An escapade to Oki Islands   

Japan always portrays an image bustling big city for travellers. If one is tired of the hustle and bustle of city crowds, head over to Matsue, located west of Honshu and take the next ferry trip to indulge in slower life pace over at remote Oki Islands. The island was recently designated as Unesco World Geoparks Network, and offers rugged coastal lanes, old trees, sparkling beaches and exciting water activities for the sporty type. There are also the famous Shinto shrines, a centuries old enclave rich in cultural customs and shrouded in squid legends. There are 4 main islands to explore around Oki Islands.

First in the list if the biggest island among all, which is the Dogo island. It is famous for aging cedar trees, well taken care by locals with zeal. Near the port town named Saigo lays a 2000 years old Yao-sugi huge tree, with branches popping up outside the Tamawakasu Shrine. Another giant tree estimated to be 800 years old lay near the area called Chichi sugi tree, believed to house a deity. Younger cedars (by hundreds of years) can be found in Shizenkaiko forest. Tokage-iwa can be explored. It is more commonly known as the lizard rock due to the appearance of a lizard clawing up the cliff.
Dogo's beaches are great walking terrains for nature lovers. Pine trees and other plant life can be found along the walking path. You will be able to experience the deep sea vistas along Shirashima coast. Sea kayaking, boat tours and diving plans can be arranged during the summer. The island also organizes bull sumo showdown where two bulls lock horns in a battlefield. It is a centuries old custom held nearby the Shinto shrines. The bulls head butt each other and one sole winner is announced the moment one party walks away. There will be professional handlers preventing bull injuries at the side.
Nishino shima is home to the breathtaking Kuniga coast. Tourists love hiking up Matengai Cliff to escape the urban cities like Osaka and Tokyo. Options are available for boat tours for an inner view of the rock formations. Yurahime Shrine is also another landmark at Nishino shima. Legend has it that a crowd of squids will gather at the bay to seek forgiveness from a deity for nipping her fingers. Photos of squid crowd can be seen at the lovely shrine. There is a covered ring for sumo wrestlers just outside the shrine. The ring has deep roots for Japanese culture. Tradition has it that wrestlers will fight twice, where there will be one win each. Tournaments are rarely held, maybe once in many years, and luck is needed to predict the timing of the matches if it ever happens.
Chiburi jima is the smallest island. A local slogan is given to the island name that is carefree Chiburi. One must stop by Kawai Jizo spring and admire the bodhisattva statues. The springs made it to the best 100 well preserved water from Shimane. After a refreshing drink, one can take a carefree walk up Sekiheki, also known as the red cliff. The cliff used to be covered in red magma, and its color changes which is dependent on lighting. Tanuki, a raccoon dog from Japan could be spotted as well. Mt Akahage, the top point of Chiburi jima, offers spectacular sea view and adjacent islands. Aigaki stone walls can be seen across the hills. It has been preserved since the days of sustainable farming rotating techniques many centuries ago.
Nakano shima at Oki Island is home to many famous exiled government officials over many centuries. Emperor Go Toba was once exiled after a failure in launching a rebellion to recapture his glory. 700 years later, the Oki Shine was built to commemorate his legacy and has become a hot spot for the island. Nakano shima has more exotic fresh water at springs all over the island. One can see the volcanic rock brimming in red.
If one were to plan the trip, be sure to look for Nishino shima office for tourism or Oki Island Gepark official site for more details and information source.
A crash course on Japanese noodles  

Tokyo is a global hub for tasty and delicious noodles and the city's population could go on strike and stop functioning without its famous noodles. Tokyo urbanites gobble down incredible amounts of noodles every single day for their entire lives. Some of their favorites include the ever common staple soba as well as udon. Japanese are also very fond of Chinese noodle variant known as ramen. A large variety of noodle shops operate around whole of Japan ranging from tachikui (or more popularly known as standing and eating parlor) bars specializing in sale of specialty noodles to highly upper class restaurants filled with shining pottery and elaborate gardens. The noodles bars require you to purchase tickets early for a full meal while in posh restaurants, you can tailor your orders from the ever friendly waiter or waitresses.

