Local traditions and culture in Tokyo

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Tokyo

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    No trash left behind!

    by HispanicYob Written Nov 4, 2014

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    When I had first noticed the sign at Mt. Fuji that read, "There are no trash bins on Mt. Fuji, take your trash with you", I had soon noticed that applied to a lot of places, even in the subways in Tokyo! Recycling bins abound yes, especially near the vending machines, but hardly any trash bins I noticed!

    I'm so surprised because of this fact that Tokyo wasn't a steaming pile of litter strewn about all over the place. Back home, even if there was a trash can, guaranteed some fool would leave a whole bunch of papers and debris all over the area around the bin. Of course, I saw that here and there, but it still seemed so clean compared to some places in America or Europe where I've been.

    This seems to be, in my opinion, because the Japanese seem to co-exist with the environment better then a lot of crowded nations can. At least to me it seemed that way. Please remember to take your trash with you and find an appropriate area to dispose of it in, whether it's back at your hostel, hotel or residence in Japan. Be a part of the solution, not the problem!

    I loved this drink! Very unusual!
    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Backpacking
    • Trains

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    Kawagoe Matsuri

    by Ewingjr98 Written Oct 23, 2014

    The Kawagoe Matsuri is a huge festival that features massive shrine "floats" ridden by musicians and actors, pulled by perhaps a hundred people using long colorful ropes. The festival began in 1648 with the main neighborhoods of Kawagoe each pushing their own matsuri around town; today the number of wheeled shrines has increased to 28.

    Also, along with the famous shrines, there are hundreds of stands selling food and drink, mostly from the local Kawagoe area.

    This 360 year old tradition has been designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

    The festival is held on the third Saturday and Sunday in October, which in 2014 was18 and 19 October.

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    Game Centers

    by Ewingjr98 Written Oct 11, 2014

    In Japan Game Centers (ゲームセンター), sometimes shortened to “Geh-sen,” are a major draw fro the under 20 crowd, who are too young for pachinko. The Geh-sen feature a variety of video games, claw games (UFO Catcher), photo booths, taiko drums, and sometimes horse racing games and pachinko.

    We really like to stop by the game centers after a night on the town to try our skill at the claw games. It's always fun to bring home a Japanese cartoon character as a conversation piece.

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    by rosequartzlover1 Updated Oct 10, 2014

    1.This Calpis soda is another drink that I tried and like it very much.I can say that almost all foods and drinks inJapan are delicious ..This one tasted like drinking yogurt but little milder.There are many taste of them,this one is peach taste and not so sweet .It contains a little soda(gas)..so it is very refreshing..The price varies depend where we buy it from, and it's about 100-130 yen.
    2.It's writen apple tea but it's simply just an apple juice.It's without gas.Normally I'd like to buy the drink with gas more but this apple juice ...even without gas but it is delicious.The brand written is Fauchon(paris) I don't know about this brand but this one produced by "asahi" in Japan .I consider that the most delicious apple juice in the world is from Japan.
    The price is about the same as the one above.
    3.This is coconut juice ,It's 100 % coconut jouice.At first I wasn't sure about that ,because I guess that there's no coconut tree in Japan ,and to drink pure 100% coconut juice shouldn't be from a tin ,canned ,ot bottled ,otherwise there should be some preservative ingredient in it which I don't consider " 100% juice" but I tried it anyway .The taste was very good ,so much like a real fresh juice from coconut, but there's some other taste and smell in it that I don't know what is it.May be preservative ingredient or just a taste that differ from each area they were grown.Coconut juice in my country that I mostly drink was from the fresh coconut cut in front of my eyes and it's so delicious.This one in the pictute I can say it's very good taste ,try it.

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    Stand up bars

    by salisbury3933 Updated Oct 2, 2014

    Stand up bars are all around Tokyo. No seats, and a table or counter to lean on. These places make their money on volume not margin and tend to be pretty busy. A good way to meet locals, although it does tend to be an almost exclusively male crowd.

    Beer and food are all generally pretty cheap as a result. Worth a look. The place in picture is one in Ueno I went to frequently. 633ml bottles of Asahi are 410 yen. Excellent value, and food items are not at all expensive either.

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    Akagi Shrine Festival - Kagurazaka

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Sep 26, 2014

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    The Akagi Shrine Festival was held on 21 September 2014 at the Akagi Jinja (Akagi Shrine) in the Kagurazaka neighborhood of central Tokyo.

