Tokyo Stroll: Goshuin Collecting #9―Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku, an Oasis in Central Tokyo

17.October.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

In the Tokyo Stroll series, we take you on a trip to various locations around Japan’s capital. One of the frequent locations are shrines where our navigator Ellie adds to her goshuin collection.

 

Today, Ellie visits Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku which is famous as the place where the Tori no Ichi Festival is held, an open-air market that takes place every November.

 

 

The closest station to Hanazono Shrine is Shinjuku-Sanchome Station. The shrine is within mere seconds’ walking distance from the station’s E2 exit. An alternative route is from Shinjuku Station from which it is just a 7-minute walk. The shrine is smack in the middle of Shinjuku and near the Shinjuku City Office and Shinjuku Golden Gai.

 

 

Hanazono Shrine has been the tutelary shrine of Shinjuku since Tokugawa Ieyasu and the shogunate ushered in the Edo Period. It was originally located where Isetan Shinjuku stands today but was moved in the early years of the Edo Period to part of the garden belonging to the suburban residence of the daimyo of the Tokugawa Gosanke. It is there that many flowers bloomed into a beautiful flower garden which is where the shrine’s name originates – Hanazono Jinja (“Flower Garden Shrine”). Since then it became a place where many come to gather and worship the shrine as the protector and flourisher of Shinjuku.

 

 

Before heading to the main shrine to pray be sure to cleanse yourself beforehand at the chozuya (also known as temizuya). Firstly, take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up plenty of water, and rinse your left hand.

 

 

Next, switch hands. Hold the ladle with your left hand and rinse your right.

 

 

Then take the ladle with your right hand once more, pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth. Never bring the ladle directly to your mouth, and do not swallow the water or spit it back into the basin. There will be an area below the basin, like a bed of rocks, where you can spit the water out.

 

 

After rinsing your left hand one more time, use the pour remaining water to cleanse the handle of the ladle before returning it for the next person to use.

 

 

Uga-no-Mitama-no-kami, Yamato Takeru and Uke Mochi are those enshrined at Hanazono Shrine. Uga-no-Mitama-no-kami is associated with food and agriculture while Uke Mochi is the goddess of food. Yamato Takeru is associated with success, fortune, and family and company prosperity amongst other things. The famous Tori no Ichi Festival held at the shine every year takes place in November – the death anniversary of Yamato Takeru.

 

 

After placing a donation into the offertory, it’s time to pray. The rule is: two bows, two claps, one bow. Straighten your posture and begin by bowing twice.

 

 

Clap twice, pray, and bow one final time to finish.

 

 

You’ll also find the Geino Asama Shrine in the shrine grounds where Konohanasakuya-hime is enshrined. Since the Edo Period it has had deep ties with those in the entertainment industry such as actors and dancers so it is famous for receiving many offerings from those associated with the business including plays and songs. A tanka poem by Keiko Fuji, the mother of internationally acclaimed Japanese singer Hikaru Utada, is even placed beside the shrine.

 

 

There’s also another subordinate shrine called the Itoku Inari Shrine. It’s very popular with Japanese women for its associations with harmonious marriage, child-bearing and romantic realisation. There are red torii gates leading to the shrine which were given as an offering. When you walk through them feels like you’re stepping foot through the tunnel of the spirit world.

 

 

After praying Ellie went to collect her goshuin which cost just ¥300.

 

 

The goshuin is simple, reading the date on which Ellie visited and kanji reading “Shinjuku’s Tutelary Hanazono Shrine.” The plum blossom design is very typical of Hanazono Shrine. The Tori no Ichi goshuin also includes the Bird Day.

 

 

The Tori no Ichi Festival has continued since the Meiji Period and takes place of the days of the Rooster. This year it will take place on October 31, November 1, November 12, November 13, November 24 and November 25. The loud voices of thriving stalls at the market is a familiar and nostalgic sound of a town ready to welcome December. It’s a completely different atmosphere from the usual Hanazono Shrine. It flows with a mutual energy, so try visiting there yourself.

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  • Tokyo Stroll: Goshuin Collecting #8―Azabu Hikawa Shrine, the Sailor Moon Holy Ground

    25.July.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    In the Tokyo Stroll series, we take you on a trip to various locations around Japan’s capital. One of the frequent locations are shrines where our navigator Ellie adds to her goshuin collection.

     

    In this entry, Ellie visits Azabu Hikawa Shrine which is located in the district of Azabu-Juban known for being referenced many times in the Sailor Moon series.

    Azabu-Juban station is the closest station to the shrine. Naoko Takeuchi, the author of Sailor Moon, actually lived in Azabu-Juban when the series was being serialised in Nakayoshi from 1991 to 1997. The shrine was used as a model for Hikawa Shrine where Rei, or Sailor Mars, worked as a shrine maiden. The shrine can be found just a 10-minute walk from the station past the rich residential area where the embassy is. It’s enveloped in a bright green oasis of trees.

