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  • Word Coffee

    Amazing coffee and cakes at this family run business

    I'm a huge fan of coffee, delicious cakes/pastries, and supporting small businesses. There's something about the charm of a mom and pop style shop that will always have me going back time and time again.Word Coffee, in the Tokyo Suburb of Fussa, has all of the above in bucketloads. The owners of the store are a husband and wife duo who spent time honing their craft in Australia - getting inspiration from the cafe culture there. My favorite things to order on their menu are their lattes (so good) and their carrot cake. The pieces are just the right size to kick your craving for something sweet, and the cake is so perfectly moist! If you're out in this part of Tokyo I'd highly recommend stopping in. The couple who run the store also speak perfect English (which is great if your Japanese isn't proficient, like mine!) and there's also free wifi if you need it.

  • Fuji Q Highlands

    A theme park other than DIsney for your visiting friends and family!

    Since we're living here as expats, friends and family naturally want to come and visit - and on a lot of people's lists for things they want to see or do are theme parks.True to expectations, a lot of people put Disneyland and Disney Sea at the top of that list - but if you want somewhere a little less heavily trafficked, that has AMAZING views of Fuji on a clear day, then you need to try Fuji Q Highlands.Located in Yamanashi Prefecture, there are several different methods of transport you can use to get there (their access map is here https://www.fujiq.jp/en/access/). Bear in mind if you have visitors using the JR pass, that the FujiQ Railway line is privately owned - so their JR passes won't cover that portion of transportation.It's one of my best theme park memories in Japan, for the incredible view we had. Definitely try and go on a weekday as opposed to a weekend if you go - in true Japan form the weekends are really busy, but during the week when I have been it hasn't been too bad.

  • Takakura Machi

    Great pancakes, cute atmosphere

    Takakura Machi is another coffee/food chain that I like, because it has a good atmosphere, yummy food and reasonable prices. Their biggest drawcard is probably the ricotta pancakes - they're light, fluffy, and melt in your mouth good. Apart from the regular variation of their ricotta pancakes (which are amazing as they are), they also offer seasonal variations of them - for instance right now they have a summer mang version which looks phenomenal and is next on my "need to try" list!The coffee here is also excellent - my go-to when I stop by Takakura Machi is the Cafe Au Lait which they top with whipped cream and a delicious brown sugar syrup. Probably not the healthiest or most low calorie option, but if you're in the mood for a sweet caffeine pick me up this is a good choice.As well as the range of sweet offerings and coffees, they also have a savory food menu - predominantly salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes. Their website is http://takakuramachi-coffee.co.jp and it has details of their store locations if you are interested.

  • Seijo Ishii

    Great to find tastes of home - it just can be pricey

    Seijo Ishii is a chain of international supermarkets that you can find in a number of locations in Japan. They are very convenient when it comes to picking up a certain ingredient that you need for a western style recipe - or perhaps even an indulgence from back home. A couple of my favorite things to pick up from there are different pastas - things like gnocchi, especially, which I haven't been able to find at a regular Japanese supermarket! Also, I am a big fan of Mexican food, and Seijo Ishii has a decent selection of Mexican food options like taco seasonings, tortillas, hard and soft taco kits and so forth. Sure, they are marked up pretty substantially, but I guess that's the case for imported goods!That's really the only thing that makes me take a point off my review. Some things are priced above what I would call a reasonable mark up. I get that there's the cost of importing things, and obviously the business needs to make a profit too, but some things are just well above what I think would be a decent profit!

  • Clinton Street Bakery

    Some of the best pancakes I've ever had!

    If you're after a western style breakfast when you're in Tokyo, and you also want somewhere with a reasonably early opening time - check out Clinton Street Bakery! The original Clinton Street Bakery was opened in Manhattan, New York - and it became so popular that even Lonely Planet called it New York's Number One breakfast spot - pretty high praise right there!The Tokyo location is in Minami Aoyama, just a short walk from the Omotesando train station. During the week the store is open from 9am until 9pm, and on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays they open from 8am until 9pm.Most menu items sit between 1500-2000 yen, and if I had to make a recommendation I'd absolutely say the pancakes are the way to go. My husband highly rates their smoked salmon eggs benedict too!They also offer a wide range of meal options that are suitable for lunch or dinner, such as Po' Boy sandwiches and fish and chips.Definitely worth a stop if you're in the Tokyo area!

  • Isehiro Kyobashi Honten

    Great Yakitori at Isehiro Kyobashi Honten

    The Isehiro Kyobashi Honten restaurant is a nice place to try some yakitori. The restaurant has many diffrent yakitorichoises and the sticks are really amazing big and very delicious. For lunch they have good reasonable Lunchsets like a Yakitori rice bowl, or diffrent kinds of Yakitoristicks (including rice and pickles). The restaurant itself has the typical old japanese house style. They have seats at the counter at the first floor and tatami seats at the second floor.English menu is available but the staff can not really speak english.

  • Kua Aina Burger

    If you're craving an American style burger, this place is good!

    If you're craving a big old American style burger and some good fries, Kua Aina Burger is a good place to stop into. There are several locations around Tokyo, and they sell all manner of delicious burgers from your regular cheeseburger type offerings, to things like Loco Moco burgers and Teriyaki Burgers. They also have a great range of sandwiches (with fillings like pastrami, roast beef and turkey, amongst others) and even some pretty delicious pancakes, if you're in the mood for something sweet.If you're a beer lover, they also have some Hawaiian beers on their menu to coincide with the Hawaiian vibes of the restaurant. A burger and fries here will set you back about 1000-1500 yen depending on the type of burger you go for - some with more toppings are naturally more expensive. Overall though we've always been happy with the food here and the portion sizes are good as well.

