November 7th, 2020 issue

Hybrid VR Games, a Wolfman Barber, and the World’s Largest Starbucks

In this issue we’re bringing you a place where you can find interesting hybrid VR games, a man’s man of a barber shop, a historic temple with a view, and the world’s largest Starbucks!

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1. Experience Hybrid VR Rides and Games at Sega Joypolis

What is Tokyo Joypolis? It’s an indoor theme park/arcade where everyone can let their inner kid run free! A Sega arcade, family fun center with three floors of virtual reality attractions, rides, and video games.

Note: Before you head to Sega Joypolis for a full day of fun, buy the tickets online and save 8% on the cost-plus walk right in when you arrive.

Run around playing laser tag, eating junk food, race a spaceship, and ride a roller coaster all indoors and out of the weather. There is so much to do here, something for children of all ages and adults alike — here are a few highlights of what they offer:

1st Floor

  • Gekion Live Coaster
  • Halfpipe Tokyo ride
  • Spicy Taxi and Pirates Plunder – ride for the little ones

2nd Floor

  • Transformers Human-Alliance – ride
  • Tower Tag – VR laser tag
  • Storm G – virtual reality snowmachine racing ride

While Sega Joypolis has several locations, many have closed. This one is in Odaiba, a humanmade island in Tokyo Bay (with “Tokyo Beach” and a great view of Rainbow Bridge) — bringing you not only interesting arcade games to play but fantastic photo opportunities as well.

Plus, there is a famous hot spring nearby where you can relax after the grueling Halfpipe Tokyo ride.

2. Get Your Hair Cut and Beard Trimmed at the Wolfman Barber Shop in Shibuya

Japan may not be on your list of places to visit for a haircut and beard trim, but the Wolfman Barber Shop in Shibuya is famous for its suave style, leather, and beards. It’s a quality barbershop with vintage barber paraphernalia — and a passion for modern, slick hairstyles — depending on your hair type of course.

It doesn’t matter if you need a haircut or not, you need to check this place out.

When you walk in the door, it’s like walking into a scene from The Great Gatsby with vintage, lay-back barber chairs complete with footrests, intricate chrome details, and leather seats. 

I half expect it to be a front for a secret speakeasy. 

The male staff is dressed in herringbone-patterned pants, rolled-up long-sleeve white shirts that showcase their tattoos, suspenders, and a flat linen cap. 

They take their time and do things right staying true to a real shave using a straight blade. The owner specializes in the handlebar mustache and sports one himself. 

It’s such a cool place.

+Map pin to Wolfman Barber Shop

3. Learn About the Cheeky Tanuki at Chingo-do Temple in Asakusa

chingo-do

In Tokyo’s heart is a relatively unknown temple, Asakusa’s Chingo-Do temple, which is actually part of Sensoji Temple. Still, it has a separate entrance — so many will miss it. I recommend it because itis a tribute to the tanuki — a fun, merry, raccoon-like Japanese folklore character said to protect against fire and theft (aka the Japanese “raccoon dog”).

This is why restaurants and homeowners often put them out in front — as protection and good fortune.

Tanuki are famous in Japanese culture, and you’ll find references to them in movies, anime, design, art, and even various restaurants around Tokyo. There is even yokai (Japanese spirit/demon characters) such as Bake Danuki — a supernatural tanuki spirit, some say has the ability to shapeshift (much like the kitsune (fox)).

Especially in this Senso-Ji area, you’ll find tanuki decorating the area from the Nakamise Shopping Street to the Sumida River. And of course, the famous Ghibli Studio includes tanuki in their animated films, the most famous of Pom Poko. 

+Map pin to Chingo-Do

4. Pay Your Respects at the Grand Zojoji Temple in Minato

Zojoji Temple is a grand temple in Minato — nearby Tokyo Tower, inside Shiba Park with the incredible 21-meter tall Sangedatsumon gate. And actually, it is this gate which is the only remaining original structure of the temple. It turns out much of it was destroyed by fire, war, and natural disasters (rebuilt).

It enshrines the “God of Children” so you’ll find many small statues giving homage.

You can get some fantastic photos here of ancient Japanese architecture with Tokyo Tower in the backdrop. 

While there you can see a statue of Princess Kazunomiya who has a very interesting history with the Tokugawa shogunate. In fact, Ieyasu (the shogun of Japan) select this location as his family temple — and is the Mausoleum of Tokugawa Shoguns, where several of the Tokugawa shogun rest. 

Don’t forget to check out the small museum in the basement of the temple where you can see what the Zojoji Temple used to look like before it was destroyed — including a 1:10 scale mode of the buildings.

Overall the temple has a fantastic vibe and brings back some of the histories in the area. An excellent break from the amazing views and delicious food in the area — to give you a sense of nostalgia for what life may have been like back then.

Oh, and you may find the Zojoji Temple is not nearly as crowded as the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Maybe if you’re looking for a more comfortable temple experience this should be you on your to-do list.

And fun fact, you may recognize this place from the Wolverine movie — where it was the backdrop for a funeral scene.

+Map pin to Zojoji Temple

5. Caffeinate Yourself at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo

Starbucks Reserve Roastery, Nakameguro, Tokyo, Japan

The Nakameguro area is home to the world’s largest Starbucks — yea, who would have thought Japan would be home to the largest? With floors of interesting things to see and unique collectibles to buy, if you love coffee (and especially Starbuck’s coffee), you’ll love this place — and check out the unique, Japanese-only Tokyo Roast while you’re here.

It’s classy and has a fantastic atmosphere, a great location, tons of space, and incredible architecture (designed by Kengo Kuma). You can see how the coffee is made — and did I mentioned the Nakameguro area is amazing (especially during cherry blossom season)?

In this section, we’re experimenting with a method of bringing together sources about the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Tokyo to help you find as much as you’d ever want to know about it — all in one place. Think of it as your homework research done for you — you need to read and check out the sources.

  • Experience the bean to cup journey and enjoy Roastery-created espresso drinks and signature creations crafted with the art and science of captivating brewing methods.” (starbucksreserve.com)
  • The roasteries, usually tens of thousands of square feet, are often described as a theme park experience, including coffee bars with tastings, cocktail bars, areas to observe the roasting and brewing processes, areas to purchase food, and local artwork throughout.” (en.wikipedia.org)
  • On the third floor is the Arriviamo Bar, which greets customers with a “Tokyo” Coffee Card Wall. ▼ This display is made up of 5,000 cards designed for Starbucks’ Reserve roast coffee regions. ▼ This is where you’ll also find one of two giant clacker boards.” (soranews24.com)
  • Situated in the Nakameguro district of Tokyo, the Reserve Roastery’s design is inspired by the cherry blossom trees that line the Meguro River.” (hypebeast.com)
  • Interesting enough for me, they are not only selling Starbucks regular merchandise like tumbler and mug but also collaboration merchandise with Japanese local brand like a notebook from TRAVELERS FACTORY.” (medium.com)

Learn more about the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo

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