    The main shrine is a vivid vermilion. Enshrined there are the deities Susanoo-no-Mikoto―the young brother of Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun and the universe―and Yamato Takeru no Mikoto. The shrine is seen as lucky for many reasons. People pray there for increased luck, business prosperity, warding off evil, better fortune, success in life, wealth, safe childbirth, protection against misfortune, academic achievement, exam success, family safety, marriage, national security, and more. When Ellie visited the shrine was decorated for Sendai tanabata.

    There are many Inari shrines in Japan which are erected to worship the god Inari. There is one here too as pictured above. It was originally located at a nearby daimyo residence for the Sendai domaign Date clan during the Edo Period but was relocated to Azabu Hikawa Shrine at the beginning of the Showa Period.

    For this reason it has strong ties with Sendai, hence the tanabata decorations, which will be there until August 8.

    It was time for Ellie to head to the chozuya (also known as temizuya) to cleanse herself before praying which is part of shrine etiquette. Take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up plenty of water, and rinse your left hand first.

    Next, switch hands. Hold the ladle with your left hand and rinse your right.

    Then take the ladle with your right hand once more, pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth. Never bring the ladle directly to your mouth, and do not swallow the water or spit it back into the basin. There will be an area below the basin, like a bed of rocks, where you can spit the water out.

    After rinsing your left hand one more time, pour out any remaining water into the rocks (never back into the basin), and return the ladle.

    Having cleansed herself, Ellie headed to the main shrine.

    When praying, remember this: two bows, two claps, one bow. Straighten your posture and begin with two bows.

    Clap twice, pray, and bow one final time to finish.

    It’s time for the main event. Getting that goshuin! It costs just ¥300.

    This goshuin includes a stamp of Azabu Hikawa Shrine as well as blue and pink Sendai tanabata decorations. It’s a very colourful goshuin and is only available for a limited period of time.

    Not only is Azabu Hikawa Shrine loved by locals as a place of worship, but because of its Sailor Moon references. Fans flock to the shrine, as do the staff of the ongoing Sailor Moon musical.

     

    The number of people visiting the shrine from Japan and overseas is increasing. If you’re in Tokyo, make a trip to this iconic spot.

     

    ■Information

    Azabu Hikawa Shrine

    Address: 1-4-23 Motoazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
    Time: Shop 9:00am-5:00pm / Shrine 9:00am-4:30pm

    TEL: 03-3446-8796

    Access: 8-minutes on foot from Azabu-Juban Station via the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line or Toei Oedo Line

    Website: http://www.azabuhikawa.or.jp

     

    Outfit

    HEART HIT HAT:¥8,000 One-piece Dress:¥16,000

    *all prices include tax (Aymmy in the batty girls)

  • Tokyo Stroll: Goshuin Collecting #7―Increasing Romantic Luck at Imado Shrine in Asakusa

    06.June.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    In the Tokyo Stroll series, we take you on a trip to various locations around Japan’s capital. One of the frequent locations are shrines. In this entry, navigator Ellie takes a stroll to Imado Shrine in the Imado area of Asakusa where the first maneki-neko, or waving cat was created during the Edo Period. The shine is said to be the birthplace of the maneki-neko.

    浅草 今戸神社 鳥居 東京さんぽ

    The closest station to Imado Shrine is Asakusa Station. It’s about a 15 minute walk from there, but you can reach it quicker on the Megurin Bus for just ¥100.

    浅草 今戸神社 外観 東京さんぽ

    Emperor Ōjin is enshrined at Imado Shrine, as is Izanagi and Izanami, who are the central deities in Japan’s creation myth and the country’s first husband and wife deities. As such, the shrine is popular as a ‘power spot’ for successful marriage. The god of wealth and longevity and one of Asakusa’s Seven Lucky Gods, Fukurokuju, is also enshrined here. The shrine is also recognised as one of Tokyo’s 8 Shitamachi shrines that people make a pilgrimage to.

    浅草 今戸神社 手水舎 東京さんぽ

    As always, when arriving at a shrine, wash your hands at the chozuya water purification basin before heading to the main shrine. Take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up plenty of water, and rinse your left hand first.

    浅草 今戸神社 手水舎 東京さんぽ 2

    Next, switch hands. Hold the ladle with your left hand and rinse your right.

    浅草 今戸神社 手水舎 東京さんぽ 口を清める

    Then take the ladle with your right hand once more, pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth. Never bring the ladle directly to your mouth, and do not swallow the water or spit it back into the basin. There will be an area below the basin, like a bed of rocks, where you can spit the water out.

    浅草 今戸神社 手水舎 東京さんぽ 柄杓

    After rinsing your left hand one more time, pour out any remaining water into the rocks like the motion pictured above, and return the ladle.

    浅草 今戸神社 参拝 東京さんぽ 2

    Once you’ve finished purifying yourself at the chomizuya, it’s time to head to the main shrine. When praying, remember this: two bows, two claps, one bow. Straighten your posture and begin with two bows.

