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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: Sun, 10 Dec 2017 19:09:44 PST

Copyright: copyright JapanVisitor Ltd.
 



Japan News This Week 10 December 2017

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 14:00:26 PST

今週の日本



Ghostly Boats Carry North Korean Crews, Dead and Alive, to Japan
New York Times

Japan's Emperor Akihito To Abdicate In April 2019
NPR

EU agrees biggest free trade deal with Japan
BBC

Baseball: Japanese pitcher-hitter Shohei Ohtani chooses the LA Angels
The Mainichi

North Korean 'ghost ships' reveal desperation for food and funds
Guardian

Abe Shinzō's Campaign to Reform the Japanese Way of Work
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Press Freedom Rankings, 2017

1. Norway
2. Sweden
3. Finland
4. Denmark
5. Netherlands
6. Costa Rica
7. Switzerland
8. Jamaica
9. Belgium
10. Iceland

40. United Kingdom

43. United States

63. South Korea

72. Japan

176. China

180. North Korea

Source: Reporters Without Borders

© JapanVisitor.com(image)



Tales of Old Kyoto The Shrimp and the Sea Bream

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 22:18:07 PST

エビと鯛

Long, long ago, there once was an energetic, highly curious shrimp living in one of Japan's many rivers. Among this little shrimp's many dreams was his firm desire to visit the sea, just once. One day, the little shrimp decided it was time.



In parting from his friends, he simply stated, "I want to go to the sea and then swim all over the world," and then set out as energetically and confidently as ever. That night, after reaching the sea, the now tired shrimp began looking for a safe place to sleep. After a while, he found a big hole in a rock and saying: "This is what I’ve been looking for," went in for a good night’s sleep.

However, this was no ordinary hole. This was the nose hole of a big sea bream. As the little shrimp was getting comfortable, the sea bream began to feel more and more uncomfortable. Suddenly, the sea bream couldn't stand it any longer and let out a huge explosion of a sneeze. Naturally, the little shrimp was sent flying through the water helpless against the power of the sea bream's super sneeze. Before the shrimp knew what had happened, he had crashed into a big rock and broke his back. And ever since then, shrimps have all had a bent back.

© JapanVisitor.com(image)



Fall Scenes from the Middle of Tokyo

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 07:59:09 PST

東京の中心からの秋風景Fall scenery in Japan is something most people would associate with forests and mountains or, at best, rural towns. However, the megapolis that is Tokyo is full of spectacular autumnal views at the end of year.I was cycling through Tokyo today with my camera and took a few shots around the Marunouchi, Imperial Palace and Nagatacho districts of Tokyo.Daiichi Life Insurance Building, Tokyo, with Imperial Palace moat.The Daiichi Life Insurance is one of the most stylish buildings in Marunouchi facing onto the eastern edge of the Imperial Palace moat. It is of recent historical significance too, having been the Allied headquarters in the Occupation. Near Hibiya Station.Meiji Life Insurance building, Marunouchi, Tokyo, with gingko trees.The Meiji Yasuda Life insurance building is just a block north of Daiichi Insurance, and is grandiose in a more classical way, but lent the same golden beauty with the erect ginkgo trees lined along its front.Gingko trees in Marunouchi near the Imperial Palace, .This avenue between Marunouchi and the Imperial Palace is a vista of ginkgo trees that right now are at their mature golden peak, with the leaves creating a luscious carpet both over trees and the ground beneath them.School pupils clearing leaves in Kokkaizentei Park, NagatachoThere were hundreds of school children in Kokkai Zentei Park today - right across from the National Diet building - "volunteering" to pick up fallen autumn leaves in the park by the sackful - no doubt a welcome day off from study, especially on such a beautiful clear, sunny day as today was.Fall at the National Diet Building, TokyoThe National Diet Building just across from the park was flanked by trees at the left that have given up their foliage, and ginkgo trees on the right that are still richly golden.Sidewalk covered in autumn leaves, Nagatacho, Tokyo.This sidewalk in Nagatacho, not far from the National Diet Building was carpeted with distinctive, triangular ginkgo leaves that contrasted dramatically with the dark figures of bureaucrats venturing out into the natural beauty that Tokyo's streets are full of right now.Fall foliage at the National Theater, TokyoThe National Theater of Japan is on the opposite site of the Imperial Palace from Marunouchi, in Hayabusacho, next to the Hirakawacho district. The entrance to the Theater is a riot of fiery autumnal colors.Ginkgo trees in autumn at the Supreme Court, Tokyo, Japan.Right next to the National Theater is the brutalist modernity of the Supreme Court, its bold angles and planes beautifully set off by what looks like a row of flaming torches.Check out the Marunouchi Shuttle Bus or the Sky Bus Tokyo: great ways to see the sights of Marunouchi.© JapanVisitor.com [...]



Japan News This Week 3 December 2017

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 19:42:46 PST

今週の日本



Why a Generation in Japan Is Facing a Lonely Death
New York Times

For Kitasan Black, the Finish Line Draws Near
New York Times

In Japan, A Growing Scandal Over Companies Faking Product-Quality Data
NPR

The economic lessons Japan can teach the West
BBC

Harumafuji's retirement in line with JSA's desire to not have disgraced yokozuna compete
The Mainichi

North Korea claims it successfully tested new type of missile that can strike US
Guardian

Tokyo University at War
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Press Freedom Rankings, 2017

1. Norway
2. Sweden
3. Finland
4. Denmark
5. Netherlands
6. Costa Rica
7. Switzerland
8. Jamaica
9. Belgium
10. Iceland

40. United Kingdom

43. United States

63. South Korea

72. Japan

176. China

180. North Korea

Source: Reporters Without Borders

© JapanVisitor.com(image)



