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Preview: Japan Visitor Blog - Tokyo Osaka Nagoya Kyoto

Japan Blog - Tokyo Osaka Nagoya Kyoto



What's happening in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Shimane Japan, updates on sightseeing, museums, temples, shrines and Japan news.Sounds of the real Japan



Last Build Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 16:36:59 PDT

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Kyoto Antiques: Shopping & Window Shopping

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 05:37:00 PDT

京都のアンティークThere are two areas in Kyoto known for antiques: Teramachi (north of Nijo, south of Marutamachi) and Shinmonzen. Both areas are perfect for window shopping and, naturally, shopping.Teramachi, Kyoto's newest antique center, is more casual and, often, quite a bit cheaper. It also has a wide range of other interesting shops (highly recommended for high quality Asian handicrafts and art & tea ceremony accessories). Shinmonzen, running west for about 500 meters from Higashioji just north of the Gion district, is the old center of Kyoto's antique industry. The shops here are less suited for window shopping, but interesting in every other way. Many shops in both areas specialize (for example Chinese/Japanese/Korean antiques, paintings, lacquer ware, ceramics, bronze, Japanese furniture, wood-block prints, wood carving, scrolls, Buddhist paintings and sculptures, pearls, glassware, tea ceremony utensils, kimonos, etc.), while others offer a crazy selection. When it comes to antiques, prices are often not marked, and bargaining is expected. Most shops on both streets are open every day 10am-6pm (some are closed on Mondays). English is understood and spoken well in many shops.Experience the exotic world of Kyoto antiques, and take something special home from Asia's streets of treasure.Antique Wedding KimonosLike the Western wedding dress, the wedding kimono for brides in Japan is white too. In the Japanese wedding ceremony, a bright, white, silk kimono must show a stunning beauty, symbolizing that perfect moment in a young woman's life.If you go to kimono shops or flea markets, you will find wedding kimonos. But the white ones are very rare, because of the traditional recycling practice of silk kimonos in Japan. Often, wives reworked their wedding kimono so that it could be used as a formal kimono, and in unusual cases the very fine fabric was used for baby diapers.Nowadays, you only can find brocaded, colorful, antique, kimonos in original designs. Wedding brides wear this uchikake as a over-garment on top of layers of white silk kimonos. These brocaded wedding kimono are called uchikake. Uchikake kimonos are usually red based, brocaded on thick silk material with a long length. Its gold, silver, and many other colored threads create incredible patterns with traditional embroidery techniques.The popular designs on wedding kimonos are often crane, turtle, pine tree, plum blossoms or bamboo. They are recognized as the symbols of longevity, happiness, prosperity or even fertility.In the Edo period, uchikake was worn by high ranked women in the inner halls of the royal palace or shogun's castle. The gorgeous uchikake were the women's uniforms, in a sense, to show each other their rank in the hierarchy.This custom made uchikake to be understood as a status symbol of gorgeousness and wealth. Since the wedding ceremony is the highlight of every family, uchikake began to be worn for the wedding ceremony.Uchikake is also seen in Noh costumes sometimes, too. Uchikake material is made using a special weaving technique known as karaori, nishiki-ori, kinran-ori, or donsu-ori. This special weaving method creates raised figures such as birds and flowers and is one of the most amazing arts of the Japanese textile world.Kyoto’s famous Nishijin textile area began producing karaori in the 16th century. In documents from the 17th century, it is recorded that it takes 70 days to weave a 120 cm long, 30cm wide piece of karaori material.Written by Ian Ropke, founder and owner of Your Japan Private Tours: Japan-wide travel expert since 1992. Ian and his team offer personalized quality private travel services all over Japan. To learn more, visit www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com or call us on +1-415-230-0579 | +81-5534-4372 [...]



Fundoshi Loin Cloth Gay Bar - Only in Japan

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 08:01:05 PDT

ふんどし ゲイバーSure, you can get a drink in gay bar most anywhere in the world. Wherever there’s a gay nightlife, there are low-key bars, pulsating clubs, cruisy joints, and just about everything in between. But does your hometown have a gay bar where everyone must wear a fundoshi? At Zakoza Bulge Bar, in the Namba district of Osaka, you can have a gay experience that is both quintessentially Japan and definitely unforgettable.Fundoshi wearers in the in-house pool at Zakoza Bulge BarWhat is a fundoshi, you say? It’s ok to ask. A fundoshi is a thin, cotton scarf-like swath of fabric that, when contoured, tied, and tucked just right, becomes an approximation of some very short, rather revealing short pants or even underwear that just ever-so-subtly might even be diaper redolent. Zakoza Bulge Bar has fundoshi available if you don’t have your own, and if you’re not sure how to put it on, someone will be happy to help.Entrance sign to Zakoza Bulge Bar, Namba, OsakaZakoza Bulge Bar’s clientele are mostly in their 30s or 40s, but don’t let that be an impediment should you fall outside of the range. There are all you can drink plans as well (figure somewhere in the 3,000 range), but there’s also a base plan of 1,800 which includes two drinks if you arrive before 7pm, and just one drink if you arrive later. Additional drinks are 500 yen and up. The owner and clientele are very welcoming towards foreigners, so don’t worry about anything, little or small.The drink course menu at the gay Zakoza Bulge BarThe entrance to Zakoza Bulge Bar is on the second floor (exterior staircase), which is the floor where the bar and changing area is. It’s a long bar, and home-cooked food appears on it at around 10pm. It’s also a great place to ease into conversation, be it with the bartender or other customers.Zakoza Bulge Bar's very laid-back loungeUp on the second floor, there are a couple of lounge areas, one of which includes a big TV, making for an experience exactly like hanging out in someone’s living room with a bunch of people you don’t know that well. Except that they are wearing fundoshi. There are also mismatched sofas, a bit of a raunchy conversation, and drinks in everyone’s hands. It’ll all very collegiate somehow.The fundoshi rack, Zakoza Bulge BarHalf of the third floor is an outdoor deck, and here you will find an above ground pool big enough for probably ten people to take a dip. This of course makes their fundoshi sheer, which may leave less to the imagination than their pre-dip state. On the third floor is also another indoor lounge area. There are plenty of places to lounge. How you cross or choose not to cross your legs is up to you.Zakoza Bulge Bar's very own pool, Namba, OsakaSome nights are not fundoshi nights (though Saturday always is), but some other theme that leaves you near nude. Zakoza Bulge Bar is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and is located at 2-3-23 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Heian Ladies of Legend Ono no Komachi & Izumi Shikibu

