Monthly Archive August 2018

Aug 31, 2018

Nagoya Comedy: Served up Monthly

Looking for funny?  Well, you are in luck, because “Nagoya Comedy” brings you funny in all senses of the word.  Nagoya, Japan’s own (and only) English language stand-up comedy troupe holds regular live stand-up shows throughout central Japan featuring a cavalcade of funny; funny looking, funny thinking, and just plain “funny ha ha” local comedians who will shock and awe(ful!?) your evening, and leave you in stitches.  You can also check out their weekly podcast “Talk Funny” – available on iTunes, Spreaker and more. New episodes every Friday morning (Japan Time).

For information on Nagoya Comedy
Twitter: @NagoyaComedy

Nagoya Comedy: Nagoya Comedy 3rd Anniversary Standup Show

Nagoya’s hardest writing comics celebrate over three years of live shows and bring their best material and new hits as well. Delirious comedy, an Open Mic contest, and Magic! Get your tickets now by contacting any of the performers. Join the stars of the Talk Funny Podcast and the hardest writing comedians in Japan at GC Live. Featuring Emcee Mark Bailey, Steve Howard, Tim Lennane, Mike Miller and the magic of Joe Hindman.

1,500 yen at the door, 1,000 yen advance tickets, one drink minimum, open mic available to paid audience members at the start of the show. Sign up at the door. Open mic-ers, please pre-time your sets to less than 5 minutes. We will have the first four open mics to sign up on stage called at random order, so get there early. Winner of the Open Mic Contest as determined by crowd applause will get a prize of a free beverage of his/her/zie choice.

3rd Anniversary Standup Show

September 21, 2018
9 – 11 pm. Doors open 8:30 pm.

Venue: GC Live

1 Chome-10-30 Shinsakae, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture (map link)

ByJason Gatewood
Aug 31, 2018

Let’s Tour: Kawagoe City; Little Edo

Located about 60 minutes by train northwest of central Tokyo is the city of Kawagoe in Saitama Prefecture. Because of its location in the Greater Tokyo area, it’s mainly considered just another “bedtown”; Japanese borrowed English slang for a bedroom community. But its current day suburban moniker can be easily peeled away to show Kawagoe’s long rich history that lies in its origins. You only have to wander over to the historical districts north of Hon-Kawagoe station and find not only one of the last collection of historically preserved buildings in the Metropolis but also many museums and shops dedicated to the task of showing off old Japanese traditions and life.

Get the low-down at the museum

In order to learn more about the area, head over to the Kawagoe City Museum and gain an overview of how a samurai saddled with the burdensome sparsely inhabited lands was able to bootstrap the area into prosperity by turning it into a silk weaving boomtown. The journey doesn’t begin there though as there is a large collection stemming back from the Yayoi and Kofun periods in early Japanese history. You’ll also learn how people were able to rebuild the town after an enormous blaze burnt down almost every building standing in the then small village. There are English speaking volunteers available to help explain the finer points if needed.

Kawagoe City Museum, 2-30-1 Kuruwamachi, Kawagoe 350-0053, Saitama Prefecture

Seeking a higher power

Back in the feudal days, nothing could be done without the will of the gods above and rulers of the lands; Kawagoe was home to several strong temples, shrines, and lords. The oldest shrine, Miyoshino Jinja was established in the year 807! It is located on the grounds of what used to be Kawagoe Castle which doesn’t exist anymore but Honmaru Palace is still there and can be accessed. Kita-in also can be found nearby. This was the main Buddhist temple in the Kawagoe domain, and the building itself was once part of Edo Castle. Don’t miss the 540 statues of Rakan inside, all representing the original disciples of Buddha.

A stroll through the neighborhood

Head over towards the “Warehousing Street” historical area and you’ll find a whole district full of “kurazukuri” warehouses and old storefronts that are part of a designated historical site. These are no mere display units though; every one of them is still in use as a storehouse, small workshops or store, and you are very encouraged to visit and drop some hard yen on whatever may tickle your fancy. If you hang out in the area long enough, you will hear the bell toll from Toki no Kane, the old bell tower that is also the symbol of the city of Kawagoe. It rings out 4 times a day (6 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, and 6 pm)

For more information and access:

Visit the Kawagoe City tourism homepage where a detailed guide to all the area’s attractions can be found.](

Three train companies have stations in the area:

