Tanabata Star Festival in Japan

Update for 2014

 

Tanabata, also known as the Star Festival of Japan, is typically held on July 7, the seventh day of the seventh month. In some areas, where the lunar calendar is still used to calculate this holiday, it occurs on August 7. Our recent trip to Fussa showed the festival taking place on 7 – 10 August.

The festival is based on a Chinese legend, with some Japanese twists.

In one popular form of the legend (there are over a dozen different versions); Vega, known in Japanese as Orihime (the Weaving Princess) is the daughter of the Sky King. She works for her father weaving beautiful cloth on the shores of the river formed by the Milky Way. Since her father loved her cloth very much, she worked very hard every day weaving to please him. However, in her heart she was sad because the time spent at her work was keeping her from finding her soul mate.

Orihime’s father noticed her sadness and arranged for her to meet Altair (known in Japanese as Hikoboshi, the cow herder). Hikoboshi lived on the other side of the Milky Way.

The match was a hit, the two fell instantly in love, and were married soon after.

Trouble quicky arose as, due to their intense love, they each neglected their duties. Vega no longer wove her magic cloth and Altair let his cows wander all over the sky. Darn love-struck kids!

As punishment, the Sky Father separated the two lovers, one on each side of the river Milky Way. They each reluctantly returned to their duties.

However, Vega was so despondent that her constant sorrow touched the Sky Father’s heart. When she pleaded to let them meet again, he consented to allow them to meet once a year, if she worked hard and finished her weaving. Her deadline for completing her work was the Seventh day of the Seventh month. Vega returned to work with a passion and was able to complete her tasks before the appointed day.

On the date if their first reunion, they were still blocked by the river Milky Way. The Sky Father had only given them the time off to meet, not the means to meet. There was no bridge to cross the river. Separated by the impassable river, Vega cried so loudly that a flock of magpies took pity on her and promised to make a bridge of their wings so that she could cross the river. With the aid of the magpies, Vega crossed the river and had her long awaited reunion with her husband.

Because magpies don’t fly when it is raining, the legend says that if it rains on the day of the Tanabata, the two lovers have to wait another year to meet. So rain on Tanabata is considered bad luck.

festival in JapanIn modern Japan, Tanabata is a festival where children write their wishes on strips of fancy paper, called a tanzaku, which are then put on displays made of the branches of bamboo trees.

The Japanese twist is that instead of wishing for presents or candy, the industrious Japanese child (possibly emulating the hard working Vega), makes wishes for better handwriting or study skills. Other wishes can be for good sewing, safety and health for the family, good fishing and harvests, and even cleanliness.

You may also want to check another well celebrated Festival in Japan, the Hanami Party in Tokyo.

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Fast and Economical Haircuts in Tokyo

Tokyo Barber

Caution: Your barber may not look this good.

I was forced to update this old post as the pricing at QB House has changed. Due to a recent consumption tax increase, haircuts now cost 1080 Yen. My regular QB House has updated their ticket machine to accept coins. While the fumbling for correct change is a pain, the service is still quick and professional.

After several months in Tokyo, I tired of paying upwards of $50.00 per haircut. When I started feeling envious of my bald friends, I decided it was time to find a more economical solution.

A bit of research showed that the cheapest haircuts in Tokyo are to be found at QB House . The English language version of their website did not have a handy locator map. A bit more research (this time with a translator) showed the Japanese language version had a locator map. You can view the map page here (Japanese language only).

The process is pretty simple. Walk in, buy a ticket at the vending machine for 1000 Yen, and wait in line. When it is your turn, you take the next available barber. Sorry, no picking and choosing. I have not yet had a bad barber.

Since the shops are small, only clients are allowed inside, so don’t bring the wife or kids. I also noted a sign that stated they reserve the right to refuse service if you don’t speak Japanese. However, despite my linguistic limitations, I have never had a problem with getting served.

