Broccoli as trees, and other miniature works of art by Tatsuya Tanaka

Posted at 5:43 pm, September 4, 2015 in Art


Do you ever have moments when you imagine an everyday object representing something else entirely? Broccoli as trees, Rubik’s Cubes as stained glass, mechanical pencils as towers… Apparently Tatsuya Tanaka has had moments like this 365 days in a row, for the past five years. He also takes his ideas one step further, scaling them down into a Miniature Calendar.

He was first encouraged by an Instagram follower, who saw one of his works and mentioned that he’d love to be able to see something like this every day. Hence, the idea merged into a calendar and the rest is miniature history. Since 2011, Tanaka has posted a new mini-creation on a daily basis, featuring familiar situations recreated small-scale with day-to-day objects such as toothbrushes. ‘Two years in, the work was almost like an addiction and I never thought of quitting,’ he says.

Tanaka derives inspiration from everyday life and takes notes constantly on his phone (with an app called OmniFocus) so he doesn’t forget any ideas. Everything from a material he’d like to use to a small hint that can trigger his creativity is noted down and stored in categories, to keep things organised.

Currently, he’s aiming to expand the scope and depth of the miniatures (not in actual size) by making his own dwarf figures, which he positions in ingenious ways. And he is always open to new ideas: at his latest exhibition in Kagoshima, he asked visitors’ opinions, and intends to do the same for his forthcoming exhibition in Osaka.

In addition to providing viewers with an ‘aha’ moment, Tanaka hopes the photos will make you ‘realise that a tiny change in our point of view will create lots of fun’. Most of the dioramas are easily recognisable, while others may take a bit of decoding. The key? We would say a sense of Japanese culture. Because in Tanaka’s world, sumo wrestlers have their bout on dumpling skins and green straws rustle like bamboo trees.

Images courtesy of Miniature Calendar

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Sailor Moon café open in Shinjuku until Sep 28

Posted at 4:48 pm, September 2, 2015 in Around Town, Film, Food & Drink


Photo: Anion Station

Who doesn’t love Tokyo’s variety of themed cafés: cat cafés, snake cafés, manga cafés, anime cafés… The newest in this line is the pop-up Sailor Moon café, open until Sept 28 in the heart of Kabukicho. Anime-songs-playing bar Anion Station has been transformed into a veritable Sailor Moon world, with the menu featuring everything from star and moon-studded options to sodas in colours representing your favourite characters. There will also be some limited edition merchandise on sale. Akihabara meets Kabukicho, in a way.

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Explore Hokkaido’s top town with our new guide to Sapporo

Posted at 11:42 am, September 1, 2015 in Around Town

Already featuring more than a dozen guides pointing out the best things to do and places to see in and around Tokyo, our super-popular map series is now taking a step into the unknown: travelling all the way up to Hokkaido, we’ve teamed up with the city of Sapporo, Hokkaido University and a number of other partners to bring you 50 things to do in Sapporo. On shelf from September 4, it’s your ultimate guide to a historical city perhaps best known for its signature beer and as the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics.

Available in both English and Japanese, 50 things to do in Sapporo takes you beyond tired tourist traps and obvious sightseeing spots, allowing you to experience the city like a local. Relying on insider tips from Sapporo City employees and students, teachers and staff at Hokkaido University, we’ve picked out 50 top sights, restaurants, bars, shops and more, inviting you to slurp local ramen, bite into tender lamb, explore some seriously offbeat attractions and so on. Reachable in around 90 minutes by plane from Tokyo, Sapporo’s got far more going for it than you know – pick up our free guide and start planning your trip right away.

50 things to do in Sapporo will be distributed at tourist info centres and hotels in Sapporo, as well as at Tokyo airports and our very own Time Out Café & Diner in Ebisu. Get your copy from September 4.


On the map page, Miyanosawa Station is erroneously labelled as ‘Soen Sta.’. Apologies for the mistake.

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We want to publish your photos of Tokyo in our next magazine

Posted at 1:41 pm, August 17, 2015 in Around Town, Culture

4pm view from Tokyo Skytree in Sumida

In Tokyo, sleep can wait. There’s so much going on 24 hours a day that FOMO is a constant threat. For our next magazine issue, which will be on shelf from September 30, we’re celebrating all that’s cool about Japan, and we want to show off how pretty and busy our city looks at all hours of the day. But here’s the twist – we want you to send us your photos of Tokyo, taken round the clock. If we like one of your photos, we’ll publish it as part of a two-page feature, give you a name credit, and send you a free copy of the mag.

