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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: Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:53:31 PST

Copyright: copyright JapanVisitor Ltd.

Visiting the Sanada Clan

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 00:06:09 PST

My daughter and I have been enthusiastic and faithful viewers of this year’s NHK Taiga drama, “Sanada Maru.” We looked forward to visiting the Numata Castle ruins in Gunma Prefecture and, most of all, Ueda Castle in Nagano.At the Numata Castle ruins we had to imagine how the castle was fiercely contested and fought over. We remembered seeing Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Sanada Masayuki, Hojo Ujimasa, and Tokugawa Ieyasu on the television drama. Otherwise there is not much to see, except for some reason there is a row of cages housing different birds. I felt sorry for all of them. The birds clearly wanted to escape their harsh cement prison cells. There was nothing we could do except to spend a few minutes talking to the lonely cockatiel.The city of Numata did have a special presentation of “Sanada Maru,” and in most areas of the building visitors were permitted to take pictures.Hence, I had my photo taken with a cardboard replica of Sanada Masayuki, my favorite.At Ueda Castle the celebration of all things Sanada was elaborate. There was a user-interactive “Sanada Maru” presentation sponsored by the NHK housed in a building adorned with the Sanada crest. This must have been the official site of the drama - because after we exited the display hall we stepped directly into a shop full of Sanada-related merchandise, ha. We had our picture taken with a Sanada Yukimura re-enactor, just as we had done about five years ago on a previous visit. Then, we were just about the only visitors that day. It was a huge contrast compared to the crowds of people milling around the castle grounds next to us.We walked through section of Ueda Castle and I thought about the Sanada defeating the Tokugawa twice with the much smaller Sanada army. It made me laugh to think that Ieyasu must have been so angry and humiliated. We also enjoyed eating festival food - dango, yakitori, and soft ice cream. Amanda purchased an ema and hung it with the others after carefully rendering a drawing of Genjiro and herself on the smooth wood surface.Spending a few hours at Ueda Castle was a lot of fun for us and totally worth it. If you are interesting visiting, the exhibits will be up until March 31, 2017. [...]

Chiyoda Hotel Fushimi Nagoya

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 07:09:29 PST

The Chiyoda Hotel in the Fushimi business district of Nagoya is an excellent value for money accommodation option, located roughly half-way between Fushimi Station and Nagoya Station.The Chiyoda Hotel is decidedly no-frills but does offer a free breakfast, good Wifi and a choice of pillows and toiletries on check in.You might have to duck to get into the shower in the unit bath but you are guaranteed a good night's sleep in a quiet area of town some way from the main road.Walk east towards Fushimi Station for a good selection of bars, cafes and restaurants including a number of home away from home expat friendly joints: Elephant's Nest British-style pub, Shamrock Irish pub, the stately Egeresuya honten (英吉利西屋) Japanese/British pub next door and American bar Shooters.The staff at the Chiyoda are cordial and efficient and can point you in the right direction for travel or tourism.With room rates around 60US$ for a single or double that for a twin, the Chiyoda is one of the best value accommodations close to Nagoya Station without the slightly sleazy atmosphere prevalent just south of Meieki.Fushimi Station on both the Tsurumai and Higashiyama lines of the Nagoya subway is the nearest station. Fushimi Station is one stop from Nagoya Station on the Higashiyama Line.Walk west towards Nishiki Bridge when you exit Fushimi Station.The Chiyoda Hotel is only a 10-15 minute walk from Nagoya Station walking east.Chiyoda HotelNishiki 1-16-10, Naka-kuNagoyaAichi, 460-0003© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Japan News This Week 4 December 2016

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 17:43:11 PST


Aquarium on Ice, a Lure for Skaters in Japan, Appalls Them Instead
New York Times

Japan's caviar set to give Russia a run for its money

Brief encounters: Japan's love hotels – in pictures

Lower House panel clears casino bill; opposition walks out in protest
Japan Times

American Fire Bombing and Atomic Bombing of Japan in History and Memory
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


The number of non-full-time employees in Japan has risen from 20% of the workforce in 1990 to almost 40% today. That means that 4 out 10 workers are part-time, dispatch, and temporary employees.

Moreover, in terms of pay, Japanese non-full-time employees earn considerably less than their peers in other countries.

The average salary and remuneration for Japanese non-full-time workers is 59% of full-time workers. That is, they earn 59 yen for doing the same work as a full-timer who earns 100.