Soba, the traditional Japanese noodle, are thin in texture with brownish colour. Udon, on the other hand, is the complete opposite where it is thick and white. Kanto and Tokyo region is the origin for Soba, where it is closely linked. Udon is said to come from Kansai, regions near Osaka. Nevertheless, restaurants operators with noodle serving on their menu will have both noodle styles. Some of the typical noodle serving styles includes Kake soba or udon, where noodles are served inside a huge round bowl filled with bonito flavor soup base. Mori soba or udon is the complete opposite where noodles are served cold and laid on bamboo mat. It is the perfect noodle serving one can have during warm weather which instantly refreshes the mind and soul.
A very popular cold noodles liked by many local Japanese is zaru soba. It comes with dried seaweed as the common topping. A side dish accompanying the noodle is a cool broth filled in a small cup and spring onions served with wasabi on a small plate. The best method for eating zaru soba is dipping the noodles into the cool broth after having gently stirring the liquid. It is a mistake to pour the cool broth all around the noodles unless you want to make a mess around the dining table. Towards the final part of the meal, the waitress or server would provide a small glass of sobayu, also known to many as the boiling water used to heat up the noodles, in order for the patron to mix the broth with water. You can then enjoy you glass of broth mixture similar to enjoying a cup of hot tea.
Not many people are aware of the origins of Ramen. In actual fact, it comes from China, but has gained widespread adoption and recognition in Japan. The most basic form of Ramen is noodle served in a huge bowl of broth. The broth has many flavor variants. Topping can be added to the noodles such as sliced roasted pork meat (chashu), bean sprouts (moyashi) or leeks (negi). Ramen toppings are wide and varied and do not be surprise to see Ramen served with fresh butter corn from Hokkaido or wontons or even Chinese vegetables. Each person has their own favorite taste of Ramen and is loyal devotee to their own ramen flavor, but one thing for sure is that Western instant noodles preparation procedures are poor choice of noodle selection compared to the real delicious ramen.
Eating loudly and making loud sounds when you are in the middle of a meal is looked down upon as rude in Western countries. However, when you are in Japan, be sure to slurp down you noodles as it serves as a cooling tactic for hot noodles and is said to enhance noodle flavor.

 

Guide to Tokyo hotels  

Hotels types typically fall within the range from budget type hostels to five star luxurious suites. Tokyo has many accommodation variants that are not within the spectrum. Reasons for the birth of these accommodations are due to expensive land prices, small living quarters for families and ultra efficient public transport system. They value convenience above all and also a relaxing hot bath.

The first of the kind is the capsule hotel. It is essentially a sleeping pod with the size of one futon. The rooms are shaped in capsule sizes just big enough for a good night's rest. It may be out of this world but it is nothing more than a hostel filled stranger sharing beds. Capsule hotels are filled with strangers as well but a little more privacy is afforded. You get to watch TV via headphones and a chance to use the hot bath. It is specially catered for salarymen missing their train late at night. It costs about 4000 yen per night, cheaper compared to one taxi ride home. It has all basic amenities ready such as towels and toothbrushes as well as cotton robes. It may be good to bring along earplug for quietness. Men can go to Green Plaza while ladies can go for Ladies 501.
Sauna is actually a code for cheap roof over the head to crash over the night. Large public bathhouses that operate 24/7 usually come with relaxation rooms filled with armchairs. Saunas are a common feature around nightlife districts. Rooms are usually filled with salarymen. In women's sauna, it is usually filled with worn out bar hostesses. Saunas are slighty cheaper compared to capsule hotels (around 3000 yen per night) but comes with better bathing options. Some of their specialties include more upscale baths or outdoor baths that draws in the tourists. Traveller can look out for La Qua, a high class public bathhouse.
Manga kissa used to be a private reading booth for rent, usually a fixed fee where customers can read their favorite books in the booth. Kissa stands for café while manga stands for Japanese comics. People reading were also sleeping in the booth, usually teenagers. Manga kissa operators decided to implement the overnight stay option for the customers rather than shooing them out. It has developed to the extent of manga kissa having shower rooms, blankets and hair drying equipment. Standard rate for manga kissa costs 1500 yen complete with soft drinks but your stay is limited to 8 hours over the night. Gran Cyber Bagus Café is a good choice and has dedicated area for ladies.
Love hotels are hotels based on love themes and they differentiate themselves via elaborate schemes and décor. It is an important social venue for lovebirds who often stay in cramped buildings together with their families. The hotels are equipped with creative décor and could come with karaoke machines and Wii consoles. Patrons have the option for night stay or day rest. You can get the keys to your room via machine dispenser. Hotel Meguro is a recommended love hotel for those looking to experience the stay.
Ryokan have been around since centuries ago and is the most traditional form of temporary lodging facility. It is usually operated by family members of the sole owner. Its rooms are equipped with futons placed neatly on mat floors. The décor is clean and simple and rooms are clean and well maintained. Bathing areas are shared by all guests which is usually in the form of huge bath container. Towels and robes are provided. Dinner and breakfast may be inclusive depending on the stay package. Ryokan gives a feeling of Japanese homestay. It is not very popular among young adults as they pay less attention to tidiness. They are not used to rolling up futons after their sleep early morning. It is getting rare for Ryokans to be found in Tokyo. Sawanoya Ryokan would make a good choice of stay for those wanting to feel the Ryokan experience.

