Iyemon is a famous brand of Japanese tea produced by Suntory, and the Iyemon Salon is possibly the best location to enjoy it, along with a tasty selection of perfectly suited food of course!

The tea here does not just come hot and wet like we know it here in the UK, it also comes in the form of cakes, main dishes and even beer! if you get a chance its well worth splashing out the the matcha green tea beer, just to say you have done it!

Green tea beer / 抹茶ビール

Iyemon Salon serve food throughout the day, making it a great location to swing by for a healthy breakfast of grilled fish, fluffy white rice and miso soup. On this particular trip I stopped by with a friend for dinner. Although the starter of Vietnamese style wraps and dressing where nothing to write home about, the main course was something else! I chose to try Japanese Chazuke, although pouring tea over a bowl of rice and a gorgeously  fatty cut of belly salmon sounds like a waste of fish, it most defiantly isn’t!

How to find Iyemon Salon:

80 Ogura-cho
Karasuma Nishiiru
Sanjp-dori
Nakagyo-ku
Chiso Blg 1F
604-8166
Kyoto
Japan

Web: http://iyemonsalon.jp/
Phone: +81 75-222-15

Advertisements

Pachinko in Iidabashi Tokyo / 飯田橋のパチンコ

Possibly the most bizarre game I have ever seen, Pachinko (パチンコ)is well…. imagine a combination of a slot machine and pinball minus the flippers, I guess that is the only way I can even start to try and explain it.

As gambling in Japan is illegal there is a series of strange systems in place with regards to collecting your winnings. You play the game to win trays of ball bearings, when you decided you have won/lost enough of these ball bearings to stop playing you stumble to a counter where the balls can be exchanged for paper tokens, you must then leave the palor to find a conveniently positioned shop completely separate from the parlour that just so happens to exchange paper tokens for money or prizes.

Pachinko is very popular in Japan and there are thousands of Pachino Parlours all over Japan, the atmosphere is always loud and smokey and packed with men and women alike. Although this looks simple there is defiantly some skill involved, the one time I tried to play I ended up going though about 2000¥(£17.00) in 10 mins with no real winnings.

If you want to try something very Japanese (and don’t mind loosing a few thousand yen) its worth giving a shot, I took the picture above outside a small Pachinko parlour in Iidabashi Tokyo, but you will be able to find them near all the main stations, especially around Shinjuku.


Entrance to Nakayamagwa / なかやまぐわぁの入口

I stumbled on this guest house after traveling to Zamami with the intention of camping, and changed at the last min after realising it would actually cost a similar amount.

Yamanakagwa is located on the island of Zamami, part of the Kerama island group. Zamami is easily accessible from Tomari port in Naha city. Although there are a few ferries that travel to Zamami I took the Queen Zamami 3, its quite expensive at ¥5,970 return but only takes 50 mins with a quick stop at Aka island (also with going to while your in Zamami, Ferries but daily at ¥300).

View over Furuzamami beach / 古座間味海岸の景色

Firstly the location although a little hard see at first is amazing, right in the village on the sea front. There is a supermarket as well as few restaurants dotted about, all within about 10-15 mins walk from the guest house.

Due to its tatami floors and traditional style it feels a bit more like a ryokan than a guest house. It has a great common area that is open all day and for some of the evening

Zamami village / 座間味忖

I think the best thing tho has to be the couple that run the guest house, I think Yoshi is the most genuine and friendly guy I have ever met and with his help made this one of the best trips I have ever made.

How to find yamanakaguwa:

159 Aza Zamami
Zamami-son
Shimajiri-gun
Okinawa
901-3402
Japan
Web: www.nakayamagwa.com
Tweet: @nakayamagwa

 

I have always been a big fan of this park after I stumbled upon it on my first trip to Tokyo late 2007. Even tho its central location right next to Tokyo Dome doesn’t seem the most relaxing place for a stroll, you would be surprised! The high trees and moving water block out a lot of the noise, and despite its small size could occupy a good few hours of your time wondering about.

The park is about 3 mins walk from Iidabashi Station (Toei Line) but can easily be reached on foot from both Koeakuen (JR Sobu Line) and Suidobashi (Yurakucho/ Nanboku Line) stations. The park is 300 yen for adults and is open between 9-5 daily, there are maps in a number of languages available at the entrance free of charge.

Koishikawa Park is beautiful most of the year round but is especially breathtaking in November when the Autumn colours start to appear, there is also a large Sakura tree near the entrance of the park that blooms late March.

2007年に初めて日本に行った時からこの公園が好きです。東京の真ん中にあって、あまりリラクスができなさそうだけど、木々が都会の喧噪を消してくれるので本当に静かな所です。この公園は比較的小さいけど意外と広いです。公園全体を歩くのに2、3時間かかります。

歩いて板橋から三分間かかります、後楽園と水道橋も大丈夫です。公園の入場料は300円、毎日9時から5時まで開いています。受付でいろいろ語の地図があります。

どんな季節に行ってもきれいで、秋の紅葉の季節は特にきれいです。3月下旬には、エントランスの近くにある大きな桜の木が咲き、それもとてもきれいです。

How to find Koishikawa Park:

Koraku 1-1-6
Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo
Open: WD/WE 9.00 – 17.00 (Entrance before 16.30)

Eat more greens is a vegetarian coffee shop and bakery in the trendy area of Azabu Juban. They pride themselves on sourcing the freshest local ingredients, and often hold a vegetable market on weekends (See website for details).