Below are examples from other countries:

Germany: 79.3%
France: 89.1%
Sweden: 83.1%

Source: Asahi Shinbun, November 25, page 13


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Frenz FrenZY Rainbow Haven Gay Bar in Osaka for Friends and Fun

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 07:01:02 PST

フレンズ ゲイバー 大阪If you want your drinks cheap and strong, want a bar space more crowded than a Japanese rush hour train, but with a booming sound system and light show, then Frenz (full name: ”FrenZ FrenZY Rainbow Haven”) is your place. If you are looking for a space to quietly get acquainted with some new folks, well, Frenz is not going to be your place.Rainbow door to Frenz gay bar, OsakaYou’re still reading, so we’re on the same page. Beers for 500 yen, and mixed drinks with an ingratiating number of shots – three? four? more? – are at the ready, and there’s no cover charge either. This could be a recipe for disaster, or it could be a recipe for lots of new friendships. It is a gay bar, after all, so it could also easily be a recipe for something a bit more than nascent friendship. Not that you have to be gay or lesbian to get in; Frenz has an open door policy when it comes to who they welcome.A red light district - the bar at Frenz, Osaka, Japan.The crowd at friends is almost certainly the highest concentration of foreigners you will even see in a single Osaka locale. What local Japanese you may see almost certainly speak English, so if you are a bit shy with your Japanese, this is a great place to stop by. The owner is also a foreigner, and quite notorious amongst gay circles in Osaka. He is there most nights, and will welcome you with a hearty smile. They don’t call it “Frenz” for nothing.Disco ball at FrenzFriendly foreigners and stiff drinks not enough? In addition to bar seating, there are comfy couches to lounge about on, and a veritable light show that extends from the front door all the way to the restroom. Slower nights allow for karaoke, but if you go on a weekend, expect Frenz to be convivial to the max.Put it all together, and you have a great place for a cheap drink in a boisterous atmosphere. It’s probably going to be the least Japanese feeling of any gay bar you will go to in Osaka, but that won’t take away the fun. So grab one of those 500 yen beers and drink it all in!Blue Boy - the owner of Frenz at the bar.FrenZKamiyama-cho 18-14, Kita-ku, Osaka  (first floor)06-6311-1386© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Japan Bullet Train Proposed Extension from Kanazawa to Kyoto and Osaka

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:23:09 PST

北陸新幹線延伸The governor of Kyoto Prefecture held meetings with JR West and Ministry of Transportation official to discuss the route of the planned extension of the bullet train line that currently runs from Tokyo to Kanazawa, which is on the west coast of the country.The proposed route will bring trains down from Kanazawa and pass through Kyoto en route to the terminus in Osaka. The three possible routes are:1) Maibara Route: use the existing Tokaido Line (the main bullet train line to Tokyo) to head through Shiga Prefecture, and then build from there to Kanazawa.2) Obama Route: build a new line through Kyoto Prefecture up to Obama, a provincial city in Fukui, and then head up to Kanazawa.3) Maizuru Route: build a new line through Kyoto Prefecture to the coastal city of Maizuru and then head through Obama up to Kanazawa.The shortest route is the Maibara Route. It would cost 5.9 billion US dollars to complete. The train from Kyoto to Kanazawa would take one hour and 41 minutes and cost an estimated 11,190 yen for a one-way ticket. The downside of this route is in the event of an emergency the Tokaido Line could not be used - as was the case in the 1995 Kobe earthquake - and trains would not be able to get to Tokyo.Odds were then placed on the Obama Route, which is more direct than going via Maizuru. Moreover, one-way would take just one hour 19 minutes and cost 8,740 yen. The Maizuru Route, which is more roundabout, would take one hour 31 minutes and cost 11,140 yen. Construction costs are slightly higher for the Obama Route, and are estimated to be 23 billion US dollars.The issue may come down to bang for your buck. While the Maibara Route is the leader in this category - its economic impact to cost ratio is 2.2 to 1 - news reports hint that Maizuru may be chosen. This is because this route would revitalize whole swaths of the Japan Sea region that is experiencing depopulation and economic decline.An announcement is expected by the end of the year and trains to begin service in 2022.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Kyocera Headquarters Illumination & Concert 2016

