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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: Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:46:22 PDT

Copyright: copyright JapanVisitor Ltd.
 



Japan News This Week 13 August 2017

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 01:11:56 PDT

今週の日本

(image)
The truth about Japanese tempura
BBC

Trump’s Tough Talk on North Korea Puts Japan's Leader in Delicate Spot
New York Times

Kin of '85 JAL crash victims pray for dead at disaster site
The Asashi Shimbun

METI seeks to pass nuclear buck with release of waste disposal map
Japan Times

Bowing deeply, Japanese PM tries to put problems behind him with new cabinet
Washington Post

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

© JapanVisitor.com

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Hope in Japanese

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 17:00:29 PDT

希望という表現Sporadic missile tests by North Korea, especially over the past few months, and the equally hot words now flying over the Pacific in their wake are giving rise to both fear of war, and hope for a solution.Hope is always in ready supply in those who care about the future, and so we're going to look at how this wonderful state of mind is expressed in Japanese.Japanese, of course, has it's word for the noun "hope," which is 希望 kibo. That's what you'll find in the dictionary, but it's not what you'll often hear in conversation.The way kibo is used, it is usually closer to "wish" or "desire" - i.e., something that will benefit you personally, than to the expansive emotion that is hope. For example, メーカー希望価格 meh-kah-kibo-kakaku is "recommended retail price" or, literally "manufacturer's wished for price"; or 希望の学校 kibo no gakko is the school you are aiming to enter.The more usual way to express hope is using the pattern dattara ii. dattara is the conditional form of the verb "da" (the closest thing Japanese has to a "be" verb) and "ii" means "good". In other words "it would be good if..." but attached to the end of the sentence, not the beginning. The "da" verb is used here as the standard example, but the transformation applies to whatever verb is being used.So, "I hope the North Korean threat will blow over" is "Kita Chosen kara no kyoui ga sugisattara ii ne." 北朝鮮からの脅威が過ぎ去ったらいいね. sugisaru means "blow over", and becomes the conditional sugisattara, or "if [something] blows over." By the way, the "ne" at the end is the almost mandatory invitation to assent that comes at the end of so many spoken Japanese sentences. So, literally translated: "If would be good if the North Korean threat blew over, wouldn't it."Or, "I hope Trump tones his rhetoric down a bit" becomes "Torampu ga goki wo sukoshi yawaragetara ii ne." トランプが語気を少し和らげたらいいね. The infinitive yawarageru (to soften, to tone down) becomes the conditional yawaragetara.So expressing hope in Japanese requires that you first sit down and study your conditional tense. Here are some commonly used verbs:da → dattara, or, more politely,desu → deshitara (be)kuru → kitara (i.e., an irregular transformation) (come)iku → ittara (go)kureru → kuretara (give - from someone else to you)yameru → yametara (quit, lay off doing something)kau → kattara (buy)kiru - kitara (wear)Try making a few of your own. Put them as comments below if you want some feedback!© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Cash Equals Contraband

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 00:44:03 PDT

現金イコール禁制品

Money is so strictly controlled in Japan that sending cash and receiving it feels like dealing in an illicit substance.

I got a call from my credit card company the other day. There wasn't enough money in the bank account my credit card payments come out of.

I got the bank account number from the credit card company to pay the money into, and went and withdrew the amount in cash from another bank account I have.

I figured that paying it in cash straight into the ATM of the credit card company's bank would be cheaper than doing it from the ATM of my bank.

With cash in hand, I went over to the branch of the credit card company's bank, and used the ATM to send the money to the prescribed account number. However, a notice came up on the screen saying that because the amount was greater than 100,000 yen, I would have to do it through a teller.

I went over to the bank information clerk, where they give you a number for waiting for the teller service. She asked what I wanted to do, and I explained.

To my surprise, she told me that (1) to deposit cash into the credit card company's account, I would need to provide proof of identity, with a photo, and (2) that it was actually cheaper to do it from my own bank's ATM and that (3) there was no amount restriction if I did it from my own bank's ATM.

So I went back to my bank, put the cash back into my account, and did a furikomi (transfer) of the money to the credit card company. No hassles.

Dealing with cash in Japan is like dealing in contraband. The government is clearly very nervous about cash transactions being used for dishonest purposes, so, even when withdrawing your own money, you have to vouch for it every step of the way.

© JapanVisitor.com

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Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki Anniversary 2017

Tue, 08 Aug 2017 21:59:09 PDT

長崎, 原子爆弾

Today, August 9th, is the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

Three days earlier on August 6th, Hiroshima, became the world's first city to be attacked by a nuclear weapon when a bomb was dropped on the city by the US Air Force at 8.16am.


A solemn prayer is held at 11.02am, the exact time of the bombing and the mayor of Nagasaki, Taue Tomihisa, will repeat his annual pleas for a nuclear-free Japan.

The Nagasaki bomb ended the Pacific War, which had begun with the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941.

The Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe, is also expected to mark the day with a statement expressing Japan's determination to remain free of nuclear weapons.