The History of Tobacco and Bamboo Pipes in Japan

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 01:20:46 PST

煙管Tobacco entered Japan in the Momoyama Period (1568-1600) through the Portuguese.Tobacco was smoked using a bamboo pipe with a fine metal fitting on either end. Though cigarettes rapidly gained popularity at the turn of the 19th century, kiseru bamboo pipes are occasionally still used by some people.Kyoto and Tokyo were both important centers for the production of kiseru or bamboo tobacco pipes until World War II. Kiseru pipes made in Kyoto were prized as the best throughout Japan.Although they are no longer commonly used for smoking tobacco, they are still highly valued as curios or antiques. Kiseru usually have three parts: a bowl and a mouthpiece made of gold, silver or brass, and a long stem made from high quality bamboo.These bamboo stems were often dyed red, black or amber, some were painted by hand. The bamboo (prepared by boiling and drying) used for these pipes is called shinobe and comes from Hakone in Shizuoka Prefecture.Shinobe also absorbs nicotine well. In the 1990's shinobe bamboo became virtually extinct in Shizuoka Prefecture due to massive golf course development and other land clearance. Now all remaining bamboo pipes are made from stock materials.Find out more about the history of tobacco in Japan at the Tobacco & Salt Museum in Tokyo.If you wish to source and purchase kiseru pipes or any other item from Japan please contact us at GoodsFromJapan.com© JapanVisitor.com [...]



Dojuzan Kasugai Hike

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 17:23:58 PST

道樹山Kasugai, north of Nagoya, may not be known for its natural beauty, however, it does exist.The small mountains of Dojuzan (429m), Otaniyama (425m) and Mirokuyama (437m), south west of Tajimi, make for a good hike through the forest with spectacular views on a clear day, stretching as far as the skyscrapers around Nagoya Station to the south and the mountains of the Southern Alps in Gifu and Nagano prefectures to the north.The trail connecting the three peaks is part of the larger Tokai Nature Trail.If coming by car, park in the parking lot of the Kasugai Botanical Garden (グリーンピア春日井). Walk 15 minutes to the Hosono Camp Ground BBQ facilities, the hike begins from a marked trail near Akiba Shrine. The trail could be classified as moderate in difficulty along a well marked path through forest, passing several clear waterfalls.There are no facilities, so bring your own. The circular route takes a total of approximately two hours.There are infrequent Meitetsu buses to Kasugai Botanical Garden from Kozoji Station. Take the bus from bus stop 4 bound for the Botanical Garden (植物園行き ニュータウン経由).Information on the hike (in Japanese) can be found here: www.jac.or.jp© JapanVisitor.com [...]



Nara and its Gardens

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 01:25:17 PST

奈良The vast park area, the core remains of Nara's classic period (752-777), is the first thing that strikes visitors to Nara. Apart from this natural woodland, where deer roam about posing for photographs and beg for rice crackers, the city has many classic Japanese gardens which are worth a visit. Here are a few of the most interesting ones.Isuien Garden, Nara © Eddie SmolyanskyIsui-en, a garden of the shakkei, or borrowed scenery type, skillfully incorporates views of the Wakakusa and Kasuga mountains. Dating from the Meiji Period, this garden affords an excellent view of Todai-ji Temple, and is particularly well-known for its fine collection of rocks.Imanishi Garden, a moss garden which serves as a backdrop for the Imanishi House, built in the Muromachi Period (1333-1576) in the so-called shoin style, and designated an Important Cultural Property, features cleverly-positioned stepping stones which form a cross from one side of the garden to the other. Kyu Daijo-in Garden was designed by the famous fifteenth century gardener Zenami. This is a garden in the shinden-zukuri style, originally designed around a Shinden, or centrally-positioned main building. The vermilion-painted wooden bridge that enables strollers to cross from one side of the natural lake to the other, is one of the garden's most attractive features. The garden of Futai-ji Temple is renowned for the abundance of its flowers. Founded by Ariwara Narihira, this temple is also known as Narihira-dera. This month hagi (bush clover) and kiku (chrysanthemums) will be in bloom.Heijo-kyo Sakyo Sanjo Nibo Kyuseki Garden, a garden featuring an s-shaped man-made pond, is to be found in the area once occupied by Heijo-kyo. It is thought that in Heian times the pond was sometimes the venue for an elegant poetry game. © JapanVisitor.com [...]



Japan News This Week 26 November 2017

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 16:48:43 PST

今週の日本



Mitsubishi Materials Adds to Japan Inc.’s Quality Problems
New York Times

Japanese Lawmaker's Baby Gets Booted From The Floor
NPR

San Francisco accepts 'comfort women' statue
BBC

Boat washed ashore with N. Koreans disappears at Japan port
The Mainichi

Sumo wrestling embroiled in scandal again after champion admits assault
Guardian

The Intractability of the Sino-Japanese Senkaku/Diaoyu Territorial Dispute: Historical Memory, People’s Diplomacy and Transnational Activism, 1961-1978
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Japan ranks last among 11 Asian countries in attracting foreign talent to live and work. It ranked behind Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

In the 2017 IMD World Talent Ranking, Japan finished 51st out of 63 nations. Singapore was number one in Asia.

Reasons given for Japan's poor performance were language barrier and rigid business practices.

Source: Bloomberg

In the 2015 PISA test results, which were recently released, Japanese students placed high in problem solving ability. Japan finished second in the world behind Singapore in collaborative problem-solving.