 

Shinkansen modern bullet train  

50th anniversary for Shinkansen: Japan's first modern bullet train

Shinkansen sits in the world modern railway history when it debuted around 1964 as a sleek, modern design bullet train known for its speed and punctuality. Japanese rail has brought cheers to the transport users for more than 50 years. Tourists can opt for many Rail Pass and discount tickets. To commemorate the 50th anniversary for Shinkansen, locals and foreigners alike can enjoy any of the 10 rail adventures around Japan.
First on the list is revisiting history by paying tribute to the Railway museum. It is located in Omiya, just 25km from Tokyo. The museum houses well preserved train models right from the steam train model to modern day electric rails. Indulge in the train simulator for a true Sinkansen train ride experience. The next step is to look to the future at the Railway Park located near Nagoya, where futuristic train models are displayed. SCMAGLEV is a magnetic levitation tech code name which allows high speed travel up to 580km an hour. The world record shattering train powered by Maglev is on display for all to admire. Trains do sell proper gourmet in the form of bento box. It contains Japanese local delicacies. Fine dining options are also available at the posh dining rail service Tohoku Emotion. You can enjoy your 3 course meals during the travel from Hachinohe right to Kuji.
Journey spanning over nighttime is equally exhilarating and there are overnight sleeper locomotives on service such as Cassiopeia or Hokutosei service travelling from Sapporo and Tokyo. One can take the famous Twilight Express for a 23 hour ride from Sapporo to Osaka, complete with Japan Sea coast view. Try Seven Stars for travel from Hakata to Kagoshima for an authentic oriental express experience.
Steam trains are still available for ride for those looking for old fashioned travelling mode. Fuyu Shitsugen go, a steam locomotive operates between January till mid-March. It passes through the Kushiro Shitsugen Park, where one can admire the birds and eagles. Moka Railway, another steam locomotive, bring travellers through to the pottery town Mashiko. Trams are still operating in some Japanese cities, which offer travellers the urban atmosphere and neatly lined up building quarters. One of the tram lines is Toden Arakawa. It is one of the last remaining trains having the ding ding sound that runs along Waseda university quarters as well as Minowa bashi. Trams can sometime travel very close to adjacent buildings that it can be reached by arm's length. Funiculars or cable railways are excellent for travelling on mountains. One can try out Hakone Tozen rail which transports travellers from base to Hakone Lakeland resort near Mt Fuji. Cable railway is also a necessary mode of transport that links Japan Alps to Nagano Prefecture. It is none other than the Tateyama Kurobe route. Shinkansen train lines do not pass along scenic country side, except for routes connecting Tokyo and Nagano. One can opt for pretty journey beside Japan Sea on Kitakinki Tango Railroad. You will get the opportunity to view the famous Amanohashidate sandbank.
Train journey through to the mountainous country allows one to spot cute snow monkeys. One such line which offers such view is the Nagano Electric Railroad Snow Monkey Ride Express. The trains bring you close to hot pools with monkeys bathing alongside. The train trip for the way back bring one to the Obuse town, famous for chestnuts and sake as well as home to woodblock imprint master Mr. Katsushika Hokusai.
Last but not least, one could make some time for admiring the magnificent train station structures. Tokyo Station was restored to its 1914 red building look and is looking as magnificent as ever. Take some time also to visit Nikko station, all made from wooden materials. For a glimpse of modern architecture, head over to Kyoto station and you will gasp at the similarity with works from science fiction manga comics.
The Coffee Culture by Kyoto  