Once in the chair, the barber will ask how you want your hair cut. This is where it gets difficult. My barbers always ask how many centimeters to cut (note that when they ask how many centimeters, they mean how many centimeters to cut, not how many to leave). I usually go with two centimeters (about 3/4 inches, for the metrically challenged) for my twice monthly cut. You can use sign language to show how you want your sideburns cut.

Once your cut is complete, the barber will vacuum up loose hairs, hold up a mirror to show the back, and give you a free comb.

I am usually in and out in 20 to 25 minutes, including the waiting time.

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Big Bird Raped by Godzilla

A recent news article in The Wall Street Journal (linked here) made me realize that the Main Stream Media is always seven years behind the real story.

As I have a seven-degree above Top Secret job in the T.H.U.M.B inverse skyscraper here in Tokyo, I have access to information that is not available to the casual reader. After several glasses of the very finest (cheapest) wine found in Maruetsu petit, I have decided to share my knowledge with you.

As the article mentions, Japanese scientists have been able to create Lab-Made Eggs In Vitro. What the article doesn’t mention is that this breakthrough occurred seven years ago. And (no surprise to the cognoscenti) the eggs being fertilized are not leading to mere human embryos, but to Godzilla embryos.Why waste time on human embryos, don’t we have enough humans already?

While I can’t say that these embryos have been brought to fruition, I might note that recent revelations about dinosaurs with feathers show that the most attractive mate for an adolescent Godzilla clone would look remarkably like Big Bird.

Poor Fred, he had no idea what he was in for, he really thought it was for an office Halloween party with designated costumes. In any case, we managed to bag several liters of Godzilla sperm for our lab. Fred is out on Workmen’s Compensation for the next seven months. He is healing up nicely and we will welcome him back with open arms. Any rumors that pain-killers were withheld until he signed a non-disclosure agreement are absolute nonsense.

Why did we need a new sample of Godzilla sperm, you might ask? Well, according to our mad scientists, to breed a real Godzilla we will need to iterate the DNA sequences many times to regress the germ line back to the original fire-breathing Godzilla. Luckily for Fred, his close encounter of the fourth kind was with a hybrid Godzilla made from a Komodo dragon and our sample extracted from fossils. The Godzilla Mini-Me was only seven feet tall and his Atomic Breath was barely above the normal rad score at Fukishima.

Our next generation is much larger, and we have hopes that they will be able to consume the waste from Fukishima. In fact, they seem hungry for that type of food. That is the real reason we are working feverishly to complete this project. Any rumors that the Godzilla clones will be housed on the disputed islands between Japan and China are relentlessly disavowed.

Of course, with all of these experiments, we have a lot of failures. The team has had Godzilla eggs for breakfast for the last month. One egg makes an omelet for 47 people. Dr. Seuss would have loved our (gamma irradiated) green eggs and ham.

Oh, and about the recent US President race and the debates; the guy who promised to kill off Big Bird will lose. We will let no one stand in the way of our progress and we need continued access to the only aphrodisiac known for Godzilla.

Remember, you read it here first.

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Comiket in Tokyo – Summer 2012