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Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima Anniversary 2017

Sat, 05 Aug 2017 22:30:17 PDT

広島This year's anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima will take place as always on August 6th.This year is the 72nd anniversary of the bombing at 8.16am on the morning of August 6, 1945. Solemn ceremonies take place on the day in Hiroshima Peace Park and throughout Japan to remember the approximately 140,000 victims of Japan's first but not only nuclear disaster.The bombing of Nagasaki by the US Air Force was to follow just 3 days later and then again in Fukushima in 2011, another nuclear disaster was to occur. This one caused by a natural disaster aided by human error and institutional incompetence.Another nuclear threat also hangs over Japan, namely North Korea. The rise of the nuclear threat posed by its rogue neighbor has resulted in an increase of sales of nuclear shelters in the weeks heading into this year's anniversary.Public transport has come to a halt in some cities during North Korean missile tests and commercials have appeared on Japanese TV giving instructions on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack: seek shelter in strong buildings or underground shopping malls and if outside in the open, drop to the ground and cover your head. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IQQaUtiK9e4" width="420"> align="left" frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="https://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=soccerphile-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0826516122&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr" style="align: left; height: 245px; padding-right: 10px; padding-top: 5px; width: 131px;">Book a hotel in Hiroshima Japan with Booking.comJapanese FictionHappi Coats [...]



Japan News This Week 6 August 2017

Sat, 12 Aug 2017 03:46:09 PDT

今週の日本

(image)
Can Japan provide answers to the west’s economic problems?
Financial Times

Selfie-posting young women flocking to pools after sunset
The Asashi Shimbun

Bill to lower age of adulthood set for submission to Diet in fall
Japan Times

Parts of woman's body dumped by police officer by mistake
Japan Today

Japan delays sales tax rise to 2019
BBC

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

In 2015, household debt as a percentage of disposable income was 135% in Japan, almost the same as for Finland (130%) and Portugal (143%), compared with 112% for the USA, 150% for the UK, 212% for Australia, and 51% and 52% for Hungary and Latvia.

In 2015, household savings as a percentage of disposable income was 0.72% in Japan, compared to -1.11% in the UK, 6% in the USA, 7.18% in Korea (2014), and a whopping 37.99% in China (2014).

© JapanVisitor.com

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Lapsed Driver's License in Japan

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 02:17:15 PDT

運転免許 失効手続きFor some reason, it came to me as I came down the elevator. I impulsively reached for my wallet, pulled out my driver's licence and, sure enough, it had expired two weeks before.If your license expires in Japan when you should have renewed it, it is called shikko 失効, i.e., lapsed, or invalid.My invalidated Japanese driver's licenceIt's not that big a deal. You simply have to repeat the whole application process for a new one, which, if nothing has changed too much since last time, is time-consuming (a couple of hours).To my shame, it has happened to me before. In addition to going through the whole rigmarole, including having my eyes tested, I had to sit through a one-hour traffic safety seminar - which was actually well done, with lots of visuals - reserved for those who have done something amiss.I telephoned ahead a few days ago to see what I should do this time, and one of the questions I was asked was "Were you out of the country at the time your licence expired?" It just so happens that I was. I was in Turpan, China, for 5 days, neatly enveloping the date my licence expired. It so turns out that being out of the country is a watertight reason for not having renewed your licence.I went to the Samezu Driver's Licence Center this morning. It opens at 8am, so I got there when it opened so I wouldn't be late for work. (The Driver's Licence Center is closed on weekends.)Because I had been out of the country, I went to only two counters: No.1, where they inspect your licence, look at the notification postcard you may have been sent by the Center, and give you the right forms to fill out, and then No.6, the "Shikko" counter, which doesn't open until 8.30am.I filled out the form, waited in front of counter no.6 until it opened (there was only one person waiting at this counter besides me), and explained myself to them when my turn came.Everyone at the Center is the lively, cheerful, practical type who deal with things warmly, briskly yet conscientiously, and make themselves very clearly understood.The guy took my form and looked at my passport to vouch that I'd actually been out of Japan on the date my licence expired. I should have thought of it before, but the only stamps were from the Chinese immigration authorities. I always use the automated passport gate at the immigration check at the airport, so don't have any stamps in my passport from the Japanese authorities.He said I'd have to approach the Personal Information Office (kojin joho hogo kakari 個人情報保護係) of the Ministry of Justice (Homusho 法務省) and make a request for disclosure (kaiji seikyu 開示請求 ) for a record of my entries into and departures from Japan (shutsu nyukoku no kiroku 出入国の記録 ). Once the print-out was received, I should bring it back to the Driver's Licence Center and submit it as proof of my having been out of the country, thus letting me off the hook.Instructions from the driving license center for applying for release of personal information from the Ministry of JusticeThe alternative was to undergo the test from the beginning again, which would have taken a couple of hours, but, in that case my next licence would remain normal Blue, whereas, if I could excuse myself for having failed to renew, my next licence would be Gold - awarded to those who have committed no traffic violations for the past five years. The licence card actually features a beautiful gold strip, instead of the normal blue one, glowingly telling the world what a compliant, safe (or, in my case, very occasional) driver you are.I lust for Gold, especially since I had missed out on it last time - when I didn't have an excuse for having let my license lapse - so opted for the Ministry of Justice route. So at lunchtime today, I went to the Ministry of Justice building no.6A, just across from Hibiya Park.The culture here was quite different from t[...]



