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Colette trained with Mark Ginther (Tel: 090-8032-4605, www.markginther.com) at Tipness Roppongi (B1F Piramide Bldg, 6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5474-3531. www.tipness.co.jp/english). Membership: daytime, ¥9,450; full time, ¥12,600; joining fee, ¥3,150. All members have the option of free towel rental (Roppongi only) or the use of all other gyms in Tokyo. Also, Spirit Gym (B1F Eclaire Nogizaka, 8-11-19 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-5771-1299. www.thespiritgym.com). Colette used supplements provided by BodyPlus USA (Tel: 0120-199-291. order@bodyplususa.com, www.bodyplususa.com), which carries more than 1,000 of the most popular American sports supplements at the lowest prices in Japan, delivered directly to your door.
Charlie trained with Nicolas Amp (nicodojo21@yahoo.co.jp) at Gold’s Gym Omotesando (2/3F Omotesando Square, 4-3-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-5786-1818. www.goldsgym.jp). Membership: Omotesando branch only, ¥9,450; all branches, ¥11,550; joining fee, ¥5,250.




776: The Tricksters of Tokyo
With dozens of magic bars and a small army of illusionists, Tokyo has a whole lot of tricks up its sleeve
775: Meet Markets
From nightclubs to dance lessons to, um, wax museums, locals offer their tips on where to find a date in Tokyo
774: Screen Dreams
A digital-age literary form has become a publishing powerhouse
773: Red Star Rising
With global Capitalism on the ropes, local Communism is on the rise
772: Spirited Away
In her newly translated memoir, Sakie Yokota recounts a mother’s ultimate nightmare
770-71: Turning Japanese
Get your new year off to a crafty start by learning a traditional hobby
769: Last call for Kabukicho
As the iconic Koma Theater goes under the wrecking ball, is this the end of Tokyo’s notorious red-light district?
768: Annus Scandalous
A year’s worth of food safety scandals has upset Japan’s applecart
767: The Giving Season
Picking presents is easy with our can't miss gift guide
766: Odd Jobs
Foreigners are finding creative ways to make a living in Tokyo
765: Hot Water
Tokyo’s onsen are open and ready for business
764: Showa Sweetness
Nostalgia for the postwar era has revived the market for vintage snacks and toys. From 200-year-old shops to gleaming mega-malls, everything old in Tokyo is new agains
763: Peace Prize
After going missing in Mexico for more than 30 years, Taro Okamoto’s Myth of Tomorrow is about to be unveiled inside Shibuya station. Here’s the inside story of the efforts to recover and restore one of the artist’s most stunning works
762: Get out the Vote
The 2000 US Presidential election proved that every vote counts—especially those cast from overseas. This time around, expats are making sure their voices are heard
761: Murderer’s Row
A rogue’s gallery of heinous killers reveals the dark soul of a nation
760: Game on!
A new book takes readers inside Tokyo’s game centers and offers tips on how to clean up
759: Latin Lover
Pop singer, erotic actress, lingerie model, pro-sex activist—Aya Sugimoto is a one-woman cultural phenomenon. Now she’s adding tango to her repertoire
758: A Tour for all Seasons
By land, sea or air, Tokyo’s sightseeing companies have an outing that’s right for you
757: Join the Club
Get a taste of the good life at Tokyo’s exclusive membership clubs
756: Drive Time
From unruly passengers to political scandals, Tokyo’s cabbies travel a rough road to success
755: Off the Books
Toss away your tourist guides—Metropolis gives you the scoop on Tokyo’s true hotspots
754: Troubled Waters
As typhoon season looms, Tokyo finds that its flood-prevention efforts are all wet
753: Sign of the Times
Say goodbye to “High Touch Town.” Roppongi is about to get a new Logo to go along with its new image
752: Carrie Nation
As Sex and the City: The Movie opens in Tokyo, Japanese women are emulating their big-screen heroines
751: Air Fair
Fuel costs are sending airfares into the stratosphere. What’s a poor traveler to do?
750: Face Off
Each year on August 15, downtown Tokyo turns into a riot zone as right-wing militants clash with antiwar protestors. Metropolis gives you a ringside seat to all the action
749: Gold standard
As all eyes turn to Beijing, Japan’s Olympians Look to repeat their Athens Success
748: [Sub]urban Pleasuresl
Futako-Tamagawa offers attractions ranging from the spiritual to the cultural to the culinary. Here’s an insider’s guide TO THIS leafy Setagaya-ku neighborhood
747: Dressed to Thrill
As the summer sizzles with major cosplay events across Japan, the industry branches out in bold new directions
746: Long Live the Queen
TV host Charles Ayres scours the city for his prince
745: State of the Art
Why collecting Japanese contemporary art is right, now
744: Here Be Monsters
From ESP labs to Pokemon panics to death cults, Japan is a wonderland of the bizarre. Metropolis takes a Fortean approach to the country’s mysteries
743: Quick Fixes
It’s smooth sailing for Tokyo’s plastic surgeons as more and more people take the plunge
742: Ladies Night Out
An evening in Tokyo’s underbelly reveals the bare essentials for a girl about town
741: On the Move
Connecting Shibuya with Ikebukuro (finally!), Tokyo’s last major subway line is ready to roll. Hop onboard the nifty new Fukutoshin line
740: Jero Worship
Japan can’t get enough of the first African-American enka singer
739: Shooting Asia
In Looking East, iconic photographer Steve McCurry portrays the continent and its people
738: All Dolled Up
Despite negative stereotypes and shifting demographics, Tokyo’s doll industry is booming
737: Air Time
Tokyo’s high-flying team of parkour enthusiasts let no obstacle stand in their way
736: Ask Mr Movie Man
Just in time for Golden Week, Don Morton previews the current crop of cinematic offerings
734: Fighting Back
Victims are finally learning to speak out against Japan’s outdated rape laws
733: Echoes of the Past
During the Meiji era, Tokyo’s love affair with foreign architecture—and architects—took flight. Traces of their work remain scattered throughout the city
732: Bar Time
Part cookbook, part pub guide and part cultural exploration, Izakaya offers an entrée into “Japan’s friendliest dining experience”
731: Burning Rubber
Two lightweight sports cars go head-to-head before the first round of the Formula Nippon race series
730: True Blu
Sony is flying high after its Blu-ray format defeated Toshiba’s HD DVD. But the electronics giant now faces even greater challenges from the internet
729: Green Scene
Get to the roots of Japan’s fascination with nature
728: Local Heros
As the Boston Red Sox open their season in Tokyo, the popularity of American baseball is at an all-time high
727: Akihabara on the Run
Thanks to otaku culture, Akihabara is the symbol of “Cool Japan.” But with developers moving in, will the geeks be left behind?
726: Records of the Rising Sun
An examination of Japan’s world-beaters yields a “superlative” understanding of the country
725: A Time to Play
Tucked away in back alleys and basements, Tokyo’s underground jazz clubs welcome fans and musicians of all stripes—especially foreigners
724: Thin Is In
Ultra-small homes offer an attractive option for Japan’s space-starved urbanites
723: Say it with Giri-Choco
A short history of Valentine’s Day in Japan
722: Rush Hour
Two women. Two vehicles. Six destinations. One winner.
721: Cool Erotica
Forget cute. From music to TV to the world of Adult films, Japanese women are flaunting their sexuality
720: Top of the Town
Your choices for the best that Tokyo has to offer
718-719: Centers of Attention
The past year saw a host of dazzling shopping and dining centers make their debut in Tokyo
717: At Your Convenience
Competition and changing demographics are forcing Japan’s conbini to change with the times
716: The Wacky Wired World of Thanko
Akihabara’s most playful gadget-maker looks beyond the otaku market
715: In the Spirit
Spreading Christmas cheer is a breeze this season with our handy gift guide
714: The Air Up There
The X-Trail Jam in Tokyo dome heralds the arrival of winter with lights, cameras and high-flying action
713: The Return of the Benshi
Seventy-five years after their heyday, Japan’s silent-film narrators are breathing new life into cinema classics
712: In the Box
Karaoke hits the global stage
