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The St. Alban's Choir - Tokyo

The St. Alban's Choir

Where shall we worship this Sunday?

St. Alban's Church is the only English-language Anglican/Episcopal congregation in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is located right next door to St. Andrew's Cathedral, so if you want to stop in and listen to the Japanese service, it is easy to do so. The congregation is multi-national, with ex-patriot Americans, English, Kiwis, Germans, Dutch, and Danes (that I actually spoke to -- of course I couldn't tell everybody's home country on sight), and many Japanese members as well. They're a friendly group.

Services are held at 8:30 and 10:30. As is the case in many US churches, the second service features choral music. St. Alban's has an excellent choir and music director, so the experience is a very pleasant one for those who enjoy hymns and anthems in the Anglican tradition. The parish has a tradition of asking guests to introduce themselves, so be prepared! Babysitting and Sunday School are provided during the service. There is a coffee hour afterwards.

Address: 3-6-25, Shiba-Koen Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011 JAPAN

Directions: Between Roppongi and Tokyo Tower, close to Kamiyachi Station (Hibiya line)

Phone: 03-3431-8534

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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The garden looks like a galaxy! (website photo) - Tokyo

The garden looks like a galaxy! (website photo)

Holiday Spectacular: Midtown Illumination

During the holiday season (approximately November 10 through December 26), Tokyo Midtown and its surroundings are extravagantly decorated and lit up with millions of individual lights and colored spotlights. It's definitely worth a walk around the premises and, if possible, a trip up in the tower so that you can see the incredible park display from a height. Children will be captivated by the immense tree entirely composed of Santa Claus figures.

Address: Tokyo Midtown, Akasaka

Directions: Roppongi Station

Phone: 03-3475-3100

Website: http://www.tokyo-midtown.com

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Nov 27, 2010
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The paper sakura - Tokyo

The paper sakura

Even if nature doesn't cooperate, artists do Cherry Blossoms (SAKURA) Viewing Review

During the build-up to the actual blooming of the cherry trees, the weather was a little quixotic and there were dire predictions that the blossoms would be affected. I'm sure that wasn't what prompted a group of young people to pull together a marvelous installation of paper sakura in the park adjacent to Tokyo Midtown -- and of course I can't be sure that this wasn't simply a one-off exhibition. But I hope it's something that happens annually. It was great fun to watch them positioning each of the paper blossoms exactly correctly to create a vast carpet of blooms in pastel shades of pink, yellow and lilac.

Address: Hinokicho Park

Directions: Roppongi

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 15, 2010
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The lights and people of Shinjuku - Tokyo

The lights and people of Shinjuku

Quite the scene! Shinjuku Review

Shinjuku (sometimes called Tokyo's Times Square) is a lot of fun to stroll around with the streets full of people. We jay-walked to get over to Citibank, and I was surprised; I hadn't seen anyone so much as cross against a light since I arrived. ("It's okay here," Jay assured me. "But don't try it anywhere else.") The lights and energy were amazing and some of the people we passed were surpassing strange. After a bit we reached Takashimaya. Sky bridges cross the Yamamote Japan rail line there, and the whole is quite strikingly beautiful. But the winds caught us as we hit the plaza, and it was unsettling to be on that sky bridge over the rail lines under those conditions. When we went down to the Oeno line (the deepest in the city), there were signs saying that certain surface routes were partially closed because of high winds. It reminded me of the cable car to Table Mountain, which stops running rather frequently because of the winds there.

Address: Shinjuku-ku

Directions: JR / Tokyo Metro / Toei Subway SHINJUKU

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

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 11, 2010
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The spring at Hinokicho Park - Tokyo

The spring at Hinokicho Park

Let the kids play at Hinokicho Park

If you happen to be in the vicinity of Tokyo Midtown, take a deep breath and enjoy a stroll around beautiful Hinokicho Park, a Japanese style garden. It is located on the former site of a feudal lord's villa immediately adjacent to the Midtown Garden -- a venue for concerts as well as the site of what looked like large sculptures but turned out to be children's playground equipment! On a nice day, the place is filled with mothers and children (or ladies pushing DOGS in strollers, which kind of surprised me).

