Tokyo Drifter: The Tokyo International Forum

Tokyo International Forum , 東京国際フォーラム

Tokyo International Forum , 東京国際フォーラム
Looking through the archives of my blog, I obviously gravitate toward exploring nature and history in Japan. These are not the only things I'm interested in, however, so for today's post I decided to feature something urban, new and modern. I chose a place I'd been wanting to check out for some time-- the Tokyo International Forum (東京国際フォーラム)!

The International Forum building opened in 1997 in Chiyoda City (千代田区), just a few steps away from Tokyo Station, and is widely accepted as being one of the country’s premier centers of culture. It was designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly Beceiro, who's also known for famous buildings such as the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, the Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. The Forum is appreciated for its sweeping steel and glass structure, as well as exquisite use of sunlight which changes the feel of the interior space throughout the day. A multipurpose facility, housing numerous halls, meeting rooms, shops, restaurants and even a ballroom, the International Forum is used for a vast variety of conventions as well as public and private events. It’s even been decided that the weightlifting events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be held here.

Tokyo International Forum , 東京国際フォーラム
This building is definitely a very energizing and dynamic piece of modern architecture! The interaction of people, sunlight and even sound have a transformative effect on the space, such that the building practically seems alive! Exploring and interfacing with it was really inspiring for me, but the International Forum is not only about an active experience for visitors, it also offers the passive indulgence of "watching" the sleek, elegant and expansive space unfold before our eyes. Truly magnificent!

Tokyo International Forum , 東京国際フォーラムTokyo International Forum , 東京国際フォーラム

Tokyo International Forum , 東京国際フォーラムTokyo International Forum , 東京国際フォーラム

There are lots more photos of this gorgeous facility. I hope my readers will take a look at the rest of them in my Picasa album here.


Today's KitKat Get!

キャロット・アップルパイ・キットカット, Carrot Apple Pie KitKat

I got my hands on two new exciting flavours of KitKat today! First, Carrot Apple Pie! This one is sort of a mystery because of the packaging, as it's clearly designed to be an Easter edition. In the top right, the text in the Easter egg says, "Your dreams are sure to come true. Get off to a good start this Easter!" Then in the lower left it's telling us to look for the "lucky" Kit Kat which is decorated with an Easter Egg-Bunny. Now, Readers, if you don't read Japanese, you'll have to trust me when I say that the first message is a bit more clever than it sounds because there's a pun in there that's lost in translation. But overall I'd say this is a pretty strange package design in a non-Christian country that pays no attention to the Easter holiday. But hey, whatever it takes to deliver a new delicious Kit Kat is fine with me.

紅芋キットカット , Okinawan Purple Yam KitKat

Today's second find is a little bit lighter on the story, but is certainly a wonderful flavour! This one is the Okinawa special edition, Okinawan Purple Yam flavour. I'm sort of puzzled as to how this one made its way to Tokyo, but who am I to argue? Lucky for me!!


Presenting the KitKat sandwich!

Today I decided to take a bike ride over to Ueno for lunch at the Japanese burger franchise, First Kitchen, although eating a burger was not the main goal. The reason for my visit was trying the new KitKat sandwich that's being offered for a limited time at First Kitchen restaurants nationwide!

Without further ado, the KitKat sandwich! It's a simple dessert: an oblong piece of sweet milk bread topped with whipped cream and minced candied orange peel, then folded around a mini size Café KitKat. That's really all there is to it, but it's really very tasty, and has no need to be complicated. The bread is smooth and firm on the outside, but very soft and chewy on the inside. The whipped cream is light and airy. To be honest, I've never been a huge fan of candied orange peel, but the kind in this sandwich is not too sugary and actually I really liked it. Last but not least, the main ingredient, a KitKat! A Café KitKat is a milk chocolate KitKat that's made specifically for dunking in coffee, hot chocolate, warm milk, etc, and as such has a little bit more crunch than the standard variety. All together, these ingredients come together to make a really nice treat!

I really can't say that this is a life-changing dessert experience; First Kitchen is a fast food burger chain after all. It's also probably not likely that I'll keep going back over and over again to eat it, but it certainly is delicious, and a KitKat fan like me would definitely feel a sense of loss had I let the opportunity pass. Great job First Kitchen! It's a great idea that's executed very well!

Thinking of trying one yourself? While you're there, may as well have a meal, right? First Kitchen also has another limited edition sandwich this spring-- the Chicken Nanban (チキン南蛮) burger. It was quite tasty and I definitely recommend it, I got mine with a side of buttered potato (ジャガバター) French Fries.


Quiet down in there!

At many modern construction sites in Japan, passersby will see one or more of these displayed on the outer wall of the construction area. The device uses a finely calibrated microphone to measure noise and vibration and the readout displays the readings in real time to inform the public of their exposure readings while they're in the area. This also helps construction site foremen to be sure they're operating within the set limits.

So even construction sites are courteous. Pretty damn kool, I think!