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2016 Spring issue VOL.19


Tokyo’s Old Downtown

Asakusa, Ueno and Yanaka


Ramen Super Bowl

BQpedia – Your Guide to the Underbelly of Japanese Cuisine Go North from Tokyo – Secluded Hot Springs & Authentic Cuisine

The Winner! Find out the re sults of our Photo Cont est on page 24

Bringing the best of Japan to around the world What is WAttention? The name “WAttention” means bringing a ttention to all things “WA” ( 和 ), or Japanese. “WA” also means linking and harmony, which is what WAttention – as the largest free magazine dedicated Japanese culture and travel – aims to do as a bridge linking Japan to the world.

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暦 Koyomi

End-March to



Early April

Che r r y Blossom Vie wing お花見

text & coordination/ Rieko Ido, photo/ Hajime Watanabe 文とスタイリング:井戸理恵子、写真:渡辺肇

In Japan, there are not only four seasons, but 24 solar terms within the seasons. Just around the Seimei solar term, or when the sakura starts to bloom, is when the whole of Japanese societ y seems to spring forth to a new start. As both the new school term and new work year starts from April, ceremonies that mark the end of one chapter and the start of the next such as graduation and matriculation are held in March and April

respectively. It is said that cherr y blossom viewing used to be a sign of respect and prayer for ancestors. Through this prayer for ancestors, a line is drawn between past and present, and one can stride forth into the future. This is a way of parting with one’s past and taking a first step into a new future. Up till today, many Japanese corporations welcome their new employees at cherr y blossom viewing

parties, as a ceremony conveying their best hopes for these employees of f to a new start in their lives. While the form is dif ferent, the spirit remains the same as times past.

Rieko Ido A graduate of Kokugakuin University, researcher of ancient Japanese customs and knowledge, conducting technical analysis on findings to apply them to modern lifestyles. Currently teaches at Tama Art University.

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※日本文化の魅力を世界に発信する「WAttention Tokyo」  事業は東京都中小企業振興公社の推奨事業です。

Why WAttention ? WAttention is named so with the hope that people in the world would pay more Attention to WA (和); an important term in Japanese culture meaning harmony with nature, peace and even Japanese culture itself!


世界中の人々に「和」 (WA)に注目(Attention) してほしいという 願いを込めてWA+Attention= WAttentionと名づけました。


Publisher Yasuko Suzuki / WATTENTION CO., LTD.

03 In Harmony with the Seasons

Associate Editor Yuka Suzuki Chief Writer Tor Ching Li

05 Tokyo Hot News

Editorial Advisors Ayako Sogo, Miki Onishi

Feature 1 Tokyo’s Old Downtown 06    

Editorial Team Esra Krabbe, Ian Nagata, Sayaka Uchida(Web), Alyona Boldyreva

16 BQpedia – Your Guide to the Underbelly of Japanese Cuisine

Design Team

Graphic Designers

17 Robot Restaurant – Shinjuku’s Show That Has It All

Kay Wu, Amber Chen, Kenji Ishida, Hiromi Yamato Photographers

Kenji Sugasawa, Hajime Watanabe, Keiji Okazaki

Feature 2 Ramen Super Bowl 18    

Sales & Marketing Shinobu Yamamoto, Akihiro Shimomura, Yuri Nakazawa, Chikara Ando

24 Results of WAttention Photo Contest / Classifieds

Special thanks Rieko Ido, Hayato Ishiyama, Brian MacDuckston 広告・記事に関するお問い合わせは

25 Tokyo Must Do

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26 Go North from Tokyo – Secluded Hot Springs & Authentic Cuisine

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30 Words of Japan

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In This Issue

Spring 2016

Springtime in Japan is synonymous with the sakura, or the cherry blossom. For the Japanese, these delicate pink flowers trigger memories of new beginnings and poignant farewells. Spring is when the new school term starts, when graduations are held and when companies take in new employees – or let go old ones. We start and end this issue with articles on the sakura, and in our main feature we bring you the timeless charm of Tokyo’s old downtown in Asakusa, Ueno and Yanaka. Springtime Ueno Park is, of course, filled to the brim with tourists and locals alike, who jostle for elbow room to shuffle under the rows of sakura trees there. A must-try sakura festival food is the yakisoba, which we introduce in BQpedia.

Don't miss out!

Then there is the humble bowl of ramen that has gone on to claim a Michelin star. We review this acclaimed ramen restaurant, as well as other top shops, in the ramen feature. Speaking of new starts, we relaunch Tokyo Must Do in collaboration with the volunteer guide network, Japan Tour Guide, who bring you from Kichijoji to Shinjuku. Looking for someplace more rustic to rest and relax? Check out the secluded onsens in our feature on Tohoku, north of Tokyo. From the transient to the timeless, we hope you enjoy this issue of WAttention. Chief Writer Tor Ching Li

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Bringing you the latest hot news

2Japan Duty Free GINZA opens Airport-style duty-free store Japan Duty Free Ginza has opened on the 8th floor of Ginza Mitsukoshi. Enjoy a wide variety of items from foreign brands as well as traditional Japanese crafts from throughout the country at this pleasant space, whose creative interior resembles natural elements such as wind and forests.

1Future fashion @ JR Shinjuku Miraina Tower JR Shinjuku Miraina Tower – a futuristic skyscraper of 170m – will open on March 5 at what used to be the station’s New South Entrance. Five of the building’s floors will be occupied by shopping complex NEWoMan, which will boast over 100 shops ranging from luxury fashion boutiques to cozy cafes and several new entrants ready to shake up the Japanese market. http://www.jreast. html

3Hokkaido Shinkansen on track for spring launch Get to Hokkaido from Tokyo in just 4 hours when the northernmost prefecture’s first Shinkansen train starts running from March 26 – in time for tourists to see Hakodate’s sakura in May. The line connects Shin-Aomori, the northernmost part of Japan’s main island, with Hakodate, the southernmost tip of Hokkaido island, which is famous for its fresh seafood and onsens. The tracks are scheduled to be extended all the way to Sapporo by 2030.

4New shopping experience @ Tokyu Plaza Ginza This new 13-story department store with an avant-garde exterior is scheduled to open its shiny doors on March 31 in the classy shopping district of Ginza. Tokyu Plaza Ginza aims to be a hub for both tradition and revolution and provide customers with high quality shopping and dining experiences. Tourists should especially check out the spacious duty-free store which will make one feel just like you are shopping at the airport!

Hot new shops! 6Colorful Japan made interior items @ CORAZYs All of CORAZYs funky home interior items come in orange, pink, green and blue. Go “corazy” coordinating your home in these cheery colors, all of which are made in Japan. CORAZYs first store recently opened in Omotesando, and is like a library of colorful items that will brighten up your everyday life!

5Authentic matcha ice cream @ Suzuki-en X Nanaya Collaboration Shop Shizuoka-based matcha ice cream shop Nanaya has made its way to Tokyo, and brings you the world’s most authentic matcha ice cream at its newly-opened collaboration shop with the venerable Asakusa teashop, Suzuki-en. Choose from 7 different concentrations of matcha flavor.

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Old Downtown Explore the nostalgia of Asakusa, Ueno and Yanaka

Turn back the clock in Tokyo by visiting the old downtown, or shitamachi, areas of temple district Asakusa, cultural center Ueno and nostalgic neighborhood Yanaka. A trip to these places within the central Taito Ward will walk you through history from the Nara period up to the 1920s Showa era. See, taste and touch Tokyo’s rich and colorful past with magnificent temples, traditional eats and charming shopping streets. Welcome to timeless Tokyo. 06

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With Sensoji Temple as the main landmark, Asakusa was one of Tokyo’s most bustling districts in the early years of the Edo period (1603-1868). Today, Asakusa is known as one of modern Tokyo’s few areas that have managed to maintain their authentic atmosphere and charm.


Kaminarimon Gate

This vermillion-lacquered gate is iconic to Sensoji Temple, and marks the entrance to its grounds. The big paper lantern in the center is 4m tall and weighs 670kg. Kaminarimon can be translated as thunder gate, and the two statues displayed on the gate’s front side are Fujin (god of the wind) and Raijin (god of thunder). The statues on the gate’s inner side are Tenryu (dragon of heaven) and Kinryu (golden dragon).  