Dear TJL fans,
We are re-publishing our account of last year’s Comiket, which has proven to be one of our most popular articles. Hope some of you can make it to this year’s show.
In the midst of the sweltering summer, the TJL team decided to brave heat, humidity, and hordes of manga fans to bring you a report on the famous Comiket 2011. We went on the third day of the convention. We were warned the first day is overcrowded and the second day most of the team was working.
Comiket, stands for “Comic Market”. It is a Japanese practice to shorten words and phrases, sometimes making it difficult for non-native speakers to understand. But Comiket is so well known that it needs no explanation. It is a festival for manga creators, collectors, cosplayers (costumed players – see what I meant about the short phrases?), and fans to get together in a huge area.
Comiket takes place twice a year in Tokyo, once in August and again in December. This summer the three day festival took place on 12, 13, and 14 August. The location of the comic fair is the Tokyo Big Site convention center. The Tokyo Big Site convention center has a unique design of four inverted pyramids (called the Conference Tower) that make it a great landmark. There are two huge halls, called the East and West Exhibition Halls. The thousands of vendors filled up both the East and West Exhibition Halls.
Tokyo Big Site - AKA Tokyo Biggu Saito
Travel to Comiket
As advised by their site, the best way to get to Comiket is by using public transportation. If you are staying in Tokyo, the subway (Tokyo Metro) can be confusing. The TJL team disdains the use of expensive taxis (except for those nights at the Karaoke bars when the pleas of our fans force us to stay past the closing of the Metro), so we arranged our trip via the Metro. I was recently shown the best way to plan a Metro trip is through the travel site Hyperdia. Using the site is simple, but you need to know the exact name of the closest Metro station to your departure point and destination to use the site effectively. For example, Tokyo Big Site is not shown in the Hyperdia drop down menu because it is not a Metro station. You need to know the name of the closest Metro station. In this case the closest station is Kokusai-Tenjijo (which shows up in Hyperdia’s menus as “KOKUSAITENJIJO”).
After inputting the departure and destination points, Hyperdia generates several alternative routes. It also shows how much the fares will be and gives a pretty good idea of how long the trip will take. Printing out the route will ensure you have no trouble getting to the site.
Beating the Heat
As this is the summer convention, we were prepared for the worst. I brought my roll around carryon with a couple of bottles of water and a towel. I later learned that a hat would have also been nice as the sun was very bright in the garden area where the cosplayers roamed.
I saw three people who fainted from the heat while at the convention.
The towel is a necessary accessory for the Tokyo native. It is used in the summer to wipe sweat, shade the neck, and splashed with water from a bottle, can be used to cool the brow. The towel is also used year round to dry your hands as the public bathrooms don’t normally have paper towels or dryers. This is due to severe restrictions on litter in Tokyo. You will rarely find a public trash can.
Of course, there are vendors on site that sell snacks, drinks, and cooling ice cream. If you bring your own, you won’t have to wait in line. Late in the afternoon, I did fall prey to the temptation of a snow plate. The snow plate is a loosely packed snowball of ice shavings on a plate, with various flavors poured on.
I dutifully stood in line, paid my 300 Yen, and ordered by pointing. My problem was that the list of flavors spoken by the clerk was unintelligible to me. At my quizzical look, she slowly repeated the flavors (in Japanese, of course). The only flavor I understood was “LEMON”, which is the same in English or Japanese. Wanting to avoid fish flavored ice cream, I ordered the Lemon flavor. Minutes later, I was served.
Just as I was about to spoon up my first cooling taste of snow, my TJL teammate George asked, “What’s the first thing they teach Eskimo children?”
“What?” I responded with the spoon halfway to my mouth.
“Don’t eat the yellow snow!”
George thinks he is a wit. He is half-right.
That might have ruined the appetite of a lesser man, but didn’t faze me. However, I made it a point to learn more flavors for my next excursion.
Roaming the Halls
A pleasant surprise was that the convention required no entry fee for fans. The fees are paid by the exhibitors, who are there to sell their wares.
We spent several hours roaming the aisles and only managed to view a small portion of the available merchandise. An English map would have been nice. I have heard that one is available, but couldn’t easily find one. In any case, the TJL team scoffs at those who over-plan, over-organize, and over-agonize every trip.
I purchased several copies of comics from the distributors. However, examination showed that these were all “Adult” comics. I searched in vain for the non-“Adult” section, hoping to get a copy of “Sailor Moon” in the original language for my children.
Besides the comics, there were booths selling figurines and other items of interest to the ardent Otaku (Nerd).
The Cosplay Exhibition
The high point of the trip was the viewing of the gaudily dressed cosplayers. This took place in a garden area of the site. The cosplayers each staked out their area of the garden and posed for the photographers and viewers. The costumes displayed amazing attention to detail. Unfortunately, my knowledge of manga was too limited to guess which character the cosplayers were imitating. Still, it was a great show and I managed to get some good photos.
Note the attention to detail in the costumes. The girl on the left has even dyed her eyebrows to match the hair.
The cosplay exhibition ended promptly at 3:00 p.m.; which left a couple of hours to tour the halls. We noted that this year the moving sidewalks were turned off, probably as a way to conserve power. Japan is still suffering from the effects of the loss of the Fukushima reactor and will be in power conservation mode for the foreseeable future.
Heading Home
 After the tour through the various displays, the team headed back to our home turf in the Akasaka area. A vote was held and we decided to visit the awesome Authentic Burger restaurant to revive with a few quick beers and one of their famous burgers. Note that the link above is to Google Maps and it is a little bit off. The actual entrance to the restaurant is around the corner. Look for the awning with “Authentic” printed on it.
We all chose the standard draft to replenish precious bodily fluids. Then we had hamburgers and fries to replenish precious nutrients.
Over the dessert course (more beers, of course), we discussed the day’s adventures.
“Show me your loot,” George said.
I gave him my copies of manga (all adult titles, as I never managed to find the kid’s section).
“Go ahead and keep them for souvenirs,” I said.
George made appreciative noises as he thumbed through the mangas.
“Why don’t you keep them?” he asked.
“I wanted souvenirs for my kids. These are not appropriate. I thought I was getting Sailor Moon comics. It wasn’t until later I found out I had purchased the adult version.”
“Well, this sure looks like Sailor Moon. Thanks for the comics. Now I finally have the answer to a question I have had since I was a kid,” said George.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I always wondered; where the hell does Sailor Moon hide that big magic wand?”
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Tokyo WiFi Options

