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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, 23 Mar 2017 23:35:15 PDT

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Kaneru - Doubling Up and Holding Back

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 23:35:15 PDT

兼ねる The word kaneru in Japanese is a particularly tricky one for learners because, firstly, it has two very different meanings, and, secondly, with one of those meanings it is usually used in the negative, but with what in English we would call a "positive" meaning, and, when used in the positive, has a "negative" meaning. Confused already? Wait around - we'll get to it in a bit.The most simple and straightforward of kaneru's meanings is "to double up," "combine," "be concurrent," "serve two different purposes," or "do two things, simultaneously."The kanji itself for kaneru suggests this doubleness, twinness, in its shape, being very nearly vertically symmetrical. Its main radical is hachi, 八, the kanji for 8, which itself is symmetrical.This meaning is usually expressed using the onyomi, which is ken. For example, a study (shosai) that also serves as a bedroom (shinshitsu) is a shosai-ken-shinshitsu - the ken sounding similar to the cum we would use in English: a study-cum-bedroom.As a verb, kaneru, expresses this multiple-use meaning in such phrases as Risoteki na shigoto wa shumi to jitsueki o kaneru 理想的な仕事は趣味と実益を兼ねる "The ideal job combines pastime and profit."However, the same kaneru is used to express a completely different meaning - that of reluctance, hesitation, refusal, inability. It is often tacked onto the end of another verb to express this meaning. For example, Sore wa iikanemasu それは言いかねます。"I'm reluctant to say/I can't say/I'd rather not say." Or, Miru ni mikanete, tetsudatte shimatta. 見るに見かねて手伝ってしまった。"I couldn't just stand by and watch, so went and helped out."Note that in the above examples, kaneru is tacked onto the base form of the preceding, main, verb. The "ii" in "iikanemasu" is from "iu" (say), and the "mi" in "mikaneru" is from "miru" (see, look, watch).The opposite of kaneru is the negative form, kanenai - and this is what I was referring to at the beginning - the point where it can start feeling non-intuitive. If kaneru expresses reluctance or inability, then kanenai expresses possibility or likelihood.It parallels, say, the word "unrestrained" in English, where the addition of "un" actually signals letting it all hang out, throwing caution to the wind, and opening up all sorts of possibilities.Ano onna wa gekido mo shikanenai. あの女は激怒もしかねない。 "That woman is likely to explode (prone to exploding) in anger." The "shi" tacked on before "kanenai" is the root of suru, "to do." Or, Ano kaisha wa jiko ni narikanenai erebeta o shiyo shiteiru. あの会社は事故になりかねないエレベーターを使用している。"That company is using an elevator that could well cause an accident."So, remember that although kanenai, with its negative "nai" ending sounds like something not happening, it means that something is liable or likely to happen.Mou kanenai no bunpo o wakatte ite mo, kaiwa suru toki ni machigai shikanenai. もう「兼ねない」の文法をわかっていても、会話するときに間違いしかねないだろう。 "Even though I now understand the grammar of kanenai,  I'm still likely to get it wrong in conversation."© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Ankake Spaghetti

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:05:21 PDT


Ankake is a type of thick, sticky Chinese sauce used in noodle dishes that has been adapted to produce Ankake spaghetti, a signature dish of the Nagoya area.

The spaghetti is pan-fried and topped with onions, green peppers and wiener sausages. The sauce is tomato-based.

Ankake spaghetti has spread from the Chubu area to other cities in Japan and there are even Ankake restaurants overseas now. Varieties include vegetable-only toppings (kantori) or meat, sausage or bacon (miraneze). A mix of vegetables and meat is known as mirakan.

The dish was pioneered by Yokoi, a major Ankake chain based in Sakae, with outlets all over Nagoya including the one below in Nagoya Kitte Building near Nagoya Station.

See the Yokoi website for details.


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Kyoto Trams

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 06:26:19 PDT

京都市電Kyoto once had an extensive system of streetcars (trams) up until the 1970's when they were torn up and largely replaced by Kyoto city buses, which before had complemented the trams.The Kyoto tram network covered an area as far north as Kitaoji Street and as far south as Toji Temple with a line to Fushimi (the first to be built). It extended west as far as Nishioji and as far east as Higashioji and Ginkakuji. (See the old tram map below for routes). At its peak in 1957, the Kyoto tram network covered 76.8km in total with 163 stations.The Kyoto city tram network was the first such in Japan and began operation in 1895 as part of Kyoto's efforts to reinvent itself following the Japanese emperor's departure to the new capital in Tokyo. It was powered by renewable and clean hydro-electric power generated by the opening of the new Lake Biwa Canal.The Kyoto city authorities have toyed with the idea of bringing back the trams, which would no doubt be a hit with the city's millions of visitors, but such an outcome is unlikely, unfortunately, such is the dominance of the car in contemporary Japanese cities.However, the nearest thing to a tram left in Kyoto is the Keifuku Line (Randen) out to Arashiyama.Visitors to the Okazaki museum area near Heian Shrine can still see a Kyoto tram, which has been converted into a Tourist Information Center, which has brochures on Okazaki in particular and Kyoto in general.The tram is adjacent to Kyoto Prefectural Library and close to both Miyako Messe and the National Museum of Modern Art.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Keage Station

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 07:23:00 PDT


Keage is a station on the Tozai Line of the Kyoto subway one stop east of Higashiyama Station and one stop west of Misasagi Station.