  • Kawagoe Station – JR Kawagoe line and Tobu Tojo Line [TJ21]
  • Hon-Kawagoe Station – Seibu Shinjuku Line [SS29]

— By Jason L. Gatewood

Images courtesy Kawagoe City Tourist OfficeSaitama Tourism Office

Aug 30, 2018

Eating Your Way Through Tokyo in September 2018

September is a hard month, it isn’t summer, and it isn’t fall.  It is still hot, but cooling down.  It is a good time to be outside, sort of, but everyone is tired from beer gardens over the summer and preparing for the upcoming fall colors, so not much is happening.  That said, here are a few ways to eat your way through this September in Tokyo.

Afro American Caribean Festa 2018

Can you say jerk chicken?  I knew you could! The AACF is a date with food and entertainment with an Afro Caribean flair, join the crowd in Yoyogi Park for this exciting and delicious event.

Afro American Caribean Festa 2018

8 and 9 September 2018
11:00am – 7:00pm
Venue: Yoyogi Park (map link)
Entry: Free

Taste of Tokyo

Organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Taste of Tokyo is food, food, and more food.  Heavy on local Tokyo flavors and ingredients, the Taste will also bring dishes from all over Japan and the rest of the world. There will, in short, be a lot of excellent food for any taste preference, and a healthy dose of craft sake and beers to cool  the afternoon heat.  Join for the food, stay for the entertainment and music!  All dishes are 500 yen so pick up some coins and join 75,000 of your fellow Tokyoites at the Taste!

Taste of Tokyo 2018

21, 22, and 23 September
Friday: 11:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday: 11:00am – 8:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 6:00pm
West Promenade  – 3 Chome-7 Ariake, Kōtō-ku, Tōkyō-to 135-0063 (map link)

Fiesta Mexicana 2018

Fiesta Mexicana in Odaiba Tokyo is unfortunately timed to coincide with the much more popular Taste of Tokyo above, but if you are after a nice tamale (and really, when am I not?!) then this may be the place for you.  If you additionally crave Mexican wrestling… Luche Libre yourself to the west promenade in Odaiba, near the Aqua City shopping center.

Fiesta Mexicana 2018

22, 23, and 24 September
11:00am – 7:00pm
1 Chome-1 Aomi, Kōtō-ku, Tōkyō-to 135-0091 (map link)

ByJason Gatewood
Aug 30, 2018

An Art Museum for the Digital Age: Mori Building Digital Art Museum

When most people think of art and Japan in the same vein, images on the order of Hokusai’s Great Wave of Kanagawa spring to mind. You could tour the traditional art scene in Nippon seemingly forever, enjoying a multitude of museums throughout the metropolis. However, only one is dedicated to interactive digital arts, and that is the Mori Building Digital Art Museum.

The new concept, created by digital art collective teamLab, opened next to the Pallette Town building in Odaiba in January and features 470 projectors shining bright CGI graphics streaming from a data center’s worth of computers, onto reflective surfaces that patrons can interact with in many ways. The Mori Building group has utilized teamLab’s services before;  if you’re feeling a bit of deja vu; a stroll around Roppongi Hills or Toranomon Hills should help jog your memory a bit.

The exhibits themselves are interactive and ever-changing suites of light and sound; no two people will experience them in the same way, and that’s a good thing. Whether a virtual bouldering course that alters the light shower as you “climb,” or an incline that allows you (and the kids… especially the kids) to power slide through a virtual pool of fruit and colors, this is a very hands-on affair.

As you move throughout the complex, each exhibit melds into the next, and at times the interactions seemed to follow me. This is not by accident, as the works are designed to integrate and interact both with one another, and the patrons moving in the space. The primary goal of the exhibit is to attempt to unify the digital and biological world and explore those new connections.

While grownups contemplate the deep philosophical ideas behind every piece, the children will be bouncing, running, and crawling the walls while exploring every nook and cranny of the halls. There is even space designed to encourage to sitting down with a cup of tea where virtual flowers will bloom, creating the perfect atmosphere to connect and share the experience with another.

The proximity of the new museum to 2020 Tokyo Olympic venues on Odaiba island isn’t a coincidence, but officials say this is a permanent exhibition and plans for a new installation in the space after the Games are long gone are already underway.