On my most recent return to Tokyo via Narita airport, I was surprised at the number of Tokyo WiFi options that have become available.

Tokyo Wifi Options #1 – FREE WIFI IN NARITA AIRPORT

tokyo wifi options

At Narita Airport, Japan

To start, there is free WiFi available at the airport. I logged on using my iPad. What stops most from using the service is the login screen that comes up on the first use. The screen is in Japanese and has spaces for two entries, which appear to be a login and password requirement. However, a look at the upper right hand corner of the Safari screen shows a link to the English page. On that page, you see that the two fields are used for requesting and verifying an email address. I entered my email address twice, and was able to use the free WiFi service. Due to lack of time, I didn’t do a lot of surfing, but the speed appeared to be fast enough for checking schedules and other lite surfing.

Tokyo Wifi Options #2 – SOFTBANK WIFI ROUTER RENTAL

http://www.softbank-rental.jp/e/rental-plan-ib05.php

Another option that is now available is the WiFi device rental from SoftBank. I saw this as a new offering at the SoftBank counter in the Narita Terminal. SoftBank now offers a portable WiFi device with a flat-rate data plan.

Their rental plans include two WiFi router options, as well as a USB modem option. I would avoid the USB modem option, as the fine print states, “Japanese OS required”.  The mobile routers don’t have that limitation. However, the Mobile routers do require re-charging the battery periodically.

The stated speed of 7.2Mbps download and 5.8Mbps upload is below my recommended minimum for streaming video or Skype calling, but it is fast enough for light web browsing.

The price quoted is 1,890 Yen (1,575 Yen Rental Fee plus 315 Yen Administrative fee). Note that the minimum rental period is three days.

The beauty of these plans is the flat rate. SoftBank has been criticized in the past for excessive charges of per byte users. With the flat rate plan, there will be no huge surprises at the end of the rental period.

Softbank also offers iPhone SIM card rentals, 3G SIM card rentals, and Smartphone rentals. The drawback to those options is that many of us have all of our information (phone numbers, call lists, even passwords, etc.) in their current device. I don’t feel comfortable putting an unknown SIM card in my phone, and feel even less comfortable giving that SIM back to SoftBank to be used by the next tourist.

Tokyo Wifi Options #3 – BOINGO

I really wanted to give this service a chance in Tokyo. As an intermittent Boingo user, I wanted to get a chance to use my existing account. I downloaded the App for my iPad, using my apartment’s WiFi signal. The Boingo App has a fancy map that indicates supposed Boingo WiFi hotspots available. It would appear from the map that dozens of spots are available a short distance from my apartment. However, when I tried to use these hotspots, I could not use my Boingo account to login to the hotspots. Also, opening the Boingo App gave me a message that I needed to log on to a WiFi network to use the App.

