Feeling a little overwhelmed or uncomfortable by all the unnecessary pressure that comes along with Valentine’s Day?
Draw some inspiration from these fun, fuss-free date ideas around Tokyo, for a simple yet tasteful (and thoughtful) celebration… with a significant other, friends, family or by yourself!
Text by Vivian Morelli
1. Enjoy some home cooking
My (not-so) secret homemade pizza recipe never fails to impress and is quite simple with no oven required: make your own dough by mixing a cup of warm water with a pinch of salt and one teaspoon of yeast, honey and olive oil. Add four cups of flour and let it rise before shaping into a pie. Top with tomato sauce, fresh basil, grilled eggplant, cheese, and bake on the stove top on low heat, covering the pan with a lid. Enjoy, and trust an Italian girl!
2. Head out to a baking class
Make you own Valentine’s treats from scratch by attending a baking class, a leisurely learning experience to share. Daikanyama’s sweet shop Matsunosuke offers a baking class for traditional American and English cakes. The class is conducted in English, and you can take the finished product home (if you can wait that long!).
3. Stimulate your senses at an exhibition
Fashionistas and photography lovers alike will revel in Irving Penn and Issey Miyake’s Visual Dialogue, which focuses on the collaborative work of the renowned Japanese designer and a legendary photographer. Until April 8, Open Mon & Wed-Sun, 11am-8pm, closed Tue.
4. Bond over a live show
Bonding over music is probably the utmost romantic experience, in my book at least. For February, I highly recommend checking out Brooklyn band; The Pains of Being Pure at Heart for an upbeat emo-softcore sound, or how about indie-chillwave group Neon Indian for some electronic beats to dance to.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Feb. 17, Club Quattro, Shibuya/ Neon Indian, Feb. 21, Unit, Daikanyama.
5. Enjoy a night at the ballet
For a pre-Valentine’s outing, treat yourself or surprise your date to a recital of Russian gracefulness and movement by The Bolshoi Ballet & The Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra. Spartacus, Raymonda and Swan Lake, until Feb. 9, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan.
6. Explore the animal kingdom
Share your time with furry critters and overload on cuteness at Ueno Zoo, which features a giant panda and a tiger forest. If it gets too cold, escape to the Tokyo Sea Life Park to catch a glimpse of penguins, auks and puffins, as well as watching bluefin tuna freely swim in the giant donut-shaped tank. Oh, to be a fish! Ueno Zoo,
Tel: 03-3828-5171 (Tokyo Sea Life Park)
Tel: 03-3869-5152 (Tokyo Zoo)
7. Walk in an old Edo garden
Situated in quiet Komagome/Sugamo, Rikugien Garden is one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens in the Tokyo area. Wander around its manicured grounds for a romantic stroll in old Tokyo, and end the visit at the teahouse to sip on some green tea and sample traditional sweets.
Rikugien Garden, seven minutes walk from Komagome station (JR Yamanote Line).
8. Enjoy some healthy sushi
Feast on one of Japan’s traditional fare for a simple yet elegant meal. Try Ichikan sushi in Daikanyama, for the highest quality of ingredients and skilled preparation, and to share the trivia that a scene from the iconic Lost in Translation was filmed there.
9. Burn off some calories
On Valentine’s Day, why not do something physical? Of course my first suggestion would be to go hiking, which is ideal in February’s crisp weather. Dress warmly, share some hot cocoa or a flask of something stronger along the way, burn some calories and breathe some fresh air away from the city noise. Try Mount Takao and neighboring Mount Jinba, or check:
www.tokyoactive.com for more listings on day hikes.
10. Try a spicy night in K-town
Sample a variety of spicy dishes and grilled meats in the casual setting of a Korean BBQ, for an interesting cross-cultural experience within the city. I highly suggest accompanying your meal with copious amounts of the Korean spirit; soju, then ambling around this lively area for a dose of our neighbor’s pop culture and paraphernalia.
Shin-Okubo station is on the JR Yamanote line.
11. An alternative date spot
Stray away from tacky decorations and love ballads and opt instead for something with an edge, such as Tatemichiya, a small izakaya owned by a punk music aficionado: dine on grilled meats and deep-fried takoyaki, whilst listening to the blaring guitars of the Sex Pistols and the Ramones in this Daikanyama based punk-rock izakaya.
12. Splash out at one of Tokyo’s finest restaurants
Why not pick up the latest copy of Tokyo Weekender, for our complete hotel and restaurant guide and make this Valentine’s Day a night to remember?