Nebuta Festival 2017

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 21:48:13 PDT

ねぶた祭り

The 2017 Aomori Nebuta matsuri in Aomori city in the far north of Japan runs this year from August 2 until August 7. The festival kicks of with a children's parade on August 2 from 7.10pm-9pm.



On the final day of the festival there is a day time procession with the festival concluding with a parade of boats in Aomori Bay. Seven floats are loaded on to boats followed by an impressive fireworks display from 7-9pm.



The nebuta floats are large wire frames (previously they were constructed from bamboo) covered with Japanese washi paper, which have been beautifully illustrated with a range of motifs from fierce samurai warriors to more contemporary manga and anime characters.

.

Prizes are awarded to the best floats and onlookers are encouraged to purchase or hire a haneto costume and join in the chayashi dances.

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Nebuta Festival Official Site

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Tenryuji Temple Arashiyama

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 07:59:42 PDT

天龍寺Tenryu-ji Temple, in the lush Arashiyama district, is one of Japan's most famous and influential Zen temples.Originally, Tenryuji was the opposite of a monastery: it started as an imperial villa built by Emperor Kameyama, and was intended for the extravagant pastimes of a decadent court. Here Kameyama's grandson, the great Emperor Godaigo, grew up to become the erudite statesman and connoisseur that history remembers.About 1340, the powerful general, Ashikaga Takauji, worn down by the noisome and continual attacks of the warrior monks of Mount Hiei and Nara, sought to exploit the rising influence of Zen and establish Tenryuji as the headquarters for what he hoped would be a network of compliant Zen temples.The warrior monks were not having it. In fact, it was only through the brilliant diplomacy of Ashikaga that the warrior monks abandoned their designs to disrupt the inauguration ceremonies of the new temple, and returned to their pastoral retreats. From that time on, even though Ashikaga's dream of a Zen network never materialized, Tenryuji served as one of the eight chief temples of the Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism, and has continued to baffle the intellect and feed the soul ever since.Most foreigners know Zen through Thomas Merton's writings, or through the enormously popular Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Abroad, Zen is renown for its spiritual practicality, its wit, and, well, the axle grease on your hands. So what to do when confronted with staggering beauty and obvious wealth? Where is the Zen in an arrogant monk, or in a meditation garden invaded by 250 hollering junior high school boys? How are you supposed to feel when you bow down on your knees before a Buddha, and find a statue of a wealthy emperor where the Buddha should be? It's better not to ask questions. One distinguishing feature of Zen is its total rejection of reliance upon the intellect. Enlightenment, or satori, comes only through a sudden burst of insight which, defying explanation and reason, joins one with all the workings of the universe, and reveals the purpose of the Ancient of Days in the simplest object--"wisdom in a grain of sand".The garden of Tenryuji is one of Japan's great gardens, the end-product of many periods in gardening history, and like a Byzantine icon leads the ardent soul to contemplate reality and find its place in the universe. Because rational processes are eschewed by Zen, the garden became the prime means of sublimating the self and advancing the soul. Tenryuji's garden is a hybrid of the large, sunny leisure gardens of the distant past, and the more austere, symbolic gardens of the religious eras. Its center is a large pond in the shape of the Chinese character for spirit, kokoro. Behind it and lifting it to the skies is a wooded mountain. Its murmuring hillsides stretch the lines of the garden until they blend seamlessly into God's own handiwork. The mountain range itself reaches its apotheosis in lofty Mount Atago. Thus, the pond becomes a metaphor for the soul, and the garden a microcosm of spiritual reality placed securely in the bosom of the natural world.In the pond of spirit, are three jagged rocks representing the tribulations of life. They can be viewed as means of growth through suffering, to be hurdled through selflessness. A half-hidden waterfall centrally supplies an endless infusion of power.The rhythm of the shifting foci and the quality of the diffused sunlight at the base of the mountain invite a meditative mood. As I gazed upon the serene surface of the water, a sudden chilling gust of wind swept down and transformed the pond into a shimmering, radiant mirror of sunlight. A space had opened inside me, and before a single astonished breath could expire, a vermillion carp leapt into the air from the depths of the pond. It was, to be sure, a Zen fish, for I have not [...]