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 20:36:15 PDT

大野小町Ono no Komachi, known for her beauty, poetry and madness, lived in the middle of the ninth century and served as a lady-in-waiting in the Heian court.Ono no Komachi poem at ZuishininDespite her legendary beauty and obvious passions, she never married. But her poems more than make up for whatever she may have missed in the way of martial bliss.On such a night as thisWhen no moon lights your way to me,I wake, my passion blazing,My breast a fire raging, exploding flameWhile within me, my heart chars.(from An Introduction to Japanese Court Poetry by E. Miner)In mid life she was sent out of the capital to Yamashina, where she supposedly resided for some years at Zuishin-in Temple. She is said to have gone mad there and the temple now honors her every year with the Hanezu Odori. She probably wrote this poem during her stay at the temple:The color of the blossoms have fadedVainly, I age through the rains of the world Watching in melancholy.(translation by N. Teele)和泉式部Izumi Shikibu (circa 1000), another great woman writer of the Heian period, also wrote lasting poetry and had a difficult personal life.Izumi Shikibu shown on an 18th century woodblock printWe know a lot more about her life than Komachi. Izumi Shikibu got her name from her marriage to the governor of the province of Izumi. She divorced him after their first child and returned to the court in Kyoto, where she had been raised. Soon she was having an affair with a prince, who died, and then his brother, who also died. She recorded both of these affairs in her diary, including a number of passages and poems that clearly indicate how much she loved and how much she had lost.Lying down alone,I am so confused in yearning for youThat I have forgotThe tangles of my long black hair,Desiring the one who stroked it clear.But she continued to see and be with other men. She eventually married (and then left) her second husband, the governor of the province of Tango. Her final years were spend on Mount Yoshiya at Toboku-in. And for the past hundreds of years Seshin-in, a subtemple of Toboku-in has been celebrating her life. The temple moved its location to the east side of Shinkyogoku, a little south of Rokkaku in the Momoyama period (1568-1600). Every March 21 at about 11.am, Noh chants are performed here and Edo period reproductions of handscrolls of her poems are displayed in her honor. Including this one:Seeing the plum blossomsI wait for the song of the warblerSpring has comeVeiled in mistCourtesy of Ian Ropke, founder and owner of Your Japan Private Tours: personalized quality private travel services all over Japan since 1992. To learn more, visit our site (www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com) or call us on +1-415-230- [...]



Japan News This Week 25 September 2016

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 19:00:35 PDT

今週の日本Japan’s Newest Technology Innovation: Priest Delivery New York TimesIs the Bank of Japan running out of options? BBCWorld's oldest fish-hooks found on Okinawa, Japan GuardianCalls to abolish death penalty grow louder in Japan GuardianNumber of foreign visitors to Japan sets August record of 2.04 million Japan TimesSpying on Muslims in Tokyo and New York — “Necessary and Unavoidable”? Japan FocusLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatisticsUse of agricultural chemicals, by country, per area (i.e., amount sprayed by country X per/hectare), in 2010:1) China: 18 kg/hectare2) South Korea: 14+kg/hectare3) Japan: 13+kg/hectare4) Holland: 8-9 kg/hectare5) Italy: 7+kg/hectare6) Germany: 3+kg/hectare 7) France: 3+kg/hectare*8) United Kingdom: 3 kg/hectare9) USA: 2+kg/hectare Until 2003, Japan was far and away the greatest user of agricultural chemicals. For example, in 1990, Japan used 20+kg/hectare, while the USA used 2 kg/hectare. The second greater user (abuser) of chemicals was Italy, which sprayed 16 kg/hectare in 1990. By 2004, however, China began to use chemicals heavily, and in 2007 was the the number one user of chemicals.*Data for France is from 2009. Source: Faostat© JapanVisitor.comInside Track Japan For Kindle [...]



Guest House Kioto

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 03:29:04 PDT

木音As the number of foreign tourists increases in Kyoto, quite a few residents of the ancient capital are developing their traditional machiya properties into guest houses advertised on Airbnb and hotel booking sites.Guest House Kioto close to Senbon Shakado Temple and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is one such traditional property offering four guest rooms with either futons or beds, as well as a dormitory room with beds. The property is located in the narrow streets of the Kamishichi-ken geisha district.The name Kioto is a clever play on words as the kanji character for ki is wood and oto is sound. There's a common area with WiFi where guests can mingle and a breakfast is served in the living room with a view of the inner garden.Kyoto buses #10, #50, #51, #55, #59, #101, #102, #201 and #203 all stop nearby on Imadegawa Dori. Buses #6, #10, #46, #50, #55, #59, #201 and #206 stop on Senbon Dori.Click to expand the mapGuest House Kioto602-8319 KyotoKamigyo-kuMizomae-cho 100Tel:075 366 3780www.facebook.com/guesthouseKIOTO© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Mizuhiki-zaiku decorative paper cords

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 08:54:38 PDT

水引Mizuhiki (binding twine or paper cord decorations) were first developed and used in Kyoto in the Heian period (794-1185). They were originally used as a kind of hair decoration for members of the imperial family and court. Later in the Muromachi period (1333-1568), mizuhiki began to be used as a kind of gift wrapping, featuring red cords on the right and white cords on the left.They came into common use in the Meiji period (1868-1912) as kind of decoration for weddings, funerals and other important life events. Both the gift wrapping and ceremonial decorative form continue to be used today. Highly professional skills and long experience is needed to make these decorations well and quickly. Kyoto has always been and continues to be the leading center for mizuhiki.Decorative rittai-kazari mizuhikiThere are two basic kinds of mizuhiki. The first is the two-dimensional decorative binding twine, called hira-kazari, which is placed around thick, white washi paper money envelopes for weddings, celebrating the birth of a child, and funerals. The second kind are the elaborate and often brightly colored three-dimensional rittai-kazari, based on animal or plant designs, which are generally used only for weddings.A hira-kazari mizuhiki and envelope for a weddingThe process of making mizuhiki begins by twisting Japanese washi paper into strings. The strings are then bound fast together with rice glue, and either dyed, or wrapped with gold and silver leaf or silk threads, according to the intended use. Finally, the strings are cut to the appropriate length, and woven into their final form. Though most of these processes are performed by machines today, the weaving of the actual decoration, which involves a wide rage of complex folds, bends, twists and loose knots, is still done exclusively by hand.A hira-kazari mizuhiki for a funeral in JapanIf you are interested in seeing the wonders of mizuhiki, visit any Japanese paper craft shop, or ask for them at major department stores. You can also find envelopes with mizuhiki attached at any convenience store (red and white for celebrations; black and white for funerals).Written by Ian Ropke, founder and owner of Your Japan Private Tours: personalized quality private travel services all over Japan since 1992. To learn more, visit our site (www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com) or call us on +1-415-230-0579. [...]