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 19:59:44 PST

Kyocera Corporation will hold its annual illumination event from December 1 to December 25 at its headquarters in Kyoto.Kyocera has been presenting festive lighting in the public space in front of its building and a giant Christmas tree display to help invigorate the local community ever since the company's headquarters were relocated here in 1998.Since 2006, the area in the public garden in front of the building have been illuminated by LEDs to produce an ethereal and fantastic nighttime scene with roughly 190,000 LEDs of various colors and a festive 86-meter giant Christmas tree that is created on the east and west sides of the building by utilizing office window lights and decorations.For details and to see more photos, please (Japanese only)There will also be a classical concert performed by Kyoto Seibo Gakuin Junior High School / Senior High School hand-bell and chorus clubs.Come to enjoy the heart-warming voices and harmonious sound of the hand-bells while viewing the beautiful night illumination.Date: December 20 (Tue) 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (tentative)Location: Kyocera headquarters lobby on the 1st floorKyocera Headquarters Illumination 2016 LED Illumination: Dec. 1 (Thu) – Dec. 25 (Sun) Giant Christmas Tree: Dec. 12 (Mon) - 25 (Sun) Hours: 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.Location; Kyocera headquarters building, the garden area in front of the main entranceHead Office6 Takeda Tobadono-choFushimi-ku, Kyoto Station Hachijyoguchi exit, take REX bus (京都らくなんエクスプレス(R'EX) to Pulse Plaza/Kyocera-mae stop (15 min.) From Takeda Station (Kintetsu Line / Kyoto Subway Karasuma Line), exit the north-west exit and take a city bus to Pulse Plaza-mae stop (5 min.)From Kintetsu Line Fushimi Station 10 minute walkFrom Keihan Line Chushojima Station, take a city bus to Pulse Plaza-mae stop (10 min.)Parking for about 100 cars is available at Pulse Plaza on the north side of the Kyocera building during the illumination event. (Gates closes at 9:45 p.m.) [...]

Kasugayama Castle Ruins

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 00:31:25 PST

春日山城High atop a mountain lies the ruins of Kasugayama Castle, formerly the great fortress of Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578). The warlord is often named as a favorite by those interested in Japan's Warring States Era.Although what remains of the castle grounds are but ruins, it is easy to understand the strategic vision behind its location and construction. Uesugi Kenshin was truly the Lord of the Mountain and all he could see.To enjoy the site requires a good deal of walking; hence, I would encourage you to take a taxi from Naoetsu Station off the Shin’etsu Line from Niigata. I have seen the Kasugayama Station recommended online, but be forewarned there are no buses, taxis, or maps at that particular station.If you walk, it would require nearly an hour to reach the castle ruins. I would reserve your personal, daily Japan walking allotment to use on the castle grounds. Hike the trails, enjoy the surroundings, and even meditate. Then, once done, call a taxi to take you back to Naoetsu Station. Easy. © JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Sawanotsuru Sake Museum

Sun, 27 Nov 2016 15:36:54 PST

Sawanotsuru Sake Museum in the Nada-ku district of Kobe is one of several sake breweries that also have "sake museums," stores and tasting areas as part of their promotional operations.Nada-ku has a long history of sake brewing thanks to the fine water than comes from nearby Mt. Rokko and bubbles to earth from the many springs in the area.Kobe's closeness to the sea meant that its sake could easily be transported to other areas of Japan. Indeed, Sawanotsuru will be celebrating 300 years of history next year having started out back in 1717 during the Edo Period. Sawanotsuru produces junmai-shu - sake made only from rice.The historic, wooden building that was once the Oishi sake brewery is now a museum that displays traditional sake-making utensils such as the metal cauldrons and huge wooden vats necessary to produce sake. Visitors can also see models of Japanese-style ships that transported the sake as far afield as Tokyo and Hokkaido.The wooden building was completely destroyed in the 1995 Hanshin Awaji Earthquake and was then subsequently rebuilt, opening in 1999. During this rebuilding process, an underground cellar, the funaba, used for pressing sake out of fermented mash was discovered and restored.The museum shop offers free samples and difficult-to-source Sawanotsuru brand sake.Sawanotsuru Sake MuseumOishi Minami-machi 1-29-1Nada-ku, Kobe, 657-0852Tel: 078 882 7788Hours: 10am-4pmClosed Wednesday Sawanotsuru Sake Museum is 10 minutes on foot south from Hanshin Oishi Station following the Toga River. Other sake museum/breweries in Nada-ku include Shushinkan, Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum, Sakuramasamune, Hamafukutsuru Ginjo, Kobe Konan Muko no Sato and Kikumasamune.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Japan News This Week 27 November 2016

Sat, 26 Nov 2016 20:44:10 PST


New Quake Tests Resilience, and Faith, in Japan’s Nuclear Plants
New York Times

100 Women 2016: Kokoro - the cancer blog gripping Japan

Eyewitness: Tokyo

Painful bloopers in Japanese can be valuable learning experiences
Japan Times

Base Dependency and Okinawa’s Prospects: Behind the Myths
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Japan has the third largest supply of geothermal resources in the world. Yet, it uses a paltry 2% of this resource.

