Happiness in life is achieved by making incessant eudaemonic visits to utopian Tokyo. Some say that addiction to Japanese food can cause gluttony. We couldn’t care less as we traveled recently to Tokyo to savour the best of best of Tokyo food scene and to experience the esoteric Japanese culture. In this travel guide, we focus more on experiential activities vis-a-vis buying stuff that we don’t need.
Collecting stamp prints
First, we recommend you getting a small notebook or bring along your diary to be able to collect the stamp prints from multiple Metro stations (Most can be found at the station exits of JR Lines). The tedious part is the fact that some of these stations have more than 8 different exits, so finding the stamps becomes harder.
In almost every public tourist point such as parks, temples, or free-access towers there will be a stamp at the entrances. If you can’t find the stamps, you can ask a guard about their location. At museums, aquariums, botanical parks and historic monuments you’ll get up to two or three different stamps. They invite people to collect them and become partners with their institution because they constantly renew the stamps. In many airports, you’ll find different stamps in every terminal. You can increase your collection anywhere.
Ginza at night
Wallowing on the streets of Ginza at night is an ephemeral experience as the city neon lights seem so surreal. The streets are normally empty after the shops are closed even though tourists from China and other parts of Asia are ubiquitous during the day. We would suggest that you go to Chuo Dori area in the evening after 9pm to avoid congregations of shoppers. If you are bold enough like us, wait for the traffic lights to turn red and make the road your centre stage for your portrait shots.
If you walk around Shinjuku at night, you will be mesmerised by an inundation of food outlets, karaokes and Pachinko parlours. You will come across Robot Restaurant, a cheesy and tacky restaurant not easily missed at 1-7-1 Kabukicho | B2f, Shinjuku. It attempts to epitomise the bizarre side of Japan (but failed miserably) by projecting an experience that is definitely not an accurate depiction of the Japanese Manga obsession. The restaurant charges a fee of close to HKD$1,000 for a Tokyo Robot Cabaret Show Including Dinner. We feel that artificial establishments as such are meant to rip off tourists but still, you can have some fun by taking some pictures for free outside the restaurant.
Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple
The mysterious attraction of “a temple which doesn’t look like a temple”
A building which resembles an Indian palace and located next to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. Tsukiji Hongan-ji, a Buddhist temple with an architectural style of ancient India, possesses a strange attraction which stirs feelings of exoticism. Tsukiji Honganji is the Buddhist temple belongs to Joudoshinsyu –Honganji. The main temple Nishi Honganji is in Kyoto, Japan. Originally, the temple was built in Asakusa, Tokyo in 1617 and it had wooden structure. However it was burnt down due to Great Kantō earthquake in 1923. In 1934 they moved to current location and was rebuilt using Indian stone structure instead of Japanese traditional wooden structure. Tsukiji means constructed area, this naming came from the rebuilding because the stone temple was built on top of a reclaimed ground.
Sen-soji Temple, Asakusa
Senso-ji Temple at Asakusa is known to bring good luck, happiness, good relationships, and make all wishes come true! Do not miss the amazing graffiti paints on the shutters of most shops along the way to the temple as most of them are painted with images of ancient Kabuki actors and Geishas.
Senso-ji Temple (2-3-1, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo) is the oldest and most visited temple around Tokyo. The origin of the Temple dates way back to the 6th century when the Hinokuma brothers, who were fishing at a river nearby, happened to fish a Buddha statue. The brothers brought the Buddha statue home, rebuilt their home into a temple, and started a temple which later came to be known as the Senso-ji Temple today.
Minimal (Bean to bar chocolate), Shibuya
This unassuming Chocolate cafe was featured in the Netflix series : Kantaro, The sweet tooth salaryman and produces the best hot chocolate drink and chocolate bars in Tokyo.
Like its caffeinated cousin, bean-to-bar chocolate centers on single origin beans, from one estate in one carefully selected region. Bean-to-bar chocolate prides itself on using nothing but the basics: carefully selected beans and natural sweeteners. Minimal uses only those two ingredients. This streamlined operation—founded by Takatsugu Yamashita and his university friend, Kosuke Tabuchi—achieves an unbelievable array of flavors, without any natural or chemical additives whatsoever. Their “Fruity” bar, for example, tastes astonishingly like tangy, sweet, fresh blackberries, a flavor imparted exclusively by the Vietnamese cacao beans. Haitian-sourced “Nutty” tastes of toasted almonds and a bit of booze, while the ironically-titled “Bitter” boasts 85% Madagascan beans, but is incredibly mild and sweet, like banana.
In addition to seven unique varietal bars, which retails from ¥900 to ¥1300, they sell chocolate flakes (perfect for making hot chocolate, or as a sweet topping) and cacao nibs, a crunchy, nutty offering that can be used in everything from granola to yogurt, even as an addition to salads.
