiting Japan and is surely a must-go! You can see and experience artifacts in this temple town which flourished during the Edo period.

Kaminarimon is the gate standing before the Sensoji Temple with a huge red lantern hanging in the middle. Kaminari means "thunder" in Japanese and mon means "gate." The gate was built by Taira-no-Kinmasa in 942. On both side of the lantern are two statues inside, called Fu-jin and Raijin, a God of wind (Fu-jin) and a God of thunder (Raijin). The lantern itself is about 4 meters tall and weighs about 670 kg.

Nakamise Dori
Nakamise Dori is the street leading to the Sensoji Temple from the gate. It was first formed in 1685 and the street is about 250 meters long, starting from the Kaminarimon to Hozomon. It has about 90 stores lined up, selling teas, crafts, foods and kimonos and of course various souvenirs. Since the street is narrow it is usually crowded with so many people either from Japan or outside Japan.

Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple is one of the oldest temples from the Edo period. Over the centuries since then, it has attracted many people, and became the center of the entertainment and commercial industry.
Due to its longevity, Sensoji Temple has been hit by earthquakes more than ten times throughout its life and is constantly being rebuilt. During the air raids of Tokyo in 1945, the entire temple was burned down. More recently, it was rebuilt in 1958.
When entering Sensoji, you will see a bronze pot where tons of incense is being burned. The smoke is said to possess divine power and to give good luck to people. Many visitors try to cover themselves with as much smoke as possible to banish any bad luck and bad health.

Jinrikisha (Rickshaw)
When you get off at Asakusa station, you may see guys wearing black tights and white tabi (Japanese socks) waiting by a carriage. These are the jinrikisha, a service where they pull you in the carriage around Asakusa and tell you historical stories while you ride. It might be a little pricey at 13000 JPY a ride, but is an experience you could only get in Japan and is definitely worth it.

Stroll around the Nakamise Dori, take a ride on rickshaw, seeing Japan through Asakusa is another way to enjoy one of your stay in Japan.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Adding posts

Moving our posts (published before 3/26/09) on to this blog.
These posts will be backdated to their original published time for easier reference.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Date in Chiba (Around Tokyo)

Chiba is the other neighbor of Tokyo, known for the Disney Resorts at Maihama station. Whether you are newlyweds or newly-coupled, the Maihama area of Chiba prefecture is the best place to go.

For new couples, who need to get to know each other more:
The best place to go is Disney Land. Since the amusement park itself has so many attractive places and topics to talk about, you will be friends with him or her in no time! If you're lucky enough, you might be able to take pictures together at the amusement park.

Another thing is that in Japan, there are two Disney theme parks. We also have Disney Sea, which is a water-themed amusement park based upon cities and Disney characters from around the world. They have an Indiana Jones ride, Aladdin shows, and the Little Mermaid land where you can enjoy the fun and fantasy of Disney.

After enjoying the fun, IKSPIARI is the place to be! It's located right between the Disney theme parks, which has both fast food and some a-bit-luxurious-restaurant vibe that is good for a first date. They also have nice cafes where you can catch a cup of coffee. Now you will know each other a bit more than when you first met up at the station.

For the couples who have been dating for a while and want to refresh their relationship:

Maihama, Chiba is a great place to go for couples who has been dating for quite a while. Since it takes time to get there, it will be a refreshing break from the daily routine. When arriving, go to the North exit of the station and you will see the free shuttle bus stop to the Eurasia (Spa Land). Yes, I guess all of you realize by now that I'm taking you guys to a Spa. This whole date's goal is to freshen up your relationship and each other. To do that, this is the place to be.

Eurasia is a 10-story spa relaxation building, with many Jacuzzis, saunas, massage booths, rooms to stay overnight (hotel), and restaurant - all in one building. You can spend a day here and relax all you want for a really cheap price. It's the closest get away if you are living in Tokyo and a great get away for anyone visiting Japan as well.

By relieving the stress you have built upon each other, you might be able to look at each other once again to express your love.

When you are tired of just relaxing and want fun and excitement, you can always go to Disney Sea, Disney Land, or IKSPIARI! That's why I recommend a Maihama, Chiba date! You can alternate your plan any way you want so that there are no more arguments on where you want to go, or what you want to do or eat!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Children's day Part 2 - Kabuto and Kashiwa-mochi

Koinobori is not the only fascinating aspect of Kodomo no hi (Children's Day) in Japan. This time, I will show you some other ways people enjoy the holiday.

As I have mentioned earlier, Children's Day is a day when boys are the star. In addition to Koinobori, Japanese people prepare a Kabuto arrangement (Armor) in their houses. Kabuto can be easily described as an ornate helmet worn by Japanese warriors centuries ago, were an essential item during war. In other words, it was an important item to protect their lives. Thus, today on Children's day, people like to place a Kabuto in their house so that the boys in the house will be protected from accidents and disasters. It also is placed so that the boys will become a great man when they are a part of society. This custom has been practiced in Japan since the Edo period (1603-1867). Although they are very expensive today, people like to buy the Kabutos (miniatures) of famous warriors because they each differ in design. For those who do not care and just want them for decoration, regular Kabutos are available as well. Kabutos are also popular because you can make the helmet in origami (folded paper). If they are made with large sheets of paper, children can actually wear them on their head and can enjoy the holiday to the greatest extent!

Several different foods are enjoyed on this day as well. The first is fish. In Japan, there are numerous fish that are named differently as they grow. For example, mullets (most often called bora), change their name five times depending on the stage of life it is at (Oboko-inakko-subashiri-ina-bora-todo). Japanese amberjacks (most often called buri) are another example as well. Japanese people believe that eating these fish is good for advancement in life. Also, Kashiwa-mochi is enjoyed among the Japanese as well. Kashiwa-mochi is a popular Japanese confectionary made by wrapping mochi (rice cake) in a kashiwa leaf. This is popular on Children's Day is because kashiwa leaf has an important meaning. That is that kashiwa leaves do not fall until a new sprout appears. Thus, this symbolizes the continuation of the family. On Children's Day, Japanese people enjoy eating kashiwa-mochi so that their family tree will continue on to further generations.

As you can see, there are many interesting customs for Children's Day in Japan that has very unique origins. Knowing them will sure let you enjoy the holiday even more. So, now that you have learned the interesting things you can see and eat on Children's Day, all you can do now is get prepared and wait for the day to come!

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