Friday, March 28, 2008

Yakitori Alley!

Yakatori Alley, Shinjuku, 2007©janneserojas
Yakitori Alley, also known as Omoide Yokocho, or as the locals delightfully call it "Shonben Yokocho" (piss alley). It's really not like that though. It's what you expect when you go to Asia, small eateries in tiny alleys. Yakitori Alley, is just that, a winding alley filled with small yakitori stalls, where most can only accomodate about 5 to 6 people at most. Mostly locals go there, but on occassion you will see a foreign face squished in the back chugging back an icy cold one, or a delicious sake to go with there tempting meat skewers, yum! Yakitori Alley is hidden between the train tracks and Shinjuku station, so it's easy to miss. Head here any time of the day or evening they are open 24 hours which is great if you missed the last train home and don't want to spend 10,000Yen on a cab.

Getting there: Get out the west exit at Shinjuku station walk towards the Epson sign along Otakibashi-Dori until you get to the corner of Yasukuni-Dori, hang a right you'll see the elevated train with the underpass right in front of you, about 20-30 feet from the corner you will see an alley on your right (look for restrooms sign) walk up this alley and it will lead right into Yakitori Alley.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tokyu Hands, the Greatest Store on Earth!

Tokyu Hands, Shibuya, Tokyo, 2088©janneserojas
Tokyu Hands, might just be the most amazing store ever made. If someone thought to invent a product chances are you'll find it here. From dog umbrellas to lucha libre costumes, you will be amazed and will want to buy everything. The best one to hit is the one in Shibuya, don't bother with the one in Shinjuku. The most fun is checking out all of their crazy costumes. My favorite was the craft department, and don't miss out in purchasing a folding piece of luggage on the ground floor, that's my greatest regret, not getting that, because I sure needed it when I was packing up all my Japan finds. It's definitely a minimum of a couple hours needed at this glorious store, but be sure to check it out you won't regret it.

Getting there:Take the JR Yamanote line to Shibuya Stn.
Head out Hachiko Exit, walk to the large intersection and cross the road toward QFRONT. Go right and turn left at the next traffic light. Follow this road and Tokyu Hands will be on the right.

more Tokyu Hands pics:
All 2008©janneserojas

Monday, March 24, 2008

A little video tour of Tsukiji Fish Market

This is sort of part two of my previous post, I wanted to include this short video of the fish market but I hadn't uploaded yet. Enjoy. The res on it looks like crap through youtube, but what can you do. Here it is, please excuse my strangely elfin voice at the beginning and mis-pronunciation of the market's name it was 7am

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tuna Freezer, Tsukiji Fish Market 2007©janneserojas

Okay, so when you get to Japan take advantage of your jetlag, because chances are that you will be getting up before 5am for the next 3 days and you can visit Tsukiji Fish Market. The key to going is getting there between 5am and 7am, I know that sounds awful but you will be trust me. If you get there early enough you can watch the Tuna auction which we missed only because we couldn't find it once we got there, the place is humungous! You say why in the world do I want to go to a fish market, that's what I said, and I tell you it was freakin' amazing. It's the largest fish market in the world, and it's madness. Be really careful because there a guys on mini forklifts zooming around like the Tasmanian devil, and they will run your ass over, these people have been up since you went to sleep. When you are done clicking away on your canon, which you will, I have about 800 pictures to prove how coll fish can look in pics, make your way outside and find the small eateries right on the fish market's permises. You will have the freshest sushi ever and at the very late hour of 8am, or you can have some very slimey chicken katsu at one of the other counters. It was a lot of fun. And you can walk over to Ginza afterwards from here it's not far.

Getting there: Don't go on Sunday when the market is closed. Take a taxi if you want to arrive really early. Otherwise, the Tsukiji station on the Hibiya subway line will get you within a 5-minute walk.