Minimal Chocolate Opening hours: 11:30-21:00 (closed Mondays)
151-0063 Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Tomigaya 2-1-9
The Sumida Hokusai Museum
The Sumida Hokusai Museum (すみだ北斎美術館, Sumida Hokusai Bijutsukan) is a museum dedicated to the ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai, commonly referred to as Hokusai. His most well-known works include The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Red Fuji, from the collection Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. The museum was opened in November 2016 in Tokyo‘s Sumida Ward where Hokusai was born and where he spent most of his life.
The museum’s permanent gallery on the fourth floor is located in a single, relatively small room, but is packed with interesting art and information. Original woodblock prints by Hokusai are on display here, and multilingual panels and videos provide more detailed, bilingual information about the artist, his life and work and woodblock prints.
The National Museum of Western Art (Japanese: 国立西洋美術館), also known as NMWA, is a museum in Tokyo dedicated to European and (to a lesser extent) American art, housed in a building designed by Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier; it is one of the only four museums built after a design by the famous Swiss-French architect.
The museum was founded in 1959 by Japanese art collector and businessman Matsukata Kojiro (1865-1950) to publicly display his large collection of, mostly French, paintings and sculptures.
Matsukata commissioned the design of the museum’s building to Le Corbusier in 1955. The architect devised a three-story (two over the ground plus an underground storage level) construction, mostly made in reinforced concrete.The permanent collection of the museum, which includes both pieces which were part of the Matsukata’s collection and works acquired later by the NMWA, spans a time period of seven centuries, from the 14th to the 20th century. Works on view includes paintings, drawings and sculptures by artists such as Lucas Cranach the Elder, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Guido Reni, Peter Paul Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Johann Heinrich Fussli, Eugene Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet (including one of his Water Lilies), Auguste Rodin, Aristide Maillol, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Fernand Leger, Joan Miro, and Jean Dubuffet, among others.
Hokusai and Japonisme at National Museum of Western Art
There is currently an exhibition on Hokusai and his influence on the Western Art.
21 October 2017 – 28 January 2018
|Hours||9:30 – 17:30,
9:30-20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays except 18 November (9:30-17:30)
(Last entry 30 minutes before closing)
In the late 1850s, when Japan ended its seclusion policy and Westerners began visiting the country, many had already seen Hokusai’s works. This owed, above all, to his 15-volume Hokusai Manga collection of block-printed sketches, which was already in use as a source of illustrations for books about Japan. Western visitors purchased Hokusai’s ukiyo-e prints, art manuals, and illustrations as souvenirs and took large quantities of his work back to their countries, where it entered circulation in the local markets. Japanese art captured the admiration of Western artists pursuing innovative new styles of expression and, as a result, the “Japonisme” craze was born. Hokusai, among all Japanese artists, most frequently served as a reference for this style. Works of Japonisme sourced in his Hokusai Manga, One Hundred Views of Mount Fujilandscape picture book, and Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji woodblock prints appeared in great numbers. Hokusai’s art had a dramatic impact, first, on the artists of Impressionism such as Monet, Degas, and Cézanne, and later on such Post-Impressionist artists as Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, and Les Nabis.
This exhibition will examine several aspects of Japonisme in 6 sections with the aim of showing how particular characteristics of Hokusai’s art contributed to the development of modern Western art. Some 220 works of Western art and some 40 color woodblock prints and 70 woodblock-printed books will be exhibited.
Leandro Erlich at Mori Art Museum
An Argentinian contemporary artist of global repute, Leandro Erlich is perhaps best known in Japan as the creator of The Swimming Pool, a permanent installation at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa.
From massive installations to videos, Erlich’s works employ optical illusions and sound effects to shake up our notions of common sense. Though what the audience sees may at first glance seem familiar, on closer inspection it proves to be a surprising, unsettling deviation from the usual, in the form of, for example, a boat floating in the absence of water, or people sticking to the wall in various poses. Viewers begin to doubt whether what they see is actually reality, and notice just how much unconscious habit influences the way they look at things.
Covering the entire 25 years of Erlich’s career to date, “Leandro Erlich: Seeing and Believing” will be the largest-ever exhibition devoted to the work of this fascinating artist. Of the 44 works on display, 80 percent will be making their Japanese debut. Through Erlich’s works, we will realize by ridding of our inertia, habit, preconceived notions, and received wisdom that the visible is not all there is to reality, and experience for ourselves, with our newly unclouded vision, the advent of a new kind of world.
Exhibition ends on 1st April 2018
Open Hours10:00-22:00 (Last Admission: 21:30）
* 10:00-17:00 on Tuesdays (Last Admission: 16:30)
Venue: Mori Art Museum (53F, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower)