Tag Archives: Tokyo

Watching Sumo Practice | TOKYO

I have a number of guests coming to visit over the next couple of months. I usually travel to Tokyo with guests and / or to meet friends visiting from overseas. With next month’s visitors I will do the usual Asakusa trail, but this time I wanted to add on a trip to some Sumo stables, so I have been researching which would be best for our plans. I fixed on one in Oshiage. I wanted to share the information as I know many people are interested in finding some where that they can watch sumo wrestlers in training when there isn’t a tournament on.*

I have not been to this type of sumo stable yet, but when I worked in the Ibaraki Board of Education, I had the pleasure of visiting a Agricultural High School with a sumo club.  I was very blessed to have the pleasure of touring many parts of this high school, but the highlight was watching the students of the sumo club in training and practice.  The school is only one of a handful that have such a club. It is not possible for lay people to visit this club without a connection to the school and so I assumed it was the same for the stables in Tokyo. However, I was wrong and in recent years it has become very popular to watch sumo wrestlers training hard during practice.

For my upcoming tours, I have decided on Azumazeki stable in Oshiage as it fits nicely with a day tour of Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree. The stable is run by former wrestler Ushiomaru.  The sumo wrestlers train everyday there is not a tournament, and in the morning between 7 am and 10.30 am they open up the stables for public viewing. If their is a tournament somewhere outside of Tokyo the stables will not be open to the public on the days of those tournaments.  It is free and no reservation is required, however, if you have a group, they request you ring in advance.

They have three principle conditions and some other guidelines to entering the stable: ① you must wear a face mask, ② you must not talk and ③ no flash photography is allowed. And I should mention as it might not be obvious to visitors from outside of Japan: you are not allowed enter the ring nor stand on the markers of the ring. They also request that you turn off your phone and that you don’t bring food or drink into the stable. They do not discourage children, but as they have a rule of no sound, they request you are respectful of that. Finally, they request that you do not drive to the stables as they do not have a parking lot and as it would cause an inconvenience to neighbours.

 

From greenshinto.com

At the end of practice they plant what is called a “gohei”. A gohei is a small wooden staff with the white shinto paper adorning it. In the sumo stable they plant it in a pile of sand in the middle of the ring. They then sprinkle the ring and gohei with salt. This custom is carried out to purify the ring, but also to pray for the safety of the sumo wrestlers.

Information

Address: 4-6-4 Higashikomagata, Sumida, Ward, Tokyo

Phone: 03-3625-0033

Hours: 7 am to 10.30 am

Fee: FREE

Language: JAPANESE ONLY

Other stables: There are about another 40 or so stables you can visit in the area, but a lot of them require that you ring in advance. Arashio Stable does not require you ring in advance and they have an English webpage. However, they no longer allow people inside to watch; you have to watch through windows from outside.

Access

4 minute walk from Honjo-Azumabashi Station on  the Toei Asakusa Line.

11 minute walk from exit B2 of the Oshiage Station.

*If you are planning a trip to Japan in the hope of seeing a Sumo Tournament,  please note that Sumo Tournaments only happen during odd months, i.e the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 11 months of the year. The January, May and September tournaments are in Tokyo. The March tournament is in Osaka, the July tournament is in Aichi and the November tournament is in Fukuoka.

**Featured image is from Azumazeki Beya Stable’s Facebook page**

 

Fave Foto Friday… on a Monday

This is part of Sandy (of Scribbles and Musings) #FavFotoFriday challenge. I am not a photographer, nor am I aspiring to be one. I just like taking photos. The #FavFotoFriday is a WordPress Daily Post approved challenge. It’s simple; pick a favourite photo you took in the last week, share it, pingback to Sandy and use the tag.

 

This photo was taken in the public part of the Imperial Palace Gardens, Sunday November 29th. It has not been edited in anyway. The autumn leaves are stunning and thanks to the blue sky the reflection in the pond is picture perfect.  More to come on the gardens later in the week.

 

This is my 30th post for #NaBloPoMo meaning that I passed the challenge to post every single day during November.  Party over here!

KIMG5529

Farmer’s market at UNU

Day 19 of NaBloPoMo and continuing with a regular feature “Tokyo Thursday”.

