London’s First Capsule Hotel

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Japan’s newest export? A capsule hotel, in which patrons stay in little compartments just large enough to fit a human body. Yotel just opened in London’s Gatwick Airport, providing travelers a cheap, clean place to sleep. The Mainichi reports:

with features including mood lighting and luxury bedding to "induce
relaxation," high-end bathroom fittings, not to mention access to free
digital television, radio and Wi-Fi Internet, the cabins exude a level
of comfort not previously associated with the average airport hotel.

Luxury? I guess. In my mind, luxury = a lot of private space, not a tiny slit in the wall reminiscent of the morgue. Yotel’s founder, Simon Woodroffe, expects to open another Yotel at Heathrow by the fall, and plans on creating many more branches in the coming months.

New Panasonic Hipster Electric Bike

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Panasonic’s Cycle Web Studio is releasing a new electric bicycle that combines hipster street fashion with motocross style. For this project, Panasonic teamed up with Harajuku fashion brand Beams to release just 200 limited edition units, in orange and green, purchasable only from their "bikes are cool and so are we" Cycle Studio Web site. The bikes are 22×63 inches and weigh 44lbs. They run on nickel metal hydride batteries which last almost 2 hours–that’ll take you approximately 20 miles.

Book A Room At An Akiba Capsule Hotel

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You know you’ve always wanted to stay in Capsule Hotel. (Capsule hotel=cheap ($30), no-frills lodging that consists of a single "bed" contained in one capsule among many, stacked in rows in one big room. Shared bathrooms, snack vending machines, and lockers for your belongings are also available.) But it’s hard to figure out the logistics, like where to find one, how to book one, etc. Well I’m gonna make it real easy for you. You know that trip to Akihabara that you’ve been yearning to take? Your fantasy of totally geeking out for a day by being inundated with comic books and cosplay shops and electronics, and electronics, and even more electronics? It’s just a couple clicks away. Don’t forget to book your plane tickets first.

Get a "room" at the Capsule Inn Akihabara here.

Where’s Lisa? I’m At Nintendo Park, Canada

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If you’ve been following this blog from the get-go, or even if you jumped in midway, you’ve probably figured out that I have a secret mission to find Mario World. Such a fantastical, wonderful place must exist somewhere in our universe! A place where turtles smile, mushrooms kill humans or give them extra lives, princesses are captured by giant thorny Koopas, and plumbers save the world. Well, guess what. I think I found Mario World. It’s in Whistler, Canada, at about 6000 ft above sea level. But it’s not called Mario World, it’s called Nintendo Park. And it’s not made of green steel pipes, but of icy half-pipes.

Yep, Nintendo Park is a freestyle terrain park at one of the world’s best ski resorts, and that’s where I am right now. Looking for Princess Peach!

In the meantime, since I won’t be putting up new posts as often, I invite you to check out the Tokyomango archives. There’s tons of timeless, fun craziness that you just might have missed along the way!

And if you have any messages for Luigi, leave me a comment and I promise to pass the word on. I ran into him on the Excelerator ski lift, and he promised to back me up on my mission.

Ninja Train

Nija_trainI’ve never been to the Iga Ninja Museum in Mie Prefecture, but I did go to a makeshift ninja house in Odaiba last month. They show you all the tricks that these feet-shuffling, shuriken-hurdling spies had to manipulate, like slanted rooms and fake doors and spinning hallways.

But I think the museum is much more realistic. It showcases real ninja swords and outfits; teaches you about ninja traditions and customs; and will pretty much fix any misconceptions about the feudal assassins that Americans now associated with a bunch of masked green turtles.

You can even learn their skillz and sneak into the Ueno Castle. Fucking rad, huh? I wanna go.

Pictured left: the Ninja Train you take to get there.

(Thanks, Nelson!)

Housewives Buy Gay Boys In Bangkok

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Okay, Yaoi is one thing, but you know the gay boy fetish has gone too far when Japanese women start flying to Thailand to frequent go-go bars there. Apparently, it’s the new trend for young housewives bored out of their minds to head out to Bangkok’s gay bars in pairs and bring go-go boys home to their hotels and pay them to fuss over them and treat them like princesses.

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The Magical Roppongi Hills Elevator

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The Mori Tower at Roppongi Hills features some of the best 360 aerial views of Tokyo as well as this post-modern, super-silent, double-decker elevator that goes straight up to the 53rd floor in a total time of about 12 seconds. The only time it takes longer is if somebody is using the other ‘vator that runs on the same rails in the upper or lower floors–in which case the elevator stops temporarily and a female robotic voice announces that the other car is in use.

It also stops when there are earthquakes. My mom was stuck in this elevator once when there was an earthquake. The robotic lady once again came on to tell her about it. The elevator didn’t make a noise or a twitch. Just stood there calmly, an oasis of peace in mid-air, at the nucleus of a chaotic giant shaking metropolis, silently waiting for the tremors to end.