Iceland has roughly 1/5 of Japan's reserves, but it produces more energy than Japan from geothermal - and uses Japanese made turbines.Mitsubishi Corporation  is the leading producer of geothermal turbines.

Amount of geothermal reserves (installed geothermal capacity as of 2010), by country:

USA: 30,000,000 kilowatt hours (3,093)
Indonesia: 27,790,000 (1,197)  
Japan: 23,470,000 (536)
Philippines: 6,000,000 (1,904)
Mexico: 6,000,000 (958)
Iceland: 5,800,000 (575)

Source: Japan For Sustainabilty


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Japanese Agriculture in Crisis

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 23:02:22 PST

日本の農業危機All is not well on the Japanese farm.The average age of a Japanese farmer in 2007 was 63.2 years old. Today it has climbed to 66.4. Of those, 63.5% are 65 years of age or older.In 2007, there were 3,3530,000 farmers spread around Japan. Today just 2,097,000 farmers remain, many on postage stamp plots growing heavily subsidized rice soaked in chemical fertilizer and pesticide.The above data comes from the 2015 government agriculture census. Moreover, according to the 2010 census, fewer than one million Japanese farmers earn their living exclusively from farming. Most, in other words, are farming as a side business. 70% earn less than two million yen ($20,000) per year from agriculture.And, last statistic (promise!), this is in a country that is supplying just 39% of its populations caloric needs. (This statistic is fungible - and depends on the way the data is counted. In Japan, it is counted on a calorie base. Other countries use different metrics. Still, Japan is a laggard in this respect - see source #4 below.)The election of Donald Trump may actually, for the time being, serve as a life line to Japanese agriculture. The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade bloc - which Trump campaigned against - would no doubt have flooded Japan with cheap farm products from mega-producers in the United States and other countries where large scale factory farming takes place. That would have pushed more pensioner farmers into retirement, speeding the decline in number of active farmers.What is the solution according to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe? Well, until the election of Trump, it was TPP, creating huge farms that could compete internationally.The problem with this, aside from environmental issues - yes, it would be worse than the current situation even with Japan's heavy dependence on chemical fertilizers - is that Japan's topography does not allow the kind of farming that occurs in the USA, Australia, Germany, and France. 70% of the country is mountainous and makes large-scale farming all but impossible.A more personal solution: buy or rent land in the countryside and grow your own food. Land is cheap because Japanese cannot conceive of life without a convenience store nearby; as a result, a short drive outside of any metropolitan area in Japan takes you to a fast depopulating area filled with fields gone to seed and many elderly people. The farm pictured above is an organic farm in Shiga Prefecture, about 30 minutes from Kyoto. It is roughly 4500 square meters (about 140 meters x 140 meters) and run by two farmers in their late 30s. They are the exception to nearly every trend in Japanese agriculture.Sources:1)農業応援隊、Summer 20162) © JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Takada Castle

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 18:17:40 PST

高田城Takada Castle was built by Matsudaira Tadateru, Ieyasu's 7th son. According to the 2000 Taiga drama "Aoi Tokugawa," Tadateru was "an incorrigible brat."Interesting.The castle construction involved thirteen daimyo, including Uesugi Kagekatsu of Yonezawa and Made Toshitsune of Kanazawa. Tadateru’s father-in-law, Date Masamune headed up the project.Date Masamune is one of my favorite daimyo because he seemed to be a bit of a scallywag. From what I have studied, Masamune was always up to something, and Ieyasu was probably wise to keep an eye on him. But I seriously wonder why he would have his son Tadateru, the "incorrigible brat," marry into the Date family to Iroha-hime, Masamune's oldest daughter. Masamune could not have been a good influence on him. He may have even encouraged Tadateru’s rebelliousness.Well, we all know what happened to Tadateru. He came late to the Siege of Osaka Castle and Hidetada, usually an even-tempered sort (and famously late to Sekigahara), was mad. Tadateru ended up living in obscurity in Suo Province, where he died at age 91. Maybe it was not so bad there, since he outlived all his brothers.But back to the castle - we took the Limited Express Shirayuki (about a two hour ride) from Niigata City to Takada Station. It was an easy 10-minute walk to the castle, and we enjoyed our time there.Takada Castle is known as one of three top cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. The Million Visitors Cherry Blossom Festival takes place every April. In late July, the moats are filled with magnificent blooming lotus flowers.It is said that the beauty and scale of the lotus are the finest in the East. The Joetsu Lotus Festival takes place every summer. It would be especially nice to visit Takada during one (or both) of these festivals. Just be sure to watch out for the mischievous, incorrigible crows!Takada Castle6-1 MotoshirochoJoetsu-shiNiigata Prefecture 943-0835Admission: 200 yen; closed Mondays© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

The 80s & Radiohead

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 05:16:06 PST

Bowden & Mason = BASONHEAD
Matthew and Paul play Radiohead
Dean & Matthew = D & M
80s electropop
December 23 (Fri/national holiday)
Open 7:30pm Start 8:00pm
¥1,500 + 1 drink
The boys are back with more sounds from the 80s and 90s. Come on down to GC Live and add your voice to the sound of the crowd!

