Japan Visitor: What's happening in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Shimane Japan

Home    Japan Travel Guide     Tokyo Guide     Contact     Auction Service     Japan Shop

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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


Japan's only Butoh dance theater has recently celebrated its first anniversary.

Yurabe Masami Perfoming

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

For more information, click here.

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

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Monday, July 24, 2017

Unagi and Konnyaku Sentences in Japanese

ウナギ文 コンニャク文

Unagi, or eel.
An unagi-don, or box of eel on rice

The Japanese are a nation of foodies, take what they eat very seriously indeed, and talk about it a lot. It is no surprise then, that food expressions are used to describe a couple of peculiarities of Japanese grammar.

Unagi means "eel" in Japanese, and is a summer delicacy that will cost you at least 1,000 yen, usually for those imported from China, and at least twice that for home-grown ones.

Konnyaku is the romanized spelling of the Japanese pronunciation of konjac (Amorphophallus konjac), a plant used to make a jelly much used in Japanese cuisine - especially oden - and which is related to the very smelly plant that has the world's largest flower, the Amorphophallus titanum.

Anyway, an unagi sentence is a common grammatically contracted sentence in Japanese that seems to identify the speaker as a foodstuff, but which really only identifies the speaker's preference for it. The archetypal example is "Ore wa unagi da." 俺はウナギだ Ore means "I" and is used to address only those with whom one has a very close relationship, or who are ranked well below you. wa (は) is the marker indicated that ore is the topic of the sentence. Unagi is eel. The final da is a sentence ending that equates to the be-verb in English, affirming the existence of something.

Literally translated, this would mean "I am an eel." in the same way as "Ore wa sarariman da" ("I am a businessman") indicates that the speaker is a businessman.

However, this so-called literal translation is based on a misunderstanding of the function of the marker wa. As stated above, wa is the marker indicating that the word which precedes it is the topic of the sentence. And the topic of a sentence is not necessarily the subject of the sentence.

So in this case, a more literal translation, i.e., one where the function of the wa is properly understood, would be "Me, eel." Sure, even in English, this could be misinterpreted as being akin to "Me Tarzan," but, giving the person who spoke it the benefit of the doubt, probably would not be taken to be a statement of self-identification. In response to the question of "What are you having?" directed at more than one person, for one of them to respond with "Me, eel" would not be considered odd, even in English. (However, just as in the Japanese version of it, it would not be considered especially polite.)

Konnyaku, or konjac
A piece of konnyaku - great for dieting

A konnyaku sentencc is similar, but in reverse. That is, an inanimate object seems to be given human properties. The archetypal example sentence is "Konnyaku wa futoranai," コンニャクは太らない, "literally" (i.e., misunderstanding the function of wa): "Konnyaku doesn't put on weight." The actual meaning, of course, is "You don't gain weight eating konnyaku," but it's left to the listener to fill in the gaps in regard to who doesn't get fat. wa sets konnyaku as the topic of the sentence (not the subject!), and asserts a quality in regard to it that can only be interpreted as belonging to a consumer of the food if we assume sanity on the part of the speaker.

So what unagi and konnyaku sentences teach us is to treat wa as the title of your sentence, not the actor in the sentence. wa is best thought of as meaning "as for..." in English. "As for me, eel," "As for konnyaku, [you] don't put on weight" This frees up your Japanese, and lets you venture without fear into the world of unagi and konnyaku, buoyed up by the reassuring knowledge that all your friends already know you're not (to use another food word) nuts.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Japan News This Week 23 July 2017


Japan News.
From Hiroshima to Tule Lake, Films About Japan and America
New York Times

Japan 'black widow' Chisako Kakehi retracts confession

Japan hangs 2 inmates, including one seeking retrial
The Mainichi

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

Transnational Environmental Activism and Japan’s Second Modernity
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Soft power rankings.....

Source: This Week in Asia

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle

Friday, July 21, 2017

Japan 4K - Remarkable Drone Cam Short Movie

At JapanVisitor.com, we get dozens of emails every day from people with an interest in Japan, wanting products from or restaurant bookings in Japan (inquiries we pass on to our sister site GoodsFromJapan.com), wanting information about Japan, alerting us to the occasional error on our site, or to information they think we should be covering - the list goes on.

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

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

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

PS After viewing Sloan's video, we blush to link to our YouTube channel, JapanFilms - but, FBOW, here it is:

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Gifts of the Little Sparrow


The tale of the tongue-cut sparrow is a traditional folk story in Japan and has been retold by a number of commentators on Japan including A. B. Mitford and Lafcadio Hearn.

Gifts of the Little Sparrow.

It goes something like this:

Long ago on the Tango Peninsula in the north of Kyoto Prefecture lived a little old man and a little old woman. One day, the little old man found a sparrow that could no longer fly. He carefully took care of the bird and nurtured it with love.

A few days later, the old man went to the mountains to cut wood, and the old woman went to the river to do the washing. When she returned home she noticed that the glue she had made that morning was completely gone. The sparrow had eaten it all up!

The old woman became very angry, and in her rage cut off the little bird's tongue with her scissors. The sparrow escaped off into the woods, shrieking all the way. When the old man returned from the mountains and heard this story he quickly set out to look for the sparrow calling out, "Where do you stay, my little tongueless sparrow?" When the old man reached the woods, the sparrow recognized him and greeted him with great happiness.