A coffee owner runs a shop since a lot of experts look for peace in this kind of place, this is by far one of the best built coffee shops in the city's natural beauty, thus it takes into consideration the historical built, the quietness of the roads and the attention to even the smallest detail that the artisans have applied to the job. There is also hand painted signs, blinds and even beautifully restored facades that mark the entrance way to a lot of the beautiful coffee worries. How about a new wave coffee shop? Daisuke Takayama's Kamogawa Café is by far among the newest that has swept the area by storm in the past ten years, thus they take both the drinks as well as the space wherein it is very much adored by the masses.

The coffee shop occupies the loft, the space on the 2nd floor that is overlooking the side street of Kyoto and the Central part of the Kamo River. It will run from the eastern part of the Majestic Palace grounds. The anterior part of the windows come with checkered panes and beautifully colored glass. The floor as well as the desks is made up of hot and unstained wood. Their menu is also handmade. Where on earth can you find a menu that is hand written and hand painted? It is only in Kyoto. To really become successful in the coffee industry in Kyoto, there must be a sense of creativity and originality, this is in accordance with the statement given by Takayama.
However, it is the coffee that is hand roasted every day that makes the coffee shops different with Kamogawa Café. The left to the percolate slowly thru the flannel filter, they use it instead of using a typical kind of paper. The coffee on the other hand is thicker and quite stronger too. If you go for the classic kind of coffee, this kind of coffee shop seems like something that has been lifted from the ancient times. It looks like it is a combination of the first world war and the second world war. It is like an era of trucks as well as porters. The long and wide railway like a carriage, the kissaten contains a sole counter with the stained wood panel. There is a man behind the counter, he is the one making a cup of coffee all the time. He holds 2 big kettles that can take the boiling on the hob of the gas.
He adds some water over the newly crushed hand cooked coffee beans. He waited some more, before he pours every cup, he just warms the carafe over the open flame. The new coffee shops cannot even contest with the background of the place such as the Rokuyosha, however, they cannot just embrace the legacy of a different kind. Like the Sarasa Nishijin, it is housed in the old Fuki-no-Mori Onsen, it was a bathhouse in the past, way back 1920s. Though, it still looks like an ancient bathroom, the wooded latticework as well as the different bell shaped awning are just awesome. The light handed remodeling has kept them ornate in a Jade and bubble gum pink tiles which kept everything intact. The walls that have divided the men as well as the women from the sides of the bath runs through the center of the bathroom, the old armchairs have set under the tapered, walls that rose to the central part of the chimney. There is another local fixture is the coffee shop named Café Bibliotic Hello
Discover Japan through Drinks and Shops  

