mikekato's Advice List

mikekato image mikekato United States 27 years in Japan

I've been living in Japan now for 27 years... and counting! Still having fun and learning new things each day, too.
I'm running a company, Japanese Greats Co., Ltd., that is providing solutions mostly for SMEs in Japan with great products and ideas in their international endeavors. We aim to make the world a better place by utilizing some of the great things Japan has to offer.

Urban Oasis images

Urban Oasis

The main intersection of Harajuku, where Meiji Street and Omotesando cross, is surprisingly nondescript. On one corner is a bank, with Jonathan's, a popular family restaurant above it. On another corner is another bank, with a small clothing boutique and a cafe adjacent to it. The third corner i…(415 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Shibuya Harajuku architecture rooftop escalators mirrors
Tsuyu images

Tsuyu

Rain. Water. The source of Life itself.Tsuyu. It's that time of year again. It's not exactly like the monsoons of southeast Asia, or the hurricanes and tornados of most of the United States. Japan's got the typhoons, too, but that is later in the summer and hails the coming of fall and the …(358 words)

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mikekato

Tsuyu Summer Rain green moss
Showa in Heisei images

Showa in Heisei

In Nishiogi, one can find many quaint shops, whether for food, books, antiques, or a small gift for a good friend. Unlike the contemporary boutiques of nearby Kichijoji, where the students from the many women's colleges nearby flock and shop, Nishiogi is where the women "in the know" tend to hang …(471 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Nishiogi stationary Showa Era
Nombe Yokocho - Drunkard's Alley images

Nombe Yokocho - Drunkard's Alley

That is exactly what the sign says, "Nombe Yokocho" - Drunkard's Alley. It is located about a minute from Shibuya Station - almost directly across the street from a police box. It is a small section next to the JR tracks that is filled with bars. Sorry, this photo is taken during the day, when n…(188 words)

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mikekato

Train Shibuya Harajuku Only in Japan bars
Masakiya - Spice up the Udon images

Masakiya - Spice up the Udon

Masakiya is an udon shop. It is located not only off the beaten path, but well off the oft-travelled roads in an offbeat area, Nishi-Ogikubo. Nishiogi is well known for its antique shops, used books, quaint eateries, and, mostly, for being located near the ever popular Kichijoji, Asagaya, Koenji,…(379 words)

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mikekato

Udon noodles Tokyo pork Tsukemen Nishiogi
Chindon'ya images

Chindon'ya

The Chindon'ya are a type of Japanese marching band that wear elaborate costumes and perform in a variety of festivals, shop openings, and other promotions or special events. Originating in Osaka during the late Edo period, most of the remaining Chindon'ya are based in Tokyo. Chindon'ya usual…(511 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Event Music Osaka Children Play Entertainment
"ip.horn" iPhone Speaker images

"ip.horn" iPhone Speaker

The ip.horn speaker is an extremely rare item, currently sold only at a number of events in held in Japan. The manufacturer prefers to remain anonymous, because the craftsmen make the ip.horn in their spare time, outside of regular company business. Nonetheless, the company, which makes wood prod…(550 words)

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mikekato

speakers iPhone accessories horn speakers unplugged walnut Music Audio design
Tokuyama Shoes images

Tokuyama Shoes

Tokuyama Shoes has its home in Kawanehoncho, tucked away in the northwestern side of Shizuoka Prefecture, inland from Shizuoka City and away from the more famous parts of the prefecture, which is home to half of the sacred Mt. Fuji and also the Izu Peninsula, with its world-class onsen and sightsee…(444 words)

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mikekato

Shoes City Tea Onsen Green tea Shizuoka Trip
Design Festa images

Design Festa

Twice a year, since the early-90s, Design Festa has rocked Japan. Arts, crafts, performance, music, and the entire breadth and depth of design is featured in this extravaganza using most of the west exhibition area of Tokyo Big Sight, the largest convention and exhibition space in Tokyo.With m…(455 words)

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mikekato

design Tokyo Music Exhibition Event Art Fashion Entertainment festival
Shibuya Subway Station, by Tadao Ando images

