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Friday, December 09, 2016

Hotel Uneri Dogo Island

ホテル海音里

The Hotel Uneri on Dogo Island in the Oki Islands is the ideal place to stay if you are visiting Candle Rock on a sightseeing boat.


Hotel Uneri, Dogo Island, Oki Islands.


The port from where the sightseeing boats for Candle Rock leave is just 1km from the hotel, located on the waterfront of the picturesque Fukuura Bay.

The Hotel Uneri has good, fresh, local seafood and offers both Western and Japanese-style rooms including six, eight and huge twenty tatami mat rooms.

The hotel also has several log houses nearby for rent for a more back to nature experience and a tennis court.

The large communal Japanese-style bath looks out over Fukuura Bay.

Behind the hotel is a beautiful waterfall.

Hotel Uneri, Dogo Island, Oki Islands, Shimane.


Hotel Uneri
Minamikata 1933
Oki-gun Okinoshimachi
Shimane Prefecture 1685-0303
Tel: 08512 5 3211

Candle Rock, Dogo, Oki Islands, Shimane.


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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Visiting the Sanada Clan

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.

Numata Castle Ruins, Japan.


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.

Nobuyuki Komatsu, Numata.

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.

Sanada Masayuki.


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.

Sanada Yukimura re-enactor.


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.

Ema, Ueda Castle


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.

Ice cream break, Ueda Castle.


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.

Sanada Yukimura.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Chiyoda Hotel Fushimi Nagoya

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.

Chiyoda Hotel Fushimi Nagoya Aichi.


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.

Chiyoda Hotel Fushimi Nagoya Aichi Japan.

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.

Chiyoda Hotel Fushimi Nagoya Aichi Japan.


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 Hotel Fushimi Nagoya Aichi Japan.


Chiyoda Hotel
Nishiki 1-16-10, Naka-ku
Nagoya
Aichi, 460-0003

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Sunday, December 04, 2016

Japan News This Week 4 December 2016

今^週の日本

Japan News.
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
BBC

Brief encounters: Japan's love hotels – in pictures
Guardian

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

Statistics

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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Saturday, December 03, 2016

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

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.

Frenz (Frenz FrenZY Rainbow Haven) a gay bar in Osaka, Japan.
Rainbow door to Frenz gay bar, Osaka
You’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.
Frenz gay bar, Osaka - the red-lit bar.
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.

The disco ball spins all night long at Frenz gay bar in Osaka.
Disco ball at Frenz

Friendly 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!

Frenz gay bar, Osaka, Japan - at the bar.
Blue Boy - the owner of Frenz at the bar.

FrenZ
Kamiyama-cho 18-14, Kita-ku, Osaka  (first floor)

06-6311-1386

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Friday, December 02, 2016

Japan Bullet Train Proposed Extension from Kanazawa to Kyoto and Osaka

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.

Japan Bullet Train Proposed Extension from Kanazawa to Kyoto and Osaka.


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.

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Kyocera Headquarters Illumination & Concert 2016

Kyocera Corporation will hold its annual illumination event from December 1 to December 25 at its headquarters in Kyoto.

Kyocera Headquarters Illumination & Concert 2016, 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 visit:
www.kyocera.co.jp/illumination (Japanese only)

Kyocera Headquarters Illumination & Concert 2016, Kyoto.


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 floor

Kyocera 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 entrance

Head Office
6 Takeda Tobadono-cho
Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi
612-8501
global.kyocera.com/company

Kyocera Headquarters Illumination & Concert 2016, Kyoto.


Access
From 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 walk
From 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.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kasugayama Castle Ruins

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.

Kasugayama Castle Ruins.


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.

Kasugayama Castle Ruins.


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.

Kasugayama Castle Ruins.


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.

Kasugayama Castle Ruins


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Monday, November 28, 2016

Sawanotsuru Sake Museum

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.

Sawanotsuru Sake Museum, Nada-ku, Kobe.

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.

Sawanotsuru Sake Museum, Nada-ku, Kobe.

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 Museum, Nada-ku, Kobe.

Sawanotsuru Sake Museum
Oishi Minami-machi 1-29-1
Nada-ku, Kobe, 657-0852
Tel: 078 882 7788
Hours: 10am-4pm
Closed 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.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Japan News This Week 27 November 2016

今^週の日本

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

100 Women 2016: Kokoro - the cancer blog gripping Japan
BBC

Eyewitness: Tokyo
Guardian

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

Statistics

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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