Sensoji Temple

This Buddhist temple dates back to the 7th century, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple. It is dedicated to bodhisattva Kannon, which is one of the most beloved and common deities in Japanese Buddhism that stands for mercy. The temple consists of the main hall and a five-storied pagoda. Both were destroyed during WWII, so the current buildings are post-war reconstructions. While the pagoda was originally located east from the main hall, today it stands on the west side of the complex. Right next to the temple is Asakusa Shrine, which was part of Sensoji Temple until Shintoism and Buddhism were unified in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Throughout the year, many festivals and events are held here, Sensoji Shrine’s Sanja festival in May being the most prominent one. Address: Asakusa 2-3-1, Taito Hours: 6am-5pm URL: e.html  


Nakamise-dori Street

Nakamise is a shopping street of approximately 250m that leads directly to Sensoji Temple. Starting right after the Kaminarimon Gate, it is part of the temple grounds. Along the streets, you will find shops that sell traditional souvenirs ranging from folding fans to chopsticks, paper lanterns, kimono and more. Also enjoy a wide variety of yummy Japanese snacks, but be careful as eating as you walk is generally considered impolite here. URL:

Address: Asakusa 3-33-5, Taito

EDO Culture Sightseeing Route Kaminarimon Gate Nakamise Dori Street Sensoji Temple

Main Hall and Five-storied Pagoda


Demboin-dori Street 5-min

Asakusa Kannon Ura 08

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Demboin-dori Street

Address: Asakusa 2-3-2, Taito

Asakusa Kannon Ura Area Just a couple of streets behind Sensoji temple, is what today seems to be no more than a quiet residential neighborhood. However, take a closer look and you will notice a significant amount of classic Japanese restaurants. These restaurants are called ryotei, and a dinner here is often enjoyed accompanied by geisha. Even today, geisha can be spotted on the streets here if you are lucky!


The 200m-long Demboin-dori Street boasts unique souvenir shops, drinking bars and long-established restaurants on both sides. With shops of traditional façade, illustrations of Japanese historic figures on shop shutters, and Nezumi-kozo – a legendary thief of the Edo period – on one of the rooftops, this themed street captures the Edo (Tokyo’s former name) atmosphere in a fun way. The street is named after Demboin – a residence for Sensoji Temple’s priests that is generally not open to the public – which is located along the street.

Gourmet in Asakusa

Already during the Edo period, eateries and food stalls gathered around Sensoji Temple. Today, Asakusa is still one of the best places to savor centuries-old shitamachi specialties.


Komakata Dozeu

Dozeu (pronounced “dojo”), or loach cuisine is synonymous with shitamachi Tokyo. Komakata Dozeu is a loach cuisine specialist that has been beloved by Tokyoites for over 200 years. The loach is a small eel-like freshwater fish, eaten whole, that was an essential part of Edo food culture. The classic Dozeu Nabe, a loach hot pot dish prepared in the same way since Edo times, is a must-try. Address: Komagata 1-7-12, Taito Hours:11am-9pm URL:

Aoi Marushin

Tempura was a beloved delicacy in Asakusa during the Edo period, which is why longestablished tempura restaurants can still be found here today. One of the most prominent is Aoi Marushin, which opened its doors one year after WWII. The Edo style tendon (a rice bowl topped with tempura) is known for its strong flavored sauce and will make your mouth water just by looking at it!

Address: Asakusa 1-4-4, Taito Hours: 11am-8pm URL: (Japanese)


Marugoto Nippon

Marugoto Nippon can be translated as “everything Japan”, and that’s exactly what this 4-floor megastore is about. With signature crafts and delicacies from all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, Marugoto Nippon has so much to offer it’s easy to lose track of time. If you are looking for the ultimate one-stop souvenir plaza, look no further! Address: Asakusa 2-6-7, Taito Hours: 10am-8pm (3F until 9pm, 4F until 11pm) URL: marugotoNippon-en.pdf

Asakusa Riverside View

Near Asakusa Station is Sumidagawa River. The crimson Azumabashi Bridge that crosses the river was constructed in 1774. On the other side of the river, the goldencolored Asahi Beer Tower, which resembles a beer glass complete with white froth on top, is hard to miss. The artistic golden sculpture that stands on Super Dry Hall next to it has become iconic to modern Asakusa. In the backdrop is the Tokyo Skytree, the world’s second tallest structure completed in 2012. Both sides of the river together form Sumida Park, a riverside park known for its cherry blossoms during spring.  


Tokyo Cruise

At the western bank near Asakusa Station, tourist boats depart for river cruises. There are two lines available: the Sumida River Line which takes you to Hinode Pier via Hamarikyu and the Asakusa Odaiba Direct Line which goes all the way to Odaiba Seaside Park via Toyosu. Enjoy Tokyo’s urban landscapes as well as historical bridges and monuments along the Sumidagawa River. Address: Hanakawado 1-1-1, Taito Hours: Services start from 9:30am URL:


Asakusa Specialty: Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is one of the first dishes the Japanese invented after the nation started to consume beef and other meats. Thin sliced beef, vegetables and other ingredients are simmered in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Dipping the ingredients in a raw egg is what makes this hot pot unique. Asakusa has been famous for sukiyaki – or gyunabe (beef hot pot) as it was originally known – since the late 19th century. You can still savor the shitamachi style at long-established restaurants as Asakusa Imahan and Chinya.

Riverside & Gourmet Sightseeing Route Lunch


Shopping @ Marugoto Nippon

Walk along Sumidagawa River



Tokyo Cruise

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Sensoji Temple Nakamise-Dori


Kappabashi Street A short walking distance from Asakusa is the Kappabashi Street, or Kappabashi Dogugai, one of the most specialized shopping streets you may ever see. From noren shop curtains to the sharpest sushi knives, every single item or tool necessary to open a restaurant in Tokyo can be purchased at this 800m-long shopping street that counts over 170 shops. Even if cooking isn’t your thing, the mere scale of it all makes it a visit well worth your time, and browsing for original souvenirs such as incredibly realistic wax food samples and authentic Japanese tableware make this a hidden gem of a tourist spot.




Tawaramachi Station

Asakusa Station

Recommended souvenir : Food Samples Any type of food or drink sample can be purchased at the dedicated shops here: sushi, tempura, ramen, dumplings, hamburger, pizza, orange juice, beer, parfait, just name it. Make sure that no one back home mistakes it for the real thing!

Kamata Hakensha

Handcrafted Japanese Knives

Not all knives are made equal. At knife-sharpening specialist Kamata Hakensha, you will find an astounding 800 different types of Japanese handmade knives, each designed with a different purpose in mind – from slicing sushi to cutting meat and chopping vegetables. Now run by the 3rd generation Mr. Kamata and his son, this store founded in 1923 attracted the patronage of many chefs who came to have their knives sharpened by them. It is not unusual to see Mr. Kamata himself at the shopfront whetstone wheel sharpening a knife for a customer. Especially popular with foreign tourists are knives made with Damascus steel – a patterned steel made of alternating layers of cobalt steel and nickel – sporting Japanese motifs such as sakura and maple leaves. A knife from Kamata is a knife for life, so do remember to ask the staff on maintenance advice, as traditional Japanese knives are made of carbon steel and thus rust more easily. After choosing your knife, have your name in Japanese characters engraved on it for free! Address: Matsugaya 2-12-6, Taito Hours: 10am–6pm URL:


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Ueno is the best place to go in Tokyo for cultural activities. Within the sprawling Ueno Park you will find authentic shrines, national museums, a world-class zoo and picturesque cherry blossom viewing spots. The area also boasts a great amount of historic buildings, long-established restaurants and of course Ameyoko – a maze of shopping alleys with great street food and cheap bargains.

Spring Peony Festival

@ Toshogu’s Peony Garden

April 9th – May 10th

Enjoy more than 600 peony flowers of 40 different types in full blossom at this Peony Garden. These bright flowers show that there is more than just cherry blossoms to a Japanese spring.


Ueno Toshogu Shrine

Originally founded in 1627 to enshrine shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu like the many other Toshogu Shrines found throughout the country, this might not be Tokyo’s oldest shrine. However, the main hall last rebuilt in 1651 has survived every single earthquake and war to this day, making it not only a shrine pavilion of great historic value, but also one of the oldest architectures left in Tokyo generally speaking. This is one of the few locations where you can get a feel of Edo’s prime days. Located within Ueno Park, the shrine is enclosed by nature, with cherry blossoms during spring and golden foliage in autumn. Address: Ueno-koen 9-88, Taito Hours: 9am-4:30pm URL:


Ueno Hanazono Inari Shrine

The vermillion torii gates that line the scenic hill to this shrine will make you feel like you are at Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. This is no coincidence as both enshrine Inari, the Shinto god of harvest. Another thing these shrines have in common are the fox statues on both sides of the main hall, as foxes are said to be Inari’s messengers. This shrine is known as a power spot for love luck, so how about a visit with your significant other?