Traditional Japanese Footwear A New Way of Walking

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 23:52:50 PDT

Karan koron, karan koron, this is the Japanese sound of someone walking down the street in geta, or traditional wooden clogs. For the Japanese this is a nostalgic sound, that conjures up images of people wearing yukata (informal cotton kimono) and enjoying the relaxed ambience of night-time summer festivals.Footwear plays an interesting role in daily Japanese life as a way of marking the transition between different kinds of interior and exterior spaces. For example, before entering a house, outside shoes are removed in the genkan. After stepping into the interior family space, inside slippers are put on. And before using the rest room one takes off the inside house slippers and puts on a special pair of "bathroom slippers".One classic error of foreign guests is to forget to change back to the regular slippers after leaving the rest room. This situation, of wearing the bathroom slippers into other rooms, represents bringing something unclean into a clean area and provokes either laughter or disgust, depending on the host family. So strong are the divisions between spaces, articulated by changes in footwear, that if a person leaves the house in a hurry, laces up their shoes, and then remembers a forgotten item, rather than step on the interior floor in their outside shoes they will crawl on their hands and knees, with their feet held up high to retrieve the forgotten item.Nor are these delineations limited to personal space. An American journalist, giving birth to a baby in Tokyo, was issued a pair of slippers when she was admitted to the hospital in labor, and was required to change to slippers of another color when she entered the delivery room. Special shoes for specific situations are also part of the cultural picture.While I was living in a mountain village, I watched a bride dressed in a wedding kimono and wearing very high wedge sandals bid a formal farewell to her neighbors. When she finished she walked away slowly, assisted by a woman on each arm. A crowd of village woman walked behind her. "When you got married, was it like this?" I asked one of them. "Oh, yes, just like this I needed help to walk. Oh those shoes!"Walking through the Gion entertainment area in Kyoto you may catch a glimpse of a geisha. Take a look at her feet. If she is wearing very high clogs, she is an apprentice geisha or maiko. This custom dates from the period when apprentices were children, and wore tall shoes to add to their height. Nowadays, maiko are young women, who walk gracefully and unassisted in high clogs.Shoes are also connected to Japanese beliefs about health. Older people have pointed out to me that walking in geta or backless sandals requires the wearer to flex the foot with each step just to keep the footwear from falling off. This repeated flexing is thought to contribute to good health, and some believe that wearing Western shoes (which do not require this muscular movement) is less healthy. A contemporary approach to the health and footwear issue can be seen in slippers featuring inside soles covered with beige plastic nodules. Positioned to stimulate health-promoting pressure points, the nodules produce sensory stimulation to mild pain, depending on the wearer. Buying traditional Japanese footwear: These shops sell geta for about ¥2,000: Kyoto Handicraft Center, Tel: 075 761 7000. Nakatsuji, Tel: 075 492 0436. Oshima in Nishiki market, Tel: 075 221 3473. For wooden sandals with indigo fabric trim (from about ¥3,000): Yamato Mingeiten, Tel: 075 221 2641.*If you would like to purchase geta from any of these stores please contact our sister site GoodsFromJapanWritten by Anne Overton and edited by Ian Ropke, founder and owner of Your Japan Private Tours: personalized quality private travel services all over Japan since 1992. To learn more, visit our site (www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com) or call us on +1-415-230-0579. [...]



Japan News This Week 18 September 2016

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 23:44:01 PDT

今週の日本

(image)
Opposition Figure’s Rise Could Pave Way for Female Leaders in Japan
New York Times

Japan half-marathon runners stir up hornets' nest
BBC

Japanese centenarians' honorary gifts hit by austerity as numbers soar
Guardian

High court rules Okinawa governor’s order to stop U.S. base work ‘illegal’
Japan Times

The Return of the Outcast(e) Map: Kobe, Cartography and the Problem of Discrimination in Modern Japan
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

According to a survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, 70% of unmarried men and 60% of unmarried women in Japan between the ages of 18 - 34 are not in a relationship.

The percentage for men is the highest since such surveys began in 1987.

In addition, around 42 percent of the men and 44.2 percent of the women admitted they were virgins.
 
Source: Yomiuri Shinbun

© JapanVisitor.com

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Gay in Nagoya? All hope not quite lost

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 00:41:39 PDT

名古屋 ゲイSun Set Cafe, gay bar in Nagoya.Oh no! You’re looking for a gay night out on the town in Nagoya and (gasp!) you can’t figure out what to do! There’s good news and bad news: The bad news is that there is almost nothing to speak of in the way of a gay scene in Nagoya, as compared to Tokyo or Osaka (or even lesser cities than Nagoya, for that matter). The good news? That there is almost nothing to be gay about in Nagoya. There are indeed a few, cozy places out there.Entrance to the building with gay bar King Diamond, Sakae, NagoyaLooking for a big gay dance club? Head for the shinkansen (bullet train) and get out of Nagoya. But if you are down for some low key lounging, there are some friendly faces and comfortable places waiting for you to drop by. Best if you can speak a bit of Japanese, but even if you can’t, speaking slowly with a nice smile gets you half way there.King Diamond entrance sign.King Diamond is located in the Sakae district, generally considered the shopping and nightlife center of Nagoya. This gay bar is oriented towards the younger crowd (and their admirers), but in practice, there’s a healthy customer contingent running into their 40s. The bar opens at 9pm (except on Sundays, when they are closed) and rumbles on until 5am. 1,800 yen for your first drink and accompanying snack (2,800 for women), with successive drinks starting from 800 yen. Emphasis on the “successive,” as the crowd here is known to knock ‘em down. Perhaps they are drinking their gay-in-Nagoya sorrows away? We kid.Friendly King Diamond bar staff pose for a pic.Another, somewhat more mixed crowd option, awaits you just a few blocks away at Sun Set Café (not “Sunset Café,” well, just because). The Sun Set-tles into a somewhat different vibe due to its mix of mostly gay men, their female friends and “fag hags.” Catty, catty! The lengthy bar makes for a degree of grandeur, but also makes it hard to chat people up. Expect service here to range between attentive and obsequious, which contrasts with King Diamond’s more “we’re cool buds that like you” approach to customer service.The building with Sun Set Cafe on the 3FThe Sun Set rises at 8pm and sets at 8am, but is closed on Mondays. 1,600 for the drink/snack initial set, but that rises to 2,800 for women (who need to be accompanied by a man to get in). The crowd is mostly 20s and 30s, but, hey, if you’re a foreigner, it generally doesn’t matter.Sun Set Cafe entranceDon’t go to a gay bar too early here in Nagoya. Of greater concern than the faux pas is the fact that you will probably be bored, as things don’t really pick up until 11pm, or in the case of Sun Set, more like midnight.The bar at Sun Set Cafe, NagoyaSlinky interior, Sun Set Cafe, Sakae, NagoyaSee, as it turns out, Nagoya almost isn’t that bad after all.King Diamond: 〒460-0008名古屋市中区栄4-13-10  Tel. 052 242 5077Sun Set Café:     〒460-0008名古屋市中区栄4-5-18 Tel. 052 251 7880© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



