Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Yamapi’s co-star to go on display in Tokyo

10:48 JST March 21, 2012 2 comments

The pick-up truck Tomohisa Yamashita drove across America’s Route 66 will go on display for one day only in Tokyo, reports News24.


山下智久・ルート66〜たった1人のアメリカ (Tomohisa Yamashita Route 66 – Tatta Hitori no America, My journey across America alone)” was a special TV series made by Nihon TV starring Yamashita and a 1985 Chevrolet C20 as they made their way along Route 66.  To celebrate it’s DVD/Blu-ray box set release, Yamashita’s Chevrolet will be displayed in an event in Tokyo’s Spiral Garden, near Omotesando and Harajuku, on April 15.


Admission is free, so if any fans are in the area, it may be worth checking out.


What: DVD release event for “山下智久・ルート66〜たった1人のアメリカ (Tomohisa Yamashita Route 66 – Tatta Hitori no America, My journey across America alone)”

When: April 15, 11am – 8pm (final admission 7pm)

Where: 1st floor of Sprial, Spiral Garden, 5-6-23 Minami-aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Admission: Free

Johnny’s at University

15:58 JST January 23, 2012 7 comments

It’s exam season in Japan!   Ganbare!! 頑張って、受験生たち!!!

Sometimes there are stories about a Johnny’s talent getting into university or graduating, but I thought it would be cool to give some info about some universities.

Because, some of these universities are very hard to get into, and some of them are nice to visit.

Sorry if I’ve missed anyone, and let me know if any facts are wrong (history is not my forte, I love stories but I’m terrible with dates)

Waseda University 早稲田大学

  • Johnny’s talents attending through correspondance: Yuichi Nakamaru (KAT-TUN), Yuya Tegoshi (NEWS, Tegomass), Kota Yabu (Hey! Say! JUMP, well…he will be soon)
  • Waseda University is a private university in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
  • It was founded in 1882 by samurai scholar and former prime minister Shigenobu Okuma, and was named Waseda University in 1902.
  • The university belongs to the Tokyo Big Six League – a baseball league made up of six prominent Tokyo universities (Hosei University, Keio University, Waseda University, Tokyo University, Rikkyo University, and Meiji University).  It also has a strong rugby and baseball team (Keio and Meiji are considered their biggest rivals)
  • Seven of Japan’s prime ministers following WWII are Waseda graduates.  Many of Japan’s corporate leaders are also Waseda graduates.
  • It has the highest number of international students in Japan.
  • Last year, more than 110,000 students applied for the university.  About 5600 were accepted.
  • To go to the university website, click here.  To go to the university’s wikipedia page, click here.

Meiji University 明治大学

  • Johnny’s talent graduates: Tomohisa Yamashita, Keiichiro Koyama (NEWS)
  • Johnny’s talents attending: Kei Inoo (Hey! Say! JUMP)
  • Meiji University is a private university in Tokyo and Kawasaki.
  • It was founded by three lawyers in 1881, and established as a university in 1920.
  • The university belongs to the Tokyo Big Six League – a baseball league made up of six prominent Tokyo universities (Hosei University, Keio University, Waseda University, Tokyo University, Rikkyo University, and Meiji University)
  • Last year, more than 110,000 students applied for the university.  About 4500 were accepted.
  • To go to the university website, click here.  To go the university’s wikipedia page, click here.

Keio University 慶應義塾大学

  • Johnny’s talent graduates: Sho Sakurai (Arashi)
  • Keio University is a private university in Minato, Tokyo.  It is the oldest-known higher education institution in Japan.
  • It was founded in 1858 by author and political theorist Yukichi Fukuzawa (he’s the guy on the 10,000 yen bill).
  • The university belongs to the Tokyo Big Six League – a baseball league made up of six prominent Tokyo universities (Hosei University, Keio University, Waseda University, Tokyo University, Rikkyo University, and Meiji University).  The university’s sports games against Waseda are famously called the “Sou-Kei-sen (Waseda-Keio match)”, or “Kei-Sou-sen (Keio-Waseda match)” depending on which side you’re supporting.
  • Two post-WWII prime ministers are Keio graduates, as well as many corporate leaders.
  • Last year, more than 48,000 students applied for the university.  About 4000 were accepted.
  • To go to the university website, click here.  To go to the university’s wikipedia page, click here.