Then the bird showed him great hospitality by offering him food and doing a special dance for him. Finally when it came time for the old man to go home, the sparrow pulled out two boxes, one large and one small.

"Please take home whichever one of these you like as a souvenir," said the sparrow. The old man took his pick explaining, "I will take this smaller light box since I am getting to be an old man."

He took his box home with him and when he opened it up, he found a shining gold coin. And when the old woman saw this she also went off to the woods singing, "Where do you stay, my little tongueless sparrow?"

She was also greeted by the bird, but chose the larger box when it was time to go home. The box was so heavy that she had to stop on the way back. It was then that she opened up. And out from the box jumped snakes and centipedes which mercilessly pursued the old woman for all her remaining days.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hotel Nahari


Hotel Nahari is a medium-sized western style hotel in Nahari, Kochi. Nahari is the terminal station on the Tosakuroshio Railway's Asa Line which runs from Kochi City. If you are heading further south to the UNESCO Geopark of Cape Muroto you transfer to bus here. The hotel is also quite popular with pilgrims travelling the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Hotel Nahari, Kochi, Shikoku.

It has single, twin, double and also Japanese-style rooms, smoking and non-smoking. All have en-suite bathroom and toilet but the hotel also has very large public baths that include a rotenburo (outdoor bath).

The rooms all come with fairly standard facilities – phone, TV, AC, fridge, kettle and tea, etc. There is no wifi but all rooms have LAN internet connection.

Hotel Nahari, Kochi, Shikoku.

The hotel has a decent restaurant that specializes in fresh, local seafood, especially tuna and skipjack. Their breakfasts are reasonably priced. Depending on the date, prices for a single person with no meals start at 5,000 yen.

Hotel Nahari
593-1 Otsu, Nahari-cho, Aki-gun
Kochi 781-6402
Tel: 0887 38 5111

The hotel is about 1.5 kilometers from Nahari Station but the hotel will pick you up and drop you off at the station by shuttle bus.

Hotel Nahari, Kochi, Shikoku.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Japan News This Week 16 July 2017


Japan News.
From Hiroshima to Tule Lake, Films About Japan and America
New York Times

Japan 'black widow' Chisako Kakehi retracts confession

Japan hangs 2 inmates, including one seeking retrial
The Mainichi

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

Transnational Environmental Activism and Japan’s Second Modernity
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


"Over the last month or so, the international media have been full of headlines about how the Japanese have lost their libido. Some blame cultural malaise, some an aversion to real human contact in a world increasingly dominated by virtual technologies. More prosaically, others point the finger at the ardour-dampening effects of economic insecurity. But whatever cause they cite, all draw the same conclusion: Japan’s low birth rate will lead inevitably to an irreversible decline in its population, and consequently in its economy.

"According to many, the long decay has already begun. Japan’s population peaked at just over 128 million in 2010. Since then, the combination of an ageing population and one of the lowest fertility rates in the world – on average a Japanese woman can expect to have just 1.45 babies in her life – has meant that deaths have exceeded births. With mass immigration ruled out by politicians and public alike, the result has been a fall in Japan’s population over the last six years of almost 1.3 million."

Source: This Week in Asia

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle

Friday, July 14, 2017



Asahido is one of the most famous of Kyoto's Kiyomizu yaki pottery stores, and had been a landmark for generations of visitors to Kiyomizu Temple since its establishment in 1870.

Asahido, Kyoto.

From everyday tableware to one-of-a-kind tea ceremony bowls by well-known ceramic artists, Asahido has something for every taste and budget.

The relaxing atmosphere of the traditional Japanese interior offers a welcome break from sightseeing, and the colorful items are displayed under warm, soft lighting. It almost seems more like a ceramics museum than a store. There is also a tea room and gallery space, which exhibits selected ceramic art.

Asahido's exquisite merchandise have won it an international clientele, and it has also been privileged to supply items to the Japanese Imperial Household. However, the wide range of items is sure to provide anyone with many excellent and affordable souvenir ideas. Asahido goods can also be bought at other places around Kyoto: in the Kyoto Tokyu Hotel, the Kyoto ANA Hotel and Arashiyama Syoryuen in Arashiyama. The branch in the Kyoto Station Porta underground shopping arcade is no longer open.

Also try Asahido Toan, located just a few shops down the street from the main Asahido store for a range of Japanese crafts.

Asahido Toan offers a range of authentic Japanese traditional crafts, including woodblock prints, bamboo items, incense, as well as Kiyomizu yaki pottery. Open daily 9 am to 6 pm. Packing and delivery service available. Located on Kiyomizuzaka, in front of Kiyomizu Temple. Tel: 531-2181. All major credit cards accepted.

1-280, Kiyomizu
Kyoto 605-0862
Tel: 075 531 2181

Access: Take the Kyoto city bus #206 from Kyoto Station to Gojozaka bus stop, then a 10 minute walk.

Courtesy of Your Japan Private Tours (YJPT). Ian Ropke, founder and owner of YJPT (since 1992), is a Japan destination expert for travel and tourism. He specializes in private travel (customized day trips with guides / private guided tours) and digital guidance solutions (about 25% of our business and growing!). Ian and his team offer personalized quality private travel services all over Japan. To learn more, visit www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com or call us on +1-415-230-0579.

