Feature: 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. Despite sumo-sized US challengers, Japan's fearless food fighters are tipped to come out on top. Tama Miyake reports.

135-pound Hirofumi Nakajima beat 380-pound Ed Krachie to become Nathan's first Japanese champion in 1996

Takeru Kobayashi leads the stoic and solitary life of a professional athlete. The reigning world champion and holder of several world records in his chosen sport, the 24-year-old known as "The Prince" spends up to six weeks preparing for every contest he enters. With a schedule that includes about two competitions every three months, Kobayashi's life has been largely reduced to weightlifting, working out and otherwise boosting his God-given powers.

But his efforts over the past two years have clearly paid off. Tipping the scales at 128 pounds (58kg), The Prince is the undisputed—and somewhat unbelievable—fastest eater in the world. He is the proud owner of the Mustard Yellow International Belt, which despite rumors sits on a shelf in his Nagoya apartment and not in the Imperial Palace, and which he won by doing the previously unimaginable: downing 50 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes at the 2001 Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York. That's about one hot dog and bun every 14 seconds, and double the previous record set the year earlier by countryman Kazutoyo "The Rabbit" Arai.

"I wasn't overjoyed, but I did feel a sense of accomplishment because I beat my intended quota by quite a large margin," Kobayashi says over an iced milk tea just weeks before he returns to New York to defend his title, adding, "I went there to win."

But he did more than win. The "Tsunami," as he was later nicknamed, left his competitors and other followers of the sport flabbergasted. "I was astounded. I honestly thought he could get to 35 and I thought that would be mind-blowing. I could not articulate it. It was really just so far beyond what we expected," recalls George Shea, president of the New York-based International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE), the world body that has governed this growing sport for the past five years.

Indeed, Kobayashi's eye-catching performance has not only made him the stuff of legend, but it's brought international attention to what Japan has known for a long time: eating contests make for great entertainment. And as the outside world catches on to competitive eating's prime-time potential, Japan is charging ahead to the next level, that of a professional sport.

Down the hatch
The stuff of state fairs and county carnivals, eating contests are a time-honored tradition stretching back to the US's founding fathers, and, some would say, even farther. "This is a sport that is as old as history itself," says Shea, who arranges events around the world and often provides commentary with his brother and business partner, Richard. Indeed, an overview of the US eating scene turns up local contests involving chicken wings in Pennsylvania; watermelons in Texas; lutefisk (jellied cod) in Washington; jalape–os in Louisiana; raw onions in Hawaii; strawberry shortcake in Ohio; and perhaps in a sign of things to come, instant ramen in Tennessee.

"Hungry" Charles Hardy, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and champion Arai indulge in one more hot dog

But for all the contests throughout the country, and even the world, the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest is Nathan's. Held every year except two since 1916, Nathan's is the competitive eaters' Olympics, World Cup and Masters rolled into one. "It is absolutely, bar none, the premier event," says Shea. "It is the Augusta of the sport, not just in the US but internationally."

For years Nathan's attracted the best of the US's "big eaters," typically beefy lineman types who were out for a good time on the Fourth of July. Men like 380-pound Ed "The Maspeth Monster" Krachie and 360-pound "Hungry" Charles Hardy made a name for themselves by putting away 20-odd hot dogs and buns within the 12-minute time limit, and taking home the coveted belt along with a year's supply of Nathan's.

Thanks to its long history and large personalities, Nathan's has become a big part of the US's Fourth of July festivities. But here in Japan, competitive eating, or ohgui, has long since outgrown its image as sideshow entertainment. The nation's top "food fighters" battle it out on regular television shows like TV Tokyo's "TV Champion" and TBS's "Food Battle Club" and travel a circuit—crisscrossing the country in sanctioned events featuring curry, ramen and sushi, but also soba, rice, and takoyaki—in competition for valuable prizes. Typical contests pit slim, serious and shaggy-haired Japanese men against each other in races for speed or volume with cash prizes of up to ¥10 million.

Takeru Kobayashi lifts the Mustard Yellow International Belt after smashing the record at last year's event

"Food fighters in Japan think of themselves as athletes. They have a higher recognition of the game and are constantly thinking about records," explains Kobayashi, who regularly triumphs on "Food Battle Club" and among other achievements, has eaten a five-person serving of okonomiyaki in seven minutes and 30 seconds.
It was this dedication to excellence that had Japanese eaters devouring the record books by the mid-'90s. But the true test has always been Nathan's.

"I don't want to betray any confidences, but we've had calls from the biggest eaters themselves in Japan," says Shea, one of the event's organizers. "They really want to go because you get international stature if you win it. So we get calls from people who I don't think could win, but who want to pay their own way because once you win, you're in."
Proof that Japan deserved a place at the Nathan's table was finally delivered on the Fourth of July 1996, when Kofu native Hirofumi Nakajima, weighing in at around 135 pounds, clinched the title with 24 and one half hot dogs and buns, beating Krachie's old mark of 22 and one quarter. It was the first victory by a Japanese, but certainly not the last.