Aoyama Gakuin University 青山学院大学

  • Johnny’s talent graduates: Shigeaki Kato (NEWS)
  • Aoyama Gakuin University is a Japanese Christian university in Shibuya, Tokyo.
  • It was founded in 1874 by American missionaries, and later on, John Franklin Goucher helped establish it as a university.  Canadian Methodist missionary Davidson MacDonald helped establish Aoyama Gakuin, and by 1949, the institution was established as a comprehensive university.
  • Literature is the oldest department at the university.
  • Last year, more than 50,000 students applied for the university.  About 2500 were accepted.
  • To go to the university website, click here.  To go to the university’s wikipedia page, click here.
Categories: Momo yabbering, Report, Travel

Travel: Christmas illuminations light up by Toma Ikuta

13:11 JST November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Actress Miki Nakatani at yesterday's event (photo thanks to The TV)

Johnny’s actor Toma Ikuta and actress Miki Nakatani light up this year’s Christmas illuminations in Tokyo Midtown on November 15, reports The TV.


The two are co-stars in the upcoming film “源氏物語 千年の謎 (Genji-monogatari Sen-nen no Nazo)”, and last night opened up a Japanese fan acting as a switch to light up more than 570,000 LED lights, which make up the Starlight Garden, the six metre tall Christmas tree, and a giant Santa Claus boot ornament.


It has been reported this was the first time Ikuta had visited Tokyo Midtown’s Christmas illuminations, and the Johnny’s talent had looked excited to be there.

“Everything around just became so pretty, for a split moment I thought about asking Nakatani-san out (laughs),” Ikuta said before his co-star answered with, “you’re asking the wrong girl”.


Ikuta finished by saying what he thought the highlight of the illuminations are.

“I think these Christmas illuminations have been made to make each and every visitor feel special, and maybe even help them say that special something to the person they’re in love with,” he said.


What: MIDTOWN CHRISTMAS 2011 is the annual Christmas illuminations (include the blue starlight garden, 6m high Christmas tree, giant Santa Claus boot ornament)

Where: Tokyo Midtown.  For link to their English website, click here.  Otherwise get off at Roppongi Station on the subway (or Nogizaka station or Roppongi Icchome station, followed by a short walk) and it’s right there.

When: November 15 – December 25, 17:00 – 23:00

Illuminations at Midtown (photo thanks to Midtown website)

Categories: Toma Ikuta, Travel Tags: , ,

In Tokyo now? Visit Masaki Aiba’s “Bartender” exhibition

01:10 JST August 13, 2011 1 comment

"Bartender" drama exhibition in Tokyo (photo thanks to Pronweb watch)

Fans are invited to see props and costumes, photos, and even the Lapin bar set from Arashi’s Masaki Aiba’s drama “Bartender” in an exhibition now open in Tokyo, reports Pronweb Watch.


The drama series aired in Japan during February 2011, and is based on the popular manga series of the same name.  The story follows a talented bartender who not only makes the perfect cocktail for his customers, it also helps each of them to overcome a personal problem.  For fans, being able to see the Arashi star make cocktails was a highlight of the series.


Now, to celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of the drama series, a special “バーテンダーの世界展 (Bartender’s world exhibition)” has opened up in Tokyo Tower’s Foot Town.  The exhibition includes sets and props used in the drama, a photo gallery, and gives fans the chance to sit in the Lapin bar set and take photos with the show’s mascot character.  Special merchandise is also on sale at the venue.



What: “Bartender” drama series special exhibition

Where: 1st floor, Foot Town, Tokyo Tower

When: Until August 19 2011

Entrance fee: Free, but you need to pick up an entry ticket.  Entry tickets are available every day from 9am at Tokyo Tower Foot Town’s front entrance.  Staff blog about waiting times and other useful information on the Bartender blog.

Travel: A certain Chinese restaurant…

11:31 JST February 15, 2011 2 comments

Almost every Arashi fan will know Masaki Aiba’s family runs a Chinese restaurant in Chiba prefecture.