Shibuya Subway Station, by Tadao Ando

The Shibuya Subway Station is famous for a number of reasons. It was designed by world renowned Japanese architect, Tadao Ando. It's design, in not surprising Tokyo cool, is egg shaped and intentionally designed to look like a spaceship. There are locations in the station where the design can se…(469 words)

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mikekato

Shibuya Subway Tokyo Shopping Building Anime Arcade Film architecture
Chiaki Kohara images

Chiaki Kohara

Chiaki Kohara is an artist from Osaka. Born in 1986, she is still young enough to have the vibrant quality of a J-Pop idol. And her art has the lively quality of anime.But look underneath the surface of her colorful characters and one gets the sense that there is much more to her art than at …(358 words)

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mikekato

Art Anime Building Ginza Osaka Fashion Uniqlo Exhibition
Jump! images

Jump!

Kumo no Umi (Sea of Clouds) is a trampoline in the Showa Kinen Koen (Showa Memorial Park) in Nishi-Tachikawa, on the west side of Tokyo. The trampoline is built as a clump of hills and valleys of various sizes. The white vinyl looks, from afar, like a sea of clouds in the midst of an ocean of tre…(199 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Park Sea Play Children Playground
Tourist information desk inside of Shibuya Station images

Tourist information desk inside of Shibuya Station

Deep in the catacombs of Shibuya Station, somewhere between JR and the Hikarie Building is one of the most pleasant tourist information desks that I've seen in Tokyo. It is jointly operated by Tokyu Railways and Tokyo Metro, providing maps and information in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish…(275 words)

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mikekato

Shibuya lost Tokyo Building English Railways Metro Transportation Subway
Scramble Crossing in Shibuya images

Scramble Crossing in Shibuya

Often referred to as the busiest intersection in the world, Scramble Crossing is certainly a real zoo. It is much more busy on most evenings and on the weekend, but even on this rainy Thursday afternoon, you can get a sense of the real scramble it is to get across the intersection. People walk in…(109 words)

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mikekato

Shibuya Zoo
Hot Vending Machines images

Hot Vending Machines

Any visitor to Japan will immediately see that there are vending machines of all kinds everywhere. Not just sodas, but beer, cigarettes, batteries, condoms, and, especially, coffee. Canned coffees are everywhere.But a visitor who travels on the highway is certain to find among the Coca Cola, …(282 words)

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mikekato

Vending Machines Beer Coffee
E-tegami (picture postcard) images

E-tegami (picture postcard)

Japan is a nation obsessed with seasonal activities of all sorts. After all, there are few other nations that I know that have national holidays for the Vernal (Spring) and Autumnal Equinox. This year (2014), the Vernal Equinox will fall on March 21, one day after the traditional date.But whi…(459 words)

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mikekato

Spring Winter Holidays Flower Sumo Greeting painting Haiku Tulip
Rakugo images

Rakugo

Rakugo is a form of Japanese traditional entertainment that is humorous, a lightly comedic storytelling. Rakugo is always performed by a single person, who plays all of the parts in a story. There are many notable features distinguishing Rakugo. It is performed with the storyteller sitting in the…(315 words)

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mikekato

Rakugo Tokyo Shinjuku Building Entertainment Isetan Comedy
Funny English (Sexy) images

Funny English (Sexy)

There are many examples of strange English in japan, as well as the rest of Asia. Strange English is found, in fact, on signs throughout the world. But some of the most strange English is found on t-shirts. I wonder who writes the copy? Many of these provide the foreign visitor with a great lau…(200 words)

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mikekato

English Tokyo Shinjuku Building Shibuya Fashion Japanglish
Ame Yoko Cho images

Ame Yoko Cho

Ame Yoko Cho is the name of a shopping district located between Ueno and Okachimachi Stations. It's name is a Japanese acronym which has two meanings. The original name is said to mean Candy Store Alley, because the area had many candy and snack stores. The area still has some stores that sell c…(269 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Shopping Harajuku Ueno Fruits Shoes Akihabara Fast food Otaku Jewelry Cosmetics
Taxi Prices in Tokyo images