711: No Man's Land
The haikyo phenomenon shines a light on Japan’s ghost towns, deserted islands and abandoned spaces
710: Man With The Plan
Companies are getting a new lease on life from sharp entrepreneurs like Gen Tamatsuka and his team at Revamp Corp
709: Sword Play
Afro Samurai, the first Japanese manga to make its anime debut in English, is breaking all boundaries. Metropolis speaks with its creator ahead of the movie version’s Tokyo premiere
708: State of the Art
For foreign artists, Japan offers both an inspiration and a challenge. Six local talents talk about overcoming difficulty and creating their own niche in a land far from home
707: Signs of the Times
One of Japan’s last movie billboard artists carries the torch of a fading art form
706: Mix Masters
Tokyo’s Bartenders Hop on the Mixology Train
705: Fight For Your Rights
Local unions are helping foreign workers make their voices heard. But can non-Japanese ever really get a fair shake?
704: Fashion Forward
With a renewed focus and revamped format, Japan Fashion Week aims to put Tokyo designers on the world map. But can the country’s flagship event keep homegrown talent from defecting overseas?
703: True Believers
With the opening of a new mosque in Yokohama, Japan’s Muslim community is branching out. But can the locals learn to coexist with a misunderstood and stigmatized religion?
702: Hard Time
After Three Weeks in a Shinjuku Lock-Up, the author finds that justice in Japan is rough indeed
701: Marunouchi on the Move
An ambitious 10-year plan is turning the neighborhood into one of Tokyo’s most exciting destinations
700: A Few Of Our Favorite Things
To celebrate 700 issues as Japan's favorite English magazine, we offer our top picks for enjoying Tokyo. Now it’s your turn…
699: Fantasy Dining
Dramatic eating and drinking experiences await at Tokyo's theme restaurants
698: Come One, Come All To Yasukuni
Each August, the notorious shrine becomes a battleground in the struggle for Japan's self-identity
697: Cool Runnings
As registration for the 2008 Tokyo Marathon enters the homestretch, one runner recounts her experiences in the inaugural race
696: Two-Wheel Dreaming
Although Japan’s motorcycle industry is in decline, biking in Kanto still offers limitless pleasure. Here’s everything you need to know to get started
695: Past Perfect
Tree-lined paths, traditional crafts, historic temples—plus world-class restaurants and shopping—await in the cool hills of Yanesen
694: Hooking Up
Business networking opportunities abound in Tokyo for anyone who knows where—and how—to look
693: Future Tense
As writers and academics converge on Tokyo to explore the explosion of Japanese pop culture, the country's youth face an uncertain future
692: Battle of the Burgers
As Burger King returns to Japan after a six-year absence, fast food restaurants are pulling out all the stops to attract more customers
691: Big into Japan
From shakuhachi to sake to sushi, foreign artisans are bringing Japan to a wider audience
690: Art Attack
Tokyo's Contemporary Art Galleries Ride the Waves of Boom and Bust
689: Graffiti Nation
From walls to road signs to art galleries, Tokyo gets tagged out
688: Messengers of Life
Seven years after losing her son to a drunk driver, Kyoko Suzuki spearheads a campaign to raise public awareness of the issue
687: Boy Toys
No longer under the shadow of their sisters, Japan’s hosts have taken center stage
686: Design Triumph
With three new Tokyo restaurants, Sir Terence Conran looks to infuse the local dining scene with his distinctive sense of style
685: Festival Frenzy
Asakusa is set to go crazy for the three-day Sanja Matsuri
684: Spin Masters
Foreign independent label partners look to crack open Japan’s music industry
683: Ginza's Rumbling Road
It’s full speed ahead for Tokyo’s only private motorway
682: Time To Play
Stuck in Tokyo for Golden Week? Make the most of your holiday with these 15 can’t-miss activities
681: Dying For It
As the Lucie Blackman murder trial comes to a close, foreign hostesses in Tokyo are aware of the industry’s dangers
680: Japan Gone Wild
Tabloid Tokyo 2 uncovers the city in all its seamy glory
679: Great Heights
Roppongi undergoes another transformation with the opening of Tokyo Midtown
678: The Once and Future Ninja
A grandmaster carries on the legacy of Japan’s secretive art—and says foreign students may be its last hope for survival
677: Crime Spree
Foreigners who turn to Japan’s justice system for help find themselves ignored. Is incompetence to blame—or racism?
676: Game On
From rugby to volleyball, Tokyo has a sports team for you
675: Drawing a Crowd
Japanese youth have been rushing to put themselves under the needle. Is the centuries-old tattooing subculture finally gaining mainstream acceptance?
674: Star Shots
Leslie Kee’s mammoth photo book gathers Asia’s biggest celebrities for a good cause
673: Spirited Away
Despite tough new laws, Japan’s sex trafficking industry is booming. Meet one of its most tragic victims
672: Tuning Out
Japanese radio stations have forgotten about the listeners. But all signals point to big changes ahead
671: Dream Works
Director John Williams is making a name for himself in the world of Japanese film
670: Unwinding the Gyroball
Daisuke Matsuzaka is headed to the US Major Leagues with a super-secret pitch in his arsenal. Or is he?
669: Sole City
Want to look fashionable in the street-style capital of the world? Hint: Use your feet
668: Last of the Speed Tribes
Their theatrics are preserved in photos, but little else remains of Japan’s bosozoku biker boys
667: Who’s the Boss of You?
If you can break the bureaucracy, there is nothing more rewarding than starting your own business
666: Good sports
From baseball sizzle to World Cup fizzle, Japan’s athletes had a wild 2006
665: Return of the Peacemaker
Humanitarian aid worker and former hostage Nahoko Takato won’t give up on her personal mission to alleviate suffering in Iraq
664: Hard to swallow
Japan makes a lot of noise about its cultural right to hunt whale, so why isn’t anyone biting?
663: Time for giving
Avoid last-minute Xmas anxiety with Metropolis’ seasonal gift guide
662: Downhill from here
Itching to hit the slopes this winter? The Metropolis winter resort guide is the place to start
661: No Mo’ Drama
Two visits from Michael Jackson make 2006 a thriller year for music promoter Broderick Morris
660: Gone but not forgotten
An award-winning film keeps the candle burning for Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korean agents 29 years ago
659: Kids’ night out
Children get a taste of what awaits them in adulthood at Kidzania
658: The Samurai in Shirokanedai
Mikio Yahara fights to keep the spirit of budo alive in the 21st century
657: Dynamite Design
This month, Tokyo becomes the world’s No.1 designer destination. Among the creative crowd, here are four faces to watch
656: How to get ahead
Corporate hunger for bilingual professionals keeps ruthless recruiters on their toes
655: Mori and Me
Five years after establishing Tokyo’s most prestigious art space, Japan’s first foreign museum director says sayonara
654: Big Kids
From comics to figurines, toys aren’t just for boys anymore. Grownups, even women, can play too
653: Here’s looking at you
So you always wanted to be a model? Now’s your chance
652: Doggy style
A decade ago, Tokyo canines were lonely sentinels chained up outside. today, a dog’s life is one of Tinkerbellesque luxury
651: The China Syndrome
As politicians wrangle, Japanese living in China are making money and building friendships
650: In The Mix
Networking websites give the bashful new opportunities for social interaction
649: Noh Way
A new season of Japan’s oldest theatrical art form starts this month
648: Wonder boy
From a troubled youth in Los Angeles to sold-out arenas in Japan, Cyril is enjoying a magical ride
647: Lights, camera, gaijin
Famous foreigners spill the beans ABOUT working in Japanese TV
646: No heels, no life
Girl tribes create fashion anarchy in the urban jungle of Shibuya
645: Local Hero
Foreign-born parliamentarian Marutei Tsurunen turns heads in nagatacho. but can he change minds too?
644: Southern Exposure
What happens when you travel from the busiest city on the planet to the remotest spot on earth? One photographer found out—and took his diary with him
643: The Meaning of LOHAS