When compared to the western part of the globe where you can find sodas and other sweetened drinks do not often show off in the menu, except for those that are being served in a Western style restaurant or diner. Nevertheless, the drinks of your option in Japan are o-cha. It is green tea in English. This can be served either hot or cold depending on your choice and the season. You can also find some varieties under the conventionally brewed type. Even if the canned ones you will get from the vending machines will not be the same as the watered ones brewed in the US or in Europe. They are serving the good kind in Tokyo. Moreover, the standard kind of cup of kohii or coffee you can also anticipate the esupuresso or espresso in English. They also have the kapuchino or the cappuccino and the matcha ratte or the green tea flavored latte.
If you are in Japan, you must also be familiar with the alcoholic beverages. Japanese are big consumers of birru or beer. They may drink lightly or they may go crazy over them. The wine and the whiskey are among the common types of drinks they prefer in terms of the alcoholic drinks. Even if their status is quite high, that means that they are just concern about the cost than in the Western part of the world. They also have the rice wine, which is a traditional drink and it varies from grades, the point of origin and the flavors as well. a lot of guests from Japan get there assuming they will be drunk, they intend to be drunk on a find cold Tokyo night, while some are still dreaming of becoming drunk for a high grade sake, but of course, they want it chilled. You can check on the website the different kinds of sake if you want to be familiar with it.
It is just so persuading to know that sake is just falling off the favor of the young generation today, while the strong shochu or distilled liquor from the grains of the sweet potatoes from instance is becoming famous. It is actually progressing and is becoming known to young ones. The taste of the shochu or on the rocks is one of the best way to try variety of flavors. On your way to discovering Tokyo, you also need to check some shopping venues. This place is also known not just for the alcoholic beverages, but also for their shops. Japan has a high end fashion from the vintage wares to the crafty items. The souvenirs have been a trade mark in japan, but little did you know that there are also gadgets for those techy savvy individuals. Regardless if you want to go through the high end shops or you are looking for affordable items, there are lots of shops in Tokyo that will satisfy your needs.
You must visit Ginza. It is one of the prominent shops in Tokyo. It is a home to the famous posh boutiques and department stores like Mitsukoshi and others. You can also find some toys and stationaries if you are a toy or stationary collector, you will surely love this place. Asakusa is another shop where you can relax and find things you need. It is located at the center of the Edo's low city, it is also a home to the artisans. You can find here some curtains for sale, it will also lead you to the temple of Senso-ji. You can also come and visit the Shinjuku. There are still lots of shops there that offers the traditional wood sandals of Japan.

 

This Building Survived Destruction  

Japan PM Shinzo Abe just made a historic visit to Hawaii to offer Pearl Harbor condolences with Barack Obama, so Japanhai takes a look back at Hiroshima History.
After an attack on “Pearl Harbour” in Hawaii Islands by Japan, President of United States, Rosevelt who faced a criticism within the country and outside the country too, and decided to attack on Japan and bombarded Hiroshima with atom bomb on 6th August, 1945 at 8.16 A.M. Even though the bomb was little and nicknamed as “Little Boy” it destructed the Hiroshima and acquired the world wide attention towards the Islands. Hiroshima was in the dark for nearly a half century, but now it is the first city for the visitors to visit this place. Are you interested to visit a place which is rebuilt after an atom bomb destruction, just spare 48 hours to visit the Hiroshima and observe the museum where you can see the exhibits after the atom bomb attack.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is a place which is located in the central Hiroshima, Japan, it is the most popular visiting place for the school field trips in and around Japan and even for international visitors also. This museum was reconstructed in the year 1955, from that day to today, nearly 60 million people visited this museum. All the exhibits in the museum belongs to the victims left over materials which convey the revulsion of the event. Some exhibits describe the before and after the destruction of bombing and some exhibits are related to the current position of the nuclear age. Now to facilitate the people the museum was renovated in 1994 and added more information regarding the destruction.
Only Survived Building Even After Bomb Destruction
The worth seeing place for the visitors to visit “The Genbaku Dome”, this is the only building, near the Hypocenter which was half -exploded left building to memorialize the destruction. In modern time, one can feel the combined feelings, when they see a reminder of the bomb blast which was dominating the river bank. But if one observes the dome it symbolizes and pays tribute for the lost and the horror destruction on 6th August, 1945. Just a walk from the dome there is a natural place, “ The Iconic ruin” for the visitors to understand the history. Now, after the bomb explosion, in the year 1915 in the Genbaku Dome they started a Commercial Exhibition Hall. Every year near the iconic dome, now known as Hiroshima Peace Memorial, thousands of people gather to memorialize the day on which the world paid their attention. The remains of the dome building was known as an “Atomic Bomb Dome” from September 1945 onwards. For the contemplation of peace the architect Kenzo Tange reinforced this monument in the year 1970, to preserve the monument as a reminder of the tragic situation. There is a fountain which characterizes an offering of water for the fatality of the destruction. The horrible thing to hear is that even after the attack up to four months people had died from the bomb effects. Hiroshima Jo is one more tourist visiting place, which was built in the year 1591 by Mori Terumoto . This castle was totally destroyed in the bomb attack and later it was partly reconstructed and some of the parts were left un built. Don't forget to visit the island treasures which fill you happiness. In the evenings the shopping centers are open for the visitors to shop and the staple food of the people “Okonomiyaki” is famous in this region. While you are passing on the roads just have a look at the staircase of the upper floors where there area number of nightspots which require an elevator ride. The Miyajima Island is 25 minutes train ride, later a short boat ride will take you to the see the torii ( a gate to the entrance to a Shrine) where you can see the blue waters of Inland sea. Miyajima has more to detain you to see the Hiroshima's cultural and art houses.
Plan your trip to Hiroshima to visit the bomb explosion affected places as well as many more visiting scenes.

