Top spoken word event was Rakugo with English surtitles, which was an unusual treat from the amusingly named Rakugo Without Borders. Rakugo is traditional Japanese comedy storytelling. I loved the Rakugo show we saw in Ebisu a couple of months ago. This one was more formal. One delightful and very funny story concerned marital challenges that was both traditionally Japanese and entirely universal. In general the stories were a mixed bag, but rakugo is definitely an interesting format for anyone who likes funny storytelling. Also, the Za Koenji Public Theatre is a great space. If you missed it, there's a second chance on August 12 - details! Oh, and the weekly Wednesday comedy night at Good Heavens was particularly good this week - and your very own Brit About Town, Layla, got to perform. PS Sorry we didn't get to Apocrypha, the US-style storytelling show last week... we had a schedule clash! But we hear it was great.
I am loving the Rainbow Reel Tokyo International LGBT film festival, but really sorry there are not more people in attendance - so far the theatres have been only half-full. All the films are either in English or have English subtitles. Don't miss it! Schedule.
Cocktail bar finds of the week
After our disappointment last month with Gen Yamamoto not thrilling us, we have been once more on the hunt for outstanding cocktails in delightful surroundings. This week, we loved Ishi no Hana in Shibuya, an almost-perfect cocktail bar if not for the smoking... and at long last, Land Bar Artisan cocktail bar in Shinbashi/Shiodome, to which we were lured after promises in this Japan Times article that the best gin cocktails in town were to be found. Indeed, they were excellent. We loved the ambience in both these little bars, and were most delighted with the cocktails too. Hooray!
Restaurant finds of the week: 5 new recommendations!
It's been an excellent (greedy) week for new restaurants: five new finds!
- In Koenji, we loved the somewhat obscure but atmospheric Bochi Bochi, home of excellent okanomiyaki in Koenji (though they take much longer to make it than a standard okonomiyaki place - this is a finer dining okonomiyaki experience!)
- In Shinjuku/Yotsuya Sanchome we went to Esperia, a fine dining Italian restaurant of excellent quality. This is a small and formal-feeling restaurant, and the multiple courses they produced for us were universally delicious. They even produced a special vegetarian version for some of us.
- En in Shinbashi is a good quality fancy version of an izakaya with great views over Rainbow Bridge from its 42nd floor. I suspect future visitors to our home will be experiencing its delights...
- 5 minutes from Shinjuku Cinemart is Bosphorus Hasan, a rather good Turkish restaurant. Their bread and hummus are particularly noteworthy...
- And finally, Number 4 in Kojimachi. This bakery/cafe/restaurant is part of the Ivy Place etc empire and true to form, it is delicious with the added bonus of being rather hipstery in vibe.
Top picks for next week in Tokyo
Fri 15 July - It's another Nerd Night - sciencey talks at Hub Tokyo in Meguro. Or go see a selection of LGBT short films from Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia, or French film Summertime (all with English subtitles).
Sat 16 July - Today you could go for an international LGBT film marathon - there are five films on today! Or you could take a class in theatre production and design with Tokyo International Players.
Sun 17 July - Another LGBT film marathon - another 5 films are on today!
Mon 18 July - It's the last day of the LGBT film festival.
Tue 19 July - Head over for Shibuya's weekly new material night for comedy, improv and more.
Wed 20 July - Pecha Kucha is doing a special free show at the BMW show room in Odaiba tonight on the theme of future mobility. It's free - plus you get a free drink.
Thu 21 July - Stand-up comedy tonight is at the Hobgoblin in Shibuya.
Tokyo International Players are putting on Avenue Q for one night only, on September 9th. Reserve your tickets here.