Getting there

MORI Building Digital Art Museum: EPSON teamLab Borderless

1-3-8 Aomi, Kōtō-ku, Tōkyō-to 135-0064
Tokyo Waterfront Railway Rinkai Line to Tokyo Teleport Station [R04] or Yurikamome Line to Aomi Station [U10]


Admission fees

Adult (aged 15 and over)

Child (ages between 4-14)
(Children below age 3 and under are free.)

Purchase tickets and check availability by visiting

— By Jason L. Gatewood

Images: courtesy teamLab

Exhibition view of MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless 2018, Odaiba, Tokyo

©️ teamLab

ByJason Gatewood
Aug 30, 2018

The Best Burgers in Tokyo

This list is not intended to be exhaustive; the sheer size and amount of places opening, closing and existing in Greater Tokyo demands an army of greasy, cheesy, burger-loving writers to file addendums on a weekly basis to keep the list accurate. Since I am only one of this type, alone in the Metropolis for this publication, I am humbly forced to curtail the article to my opinion of good burger haunts. As such, this means I can’t profess to tell how good chains like Shake Shack, Fatburger, Wendy’s, and the others are (they are pretty darn good though!), and will be limiting myself to the one-offs, “only in Tokyo” burger joints I’ve personally experienced first hand. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

Grill Burger Club SASA

I’m not entirely sure why this happened, but the Daikanyama/Naka Meguro area has become “burger central” in the last 2-3 years somehow. The first of these shops I visited was the Grill Burger Club SASA located right next to Daikanyama station. I had no idea what to expect until entering the shop. That’s when I saw the rotund manager/grill master doing his thing while wearing a broad smile and a copious amount of grease on his apron— this is always a sign that the food is going to be epic! You can get anything from a standard cheese double to a gourmet mozzarella portobello with artisanal bread. And the chef above is very accommodating if you want to mix and match toppings and ideas from the menu. Go crazy all you want, remember you will pay a bit more for the creativity.

Address: 2-21-15 Ebisunishi, Shibuya, Tokyo

Weekdays: 11AM–9:30PM

Weekends: 11AM–8:30PM

Phone: 03-3770-1951



Japan’s most famous cuisine is sushi and ramen, but there’s also “wagyu 和牛,” the rich, marbled cuts of beef that comes from places like Kobe, Matsuzaka, and Hida. Ever wondered what these tasty cuts would taste like in a burger? Wonder no more because you can head over to Ebisu and try it out at BLACOWS. The name is synonymous with the fact that they hand grind 100% “kuroge 黒毛” beef, literally black cows. All burgers here are custom; you select the toppings deli-style, right down to whether you want lettuce, tomato or onion.

Address: 2-11-9 Ebisu, Shibuya, Tokyo



My first time eating an honest-to-goodness-for-real-American-style-in-Japan burger was way back in 2001 when I was brought to this shop in Hiroo by my coworkers. I ordered a double bacon cheeseburger that had my cheeks glistening with oil and mustard by the time I was halfway through it. To this day, if my travels carry me close to the area, It’s a given that I’m making a run over to Homework’s. The place has been around since 1985, and they haven’t done anything but continue to make juicy burgers out of 100% Aussie beef. Well, that and open a branch up in Azabu, so you now have two places to enjoy doing your hamburger homework!

Address: 5-1-20 Hiroo, Shibuya, Tokyo


The Best Burgers in Tokyo Map



— By Jason L. Gatewood

Images: “Bomb wagyu burger from Blacows in Shibuya” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Break of Dawn

ByMark Guthrie
Aug 29, 2018

All Japan Gyoza Festival at Nagakute’s Moricoro Park

Much like ramen, gyoza is a dish with Chinese origins that the Japanese have taken to their hearts. Typically filled with ground pork, chives, green onion, cabbage, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil, these little dumplings can be fried or boiled, but are almost always delicious, not to mention incredibly moreish.

However, as well as the traditional way of making gyoza, many restaurants have come up with innovative and fabulous recipes, and the best and brightest will be gathering in Nagoya to compete for the crown of the gyoza king or queen.

All Japan Gyoza Festival

The All Japan Gourmet Festival is a staple of the Golden Week attractions at Nagakute’s Moricoro Park with over 100,000 visitors every year, but this year it is branching out into Silver Week for a gyoza themed special.

The event aims to continue the reputation of gyoza’s rise from that of a salaryman’s staple to that which everyone can enjoy. From the 15th to the 17th of September, competitors from across the country will come together in the hope of winning the event.