On a recent trip to Tokyo to get my hair done in Toni & Guy, Aoyama branch, I had the most wonderful walk through Shibuya. So much to discover on even a short walk through Tokyo Streets. My most alarming find was the UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY. UNU! I had absolutely no idea such a place existed, least of all in the modern Aoyama region of Shibuya. When I got home, I was even more delighted when my research revealed that a farmer’s market is held there EVERY weekend.

United Nations University in Tokyo
United Nations University in Tokyo

Details:
Approximately 70 stalls, every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm at the United Nations University in Shibuya, 3 minute walk from the B2 exit of Omotesando underground. Phone: 03-5459-4934. URL: http://farmersmarkets.jp/ On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/farmersmarket.at.unu/?fref=ts

 

 

There are some great WORDPRESS blog posts in English about the market, with fantastic photos to boot:

There are quite a few posts and details on Stephanie’s blog, however, do note they are from 3 or 4 years ago. https://stephanietsai.wordpress.com/tag/unu-farmers-market/

Here’s a more recent post, in English:
http://curiouslyravenous.com/2015/05/09/farmers-market-at-unu-a-k-a-aoyama-farmers-market/

ANd some other blogs and web posts:
http://foodsaketokyo.com/2014/08/15/aoyama-farmers-market/
https://hiletseat.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/farmers-market-tokyo/

Tokyo Commuter passes

I’m trying out a little feature on my blog, called Tokyo Thursday. As you might guess from the title, I will share something from Tokyo on this day. Timed nicely for my best friend’s sato-gaeri (return visit) to Japan in the coming months.   In case you missed it, last week’s Tokyo Thursday shared information on FREE tourist buses in Tokyo.

I am also using this feature to explore ways of showing Google+ content. As you may or may not know, I am an official Google Local Guide, Level 4 (that’s the top one, yeah me), and I share information with communities on Google+. Recently, I have been using Google Collections, which came out earlier this year, to share online information. Which brings me to this week’s post…

Commuter Passes for Tokyo. There are so many of them, it’s hard not to get confused. I have tried to share some of the more valuable and useful ones on the Google collection shared below. I am also copying in each post, below the collection link, if you’d prefer to read them here rather than on Google+.  🙂 Happy commuting!

https://plus.google.com/collection/sLdvFB

Parks with Waterplay in the Greater Tokyo Area | K-A International Mothers in Japan

My latest contribution to the KA Japan website; kajapan.org. A round of parks where the kidlets can play with water in the Greater Tokyo Area, which includes Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama.

via Parks with Water Play in the Greater Tokyo Area | K-A International Mothers in Japan.

PREVIEW:

Summer has started and the heat is already on! Thankfully, there is a huge selection of parks with water play areas in the Greater Tokyo Area to help us cool down.

Water play includes such things as spray pads, spray pools, paddling pools, wading rivers, splash pools, spray grounds, lazy rivers or other recreational water environments. It does not include swimming or bathing pools.

The Greater Tokyo Area refers to the metropolis of Tokyo and its surrounding highly populated prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama.

Parks with water play are introduced by area, quoted by KA Mother who introduced or recommended them, with some additional information added.

TOKYO

Amy N recommended some wonderful parks with waterplay, suitable to young children:

Hikarigaoka Koen; Exit A3 of “Hikarigaoka (end of Oedo line). Fountain is open year-round! The park itself is huge and has an excellent playground (10 min walk from the fountain). There is a kiosk near the fountain that sells ice cream and other treats.”
URL: http://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/park/format/index023.html
This park was also featured in our cherry blossom viewing round-up article. You will find further information and access details in that article.

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK TO READ MORE: http://kajapan.org/general/parks-with-water-play-in-the-greater-tokyo-area/

Alice in Wonderland theme restaurant, Ginza branch | TOKYO

I was very excited to visit Alice in a Labyrinth, the Ginza branch of the Alice in Wonderland Japan restaurants earlier in the year. I was sorely disappointed. I had a great night, but that was due to the company of wonderful friends and little to do with the quality or atmosphere of the restaurant. The lighting is very dark, the space is very cramped and the food is bordering on awful. However, the presentation of the food, the character dressed staff and the decor are fun and something different and the desserts are the only delicious thing on the menu.