    浅草 今戸神社 参拝 東京さんぽ

    Clap twice and bow one final time.

    浅草 今戸神社 招き猫

    Decorating the main shrine are waving cats the size of children! Their names are Nagi-chan and Nami-chan, a reference to Izanagi and Izanami. The patterned cat on the left is Nagi-chan, the male, and on the right Nami-chan, the female.

    浅草 今戸神社  石のなで猫 東京さんぽ

    There are also stone cats sat by the shrine. There’s a rumour that if you set a photo of these cats to your phone’s wallpaper you’ll find a good matching partner for yourself! Generally, it’s said that waving cats with their right paw raised are for good financial luck while cats with their left paw in the air are beckoning humans. Nagi-chan and Nami-chan have their right paws raised. At Imado Shrine, it’s thought that it’s easier to call someone over with your dominant hand, and that people and money are interlinked, so even though they have their right paws up these waving cats are good for finding a match.

    浅草 今戸神社 東京さんぽ

    There are cats scattered all over the shrine grounds, so you’re sure to feel your heart warmed and healed simply by walking around.

    浅草 今戸神社 絵馬 招き猫 東京さんぽ浅草 今戸神社 招き猫 絵馬 東京さんぽ

    The ema wooden plaques are an eye-catching sight around the grounds, packed together tightly around the sacred tree and around the chomizuya. Round-shaped ema aren’t seen very often, they are normally a square shape with a tip at the top. Ema are used for writing on your prayers and wishes. ‘Round’ in Japanese is en (円) which is a homophone also meaning ‘destiny’ (縁). The round-shaped ema originate from the idea of a sense of harmony and peace in life with nothing sticking out, i.e. a circle has no edges. To ensure your destiny, when you pray, write on the ema with a red string illustration around it, and when your prayer is fulfilled, write on the one with the kimono.

    浅草 今戸神社 社務所 東京さんぽ

    Once your prayers are all done, it’s time to head to the confer area. They have many things on display, including ema, waving cats, lucky charms and more.

    浅草 今戸神社 御朱印 東京さんぽ

    Ellie gets herself a goshuin stamp for ¥300.

    浅草 今戸神社 御朱印 エリー 東京さんぽ浅草 今戸神社 御朱印帳 東京さんぽ

    The goshuin stamp at Imado Shrine is waving cats and Fukurokuju.

    浅草 今戸神社 御朱印帳 招き猫 東京さんぽ

    They sell original goshuincho stamp books at the shrine with waving cat designs. There’s pink, blue and navy and they’re all very cute. If you’re thinking of starting to collect goshuin at shrines and temples around Japan then you should definitely visit Imado Shrine first.

    浅草 今戸神社 お守り 東京さんぽ

    There’s several different omamori charms too, including the regular designs as well as round designs. Just like the ema, the round designs are made to represent no ‘edges’ in your life, just harmony. They’re all ¥800 and each have the same effect. The pink one is limited-edition and has hearts embroidered on the front and back♡ The limited-edition designs change on a whim which many people look forward to.

    浅草 今戸神社 沖田総司 東京さんぽ

    Imado Shrine is also said to be the place where sword master Souji Okita met his fate, so if you’re a history buff be sure to check out the gravestone.

     

    Imado Shrine is a must-visit while sightseeing in Asakusa. It has a happy aura to it thanks to the clowder of waving cats around. You can also see Tokyo Skytree from the grounds.

     

    ■Information

    Imado Shrine

    Address: 1-5-22 Imado, Taito, Tokyo

    Opening Hours: 9am-5pm

    TEL: 03-3872-2703
    Access: 15-minutes on foot from Asakusa Station / 5-minutes on foot from Asakusa 7-Chome bus stop (浅草七丁目) via Toei Bus / 1-minute on foot from ‘Riverside Sports Center’ bus stop (リバーサイドスポーツセンター前) via Kita Megurin Bus in Taito

    Website: http://imadojinja1063.crayonsite.net

     

    Outfit

    SODA SMILE T-shirt:¥8,000 FOUNTAIN  SERVICE Cap:¥4,000

    POP COLOR Skirt:¥12,500

    *all prices include tax (Aymmy in the batty girls)

     

    Model: Ellie

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Writer: Sayoko Ishii

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Tokyo Stroll: Learn the Manners & Etiquette of Worshipping at Onden Shrine – The Site of Marriage & Beauty Blessings

    14.March.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    In this featured series, we introduce you to ‘power spots’ and goshuin at shrines on the outskirts of Tokyo. Today, we’ll take a look at Onden Shrine, one of the locations where “MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 in SHIBUYA” will take place, Japan’s biggest inbound event set to hit Shibuya and Harajuku on March 24th and 25th. Ellie visited the shrine to learn about the manners and etiquette behind praying at shrines in Japan.

     

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    The Waterwheel at Onden (Katsushika Hokusai, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, Reproduction)

     

    Onden Shrine is located just a 10-minute walk from both Shibuya Station and Harajuku Station via the JR Yamanote Line or 7-minutes from Meiji-Jingumae Station via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. It has been enshrined in Harajuku for more than 400 years where it has watched over the area. The area around Onden has a long history. In the Edo Period, the flowing Onden River was used for rice cultivation. This historical background is depicted together with Mount Fuji in Katsushika Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Deities enshrined at Onden Shrine include Omodaru no Kami and Ayakashikone no Kami. These deities give blessings for marriage ties between husband and wife, as well as in blessing and improved skill in art. The picture above is of Mutsuko Funada who lectured Ellie on the manners and etiquette of worship. You too can use this opportunity to learn together with Ellie.

     

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    Shrines are sacred places. Upon visiting one, be sure to bow once at the torii gate. Keep in mind that the center of the path up to a shrine is where the gods walk, so it’s  best to walk at the edge of the path rather than directly down the middle.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Next, you must cleanse yourself at the temizuya, or “water purification basin.” Take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up some water, and rinse your left hand.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Do the same again but this time switch hands – hold the ladle with your left and rinse your right hand.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Take the ladle again in your right hand, pour some water in your left hand and rinse your mouth. It’s best not to show your mouth as you do this.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Lastly, tip the ladle to drain the water. Don’t scoop water from the basin multiple times – use just one scoop of water for the entire cleansing.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    手水舎で身を清めたら、いよいよ参拝です。社殿の前で軽く一礼しましょう。お賽銭を入れて鈴を鳴らして、神様にお参りに来たことをご奉告します。そして、社殿に向かって二礼、二拍手、一礼をします。

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

     

     

     

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Red and white plum blossoms dotted the surroundings of the shrine. We recommend taking photos in a photogenic area like this for your social media.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    It’s common at shrines to see komainu. They take on the form of an imaginary lion-dog-like animal, and it’s said that the shape of their mouth makes express the sacred ‘om’ sound. The one with its mouth opened is called Agyou and the one with its mouth closed is called Ungyou. Be sure to check them out when you visit a shrine.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    There is also an Inari shrine at the grounds which is home to the deity of agriculture, industrial manufacturing and commerce, so be sure to pray to them all collectively.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Today’s main mission was also a success – Ellie managed to collect her ‘goshuin’ shrine stamps! She received one for each shrine – the Inari shrine stamp is on the left and the Onden Shrine stamp is on the right. Both cost \300.

     

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    Onden Shrine is a site for blessings in things like marriage and beauty. It offers a lot of keywords particularly favoured by girls, so it’s definitely one to visit. There’s a range of good-luck charms for sale at the shrine, including one for marriage that’s inspired by the blooming plum blossoms in the shrine grounds, one for beauty and more, so if you’re interested you should definitely check them out. We will be holding an event called “MOSHI MOSHI ENNICHI” at “MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 in SHIBUYA.” You can look forward all sorts of stalls like you’d see at a Japanese festival lined with lots of food, activities like yo-yo fishing and more! There will also be a stage where you can witness a Japanese ‘taiko’ drum performance, and there will also be a character DJ festival where DJs will dress up and perform. The bustling atmosphere of a Japanese festival is perfect to enjoy on dates, please be sure to drop by.

     

    ■Information

    Onden Shrine

    Address: 5-26-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-3407-7036

    Access: 10-minutes on foot from “Shibuya Station” or “Harajuku Station” via the JR Yamanote Line / 7-minutes on foot from “Meiji-Jingumae Station” via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line

    URL:http://www.ohmiya-hachimangu.or.jp/

     

    Outfit: Aymmy in the batty girls

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  • Sanrio to Open Official My Melody Shops in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya to Celebrate Character’s 45th Anniversary

    11.February.2020 | FASHION

    Sanrio has announced that it is opening an official My Melody store to commemorate the popular character’s 45th anniversary this year. It will open for a limited time on the first floor of Takashimaya Shinjuku in Tokyo from February 12 to 25.

    The store is a must-visit for fans of Sanrio’s kawaii white rabbit where they can get their hands on a huge assortment of merchandise, including exclusives, so adorable you’ll want to add everything to your collection.

    The line-up looks back at My Melody’s 45 years in the business. The first 4,000 people to visit the store will be given a limited-edition shopping back, and the first 1,000 people who spend over ¥2,000 (tax included) will receive a free card.
    *One card per person, per transaction

    The store will also feature interactive projection mapping showcasing My Melody’s 45-year history which when touched reacts. On February 15, the designer for the store will be drawing illustrations as well as doing signings for people.

     

    As well as Takashimaya Shinjuku, the shop is set to hit Nagoya’s Takashimaya Gate Tower Mall Nagoya and Osaka Takashiyama. Check the dates below, and help My Melody commemorate her 45th anniversary!

     

    ©’76, ’20 SANRIO 著作(株)サンリオ

  • Enjoy a Succulent Grilled Lamb Yakiniku Experience in Kabukicho, Shinjuku

    26.December.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD

    On December 18, yakiniku restaurant LAMB ONE, which specialises in succulent matured lamb, opened in Kabukicho, Shinjuku. The restaurant provides the perfect opportunity for guests to grill their own light and healthy meal with friends and family. The high-quality meat is low in calories and high in protein. Each seat is at a counter and there are even single grill seats for the perfect dinner treat alone. 

    The restaurant offers Japanese-style set meals which include meat, fried vegetables, rice, soup and kimchi . Some of the more basic set meals include the shio koji marinated lamb shoulder roast and the sesame miso lamb shoulder roast. For customers who are really looking for a luxury treat, there is a set that includes three different kinds of matured lamb and a set that includes Spring Lamb Chop Steak where you can enjoy both the shio koji and sesame miso marinades. You can swap your fried vegetables for caesar salad or your white rice for mixed grain rice. Just seeing this beautiful and balanced meal before your eyes will leave you feeling satisfied. After your meal, enjoy the small warabimochi dessert. 

    When most people think of a yakiniku restaurant, the general impression is a large number of friends gathering together, merrily tucking in to meat and sides while the table fills with empty beer glasses. LAMB ONE, however, is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious Japanese-style meal in your own way without being disturbed by others. If you’re travelling around Tokyo, this would be the perfect hearty dinner to finish your day. 

  • Winners Announced For 4th Gemstone Animation Creator Contest

    12.December.2019 | ANIME&GAME

    GEMSTONE is an audition project created by TOHO CO., LTD. and ALPHABOAT which seeks to find the best creators. The 4th GEMSTONE project was announced in August and sought submissions of short animations themed on Shinjuku.

     

    The judge line-up for the contest included anime film and television director Kobun Shizuno, who worked on the Detective Conan film series from 2011-17 as well as the Godzilla CG kaiju film series from 2017-18. It also included animator Yasuhiro Kimura who worked on Three Leaves, Three Colors and the Golden Wind arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. After several months of submissions and judging, the winners and their prizes have finally been announced.

    “GEMSTONE” refers to the talent selected by TOHO and ALPHABOAT for the audition project, which ranges from animators to illustrators, composers, singers, actors, and so on. The two companies will help open doors to winners’ career paths.

     

    The first competition was themed on Godzilla, and asked for video or illustration submissions. The theme of the second was “With Japan!” and requested submissions for an original character, and the third asked for video submissions to promote Nisio Isin’s 100th story Veiled Man Kasetsu.

     

    Let’s take a look at the winners of Gemstone Creators Audution Vol. 4.

    First Place Prize – 1 Million Yen

    Title: kaijushojo / Creator: Yosuke Tani

    Story: A spirit resides in Shinjuku. A girl in the city challenges herself to battle with the spirit.

     

    Judge Comments

    Kobun Shizuno said: “It’s visually stunning. For someone like me, who was raised in Shinjuku, I felt I wanted the theme in the much more at points, but when I considered that this had to be made in such a short time frame, it’s incredible. If he’s making these by himself, he’s got a bright future ahead of him. I think all the praise from everyone comes from the overwhelming quality of the visuals.”

     

    Yasuhiro Kimura said: “It has the highest level of quality out of all the submissions. I chose this one for both that and how interesting it was to watch. It was so much fun watching the characters’ animation. I felt it was a work with a high level of completion and of satisfaction.”

    Runner-Up Prize – 700,000 Yen

    Title: Dramatic / Creator: 作田綾乃

    Story: A lone street musician singing in Shinjuku whose voice reaches somebody.

     

    Judge Comments

    Kobun Shizuno said: “This wasn’t made by just one person, but the overall package is woven together incredibly skilfully. I personally feel this work surpasses all the rest. In terms of the visual quality, there’s a lot that could be cleaned up and there are many points still to be learned, but the drama is on point with music as the core focus. The development is solid throughout, and I admire how well put together everything us right to the end.”

     

    Yasuhiro Kimura said: “I have to give credit to them having created an animation centred around an original song at just 19 years-old. Amongst all the other many works which all used Shinjuku as the location, it feels like a realistic piece of drama which covers musicians visiting Tokyo. And even though it’s 5-minutes long, it by no means felt long; it was a seamless watch.”

    Runner-Up Prize – 300,000 Yen

    Title: tellphone / Creator: 亀井樹

    Story: Where’s my lost smartphone? “The ending of a story is a beginning.”

     

    Judge Comments

    Kobun Shizuno said: “I was impressed by the amazing quality of the visuals, but the structure of the story lost me. We see the characters line up, and you think something interesting is about to unfold, but the older brother’s cheeks turn red and that’s the end. It was a weak conclusion. If they did away with the part in the middle and made the ending stronger, I think it would have been an incredible piece of work worthy of being higher up in the list.”

     

    Yasuhiro Kimura said: “I liked the concept of this one the most. The joke about finding a lost smartphone with location information was amusing. It was very relevant of the current times. But the disappointing part was when we meet the shopkeeper at the end, and then it just ends. I wanted to see what unfolded after we met them too. Since they went ahead and included something that can track something’s location, it would have been even more interesting if they’d tied in locations in Shinjuku and developed the story more.”