Address: Ueno-koen 4-17, Taito Hours: 6am-5pm URL: (Japanese)

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MUSEUMS in UENO Ueno is known to host excellent national museums of which most are located within Ueno Park.


Tokyo National Museum

Established in 1872, this is not only Japan’s oldest museum, but also one of the largest, with a total of 114,000 individual items of which 87 are National Treasures and 633 Important Cultural Properties. Enjoy a wide variety of Japanese art such as ancient scrolls, painted sliding doors and ukiyo-e as well as cultural items ranging from ancient earthenware to samurai swords. All items have English, Chinese and Korean descriptions, and an English audio guide is available as well. Address: Ueno-koen 13-9, Taito Hours: 9:30am-5pm (closed on Mondays) URL:

  The National Museum of Western Art This is Japan’s only national institution devoted to western art. It started in 1959 with the Matsukata collection, a collection by Japanese industrialist Kojiro Matsukata from the Meiji period (1868-1912) with works by illusionist painters and sculptures by Auguste Rodin. Today, the museum hosts a great collection of western art starting with works from the Renaissance to the early 20th century, including works of big names like Monet, Gauguin, Lorrain and van Gogh. Address: Ueno-koen 7-7, Taito Hours: 9:30am-5pm (until 6pm on Fridays, closed on Mondays) URL:

Kyu-Iwasaki-tei Gardens A historic residence and garden at Ueno Park


Shitamachi Museum

Those that wish to experience the Japanese way of living from before convenience stores took over, need look no further. Shitamachi Museum takes you back to a Tokyo of approximately 100 years ago, which feels distant yet relatable. Take off your shoes and enter the candy shop, merchant’s shop and coppersmith’s workshop that capture the shitamachi atmosphere or open drawers and cabinets at the second floor that recreates a living area for nostalgic finds! Address: Ueno-koen 2-1, Taito Hours: 9:30am-4:30pm (closed on Mondays) URL: english/index.html

Kyu-Iwasaki-tei was the residence of the Iwasaki family – the founders of Mitsubishi, a corporate group – from 1896 until the end of WWII. While the residence originally counted a total of more than 20 buildings, today only the main western residence by British architect Josiah Conder, the Swiss-style billiards house and a Japanese house remain. After appreciating these historic buildings that were recognized as Important Cultural Properties, you can enjoy authentic matcha tea at the Japanese house which today functions as a tea house. Address: Ikenohata 1-3-45, Taito Hours: 9am-4:30pm URL: kyu-iwasaki/

Gourmet in Ueno: Tonkatsu and Western Cuisine


Isen Honten

Ueno is one of Japan’s first locations where restaurants started serving tonkatsu, or fried pork cutlets during the 1930s. The now 86-year-old Isen is one of these restaurants and invented the idea of katsu-sando, or tonkatsu sandwiches. The restaurant still fries crispy tonkatsu everyday under the original slogan of “cutlets so soft they can be cut with chopsticks”. Address: Yushima 3-40-3, Bunkyo Hours: 11:30am-8:50pm (11:30am-8:30pm on Sundays and public holidays, closed on Wednesdays) URL: (Japanese)


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Ueno Seiyoken

During the Meiji period (1868-1912) this French restaurant greatly contributed to familiarizing the wealthier class with western cuisine. Today, Ueno Seiyoken consists of classic French restaurant Grill Fukushima, and the more casual Caferant Le Landaulet. At the latter, you can enjoy a unique Japanese style of western cuisine while looking out at Ueno Park from the terrace seats. Address: Ueno-koen 4-58, Taito Grill Fukushima Hours: 11am-9pm Caferant Le Landaulet Hours: 10am-8pm URL: (Japanese)

Flora and Fauna in Ueno Park

Besides the many facilities located within it,

Ueno Park is also one of the most green and leafy parks you will find in urban Tokyo.  

Shinobazu Pond

Lotus plants, carps, turtles, cormorants; if it were not the buildings in the backdrop, the flora and fauna this pond is blessed by would make its urban location hard to believe. It is divided into three sections: the lotus pond, the boat pond where you can rent a row boat or pedal-powered swan boat, and the cormorants pond which makes for a great location for birdwatching. You can also find the Bentendo Shrine here, which enshrines Benzaiten, the goddess of beauty, wisdom and music.


Ueno Zoo

Divided over 63 different sections, Ueno Zoo hosts all the animals you would expect from a world-class zoo, but the great stars are without a doubt Lili and Shinshin, the two giant pandas. Interesting for foreigners is the section for Japanese animals, where you can for example observe animals unique to Hokkaido as the Ezo deer and tancho red-crowned cranes. With a special section for children where you can pet and frolic with animals, this zoo is great for a day out with the whole family! Address: Ueno-koen 9-83, Taito Hours: 9:30am-5pm (closed on Mondays) URL:


Sakura in Ueno Park

Ueno Park is Tokyo’s most beloved location for sakura, or cherry blossom viewing in spring. An impressive number of 1,200 sakura trees can be found along the park’s main street as well as Shinobazu Pond.

Nature & Gourmet Sightseeing Route Shinobazu Pond Cherry Blossom Viewing Ueno Zoo




3-min 3-min

Lunch @ Ameyoko

Ameyayokocho (Ameyoko)

Ameyoko originally started out as a post-war black market. Ame is thought to stand for either candy or American goods, which were sold here from the beginning years. More than 400 shops spread over 500m to make today’s Ameyoko one of Tokyo’s most lively shopping streets. Find quality street food ranging from Japanese classics as yakitori and ramen to snacks from foreign kitchens as kebab and Chinese dumplings. It is also a mecca for cheap buys, so expect to see locals and tourists alike hunt for clothes, shoes, golf clubs, watches, jewelry and pretty much anything else you can imagine. URL: (Japanese)

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Yanaka is one of the few areas in Tokyo where you can enjoy retro cityscapes of before the city got its modern facelift. It is often skipped by tourists, but if a quiet neighborhood with Buddhist temples, old Japanese houses, cozy mom-and-pop shops, art galleries and cute cats is your thing, Yanaka won’t disappoint.


Kaiun Yanakado

Cats are symbolic to Yanaka, so expect to see many catthemed shops in the area. Our recommendation is Kaiun Yanakado, a shop dedicated to manekineko, or traditional Japanese fortune cat figurines. These feline statues come in almost as many shapes and colors as real cats here at Yanakado, and at the café attached to the shop you can even decorate one yourself while enjoying a cup of coffee and a cookie!

Sightseeing Route for Bites & Buys

Address: Yanaka 5-4-3, Taito Hours: 10:30am-5:30pm URL: (Japanese)

Shopping & Lunch@Yanaka Ginza  5-min



Kaiun Yanakado Gallery Visit  


SCAI THE BATHHOUSE is a contemporary art gallery that uses a 200 year-old bathhouse as its venue. Enjoy exhibitions that range from works of avant-garde Japanese artists to works of international artists for free!

Address: Yanaka 6-1-23, Taito Hours: 12pm-6pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays, public holidays and in-between exhibitions) URL:


Art Sanctuary Allan West

Surrounded by Buddhist temples right under Yanaka’s famous Himalayan cedar tree, you will find Allan West’s glass fronted art gallery. This American artist is renowned for his traditional Japanese paintings. Feel free to go inside and take a look at his works, and if you’re lucky, you might even see the artist himself at work! Address: Yanaka 1-6-17, Taito Hours: 1pm-5pm (3pm-5pm on Sundays) URL:



Address: Yanaka 5-9-22, Taito Hours: 10am-6pm

Yanaka Ginza

Looking down at Yanaka Ginza from the top of the staircase on its east side, it is as if you can already smell the fragrances of snacks available at this typical shitamachi shopping street. While with 170m Yanaka Ginza might be a bit short for a Japanese shopping street, the shops more than make up for it with yummy snacks such as minced cutlets and grilled squid skewers as well as cute cat-themed items that make for great souvenirs. Address: Yanaka 3-8-11, Taito URL: (Japanese) 14


Looking for a unique postcard to send back home? The beautifully-crafted threedimensional postcards at Enomotoya represent aesthetic Japanese sceneries that your friends and family will cherish together with your personal message.