I had hoped that it might be suitable to bring the kids for a fun dining experience, but it is not suited to young children. There is no room for a buggy (stroller), there are no changing facilities and as far as I am aware they don’t have high-chairs. Older primary school and junior high school children might enjoy it though. There is a big tea-cup booth in the main section of the restaurant.  There are a few private booths and the rest are regular tables. I don’t have much else to say, except the website is fairly horrendous too. You can check it out for yourself here;
http://www.alice-restaurant.com/

Here are some photos we took that night;

4-Salad with dressing in a tea cup 3-Cat ice-cream from the front2-Cat ice-cream 1-Alice waiting staff 5-Chesire cat pasta 1-Mouse Ice-cream


Themed restaurants in Tokyo. Tokyo 2020 Olympics

A day out in Tokyo with toddlers: Moomin Cafe and Asobono

 

 

It took us two hours to reach our final destination, Tokyo Dome City, but it was completely worth the wait. First, we went to the Moomin Bakery and Cafe and we escaped having to queue to be seated by opting to have a light snack rather than lunch. Then, we went to Asobono fun centre. We took a break to go across the corridor to the food court and then back for even more play, a free event and a free gift…

It was the kids first time to Tokyo Dome City. I have been a few times, but given the length of the journey I have waited to bring the kids until now. Three year old was well able for the journey, but two-year old was irritable for most of the travelling. I’m glad I left the baby with Baba, because some parts of Kourakuen (aka Tokyo Dome City aka TDC) and the train stations are not buggy friendly. At least with 2 year old I could get her to walk the steps while I carried the buggy down or up them. In spite of a few hitches and tiredness from the travel, they both indubitably and without doubt had a blast!

First stop, Moomin Bakery and Cafe on the first floor of the LaQua building. It was just before 11am and people were already queuing for the lunch menu. I had only planned elevenses and that worked out nicely, because we could be seated straightaway. We chose bread from the bakery and ordered a drink with it as a set. The bread you get yourself, the drink is delivered. It was quite costly given what it was, but it was worth it to have a life-size Moomin character teddy sit with us and for the fun character bread we could choose. The kids were also impressed with my character Latte.

The character that sat with us was Sniff. The kids don’t even watch Moomin, but they are familiar with the characters. They were just happy to have a visitor at our table! They also enjoyed reading the books that you can borrow while dining.

Sniff joins us for lunch Moomin books

After the cafe we went to Asobono, a mega play centre in the heart of TDC. As luck had it, they had a special discount available if you signed up for a TDC member card. So I did! We got an all day “free pass” for 1,200 yen per child instead of the usual 1,500 yen. The adult flat rate of 900 was also discounted by a 100 yen. For children older than two the free pass is probably better value than the hourly rate. An hourly rate is 900 yen regardless of age and 400 yen for every half hour you stay over. You have to be aware of the time you are supposed to leave with an hourly rate too, they don’t tell you when your time is up, but will charge you for any additional time you spend. My kids played for 4 hours and would have played for longer if we didn’t have a train to catch.1 Map of play areas in Asobono

When you pay for a daily “free pass” you can come and go with your children as you please, so long as you let the front desk know. We took a small break for lunch. I had intended to bring the kids to the Baseball cafe, but I knew they just wanted something quick to eat and go back to play asap. So we just slipped across to the food court, very conveniently located to the play centre. We were back in time for a mini-event, when the staff did some exercises and songs with the kids. At the end of it, they gave each child a kyoryu poster, much to the delight of my kids who are big fans of the TV programme. It was a struggle to get the kids leave before it was dark and before the trains were too packed. I think I bribed them, I actually can’t remember; I was fairly beat from all the play myself!

I would recommend Asobono in a heartbeat and Moomin Cafe if you aren’t on a budget or a time frame. There is too much to say about Asobono, so hopefully a few photos will suffice…

 

Market area   Wooden food toysMore wooden food toys

Kitchen areaPlay houseDolls

Sylvanian familyBouncing CastleBuilding area

Two player games

Fishing

Slide into ball pool Climbing in ball pool

Moomin Bakery and Cafe opens from 8 am to 10.30 pm.

URL: http://benelic.com/moomin_cafe/

Asobono opens from 10 am on weekdays, 9.30 am on weekends and closes at 6 pm on weekdays, 7 pm on weekends.

URL: http://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/asobono/

If you are looking for some other things to do in Tokyo with children:

Places to bring children to visit animals in Tokyo | GREATER TOKYO AREA

2017 version. This is a master list of the zoos, farms, aquariums and other places with animals in the Tokyo area that are suited to children. You will also find a handful of locations that are act…

Source: insaitama.com/places-to-go-in-tokyo-with-children-animals/