If the only thing the App provides is a list of hotspots, which it in no way helps in connecting to the networks, it is not very useful. The built in WiFi finder on the iPad provides the same function for free. The only thing missing is the fancy map, but I can live without the map

Unfortunately, since I was unable to get either the App or the Boingo service to work, I cannot recommend this service.

 

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Streaming Video on Your iPad While Visiting Japan

 

I have received some questions recently about how to stream US video to an iPad while travelling overseas. I discussed some options in a previous post; but there have been many changes in the last year.
Streaming audio and video requires a high speed connection. In my Tokyo apartment, I can use my home based network and WiFi to connect my iPad to the Internet. Of course, once I leave the apartment, I lose my WiFi.
One of the biggest improvements in the last year is that there are now more options for portable WiFi access in Tokyo. While public access WiFi is still rare, it is now possible to rent a portable WiFi Hotspot. This will allow you to take your WiFi with you, allowing you to move around the city using your iPad, iPhone, or laptop just as if you were in the US.
The drawbacks include expense, battery life, and signal loss in certain areas. However, for the short term traveler, who does not have the option of setting up a home network, the router rental plans are a good option. They will allow an iPad, iPhone, or any WiFi device to access the Internet. You could even stream videos if the router speed is high enough to allow that.
Note that many of the WiFi rental plans come in two tiers, a low speed suitable for checking email, and a higher speed suitable for streaming video and Skype calling.
Two tier service is available from the following companies:
or
I haven’t used these services and therefore cannot vouch for the claimed speed or coverage. Their claims include a 10 to 40 Mb/second speed for the highest tier. I have found 10 Mb/second speed to be the minimum for streaming video.
A Google search will certainly show more options. I would pick one that will let me pick up at the airport or get the device delivered prior to arriving. That will ensure you have access as soon as you hit the ground.
Any discussion of streaming video in Japan always brings up the problem of geographic blocking. Many US video sources are blocked in Japan. Hulu, for example, blocks access to its services for overseas users. Even if you are a US citizen traveling overseas and have a Hulu Plus account on your iPad.
Discussion at other sites shows several ways to view streaming video in Japan. These include setting up a Private VPN and purchasing a subscription to a paid VPN service.
The Private VPN service would require an “always on” computer at your home in the US and a fast Internet connection. This would be the cheapest option, assuming you already have a home computer and Internet connection.
The paid VPN service would require a subscription to a VPN service provider, such as StrongVPN or the quirkily named Hide My Ass!
Note that using a VPN service to view Hulu in blocked areas is against Hulu’s Terms of Service. Other providers, such as Netflix, have similar rules. I have never heard of anyone getting an account blocked due to streaming video through a VPN service, but it is a possibility. So under no circumstances should you perform the following to view streaming videos on your iPad in Tokyo:

1.       Rent a high speed portable router from one of the above providers.

2.       Set up your iPad to use the portable router’s WiFi network.

3.       Purchase a VPN account from a VPN service such as StrongVPN or Hide My Ass! That service will route your Internet connection through a server in the US, making it appear to the provider (Hulu, for example) that you are in the US.

4.       Use the login information provided by your VPN service provider to set up a VPN connection on your iPad.

5.       View streaming videos on your iPad in defiance of the Terms of Service you agreed to when you purchased your Hulu Plus or Netflix account.