The pioneer behind Japan’s sustainable lifestyles craze goes back to basics
642: Nights to Remember
Taste the good life at ten unique Tokyo hotels
641: SONY at 60
Will Japan’s most famous company get a new lease on life, or early retirement?
640: Turning Japanese
For better or for worse, pop stars everywhere have got something to say about Japan
639: Life’s a Beach
Here comes the sun, so get ready to strip off, oil up and catch some rays
638: You Go, GIRLS!
Japanese women demand equality in the workplace
637: 20/20 Vision
The Tokyo-born Pecha Kucha phenomenon has the global creative community hooked
636: The World is not Enough
Led by a low-key coach, Japan’s soccer team limps into the World Cup
635: A dying breed
Japan’s smokers are feeling the heat as the government slowly tackles tobacco
634: The Real Tokyo Underworld
Beneath our streets, engineers are thinking big to keep the city functioning
633: Cool Biz
Rich, confident and creative, corporate Japan is giving itself a makeover
632: Treat Yourself
Tokyo is famous for its eclectic health treatments, some wonderful, others just weird. We dispatched a skeptic to try ten of the most maverick
631: Pocket Revolutionaries
With podcasting, anyone (even Metropolis) can be a DJ
630: Flower power
Spring in Tokyo is the start of a vibrant cycle of new colors that abound even in this concrete jungle
629: Man vs Mountain
For Tokyo resident Blair Falahey, Everest is just one more obstacle to overcome
628: Little Journeys, Big Delights
From bugs to butts, tokyo's less visited museums have something for everyone
627: Harmonize This
Shinjuku’s Aikido World Headquarters is a magnet for martial arts enthusiasts from around the globe
626: The Emperor and I
Former Newsweek bureau chief Bernard Krisher recalls how he got the scoop of a lifetime
625: Fair Game
The Tokyo International Anime Fair returns, with global interest in Japanese animation at an all-time high
624: Dark Matter
Suffering ignorance and discrimination, Japan’s black community struggles to retain its pride
623: Revenge of the Nerds
The geeks come out to play in Akihabara, and they’re not ashamed anymore
622: An Ofer you can’t refuse
A Tokyo-based entrepreneur says his South Pacific dream is a win-win adventure for everyone
621: We’d be nowhere without the subway system we love to hate
620: The Boys and Girls of Winter
Rocked by scandals and looking to overcome an abysmal showing in Salt Lake City, Japan’s winter Olympians take on the world in Turin
619: The view from the Hills
Minoru Mori defends the Omotesando Hills development and reveals big plans for Tokyo
618: Think of the Children
Japan’s prejudiced legal system encourages desperate parents to abduct their own kids
617: We ♥ Tokyo
From the quirky to the cultural, explore more of Japan’s eclectic delights in 2006, because only here can you…
616: The Inner Mongolian
As Asashoryu fights to extend his record-breaking winning streak, Metropolis asks the yokozuna about babies, Bulgarians and Ulaanbaatar
614-615: Create a new you in 2006 by learning a traditional Japanese craft
613: Get the Message
As companies vie ruthlessly for our attention, Tokyo is consumed by innovations in advertising
612: Mad Dash
The Tale of Snow White and the Master Shafter: A day with the Samurai Hash House Harriers
611: Geisha Gazing
Rob Marshall and his pan-Asian stars put the casting controversy behind them to lift the lid on the world of old Kyoto
610: Life through a Lens
Whether in a war zone or on a rugby pitch, 29-year-old photographer Chihiro Koga has a unique perspective
There may be method in the madness of Alberto Fujimori, formerly Tokyo’s most notorious foreign resident
608: True Crime
Convicted drug smuggler Nick Baker’s story is not what it first appeared
607: Fight Clubs
PRIDE and K-1 are muscle-packed, testosterone-fueled phenomena. But there’s more to sport than blood and brawn
606: Home Truths
Purchasing property here isn’t easy, but there’s never been a better time to try. One happy homeowner has these house-buying hints
605: Meeting of the Minds
Design tide descends on Tokyo for an explosive week of creative mischief
604: Lights, Camera...
Be part of the action at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival
603: Kafu's City
The haunts of Tokyo's most famous scribe may have gone, but their spirits remain
602: Big city nights
Asia's most happening city is just across the water, So what are you waiting for? Find out what all the fuss is about
601: Let’s Get Trivial!
Just what you’ve been waiting for: part two of "The Big 600" things to know about Tokyo
600: The Big 600 Part 1
Facts and figures, tales and trivia, records and rumors. We present everything you ever wanted to know (and some things you didn’t) about the biggest and greatest city in the world
599: Show me the way
If you have trouble learning Japanese, or lack the motivation to do so, why not try Japanese Sign Language instead?
598: Blueprint for Living
A postmodern development in Chiba is beautiful to look at. But would you want to live there?
597: Inside the Box
They spend their lives taking care of drunks, criminals and tourists. Who on earth would want to work in a koban?
596: The Film Files
Donald Richie, the worldwide authority on Japanese film, shares his movie memories
595: Sea Worthy
Minoru Saito’s seventh around-the-world voyage may have been his last, but the 71-year-old isn’t about to abandon the open water
594: In Search of the Rising Sun
Sixty years after the end of World War II, Tokyo still has places that evoke that tumultuous era
593: Art is All Around
Enough with overcrowded galleries! Get a different kind of art attack in the city’s free public space
592: What are you staring at?
Wild Harajuku styles are no longer Japanese only. Seven international enthusiasts explain what it’s all about
591: River Chronicles
Every July, Tokyo celebrates summer with dazzling fireworks along its most famous river. But the Sumida’s waters conceal a history of both joy and tragedy
590: A Kissa the Action
Cheap, open all night, and offering loads of entertainment, Tokyo’s manga kissa serve a restless generation
589: Halo Heroes
The Guardian Angels hit the streets of Tokyo to fight fear and complacency
588: Taste the Success
The celebrity-chef invasion gears up as British bad boy Gordon Ramsay opens two restaurants at the new Conrad Tokyo
587: Keeping your cool
Metropolis offers some hot tips for enjoying Tokyo this summer
586: A Tale of 2 trainers
Got a week? Or a couple? Two writers abandon their desks and learn to get fit…quick
585: Room Service
Back by popular demand, our design specialists turn two Tokyo shoe-box apartments into dream dwellings
584: Half a world away
Brazilian-Japanese have a love-hate relationship with the land of their forefathers
583: Coming to a theater near you
Everything you ever wanted to know about the marketing of foreign movies in Japan
582: Little Miss Popular
So much more than just a doll, birthday-girl Blythe is everything to everyone
581: A Life Less Ordinary
A new exhibition gives modern relevance to the dramatic suicide of Japan’s most controversial author
580: Resting in pieces
With no relatives around to pay for upkeep, dozens of graves in Aoyama Cemetery are in danger of being relocated. But not if The Foreign Section Trust has its way
579: Holiday of Hopes and Dreams
Volunteers Find it Hard to Balance Tourism and Charity on a Hybrid Holiday to Tsunami-Hit Sri Lanka
578: The World in a Day
Been there, Waited in line, Got the T-shirt. Decide for yourself whether to tackle Expo 2005 with our comprehensive (and honest) guide
577: The Road to Ruin
Residents of Shimokitazawa fight plans to build a highway through their town
576: Back on Course
After losing its groove in the economic downturn, Japanese golf is scrambling back
575: Idol Worship
The whiz kid behind ’90s house icons Deee-lite is back with his first solo disc in six years
574: The Eagles Take Flight
The first foreign general manager of a Japanese baseball team, Marty Kuehnert says he’s confident he can make the new team fly
573: The Writes of Spring
Haiku offer the clearest understanding of the undying appeal of the cherry blossoms
572: Seekers of Supreme Truths
Ten years after the gas attacks, Japan struggles with old memories and new religions
571: Spring Forward!
Update your wardrobe with the top trends from the Spring/Summer 2005 collections