オープン19:30 スタート20:00
1500円 + 1ドリンク


Japan News This Week 20 November 2016

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 17:55:11 PST


Japan’s Nuclear Industry Finds a Lifeline in India After Foundering Elsewhere
New York Times

Japan embraces robots ahead of 2020 Olympics

Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki to return to features with caterpillar movie

Asylum seekers trapped in limbo as Japan keeps door closed
Japan Times

Instability, the Crisis of Politics, and Social Movements: The Contemporary World and Japan
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Japan remains one of the world’s worst-performing nations in tackling climate change, think tank Germanwatch said Wednesday. Japan was deemed the second-worst performer of 57 countries and Taiwan the worst, this year’s Climate Change Performance Index report showed.

Source: Japan Times


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Richard Henry Brunton & Lighthouses in Japan

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 22:03:22 PST

リチャード・ヘンリー・ブラントンRichard Henry Brunton (1841-1901) was a Scottish engineer responsible for the design and construction of 26 lighthouses along the coast of Japan during the early Meiji Period. He is known as the "Father of Japanese Lighthouses".At the instigation of Sir Harry Parkes, the British envoy and consul in Japan, Brunton was employed by the Tokugawa authorities to build a series of lighthouses to improve the safety of Japan's waters. The Tokugawa regime fell while Brunton was on his way to Japan but he continued on his journey and was employed by the new Meiji government.Over the next seven and a half years Brunton built 26 western-style lighthouses and established a system of lighthouse keepers, modeled on the Scottish system.As well as his chain of lighthouses in Japan, Brunton was active in the new foreign settlement of Yokohama, where he planned the sewage system, had detailed maps of the town drawn up, installed gas lights, pavements, a telegraph system and still had time to build Yokohama's first iron bridge.His other achievements in Japan were helping to establish Japan's first school of civil engineering and accompanying the Iwakura Mission on its fact-finding tour of Britain, taking Ito Hirobumi and his group to visit factories in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and then on to his native Scotland and Edinburgh.Brunton left Japan in 1876 after a disagreement with Japanese officials and eventually settled in London. He is buried in Norwood Cemetery.Brunton's 26 lighthouses are as follows:Nosappuzaki Lighthouse (納沙布岬灯台), Nemuro, Hokkaido, Shiriyazaki Lighthouse (尻屋埼灯台), Higashidori, Aomori, Kinkasan Lighthouse (金華山灯台), Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Inubosaki Lighthouse (犬吠埼燈台), Choshi, Chiba, Haneda Lighthouse (羽田灯台), Ota, Tokyo, Tsurugisaki Lighthouse (剱埼灯台), Miura, Kanagawa, Mikomotoshima Lighthouse (神子元島灯台), Shimoda, Shizuoka, Irozaki Lighthouse (石廊埼灯台), Minamiizu, Shizuoka, Omaezaki Lighthouse (御前埼灯台), Omaezaki, Shizuoka, Sugashima Lighthouse (菅島灯台), Toba, Anorisaki Lighthouse (安乗埼灯台), Ago, Mie, Tenpozan Lighthouse (天保山灯台), Minato-ku, Osaka, Wadamisaki Lighthouse (和田岬灯台), Suma-ku, Kobe, Esaki Lighthouse (江埼燈台 Awaji, Hyogo, Kashinozaki Lighthouse (樫野埼灯台), Kushimoto, Wakayama, Shionomisaki Lighthouse (潮岬灯台), Kushimoto, Wakayama, Tomogashima Lighthouse (友ヶ島灯台), Wakayama, Wakayama, Mutsurejima Lighthouse (六連島灯台), Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, Tsunoshima Lighthouse (角島灯台), Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, Tsurishima Lighthouse (釣島灯台), Matsuyama, Ehime Nabeshima Lighthouse (鍋島灯台), Sakaide, Kagawa, Hesaki Lighthouse (部埼灯台), Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Shirasu Lighthouse (白州灯台), Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Eboshijima Lighthouse (烏帽子島灯台), Shima, Fukuoka, Iojimazaki Lighthouse (伊王島灯台), Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Satamizaki Lighthouse (佐多岬灯台), Minamiosumi, Kagoshima. Many of these lighthouses are still in operation or at least in situ, a few have been extinquished and some of the buildings are now museum pieces such as a lighthouse keeper's residence from Nabeshima on display at Shikoku Mura.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Super Hotels in Japan

