Free tour I : Earthquake disaster center

Earthquake Disaster center in Tokyo

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Did you know this Earthquake center in Odaiba? Experience the Tokyo earthquake in a remake Tokyo city with after shocks and learn at the evacuation center. It called: Sona Area Tokyo – Disaster Prevention Experience Learning Facility.

And it is free!

On the 1st floor of the center, there is the Disaster Prevention Zone. You will experience the earthquake of an magnitude of 7.3 and the visitor needs to survive by her/himself while answering questions. What to do during a big earthquake?

Sona Disaster Center in Odaiba

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On the 2nd floor, it is the Learning Zone. Like a museum, you will be informed by display- items, Project mapping and panels. How to prepare for a big earthquake and how to survive a big earthquake?

Sona Disaster Center in Odaiba 2nd floor

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Beside of these two facilities for free, everybody is also welcome to their roof garden and also to their BBQ garden. Although the BBQ garden cost 1,000 yen per person to rent the table-chair set and the BBQ equipment.

Sona Disaster Center in Odaiba <credit>

Disaster Prevention Experience Learning Facility

Information:
Address: 3-8-35 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Phone number: 03 3529 2180
Website: https://www.tokyorinkai-koen.jp/
Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 ~ 17:00
Admission fee: Free

Eartquake disaster center in Tokyo
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Bbq garden

Information:
Address: 3-8-35 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Phone number: 050 3816 6374
Website: https://digiq.jp/portal/experience/73728/0#home-moreinfo
Opening hours: Weekdays: 11:00 ~ 15:00 and Weekends, holidays, July and August 11:00 ~ 15:00 & 14:00 ~ 17:00
Admission fee: 1,000 yen per person

Extra information: table, chairs and BBQ equipment set are prepared. Bring own charcoal, food and drinks. Or order food, drinks, charcoal, tents and extra items with an extra charge fee.

BBQ in Odaiba
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May 5th, it is Children’s Day in Golden week

Have you seen some fish flags hanging outside these days?
It means, Children’s Day (or Boy’s Day) is coming soon.

Here are some iconic items for Children’ Day:
– Carper Fish flags: normally in the order from Black (father), Red (mother), Blue (first son), green (second son) etc.
– Newspaper/Paper Samurai Origami Helmets and swords
– Décor Helmet
– Kashiwa Mochi: rice cakes folded in oak leaves
– Iris Flowers

In Japan, this event is for children and parents, but for people who don’t have children, it could be interesting to explore Japanese culture. In some events in Japan, there are many Carper flags (Koinobori) in a row, which is impressive and very instagrammable. Worth it to visit.
– Tokyo Tower, Tokyo 333 floating fishes
– Tsuruudagawa River, Gunma 5200 floating fishes over the river
– Hakawa, Kochi Laying paper fishes in water
– Shimojo, Kumamoto 3500 floating fishes over the river

Children
Origami folding time

Samurai Helmet

Also, you can try to fold the typical Helmet origami and to make the Kashiwa mochi. This is more the safe way, since the third emergency declaration is announced on 2021 April 25th.

Carpers, Symbol of strong and healthy

Kashiwa Mochi recipe:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCSOW6CHrzA

Kabuto Helmet origami manual:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9NHjkI0-84

Special Cherry blossoms: Omuro Zakura

Happy spring everyone!

Despite of the ongoing pandemic situation in Japan, the cherry blossoms in spring give us a sparkle of joy. The life style has changed a lot for months in 2020 and 2021, but the cherry blossoms come each year and they give a sign that some characteristics of the Japanese life style are remained.
This year, it is a good moment to visit Kyoto, since it is less crowded than the standard years. Of course, in Kyoto there are so many things to see, but this time it is Ninna-ji Temple and its sakura. What makes this cherry blossom so special compare to all the other ones?

There are unique private tours of about 1.5 hours in this temple. During the tour the Buddhist monk will explain you everything about the temple, the environment, the sakura trees and Buddhism.
It is April right now, so basically their cherry blossoms is a hot topic.
The story is Ninna-ji is the main temple of the Omuro Shingon Sect Buddhist School and it is founded in 888 A.D. This temple is strongly related with the Empiric family of Japan, therefore this temple has aristocratic visitors from the beginning. The landscape design of Ninna-ji temple with the cherry blossoms was been thought precisely, related to the aristocratic visitors. The idea of the landscape design is that the trees shouldn’t be tall to respect the aristocratic visitors. Those visitors should feel they are looked up by the environment. To create this design concept, certain clay was poured around the roots of the cherry blossoms, to stop growing that quickly. The cherry blossoms are exceptional small even though they are old. The taller ones are about two meters high, but mostly are shorter, almost like big shrubs. Since they look different and they bloom later than all the other regular cherry blossoms (early April ~ mid-April), they got their own name. These cherry blossoms called Omuro Zakura. The word Omuro came from this Omuro Buddhist school.