Source: OECD

© JapanVisitor.com(image)



Shimokitazawa Sendaiya Tofu Restaurant

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 04:48:43 PST

Shimokitazawa ("Shimokita" for short) is a fascinating little enclave in western Tokyo of stores, restaurants, cafes, theaters and live music clubs. We were there on the weekend to make a video for the Shimokitazawa guide page on JapanVisitor.com.We started filming about 11am. The weather was perfect, and the streets were buzzing. But making movies can get quite tiring: avoiding getting in the way of flow of people, trying to think on your feet and sound and look good on camera, working out where you are and where you're going, keeping a keen eye out for shooting opportunities, and, last but not least, trying to be inconspicuous. Stores in Japan, in particular, are very jealous of their image and seek to control every last thing about it, and strangers bowling up with cameras generally fill them with dread.So by 1pm we were already a bit tired and hungry. I wanted to go to a Hokkaido soup curry place  called Rojiura Curry Samurai Shimokitazawa that I included on the Shimokitazawa dining page that I recently created, but my partner was taken by a tofu restaurant, so we checked it out.Sendaiya was small, friendly and cosy. It looks like it started life as a regular tofu store, and then added a few tables and chairs and started serving tofu-based meals. Asking the proprietor, we found out that it is actually based in Yamanashi prefecture, and has a couple of branches in Tokyo, the other being in Ikejiri.We both went for the salmon, natto, and tofu set. It arrived pretty quickly, although there was a hiccup in that although the waitress had gotten our order right, the kitchen hadn't, and we were missing the salmon. It turned up promptly with an apology after we said something, and we enjoyed a hearty meal - thanks partly to the rice and natto being tabehodai (all-you-can-eat).As we were paying, we ordered a couple of the tofu donuts they had in the glass case under the counter. They even got that wrong - giving us a vegetable flavored one instead of the pumpkin one we clearly ordered. However, it wasn't a big deal, it tasted great, and cheerful, friendly service is more important than dotting i's and crossing t's.See the Sendaiya website© JapanVisitor.com [...]



Soemoncho & Hozenji Dotonbori

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 23:51:22 PST

宗右衛門町&法善寺If you haven't been to seen the night life areas of Osaka when the night is in full swing or just coming to an end in the wee hour of morning, then you've been missing a slice of life that is forever interesting and these days slowly fading away.Mizu shobai or the water business is a part of Japan that has been around for a very long time. A business of the night that flows high and low along with the economy and indeed is very much part of the larger economy, since so many decisions and deals are clinched between drinks and small talk in the semi-darkness of an expensive club.In previous years the business suffered badly under the double influence of the recession and the severe cutback in business expenses. And then too, because of younger generations of salarymen, who tend to spend more time with their families and less with the guys from the office. At one time you had nearly no choice as a salaryman but to go: it was literally a part of the job, as well as being a way of letting off steam before going home. These days the clubs are changing their ways and trying their best to stay in fashion with the business crowd, but it seems they're fighting a losing battle that only a very few smart clubs will win in the end. Osaka, like any other big city in Japan, has its fair share of mizu shobai areas. The best known are Kita Shinchi just south of Umeda and the Namba or Minami area, where things are cheaper and a lot more varied.The fact that Namba is cheaper probably has something to do with history of Osaka's development after the war. In the late sixties and seventies with the increasing importance of Itami Airport and the expansion of housing along Hankyu's railway lines, the southern part of Osaka was lost in the swirl of progress and development that gave rise to Umeda and all its glitz. All the same the area around Dotonbori still has its original charm and a following of business people and nighttime revelers that makes Kita Shinchi look narrow and somehow ridiculous. One particular area that continues to pull in the crowd is Soemoncho, a one-and-a-half-kilometer stretch running east west between Sakaisuji and Midosuji. What makes Soemoncho interesting is that it is dated: things looked older and less flashy, and day or night one gets the distinct feeling that the clientele who come here are more than likely the prosperous owners of the thousands of businesses that spill onto the streets of Shinsaibashi and Namba. If Kita Shinchi has a eighties and nineties feel, then Soemoncho is most definitely of the fifties and sixties when Japan's economy was like a run away train on a downhill slope. In Soemoncho you can find everything and anything and see anyone and everyone. There are nightclubs with big facades of neon and tuxedoed staff waiting to take your car and park it. Cabarets for the old fashioned (of which there are many!). For the pampered and well-heeled stomach, there is a Korean restaurant the size of a medium-sized warehouse.For the more elegant and sophisticated, there are glassed-in private gardens, long curving wooden counters and high-backed swivel stools covered in fresh linen. Here a polite but authoritative bar tender/waiter will serve drinks of your preference along with top quality steaks, as if you were a gentleman of note and property. And then there's every manner and kind of high class Japanese joints, that the food loving people of Osaka are famed for from Hokkaido to Kyushu. There are also strip joints and the like, with their more suspicious and questionable attendants out front beside the glossy pictures trying to get you to come inside and see the action. Where but Japan can you buy a silk tie at 1 am or a priceless pot of blooming orchids at 2 am? Soemoncho and the surrounding streets are spotted wit[...]



Japan News This Week 19 November 2017

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 19:27:20 PST

今週の日本Shohei Otani, a Two-Way Player, Says He Is Ready to Leave Japan for M.L.B. New York Times'Comfort Woman' Memorial Statues, A Thorn In Japan's Side, Now Sit On Korean Buses NPRJack Dorsey saddened by Japan's 'Twitter killer' BBCRetirement looms for Harumafuji after assault as sumo world faces history of violence The MainichiJapan anger over South Korea's shrimp surprise for Donald Trump GuardianViolence, Okinawa, and the ‘Pax Americana’Japan FocusLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatisticsToday we introduce two interesting polls from Japan.Poll #1 is the all important issue of whether men stand or sit while urinating.In a survey from the Japan Toilet Institute, 44% of men between the ages of 20 and 69 sit while urinating.35.3% said they sit out of their own volition. 8.3% were told/requested by their family or spouse to sit and thus made the transition from standing to sitting. Source: Asahi ShinbunA second poll was of Japanese views of US President Donald Trump. A telephone survey asked, "How trustworthy is Donald Trump as the leader of an allied country (to Japan)?" 13% - Do not trust at all48% - Do not trust much34% - Trust somewhat3% - Trust very muchSource: Asahi Shinbun © JapanVisitor.com [...]