Mama & baby,Tsukiji Fish Market 2007©janneserojas

In the Thick of It,Tsukiji Fish Market 2007©janneserojas

Red Tentacles,Tsukiji Fish Market 2007©janneserojas

Down the Aisle, Tsukiji Fish Market 2007©janneserojas

Eateries,Tsukiji Fish Market 2007©janneserojas

Friday, March 14, 2008

Toys, Toys, and more Toys

Kiddyland, Harajuku©2007janneserojas

Tokyo does not lack in the toy department, everywhere you go you are overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of video games, over-sized stuff creatures, and licensed characters. Going to the big toy stores is an awesome experience especially on saturdays and sundays when everyone is able to go. Kiddylandin Harajuku on a sunday is just sheer insanity, but fun as hell. The great thing in Japan is that you are never to old to play with toys so no one looks at you like you're freak for hugging a doll in public even if you're a guy! You'll find dolls of every variety, anime characters, Liccas (Licca headquarters at Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Ginza, which are the Barbie of Japan, and tons of licensed characters. One of my favorite floors in Kiddyland offered all sorts of merch with illustrations of some really cool japanese children's books illustrators. Two of favorites are marini-monteany and Michiko Tachimoto/Colobockle, check them out there beautiful. Then there is Junie Moon for the Blythe fans like myself, it's a really cute store and located in a great neighborhood Daikanyama. The staff is not the friendliest but the store is wonderful. You'll find Blythe at Kiddyland and Hakuhinkan Toy Park(in Licca Department) also if you can't make it. Oh and they are closed Mondays, found out the hard way.

PLACES TO GO: Toy stores

KIDDY LAND - Harajuku

6-1-9 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
TEL: 03-3409-3431
[Open] 10:00 am-9:00 pm
Closed on the third Tuesday of each month.
GETTING THERE: Take Jr Yamanote Line to Harajuku station

Hakuhinkan Toy Park - Ginza
8-8-11 Ginza
Phone 03/3571-8008
On Chuo Dori, near the overhead expressway
GETTING THERE: Shimbashi or Ginza stations(4 min.)

Junie Moon
4-3, 1F, Sarugaku-cho, Daikanyama
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0033 JAPAN
hrs open: Tue -Sat ... 12:00 - 20:00
Sun + Holiday ... 12:00 - 18:00
Mon ... Closed
GETTING THERE: Take JR Yamanote line to Shibuya station and transfer to Toyoko line to Daikanyama, it's one stop! Follow map below to walk there, very easy.

map to junie moon

map to kiddyland

Toys at 3 stores

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Harajuku Square Dress to Impress

Lucha Libre in Harajuku Square©2007jannese rojas
Harajuku has some really amazing stuff and can get a bit overwhelming,
but the first thing you see when you get out of the Harajuku JR train
station is Harajuku Square. This is where the young and the stupid come
to hangout (much like the cube at Astor Place in NYC, once upon on
time)and dress up in their Lolita, Gothic Lolita, Fruits, or other
"subculture entire" from 1995. Now I know I sound a bit bitter but
that's because I was so excited to see these kids and photograph them
like Shoichi Aoki
of "Fruits" book and mag fame, instead I got the "talk to the hand"
hand from these little snot-nose brats, when I politely asked to take
their pic. Anyway I did get some pics against their will or not,
whatever, they want the attention. There are other fun things that
you'll get to see in Harajuku sq, is dang fools performing, highly
entertaining. More on Harajuku later, there's so much. getting there:
take the JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku station.
Harajuku Square©2007jannese rojas
Harajuku Square©2007jannese rojas
Harajuku Square©2007jannese rojas

Bullet Trains!!!!

Narita Express ©2007 Jannese Rojas

Ok, I'm sure you have heard of the shinkansen,"bullet trains", in Japan, well they are fucking fast as hell. We took one from Tokyo to Kyoto, it was a 2hr 20min ride. It was really cool because we were blasting through mountains, the train felt like it was going to fly off the rails on turns, but it didn't and it was amazing. Well if you are planning to visit somewhere besides your incoming destination I would highly recommend getting a JR railway pass it will save you some money, they come in 7 day, 14 day, and 21 day passes. The less days on the pass the cheaper. The are only sold to foreigners so you must buy it in your own country, before you leave for Japan. The pass is good for all JR trains including the express train from Narita Airport, and the Yamanote line which is the central line in Tokyo and you will be using a lot. We were in Japan for two weeks so for the first week we didn't use the pass because we wanted it for Kyoto and the Narita express back to the airport, since we got the 7 day pass which cost $243 when we bought it, it various on the Yen at the time you buy it. So this is a pass to buy your ticket. When you get to Japan and when you are ready to start using the pass you take it to a JR station which are at every major train hub to cash it in. There are always very nice english speaking staff on hand so no worries.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fabulous and cheap!