I read some news about the restaurant today, which lead me to: China house Keikarou (restaurant website)

The news itself I found in a gossip website, which I generally try not to trust 100%, so I did a search around a few fan blogs to get more info on the subject.

Not that the news was very scandalous…it was just about how the restaurant sells its own merchandise like mobile phone straps.  The merchandise is not connected to Masaki Aiba or Johnny’s, and has the shop’s logo mark printed on them.

I’ll just introduce the restaurant briefly here for English-speaking fans 🙂

I’ve found there aren’t any links to the separate pages (menu, access, etc) on the website so here’s a screenshot of the top of the website with translations of what is where:


WHAT: Chinese restaurant

WHERE: 8-33 5-chome Makuharihongo, Hanamigawa-ku, Chiba city, Chiba 262-0033, Japan.

NEAREST TRAIN STATION: Makuharihongo station (JR Sobu line, Keisei Chiba line)

SHOP HOURS: 11:00 – 14:45 (last order), 17:00 – 21:00 (last order)

WAITING TIME: Several fan blogs I’ve read through have said fans have waited anywhere between 40 minutes to two hours to be seated in the restaurant.  Some people have suggested booking a table in advance, although I’m not sure about how far in advance (some say a month in advance, but others say there were able to book a table for dinner when they went too late for lunch).

HOLIDAYS: Every Wednesday (if a public holiday is on Wednesday, the restaurant will be closed on Thursday) and the first, second, and third Thursday of every month.

MERCHANDISE ON SALE: The main attraction for fans are the Keikarou mobile phone straps that are sold here.  Several fan blogs have said that lately the shop has been selling a lot of limited edition straps (Christmas limited edition, New Year’s limited edition, etc) so Aiba fans can flock to the store for these.  Looking through the blog, they also sell Keikarou necklaces and eco-bags.

INSIDE: I’ve read several reports that the interior of the shop has posters of Arashi up on the walls, autographs, and presents sent in by fans.  A friend once showed me a photo of a teddy bear toy dressed up in a mirrorman outfit like the one Aiba used to wear on TV.

(map thanks to Google maps)

Categories: Arashi, Travel

Travel: Harajuku, Tokyo (+ Johnny’s shop)

23:30 JST February 7, 2011 14 comments

Arashi billboard at KDDI au mobile shop (photo area 1)

Finally, I think I have enough material to write about my favourite place in Tokyo!  Harajuku!

I have quite a few photos so I’ve posted a Google Map of Harajuku at the end and have marked some places with a number to represent the area where I took photos.

Harajuku station (JR Yamanote line) (photo area 3)

Johnny’s Shop

The one place every Johnny’s fan needs to check out is Tokyo’s Johnny’s shop:

  • Where: the shop is a short walk away from Harajuku JR station and the Meiji-jingu-mae subway station.
  • You can walk to the Johnny’s shop yourself, but sometimes they tell me it’s full and I have to line up or get a ticket at the nearby park.

Small park where to line up for Johnny’s shop (photo area 3)

  • So, go to the park (see above photo) and you’ll see a Johnny’s shop staff member there wearing a jacket or vest with the “Johnny’s Shop” logo on it.  He or she will either tell you to join the queue, or they’ll give you a ticket that will have a specific time written on it.  You need to come back to the park by the time written on your ticket in order to get into the shop.  E.g. if your ticket says “11:30am”, come back to the park by 11:30am to join the group of other 11:30am-ers.  A staff member will check your ticket and escort you to the shop.

The Johnny’s shop is a short walk down this street (photo area 3)

  • Once in the shop, it’s down to business.  The main attraction is the hundreds of Johnny’s talents photos, as well as memorabilia.
  • What to do: grab a pen and an order form from inside the shop.  You need to fill out one order form for each Johnny’s group.  In other words, if you want to buy photos of Arashi and KAT-TUN, you need to fill out one form for Arashi, and another form for KAT-TUN.  Write the name of the group you’re buying photos of at the top (I’ve marked it red in the photo).

