Yoyogi Park isn’t just for the rockabillies and the aspiring idols of Japan – in a far corner, every weekend, Atsuhiko Kida sets up his slackline. 代々木公園は、ロカビリーや将来を夢見て練習しているスターの卵たちだけの場所ではありません。公園内に深く進んだある一角で、木田充彦さんは毎週末スラックラインを張っています。 From afar, you see … Continue Reading Slackline
On the left, observe that irresistible staple of Japanese festival snackdom, mitarashi dango: a skewer of gooey rice balls slathered in salty-sweet goodness. On the right, Mister Donut’s homage, the … Continue Reading Mitarashi Donut
My all-time favorite magazine Men’s Knuckle sent an intrepid team of stylists to Kabuki-chō to perform makeovers on young men they thought could use some help achieving that irresistible host … Continue Reading Look Like a Host In One Easy Makeover!
Apartments in Japan are small, but do people really need a Swiffer quite this tiny? On the other hand, a raspy cleaning cloth that buffs away the nasty grime that collects … Continue Reading The Mini-Swiffer
Even weirder than the trend of wearing black rimmed glasses without any lenses is the phenomenon of young Japanese dyeing their hair gray. I’ve seen most of these in Shibuya, … Continue Reading Gray is the New Blonde
Chocolate milk is soooo last millennium. Say hello to Banana Milk, Strawberry Milk, Apple-Orange-Peach-Pineapple Milk, and White Peach Milk, as well as the somewhat more challenging Black Sesame Milk, which looks as … Continue Reading Um…Banana Milk?
If you’re planning to leave a chopped up body in Lake Biwa, you really ought to take better care of your teeth, so the police can’t feature them as a … Continue Reading He Should Have Brushed His Teeth
January 2nd used to be known as one of the few times the public was allowed behind the walls of the Imperial Palace to see the emperor, but these days … Continue Reading Feeling Lucky?
When I made my hatsumōde (first shrine visit of the year) to the Nezu Shrine this morning, it did not disappoint. New Year’s is observed with all kinds of traditions in … Continue Reading Celebrating New Year’s, Japanese Style
It wouldn’t be New Years in Japan without pounding down a stomach-full of mochi, and who better to bludgeon the rice into sticky submission than a cadre of sumo wrestlers? … Continue Reading I Would Not Want To Be That Rice
So…how DO you get a 300 pound frozen tuna back to your shop on the other side of Tokyo if you don’t have a truck? I guess you can’t really … Continue Reading Tuna Messenger
Tired of running back and forth to the nearest alcohol vending machine when it’s time for another round? If you live near this model in Ningyōchō, you’re in luck! It … Continue Reading Partytime Vending Machine
The Eternal Use Virtual Grave fits a peculiar need in Japan. With fewer people marrying and having children, the number of people who are the last in their family lines is increasing. … Continue Reading The Virtual Cemetery
In a country where many people live in places too small for pets, cat cafés are a booming business. For about $10 an hour, anyone (over the age of 12) … Continue Reading Gateway to Kitty Nirvana
Yep, it’s actually eel-flavored ice cream. With a handy packet of sanshō pepper on top for your take-out dining pleasure! At the Cup Ice Store you can buy individual servings of … Continue Reading I’ll Have the Eel Sundae with Pepper and a Cherry on Top
The other night at our end-of term drinking party, my classmate Garry whipped out his pocket Geiger counter to check the radiation levels at the always-excellent Ushitora beer bar in Shimo-Kitazawa. Fortunately, … Continue Reading A Little Radiation Reading With Your Beer?
It’s the time of year when young Japanese women are shopping for their Christmas Eve outfits, and nothing says “romantic holiday” more eloquently than a bright red, fake fur miniskirt. … Continue Reading Fake Fur Santa Miniskirts
Last week I jumped at the chance to visit a place that makes fake food models for Japanese restaurants and learn the secrets of making tempura and lettuce! Making fake … Continue Reading Make Your Own Plastic Food!