What this means is that throughout the park, from the deep-fried gyoza of Mie Prefecture to the black ink pork gyoza from Kagoshima, or the happy gyoza from Bhutan, there are over two dozen amazing dishes for you to sample, as you step from counter to counter, filling yourself on the delicious dumplings (and you will, I did mention that they are very moreish).

If you are new to the gyoza game, it is best to head for any stalls from Utsunomiya and Hamamatsu, Tokai region’s moist famed gyoza capitals. However, pretty much anywhere you try is likely to be mouthwatering as these guys are the brightest and best in Japan’s gyoza world.

  • Where: Moricoro park, Nagakute-shi, (map)
  • When: 15 – 17 September 2018
  • Admission: 500 JPY
  • Website:

Gyoza in Nagoya

If you can’t make it out there, but you still have a craving for gyoza, the festival is not the only place to get it in Nagoya. Here is a handful of some of Nagoya’s best.

Gyoza no Osho

You can find this restaurant chain from Osaka all around Nagoya, and with ‘gyoza’ in the name, it should be good. And it is.

Cheap, cheerful, and always bustling, the gyoza here is of the classic, standard variety, and you can’t go wrong.


Taiwanese in theme, Misen is a Nagoya institution. You perhaps know it for its spicy Taiwan ramen, but no self-respecting Nagoyan would tackle a bowl of the ramen without the gyoza on the side.

Perhaps one of the most morish gyozas in the city.

  • Where: Imaike, Meieki, Yaba-cho, Nagoya Station


Named after the Tibetan word for Mt. Everest, Zhumulangma (or Chomoranma in Japanese) hits the heights of gyoza experimentation.

They have a huge selection, but perhaps the best is either the niku niku (double meat) gyoza or the refreshing pakuchi (cilantro) gyoza, both of which are out of this world.


If you want a proper, classic gyoza experience, Hyakuroutei in Osu is the place to go. Here there are four different ways that you can enjoy the delightful dumplings: pan-fried, in water, in egg soup, and in a soup made from the water in which the gyoza was cooked.

Karitto Gyoza

Having been in the business for over 40 years, Karitto Gyoza does things a little bit differently.

Here the speciality is large fried gyoza balls that are ‘kari-kari-mochi-mochi’ (roughly meaning crispy but soft and chewy). You don’t get gyoza like this anywhere else.

Mark Guthrie

Photo: by stu_spivack (CC BY-SA 2.0) via

Photo: by verygreen (CC BY-SA 2.0) via

ByMark Guthrie
Aug 29, 2018

Toyohashi Fire Festival: Things are about to go off!

While there are many, many fireworks festivals in Japan throughout the summer months, there are very few that match Toyohashi’s Hono-no-Saiten for sheer spectacle. And danger.

About Hono-no-Saiten

The Hono-no-Saiten festival started in 1996 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of Toyohashi City and has been an annual event ever since. It’s not difficult to see why.

While much of the festival throughout the day is similar to other festivals – with yatai stalls selling food, kids running around with toy guns and elderly men drinking more sake than they can probably handle, it is when the night falls that things start to brighten up, quite literally.

The Mikawa area, and Toyohashi, in particular, is well known for its ‘tezutsu hanabi,’ hand-held, handmade fireworks, which are exactly as dangerous as that sounds.

Crafted from 80cm bamboo tubes stuffed with three kilograms of old-fashioned gunpowder, the tezutsu hanabi are thought to have originated as a tool for battlefield and inter-castle communication some 450 years ago. They are rarely seen outside of the Mikaya Bay area, however, at Hono-no-Saiten they are put to use for our entertainment.

Here you will see troupes of locals, 25 at a time, dressed in traditional clothing including unique thickly woven fireproof cotton quilted jackets, clutching these battleground tools under their arms. Once set, and the taiko drums reach their crescendo, they brace themselves as the gunpowder goes off, sending a fountain of sparks and smoke ten meters into the air, as the burning embers rain down on the brave (or perhaps foolhardy) holders below.

The conclusion of the event is signified by a more modern fireworks display, one that may be more visually spectacular, but lacking the inherent danger and cultural importance, it doesn’t quite compete with the sheer visceral thrill of the tetzusu hanabi.