You have been warned! No matter how much your kids want to see Netflix films or your wife wants to see the latest episode of “Gray’s Anatomy” on Hulu Plus, you should not ignore the rules outlined in miniscule fine print in the Terms of Service you clicked.
Authorized uses of the VPN services include enhancing security while using public WiFi Hotspots, protecting your online identity, and privacy.
The cheapest option would be to set up a private VPN network. This would require a permanently on computer and a high speed internet connection at your home in the US. The setup and administration would be a pain. Even though I have all of the equipment and technical know-how to set this up, I avoided this solution.
I currently use StrongVPN while traveling. I have set up and tested Hide My Ass! on my laptop and iPad. They both work fine, with some minor differences in speed and ease of use.  Advantages and disadvantages of each provider are discussed below.
So you wamt to purchase a paid VPN service; carefully avoiding streaming video from services that frown on unauthorized access (even though you have paid for that access). What else should you look for? If you’re like me and my wife, we both would want to connect our iPads at the same time. With StrongVPN, simultaneous connections are not allowed. However, StrongVPN does have a big discount for a second account. A second account can be had for an additional $2.00 per month. I chose this option, making my monthly VPN bill $17.00 per month. This gives both my wife and I our own VPN accounts. On the minus side; StrongVPN does bill in three month increments, increasing the size of your bill. Hide My Ass!, on the other hand, allows two simultaneous connections on the same login. They also have a 30 day trial period and a lower monthly cost and monthly billing.
I have loaded both VPN’s on my laptop and iPad and run tests on them. My test used http://www.speedtest.net to check performance. My results showed that StrongVPN was generally faster. However, Hide My Ass! was still fast enough to reliably stream video. Just like buying a car; it is a tradeoff between speed and price.
Note that these tests are not definitive; they were the results of my quick and dirty setup of each provider. From previous experience, I know that the choice of server has a great impact on the speed of the connection. A different user, choosing different servers, might find StrongVPN the loser in the speed test. I believe that StrongVPN is generally faster, but am willing to believe that, under certain conditions, Hide My Ass!, will be faster.
According to my testing, StrongVPN wins for the number of servers available and the speed of their connections. Hide My Ass!, on the other hand, is more user friendly, easy to set up, lower priced, and has a thirty day trial period. StrongVPN has a seven day trial period.
A more sophisticated setup that would allow multiple connections, no matter which service you use, would be to set up the VPN service on the WiFi router itself. Then any device connecting to the WiFi router does not need to be set up for VPN because the router has VPN enabled. This would allow laptops, iPhones, and iPads (for example) to share a single VPN connection. Both StrongVPN and Hide My Ass! have instructions on setting up a router for VPN access. This would allow a user with a single StrongVPN account to operate more than one device at the same time and the Hide My Ass! use to have more than two simultaneous connections.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe this will be possible with a rental WiFi device, as it would require Admin access to change the network settings. The best thing to do would be to use one of the VPN service providers; either Hide My Ass!, for the simultaneous connections, or StrongVPN, with the second account activated.
I hope this overview will answer some of the reader’s questions. As noted in the first paragraph, mobile Hotspots and portable communications are a fast changing field. I expect to have to update these articles within the next year.
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Lesson I: Hiragana ひらがな

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Japan’s Manga Future Is Here

Two recent news items, both centered on new developments in Japan, show that the Japanese are working hard to create the future they have dreamed of.

The first item concerns a breakthrough in causing hair growth in bald mice. It is documented in this highly technical article located at:

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v3/n4/full/ncomms1784.html

Reviewing the article shows two important points.

First, they are going to get rich!

Next, the stem cell rejuvenation process can be used to change the color of the patient's hair. That means the market is not only limited to balding males, but can include every woman who wishes she could get rid of the gray.

Oh sure, it will start out as an expensive treatment for middle aged men with comb overs or toupees, but will soon expand to include almost everyone. That's seven billion potential customers. I fear those poor researchers are already on the hit list of the Clairol Assassination Squad.

Why stop at merely natural hair colors? A few tweaks of the genes will allow hair colors not normally found in nature. Can Anime style hair be far behind? 

Will the process be extended to include all body hair? The sign of a dedicated Cosplayer (who now takes pains to match eyebrow to hair color) might soon be matching carpet and drapes.

 Note the matching hair and eyebrows

 

The TJL team is monitoring this situation closely.

 

The next item as explained in a New Scientist article located at:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21428614.800-wearable-muscle-suit-makes-heavy-lifting-a-cinch.html

This shows the development of a power assist suit by Japanese engineering students that can be used to increase human capabilities. Yes, exoskeletons and Mecha suits are being developed in downtown Tokyo as we speak. Suppa Robotto (Super Robot) is on the way!