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Waguriya Yanaka

The people at Waguriya are nuts about chestnuts, and you will be too once you enter the shop! This pâtissier specializing in confectionary made of Japanese chestnuts does not make use of any artificial additives, to bring you the purest and sweetest chestnut delight.

Address: Yanaka 3-9-14, Taito Hours: 11am-7pm (closed on Mondays) URL: (Japanese)

Himalayan Cedar Tree

Arguably the most scenic spot in Yanaka is this imposing Himalayan cedar tree, which stands next to a temple on a quiet street right above an old little bakery. This shitamachi treasure looks just as it does on prewar pictures, which is a precious novelty in Tokyo. Address: Yanaka 1-6-15, Taito

  Yanaka Cemetery With leafy trees, shrubs and flowers along the stone paths, this spacious cemetery feels more like a scenic park. Amongst the more than 7,000 souls that rest here, are a significant number of famous historic figures, including Ichiyo Higuchi, the female novelist that appears on the 5,000 yen banknote. Myriads of cherry trees along the cemetery’s central avenue will be in full blossom during April. Their short blossom period seems to symbolize the ephemerality of life.


Address: Yanaka 7-5-24, Taito Hours: 8:30am-5:15pm URL: park/index073.html (Japanese)


The Last Shogun's Grave

Japan’s last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837–1913) also rests at Yanaka Cemetery. While the shogun’s grave is located at a fenced-off section of the park, it is visible if you look through the gates.


tokyobike gallery Yanaka

Rent a bicycle at tokyobike gallery Yanaka, which has the facade of an old Japanese-style house with wooden walls and a slanting roof, but a modern and fancy interior. tokyobikes are made with the purpose of city cycling, and you can choose out of 3 different models. Address: Yanaka 4-2-39, Taito Hours: 11am-5:30pm (closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays) URL: html (Japanese)

Shitamachi Exploration Route  

Temple Town Yanaka

In the old days, Yanaka was known as a teramachi, or temple town. Numerous temples as well as other interesting finds are still hidden in the back alleys of Yanaka’s residential neighborhoods as well as shopping streets, making every extra step you make a rewarding one.

Rent Bicycle @ tokyobike 1-min 5-min

Yanaka Cemetery Himalayan Cedar Tree

Explore Temple Town

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High on Taste, Low in Price, Steeped in Culture!



Today's BQ menu

Yakisoba / yäkēˈsōbə

What it is:

pancake) eateries in the Kansai area

Yakisoba is a simple dish of stir-fried

(eg: Osaka).

wheat flour noodles that is a staple

Your guide to the underbelly of Japanese cuisine

menu at any matsuri (festival).

Why people love it:

The usual ingredients are sliced

The tart, smoky scent of sizzling

pork belly, cabbage and other

sosu wafting in the air is enough to

vegetables, with the key flavoring

set Japanese stomachs rumbling.

being a tangy sosu, or Japanese

This nostalgic soul food reminds

B級グルメ (“B-Kyu Gurume”) may

Worcestershire sauce – a thicker

one of fond childhood memories

and sweeter version of its English

– from festival fun to hometown

the only thing “B-Grade” about


memories of mom whipping up

mean “B-Grade Gourmet” but

a quick batch in the kitchen. As

this food category is the price, as

Where to find it:

a dish that's hard to go wrong

“A-Grade” taste of these local

At matsuri stalls, outdoor barbeques,

with, it’s also a favorite item

old-style Chinese restaurants, and

for student fundraising stalls at

the equivalent of “fast food” in

okonomiyaki (Japanese savory

school festivals!

most Japanese will swear by the favorites. Not to be confused as the West. Let WAttention walk

you through this food culture with our definitive BQ Gourmet guide!



B F 1



>> WAttention writer Ian's



What’s inside A noodles C cabbage

B pork D yakisoba sauce

Must Have Toppings Yakisoba isn't complete without these!

1 aonori seaweed 2 pickled ginger 3 bonito flakes

For more details on BQ Gourmet, check our BQpedia series online at


*O ne N


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Robot Restaurant:

Shinjuku's Show That Has It All Every tourist has an image of Japan in their mind before they actually set foot on these islands. And be it kimonos, high-tech robots, cutesy characters, or the absolutely absurd, one thing is for sure: To not get a glimpse of these things (not to mention a selfie with them) would spell trip failure. Enter the Robot Restaurant – the show made for you, dear tourist from afar. Ian Nagata reports. as devilish as the masked oni creatures sharing the stage. And yes, she really was playing.

From matsuri to manga to madness ou r e de d E xce ations! ct e x pe igia, Canada - S unn


If you only visit one place

Be sure to grab a beer at the break, because nothing else will prepare you for the epic rainforest robot battle act, where a giant mech-shark devours a samurai, and lasershooting dinosaurs duke it out. And like straight out of a comic book, the accompanying cute heroines flaunt costumes you won’t even find at the latest cosplay convention.

All you’re anticipating

“My friend is a travel agent, and she said if there’s only one place I visit in Japan, it needed to be here.” Not what I expected to hear from the Australian lady seated in front me. But before I could ask why, the lights dimmed as troops of taiko drummers, some rainbow-wigged and others with faces painted kabuki-style, rolled out to a powerful pulsing rhythm that could easily outmatch any dance club beat in Kabukicho. The show had begun.

Tradition with a twist In seconds, this basement theater transformed into a Japanese festival from the future, with hand fan female dancers in skimpy samurai costumes, gyrating in sync next to a kimono-clad electric guitar-wielding gal, shredding out distorted tunes

By the time the closing parade marched in, featuring a human-horse hybrid, a clown robot, and other oddities worth snapping a shot of with your smart phone, it all became clear: Nowhere else in Tokyo can you get a barrage of everything you associate with Japan (for better or worse) in under 1.5 hours. And, to top that off, tuck into a sushi bento meal for an extra 1,000 yen. Perhaps for that reason, praises of this show are spreading as steadily as the beat of the taiko drum. Just ask the Australian lady in front of me, who confirmed this with her one word review after the show: “Awesome.”

Robot Restaurant Address: Kabukicho 1-7-1, Shinjuku Time: 4pm-11pm (Shows: 4pm, 5:55pm, 7:50pm, 9:45pm)

en a show Never se before! is th li ke - Simba , Taiw


1 show approx. 90 minutes Admission: 8,000 yen Access: 5-min walk from JR and Tokyo Metro Shinjuku Station URL:

WAttention Tokyo


No Ramen, No Life

Ramen Super Bowl A taste test of Tokyo’s top major ramen joints! Ramen – it may look like just a simple one dish meal. But for some, it has been a life-changing encounter. Our guest contributor Hayato Ishiyama has dedicated his life to researching ramen since his university days. We asked him to introduce each main genre of ramen – shoyu, tonkotsu, shio, miso, and some new variations - and review two shops from each, and got WAttention’s inhouse ramen expert, Kay, and a ramen blogger, Brian, to give us their take on how bowled over they were. Ready to rumble?

The Ramen Researcher Name: Hayato Ishiyama

     From: Aomori, Japan

The Ramen Reviewers Our ramen reviewers hark from the East and West of the globe respectively, and are now living in Japan, eating and breathing ramen!

No. of ramen shops conquered:

over 7,000 (about two bowls per day)

Ramen milestones: Leading ramen researcher

in Japan with over 20 ramen books to his name, featuring 2,000 ramen shops. Started a Ramen

Research Society in university days. Has eaten his way through all 47 prefectures of Japan, and is now conquering ramen chains in Asia.

Fascinated by the depth and breadth of the ramen world, I started a Ramen Research Society in university days, and never stopped researching!

Name: Kay Wu

     From: San Francisco, USA

No. of ramen shops conquered:

No. of ramen shops conquered:

Ramen milestones: Writes a regular column

Ramen milestones: Prolific ramen blogger

over 400 (or at least one bowl a week)

called "Ramen Notes" in WAttention Tokyo+, the Taiwan edition of this magazine. Favors

tonkotsu and shio-based broths, mission in life is to find the ultimate bowl of mind-blowing ramen.

Tokyo has the most number of ramen stores in Japan, so come and explore this competitive and colorful scene with me and discover Japan through this ramen journey!


WAttention Tokyo

Name: Brian MacDuckston

     From: Taipei, Taiwan

1,000 (or around three bowls a week)

at, published a book, "Brian's Guide to 50 Great Tokyo Ramen

Shops", appears regularly on TV and various media as a ramen expert.