Japan News This Week 30 July 2017

Sat, 29 Jul 2017 21:28:29 PDT

今週の日本

(image)
Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, Longevity Expert, Dies at (or Lives to) 105
New York Times

Divorcee destroys ex's $1m violin collection in Japan
BBC

GSDF chief to resign over alleged coverup of activity logs
The Mainichi

Hokusai: the influential work of Japanese artist famous for 'the great wave' – in pictures
Guardian

Murder of the Soul - Shiori and Rape in Japan
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Soft power rankings 2017:

1. France
2. Britain
3. United States
4. Germany
5. Canada
6. Japan
7. Switzerland
8. Australia

Source: Japan News

© JapanVisitor.com

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Ikuokaya Kyoto

Sat, 29 Jul 2017 07:49:00 PDT

幾岡屋Ikuokaya has been doing business in the world-famous Gion district (home to maiko and geiko and high-culture nightlife) for more than 150 years. They specialize in kanzashi hair ornaments, fans, bags and accessories.Stepping into the shop, one enters the world of accessories that add to the exotic charm of the geiko: splendid, colorful kanzashi (hair pins), exquisitely designed handkerchiefs, little richly patterned silk bags with draw strings, sandalwood combs. Many of the patterns and designs express the seasonal elements for which Japan is so well known: flowers, bushes, and important symbols like the moon, pine trees, cranes and rabbits.In a short interview a few years ago, Hiroshi Sakai, the 6th generation owner of Ikuokaya, gave us a peak into the private world of the geiko and maiko, and the world that his shop, the oldest of its kind in Japan, is an important part of. JV: How did Ikuokaya first get started in this business?HS: We have only been running the shop for the last two generations. The shop was founded by a Gion geiko. The second generation owner, also a geiko, was the junior partner of a famous geiko called Ikumatsu. She was the celebrated mistress of Katsura Kogoro, who played an important role in the founding of modern Japan during the Meiji Restoration (1868). Ikuokaya, which means "the teahouse of Iku," is named after her. The next owner, in the early Showa Period (1926-1989), almost went bankrupt and that was when my grandfather decided to take over the business and its debts. Since that time our family has managed the shop well.JV: How has your business and the geiko/maiko world you are part of changed over your lifetime?HS: Kyoto has changed a lot over the last 35 years. Many traditions have changed or been strongly influenced by modern lifestyles and convenience. For example, in the old days funerals were organized by and involved all the members of the family and many relatives. Today, there are companies that have taken over this role, probably because it is so much more convenient.What has changed in this shop is not what we sell but who we sell to. When I was a little boy, the people who came to Ikuokaya were only people intimately involved with the world of the geiko. There were no tourists from far away places that wandered in. Today, there are less and less people of the geiko world, and more and more tourists from distant places, even distant countries.JV: Why is your shop so popular with foreigners?HS: Over the past 30 to 40 years, my father, the 5th generation owner of Ikuokaya, made a great effort to attract foreign visitors to our shop. He also told the people in our neighborhood that more and more foreigners would be entering our world, the world of the geiko that had been almost a secret society since the very beginning. One of the things that I really admire about my father is that he tried so hard to interact with foreigners even though he does not speak English especially well. He feels that we can communicate with anyone, if we try to speak sincerely, from the heart. He says something to every foreigner that enters our shop, and has invited many foreigners to sleep over in our house. I saw those people when I was little. Now he is over 70 and he continues to speak with every foreigner that enters the shop. I think it is interesting, and I my father does too, that the Japanese government has started the "Visit Japan" campaign, which is what he has been promoting for so many years. Ikuokaya is located on the south side of Shijo, east of Hanamikoji. Open 11am-7pm (closed Thursdays). Tel: 075 561 8087 Gion-Shijo Station is the nearest station. © JapanVisitor.comIkuokaya577-2 Gionmachi MinamigawaHigashiyama-kuKyoto-shi605-0074Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Lonely Planet Japan Launch Party

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 20:23:31 PDT

ローンリー・プレネット・ジャパンNew Lonely Planet Tokyo launch at 300 Bar Next, Yurakucho, TokyoLonely Planet, the legendary guide book publisher, launched a new edition of Lonely Planet Japan last night, at a lively launch party in Tokyo's Yurakucho district.After an hour's warm up at the basement 300 Bar Next, Lonely Planet's North Asia Territory Manager, Tim Burland, took the mike, and introduced us all to the hefty blue, hot-off-the-press version of Lonely Planet Tokyo.Tim Burland and Rebecca Milner at Lonely Planet Tokyo launch.Following him, author of Lonely Planet Pocket Tokyo, Rebecca Milner, also addressed the crowd, with Burland resuming a little later with a commentated slide show to provide few more details about the books being launched. Among them, too, is the Lonely Planet Pocket Kyoto & Osaka.300 Bar Next also calls itself "Ginza 300 Bar Next" - but is a million miles from the slick glass-fronted feel of Ginza, partaking more of the rough-and-ready, even grungy, atmosphere of Yurakucho and evoking, maybe, something of Lonely Planet's original alternative vibe.Slideshow at 300 Bar Next for Lonely Planet TokyoI made a new acquaintance or two, and caught up with a couple more. I managed to exchange a word or two with Tim Burland, and briefly acquaint him with JapanVisitor.com.Lonely Planet Tokyo new edition launch party postersA chasm seems to remain between the online and offline worlds of publishing. Tim Burland hadn't heard of JapanVisitor.com, and, to my surprise, hadn't even heard of JapanGuide, which dominates the search engines for queries about Japan.My name tag at the Lonely Planet Tokyo 2017 edition launch partyLonely Planet will remain the leading guide book for its thoroughness, candidness, its sense of being completely on the traveler's side, and the natural, familiar tone of its writing. It is a publication that aims to being the world together by facilitating travel: informing, sometimes teaching, warning where necessary, preparing us for the other, and ensuring that we at least survive comfortably enough - at best, edified, excited and energized enough - to want to do it over again.Read reviews of Japan travel books.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Kukai's Birthday