The World of the Elderly in Japan The land that lies before us all

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 03:27:17 PDT

According to research by WHO on life expectancy in advanced nations, the average life of a Japanese citizen is a leisurely 83.7 years (80.5 for males, and a healthy 86.8 for females). In fact, Japan is the No. 1 country for longevity (followed by Switzerland (83.4 years), Singapore (83.1), and Australia (82.8)). Today, of all the industrialized nations, Japan has the most old people and the least babies. Believe it or not, nearly half of all Japanese people will be over the age of 65 by the year 2025. Not surprising then, there is a national holiday for the Elderly. Keiro-no-hi holiday, or 'Respect for the Elderly' Day, falls on Monday 19th this year. On this day, the hope is that the young will pay their respects to the elderly, wish them a long healthy life and thank them for their wisdom and hard work. In some cities there are even presentations made.But the truth be told: it must be pretty hard for the elderly these days. These are the people who fought in the war. The people who built Japan into an economic superpower in 30 years or so. These are also the same people who were raised according to the ways of traditional Japanese society and culture. Today, as they walk around the cities they built, they must really wonder who they built it for.Young people generally tend to forget about the elderly in the rush of youth. This is considered natural and the elderly probably remembering being that way when they were young. But a lack of respect for the elderly is a relatively new thing and certainly not something the elderly themselves can remember feeling when they were young. But a total lack of respect for old people in Japan is becoming increasingly common. Younger people seem to view them as a nuisance, as distant reminders of the old world of Japan. Today, some elderly people consider the young of Japan to be alien creatures: entirely beyond understanding and communication. These are the kids that have inherited the riches that their grandparents created. And the sad thing is: most young people don't even think about the sacrifice and effort their grand parents made. They only seem to be thinking about themselves and this is the biggest criticism the elderly have of them: they are selfish. And selfish is a pretty new word in Japanese society. If anything, the Japanese are naturally unselfish. But not any more.Relations between the elderly and the young are still healthy in rural areas, where nearly nobody lives these days. If you go into the countryside, where time slows down and thing become naturally natural, the elderly still have their place in society. In fact, they run society. They are in charge and they are the kings and queens of their families. This is good. This is the way it should be.But in the cities, the elderly seem to have no place to call their own. They seem forgotten and this is saddest thing of all. But on Elderly Day, Japanese society, as a whole, tries to remember and honor them. This year let's try to remember how important they really are. Without them we would have nothing. Without them we would not even exist. And let's not forget the biggest truth of all: in a few decades we will be elderly ourselves. It's the future for all of us. Let's try to remember that.Written by Ian Ropke, founder and owner of Your Japan Private Tours: personalized quality private travel services all over Japan since 1992. To learn more, visit our site (www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com) or call us on +1-415-230-0579. [...]



Actor Yuta Takahata Goes Scot-Free for Rape

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 16:48:57 PDT

高畑裕太 汚職 Yuta Takahata is a 23-year-old Japanese actor who has appeared already in a couple of movies (L [2016] and Okaasan no Ki [2015], albeit in very minor roles) and several TV dramas and TV movies. He is becoming a well-known face on TV, and is the son of veteran actress Atsuko Takahata and actor Ryosuke Ohtani.Japan was shocked to learn last month, on August 23, that Yuta Takahata had been arrested for rape - the rape of a female staff member at a hotel he was staying at in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture. Then, last Friday, on September 9 - just 17 days after his arrest - Takahata was released on bail after the Gunma public prosecutor's office decided to drop charges against him.Far from denying the crime, Takahata explained his actions to the police, saying that he "couldn't control his desires," and then both his mother and Takahata himself publicly apologized for the incident. This suggests that it is a very clear cut case, and that conviction would have been likely in the case of a prosecution. During the time of his brief incarceration, it was conjectured that Takahata would get a prison sentence of about 7 or 8 years. The reason for eventually deciding not to prosecute him was not given. Newsworthy as this all is, it was not that blogworthy - until today. The Tokyo Sports newspaper reported today that no less than 80 million yen was paid in an out-of-court settlement with the victim of Takahata's sexual assault."Out-of-court settlement." Now, I'm no lawyer, but in my mind, out of court settlements are things that happen in civil cases, not criminal cases. An out-of-court settlement is what divorcing couples do, or someone who accidentally put a dent in someone else's car does, or what siblings squabbling over a parent's will do. An out-of-court settlement is not something that happens in a criminal case like a rape.Divorces, dents in cars, and the relative wealth of a group of siblings are not matters that involve many people besides those directly involved. However, crimes are a different story. Justice must be seen to be done, and an appropriate sentence must be meted out to punish the perpetrator and to send a message to society that such behavior is unacceptable to everyone, even if it does immediately and directly involve only a very few people.Justice is supposed to be blind, i.e., justice should be done whatever the perpetrator's personal circumstances. However, the fact is that circumstances do often affect outcomes in the form of some degree of mercy. The ultimate mercy is forgiveness, and what, you may ask, is a decision not to prosecute a crime that the perpetrator has completely owned up to in the form of an apology if it is not forgiveness?Forgiveness for what? In the context of 80 million yen having been paid to Takahata's victim for an "out-of-court settlement," the motive for the prosecutor not to prosecute can only be recognition of the Takahata family's having paid off the victim. Yet, if everyone accused of a crime in Japan had enough money to pay their victim a sum of money that would buy you a very comfortable brand new apartment in Tokyo, and in so doing avoid prosecution, the whole justice system in Japan may as well pack up its bags and go home.But not every criminal has that kind of money. So the justice system waits around to "serve" the unfortunate majority of criminals who do not have stacks of money, are not famous, not blessed with famous parents, actor's looks or, in other words, are without the means to rush around behind the scenes pulling strings, paying people off - buying forgiveness - and in so doing corrupting the justice system.Thinking that maybe my assumption about the reason for the prosecutors' decision not to do their job might be unfounded, I called the Maebas[...]



Hagi Bush Clover One of the Seven Grasses of Autumn

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 19:10:31 PDT

On my fingers do I count the meadows flowers of the fall, and find their number is seven in all.Bush clover, eulalia, arrowroot, pinks, patrinia, agueweed, and bellflower—these they call the seven flowers of the fall.Manyoshu (7th century, Japan)For a thousand years the Seven Grasses of Autumn have been admired for their subtle beauty, appearing again and again as design motifs on screens, ceramics, lacquerware, and kimono. Unlike the seven "grasses" of spring which can be eaten, these seven are for visual appreciation, especially on the night of the harvest moon when they are arranged on a lacquer tray with rice dumplings called dango.Hagi Bush Clover depicted on a byobu screenHagi, or bush clover, was especially loved by the ancient poets (even more than cherry blossoms!). This lush green bush can grow up to ten feet high. Its reddish-purple or white blossoms can be found in many gardens in fall. There is a Hagi Festival this month at Kyoto's Nashinoki Shrine, during which people compose haiku, write them on strips of paper, and then hang them on the hagi bushes.Nashinoki Shrine is well known as an excellent place to view hagi (bush clover). About one thousand clover bushes are planted here. Over this holiday weekend (September 17-19), tanzaku (strips of fancy paper) bearing haiku written by poetry lovers are hung on the branches of the clover bushes, which are at their best at this time of year. Selected tanzaku are used to decorate red and white clover bushes arranged in a bamboo tube. Then, together with a suzumushi (cricket) in an insect basket, it is dedicated to the deity of the shrine. In the oratory of the shrine, kyogen, Japanese dance, and koto music are performed, while outdoors in the grounds of the shrine, a tea ceremony is held.Hagi is also to be seen in abundance at Jorin-ji Temple on the east side of Kawabata, just north of Imadegawa.Written by Ian Ropke, founder and owner of Your Japan Private Tours: personalized quality private travel services all over Japan since 1992. To learn more, visit our site (www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com) or call us on +1-415-230-0579. [...]