Keage Station is located very close to the luxury Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto, Kyoto Zoo (hence the colorful elephant murals in the station), Kyoto International Community House, Murin-an Garden and the free and fun Lake Biwa Canal Museum.

Keage Station is also the nearest subway station to a number of temples including Nanzenji and Eikando.

Previously Keage Station was a station on the Keihan Keishin Line, which now starts from Misasagi Station to Hamaotsu.


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Japan News This Week 19 March 2017

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:49:31 PDT


Shinzo Abe Hurt by New Disclosures Over Ties to Extreme Right-Wing Group
New York Times

Fukushima: Japan court finds government liable for nuclear disaster

Fukushima to host Tokyo Olympics events to help recovery from nuclear disaster

Seeing Ainu as they want to be seen
Japan Times

The “Japan Is Great!” Boom, Historical Revisionism, and the Government
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


There were more online human rights abuses in 2016 than in the previous year. The abuses totaled 1,909, which is a record and 10% more than in 2015.

The largest number of online abuses were related to privacy violations. The next highest category was defamation.

Source: Asahi Shinbun


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Nosy or Conscientious? A Japanese Bank Gets My Hackles Up

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:15:25 PDT

銀行が腹を立たせるI went to the bank today - one of the banks I have an account with - to withdraw a sizeable sum of money. This account was with the Mitsui-Sumitomo Banking Corporation (SMBC), and is an account that was basically forced on me by the company I work for, as SMBC is its bank, and it wants to keep bank transfer fees to a minimum when paying its staff - a common practice of companies in Japan.Marunouchi Branch, SMBCI have accounts with about five banks in Japan. They've accrued over the years mostly for the same reason as I got my SMBC one. But if I had to choose my least favorite Japanese bank, SMBC would be it for the simple reason that most of the old security guys who stand around the entrance of the bank pretty much ignore you if you don't look Japanese. While Japanese-looking customers at SMBC get the hearty Irrashaimase ("Welcome!") on entering and the Arigato gozaimashita ("Thank you very much!") on leaving, I (not being a Japanese-looking customer) usually get silence and looking the other way. It's just one of those things you notice, especially when all the other banks deliver the same rote greeting whether you're Japanese-looking or not.Anyway, I went to the Marunouchi branch of SMBC today to make a withdrawal of just under a million yen as I had to top up an account we have in another bank for our mortgage repayments. I tried withdrawing it at the branch's ATM, but the amount was too high so I had to do it through a teller.I was given a simple form to fill in: my name and the amount, and a number which would be called when my turn came. I was called up after a couple of minutes and I told the teller what I wanted to do. I handed her the form, my passbook and my bank card. She asked me if I had my inkan (personal seal). I said no, so she told me that my PIN would do instead. She also asked me for some form of ID, so I handed over my recently minted My Number card - which is the new form of universal ID in Japan.She stared at my documents for at least a minute. And, sure, my documents must seem odd for a lot of people, as I am am a foreign-born, Causasian Japanese citizen with a Japanese (kanji) surname and a katakana first name. Anyway, she got me to enter my PIN and set about getting my money ready.At the same time I noticed a guy at the next teller also making a withdrawal. If you think one million yen is a lot of money, then the amount he was withdrawing was whopping - great bricks of notes that were stuffed into a huge envelope that he took away with him.Back to my teller... she updated my passbook and gave it back to me along with my bank card and My Number card. Then, as she handed me the envelope full of my cash, she passed over at the same time a pamphlet that warned against fraud, in particular the "Ore, ore!" telephone fraud that is often perpetrated against very elderly people by young men pretending to be sons, grandsons, or nephews - "Ore, ore!" being a very intimate way of saying "It's me, it's me!".All the same, this was a first for me, and I didn't really make the connection between the transaction I was engaged in and "Ore, ore!" telephone fraud. I gave it a cursory look and replied "No" when she asked me if anyone had called me recently trying to get money out of me. This had nothing to do with me, and I wanted to get moving because it was my lunchtime and time was tight. But she wouldn't give up with the questions, and she then asked me what I was going to use the money for. Kaimono ka nanika desu ka? ("Is it for shopping or something?"). I said back, voice somewhat raised Nande kiite irun desu ka? ("Why am I being asked this?") to which she replied something about fraud having been on the increase recently.Fraud? I being the one with the money in my hand - and not having been defrauded at all - it felt like a clear, but profoundly puzzling, expression of suspicion directed at me. The Japanese guy next along who had withdraw[...]

