First Carl’s Jr. opens in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, massive line-up ensues


RocketNews 24/Business Wire:

CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (CKE), parent company of Carl’s Jr.® and Hardee’s®, continues its impressive international growth with the opening of its first Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Japan.

Perhaps influenced by the weak footing of McDonald’s last year, it seems a steady stream of US franchises such as Taco Bell and Shake Shack have been crossing the Pacific and setting up shop in Tokyo. On 4 March, it was to be major burger chain Carl’s Jr. coming the otaku mecca of Akihabara.

This marks the first of a multi-unit development agreement between CKE and Mitsuuroko Group Holdings Co., Ltd. to develop 150 Carl’s Jr. restaurants in Japan over the next 10 years. As part of the development deal, Carl’s Jr. restaurants also are scheduled to open in Azabujyuban, Odaiba, Shibuya and Roppongi.

“Japan is the largest burger market in Asia and Japanese consumers are well known for their passionate enthusiasm for quality, great tasting food. The Carl’s Jr. brand and menu are perfectly positioned for Japan as we offer bigger, better tasting, chargrilled burgers served with high quality, fresh ingredients and best-in-class customer service,” said Ned Lyerly, President, International at CKE. “We partnered with the Mitsuuroko Group as our Master Franchisee in Japan to establish our brand across the country and we are confident in our collective ability to deliver to a superior level of guest satisfaction in our restaurants.”

“Carl’s Jr. fills a major void in the Japanese burger market. There’s no other global burger chain that offers such premium and innovative menu items served with industry leading customer service. What’s more is the brand exudes a cool, youthful and edgy persona that will resonate with Japan’s burger lovers of all ages,” said Mr. Kohei Tajima, the CEO of MGHD. “We are honored to open the first Carl’s Jr. in Japan and look forward to elevating the brand’s presence in the market over the next decade.”

Open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Akihabara will offer innovative breakfast, lunch and dinner menu items including the brand’s signature line of 100% Angus Beef Thickburgers, such as the Western Bacon Cheeseburger and Jalapeno Thickburger, along with Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders and Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes. The restaurant will also offer complimentary Wi-Fi, a refillable beverage bar and draft beer.

To celebrate the arrival of Carl’s Jr. in Japan, the restaurant will give away “A Year’s Worth of Free Burgers” to the first 50 people through the door on opening day. This popular promotion is well-loved by fans around the world with some of them lining up days before the restaurant opens.

Key facts about Carl’s Jr. in Akihabara

  • Address: 4-4-3, Sotokanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; breakfast hours: 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily
  • Menu features:
    • Carl’s Jr.’s signature line of 100 percent Angus Beef Thickburgers®
    • High-quality, all-white-meat Chargrilled and Hand-Breaded Chicken
    • Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes™
    • Refillable beverage bar
  • Special amenities:
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Tokyo Halloween revelers descend on Shibuya, and urged to be the “cleanest Halloween in the world”

Japan Times: 

Thousands of revelers dressed up in wild costumes and wearing makeup swarmed Hachiko Square in front of Tokyo’s JR Shibuya Station on Saturday evening to celebrate Halloween.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department mobilized hundreds of riot police for the event this year.

Last year, two people were arrested. One was detained for punching a police officer while the other was taken into custody for molesting a woman. Earlier in the day, singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu called on partygoers in the capital to keep the streets clean as a large quantity of litter was expected to result from the gathering.

I want everyone to help keep the streets clean, using these bags (provided by the city),” the singer said in front of Tokyo Tower in Minato Ward.

The event was organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to raise awareness by handing out orange jack-o’-lantern-themed garbage bags.

When you have fun, there will be lots of garbage,” the singer said. “I want to see people in the streets fill the bags in a kawaii (cute) way.

The event formed part of a campaign dubbed “Halloween & Tokyo,” under the slogan of “cleanest Halloween in the world.”

The bags were handed out near stations and large road crossings in busy districts such as Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi.

During last year’s boisterous Halloween celebrations, a large quantity of litter, such as drink cans, were thrown on the ground by revelers, prompting the metropolitan government to launch this year’s campaign.

