April is the month of new beginnings in Japan. As well as the school year starting, there are also many new graduates taking on their first ever full-time jobs. This can lead to upping sticks to begin a new life in a different place. It’s, therefore, no surprise that there are a lot of new things opening in Tokyo, including stores, cafés, bars and restaurants. This month, we feature Kirby sweets specialty store, a JAXA popup shop and the new Kabukicho Tower in Shinjuku. Plus, Sunshine Ikebukuro is reopening in a newer, greener version of itself.
Unusual Cherry Blossom Viewing Opportunities
Tokyo has more beautiful cherry blossom viewing spots than one can visit in a season. We’re spoiled for choice. From the Imperial Palace moat, shrines and temples to parks and rivers lined with cherry blossom trees. There are, however, more unusual opportunities to enjoy sakura in Tokyo in April.
Shinjuku Gyoen is one of the calmer places to view cherry blossoms as you have to pay to enter and during sakura season you also must reserve your visit in advance. This spring, in addition to its natural beauty, Shinjuku Gyoen has teamed up with digital art collective Naked for the illumination of about 900 cherry blossom trees of about 70 varieties that bloom within the park’s grounds. They also use AR (augmented reality) technology, so you can see even more cherry blossoms made of light through your phone, projected on the footpaths and more.
In Saitama, the cherry blossom viewing experience is paired with a sauna. Comoriver is a hideaway outdoor facility facing the Toki River, which is also a renowned spot for cherry blossoms. It has two outdoor saunas on the riverbank, perfect for a cold-water dip right after a sweltering sauna session. During the cherry blossom season, they decided to combine the two experiences in the form of the Ohanami Sauna Festival, which takes place over one weekend in April.
Finally, there’s the notorious Unko (Poop) Museum in Yokohama. During the cherry blossom season in late March and early April, it reinvents itself in pink. The whole museum is adorned with artificial sakura branches with more pink poops than ever. The giant centerpiece poop is covered in cherry blossoms with projection mapping technology.
New Stores, Bars and Restaurants Opening
Here are a few stores, bars and restaurants opening in Tokyo in April 2023.
Pastel, founded in 1984, sparked the so-called “pudding boom” in Japan and is popular to this day for its rich smooth pudding. The Tokyo flagship store is opening in Omotesando on April 27.
Auberge Tokito, opening in April in Tachikawa, is a stylish place to stay and also boasts a dining space and tearoom.
Cycad Brewing is a new craft beer bar opening in Nishi-Ikebukuro on April 1, 2023. Aside from great beer such as salt caramel stout, it also offers barbecue food and even a gallery with changing exhibitions.
Yataiya Hakata Theater Yurakucho Store brings Fukuoka-style food and drink to Tokyo. Fukuoka in Kyushu is known for its street food yatai (stalls). This Tokyo shop is opening under the elevated railway tracks just outside the International Forum exit of Yurakucho Station on the JR Yamanote Line.
Kirby Café Petit Sweets Specialty Store
This beloved Nintendo character already has a café, but now it’s opening a take-out sweets specialty store and not only in Tokyo. Osaka is also getting a Kirby Café Petit. The Tokyo store opens on April 13 in Tokyo Station’s First Avenue Tokyo Character Street, while the Osaka one opens on April 26 in Tennoji Mio. You can enjoy various sweets such as tarts and cakes in the shape of the world of “Kirby’s Dream Land” for takeout. There is also a merchandise corner in the store, where you can purchase limited goods featuring Kirby.
JAXA Pop-up in the B8ta Store
Experience-based store B8ta in Yurakucho and a total of seven companies are holding a space event with JAXA, Japan’s space agency, in April. It features a large collection of products that are either inspired by space or products created using JAXA’s patents, technology, copyright, etc.
To name a few examples, there’s a space shampoo sheet for easy scalp cleaning, Hidamari space dry wear made with structural knitted fabric, 4D T-shirts, as well as Shiseido fibona and TechDoctor beauty products. There’s also a robot cushion for breathing, in addition to a transformable lunar robot developed by JAXA, Takara Tomy, Sony Group and Doshisha University, plus more products.
Sunshine City Observatory in Ikebukuro Reopens
In 2023, the popular shopping and entertainment complex Sunshine City is celebrating its 45th anniversary. Among the many events planned to commemorate the anniversary is the reopening of the renovated observatory. It’s a popular location as it offers great photo spots and a view of Mount Fuji on a clear day.
The new observatory opening on April 18, 2023, is imagined as an indoor park that’s great for families. You can lie down on the grass or on the net, sit on benches, swings or cushions. There are also picture books and educational toys suited for families with small children. Moreover, there’s a baby room and organic baby food is available at the café in the observatory. The café offers various dishes and drinks too. There’s also an event space area on the north side.
Tokyo Kabukicho Tower Grand Opening
A super high-rise complex facility with 48 floors above ground and five floors underground, Tokyo Kabukicho Tower houses not only hundreds of stores but also two hotels, a cinema, a theater and a live music hall.
Bellustar Tokyo (floors 39 to 47) and Hotel Groove Shinjuku (floors 18 to 38) boast excellent city views. You can watch a movie, play or concert and then grab a drink or a meal in the same building. The whole second floor is a yokocho-style area with many small eateries. The third floor is dedicated to pop culture with Bandai Namco’s giant arcades and neon lights spread out, while Sony Music Entertainment takes over the fourth floor to create a hi-tech experience with escape rooms and dungeons, among other things. The fifth floor is dedicated to health and wellness with facilities such as a terrace swimming pool and a gym open 24 hours. For the ultimate convenience, buses to and from Haneda and Narita airports will stop directly outside the basement of the tower.