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:38:55 PST

スーパーホテルToday I want to talk about the Super Hotel chain, in Niigata City and in general. My daughter and I recently spent two nights in the Super Hotel conveniently located near the Niigata City Station.We chose a non-smoking room equipped with two beds, one of them a loft bed, which my daughter is fond of sleeping in. Having this set up does give a traveler a bit more room. With the free daily breakfast, we were happy in our accommodations. Plus, ladies - the hair dryer actually dries your hair! Super Hotel in Niigata City is great!This being said, however, all Super Hotels are not equal. A traveler needs to weigh the pros and cons of Super Hotel's lower price and the accessibility of the hotel.Super Hotel in Hakata, Fukuoka City holds the distinction of being the first hotel of the chain. But two people (us) were provided with a single-person bed. The room was so tiny I laughed when I set eyes on it.Another iffy choice is Super Hotel in Kitakyushu. Far from the train station, the trek involves a walk along dark, dark streets (kind of scary) in which your way is lit only by a lone 7-11 convenience store off in the distance. In Osaka, there are at least five Super Hotels and I strongly suggest you say no to all of them. Because they are not close to any train station, you must pull your luggage a long ways over rutted sidewalks and navigate between hordes of people. If it is a hot day like the one we experienced, your walk will be notably tiring.My daughter and I, as budget-minded travelers, have stayed in many Super Hotels, and we have enjoyed nights in Otsu, Takamatsu Tamachi, and most recently in Niigata City. Of course, we will continue to patronize the Super Hotel chain, but not without a little discrimination.Super Hotel Kokura-eki Minami-guchiSuper Hotel Osaka TennojiSuper Hotel Osaka Natural Hot SpringsSuper Hotel Asakusa Tokyo© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

A Japanese Bingo Game

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 18:23:44 PST

I have always liked to make up games, and thus it seemed natural to continue that sort of thing in Japan, where there can be a lot of waiting time.

On my recent trip I began to notice images of the Japanese celebrities I see every time I travel to Japan. As I have mentioned before, I feel as if I am seeing a familiar face welcoming me back to Japan. This time I thought, “This could be a game!”

I have made two bingo cards, one for yourself and one for a traveling companion. Mark off the celebrity as you see them, either in a magazine, a billboard, on television, or in advertising. You must have a confirmation of your sighting, meaning your companion has to see it too.

Now you need to decide: Is each completed square worth, say, a 100 yen coin? Then does the winner get to have the other player’s coins as a prize? Or do you set up other stakes? Are the squares worth food or drink? Is the prize a meal? Make up your own rules.

Try it, please. And have fun!


Japan News This Week 13 November 2016

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 17:49:15 PST


Japan Uses Speed, Not Size, to Take Women’s Basketball to New Heights
New York Times

US election 2016: The view from Japan

The school of flesh: erotic portraits of Yukio Mishima – in pictures

Washed up? Tokyo’s iconic communal bath houses face an uncertain future
Japan Times

Has Komeito Abandoned its Principles? Public Perception of the Party’s Role in Japan’s Security Legislation Debate
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Amount of chemical fertilizer used for agricultural purposes by country (kilograms/hectare):

1. China (17.8)
2. South Korea (13.1)
3. Japan (12.1)
4. Chile (11.6)
5. Belgium (11.3)
6. New Zealand (9.9)
7. Holland (8.8)
8. Italy (7.4)
9. Malaysia (7.2)
10. Portugal (6.4)

18. United Kingdom (2.8)

23. USA (2.4) 

Source: Faostat


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Kobe Mosque

Sat, 12 Nov 2016 01:40:41 PST


Kobe Mosque was the first mosque in Japan and opened in 1935 in the Kitano district of the city close to the many ijinkan or foreign residences. Kobe mosque was designed by Czech architect Jan Josef Švagr (1885-1969), who also designed a number of other places of worship in Japan.

Kobe Mosque came through US air raids unscathed during World War II and also survived the devastating Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995.