570: Memoirs of a gaijin house
Clean up your room; you never know when photographer Yutaka Otsuka will turn your living space into art
569: Meals on Wheels
Entrepreneurial Tokyoites storm the city’s lunchbreaks with a new take on street-food tradition
568: How to be Romantic:
A Valentine’s Day Dating Guide
567: Understanding the Enemy
Japan faces an inscrutable opponent when it plays North Korea in the World Cup qualifiers
566: Reaching for the Universe
The Miss Universe Japan pageant is about more than just looks: it’s shaping women who are savvy, goal-oriented and able to express themselves
565: Inner Space
Come in from the cold with our guide to Tokyo's top winter entertainment spots
564: Voices of Kobe
Ten years on, experiences of the great hanshin earthquake can help tokyoites prepare for the worst
563: The Russians are coming!!
Japan’s ages-old sport faces a foreign invasion
561-562: Golden Year 2004
2004 was record breaking, both on and off the sports field. Metropolis recalls the year’s best, worst, and most bizarre
560: Chef du jour
With an empire that spans the globe and a talent for bringing diners to their knees, Alain Ducasse is the undisputed king of the culinary world. Now Tokyo gets a taste of his success
559: The Jingle Hop has begun...
As the countdown to the holidays continues, Metropolis offers a look at both cool and traditional options for adding a Japanese flavor to your holiday shopping
558: Final conflict
Fifty years after his celluloid birth, Godzilla takes one last stroll through Tokyo. But is this really the end of the iconic green monster?
557: Perfect getaways
From cross-country skiing to traditional culture, winter in Japan offers a wealth of reasons to venture outside the capital city
556: Rock of ages
Elvis schoolmate, former Yankees shortstop, protegé of mafia don Joe Colombo—rocker Jimmy Angel’s colorful life shows no signs letting up
555: Art explosion
Japan’s largest art event, Design Festa, marks its tenth anniversary
554: The bait and the catch
An ex-sushi chef lives in hiding, while dishing out details of the private life of his onetime boss, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il
553: Watercolors
The horror writer of Ringu fame paints the tale of a riveting performance by a Tokyo theatrical troupe
552: Well read
Japan takes center stage as Metropolis rounds up recent fiction set in the Land of the Rising Sun
551: Reality check
Hardcore punk rocker turned Zen master Brad Warner leads a journey of self-discovery
550: Life lessons
From permanent residency to private schooling, our expert panel tells you how to make the most of out of living in Tokyo
549: Journey Into Imagination
Explore the creative minds of contemporary designers with a guided tour of Tokyo’s upcoming design extravaganzas
548: State of play
Japan’s top video-game makers try to dig themselves out of a slump with new titles debuting at this weekend’s Tokyo Game Show
547: Let the games begin—again
There’s no shortage of options for pro sports fans when it comes to taking in a contest in Japan
546: Fish stories
A Harvard academic and anthropologist casts his net around Tsukiji, “the fish market at the center of the world.”
545: Flash back
Tokyo designers look to the past for this season's fashion trends
544: Unsung heroes
In a profit-driven economy dominated by mechanization, mass production and cheap foreign labor, a handful of Kyoto artisans keep the traditional art of craftsmanship alive
543: Law and order
Tougher cops, late-night curfews and surveillance cameras. Governor Shintaro Ishihara is spearheading an unprecedented stand against crime in the city of Tokyo. Is it all too much or not enough?
542: Eyes on the prize
From the pool to the track, Japan's Olympic athletes set their sights on Athens glory
541: Knight errant
When Narita immigration officers took custody of Bobby Fischer on July 13, the chess champion felt betrayed by the country that had granted him sanctuary. Now the former grandmaster and his supporters ready his last gambit
540: War and remembrance
Tim Hornyak revisits Japan's WWII legacy through the exalted and execrated grounds of Yasukuni Shrine.
539: Out and about
Whatever you’re looking for in a summer getaway, you’ll find it in the Tokyo area and beyond. Heather Lew gets the scoop on the hottest ways to chill out.
538: Snail's pace
Once a country that defined “fast-forward,” Japan is learning how to take its time. Steve Trautlein catches up with the Slow Life movement.
537: Role models
Japanese actors are stepping into the spotlight overseas thanks to some award-winning performances and a raft of samurai-inspired flicks. Chris Betros profiles the top talent.
536: Sonic stories
Summer Sonic creator Naoki Shimizu says Japan's rock festival calendar may have reached the breaking point.
535: Feeling festive
From fireworks to dance contests, Tokyo is gearing up for another summer of matsuri mania. Metropolis previews the best of the bunch.
534: Field of dreams
Hideki Matsui made his name in the ballpark, but the Major Leaguer hopes to be remembered as much for his heart as his home runs. Sachie Kanda visits him in New York.
533: Depth charge
From the underwater realms of Okinawa to the green seas off Izu, spectacular diving is closer than you think. Carlo Niederberger jumps in.
532: Screen dreams
Undaunted by miniscule budgets and a serious lack of limelight, Tokyo’s foreign filmmakers pursue their craft. Michael J. Miller talks to the people behind the cameras.
531: Spirited away
Jumpei Yasuda was abducted at gunpoint and held captive by a band of Iraqi mujahideen. So why can’t he wait to get back to Baghdad? Tama Miyake Lung hears his story.
530: Wonder Bars
Tokyo’s theme bars serve up food, cocktails—and some totally unexpected entertainment. Metropolis goes in search of the city’s wildest drinking dens.
529: In the loop
A dedicated group of foreign and Japanese artists are filming what they hope will be Japan's first sitcom. Chris Betros visits the set.
528: Down towns
In the shadow of glittering skyscrapers and trendy mini-cities, Tokyo’s derelict neighborhoods survive unchanged. Stephen Mansfield takes a walk on the wilder side.
527: Ask Mr. Movie Man
Faced with a bewildering plethora of new movie releases this Golden Week, self-indulgent Metropolis film critic Don Morton interviews himself.
526: Director’s Cut
With a hit film inspired by her observations of Tokyo, Sofia Coppola has emerged as a gifted storyteller who fuses trendsetting style and quiet resolve. Tama Miyake Lung catches up with the Oscar winner on a recent visit.
525: Room service
Armed with ¥5,000 per room, our interior stylists make over three expatriate pads using a playful dose of discount decor.
524: Uninventing the wheel
While other inventors dream of high-tech glory and patent riches, Kenji Kawakami straps toilet paper to his head and hankies to the seat of his pants. Tim Hornyak meets the Chindogu master.
523: Fresh talent
A handful of hot young chefs are raising the bar for traditional Japanese cuisine. Ai Uchida learns their recipes for success.
522: Full Steam Ahead
The area's newest railway, the Minatomirai line, puts the varied charms of Yokohama within easy reach. Steve Trautlein goes for a ride.
521: Fields of dreams
Just in time for spring and summer, Japan's sports scene gets set to sizzle. Fred Varcoe keeps his eye on the ball.
520: Out of Eire
One-hundred years after his death, Lafcadio Hearn remains a favorite in his adopted country of Japan. Steve Trautlein goes in search of the writer's Irish connections.
519: Pop star
With its anime, manga, music and film all the rage overseas, Japan is entering an age of unprecedented hipness. Tony McNicol investigates the staying power of "Japanese cool."
518: Food fright
With mad cow and avian flu adding to the list of threats to Japan's food safety, Tama Miyake Lung looks at how the country is coping and provides tips on how to protect yourself.
517: Curtain call
Events editor Dan Grunebaum reflects on the past and future of Tokyo's performing arts scene, and provides a sneak preview of the year ahead.
516: Second coming
Despite being dumped by the team nine years ago, Bobby Valentine is back in Japan to manage the floundering Chiba Lotte Marines. Rob Smaal meets this season's most anticipated arrival.