Johnny’s shop order form

  • Every photo has a code number, which can range from #1 – 800.  Find the photo(s) you want, find it’s code number on the order form, and then write down how many of copies of that photo you want to buy next to the code number.
  • Cost: Each photo costs 150 yen.
  • Line up at the cashier, hand over your order form(s) and a staff member will get all of your photos for you.

Photos I bought today (I thought I did pretty well…only 10 photos)

  • Shop hours: 10am – 7pm daily
  • Address: 1F Il Sarche building, 1-14-21 Jingu-mae, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001

Places to shop in Harajuku

The most famous street in Harajuku is 竹下通り, Takeshita street (photo below)

Takeshita Street, Harajuku (photo area 2)

You’ll find a lot of cheap and fun clothing shops, crepe shops, restaurants, and a few ticket offices here.

It’s pretty safe here, but do watch out for some guys who will try to invite you into their stores.  They’re kind of like street hawkers, and as far as I can see, they try to invite you into their restaurant.  I wouldn’t say they’re doing anything illegal, it’s just that they can get annoying when they start walking with you and asking you more questions.

12 May 2012: Walking down Takeshita street (photo area 4)

When you get out of Takeshita street, you’ll see the KDDI au mobile shop.

Feb 2011: I liked it when there were Arashi posters up (photo area 1)

From here, there are a lot of other places to shop:

  • La Foret is a huge shopping mall down the road from the KDDI au shop, close to the large intersection between Omotesando and Meiji dori.  Across the road, Tokyu Plaza just opened up in May 2012.  Behind these places there are huge H&M and Forever 21 shops.

12 May 2012: La Foret (left) and Tokyu Plaza (right)

  • The back streets of Harajuku have an infinite number of shops.  Behind the KDDI au mobile shop, you’ll find women’s clothes, mens clothes, shoes, hats, yukata (summer kimono), gothic lolita shops, and a number of other cool shops (photo area 5).  A lot of shop attendants have told me that they spot Johnny’s talents shopping around Harajuku from time to time.  One pointed out a shop TOKIO’s Tomoya Nagase had shopped at once, and someone else told me they’d seen KAT-TUN’s Koki Tanaka hanging around Harajuku a few times.

12 May 2012: Photo area 5


  • I’ve noticed that the backstreets (photo area 6) on the other side of the main street, Omotesando, have a lot of international labels (DKNY, Paul Smith, Anna Sui, Adidas, etc.) as well as local brands.  For toy lovers, KIDDYLAND has moved to this area temporarily because they’re re-building their Omotesando shop (still as of May 2012).

Feb 2011: Photo area 6

  • Omotesando is a main street, one down from Takeshita street.  I’ve heard it been called Japan’s Champs-Élysées.  There are some cool shops here (ZARA, Lacoste, Puma, etc), but also a lot of expensive labels (Chanel, Bulgari, Missoni, Ralph Lauren, Dior, etc).  Again, a generally safe place to hang out, there’s a police station just outside the Ralph Lauren shop down Omotesando.  People who are mildly annoying are hairdressers and talent scouts.  Sometimes someone might approach you asking, “have you cut your hair recently?  I’m a hairdresser in a salon nearby…”.  They’re not aggressive, and they’ll kindly leave you alone if you say, “no thanks”, so don’t worry.  The other people who might approach you are talent scouts.  I know some of them are genuine scouts, but the others aren’t as genuine so watch out.  These people aren’t aggressive either and they’ll leave you alone if you say, “no thanks” or just shake your head.

12 May 2012: Omotesando (photo area 7)

12 May 2012: Don’t forget to explore the small streets away from the main road (photo area 7)

That’s it for now!  If I think of anything else I’ve forgotten, I’ll update you 🙂 (added a few things on February 8 )

Map thanks to Google maps

  • Areas neighbouring with Harajuku: Shibuya, Aoyama, Shinjuku
  • Other significant places around Harajuku: Yoyogi Park, Yoyogi Dai-ichi Taikukan (concert venue for a lot of Johnny’s concerts), Meiji Shrine, Omotesando Hills

* This post was updated 19 May 2012.

