Speak Easy Tokyo
Those hunting for an opportunity to speak a foreign language (or their own!) in friendly company where tasty beverages are served need look no further than Speak Easy Tokyo. This monthly event features a different bartender each month specializing in a different language. Recent events have featured French, Russian, English and Spanish. Started in 2009, Speak Easy Tokyo is an international bar where speaking and exchange can happen in a fun, friendly and safe atmosphere. Entry is free as are the events; however, the drinks are a mere ¥500 while draft beer is ¥600. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available. Check the website for the upcoming schedule of languages and events, and never miss an evening of relaxed fun in a foreign language again!
Nerd Nite Tokyo
A little over a year ago, Nerd Nite Tokyo came to life with a few beers and some good conversation. Held monthly, this local branch of a global event in 90 other cities combines presentations, performances, trivia, demonstrations and music with some tasty brews in an effort to foster community and have some fun in the process. Anyone is welcome to come along and give a presentation about their projects or something they find utterly fascinating. Scientists, engineers, artists, makers, hackers, historians storytellers and others are all welcome to come share their passion and ideas. Past topics have covered quantum technology, the appeal of bad movies, earthquakes, cognitive behavior therapy, Shakespeare and hiking to name but a few.
Get The LED’s Out in Tokyo
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is starting a program to help citizens exchange two or more incandescent bulbs for one light-emitting diode (LED) bulb for free. The exchanges will take place at roughly 800 consumer electronics stores in Tokyo starting July 10. The government hopes to encourage energy conservation in the city, and has set aside about ¥1.8 billion to cover the cost for one million LED bulbs and promotional efforts. If all one million bulbs are put to work, the government estimates this will cut electricity use by 90 million kilowatt-hours and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 44,000 tons while saving consumers ¥2.3 billion.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Mascot Design Competition
Mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be solicited from members of the public and voted on by elementary school children in Japan, including those in international schools. Mascots, a popular element of Japanese culture, have become a much-loved feature of the games. Submissions from professional illustrators and designers will be joined by those from members of the public in Japan, including non-Japanese residing in the country. A creative brief with comprehensive design guidelines and criteria will be made available for both mascots. A short-list of possible mascots will be chosen for final voting. “We think this process gives the public — and especially schoolchildren — a unique opportunity to participate in the design and selection process,” said Yoshiko Ikoma, Vice Chairperson of the Mascot Selection Process Panel. Designs may be submitted from August 1 to August 14, 2017, and voting will take place from December 2017 to January 2018. The winner will be announced in March 2018. The Creative Brief for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 Mascots is available for download: bit.ly/2rBwFP4
Yokohama Theatre Group
Plays, classes and a variety of other activities are what this theatre group, which more than 100 years old, offers those who decide to visit. Stage plays by established playwrights have always been on the bill, but in recent years the theatre has begun to concentrate on original and mostly bilingual works created by its members. Extreme re-workings and re-writings of classical pieces, too, are part of the repertoire performed mostly in Yokohama and occasionally in Tokyo. Each fall, they host the Yokohama portion of Cambridge University’s Japan Shakespeare Tour. The theatre also runs actor-training classes on weeknights and weekends in Tokyo and Yokohama, along with the occasional one or two-day actor-training sessions in other cities. Private coaching for students with upcoming auditions are also available. Visit their website to find out more about upcoming events and activities or to find out how to volunteer: ytg.jp/en
Colombian National Day Celebration
Tokyo’s Colombia National Day has become a regular feature of the Tokyo summer since it launched back in 2008. Performances by dance troupes and of course plenty of cuisine from the Latin American nation will be on offer at this nearly all-day festival. This year’s celebration will again be held at Hibiya Park, from 10AM to 4PM. Everyone is welcome to come enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Hotel Handy Phones
Beginning in July 2017, Handy Japan will begin offering free smartphones to hotel guests in the country. First started in Hong Kong in 2012, the service has spread to more than 600 hotels in 17 nations. The Japanese operator is a start-up jointly launched by Sharp Corporation and the Hong Kong-based company that started it all. The Japanese version will first be available on July 1 at the Royal Park Hotel in Chuo Ward. Handy gives users unlimited internet access as well as unlimited international and domestic calls placed from hotel rooms. Guests can also use the phones outside of their rooms during their stay. The Sharp handset operating system provides English, Japanese and Chinese language settings and offers information on nearby facilities along with restaurant coupons.
Green Bonds Sell Out in a Day
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government issued its first green bonds on November 24, 2016. Known as Tokyo Environment Supporter Bonds, roughly ¥10 billion worth of bonds were issued. Governor Koike reported that the bonds sold out on the same day they were issued. The bonds help garner funds needed for renewable energy development, urban greening and climate change adaptation. The terms of the bonds were 5 years at an interest rate of 2.74 percent. Targeted purchasers were residents, workers and students in Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kangawa along with corporations and organizations with main offices in those same areas. Given the success of this trial round, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is planning a full-scale issuance of green bonds sometime in 2017.
Those who love a good hot bath and have tattoos have a way to finally get their soak on. Tattoo Spot, a website regularly updated by users, lists onsen and sento around Japan that accept folks with a bit of picturesque skin. No official rule exists prohibiting those with tattoos to bathe; however, a cultural association with the yakuza puts many users on edge. While each onsen and sento tends to make their own rules, there are those with varying levels of acceptance. Tattoo Spot ranks various onsen for ink friendliness using a star-rating system. One star means tattoos are not accepted, while five denotes an establishment where they are not a problem at all. Stars in between may mean visitors may have to cover their ink or that it can be hit or miss. The web site also includes a list of gyms, swimming pools, hotels and beaches.