 

A trip to Ebisu  
While there is no end of choice for the visitor to Tokyo looking to eat and drink in town, there are few areas that offer the same mixture of local flavour, true Japanese culture and plain old fashioned good fun as Ebisu. This ultra-trendy though somehow still authentic neighbourhood plays host to a number of establishments that are perfect for somebody in search of a great night out.
Getting there is easy. The Ebisu station is on the JR Yamanote line, which is one stop away from Shibuya. You can also get there using the Metro Hibiya line. While you can always get around it by taxi, it's small enough to get around on foot and much more fun. As you walk from pub to pub and restaurant to restaurant, you can really soak in the atmosphere of this lively, colourful and vibrant little hive of nightlife.
A good place to begin is one of the numerous eateries aimed at the salarymen and salarywomen looking to relax after a hard day's work. Known locally as izakaya, these little spots serve tasty casual dished such as grilled meats and sashimi – perfect for filling your belly with something quick and delicious before and evening's drinking. Of course, every one of them will also offer a packed drinks menu too.
Once you've dined, why not move on to a really proper Japanese pub? Saiki is one such place, very well known in Tokyo for its no-nonsense approach and buzzing atmosphere. Space is a minimum but atmosphere is at a maximum. There's no English menu and next-to-no decor but lots of fun, great drinks and tasty bar food to be had. If you want to take a step outside your touristic comfort zone it comes highly recommended.
After that you'll probably be feeling hungry again, so the next port of call should be the wonderful Momotaro off Komazawa-dori. This is great for wine and generous courses of yakitori. If you want to drink like a true Japanese, then move from here to Buri just down the road. Here you will find one of Tokyo's most extensive and impressive sake menus plus, of course, lots of delectable little bits and pieces to eat with your rice wine.
You will, of course, notice that many of these spots do not have English menus for you to order from. While this might, at first, seem intimidating, in truth you can get by with just a few simple phrases. If you trust your waiter, all you need to do is say “Osusume”, which means “I'll have what you recommend.” Unless you are very unlucky, you should get a great meal.
If you want to hang out in Ebisu but prefer not to take your chances, then you can always try the Toraji Korean diner, where you can grill your own slabs of beef just as you like them.
While Ebisu explodes with activity after nightfall, there is also some fun things to do during the day. Art lovers will enjoy the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Yebisu Garden Place, while the Beer Museum on the same street is an hour of fun for those with simpler tastes.
Watch some sport in Tokyo  
If you plan to visit Tokyo and fancy taking in some sports while you're there, then you're in luck. This city is a true feast for the fan of physical activities and competitive games. Here you will find professional teams in baseball, football and sumo, plus all kinds of other thrilling events. Here's a guide to the biggest sporting attractions in the Japanese capital.
Baseball
America's Pastime is just as popular in Japan as it is Stateside, so it is little surprise to find Tokyo is a hub for baseball. In fact, the Japanese are so crazy about baseball that even the high-school playoff matches that take place every year regularly bring in millions of viewers.
Tokyo is home to two pro baseball teams: the Yakult Swallows and the Yomiuri Giants. The Swallows play at Meiji-Jingu Stadium in Shinjuku, and have a richly decorated history, having taken home 5 Japan Series championships (though none in the last 13 years). Their accomplishments are, however, entirely dwarfed by their city rivals, the Giants. From their base at the 46,000 capacity Tokyo Dome in Bunkyo, the Giants have notched up 22 Japan Series titles, the most recent of which they took home in 2012.
Tickets for both teams go on sale roughly two weeks before match day and can be picked up from outlets across the city.
Football
Though not quite as avidly followed as baseball, football has risen in the last twenty years or so to become one of Japan's favourite games. Its national championship, the J-League, is the most successful soccer leagues in Asia, with huge crowds and many of the continent's best players.