Catchy Japanese Words for Summer

夏 擬態語

The full heat of summer (natsu 夏) has just come to Japan, and, being the weather, it's often the first thing Japanese people mention when they meet.

"Atsui desu ne!" (if it's your neighbor) or "Atsui da na!" (if you're talking to a good friend, a child or an underling) is the standard "It's hot, isn't it!"

However, more nuanced talk about hot weather often involves those ever useful gitaigo or Japanese onomatopoeia.

My commute starts with a train ride which, in spite of the in-car air-conditioning, still manages to get fun-fun ふんふん (pronounced "whoon-whoon," i.e., with the "f" sounding as much like an "h" as an "f")  i.e., close and steamy once enough people have gotten on.
Takusan no hitobito ga norikonde, shanai ga funfun shite iru.
The carriage got all hot and steamy with so many people getting on.

I then walk the 10 minutes from the station to the office.
Even the morning sun is gira-gira ぎらぎら, i.e., shining fiercely, and the walk suddenly seems twice as long as usual as I teku-teku to てくてくと (i.e., plod) go to work.
Taiyo ga gira-gira to teritsukete, teku-teku to shigotoba made arukimashita. 
With the sun blazing in the sky, I plodded my way to work.

I'm pota-pota ぽたぽた sweating (i.e., it's pouring off me) and my shirt is bettari べったり stuck to my back.
Potapota to ase ga ochite, shatsu ga senaka ni bettari kuttsuku.

Hot enough for you? Stay tuned - more to come!

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kyoto's Kiyomizu Ceramics


Elegant shape, graceful design, and pure, intense colors - these are the qualities that have drawn generation after generation to Kyoto's Kiyomizu yaki ceramic ware.

Kyoto's Kiyomizu Ceramics.

Born in the area around Kiyomizu-dera Temple - which sits nestled in the Higashiyama hills on the eastern side of Kyoto, Kiyomizu yaki has had a marked impact on the culture of Kyoto and Japan, and is admired and collected around the world.

Kiyomizu yaki traces its origins to the 5th century, and has evolved and changed over many centuries. Colors were introduced in the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), and were followed some years later by over glazing techniques to give an added luster to items after firing. In the late Edo Period, a momentous change took place: the potters of Kiyomizu shifted from earthenware to Chinese-style porcelain.

Modern Kiyomizu yaki is a product of all these innovations, and is characterized by penetrating blue, yellow, and green colors and by intricate and refined designs. It is also famous for its unmatched durability.

Only a few traditional wood-fired noborigama kilns remain around Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Indeed, the area is no longer the center of Kiyomizu yaki production, although there are still many fine shops in the winding streets that lead to the temple.

Some 20 years ago, most of the potters and kilns moved into Yamashina on the other side of the Higashiyama hills on the Tozai subway line. The new Kiyomizu Pottery Complex not only gave the potters spacious new workshops, but also allowed the introduction of more efficient gas-fired furnaces to replace the traditional wood burning kilns.

Today, the Kiyomizu Pottery Complex houses twenty ceramic artists, nineteen handicraft pottery companies, and a range of other ceramics related companies. Thanks to the centralized supply of electricity and natural gas for firing the kilns, the artisans are free to concentrate on the artistic aspects of their work, and can offer a stable supply of high-quality items.

The works produced at the Kiyomizu Pottery Complex are in the vanguard of modern Japanese ceramics. Altogether, the artisans turn out yearly some 5-6 billion yen worth of tea ceremony bowls, vases, tea cups, and many other items, and hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the complex every year.

The 35 years since the complex was opened have seen a wave of renewed interest in traditional arts and crafts in Japan, and especially in Kiyomizu yaki. The Kiyomizu Pottery Complex has played a major role in this revival, and serves as a reminder in our technology-driven world of the beauty that can only come from hand-crafted objects.

Kyo-yaki (Kyoto ceramics) and Kiyomizu-yaki have been formally designated as a traditional handicraft by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

Kiyomizu Pottery Complex (京焼・清水焼工芸館)
Kawatakiyo Mizuyakidanchi-cho
Kyoto 607-8322
Tel: 075 581 6188

Access: Keihan Bus #29 or #29A from Yamashina Station (20 minutes). Alternatively take a Keihan Bus #88B from Shijo Kawaramachi Station (20 minutes) or from the Kiyomizu Gojo bus stop (10 minutes).

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Japan News Week 9 July 2017


Japan News.
Crematory Is Booked? Japan Offers Corpse Hotels
New York Times

Japan's Enchanted Islands: Part 2

Japan sacrificed cheese tariffs to get EPA done with EU
The Mainichi

In This Corner of the World review – delicately animated portrait of wartime Japan

Coming Home after 70 Years: Repatriation of Korean Forced Laborers from Japan and Reconciliation in East Asia
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Since the end of World War II, when US occupying forces redrew voting districts in Japan, rural areas have always enjoyed a large advantage at the polls. This has resulted in one voter in, for example, the first district of Shimane Prefecture having voting parity with 3.066 voters in suburban Saitama Prefecture.

Lawyers in Tokyo and other urban areas routinely go to court to address this, but the courts rarely if ever rule in favor of their entreaties.

Source: Asahi Shinbun, July 6, Morning Edition, page4

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Soutou - "quite" or "rather" in Japanese


soutou (with both o's lengthened: soh-toh) is a word you regularly hear in Japanese conversation that is usually used much like "rather" or "pretty" (e.g., "rather big," pretty fast," etc.)" in English.

