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Wining and dining, cocktails with class, the sultry sounds of jazz, other live performances, or clubbing and carousing—you'll find it all, and more, beneath Tokyo's neon-soaked night sky where the city's popular nightspots are open till the early-morning hours. Tipping isn't customary, but some upscale establishments may have extra service charges that range from a few hundred yen to a few thousand. Karaoke clubs and izakaya—traditional watering holes—are ubiquitous and provide a great way to mix with locals. All-night revelers might want to consider the likes of Shinjuku or Roppongi, but tamer entertainment is available in Ebisu or Yuraku-cho.
Mille Café Bakery and Wine Bar, Harajuku. This relaxed bar in the Harajuku high-fashion district offers a rotating selection of wines dictated by the season.
Red Shoes, Aoyama. Featuring live shows and DJ sets, it is Tokyo's premier rock bar. Don't forget your leather jacket.
Sweet Basil 139, Roppongi. Come for dinner or just a drink at this upscale club featuring a variety of musical performances, considered by many to be Tokyo's best.
Tokyo is an urban paradise for traveler and resident alike. That doesn't mean, however, that local Japanese sensibilities—steeped in centuries of cultural appreciation for nature—have been paved over. Much like inner-city cherry blossom viewing, tiny veranda gardens, and well-groomed parks, nature's more awesome wonders are well preserved, too—albeit just outside the concrete jungle. If you pine for more pristine surroundings follow the lead of the locals.
Every year roughly 300,000 Tokyoites and visitors scale nearby Mt. Fuji during peak climbing season (July and August). It's an opportunity a local saying deems "foolish" to pass up (or to do more than once). Some 2.5 million are said to visit Mt. Takao's Yakuoin Temple annually, treading trails in its surrounding bucolic beauty. Thousands take to Nikko National Park to see Kegon Falls and other natural wonders, especially when foliage begins to bloom in spring.
Mt. Fuji, in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Well within reach of the big city, beautiful, snowcapped Mt. Fuji is bound to make an impression, whether you climb to the summit or view it from afar.
Mt. Takao, Takao National Park. Just an hour away from Tokyo, the mountain offers an array of hiking trails as well as the 12-century-old Yakuoin Temple.
Kegon Falls, Nikko National Park. You can view Japan's most famous waterfall from either the top or the bottom of the 318-foot drop and make a day of enjoying this shrine-peppered scenic park. And it's all just two hours from Tokyo.
Japan is perched on a geothermal gold mine and onsen (hot springs) are everywhere. Locals consider bathing in these hot springs to be a near-ritual experience, with unique healing properties attributed to the water. These baths are more about self-pampering than getting clean, but give yourself a thorough shower before your soak. Proper etiquette demands it.
There are indoor and outdoor pools of different sizes, with varying temperatures to choose from, but the ones outside are best if you want to admire the natural setting. Some places may also offer a sauna or professional massage. Afterward, retire to the casual dining room for a light meal or some sake, and lounge at a low table on a tatami (straw mat) floor, where napping is permitted.
Oedo Onsen Monogatari, Odaiba. This onsen at Yurikamome Telecom Center pays homage to this tradition at an Edo-period-style facility with all the trimmings; it's the city's finest.
Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Resort, Kanagawa Prefecture. Just 90 minutes by train from Tokyo, Kanagawa is famed for its abundance of onsen resorts and inns, from the budget to the lavish. The resort offers an exquisite traditional onsen, water amusement park, and bathing-suit-only grounds. Visitors can even soak in green tea and sake.
Onsen of Kusatsu, Guma Prefecture. Those with spare time and an interest in hot springs should travel three hours from Tokyo and 3,937 feet above sea level to Kusatsu. Japanese have flocked here for centuries for all manner of cures, including one from the most dreaded disease—lovesickness.
It's fair to say that baseball is as much a national pastime in Japan as it is in the U.S. The Japanese have adopted and adapted the sport in a way that makes it a fascinating and easy-to-grasp microcosm of both their culture and their relationship to the West. The team names alone—the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp, for example—amuse Westerners accustomed to such monikers as the Yankees and Indians, and the fans' cheers are chanted more in unison than in United States. ballparks. The season runs from April through October. Same-day baseball game tickets are hard to come by; try the respective stadiums or various ticket agencies. You can buy tickets for most events at convenience stores, such as Lawson, 7-Eleven, and Family Mart. The two main ticket agencies are Ticket PIA (03/5237–9999), with various locations nationwide, mainly in department stores, and CN Playguide (03/5802–9999). Depending on the stadium, the date, and the seat location, expect to pay from ¥1,500 to ¥8,000.
Tokyo Dome. Cheers for the Yomiuri Giants go up at this 45,600-seat stadium. 1-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 121-0004. 03/5800-9999. www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/e. Subway: Marunouchi and Namboku lines, Koraku-en Station (Exit 2); Toei Oedo and Toei Mita lines, Kasuga Station (Exit A2); JR Chuo Line, Suido-bashi Station (West Exit).
Meiji Jingu Baseball Stadium. The home turf of the Yakult Swallows, the city's second team, is in the Outer Gardens of Meiji Jingu. 13 Kasumigaoka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0013. 03/3404–8999. Subway: Ginza Line, Gaien-mae Station (Exit 2); JR Chuo Line, Shinanomachi Station.
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