     

    Judges’ Overall Comments On The Competition

    Kobun Shizuno said:

    “I was so surprised at the level of quality in the submissions, as people had such a short amount of time to create their works when the submissions opened.”

     

    Yasuhiro Kimura said: “It was really refreshing and a lot of fun to get to see the works of such a young generation.”

     

    Kazutaka Yamanaka, producer at TOHO, praised the line-up of works as wonderful considering the short time they were given. He felt however that the dramatic elements of most works could have been enrichened had they added a little more references to Shinjuku in them, like including people of different races walking the streets, or the low-lying parts of Shinjuku.

     

    The winning submissions and worthy mentions can all be watched over on the official GEMSTONE YouTube channel here.

     

    © TOHO CO., LTD.

  • Seven Days War Anime Film Release Promoted With Themed Cafe in Shinjuku

    10.December.2019 | ANIME&GAME / FOOD / MOVIE

    To celebrate the December 13th release of the upcoming anime film Seven Days War, a themed cafe will open at EJ Anime Theater in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The cafe will collaborate with popular creator Pantovisco who has over 680,000 followers across his social media.

    The collaboration was born from Pantovisco’s being able to relate to the theme of Seven Days War which focuses on the heart of today’s youth.

    The cute menu line-up features Seven Days War-inspired food and desserts with Perochi and his friends joining in with the fun.

    There’s also a drinks menu with a line-up of colourful beverages and lattes which you can get various latte art drawings on.

    And for every food item ordered on the collaboration menu, you’ll receive an original sticker selected randomly from several designs.

    And if you order a drink, you’ll get a special card introducing various characters from both Seven Days War and the world of Pantovisco.

     

    ©2019 Osamu Souda・KADOKAWA / Seven Days War Production Committee

    ©Pantovisco

  • Shonen Jump Izakaya: Dine Like a Hero in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho District

    26.November.2019 | ANIME&GAME / FOOD

    Otona no Jump Sakaba (“Grown-Up’s Jump Bar”) is an izakaya-style eatery which opened in the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beloved manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump.

     

    Every week, kids and adults alike anticipate the release of their favourite manga series in the serialised magazine. The adults who grew up with the classic series get to eat like a hero at the bar, with meals and decorations inspired by various series including Dragon BallKinnikumanFist of the North StarSaint Seiya: Knights of the ZodiacSakigake!! OtokojukuRokudenashi Blues, City Hunter, and more.

     

    The bar has now announced its plans for an end-of-year party, with tickets going on sale on December 2, 2019 for the first 1,000 people who sign up.

    The New Year party plan comes with a choice of two different small pot meals.

    Fans can also get their hands on a 2020 schedule book featuring designs of the series characters for different celebratory days throughout next year. This is the only chance to get this exclusive item.

    ©Yude Tamago/Shueisha ©Akira Miyashita/Shueisha ©Tsukasa Hojo/NSP 1985 ©Masami Kurumada/Shueisha ©Bird Studio/Shueisha ©Buronson・Tetsuo Hara/NSP 1983 ©Masanori Morita/Shueisha ©Ryūji Tsugihara/NSP 1982 ©Koichi Endo/Shueisha ©Masaya Tokuhiro/Shueisha

    Inside the bar you’ll find wall posters, giant figurines, treasured items of manga artists, and more. You can even read actual Jump manga from the 80s.

    ©Bird Studio/Shueisha ©Buronson・Tetsuo Hara/NSP 1983

    As well as the above-mentioned New Year meals, there are lots of dishes inspired by various Jump series too. Those who purchase one of these Jump meals will receive a free exclusive sticker.

  • Sanrio Characters Get Together for the Last EGG&SPUMA Collaboration Cafe in Tokyo

    12.November.2019 | FOOD / SPOT

    Sanrio is collaborating with EGG & SPUMA cafe which is located on the 8th floor of the shopping centre Lumine EST Shinjuku. The Sanrio Characters Cafe is set to open on November 15 and will remain open for a limited time only.

    This will be the last time that Sanrio will collaborate with EGG & SPUMA and to really make it special, the menu is grander and packed with even more of your favourite Sanrio Characters. If you are a Sanrio fan, you definitely won’t be able to resist the adorable atmosphere.

    From dinner to dessert to drinks, the menu will leave you spoilt for choice. If you’re looking for something to fill you up, then the Pompompurin Cheese Burger is for you. Pompompurin sits on the plate in burger form wearing a cute beret. Kiki and Lala’s themed dish is a tower of soufflé pancakes made to resemble a cute tree, and My Melody’s dish is a Melty Strawberry Soufflé Pancake garnished with a pink ribbon. 

    Of course, EGG & SPUMA Collaboration Cafe will be whisking up their highly popular Tea Party Set again but this time, the Sanrio presence is very intense.