515: Room at the top
A new wave of luxury hotels is shaking up the industry in Tokyo like never before. Can they all survive? Chris Betros checks in.
514: Building up
Tokyo's chaotic sprawl serves as the breeding ground for playful and cutting-edge building design. Stephen Mansfield tours the city's architectural highlights.
513: Pick of the litter
She's cute, she's a commercial powerhouse and she's coming up on her 30th birthday. Ken Belson and Brian Bremner let the story of Japan's favorite cat out of the bag.
512: Beating the blues
Feeling depressed or in trouble? Tokyo has plenty of support groups that are just a phone call or mouse click away. Chris Betros provides a few pointers.
511: A world apart
For many foreign parents in Tokyo, providing their children with a fulfilling education is beyond reach. Steve Trautlein reports.
509/10: Up where we belong
As the skiing and snowboarding season comes into full swing, a handful of pros provide tips on where to travel this winter. Carlo Niederberger reports.
508: Call of the wild
Jeff Hammond talks to Tokyo-based photographer Beezer about his new book, Wild Dayz, and the legendary music scene it portrays.
507: Santa's secret weapon
With all the craziness before the holidays and the rush to jump on the plane, finding the perfect gift can be more hassle than heartwarming. Hanna Kite brings the fun back with a shopping guide sure to please everyone on your list.
506: Fashion by numbers
Tama Miyake Lung sums up the top trends from the Spring/Summer 2004 Tokyo collections.
505: Sex education
After decades spent believing that HIV and AIDS are other countries' problems, Japan could be in for a disturbing lesson. Stephen Cotterill reports.
504: Man about town
Stephen Mansfield goes on a sentimental journey with eminent author and celebrated Tokyo chronicler Donald Richie.
503: Bowled over
Bowling has been in Japan since the Edo period, and it looks like it's here to stay-even if the lights go out. Michael J. Miller gets in the game at Tokyo's top lanes.
502: Trial and error
Josh Noblestone takes a closer look at the case of drug-smuggling suspect Nick Baker and what it reveals about Japan's criminal justice system.
501: Close encounters
The skies above Japan are alive with extraterrestrial activity, according to the nation’s foremost UFO research group and its fearless leader. Matt Wilce examines the evidence.
500: Coming of age
As Metropolis celebrates its 500th issue, we look at where we've been, and where we're going, through the eyes of Tokyo's international community.
499: Welcome happiness
The new Mori Art Museum hopes to lead Roppongi's cultural evolution. John McGee sees what's up.
498: Just passing through
There's always someone interesting to catch up with at the Tokyo International Film Festival, says veteran attendee Chris Betros.
497: Pick six
From October 9-13, Tokyo Designers Block will transform the streets of Aoyama and Omotesando into a grown-up’s playground. Steve Trautlein talks with a half dozen of the event’s top talents.
496: The name game
Arnold Schwarzenegger's not the only one hoping to trade celebrity for a taste of political power. Chris Betros looks at Japan's lawmakers and finds everyone from singers to wrestlers filling the ranks.
495: Bliss list
Metropolis hits the massage table for a rundown on the city's best spas.
494: On alert
Two years after the September 11 attacks, experts say Japan is more vulnerable than ever to the threat of terrorism. Steve Trautlein reports.
493: Playing the field
Japan's athletes are gearing up for an autumn of nonstop sports action. Fred Varcoe previews all the fun.
492: From the hip
Japan's youth are giving hip-hop music, dance and fashion a makeover. Michael J. Miller raps with the devotees of "black style."
491: Modern marvel
With a bold new design for the Dojunkai Aoyama Apartments along Omotesando, award-winning architect Tadao Ando is raising the stakes on an already remarkable career. Tama Miyake Lung meets the self-made maestro.
490: Show time
Nearly one year into a government-run licensing program, Tokyo's street performers are finally getting some respect. Mick Corliss hears more from some of the charismatic characters.
489: Time zone
Old and new exist side by side in Tokyo's Tsukishima-Harumi area. Chris Betros goes for a tour.
488: Great escapes
From pristine beaches and picturesque temples to mountain resorts and the magic of Hollywood, Matt Wilce compiles our ten favorite spots for a quick getaway.
487: Season tickets
Looking for a fun way to beat the heat? Metropolis gets the rundown on the best thrills and chills to keep you entertained all summer long.
486: Life at the top
Yuichiro Miura survived 70 years, several potentially fatal ski runs, and five days in the Death Zone before becoming the oldest person to conquer Mount Everest. Tama Miyake Lung meets the new record holder and the son who shared in his thrilling ascent.
485: Seeing green
As temperatures in Tokyo rise, city officials look skyward to beat the heat. Steve Trautlein tours the city's rooftop gardens.
484: Calling the tunes?
Piano icon Herbie Hancock looks to reinvent jazz with Tokyo Jazz 2003, but is adding a turntablist to his band going to do the trick? Music editor Dan Grunebaum reports.
483: Power struggle
After a string of safety scandals, Tokyo's major energy supplier may not have enough juice to meet demand this summer. Matt Wilce reports on the very likely possibility of the city's first blackout in 16 years.
482: Flavor of the month
Boston-based big shot Todd English is the latest celebrity chef to spice up the Tokyo dining scene. Georgia Jacobs gets the scoop.
481: The new wave
As another scorching summer approaches, more and more Japanese are discovering the joys of the beach, and a fair few are finding sporting success on the sand. Tama Miyake heads for the shore.
480: Never-ending stories
The big onslaught of summer movies begins with lots of sequels and remakes. Chris Betros looks at the lineup.
479: Revival of the fittest
Ginza is under fire from swish new developments, but Japan's sentimental shopping strip is fighting back and winning some unlikely fans. Martin Webb reports.
478: The sky's the limit
The Moris are changing the face of Tokyo like never before. Chris Betros meets the man on top, CEO and President Minoru Mori.
477: Park place
With spring in full swing, there's no better time to unwind in the city's lush sanctuaries. David Chester tells you where to park it.
476: Fun in the sun
As the mercury rises, Japan's sportsmen and women gear up for a season of thrills. Fred Varcoe previews all the action.
475: The elements of style
When the mercury drops this fall and winter fashion hits a high note, if the Fall/Winter 2003-2004 Tokyo collections are anything to go by. Georgia Jacobs reports.
474: The hills are alive
Tokyo is an ailing city about to get a new cultural and entertainment heart: Roppongi Hills. Chris Betros goes for a visit.
473: Big bang theory
After lying dormant for 300 years, Mount Fuji has recently rumbled to life, and Tokyo is bracing for the worst. Steve Trautlein reports.
472: Recipe for success
In the City of the Saturated Restaurant Industry, launching 102 new establishments is a lot to swallow. But if anyone can pull it off, it’s America’s most famous gastronome, Wolfgang Puck. Georgia Jacobs gets the dish on his Japan expansion.
471: From tigers to towers
A gleaming new city is springing up at Shiodome, one of many transforming the Tokyo landscape. Chris Betros joins the crowds.
470: Head over heels
At Shinjuku’s Yoshinkan Hombu Dojo, April is the time for foreigners and Japanese police officers to train side-by-side, as Steve Trautlein learns from the masters.
469: Tokyo story
It’s been 400 years since Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa made Edo his capital. As Tokyo gets ready to celebrate four centuries as Japan’s premier city on March 24, Matt Wilce takes a look at the metropolis’ less familiar history.
468:Mass immigration
All foreign residents in Tokyo and nine prefectures now have to troop off to a new immigration office in Shinagawa for that vital stamp in the passport. Chris Betros joins the crowds.
467: In the raw
With his charity restaurant receiving rave reviews and his acclaimed no-holds-barred documentary launching in Japan, things are looking up for Jamie Oliver. But, the Naked Chef tells Georgia Jacobs, reality sometimes bites.