Exploring Hikone

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 21:51:15 PST

彦根Hikone, the second largest city in Shiga Prefecture, is dominated by the imposing presence of its fine castle, a magnificent structure that, faring somewhat better than a lot of its counterparts, somehow managed to escape the wholesale destruction of castles at the beginning of the Meiji Period. Although Hikone is justly famous as a castle city, Hikone Castle is by no means the only attraction that the city has to offer. Since the middle of the seventeenth century, when peaceful times forced armor and weapon makers to turn their skills in another direction, Hikone has been a major center for the production of Buddhist family altars known as butsudan. The street that runs parallel to the Seri River is lined on both sides with shops selling these elaborate structures, and Hikone butsudan are reputed to be the among the best in the country.Perhaps the most interesting of Hikone's many temples is Ryotan-ji, popularly known as Niwa-no-Tera, or the garden temple, because of its three beautiful gardens. This month (November), the russets and reds of the maple trees that line the approach should be especially spectacular. Of particular interest are the paintings by Kyoriku Morikawa, a disciple of the famous poet Matsuo Basho, that adorn many of the temple's sliding wooden doors. Ryotan-ji is about a twenty-minute walk from Hikone Castle. Ryotan-ji is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and admission is 300 yen. Northeast of the castle is the beautiful garden of Genkyu-en. Laid out in 1677 by Ii Nao'oki, the fourth lord of Hikone, the garden features a series of meandering paths that wind their way around a large central pond. Reminiscent of Kanazawa's famous Kenroku-en, this peaceful garden is more intimate and compact than its illustrious counterpart. Beautiful in any season, Genkyu-en should be particularly spectacular this month, when autumn colors are at their best. Sit in the teahouse overlooking the pond, and enjoy a sweet followed by a bowl of bracingly-bitter green tea. The garden is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm. Tea and a sweet are available for 500 yen.At the foot of the castle stands the Castle Museum, an accurate reconstruction of the Omote Goten hall, one of the main castle buildings. The extensive collection includes arms and armor, folding screens, tea utensils, traditional musical instruments, and a breathtaking array of Noh masks and costumes, some of which date back to the sixteenth century. The museum also has a magnificent Edo Period (1603-1868) Noh stage, where performances of Noh and Kyogen are periodically given. The museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is 500 yen.The highlight of a day in Hikone is a visit to the castle. The wide steps that lead up to it wind eccentrically this way and that, slowing down the progress of the uninvited, and making it difficult to arrive unannounced. The approach is lined with trees, planted to provide sustenance in the forms of both food and medicine in the event of siege. Built by the Ii family in the early seventeenth century, Hikone Castle commands a spectacular view of Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake. From the upper reaches, the island of Chikubu-jima, home to Chikubu-jima Hogon-ji, the thirtieth temple on the thirty-three temple pilgrimage of western Japan, is clearly visible, as is the tiny unpopulated island of Take-shima. The castle interior is a celebration of wood. Walking on wooden boards that millions of feet have rendered wonderfully smooth, one looks up to discover a ceiling of magnificent wooden beams. Cleverly-concealed rectangular and triangular openings, through which arrows and bullets could have been dispatched, are also in evidence. The heady smell of perfectly-seasoned timber which permeates the castle is more in keeping with a rustic retreat tha[...]



Tales of Old Kyoto: Why Dogs and Cats Never Get Along With Each Other

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 20:11:11 PST

犬と猫

Once upon a time in Kyoto, there was a woman who adored dogs and cats. She had one dog and one cat and she was with them all the time, everywhere she went.

One day, she took them for a walk along a small stream. When she returned home, she found that she had accidentally dropped one of her precious rings along the way. Knowing how much the ring meant to the woman, the dog and cat decided to go back to look for it.



They made the long journey back to the stream and began searching for the ring in the water. "There it is! There it is!" They rejoiced when they finally spotted her ring at the bottom of the water. The cat was the first to try. She stretched her arm down into the water, but it was too short to reach the ring.

So next the dog jumped in, fetched the ring up in his mouth, and swam back to the bank. As cat and dog made their way home, they were both very happy about having recovered their owner's ring.

However, when they arrived home the wet dog was made to stay outside the house. And so the cat put the ring in her mouth and presented it to the woman. She was overjoyed and praised the cat saying, "What a very clever cat you are! It is a wonder that you were able to find my ring. You are so good!"

She kissed and patted the cat over and over again. Listening from outside the door, the dog was jealous and angry at the cat and grumbled to himself, "It was I who jumped into the stream and I who deserves all the affection, but instead look how unfairly I am treated!"

Ever since this episode, never being able to forgive them, dogs have always held a grudge against cats. And that is why whenever a dog sees a cat it will bark fiercely and go chasing after it.

© JapanVisitor.com(image)



Ikkyu The Quick-Witted Novice

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 16:14:54 PST

一休

Once upon a time, there was a monk who was the head of a very famous temple. It was his secret pleasure to sip a special jar of sweet sugar syrup in his private room, hidden even from his young novice, Ikkyu. One day the monk had to go out for an appointment. Anxious for his little treasure, he called Ikkyu and said, "Ikkyu, I must go out. Now you must never touch or taste what's in this jar. It is a very strong poison, and even a single drop can kill you."



Ikkyu's curiosity was aroused by his master's suspicious behavior, and as soon as the monk had left, Ikkyu rushed back into the monk's room and opened the lid of the jar. He dipped his finger into the sticky liquid and licked it thoroughly. The "poison" was sweet and delicious! Ikkyu lost himself in devouring this wonderful treat, lick after lick until the jar was completely empty.