Furukawa-cho Shotengai

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:54:20 PDT

吉川町商店街The Furukawa-cho arcade (shotengai) is right at exit 1 of Higashiyama Station on the Tozai Line of the Kyoto subway.The arcade itself dates from 1963 but the shopping street goes back to the Edo Period and earlier, serving pilgrims on their way to Chion-in Temple, Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine to the south.The recent explosion of foreign visitors to Kyoto has meant two former mansion (apartment) buildings and a traditional machiya townhouse on the arcade have been converted into guesthouses popular with Asian travelers from China, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore in particular.These are Hostel Haruya Kyoto, Guesthouse Oki's Inn and Hotel Japaning Kyoto. The more upmarket Kyoto Miyabi Inn is just nearby on the banks of an attractive canal.Furukawa-cho Shotengai has a mix of traditional shops selling fruit and vegetables, meat and household articles as well as a new craft beer bar, Beer Komachi and some excellent restaurants such as Kyogohan Nishimura, Furukawacho Manryo, Kyoto Nakasei Nikuzuki and Miyutei Kitchen.You are guaranteed a friendly welcome as you stroll this traditional arcade (more so if you buy something or enter an eatery!)Higashiyama Station is one stop east of Sanjo Keihan Station (the interchange station with the Keihan Line) and one stop west of Keage Station.Higashiyama Station is located at the south west corner of the Okazaki museum district and this is the closest station to the area. It is about 10-15 minutes walk to Heian Jingu, Kyoto Prefectural Library, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and on the same (west) side as Miyako Messe and the National Museum of Modern Art.Furukawa-cho Shotengai (in Japanese)© JapanVisitor.comInside Track Japan For Kindle [...]

Business Hotel Awa Ikeda

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 01:55:23 PDT

Business Hotel Awa Ikeda is located high on a bluff overlooking the Yoshino River in Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku.Awa Ikeda is the administrative center of Miyoshi City which covers a wide, mostly remote, area that includes the scenic Oboke Gorge and the famous Iya valley.The hotel has various western-style rooms with single, twin, or doubles beds. Ensuite, with all the usual facilities expected of a business hotel room, internet is provided by LAN cable, not wifi.There are also Japanese-style tatami rooms with futons. Only a few rooms actually have views out over the river. The room price includes a free breakfast, either western or Japanese style, served in the attached restaurant, which also serves a range of reasonably priced meals in the evening. Prices for a single room start at 5,200yen, though I was able to negotiate a reduction for staying more than one night. The hotel is located about 1 kilometer from the JR Awa-Ikeda station on the Dosan Line. There is a 24 hour convenience store just a few minutes walk away. Directly below the hotel, reachable by a footpath, is a pedestrian suspension bridge across the river. Business Hotel Awa Ikeda3159-2 Ikedacho Ueno, Miyoshi, Tokushima 778-000Tel: 0883 72 (in Japanese)Other hotel options in Awa Ikeda include Awanocho and Guest House Momonga Village - both accommodations can be booked online in English.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Baitul Ahad Mosque Nagoya

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 08:10:31 PDT

ベイトゥルアハドモスク - 日本のモスクThe Baitul Ahad Mosque in the western suburbs of Nagoya is said to be the largest mosque in Japan.The mosque, which belongs to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, opened in 2015, in what was once a game center.The Baitul Ahad Mosque, which has two floors and four minarets, can accommodate around 500-800 worshipers and was financed by generous subscriptions from the Ahmadi Muslim community in Japan, which has been active in Japan since the 1930's.Ahmadi Muslims, however, now face terrible persecution in Pakistan, where the largest number of their followers are based, and in other majority Muslim countries throughout the world. One of the men present told me of his ordeal in Pakistan, where he was beaten, jailed and tortured as a youngster, before becoming the first refugee allowed into Japan on grounds of religious persecution in the late 1980's, when Pakistanis did not need a visa to enter the country.The headquarters of the faith is now in London, at the Fazl Mosque in Southfields, which was inaugurated in 1926, and was the first purpose built mosque in the British capital.I visited the mosque in Nagoya a few weeks ago, on a Sunday, and was welcomed inside by the young inam, who explained how the mosque came to be built and something of the history of Ahmadiyya, which was founded in India at the end of the 19th century.I was invited inside for tea and delicious Pakistani cakes and was put at ease by the friendliness of the people who had come to pray on a windy, wet day.The Baitul Ahad Mosque is a fairly long, 20-minute walk from either Kida or Aotsuka stations on the Meitetsu Tsushima Line from Meitetsu Nagoya Station.Baitul Ahad Mosque2-1602 Kifune, Meito-kuNagoya-shi, Aichi-ken 465-0058© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Tips for Success Working in a Japanese Company

