Tokyo Journals

Timeless Tokyo

A January 2007 trip to Tokyo by Nicole-san

IceBar Tokyo Photo, Tokyo, Japan More Photos
Quote: An insider's guide to the cultural mecca of the East. From vodka bars made of ice to natural hot springs surrounded by monkeys, Japan offers a taste of everything.

Courtyard Tokyo Ginza

Hotel | "Courtyard Marriott Ginza"

Quote:
The Courtyard Marriott has gotten a recent face lift. The newly renovated hotel, in the heart of Ginza, is conveniently located 10 minutes from the entertainment mecca Roppongi, and 15 minutes from the chaotic youth playground in Shibuya. Enter into the swanky main lobby, decorated in a modern Zen theme, and you will be greeted by the first-rate hotel staff. The hotel offers a convenient bus shuttle to Narita Airport for 3,000 yen, which is cheaper than the Narita Express, and it picks you up in front of the hotel. Reservations can be made at the front desk with frequent morning and afternoon departures. The shuttle take about 1 1/2 hours. The standard guest rooms are small, and a litt...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 7, 2007

Courtyard Tokyo Ginza
14-10 Ginza 6-Chome
Tokyo, Japan
+81 (3) 35460111

Ninja Akasaka Restaurant

Restaurant | "Ninja"

Ninja Akasaka Restaurant Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
The dining scene in Japan can be described as a gastronomic paradise. An endless menu of cuisine and price ranges, guarantees almost anyone can find something to please their palate. For those looking to blow a week's paycheck in one night, the uber hyped theme restaurant, Ninja is a good choice. Tucked away in the swanky business district of Akasaka, the restaurant is easily lost among neighboring high end eateries with trendy decor and more prominent locations. Dare to venture inside and you're greeted by a maitre d' decked out in, of course, a ninja costume. Two knocks on the wall and a mysterious door opens with a ninja appearing from thin air. Holding only a lantern he leads you throu...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 15, 2006

Ninja Akasaka Restaurant
2-14-3 Nagata-Cho
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
03-5157-3936

The Lock Up

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant | "Lock Up"

Quote:
This catchy eatery has got the theme dining experience locked up in Shibuya. Located on the basement level of the Grand Tokyo Building, Lock Up is not your typical sushi and sake izakaya. In fact, the 2500 yen set course featured margarita pizza, tortillas and cheese, and even fried calamari pieces. But hey, what do you expect; it's prison! The entrance looks like the set of a Rob Zombie horror film, but don't get too distracted by the unusual decor. The floor gives out in some places. A scantily clad jail warden greets you at the door and leads you back to your dining cell in handcuffs. Once seated, your cell door is locked and the fun begins. The wait staff serves up prison favorites...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 28, 2006

The Lock Up
33-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya Grand Tokyo Bldg., B2f
Shibuya, Japan
81 (03)-5728-7731

Quote:
Trip, recently opened this January, is an urban retreat serving up "Asian resort dining" in a beach-style atmosphere. Intimately lit and adorned with bamboo and parasols, the vibe is an ecelectic mix of Japanese Zen meets Ernest Hemingway. Trip is so convincing you might expect to see world-class beaches when you look out the windows of this third-floor establishment.Trip has gotten the recipe right; a perfect blend of good food and exotic ambience without the pretentiousness of Ginza or Omotessando. Their 50-page drink menu contains everything under the sun, and there is a one drink minimum. The drafts are a little pricy, but there are plenty of other concoctions to quench your thirst. During...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 14, 2007

Chinese Cafe Eight

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
This 24-hour eatery sits across from the swanky Grand Hyatt in Roppongi Hills. As if the Hills weren't an experience in itself, dare to step inside the always crowded cafe and you will be wonder if you have mistakenly stepped into an adult entertainment shop. The peculiarly phallic interior is open for interpretation, with the main attraction being a giant steel rod suspended from the ceiling in front of a Chinese gong, that strangely resembles a derriere...The cafe is frequented by the young and hip, as well as many foreigners curious about the breasts and bottoms that adorn the cafe's walls. The menu is extensive and cheap, portions are average by Japanese standards, and it is customary to s...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 18, 2007

Chinese Cafe Eight
3-2-13 Nishi Azabu, Minato-ku
Tokyo, Japan
+3-5414-5708

Buttu Trick Bar

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
Like the treasure at the end of a weathered map, this place is difficult to find, easy to miss, but worth every penny. Located on the 7th floor of the giant Book 1st in Shibuya, the restaurant is easily lost in the infinite neon chaos that is Shibuya. But venture past the endless rows of books and otaku to the rear set of elevators, and when the doors slide open on the 7th floor, you will feel as if you've stepped inside a genie's lamp. Although the restaurant is decidedly Thai, the cuisine is heavily Indian and Chinese influenced. The staff is extremely friendly and the atmosphere inside is a sexy, smoky red that invites you to kick back and stay awhile. There is a 300 yen table charg...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 25, 2007