Kobe Mosque
2-25-14, Nakayamate-dori
Kobe 650-0004
Tel: 078 231 6060


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Hosenji Temple Seto

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 18:15:35 PST

宝泉寺Hosenji Temple is located in the east of Seto City in the quiet Kamagaki district of the city close to Kamagaki-no-komichi, the Kamagaki-no-komichi Museum and the Seto Hongyo Kiln.Hosenji was founded around 750 years ago in 1252. It became a Zen-sect temple in 1648.Most impressive are the Sanmon or entrance gate and the paintings on the ceiling of the main hall done by pottery craftspeople. The main hall also holds an image of the thousand-armed Kannon.The large and ancient bell in the temple was taken as part of the war effort in the 1940's and was replaced thanks to donations by parishoners after the war.In early November, the temple hosts the Amenbo Festival dedicated to the Buddha of Healing.Hosenji Temple30 TeramotochoSeto, Aichi Prefecture 489-0838Tel: 0561 82 2316Hours: 9am-5pm; Free admission.Seto city is best accessed on the Meitetsu Seto Line from Sakae-machi Station next to Oasis 21 in central Nagoya or from Ozone Station, also on the Meijo Line of the Nagoya subway. By express train the journey time is 31 minutes or 38 minutes by local from Sakae-machi Station.Other places of interest in Seto city include Seto-gura Museum and the Seto Ceramics and Glass Art Center.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Kyoto Heian Hotel

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 01:21:34 PST

京都平安ホテルThe Kyoto Heian Hotel is located on the west side of the Kyoto Imperial Palace (Gosho). The highlight of a stay here is the lovely Edo Period garden on the premises. The 1,650m² garden was created by Jihei Ogawa in the 1920's over what was once the garden of a court noble. The strolling garden contains a pond, a waterfall, a stone bridge and various stone lanterns.The Kyoto Heian Hotel has both Japanese-style tatami rooms as well as Western-style rooms. There are two restaurants at the hotel: the Japanese-style Hofune facing the garden and the French-style Cafe Arbois.The Kyoto Heian Hotel is a short walk south from Exit 6 of Imadegawa Station on the Kyoto subway and a short walk north from the Kyoto Garden Palace Hotel.Kyoto Heian HotelKarasumadori Kamichojamachi-agaruKamigyo-kuKyoto, 602-0912Tel: 075 432 6181 © JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Pig & Whistle Kyoto

Tue, 08 Nov 2016 06:51:30 PST

The Pig & Whistle pub on Sanjo is something of a Kyoto institution among foreigners in the city and will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this December.The Pig hasn't changed that much in its 30 years of service, the dart boards are still there, as is the fish and chips and draft Guinness; an extra bar and table football are later additions. The interior decor is descibed on Japanese review stes as "retro" which I suppose it is, as it celebrates 30.Now part of a small chain of British style bars which include the Man in the Moon pubs near Kyoto Station and others in Shijo Karasuma, Gion and Rokkaku.Pig & WhistleShobi Building 2F, 115 OhashichoHigashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0009Tel: 075 761 6022 Hours: Monday-Thursday & Sunday 5pm-2am; Friday & Saturday 5pm-5amThe Pig & Whistle is very close to the north east exit of Sanjo Station on the Kyoto subway.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Japan News This Week 6 November 2016

Sat, 05 Nov 2016 16:29:03 PDT

今週の日本3 Japanese Shipping Companies to Merge Container Businesses New York TimesUS election 2016: The view from Japan BBCJapan to conduct racism survey after record rise in foreign residents GuardianParis global warming accord kicks in but Japanese ratification delayed by TPP Japan TimesThe Showa Emperor’s Tour of Tokyo, March 18, 1945 Japan FocusLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatisticsThe number of foreign tourists has skyrocketed in Japan. In particular, in mid-size (Kyoto, Hiroshima) and smaller cities (Nara, Nikko, Kamakura), the flood of tour buses and camera-toting visitors can be overwhelming in many locations.As of October 30, 2016, the number of foreign tourists had topped the 20 million mark. 80% of those visitors come from four countries: China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong. The government is expecting the total to double to 40 million by 2020, in which Tokyo hosts the summer Olympics. Source: Yomiuri Shinbun© JapanVisitor.comInside Track Japan For Kindle [...]