Balancing ingredients from the land and sea, ramen has a wonderful impact followed by layers of umami (flavor). It’s the ultimate Japanese comfort food.

Ishiyama on:

Shoyu Ramen

Super soup! Brian’s Review

”Using Japan’s staple condiment, shoyu (soy sauce), this is the most orthodox

The niboshi impart a smoky, fishy, bitter accent, which is an acquired taste that many people come to crave. Ito has mastered the art of cooking with niboshi. The flavors are intense, but not too harsh. Each slurp leaves a clean umami aftertaste, and this is one that most customers drink to the last drop.

style of ramen. When first introduced as

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★ ☆

a Chinese dish during the Meiji era (18681912), ramen was considered foreign and

Chuka Soba (small, onions only) 600 yen (tax included)

exotic. Since then, shoyu ramen quickly took root throughout the country due to its familiar flavor and became part of Japan’s soul food. ”

Jikaseimen Ito (Asakusa Shop)


A pioneer in the world of niboshi (dried small sardines) ramen, the shoyu soup stock is simmered with Hinai free-range chicken and a large quantity of niboshi. The noodles, made in-house, have a unique crunchy al dente texture, and are also flavorsome on

The noodles here are a winner!

their own. Hours: 11am – 4pm, 5pm – 8pm Address: Komagata 2-6-9, Taito

Kay’s Review

The noodles here are specially-made and kneaded to just the right balance of springiness and al dente. The natural fragrance of the wheat flour is released with each bite, and is perfectly matched with the smoky taste of the shoyu-fish broth. Even though the toppings are simple, this is one bowl I won’t get tired of eating.

Kay’s Ranking: ★★★★

Let me shoyu the best bowl!

Consistent quality worthy of their Michelin star! Ajitama Shoyu Soba 950 yen (tax included)

Brian’s Review

Many ramen critics in Japan have cited Tsuta as their top choice. The shoyu blend is flavorful and deep, with just a hint of truffle giving an unexpected fullness of flavor. Their noodles and toppings are perfect, but it is that soup the leaves a lasting impression.

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★★★

Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta


The stock is made by balancing the delicate taste of unpasteurized shoyu with the essence of the three most famous types of free-range chicken from across Japan: Aomori Shamrock (Aomori Prefecture), Amakusa Daio (Kumamoto Prefecture) and Hinai (Akita Prefecture). It is the first ramen shop to be accorded a Michelin Star ranking. ◀︎ This ticket is needed in order to queue during a certain time frame.

A must-try no matter how long the queue!

Kay’s Review

The resulting harmony of the texture of each slurp of smooth noodles (with healthy whole grain flour added) and fragrant shoyu-based soup sings Michelin Star quality. The taste of black truffle is evident in each spoonful, though personally I found this a bit overpowering.

Kay’s Ranking: ★★★ ☆

Hours: 11am – 4pm, closed Weds. Subject to early closure if sold out. (Tickets with designated times are distributed from 7am on weekdays, 6:30am on weekends.) Address: Sugamo 1-14-1 Plateau-Saka 1F, Toshima Watch a video here: WAttention Tokyo


Hakata Nagahama Ramen Tanaka Shoten

Ishiyama on:

Tonkotsu Ramen

(Diver City Tokyo Plaza Shop) Odaiba

“The soup stock for this ramen is a cloudy white

This is a full-flavored Kyushu-style ramen, with

soup derived from boiled pork bone. Originating from

stock made from long hours of simmering pork

Kurume and Hakata in Kyushu, it is usually served

bones to extract the essence. Choose from the conveniently-located Odaiba outlet or their

with thin straight noodles. In Tokyo, there are many

main shop on the

tonkotsu ramen shops that sprinkle pork back fat on

outskirts of Tokyo.

top – a different culture from that of Kyushu.”

Ramen 790 yen (tax included)

True tonkotsu ramen originating from Tokyo.

Brian’s Review

The best tonkotsu ramen, made from 100% pork bones, is known to come from Kyushu. But though Tanaka Shoten originated from Tokyo, their bowl is authentic with thin, firm noodles in a rich, smooth and creamy pork broth that is

This is my all-time favorite!

distinct in taste without being too overpowering for some.

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★☆☆

Hours: 10am – 10pm (Last Order 9:30pm) Address: Aomi 1-1-10 Diver City Tokyo Plaza 2F, Koto

One slurp and you’ll be addicted!

Kay’s Review

This is definitely my favorite bowl! The aroma of the pork stock that has been brewed for 3 days and 3 nights can be smelt from afar. Matched with extremely fine straight noodles and crunchy cloud ear fungus, this is bliss in a bowl! Kaedama (noodle refill) please!

Kay’s Ranking: ★★★★★

Kaedama is a noodle refill system offered in some ramen shops that originated in Kyushu, where it is standard to order a refill of noodles when one is halfway through the bowl in order not to waste the precious soup stock.

Global while keeping local taste. Brian’s Review

What is Kaedama? ( 替え玉 )

Ippudo has managed to remain true to its roots at its Ginza shop. Most people choose between the simple “Shiromaru” or the more modern “Akamaru”. Both use the same rich stock base, which helped spark the worldwide tonkotsu ramen boom.

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★★☆

Ippudo (Ginza Shop)

Kay’s Review


Ippudo is one of Japan’s representative ramen shops that

Many ramen critics in Japan have named Tsuta as their favorite bowl. Now, with a Michelin Star to their name, Tsuta is well known on the world stage as well. Even with all the fame, their

helped to popularize tonkotsu ramen worldwide with its fashionable presentation. The classic flavor “Shiromaru” and “Akamaru”, which is seasoned with special-blended miso

quality has remained at a superior level.

paste and fragrant oil, are its two signature dishes.

Consistent taste of a global brand! Kay’s Review

Shiromaru Motoaji 790 yen (tax uncluded)


WAttention Tokyo

The tonkotsu broth here is thick and flavorsome without being cloying and is a good standard introduction for tonkotsu first-timers. Add free condiments provided such as chillied beansprouts or pickled vegetables to vary the taste.

Kay’s Ranking: ★★★☆☆

Hours: 11am – 2am (Mon – Thu), 11am – 3am (Fri, Sat & days before holidays), 11am – 1am (Sun & holidays) Address: Ginza 4-10-3 Central Bldg. 1F, Chuo

Devilish décor to get you in the mood. ▶︎

Karashibi Miso Ramen 800 yen (tax included)

The regular combo works best! Kay’s Review

Choose your ideal balance of spiciness and numbness for this uniquely-flavored spicy miso-based ramen. The hellish indoor decor, with demon masks and clubs, and heart-pounding BGM of drums, makes for a complete sensory experience.

Kay’s Ranking: ★★★☆☆

Spice up your day here!

Mind-numbing experience! Brian’s Review

The sansho makes its way into almost everything, and the kakuni pork stewed in a rich sauce is a meat lover’s dream. For spice level, regular is best for first timers, but real spice lovers can try devil-size, which includes ghost peppers – the hottest in the world.

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★★☆

Karashibi Miso Ramen Kikanbo (Kanda Shop)

Ishiyama on:

Miso Ramen

Kanda The marriage of spicy togarashi chili peppers

“Born in Sapporo, Hokkaido, this ramen uses miso (fermented soybean paste) as its base, together with lard, to make for a piping hot bowl to warm you up during the cold winters here. The noodles are aged, thick, and firm, to match the strong taste of the broth. Typically served with bean sprouts, cabbage and other vegetables.”

Shinbusakiya (Shibuya Shop)

and numbing sansho peppers presents this new genre of miso ramen. Mixing thin, medium and thick noodles together is a Kikanbo original. Hours: 11am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sat, holidays), 11am – 4pm (Sun) Subject to early closure if sold out. Address: Kajicho 2-10-9, Chiyoda Watch a video here:

Heart-warming miso soup!


A dollop of grated garlic and ginger enhance this ramen’s miso flavor, and the aged noodles

Kay’s Review

– a Sapporo distinctive – glide down your throat.

The miso broth here is unforgettable and I wouldn’t mind drinking it everyday. The tasty and thick miso soup, with a tinge of roasted fragrance, matches well with the refreshing taste of the grated ginger topping. However, personally I found the soft texture and shape of the noodle did not do the broth justice.

Kay’s Ranking: ★★☆☆☆

The thick lard in this steaming hot soup also spells Sapporo. Hours: 11am – 5am next day (Mon – Thu), 11am – 7am next day (Fri & Sat), 11am – 2am next day (Sun) Address: Dogenzaka 2-10-3, Shibuya

Reliable and convenient.