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 08:30:44 PDT

日本の会社においての成功のコツJapanese companies share the characteristics of Japan as a whole, with seniority being taken very seriously, personal responsibility being required of members, and there being forms and paperwork for everything imaginable.Here are a few tips for working in a Japanese company gathered from those who have been in that environment for several years.1. Do lots of behind-the-scenes networkingComing in at 9, doing your work and leaving at 5 (or 6, or 7, or 8!) will ruffle no feathers, but won't necessarily get you far ahead. The way to get ahead in a Japanese company is to make yourself useful to as many people in the organization as possible. This requires getting on side with people on a personal basis. Just because you're in the same company doesn't mean at all that people will feel free to approach you with requests.As in Japanese society at large, in general, the only Japanese people who take the initiative when dealing with a foreigner are those who are those in authority, those who are exuberantly confident (often to the point of being pushy), those who are desperate, or those who are nutty. It is therefore in your interests to take the initiative (within the bounds of seniority) and choose whom you want to have something to do with by approaching likely looking people in your company and selling yourself. A very important part of this is socializing - typically by going out for lunch together. The more people you can create relationships with, and work together with - without overstretching yourself, of course - the better your chances of promotion, whether within the company, or by changing companies thanks to connections who have moved on to other things. The literal meaning of the word "company" is especially important in Japan: ultimately it's as much about the people as the work.2. Take responsibility and be self-reliantSeniority in Japan is strictly adhered to (as dealt with below), but don't expect your boss to be your mother hen. Japanese companies are often not particularly rational or efficient when it comes to communication channels. There are emails every day from all sorts of different people and departments that have to be gone through very carefully. If a meeting is to take place at 3pm, and will be attended by all those around you, don't expect anyone to remind you about it. You'll raise your head from your computer screen to find all the seats around you empty. Everyone has gone to the meeting without the boss giving any verbal reminders or without any of your colleagues having said anything either. It's just the emails and your clock and you. And having been engrossed in work is no excuse for absence or lateness. And not having been bothered to read those three pages of instructions about how to fill in the new (poorly designed, overly complex, unintuitive) time-chargeability sheet is no excuse for getting it wrong. It's very much a matter of entrusting you with the big things only when you've proved trustworthy regarding the little things.3. Respect seniority and others' sense of prideWhile respecting seniority is important in companies all around the world, in Japan (and Korea) in particular, deference must be paid even to those in more senior positions outside of your department, even if they just started their job yesterday. This extends to little things like letting them through a door first, and of course to the bigger things like letting them have their say in things that matter, and - very importantly - using the correct language and manner when speaking to them.Pride in Japan tends to be very brittle, so keep in mind that any behavior seen as overweening is keenly resented. This goes even for apparently innocent things like, maybe, showing a colleague a simple keyboard shortcut to make his or her workflow m[...]

Japan News This Week March 12 2017

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:49:06 PDT


Struggling With Japan’s Nuclear Waste, Six Years After Disaster
New York Times

Fukushima: Wild boars take over Japan's evacuated towns

Fukushima evacuees face 'forced' return as subsidies withdrawn

The first missteps for Japan's first lady
Japan Times

"Japan is Great"
Japan Focus

Journalist writes about 'kamikaze' pilots and other important lessons from history
The Mainichi

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


In 2014, workers in the construction industry employed by companies with over 30 employees worked an average of 174.4 hours per month.

Source: Japan Statistics Bureau


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Jorenge-in Temple Ohara

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 06:13:53 PDT


Jorenge-in Temple, virtually next door to Raigo-in Temple, in the pretty hill village of Ohara, north east of Kyoto, is like Sanzen-in, and the other temples in Ohara, a Tendai sect temple of Japanese Buddhism.

Jorenge-in is also a shukubo, that is it is a temple that offers accommodation.

There are only three tatami rooms available, separated by sliding doors. Meals are vegetarian and you are free to join in the meditation sessions or sutra copying (shakyo).

Ohara Raikoincho-407
Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Kyoto Prefecture 601-1242
Tel: 075 744 2408


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Raigo-in Temple Ohara

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 13:38:14 PST

来迎院Raigo-in Temple is one of several Tendai-sect temples in the pretty, farming village of Ohara in the hills north east of Kyoto.Raigo-in like its more famous neighbor, Sanzen-in, is a Tendai sect temple of Japanese Buddhism.It was founded by the priest Ennin in the 850's and like nearby Hosen-in and Shorin-in, Raigo-in is associated with the study and practice of shomyo, Buddhist chanting first brought to Japan from India via China by Ennin.Later, Raigo-in became associated with Ryonin (1072-1132), the founder of Yuzu Nembutsu, a branch of Japanese Buddhism in the Kamakura Period, that is considered the forerunner of Pure Land or Amida Buddhism. Yuzu Nembutsu stressed that chanting the name of Buddha not only benefited the chanter but all mankind.The main hall at Raigo-in holds three statues considered Important Cultural Properties: images of Gautama Buddha, Amitabha (the Buddha of Infinite Life) and Bhaisajyaguru or Yakushi - the Buddha of Healing.About 200 meters along the track through the woods, past the temple is the Otonashi-no-taki ("Soundless Waterfall") said to have been rendered without sound when it sounds of the water fused with the shomyo chanting of Ryonin.Raigo-in537 Ohararaigoin-choSakyo-ku, KyotoKyoto Prefecture 601-1242© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Oyobu - Oyobanai: the Idea of Reach in Japanese