There are actually more meanings than that to soutou, which appear in most dictionaries before the "pretty" meaning.

One meaning of soutou is "equivalent to," or "much like" such as in "Shouting "Banzai!" in Japanese is much like shouting "Hurray!" in English." Banzai o sakebu koto ha eigo de Hurray o sekebu koto ni soutou suru." 万歳を叫ぶことは英語でホゥレイを叫ぶことに相当する。

Another meaning is "commensurate with," or "fitting," such as "A punishment that fits the crime" Hanzai ni soutou suru batsu. 犯罪に相当する罰

Or it can mean "suitable" in the sense of "A role suitable to someone with her level of experience" Kanojo no keiken ni soutou suru yakuwari 彼女の経験に相当する役割。

And if you look at the kanji, these "commensurate" and "fitting" meanings are clearly the original meanings, as the sou (相) is for "mutual" and the tou (当) for "appropriate."

However, as I wrote above, in casual conversation you are much more likely to hear soutou with the meaning of "rather," "quite," or "pretty."

While this is by no means a rule, I have observed that soutou tends to have a somewhat stronger meaning when used in regard to something the speaker considers undesirable, e.g., 相当寒い soutou samui, "Pretty cold," and a weaker meaning when used with something the speaker considers desirable, e.g., 相当きれい soutou kirei, or "Quite nice looking."

Finally, soutou doesn't have to be used with an adjective, either. You can also use it with a noun, such as 相当の努力 soto no doryoku, or "quite an effort."

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Friday, July 07, 2017

Incarcerated in Kyoto

Incarcerated in Kyoto.

Residents of Barcelona sometimes refer to their ultra-popular destination city as "Carcelona." It is a play on the name of the city and the verb to be incarcerated.

Much of this joke cum lament is due to the hordes of tourists that make daily life difficult for residents.

Kyoto has yet to reach that level of tourism, but the Japanese government is pushing us inexorably in that direction.

The Abe government is using the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a pretext for many changes in Japan: from English language learning in schools to constitutional revision, rewriting the law books to boosting tourism.

For those of us who reside in Kyoto, all of the above is cause for concern. However, like Barcelonans, perhaps the most worrisome is tourism.

Last year, Japan enjoyed a record 24 million inbound tourists. By 2020, the government hopes to double that. Elementary school math puts that at 40+ million confused, sweaty, camera-toting visitors.

At current levels, Kyoto's services are already stretched to the limit in many places. As much as possible, we already do not ride city buses that pass within several hundred meters of any famous site, we avoid Kyoto Station altogether, we refuse to go to Kiyomizu Temple or its environs, we will not step foot in Gion.

For those few who are raking in money - temples and their Buddhist caretakers, hotels, bars and restaurants, airbnb owners - hats off. For ordinary citizens, though, the positives are few and negatives legion.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Chayagasaka Park Nagoya


Chayagasaka Park in Chikusa-ku in Nagoya is a large, quiet, green space with ponds and woods between Chayagasaka and Jiyugaoka stations on the Meijo Line of the Nagoya subway.
The park is divided into two by a road but a foot bridge links the two halves. The photo below is taken from the foot bridge. The skyscrapers around Nagoya Station are visible.

Chayagasaka Park, Nagoya.

Chayagasaka Park has a large pond and walking trails through its woody hills. There is also a children's play area and a ball park near a grass lawn. Chayagasaka Park is known for its hydrangeas in June and the flowers line some of the paths through the park.

Chayagasaka Park, Nagoya.

Nagoya city bus Kikan 2 (基幹2) stops right outside the park at the Akasaka bus stop.

Hydrangeas in Chayagasaka Park.

Chayagasaka Park, Nagoya.

Chayagasaka Park, Nagoya.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Music Festivals in Japan 2017

Here is a listing of this year's music festivals in Japan for the summer of 2017.

Rock and Electronic

Fuji Rock Festival

July 28-30, Naeba Ski Resort, Nagano Prefecture featuring Bjork, Gorillaz, Aphex Twin, The Amazons (up and coming from Reading, UK), Mondo Grosso, Lorde. For the full line-up and ticket details see the website below.
www.fujirockfestival.com (3-day ticket 43,000 yen)

Music Festivals in Japan 2016.

Rock in Japan

August 5-6 & 11-12, Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki with Art-School, Dragon Ash, G-Freak Factory, Super Beaver, Lisa, Crossfaith, Shout It Out, Bigmama, Mucc, Flower Flower, AK-69. See the website for the full line-up and ticket information.

Rising Sun Festival (RSR)

August 11-12, Ishikari, Hokkaido with domestic Japanese bands including Uverworld, B'z, Rise, The Oral Cigarettes, My Hair Is Bad, Glim Spanky, Shank, Namba69, Radwimps. Tickets 24,500 yen for the 2 days.

Summer Sonic

August 19-20, Tokyo (QVC Marine Field & Makuhari Messe) and Osaka (Maishima) with Foo Fighters, Black Eyed Peas, Kasabian, Baby Metal, Pikotaro. 30,500 yen for the two days.
Summer Sonic


Sept 16-18, Naeba Greenland, Niigata. Quality techno festival in the hills of Niigata Prefecture.