If you still want to enjoy seeing cherry blossoms in Honshu island, this is the place to visit. It is breath taking!

Culture Exploration in Nagoya 1

There is an interesting story about the Nakamura Yukaku area in Nagayo. It was the red light district with geisha look-a-like women, before 1872 and between 1956 and 1958. Tokugawa Ieyasu gave permission to have a Red light district around the Nagoya castle in 1610, since many men start to visit the castle after a long trip to Nagoya.

From 1958 prostitution hasn’t been allowed anymore and Nakamura Yukaku has changed to an area with soap lands, restaurants, shops and residence. Soap land is a modern prostitution center slash public bathhouse.
Currently, there are still many traditional buildings from that red light district period, which are extremely interesting to see.

I visited a soba restaurant (built in Taisho period 1912~1926) in this old brothel district. This building is interesting, since it a huge building with courtyards and Japanese gardens in between and it was use to as a prostitution center. A long time ago, it was used for 1 purpose (a prostitution center), right now there are several facilities and separations. It doesn’t look anymore like as an ‘Inamoto ro’ (one whole traditional building). The Soba restaurant is just 1 small part of the ‘Inamoto ro’. You can experiencing the traditional style of architecture and eating nice soba. The name of the restaurant called Soba Itou and the address is 13 Daimoncho Nakamura Ward Nagoya Aichi.

 

Cherry Blossoms Full Bloomed in 2021

According to the cherry blossom forecast, the blossoms have started blooming in Tokyo. The best moment is around March 25th, 2021!!!

We listed some Sakura spots close to our sharehouses.

 

For sharehouseWitt-Style Clover
A big park in Nerima ward with a lot of cherry blossoms. Hikarigaoka Park  in Nerima ward.

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For sharehouse Happy House Kamikitazawa & Okura House
A popular spot for locals and less for tourists, it is the Wadabori park in Suginami ward. Big cherry blossom trees along the Zenpukuji river.

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For Happy House Orange, Vitamin Color and Asian
Nakano has a lot of Cherry Blossoms and not specifically in parks. Nakano dori is full of cherry blossoms.

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For Witt-Style Nakameguro and Witt-Style Mishuku
One of the most popular spot to see sakura is in Nakameguro, along the Nakameguro river. It might be less busy compare to the previous years, but probably it is better to skip to go there for this year. In Setagaya ward, there is a park called Kinuta Park, which has about 930 cherry blossoms blooming.

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For Happy House Kagurazaka & Chilli Pepper and Cream
PersonallyI went to Iidabashi area in 2019, it was not super crowded along the Kanda river, so probably there won’t be many people walking this year. It is beautiful though.


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Experience various Japanese Prefectures without going outside Tokyo

Do you receive the Japanese newspaper every day? Any newspaper, is received at your house, has a couple of pamphlets of bargains of food, great offers of houses and …….Several times a year, you will receive a pamphlet of department store about a new Event. Today, we received a pamphlet about Tobu Yamagata & Miyagi Exhibition, starting from October 29th for 6 days!
Interesting! Tobu will install pop-up restaurants and shops to transform to a small hub of experiencing Yamagata & Miyagi prefectures food, items and the whole atmosphere. 

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It is in Tobu department store in Ikebukuro on the 8th floor.
The opening hours are the same as the department store business hours.
If you are a bit worried traveling in Japan, this is probably a good opportunity to experience something new, learning something from the other places in Japan, without going out of Tokyo. Are you curious how the beef from Sendai in Miyagi prefecture tastes like? Do you always wanted to try Yamagata ramen? Or you have no idea what the local food or local craftmanship is in Yamagata, and you want to know more.

The safety measures:

●We cancel all the offers of sampling.
●Enlargement of washhand stands
●Setting of alcohol sprays
●Security of passage that is larger than usual
●Restaurant secures space enough and offers seat in consideration for security.

For more information, http://www.tobu-dept.jp.e.eh.hp.transer.com/ikebukuro/event/detail/3300/?s=iweb-sbbnr

Sakura Season 2020

It is not the brightest and the most romantic moment right now in 2020, the corona virus is still spreading and it hasn’t been decreased. You might probably know a lot of entertainment facilities are closed and a lot of events are canceled. End of March is almost coming, which means the cherry blossoms will full bloom soon. The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike warns people, hanami (picnic under the cherry blossoms) is still a risky activity in this situation. She asks people to refrain doing picnic and having parties in parks. Although, she doesn’t want to stop people enjoying cherry blossoms, she said on March 12th: “We discussed what to do with hanami. It is open-air, therefore we still want people to admire flowers.”