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 18:07:10 PST

及ぶ・及ばないoyobu//oyobanaioyobu 及ぶ in Japanese is a verb that means "to reach to," "to extend as far as," "to go as far as." and has pretty much the same pattern of use in Japanese as those phrases do in English, but with a few extra useful ones that we will look at here.oyobu can be used in the context of time and space to express reach in literal terms of length and distance. For example, "A commute that takes as long as two hours" can be expressed 二時間に及ぶ通勤 ni jikan ni oyobu tsuukin. Note the addition of "as long as" in the English sentence, which is what the use of oyobu in the Japanese emphasizes. Or, "Distribution that goes as far as Hokkaido" would be 北海道に及ぶ流通 Hokkaido ni oyobu ryuutsuu (taking "distribution" [ryuutsuu] here to mean distribution of a product, as opposed to distribution of a population, for example.)oyobu can also be used to express the idea of to "match/touch/have something on someone," i.e., be as good as someone else at something - but usually in the negative: 及ばない oyobanai. For example,"I can't match his ability to memorize things" would be 暗記では彼に及ばない anki de wa kare ni oyobanai - or, literally "when it comes to memorization, [I] don't reach him." An even more powerful (and abject!) way of saying this is 暗記では足元にも及ばない anki de wa ashimoto ni mo oyobanai or, literally, "When it comes to memorization, [I] don't even reach up to his feet."This meaning goes for things as well as people. For example, something so terrible may have been done that it is now "beyond even regret" or, in Japanese, 悔やんでも及ばない kuyande mo oyobanai - or, literally, "even if [you] rue [something], that doesn't go far enough." A similar, but more positive example can be found in the Japanese for "a result far beyond expectations": 期待も及ばない結果 kitai mo oyobanai kekka - literally, "a result that expectations were unable to reach."及ばない oyobanai can simply mean "unnecessary" as in the phrase:泣くには及ばない naku ni wa oyobanai "There is no need to cry."A few other useful phrases using oyobu, or, more commonly, the negative oyobanai, are as follows:是非に及ばす zehi ni oyobazu literally means "not going as far as the pros and cons (rights and wrongs)," meaning "unvoidable," "inevitable," "can't be helped," "of necessity" - the idea being that in the case of something unavoidable, the whole question of the finer points (pros and cons) is moot. A simple example would be:ごめんなさい、貸してもらった傘は忘れものしちゃった。gomen nasai, kashite moratta kasa wa wasuremono shichattaA "I'm sorry, but I went and lost the umbrella you lent me."是非に及ばずzehi ni oyobazuB "Can't be helped."言うに及ばない yu ni oyobanai means "It goes without saying."及ばずながら oyobazu nagara literally means "while not going far [enough]" and is used to apologize for one's own shortcomings. It can be used in somewhat formal situations, for example in the following set phrase:及ばずながら尽力します。oyobazu nagara jinryoku shimasuI'll do what little I can do to help.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Japan News This Week 5 March 2017

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 20:49:45 PST

今週の日本Bigotry and Fraud Scandal at Kindergarten Linked to Japan’s First Lady New York TimesJapan police offer martial arts classes for tourists BBCPremium Fridays: Japan gives its workers a break – to go shopping GuardianAbe moves to distance himself from Osaka school after praising principal’s ideology Japan TimesEnvironmental Contamination at USMC bases on Okinawa Japan FocusEditorial: Ex-Tokyo Governor Ishihara short on answers over Tsukiji market move The MainichiLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatisticsIn 2016, there were 15,215 arrests (10,689 individuals) of foreigners in Japan. By nationality, it breaks down as follows.Chinese: 5,509 arrests (36.2% of total)Vietnamese: 2,488 (16.4%)Brazilians: 1,619 (10.6%)South Koreans: 983 (6.5%)Filipinos: 958 (6.3%)Colombians: 378 (2.5%)Thais: 299 (2%)Peruvians: 291 (1.9%)Americans: 234 (1.9%)Source: National Police Agency© JapanVisitor.comInside Track Japan For Kindle [...]

Scai the Bathhouse - a Unique Gallery in Yanaka

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 07:43:41 PST

スカイザバースハウスScai the BathhouseTokyo's Yanaka district in Taito ward is one of Tokyo's most charming districts in the sense of harking back to how Tokyo looked and felt a generation ago. Not far away is Ueno Park with its concentration of museums. Scai the Bathhouse has been an art presence in Yanaka since 1993, but is unique in having been a part of the Yanaka landscape for many decades before that as ... yes, you guessed it ... a bathhouse, called Kashiwayu. Reijiro Wada and Ariel Schlesinger exhibition, Scai the BathhouseScai the Bathhouse is a tiny art gallery that pulls a punch much bigger than its size and quaintness might suggest. Scai was one of the first galleries to exhibit what today are giants in the chronicles of modern Japanese art, such as Tananori Yokoh and Lee Ufan. Many overseas artists, too, have found a foothold in the Japanese art world thanks to Scai the Bathhouse.Old-style lockers, Scai the BathhouseWe dropped in to Scai last Saturday (they're closed on Sunday & Monday), and took in an exhibition by Reijiro Wada and Ariel Schlesinger - illustrating nicely the multinational role Scai plays.Looking at the front of the building, and even stepping in through the front, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you were actually making your way into a sento (i.e., traditional bathhouse), as the original architecture of the façade and entrance hall, complete with lockers, has been faithfully preserved. Exhibition hall, Scai the Bathhouse art gallery, Yanaka, Tokyo.It is only when you go further into the gallery itself that most traces of Scai's (literally) steamy past evaporate, and you find yourself in a big, high-ceilinged, naturally lit exhibition room.The typical artworks exhibited at Scai the Bathhouse require space, being abstract pieces that are only enhanced by being blanketed in a bit of void, or installations that are simply too big to display in anything but a cavernous setting.Yet, the intimacy of Scai the Bathhouse makes it the ideal place to get nice and close, not only to the art, but the staff there, too, and, on occasions, the artists.See what's on now at Scai the Bathhouse. Scai the Bathhouse is open Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 6pm.Scai the Bathhouse is accessible from JR Nippori Station or Nezu Subway Station.Kashiwayu-Ato, 6-1-23 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0001 JapanJust down the road is the Asahi-yu bathhouse - another venerable bathhouse, but one that still operates as a bathhouse.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Need Something From Japan? - Solutions from GoodsFromJapan