Ringo Fes

August 23-24, Matsumoto. Zazen Boys, Ogre You Asshole, Tofu Beats, D.A.N, Yogee New Waves, Kan Sano.

Other Festivals

Sapporo City Jazz

July-August, Sapporo

Pacific Music Festival (classical)

July-August, Sapporo

Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival (classical)

August 13-September 10, Matsumoto, Nagano

Orchestra, Chamber, Opera.

Monterey Jazz Festival

July 29, Noto, Ishikawa. Tickets 5,000 yen.

Tokyo Jazz Festival

Sept 1-3, NHK Hall, Yoyogi Park

Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Benjamin Herman, OMSB.

Tokyo Idol Festival

August 5-7, Diver City Tokyo, Odaiba. i☆Ris, @17, atME, ANNA☆S, AKB48 Team 8, SKE48, HKT48, STU48, NGT48. Tickets 16,500 yen for 3 days.

World Music & Dance Festival

August 5-11, Motomachi Park, Hakodate, Hokkaido

Earth Celebration

August 18-20, Ogi, Sado Island with Kodo.

Earth Celebration on Sado Island.

© JapanVisitor.com

Monday, July 03, 2017

Kuramaguchi Station


Kuramaguchi is a station on the Karasuma Line of the Kyoto subway one stop north of Imadegawa Station and one stop south of Kitaoji Station.

Kuramaguchi Station, Kyoto.

Kuramaguchi is north of Doshisha University and Shokokuji Temple. This is the station to get off if you are going to walk down the northern part of Teramachi Dori with its many historic temples including nearby Kanga'an, Jozenji and Tenneiji.

Kuramaguchi Station on the Karasuma Line.

The station has coin lockers if you are staying nearby and need to store your luggage.

Kyoto buses #9 and the #206 stop at Horikawa Kuramaguchi to the west.

Kuramaguchi Station entrance.

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Japan News This Week 2 July 2017


Japan News.
Effects of Takata Bankruptcy to Extend Far and Wide
New York Times

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Tepco executives on trial

Japan puts off hosting summit with China, S. Korea in late July
The Mainichi

Disabled passenger forced by Japanese airline to crawl up stairs to board plane

The Emperor’s Army and Japan’s Discrimination against Okinawa
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Japan's childhood poverty rate is 13.9%, according to 2016 data from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

More than half of those children - those 18 or younger - live in a household with just one parent.

That rate is an improvement on the previous year's but remains above the OECD average.

Sources: Asahi Shinbun, June 27, Evening Edition, page 1

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tokimeku - heart aflutter


I was talking to a colleague today about tidying up, and she said that her secret to keeping things tidy at home was to keep only those things that did something for her, that awoke something in her, or, as she put it in Japanese, kokoro tokimeku mono (literally "heart flutter thing") and - besides the boring necessities like tax-related documents - throw everything else out.

To call it a secret, though, is misleading, as she had actually read it in a best-selling book by Japanese "tidiness consultant," Marie Kondo, called "Awaking Something in You: the Magic of Staying Tidy" (Jinsei ga Tokimeku Katazuke no Maho), published in 2011 and with almost 1,000 mostly favorable reviews on Amazon Japan.

tokimeku is a verb meaning "flutter," but usually in a figurative rather than literal sense. The word "flutter" suggests something of romantic interest in English. Tokimeku certainly has that meaning, and is used a lot to talk about infatuation between people, but tokimeku goes further than what in English we would call "things of the heart" to include anything that finds instant resonance with something inside you. Tokimeku is used especially by Japanese girls to describe how they feel when they see clothes, shoes, a book, a boy or a girl, that does something for them.

So "a pair of shoes that really does it for me" is kokoro tokimeku kutsu, or "a book that sparks my interest" is kokoro tokimeku hon, or "a candidate who grabs me" (again, figuratively!) would be a kokoro tokimeku kouhosha.

So, try using tokimeki when describing an encounter with something or someone who makes you feel a bit more alive, a bit more connected with the world all of a sudden, and, probably most importantly, wanting a bit of the magic that it, he or she has got.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Machiya Restoration

Kyoto is probably the only major Japanese city with so many standing wooden structures. And these wooden homes and offices called machiya are one of the main charms of strolling through the Old Capital.

Machiya Restoration.

Starting in the 1960's, machiya townhouses were disappearing at an increasing rate. The reasons for the destruction of what many regard to be one of Kyoto's finest attractions - its old sense of character - were many and varied.

First and foremost, many people simply don't want to live in a machiya: they want something brighter, bigger and more comfortable. Another reason is Japan's heavy inheritance tax, which makes it very difficult to avoid selling a property when the owner dies. Another reason is the high cost of maintaining or restoring a machiya property. But not all was lost. There are still plenty of machiya, and some of them are sure to survive for a long, long time, thanks in part to the advent of Airbnb, with many prospective landlords converting their machiya into guesthouses and apartments for the increasing numbers of foreign visitors to Kyoto.

According to a huge survey done by a volunteer organization trying to preserve machiya, there are about 20,000 machiya left in downtown Kyoto. Of this total, 3% were built in the Edo Period (1600-1868), 24% in the Meiji Period (1868-1912), 21% in the Taisho Period (1912-1926), 29% in the early Showa Period (1926-1940), and 13% after the war. Nearly 50% of machiya in the downtown area are still used as residences, often by generations of the same family.