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 06:15:50 PDT

空海 誕生日Kukai (AKA Kobo Daishi) was a once-mendicant Buddhist monk from over 1,200 years ago, who within his lifetime became a pillar of Japan's religious establishment.Kukai statue at Kawasaki Daishi TempleWhile the exact date of his birth is unknown, today, July 27, is usually attributed as being his birthday.Buddhist religious activity in 8th century Japan was strictly controlled by a government organ called the Office of Priestly Affairs (the Sogo), and monks who operated outside its ambit were effectively outcasts.Kukai, in his early 20s, was not very interested in the Confucianism that was the main doctrine governing public life in Japan at the time, but developed a strong interest in the more overtly religious doctrine of Buddhism. He would retire to the mountains and chant Buddhist mantras.Yet, he was a prodigious scholar, and published his first, very erudite, work at age 24.By the end of his life, Kukai had become an imperially sanctioned leader of the religious establishment in Japan, and the brand of esoteric Buddhism that he propounded, Shingon Buddhism, had become a mainstream sect.Kukai's birthday is most famously celebrated in the middle of June, at the Mt. Koya complex of temples that Kukai founded back in 819 A.D. and at Chishaku-in Temple in Kyoto. Known as the Aoba Festival (not to be confused with the Aoba Festival that takes place in Sendai every May), it celebrates Kukai's birth with parades and floats and music.Read more about Kukai Kobo Daishi© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Kyoto Butoh-kan: One Year Anniversary of the Worldʼs First Butoh Theatre

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 22:49:42 PDT

舞踊館

Japan's only Butoh dance theater has recently celebrated its first anniversary.
(image)
Yurabe Masami Perfoming

The theater is located in central Kyoto in an intimate and historical setting.

For more information, click here.

Coordinators: Ms. Takabatake Rino / Abel Coelho
info@butohkan.jp
ART COMPLEX 1928
ZIP 604-8082 56 Benkeiishicho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City 1928 build. 3F
Tel: 075-254-6520
Hours 10:00-19:00
www.butohkan.jp

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Unagi and Konnyaku Sentences in Japanese

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 20:23:55 PDT

ウナギ文 コンニャク文 An unagi-don, or box of eel on riceThe Japanese are a nation of foodies, take what they eat very seriously indeed, and talk about it a lot. It is no surprise then, that food expressions are used to describe a couple of peculiarities of Japanese grammar.Unagi means "eel" in Japanese, and is a summer delicacy that will cost you at least 1,000 yen, usually for those imported from China, and at least twice that for home-grown ones. Konnyaku is the romanized spelling of the Japanese pronunciation of konjac (Amorphophallus konjac), a plant used to make a jelly much used in Japanese cuisine - especially oden - and which is related to the very smelly plant that has the world's largest flower, the Amorphophallus titanum. Anyway, an unagi sentence is a common grammatically contracted sentence in Japanese that seems to identify the speaker as a foodstuff, but which really only identifies the speaker's preference for it. The archetypal example is "Ore wa unagi da." 俺はウナギだ Ore means "I" and is used to address only those with whom one has a very close relationship, or who are ranked well below you. wa (は) is the marker indicated that ore is the topic of the sentence. Unagi is eel. The final da is a sentence ending that equates to the be-verb in English, affirming the existence of something.Literally translated, this would mean "I am an eel." in the same way as "Ore wa sarariman da" ("I am a businessman") indicates that the speaker is a businessman. However, this so-called literal translation is based on a misunderstanding of the function of the marker wa. As stated above, wa is the marker indicating that the word which precedes it is the topic of the sentence. And the topic of a sentence is not necessarily the subject of the sentence. So in this case, a more literal translation, i.e., one where the function of the wa is properly understood, would be "Me, eel." Sure, even in English, this could be misinterpreted as being akin to "Me Tarzan," but, giving the person who spoke it the benefit of the doubt, probably would not be taken to be a statement of self-identification. In response to the question of "What are you having?" directed at more than one person, for one of them to respond with "Me, eel" would not be considered odd, even in English. (However, just as in the Japanese version of it, it would not be considered especially polite.)A piece of konnyaku - great for dietingA konnyaku sentencc is similar, but in reverse. That is, an inanimate object seems to be given human properties. The archetypal example sentence is "Konnyaku wa futoranai," コンニャクは太らない, "literally" (i.e., misunderstanding the function of wa): "Konnyaku doesn't put on weight." The actual meaning, of course, is "You don't gain weight eating konnyaku," but it's left to the listener to fill in the gaps in regard to who doesn't get fat. wa sets konnyaku as the topic of the sentence (not the subject!), and asserts a quality in regard to it that can only be interpreted as belonging to a consumer of the food if we assume sanity on the part of the speaker.So what unagi and konnyaku sentences teach us is to treat wa as the title of your sentence, not the actor in the sentence. wa is best thought of as meaning "as for..." in English. "As for me, eel," "As for konnyaku, [you] don't put on weight" This frees up your Japanese, and lets you venture without fear into the world of unagi and konnyaku, buoyed up by the reassuring knowledge that all your friends already know you're not (to use another food word) nuts. © JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Japan News This Week 23 July 2017

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 19:15:42 PDT

今週の日本

(image)
From Hiroshima to Tule Lake, Films About Japan and America
New York Times

Japan 'black widow' Chisako Kakehi retracts confession
BBC

Japan hangs 2 inmates, including one seeking retrial
The Mainichi

Japanese sacred island where women are banned gets Unesco world heritage listing
Guardian

Transnational Environmental Activism and Japan’s Second Modernity
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Soft power rankings.....