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 05:10:34 PST

グッズフロムジャパンGoodsFromJapan is a Japan-based business staffed by native speakers of both Japanese and English in cities throughout Japan who can deal with most requests by overseas customers for goods and services from Japan.Besides a huge online store with an array of goods for fun, enjoyment, style and better living on the GoodsFromJapan website, the GoodsFromJapan team provides personalized services that meet the needs of individual customers, including happi coats and paper lanterns customized for companies and events.Kendama are a popular seller on GoodsFromJapan.To date, GoodsFromJapan has provided the following:- reservation and booking services for Japanese hotel stays, high-end restaurants, tours, temple visits, conventions in Japan, and more.- purchasing services for goods on Yahoo Auctions Japan, manga, books, doujinshi, figurines, liquor, limited edition goods, and other merchandise (even second-hand high-end audio) purchasable only in Japan or from stores only.- translation from Japanese to English of documents, both personal and for business- referring customers with specific needs to Japanese professionals able to cater to them.Kewpie dolls with a Japanese twist - also very popular items on GoodsFromJapanGoodsFromJapan has thousands of happy customers to date, worldwide, who come back to GoodsFromJapan for prompt, conscientious, personalized service based on a strong desire to help people get what they want from Japan.Check out the GoodsFromJapan website, and contact the team if there is anything you need from Japan, or done for you before or during your visit to Japan.Decorative Japanese iron paperweights from GoodsFromJapan.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Moritomo Gakuen - A Scandal in Full Swing

Sun, 05 Mar 2017 05:22:39 PST

森友学園The latest political scandal in Japan involves an education foundation for children in Osaka by the name of Moritomo Gakuen (gakuen meaning "educational foundation.")Moritomo Gakuen's leader Hiroshi Moritomo, is a member of the Nippon Kaigi ("Japan Conference"), a nationalist organization founded in 1997 that basically wants to turn the clock back politically and socially to how Japan was pre-World War Two - and we're not talking Taisho democracy, but the militaristic pre-war Japan in which the Japanese Army, with the compliance of the established politicians, was able to lead Japan into a foolhardy and ultimately disastrous military endeavor, while the population was kept about as enlightened about what was going on in the realm of Japanese government and in the world at large as North Korea's population is today.The militaristic nature of the education that Moritomo provides its pupils is clear from how they are regularly sent on class trips to military bases, to shout "Go for it, Prime Minister Abe" (Abe sori daijin, gambare!) when the prime minister's efforts to relax the strictly anti-militaristic element in article 9 of the Constitution in a law that made it through the National Diet last March, and made to write letters of encouragement to Japanese troops going abroad on U.N. peacekeeping missions having been enabled to do so by those changes to Article 9 (a politically charged subject in Japan where Article 9 had forbidden the dispatch of troops overseas). Then there are the reports of teachers at Moritomo poisoning children's minds with racist abuse against Koreans and Chinese - peoples disdained by Japan's right wing. This is all with the aim of recreating a "beautiful Japan," according to Moritomo.This extreme right-wing foundation was recently discovered to have purchased what was a national government-owned plot of land in the Osaka region for a new school at a fraction (about 7%) of the official valution. The elementary school is due to open in April, and the original name touted for it by Moritomo was "Shinzo Abe Memorial Elementary School."And the tight bond between Moritomo Gakuen and the leader of Japan, prime minister Shinzo Abe, and his wife, Akie Abe, forms the kernel of this scandal. The intimacy was such that Akie Abe was, until recently, honorary principal of the school. She denies that she accepted the position, pleading the very feeble excuse that it was announced by Moritomo Gakuen in front of parents without her having been told of it beforehand, so she felt obliged! She recently resigned the position when the scandal came to light.The feebleness of this "I didn't mean it"-ness is matched by that of her husband, Prime Minister Abe, who says that it is too bad about how the school used his name to sell the idea of Moritomo to parents of prospective students, in spite of his repeatedly having requested them to stop. Really? The prime minister - a fellow member of the Nihon Kaigi, and a much more powerful one than Moritomo - has to stand by wringing his hands, dumb, while someone uses his very name for advertising purposes in spite of his having expressly forbidden it? Unlikely.Further grist for the scandal is that the Finance Ministry claims that records of the negotiations that led to the massive discount being given to Moritomo were destroyed - a very suspicious happening in Japan, and in particular on the part of bureaucrats, where everything is meticulously recorded and retained.It has come to light that the Liberal Democratic Party veteran administrator, Yoshitada Kohnoike, who was at one stage the[...]

Japanese Ice Cream Parfaits

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 04:27:44 PST

パフェFor years I have looked upon a particular dessert in Japan with interest. These are the crazy ice cream parfaits - you may have seen them in display windows. They begin with ice cream and then are decorated artistically with a myriad of attachments - syrup, kiwi, pineapple, oranges, grapes, pocky-look-alikes, cookies, and whatever has inspired their creator.My daughter and I would marvel at these fantastic-looking treats, but we always managed to pass them by. Then there was that day in Sendai. Somehow bewitched by the aura of a Date Masamune-styled restaurant, we entered and chose two of the "Date Masamune Specials."Today I am here to advise you: Don't do it. Just say no. It is way too much for one person to eat, as we found out, and we come from America, the Land of the Too-Large Portions! The Land of Overeating! Another reason to opt out is that all those extras don't taste so good together in a lump of melting ice cream.Okay, well, if you MUST, then please share it. Ask for an extra plate and spoon if you can. It's really better this way. Trust me.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Higashiyama Station