Sweet potato pie  スィートポテトパイ

They offer a range of pastas, falafel, vegetarian pizza and a selection of cakes (The sweet potato pie is awesome). Also Eat More Greens one of the only places I have found that serve Hummus in Tokyo, and believe me I have looked! Prices are pretty average with a main meal, drink and dessert coming in at around 2000 yen

Taco rice タコライス

Eat More Greensは麻布十番のベジタリアンベーカリーです。地元の野菜だけ使って週末に野菜の売店もあります。もし興味があったらこちらをご覧下さい。

いろいろなベジタリアンの食べ物があって、例えばファラフェルやベジピザやデザートもあります(スィートポテトパイは一番美味しいです)東京でハマスが食べられるのはこのお店だけだと思います。値段はふつうでセットは2000円ぐらいです。メニューはこちらです。

How to find Eat More Greens:

Azabu-Juban 2-2-5
Minato-ku
Tokyo
Tel: 0133798 3191
Open: WD 11.00 – 11.00 WE 9.00 – 11.00

Just around the corner from where I used to live in Nakano Sakaue there is a small trendy coffe shop nestled in with a bunch of very odd shops and a biker style tattoo parlour called Mugs.

The coffe shop was started by 3 designers and displays some of their own work, along with other local designers and artists. There are piles of cool Japanese design magazines and free WI-FI to use to your heart’s content. Mugs is a relaxing space that is rarely overcrowded but always has a cool crowed kicking about.

The service is very chilled and can take a while sometimes, however this is something I really love as you never feel like you have to leave right after finishing your food. Mugs offers a selection of Asian style food, mostly Thai and Vietnamese. The prices are average for this time of place, about 400 yen for a coffe and around 1000 yen for a main course, full menu can be viewed here (Japanese only).

前住んだ所の近くで、変なお店と変なお店の間にトレンディーな喫茶店があります、その喫茶店の名前はMUGSです。

三人のデザイナーがその喫茶店を始めました。お店の中にその人たちとローカルアーチストの作品が飾られています。たくさんかっこいい雑誌があるしWI-FIが無料だしそれにリラクスな所であまり混みません。

サービスは早くないけど好きだからゆっくりできます。MUGSのメニューはほとんどアジアンフード、例えばタイ料理とかべトナム料理などです。値段はそんなに高くなくて、コーヒは400円でランチセットは1,000円ぐらいです。メニューはこちらです

How to find Mugs:

Chuo 5-48-5
Nakano-ku
Tokyo
Tel: 0753613069
Open: 12am – 11pm closed Mondays


Another one up there in my top 10 would have to be efish, a small coffe shop come art gallery just round the corner from Kiyomizu Gojo station. The shop was started up by designer Shin Nishibori, currently well known for his work as a designer within Apple computers. Although Shin no longer owns the cafe a lot of his work is still up for sale there, if your interested you can check out the shop here.

eFish has moved in the last few years and has an amazing location looking over the Kamo river, very relaxing for a stroll during the summer months.


BLT and Pumpkin soup set / BLTとカボチャスープセット

The cafe’s menu is written in both English and Japanese, if you want to take a look follow this link. Although the prices are not cheap, it’s not going to rinse your bank account either! if you are like me and missing proper bacon sandwiches living in Japan this is the only place I have found so far that does them!

At night the shop changes into a chic bar with great chilled out atmosphere providing a great hangout spot for all the creative locals.

eFishもトップ10の中の一つです。eFishは京都の清水五条駅の小さい喫茶店兼ギャラリーです。そのお店は
西堀 晋さんが始めました。西堀 晋さんは有名なiPodのデザイナーです。(見たかったらオンラインストアーはこちらです。)

最近カフェが新しい場所に移動しました、新しい所は鴨川などのいい景色も見えます。

メニューはこちらです。(英語のメニューもあります)もしBLTが恋しかったらここのBLTが一番いいと思います。夜はシックなバーになってクリエイティブな人が集まります。


How to find eFish:

798-1 Nishi Hashizume-cho
Kiyamachi Dori
Gojo-Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku
Kyoto
Tel: 0753613069
Open: 11am – 10pm daily

 

I thought I would kick off with one of my most frequented Eats, Office, in Gaienmae. Perched on the corner of Rugby-Dori and Aoyama-dori, located on the 5th floor above Sign Coffe shop (also owed by (Transit General Office Inc), combines excellent views of a neon-lit Tokyo intersection through its wrap-around windows, chilled out music and a great selection on beers and food. Whats more, its open till 3am most nights, sure beats some of the other dives ahem…. Dennys that are open at this kind of time.

The original concept behind this place was a hangout for creative people to hangout after work, socialise but still manage to work, seen in the big green-topped draughtsman’s desks with angle-poise lamps. Office offer free WI-FI and have charging facilities for laptops.

The food is pretty good for the price, one of my favourites being the okra curry (approx.¥970). They serve a few good beers such as Brooklyn larger all served in freezing cold metal containers. The menu changes regularly with a decent amount of choice but not enough to force you sit sit there pondering for hours.

始めは一番よく行ったOfficeです。青山通りの山崎ビルの五階にあります。Officeの窓からいい景色が見えるしリラクスな音楽が聞こえるしいろいろなビールもあるし、それに遅くまで開いています。

このバーは、クリエイティブな人たちのために作られました。無料のWI-FIとパソコンを使うスペースもあるので、仕事のあとでリラックスをしながら仕事を続けられます。

Officeの一番美味しい食べ物はオクラカリーだと思います(¥970)。輸入ビールもあります、例えばBrooklyn Larger。メニューは定期的に変わります。

How to find Office:

Yamazaki Bldg. 5F
Kita Aoyama 2-7-18
Minato-ku
Tokyo
Tel: 03-5786-1052
Fax: 03-5786-1053
Twitter: @OFFICE_gaienmae
Web: http://www.transit-web.com/