  • Konansou

    The most phenomenal view for a ryokan ever

    If you want a relaxing weekend away, I have to recommend my favorite ryokan in Japan - Konansou, near Lake Kawaguchiko. You either get an amazing view of the Lake or Mount Fuji, depending on what side of the building you are on. My husband and I stayed at a Fuji view room, which had its very own onsen with the most amazing scenery to look out at! We went in February, so I would recommend the colder months to go (as I do find the skies are clearer on those days!) but I do think it would be a wonderful place to stay no matter the time of year. The kaiseki dinner and buffet breakfast here were also amazing - they were very considerate of food allergies and made a very tastefully catered meal! As always Japanese hospitality really was at its' best here - and you definitely get a room with a view!

  • Max Brenner

    A paradise for chocoholics at Max Brenner

    If you love chocolate, then Max Brenner is definitely the place for you. They now have a few locations that have popped up in Japan, including in the trendy Omotesando Hills - but I find that the Hiroo location is easier to get a table in a hurry!My favorite thing to order on the menu at Max Brenner is their fondue. You get brownie pieces, cookies, marshmallows, strawberries and bananas, with a trio of different chocolatey dips. You even get a little burner so that you can go ahead and toast your marshmallows if you want to!They have a range of other menu items - things like chocolate pizza (yes, it's a real thing!), crepes, and amazing hot chocolates and milkshakes. Their hot chocolate is probably the best I've ever had - it honestly tastes just like you are drinking liquid chocolate! If you're in the area it's definitely worth checking out. 

  • Maruzen Books

    Best Selection of Foreign Books in Sendai

    The national chain of booksellers Maruzen operates its Sendai store out of the majority of the first floor of the AER building near Sendai Station. Coming in the entrance closest to the station, you first see a Docomo shop on one side and a small event space (gallery in this picture) on the other, but trudging forward you will find first the greeting card section on the right, followed by the magazines (rack and rack and rack of magazines) while the left side is set off by the row of cashiers followed by more serious Japanese books on a variety of subjects.Things are laid out easily on maps that can be found attached to pillars here and there, but if you're looking for the foreign language books and/or proper study material, keep walking straight down that first aisle the doors open onto. As the magazine racks end, take a left and walk past the escalators. The first thing that tells you this is the English section is the magazines on the racks, including serious news publications as well as fashion and  business options. On a rack on the wall, traditional postcards can be found stationed across the aisle from language learning toys for kids.The selection of kids books is fair, though any specific, personal and nostalgic titles might be better purchased from an internet retailer. Still, Maruzen carries a decent selection of kid stuff, and a fair amount of contemporary adult fiction. The nonfiction section isn't awful, especially for Japan, but if you're really into the life stories of people alive and dead internet retailers and/or audio books are what I would recommend over picking up a copy here.Past the fiction shelves there is a small translated manga section and a much larger educational materials section, including options for English language learners, English speakers studying Japanese, and a small host of other options. The English and Japanese materials do have the most variance in style, type, and mere number of options available. There are textbooks for adults and children as well as props, games and posters for the younger English student or the English teacher's classroom.While there is another English book section in the bookstore in the nearby eBeans, I found the selection in Maruzen to be significantly better, though that could be partially because the bookstore in eBeans is somewhat less intuitively organized. The basic 1 level floor map of Maruzen make it a lot easier to navigate. The eBeans bookseller takes up a small section of a number of floors and finding one map with information about all of the sections on all of the floors it proved impossible for me some years ago.If you're looking for some book-related entertainment in Sendai, whether it's some extremely popular English fiction or the newest copy of Vogue or a bit of translated manga or new Japanese study materials for your JPLT, Maruzen is probably your best shot. This is not just because the organization of materials makes it a better choice, but also because it is slightly closer to Sendai Station as well.

  • Kitano Smith Coffee

    Delicious coffee with cute cafe art inside art museum

     The cafe is located inside of the library and art museum recently built just outside of the North exit of Ota station. It is facing the station, so a very easy and convenient stop. There seems to be ample seating, but you do have to be in the cafe area to get the mugs of coffee instead of to-go cups. I highly recommend staying to enjoy your drink because they have very cute latte art. The coffee itself is fantastic! I got a blacksmith, and it had n nutty flavor and sweetness to it without adding anything. I also tried the Spanish latte which just has condense milk. Also delicious. The menu is in Japanese, but there aren't many options besides coffee . They do serve soft serve, which I saw many indulge on. I also drooled over the sandwiches they were making but have yet to try them. Everything is a little on the expensive end, but well worth the cost. 

  • Washington Hotel Plaza Buffet Lunch

    Ice Cream Bar Tabehodai!

    On our annual visit to the immigration office, my husband likes to find an all you can eat place to try, while we're out of town. This time he chose a hotel buffet which is a quick walk from Saga Station.We finished quickly and showed up just before 11:00, when the website showed that they open. The website was wrong and they open at 11:30, but the price for lunch was also less than the website showed (1400 yen per adult including tax). After going for a walk to work up an appetite, we went back and they had started the lunch time.There were already a few people there, but it wasn't crowded. We started filling our trays with the mostly Japanese style dishes. Salad, kushi-katsu, pumpkin soup, salmon, shrimp gyoza, rice, and 'chile con carne' were some of our favorite items. Everything was labeled in Japanese only if I remember correctly.Drink bar is included, with soft drinks, detox water, coffee and tea. There is a chocolate fountain with dry mini donuts and bread cubes, plus two small dessert items that didn't interest us much.We went for seconds even though we were getting full too quickly. When it came time for dessert, we were both really full, but wanted to eat so much ice cream, like little kids. We could only manage two ice cream bars each. (Red bean, mikan, Mont Blanc, lots of choices.)We've found hotel buffet restaurants have the best value, but unfortunately, we can't eat as much as we used to be able to.