Source: This Week in Asia

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Japan 4K - Remarkable Drone Cam Short Movie

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 22:32:57 PDT


allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/khT7TnUe3e4" width="560">
At JapanVisitor.com, we get dozens of emails every day from people with an interest in Japan, wanting products from or restaurant bookings in Japan (inquiries we pass on to our sister site GoodsFromJapan.com), wanting information about Japan, alerting us to the occasional error on our site, or to information they think we should be covering - the list goes on.

However, the other day we received one email which really stood out, for the youthfulness of the sender: just out of high school, plus the out-of-the-ordinary content: a video of various places all over Japan shot using a drone and - best of all - incredibly professional-looking, with a nice soundtrack, too.

Sloan Fischer is about to start university in New York, and just a few months ago bought a camera and a drone and began "playing around with them" (as he modestly puts it), then came to Japan where he put together the short movie above: Japan 4K.

We were blown away - and we're sure you will be too!

PS After viewing Sloan's video, we blush to link to our YouTube channel, JapanFilms - but, FBOW, here it is:
https://www.youtube.com/user/JapanFilms
Enjoy!

© JapanVisitor.com

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Gifts of the Little Sparrow

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:44:03 PDT

スズメThe tale of the tongue-cut sparrow is a traditional folk story in Japan and has been retold by a number of commentators on Japan including A. B. Mitford and Lafcadio Hearn.It goes something like this:Long ago on the Tango Peninsula in the north of Kyoto Prefecture lived a little old man and a little old woman. One day, the little old man found a sparrow that could no longer fly. He carefully took care of the bird and nurtured it with love.A few days later, the old man went to the mountains to cut wood, and the old woman went to the river to do the washing. When she returned home she noticed that the glue she had made that morning was completely gone. The sparrow had eaten it all up! The old woman became very angry, and in her rage cut off the little bird's tongue with her scissors. The sparrow escaped off into the woods, shrieking all the way. When the old man returned from the mountains and heard this story he quickly set out to look for the sparrow calling out, "Where do you stay, my little tongueless sparrow?" When the old man reached the woods, the sparrow recognized him and greeted him with great happiness. Then the bird showed him great hospitality by offering him food and doing a special dance for him. Finally when it came time for the old man to go home, the sparrow pulled out two boxes, one large and one small. "Please take home whichever one of these you like as a souvenir," said the sparrow. The old man took his pick explaining, "I will take this smaller light box since I am getting to be an old man."He took his box home with him and when he opened it up, he found a shining gold coin. And when the old woman saw this she also went off to the woods singing, "Where do you stay, my little tongueless sparrow?"She was also greeted by the bird, but chose the larger box when it was time to go home. The box was so heavy that she had to stop on the way back. It was then that she opened up. And out from the box jumped snakes and centipedes which mercilessly pursued the old woman for all her remaining days.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Hotel Nahari

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 19:40:52 PDT

ホテル奈半利Hotel Nahari is a medium-sized western style hotel in Nahari, Kochi. Nahari is the terminal station on the Tosakuroshio Railway's Asa Line which runs from Kochi City. If you are heading further south to the UNESCO Geopark of Cape Muroto you transfer to bus here. The hotel is also quite popular with pilgrims travelling the Shikoku Pilgrimage.It has single, twin, double and also Japanese-style rooms, smoking and non-smoking. All have en-suite bathroom and toilet but the hotel also has very large public baths that include a rotenburo (outdoor bath).The rooms all come with fairly standard facilities – phone, TV, AC, fridge, kettle and tea, etc. There is no wifi but all rooms have LAN internet connection.The hotel has a decent restaurant that specializes in fresh, local seafood, especially tuna and skipjack. Their breakfasts are reasonably priced. Depending on the date, prices for a single person with no meals start at 5,000 yen.Hotel Nahari593-1 Otsu, Nahari-cho, Aki-gunKochi 781-6402Tel: 0887 38 5111The hotel is about 1.5 kilometers from Nahari Station but the hotel will pick you up and drop you off at the station by shuttle bus.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Japan News This Week 16 July 2017