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:54:47 PDT

東山駅Higashiyama is a station on the Tozai Line of the Kyoto subway one stop east of Sanjo Keihan Station (the interchange station with the Keihan Line) and one stop west of Keage Station.Higashiyama Station is located at the south west corner of the Okazaki museum district and this is the closest station to the area. It is about 10-15 minutes walk to Heian Jingu, Kyoto Prefectural Library, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and on the same (west) side as Miyako Messe and the National Museum of Modern Art.Adjacent to exit 1 of Higashiyama Station is the rejuvenated Furukawa-cho shotengai (arcade) where two former mansion (apartment) buildings and a traditional machiya townhouse have been converted into guesthouses popular with Asian travelers in particular.These are Hostel Haruya Kyoto, Guesthouse Oki's Inn and Hotel Japaning Kyoto. The more upmarket Kyoto Miyabi Inn is just nearby on the banks of an attractive canal.The station has coin lockers if you are staying nearby and need to store your luggage as well as a convenience store close by on Sanjo Dori, which now also has a number of fine restaurants within walking distance of the station.© JapanVisitor.comInside Track Japan For Kindle [...]

Tokyo Marathon 2017 at Asakusabashi

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:07:56 PST

東京マラソン2017年This year, 2017, was a special one for the Tokyo Marathon in that it is the 10th year since the event began, in 2007.This year's Tokyo Marathon followed a slightly different course from previous years' in that it didn't skirt the Imperial Palace Tokyo as closely, following the stretch of Yasukuni-dori Avenue north of the Palace instead, and, while going as far south-east as Koto-ku as in previous years, it went only as far as Monzennakacho, instead of all the way down to Tokyo Big Sight.Bystanders watch the Tokyo Marathon 2017 in Yanagibashi, Taito-ku, TokyoAs in previous years, the Tokyo Marathon went through Tokyo's "doll town" of Asakusabashi. It was already late morning yesterday when I got down to Edo-dori Avenue, which runs north-south through the district, and - as the caretaker of our building laughingly warned this late-bird on my way out - the main body of serious runners had already gone through long before.Picking up a cup of Pocari Sweat at the Tokyo Marathon 2017, Asakusabashi, TokyoYet, life isn't supposed to be all serious, and there was no shortage of runners participating as much to show off their nutty costumes as their athletic prowess. Participants in the Tokyo Marathon are prohibited from carrying bottles, so the course was lined with stalls giving out free Pocari Sweat, a Japanese beverage from way back that has long associated itself with sport.Tokyo Marathon 2017, with a Chuo-Sobu Line train overhead pulling into Asakusabashi Station.The weather couldn't have been better, with bright blue skies and an invigorating, but not freezing, temperature of about 8 degrees Celsius.Cheering on Tokyo Marathon 2017 runners in Asakusabashi.Edo-dori Avenue, which could not be crossed while the Marathon was in progress, was lined with boisterous well-wishers, waving and shouting the runners on.Crazy wigs and banners - supporters at the Asakusabashi leg of the Tokyo Marathon 2017Spectators, too, were dressed up and wielding all sorts of banners and percussive gadgets, and shouting all sorts of slogans, to egg the runners on.Police stand by in Asakusabashi for the Tokyo Marathon 2017.Police and the fire brigade were a discreet presence, but the cheerful atmosphere and the general youth of the runners made emergencies very unlikely.Medical station at the 26 km point of the Tokyo Marathon 2017, in Asakusabashi.For medical contingencies, there was a first-aid team at what was the 26th kilometer of the Marathon, just a few meters south of Asakusabashi Station.Orange Power - Dutch supporters in Asakusabashi for the Tokyo Marathon 2017Like the race itself, non-Japanese were well represented among those on the sidelines. I snapped the above picture of a group of Dutch supporters prominently decked out in their national color: orange.Asakusabashi Subway Station -sign saying Edo-dori cannot be crossed while Tokyo Marathon 2017 in progress.Japanese supporters were not far behind in terms of vividness, with several groups like the one below wearing sunny colors and banging sticks.A genki group of Japanese supporters under the blue skies of Asakusabashi for the Tokyo Marathon 2017.The winners of the Tokyo Marathon 2017, who sped by while I was still asleep and dreaming, were Wilson Kipsang of Kenya who set a men's Tokyo Marathon record (in fact, a Japan marathon record) of 2 hours 3 minutes 58 seconds, and his compatriot Sarah Chepchirchir who was the fastest woman at 2 hours 19 minutes 47 seconds.A sunny Edo-dori Avenue in Asakusabashi [...]