466: Reaching for the stars
The quest for space will continue despite the Columbia tragedy, and Japan will play its part, Chris Betros reports.
465: Devil may care
Governor Shintaro Ishihara relishes his role as the thorn in the side of Japanese bureaucracy. But the most powerful man in Tokyo is also one of the few people getting things done in the capital, he tells Tama Miyake.
464: Love in the fast lane
Romance is big business in Japan, as matchmaking and speed dating agencies vie to help you find your soulmate. Chris Betros reports.
463: Eastward bound
As Japan's homegrown talent struggle to launch themselves to stardom in the West, many of Hollywood's biggest names, ironically, have headed east to kick-start their careers.
462: Small talk
With a healthy sense of play, Tokyo offers youngsters all the fun they can handle. Steve Trautlein joins in.
461: All washed up
With the mercury dropping there's no better time to get up to your neck in hot water, and have a little fun in the process. Matt Wilce brings you a roundup of nearby onsen with more.
460: Going BAPE
With BAPE hotel wishes, BAPE Café New York dreams, and a new London boutique finally a reality, A Bathing Ape creator Nigo is the next self-appointed fashion ambassador for trendy Tokyoites. But is the rest of the planet ready for this simian-inspired lifestyle? Roland Kelts gets the answer from the man himself.
459: China Town
Thirty years after the former adversaries joined hands, China and Japan aren't exactly the model of diplomatic relations. But, as Tama Miyake discovers, that hasn't stopped Tokyo trendsetters from making the Middle Kingdom all the rage.
457/8: Happy holidays
Most of Tokyo shuts down for New Year's–but not all of it
456: Voluntary Movement
Despite a legacy of government indifference and a lack of social recognition, Japan's volunteers are determined to carry out their good works
455: The busy person's guide to holiday shopping
Wrapping things up at the office before the end of the year doesn't leave much time for wrapping up presents, let alone shopping for them
454: Ahead of the curve
In a world where design is the new capital, the currency through which brands and products are bought and sold, Marc Newson is a captain of the industry
453: Click draw
Following Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and now Waking Life, are Japanese animators jumping on the computer graphics bandwagon?
452: Warm front
Tama Miyake tracks the hottest trends from the Spring/Summer 2003 Tokyo Collection
451: Great taste
Former sumo champ Akebono brings his fighting spirit and an appetite for life to the restaurant business at the newly opened ZUNA
450: Seniority rules
With wads of cash in the bank, the nation's elderly are quickly becoming the darlings of savvy manufacturers
449: A different tune
Music is universal, but can expat musicians carve a niche out of the world's second largest market?
448: To die for
Cardboard coffins, online mourning, space burials and wearable remains
447: A business of her own
With continuing education, self-invention and sheer will, the country's female population is joining the ranks of Japan Inc
446:Great Idée
Teruo Kurosaki wants to change the world through design
445: Open house
A traditional Japanese farmhouse complete with thatched roof and hearth, Chiiori in the Iya Valley offers adventurers the opportunity to relive the best of old Japan
444: In a T.I.F.F.
The 15th Tokyo International Film Festival celebrates Asian cinema with a little bit of help from Hollywood heavyweights.
443: All grown up
Western readers will be seeing a new face to manga soon, and it's got nothing to do with Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh.
442: Saved by the bell
With the suicide toll topping 30,000 since 1998, can hotline pioneer Inochi no Denwa, answer Japan's cry for help?
441: Ready to rumble
Japan's X League American football players on the road to the Rice Bowl
440: Feel the rhythm
Asakusa's Samba Carnival is proof positive of Japan's status as the Asian hotbed of Brazilian culture
439: Interior angle
The stars du jour of the foodie crowd are no longer celeb chefs but the country's avant-garde designers
438: Alternate view
Tokyo's independent cinemas offer a ticket out of the mainstream
437: Bean counting
The last thing caffeine-addicted Tokyoites need is another fancy cup of joe
436: Wild things
August is the time when friends flee for Bali, Blighty and Buenos Aires, and the city empties for O-bon, but that's no reason to be bored
435: Ties that bind
Thanks to increased government involvement and greater public exposure, child abuse is gradually emerging from the shadows
434: Stars in your eyes
You know when summer has arrived in Japan. Baseball bats and yukata come out of storage, tea and noodles are served cold, cicadas' songs pierce the air and fireworks fill the night sky
433: Picture this
Don Morton, the guy who goes to all the movies so you don't have to, offers guidance for the time you'll spend this summer in dark rooms watching moving images on walls
432: The shore thing
Three hours south lies a village by the sea where the sands of time slow to a trickle, breeze blows off the Pacific, and turquoise waters lap at its pristine beaches and hidden coves
431: Fast food
On July 4, the world's fastest eaters descend on Coney Island, New York, to conquer a mountain of hot dogs in the 87th annual Nathan's contest
430: Making music
Drawing 50,000 fans and over 70 world-class acts, The Fuji Rock Festival is Japan's premier sound extravaganza
429: Capital Assets
Tokyo is a treasure trove of art, culture and a fair share of kitsch
428: The house of Hanae
As the investor-owned pret-a-porter line that bears her name goes bust, Japan's couture pioneer pushes ahead
427: The grand stand
Overshadowed by its mega-neighbor, the new Saitama City is set to prove it's more than a sleepy industrial backwater
426: Sugamo stories
With little more than pencils and paper, five prolific inmates documented life behind bars with such infamous war criminals as WWII premier Hideki Tojo
425: Made in Japan
A charmed existence by many standards, expatriate life in Tokyo, despite wars, earthquakes and occupation, has paved the road to success for many a foreigner
424: The game of life
Hidetoshi Nakata has been cheered and jeered as the face of Japanese soccer
423: In the flesh
Summer sumo tournament at Ryogoku in May
422: Fashion Frenzy
The joshikosei, or teen fashionistas, are some of the most voracious consumers on the planet
421: This way up
On the doorstep of fashion enclave Daikanyama, Nakameguro has been steadily making its way from downtown district to divine destination
420: The big kick
The first World Cup of the 21st century promises to be a ball of fire
419: Win win situation
With the winter season safely behind it, Japan is bracing itself for potentially the biggest sporting year in history
418: Laughing matters
Tokyo's comedians want to make Japan a funnier place
417: Robotops
Spearheading the robot evolution, Japan continues to wow the world with its clever cast of droids
416: Crime scene
Mark Schreiber dishes the dirt on Japanese felons
415: Culture class
Tokyo's international schools dole out lessons on life in Japan
414: Club scene
Our guide to where to go to get tight and toned in Tokyo
413: Matter of PRIDE
Ultimate fighters pull out all the punches for Pride
412: Spy games
Unfaithful spouses and philandering beaus beware of the beautiful barfly
411: A winter's tale
Japan's all star cast of Olympians are set to storm Salt Lake City
410: Close quarters
Venturing into Tokyo's private spaces
409: In the DARC
Turning the spotlight on Japan's cutting-cutting edge rehab program
408: Take the plunge
You don't have to go far outside the city limits before you hit prime onsen territory.
407: Bringing up the baby
The future looks bright for the newest member of the royal family
406: You gotta have Seoul
Korea Reconsidered
405: Deep impact
Meet Japan's most influential people in 2001
404: 12 fun ways to spend your post christmas break
403: Martha Stewart exclusive
America's domestic diva descends on Japan
402: All they want for Christmas
399: To beef or not to beef
One mad cow and Japan's beef industry is bust.
398: In touch with tradition