(Thanks, Brian!)

Japanese Tourists Needed In Hawaii

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Think there are enough Japanese tourists in Waikiki yet? Apparently, Hawaii’s tourism bureau doesn’t. A new $8 million campaign seeks to bring a new influx of aloha shirt-wearing teamers, kogyals, and young family vacationers–some of whom have been deterred in recent years by higher airfares and the threat of terrorism–to come back to WahooO! Oahu. 

Yeah. So if you haven’t discovered "Aloha" yet, you definitely should. And if you can’t afford a ticket, then fork up a few bucks for my friend Makana‘s new CD, it’s fucking rad.

Gasoline From The Sky

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People are always asking me if it’s true that gasoline comes from the sky in Japan. Yes, it is, they come out of those pumps hanging from the ceiling light, which advertises regular or high-octane gas. And you don’t have to do a thing at the gas station, either, cuz the guys in red do it all for you–fill up your tank, wipe your mirrors, squeegee your windows, and stop oncoming traffic to direct you out of the gas station.

Cyber Cycle Hunters.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of motorcycles are stolen from the streets of Japan and smuggled out to Taiwan and Thailand for black market resale. But thanks to a new Web site set up by comedian Supataro Kondo, Japanese bikers can rely on more than just their U-locks for the safety of their beloved Harley. Currently, over 4,000 lost bikes are listed on the site, and 25 have been found abroad thanks to the tips and pics posted on the site.

Full story here.

Tokyo Mango – India

I just came back from two weeks in India. I was planning to blog about my trip while traveling, but Internet access was super slow and inconsistent. So I’m doing it retroactively, piece by piece.

Dharamsala is the craziest, funnest place in the world. I highly recommend going there if you like people, jewelry, speeding backwards down windy mountainous roads crowded with cows and monks and rabid dogs, or all of the above.

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I can’t believe it’s airplane food!

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Japan Airlines rocks! And let me tell you why:

1. The seats are notedly clean and super comfortable.
2. The aircraft is well ventilated, there’s no stuffy smell of grossness like United has. I can’t even smell the two businessmen sandwiching me.
3. You get super awesome individual TV screens and remote controls with a dozen movies, online shopping, and all types of video games from Mah Jongg to Tetris.
4. The food! I almost jumped out of Seat 23D when I read the menu, and yes, there’s a beautiful folded menu with an illo of a flower on the cover, not some cranky flight attendant yelling "Beef or chicken!" in your face while you sleep. This is what I’m having for lunch:

Nikujyaga (Simmered beef and potato in sweet soy sauce)
Steamed rice
Sesame marinated seafood
Chicken pastrami
Potato salad
Chinese jellyfish
Fresh salad with French dressing
Banana panna cotta
Bread and butter
Green tea…I can’t wait!

5. They have foot rests in economy class.
6. The flight attendants are polite, non-invasive and pretty.
7. Tickets are relatively cheap.

The only downside for me is that they just banned dogs in-flight. Since I usually go back to Japan with my puppy, I only get to take JAL when I’m going somewhere random, like New Delhi or Tel Aviv, via Tokyo. But those of you who don’t have a port-a-doggy…you gotta try this. This is what living the high life is supposed to be like.

Ok, I gotta go. I have 2 hours left before I reach my destination, and I think it’s time for my foot massage.

Commuter-generated electricity.


JR East’s new experiment consists of energy-generators under ticket wickets, a milliwatt-tracking counter, and 700,000 daily commuters. For the next two months, the railway company will be using using the vibrations of human footsteps at Tokyo Station to generate up to 100 milliwatts per second per person that walks through. The idea is to be able to generate enough electricity to power the wickets themselves and their display panels regularly.

Don’t even think about going there and stomping your feet like a maniac to fuck up their results. That wouldn’t be nice.

White-gloved Super Shuttle man.

I am flying on an airplane today!

Last time I flew was to go to New York City. I took Super Shuttle to the airport. A middle aged Japanese man got on at the downtown Sheraton. I thought he was funny because he put on white gloves every time he had to carry his suitcases on and off the shuttle. To protect his hands from getting calloused, maybe? Or to protect his suitcase from getting grimy?

I might never find out the answer. Unless, by some miracle, he is on my Super Shuttle again today. You just never know.

The Salaryman and the Stationmaster


Yesterday, a drunk salaryman in his mid-fifties fell onto the train tracks in Ginza, got run over by a train, and died.

It’s actually really easy to find wasted salarymen on platforms in Tokyo. This cutie pie I shared a Yamanote Line ride with had to be escorted off the retiring train by the stationmaster. Notice how he’s still sleeping in all three frames. A few seconds after that, he put both hands on the wall of the escalator, opened his mouth, and yawned really loudly. Then he walked off up the staircase like he’d never had a drink in his life.