Bungalow & Beer House Craftman Kyoto

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 08:38:16 PDT

クラフトビアCraft beer bars are increasing in Japan's major cities and have become something of a fashionable trend as more and more young people turn away from the standard fare served up by Japan's big four brewers.Two such craft beer bars in Kyoto are Bungalow on Shijo Horikawa and Beer House Craftman just south of Shijo Karasuma close to the Starbucks and the Karasuma Kyoto Hotel - both are rather different in style.Bungalow is a fairly informal, reasonably friendly, low key joint with plastic sheeting for walls whereas Beer House Craftman is a rather snooty, upmarket affair complete with stiff wait staff and that familiar unwelcoming Kyoto welcome. Both serve excellent craft beer, however, which is should be your main purpose for visiting.The two establishments serve decent food as well. Bungalow is heavy on the meat - the carved beef looked delicious - and it was the first time I had seen tripe on a Kyoto menu. Vegetarians would be limited to the French fries. The potato salad comes with ham and egg.Beer House Craftman offers a set of three beers - all good - for 1500 yen or larger glasses on tap. The food is Italianesque and small in portion delivered by waiters in white coats with all the charm and refinement of trainee lab technicians.Both places have two floors with the more informal drinking taking place on the first (ground) floor and the serious eating on the second floor. Bungalow has a few standing tables as well for that Kansai tachinomiya feel.Bungalow15 KashiwayachoShimogyo-ku, KyotoTel: 075 256 8205 Hours: 3pm-2am (weekdays and Saturday); 12pm-11pm (Sunday)Beer House Craftman643-1 Nijo HanjikichoShimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8412Tel: 075 371 7676 Hours: 5pm-2am© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

My First Japan - Reminiscences of an Assistant English Teacher on Sado Island

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 17:21:58 PDT

佐渡My first experience of Japan was a small island in the Sea of Japan called Sadogashima (Sado Island), part of Niigata Prefecture.Sado Island at that time had several municipalities, including a city called Ryotsu, which is where I was based as an assistant English teacher (AET) in junior high schools.Sado is by no means a wealthy part of Japan. Most of what in the late 1980s would have been a population of about 40,000 made its living from farming or fishing. There were one or two towns that were better off than others, each with their own AET, but I was employed by the Kaetsu Board of Education, not Ryotsu. Ryotsu was the main harbor on Sado, and traditionally a fishing town. It was certainly not one of the better off parts of Sado and did not employ me.Yes, this was the late 1980s when Japan was on a high. Japan's economy was the second biggest in the world, after the US, and I recall the yen being so strong that it was about 87 yen to the USD at one stage. I also recall things like the standard drink machine price being 60 yen as opposed to about 120 yen today. Japan was on an all-time high - palpable even in out-on-a-limb Sado.I had four good friends in Ryotsu, who had adopted me a few weeks into my stay. I was walking home from my school one evening when someone from a car parked outside my place approached me and made my acquaintance in good English. He was the local tailor, and with him in the car was a young farmer, and another shopkeeper who sold women's clothing. Another member of my new gang was the only female: a Japanese Korean woman who ran the local pachinko parlor as well as an English cram school.My friends helped me integrate into the Ryotsu community by organizing a Wednesday evening English conversation class open to all - with, of course, me as teacher. It had a regular attendance of about 15 to 20 people. Through my group of friends I also took part in the annual Ryotsu festival once or twice, dressed up as a ballerina one time as part of the shopkeepers' part of the procession, all of them in drag.Many weekends, the group of four and I, plus one or two others, would go out on the town, to an izakaya and karaoke afterwards. One of the regular "others" was an energetic young oddball whose favorite song was "Japanese Businessman" - a number that perfectly summed up the mood in Japan at that time. The verses of this martial-sounding ditty likened the businessman to a doughty samurai setting out to conquer the world, and the refrain was powerfully simple: "Bee-zhee-nesu mahn, bee-zhi-nesu-mahn, Jah-pah-NEEEEE-zu bee-zhee-nesu-mahn!" This guy would belt it out with heartfelt fervor and the whole of Japan behind him.Even with the Japanese economy at its climax, Ryotsu showed no signs of any opulence, just the hard grind that had brought Japan to where it was at. I was unique (to put a gloss on it) among the four AETs on Sado for living in a bit of a dive - albeit quite a spacious one. It was one the second floor of a two-story prefab with a family next door and four people in a unit each downstairs, and there was a small hole in the wall of the entrance. The neighbors never got used to me, although the fierce little next-door girl's regular animosity did change all of a sudden to admiration in the aftermath of my abovementioned festival transformation into a pretty ballerina.There was a car ferry to Niigata City - as there still is - that took 2 hours and 20 minutes. I'd take it onc[...]

Japan News This Week 30 October 2016

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 16:13:41 PST


In Japan, More Women Fight to Use Their Own Surnames
New York Times

Halloween attraction angers Japan doll makers

Japan pleads with whaling watchdog to allow 'cultural' hunts

Japan’s population declines in 2015 for first time since 1920
Japan Times

From the 2.26 Incident to the Atomic Bombs: Haiku During the Asia-Pacific War
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Global Gender Gap Results, 2016

1. Iceland
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Sweden
5. Rwanda
6. Ireland
7. Philippines
8. Slovenia
9. New Zealand
10. Nicaragua

45. USA

111. Japan

116. South Korea

145. Yemen

Source: Global Gender Gap


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