Suddenly Ikkyu realized what trouble he was in. "What am I going to do when the monk comes back! He'll be so angry." But Ikkyu was a clever boy, and a bright idea soon popped in to his head. "Yes! That's it!” he cried. He ran to a shelf and picked up the monk's finest flower vase and dashed it to the floor. He then fell to the floor himself and began sobbing pathetically.

When the monk saw his treasure scattered on the floor, he flew into a rage. "How many times have I told you to be careful with this vase? Do you realize what you’ve done?"

"Yes, master," replied Ikkyu. "It is the worst thing I have ever done. How could I break your precious vase, even accidentally? I was so ashamed that I decided to take responsibility and kill myself with your poison. I ate it all, but alas! I am not yet dead. I cannot even die properly. What shame!"

The monk, blind to Ikkyu's clever wit, could not resist such a heart-wrenching display of feeling. "Enough, Ikkyu, enough. You did not mean to do it. I forgive you. Now, please stop crying," said the monk helplessly.

© JapanVisitor.com(image)



Japan News This Week 12 November 2017

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 23:56:11 PST

今週の日本



In Rural Japan, Lifting a Shrine and Building a Friendship
New York Times

Trump: Japan could shoot down North Korean missiles
BBC

Japanese gov't struggling with Trump's request for it to buy more defense equipment
The Mainichi

Japan's 'Black Widow' sentenced to death for murdering a string of lovers
Guardian

Agent Orange on Okinawa: Six Years On
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

As of November 4, the number of visitors topped 24,039,700, which was the record set in 2016.

Source: Jiji Press

© JapanVisitor.com(image)



Canceling an ANA flight to Japan

Thu, 09 Nov 2017 19:46:59 PST

So here's the thing: I should be in Japan right now. In early August I booked a reservation with ANA Airlines, but unfortunately, a few days later something unexpected happened. And "I didn't want to say nothin'" until now: my traveling companion was diagnosed with cancer. Amidst this great upheaval I realized I would have to cancel our trip to Japan. We might need that ticket fare to use for other purposes. But I had not purchased traveler's insurance.Well, hallelujah, ANA was able to help. A kind and sympathetic customer representative explained the refund process and the document we needed to provide to them. (And during this conversation, while I was briefly placed on hold, I could hear the music - you know, THAT music - the tune that plays as you board your flight to Japan and when the atmosphere is one of excitement and anticipation - as opposed to your return flight when only a sense of decency keeps you from shoving everybody out of the way so you can disembark!) To receive a refund, we had to get a signed doctor's note detailing the reason for non-travel. The best way to get it is to ask your doctor at your first follow up visit. He can give it to you right there. When we telephoned ANA again, the representative guided us through the submission process. She waited as we emailed the document and then she acknowledged its arrival. The refund was virtually instantaneous, and it was only a week later that the credit card company deducted the amount from our account. We were refunded all but about $100 USD of the $7100 price for two business class seats. As for future travel to Japan, we hope to return in the spring of 2018. We'll see.These days we have talked about what we would be doing in Japan if we were there now. And then I thought of this: Maybe there are some readers of this blog who could go enjoy some of the things we had planned on doing. Do you live in Shizuoka? Can you access Miho-no-Matsubara? Are there seashells to collect along the shoreline? Is it really cold? Can you see Mt. Fuji? Do you live near Hamamatsu? Can you check out "Naotora: The Lady Warlord Taiga Drama Hall?" Is it as big as last year's "Sanada Maru?" Is it cool or not? Is anyone over in Aichi? Will you try some Toyohashi Curry Udon for us? We were sooo looking forward to it. Thanks!© JapanVisitor.com [...]



Trump in Tokyo

Tue, 07 Nov 2017 18:51:39 PST

トランプ大統領 東京訪問President Trump was in Tokyo on Monday, Japan being his first stop on a tour of Asia that took him to South Korea yesterday. East Gate (Kishu Clan Tokugawa Nakayashiki Front Gate) of Akasaka State Guest House (Geihinkan), where Trump stayed on his Japan visitTrump was in Tokyo yesterday, Japan being his first stop on a tour of Asia that took him to South Korea today.Shinjuku-dori Avenue had police stationed along it, and on inquiring with one of them if it was because Trump was due to pass by, I was told that it was just part of the security for the Geihinkan, or Akasaka Palace, which is where he was staying.Trumpwatchers talk to a policeman in front of the GeihinkanI mentioned this at the office morning meeting, which got one or two staff members quite excited by their proximity to greatness, or, at least, to newsworthiness.The Geihinkan, near Yotsuya Station, is just 10 minutes' walk from the office, so at lunchtime I wandered down there. It was a beautiful crisp, clear autumn day, and a flash of presidential orange would have brought an extra fiery touch to an autumn landscape that is only just starting in Tokyo.Wakaba East Intersection, in front of the Akasaka State Guesthouse, where President Trump stayed.I didn't go back along Shinjuku-dori, but the more direct route, past the New Ohtani Hotel. At the bottom of the slope going up to the hotel I encoutered the first security battalion, which had a fence on stand-by to block the road if necessary.Photographers wait for a glimpse of Trump across from the East Gate of the Akasaka State Guest House.Closer to the Geihinkan, past the playing fields for Sophia University, there were more police stationed here and there. The road in front of the Geihinkan was open, but, oddly, the police was politely refusing entry to the road to a couple of guys on motorbikes.Police provide security for Trump's visit outside the Akasaka State Guest House, Tokyo.Right across from the Japanese-style side gate to the Geihinkan (the main gate is Western-style) was a cluster of sightseers with cameras in a space set out for them with traffic cones, and a policeman overseeing.Waiting for Donald Trump to appear, at the East Gate of the Akasaka State Guest House (Geihinkan) Tokyo, Japan.I thought it unlikely that the Trump motorcade would emerge, or return, at that time of the day - about 1:30pm - because he'd probably already be out there shaking hands and saying how very good, very bad or beautiful things were. But the sightseers (which, of course, included several journalists, it seemed) were dedicated, and just waited there in anticipation for the 15 or so minutes I spent walking past them then back again.Road leading to front gate of Geihinkan (Akasaka State Guest House), Tokyo, where President Trump stayed.On my way back, a policeman said "konnichiwa" to me, and, when I responded, asked me if I was sightseeing ("Kanko desu ka") to which I responded "Hai."East Gate of the Akasaka State Guest House, which Trump's entourage left and re-entered,Helicopters flew overhead at various times of the day, adding, literally, to the buzz. Today everything is back to normal. The only thing I found newsworthy was Trump's question to the Emperor about whether he'd designed his residence or not. Considering that the Emperor had a steeply uphill battle just to get permission to abdicate, and that his daughter-in-law has suffered stress-induced illness due to her tightly regimented existence, Trump's assumption of mogul-like power of whim and fancy on the part of the Emperor was naive and awkward.Policeman on guard in the Kioicho district of Tok[...]