Directions: Adjacent to Tokyo Midtown

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 10, 2010
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Getting ready to enjoy a day of blossom-viewing - Tokyo

Getting ready to enjoy a day of blossom-viewing

When the moment is right, Hanami Cherry Blossoms (SAKURA) Viewing Review

When I was a child, we visited Washington DC almost every spring, so as to see the wondrous sight of the cherry trees in full bloom around the Tidal Basin. We thought there were a lot of cherry trees in DC. (Well, there are.) But compared to the number of cherry trees in Japan, and the impact of their blooming on the populace, we had nothing to boast about. Cherry blossoms are serious business throughout the country. If you happen to be in a modern building which streams video into your elevators, providing stock quotes and weather forecasts, you are also going to see a prediction about how the blossoms are doing. A chill in the air as the buds swell is cause for consternation. But eventually the forecasters announce that the trees are 80% or more in bloom, and suddenly what seems to be the entire population goes a tiny bit bonkers. Hanami, the art of viewing cherry blossoms, can take place anywhere there are cherry trees, but in fact people tend to flock to some of the larger parks. Recommended carry-ins include a tarpaulin or blanket on which to sit, something to eat, and (especially) something alcoholic to drink.

Directions: In parks throughout Tokyo. Special good vantage points are Yoyogi, around the Ark Mori Building, Meguro River, and Shinjuku Gyoen. Only the last charges an admission fee.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Oct 10, 2010
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The main portion of the shrine - Tokyo

The main portion of the shrine

For you boaters and naval fans: Togo Shrine

Since we were in Harajuku for Hanami at Yoyogi, we stopped at the Togo Shrine, which is a kind of bookend to the Nogi Shrine. Admiral Togo annihilated the Russian fleet in 1904-1905. Not surprisingly, his shrine is entered by crossing water -- in this case a huge koi pond, shadowed by more of the ubiquitous cherry trees. It was the first place where I'd seen a charm for boating safety!

A bookshop and a small museum are located on the grounds of the shrine.

Address: Harajuku

Directions: The shrine is located near the intersection of Takeshita Street and Meiji Avenue, and is accessible from Harajuku Station.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 10, 2010
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A little girl plays while her sibling is dedicated - Tokyo

A little girl plays while her sibling is dedicated

A place for weddings and dedications Meiji-Jingu Shrine Review

On the day of our visit, Meiji-Jingu was bustling with numerous weddings (one at the processional stage, others posing for photographs). Mishu told me that the obviously heavy wedding headdresses worn by the brides were designed to hide their horns; apparently the belief is that all women have fox spirits, and during the wedding ceremony could reveal this side of their nature unless it were suppressed by the heavy headgear. We had encountered many people on the walk up to the shrine who were clearly heading for weddings, to judge from their dress and demeanor; the men all wear white ties, and the women's hairstyles and footwear indicated that they were preparing for nuptials. We also noticed the "shrine maidens" who have much in common with vestal virgins; they are young girls in service to the shrine. Some of them, who couldn't have been much older than twelve, were accompanying the bridal processions, wearing bright orange hakama (the wide-legged trousers typically worn by tradesmen).

There were also parents preparing to dedicate their infants. The mothers wear traditional kimono and tabe and the babies are also dressed formally, but the fathers we saw were in business suits.

Address: Yoyogi Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku

Directions: JR HARAJUKU / Tokyo Metro JINGU-MAE

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

Review Helpfulness: 5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 10, 2010
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Finally at the threshold! - Tokyo

Finally at the threshold!

Cleanse and reverence, and then enter Meiji-Jingu Shrine Review

From the liquor storage point, it wasn't far to the main shrine. The tradition is to cleanse one's hands and mouth by ceremonially pouring water with a ritual dipper. Then you step to the threshold of the shrine, facing the honden or main building, and bow. The Meiji Shrine is immense, with a huge forecourt.

Address: Yoyogi Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku

Directions: JR HARAJUKU / Tokyo Metro JINGU-MAE

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

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 10, 2010
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Sake, awaiting sacramental use - Tokyo

Sake, awaiting sacramental use

The sake and the Burgundy Meiji-Jingu Shrine Review

After you've made your way up the long winding path, eventually you arrive (after another immense torii) at the ranks of Burgundy wine and sake which are dedicated to use at the shrine. The Meiji emperor was apparently the first to introduce red wine drinking in Japan, and many of the vineyards in Bourgogne continue to send tributes.

Address: Yoyogi Kamizono-cho, Shibuya-ku

Directions: JR HARAJUKU / Tokyo Metro JINGU-MAE

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

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Oct 10, 2010
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