10 ways to keep toasty in Tokyo
Winter has arrived and the falling mercury has many Tokyoites scurrying for their kotatsus and fantasizing about a quick jaunt to Okinawa. But if you know where to go, there are plenty of things to do right here in Tokyo that will get your temperature -- or at least your heart rate -- up.
1. Belt out some tunes while soaking your feet
Karaoke booths are a favorite place to get out of the cold for a few hours, and belting out some classic 1980s rock is sure to get some warmth back into the fingers and toes, especially if you go full out and add some energetic fist pumping.
But Fioria Aria Blu will do you one better. They have a karaoke room equipped with a Japanese-style foot bath, so you can soak your toes in hot water while you sing.
Even fans of mellow adult contemporary will be warmed up in no time.
2. Warm your heart by helping the homeless
You may think the winter months are hard, but imagine how difficult they are for Tokyo's homeless population.
If you really want to give yourself a warm glow, consider volunteering with Second Harvest Japan.
In addition to programs that provide food for orphanages and women's shelters, SHJ makes and distributes hot, healthy meals to Tokyo's homeless. They can always use the help preparing the food or handing it out, and even if you get cold standing outside, your heart will be nice and warm.
3. Go on a romantic tropical escape ... to Shinjuku
I could think of a few things couples could do to warm each other up on cold nights, but if you need a little extra help, try escaping to Bali. Well, Bali An, anyway.
This love hotel combines a convenient location in Shinjuku with all of the ambiance and luxury of a Balinese spa resort.
They even offer Bali-style spa treatments and a tiki bar where you can sip tropical drinks and imagine you've left frigid Japan far behind. If you manage to leave your room, that is.
4. Get turned on to erotic shunga prints
Of course, even without a partner, you can still get hot under the collar if you have something sexy to look at.
This has been known for centuries, if the traditional erotic woodblock prints called shunga are any indication.
While the scenes they depict are undoubtedly pornographic, the level of artistic skill required to make them is the same as for tamer subjects, so you'll find many examples among the collection of the Mita Arts Gallery.
Go check them out and get cultured and titillated at the same time.
5. Hit the closest hot springs to the capital
Of course, there's probably no better way to warm up than soaking in the healing waters of a hot spring. Finding a hot spring resort usually means getting out of town, but not if you go to Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba.
They have 100 percent natural spring water pumped up from 1,400 meters below the city, and you can choose from five different pools, including an outdoor bath and an amber-colored one packed with skin-friendly minerals.
And if you get bored of bathing, you can hit the shops and restaurants set up in a faux Edo village.
6. Work up a sweat at hot yoga
Regular old yoga probably wouldn't be a bad way to warm up in the winter, but if you really want to get steamy, you should go for hot yoga.
This particular type is practiced in a studio heated to 105 degrees with a humidity of 40 to 65 percent. You'll be sweating before you even start stretching.
Here in Tokyo, you can give it a try at Hot Yoga Studio Lava. They have studios all around town and in the surrounding prefectures as well.
7. Catch a bevy of firemen showing off their skills
If the popular promotional calendars are any indication, firemen are one sexy bunch. If you are inclined to agree, you'll want to get yourself down to the Tokyo Fire Department's New Years Parade of Firemen.
A bunch of athletic men dressed in happi coats performing acrobatic stunts while balances on ladders is just the thing to get most women and no few men hot under the collars.
Oh, and you might learn something about fire safety too. This year, the event will be held on January 6.
8. Imagine yourself as Lawrence of Arabia
After the autumn foliage falls off the trees, Tokyo can seem pretty gray. Sometimes all you need to feel a little warmer is a little more color and a change of scene.
At Arabian Rock, a theme restaurant in Shinjuku's infamous Kabukicho district, the plush decor and sexy costumes on the harem -- er, waitstaff -- will have you imagining yourself as a sheik in a some balmy country.
If it's your birthday, a genie may even appear to grant you a wish -- or at least some cake.
9. Go to the top of Tokyo Tower -- by foot
Yes, it is kitschy and touristy, but everybody has to visit Tokyo Tower at least once. During the winter months, it has the added advantage of a Christmas tree and illumination.
But the surefire way to get your temperature up is to skip the elevators and haul yourself to the top by way of the 600 stairs.
You even get a certificate confirming your achievement displaying the two mascots, both named Noppon, who must be the most phallic mascots in history.
10. Hang in a hothouse
It's hard to feel cold when you are looking at hundreds of orchids. Normally, you have to hop a plane to some tropical paradise to do so, but there's always the Yumenoshima Tropical Greenhouse Dome in Koto.
Truthfully, there are three domes to this greenhouse, containing not just orchids, but about 1000 different species of tropical and semi-tropical plants in recreations of their natural habitats, complete with a waterfall and island village.
Okinawa it ain't, but it will do for a day.