North Korean Aligned Protesters in Japan say No to THAAD

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 22:06:30 PDT

在日韓国民主統一連合There are about 900,000 people of Korean descent living in Japan, less than a third of whom are naturalized Japanese citizens. The Japanese Korean People's Unification Alliance (Zainichi Kankoku Minshu Toitsu Rengo (在日韓国民主統一連合) is an association of Korean nationals - most of them born in Japan - who support the cause of reunification of the Korean peninsula - but under the auspices of North Korea.There was a small band of Zainichi Kankoku Minshu Toitsu Rengo members dressed in traditional Korean costume, banging drums, bearing a banner reading "Peace Campaign" (ピース・キャンペーン in katakana), and handing out pamphlets in the Ueno district of Tokyo yesterday, beside the entrance to Ueno Park and the Keisei Ueno Railway station.I stopped and took a photo and talked to one of the guys handing out pamphlets. It so turned out they were protesting against the planned deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system to be used in South Korea to counter the new threat of North Korean nuclear weapons.The anti-THAAD side of the pamphlet I receivedHe also gave me a pre-printed postcard addressed to the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, and featuring, among other things, two pictures of the late "Dear Leader," Kim Jong-il, shaking hands with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. He asked me to please write an anti-THAAD message on it, affix a stamp to it, and post it. I said I'd read the pamphlet first.Anti--Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG)  side of the pamphlet I received.One side of the pamphlet is anti-THAAD, the other side is anti-Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG), the massive military exercises conducted by South Korea and the United States every year since 1976, the posited opponent in the exercise being North Korea.North Korea gets a brief mention in the pamphlet, not as a belligerent, but simply as a country that should not be provoked and with which dialog should be sought.Anti-THADD postcard for posting to Park Geun-hyeJapanese Koreans who align themselves with North Korea are not as vocal or powerful as they were up to a decade or so ago, partly because the  General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, AKA Chongryon, no longer enjoys the funding it used to by an increasingly hard up North Korea, and also because the anti-Korean discrimination in Japan which bolstered the organization's raison d'etre is not as strong and widespread as it used to be.Message side of the anti-THAAD postcard to Korean President Park Geun-hye.However, pockets of activity like we got to see on Sunday in the Ueno shopping district show that apologists for the North Korea regime still have a considerable voice here in Japan.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Japan News This Week 11 September 2016

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 16:16:17 PDT

今週の日本

(image)
In the Land of the Robot, Androids Are on the March
New York Times

Japan investigators say no bribery in Tokyo Olympic payment
BBC

'Haafu' and proud: Miss World Japan won by mixed-race contestant
Guardian

The Sumo Matchup Centuries In The Making
538

Despite dwindling momentum, Koizumi pursues anti-nuclear goals
Japan Times

From Fukushima: To Despair Properly, To Find the Next Step
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

According to. a UNESCO report on global education, just 7 countries will meet Sustainable Development Goal 4 (universal secondary education) by 2030.

They are Canada, the Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Singapore, Slovakia, and South Korea.

To read the fascinating report, click below.

 
Source: Guardian

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Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka - Subtle Plainness

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 09:11:47 PDT

赤坂四川飯店An elegant corner of Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan.Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka has been serving Szechwan cuisine in Tokyo since 1970, and is famous as being the first restaurant to introduce Szechwan cuisine to Japan. The current owner, Chen Kenichi - son of the founder - is also famous as the "Iron Chef Chinese" on the Iron Chef TV series.Kenichi's son, Kentaro, runs another of the several Szechwan Restaurants in Tokyo: the Szechwan Restaurant Chen, in Shibuya. A group of us went to Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka last Sunday for dinner, and we chose it because one of us is a vegetarian, and Szechwan Restaurant, with its extensive choice of tofu-based dishes, has a reputation for particularly vegetarian friendly Chinese food. Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka is, properly speaking, in Hirakawacho, not Akasaka, which is across Aoyama-dori (Route 246). Hirakawacho is much more a business district than it is residential, so Sunday evening was somewhat empty. Like most restaurants in this part of Tokyo, it no doubt relies more on lunch than dinner.The delicious start to our meal at Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka, Tokyo.Szechwan Restaurant is on the 5th and 6th floor, with a somewhat elegant entrance, albeit in that heavy, wooden Chinese style, but relieved by being bright and spacious. Inside the restaurant is quite plain, with just a few big paintings and pieces of calligraphy on the walls as decoration. For friends, the atmosphere is great: unpretentious and friendly, but the lack of sophistication in the decor might not make it the ideal spot for that someone special.Plain and simple interior, Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka, Tokyo.This lack of pretension extends to the food which could also be described as quite plain, but the kind of plainness you know would be fiendishly difficult to reproduce yourself. The accent is on the innate flavors of the ingredients.There are course meals (about 20,000 yen with a minimum order of two people), but we went for a la carte, served in a pot from which everyone helped themselves, or which we got a waiter to dish out for us.First up was eggplant in pickled chili pepper sauce, stewed to tenderness without any mushiness, together with sliced onion, and served with a slice of lemon. The browned string beans with ground pork were still quite firm and with some crunch, and accompanied by a very crunchy deep-fried rice cracker.The two most memorable dishes for me were the chicken wings, which were stewed to a really nice tenderness and which, like everything else, were not over-seasoned. The other, the spicy tofu dish, was memorable for being incredibly spicy - too much for my liking, it actually made me cough and sneeze (and I'm basically a big fan of spicy, as in Indian food!)Tofu, the spiciest dish of the evening at Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka, Tokyo.Some of us had the mango shaved ice for dessert, others the rice cake with coconut.One other flavor that will stick in my mind - along with that chicken - is the pu-erh tea served at Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka. It was superb: the perfect balance between a no-nonsense cuppa and exotically fragranced tea. It was so good I asked if I could buy a jar, which they graciously let me do.Mango and shaved ice at Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka, Tokyo - with that delicious pu-erh tea.Conclusion: if you're vegetarian and want to eat good Chinese food, Szechwan Restaurant Akasaka is a good place to go. The food is not haute cuisine in looks or flavor, but tends more to the homely, so if you're looking for "glamor" in terms of presentation and atmosphere, this might not be the place for you. However, if you're looking for very well cooked, elegant, authe[...]