Taxi Prices in Tokyo

Taxi prices in Japan are controlled. In Tokyo, they all start at 710 yen for the first 2 km. The price rises at a defined amount, either by distance or time. If there is no traffic, the factor that will trigger a price rise is distance traveled. In traffic, the factor is time. Either way, the …(159 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Taxicab
Ome Kaido images

Ome Kaido

Ome Kaido is a major street running generally west from Shinjuku. Once past Shinjuku, the street becomes Yasukuni Dori.Ome Kaido is an old highway, National Route 411, and it runs from Shinjuku to Kofu in Yamanashi Prefecture. It was a road used by travelers in the Edo period, both walking an…(249 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Shinjuku Police Kanto Earthquake Disaster Yamanashi
Wasabi images

Wasabi

First, the correct way to pronounce wasabi is by putting the strongest emphasis on the "wa" and not the "sa" - WA-sa-bi, not wa-SAH-bi.Wasabi is often referred to as Japanese horseradish. It is actually of a family of plants that includes, not only horseradish, but cabbage and mustard. Its fl…(208 words)

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mikekato

Horse radish Restaurant Sushi Soy sauce
Looking for a great location outside of Tokyo? Kichijoji is Great! images

Looking for a great location outside of Tokyo? Kichijoji is Great!

Staying for more than a few days in Central Tokyo can be a drain, both on the wallet and the mind. There are other cities that don't sleep, but there are few cities in the world that remain as bustling and wide awake 24-7-365 as Tokyo.While both the Imperial Palace grounds - Kokyo - and Yoyogi…(437 words)

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mikekato

Art Bus City Music Park Shibuya Shinjuku Shopping Tokyo Train
Mandarake images

Mandarake

Buying manga and anime anywhere in Japan is easy. It is available pretty much anywhere. After all, nearly every convenience store and station kiosk has a pretty broad selection of manga, for children and adults. And since there are Tsutaya and Geo shops all over Japan, you can almost as easily f…(487 words)

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mikekato

Manga Anime Otaku Akihabara Arcade Shopping Nakano
Nothing to stick your tongue out at images

Nothing to stick your tongue out at

Gyūtan, or beef tongue, is a common meat in Japanese Yakiniku restaurants. The meat is particularly fatty, with roughly 75% of its calories derived from fat. While many people may consider tongue meat to be difficult to stomach, it is actually quite commonly eaten around the world. In Europe, ton…(222 words)

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mikekato

 
Hand-made Camping Knife and where to buy and sharpen knives. images

Hand-made Camping Knife and where to buy and sharpen knives.

Snow Peak is a famous camping equipment manufacturer from the Tsubame Sanjo area of Niigata Prefecture. It was started by the father of the current president as a manufacturer of carpentry and work tools. But Yukio Yamai, the founder, was an experienced mountaineer, so he decided that he should m…(431 words)

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mikekato

Camping Kyoto Mountain Niigata Outdoor recreation Region Samurai Snow Tokyo
Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture images

Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture

Often said to be Japan's best example of a complete fortress castle, Himeji Castle is a picturesque beauty, sitting atop a hill in Hyogo Prefecture. It is often referred to as either a white egret or heron, referring to its white exterior and elegant shape, much like a great bird in flight.Som…(280 words)

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mikekato

Castle Hyogo Himeji Castle Building Bus Beauty World Heritage Site Mie
Super Hero Action Show images

Super Hero Action Show

The "Super Sentai" series has been one of Japan's longest action TV programs for children. It started in the early 70s, with new characters featured every year.Since 1971, the Tokyo Dome City (previously Korakuen) has hosted a Hero Action Show, that features the latest Super Sentai Action hero…(133 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Park City Tokyo Dome City Spring Summer
Cable Cars - Nothing like San Francisco, though! images

Cable Cars - Nothing like San Francisco, though!

There are many so-called "cable cars" in Japan, but most are really ropeways. They are pre-attached to the cable and are drawn directly by pulling the cable. A cable car, on the other hand, is controlled by the driver. The cable, usually underground, is constantly moving. The driver chooses to …(243 words)

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mikekato

Train River Onsen Hakone Hiking
A Pension by any other name... images

A Pension by any other name...