"The Prince" hails from a family of healthy eaters

"I can't get my hands on that yellow belt 'cause of those Japanese guys," jokes Hardy, a New York corrections officer and last year's third-place finisher. "Every time I get close to it, they send somebody better."

Dubbed "The Tokyo Terror," Nakajima captured the Nathan's crown for three years running before falling to Steve "The Terminator" Keiner in 1999. But the US wouldn't hold the belt for long. In 2000, Japan swept the top three, led by 100-pound Arai and including the sole female competitor, Takako Akasaka, in third place. For once and all, it was clear that body size has nothing to do with stomach capacity.

But it was Kobayashi's performance last year that put competitive eating firmly on the map. "What's happened by that event is not really a Kobayashi-fest, although he's a really cute kid, he's fantastic," says Shea. "But in addition to making Kobayashi a star here in the US, it just made the sport a star."


Belly of the beast
In the nearly 12 months since last year's Nathan's contest, competitive eating has planted itself firmly in US prime time. Dubbed the nation's fastest-growing sport by the IFOCE, competitive eating made its US network debut in February with Fox's "Glutton Bowl #1: The World's Greatest Eating Competition." Some 6.4 million viewers tuned in to the two-hour gorge session featuring 40 competitors downing everything from sticks of butter to stacks of beef tongue.

Nathan's 2000 champion Kazutoyo Arai weighed in at just 100 pounds

Already the top-ranked eater in the world, Kobayashi devoured the competition and walked away with $25,000 in prize money and a stomach bursting with more than 40 cow brains. The ensuing months have seen the creation of Food Fighter Association (FFA), Japan's first professional organization dedicated to promoting competitive eating. Currently comprised of nine members, including Kobayashi, FFA aims to establish food fighting as a legitimate sport.

"We are trying to change the image of the sport," says FFA Director Tsutomu Okada, noting that competitive eating is for athletes, not entertainers. "We would like it to become part of the Olympics."

Likewise, the IFOCE is building its international network of eaters in an effort to stage competitions and attract sponsorship around the globe. "You know, the Japanese are the best," Shea says. "And in Japan, it's Japanese eaters. But it's much more interesting to see an Olympics of eating. So I see an enormous potential for sponsorship, for venue specific events, where you're really picking a crowd, and for televised sponsorship at these venues."

Both the FFA and IFOCE are also deeply involved in enhancing the safety of competitive eating by enforcing regulations such as age restrictions and medical supervision. The need for such action is obvious. On April 24, a 14-year-old Japanese boy who choked on a piece of bread while challenging two classmates to a speed-eating competition died after three months in a coma. His death followed that of a contestant in a sushi-eating contest five years ago and led TV Tokyo to cancel its planned broadcast of this year's Nathan's contest.

Meanwhile, ohgui has come under fire from Japan's older generations, who see the contests as a waste of food. "They're stupid and immoral. Perhaps, since nobody worries about food in Japan right now, this kind of TV program might be popular. It might be because of my generation, but I don't like to see any food being wasted," says 60-year-old Teruhisa Ohgishi.

But perhaps the hardest thing to swallow for most viewers watching these eating contests is not how much is being eaten, but how.

"People think that if you have a huge appetite, then you'll be better at it," says Kobayashi. "But actually, it's how you confront the food that is brought to you. You have to be mentally and psychologically prepared."

Psychological preparations aside, there are very real physical ramifications of competitive eating. "I suspect that people who are very good at them have a very capacious stomach," says Peter Watson, consultant gastroenterologist at Queen's University Belfast, who notes that overeating can cause painful stomach stretching and doing it habitually can result in an extremely enlarged stomach. "In theory stretching could cause rupture, but I am not aware of it ever happening in these circumstances. Vomiting must be a real risk with the possibility of aspiration and, if violent, could cause a ruptured esophagus [the tube linking the throat and stomach]."

Many contestants admit inhaling excessive amounts of food can be a painful experience, but shrug off potential long-term consequences like diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.

"Takes me about five or six hours, because the adrenaline is rushing and you got all that sodium in you and you're drinking gallons and gallons of water," Hardy explains, adding, "After that, I'm ready to go for a barbecue."

Kobayashi, who doesn't drink or smoke, takes a more serious approach to his training and recovery. "I probably won't continue for long because it puts pressure on the body," he says. "But I am at the age where I can perform my best."

To prove that, he plans to arrive in New York early next week to begin on-site training to defend his title at the 87th annual Nathan's contest. Asked how many hot dogs and buns he can put away this time, he says he's aiming for 60.

And should The Prince remain the king of competitive eaters, Kobayashi may one day trade mustard yellow for Olympic gold.

Photo credits: Reuters; Courtesy of FFA; Courtesy of IFOCE

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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




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