Sushi Noike in Yanaka - Unagi Eel Paradise

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 22:07:08 PDT

すし乃池 谷中The kawaii front of Sushi Noike, Yanaka Yanaka is one of Tokyo's most charming districts - albeit in an old, often dilapidated, way. A friend and I met there for lunch this past, sunny Saturday. We rendezvoused at the West Exit of Nippori Station (a very difficult station to traverse from east to west if you're on a bicycle!).We walked through Yanaka cemetery, which might sound somber, but it's not. The avenue through the cemetery is a vista of cherry trees that, in summer, provide welcome, dappled shade.My friend told me about a sushi shop in Yanaka that he remembered visiting about twenty years ago. Sushi sounded great, so that's where we headed. With a little help from Google Maps on our iPhones, we found Sushi Noike after about a 15 minute walk heading in the Sendagi Station direction.At the counter of Sushi Noike(Some background about me and sushi. I love sushi. I've never had a problem with run-of-the-mill mass-consumer sushi shops like kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) or anywhere like that. But just as often as not, I find the old, established sushi shops (i.e., usually the best ones in terms of the quality of the sushi) to be foreigner-unfriendly. The latest experience was just a few weeks ago in Okachimachi, when my partner and I decided to try one of the old sushi shops there that we often go past when out shopping in Okachimachi.Luck of the draw, maybe - but the one in Okachimachi we walked into at random was a big mistake. First, there was hardly anyone there - a bad sign. Then, the toothless old guy who served us was initially struck dumb at the sight of a foreigner (even though I was with my Japanese partner), and before long the other chef started making snide, audible jokes about "gaijin" to the group of guests alongside us at the counter, who all goggled and giggled at us. The only relief was that we didn't have to say as we closed the door behind us, "But it tasted superb, didn't it!" - because it didn't.)Anyway ... to my relief, as an old, established sushi shop, Sushi Noike was nothing like that. There were several people there - a good sign, including several young people. The welcome from the middle-aged woman (the wife, I guess) who served the guests  was matter-of-fact but friendly for a sushi shop. We sat at the counter, near the door.Sushi Noike is famous for its eel (unagi) sushi, so we ordered a plate of unagi-zushi, and a plate of assorted sushi. We started with a bottle of beer while the sushi was being prepared, and caught up on what had passed since we last met.My friend is between jobs now, I learned, but is using some of his time to view - or re-view - classic movies. It was interesting to hear him tell me, for example, how John Wayne movies moved from good cowboy/bad Indian to much more nuanced depictions as the years went by.Good-looking and great-tasting sushi at Sushi NoikeThe unagi-zushi was divine: rich and soft - and really melted in the mouth. The other plate also included one of my favorites, ikura, which my friend kindly let me poach. The rice was the ideal firmness for the softness of the unagi, with no dryness, wetness or odd flavors, but clean-tasting and just the right chewiness. And the sushi pieces were on the generous side in terms of volume, both of rice and of topping, and looked really smart and handsome sitting there on the plate from being put together beautifully and in good healthy colors from the ingredients being fresh.Dish at Sushi NoikeI love ginger, and the slices of ginger served with the sushi were particularly good - probably because well-sourced and super-fresh.The owner is a mild-mannered, middle-aged chef who spoke wit[...]



Japan News This Week 4 September 2016

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 16:45:43 PDT

今週の日本

(image)
Japan’s $320 Million Gamble at Fukushima: An Underground Ice Wall
New York Times

Japan investigators say no bribery in Tokyo Olympic payment
BBC

The tiny distillery making Japan into a whisky superpower
Guardian

U.S. washes hands of rights violations at Okinawa helipad site
Japan Times

Japan’s Problematic Prefecture – Okinawa and the US-Japan Relationship
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

The number of children on waiting lists to enter nursery schools in Tokyo has increased for the second year in a row.

As of April 1, it had grown by 386 to 23,553 children who are unable to attend day care in the nation's capital.

 
Source: Jiji

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Freshness Burger Asakusabashi - Make Yourself at Home

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 10:26:22 PDT

フレッシュネスバーガー浅草橋The food at Freshness Burger,Freshness Burger is a burger chain in Japan that distinguishes itself not only by being homegrown but by being a bit on the homely side, too - in the best possible way, in the sense of actually feeling something like being home. Freshness Burger stores are not cookie cutter. The details of the decor and the atmosphere seem to depend more on the franchisee than any chain-wide manual.Freshness Burger Asakusabashi Branch across from JR Asakusabashi Station.Our local Freshness Burger store is the Asakusabashi branch, on Edo-dori Avenue on the other side of Asakusabashi Station, about a minute's walk away.Walk into Freshness Burger Asakusabashi and the sliding doors open on something of a lounge scene, with a lantern on the table and a shelf full of magazines. The first section of the restaurant is actually the smoking section which you walk through to get to the counter. I hate smoky environments, but for some reason I've never found it smoky there - maybe just the good luck of being there at the right times, maybe because they have very good ventilation.Walking into Freshness Burger Asakusabashi BranchThe next thing you notice as you arrive at the counter and start looking at the menu is the music. It's not loud, but it's there, and at this branch, at least, it's all sort of American garage/proto-punk. I ordered my burger. No sets in the evening, it's all a la carte, but this was just something to keep me going till late dinner, so I skipped the fries and drink.I take my number (the last two times it's been 25) and wait at my table. Right behind me is a cake mixer on a ledge. There's a big screen showing TV, but with the sound off - just the rock numbers playing on the sound system. Freshness Burger Asakusabashi Branch counterThe burger gets delivered to my table after 3 or 4 minutes together with a bottle of ketchup and mustard.Freshness Burger's boast is its healthy, natural ingredients: buns made of pumpkin flour, the freshest vegetables, with all French fries potatoes grown domestically, too, by contracted growers in Hokkaido, specially ground coffee, and 100% Aussie beef patties cooked on a griddle.A Freshness Burger Avocado Burger - with actual avocado - in a decent quantity!I'm sitting at my table eating my burger, and the word "freshness" sums up the experience pretty well. There's nothing stodgy about the buns, the lettuce is crisp, the patty tastes beefy and not offally, and there's a good dollop of avocado in there (unlike Burger King just across the road where the so-called avocado in their burgers is the palest smudge of a ghost of the stuff). The Freshness Burger hamburger that arrives on your table actually looks like the picture of it there above the counter!Sunbeam cake mixer as decor, at the Asakusabashi Branch of Freshness BurgerBehind me there's the old Sunbeam cake mixer. Beside me is a couple of women chatting - it's not a fast food joint, it's a neighborhood burger cafe - just like it says on the sign!Freshness Burger Asakusabashi Branch is open between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. on weekend and public holidays, 365 days a year."Ecology Pack" cotton towels on sale at Freshness Burger Asakusabashi BranchFreshness Burger Asakusabashi Branch1F, Vort Asakusabashi Ekimae Building, 1-23-3 Yanagibashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0052Tel. 03 5823 1912"Domestically produced vegetables, to put your mind at rest"© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Kyocera Museum of Art Court Culture in Early-Modern Kyoto

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 11:46:06 PDT

The Kyocera Museum of Art, in the Kyocera headquarters building in Kyoto, will be holding a special exhibition featuring "Court Culture in Early-Modern Kyoto: Scenes of Court Enthronement Culture" from September 10 (Saturday) through November 13 (Sunday).The exhibition will be separately held at nearby Jonangu Shrine from September 10 (Saturday) through October 23 (Sunday).Pictures of the DaijosaiSince the Heian capital (present-day Kyoto) was established in 794, the imperial court has cultivated a graceful tradition as a cultural hub. The essence of the court culture culminates in the enthronement of the Emperor and the Daijo-sai (Great Food Offering Festival). The series of these rituals is known as Tairei or Taiten (state ceremony). Tofukumon-in statueAt the Exhibition, some 60 articles will be on display, including pieces from the Ohara Family Collection related to state rituals since the early-modern period, precious items held by private collectors, and articles pertaining to Tofukumon-in (Tokugawa Masako) who was the daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada and who as a consort of Emperor Gomizunoo, served as a bridge linking the imperial court and the Tokugawa government and helped maintain the high standards of the court culture.Miniature setting for the enthronement ceremonyA public exhibition of this scale and quality was last held 40 years ago in 1976 at the Kyoto Bunkaten Exhibition. Through the exhibition, visitors will be able to understand and appreciate the supreme beauty and elegance of the court culture that has been passed on to our times.Panorama view of the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Enthronement CeremonyOn display at the Kyocera Museum of Art will be the precious items of the state ceremony from the Ohara Family Collection and articles pertaining to Emperor consort Tofukumon-in. At the Jonangu Saikan building, visitors will be able to look at a miniature model of the setting for the state ceremony as well as the ceremonial costumes and ritual articles. Through the combination of both exhibitions, visitors will be drawn into the solemnity of the state ceremony, which is performed only when a new Emperor is enthroned.TakamikuraAccessThe Kyocera Museum of Art(Kyocera Corporation Global Head Office, 1st floor)6 Takeda Tobadono-choFushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan 612-8501 Jonangu Saikan7 Nakajima Tobarikyu-choFushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan 612-8459HoursKyocera Museum of Art10am to 5pm (last admission at 4.30pm)Jonangu Saikan9am to 4.30pm (last admission at 4pm)AdmissionFree at both venuesFurther information: global.kyocera.com/news/2016/0808_uzim.htmlCeremonial dress for civil officialCeremonial dress for government official [...]