Zoen Japanese Landscaping

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 20:18:41 PST

造園The basic techniques that are used for creating and maintaining traditional Japanese gardens were first developed during the Heian Period in Kyoto, which has an ideal climate for growing garden trees, a high concentration of special rocks and sand as well as an abundant water supply. At first gardening was an exclusive art practiced by priests, the aristocracy and warriors. The art spread to the merchant class, in the form of tsubo-niwa, during the latter half of the 16th century. The tsubo-niwa gardens of Kyoto were influenced by the tea ceremony. Built between homes, they serve to improve lighting and air circulation.The various elements of a garden, including trees, stones, grasses, sand and moss, all have distinctive meaning as symbols. The delicate balance of these elements is determined by considering the light and soil conditions. Gardens are then planned and laid out on paper to visual perspective and elevation. The first step in garden design is building the foundation to provide drainage so that the roots of trees and plants do not rot. At this time, ditches for such underground facilities as electrical equipment and water supply systems are also excavated. After completing the foundation work, the garden rocks, trees and shrubs, and related sodding are positioned according to the design plan. Lastly, decorative moss, other plants, and gravel are placed or spread out over designated areas.The Kyoto Prefectural Landscape Gardening Cooperative AssociationThe Kyoto Prefectural Landscape Gardening Cooperative Association, with about 350 members (individuals and companies), has been active in preserving Kyoto gardens and transmitting landscaping skills and knowledge to new generations for nearly 100 years. Over the past 45 years, Japan's traditional landscape gardening industry has suffered a severe downturn in business, and the total number of new gardens handled by association members has been steadily decreasing. Today, more than half of an average Japanese gardener's work involves maintenance. Gardens take a considerable amount of time to mature and once a garden has reached maturity it requires special skills to maintain it according to its original design.Until only quite recently, the special skills of Japanese landscaping were passed on from generation to generation. Today, the number of garden businesses is decreasing. To keep Japan's age-old gardening skills alive, the Association has set up a special one-year intensive gardening school to train apprentices. Naturally, Kyoto is the perfect place to study this art; the city is home to most of Japan's most famous gardens. This year, the school has 32 students, half of whom are from outside Kyoto.Japanese landscape gardens have become very popular internationally. The Association designed a large-scale garden, modelled on the famous garden at Daigo Temple's Sanpo-in, in Kyoto's sister city in Mexico, Guadalajara. Employing Mexican workers and under greatly different climatic conditions, the project took nearly two years. The Association also created a Japanese garden for a private residence belonging to Prince Charles, in England. As a gift of friendship between the US and Japan, a number of young gardeners in the Association were employed to build a garden in Oklahoma. The Association is also active in working with the international Japan Garden Society, which visits Kyoto annually. © JapanVisitor.com [...]



Japan News This Week 5 November 2017

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 07:27:22 PST

今週の日本Encountering Robots While Still Using Fax Machines in Japan New York TimesJapan suspect ‘killed nine over two months’ BBCEmperor Akihito to meet US President Trump on Monday The MainichiJapan will entertain Donald Trump with Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen singer GuardianOvercoming Double Erasure: Japanese “comfort women”, nationalism and trafficking.Japan FocusLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatisticsIn 2010, Toyota president Akio Toyoda earned 340,000,000 yen ($2.98 million USD). For that, he was levied 20.7% in taxes.For someone earning the average salary in the same year - 4,300,000 yen ($37,741 USD) - the rate of taxation was 34.6%.The reason for that is that Mr. Toyoda received much of his salary in stocks, dividends, and financial products, which are taxed at a flat 20% - no matter what the amount is.Source: Kami no Bakudan (Paper Bomb) magazine, October 2017, page 32"The Global Gender Gap Report 2016, an annual benchmarking exercise by the World Economic Forum (WEF), found that despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for women to play a greater role in society, the nation had done little to make more use of its female talent since its ranking at 101st last year.Contributing most to the drop, the WEF said, was the gender gap for professional and technical workers, with Japan ranking 118th for economic participation and opportunity — down from 106th last year."Source: Japan Times© JapanVisitor.com [...]