Cosplaying taxis with monster drivers to offer free rides to cosplayers in Shibuya (Tokyo) this Halloween

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RocketNews 24 (by Oona McGee):

Halloween in Japan keeps getting bigger and better every year, with cosplayers coming out in droves to celebrate the world of costumes and make-believe. This time around, Japanese car manufacturer Nissan is joining the fun with a fleet of taxis dressed up in Halloween costumes, complete with “monster drivers” behind the wheel.

The monsters and their vehicles will be helping fellow ogres and ghouls by offering free rides to people in costume in the Shibuya area on October 29 and 31. What’s more, the unusual vans promise to be so spacious, they’ll accommodate any type of outfit you’re wearing!

The event, called “Ride on Halloween by Nissan”, will feature three “costumed” vehicles: an orange Jack-o-Lantern, a purple-and-green Frankenstein (‘Frankenstein’s Monster’ for the purists), and a pale-brown, bandaged Mummy.

▼ They may be monsters, but they’re Japanese taxi-driving monsters, so they’ll all be wearing white gloves.

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The promotion is designed to showcase the spacious nature of Nissan’s NV200 taxi, which has been ferrying people around New York and London for several years and will finally be making its debut in Japan as part of the preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

▼ New York marked the debut of the NV200 taxi with a #HAILYES interactive marketing campaign in 2013.

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In Japan, they’re using Halloween to highlight the roomy interior of the new taxis, by offering the free rides to cosplayers to show how a van ride can be superior to a sedan ride, especially when you and your clothes take up a extra space. The driver of each vehicle will also take part in the dress-up!

You can catch a ride at three as-yet-unannounced designated pick-up and drop-off points in the Shibuya area, which is one of the main hubs for Halloween celebrations every year.

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The taxis will run between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on 29 and 31 October. The organisers have pointed out that free rides are limited only to those in costume and rides cannot be guaranteed, so if you really want to step inside the cosplaying vehicles, you might want to try your luck before the night of Halloween, when there’s less chance of monsters lurking about.

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The pick-up and drop-off points will be announced soon, so be sure to check out the official campaign website for updates!

Medicom Toy (Japan) x Oakley Frogskins Bearbrick for BEAMS

Longstanding Japanese toy label Medicom Toy outfits its hallmark Bearbrick model with a pair of Oakley’s Frogskins sunglasses for a new release for compatriot retailer BEAMS. The collaboration embodies Oakley’s slick vibe on an equitably smooth translucent Bearbrick, featuring the brand logo on the chest alongside a screen of the silhouette on the toy’s face.

Arriving as a special, limited-edition gift at BEAMS locations in Harajuku, Nagoya, Yokohama and Shibuya, pick up this iteration of the Bearbrick beginning April 17.

Japan’s wildest nail art: Sushi, pirates, scissors and more…

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RocketNews 24:

Nail art is pretty big in Japan. For a lot of women, getting their nails not just colored, but decorated with gems, 3D flowers and mini-paintings is a monthly routine and fashion must. Usually it’s fairly subtle, but some nail art aficionados think bigger and bolder is better, no matter how hard it makes typing a mail or wiping your bum.

Here’s a fairly typical nail art design in Japan. The colors are simple but varied, there are some gems for accents, and some nice paint work as well. It’s stylish and more eye-catching than a one-tone polish job, but it’s not going to put your eye out either.

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Then you have designs like this:

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Often part of the uber-cute Shibuya gal fashions, these nails are long, long, long and festooned with popular children’s characters, flowers and other girly tidbits.

▼Cake, anyone?

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Pop culture themed nails are also big among all ages.

▼Totoro, looking cute

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▼Edward Scissorhands, looking… pointy

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▼Gudetama, also looking surprisingly pointy

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Speaking of eggs, another major category of nail art is food-themed.

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This level of nail art already takes a high level of skill and several hours to complete, but there is a level even beyond that. It goes so far beyond fashion and the bounds of convenience that you might label it a kind of performance art.