A number of football teams play their home games in the capital, most prominent amongst them FC Tokyo and Tokyo Verdy. Though they have never won the J-League itself, FC Tokyo have twice won the J-League Cup and once won the Emperor's Cup back in 2011. If you fancy watching the beautiful game in Tokyo, then pop down to their Ajinomoto Stadium in Chofu. Tokyo Verdy also play their home games at this ground, though they are currently plying their trade in the nation's second tier, after relegation in 2008. Prior to that, however, they were one of Japan's most famous and decorated teams, with 2 J-League titles, 3 J-League Cups and 2 Emperor's Cups below their belts.
The season runs from March to December and tickets can be purchased all over Tokyo.
Sumo
For a truly traditional Japanese sporting experience, the curious traveller should try Sumo wrestling. Though the exact story of its origins is sketchy, Sumo has been around for about 1,500 years. If you've never seen it before, it involves two huge men, usually well above 6 feet and 20 stone, aiming to shove each other out of a small, sand covered ring. To the untrained eye this might seem awfully simplistic but, in reality, it is a game of intense skill, razor sharp timing and quick ingenuity as well as brute force.
There are over 48 sumo holds in all, involving shoves, trips, slaps, throws and carries and, though most matches won't last longer than half a minute, they often feature a dizzying combination of moves.
You can check out Sumo at the Kokugikan, in Sumid-ku in January, May or September. During each of those months, Tokyo hosts 15 day tournaments and cheap, unreserved tickets are usually available at the stadium. For the best seats, however, you will either need to book long in advance or know somebody with connections.
A walk on the weird side in Tokyo  
The Japanese capital offers no end of options for the visitor in search of the weird and wonderful. In fact, there might be no other city on the planet that has quite so many out there bars, restaurants, clubs and cafes. Here is a few of our favourites.
Vowz Bar
Vowz would be a pretty normal bar if it wasn't for the fact that every member of staff is a Buddhist monk. No, not a barman dressed up as a Buddhist monk or an actor portraying a Buddhist monk. An actual, 100% certified disciple of Buddhism. They are pretty talkative too, so, if you fancy learning about spirituality while relaxing with a beer, get on down to Vowz Bar.
Shinjuku 8bit Café
Retro gaming fiends will find themselves in heaven at this off-beat Shinjuku spot, where customers button bash on late 80s/ early 90s classics such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Brothers and Shinobi while DJs spin class game music and everybody drinks heavily. It's one of those kitsch, ultra-hipster ideas that seems so obvious you can't believe it hasn't been tried before. A table costs 4.50 and, for that, you get unlimited games. The crowd is not nearly as nerdy as you might imagine, as old school games are a pretty mainstream obsession in Japan.
Kagaya
If you like something a little different when you head out for dinner, then Kagaya might be just the thing for you. Described by some visitors as ‘the world's weirdest restaurant', it is run by owner Mark Kagaya, who has a, shall we say, interesting way to interact with the clientele. Mark is not the kind of owner who likes to sit in the back office counting the money but rather, believes in taking a hands on approach to the business. Most nights he is out on the floor taking his diners' orders using his huge collection of glove puppets, before delivering the food dressed in one of his many fancy dress costumes. Believe us, this description does not even halfway do justice to how strange it gets.
Mr Kanso
If you thought London's breakfast cereal café was the world's most strange single-food eatery, then you have not yet been to Tokyo's Mr Kanso. Here customers can choose from shelves stocked to bursting with what must be the world's largest and most varied collection of tinned food. From Spam to tuna to walrus curry and beyond, you can find just about any foodstuff on the planet stuffed into a little metal box and eat it right there on the premises.
HollowPoint
Drinking and guns really don't mix, yet nobody told the owners of HollowPoint, Tokyo's only shooting range/pub. Customers can order a drink at the bar, hire an air gun and blast away at a selection of targets in a specially designed gallery. It's a lot safer than it sounds – after all, there are no real guns on the premises – and, if you like weaponry, a pretty fun night out.
Nakameguro Ping Pong Lounge
If you want to simultaneously pile on and burn off the pounds during an evening's boozing, then the Nakameguro Ping Pong Lounge is a good bet. Here beer and ping pong go hand in hand, with customers taking it in turns on the numerous tables between rounds.
  
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