Categories: Travel

Travel: Staying in Tokyo

12:25 JST January 12, 2011 6 comments

There are hundreds of places to stay in Tokyo and today it’s easy to find something on the internet that will meet your standards, but here are some places I recommend:


Toyoko Inn

  • Budget business hotel chain in Japan, which I think is the best if you just want a place that is clean, has a decent bed, clean bathroom, and is in a convenient location.
  • For the English website, click here.
  • Rates in Tokyo are around 6000 to 7000 yen per night (for two people)
  • Room includes all the basics you need, and has free internet.
  • You can sign up to their membership club (you can do it when you check in), which gives you discount room rates on Sundays and national holidays (as well as other things).  Just be aware that they take your photo for your membership card when you sign up so if you have morning hair from that long flight when you check in, you’ll have morning hair on your card forever.
  • It’s quite easy to spot Toyoko Inns.  Just like in the picture, they have huge blue and white neon signs above their hotels which you can see from miles away.


Weekly Mansion

  • If you don’t like staying in hotels, or maybe you’re staying in Tokyo for more than a week, weekly mansions might be a good option.
  • Weekly Mansion have a number of rented apartments across Tokyo, and they’re reasonably priced (for Tokyo) with all the basics you need including a small kitchen, free internet, and a place to do your laundry.
  • For the Weekly Mansion’s English website, click here.
  • Rates in Tokyo are around 7000 to 8000 yen per night (for two people) if you’re staying there for a week.  You can stay there for one night, or even one month, but rates get cheaper the longer you stay (eg. For a weekly mansion in Akasaka, central Tokyo, it’s 8200 yen for one night, but 6500 yen for one night if you’re staying there for a month)
  • It’s comfortable staying there alone or with friends or family.


While looking for your own hotel…

Depending on your budget range, I know some people won’t want to stay at Toyoko Inn or a Weekly Mansion, and I understand.  But when you’re looking for a place, try to keep these things in mind:

  • Look for somewhere that is near a train station.  It’s worth paying money for convenience.  If you want to get really picky, it might be worth checking what kind of trains stop at your train station.  Like if you’re far out from central Tokyo, it might be worth checking whether express trains stop at the station closest to your hotel.  This’ll save you a lot of time when going into Tokyo for an adventure.
  • While there aren’t many dodgy areas in Tokyo, I might suggest staying away from Kabukicho in Shinjuku, which is the red-light district.  Actually, it’s not that dodgy in comparison to red-light districts in other countries, but it’s not a cool place to be walking around alone at night with a whole lot of drunks and hosts lurking around.  If you’re a girl, stay away from hosts!  You’ll see hosts all around the place trying to talk people into coming to their host bar.  They’re very easy to spot – guys with long hair, shiny suits, pointy leather shoes, and bling.  Annoyingly, the Toyoko Inn closest to Shinjuku station (a very convenient train station) is right next to Kabukicho.  So while I do recommend Toyoko Inn, I do have to warn solo travelers about staying at Toyoko Inn Kabukicho…it might not be the best option.

Kabukicho, Shinjuku



Some options about what to do when you’ve missed that last train…

  • It happens.  I missed my last train last weekend.
  • Most train lines start up around 5am, and finish around midnight – 1am ish.  Check the start/finish times for the train line you think you’ll use the most.
  • There are plenty of taxis everywhere so catch one back to your hotel.  Depending on the time, some taxis charge extra in the middle of the night.
  • Go to a manga cafe or internet cafe.  Most of these places are open 24/7 and many have comfortable one-person sofas, individual rooms, and/or showers.  On top of that you have lots of manga or internet to keep you entertained for a few hours until the first trains start up.
  • Go to a capsule hotel.  This is literally just a place to sleep while you wait until the trains start up again in a few hours.
  • If you’ve just been to Tokyo Dome or you’re around the area, go to the LaQua spa in Tokyo Dome City (link goes to the Japanese website, sorry, can’t find an English one right now).  They are open from 11am to 9am the next morning.  It costs 2565 yen for adults, 1785 yen for those under 18-years-old, and 1890 yen if you’re using the place between 1am – 6am.  You can relax in hot springs, lie on their huge sofas, or try out cosmetics products while you wait until it’s time for the first trains. Plus you’ll be really refreshed when you leave!

The lady's lounge at LaQua spa

Categories: Travel
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