Lounge near elevators Oakwood©2007 Jannese Rojas

When we went in September to Tokyo we stayed at a very swank hotel/apartments. Oakwood Apartments in Shinjuku, the studio apartment comes with a full size bed, full kitchen, megascreen tv, cable, dvd player, bose radio, and the bathroom was amazing! Toilet and vanity/sink are separate from the traditional Tub/shower room, yes room! The toilet had a sorts of accoutrements to freshen your tushy and other parts. The tub is made so you have to have your knees up by your chin, but you are fully submersed in a temperture controlled tub, plus the shower is separate so you can shower pre-dip, which is the correct thing to do in Japan (just fyi if you ever go to a public bath or spring). The shower/tub room also acts a dryer for clothing if you need to hang stuff and dry, but you also have your very own washer dryer in the kitchen!!! You also have a balcony with a sweet view of Tokyo. They also have free internet in there lower level lounge and a beautiful 360 view of Tokyo from there Sky lounge. The hotel/apartment building is kept spotless, the front desk staff is super helpful, they will print maps out for you, tell you how much a ride from one train station to another will cost you, pretty much an entire staff of concierge service, just beautiful. The block is on is very quiet at night and there a bunch of 24hr restaurants right by the hotel. Shinjuku station which is THE main station in Tokyo is a 5 minute walk, and you are within walking distance of Kabuki-cho, major shopping area, there's a huge Kinokuniya bookstore, Takashimaya, Isetan, the Studio Alta building, and pachinko and karaoke galore. The rate there runs between $113-$125 a night which is amazing for a nice hotel in Tokyo. The one in Harajuku is awesome too but pricer but if within your buget well worth the stay.
View out Balcony,Tokyo©2007 Jannese Rojas
©2007 Jannese Rojas
©2007 Jannese Rojas
©2007 Jannese Rojas
©2007 Jannese Rojas
©2007 Jannese Rojas

Yakitori! Oy-shi!

Yaki-ton was a delicious (oy-shi)standing yakitori (grilled meats on a skewer)place near Oakwood Apartments (where we stayed). The chef(and we think also owner)was really friendly, eager to practice his english with us and throughly psyched that we were from NYC. We tried the chicken and pork yakitori. Pork of course comes in different varieties so we had to point to various parts of our bodies to indicate what we wanted because pork loin really gets really lost in the translation. You can have it with a spicy sauce or just salt and pepper, I highly recommend the salt and pepper version.And you can wash it down with an ice cold mug of beer or a yummy sake. As with many of the restaurants in Tokyo reading the menu is pretty much a complete loss, unless they have pictures. Yaki-ton has only a Japanese menu (which I didn't expect anything else, we were in Japan after all)but the chef is really sweet and is happy to help and the food is pretty delicious and inexpensive including the beer.

on Otakibashi-dori

Get off at the Shinjuku Station use the West exit walk straight towards the giant Epson sign. You will cross a big street called Yasukuni-dori(you'll see elavated trains on your right) when you cross over you will see a giant pachinko parlor and a shoe store on the corner, stay on that side (right side) of the street (this is Otakibashi-dori) it's about 3 blocks it will be on your right. Map below, walk toward the Oakwood Apts sign on the map.

Map of Shinjuku
click map for larger view

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nippori- Textile district in Tokyo

Those of you who craft your little hearts away like myself a trip to Nippori is essential. There are many fabric and notions stores in Nippori, but if you have limited time hit Tomato, it's huge and you will find all you need there, and it's easy to get too.
JR Yamanote Line, Nippori Station.
Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line (subway) Nishi Nippori Station. About a 10
minute walk to Textile Town from Nishi Nippori.

This person also has some great pics and recommendations for other place to visit.Tokyo crafty shopping

Will post also Kyoto textile shopping in another post.


vending machines, shinjuku. ©2007 jannese rojas
check out vending machines in japan blog

Hi there, I've been wanting to put this blog together for quite sometime. Basically I will recap my trip to Japan and give you lots of good info on shopping, eating, and places to stay. Plus I will post resources and other good stuff, like trends in Japan.

If you want to visit Japan first put the thought away that it's too pricey. It's on par with NYC. No a coke doesn't cost $5. You can find reasonable priced places to stay, cheap meals and cool stuff to buy that won't break the bank.

Hope this helps those that want to experience japan
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