an interview with 3 artisans who bring the best of the past to present-day Tokyo
397: Captain cooks

Out of the kitchen - Tokyo's rising executive chefs
396: Ghost town

Tokyo's horrible history
395: Generation Next

The world-first launch of NTT DoCoMo’s third generation mobile phone network represents a quantum leap into mobile cyberspace. Stuart Braun goes online.
394: Sister act
Celeb sisters Kyoko and Mika Kano have taken Japan by storm, but can they win over the West? Chris Betros and Maki Nibayashi spend an evening with the divine duo.
393: Reel time
Matt Wilce gets a close-up of the Tokyo International Film Festival's hottest tickets.
392: Lap it up
Michael Schumacher is champion again, but the unpredictable Suzuka circuit is still set to offer up a surprise-packed Japan Grand Prix on October 14. Stuart Braun goes trackside.
391: Everything old is new
You might think Azabu Juban is all swanky dining and dancing 'till dawn.....
390: Cooking the books
Celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s in town with his new book in hand.....
389: Up from the underground
Japan's literary superstar Haruki Murakami is home for the duration
388: First wave
John McGee dives into Japan's art extravaganza
387: Water world
Matt Wilce explores Tokyo DisneySea
386: Open house
Many people are sleeping on the streets of Tokyo
385: A moveable feast
Some of the city's best yatai fare
384: Hair
A look at Tokyo's salon industry
383: Summer in the city
20 ways to make August a little more bearable
382: Tokyo Tomorrow
Stuart Braun tracks the future of the metropolis
381: From zero to hero
81-year-old Zero fighter Sadamu Komachi looks back
380: Island escapade
Journey to Odaiba
379: Open-air fare
Tokyo's alfresco dining spots
378: Reel story
Reel in the summer's hottest movies
377: Sonic relief
Gear up for the summer's hottest music festivals
376: All at sea
No shortage of fun in the sun on the beach
375: Your cup of tea
Tea time in Tokyo
374: No time to waste
Tokyo's mounting problems with garbage
373: Freetown
Tokyo's stylish suburb, Jiyugaoka
372: Broken record
Tokyo's ecclectic array of record stores
371: Bottoms up
Tokyo's finest martini bars
370: Admit one
Regulations for foreigners wanting to live and work on Japan
369: After a fashion
Spring trends from the catwalks to the streets
368: Bandwidth wagon
Japan's move towards DSL
367: Just for sports
How to play ball this summer
366: Life's a hitch
Helpful hints for hitch hiking in Japan
365: Altered state
Try Tokyo's tailors on for size
364: The Fringe Club
Shinjuku's infamous Golden Gai bar district
363: Take two Tomatos
Design gurus Michael Horsham and Steve Baker
362: Stage left
Innovative and intimate shogekijo (little theaters)
361: The lowdown on TC
Everything you ever wanted to know about TC, but were afraid to ask
360: A reversal of fortune
Tokyo's home of racing, Fuchu Racecourse
359: Funny Valentine
How to do Valentine's Day in Japan
358: Two-faced
Heartthrob Katsunori Takahashi
357: Read all about it
Amazon.com comes to Japan
356: Daikanyama
Central Tokyo's hippest hood
355: Wash out
Heaven Sento
354: Means to an end
Some good ideas to inspire you
352/3: Last Laugh
TC's rosey re-cap of the year
Signs of the times
Horoscopes for 2001
351: It's a wrap
TC's holiday gift tips
350: Cable ready
Cable and satellite broadcasting renaissance



By Colette Randall

A Tale of 2 trainers

Got a week? Or a couple? Two writers abandon their desks and learn to get fit…quick

Trainer: Mark Ginther
Mark has over 20 years of experience in sports, strength training and martial arts, as well as over eight years of professional experience as a personal trainer and kickboxing instructor. Originally from Seattle, 40-year-old Mark was a silver medalist at the All-Japan Shin-Karate Championships in 1987, and has worked with several elite athletes, including Michael Hawkins (formerly of the Boston Celtics), PRIDE judge and Extreme Fighting champion Matt Hume, and Muay Thai champion and K-1 competitor Curtis Schuster. He currently trains K-1 champion Nicholas Pettas. Mark writes monthly training columns for Full Contact Fighter and Ironman Japan. He is also a spokesman for the BodyPlus International supplement supplier.

Prescribed Program
Anaerobic resistance training in the form of circuit training and kickboxing combined with a low-carb/high-protein diet.

Anaerobic exercise has a positive effect on anabolic hormones, which in turn burns fat and builds lean body mass. The anabolic effect of weight training retains or adds lean mass at the expense of fat mass, even during caloric restriction. A low-carb/high-protein diet complements the anabolic effect of weight training. Resistance training also causes muscle fiber size to increase, thus allowing body proportions to change.

Diet Supplements
Conjugated Lineolic Acid (CLA) to reduce fat and increase muscle; Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) to build new protein and improve recovery on a calorie-restricted diet; and Pure Whey protein powder—the primary source of calories during the program—helps build and repair muscle tissue.

Colette’s Story:
The One-Week Crash Course

My own story begins with a creamy, full-fat café latte. Mark, my newly assigned trainer from Tipness, orders his black. “Coffee revs up the metabolism and can improve performance during a workout,” he says, “but on the program you won’t be able to eat any dairy.” Visions of Camembert, my self-appointed fifth food group, crumble before me. “No dairy?” I gasp. The spartan nature of my upcoming fitness boot camp has started to reveal itself.

The details of the program, all of them unpleasant, are worked out over a series of emails from Mark. The challenge was this: Can a sedentary, pillow-molded body be sculpted to beach-ready condition in just one week? Mark cautioned that the results of such a short program would inevitably be tempered, but nevertheless rose to meet the occasion. He proposed a week defined largely by sweat, pain and deprivation—or, as he put it, “circuit training, kickboxing and a liquid diet.”

My new life begins one Tuesday at Tipness’ newly renovated Roppongi location. Mark leads me into the gym’s “free space” for a series of squats, lunges, presses and rows to target my arms, butt and legs. Each circuit is followed by a 2-minute rest, and we perform a total of four circuits. I have difficulty executing the exercises the first time around, but Mark doesn’t let me slack on my form. Though my muscles try to bend and sway, I know whenever I’ve managed to do the exercise correctly by the sharp response I feel in the corresponding muscle.

The first day runs smoothly and I finish the training feeling refreshed, if a bit tired. All this exercise would be for nought if I continued my relationship with froth, fat and, well, basically food altogether, so I figure the program’s liquid diet to be a necessary evil.

Mark’s diet allows me five to six protein shakes a day, accompanied by green vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil and fish oil capsules (to provide fuel and facilitate fat burning), and one piece of fruit to be consumed following a workout. At first, I have no trouble adjusting to the diet. I find the shakes (banana-flavored) palatable and am pleased by the sense of lightness I experience within my body. The first day is good.

I wake up on Day Two feeling very sore. Getting out of bed requires a strategic mode of execution. So does walking. So does sitting. So do stairs. But the newly geriatric nature of my movement does nothing to dampen my enthusiasm, and I gamely show up at Nogizaka’s Spirit Gym for my first encounter with kickboxing. Spirit was developed by K-1 champion Nicolas Pettas as a center for boxing and martial arts training. The gym is largely frequented by tough, over-sized men—but small, wimpy women (i.e., me) have nothing to fear. The men are kind and the training good. Despite some initial hesitation, I enjoy my first kickboxing lesson quite a bit. The constant movement keeps my heart rate up, and all the punching and kicking proves very therapeutic.