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Pop Japan pops up in New York

Posted at 11:46 am, August 14, 2015 in Travel

Stopping by the Big Apple in late August? Don’t miss the Waku Waku Pop Culture Festival, which is taking over Brooklyn’s Expo Center on the last weekend of the month (Saturday 29 and Sunday 30). Coming to town with a packed programme of anime, manga, music, food, movies and fashion, it’s this summer’s top event for Japanese culture and cuisine in New York.inflatable water slides
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Horror flick director Takashi Shimizu makes a movie ‘for Americans’

Posted at 6:44 pm, August 12, 2015 in Film

Takashi Shimizu, famed for films like Ju-on and The Grudge, is back with a new horror movie, 7500, which was released in Japan at the end of last month. The setting this time? A jumbo jet. The intended audience? Americans. The horror specialist says that he made this film with an American audience in mind – he feels their perception of (or reaction to) fear is different from that of a Japanese audience. As he told the Yomiuri Shimbun, ‘when a ghost appears, American people don’t find it frightening until it begins attacking them’. He even did research into what types of anxiety people feel when flying, and incorporated all of this into the film. The way their fear affects others is key in the film, and leads to even more harrowing situations. The basic plot line is as follows: a jumbo jet, en route from LA to Tokyo, is hit by severe turbulence. Then, a passenger dies and supernatural forces begin to terrorise passengers. Here’s hoping it’s not just another Snakes on a Plane.


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What not to do on a train: cut up skirts

Posted at 6:42 pm, August 10, 2015 in Around Town

Mind your skirts ladies, or THIS could happen to them!

Chikan (‘perverts’) are unfortunately a notable problem on Tokyo’s congested train lines. But even with all the precautions in effect, such as the morning rush-hour ladies’ cars, you can’t stop the most persistent. One man took it to a whole new (or just different) level, and decided to take a pair of scissors and cut a five centimetre slit into a woman’s skirt, somewhere between Ikebukuro and Mejiro stations on the Yamanote line. No ladies, not even your clothes are safe these days. He was arrested last week and is now being held in relation to a series of related events on Tokyo and Saitama trains (he’s blaming stress). Now that’s what we call a serial cutter. We’re wondering how we’d fend off this fellow…

Photo: lailajuliana under the CC licence



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An overload of cute at the new Kawaii Monster Cafe

Posted at 5:33 pm, August 6, 2015 in Around Town, Food & Drink

Just across the road from Laforet Harajuku, the newly opened Kawaii Monster Cafe makes a point of showcasing what makes Harajuku tick. The concept was created by Diamond Dining and kawaii impresario Sebastian Masuda (below left), generally known for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s music video visuals and running the iconic 6% Dokidoki kawaii boutique store. The first of its kind, the café is meant to represent the inside a monster’s belly – a monster on a kawaii/cuteness diet, that is. The monster, in this case, is Harajuku, who swallows everything and then spits it out into the colourful mess that is Harajuku fashion.

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Look out for the flying Orange Piano in Yokohama

Posted at 5:36 pm, August 5, 2015 in Around Town, Music

Don’t panic if you see an unidentified orange flying object hovering above the Landmark Tower in Yokohama this summer. It’s just a dude playing the piano, 296m above ground. We kid you not.

Orange Piano Tour (OPT) is a band of creative minds that takes their orange upright piano to exceptional places around the world and performs a song dedicated to the region. Called ‘missions’, each performance is a large-scale cooperative project. And each song is composed and partly sung in the country’s native language to celebrate the charm of the location, together with international and local artists. During the latest tour in Munich, Germany, the team was made up of a choreographer, chorus and airport staff, amongst others. (Watch the video clip below.)

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See the armour worn by Japan’s top samurai warriors at this Marunouchi exhibition

Posted at 1:42 pm, August 4, 2015 in Around Town, Art, Culture

Armour, from left: Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Yukimura Sanada and Ieyasu Tokugawa

If you’ve visited Edo Castle in Tokyo, which is also the current Imperial Palace, you might have felt disappointed that you couldn’t see it up close. But Japan has a rich collection of beautiful castles, many of which are open to the public. One of the most renowned ones is Osaka Castle, which is all the more impressive since it has seen its fair share of war and reconstruction since being built in the late 1500s. This summer, you can brush up on its history and the famous samurai warriors who form an important part of its story at the upcoming exhibition titled ‘Siege of Osaka, Quadricentennial Yukimura Sanada and Sengoku Samurai Warriors’.
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