As well as converting machiya into holiday homes, an increasing number of restaurants, shops and galleries have been set up in old machiya.

Here are just a few places that are well worth visiting, even if you only admire them from outside.

Altrettanto, Kyoto, Japan.

Altrettanto (www.altrettanto.com) - This excellent, well-established Italian restaurant is located in an exquisitely redone machiya. Many machiya are left in the surrounding area. Open 11:00-23:00. On Sakaimachi, north of Sanjo. Tel: 075 253 3339.

Second House Higashinotoin (www.secondhouse.co.jp) - this relaxing cafe and casual restaurant, located opposite a small park, is an excellent example of how a machiya can be put to use. The first floor cosy, all-wooden interior design, overlooking a traditional garden, deserves high marks. Open 11:00-22:30. On Higashinotoin, just north of Takoyakushi. Tel: 075 241 2323.

Shiorian Museum (www.shiorian.gr.jp) - Valuable large folding screens are exhibited through the year which is a tradition called Byobu Matsuri in Gion Festival in July; kimono exhibitions and cultural events are held too; reservation required; closed irregularly; 10:00-17:00; on the west side of Shinmachi, north of Rokkaku; Tel: 075 241 0215

Your Japan Private Tours: Save time, go anywhere & have more fun for less $$$: Private guided tours and digital guidance anywhere in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and beyond. Customized itineraries for day & night tours designed by an expert. High-value self or digitally guided tours, picnics, and special walks in PDF format. Off the beaten track and creative. Contact us in San Francisco or Kyoto today! +1-415-230-0579.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kibune Restaurants & Ryokan


Kibune, just a bit north of Kyoto city, is one of Kyoto's most popular summer destinations for a number of reasons. It's cool and green, and home to a number of amazing traditional inns that have over-the-river dining platforms.

Kibune Restaurants & Ryokan

But Kibune has changed over the years with the opening of some new Western-style establishments. All three establishments Kibune Gallery, Kibune Kurabu and Sagenta are owned by one of the village's oldest families. The first place you come to is Kibune Gallery (on the left side, near the start of the village): a café and art gallery that has a fine selection of excellent ceramics, and other attractive handicraft creations. If you are looking for something original and handmade to take home, then this place is well worth visiting.

Up the road, on the same side as the gallery, is the glass-fronted, all-wooden table and chair refreshment oasis of Kibune Club (貴船倶楽部 www.ugenta.co.jp/kifuneclub.html), where you can relax over traditional Japanese desserts, Western treats, coffee, tea, wine or beer. Open daily, 11:00-18:00.

Finally at the end of the village, on the other side of the street, is the exquisite and relaxing world of Ugenta 右源太 and Sagenta 左源太.

Kibune Restaurants & Ryokan, Kyoto.

Ugenta is an upmarket ryokan with only two rooms, one in traditional Japanese style, the other more modern and Western in feel.

Sagenta is a Japanese restaurant serving nagashi somen in summer, a local delicacy where noodles are transported to your table in a bamboo pipe of cold water. Built close to the rushing waters of the Kibune River, other recommended menu items include ayu sweetfish from the river and delicious seasonal vegetables.

To get to Kibune, either take a taxi (about ¥3,500 from downtown Kyoto; a real luxurious deal for two or three people) or take the Kurama line Eizan train from Demachiyanagi to Kibune (25 minutes) and walk up the river into the village (about 30 minutes).

 © JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Japan News This Week 25 June 2017


Japan News.
Japan Says Deadly Ship Collision Happened Earlier Than Reported
New York Times

Ireland score seven tries in thumping 50-22 win over Japan

Kake scandal continues to plague Abe administration with discovery of new doc
The Mainichi

Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market to finally move home, says governor

End Game for Japan’s Construction State - The Linear (Maglev) Shinkansen and Abenomics
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


2017 World Press Freedom Index (#1 is the most free press)

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

40) United Kingdom

43) USA

63) South Korea

72) Japan

Sources: Reporters Without Borders

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Minshuku Urashima Muroto Kochi

Minshuku Urashima is a traditional minshuku located on the coast in Muroto City on the Muroto Peninsula.

Minshuku Urashima Muroto Kochi.

Minshuku Urashima is very popular with those walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage as it is situated at the base of the mountain on which temple 26, Kongochoji is located and just a few kilometers north of temple 25 Shinsoji.

Minshuku Urashima is also conveniently located for anyone wanting to explore the UNESCO registered Global Geo Park of Cape Muroto.

They have 8 rooms in traditional tatami style, with shared bathrooms and toilets. Meals are served in the ground floor cafe which is open all day. The food includes lots of very fresh seafood.

Minshuku Urashima Muroto Kochi.

When I stayed there, the skipjack season had begun so as well as skipjack sashima I was served a massive skipjack steak. The owners are very friendly and helpful. They even ferried my heavy backpack up the coast to my next hotel so I could walk the day with no luggage.

Prices are very reasonable. I paid 6,000 yen for a single room with two meals.

Minshuku Urashima
Ko 1901-4, Moto
Kochi 781-7107
Tel: 0887 23 1105

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Friday, June 23, 2017

Wharf Cafe Nieche

小さな宿 Nieche

Wharf Cafe Nieche just a couple of minutes from Taiji Station is a friendly and economical guest house in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.

Wharf Cafe Nieche Taiji

The rooms are fairly basic, but comfortable tatami and futon squares and there is very little noise at night, guaranteeing a peaceful sleep.
Bathrooms are communal.