▼Sea coral nails, perhaps in response to recent tensions between Japan and China over coral poaching?

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▼Pirate nails, perhaps a call to arms against the scourge of modern piracy?

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▼Some pretty ladies, perhaps for women’s rights?

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▼These things. Just because they are purdy.

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Drew Barrymore arrives in Japan and begins chronicling her #tokyofoodtour on Instagram

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RocketNews 24:

Drew Barrymore is in Japan right now, and while we’re sure she’s got some sightseeing and interviews on her schedule, what she seems most fired up about is the food, as the actress looks to be on a mission to sample all that Tokyo has to offer her taste buds, from cheap ramen joints to Michelin-ranked fine dining.

Barrymore has been chronicling her culinary exploits through her Instagram account, marking updates with the hashtag #tokyofoodtour. The very first entry shows the star looking a little sleepy as she poses, chopsticks in hand, behind a balanced and beautifully arranged Japanese breakfast.

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Next up, a stop by Sukibayashi Jiro, made famous by 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

▼ The famously strict Jiro even cracks a smile.

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The actress isn’t solely interested in such exclusive establishments, though. As a matter of fact, she was up at about at 7 a.m. to stop by popular ramen restaurant Inoue, located in the Tsukiji neighborhood.

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Barrymore also stopped by a Tokyo shrine for a little spiritualism/digesting…

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…plus took time to pose with a fan.

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The hidden drawback to Tokyo’s extremely diverse dining scene is that there’s so much good food to try, it’s hard to find time for all of it. It seems Barrymore knows that when you’re looking to maximize the variety in your meal, a visit to a robatayaki, a type of restaurant where customers can choose from a large number of small dishes, is in order

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Japan doesn’t just have a deep food culture, though. A walk through Tokyo will present you with a staggering amount of beverage options, many of them waiting for you inside the city’s ubiquitous vending machines.

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And, like a true foodie, Barrymore remembers to save room for dessert, which on this day came from a Tokyo branch of American donut chain Krispy Kreme.

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Unfortunately, it looks as though the Tokyo portion of Barrymore’s trip to Japan is over, as the most recent photo of her Tokyo Food Tour has her posing in the middle of Shibuya’s famous Scramble Intersection with the caption “Sayonara! Goodbye Tokyo.”

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Restaurant information
Inoue / 井上
Address: Tokyo-tom Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-9-16
東京都中央区築地4-9-16
Open 5 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Website (Tabelog)

KITH presents The Sakura Project

Following a brief teaser last week, KITH has taken the wraps off of its Tokyo-bound endeavor. Building on the success of pop-up shops in the likes of Miami, Paris, Sao Paolo and Los Angeles, the Sakura Project sees the New York-based KITH crew heading to the Far East to open an installation in the Japanese capital to coincide with both Tokyo Fashion Week and the Sakura Blossom Festival.

Designed in partnership with architecture firm Bang3, the experiential retail space will be home to collaborative product from the likes of PUMA and John Elliot + Co and draws on the ephemeral nature of sakura with a cloud-like aesthetic created by textured wall gradations, reflectivity and a dreamy custom-designed motif.

Stay tuned for a full look at the project and look for KITH’s Tokyo pop-up to be open within UNITED ARROWS & SONSShibuya flagship from March 20 through March 22.

KITH Tokyo Pop-Up Shop
UNITED ARROWS & SONS
3-28-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo
Japan

Moving to Tokyo? Real estate agent picks five best neighborhoods for single residents

real estate

RocketNews 24:

Tokyo is a big place, both in terms of population and area, and if you’re moving here from anywhere else, you might be at a bit of a loss in terms of where to look for an apartment. Obviously, a large part of that decisions is up to personal preference, but we do happen to have some advice for areas to look at if this will be your first time living alone!

These five areas were selected by a local real estate agent, so you know they must be good, right?