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 18:36:00 PDT

今週の日本From Hiroshima to Tule Lake, Films About Japan and AmericaNew York TimesJapan 'black widow' Chisako Kakehi retracts confession BBCJapan hangs 2 inmates, including one seeking retrial The MainichiJapanese sacred island where women are banned gets Unesco world heritage listing GuardianTransnational Environmental Activism and Japan’s Second ModernityJapan FocusLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatistics"Over the last month or so, the international media have been full of headlines about how the Japanese have lost their libido. Some blame cultural malaise, some an aversion to real human contact in a world increasingly dominated by virtual technologies. More prosaically, others point the finger at the ardour-dampening effects of economic insecurity. But whatever cause they cite, all draw the same conclusion: Japan’s low birth rate will lead inevitably to an irreversible decline in its population, and consequently in its economy."According to many, the long decay has already begun. Japan’s population peaked at just over 128 million in 2010. Since then, the combination of an ageing population and one of the lowest fertility rates in the world – on average a Japanese woman can expect to have just 1.45 babies in her life – has meant that deaths have exceeded births. With mass immigration ruled out by politicians and public alike, the result has been a fall in Japan’s population over the last six years of almost 1.3 million."Source: This Week in Asia© JapanVisitor.comInside Track Japan For Kindle [...]



Asahido

Sun, 30 Jul 2017 20:39:21 PDT

朝日堂Asahido is one of the most famous of Kyoto's Kiyomizu yaki pottery stores, and had been a landmark for generations of visitors to Kiyomizu Temple since its establishment in 1870.From everyday tableware to one-of-a-kind tea ceremony bowls by well-known ceramic artists, Asahido has something for every taste and budget.The relaxing atmosphere of the traditional Japanese interior offers a welcome break from sightseeing, and the colorful items are displayed under warm, soft lighting. It almost seems more like a ceramics museum than a store. There is also a tea room and gallery space, which exhibits selected ceramic art.Asahido's exquisite merchandise have won it an international clientele, and it has also been privileged to supply items to the Japanese Imperial Household. However, the wide range of items is sure to provide anyone with many excellent and affordable souvenir ideas. Asahido goods can also be bought at other places around Kyoto: in the Kyoto Tokyu Hotel, the Kyoto ANA Hotel and Arashiyama Syoryuen in Arashiyama. The branch in the Kyoto Station Porta underground shopping arcade is no longer open.Also try Asahido Toan, located just a few shops down the street from the main Asahido store for a range of Japanese crafts.Asahido Toan offers a range of authentic Japanese traditional crafts, including woodblock prints, bamboo items, incense, as well as Kiyomizu yaki pottery. Open daily 9 am to 6 pm. Packing and delivery service available. Located on Kiyomizuzaka, in front of Kiyomizu Temple. Tel: 531-2181. All major credit cards accepted.Asahido1-280, KiyomizuHigashiyama-kuKyoto 605-0862Tel: 075 531 2181Access: Take the Kyoto city bus #206 from Kyoto Station to Gojozaka bus stop, then a 10 minute walk.Courtesy of Your Japan Private Tours (YJPT). Ian Ropke, founder and owner of YJPT (since 1992), is a Japan destination expert for travel and tourism. He specializes in private travel (customized day trips with guides / private guided tours) and digital guidance solutions (about 25% of our business and growing!). 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. [...]



Catchy Japanese Words for Summer

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 05:27:35 PDT

夏 擬態語The full heat of summer (natsu 夏) has just come to Japan, and, being the weather, it's often the first thing Japanese people mention when they meet."Atsui desu ne!" (if it's your neighbor) or "Atsui da na!" (if you're talking to a good friend, a child or an underling) is the standard "It's hot, isn't it!"However, more nuanced talk about hot weather often involves those ever useful gitaigo or Japanese onomatopoeia.My commute starts with a train ride which, in spite of the in-car air-conditioning, still manages to get fun-fun ふんふん (pronounced "whoon-whoon," i.e., with the "f" sounding as much like an "h" as an "f")  i.e., close and steamy once enough people have gotten on.Takusan no hitobito ga norikonde, shanai ga funfun shite iru.たくさんの人が乗り込んで、車内がふんふんしている。The carriage got all hot and steamy with so many people getting on.I then walk the 10 minutes from the station to the office.Even the morning sun is gira-gira ぎらぎら, i.e., shining fiercely, and the walk suddenly seems twice as long as usual as I teku-teku to てくてくと (i.e., plod) go to work.Taiyo ga gira-gira to teritsukete, teku-teku to shigotoba made arukimashita. 太陽がぎりぎらと照り付けて、てくてくと仕事まで歩きました。With the sun blazing in the sky, I plodded my way to work.I'm pota-pota ぽたぽた sweating (i.e., it's pouring off me) and my shirt is bettari べったり stuck to my back.Potapota to ase ga ochite, shatsu ga senaka ni bettari kuttsuku.ぽたぽたと汗が落ちて、シャツが背中にべったりくっつく。Hot enough for you? Stay tuned - more to come!© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Kyoto's Kiyomizu Ceramics