Smile Thailand - Great Thai Food in Asakusabashi

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 00:48:53 PDT

浅草橋駅前・本格タイ料理レストラン スマイル タイランドCute pots-on-cups of lemongrass tea at Smile Thailand restaurant, AsakusabashiAsakusabashi is on the JR Chuo-Sobu line, between Akihabara and Ryogoku stations, and has a lot of good low-cost accommodation and dining.Last Saturday evening three of us went to Smile Thailand, right next to Asakusabashi Station on its north side.Smile Thailand is a Thai restaurant that opened only a year or so ago, and boasts genuine Thai food, cooked by a Thai chef who has 16 years of experience preparing Thai food in the kitchens of top hotels here in Japan.The Delicious Hoi Cho Crab Jujube at Smile Thailand tasted great!The mood and decor inside Smile Thailand lives up to its name: warm and friendly. It's a cozy place - not big, not pokey, and is clean and tidy.There were several tables occupied, which was a good sign, and we were lucky to get seated right away. We noted on way in that there were outside tables, too, with one guest seated on the small balcony enjoying the warm summer evening.We started with a pot of lemongrass tea each, which showed up in the cutest double-decker pot-and-cup set. (Alcohol, including, of course, Thai beer, is served here too.)Smile Thailand's Khao Sub Pa Rod Pineapple Rice tasted as good as it looks For dinner we then ordered the Khao Sub Pa Rod Pineapple Rice, the Gaeng Keow Wan Green Curry, the Hoi Cho Crab Jujube, and the Pad Thai Stir-Fried Rice Noodles. There was an English menu available, everything came with photos, and a spiciness count as well. The service was friendly and efficient. The first of the food turned up no more than 10 minutes after ordering, which was impressive considering how busy they were. As with the tea pots and cups, the presentation was good, with more attention to detail than you would normally expect from a neighborhood restaurant. First prize for presentation went to the Khao Sub Pa Rod Pineapple Rice, which was a beautifully hollowed out and heaped pineapple garnished with coriander and a pink orchid. Even the Hoi Cho Crab Jujube came with an orchid!The kitchen and bar at Smile Thailand, Asakusabashi, Taito ward, Tokyo.More importantly, the flavors were spot on, and the only thing that prevented us from re-ordering were the good portions which had us more than satisified. As a fan of curry, I found the Gaeng Keow Wan Green Curry especially delicious. It was all good.The bill came to just over 6,000 yen, which we thought was very reasonable indeed for three people who had eaten their fill.Guests enjoying a meal at Smile Thailand, Asakusabashi, Taito ward, TokyoSmile Thailand is open between 11:30 am and 3:00 pm for lunch, then 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm for dinner every day of the week.Major credit cards accepted.Smile ThailandFive-i Building 1F, 1-22-3 Asakusabashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0053Tel: 03 5839 2852See also: Excellent Chinese Restaurant in Asakusabashi© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Isao Mizutani Exhibition at Gallery G-77

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 00:27:12 PDT

Rediscovering Japanese Avant-garde of the 1960's
Isao Mizutani (1921-2005) Exhibition

(image)
Isao Mizutani,1961, Erosion, mixed media
Isao Mizutani was one of the leading post-war Japanese avant-garde artists, unfortunately not well-known outside Japan. His works are represented in all national Japanese museums. Recently his paintings have been featured at A Feverish Era: Art Informel and the Expansion of Japanese Artistic Expression in the 1950's and '60's in the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto.

The Gallery G-77 exhibition presents his works from the 1960's, when the artist moved beyond the topic of pain caused by the crush of humanity during Japan’s wartime totalitarianism and created perhaps some of the most exuberant pieces in his career.

Gallery G-77
Address: 73-3 Nakano-cho, Nakagyo-ku,
Kyoto 604-0086, Japan
facebook: GalleryG77
e-mail: g77gallery@gmail.com
Tel: +81-90-9419-2326
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 13:00pm - 19:00pm(image)



Hotei Osaka Gay Bar for Older Set

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 08:01:15 PDT

ほてい 大阪The bar at gay Hotei, Shin-Sekai, OaakaDo you feel annoyed, envious, or just generally bitter when you go into a gay bar and everyone is so painfully young to your “mature” eyes? Is the music too loud, the scene too, well, scene-y? Or perhaps you just wish to see what another, future facet of your gay life might look like? If so, there is a bar in the Shin-Sekai area of southern Osaka city just for you. It’s called Hotei, which means “pot belly,” a few of which you may see in this venerable establishment.Entrance to Hotei, Shin-Sekai, OaakaHotei is a narrow venue, with a long bar extending deep back from the entrance and a couple of tables in the very rear. The action is at the bar, unless your idea of “action” is jostling for drinks against sweaty, hard bodied young’uns. In that case, there is no action. What you will find is a lot of jovial middle-aged guys chatting each other up from their comfy bar stools.Serving the older gay customer - Hotei, in Osaka, Japan.Karaoke is very much in effect, and the staff is fun and friendly. Fridays and Saturdays are busiest, with peak bustle hitting its stride at about 7:30pm. This is not an all-nighter kind of gay party crowd for the most part.The friendly bar tender at Hotei, a gay bar for older men in Osaka.If you don’t speak any Japanese, you are still welcome here, but your smile and sign language may have to rise to the occasion. However, regardless of your language abilities, you will be welcomed like a long lost relative. Hotei is completely without pretense, which is not something that can be said for some of those “cool” gay bars up in Doyama.The laid back atmosphere of gay bar Hotei, Osaka.Sidling up to the bar at Hotei will run you 1,300 yen, and that will cover your first drink and some nibbles. Beyond that, additional drinks start at around 700 yen.Seats and table to relax at in Hotei.Hotei is located at 3-1-6 Ebisu-higashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka. Take Exit 5 of Dobutsuen-mae Station.The spirits shelf at Hotei, gay bar in Osaka.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