Kyoto City Bus 4

Fri, 03 Nov 2017 08:45:28 PDT

京都市バス#4The Kyoto city bus #4 runs from Kyoto Station to Kamigamo Shrine in the north west of Kyoto city.The #4 bus travels up Kawaramachi, Kyoto's main shopping street, then to Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan and Eiden lines, Shimogamo Shrine, Ipponmatsu, Matsugasaki Station on the Karasuma Line of the Kyoto subway, Kitayama Station and up to Kamigamo Jinja.From Kyoto Station the #4 bus stops at Shiokoji Takakura, Nanajo Kawaramachi, Kawaramachi Shomen, Kawaramachi Gojo, Kawaramachi Matsubara, Shijo Kawaramachi, Sanjo Kawaramachi, Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae (Kyoto City Hall), Kawaramachi Marutamachi, Kojin-guchi, Furitsu Idaibyoin-mae, Kawaramachi Imadegawa, Demachiyanagi, Shin-Aoibashi, Tadasunomori, Shimogamo Jinja, Ipponmatsu, Rakuhoko Koko-mae, Rakuhokukoko Seimon-mae, Kitazonocho, Kodonocho, Higashikitazonocho, Sakyoku Sogochosha-mae, Matsugasaki Station, Nonogamicho, Kitayama Station, Kamigamo Sakakidacho, Midorogaike, Kamigamo Toyodacho, Kamigamo Matsumotocho, Kamigamo Shogakko-mae, Kamigamo Ishikazucho, Kamigamo Shobuencho, Kamigamobashi, Shimogishicho, Kamogawa Chugaku-mae and Kamigamo Jinja.The first #4 bus service for Kyoto Station leaves Kamigamo Shrine at 6.20am Monday-Sunday and the last bus is 9.13pm daily.From Kyoto Station the first Kyoto #4 bus is at 7.18am daily and the last bus to Kamigamo Shogakko-mae is at 10.10pm daily.*Note all buses go as far as Kamigamo Shrine with about half going as far as Kamigamo Shogakko-mae only. This is about 10 minutes on foot from Kamigamo Shrine and directly south of Ota Shrine.Find out more about buses in Kyoto. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/17xTDPBf6uA" width="500">© JapanVisitor.com [...]



Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum Waseda

Sat, 04 Nov 2017 01:21:46 PDT

早稲田大学坪内博士記念演劇博物館The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum (Enpaku) on the Waseda University campus in Tokyo is dedicated to the history of drama and is named after Tsubouchi Shoyo (1859-1935), a writer, dramatist and translator.Under the pen name of Harunoya Oboro, Tsubouchi wrote literary criticism, novels, plays and translated Shakespeare's complete works into the language of Japanese kabuki.The museum, which holds many of Tsubouchi's original works and a collection of ukiyo-e prints of the kabuki play Chushingura, was designed by Kenji Imai and opened in 1928. It was modeled on the former Fortune Theatre in London, an Elizabethan theatre that existed at the same time as the more famous Globe Theatre.The museum's large collection from around the world includes masks, folding screens, bunraku dolls, theatre magazines, costumes and items related to motion pictures and TV as well as theatre.There is a library on the premises with a collection of rare books and books in other languages relating to the theatre.Dramatic performances from Japan and overseas are held at the theatre including two annual festivals: a Shakespeare Festival and the Shoyo Festival.You can also sample a Ruby Nile beer at Uni Cafe on the Waseda campus after your museum visit.Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum1-6-1 Nishi-wasedaShinjuku-kuTokyo 169-8050Tel: 03 5286 1829 Hours: Weekdays 10am-5pm (until 7pm on Tuesdays and Fridays); closed weekends and holidaysAdmission: Free© JapanVisitor.com [...]



A Conversation with Hal Gold from 1997

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 04:54:15 PDT

Writer, historian, critic, and long-time Kyoto resident, Hal Gold (July 24, 1929 - March 25, 2009) lived in Kyoto for over 30 years, and was a well-known writer on Japan-related subjects.He passed away in Kyoto at the beginning of the 21st century. This interview took place in 1997.His published works include a series of essays on Japan (Japan in a Sake Cup), a few books in Japanese, a book which focused on Japan as a right-brain society, as well as a number of articles on turn-of-the-century Kyoto development. His most recently published work, Unit 731 Testimony (Charles E. Tuttle Co., Ltd.), deals with the war crimes of the Japanese army connected with medical experiments conducted on live prisoners in Manchuria between 1932 and 1945.What is it about Kyoto that interests you?Gold: My own interest in Kyoto lies in the post-Meiji Restoration period, which, in my opinion, has received far too little attention. I am especially interested in the technological lead Kyoto took in Japan after the restoration. In those days, Kyoto had the reputation of doing everything first in Japan's educational reform, electricity, physics, chemistry. For centuries, the economy of the city had been built on the imperial court and surrounding structures. Then, all of a sudden, the whole economic basis of the city collapsed when the emperor and the entire court apparatus moved to Tokyo. Kyoto was in shock and lethargy. Those who remained, and the many ambitious people who came in from outside the city, realized that the only way to replace the lost imperial-based economy was to pursue technology. This incredible historical discontinuity, if you will, makes this period very interesting.In terms of infrastructure, how did Kyoto become so advanced, who was involved?Gold: After the Restoration, when the whole country was reorganized from fiefdoms into prefectures, Kyoto Prefecture became a political entity. Kyoto City was only set up 22 years later. In the early days, Kyoto Prefecture set up the seimikyoku, an organization aimed at implementing Western advances in physics and chemistry. Using the new sciences to develop new products, a number of different study centers were set up. At one time there was even a big Dutch-type windmill where City Hall stands today, which was being used for agricultural research and experimental irrigation methods.Can you illustrate a good example of this turn-of-the-century promotion in terms of modern-day technology?Gold: Look inside almost any electronic appliance and there's liable to be a component supplied by a Kyoto company. Kyoto has numerous small to medium companies in highly specialized areas of technology, usually related to the production processes of other products. Kyotoites sometimes remark that the city's high-tech ceramics are rooted in the traditional Kiyomizu pottery industry. However, it's a long way from tea cups to semi-conductors. There had to be something that happened in between there. It took me a long time to find out what the missing link was, which is the subject of several articles I have written, and hopefully will be part of a book I'm planning right now.Kyoto has been your home for the past 30 years, have you had any difficulties living here?Gold: It is a well-known complaint amongst the Japanese that Kyoto people are most difficult in all of Japan. It might be true, but it's no accident. In a way, it's their right. For hundreds of years Kyoto was invaded by one army after the other, and because of thi[...]