Brian’s Review

While the hunt for amazing, out-ofthe-way ramen can be fun, sometimes you just want a solid bowl by a major station. The miso ramen here makes for a nice respite from shopping, drinking, or partying, and they’re open real late for a nice alternative to the usual fast food.

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★☆☆ Tokusei Miso Ramen 980 yen (tax included) WAttention Tokyo


A different treat everyday!

Kay’s Review

Could this Chinese-style forerunner of Japanese ramen actually outclass the realm of ramen? What looks like a thick broth, is every spoonful a treasure chest of the sea’s bounty. Plus, the generous serving of vegetable toppings is a satisfying and healthy feature for the health-conscious consumer.

Kay’s Ranking: ★★★ ☆

Yummy and thick seafood soup! Brian’s Review

Tanaka’s master commutes almost two hours from his beachside home to the shop and it’s almost as if he brings the flavors of the sea with him. The ramen is heavy on konbu, which enriches the soup with umami flavors. It’s unconventionally thick for a seafood-based ramen, but that is part of the appeal.

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★★☆

Tokunose Aji Niboshi Shio Chuka Soba 950 yen (tax included)

Ishiyama on:

Shinasoba Tanaka

Shio Ramen


The ramen master here has a background in Italian cuisine, and whips up a truly creative bowl for his daily special. Treasures from the sea such as spiny lobsters, turban shell

“Before shoyu ramen there was shio (salt) ramen, which had arrived from China first. The culinary prowess of each shop can be easily discerned as salt by itself doesn’t

and abalone are generously used in some variations. Hours: 11am – 3pm, 5pm–10pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 3pm (Sat), closed Sun & holidays Address: Higashi-Ikebukuro 2-19-2, Toshima

have any umami and requires technique to extract and balance the flavors from A taste beyond my expectations!

ingredients such as scallops, konbu (seaweed) and seafood. “ Kay’s Review

Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 6pm – 9pm (Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat), 11:30am – 3pm (Wed), closed Wed night, Fri, Sun & holidays. Subject to early closure if sold out. Address: Kanda Izumicho 2-15, Chiyoda Watch a video here: http://www.

Be it the thin or the flat noodles, the symphony of joy that it creates in one’s mouth is the same. The tender, melt-in-your-mouth chashu and plump, succulent wonton are a perfect match for the chicken broth. This bowl is an expression of why simple is best.

Kay’s Ranking: ★★★★☆

Tokusei Shio Soba 980 yen (tax included)

Motenashi Kuroki Akihabara Around six types of salt, including natural sea salt and rock salt, are boiled with locally bred free-range chicken and ago (flying fish) for this rich bowl of soup. The two types of homemade noodles – thin or flat – are one of the specialties of this shop.

Watch out for the weekly specials! Brian’s Review

With a background in Italian and French cooking, Chef Kuroki applies his culinary skills here. Blended with six different salts from oceans, mountains, and lakes, the shio ramen soup becomes a perfect match for their homemade noodles. He has limited weekly special bowls that keep regulars coming back for more.

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★★★ 22

WAttention Tokyo

It’s shio time!

A surprising new entrant!

Ishiyama on:

New Style Ramen

Brian’s Review

“Many new genres of ramen, from toripaitan (chicken white soup) to vegetable ramen, are emerging on the scene. Especially notable is a recent trend towards more stylish

This shop serves a fine-dininglevel bowl at normal ramen prices. The toripaitain is especially popular. Chicken bones are cooked until the stock is ultracreamy. Kagari offers a large selection of premium toppings, and the seasonal vegetables turn this porcelain white bowl of ramen into an explosion of color.

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★★☆

ramen shops catering to the needs of female customers.” Toripaitan SOBA 950 yen (tax included) Tsukune Dango (chicken meatball) topping 280 yen (tax included)

Ginza Kagari

(Echika fit Ginza Shop)


The toripaitan ramen here, known for its creaminess, is attracting lines of customers in this Ginza back-alley eatery. Part of the appeal lies in the colorful presentation of seasonal vegetables on the white, cloudy soup. Hours: 10am – 11pm (Last Order 10:30pm) Address: Ginza 4-1-2 Echika fit Ginza, Chuo

Chicken soup for the soul. Kay’s Review

The white chicken soup, loaded with collagen, is rich without being overwhelming. The toppings such as tender chicken slices and seasonal vegetables are artistically arranged on each bowl, making each bowl a work of edible art – as tasty as it looks.

Pretty like me!

Kay’s Ranking: ★★★★



Soranoiro’s ramen is a trailblazing vegetable ramen, boasting an overwhelming amount of female customers. With a soup base made from carrots and noodles kneaded with paprika, this dish has an overall veggie-themed approach. Hours: 11am – 11pm (Last Order 10:30pm) Address: Marunouchi 1-9-1 First Avenue Tokyo Station Ramen Street, Chiyoda

Stylish and tasty.

Brian’s Review

There was a time when ramen was considered a guy’s food: fatty soups at utilitarian shops. Soranoiro’s classic chukasoba and modern veggie soba are popular with patrons of both genders. The veggie soba, with its brightly-colored soup and crisp toppings is especially popular.

Brian’s Ranking: ★★★ ☆

Eat in the comfort of these chairs with ukiyo-e paintings. ▶︎

Ramen that even vegetarians can enjoy!

Kay’s Review

Who says ramen can’t be healthy? Each bowl of ramen is topped with the recommended daily intake of vegetables. From the ramen stock which is brewed using large quantities of vegetables to the noodles which are kneaded with bits of paprika, the presentation of the noodles here has surpassed the boundaries of food into art.

Kay’s Ranking: ★★★ ☆ Veggie Soba (Vegan) 900 yen (tax included) WAttention Tokyo


g n i n n i w e h t d n A photo is… ntest Results of WAttention Photo Co

WAttention would like to thank all fans of Japan for sending us your best shots of Asakusa, Ueno, ramen, and Japanese Spring for our fourth photo contest. The winning photo, as featured on this magazine’s cover, impressed for capturing the colorful combination of Sensoji Temple with sakura, blooming in full glory. We’d also like to give mention to some other photos that were close contestants for the best shot! Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention

Winning Entr y: Thierry RAVASS OD   Theme: Asakusa, Japanese Sprin g “Tok yo at its best: cher ry blos som s”

Upcoming Contest: Apr 1 – May 25 Follow us online for more details regarding our next photo contest, and win a chance to have your photo published on the cover of the next WAttention Tokyo! WA

Photograph by: taka waka Theme: Asakusa “Downtown Sky”

Photograph by: Meng-Jiun Chiou Theme: Ueno, Japanese Spring “Night cherry blossom viewing at Ueno”

“A sense of life fills the air of Asakusa’s back alleys. Time for some monja and okonomiyaki here! ”Kay Wu

“The cherry blossoms look great against the night sky, illuminated by paper lanterns. So Japanese, so warm. ”Alyona Boldyreva

Show us your  best photos of Japan!

CLASSIFIEDS Writers wanted! Love Japanese culture and tourism? WAttention Tokyo is looking for native or native-level English writers to join our team! Please send your CV and published writing samples to *Only considered applicants will be contacted.

Experience Japan here! Get a taste of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, put on a kimono, try your hand at manga drawing or learn some basic Japanese at the Ota City Tourist Information Center, directly connected to the Kamata Station. Just a short direct bus or train ride from Haneda Airport, why not drop by here for some of these activities? Some of the activities are free and require no reservations. Check the website for details.


WAttention Tokyo

Learn Japanese This Summer August 2 (Tue) - 12 (Fri) Why not join our Summer Intensive Japanese Course? 2 weeks' class lesson plus cultural activities such as calligraphy and kendo for 55,000 JPY! Tokyo Central Japanese Language School (TCJ), 1 min on foot from Shinjuku sta.

Inquire us at 03-3342-8001 or

Planning to watch Robot Restaurant? Don’t miss this discount! Whether you’re watching this revolutionary show for the first time or more, don’t miss the 2,000 yen discount coupon and our latest review on it on Pg.17.

Bloggers wanted! Share your Japan travels and tips on WAttention’s homepage and SNS sites! English or Chinese (Traditional) articles are welcome. Please send your writing samples or ideas to *Only considered applicants will be contacted.