Buttu Trick Bar
7F Book 1st, 33-5 Udagawacho, Shibuya
Tokyo, Japan
03-3477-2208

Coldstone Creamery

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
This cool creamery has been serving happy customers in America for the last several years, but is a newcomer to the Japanese marketplace. With three locations in the Kanto area, (Grandberry Mall, Landmark Plaza, and Roppongi Hills) this cutting edge ice cream parlor is confection perfection.If the warm, inviting scent of waffle cones doesn't lure you in, your curiousity will. The lines of people spilling out from the shop filled with singing and dancing ice cream scoopers will surely stand out among the typically conservative Japanese dining establishments. The lines move fast, and sometimes you may still be left with the difficult task of choosing just one signature creation. With three sizes...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 4, 2007

Coldstone Creamery

Tokyo, Japan

Quote:
I’m not a smart man, but I do know what love. And if you fancy some finger lickin’ good shrimp and seafood, you will love the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and Market. Located on the first floor of the Tokyo Dome City complex, this all American eatery serves up fresh food in a lively atmosphere. The interior resembles a dock with movie memorabilia adorning the walls, and flat screen TV’s showing clips of the Tom Hanks classic (in Japanese of course!). The menu features a no fuss selection of dishes with enticing names like "Boat Trash" which is a bucket of battered and fried shrimp, lobster, mahi mahi, and french fries dusted with Cajun spices. Another house special is the "I’m Stuffed" shrimp whic...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 4, 2007

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant
LaQua, First Floor
Tokyo, Japan
+81 (338) 687-041

Thong from Bangkok

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
Yes, you read the name right. It really is called the THONG from Bangkok. This little gem, hidden in the basement of the bustling Yokohama station will lure you in with the scent of exotic spices, and culinary bliss. And even though the richly decorated interiors will make you feel as if you're in a crowded Bangkok market, there's no need to bargain for a good price. The à la carte menu is very reasonable, and the lunch sets are an all out bargain. Appetizers range from 350 yen for a single fresh spring roll to 800 for a table platter of fried rolls with fresh avocado. The lunch sets include soup, a generous main dish (you can choose from ground chicken or beef mixed with fresh mint and a...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 10, 2007

Quote:
One of the best chains to immigrate from the States, California Pizza Kitchen has recently opened in the new Lalaport entertainment megacomplex. Devoted diners and newbie noshers will enjoy the exact same menu featured in the U.S. With exotic specialities like Carne Asada, Thai Chicken, Jamaican Jerk and Pear and Gorgonzola pizza, you'll find something to satisfy even the most discerning tastebuds. The pizzas are served on a warm, doughy, hand tossed crust, but thin is in for the carb-conscious.CPK offers the traditional staples like Sicilian Sausage, Margherita, and Hawaiian Pizza, but why not be adventurous and try a BLT pie, Salad Pizza, or California Club? The Kitchen also ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 20, 2007

California Pizza Kitchen
Lalaport Yokohama 3F (Unit #35100)
Yokohama, Japan
+81 (45) 414-2415

Mike's Tex Mex Restaurant

Best Of IgoUgo

Restaurant

Quote:
It's sombrero-meets-sushi at this lively TeX Mex restaurant in Higashi-Rinkan. A favorite among English teachers and military, Mike's Mexican is the closest you'll get to the border this side of the Pacific. By no means do they serve authentic Mexican fare, but Mike's does an admirable job, serving up non-Japanese sized portions of refried beans and freshly made guacamole. Appetizers range from 400-800 yen and include chips and salsa/guacamole, taquitos, and quesadilas. Most of the entrées are served with gut wrenching portions of Mexican style rice and beans, and are available in spicy or mild. The menu features straightforward staples such as burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, tacos, and qu...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 23, 2007

IceBar Tokyo

Attraction | "Absolut Ice Bar Tokyo"

IceBar Tokyo Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
A visit to the Absolut Ice Bar Tokyo can evoke any number of clichés about being cool, but the gimmicky lounge in Roppongi’s Nishi-Azabu District is just that. Kept at a chilly –5° C, reservations can be booked in 45 minute time slots. When coupled with the steep cover charge of 3,500 Yen ($35 USD), the experience seems like pure piracy. But 30 minutes in the subzero ice box is plenty of time to sip vodka cocktails and chill. The cover charge includes a sci-fi-esque cape and gloves and your choice of cocktail. The exotic drink menu features green tea liqueur, champagne and cassis concoctions, all mixed with vodka of course and served in a frozen tumbler. The bar also features a frozen love seat to lou...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 15, 2006

IceBar Tokyo
8-5-15 Ginza Chuo-ku
Tokyo, Japan
03-6228-5022

Quote:
Hakone is a short one and a half hour train ride from Tokyo and is a popular area for Japanese hot springs, or "onsen." The traditional onsen are typically outside, scalding hot, and tinted yellow with a hint of sulfur. There is also a strict rule against swimming suits. For all of the above reasons, Yunnessun Resort and Spa is a welcome alternative among foreigners. With over 25 unique baths, it's easy to spend an entire day at Yunnessun. Favorites include the green tea bath, milk bath (with huge, ceramic cows watching over you),and a giant red wine bath. Yes, people try to drink the wine, despite all the signs begging you not to. An essential experience at the spa is the Dr. Fish Bath. Teeming with ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 15, 2006

