Monday, March 24, 2014


Oh what a glorious season it is. Spring in Japan is the start of all things new. Entry into new jobs, beginning of a fresh school year, trees budding, and a major wardrobe change. Incidentally, this change is very well coordinated among women. Everyone switches from black stockings to the flesh-toned ones and of course black winter jackets are exchanged for the tan, light overcoats. You won't hear any  complaints from guys who are into women's legs ;-D especially since there isn't a single kankle (or tankle of you prefer) in the greater metropolitan area. Since the transformation is virtually overnight you have to wonder if it is the fashion magazines which are coordinated or if in fact (as I fear most) the Japanese female species is able to carry out a synchronous metamorphosis, built into their DNA like the homing instinct of certain predatory mammalian species, i.e. the giant python which can swallow whole man alive. J/K...or am I?

In any case, there is lots to do in Spring in Tokyo. Here is my personal top 5. 

5. Drinking in the harbor (or as damn close as one can get without getting your feet wet)

TY Harbor Brewery brews their own selection of fantastically delicious seasonal and mainstay beers. And the food is even better. Grab a table inside or better yet enjoy the moonlight shimmering on a still harbor by sitting out on the deck. They've even got seating in a dining boat moored right next to the restaurant. Let's just say its a pretty awesome place. And solid for celebrating a loved one's birthday. My ex took me there and had a phenomenal birthday cake brought out as a surprise. Best night of my life. 3 months later she tried to eat me alive, but that's another story. Still top notch restaurant in my book ;-D 

4. Go for a run and join The COLOR RUN 5K event
"RUN FOR FUN!! What the HELL kind of fun is that!?" #backtothefuture
Sponsored by NEW BALANCE and LUSH among many others,  this lived up to the hype
as it was truly "the happiest run on the planet". 5K with thousands of others all simply living it up. No time record, and tons of colored, Lush powder to be playfully thrown at runners. Held at various times and locations around Japan, 
this was the perfect way to usher in the new Spring season. An expensive 5K at 7,000 yen plus transportation, it may be hugely limited to those with time and connections with the ever-elusive "Nativus Withakurumas" but if you can pull it off, truly exhilarating and totally worth it. Train access also available

3. Azaleas at Nezu Temple

Quite spectacular bloom of azaleas at a historical temple with excellent views and walking courses. 
Highly recommended. I want there with a girlfriend and we had a blast, well a series of comical mishaps that added to the fun day of walking around the temple. Check out the temple website to find out what days this year the azaleas will be in bloom. 

SCHEDULE FOR AZALEAS usually last week of April/first week of May

2. Hiking and drinking on top of Mt. Takao

As a college student, I made this trip for the first time and have tried to do it every spring since coming back to Japan as a shakaijin or working man. Other hiking options are plentiful. But my personal favorite is Takao-san. A cable car gets you part-way up the mountain and you can hike the rest in 25 minutes (says long stride McGee) or 45~50 for those of the shorter-stride liberation persuasion. As there are over 2.5 million visitors to Takao-san annually, cold vending machine beer and delicious snacks are readily available for purchase at the top. 

1. Cherry blossom Binge! 1-day challenge! 
Drink beer and sake outside somewhere, anywhere, everywhere!

In Japan you never need a special reason to drink outside (legal or otherwise) but Spring definitely calls for it. 
Outdoor drinking at cherry-blossom picnics, next to Sumida river or Ueno park are definitely a Japanesque experience. 
THE IDEAL COURSE. (Usually last week of March/First week of April) (but you don't need cherry blossoms to make this a fun event!!)  
Start at 11am at ASAKUSA STATION→head to the river and walk along Sumida river → walk back and see Asakusa temple → train to UENO and picnick with locals under the cherry trees (UENO PARK EXIT) eating and drinking from food carts or convenient stores (don't forget your plastic tarp)→ finally head to Tokyo Midtown near Roppongi station, walk the streets lined with cherry trees before you bounce into a club. Have YOU got what it takes? 


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