Now put these two developments together and what do we have?

In the near future, Japanese warriors with multi-hued hair will be wearing, working, and fighting in Mazinger Z suits!

To all of you who scoffed at us Manga fans; watch out, we are coming!

 

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Strange Snacks in Tokyo

Strange Snacks

 

Wandering through the conbini in Tokyo, you will find a vast variety of snacks. While most of the snacks are tasty to the western palate (except for the fish and wasabi flavored potato chips), the names can ring strange to the western ear.

Here is a very gratifying chocolate covered snack burdened with an unfortunate name.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, "Would a Crunky Nude Ball, by any other name, taste as sweet?

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Foods in Tokyo: Giving Thanks in Tokyo

foods in tokyo

Holidays and Foods in Tokyo

Wow, time does fly by here in the magic kingdom. It seems like I just moved here, but a second set of holidays are already upon us. The pace of life here is so fast that the days blur by.
I have been an American expat for over twenty years, I have observed how other countries reject, accept, or embrace our holidays. In the reject column are countries like Saudi Arabia (where celebrating another religion’s Holy Day can lead to arrest or expulsion) and France (if it ain’t French, it ain’t merde). Most of the other countries I have worked in are in the accepting category (Italians love holidays as a reason to spend time with their families, the British love our holiday traditions; although Independence Day is still a sore point with them). In the Philippines they love a good excuse to pig out (literally, my last Filipino Thanksgiving included roast lechon; a welcome substitute for the turkey).
One thing I admire about Japan is that they embrace input from other cultures as well as the sumptuous foods in Tokyo. You should see how they celebrated Halloween and Valentine's Day in Japan.
For the Thanksgiving holiday, they have a similar holiday celebrated on 23 November. Appropriately enough, their holiday is called Labour Thanksgiving Day. Although they don’t have our tradition of overeating on this holiday, they do have the concept of giving thanks for blessings. The best foods in Tokyo are also prepared and served to celebrate the occasion. 

Here in Tokyo, a city of 13 million, we are lucky enough to have a wide choice of Turkey day options. There are dozens of restaurants that offer “seto” prices for a fixed Thanksgiving menu. Some restaurants that offers the most delightful foods in Tokyo, as recommended by the TJL team are:

Roti Roppongi – Offers a Roast Turkey with Zinfandel set menu priced at 4,800 Yen per person. They will be offering this option on 24 and 25 November. They also welcome children, which a lot of Japanese restaurants avoid.
Tucano’s – Offers a fixed price, fixed time, all you can eat style buffet. For 4,000 Yen and 120 minutes, you can eat all you want from a wide variety of Brazilian meats. They are also offering Turkey and all the trimmings this week on November 23 to 26. Wednesday and Thursday’s feeding also include live Brazilian dancers. Reservations are recommended.
Hard Rock Café – This year Hard Rock offers a Thanksgiving Special Dinner every day from 14 November to 30 November. This ensures that even if you can’t get off work on Turkey Day, you can still get your fill of American Style cooking along with the different foods in Tokyo.
The New Sanno – This option is only available to those who are associated with the US presence in Japan (Embassy, military, etc.). But if you can get in, it is by far the best spread for the money available in Tokyo. A huge buffet is offered, tables groaning with tasty options, a carving station that includes turkey, ham, and beef, and more deserts than you can handle. All for a price of $25.95 per adult, Children from 4 to 12 pay $12.95. Available only on Thursday, 24 November. Reservations and ID Card (or sponsor) required.

These joints offer the best foods in Tokyo, so try to visit any of these if you are celebrating Thanksgiving in Tokyo. 

Since we will be working on Thanksgiving Day (24 November), the TJL team will probably be hitting one of the more flexible options. However, no matter where we are in the world, we take a few minutes to be thankful for our blessings. This year, we were blessed to have another year in Tokyo, Japan.
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