The Japanese have a type of accomodation that is called a "pension." It is much like a minshuku, another type of hotel, but the pension usually has a Western feel, while a minshuku is usually quite Japanese. In general, pensions are found in the countryside and are much like a bed and breakfast. …(68 words)

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mikekato

Hotel Minshuku
Tokyo's Tropical islands images

Tokyo's Tropical islands

Tokyo's outer islands are very diverse. Most of them are volcanic and some of them are quite far from the main part of Tokyo. Most of the main islands are accessible from Takeshiba Pier, where you can find Tokyo's main ferry terminal. Many of the main islands are also accessible by plane, from C…(302 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Beaches Airport Kanagawa Okinawa World Heritage Site Atami Shizuoka
Matsuri (Festivals) images

Matsuri (Festivals)

The best time to experience a festival in Japan is in from spring to fall. The best ones are in the summer, although many are technically in the spring or fall because their origins coincide with harvests or the opening and closing of fishing season.The most interesting and common matsuri are …(306 words)

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mikekato

Japanese festivals Tokyo Hotel Jinjya (Shrine) Bank Spring Summer
Travel Slowly images

Travel Slowly

Shindai Ressha are sleeper trains, which used to be common all over Japan. Now, because most people want to travel quickly and there are so many airports throughout Japan, there are only 6 such trains left. One of the most popular is the JR East train Cassiopeia.Cassiopeia runs from Ueno Stat…(108 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Train City Ueno Hokkaido Sapporo
Yakatabune images

Yakatabune

Yakatabune are, literally "night ships," which are floating party boats. The vast majority are rented out to groups. Some, however, are open for individuals, couples, and small groups. Traditionally, yakatabune serve tempura as the main course. In Tokyo, one of the highlights has been anago…(173 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Yokohama Drink Beer Asakusa Osaka Sake (Rice wine) Tempura Shochu Okonomiyaki
Hakone Skyline drive images

Hakone Skyline drive

The most thrilling drive near Tokyo is the Hakone Skyline. Not only is the road designed so that cars slide on the mountainous curves, but it also boasts great views of Mt. Fuji. But don't drive too fast, especially when it is foggy and/or the road is wet. It may be the last drive you ever make!(58 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Hakone
Tokyo area resorts images

Tokyo area resorts

There are a very wide variety of resorts around Tokyo. Of course, the accessibility varies greatly, when even getting across Tokyo itself by public transportation can take well over an hour.For the resort areas closest to Tokyo, most residents on the west side show a preference for Hakone, whi…(184 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Train Transportation Hakone Lake Hiking Nikko Lake Yamanaka
Starting Pottery in Tokyo images

Starting Pottery in Tokyo

There are many Japanese ceramics studios in Tokyo and throughout Japan that offer introductory courses for beginners. In fact, most professional studios offer some kind of courses for people to make their own works, either formally or informally. But the easiest places to find out how to get star…(235 words)

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mikekato

Tokyo Library
Where to Gyaru images

Where to Gyaru

The area between Shibuya and Harajuku is Mecca for Japanese "Gyaru," cool young girls. The two places where these girls converge in each location is at 109 in Shibuya and Takeshita Street in Harajuku. 109 is a department store, where many of the most popular Gyaru brands have their prestige shops…(190 words)

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mikekato

Shibuya Department store Harajuku Fashion
Eating great ramen images

Eating great ramen

Ramen is one of the most popular "B-gurume" (B-grade connoisseur) foods in Japan. Many chef's pride themselves for their soup, noodles, and toppings. In addition, it is a food where the chef's often begrudge people - their customers(?!!) - for asking for things differently. Watch the other peopl…(191 words)

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mikekato

Ramen noodles
Ewww - it's seaweed?!!! images

Ewww - it's seaweed?!!!

You might think it's yukky, but seaweed is really fantastic! Not only is it healthy, but it is tasty, too. There are so many different kinds of seaweed that Japanese eat and many different ways of eating it, too. Think of seaweeds as sea vegetables, and you get a better idea of the yummy variety…(192 words)

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mikekato

Sushi Sea Miso Miso soup Winter