Furuiwaya-so Kumakogen

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 06:51:10 PDT

Kokuminshukusha literally means "citizens lodgings" and are hotels operated by local governments. Often they have good locations and are reasonably priced, and such is the case with Furuiwaya-so in the mountains of Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku.Furuiwaya-so is located across the road from Furuiwaya, a collection of rock formations some towering up to 100 meters, and a popular scenic spot.Many of the rooms have views out onto the formations. It is also close to Iwaya-ji Temple, one of the 88 temples of the famous Shikoku Pilgrimage and so is also a popular place to stay for pilgrims.There are standard western-style rooms with beds and Japanese-style rooms with tatami and futons. Some of both types have ensuite toilets and bathrooms, and some don't. The hotel has it's own onsen. The restaurant has great views.There are the standard facilities, though the wifi only works in the first floor reception/ restaurant area. With the increasing number of non-Japanese visitors walking the pilgrimage they have plenty of experience dealing with foreigners and speak a little English.A single room starts at only 4,500 yen. I paid 6,800 for a six tatami room with alcove and views, ensuite toilet and bathroom, and two meals. I left early in the morning before the restaurant opened and so they prepared some onigiri for me the evening before. Furuiwaya-so1636 NaoseKumakogen-choKamiukena-gunEhime 791-1213Tel: 0892 41 0431* If you would like us to reserve a room for you here or at other accommodations in Japan please contact us.© JapanVisitor.com [...]



Japan News This Week 29 October 2017

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 07:28:20 PST

今週の日本Subaru Admits Inspection Failings, in Another Blow to Japan’s Carmakers New York TimesJapan teen 'forced to dye hair black' for school BBCJapan's antinuke resolution passes, but support down from past years The MainichiWhat now for Japan after Abe's landslide election victory? GuardianAgent Orange on Okinawa: Six Years OnJapan FocusLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatistics2016 witnessed a large number of bullying cases among school children. According to the Ministry of Education, there were more than 320,000 incidents of bullying. That is a 40% increase from the previous year.The majority of the cases occurred in elementary schools, and were arguments or typical childhood quarrels.By prefecture (state), Kyoto led the way with 96.8 cases per 1,000 students. At the other end, rural Kagawa had just 5.0.Editorial note: Like many other "problems" in Japanese society, the "dramatic increase" in recent years is part in due to more scrutiny and increased reporting. We wonder though how much more common bullying actually is now than in the past.Source: Asahi Shinbun, 27 Oct 2017, page 37© JapanVisitor.com [...]



From Saga to Arashiyama On Foot

Sat, 28 Oct 2017 00:54:05 PDT

嵐山This walk (about 2 miles in length and packed with stuff to look at and enjoy) will take the average person about 3 hours to complete (not including lunch).The walk leads through one of Kyoto's most popular tourist areas and is very easy to follow.It's best to start in the morning around 11am or so. To time this trip perfectly get the exact departure times for the Torokko train (from Torokko Saga Station) that will take you to where the Hozugawakudari River run begins; the last boat usually departs around 4pm, so you will have to board the train by 3pm or so (the train and the boat schedules are linked).To start the ramble, take a taxi to Torii no moto, the large orange shrine torii gate that marks the beginning of the Atago Mountain precinct (Atago-san is the highest peak on the western ridge and the shrine is home to a powerful fire protection deity).This red torii marks the start of a pilgrimage route to the top of Mt. Atago. On either side of the torii are huge 400 year-old tea houses that have served pilgrims and visitors for centuries. Meals are also served at both places (about 10,000 yen; reservations necessary). But for hardly anything you can enjoy a bowl of tea inside their ancient smoke-darkened interior.To start the walk turn your back to the torii gate. With the gate to your back, turn left up the gentle slope, until you come to the unusual temple of Otagi Nenbutsu-ji on your left. An English pamphlet is available upon request.On the hilly grounds of this temple the visitor will find a wonderful array of carved stone figures, characterized by big smiles and joyful energy. After leaving the temple, trace your steps back to where you started (the torii gate) and follow the road past the tea houses downhill.After about 200 meters you will come to a stone stairway on your right leading up to Adashino Nenbutsu-ji (化野念仏寺), a stunning temple that is famous for its thousands of stone Buddhist images, originally unmarked graves of the poor.Follow the route downhill. On your left are a number of colorful shops that cater to the many tourists that come to this area (especially during maple leaf season in November). Where the shops come to an end, the road will fork. Stay right here. After about 250 meters, you will come to a pathway leading sharply off to the right. This path leads into the green grounds of two temples (Gio-ji and Takiguchi-dera).One of the several versions of the story behind simple yet beautifully landscaped Gio-ji Temple is special. Gio and her sister Gijo were Heian Period dancers. Gio became the mistress of Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), a famous military leader. When he became smitten with Gijo, he banished Gio from his mansion. A year later, Gijo, filled with remorse for Gio, decided to join her at this secluded retreat. They lived out their days in prayer, waiting for this transient life and its humiliations to end.Further along this knoll lies Takiguichi-dera Temple where a young woman once is said to have written a farewell poem on a stone in her own blood after being denied for the second time by the man she loved (the priest who founded the temple). Exit the grounds of these two temples and then follow the road further to the right. After another 200 meters or so, you will come to the bucolic thatched hut known as Rakushisha on your left.Translated to mean the Cottage of the Fallen Persimmon, this site was vis[...]



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