Language course in Tokyo: ESL tips

Pick up a copy of Time Out Tokyo magazine to find out what's hot

Run by Hiroyuki Fushitani, former CEO of Tower Records Japan, Time Out Tokyo is a consistently excellent listings magazine, published in Japanese and English. Find out what's going on in Tokyo's bars, clubs, restaurants, museums and galleries.

Sushi

You will find sushi to satisfy any budget in Tokyo and ranging in quality from good to “best in the world”. The restaurants fall into four approximate categories: 
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Conveyor belt sushi
Massively popular, open to everyone and a good choice if your Japanese is not yet at a level where you are confident ordering. Simply pick what you want from a conveyor belt of treats.

Sushi chain shops
These offer affordable set menus and will often have pictures of the sushi on offer, so at least you will get some pointing practice.

Family-run shops
These are fancier than the chain shops and the prices reflect this, but you can often find affordable lunch menus that offer a taste of high-end sushi.

Upmarket shops
Some of Tokyo's finest sushi shops have year-long waiting lists, so you will need to think (and book) ahead. Let sushi experts take you on an gustatory tour de force.

One consistently strong place is the Tsukiji fish market (see Tokyo Attractions), where chefs compete in a tuna auction each morning to bring the very finest fish back to their restaurants. After the market winds down in the morning, a number of shops restaurants remain open, serving super-fresh fish. 

Get out of the city to the Izu Islands

The Izu Islands are a group of volcanic islands south of Tokyo. If you feel squashed in the world’s largest city, a short trip out of town will take you to another world.

For example, Kozu Island is just 56 km² and has a population of 2000 villagers. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the sheltered coves and white sandy beaches make this a perfect place to enjoy clear water. It has been designated as a national park.  
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Catch a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome

Competing in the Central League in Nippon Professional Baseball, the Yomiuri Giants are Japan's oldest professional team. The Giants are the love 'em or hate 'em big boys of the league, with more titles than any other team and a media-baron corporate owner that has been accused of covering up various controversies over the years. If you can catch one Giants game, try and watch them against the Hanshin Tigers, their biggest rivals. 

Get hot and sweaty at a hot spring

Tokyo’s onsen are a result of the high geothermal activity in the area. Once upon a time, residents would have to head out of the city to the natural spas in towns such as Hakone and Atami; nowadays they just dig down and hit the hot-water jackpot.

Probably the most unique spa is Oedo Onsen Monogatari, in the Odaiba area. This “hot-spring theme park” looks like a street from the Edo period and has restaurants and shops to complement the hot stuff. 
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To watch, read, listen

Watch
Spirited Away (2001) Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Wolf Children (2012) Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Nobody Knows (2004) Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Jiro dreams of Sushi (2012) Director: David Gelb

Tokyo cinemas
For most of the 20th century, Japanese viewers would usually watch double bills in small cinemas called meigaza. A handful of these are still running today and offer a truly authentic taste of Japanese cinema history: Ginrei Hall, Shin-Bungeiza, Meguro Cinema and Cinema Vera are among the most popular. For a more modern experience, many shopping centres include a cinema. For full-immersion viewing, check out the IMAX at Shinjuku.

Read
n the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami
After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Spring Snow (The Sea of Fertility) by Yukio Mishima

Listen
I'm Old Fashioned by Sadao Watanabe
Plays The Music Of Takeo Yamashita by Otomo Yoshide
First Love by Hikaru Utada
Loose by B'z
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Tokyo music venues
Music venues come and go in Tokyo just like everywhere else, so ask at the school or check out local listings to find out what's hot. Remember to check out the karaoke scene, which is closely integrated into Japan's music industry. Record labels include karaoke in their marketing plans for popular acts.

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