Unagi Komagata Maekawa Classic eel restaurant from the Edo era Savor the finest flavors of wild unagi (freshwater eel) caught in Japan while enjoying the view of Asakusa’s landmarks, Sumida River and the Tokyo Skytree. The eel is dipped in a classic sauce, which has been continuously topped up according to a secret recipe and used since opening day, and rotated on the charcoal grill 16 times over for a delightfully fluffy and succulent texture that will leave you craving for more. TEL: 03-3841-6314 URL: Address: Komagata 2-1-29, Taito Access: 1-min walk from Asakusa Station (Toei Asakusa Line), 3-min walk from Asakusa Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line), 5-min walk from Asakusa Station (Tobu Line) Hours: 11:30am – 9pm (Last Order 8:30pm) Closed: Open every day


Today’s Guide

with Get a taste of “real” Japan with sights recommended by Japan Tour Guide, a group in Japan that matches visitors with volunteer guides.




Tomonari Watanabe Tomonari is a student from the Tokyo University of Science. He guides foreign visitors every weekend in Tokyo, where he was born and raised. To date, he has guided some 300 groups of visitors.


Take a stroll around the most desirable town to live in, as voted by the locals. The picturesque Inokashira Park here is famous for cherry blossom viewing and boasts a large pond where you can paddle a boat in. You may even catch some street performers along the river path. For a satisfying and affordable meal, try yakitori restaurant Iseya. Inokashira Park

Izakaya Kyomachi Koishigure

Yakitori restaurant “Iseya”

Omoide Yokocho








In the skyscraper district of Shinjuku, there are many shopping malls, bars and clubs where you can experience Tokyo’s nightlife. For a feel of Japan’s early post-war days, head to drinking alley Omoide Yokocho. Or visit Hanazono Shrine, Shinjuku’s guardian shrine for some history and culture. For dinner, why not treat yourself to Kyomachi Koishigure, where you can enjoy Kyoto’s traditional atmosphere and savor delicious Japanese food and sake.


After seeing how the locals live, see how they play. Shibuya is where you can shop for the latest fashion, eat a variety of food and try all sorts of entertainment, such as concept cafes – maid cafes, ganguro cafes (witness extreme makeup!) and even a goat café!

Marion Crêpes

Meiji Shrine



Shibuya Crossing



The most famous place for foreign tourists in Harajuku is definitely Meiji Shrine. Feel purified both mentally and physically while experiencing Shinto, the Japanese traditional religion. From the shrine, you can easily access the trendsetting Takeshita Street, which is famous for its clothes shops and crepes. For high fashion, Omotesando Street is just round the corner. ◀︎Between Shibuya and Harajuku, there is Cat Street which has many street fashion clothes shops and general shops where you can enjoy window shopping.

Sakuragaoka Café (goat café)


Keio Inokashira Line 16 min

JR Yamanote Line 15 min


5 min

WAttention Tokyo












Secluded Hot Springs &

Authentic Cuisine

A Taste Of Rustic Japan At Tohoku If you are looking for a rustic retreat to refresh your body and soul, look no further than the Tohoku region in North Eastern Japan. Consisting of six prefectures, this area boasts some of the most milky and smooth hot springs in Japan, a variety of fresh seafood from both the Pacific Ocean and Japan Sea, organic meats from free-range farms as well as abundant fruits made sweet from the distinct change in seasons.


Japan’s most northern prefecture, Aomori is famous for apple produce, seafood and Nebuta lantern floats.

Aomori Approx. 3 hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo

Sukayu Onsen Aoni Onsen Yamagata Approx. 2 hours 30 min by Shinkansen from Tokyo

Morioka Approx. 2 hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo

Matsukawa Onsen

Zao Onsen Tokyo

♨ Sukayu Onsen Historic & healing soak This milky bath high in the Hakkoda Mountains of Aomori City has been frequented for centuries by locals for its healing properties, and is a popular stopover for many skiers in search of powder snow at Hakkoda Ski Resort. The wooden building, known as Senninburo, or “1000-person bath”, is famous for its two mix-gender baths made from hiba arborvitae, an Aomori specialty. Access: 1-hour by JR Bus Tohoku Towada-hoku line from JR Aomori Station URL: ( Japanese)

♨ Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen Away from modern life This mountain retreat takes you away from your everyday life and offers an authentic Japanese experience you won’t easily find elsewhere. The ryokan is lit only with oil lamps, and rooms come without power sockets or Wi-Fi. This may at first feel inconvenient, but a soak in one of the 4 divine hot springs will make you forget the stress and worries that come with modern life. Access: 30-min by bus (Nurukawa Line) from Kuroishi City. Get off at Nijinoko and transfer to pickup bus. URL: 26

WAttention Tokyo

Gourmet spots within Aomori City

Ice monsters at Mt. Hakkoda, Aomori.

Ippachizushi Top-notch sushi at conveyor belt prices!

Tsugaru Joppari Isariya Sakaba

You will have a hard time finding sushi of this quality for the same price. The secret behind Ippachizushi’s gorgeous toppings is not only the quality of Aomori’s local seafood, but also the skill of the sushi chef with over 30 years of experience. Don’t forget to try the scallop sushi, an Aomori specialty.

Cuisine and live music from Aomori The 3 neputa lantern floats on the exterior of this izakaya promise an authentic experience, and make it both easy and fun to find! Savor local sake and specialties as Kaiyakimiso (scallops grilled together with miso and egg), and fried Shamorokku (an Aomori chicken breed) while listening to a live tsugaru-shamisen performance. This type of shamisen – a traditional Japanese stringed instrument – has its origin in Aomori Prefecture.

Access: 10-min walk from JR Aomori Station Address: Shinmachi 1-10-11 Aomori

Access: 20-min walk from JR Aomori Station URL: isariya-tugaru/ ( Japanese)

Tohoku Limited Popular Snacks Try out these Aomori editions of famous snacks made using famous local produce!

 Scallop Butter-Soy Sauce Jagarico 860 yen

(All prices are tax inclusive)

Aomori recommended sakura spot  Country Ma’am (Aomori Apple flavor) 700 yen

Must See!

 Aomori Hello Kitty Apple Caramels 378 yen

Tachineputa no Yakata (Tachineputa Museum) Observe actual neputa floats throughout the year! Neputa are huge lantern floats that traditionally represent Japanese warriors. While neputa parade festivals are only held during the summer, at Goshogawara City’s Tachineputa Museum, floats used in former festivals are on display throughout the year and can be observed from a closer angle than at the actual festivals! Access: 5-min walk from JR Goshogawara Station URL: ( Japanese)

Hirosaki Castle Park  This 400 year old castle is surrounded by over 2,000 sakura trees of more than 50 sorts. The “sakura tunnel” at the western moat is especially stunning, and crossing the traditional Japanese crimson bridge is like a fairy tale come true. Access: 20-min walk from JR Hirosaki Station URL: html?id=edit12

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The largest prefecture of the Japan main island, Iwate is abundant with untouched nature. Be sure to savor local noodle dishes and organic meat from famous farms here.

♨ Matsukawa Onsen Matsukawaso Kanpai while bathing! This nearly 300 year old hot spring town is located 850m above ground on Iwate’s Mt. Hachimantai. Matsukawaso is one of the most renowned hot spring ryokans here, and offers not only a spectacular outdoor bath, but also cuisine with healthy vegetables and freshwater fish from the mountains. The landlady’s smile is worth a fortune, and her warmhearted hospitality will soothe your soul despite the language barrier. End your stay with a last dip in the outdoor bath and have a cup of sake while soaking! Access: 1-hour and 50-min by bus from JR Morioka Station East Exit Bus Terminal. URL: ( Japanese)

Eats & Bites Ichigo no Mori Salad Farm Strawberry picking near Matsukawa Onsen Pick and eat as many strawberries as you can, and frolic with the alpacas and ponies at this fun farm. Also be sure to try the strawberry cream puff, which was 2014’s winning sweet at the Iwate S-1 Sweets Fair. (Strawberry picking is available from late December to mid-June, and reservation is required.) Access: Approx. 40-min by car from Matsukawa Onsen or 1 hour by car from JR Morioka Station. URL: ichigo.html ( Japanese)

Koiwai Farm Makiba-en Juicy meat fresh  from the farm! Koiwai Farm – one of Japan’s most renowned dairy farms – is a popular tourist spot in Iwate Prefecture. At the farm’s open-air restaurant Sumibiyaki Barbeque Shokudo, you can enjoy juicy grilled beef or lamb meat straight from the farm. How about a nutritious barbeque lunch in a picturesque leafy environment? Access: 10-min by taxi from JR Koiwai Station URL: ( Japanese) 28

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Sobadokoro Azumaya All-you-can-slurp soba Wanko Soba refers to small portions of soba noodles served in lacquerware bowls. As soon as you slurp away the noodles, a new portion will be served together with a cheerful pep talk from your waiter, who will keep pouring until you cover your bowl with its lid, which is the “give up” sign. Finish more than 100 bowls and receive a commemorative souvenir! Access: 3-min walk from Morioka Bus Center. URL: english/index.html

Iwate recommended sakura spot Koiwai Farm’s Ipponzakura Standing in the middle of Koiwai Farm’s grass field with Mt. Iwate in the backdrop, this grand sakura tree is said to have been planted approximately 100 years ago. The contrast with its surroundings makes this a unique sakura spot, ideal to visit on a trip to this farm!