    The special Sanrio-style Tea Party Set is a grand three-tier course full of intricate design. The fun feast on the first tier features a colourful jelly treat which takes on the appearance of a capsule toy machine, and playful pup Pochacco in the form of a panna cotta dessert. The second tier serves up EGG&SPUMA’s popular soufflé pancakes covered in an irresistible berry sauce. The third tier will treat you to a ribbon-shaped strawberry milk crêpe and mini chocolate cakes with My Melody and Kuromi playing on top.

    Order from the collaboration menu to receive a cafe-limited drink coaster. 

    *There are eight possible designs. Each customer will receive one coaster upon their order and they are unable to choose the design they receive.

     

    Make sure to stop by for a top up on your kawaii levels!

  • Tokyo Stroll: The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone #12 – ‘J-COOK’ in Gaiemmae

    08.November.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    In this edition of The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone, I visited J-COOK in Gaiemmae, a place I visited one time while off work which ended up in me wanting to absolutely feature it in the series!

    It’s just a 5-minute stroll from Gaiemmae Station.

    The cafe enjoys lots of sunlight, which is brightened further by all the plants scattered through the shop. The cafes I have visited to date are often a little darker with only a little light seeping through the windows to create a certain atmosphere, and they are wonderful, but this was the first I have ever visited with so might light and so many plants. The air felt clear, adding to the level of comfort in the cafe, perhaps because there are so many plants adorning the interior.

    The cafe also has a space with a slightly more darker light and atmosphere on the left side. I haven’t sat in that area yet, so I think I’ll try it out on my next visit.

    When I come to J-COOK, my eyes always wander over to the marzipan creations (¥450).

    These ones here were actually all individually handmade by the owner’s husband from the early morning.

    If you look really closely, you’ll notice all the dog designs are different. When ordering, get to pick out which one you want, so try finding your perfect pup!

    I had mine together with an iced coffee (¥450). The sweet marzipan is a delicious combination with the bitterness of the coffee.

    I also got some potted cream (¥450). It’s kind of like a Japanese custard pudding with just a moderate amount of sweetness.

    I had mine with a bit of brandy which had fragrant vanilla notes. They’ve had this brandy for 33 years since the store first opened.

    The cream was sensational, and the gentle notes linger afterwards.

    They have a lot of different homemade soups too which are perfect for the coming cold weather. I got the New Orleans-style gumbo soup. It’s spicy with clam and okra in it.

    Relaxing jazz music plays in the cafe while you sit and enjoy your drink and meal.

    J-COOK is a wonderful little cafe run by a husband and wife. When I first came, the wife came and talked to me. She’s super friendly, and although it was our first meeting, she made me feel really comfortable and welcome. She must be full of happiness, which in turn naturally gives people who visit the strength to be positive and work hard.

     

    I reckon their smiles have saved a lot of people.

     

    I can’t wait to visit again!

     

    Writer/Model: Ema Tanioku

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Design: Yuko Abe (ASOBISYSTEM)

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Vote at Shinjuku Station For Meiji’s Best Chocolate Snack in the 2019 National Election

    06.November.2019 | FOOD / SPOT

    The 2019 National Election for Meiji’s long-selling chocolate brands Kinoko no Yama and Takenoko no Sato is running up until December 2, with Jun Matsumoto and Akihiro Miwa representing each snack respectively, where the people of Japan can vote for their favourite of the two.

     

    The final promotional campaign for the election will take place at Shinjuku Station’s Metro Promenade where there will be digital posters of both candidates and a chance for people to cast their votes. It will run for three days from November 8 to 10.

    Visitors at the event are able to become part of the digitised poster to help support their favoured snack alongside the leader of the New Kinoko Party Jun Matsumoto, or Akihiro Miwa, the leader of the New Takenoko Party, as well as cast their votes.

    Those who participate in the poster voting will receive a box each of the snacks and stickers of the elected leaders. Only 330 will be given out per day. Those who post a picture of themselves at the event on social media will also receive the first-ever Kinoko no Yama and Takenoko no Sato packaging covers. The Kinoko no Yama cover will feature Shinjuku Alta while the Takenoko no Sato cover will feature Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower.

    To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Takenoko no Sato, the all-new Double Nuts Cake flavour will be available for a limited time.

  • BEAMS fennica to Release Gorgeous Collection in Collaboration With Ainu Crafts

    06.October.2019 | FASHION

    fennica is a fashion label associated with BEAMS that combines traditional Japanese handicraft with new and old designs collected from Northern Europe. The label has announced that it will collaborate with the Akan Tourism Association (法人阿寒観光協会まちづくり推進機構) non-profit organisation to release an all-new collection that incorporates traditional Ainu crafts.

    Terry Ellisーthe London-based director of fennicaーand Keiko Kitamura observed Ainu culture in the Lake Akan area in Kushiro, Hokkaido, and have used the creative beauty of young craftsmen and craftswomen who are in charge of next-generation Ainu culture. Overtime they have worked together with the artisans to create an original collection entitled “Ainu Crafts from Lake Akan: Tradition and Innovation” which will be sold on the fifth floor of the Shinjuku branch of BEAMS Japan in the fennica studio and B Gallery from October 12.