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 21:28:46 PDT

清水焼Elegant shape, graceful design, and pure, intense colors - these are the qualities that have drawn generation after generation to Kyoto's Kiyomizu yaki ceramic ware.Born in the area around Kiyomizu-dera Temple - which sits nestled in the Higashiyama hills on the eastern side of Kyoto, Kiyomizu yaki has had a marked impact on the culture of Kyoto and Japan, and is admired and collected around the world.Kiyomizu yaki traces its origins to the 5th century, and has evolved and changed over many centuries. Colors were introduced in the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), and were followed some years later by over glazing techniques to give an added luster to items after firing. In the late Edo Period, a momentous change took place: the potters of Kiyomizu shifted from earthenware to Chinese-style porcelain. Modern Kiyomizu yaki is a product of all these innovations, and is characterized by penetrating blue, yellow, and green colors and by intricate and refined designs. It is also famous for its unmatched durability. Only a few traditional wood-fired noborigama kilns remain around Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Indeed, the area is no longer the center of Kiyomizu yaki production, although there are still many fine shops in the winding streets that lead to the temple.Some 20 years ago, most of the potters and kilns moved into Yamashina on the other side of the Higashiyama hills on the Tozai subway line. The new Kiyomizu Pottery Complex not only gave the potters spacious new workshops, but also allowed the introduction of more efficient gas-fired furnaces to replace the traditional wood burning kilns.Today, the Kiyomizu Pottery Complex houses twenty ceramic artists, nineteen handicraft pottery companies, and a range of other ceramics related companies. Thanks to the centralized supply of electricity and natural gas for firing the kilns, the artisans are free to concentrate on the artistic aspects of their work, and can offer a stable supply of high-quality items.The works produced at the Kiyomizu Pottery Complex are in the vanguard of modern Japanese ceramics. Altogether, the artisans turn out yearly some 5-6 billion yen worth of tea ceremony bowls, vases, tea cups, and many other items, and hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the complex every year.The 35 years since the complex was opened have seen a wave of renewed interest in traditional arts and crafts in Japan, and especially in Kiyomizu yaki. The Kiyomizu Pottery Complex has played a major role in this revival, and serves as a reminder in our technology-driven world of the beauty that can only come from hand-crafted objects.Kyo-yaki (Kyoto ceramics) and Kiyomizu-yaki have been formally designated as a traditional handicraft by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.Kiyomizu Pottery Complex (京焼・清水焼工芸館)Kawatakiyo Mizuyakidanchi-choYamashina-kuKyoto 607-8322Tel: 075 581 6188 Access: Keihan Bus #29 or #29A from Yamashina Station (20 minutes). Alternatively take a Keihan Bus #88B from Shijo Kawaramachi Station (20 minutes) or from the Kiyomizu Gojo bus stop (10 minutes).© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



Japan News Week 9 July 2017

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 00:43:46 PDT

今週の日本Crematory Is Booked? Japan Offers Corpse HotelsNew York TimesJapan's Enchanted Islands: Part 2 BBCJapan sacrificed cheese tariffs to get EPA done with EU The MainichiIn This Corner of the World review – delicately animated portrait of wartime Japan GuardianComing Home after 70 Years: Repatriation of Korean Forced Laborers from Japan and Reconciliation in East AsiaJapan FocusLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatisticsSince the end of World War II, when US occupying forces redrew voting districts in Japan, rural areas have always enjoyed a large advantage at the polls. This has resulted in one voter in, for example, the first district of Shimane Prefecture having voting parity with 3.066 voters in suburban Saitama Prefecture.Lawyers in Tokyo and other urban areas routinely go to court to address this, but the courts rarely if ever rule in favor of their entreaties.Source: Asahi Shinbun, July 6, Morning Edition, page4© JapanVisitor.comInside Track Japan For Kindle [...]



Soutou - "quite" or "rather" in Japanese

Sat, 08 Jul 2017 00:45:03 PDT

相当soutou (with both o's lengthened: soh-toh) is a word you regularly hear in Japanese conversation that is usually used much like "rather" or "pretty" (e.g., "rather big," pretty fast," etc.)" in English.There are actually more meanings than that to soutou, which appear in most dictionaries before the "pretty" meaning.One meaning of soutou is "equivalent to," or "much like" such as in "Shouting "Banzai!" in Japanese is much like shouting "Hurray!" in English." Banzai o sakebu koto ha eigo de Hurray o sekebu koto ni soutou suru." 万歳を叫ぶことは英語でホゥレイを叫ぶことに相当する。Another meaning is "commensurate with," or "fitting," such as "A punishment that fits the crime" Hanzai ni soutou suru batsu. 犯罪に相当する罰Or it can mean "suitable" in the sense of "A role suitable to someone with her level of experience" Kanojo no keiken ni soutou suru yakuwari 彼女の経験に相当する役割。And if you look at the kanji, these "commensurate" and "fitting" meanings are clearly the original meanings, as the sou (相) is for "mutual" and the tou (当) for "appropriate."However, as I wrote above, in casual conversation you are much more likely to hear soutou with the meaning of "rather," "quite," or "pretty."While this is by no means a rule, I have observed that soutou tends to have a somewhat stronger meaning when used in regard to something the speaker considers undesirable, e.g., 相当寒い soutou samui, "Pretty cold," and a weaker meaning when used with something the speaker considers desirable, e.g., 相当きれい soutou kirei, or "Quite nice looking."Finally, soutou doesn't have to be used with an adjective, either. You can also use it with a noun, such as 相当の努力 soto no doryoku, or "quite an effort."© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]



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