Rainy season is here, which can put a damper on those fun warm-weather dates you had planned. Don’t give up on your social life for the entirety of the season, though – just get creative! In no particular order, here are ten date ideas for the rainy season.
What could be more romantic than watching the night sky with your sweetheart? Tokyo and area have a number of planetariums, from the central area (Shibuya,Tokyo/Shinagawa), all the way out to Hachioji in the west, Kita-ku andAdachi-ku in the north and Haneda in the south. Then there’s always the planetarium at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro. A complete list can be found at the Tokyo Planetarium website.
They’re dark and full of mood lighting, with sweet little fishies swimming everywhere you look. If you brave the rain outside, depending on the aquarium, you’ll even get to see some penguins, seals, otters, pelicans, and dolphin shows. At the simple (and cheap) end of things is the Inokashira Park Zoo Aquatic Life Park. Just one small building within the Zoo Park grounds, it’s mostly local aquatic species (and mostly little kids). Though a sweet and easy trip, it doesn’t exactly scream “romance” (though there’s plenty of other screaming). Only slightly more expensive is Tokyo Sea Life Park, a short walk from JR Kasai Rinkai Koen Station. From there, in order of cost (low cost -> expensive), there’s Tokyo Tower Aquarium, Shinagawa Aquarium, Epson Aqua Stadium, the Sunshine City aquarium, Enoshima Aquarium, and Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise.
Why go to a movie theater when you can go to an IMAX movie theater? IMAX theaters are sprinkled around Tokyo and area, with locations in Machida, Kiba,Nerima, and further afield, in Tokorozawa (though no movies currently listed), Kawasaki, Fujisawa, Urawa, Omiya and Shobumachi. It might seem like the easy way out, but it does cut down on that awkward talking part of dates if that’s not your strong point (or if language compatibility is still low). A brief scan of movies currently on offer suggests that the big North American movies are subtitled, though make sure to check each theater’s schedule to confirm.
Entry: ¥2000 for IMAX, ¥2300 for IMAX 3D/person
Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions
As long as you don’t aim for one of the big touring exhibits, you should find museums, galleries and exhibitions to be fairly quiet and relaxing. And boy, are there a lot. For a rundown of Tokyo museums, see the Japan Visitor post on Tokyo museums. For art galleries, see Tokyo Art Beat. Or, you can always check out Metropolis‘ Agenda or Listings.
Entry: varies greatly
National Film Center
Somewhere between movies and museums, galleries and exhibitions, lies the National Film Center. Running until June 22 is EU Film Days 2014, a “series showcasing films from the member states of the European Union (EU)… exhibiting the wide range of filmmaking talent in Europe and introducing the diversity of European society and culture to audiences in Japan.” If you’d rather learn about Japanese cinema, you’ll be glad to know that their permanent exhibit is Nihon Eiga: The History of Japanese Film.
Entry: ¥520 (cinema one and two), price is for designated screening on designated day; ¥210 (gallery)/person
From beer, to mayonnaise, to clothes, vehicles, toys, candy and pretty much everything else, there is a factory tour for you. Though often located a hop, skip and a jump out of the city, tours are worth the extra work for their originality alone. Bonus – you’ll often come away with an omiyage, or at least get a sample to enjoy on-site. Note that reservations are needed for a number of tours, so it’s best to call or sign up online beforehand to avoid arriving to disappointment. For an exhaustive list of Tokyo and area tours, see Let’s Enjoy Tokyo‘s Let’s Go to the Factory Tour page.
Entry: often free, but check to make sure
While for the most part, onsen will have you separated from your significant other, there are a few onsen in the Tokyo area where you can have a nice long soak while holding hands. Aww… In Greater Tokyo, there’s Toshimaen’s Niwa no Yu in Koyama (near Ikebukuro), and Tokyo Summerland near Hachioji (by bus, 30min from JR Hachioji stn, 10min from JR Akikawa stn). Yokohama area has Shin-Yokohama Park’s Waterpark (“Bade Zone” area). Visit Naver Matome for other options (*Setaonsen is no longer). Note that many onsen do not allow tattoos, so cover those bad boys up in such a way that no one will be the wiser.
Entry: varies, with some onsen offering per-hour rates, others, day rates. Expect around ¥2000/person for a few hours.
Bond over food – who wouldn’t enjoy that? Cooking lessons let you either show off your skills, or make yourself look adorably helpless (but eager). ABC Cooking Studio offers one-day lessons in cake making, bread baking, or run-of-the-mill cooking. You can feel extra special knowing that a portion of your class fee goes to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees “to help promote better eating for refugees around the world.” A fun date and philanthropy all in one go – how often does that happen? Men seem to be welcome at most, but not all, lessons. Strange. Either check the webpage or contact for details. English lessons are available at Tokyo Midtown.
Bowling, Billiards and Other Games
The couple that plays together, stays together. Work up an old-school sweat by tossing, putting, hitting or billiard-ing a few balls around at one of many Round1 amusement complexes in Japan. To find a Round1 near you, click here and choose your area. Word on the street is that mini-golf is an option at some, though I’m having trouble finding it on their homepage…
Entry: various price categories. Please see location guide for details.
Last, but not least, is that old Japan favorite, karaoke. We all know that in the city, karaoke places are a dime a dozen, and it’s really a matter of personal preference whether you go Shidax, Big Echo or one of the other myriad places. The important thing is that pretty much everyone is a winner with karaoke – who doesn’t like belting out a tune, especially after a few drinks?