Archives for the month of: December, 2011

Original images copyright : : cherry blossoms – hirekatsu; japanese dragon tattoo – flash tattoo

2011 took the world by surprise. For those expecting a year of calm, The Year of the Rabbit was anything but peaceful, throwing up a series of bloody revolutions across the north of Africa, the near collapse of the European economic system along with the downfall of a number of its Heads of State, and death and destruction of epic proportions at the whims of nature, nowhere more horrifying than in Japan’s Tōhoku area.

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Tokyo is switched on 24/7. While the pace does slow down for the most part at night, parts of the city are transformed into playgrounds with venues for drinking, dancing, partying and all types of nocturnal play either hidden away or adorned with the glow of neon. When it comes to music, whether you want to groove to top DJs, listen to jazz greats, or rock out to rising indie bands, there are some great venues that cater to all musical tastes, from dance clubs to pubs. A few choice venues are highlighted in this post.

Original images copyright their respective owners : : club que – akira kamikura; ageha – masanori naruse; blue note tokyo – akira ishii 

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Kitty chan is the consumate consumable. A character conceived of and for a product, famously born on the face of a modest coin purse in 1974. This eternally youthful, middle-aged feline has come, more than anything, to represent the materialistic fetish of Japanese society and its pop-culture devotion to kawaii and the cuteness of things.

Kitty chan images : : copyright Sanrio Co., Ltd

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With the release of the latest Michelin Guide Tokyo Yokohama Shonan 2012, Japan has become the gastronomic capital of the world, boasting more 3-star restaurants than France.

This is not surprising, given the care and artistry that goes into dining in this country. Also not surprising is that Tokyo, with its 16 3-star restaurants, is the gourmet capital of the world.

And yet, the average Tokyoite, particularly in these times of economic struggle, dines in a much more varied culinary environment. It’s a rich landscape of eateries, encompassing the various refined dining rooms and starred restaurants the city hosts, through casual izakaya and inexpensive family restaurants, to bento shops, convenience stores, supermarket pre-cooked meals and fast food outlets.

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13 million people call the city of Tokyo home. The greater Tokyo area has a population of 36.5 million and a good number of these people commute to central Tokyo for work. This is a crowded city. In Tokyo’s central commercial and transport hubs it can all get a bit much sometimes; this despite the relative passivity of the crowds and the infrastructure efficiencies of the city.

Perhaps surprising to visitors, Tokyo has an abundance of outdoor retreats, from the plazas at the base of many corporate towers to the modest temple grounds and tiny recreational squares in the city’s suburban neighborhoods. However, it’s the impressive green zones scattered throughout city’s 23 wards, the expansive parks and gardens that are most impressive.

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