Yunnessun Resort and Spa
1297 Ninotaira Hakone
Tokyo, Japan
+81 0460-2-4126

Ueno Park

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
On a spring afternoon, Ueno Park resembles the last train home on a Saturday night. The cherry blossom lined sidewalks erupt with locals and tourists alike, all scrambling for prime real estate under the sacred trees. Japan's largest public park is an eclectic mix of sights and sounds. Art afficionados can easily get lost in one of the many worthwhile galleries, notably the Tokyo National Museum, the National Science Museum, the Museum of Western Art and the Tokyo Metropolitan Modern Art Gallery. The Ueno Zoo is nearby and is popular among families with children. Most of the museums close around 5 pm and dining facilities are overpriced and nothing spectacular. Follow the masses away from the ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 25, 2007

Ueno Park
5-20 Ueno Koen
Tokyo, Japan 110-0007
+81 (3) 3828-5644

Fertility Festival

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
Every March, a group of middle aged men carry an 800-pound, wooden phallus down the crowded streets of Komaki. Crowds of cheering and slightly intoxicated locals, foreigners, and pregnant women, push and shove for the chance to rub the sacred member which they believe will bring good luck and fertility. This eccentric festival begins with the offering of traditional Japanese sake, which is blessed and distributed among the crowd. Before the 2.5 meter long phallus is carried ceremoniously into the “female” shrine, it is on display for the public to take photos with. Because the event is such a draw for tourists, the local media is eager to take photos of foreigners, in interesting poses in fron...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 19, 2007

Fertility Festival
Kawasaki Daishi Station
Tokyo, Japan

Lava Hot Yoga

Attraction

Quote:
Work up a sweat at Tokyo's "hottest" yoga and fitness studio. With several locations around the Tokyo area, Lava offers traditional exercise classes, in a heated studio. Classes cost around ¥3,000 for a one hour session and include bottled spring water, towels, and access to the powder room.

The classes are taught in Japanese only, but are easy to follow. Trial lessons can be arranged, but be prepared for the serious salespitch after your lesson. Other classes offered included Hot Kickboxing and Hot Hula.

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 29, 2007

Lava Hot Yoga
194-0022 Tokyo Machida 1-15-13, 3F
Tokyo, Japan

Enoshima Aquarium

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Quote:
Overlooking the not-so-white sandy beaches of Enoshima Island, the Aquarium offers a world-class view of the marine life metropolis that lies just beyond the shores. Enjoyable rain or shine, the Aquarium is fairly crowded on weekends, with families and a lot of young children. Admission is 2,000 yen for adults, 1,000 yen for elementary school aged children, and 600 yen for preschoolers. Group discount rates are also available. The modern and spacious facilities feature separate rooms with individual themes such as salt water fish, an amazing collection of jellyfish, and penguins. The breathtaking floor to ceiling glass wall aquarium is brimming with exotic fish, sting rays, sha...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 2, 2007

Enoshima Aquarium
2-19-1 Katase Kaigan, Fujisawa
Tokyo

Zushi Beach

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

Zushi Beach Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
Beachgoers beware. Despite Japan's island status, white sandy beaches are nowhere to be found on the mainland Kanto area. Most of the oceanfront you wouldn't take a photo of, or even think about swimming in. Although Zushi beach is nicer and cleaner than its sister seashore, Enoshima, it's no walk in paradise. About 15 minutes from the JR Zushi, or Shin-Zushi station, you will find Zushi Beach. It's a hot spot for wind surfers as the bay picks up some fairly decent breeze. Small beach bars and vendors line the coast, selling anything from yakisoba and beer to umbrellas and giant turtle floaties. During weekends the beach is unbearably crowded, while the weekday draws mostly families an...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 16, 2007

Zushi Beach
JR Zushi Station
Tokyo, Japan

911 Black

Attraction

Quote:
Despite its unfortunate location next to the seedy, infamously raunchy expat hangout, Gaspanic, 911 Black is an unpretentious lounge with good music and great service. Although small, the intimate club has enough room to dance, and corner tables to relax and spend your hard-earned money. The attire is young and chic, and the crowd is a little bit older than the J-pop teeny-bopper joints of Shibuya. Entrance is free, and drinks run about 400-1000 yen.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 26, 2007

Bar 7Hongi

Attraction

Quote:
Bar 7Hongi, meaning seven trees, is a welcome refuge in Roppongi. The bar is said to have been constructed of seven large trees, which lends the intimate pub a grown-up treehouse ambiance. The bar offers a full drink menu and some small snacks. The wait staff are friendly and attentive without being intrusive. This bar is a great place to relax and kick back after a long week at the office.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 30, 2007

Bar 7Hongi
5-16-4 Mikawadai Bld. 2F
Tokyo, Japan
+81 (3) 3568-2227