1. Nakano

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For a lot of youngsters moving to (or already living in) Tokyo, Kichijoji is the place to be, but it’s also fairly expensive. So, our real estate friend said, “If you want to live in Kichijoji no matter what, I would definitely recommend the Nakano area, as it’s on the same train line as Kichijoji. The neighborhood gives you access to not only JR train lines but also subways, making it a really convenient place. It’s been popular with students for a long time, and there are a lot of treasures to be dug up if you look.”

Rents in the Nakano area tend to range from quite high to extremely cheap, so you can be sure to find something that fits your budget. There are also plenty of shops and supermarkets in the area, making it all the more convenient. Similar places would be Koenji, Ogikubo, Asagaya, and Higashi-nakano.

2. Komagome and Tabata

Komagome Station

Generally, living near the JR Yamanote Line, which circles the heart of downtown Tokyo, means paying a lot in rent, but the Komagome and Tabata areas are (relatively) inexpensive. People generally don’t think of either area when they think of the Yamanote Line, but they do, in fact, have stations on it. Also, they’re close to lively Shinjuku, making it easier to go out for a drink whenever you feel like!

Our real estate agent told us, “They’re not the most glamorous areas, but they have plenty of shops and supermarkets, so they’re by no means inconvenient. And they’re not too expensive either. Komagome in particular has green spaces like Rikugien and Kyu-Furukawa gardens, in addition to temples and shrines, making it a good place to take a stroll on your days off.”

3. Sumiyoshi

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Apparently people aren’t too familiar with the Sumiyoshi area, even people living in Tokyo. However, it has stations on both the Hanzomon and Shinjuku lines, so you can get wherever you want to go pretty easily. Even better, you can get to Otemachi, Shibuya, and Shinjuku without changing trains!

Like most of the places on this list, the Sumiyoshi area has supermarkets and shops, as well as lots of greenery in places like Sarueonshi Park. “It’s a popular area for families,” the real estate agent told us, “but there are also a variety of places for people living alone.”

It’s apparently gotten a bit more expensive in the last few years as its popularity has grown, but it’s still reasonable and convenient.

4. Kamata

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This area is kind of close to Kanagawa Prefecture (which is actually a plus if you’re keen to spend your weekends at the temples of Kamakura or seaside parks in Yokohama), but access to the Tokyo city center isn’t too bad. The area right around the station feels fairly busy but not so far away from it things are pretty quiet and rents aren’t too expensive. There are a lot of inexpensive but good restaurants around the station, so it’s pretty convenient for people living alone.

Access to the city center isn’t the best, but Ikegami and Hasunuma, which are accessible from Kamata on the Tokyu Ikegami line, are worth checking out. Due to the less-than-ideal public transportation options, rent is cheaper, so if you can’t find what you want in Kamata, these two areas might be worth a look.

5. Asakusa

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People tend to think of Asakusa as a tourist area, but it does also have a lot of residences. As you might expect, rent around Sensoji temple and the station is expensive, but if you head towards Tawaramachi or Iriya, there are plenty of inexpensive places,” we were told. And, in addition to Sensoji and the shopping/dining area around it, there are also plenty of restaurants elsewhere in Asakusa, too.

Apparently there isn’t much in the north part of the Asakusa area, so if you want to make the most of living in Asakusa, our real estate friend told us that places close to Asakusa, Tawaramachi, Inaricho, and Iriya stations are highly recommended.

Final thoughts

Our real estate agent left us with some good general advice. While people moving to Tokyo probably want to live in the famous places they’ve already heard of, they’re also the most expensive. If your selected area has a mixture of JR lines and subway lines, it probably won’t be inconvenient at all to get to those glamorous high-rent districts for a day out (or a day in the office), and you will have an easier time living in the city when you rent isn’t through the roof.

Other recommended locations were: Kotake-mukaehara, Machiya, Koiwa, Akabane, and Kiba. Also, we were told that places like Nezu and Sendagi, which have a lot of history and older shops and temples, are places where you can enjoy putting down roots of your own.

Staggering servings of salmon roe are waiting for you at these four Tokyo restaurants

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RocketNews 24:

There are a couple of distinct price tiers to seafood in Japan. Squid and octopus tend to be very budget-friendly, with a step up in price for sashimi-grade tuna and salmon. Among the most premium offerings of all is where you’ll find salmon roe, or ikura as it’s known in Japanese.