    The collection incorporates silver jewellery with Ainu patterns, wood-carved cutlery, hamper bags made with traditional materials, and many other lifestyle items familiar to Ainu culture. During the showcasing, there will be other exhibitions related to Ainu in the gallery, as well as talks, live performances, and more.

     

    A special webpage went live on October 1 talking about this collaboration.

    The collection’s director Terry Ellis commented: “When I was walking around Takiguchi’s store Ichigen No Mise, my attention focused on this cutlery. I felt the folklore in its simplicity. Though it’s an item to be used, the craftsmanship is incredible. You can’t just stop at one, you want to collect more and decorate with them.” *Translated from Japanese

     

    Keiko Kitamura, also a director for the collection, commented: “Akan is a rare kind of place, with mountains, rivers, lakes and forests. It has its own shapes and colours because of the light, colours and sounds which change intensely with time and soak into your body. And Ainu art is distinct from the traditional craftsmanship of other countries and regions because in almost all categories you can still produce it even today. There are [Ainu] people who are still continuing to make art for their family to this day. Their still being here is something valuable.”

     

    She continues: “Japan’s handiwork is in danger of vanishing across all areas of the country. Even if there are no successors, there are people who have been beside them watching, and people who were once involved in the past. So we may barely just make it. Because if this handiwork comes to a stop, it will be no more. We feel a sense of duty to protect this wonderful work.”

  • New York-Style Cafe & Restaurant Sarabeth’s Celebrates 7 Years in Japan With Special Event in Shinjuku

    04.October.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD

    It has been seven years since Sarabeth Levine took her New York-based cafe and restaurant Sarabeth’s to Japan back in 2012. To celebrate, the establishment will hold a special one-night event with a commemorative menu.

    “Fermented Foods” is the theme of the event, which will see an incredible line-up of premium dishes. There will also be a talk by Sarabeth Levine herself who will be in attendance.

    The menu line-up features a range of healthy fermented foods, like pancakes and Eggs Benedict, while drinks options include lemonade with fermented syrup, goishicha tea from Aichi Prefecture, and more. There will also be Sarabeth cookies which you can take home with you.

  • New Food Truck Taiyaki Tainoya to Open in Shinjuku Serving Fish-Shaped Cakes

    21.September.2019 | FOOD

    Taiyaki Tainoya is a food truck set to open in front of the first floor entrance of Flags on September 20 which is connected directly to Shinjuku Station’s south-east exit.
      
    Taiyaki – ¥200 (Tax Included)
    The truck will sell taiyaki, a classic Japanese confection which comes in the form of a crispy fish-shaped cake filled with bean paste. The cakes sold here will be made using Tokachi beans from Hokkaido which have a distinct luxurious sweetness to them.
    The taiyaki here are made with takeout and gift-giving in mind, so they have been made nice and crunchy so they don’t fall apart or become mushy.
    The bean paste isn’t overly sweet so is easy to enjoy. The beans, which have a strong aroma, are cooked in sugar beet from Hokkaido, and contain a hint of moshio, which is salt you get from burning seaweed.
    The sweet bean paste has such a smooth texture that you wouldn’t believe that’s what it is. If you’re a lover of adzuki bean paste or aren’t good with sweet things, then this is a bean paste you’re going to love.
    For an extra ¥30, you can have the taiyaki packed in a cute gift box if you’re thinking of giving it to someone. There are six colours to choose from for all occasions, be it a home party or for clients. They are also wrapped with noshi paper and contain message cards. There are seven of these to pick, so you can write your own words to the person.
    If a simple taiyaki isn’t enough for you, you can also top it with a rich soft-serve ice cream. Pick between Hokkaido Vanilla or Uji Matcha flavours.
    If you’re getting off at Shinjuku Station, be sure to head out the south-east exit of the JR Line section to find Taiyaku Tainoya.
  • Escape From Godzilla at TOKYO MYSTERY CIRCUS Escape Game Theme Park

    11.September.2019 | MOVIE / SPOT

    TOKYO MYSTERY CIRCUS’s catalogue of games just keeps on growing. The puzzle and escape game theme park has just announced the return of its escape game Escape From Shin Godzilla which is being held in collaboration with the 2016 film Shin Godzilla.

    The event was previously held last April where it ran until October, enjoying huge popularity with over 40,000 escape game-goers. Players took the role of a member of the Kyosaitai―the anti-Godzilla task force―based in Kabukicho, Shinjuku where you will be tasked with solving puzzles to defeat the colossal giant.

    The thrilling event returns once more with original visuals created to make it look like Godzilla has really invaded Kabukicho. Tickets are now on sale, and you can pick up exclusive merchandise and themed food at the venue too. Can you defeat Godzilla?

     

    TM&©TOHO CO., LTD. ©SCRAP

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