    The festival stretched along one small street from Kagurazaka Station to the Akagi Shine, a few hundred meters away. The small street was packed full of food stalls, selling yakitori, desserts, and drinks, and stalls with kids games and trinkets. The food was pretty standard festival food, and the mikoshi shrines were coming and going frequently, so there was plenty of music and excitement.

    The Akagi Jinja is a very unique shrine in Japan. Founded in the 1500s, the building was most recently reconstructed in 2010 by famous Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. He designed a very modern take on a traditional shrine, with lots of glass, a thin, light metal roof, and light colored woods. There is also a sub-shrine that was built elevated over an alley.

    Kagurazaka is a unique neighborhood in Tokyo, that is known for its high-end shopping and french food and wine. This area was one of Tokyo's original geisha neighborhoods, and some of the small establishments remain on the side streets.

    Here is my video from the festival: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/vv/85d9/

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    Cherry Blossoms

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 31, 2014

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    Cherry blossoms, or Sakura in Japanese, are a popular symbol of Japan and viewing these delicate flowers is a springtime tradition throughout the country. The Japanese term, Hanami, means to have a picnic lunch with sake under a cherry tree.

    In Japan the cherry blossoms bloom at varying times each year, but it begins in Okinawa, usually in January, then it reaches Tokyo by late March or early April. Thousands upon thousands of cherry trees are planted in parks, at schools and government buildings, and around temples, and people flock to see them when in peak bloom.

    The cherry blossom has become a symbol of Japan, and it can be seen in a number of places: on money, on kimono fabric, and on military uniforms. During Japan's colonial days, cherry trees were often planted as a way to claim occupied lands for Japan; therefore, you will find cherry blossoms in former colonies such as Korea and China. In more recent years, the Japanese diaspora has planted cherry trees where large numbers of Japanese live overseas including in Brazil and Canada. Japan has also given cherry trees to the US, Turkey, Germany, Australia and other countries as goodwill gestures or symbols of friendship.

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    Kawaii Culture

    by Ewingjr98 Written Feb 13, 2014

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    Kawaii, a sense of cuteness, has overtaken Japanese culture. This is a significant change from decades past, when Japanese culture embrace quiet, subdued and sophisticated fashion of the traditional kimono, gardening, flower arrangement, and architecture.

    Today the culture has embraced cuteness as the standard fashion of the younger Japanese generations. This typically translates into Japanese women dressing in what should be young girls' clothes, with lots of pinks and ribbons. It also means cartoon characters everywhere in Japan, even as the official symbols of the police, neighborhood governments, and trash collectors. Characters like Hello Kitty are not only popular in Japan, but have spread throughout the world. Oddly, even the sex industry has embraced this cute theme, with maid cafes and school girl cafes offering services to older gentlemen.

    Even Buddha is Kawaii

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    Christmas In Japan

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jan 20, 2014

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    Japanese people are some mix of mostly non religious, and those that do associate with religion are Buddhist, and Shinto, so many Westerners find it odd that Japan really celebrates Christmas. Japanese do not get the 25th of December off, so it's not the family holiday that Americans and Europeans might celebrate. However, the Japanese do have several Christmas traditions. Among these are sending Christmas cards and exchanging presents, though the presents are usually small in number. Japanese people do like to shop after all! They also really like Christmas lights, and bright displays are common at shopping areas and parks.

    Japan's religious following, according to A 2008 poll carried out by the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute and ISSP (International Social Survey Program):

    No religion: 61%
    Buddhist: 34%
    Shinto: 3%
    Christianity: less than 1%

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    Rakugo - Traditional Japanese Comedy Show

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Dec 27, 2013

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    In early December 2013, a Japanese friend took me to a Rakugo show, a traditional form of Japanese "stand up" comedy. Rakugo was started in Japan around the year 1600, and it features a single performer who kneels on the stage telling a funny story. The performer uses no props, wears no costumes, and often barely moves. To tell the story, he will often look to his his left to represent one character, then look to the right to represent a second character. He will also change the tone of his voice to keep the characters easily distinguishable from one another.

    We saw Tatekawa Sinoharu perform a story called "Tenshiki," in which a Buddhist monk named Chinnen seeks out the meaning of the mysterious word "Tenshiki." Do you have Tenshiki? No, I gave away my most beautiful Tenshiki.

    The other performer at the show we attended was Kimie Oshima, a Japanese woman who has performed Rakugo in 20 English speaking countries. She also happens to have a Doctorate and is an Associate Professo at Bunkyo Gakuin University. She told the story of a rickshaw driver who likes to race trains.