The breakfasts were wonderful, served either western or Japanese style. There's Wifi and the young-at-heart owner will run you down to nearby Shippo restaurant if you have no other arrangements for dinner.

Wharf Cafe Nieche Taiji.

Nieche has a few, fairly old bicycles that are free to take around town. The nearest convenience store is a 20-25 minute hike away from the center of Taiji.

Wharf Cafe Nieche Taiji

Wharf Cafe Nieche is definitely recommended if you are looking for budget accommodation in the Japanese countryside with a relaxed atmosphere and a wonderful start to your day with fresh local produce for breakfast.

You can book online through the link below but telephoning might be easier even if you don't speak Japanese.

Shippo Restaurant, Taiji.

Wharf Cafe Nieche
Ichiya, 43-1
Wakayama 649-5141
Tel: 0735 57 0470

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kurotani Washi


Kurotani is well-known for its wagami ('rice' paper) production. Appreciation for this lifetime-absorbing craft has led to the paper art of Kurotani being designated an Important Cultural Property of Kyoto.

Kurotani Washi.

The history of Kurotani village traces back eight centuries to a warrior of the Taira Clan who, having failed at battle, saw it as his duty to leave an art form for following generations. A communal determination to stay with the traditional techniques employed from the start have led to paper of consistent quality, and to world-wide fame.

Wagami, or washi, is made from the Paper Mulberry tree of the Mulberry Bush family, characterized by its durable, fibrous quality. The delicate beauty of each sheet is apparent, and kept in good condition this kind of paper lasts literally a millenium or more - a stunning technical achievement for the craftspeople of the Heian era.

In the centre of Kurotani the Wagami Exhibition Hall provides paper information (mainly in Japanese). It also offers also a tour of neighborhood homes and workshops, where the paper making process can be viewed. Visitors have the opportunity to produce paper themselves and to purchase products made from washi such as wallets, name card holders, greetings cards, notebooks and zabuton cushions.

Kurotani Washi Kaikan
3 Higashidani, Kurotani-cho
Ayabe City
Kyoto 623-0108
Tel: 0773 44 0213
Monday-Friday 9am-4.30pm closed weekends and national holidays.

Take the JR Sanin Main Line from Kyoto Station to Ayabe Station (70 minutes by limited express) and exit the station from the south exit. The  Kurotani Washi Kaikan is two minute’s walk from the Kurotani Wash Kaikan Mae stop on the Aya Bus Kurotani Line.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mimurotoji Temple Uji


In the wide garden of Mimurotoji Temple in Uji there are 30 different kinds of hydrangea some of which seem to have the shape of a heart. June and early July is the perfect time to see these beautiful flowers in bloom.

Known also as the "flower temple," Mimurotoji Temple also draws visitors to its cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas in May and lotus flowers in July and August.

Mimurotoji Temple, Uji, Kyoto.

Mimurotoji Temple's buildings include a three story, vermilion pagoda and the Main Hall, built in the early 19th century and containing an image of a thousand-armed Kannon.

To get to Mimurotoji Temple from Kyoto, take the Keihan Line from Sanjo Keihan Station or Demachiyanagi (change at Chushojima) or the JR Nara Line to Uji.

Mimurotoji Temple Uji, Kyoto.

From Uji Station and Keihan Uji Station the number #43 bus runs hourly to the temple. The nearest station is Keihan Mimuroto Station from where the temple is a 15 minute walk.

Mimuroto Temple
Shigatani, 21,Todo
Uji, Kyoto Prefecture 611-0013
Tel: (0774) 21 2067
Admission: 500 yen
Hours: 9am-4.30pm (closed December 29-31)

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Japanese News This Week 18 June 2017


Japan News.
Japan Arrests Longest-Sought Fugitive After Nearly 46 Years
New York Times

'Conspiracy' law enacted to punish planning of crimes
The Mainichi

Japan to launch self-navigating cargo ships 'by 2025'

Japan accused of eroding press freedom by UN special rapporteur

End Game for Japan’s Construction State - The Linear (Maglev) Shinkansen and Abenomics
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


June 20 is World Refugee Day. There are an estimated 65 million refugees worldwide.

Canada, with a population roughly 1/4 of Japan's,  has accepted 40,000 Syrians alone since the fall of November 2015.

Japan however continues to be extremely unwelcoming to refugees.

In 2016, a record 10,901 would be refugees applied for asylum last year in Japan. That was an increase of 3,315 on the previous year. Of the applicants, 28 were accepted. 

Sources: Asahi Shinbun, June 14, page 13

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Japan-China Friendship Garden Gifu


The Japan-China Friendship Garden, near the south bank of the Nagara River, just north of Gifu Park (Gifu Koen) in Gifu, was built in 1999 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the friendship partnership between Gifu and Hangzhou.

Japan-China Friendship Garden, Gifu.

The Japan-China Friendship Garden is laid out in classic, Chinese style with a keyhole gate, ornamental ponds, bridges and pavilions.

The central pond is meant to resemble the famous West Lake in Hangzhou, which so inspired ancient Chinese poets.

Japan-China Friendship Garden Gifu.

Japan-China Friendship Garden
390-1 Mitarashi
Gifu 500-8002

The park is free to enter and is a short walk across the road from Gifu Koen. Buses to Gifu Koen leave from bays 12 and 13 at JR Gifu Station and also from outside Meitetsu Gifu Station.