Japan News This Week 26 February 2017

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 20:08:47 PST

今週の日本Trump Wants More American Cars in Japan. Japan’s Drivers Don’t. New York TimesThousands vie for Naked Man title in Japan BBCTokyo Olympic golf course must give female members equal rights or lose event, says IOC GuardianFor African-American ‘idol’ Amina du Jean, difference is a double-edged sword Japan TimesWhat Was the Cold War? Imagined Reality, Ordinary People’s War, and Social Mechanism Japan FocusLast Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blogStatistics"A new survey by the Japan family planning association found that nearly half of married couples had not had sex for more than a month and did not expect that to change in the near future – the association’s definition of a “sexless” marriage. Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? Read more The data on married couples were among the findings of a wider survey of 3,000 people aged between 16 and 49 conducted at the end of last year. The association received responses from more than 1,200 people, including 655 married men and women. A record high 47.2% of married men and women said they were in sexless marriages, up 2.6 percentage points from the previous poll in 2014, the association said, and significantly higher than the 31.9% recorded when it conducted its first survey of the nation’s bedroom habits in 2004."Source: Guardian© JapanVisitor.comInside Track Japan For Kindle [...]

Thai Kitchen Pakuchi

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 04:04:03 PST

Thai Kitchen Pakuchi is an authentic Thai eatery on the corner of Kawaramachi Marutamachi in downtown Kyoto. Friendly, informal and lots of fun Pakuchi draws a mainly younger crowd of diners.The chefs are Thai and the food, though less spicy maybe than found in Bangkok, is truly delicious.The menu is extensive with all your favorite Thai dishes included: khao phat, (fried rice) pad thai (fried noodles) and, of course, som tom thai (spicy green papaya salad).Drinks include Singha or Chang beer and a variety of Thai whiskeys and soft drinks.Thai Kitchen Pakuchi1F Rolex Tamura374 Masuya-choKawaramachi-dori Marutamachi-agaruKamigyo-kuKyoto 604-8086Tel: 075 241 0892Hours: Open 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-10pm (Last order) daily.Pakuchi is just round the corner from the 100 year old sento, Sakura-yu.The nearest subway station is Jingu-marutamachi on the Tozai Line. Kyoto buses #4, #10, #17, #37, #59, #93, #202, #203, and #205 and stop at Kawaramachi Marutamachi.There's a Sanjo Pakuchi on Gokamachi north of Sanjo on the east side.Kyoto has a fair number of Thai restaurants and even a Lao eatery. Thai restaurants in Kyoto include Khon Kaen in the Shinkyogoku arcade, Thai Cafe Kati on Ebisugawa, west of Fuyacho, Kroon near Demachiyanagi Station, Siam near Enmachi, and Esan on Imadegawa, west of Karasuma.Khanty is the Lao restaurant north of Imadegawa on Teramachi.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

Premium Friday Launches Today

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 19:49:28 PST

プレミアムフライデーPremium Friday starts all over Japan today. Premium Friday is a government-sponsored campaign that is the latest move in an ongoing effort to get Japanese people spending more money on consumables.The whole point of the economic strategy conceived by the current LDP government, styled "Abenomics" after prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is to wean Japan off its traditional dependency on exports and create an economy less dependent on the exigencies of foreign demand and exchange rates, and more firmly bolstered by a thriving domestic market.So, from here on in, every last Friday of the month is Premium Friday, which means that companies are being encouraged to let employees go home early - from about 3pm - and give them the chance to hang out  in a coffee shop surfing the web or reading manga, go to pachinko, go see a movie, art exhibition or practice their golf shots.A convenience store in Kuramae, Tokyo, offering Premium Friday specials.Or, as the official Premium Friday website puts it:On the last Friday of the month, how about leaving work a little early and enjoy just that much fuller a weekend?Stop work earlier than usual and take up a challenge you can't normally take up, talk to friends or family members you hardly ever get to meet, go for a walk on the bright, sunny street, or have a feel-good time playing sport with colleagues. Have a leisurely dinner that evening, or take the 2.5 days to travel to somewhere a little far away.Yes, a rich, varied time begins all over Japan. Premium Friday begins! You, too, should enjoy some of that rich variety on the last Friday of each month.However, the most crucial piece in the puzzle - the willingness of bosses to play along in losing all those man- and woman-hours every month - is by no means guaranteed. Furthermore, even if Premium Friday does catch on among companies, it is clearly not meant to extend to employees who work for the kinds of places that Premium Fridayers are being encouraged to go to: hotels, cafes, convenience stores, bus stations, railway stations, sport facilities, fitness centers - i.e., workplaces where pay is poor and which employ lots of so-called "part-time" staff (who nevertheless typically work hours every bit as long as full-time employees.).None of my immediate family members or friends are getting to go home early today, so it will take at least half a year to gauge how effective this commendable "chill-and-spend" Premium Friday campaign is going to be.© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

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Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul Exhibition

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 08:14:21 PST

草間彌生Get tickets for Yayoi Kusama's art exhibition in TokyoYesterday was the first day of Yayoi Kusama's new exhibition My Eternal Soul which runs at the National Art Center in Tokyo until May 22.My Eternal Soul exhibits Kusama's large-scale paintings created post-2009, but also includes some of her earlier, iconic work, familiar to a global audience, such as her iconic pumpkin sculptures.Yayoi Kusama is one of Japan's most famous artists, possibly more beloved and appreciated overseas than in her native Japan.The National Art Center, Tokyo7-22-2 RoppongiMinato-ku Tokyo106-8558Tel: 03 6812 9900Access: Roppongi Station (Exit 7) on the Hibiya and Oedo Subway LinesNogizaka Station (Exit 6) on the Chiyoda Subway Line. Get tickets for Yayoi Kusama's art exhibition in Tokyo© JapanVisitor.comGoods From Japan delivered to your home or business [...]

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