Go fishing indoors
If perching on concrete, dangling your rod into the toxic waters of Tokyo Bay doesn’t appeal head to Sangenjaya where you can fish in comfort indoors. Tsuribori Sangenjaya, a block behind Starbucks in the town center, has a mini pond, with mini rods and mini carp and goldfish all under one ramshackle roof, and has been in business in this converted home since 1963. Bring your own beer.
Tsuribori Sangenjaya, 4-18-1 Taishido, Setagaya-ku. Tel: 03-3412-3950. Open Mon-Sat noon-10:30pm, Sun & hols 10am-8pm. Nearest stn: Sangenjaya.
Get whipped with a giggle
On the sixth floor of a nondescript building near Nishi-Azabu crossing is the tiny Black Rose, where every drink comes with a twist. Friendly girls pour drinks and giggle like any good hostess, listening intently while lovingly pouring wax on your hands. The floor behind the bar rises to make a stage for showtime before they tie you up in a cage for whipping. Boys get all this complimentary with the first drink (¥7,000, regular Roppongi prices after that) while girls get to whip anyone they like, just for fun. Never has sadomasochism been so sweet. (An alternative date-spot for Valentine’s Day? Love hurts, after all.)
6F Yamachu Kaumicho Bldg, 3-24-19 Nishi-Azabu. Tel: 03-3404-5556. Open: 7pm-1am. Nearest stn: Roppongi or Hiroo.
Drop the height of a 35-storey building
Hakkeijima Sea Paradise amusement park in Kanagawa is most famous for two things: the biggest aquarium in Japan, and Blue Fall, the world’s highest free-fall ride. At 108m, it’s the height of a 35-storey building and the drop exerts a force of 4Gs on the body, about double the amount of a standard rollercoaster. Some of the free-fall cars make a dummy drop to raise the heart-rate even more. Hakkeijima’s all-inclusive one-day ticket ¥5,350 is discounted to ¥4,400 in winter (until March 17).
Hakkeijima, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa. Tel: 045-788-9632. Pleasure Land is open Mon-Fri 10:30am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10:30am-7pm (until 10pm after March 17). Nearest stn: Hakkeijima (Seaside line). http://www.seaparadise.co.jp
Get scrubbed at the station
There’s no need to sit in a smoky coffee shop when waiting for a train at Tokyo station, at least not for men. Sorry ladies, Tokyo Kur is a bathhouse for businessmen in the basement of the station (accessible from the Yaesu side) that also offers massages (¥1,500 for 20 mins) and akasuri body scrubs (¥2,600 for 25 mins) to rid overstressed salarymen of their daily woes. You can also have your suit dry cleaned as you soak. Just be careful not to miss your train.
Tokyo Station Yaesu Chika Chuo Kaisatsuguchimae, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3212-2681. Open 6am-11pm. Men only. Entrance 6-9am ¥2,100. 9am-11pm ¥2,300.
Get fat and be proud
With more than one in four top-league wrestlers being non-Japanese, sumo is tumbling out of the nationalist dojo into the unknown world of international sport. It’ll be a long time until any old Tom, Dick or Haru can join a sumo stable, but luckily the University of Tokyo Sumo Club is open to every nationality, sex or girth. Training takes place every Monday and Wednesday from 4:30pm and every Saturday from 1:30pm at Todai’s Komaba campus near Shibuya. If you’re worried about the nakedness, wear shorts because, as they say, “showing your buttocks is not the point of sumo.”
Email email@example.com or see http://www.dosukoi.net/~todai/e for more information.
Hire a puppy (or a parrot) by the hour
If you don’t have the time, money or space for a pet of your own, in Tokyo you can rent one by the hour. Puppy the World in Odaiba has more than 50 breeds of dog, mostly kawaii small dogs like toy poodles to French bulldogs. After taking the pooch for a walk, you can groom it or take it to the canine café, Puppy’s Dining. If that’s not exotic enough, Zoo in Roppongi has everything from hamsters to parrots to chameleons and even bats for a handsome deposit.
Puppy the World: 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3599-2851. Open daily 11am-9pm. Nearest stn: Odaiba Kaihin Koen (Yurikamome line). Puppy hire costs ¥1,890 per hour or ¥10,500 per day. www.puppytheworld.com Zoo Roppongi: 3-2-19 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3582-0002. Open daily 10am-8pm. Nearest stn: Roppongi Itchome.
Combine high cuisine and high drama
Kaiseki ryori is Japan’s most elegant cuisine and noh one of its finest artforms. At the Cerulean Tower you can combine the two for a memorable Tokyo moment. The hotel has its own noh theater, and a traditional kaiseki meal is served at sunken tables in the adjoining performance space. Of course, this isn’t somewhere for a cheap date. The standard menu is ¥30,000 per person, although prices vary depending on the size of the group.
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, 26-1 Sakuragaokacho, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-3476-3420. Dinner begins at 5:30pm and ends at 11pm. Nearest stn: Shibuya.
Go Cosmic-bowling with Hello Kitty
With a DJ spinning dance and rock music, disco lights, neon-pink bowling balls and Pin Ranger (a man in a bowling pin costume) prowling the lanes, Brunswick’s Cosmic Bowling, in both Japan and the US, is the most fun you can have with 5kg balls. And in Ikebukuro, there’s the added bonus of dayglo murals of Hello Kitty, who surveys the action wishing everyone all the luck she can give. But with nine lives and ten pins, the rest is up to you.
1-30-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku. Tel: 03-3988-7221. Open Sun-Thu 10am-2am, Fri-Sat 10am-4am (Cosmic Bowling: Mon-Fri 4-5:30pm, 9-11:30pm; Sat-Sun 4-4:30pm, 9-11pm). Nearest stn: Ikebukuro (East exit). ¥700/game; shoe rental ¥300.
Enjoy onsen and enka one minute from Roppongi Hills
You don’t need to leave Tokyo to enjoy the mineral pleasures of hot spring baths. Tamasaburo Bando in Azabu-Juban is an onsen with free after-bath entertainment. The spacious first-floor sento (public bath), which has interesting wall murals and buckets of Showa charm, is actually nicer (and cheaper) than the cramped hot spring upstairs. However, the piping-hot, brown onsen water feels undeniably soothing and after your bath you can relax in the spacious communal tatami room, order a cold beer and perhaps a plate of curry rice and enjoy live enka music. Just a stone’s throw from Roppongi Hills, Tamasaburo Bando is of another era entirely.
1-5-22 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3404-2610. Open 11am-9pm, closed Tue. Entrance: ¥1,260 (¥940 after 6pm). Beer: ¥700. Nearest stn: Azabu-Juban. Enka performances are on Sundays. Times vary, so call ahead.
Sing karaoke in a private pool
When a karaoke box just isn’t enough, head to Lovenet in the Hotel Ibis building in Roppongi, where 25 theme rooms include the 14-person Aqua Suite (¥15,000/hour), with a communal tub and state-of-the art karaoke system. Towels and robes are provided free and bathing suits are available to rent for women. (Men presumably have go naked, or use underwear and go home hanging lose.)
Hotel Ibis 3-4F, 7-14-4 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5771-5511. Open daily 6pm-5am. Nearest stn: Roppongi. www.lovenet-jp.com