60th Koenji Awa-Odori - young energy on Tokyo's streets

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 01:17:07 PDT

東京高円寺阿波踊り2016年 Koenji in Tokyo's Suginami ward is one of Tokyo's most youthful districts, so it makes sense that one of Tokyo's most energetic traditional-style dance festivals, the Tokyo Koenji Awa-Odori, happens here every year.Dancing at the 60th Koenji Awa-Odori Parade, Suginami-ku, Tokyo.The Tokyo Koenji Awa-Odori took place here yesterday on the streets of Koenji for the 60th time since its beginnings in the 1950s. This two-day event of costumes, music, rhythm and dancing happened on Saturday August 27 and Sunday August 28, from 5 pm to 8 pm - the evening hours being the cooler hours in Tokyo's mid-summer.Tightening a team member's obi belt,60th Koenji Awa-Odori Dance Parade, Tokyo, 2016.We were there to see the 60th Tokyo Koenji Awa-Odori 2016 on Sunday afternoon. The blurb says the crowd each year tops a million, and the packed streets of Koenji made that easy to believe.A last minute hand at the 60th Koenji Awa-Odori Parade, Suginami-ku, Tokyo.Thirty groups took part in this year's Tokyo Koenji Awa-Odori, each with its own yukata robes, colors, music, rhythms, and moves. Some have only about 35 members, others well over 100, many date from the early 1970s, others formed much more recently.Typical Awa-Odori attire at the 60th Koenji Awa-Odori Parade, Suginami-ku, Tokyo.The dancing may differ in the details between groups, but the Awa-Odori is a dance from the island of Shikoku - specifically Tokushima (formerly known as the province of Awa). This dance became the trademark of this event that, for its first few years, styled itself as the Koenji Baka-Odori, or the "Koenji Dance of Fools." The dance is an out-and-out "import" from Shikoku that was adopted simply because it was considered more appropriate than the "baka" antics to date. Some teams base their dancing on the real Awa-Odori more than others, but the aim of each team is to distinguish itself from the others with its look, style, sound and energy. Teams come from all over, one there clearly being marked "Shikoku University."Get tickets for Koenji Awa-Odori festivalInternational face of the Koenji Awa-Odori, Suginami-ku, Tokyo.Several foreigner members of various teams were in evidence, too. One I spoke to, a European woman who is a university student here, said she got to participate through friendships made in Koenji.A bit of chest at the 60th Koenji Awa-Odori Parade, Suginami-ku, Tokyo, Japan.Koenji has few big open roads - most of it is alleys and malls, so organizing a huge dance parade here takes tactics. Therefore, there are actually eight different venues, north and south of JR Koenji Station, from where the dancing starts, simultaneously, at 5 pm. We went to the starting point farthest south of the station, the Minami Awa-Odori spot, and spent about half and there watching several teams depart from there.Big bro, little sis at the 60th Koenji Awa-Odori Festival, Tokyo, JapanThe streets are lined with stalls selling everything from beer to cocktails to takoyaki to icecream, and the vendors as much into the festive spirit as anyone with their cries to stop and buy.Getting fierce in Koenji's alleyways at the Awa-Odori Festival, 2016.Perhaps the Koenji Awa-Odori is best experienced on one of Koenji's narrow alleys where the drums, cymbals, flutes, shouts - not to mention the energy of the dancers themselves - form a potent concentrate of pure, joyous energy and where there is an almost tangible rapport between the tireless costumed d[...]



Japan News This Week 28 August 2016

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 02:14:05 PDT

今週の日本Driver in Japan Playing Pokémon Go Kills Pedestrian New York TimesWho said Japan's politicians were boring? BBCJapanese City Takes Community Approach To Dealing With Dementia NPRFrom Rio 2016 to Tokyo 2020: Olympic drama moves on GuardianApology culture in Japan: Takahata’s mother says sorry for adult son’s alleged sexual assault Japan TimesHitler's dismantling of the constitution and the current path of Japan's Abe administration: What lessons can we draw from history? Japan FocusLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatisticsBeer production worldwide experienced its second year in a row of decline. Economists believe a slowdown in the economy is the cause. Below are the results of the top 8 beer producing countries from 2015.1. China, 4299 (production amount, in ten thousand kiloliters), -4.3% (compared to previous year)2. USA, 2228, -1.4%3. Brazil, 1385, -2.0%4. Germany, 956. +0.4%5. Mexico, 745, -4.5%6. Russia, 730, -4.7%7. Japan, 546, -0.1%8. Vietnam, 467, +20.1%  Source: Asahi© JapanVisitor.comInside Track Japan For Kindle [...]



35th Asakusa Samba Carnival Contest: Exuberance on the Streets of Tokyo

Sat, 27 Aug 2016 20:24:48 PDT

浅草サンバカーニバルPartytime! A float at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Asakusa, Tokyo, 2016Easygoing, fun-loving, downtown Asakusa is one of Tokyo's most colorful areas even on an ordinary day - but positively dazzles at the end of August each year with the huge, Brazilian-inspired Asakusa Samba Carnival. This event recreating Rio in Tokyo is a celebration of dance, performance and music that has become part of Asakusa's heart and soul over the past three decades, and draws crowds of up to half a million - rivaling that other huge annual Asakusa event, the Sanja Matsuri.Porta bandeira at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, 2016The 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival happened again today at 1pm - the contest beginning at 1.30pm - and ended five spectacular, unbridled, kaleidoscopic hours later at 6pm. The approaching typhoon meant gray skies and scattered rain, but that didn't deter anyone. The streets were a blaze of color and dancing, and were packed with exuberant spectators who, although on the sidelines, radiated just as much excitement as the participants.Tokyo Skytree forms backdrop to 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival17 samba teams from around Japan took part today: veterans such as G.R.E.S. Uniao dos Amadores and G.R.E.S. Barbaros - both associated with the Carnival since its very beginning in 1981 - to relative newcomers like G.R.E.S. Sol Nascente, for whom this was their sixth carnival.Asakusa Samba Carnival parade in front of Sensoji Temple's Kaminarimon GateThe Carnival being a contest ensures that the teams are giving it their all, and the bad weather didn't stand a chance against the mass enthusiasm. Each team whirled, gyrated, twisted and leaped to the samba sounds pumped out from each float. The costumes, floats, dancing and performing skills had to be seen to be believed: imaginative, intricate, inimitable.Train-themed float at the Asakusa Samba Carnival, TokyoJapan has a large Brazilian population, and the participating teams include numerous Brazilian members; however, the vast majority of participants are Japanese, many of whom have spent time in Brazil absorbing and perfecting their carnival skills.Feathered passistas dance at 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan.The contest was divided into two leagues. The S1 League is of teams of between 150 and 300 people and including the four essential elements of a carnival team: the comissao de frente (the lead group) the porta bandeira (flag bearer), the mestre sala (man dancing with the porta bandeira at the head of the group), and baianas (the women dancing in big hooped dresses). The S1 League winners this year were the formidable G.R.E.S. Barbaros (i.e. "Barbarians" - not named so for nothing!)Baiana dancers and jugglers, 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival, Tokyo, Japan.The S2 League is of teams of 30 to 150 members and doesn't require the full complement of the above four carnival elements. The ICU Lambs were the S2 League winners this year.Banners of the winning S1 League Barbaros team, 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, 2016The carnival climaxes during the last hour, 5 to 6pm, when the competition is at its hottest and the dancers and performers are at one with each other, the atmosphere, and the crowds - giving it everything they've got, absorbing and exuding carnival energy.Starting just outside the Ekimise shopping building housing the Tobu Skytree Line's Asakusa Station, the parade goes down to and[...]



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