Due to its high cost, ikura is usually served in modest quantities, sometimes seeming more like a garnish than a legitimate component of the meal. However, that’s not the case at these four Tokyo restaurants, which dish up such generous portions that their ikura literally overflows the bowl.

As one of Japan’s most popular dining websites, Guru Navi (short for “Gourmet Navigation”) will let you filter restaurant search results by a wide variety of parameters. Recently, though, the site made a special point of highlighting a group of four restaurants that are known for their overflowing ikura bowls.

Referred to as ikura koboredon, the decadent dish is most commonly seen on the northern island of Hokkaido, the surroundings waters of which serve as the source for the lion’s share of Japan’s salmon roe. All four of these restaurants are located inside Tokyo, though, which means they’re within easy striking distance if you’re craving some ikura after a day of sightseeing, work, or school in Japan’s capital.

Let’s dive face-first into this collection of ikura goodness.

1. Hokkaido Shiretoko Gyojo /北海道知床漁場

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Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Minami Ikebukuro 1-13-21, Izumiya Building basement level 1 / 東京都豊島区南池袋1-13-21 和泉屋ビルB1
Open 5 p.m.-midnight


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Just opened in late February, this Ikebukuro restaurant takes its name from Hokkaido’s Shiretoko Peninsula, considered to have some of the tastiest ikura in the country. Ordinarily, the restaurant’s full-size ikura rice bowl, called the Nore Sore!! Nannmmara Kobore Ikuradon will cost 1,980 yen (US $16.80), with half-sizes available for 1,280 yen. As part of its opening campaign, though, customers can print out or display the couponhere and get a half-size bowl absolutely free!

 

2. Totoshigure / ととしぐれ

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Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya, 3-13-7, Godo Building basement level 1 / 東京都渋谷区渋谷3-13-7 五常ビルB1
Open Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-5 a.

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Totoshigure has the cheapest menu-priced overflowing salmon roe bowl of any restaurant on the list, as the otsubo ikura no kobore meshi will only set you back 890 yen. If ikura’s not your thing the restaurant’s uni (sea urchin) bowl is similarly staggering in size.

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3. Iroriya / いろり家

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Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-11-11, Ginza Sambankan 2 basement level 2 / 東京都中央区銀座3-11-11 銀座参番館2 B1
Open Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 5 p.m.-4 a.m.; Weekends 5 p.m.-11 p.m.

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Moving from youthful Shibuya to blueblood Ginza, Iroriya’s profile was raised when it was mentioned on the cover of a popular adult magazine last year. You won’t find anything scandalous inside, although the massive funajo meshi ikura bowls, in prices ranging from 2,480 to 3,980 yen depending on size, will stimulate your appetite.

4. En / 炎

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Address: Tokyo-to, Edogawa-ku, Funabori 1-7-17, Crystal Funabori 1st floor /東京都江戸川区船堀1-7-17 クリスタル船堀1F
Open Monday-Thursday, Sunday, holidays 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; Friday-Saturday and days preceding holidays 5 p.m.-3 a.m.

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Finally, we come to En, where the recommended way to eat a mountain of ikura is with a dollop of fiery wasabi added. Like many of the other examples on this list, the 1,280-yen kobore ikuradon seems like a deal that’s too good to be true. With portions this big, can the restaurant actually be making money off the dish?

Possibly not. En’s owner, who was born in the city of Hakodate on Hokkaido, says he’s prepared to lose money on his giant salmon roe servings, and that his real goal is for the people of Tokyo to come away with a renewed appreciation of the regional cuisine of his home prefecture. As a matter of fact, so seriously does he take the task that he personally scoops the ikura into the bowls that are delivered to eagerly waiting customers.

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Of course, the better time customers are having, the more likely they are to order a glass of beer or bottle of sake to go along with the loss-leading ikura bowl. But hey, ikura and sake go great together, so in the end it’s a win-win for all involved.