Tokyo really rolls out the electric carpet when it comes to holiday light displays. This one in Shiodome was pretty spectacular even before it started sparkling and flashing in time … Continue Reading All Is Illuminated
In the land where Christmas isn’t a religious or family holiday – it’s actually second only to Valentine’s Day as an opportunity for romantic dates and marriage proposals – “traditions” … Continue Reading Deck the Halls with Blue Poinsettias
I didn’t think Shakey’s could top the red bean, marshmallow and squash dessert pizza, but their winter specials just might surpass that creation for sheer originality. When the most ordinary … Continue Reading Pizza of December
This green-haired, sixpack-flaunting, thong-wearing Santa outside an Asakusa pachinko parlor is the most boggling take on the jolly old elf I’ve seen so far this year. • “Without question, the … Continue Reading Thong Santa
Was walking along the sidewalk today and suddenly there was this giant shrimp. It was outside one of the stores that sell the super-realistic plastic food models you see in … Continue Reading Giant Prowling Shrimp
Inside Namco Namja Town in Ikebukuro is a crooked little street lined with stands featuring the best potsticker dumplings from all over Japan. It looks like an old shitamachi lane, … Continue Reading Streets Paved with Gyoza
Finally it’s cold and rainy out, just the season for a swig of hot saké with a smoked, dried blowfish fin floating in it! Hirezake is such a wintertime favorite here in … Continue Reading There’s a Fish Fin in My Drink
Can’t find that perfect pair of electric blue briefs with a bear bandit pocket in back? Fortunately, all is not lost! You can mix and match your own at the … Continue Reading The Design-Your-Own Underwear Store
Watching celebs dressed in puffy animal costumes battle it out on TV can give you a powerful craving for just the right snack, but it’s near-impossible to whip up a … Continue Reading Squid Ink Popcorn
Walking around Shin-Okubo never fails to deliver moments of jaw-dropping delight. I mean, who had the idea that this building should be festooned with giant glowing potatoes? Then right around … Continue Reading The Light-Up Potato Building
Today it was raining, and I discovered that wet umbrella technology has just taken a great leap forward with the invention of the umbrella dryer. Throw-away plastic sleeves solved the … Continue Reading Umbrella Dryer
Last night I turned on the TV and was instantly entertained by this dating show, which asks unsuspecting foreign men to pick their dream girl from the three alluring choices … Continue Reading Which Of These Guys Would Be YOUR Dream Date?
In the true spirit of the season, here are a couple of jolly Christmas hats that say, “Ho, ho, ho, fork over your wallet, buddy!” and “I’m having such a … Continue Reading Christmas Hats from Hell
Umadare babekyu (“Delicious Flavor BBQ”) Cheetos…do they even qualify as Cheetos without that neon orange goodness? • Read a novel set in Tokyo…
On the last night that the fall leaves were illuminated at Rikugi-en, we stumbled across the mitarashi dango stand. In a little hut beneath the maple trees, this man and … Continue Reading Little Blobs of Heaven on a Stick
Saw these lamps in the window of a furniture store near where I live. They’re made from real silkworm cocoons! Want. • Read a novel set in Tokyo…
Yesterday I went from Rikugi-en, the 17th century garden designed to include 88 views from famous waka poems, to Kabuki-chō, famous for more than 88 kinds of, er, entertainment. In … Continue Reading Electric Leaf Season
This is the side window of a toy store I pass every day on the way to the train station. I laughed the first time I saw it, then I … Continue Reading How Much is that Animal Butt in the Window?
This “Maple Monbranc” Honey Toast is just what it looks like: a solid half loaf of white bread topped with ice cream, maple syrup, prolific extrusions of sweetened chestnut paste, … Continue Reading The Godzilla of Toast
We all groaned when the Japanese kanji teacher handed us this week’s schedule: on Friday, in addition to her weekly test on the 25 characters we were supposed to have learned, another teacher … Continue Reading Congratulations! Your Test Has Been Preponed!
For your wintertime beverage enjoyment, behold the Hot Orange. At first I figured the distributor was just getting rid of last summer’s overstock, but the packaging definitely says this vending … Continue Reading Steaming Hot Orange Soda
Walking through the gigantic Sunshine City shopping mall in Ikebukuro, I thought I heard the perfectly-engineered chorusing of a Japanese boy band performing. I was wrong. When I craned my … Continue Reading Boy Band, K-Style
Friday night was my classmate Giulia’s sayonara party and this is the touchscreen at the table of the izakaya where we held the festivities. We ordered all our food and drink from … Continue Reading The Fine Art of the Drinking Party
Got a hankering for a corn dog, but walking further than the microwave seems like just too much trouble? Make your own with this handy “American Dog” kit from, yes, … Continue Reading Microwave American Dog
These three pictures are of the same Noh mask. It’s carved from wood and has no moving parts, yet just by tipping his head, the actor can change his character’s … Continue Reading Magic Mask
If you can’t be bothered to boil water and make your own Cup Noodles, this vending machine’s for you. On offer are curry udon (thick white noodles smothered in curry … Continue Reading Yakitori in a Can
This is me today. The cold that’s going around Tokyo finally caught up with me, and I had to put on this mask before dragging myself to the local café … Continue Reading Behind the Veil
I love Japanese TV. Sandwiched between a news story about protesters being pepper sprayed by police in a dangerous foreign country (America) and a piece on noodles topped with grilled … Continue Reading Nail Queen
Those cute little skirts on the handlebars of this lady’s bike aren’t the equivalent of doilies on armchairs – they’re to keep the sun off the rider’s hands while she … Continue Reading The Battle Against Unsightly Tans
I’ve seen AED stations all over Japan (and of course applaud the effort to get emergency equipment into the hands of bystanders so they can help someone having a heart … Continue Reading Your One-Stop Shop for Cold Drinks and Heart Defibrillation
While we ‘re on the subject of Christmas in November, every year these sinister nodding dwarves appear outside the Meidi-ya supermarket in Hiroo. They’re definitely of the Snow-White-and-the-Seven variety rather … Continue Reading Elf/Dwarf Confusion
The day after Halloween, I knew it was a bad sign when I heard music in my local supermarket that sounded suspiciously like “The First Noel,” but when I spotted The … Continue Reading Colonel Santa