Day Three, however, I'm not so happy. In order to fit the training into my schedule, I’ve been catching up on work at night, and the combination of sleep and food deprivation has started to take its toll. As it turns out, two days of banana-flavored protein were all I could stomach. By the third day, my body is in revolt and the smell of the shake alone is enough to make me nauseous. I can’t down more than a few sips of the drink, and since my diet consists of little else, I essentially forego food altogether. A last-minute work appointment interferes with my afternoon training, and I call Mark to tell him I’ll be late. Unfortunately, he has another client and we end up missing our session that day. I feel horribly guilty to have canceled, but the sentiment passes quickly in favor of exhaustion and I collapse early into bed.

A good night’s sleep restores my spirits, and the next few days of training pass routinely and tranquilly. My body now seems to have adapted to the workouts and diet, and I feel I am on the threshold of real physical improvement. In addition, Mark has kindly offered to swap chocolate protein powder for the banana, and perhaps by virtue of comparison, I find the new flavor much more tolerable, even pleasurable. The chocolate mixes better with my post-training fruit, and gives me inspiration to develop a few quasi-gourmet variations of my own: chocolate and raspberry mixed with crushed ice, chocolate and banana whipped into a thick frappe. My diet issues have now been totally swept to the side.

Oddly enough, I experience no muscle soreness after the second day. The week includes another class at Spirit, more circuit training, and a very strenuous private kickboxing lesson with Mark, but somehow, my muscles continue to perform. I have also started to see some very real, physical results. My jaw and cheekbones are more defined, and all my pants fit comfortably around the waist. The real litmus test of my improvement comes the day I decide to try on my skinny jeans. Our male readers may not be aware of this, but all women have a pair “motivational pants.” These pants are of a tightness that can only be risked in the best of physical conditions, and serve as physical witness to any progress made toward the circumference of one’s thighs.

The happy results of Mark’s guidance are that my skinny jeans no longer fit like a glove. They are too loose! One week of intense physical training and dieting may not have turned me into a lingerie model, but I have lost weight and feel newly enthusiastic about the small clothes of summer. The diet has also served to curb my appetite, and though I am now eating normally again, I tend to eat smaller portions and have very few cravings for sweets or snacks. On the surface, a one-week fitness crash course may seem extreme, but it jump-started my weight loss, and I can easily envision the progress that would be possible with long-term training. I now need only find a new pair of motivational pants with which to raise the bar.

Trainer: Nicolas Amp
Nico is from Lyon, France, and first came to Japan in 1998 to play baseball for Hosei University. He came back here to live in 2000 and married a Japanese woman last year. He was a salaryman for a while but got his personal trainer qualifications from NESTA and ISSA in January 2004. (He also has a Master’s degree in communications.) He’s in the process of starting his own training business, Nico Dojo. Amp has been on a diet since February (as of May, he’d lost 12kg with 2kg to go) in preparation for a bodybuilding contest, and he’s counting the days until he can eat pizza again.

Prescribed Program
Anaerobic resistance training targeting core muscles in the abdomen and lower back, then the upper or lower body, every other day, followed by tempered aerobic exercise on a treadmill or cross-trainer; a targeted diet of five “meals” and at least four liters of water a day.

Strengthening the muscles around the body’s core helps improve balance, coordination and overall strength while reducing the risk of injury. Tempering aerobic exercise (to target the heart rate at 60 percent) makes the body burn calories from fat not muscle. A targeted diet gives the body what it needs when it needs it to make metabolism more efficient, while water accelerates the overall rate of metabolism. Having more, smaller meals reduces the tendency to overeat, leaving excess food waiting to be turned into fat.

Diet Supplements
Whey protein shakes 3 times a day.

Charlie’s Story:
The Two-Week Crash Course

Photos by Justin Nightingale

Charlie informs me he’s started his program at Gold’s Gym in Omotesando with a trainer named Nico from France. Already on my second day of protein shakes, I go wild with jealousy to hear that Nico’s eating philosophy involves a few culinary indulgences, “or you’ll go crazy.”

For breakfast, Charlie is allowed 100 percent pure fruit juice, oatmeal and a protein shake. He writes to inform me that the oatmeal tastes like cardboard. I feel comforted to know he is suffering.

Four liters of water a day keep Charlie’s metabolism ticking over (“I must be burning calories walking to and from the bathroom all day”), and more shakes in the morning and afternoon keep his protein intake high. Lunch consists of protein, vegetables and a low-fat carbohydrate like rice or a baked potato, while dinner is chicken or fish served with more veggies and fruit (but no bananas). Compared with my own extreme diet, Charlie’s program sounds like a walk in the park.

He writes to tell me it’s more like a day at the playground. “We did some exercises with the balance ball, which is so colorful and bouncy it makes the gym feel more like a playground than a muscle factory!” I pray to the Quakers his oatmeal comes out dry.

Other parts of the diet prove quite palatable. Charlie finds that having a mandatory breakfast awaiting him is a reason to get out of bed promptly, while the lack of night-time carbohydrates means he wakes feeling refreshed rather than lethargic (“Does spinach contain carbs?” he frantically emails one evening).

As opposed to exercising every day, Charlie is meeting Nico every second day for two hours of cardio and strength training. After 20 minutes of warm-ups and stretching, they do a series of four exercises to strengthen the core muscles in his stomach and middle back. This is followed by alternating sessions of upper or lower body work, and each workout ends with 30 minutes on the treadmill.

Similar to my own experience, Charlie leaves the gym feeling upbeat and healthy. Despite the spare tire around his waist—the result of too many boozy nights—his physical condition is good and he can even manage 100 sit-ups. “I thought I was all flab, no ab!” he writes gleefully.

From Day Two, things start to get trickier. “I find it hard to concentrate at work,” he writes, as the email updates become less frequent, “and I find I need to sleep eight or nine hours a night.”

Apparently, though, he was still finding more than enough time for fun. The shortness of my own program made it impossible for me to envision any cheating on the diet, for fear all my efforts would go to waste. Charlie, however, claims to have been “pushed off the wagon” into drinking champagne by his “friends.” Perhaps it’s jealously, as his program inspired more than a couple of them to go back to the gym too, he writes.

In Charlie’s case, one of the biggest and most immediate benefits of a personal trainer has been the education in how to be healthy. Nico has told him that you don’t need to run to burn fat (a bounty of knowledge that should be spread to all), that heart rate is the best indication of caloric burn, and that Freshness Burger is not exactly “the healthy alternative” to McDonald’s. Most importantly, Nico is teaching him how to make the most of his workouts and limited time at the gym. “I’d been messing around in the gym here and there for several years, but never really gotten anywhere. I’d overdo it, then slack off for months, and then try again. I guess it’s meaningless if you’re not given direction and don’t change your lifestyle (eating and drinking habits) accordingly.”

Charlie also found that initial weight loss was most evident in the face (“apparently my chin starts in a different place now”). After 15 days and eight sessions, he’d lost 2.5kg (weighing 86.5kg wearing gym clothes), and his body fat had fallen from 25 to 23 percent. “I can see it in my cheeks, my posture has improved, and my clothes hang differently. I don’t have a washboard stomach quite yet but I’m halfway there. Literally.”

With a holiday in Thailand approaching, Charlie is attempting to keep up with the program, and he is still seeing Nico from time to time. “I’m a slacker at heart; I need someone to crack the whip,” he says. He is also trying to stick to the diet during the week, including keeping off the booze. On weekends it’s more difficult. “If you knew my friends, you’d understand.”

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