    We saw the Rakugo show in a small 400-seat theater at the Fukagawa Edo Museum in Tokyo. The show was 2,500 Yen per person, and it included a 1,200 Yen book and CD of three Rakugo performances by Tatekawa Shinoharu.

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    Open the Kimono

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jul 24, 2013

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    A Kimono is a thing to wear. No really, in Japanese, ki means wear and mono means thing. This loose robe with a sash is a traditional outfit that many people still wear today in Japan, usually at holidays and festivals.

    Traditional kimonos are very, very expensive because they are made almost entirely of silk. In modern times, silk is still the preferred material, but kimonos can be found in a variety of less expensive materials.

    In many English speaking countries, the business world overuses a lame phrase, "open the kimono," which means to share information with others.

    The summer version of the kimono is called a yukata. This casual version of traditional dress is made of cotton or synthetic fabric and ideal for warm weather.

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    Sumo wrestling and its Shinto significance

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Jun 11, 2013

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    Sumo wrestling was created some 2000 years ago, but only gained popularity in the 1600s. Sumo itself means "way of the gods," and it is said that sumo was created to entertain the gods, called kami.

    In Shinto, shintai are physical objects worshiped at or near Shinto Shrines as repositories in which spirits, gods, or kami reside. Shintai are not themselves part of kami, but rather just temporary repositories which make the spirits accessible to human beings for worship.

    A yorishiro, in Shinto terminology, is an object capable of attracting these spirits, thus giving them a physical space to occupy during religious ceremonies. Yorishiro are used during ceremonies to call the kami for worship.The word itself literally means "approach substitute." Once a yorishiro actually houses a kami, it is called a shintai. Rice straw ropes called shimenawa, decorated with paper streamers called shide, often surround yorishiro to make their sacredness manifest. Persons can play the same role as a yorishiro, and in that case are called yorimashi (possessed person) or kamigakari (kami possession).

    A yokozuna, a wrestler at the top of sumo's hierarchy, is a living living yorishiro (formally a shintai), and as such is inhabited by a spirit.. For this reason, his waist is circled by a shimenawa.

    Other shinto symbolism in sumo includes the temple-like roof over the ring, the referee who is dressed like a priest, the sand floor of the ring, and the salt the wrestlers toss before they get tossed.

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    Akihabara Girls

    by Ewingjr98 Written Jan 28, 2013

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    Akihabara Girls line the streets of Akihabara, wearing school uniforms and handing out flyers for local cafes, bars, clubs, and other entertainment establishments. The odd thing here is that many of the girls are local high school girls, often in their official school uniforms, working as hostesses for lonely male customers. Here you can find maid cafes, cuddle cafes, and other oddities.

    Some of these places charge 10,000 Yen to 20,000 Yen for an hour of entertainment, though some are significantly less expensive, depending on the type of entertainment, type of refreshments, and the quality of the hostesses.

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    Cosplay in the streets of Tokyo

    by Ewingjr98 Written Jan 1, 2013

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    Cosplay, also known as costume play, is an odd Japanese tradition. People dress in costumes that depict cartoons, superheros, anime characters, and even real people, and hang out in public on weekends. There are also restaurants in Akihabara where wait staff and customers dress in cosplay.

    In Tokyo, you can see cosplay, usually on Sundays, around Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line. Many cosplayers hang out on the Jingu bridge and in Yoyogi Park.

    During a recent trip to the city, we say a handful of cosplay people, despite a downpour of rain. The best dressed was a man in a Batman costume, but he was overshadowed by a chubby guy wearing nothing but shorts and a clear raincoat.

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    Love Hotels

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Sep 20, 2012

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    Japan has about 37,000 love hotels, that attracting 1.4 million couples per day. Why the big draw? Most single Japanese live with their parents into adulthood, due to the cost of living and tradition. A love hotel offers the opportunity for adult couples to get some private time for a few hours or overnight. Yes, love hotels allow you to rent rooms for just a few hours.

    The name love hotel was coined in the 1960s, but this type of lodging has its roots in the Edo Persiod (1600s-1800s), when discrete tea houses became places where couples could meet, and prostitution took place.

    In Tokyo, Shibuya is one of three areas with legal love hotels, along with Ikebukuro and Shinjuku. In these hotels, guests can "rest" for a few hours for 5,000 Yen or less, and they can "stay" overnight for under 10,000 Yen. Both prices are bargains for hotels in Tokyo.

    Shibuya Love Hotel Hill, Tokyo Shibuya Love Hotel Hill, Tokyo Shibuya Love Hotel Hill, Tokyo Shibuya Love Hotel Hill, Tokyo

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