Japan-China Friendship Garden Gifu.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Japanese Language: Saying sorry over and over

Remember your first impression of the Japanese, packed in tourist buses and racing through Europe in a cloud of 'Sorry, sorry, so sorry!'?

Now that you've come to Japan, you can observe first-hand the national pastime of making constant apologies for no reason at all. You might find it strange to apologize in situations where fault is not an issue.

Japanese Language: Saying sorry over and over。

Smooth interaction in Japan, however, requires constant affirmation of indebtedness and appreciation of kindness or favors. In this society 'Thanks' is sometimes more conveniently expressed as 'I'm sorry for having troubled you', but the meaning is the same.

Sumimasen ('I'm sorry') is used in every situation imaginable, even in every day greetings and interactions, where it can mean 'Excuse me', 'Thank you', or 'Here you are'. You can use it to get a shop clerk's attention, when passing in front of someone, or when giving thanks for a favor, in which case you would use the past tense, Sumimasen deshita. Another form of apology is gomen nasai.

More informal than Sumimasen, it is used less in business situations and more among friends, when it's sometimes shortened to just Gomen.

When you really have something to be sorry for, then you can use Moshiwake arimasen (or the past tense, Moshiwake arimasen deshita). It means 'There's no excuse for what I did!'

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Japanese Language Of Words and Women

Much has been written in praise of the Kyoto woman: her beauty, her grace, her charming and distinctive speech. Indeed, throughout Japan the Kyoto woman's way of speaking has long been considered the embodiment of femininity.

Japanese Language Of Words and Women.

Today, however, the young Kyoto woman speaks in much the same way as her sisters in the rest of Kansai (the name for the Kobe-Osaka-Kyoto region). The alluring tones of genuine Kyoto dialect are now most likely heard from the lips of aged grandmothers, or in the entertainment districts, where geisha and maiko, many of whom are not native Kyoto-ites, have worked hard to acquire them.

Still, some remnants of old Kyoto speech, used by both men and women, linger on in daily life. A well-known example is oki-ni (pronounced oh-KEE-nee). Used by old and young alike, it is the Kyoto word for 'thank you'. Another example is the way old people often address others as anta-han, anta being a familiar form of the standard anata (you), while han is probably derived from the formal title san. The effect is polite and familiar at the same time. You may also hear an elderly person refer to O-cha ('honorable' tea) as O-bu.

Though true dialect may be disappearing, the Kyoto accent still softens modern-day speech. This can sometimes cause problems for the Kyoto businessman, who, when he ventures to Tokyo, often finds it hard to strike the accepted masculine tone.

Your Japan Private Tours: Save time, go anywhere & have more fun for less $$$: Private guided tours and digital guidance anywhere in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and beyond. Customized itineraries for day & night tours designed by an expert. High-value self or digitally guided tours, picnics, and special walks in PDF format. Off the beaten track and creative. Contact us in San Francisco or Kyoto today! +1-415-230-0579.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Japan News This Week 11 June 2017


Japan News.
Japan, Short on Babies, Reaches a Worrisome Milestone
New York Times

Okinawa Gov. Onaga announces suit vs. Japan gov't to halt Henoko base
The Mainichi

Studio Ghibli to open 'Totoro' theme park in Japan

Japan nuclear workers inhale plutonium after bag breaks

Constructing the Construction State: Cement and Postwar Japan
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


In the past decade, the number of Japanese widows who have filed for divorce from their deceased husbands has risen 1.5 fold. In 2015 there were 2,783 such cases.

You read that correctly.

A woman whose husband has passed away goes to the municipal office and fills out the paper work, applies her hanko (official stamp), and becomes officially divorced from her dead husband.

The main reasons for this are: 1) to cut ties with her mother-in-law or other relatives, 2) to not have to take care of/clean the family grave. 

Sources: Asahi Shinbun, June 5, Evening Edition, page 1

© JapanVisitor.com

Inside Track Japan For Kindle

Friday, June 09, 2017

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel

The Takamatsu Pearl Hotel is a small budget hotel in Takamatsu, right opposite the main JR Takamatsu railway station and a couple of minutes from the ferry ports.

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel.

The Takamatsu Pearl Hotel has both Western and Japanese style tatami rooms, both with ensuite bathroom and toilet. The rooms come in a range of sizes for one to 4 people.

The rooms are not big but come with all the expected facilities, telephone, TV, AC, fridge, kettle etc. Some of the rooms do not have windows.

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel, Takamatsu.

Internet is wired LAN with cables available from the front desk. Unlike most hotels however, prices are per room and not per person, so while already at the low end of hotel price range, for a family just needing a room for the night, it can be quite cheap.

A single room is 4,000 yen, a double 6,000 yen, a twin 7,000 yen, a triple for 9,000 yen, or a room for four people 10,000 yen.

Breakfast is optional for 500 yen. The hotel has a washing machine and dryer, a computer for guests use in the lobby, and lockers to store luggage.

One point worth noting is the late check-in -
not until 5pm.

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel
Nishinomarucho 2-19
Kagawa 760-0021
Tel: 0878 22 3382

Takamatsu Pearl Hotel, Shikoku.

© JapanVisitor.com

Goods From Japan delivered to your home or business

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...