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Even though, hanami is very fun and it is a tradition in Japan, it is better to listen to the governor of Japan. But how and where can we enjoy sakura (cherry blossom) this year? It is better to go to small local parks in the residential areas instead of the popular big public parks, where a lot of people (locals and tourists) come. Before going to the list of suggestions. Here is the list of sakura festivals which are canceled:

Ueno Sakura festival 2020
Chiyoda Sakura festival 2020
Nakameguro Sakura festival 2020 (along the river)
Shibuya Sakuragaoka Sakura festival 2020
Bunkyo Sakura festival 2020
Jiyugaoka Sakura festival 2020
Sa*kaso Sakura festival 2020 in Asukayama park
Koganei Sakura festival 2020
Sumida Koen Sakura festival 2020

In other small places, there are no festivals hold, but they are still nice to walk around or sit there. According to the cherry blossom forecast, the blossoms have started blooming in Tokyo on March 14th. The best moment is around March 27th. Probably in the weekend of March 28th and 29th you can enjoy the beautiful scenario.

For Happy House Mint and Witt-Style Clover
Two big parks in Nerima ward with a lot of cherry blossoms. Hikarigaoka Park and Toshimaen Park in Nerima ward.

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For Happy House Koenji and Happy House Kamikitazawa
A popular spot for locals and less for tourists, it is the Wadabori park in Suginami ward. Big cherry blossom trees along the Zenpukuji river.

[Post Credit]

For Happy House Orange, Vitamin Color and Asian
Nakano has a lot of Cherry Blossoms and not specifically in parks. Nakano dori is full of cherry blossoms.

[Post Credit]

For Witt-Style Nakameguro and Witt-Style Mishuku
One of the most popular spot to see sakura is in Nakameguro, along the Nakameguro river. It might be less busy compare to the previous years, but probably it is better to skip to go there for this year. In Setagaya ward, there is a park called Kinuta Park, which has about 930 cherry blossoms blooming.

[Post Credit]

For Happy House Kagurazaka & Chilli Pepper and Cream
PersonallyI went to Iidabashi area for hanami last year, it was not super crowded along the Kanda river, so probably there won’t be many people walking this year. It is beautiful though.


[Post Credit]

 

Tokyo’s Hidden Gems: Livin’ in a Grandma’s Paradise – Sugamo

Our sharehouse Apricot Terrace is in Sugamo. Sugamo is a slice of pure, classic Tokyo, served up at your grandparents’ house because you told them your mum hasn’t fed you yet.

Sugamo is known locally as ‘Granny’s Harajuku’ and it’s easy to see why. Geriatrics visit Jizo Dori in their hordes to get the best picks of traditional Japanese sweets, premium matcha tea and old-timey fashions.

But this grandma’s paradise holds plenty of attractions for any ages. Especially visitors who want to see a more old fashioned side of Tokyo. These are our favourites.

(link:http://japan-local-guide.com/ja/sugamo_a_paradise_for_tourists_who_want_to_take_a_look_at_old_japan/)

Obligatory Cute Mascot Sugamon

The mascot of Sugamo is a very round, white duck called Sugamon and he is adorable. A replica of his butt is stationed at the entrance to Jizo Dori, which can be stroked for a boost of luck in love. His schedule is written only in Japanese, but you can be sure he’ll make an appearance at all Sugamo’s festivals and events. His bum also looks like the shio daifuku that Sugamo is famous for. Mochi filled with red bean paste and flavoured with salt to counteract the sweetness. http://sugamon.jp/

 

Maruji Red Pants

You may notice an abundance of bright red panties. Not so much Sugamo’s saucy underbelly, rather these underwear are believed to grant you good health if you wear them. Judging by the average age of their patrons, there may be something in it…

(link:https://matcha-jp.com/en/greatertokyo/place/ChIJSQZuOp2NGGAReuli9ZYo2Ic)

Koganji Temple (Togenuki Jizo Temple)

This temple is more commonly known by its nickname of Togenuki Jizo, meaning ‘Jizo that draws out the thorn’ in reference to a story about the Jizo deity that is enshrined there. A samurai drew 10,000 pictures of the deity in order to cure his wife’s disease and after that the pictures were also used to cure a woman who had swallowed a thorn. Even now, this temple is very popular with people who want to cure their ailments.


(link:http://japan-local-guide.com/ja/sugamo_a_paradise_for_tourists_who_want_to_take_a_look_at_old_japan/)

Ganso Sennari Monaka

Purveyors of traditional Japanese sweets, you can watch fresh dorayaki being made in front of your very eyes. They also offer cute, colourful monaka for only 100 yen each. A sweet traditionally served with tea, consisting of a jam filling (there’s a choice of flavours such as red bean paste or plum) sandwiched between crisp mochi wafers. A perfect souvenir of your time in Sugamo!

(link: https://haveagood.holiday/spots/290884)

 

Traditional Japanese Clothing

Although the vast majority of the clothes in Sugamo are geared towards a more mature market, if you want to buy some traditional Japanese wear there are bargains to be had. Old ladies know where to get value for their money. Yukata, which are light, summer kimonos can be found for unbelievably low prices.

If you want to know even more about Sugamo, read our previous blog about the market that takes place there!

(link: https://matcha-jp.com/cn/3997)