For the kids

As well as the regular festival stalls at which your children can catch fish and win toys, there are also handicraft workshops will teach kids to make small tezutsu (minus the gunpowder, of course).

Hono-no-Saiten Details

Mark Guthrie

Photo: by Kuraken (CC BY-SA 2.0) via

Photo: by Koji Ishii (CC BY-SA 2.0) via

Aug 29, 2018

Tokyo Game Show 2018


The Tokyo Game Show is an annual trade show for video game developers held at Makuhari Messe Convention Center just outside Tokyo. First held in 1996, the Tokyo Game Show is among the world’s biggest video game related conferences.  It is well attended by big-name game developers to launch new products and display their latest innovations and advancements, and the video game consuming public who attend looking to see what is fresh and hot this year in gaming.

This year’s show is held over four days, the first two days are business days, which are invited only for industry insiders and company representatives.  The third and fourth days are open to the public for a small entrance fee of JPY 1,200 on the day, 1,000 advance.

Some cool new stuff is going to be on display inside!

Tokyo Game Show 2018

Business Day:

September 20 (Thursday) & September 21 (Friday), 2016 10:00-17:00

Public Day:

September 22 (Saturday) & September 23 (Sunday), 2016 10:00-17:00


Advance Ticket/1,000 yen per day
At the door Ticket/ 1,200 yen per day
Children (elementary school age and under/ Free of charge



Makuhari Messe
261-0023 Chiba Prefecture, Chiba, Mihama Ward, Nakase, 2−1 ( map )

Image: “Tokyo Game Show 2004 2“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Aug 28, 2018

Bicycle Liability Insurance

There are two major cities in Japan that require bicycle riders to maintain liability insurance as a condition for riding in the city.  These are:

  1. Osaka City
  2. Nagoya City

Clients and readers living or visiting these areas must be aware of this responsibility before hitting the road, but everyone should consider getting some level of protection as judgement against the unexpected and unfortunate.

What is bicycle liability insurance?

Bicycle liability insurance is a form of personal liability insurance that covers costs if you injure someone or damage their property while riding your bicycle.  Liability doesn’t cover any damage to yourself or your bike, regardless of who is found responsible for the accident.

Do you have personal liability insurance?

If you have another form of insurance, it may (or may not) come with, or offer access to add on provisions, that provide “personal liability insurance” that may satisfy the requirement for bicycle liability insurance coverage.  Personal liability insurance compensates liability incurred in many everyday situations, including while riding a bicycle.

(Please note that anyone who purchased housing insurance from this blog’s parent company, The H&R Group [ Japan Home Search, Relo Japan, etc] has personal liability insurance included, standard).

Some examples of relevant policies:

  1. Car insurance with an additional personal liability insurance policy
  2. Fire Insurance with an additional personal liability insurance policy
  3. Accident Insurance with an additional personal liability insurance policy
  4. Mutual Insurance such as Zenrosai or Shimin Kyosai
  5. Group Insurance such as Company Insurance, PTA Insurance, or School Insurance
  6. Credit Insurance with additional personal liability insurance protections
  7. Expansive Insurance for General Student Life (Futaigakuso)
  8. Personal Liability Insurance for Students (Gakubai)

(List from

Do you have TS Mark incidental insurance?

The “TS Mark” have been placed on your bicycle at a bicycle shop when you purchase a bicycle or have an inspection and maintenance carried out on your bicycle. The TS Mark includes accident insurance and liability insurance and is valid for one year from the date the bicycle is inspected.    The “TS” in “TS mark” is an acronym for “Traffic Safety.”

(From Nagoya International Center)

Don’t have any of the above?

If you do not have “personal liability insurance” or A “TS Mark”  you will need to get bicycle liability insurance.  You can get this from most insurance companies, but here are two options to look at immediately.

7/11 Bicycle Insurance (Mitsui Sumitomo)

You can sign up for this insurance online, but you will need to visit a 7/11 convenience store and use its “Multi Copy” multi-purpose photocopier to complete the signup. It generates a pay slip that you take to the cash register. After paying you get a slip with an “insatsu bango” (printing number) that you then enter into the machine again to print out a contract for your records. You will also receive the contract in the mail from the insurance company (Mitsui Sumitomo) a few weeks later.


AU Sonpo Bicycle Insurance

You can sign up for this online.

Reference to any business or organization is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute an official endorsement by the H&R Group