Also known as “Oishii Yamagata” for its bounty of delicious fruits, rice, water and famous beef, this is a mountainous prefecture in west Tohoku.

♨ Zao Onsen & Ice Monsters Hot spring of princess water Located at the foot of Mt. Zao, this hot spring town has a history of over 1,900 years and boasts the second highest acidity of all hot springs in Japan. A soak in this sulfurous bath softens and whitens one’s skin, which is why its milky water is known as “Princess Water”. Mt. Zao is also one of Japan’s most frequently visited ski resorts, and is especially known for its juhyo (Ice Monsters). These natural snow sculptures appear only here due to the mountain’s unique weather conditions. Access: 40-min by bus from JR Yamagata Station Address:

Savor local cuisine

Miyamaso Takamiya Ryokan dining At a luxury ryokan like Miyamaso Takamiya, Japanese kaiseki style dining will be a highlight of your stay. Fresh local seafood, meat and vegetables are generally prepared according to traditional Japanese methods. However, for some dishes, ideas from foreign cuisines that complement the ingredients are also borrowed. The result is a harmonious course meal that is a feast for both the eyes and tummy. Access: 5-min walk from Zao Onsen Bus Terminal Address: ( Japanese)

Yamagata recommended sakura spot

Hiyoriyama Park, Sakata City The sakura trees at Hiyoriyama Park’s promenade make the sunset of Sakata’s port even more romantic. Viewing the sakura together with the park’s traditional Japanese trade ship – a symbol of the city’s coastal trade with Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto during the Edo Era (1603 – 1868) – will make you feel like you are wandering through Sakata’s glorious past. Access: 5-min by Shonai Kotsu Bus from JR Sakata Station URL: kankokoryu/7203.html ( Japanese)

Dewa Sanzan’s shojin ryori Food of Japanese mountain hermits The three shrines of Mt. Dewa, known as Dewa Sanzan, are each located on a different peak of the mountain and are said to date back more than 1,300 years. Monks here have developed a unique kind of shojin ryori (traditional Japanese vegan food) that relies on wild mountain vegetables. Try it for yourself at the lodging of Haguro-san shrine! (Reservation required) Access: 50-min by Shonai Kotsu Bus from Tsuruoka City Address:

 Yamabushi (mountain priest) in traditional attire WAttention Tokyo


Words of Japan


The Sakura Frontline

「さくらまた咲けりおくれてまた咲けり」 - 俳句 八幡城太郎 Sakura mata sakeri okurete mata sakeri – The sakura blooms again, halts in bloom, then blossoms again – Haiku by Hachiman Jotaro From the end of March to mid-May is when Japan takes on a pink hue of Spring. Starting from Okinawa and Kyushu in the South to Hokkaido in the North, the delicate pink sakura flowers start blooming across the long, crescent-shaped islands of Japan.

On one branch, a cluster of sakura bursts into full bloom, while another cluster on the same branch remains closed, and on another branch, the buds have sprung to life. I believe this poem is meant to convey both such phenomenon that show a vigor for life.

This phenomenon is coined “The Sakura Frontline”, and is closely-watched and reported on the news during the sakura season. After all, this is the most anticipated time of the year for many Japanese.

This work is written with this image of the beauty of sakura blossoming in mind. Depicting the transient yet glorious nature of the life cycle of the sakura flower, I used a fine yet hard brush and gave it a generous dip of ink for the starting and ending lines.

Just like we mentioned on the Koyomi page in the front of this magazine, when the sakura starts to bloom, people head out to enjoy the pink blossoms. This haiku piece – sakura mata sakeri okurete mata sakeri – is inspired by this cross-island blooming of the cherry blossoms. The piece was penned by Hachiman Jotaro, a Buddhist monk. This stop-start blooming of the sakura is not just an islandwide phenomenon. Even within one sakura tree that appears to be bursting and overflowing with full-bloom sakura, there can be a lag in the pace of blossoming.

For the middle line I used less ink and a lighter stroke to convey the soft and exquisite beauty of the sakura in bloom. Even though the lines are fine, the strokes are rhythmic and vigorous, just like the robustness and vitality of life that the sakura show in their blossoming, and the dignity and beauty in the dance of the fall of petals. In the coming two months, the sakura season can be enjoyed in various parts of Japan. It may be a good chance to take a trip from South to North in pursuit of The Sakura Front! – Koran Onishi

Profile of Koran Onishi

A contemporary Japanese calligrapher who has received numerous accolades, such as the Shodo Geijutsuin first prize, and most recently the Excellent Work Award at the 67th Mainichi Shodo Competition. Also a member of the Kansai Calligraphy Association and a jury member of the Shodo Geijutsuin. 30

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Mount Fuji: Always Amazing Enjoy the splendor of Mount Fuji with Festivals, Flowers, Fruits and Fireworks at Fujikawaguchiko The perfect symmetry of Mount Fuji looks stunning from any angle, and in any season. Here are several seasonal events held in Fujikawaguchiko Town, just an hour’s drive from Tokyo, where you can admire Mount Fuji as she dazzles in various settings.

Kawaguchiko Herb Festival This festival is one of the most anticipated events in the region for good reason – it’s a feast for the senses as you get to take in the view of Mount Fuji rising above a field of purple lavender. Held in Yagizaki Park & Oishi Park every year, there are also other flowers and herbs, crafts, teas and treats, food and shopping tents, and an outdoor stage for music and other performances. Yagizaki Park : 17 June – 10 July Oishi Park : 17 June – 18 July Summer

Autumn Allure

From Nov 1 to Nov 23, Mount Fuji takes on a romantic hue as the maple trees in Fujikawaguchiko Town are lit up nightly till 10pm, and visitors can admire the beauty of Mount Fuji in the background while enjoying food and drink from the festival stalls.


Fireworks In Japan, no summer is complete without fireworks. Four lakes in Fujikawaguchiko will each hold a firework festival – definitely an event not to be missed!

Flowers and Fruits The Fujikawaguchiko area offers a cool respite to Tokyo and in addition to lavender fields, you can admire evening primrose providing a floral frame to Mount Fuji. You can also enjoy a spot of sakura cherry picking!

Fujikawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival

Other events

Mount Fuji Climbing Season Opening Fireworks Celebration: 2 July Fruits Picking: Blueberry from early July-mid-August; Sakura Cherry from mid-June to mid-July Lake Saiko’s “Ryugusai” Festival: 2 August Lake Motosuko’s “Shinkosai” fireworks festival: 3 August Lake Shojiko’s “Ryokosai” fireworks and music festival: 4 August Lake Kawaguchiko’s Fireworks and “Kojosai” summer festival: 4 – 5 August Fujikawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival: 1 Nov – 23 Nov

For inquiries please contact: Fujikawaguchiko Tourist Information Centre Tel: +81-(0)555-72-6700 URL: Access: Shinjuku Express Bus Terminal Kawaguchiko One way fare: 1,750 yen Travel time: 1hr 45 min Bus frequency: 41 runs to and from per day, at an interval of 30 minutes to 1 hour Note: This is a direct bus to Shinjuku via the Chuo Highway WAttention Tokyo


WAttention Tokyo Vol.19  

03 In Harmony with the Seasons 05 Tokyo Hot News 06 Fea ture 1 Tokyo’s Old Downtown 16 BQpedia – Your Guide to the Underbelly of Japanese C...

WAttention Tokyo Vol.19  

03 In Harmony with the Seasons 05 Tokyo Hot News 06 Fea ture 1 Tokyo’s Old Downtown 16 BQpedia – Your Guide to the Underbelly of Japanese C...